Fermentation by Christopher Kastensmidt is definitely one of the best 500-word stories I've ever read. Other than the too-abrupt ending it is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Check it out quick before you continue reading.
The voice in this story is crazy. It went from 0 to 60 in one sentence. Albert's narration is humorous, but it doesn't get in the way one lick. It's translucent-glass writing that's tinted blue rather than left clear. (If you have no clue what that's supposed to mean, read this.) Both of the characters introduced in the first paragraph are engaging and fun, which grants them some sympathetic qualities. Albert is most certainly active, despite the short length of the story, giving him every attribute of a great protagonist. I love these characters.
There's really only one element to this story's setting that sets it apart from the usual near-future template. Luckily, that element happens to be what the story revolves around. Such control and resourcefulness in a setting is top-notch, especially in flash fiction.
Plot basically acts as a train for this story, chugging through the setting and stopping to pick up the characters. It's there, but it doesn't draw much attention to itself. Stuff happens, that's about it. Albert has a goal that develops in the first half of the story and in the second half of the story he works toward that goal. The genius thing here is that the only real conflict from Albert's POV is his own reluctance. It's a man-vs.-self situation influenced heavily by the characters and setting. Everything is wrapped up in a nice package and laid under the Daily Science Fiction tree. The ribbon tied around the package isn't tied into a very neat bow, but who cares about that? The bow is still there, it just isn't the most firm, absolute bow in the world.
If you have zero clue what I'm talking about, you probably didn't read this story. That, or I'm just a bit loony at the moment. I have a tendency to gain a few ounces of eccentricity after 10:30 p.m. Anyway, if you've made it this far you must not be repulsed by semi-zany wording and most-likely loved this story. Or you didn't read it yet. Well, by George, go read it then! You have? Go read it again, it's good enough for two goes, trust me.