Friday, August 09, 2013

The Dangerous Fiction Writing contest

I couldn't resist  a book with a literary agent protagonist.  Barbara Rogan's A DANGEROUS FICTION started as lunch reading.  Got home and could NOT stop (except for brief moments to catch my breath!) until I finished reading at midnight.

When I tell you one of the plot points is my worst fear, you'll know that the only thing to do now is have a writing contest with the book as a prize.

The usual rules:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer

2. Use these words in the story:


fiction
slush
spade
hear
262

The word must be used in whole, but it does not have to be the whole of the word.

fictionalize but not friction
shear but not heather

New rule after the last contest: no hyphens in the prompt word to make it something else.
 not he-are and really  not he-aren't!

3. Post your entry in the comments section of this blog post.

4. If you need a mulligan, a do-over, delete your entry and post again.  Only ONE entry (the latest
date stamp) will be considered.

5. All judging is subjective, frequently whimsical and cantankerous.

6. Contest opens on Saturday August 10 at 9am, and closes Sunday August11 at 9am.
All dates and times are Eastern Shark time.

Ready?
Set?

NOT YET!

Enter now!

ooops too late!
Contest closed at 9am Eastern Shark Time (8/11)



82 comments:

french sojourn said...

California: 1928

The Desk Sargent wanted nothing to do with this Nob Hill jezebel. He knew, as soon as she spilled her dirty laundry, she was trouble.

“So you’re tellin’ me, your boyfriend took off… after transferring some of your slush funds into a fictional account in Boston?”

“If my husband finds out… I’ll have nothing… he can never know.”

“Lady, that leaves us out … you need a private eye.”

“A gumshoe?”

“Heard of Sam Spade, his office is at 262 Sutter Street.”

“Is he good?”

“If he can find a bird… it’ll be a piece-of-cake finding a rat.”

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

By evening, the ankle deep slush was grey like a dead tooth. On the curb, a girl held out a hand, blonde hair incandescent in the street lights. She was a breath of cold air and damp sweater as she slid into the back seat. "Sorry, I didn't hear," the cabbie said once she'd settled.

"262 B Baker Street."

"You know Mr. Holmes is fiction, yes?" Tourists. He pulled into traffic and chanced a glance over his shoulder at her face.

"Wrong address." She had an ace of spades tattooed on her neck and a syringe in her hand.

Kitty said...

I heard Janet Reid found 262 fiction manuscripts dumped in her slush pile one morning, all featuring Sam Spade, all different, and all written by one person. Some say it's an urban legend; I wanted to find out.

So I made my way to 115 West 29th Street, 3rd floor, and asked to see Janet.

"Is it true?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Two-hundred-sixty-two Sam Spade scripts? All different? All by the same person?"

"Yes. And one plot."

"One plot?"

"Remember: 'There is only one plot--things are not what they seem.'"

All by one person.

I feel like such a slacker.

Lynn Guelzow said...


“Rejected?” Rumelda blinked back tears. “Did I hear correctly?”
Agent Read pulled deeply from the strawberry slushy in her hand, swallowed, and replied, “Illegal plot device.”
“The cannon? I thought it might have fired too conveniently. What if Wallace found a cleaver behind the hay bales?”
Read felt pity, but nothing else, for Rumelda. These writers that failed to do basic research. Pathetic. She selected a tome from the back shelf.
“Here it is, page 262 of volume “S” of the Unabridged Fictionary. ‘The use of a spade in the demise of a domestic feline – prohibited.’ My ruling is final.”

JD Paradise said...

Always, they climb.

I hear, Cormac grunts, we just 262 steps from Heaven.

He lurches up another slushy stair.

Can't even call that fiction, Antho says. Outright lie, what it is.

The calf's weight on his shoulders drives Cormac to his knees. Again.

Get up, Antho calls back. Ain't brung no buryin spade.

No dirt here anyhow, Cormac says. Shaking. Wants to stay down, fights himself up. No choice *but* up.

Can't even 'member what I done, Antho says. He stumbles, curses. Hoists his own calf. Goes on.

Cormac laughs, bitter. You still think that ever mattered?

They climb.

Always.

donnaeverhart.com said...

The dog days of summer saw Dylan slurping a Slushy while sitting next to a boy named Spade. .
He said, “Heard your mom’s still writing a book.”
Spade sighed, “Yeah.”
“Fiction?”
“True story.”
“How many rejections she had?”
“262.”
“Huh, must not be any good. What’s it about?”
Spade stared into the distance, “Can’t tell, I’d have to kill you.”
Dylan snorted, “Yeah right.”
Spade reached under the park bench, pulling out a small gardening tool, the metal end gleaming.
Dylan’s eyes widened, “Hey, what’s that for?”
Spade inched closer, “The book’s about me, it needs a new chapter.”

Claire Gregory said...

Memory’s a funny thing.

She speaks, and he’s no longer in this stuffy old courtroom; he’s outside number 262, so damn cold his nose aches. His spade scrapes the sidewalk as he shovels slush. He hears the click of those heels as they step into view. Looks up.

He’ll never forget it. Smokin’ legs, mink coat. She has the face of a fallen angel, a waterfall of sunshine hair.

“Purely fiction, your Honor.” The lawyer’s voice snaps him back to reality. She turns, imposing. “We'll prove there never was a lonely heiress.”

But he remembers that last kiss.

Eduardo Martinez said...

262 Thousand dollars, more than a quarter of a million. That was how much money Robert had in the suitcase he carried out of a bar named Sobering Fiction. This was the biggest drug deal he had ever made, enough money to finally pay off the loan sharks and be done for good. Outside, he could hear nothing but the shrill whistle of the winter wind. He never even noticed the shadowy figure emerge behind him, or the spade that split his skull wide open, turning the snow into a crimson slush.
“Paid with interest Bobby,” the figure commented.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Like a sharpened carving knife drawn through cheesecake the spade penetrated soft soil. Muddy slush back filled the hole until the mound beside it, drained dry, held its own against gravity. Drenched in sweat and weeping from the effort, I did not pause. The night was laboriously long. It wasn’t fiction that the boy died by my hand. Truth buried him, in the woods twenty paces north of mile-marker 262.
Want to hear my story? I will tell you.
But first, imagine what it’s like to love your son so much you want to watch him die.

Ruthy said...

My existence lingers like snowman slush.

The kids think I always lived in room 262 of the Flushing Mercy Nursing Home, Armonk, New York.

They'd hear stories. "Grandma traveled with the carnival. She worked the fish game."

But they'd swallow it like fiction. They wouldn't really believe I won their grandfather in a card game or that we fell in love at a
Motorhead Concert, rocking out to “Ace of Spades.”

Bella and DJ run into my room.

"We have a present for you, Grandma!"

"Happy Birthday!" I say, putting on my new hat. And I begin to dance around.

ruththomashansen@aim.com

Rachel Green said...

Father Cullen tossed the spade aside and climbed out of Jimmy Tavish's grave, the mud clinging to his cassock like some fictional soul condemned to torment. The death of his publisher friend signalled the demise of his slush money over the Wicked Bible débâcles. Jimmy's revenge on a church that wouldn't allow him to marry again after his divorce, but turned a blind eye to his living in sin, so long as the collection plate was filled. With heartfelt prayers of relief he tossed the first of 262 bibles into the grave, each bearing the commandment Thou Shalt Commit Adultery.

Michael Seese said...

“Mr. Sims, are you aware that under California Penal Code section 262, non-consensual sex with a spouse is rape?”

David sat, motionless.

“Sir, did you hear me?”

He heard. But his brain was occupied, occupied with the words, thoughts, images which caromed in a confused jumble. He tried to pull sense from the slush, sift the fact from the fiction.

Where is she? What did I...
No!

Calm.
Calm.
Calm.


“Mr. Sims, we can subpoena your former wives. Have them testify.”

“You’ll need a spade to find them,” he whispered.

Apparently, David only now realized, this wasn’t the first time.

David said...

My wife and me spent the afternoon before my deployment playin’ Spades.

“Tell me again how it’s gonna be over there.” Joanie shuffled the deck.

“Captain says Slushies are in short supply.”

She set her cards, her hands into her lap. “I can’t take any jokes right now.”

“I snuck 262 sheets of paper in my gunny sack. If I run out, I hear cardboard writes just as good. Cross my heart, every day means a new letter.”

“You telling a story, Billy?”

I kissed her, and she smelled like tears. “Fiction’s for the birds.”

I never saw her again.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Never marry a mechanic, especially if you hunt wicked fairies in your spare time. Ignore the warning at your peril. I know. Take yesterday …

“There’s almost no friction with this new lube,” he shouted.

“Not friction,” I yelled. “Fiction! You find them in FICTION! But they’re real.”

“I hear you! It all comes out as slush when it’s flushed.”

“I need a spade. You know, to bury them with?”

“It wasn’t expensive. Just 262.”

“Dollar and cents or dollars?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Never mind,” I shouted. “I’ll hire someone with a backhoe.”

“You know I gave up tobacco,” he yelled.

See what I mean?

William Coleman said...

“What do you think?”
I had just slushed through the 262 page abyss of clichés and run on sentences. Focusing on the positive, I say, “Well the description of her screams made my spine tingle. And I could almost hear the spade scooping the dirt into the grave.”
“I knew you would appreciate that,” he smiles.
“I thought you were going to write fiction.”
“I figured you might pay more for this.”
“Is that so?” I lift the hammer and swing. Leaning close to him as his light fades, I say, “You should always be sure to know your audience.”

Jo Bourne said...


262 Elm Street. 'Spade/Tuttle' on the mailbox. Two names, the way they did it when some bitch kept the fiction she wasn't married.

He kicked through slush, up an unshovelled walk, hearing dogs bark. Hearing bang-bang death on TV sets down the street. The sound of right-thinking, smug suburbia.

The woman who answered the door was entirely naked.

He said, "Lean over, bitch, and take it."
She did. At the wall. On the floor. On the table.

Afterwards, she said, "How was your day, dear?"
He said, "Can't complain."

Writer of Wrongs said...

“Keep digging,” I said.

His spade was no match for my gun, even so, I kept my distance. Brooks had barely dented the slush-covered ground--not that he had incentive to finish. 

Twenty-one years wearing a badge. 262 months of “just the facts.” Time for a change. Crime fighter to crime writer. Fiction had to be easier. I’d use tonight’s research in my novel. Rogue cop. Cliched? 

I heard the whiffle of air a whisper too late. The garrote tightened in an unexpected twist.

Brooks straightened, his expression predatory, all gleaming teeth, no warmth. “Meet my accomplice, Janet.”

lanceschaubert.org said...

A “come quick” text from the 262 area code’d landed him at Walworth County’s Fairgrounds. 262-something with “Elkhorn, Wisconsin” below. He’d passed art exhibits, framed stories by fictioneers, shearlings, and the spadefish aquarium to find a horse in a bear trap.

After some digging around, before him stood a crowd and a tart little model-to-be with slush brains. “You set this trap?”

“Didn’t want to hurt him,” she said. “Just catch him.”

“Why?”

“There’s room for one thing on Thursday: horseraces or Country Idol.”

From irritation he cuffed his daughter, ignored questions, roughed her into the car, drove home.



(Always wanted to try one of these and man oh man, 100 words is way harder than it looks. If you escalate too much, you overshoot. If you don’t escalate, your story’s about nothing. If you blend both, you have gaps. Fun stuff--thanks for the prompt, Ms. Reid!)

Terri Lynn Coop said...


"Court is now in session."

My client fidgeted in her handcuffs. "This jumpsuit is chafey and I hate orange."

"Hang on. The hearing is starting."

"Case number 2013-CR-262, the charge is murder. Ms. Coop, proceed."

"Not guilty by reason of justifiable homicide."

"Really?"

"Yes. In the conference critique slush pile was a submission with the line, My fiction novel is about a guy who had his cat spade. Weapon of choice was a red pen to the heart."

"Are you telling me your client is...," he trailed off.

"A literary agent, your honor. She killed his darlings."

"Case dismissed."

selenalaurence.com said...

It had been 262 days. He heard the metal of his spade hit the dirt with a dull thud, and he lifted the damp hunk of mud, tossing it aside. It hit the pile of slush, oozing like black blood. Like her blood has oozed 262 days ago. Oozed from her head, her neck, her treacherous mouth. He could hear her words in his head. They sounded like something from romance fiction, "I swear, baby, he meant nothing to me." Traiterous bitch. He dug into the soil again, wondering what she'd look like after 262 days underground.

R L Raymond said...

He slushed through the letters, trying to separate truth from fiction. The last he'd heard, she was living in a basement apartment: 262 1/2 Emery Lane, in some town he didn't recognize. She'd not written much, only how sorry she was (again), and how she'd been clean for nearly two months. He didn't blame her anymore. Those dark days were behind him, behind them both. He rubbed the faded scar on his cheek. At last he understood that distance was best, that forgiveness could be paid back in spades.

R L Raymond

Janet Fogg said...

Sleet pecked at his head, his shoulders, and his heavy boots stirred the gray-white pellets into a muddy slush as he trudged past marker 260. Tears slicked his cheeks, stretched into icicles on his beard. A nightmare. It had to be. But the heft of the spade, the beat of his heart, all real. Not a story. Not fiction. Marker 261. He shifted the spade to his right hand and plodded on. 262. 262. He squared himself, rested the edge of the spade in the muck, howled, and thrust the blade deep. He'd never hear her sing again. Celestine.

Colin Smith said...

I queried her a week ago, hoping she would pick me out of her slush pile. I read her response at least 262 times: Dinner at The Spade. I cried.

She looked stunning. We talked, laughed, and drank. Maybe this partial would become a full? I could feel an offer in the air, an unspoken contract binding our hearts. Then I mentioned my fiction novel. The atmosphere changed. She excused herself. I asked if I could revise and resubmit. She said she would have to consider.

I never did hear from her again. That's why I don’t date literary agents.

k.kellie edwards said...

This tale is fiction, so I’ve heard (though some declare it fact).

The story goes, he was a quiet man and so he promised her a single rose for every time he spoke the words I love you.

The first was when he caught her silhouette against a moonlit sky.

The thirteenth time, she’d slipped in icy slush and burst out laughing.

The ninety-fourth, she traced her name across his fevered chest.

And every year, he promised to keep counting and she always laughed, and kissed him and proclaimed him daft.

Fifty years.

A thousand tears.

One spade.

262 roses.

Steven said...

I hoped interning for my ideal agent would muster more influence than my pyrite gilded queries.
With my expectations and best work of fiction stashed in a satchel, I arrive bright-eyed at suite 262. A doorstop of zom-rom-com manuscripts impedes my energetic entrance. In this Kindle era, I was stunned to find literal slush piles masking the walls of the suffocating space. I’d need a snow spade to move beyond the one constricted path.
Before Ms. Reid could hear my heart drop, I chummed the sea of banality with my aspirant submission and left in search of an early serving bar.

Calorie Bombshell said...

Clara wasn’t really her name. Spader wasn’t mine either.

“Come here often?” I eased onto the bar stool. She was comely. Nothing like I envisioned.

“Only when Slush Puppy sings the blues.” Her words felt natural, unrehearsed.

I howled like a mutt and she laughed. Then I slipped the flash drive into her pocket.

“Usual method?” She asked, uncrossing her silken legs.

“Always at your discretion.”

“Remuneration? Her hair smelled of daffodils in spring.

“Credit Suisse. Box 2262.”

She stood to leave and something stirred inside of me.

“Will I see you again?”

“Been reading too much fiction, haven’t we?”

Brian Wethington said...

Twenty minutes after they’d begun digging, the spade bit into a pine wood box, rotten with decay.

Sam bent over the hole, fat globs of sweat falling from his mud-caked brow, mixing with the slush and snow that coated the frozen Oklahoma plains.

“Box. Why a box?” Sam drawled, “I hear he’s been here, what, two-huner’t years?”

Paul thumbed on his flashlight, pointing it at the gravestone. “Yup. Two-sixty-two says here.”

Sam exhaled as if he were blowing out 262 birthday candles himself. They didn’t bury their kin in boxes. John Running Bear had told him a fiction: he’d lied.

Bev Cobbett said...

I spaded the concrete slush. Plot #262 was looking good. It was the least I could do for Daddy, poor dear. He deserved something nice. His final resting place would be beautiful.

All the riches the waiting step-laws believed he had squirreled away were pure fiction. They should’ve known you can’t believe everything you hear. He’d actually died penniless. The cheques had cleared, long ago.

Daddy’d been such a good provider. I wrapped the spade and placed it in the posh carpeted trunk.

His Will might be contested, but, as they say, you can’t get blood from a stone.

SiSi said...

That TV fella showed up a coupla days after I got out, wantin’ to make a show out of my life called Queen of Spades. Reality fiction, he called it, which don’t even make sense. I told him I wasn't interested but he acted like he didn’t hear me. He paid for my diet cola slushie at GoMart and said he wouldn’t give up and could he come with me, so I told him sure and he followed me out Rt. 262. It was right easy buryin’ two bodies in one grave, though I ought not be braggin’ about that.

Leah said...

“262 bottles of beer on the wall…”

Oh, God, she thought. She slid through the back door, setting her Kate Spade bag on the kitchen counter. He’s at it again.

Splotches of brackish brown splattered the French tile floor, remnants of the slush outside.

Guess I’m mopping later.

She heard two bottles clink. Another voice joined her husband’s.

“261 bottles of beer on the wall…”

Sitting, she allowed the Jimmy Choos to fall from her feet. They landed in a fashionable pile, mocking her.

The perfect life money can buy, she thought, tears welling. It’s all just fiction, isn’t it?

Kate Higgins said...

My dangerous story is called: "It was a Dark and Stormy Night..."

It wasn’t fiction this time. Black slush leaned against the walls, ice germinated in puddles and he could still hear echoes of the sirens. Engine Company 262 did its best; this time its best wasn’t good enough.

Eugene Blickenhoffer a.k.a. 'Spade Umbra, Purveyor of Dark Tales of Intrigue' had lost everything except the book. He only saved the book, this was his whole life, it was his dream. Nothing else mattered.

He opened the cover and ran his finger lovingly over the photos. His late wife of 42 years smiled back. This was his whole life, she was his dream.

Sheila JG said...

She woke screaming.

“Babe,” her husband said. “You’re dripping.” He ran a hand across her forehead. “Come here, Slushie. It’s just a bad dream.”

“It was awful.”

“Is it that book? About what happened on page 262?”

“Page 262? That was nothing! No, the end of chapter six.”

“Forget it. It’s fiction.”

“You don’t understand. That was so cruel. SO CRUEL! What kind of demented mind thinks of something so evil?”

“Your book has a disgruntled organic farmer who kills someone’s cat with a garden spade.”

“This was worse! Hold me.”

He did. She couldn’t see him roll his eyes.


(Okay, I’ve read the book, so I’m recusing myself from the competition. I just wanted to express my opinion about what happens at the end of chapter 6, because it’s evil. All writers will agree with me, I’m sure.)

Just Jan said...

"We've taken the liberty of creating an action figure in your honor."

"Call a spade a spade," snapped Agent Reid. "It's a doll, and it doesn't look anything like me."

"But the voice is remarkably similar." The saleman pressed a button.

"This is the worst slush I've ever read," the toy intoned. "Cozy mysteries are shorter than 262,000 words."

"Realistic, yes?" He pushed the button again.

"If I hear the phrase 'fictional novel' once more, I'm gonna chomp somebody!"

Agent Reid smiled, revealing a row of perfectly pointed teeth. "Make it look like a shark, and I'll bite!"

Merry Monteleone said...

Let me tell you, dragging a body through slush is not optimal. I mean, it sounds like something that would play well in fiction with some pseudo Sam Spade wanna be hot on your trail. I could think of 262 better ways to do it. First of all, I’m leaving a gooky, bloody trail. Second, my feet keep getting stuck in the sludge. I hear they can pull DNA from anywhere. Wonder how much they can get off salt encrusted Uggs.

R. T. Freeman said...

Janice sighed, massaging the area around her temples. She flopped the manuscript down on the desk.

“I’m wading through slush here. How is this award-winning fiction? Oy!” She was beginning to wonder if Babs O’Goran hadn’t had a stroke or something.

But Babs did have a stroke of sorts, three months ago. A garden spade, swinging through the air, had bashed in the back of her head. She never heard it coming.

The person who boarded flight 262 was not the celebrated author.

But she was the last person Janice Sharkowitz-Chumsky would ever pick up at an airport.

JaredNGarrett said...

“You’re not hearing me, see.” Spade Rogaine flicked ash from his coffin nail and hung the stub from the corner of his mouth. He rounded on the quivering man in the chair. “Gumshoes like me don’t do hits.”

“But Mr. Rogaine.” The man’s rumpled suit gained a few smooth patches as he straightened. “The agent’s had my opus in her slush pile for months! She’s ruining me.”

“I submit, Mr. Barbara, that your terrible fiction is what’s ruining you.” Spade crushed his stub out, sinking into his chair. “Take a class. Reid in room 262 teaches ‘em. Now beat it.”

Craig said...

From atop the ridge I thought I could hear a train. My new bride was on the 262 but I hoped the sound was a fiction due to the longing I possessed.

The tracks were closed because the slush from the spring thaw had covered the tracks. I looked toward the top of the mountain and saw it struggle over the top. It would begin gathering speed soon. The crash spring before last was devastating. I lost Janet in that one.

I grabbed my spade and slid down the ridge toward the tracks

Zeina said...

The extras file out of holding behind the wrangler with the usual mixed air of nonchalance and discover me. “We going from non-fiction to fiction to non-fiction. It's a PSA. We don't want to slush around. To the point. Get the kid.”
“Gerry wants Xavier. Trapper, do you copy?”
“We hear you, copy. Xavier on route.”
“Put Xavier on the bench. Can he stop waving his hands? Okay, let him keep his plastic spade."
“Quiet.”
“Sound."
"Rolling.”
“Action.”
Extras file into bleachers.

“Can you count in one glance?”
Xavier, “262.”

Liz Penney said...

The ground underneath the slush was frozen.
The writer chipped at it with his spade while the agent, gagged and bound, lay struggling in the icy slop.
“You were query 262,” he muttered. “Your guidelines said paranormal fiction. Just another liar.”
The agent worked her tongue around the gag and managed to croak, “Where did you hear about me?”
The writer paused. “I read your blog. Your twitter feed. Your #MSWL. Every damn word. Too bad you didn’t return the favor.”
“How about an R&R?” the agent said. “I’d be happy to take another look.”
“Too late. I self-pubbed it.”

Joel Freiburger said...

Edgar Allen Poe

In the slush frost of Baltimore’s outskirts, the drunk found me hiding next to my dead Pa. He’d killed Pa with a spade. I heard their grunts before Pa flopped down beside me. Beneath the cart I watched the drunk’s shoes . . . and then saw his startled eyes.

“Child, start counting.”

I sobbed the numbers through grit teeth. Stopped at 262.

Followed his footprints to an alleyway on Pratt. He had passed out.

Beat him with Pa’s empty shotgun.

Left him there with his bulldog face, rockslide eyes, scalp bleeding into a book of fiction.

Patrick DiOrio said...

He knows his flock, Preacher Dan. Knows we’d follow’em to hell and back.

Standing a monument of righteous indignation. Purest white hair blowing wild before the gathering storm, waving his spade amongst the lilies of the field at 262 Mount Holy Trinity.

Spouting a slush of verbal virtuosity entwining our senses. “Hear me! No fiction! The FBI’s a’comin’! Bringing death and destruction! Take it up,” he intones with fervent prayer. “Drink the Kool-aid of Divine Spirit and be lifted up! Only then shall we be forever free.”

And this we do.

I drink the drink. Strawberry flavored. My favorite.

BW said...

Last week at Fine Print Literary Management

“Janet! Did you hear the news?” Janet’s loyal assistant came running into her office excitedly. “It’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel again!”

Janet who was reading Barbara Rogan’s “A Dangerous Fiction” removed the slushy (unfortunately it was not a scotch) she was drinking from her mouth and said, “You are only the 262nd person to tell me that and I swore I was going to hit someone with this spade if I heard that again.”

What’s a shark-agent to do, hit the assistant or not? Not, that’s what interns are for.

Melanie Marttila said...

I heard the chuff of the spade into loose gravel, felt the impact of each shovelful as it hit the ground close behind me. The occasional pinged off of my back.
The wave of panic turned my gut into slush—he was going to bury me alive.
I fought to maintain the fiction of unconsciousness. The tie-wraps still bound my ankles and wrists. I waited for him to drag me into the hole and pulled the sharp tip of the tie-wrap up between my fingers to thrust into his eyes.
“C’mon, number 262, your bed’s read-eeeiiii!”

dylan said...



She bribed me to bury what was left of would-be fictional-novelist Curtis C. Flush, until yesterday 262 pounds of wordy angst, now a bloody slush in a potting shed. I looked at the spade I’d been given, and wondered how I was supposed to transfer his slurpeed remains into the hole. A snow-shovel would be more useful. Or a bale of tampax.

I heard legendary bluesman Robert Johnson bartered his soul to the devil at a crossroads. Dangerous career move. But not as reckless as submitting a half-assed query to a certain selachimorphic literary agent.

That lady has a temper.

Amy Schaefer said...

Where was Grandpa? I looked out the window – there he was, using a spade to chip at the frozen slush on the sidewalk next door.

He stopped suddenly, clutching his back. I stuffed my feet into boots and ran outside.

“Grandpa! Are you okay?”

He grunted something I couldn’t hear. “What?”

“Get out of here, boy!” he hissed. “I hooked Louise!”

Mrs Martin’s front door flew open and the widow hurried out. I ducked behind a tree. “Walter! Your back! And shovelling my walk, too.”

Grandpa winked at me as they entered her house. Seduction fiction #262 was a success.

Sarah said...


The tidal creek ran still, but the fin cutting through the surface shattered any calm.
"Do I have it?" The four-year-old yanked up his empty hook for the 262nd time.
"Drop your line!"
He didn't hear.
"Dammit kiddo." She grabbed his line and it bobbed into the slush.
He plucked the spade from the worm bucket. "Is it under the boat?"
She snatched him by the collar. "You're going to make me an 'inspired by a true story' fictional TV special one day."
He sat. Gloomily. Story of his life.

Sarah said...

We warned them about mountaintop winters. They thought we were exaggerating, feeding funny fictions to the rich newbies.

Four back-to-back blizzards later, I drove up to check on them. Behind their $2,620,000 'cabin', I found Mrs. Redding shoveling slush with a spade. Red-faced and sweating in her snow bunny ski wear, she didn’t hear me until I was right on top of her.

“Helen, you need a-?” I started. I stopped at the sight of a limp, masculine hand protruding obscenely from the icy mud.

She looked me over, and smiled. “Nick,” she purred. “Help would be lovely.”

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

TITLE: WHALE, WATCHING

Cheryl waits on the sagging porch, the cutting spade resting across her thighs. Granddaddy used it to saw off whale blubber. She’s heard he used it for other things, too, but its stains tell no tales, fiction or otherwise.

Dusk descends. Varmints scuttle in the junkyard’s bowels. The trap clatters.

Cheryl smiles at the boys’ panicked cries. She’s sick of their nasty pranks and cruel
words – Cheryl the Whale.

At 262 pounds, her flesh slushes loose and sweaty within her clothes as she lumbers
across the yard, cutting spade in hand, ready to carry on the family tradition.

CJKeats said...

Did you hear 262 people perished in the attack? More like 1262. Why the fiction, you ask? Why not? No one calls a spade a spade anymore. Me, I didn't drag myself out of the ice and slush that day just to buy into their fable, to die for someone else. I have a cause of my own. Especially now after she died. I won't join your resistance. I'll fight them from their underbelly. Get under their skin, from under their noses.
So meet the new manager of infrastructure They don't know they have already lost. It's my city now.

Dawn Kurtagich said...

Her breath was dead weight. 262 reasons to die, one to stay. She turned, watching him sleep beside her.
“You’re the reason,” she whispered, almost touching his cheek.
Life was fiction but he made it real. More than the slush of her body slowly killing her, more than the spade waiting to bury her—he was real. He gave her purpose and hope.
She heard him inhale and wondered if his breath was dead weight too.
“No,” she thought. “Not dead weight. Your breath is colors.”
She slipped the pills into the drawer and lay back to endure another night.

Roslyn Reid said...

Cars slushed past Sam Spade's office window in a snowstorm. He opened his ledger, frowned, and thought: I better find another client soon or my Receivables column will be fiction this month.

The phone rang. Sam pounced on it; but then heard, "Mr. Spade? This is the bank. A check you wrote for $262 has been returned to us for insufficient funds."

He mumbled, "Oh shit."

"And there's a $35 penalty."

Sam growled, slammed down the phone, and sat back, his feet on the desk. "Oh, well," he muttered. "Guess my pot dealer will accept only cash from me now."

Geekamicus said...

Well, that was the last of Ted. She could no longer hear his pointless cries for her mercy. He must have finally given up.

Veronica forced her spade one last time into the mound of slushy earth and stepped back.

Ruined shoes, but a good night's work. As far as she was concerned, her whole marriage to Ted had just become a less-than-pleasant fiction. It had been 262 days since he had come into her life and she had known tonight that he wouldn't make it to 263.

Joey Francisco said...

The coroner’s feet froze wading through the January slush to the door. Once inside, she hung up her coat and went in search of hot coffee, but was stopped by the autopsy assistant.

“Anna, we need you in the exam room. Haven’t seen anything like this before.”

“Okay, I’ll take a look.”

Anna entered the white tiled room, put on her gloves and leaned over the body. “Damn. These stab wounds were made by a blunt object, like a spade.”

“I hear you. There’s 262 of them, and when they found her, she had this paperback fiction in her hand.”

Delphine Roussel said...

By Sunday night, the assistant’s eyes were blurry. She would have claimed it was from reading, or at least skimming, the first few pages of 262 manuscripts plucked from the slush pile. Having long since abandoned ice or mixers, she reached for the gin and freshened her drink. Behind her, the reject heap teetered. She’d need a spade to bury these examples of What Not To Write. Such was the price of admission: to make associate, she had to discover great fiction. She never even heard the stack fall as it knocked her head against the corner of the desk.

Steve Forti said...

I always hear writers saying the slush pile is a depressing, dispiriting place to be (which I don’t get, since blue vanilla slush is delicious). Agents getting 262 submissions a day, and not one of them worth reading. But I’ve got your cure, dear Snookums. It’s a surefire best-seller that appeals to people whose names start with E. My awesome fiction novel is a 250,000 word historical sci-fi mystery romance about modern women’s issues. And it’s written entirely in iambic pentameter, which my mom loves. I picture David Spade and James Spader playing the buddy cops in the movie version.

Lance said...

Every third Thursday, dressed in her sharkskin body suit, she dived into the slush. The fin broke through the thick envelopes as she swam through the pile. She brought out winners – blockbuster fiction like 262 Rue de Requin.

Back then, it was like I was stoking that red-hot book engine with the tailings of the pile. I can hear her saying it, “Get a larger spade.”

In that dive, her slight body weight broke through the floor already sagging under the pile.

Seventeen purported scripts of Cardenio broke her fall.

One was on scraped-off vellum.

“Ah, Jaques, more chocolate.”

Naomi said...

The shuffle, the deal. I sip my slushy margarita.

Tommy's down $2,620,000. If he loses this pot, Jake wins-- me.

Tommy chases a flush through the flop and the turn.

Look at no one, I remind myself. Think of nothing.

"Here comes the river," I hear.

Two of hearts, not the spade Tommy needed.

Jake thinks he has won, taken Tommy's wife at the poker table.

But Tommy's played a long game, this marriage a fiction created for just such a moment.

Tomorrow Jake will be dead. I'll be home in Odessa trying to forget both these horrible brothers.
**

larryg said...

Lieutenant Johnson trembled uncontrollably as his F16 halted. Out of fuel, in a sleet storm, forced to set down on a slushy runway. His mission started from Frankfurt airbase under clear skies. But in a flash, a blueish cloud enveloped his jet. Then he saw the flare of tracers over his canopy and the unmistakable lines of a WWII vintage Messerschmidt 262. Same squadron markings as the model he built at age eight He heard shouts.

A Luftwaffe ground crew, in WWII era uniforms, ran towards him.


--Science fiction: The Major's Last Mission, "Sam Spade"

Madseasongirl said...

Sal plunged the spade into the ground, whistling while he worked. The snow had long since turned to slush, like a thousand dust moths scattered at his feet.

It's only a story, they'd said. A work of fiction.

Fiction was the foundation of fact. Didn't they know?

His fingers were frozen claws around the shovel, but he didn't stop. He'd prove them wrong. All 262 of the fools who had mocked him, who'd laughed and told him he was crazy.

His heart sped up and he smiled, digging faster.

Sal would make it to China, even if it killed him.

Keisha Martin said...

She hadn’t slept.
It’s been eight months since her sister passed, the creepy part the fiction had become true, now the words she had written seemed like slush, and she the black spade of death.
“Can you hear me Clara, it’s time to get your stuff outta 262.”
She had written the death, drowning in the ravine in the woods ten minutes from the cottage that their great grandfather made with his own hands, she contemplated maybe rewriting the scene maybe the impossible would happen and Mel would return, smiling telling lame jokes. Her aunt screamed “Get your ass up.”

Kel Heinen said...

Grabbing two spades from the garage, I sighed; we’d had a slushy start to spring and the yard was a mess.

“Jimmy! You comin’?”

As usual, my husband’s nose is stuck in a book. I hollered at him again. Fiction must be better than reality, since he obviously didn’t hear me. Sighing, I pushed the spade into the dirt and hollered louder.

He trailed kisses down my neck a few minutes later. “Jack, you just don’t understand the lure of a book.”

I shook my head. “Here.”

Groaning, he grabbed the second spade. We’ve got 262 seeds to plant.

Sam Bohrman said...

Dave heard The Dragon was authentic, but hand-written fortunes seemed strange. His said, “262 days in spade.” No lotto numbers. No fictionalized Confucion wisdom. Confused, he took the opportunity to flag down the waitress, a real showstopper in a dress the same color as a 7/11 slushie. “What’s this mean?” he asked.

She took a startled breath and he said, “What? I don’t get it.”

“262 days … to live.”

He recalled one of the Dragon’s online reviews: “Crappy egg rolls. Best fortune cookies EVER.” He hazarded a bite of the cookie itself and grimaced. They didn’t mean the flavor.

BP said...

"Alright, wise guy, don't you think you'd better tell me if this is fictional?"

He reaches out a leather glove to help her off the roof.

"You think I've got nothing better to do than parry slush with someone who makes the Kardashians look low-maintenance? After the court hearing, you'll know I'm not making this up."

She warps him with a glance beneath tender, mascara-laden boughs.

"Then show me. I want to know you really were there."

"Look, sugarplum, what do you want me to do? Spade up an ME-262? I don't keep 'em buried in my backyard, you know."

Scott G said...

“Say it!”

Her tormentor’s command fell on deaf ears. He could never make her speak those words.

“Say it, bitch!” He held the spade above her head, ready to strike.

Oh god, hear me now. Let my final thoughts be of dancing in a meadow of flowers or sitting atop my slush pile.

“Fine.” Her tormentor smiled, and grabbed her niece by the pigtails.

She had sent 262 form rejections last week. She should have stopped at 261.

“Okay, okay. You win.” She gulped. Her lips felt like stone slabs. Tears streamed down her face as she said, “Fiction novel.”

Ashley Whitt said...

She had slushed through numerous institution rumors surrounding room 262.

Radical treatment, they said. Terrifying, they said. It fixes you, they said.

So when someone closed the door to her bedroom that night, she threw a fit intentionally more disruptive than usual.

The room. Inside a massive tank stood against the wall.

Glass. She understood. Treating claustrophobia with a glass box, it made sense.

A doctor helped her in. It wasn't so bad. She felt in control.
Then she saw the spade. Dirt toppled in. Her heart raced. Her sanity shattered.

It turned out nothing about room 262 was fiction.

Richard Stillman Prime said...

I wash the floor 262 times. I wash the spade 262 times. I wash myself 262 times. I hear him, though. I hear his blood calling out to me from the floor, and he tasks me – he tasks me, and I am God. It was the spade or the hammer but I am God and He is a gardener and I am a gardener and this isn't fiction and he is slush now and still, still: he tasks me. He is slush and he tasks me and I am God and my punishment is more than I can bear.

Terrance Austin said...

Janet, we have a body.

The voice on the other end was my partner. I'll be there within the hour. I could hear him take a deep breath as if

I was taking too long already. Arriving on the scene, I noticed the police had already covered the victim. I knelt down

and pulled back the covering. My God,'' fiction writer Mason Spade. My partner bent down to get a closer look. Isn't that

....yeah, that's him I interrupted. He wrote "262 Miles of Slush in Alaska. Who would want to kill a new author? I thought

as I covered him.

KayC said...

I trudged through the slush, beyond caring that my boots were full of mud and my pants wet to the crutch.

Counting my steps out loud, “259, 260, 261,” I took the last step – 262 – stopped and cocked my head. I couldn’t hear anything over the wind howling through the treetops.

Looking from the spade in my hand to the solid rock face beneath me, I reached for the map, safely ensconced in waterproof packaging in my pocket. Fiction never seemed to grasp how miserable and unreliable treasure hunting really was.

Jared X said...

“I heard you represent nonfiction,” said the woman in the sequined head wrap and scuffed Kate Spade pumps. “I’ve written a 262,000-word unauthorized biography of Ke$ha.” Her boning knife sparkled under the elevator’s fluorescent light.

For the first time since toddlerhood, speech failed him. He squatted defensively. He squeezed his eyes shut.

“I know how you agents operate. Ke$ha doesn’t belong in anybody’s slush pile.”

The elevator chimed. The door opened, the door closed. He forced his eyelids open to find himself alone on the floor with a towering manuscript. “Penguin is buying pop bios,” he thought, re-tucking his shirt.

Sam said...

Gretchen scrunched into the corner of her window seat behind the heavy winter curtains when she heard her mother and father arguing. Looking out into the yard she noticed the rusty spade abandoned in the slushy snow. Gretchen snuggled into the throw filched from the living room couch and cracked open the brand new book she had smuggled into the house. Her mother did not approve of fiction books, so she had to be creative in order to escape to new worlds. Car #292 pulling up to house, sirens wailing brought her back, though.

Matthew Masucci said...

Janet sunk the spade into the dirt.

261 days of slush, she thought. "Too much."

She looked around, but no one was there. Except Fiction standing behind her, whispering words only she could hear.

"262 lives on Riverside," Fiction said.

Janet wiped the sweat from her forehead.

She checked the address on her phone. Blood mixed with dirt smeared across the screen.

262 was in for a surprise. "A twist," Janet laughed.

Fiction was already gone. Janet gave the grave a final smack.

Too easy. No one ever turned down a house-call from a literary agent.

Carol Krenz said...

Sunday afternoons at 262 Walmer St. were the best. She read fiction, Jeff browsed the Times. A roast sizzled on a rack, its blood-rare drippings redolent of onion. Yorkshire pudding puffed to epicurean peaks. Horseradish sauce. Merlot. Bliss.
Outside, the snow had turned slushy. Jeff chose a spade to clear it.
“No shovel?”
“Nah.”
Whistling something she didn’t recognize, he scraped the walk, then started digging in the garden.
Mystified, she checked the oven, heard the air split behind her and turned. The spade hovered--
“No! Jeff, please... remember what the doctor--”
--and struck.
Sunday afternoons were the best.

fiercelyyours said...

Soldier 262

Harvey raced along the fence line looking for his marker, a red roped tied to the barbed wire. He could hear the sirens, but the winter slush slowed his pace. Once at the rope he dropped to his knees and began digging with his old military spade; it had saved his life by blocking a stray bullet during the war. Today it would save him again as he pulled a rusted box from the earth and he smiled knowing the fictional life created for him was over.

Eli Rhodes said...

“How’s that rope?”

Jim Spade heard laughter. Being bound to a chair, he couldn’t turn and look at the guy who’d coldcocked him when he entered his hotel room. Funny thing? Jim had no memory of getting a hotel room.

Something crashed at his feet. It was a briefcase carrying a slew of spades.

“There’d be 262 of them,” the voice said. “One for every time you’ve stepped through my door.”

The slushy sound of wet shoes crept towards him.

Jim tensed. “What the hell?”

“Why, yes. You like fiction, Jim? Horror maybe?”

“No.”

Again he laughed. “Oh…you will. Eventually.”

micahnell said...

No one is fictional. Not even a whisper of a person, floating through the slush that coats the roads. Eyes vacant, she passes through a toy spade and doll abandoned in the snow, with not even a flicker of remembrance for her own child. As always, she stops at house number 262. The thin walls of the apartment leak enough sound for her to hear a familiar melody. It pulls her forward, and for once she wafts through the wall. Inside, a girl plays piano, her eyes closed. The song ends, the girl’s eyes open, the piano bench overturns. “Mommy!”

Bill Scott said...

Wealthy fictioneer Shirley Latelle, nicknamed Slushy Lushy because she liked her drinks frozen and by the gallon, stumbled unannounced into her editor's office. "Cut one more adjective," she said, "and I will straight-up spade a bitch. Hear me?"

Her editor fidgeted. "I'm not sure what —"

"Page 262," Slushy interrupted. "She moaned effusively at his syntactically-delicious, love words. The hole sentence is gone."

"Whole with a w … Homonyms —"

"I'm speaking," Slushy said, "how could you know —"

"I'm Beelzebub, bitch. How else could you get published, much less sell millions?"

"Good.I want an editor with balls . . . big fiery balls."

Lenny Liang said...

I was an "untouchable" but never quite fit in. I was odd. They were even.

Besides 2, I was the smallest one, a single digit runt. They all bullied me, though none more so than 262.

He often said, "Little 5, sum my parts. I'm still twice the number you are."

His words were like a spade to the heart, a heart he plucked and discarded in the miry slush. He made self-esteem a fictional dream.

But then I learned that I was "prime" and became a celebrity.

And 262? He's languishing in Wisconsin.

He can go divide himself.

Kathryn Leonard-Peck said...

“Get the icicles out of your ears. Call Wisconsin.”

“Keep your snowpants on, I heard you, I’m scooping up slush.”

“262-get-snow. They’re the only ones with summer product.”

“Toss me that spade, it’s like a glacier’s calving.”

“Can’t...I’m melting...”

“You’re stealing the witch’s line, careful about copyright, we have enough trouble.”

“Ice me down.”


“The Feds drained the power by running their ACs.”

“My artillery...the snow balls...”

“When Snowface told you to go into powder, he meant pharmaceutical grade, not ski quality.”

“Damn Snowden, the traitor. I swore I’d never sell to Tehran, that’s pure fiction.”

Danny Konczynski said...

He put up more of a fight than I expected when I handed him the spade to dig his own grave. Then again, everyone is different when they are fighting for their life. He seemed truthful during our game of fact or fiction, a little something I enjoy while torturing scum to get info I need. I explained that no matter how loud he screamed, no one was going to hear him here. We were a long way from route 262 and the tracks from my jeep through the slush would be covered in the morning by the falling snow.

kregger said...

198"Telling me not to stalk you is like an open invitation," I said as I spaded snow out of the hole.

"But..." you mumbled.

"I can't believe I got 262 form rejections from you." Slush hardened into a pile. "Who cares if I called it a fiction novel?"

"I can't help..." A scarf muffled your speech.

I held my hand to my ear. "I can't hear you!" I reached into the snow bank, opened your car door, and hauled you out. "Next time rent a four wheel drive. Good thing I updated my profile so you could email me."

HungryGals said...

He’d come from behind.

She’d woken up in the trunk.

The tires thumped. Monica strained to hear. She swallowed the terror, would not scream like some fictional loser. Don’t panic, she said to herself. Think.

Her fingers fumbled, found something in the dark – a small shovel, still wet from the slush outside. She froze, realizing its purpose.

The car stopped. The lock clicked.

She was ready.

Monica sprang from the trunk, spade swinging. He staggered from the blow. Dropped like a stone.

She gaped at the car.

Gosselin County Sheriff. Unit 262.

LynnRodz said...

"Fiction!"

Nothing.

"Fiction!" I hollered.

Still nothing.

I grabbed my coat and ran across the street to the park. Sure enough there she was slushing around in the mud. 262 days ago I had her spayed.

A neighbor emailed me. That's what you get when you spade a dog. They slush around in the mud.

"Spayed, idiot, not spade!" I shook my head, when I read it, but I had heard that rumor.

Hearsay!

Still, everyday I had to go to the park, bring her home and clean her up.

Maybe I shouldn't have done it. Messy job, either way.