Friday, November 17, 2017

Flash fiction contest with one helluva prize

It's almost Thanksgiving vacation, so it's time to hose out The Reef! Even the plants are getting dusted! As part of the general tidying up, I'm going to send one lucky prize winner a whole lotta damn fine books.

The kicker is you MUST have a US mailing address to get the prize.  If you don't have a US mailing address, you're welcome to enter the contest but your prize will be glory not goodies.

The usual rules apply:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: mick/mickey is ok, but tony/To New York is not.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again.  It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!"  This is grounds for disqualification.

8a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail...just leave me out of it.)

9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: 8:57am, Saturday, 11/18/17

Contest closes: 9am, Sunday, 11/19/17

 If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

oops, sorry, too late. Contest is closed. (Look for results on Monday)



S.D.King said...

“In a story we first reported Monday, thousands of men across the country are reporting mysterious blindness, followed by sudden clarity of vision. In stony silence, victims refuse to tell details, but many mimicked that they were alone with a woman and remember a bright flash.”

“And now to Wall Street: a team of women programmers developing phone apps specifically aimed at female users. With an IPO set for this week, these soon-to-be billionaire engineers are solving a host of problems specific to women. We will attempt to learn more about beta-testing on the top-secret app nicknamed ‘HARVEY.’”

Timothy Lowe said...

“Tony, Mickey, Peter, Billy, Nick...”

Boy-heavy class, teacher thinks as he takes attendance. Collects iPhones. Turns off the lights. Covers windows.

Locks the door.

The drill stretches on. He listens to murmured conversation. Deprived of phones, students talk. He smiles, remembers the old days when keeping them quiet used to be hard.

“Mr. Lowe, why do we have so many of these?”

I don’t have an answer.

Next morning, another class. “Did you hear -?”

“Northern California -”

“6 dead -”

“They locked the doors -”

“Eight seconds separated life and death -”

Teacher frowns. Remembers the old days.

I still don’t have an answer.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I was cleaning. He gave me a stony stare.
I told him I was rearranging books on shelves and editing what to keep and what to give away.
“You’re getting rid of books?”
He mimicked me by throwing my Webster’s out the window. Had he stopped there I would have petered out and moved on to closets and dresser drawers but I panicked when he reached for King’s On Writing.
Chances were a billion to one against him helping so I pushed him to carry a box of books to the basement. Yup, I pushed. Edited my marriage too.

Steve Forti said...

Hmm. He’s cute, maybe he can be Mr “Right”.
>>The depths of my heart I’ll plumb. I’ll show you true chivalry.
Umm. Ick. What’s an antonym for suave?
>>You’re just my type: gorgeous.
Ugh. I was wrong. His type? Terrible.
>>Come on out and I’ll show you this town.
Wait, is he outside my house?
>>Knock knock
Shit. Why’d I put my real name on Tinder?
>>I know you’re in there.
What to do? Call the cops? Spook him and he might panic kill me.
>>I’m waiting...
Swipe left
>>☹ Your loss

Anonymous said...

"Is this right? You want me to show my butt on your next episode?"
"That's what I wrote."
"Can we even do that?"
"That's the point. Controversy drives up ratings. We gotta compete, right?"
"So showing my butt's just a gimmick?"
"Yup. Don't panic, kid The producers wanted it. And they pay the bills."
"Talk them out of it"
"I talked them into it. First they wanted to replace the lot of us. Writers. Directors."
"I've said that all along."
"But your suggestion's better. Now, excuse me. I'm gonna go exercise my butt off before shooting starts. I hope."

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

“What’s the cant on yer man?”
“Can’t you just talk normal? Every time I see you, you’re doing something weird.”
“Practicing for a show. ‘Allo poppet. Errything okay?”
“You know it isn’t. You must’ve seen on Facebook, everybody’s talking about it.”
“Mmm, heard Bill got nicked fer…..summat.”
“Bill was arrested for wire fraud. And that sounded terrible.”
“Yeah, I’m still finding the right voice. I’ll give it a rest if you buy me coffee. But wait, why aren’t you more upset? And I notice you’re not in the pokey. Did you really not know?”
“Well….do you remember Mick?”

Kerry Bernard said...

Aurelius floated sideways at the top of his bowl, gasping.

"I can save him!"


"Vitam-" I began to cast.

"That's not-"


"The right spell..." my roommate finished. "You wanted 'vivamus venire'."

Eh, close enough.

The water roiled and darkened. Something rose above the surface and leaped from the bowl. Aurelius!

No... A salamander? Next a mosquito, nyala, platypus, and mackerel popped out. Then came a limpet, ermine, and crossbill.

A taxonomic kaboom. Botanic, planktonic, demonic. Katydids, kelp, kale. All sprang from the bowl.

"I'm going to ask to switch rooms."

Great. So long roommate #3.

Amy Johnson said...

An unseen trumpeter’s jazz filled the station. Detective Garrett Murphy pretended not to notice Miss Vera Dunn’s legs that went from here to forever. He had class—class that went from here to the tips of his wingtips.

“Your grandmother says her tortoise brooch is missing.”

“How awful.” The monotony of insincerity.

A cop dragged over a guy with a nick on his cheek. “He hocked it this morning.”

“Damn micks. You set me up!”

The cop raised his billy club. “Found this on him. Ticket to Paris.”

“It’s over, Vera,” said Murphy.

Defeated, she handed him the matching ticket.

Mike Hays said...

My incompetence and Peter Principle aside, I was their fearless leader. The Urchin above all of Gotham’s urchins. And here stood a golden opportunity to nick dinner for them at Father Mick’s soup kitchen.

Hopefully, the Bat was away chasing other fools in tights. Without masked vigilante interference, I’d be in, out, and carrying boxes of Tony’s Pizzeria’s finest pie.

The delivery van idled while its driver searched the townhouse for one Sal Marconi to pay the bill. I made my move. Bingo! Tonight, there will be smiles all around as the East End Mission enjoys an impromptu pizza party.

The Noise In Space said...

Passing into the light didn’t hurt nearly as much as she’d thought. Soft, cottony clouds billowed underfoot, and harp music filled the air. Not a bad way to spend eternity. She nodded to a man, who she took for St. Peter, and passed through the gates. Perhaps Nana would be waiting for her, or her cat Mickey.

But wait. That man—she’d seen him before. The other driver. At his feet, a car seat. “Baby on board.”

This wasn’t right. She heard someone snicker. Her face felt flush—if only she had a fan, she was so hot, and—


Jason said...

Tony, Bill, and Mick rush toward me, passing the puck back and forth. My defenseman falls in front of me, catching his blade in a rut the Zamboni couldn’t fix. It was up to me, a goalie against three rushing opponents I’m friends with off the ice. Now, I hate them. They pass the puck back and forth and I follow them, my legs burning from moving side to side. Tony shoots, and it nicks my glove, peters off the post, and stays out. Through my mask, I give them a wink. They owe me a beer.

Colin Smith said...

I couldn’t compete. Reality check—look at me! How could I?
That will be my defense.
Makes what I did more impressive.
Pulled it off with barely a scratch. A nick to the finger, that’s all. Bit of blood.
Compared to what I did to those Adonises, with their stony abs and sky-blue eyes, it’s academic.
Killed them all, that’s what I did.
Took them to the crematorium.
Watched their billowing hair burn.
I’ll pay for my crime. Tearful shouting. Harsh words. Hateful silence.
Denial of conjugal rights—for a season.
But worth it for the empty shelf space.

Alex said...

My heart pummeled my chest as I stepped out of my car onto the pavement. The ancient vehicle had finally petered out on me. It was the worst time of night; just shy of two according to my Mickey Mouse watch. With no reception on my cell phone, I had no choice but to go in search of assistance. But help is the last thing I found when I happened upon the menacing, stony-faced man, the bill of his baseball cap pulled low over his eyes. I swore I heard him snicker as he pulled a gun from his overcoat.

Dena Pawling said...

Judge: Call your next witness.

Counsel: Defense calls Peter.

Witness: Yeah, I'll tell the truth.

Counsel: Where were you on the night of October 31?

Witness: Me and Tony out on the town. You know. Trick or treat.

Counsel: You see the victim?

Witness: Bill? Yeah. Propped on the fence behind Mickey D's.

Counsel: He look unusual?

Witness: Yeah, must've nicked himself shaving.

Counsel: Blood on his chin?

Witness: Something like that.

Counsel: What did you do?

Witness: Dragged him behind the dumpster.

Counsel: Why not leave him where he was?

Witness: Fence had a sign said “post no Bills.”

Kathy Joyce said...

I racked my billiard cue, drew the Colt. O’Connor poured sweat, pissed himself.

Tony party,” Wicky demanded. Right again, that guy. Beautiful women, expensive champagne, lots of ice (cold and hot). Power died, they lit candles, partied on, never suspected.

O’Connor did the alarms, locks. Wicky grabbed the stuff. Me? Consigliere. (Wicky said that means big-boss.) Equal partners, us, fifty-fifty-fifty.

“The Mick nicked it,” Wicky said, “irrefutable. Stole it from you, pet, ergo…” Guy uses words like that, you believe him.

I pulled the trigger.

Wicky went for a tarp. Coppers came, fast. Never saw Wicky or the necklaces again.

Steph Ellis said...

“Gluttony is a sin, pride is a sin, theft …”

Simon tuned out from Father Mick’s sermon, he was already condemned by his bulging stomach, the photoshopped selfies on Facebook and the beer he’d nicked from the local offie. Confession called with its bill of reckoning … but he had another to add to the list; nine broken commandments and counting. He stood up.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The priest’s voice petered out at the interruption. Simon was a child again. Remembered the man’s touch. His whisky breath. He pulled out his gun. Ten.

Nate Wilson said...

Tony: Award-winning author William Shakes is talking with us today about his new children's book, titled...

Peter: Cottontail. It's the story of a most unexpected friendship. It begins...

Nick: At night, with a tiger's stomach growling. Yet, when...

Tony: The tiger goes in search of a meal and finds a...

Peter: Rabbit, he doesn't eat him. William, you've said you wrote this to educate children.

Bill: Of rights and wrongs, yes. Though truly, it's more gimmick than actual story. And the end is rather...

Tony: Stark. Agreed. Unfortunately, listeners, it seems we've run...

Peter: Out...

Nick: Of time. Until tomorrow...

Chelsea Owens said...

“Jenny, I’ve lost my mind.” Her mother looked worried.

Jenny smiled to her sisters. “Why?”

“I’ve misplaced the babies, you see.”


Mickey thundered past, chasing Peter.

“No, it’s more than that. I set one down, turn back, and he’s gone.”

Kimberly billowed by, tailed by Antony. “They’re around,” Jenny reassured.

“But, little Nicky can’t even crawl yet. And it happened with him!”

Jenny gasped. “Not Nicky! Where did you set him?”

“Just here,” her booted foot moved to point its toe firmly upon the woven rug. Instead, Jenny watched a very surprised Mother Goose fall through the solid floor.

Mallory Love said...

Yesterday, my horoscope foretold of a break from monotony. Stupidly, I believed that would be a good thing. Until my latest get rich quick gimmick backfired. Slight billion dollar error.

Someone banged on the door and shouted from the other side. Cops with a warrant. I didn't move until I heard the click on the gun. The lock from the door blasted off. I ran out the back in the nick of time. Or so I thought. I was hit with searing pain. Then everything faded to black. I woke up in a hospital room in handcuffs.

Today's horoscope: terminal.

Megan V said...

Opie didn’t have moves like jagger, but he went out every night trying to score some tail. Most mornings, he’d come back with his tail between his legs.
And then, one morning, poof. Gone. I waited a few days—shelled out some bills, rang some bells. I even prayed to Peter.
I figured he’d moved on, figured he’d left me behind like a regular Mortimer in a roomful of Mickeys. Never thought he’d sneak back in, smoother than Saint Nick on Christmas morning.
Or that he’d bring company.
“Puppies!” My kids shrieked.
Turns out, he was a Toto nymphomaniac.

Rio said...

I saw you playing in the park,
the little boy with the broken heart,
and your father who would practice catch with you.
Each day you came out with new hope,
terrible and stupid hope,
that you could bear the role he put on you.

He knew your dreams were far from there.
He smiled at you as if he cared,
but your dreams weren’t worth a nickel in his eyes.
Still hope, it billowed out from you,
in your Mickey shirts and your light-up shoes.
I had no choice but to save you from that life.

Amy Schaefer said...

He bragged without pause. His gaudy apartment, his job - even his knickknacks reinforced his money-money-money self-image. He nudged a small busking trumpeter. “Lazy crooks. There’s a fake turd in the hat.”

I mimicked his smile. And kept him talking.

When he passed out on the golden pillows, I checked my cameras. Lots of footage to pass up the line.

I adjusted the trumpeter. For a moment I was six again, begging kopeks as my stony-faced father bowed his violin.

I pocketed the wad of bills on the nightstand. For verisimilitude.

For anyone making music on the cold streets tonight.

Janice Grinyer said...

“So St. Antony works on lost causes, St. Peter, that’s me, handles the books, St. Mickael wields a serving sword, and St. Nickolas delivers charity. Do you understand now?”

St. Peter concentrated again on his bookkeeping, absentmindedly flicking silvery wings. A small glow beside him held the consecrating inkwell of Life. Newly arrived, this minuscule glimmer asked questions. Many. Questions.

“Then who pays the bills?”

St. Peter’s silvery wings quivered.

“A baby. A newborn babe named Jesu.”

Above, wondrous thunder echoed. The tiny light next to St. Peter suddenly flashed.

“I got it! And one ring to rule them all!”

Claire Bobrow said...

Captain Mick Peters – at long last a detective – considered the evidence:

Dead body
Massive pile of books

Wasn’t every Tony, Nick, or Bill who could solve a mystery like this. He’d prove he was worthy!

Suicide? Yes, clearly. The note! But how had she crushed herself, and why?

He’d like some answers from the person responsible for such fatal distress.

The cat gave him a look. Boredom? Neglect? Or what was the saying? A bit like she’d eaten the dairy...


Ah, well. Time to track down and question the owner of those mysterious initials…


Beth Carpenter said...

Thought I had it made. Married a woman who inherited a farm. But nothing grew in the stony ground, even kohlrabi. Llamas, she said. Hardy constitution. Valuable fleece.

But do you know llamas spit warm icky crud when they’re irritated? And then they snicker. Wife says they don’t, but they do. She treats the fuzziest one like a pet. Err on the side of caution, I tell her. Damn sneaky beasts. She laughs and shares her bonbons with it. Never with me.

Enough. Gonna leave her behind, find another occupation. One without livestock.

I’m leaning toward butcher.

Melanie Savransky said...

The nametag said Joanne Mickey. She was neither.
"More coffee, hun?"
Tony reached for his mug, a red stain under his jacket.
Peter slid his mug over, too.
She poured refills. Her hand only shook once.
Peter took a sip. "Jesus, that's bitter. Go change, before they follow the blood."
"Didn't want blood? Shouldn't have shot Nick."
"His fault, he got greed--"
He fell over.
So did Tony.
She pulled a pebble from Peter's pocket.
What had Nick always said? Someone has to foot the bill.
She tucked the uncut diamond in her bra.
Time Mama took a vacation.

AYL said...

I went science fiction, I hope it makes sense :-)

I dragged his body 200 micks.
But he wasn’t the first.
The first was Tony.
Her eyes got heavy.

That’s the flaw in these nicks;
they put you to sleep
so someone can rescue you.
Damsel nicks, they call them.

So we dragged her
as long as we could.
Then it happened to Peter.
His eyes got heavy.

So I dragged his body 200 micks.
And I saw the spout!
But then my eyes got heavy.

They say never take off your bill,
the air here makes you give up.
But my eyes were heavy,
and I saw the spout.

Kregger said...

Diana Prince gazed upon the heroes.

“Who among you is without guilt?” She lassoed Tony Stark.

He hung his head. “Pepper Potts…?”

“A question? Really!? How ironic.” She swiveled.

“Peter Parker?”

He clenched his spinneret, “MJ, Smurfette, Aunt…”

Diana snorted. “The morals of Black Widow. Who’s next?”


“Yo, Adrian! But, Micky’s easier.” He paused. “And better.”

Diana winced. “Seriously? That’s a gut shot.”

“Nick Fury?”

“Once you go patch, you never go ba—”

“Stop, just stop!”


“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”

“Think of the children.” Wonder Woman sighed. “If not you? Then who?”

Sian Brighal said...

The guts of party poppers coil in coloured gobbets, and the table hosts the long-forgotten remains of dinner. The guests are gone, needy text messages already read and mollified with promises of the next get-together. How quick the spirit peters out after panicked gluttony on party highs has faded. The flesh strives and the will bullies towards some contrived mimickry of pleasure, of being fulfilled, making being alive worth living, but we know we're just counterfeiting to pay bills. In the morning, we'll clean the crime scene like pros, leaving no trace of our killing time.

Sarah Jensen said...

A woman found the body.

No witnesses, only suspects.

“Suicide,” some said.

“Accident,” others claimed.

I rode from Philly to NYC where the body hung from a rope. Terrible sight.

“Murder,” I said.

Panic kicked in as accusations flew with carrion wings toward gossip’s rotting corpse.

I questioned each one.

“Nasty slob, ill-natured. Had it coming,” the woman said.

The anemic kid bawled. Didn’t look capable.

Evidence accused the woman. She had an alibi.

Then shock, surprise. The kid confessed.

Another case closed.

I can rest easy now, knowing it was I who tied the noose.

Casual -T said...



"Let's move the whole operation to Nyala."

"Not now... I'm try'na sleep here!"

"Billingsworth's never gonna find us there. It's in goddamn Sudan!"

"What is?"


"Ah... Never mind Billingsworth. Better hope Terrence not coming after us. Won't be no picknick once he figure' out was us who stole that golden toilet seat o' his... Now be quiet!"

"And those mickle garden gnomes with the diamond inlays!"

"Yeah, and the garden gnomes... Can I rest now?"

"So, waddayasay?"

"'bout what?"

"About Nyala?"

"I'll think 'bout it."



"What now?"

"What the hell's a mickle, anyways?"

"Good night."

Michael Seese said...

I paid the bill. It was all mine now. The manager cut the padlock.

“Some of it weighs a ton. You might want a dolly. We close at 8:00.”

Then he left me alone with the knickknacks of a life I’d spent years imagining.

A blonde Fender Telecaster. 1962 model, or thereabouts.

Postcards from haphazard stops along Route 66.

Personally autographed posters of Mick Jagger and Peter Frampton.

A well-worn little black book. That I kept.

I closed the door, and left the rest for scavengers, one step closer to knowing the man the birth certificate called my father.

E. Berg said...

Tony.” Mickie spoke so softly only I heard her.

The name caused tiny nicks to tingle on my skin.

Beside us, Jamie whispered, “Peter.”

We all looked at each other.

The bitchy girl in front of us whipped around. I braced for her quip.

Billy,” she said.

We sat in silence. Outside were high calls and low grunts of boys lacrosse. Inside, the sun illuminated dust particles people pretended not to see.

My heart rumbled. I walked to the chalkboard and wrote #MeToo.

Soon the bell rang but we stayed there. We were on our own time now.

J. Corpas said...

After the divorce, not even my dog Tony listened to me. I might as well have been wearing a Mickey Mouse mask, or a Peter Pan costume, the way everyone discarded me like an unpaid bill. I nicked myself shaving, left the sink bloodied, maybe then they’d notice. I left the eggs out, the dirty dishes on the table. The cops could collect DNA from them, if they even bother to show up. I pull out of the driveway like I have for years, except this time, it looks like a fork in the road. I turn right.

Marty Weiss said...

“Tony, Egypt is lost to Octavius's legions.”

“Cleo, don’t use my nickname. Call me Antony.”

“Antony, we shall both be dead soon.”

“I have a plan. A gimmick.”

“Listen! Roman trumpeters! The Legions!”

“They will billet outside the palace.”

“What is your plan?”

"While I sneak out to rally your citizens, you hold this container on your lap as you lie on your golden couch."

“What is in this box. It feels so light.”

"Open it when Octavius comes to see you. It's a surprise which will end my... our problems."

“You think of everything, my silver-tongued warrior.”

Craig F said...

It isn’t a real tony day. Sudafed sleep beats none but doesn’t make you top-bill.
I trudge the edge of the madding crowd so I can curb myself like a dog if necessary.
Writers-club Meg beckons. I nod but wave her off. I turn back and a car door is kicked into me. A phone zombie is right behind the door, so immersed in her phone that she doesn’t seem to notice. I make a mistake and chuckle. That she notices, calls her pack members, Mick and Nick. Meg arrives first with her pepper spray and the scene peters out.

Marie McKay said...

The rider pale from exertion brings the bicycle to a STOP
The glass falls from Tony's mother's wet hands spinning spinning spinning STOP
Bill's sister is playing on the street STOP
Peter and Mick's father is tending to his roses STOP
The grim rider makes his way to door number 10 STOP
No not my boy STOP Not my NICK

Kat Turner said...

Liz tugged the rubber Mick Jagger mask over her face, its sickly-sweet odor gassing her. Brandishing her pistol, she strode into the bank and shouted, “Bills on the counter!”

People threw up hands, screaming.

Liz shot the ceiling, the bang ringing in her ears. “Shut up!”

Obediently, commotion petered out. Silence replaced it.

This shithole had nickel and dimed her for too damn long, stealing wages from her already measly check. Liz hustled to a teller’s station, where a pale, gaping blonde brushed trembling fingers to nylon-clad knee.

Liz pointed the gun at her. “Did you push an alarm button?”

Linda Strader said...

A month before Christmas, my mom stashed bills into envelopes marked: “Gas,” “Electric,” “Groceries,” and the intriguing one: “Christmas.”
“It never pays to rob Peter to pay Paul,” she said to me.
Confusing. Who were Peter and Paul and who would rob them?
“I’m scrimping down to the nickel to make ends meet,” she said later to Tony.
“To the nickel,” he mimicked. “Steal some from another fund.”
“No! Then something will be short.”
Christmas morning: I ripped open my present. My mom never robbed Peter to pay Paul, but somehow she still managed to buy me my heart’s desire.

RosannaM said...


“No,” said Jack’s wife. “More sweet potatoes, though. Love that toasted marshmallow.”

“Spinach? Cucumbers?”

“They’re all yours. Tony place, this. I can’t imagine the bill.”

“It’s Thanksgiving. And I am blessed to have you. Eat up,” Jack said.

“But that waiter! ‘Would the lady like me to clear the platter?’” she mimicked. “If I had a nickel for every time someone said that.”

“They always rush us. Would you like my slice of pumpkin pie?”

“Extra whipped cream, please. And the bourbon, just a nip. Eternally grateful.”

The platter finally clean, Mr. Spratt signaled for the check.

Anonymous said...

My brother's joint was the kind they'd slip you a mickey sooner than start an honest fistfight.

The regulars played billiards in the back, the snick of balls an accent to rough voices. Couldn't compete with the tony clubs on the north side, but the table felt was immaculate. Priorities.

Conversation petered out as I stepped up to the bar.

"We don't serve cops."

"Good thing I ain't planning to order one."

We traded hard stares, harder memories.

"Cut bait while you still can, Frank."

He sneered.



I held the door for the Feds on my way out.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

“This one’s petered out,” Mick growled. “He’s nicked.”

“No!” Edwin cried. “Give him a second chance. It’s tough billowing smoke and breathing fire all day. Plus, he’s small. Only weighs a ton, ya know?”

Just then, a unicorn whinnied from the edge of the forest.

They turned toward the sound. “Everyone deserves a second chance,” Edwin whispered and set his hand on Trinket’s snout.

Christmas morning:

“What’s this little trinket, poppet?” Mum asked, leaning over Anna’s shoulder.

“It’s a dragon!” Anna gasped. She caressed the shimmering figure with awe.

“Who’s it from?” They looked around the room.

“Dunno,” Mick shrugged.

Julie said...

Tony turkey.

Doomed from the start. Everyone knew the yearly Bill of Salvation came for Toms, not Tonys.

Hammick the hog smoked away, his corpse lending a thick porky scent to the late autumn chill. Already, an LED-laden Saint Nick was being wired in place to prevent escape before his annual immolation. The winged trumpeter had been nailed through the head into a tree, yet didn’t bleed.

The merciful cat licked feathers from his claws. Cleaned mud from his paws. He had seen this all before.

But then, Tom cat’s life had also been blessed by mercy.

Brig said...

Reflowered were once a boy band.

They refused to be considered washed up, but did acknowledge some vigorous wiping with a damp cloth.

Enter: A reality show.

Just them, the elements, 60 crew.

Tony realised he only loved reality TV for the lack of reality. The same reason Bill missed alcohol. The others arrived with identical rhinoplasty so hadn’t spoken.

The fight was gluten related. While Mick and Nick had the size advantage, Peter really knew his way around a kick ball change.

Six weeks later, they hated each other.

Seven weeks later, they hated each other in sold-out arenas.

roadkills-r-us said...

Waiting for my Whopper I heard, "Excuse me. Have we met?"
I turned to look. Twenty years faded away. "You were hitchhiking. To Nyack."
"You gave me a ride in your Mick Truck."
"You mean Mack, but it was a Peterbuilt."
"You were very kind."
"You weren't. You nicked the bills stashed in the console."
She blushed. "I'm sorry. I was young, desperate, and stupid. I can repay you." She seemed sincere, but who knows?
I spent twenty years in Rikers for that truck theft. She looked well off. I smiled. "Water under the bridge. Want to share a table?"

Scott G said...

Maybe today, she’ll guess the right name.


Her favorite singer. She said the same names every time.

“Nope. Try again.”


Her favorite Saint, back when she knew how to pray. I shook my head.

She paused, her hands and head in a thinking pose. I knew better.


“Huh-uh.” He was the President, last she knew.


Her favorite author was Dashiell Hammett.


She loved baseball.

I wheeled her back to her room and patted her shoulder. She didn’t like hugs.

“Who’re you again?”

My heart broke, like it did last week.

“Good-bye, Mom. See you soon.”

Sherry Howard said...

The Peterbilt rumbled into the rest area. Tony patted his wife’s hand. “Meet you back here,” he said. “Don’t run off with no billionaire.”

He ducked into the building and dug out his phone. “We’re here. I can’t stand this no more.”

He watched as Nick approached the truck. He watched as Mickaela hopped down and followed Nick. He watched them disappear behind the buildings.

He roared back onto the highway. “Breaker! Breaker! This is High Baller riding solo again.”

Mickaela had taken over the CB one time too many. Nick would take good care of her white line fever.

Nathan Holland said...

Tony: Spades! Ha. I beat you all. Hey Pete read that later.
Mick: Pete, watcha reading anyways?
Pete: It’s a contest about writing.
Nick: Writing? I didn’t even know you could read.
Bill: I bet he reads better than you play poker.
Nick: That’s not what your mom said.
Tony: Spades! I win again. Hey Pete, write that later.
Mick: Pete, watcha writing?
Pete: A story about an alot.
Nick: A lot of what?
Pete: Not a lot, an alot.
Tony: Spades! You guys suck.
Cards tossed across the table.

Abrielle Sarah Fuerst said...

A half-glance, mascara. A tony bar on the Upper East Side. Don’t look.

Prada and Chanel. Foot the bill, skip the rent.

Heels on black asphalt, faltering too fast. Not unsteady enough, after three glasses.

Wash off the makeup, a nick deep in her jawbone. Powders don’t hide it, a shawl usually can. Tequila in her bathroom. Excuses peter out faster than the memories that made them.

I always thought those cabinets were reserved for medicine.

Red-lacquered nails, don’t touch your stomach. Damn these earliest of maternal instincts.

Open the drawer, a shotgun, click-clack. Mick, or Millard. Something like that.

Rochelle said...

I dropped into the profession of vending machine operator like a package of M&M’s when you hit E5. Lulled by comfortable monotony, I grew to appreciate the gig’s routine. Restock. Empty the cash. Rinse and repeat every Friday.
Gloria didn’t understand. She’d say, “Peter, if you don’t come up with a new gimmick, those nickels will never turn into billions.”
Her electric cigarette would fill the room with annoyed vapor while I rolled up my buckets of change. It wasn’t about the money for me, though. I did it for the snacks.

RKeelan said...

Tony’s marriage is on the rocks. He’s gotta nag his wife for, like, two weeks straight to get any.

Peter’s got the opposite problem. He’s so busy with all the nurses at the hospital, he doesn’t have time for his wife.

Nick's into dudes and groping. He’s lucky that way—guys like it.

Mick's twitter handle is @Micks_Dick_Pics.

Bill’s an even bigger womanizer than Peter. He gets a lot of complaints, but he can always talk the girls out of it.

Everyone says they’re dirt bags, but that’s their problem.

People like me.

Just Jan said...

“The truth is,” he begins, but his voice peters out when he catches the old man watching. Rising, he heads toward the john. A few not-so-discreet seconds later, our watcher follows.

I’m not about to throw in the towel this close to success. I lay down some bills and go after them.

“She’s curious, Nick,” I hear my companion plead.

The geezer’s baritone echoes off the tiles. “She’s a journalist!”

It’s a Tony-winning performance, but I’ve been gimmicked before. I kick in the door, ready for the exposé. The brilliant red suit takes me by surprise.

“I believe,” I whisper.

Karen McCoy said...

The salesman emitted a gimmicky smile. “This one’s a beaut. Bit rickety, though.”

The chair sighed, missing Mexico, and the girl who painted him stony red. An old woman, now, if she was still alive.

The woman inspected the armrest. “Paint looks cracked.”

Nicks--constant pokes and prods that deepened each year the chair was stuck here, with the store’s soul-killing Muzak.


“I’ll take it, along with another coat of paint. Send me the bill.”

“Might peter out on the journey. You certain?”

“I’ll make sure it passes the border,” the woman said. “My grandmother will be thrilled.”

John Davis Frain said...

Louella-Marie Busch was dead.

“She drank too much,” Holmes concluded.

Detective Carmody shrugged. “So, cause of death—gluttony?”

“Too much tea. Spiked with too much cyanide. Was Susan Morey did it. I’ll bill you.”

Was Morey did it,” Carmody sang, mimicking the master. “Sorry, but we like evidence.”

Holmes snickered. “Let’s hope terribly you don’t investigate my murder. Morey made tea for herself. Here’s her suicide note. Busch drank the wrong tea. Good day, detective.”

Deputy Watson waltzed in. Smug. “Brought your suspects, Carmody. Anthony, Pete, Mike, Nikki and Belle.”

“Don’t need ‘em anymore.” Carmody said. “Holmes already solved it.”

Dani Nosek said...

The monotony of St. Petersburg was broken only by the flash of billboards on the frozen winter morning Mick gave in to Death. All the color was washed out of the streets, the gray of soot and snow covered what must have been beautiful architecture in days past. Even the bodies that lay along the roadside like forgotten nicknacks lacked the warmth of life in their cheeks.
Death stepped beside him and took a long drag off her cigarette.
“Are you ready yet?” she asked.
He took one last, long breath of smoky air.

Barbara said...

He wanted me.
I wanted his money.
She stood in the way.
No biggy. I invited them to dinner.

They came
I slipped an Atomic Kingslayer
into her drink,
chitchatted, and waited.
When the tonic kicked in,
he fell, not her.

She leaned in and kissed me.
"I switched drinks.
That's what you wanted. Right?"

Talk about mixed signals.
But she inherited.
"I've always wanted you," I lied.

We made love.
He struggled on the carpet,
erg, erg, erging,
face blackening to burnt onyx.

We were arrested,
taken downtown in dishabille.
Son of a bitch.
He managed to livestream it.

Kate Higgins said...

Tony invented his autonomous Slaughter Drone, Taking the 'ill' out of 'kill'.

Peter did the global marketing, ultimately fueling the desire for inculpable power.

Bill played devil's advocate but unintentionally rationalized its expense and scope.

Nick fine-tuned the programing, eliminating any vestige of direct human guilt.

Mickaela passed universal, preventive legislation in the United Nations hours before product launch.

Humans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Lucifer took it underground to the blackest market.

Gaia said goodbye to her parasitic human predators forever.

Stacy said...

Hey, you hear about Mickey?

What did you hear?

Got stabbed. Nicked his artery.

Damn. He okay?

Blood transfusions, from what I hear.

Have the police talked to him?

I--yeah, I dunno. My phone battery petered out. I think he's still in the ER. Gonna have a hell of a bill when he gets out.

If he survives, Tony.

Yeah, that's true. Hey, I heard you guys got into a helluva fight a while back. You gonna go see him?

When things calm down.

Kiss and make up, huh?

Not exactly.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

A succubus’ job is never done.

Knick knacks of various worth offered her. Stinking herbs and saltpeter mixed in ceramic kettle for the competing Incubus. Her target is his client, and my, the women who want that man’s head. Both of them.

“He gets away with everything,” said the actress.

“He lied,” said the sister.

“It hurt,” said the nephew.

“I’m not supposed to tell,” said the daughter.

“Justice,” said the wife.

“No,” said the succubus. “I offer you vengeance.”

The funeral proceeds minus three choice body parts, trophies for work done.

The bill paid in full. Deliver to NY.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

The stony eyed tiger silently stalked the ferocious beast under the night sky lit by a billion stars.

Panicked, the deadly creature turned to face his attacker, mimicking a monster, slashing and screaming.

The tiger’s needle sharp claws flashed, nicked him. She went in for the kill and watched as his life petered out before her eyes.

The victorious cry of the tiger filled the land.

“Great. She finally got that mouse.”

Anonymous said...

“Button your shirt,” said Mom, as though a grave hadn’t just appeared in the living room floor, “company’s coming.”

She didn’t mention the grave, not the next day or even the next as the stench grew, though she did—stepping round carefully—spritz the room with lemon.

By Week Two, guests were gagging.

“Waiting on the recarpeter,” Mom said, eyes mimicking steel. “Tea?”

Eventually friends quit coming by. But Mom never panicked, just kept spritzing, once, twice, a billion times.

Bizarre, all those years we lived in that house before she died, how she never mentioned the grave at all.

Richelle Elberg said...

At Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, there’s a memorial where the World Trade Center once stood. Two immense square pools have been built into the Twin Towers’ footprint. Water falls thirty feet into the pools along each wall. Flanking the pools are great sheets of bronze built into a protective barrier. Some 3,000 names have been cut into these great bronze sheets, for all to remember.

I remember.

Bill, Tony, Mick. Peter and Nick. There were all there with me.

I trace my finger over another name.

My name.

I turn and leave.

katie said...

Tonya and Billie, Mickayla and Nicky, they all knew Peter. They knew to avoid him, knew he liked to shut the door when giving reviews. Peter hadn't kept up with the times, though, he didn't think about things like Go-Pros or the new zero-tolerance policy. He hadn't bothered to read that one because it was a really long email and he had more important things to worry about, like getting the best deal on his new rad road bike.
It was a great holiday party.