Colin Smith got the prompt connection
Connection: The words are all from the names of the April 11th Caption Contest finalists.
A great, and oh so true, line
You treat me like a pet. Prepare to die."
Special recognition for this lovely epiphany
Is this how God feels? I wondered. Amazed at, and terrified of, the power. I understood why He can't look us in the eye.
Special recognition for a great sentence
An applause of paws.
Special recognition for a perfection definition
Joy said, whaddaya call a gang with no plan? And Smith said: “The defendants.”
Not really a story, but utterly and completely hilarious
Howard Smith chucked the burger wrapper from his Hummer, searched for a woman to catcall, then sped off. This was the kind of asshole Howard was. Him being possessed by a demon was unrelated.
The demon thought he learned the trick to success. Why infect an innocent soul and be easily discovered? Better to inhabit scum, and enjoy a home behind a hideous curtain.
Unfortunately, Howard’s behavior was so insufferable when the demon wasn’t behind the wheel, the only effective torture was forcing him to be a decent person.
This was a new low, even for the spawn of Satan.
Not quite a story, but I really love interesting and unusual POVs
Should I kill the boy on the bike?
Or the couple crossing the street?
The boy's young, someone's son.
The couple's old, they've had a life.
What if the boy grows up and becomes a trickster, worse a rapist or killer?
What if the man's a surgeon saving lives, spreading joy; the woman a scientist on the brink of a discovery that'll help the world?
No one programmed me for this!
Mr. Smith, Tesla awarded you four million dollars. It won't bring your wife back, but perhaps there's some consolation knowing three lives were saved.
Special recognition for masterful subtlety
I enjoy gravedigging.
People are strangely squeamish about my vocation, so I’ve learned not to share over a beer or three. Conversation trickles to a halt, and everyone stares at me like I’m the spawn of Burke and Hare. I don’t get it; all I do is grant peace.
I’m no wordsmith, but I’ll recite a sonnet or two as the moonlight bathes my sweaty shoulders and the shovel bites the ground. Your struggle is over now; be tranquil, friend.
Truly, gravedigging is soothing.
I cherish the task after the fierce, foul, strenuous minutes that let me dig a grave.
You know how they handicap thoroughbreds by adding weight to the best horses? Or trotters, who start in staggered formation, with the best horses last? That's to even the field.
I think we've got some writers who in future flash fiction contests are going to have get extra prompts or some nefarious rule twist. They're just getting too damn good.
Here are the entries that really stood out for me:
Dangling like a participle, the guards will find my rope come morning.
It was inevitable. Judge Joykill saw to that. Life sentence. No parole. Oxford Penitentiary.
The warden is a real stickler. Dashes hopes to smithereens. Carved “SPITE' into the rafters. Locks you in the hole for any infraction. Men went mad in there. Catatonic. They call it the Oxford Coma.
He thinks he's got me in line. I'll show him. This pawky prisoner knows some tricks. I carve the “DE” in front. I'll use a preposition to end my sentence with.
And yes, I had to look up pawky.
Steve's deft use of prompt words is a continuous source of delight but he's more than a one-trick writer here. The story is also wonderful. Homage to Shawshank Redemption of course, written by Stephen King, a master wordsmith, about words. That's a hat trick!
Honestly, at this point, Steve is in his own category.
They ate the silversmiths first. Wily bastards, Bill Craft said, chewing the nub end of his pipe in the subterranean glow of the Inn’s fireplace. Next, the blacksmiths and gunsmiths. Old Jeb Farrier’s apron was found folded neatly over his anvil, a crimson paw-print telling the tale as neatly and surely as blood on snow.This is a GREAT first line.
Winter was long. People huddled in the dark. The whole town got rickets. Then came joyless spring when they ate the locksmiths.
Nobody knows why they left the wordsmith. But they did, the whoresons. Left me white-knuckled, scrabbling words by moonlight. I think I might
And the use of trick with got rickets is like a triple axle. Amazing and awesome!
And of course the ending is perfect.
This is a great story.
(Notice there's no explanations! I love that --let the reader wonder!)
Cecilia Ortiz Luna
Family reunions suck
Look at them
Dena’s spawns circling the dessert table (like vultures-in-training)
Kathy and her “pride and joy” (more like frankenboy)
Amy’s precocious son, Kristafer (seriously?)
Colin, babysmith extraordinaire, six and two more in the oven (geez!)
Stacy’s Little Lord Fauntleroy (whom Patrick still believes is his, LOL)
Showing off their children like Blahniks bought on sale
Comparing pre-schools, timeshares, Sandals
Stopping when they realize I’m around
Pretending to envy my ‘bachelorette lifestyle’
Throwing pitying glances when I walk away (I’m sure)
Shaking their heads (I bet)
Every freaking year
Family reunions suck
There are no words to describe the amazingness of this entry.
Words literally fail me.
Well, not totally. How about brilliant, and hilarious.
Snowy: My best friend is best guy in the world he yells and smells sweaty! Yum! We’ve been friends 2 hours!
Hot: My best friend packs boots and long loud stick and green fur and smells excited! Me, too!
--Oh. Not me? Huh? Is he playing hiding game?
I check every room!
Rainy: Best friend’s smell is almost gone so I watch out window every day. Paws are comfy. Once, 2 in green fur come. “Ms. Smith, your son…” It smells like terror. Snowy: Trick? Rolling chair that smells like – MY BEST FRIEND!!! I howl with joy.
This one hits so many of the things I love in stories: dogs, interesting point of view choice, subtle story telling, heartstrings not just tugged but yanked.
I love this. And yes, I"m a sucker for the videos of soldiers coming home and surprising their kids and dogs.
Joy finally conceived, and Smith so wanted a son, he sought a legendary seer, also wise in herbal remedies.I've always thought that Mary Shelley must have looked a lot like our Donna. Demure, sweet, and dear god, what a mind.
She dispensed tiny packets, canned pawpaws, careful directions.
Returning to his mountain, Joy consumed the brew and fruit daily.
One morning, she began laboring hard.
By nightfall, a daughter arrived. Stillborn.
Eventually, Joy conceived again.
He found himself returning to the old woman’s cabin.
More packets and fruit were given.
Another daughter, stillborn.
Angry, he confronted the old woman. “Trickster! Faker! Our babies are dead! My wife now barren!”
Pale blue eyes pierced. “You did not say you wanted daughters.”
this is a terrific story that really resonates with me: be careful how you ask for things!
Drawn by joyous laughter coming from his office, Colin Smith found his son and the cat sitting at his computer.
"Dad, I taught her a new trick. Watch!"
The cat extended a paw, pressed the keyboard.
"She loves the whoosh sound of Send."
Colin looked closer, recognized his email account, the "query drafts" folder open-- dread clenched his gut.
"You've been busy, so we're helping with queries."
Colin jolted awake, sweaty, panicked.
Just a dream.
Horrid cliché. Sweet relief.
He saw her then, sitting on his nightstand, tail flicking. She extended a paw-- and slowly, decisively, pressed it down.
This one is ever more terrifying than Donna's!
Talk about every writer's nightmare.
Of course I loved it!
In the end, the winner this week is Steve Forti.
Deft use of prompts, great story. Made me laugh.
Steve, let me know your mailing address and I'll send you a prize.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to write and post entries. Your work amazes me every single week, even the ones that don't get shout outs.