Friday, August 03, 2018

Flash fiction writing contest!

I've been serving as handmaiden to Her Grace, the Duchess of Yowl this week. Lots of petting, not quite so much working.

Her Grace was rather miffed to discover we had not had a flash fiction in her honor every day this week. I explained that most people read this blog for information on publishing, not purring. She was not mollified.

To assuage her bruised feelings, here we go!

 The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

To compete for the Steve Forti Deft Use of Prompt Words prize (or if you are Steve Forti) you must also use: caterwaul

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: fur/furry is ok, but fur/ruffian is not; whisker/whiskers is fine but whisker/whisk her 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: 8:55am, Saturday, August 4 (EDT)

Contest closes: 9am, Sunday, August 5 (EDT)

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!

oh no! Too late! Contest closed.


Steve Forti said...

“Remember when Ted used to help with these?”
“His neer-do-well ass? ‘Help’ is being generous. I saw his kerning. Worse than yours.”
F U.”
ight back at you.”
She sealed the envelop and placed it atop the large stack. “There, that’s the last ransom note.”
“You’d think they’d eventually realize we never let anyone go. Thought that’d spur retaliation.”
A shrug. “Yeah, but they still pay.” As will you. She eyed the magazine pages, the glue, grabbed the scissors. Then she buried their blade into her companion’s throat, prompting a caterwaul of agony.
ike you didn’t see this coming…”

Amy Schaefer said...

A woman perched on the next barstool. “Pretty owl.”
“Thanks.” Owl, cursed concoction of wires and flesh – tomatoh-tomahto.
“Greetings,” squawked Xavier.
She dimpled. We chatted.
I hoped.
Xavier and I hunt as a pack. If he would just keep quie—
Xavier unfurled his filament-whiskers. “Madame, have you ever considered buying land on one of the outer planets? It just so happens… today… amazing oppor-tu-ni…” He trailed off in a series of purrs and whirrs.
She sneered and left.
I sighed and scratched my dementia-ravaged telemarketowl. “It’s okay. We’ll find someone to feed us.”
A woman perched on the next barstool.

Linda Strader said...

A black form lies curled on a pillow near the window.

It wakes, opens one green eye, and sees the sun setting.

A sneer forms as the cat yawns, whiskers bristling.

Quick licks make the fur shine.

Cat leaps off its perch, meanders toward its captor, and wraps its slinky body around her legs, purring.

Yowl! Cat says.

Human does not respond.

Yowlllll! Cay says again, insistent.

At last, the door opens. Cat trots outside. The day has begun at last.

Kat Waclawik said...

A blustering man comes to my hut. I skin a toad and wave horn of urial over his lap.
A red-faced “maiden” is next. I whisk ergot with beak of snowy owl.
Then a lonely man. I boil tongue of dove with a kitten’s purr.
Shadows lengthen. The villagers leave. I sweep up amid my vials and jars and drying remains.
Nails skitter in the thatching. Hooves clop outside, faster even than my heartbeat. Beating wings obscure the moonlight and many somethings slither past my feet.
“We need an ingredient,” an eyeless newt sneers. “Heart of witch.”

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I hate that cat!


She gets food on her fur and whiskers. She bit Mom. She sneers.
She yowls.

She needs care. Those mats hurt her skin. She needs help staying clean.

Ok. I’m going to give her a bath. Rubber gloves and a cat shampoo. If you don’t hear from me again…

What happened?

She purred.

I said she was sweet.

Oh no, the cat is sick! There is a lump under her chin.

She is twenty years old.

She won’t eat.

Poor old kitty.

She’s ready to go. I called the vet. Tears running down my chin.

Craig F said...

The season finale of our remodeling show needed to get in the can. The only house we could find was one we sneered at when it was half the price we paid.

A kitty purred at me as I stepped inside. An ungodly yowl sounded behind me as I bent toward it. The sound unnerved me. The kitty could have tripped me with a whisker. It did.

I fell through a door and down the steps. The basement walls looked like fur. I saw blood with a closer look. Some of the fur was the scalps of our camera crew.

Claire Bobrow said...

It came out of nowhere,
that scary surprise,
lying prone on the floor -
playing dead, I realized.
I unleashed
a loud caterwaul
to scare the bad thing
out the door, down the hall.
The clock struck 3:30 -
a.m., let’s be clear.
My servant ran forth,
all atremble with fear:
“What’s that yowling, dear Duchess? Please settle your fur.
“Would a whisker of tuna help bring back your purr?”
I threw her a sneer, arched my back, looked askance.
A plastic bag fright calls for more, said my stance.

“Beluga!” I hissed, “or you’re working freelance.”

Mike Hays said...

Deer Purson,

That kat didit. We tried to stopit. “Not the fishy bowl!” is whut I bark’d.

We arrgh at arrgh whiskers end with that kat. That furry, purry, bag of yowl has to go. Wa’ul agree, this is a dogz wurld. It is out with the cat er wa’ul walk outta here.

Ur mans best frends,

Sneer and Snicker

Pee. S. Dogz rule, cats drool, fishees flop.

Alina Sergachov said...

I remember how his kerb drills used to drive me nuts.

“I want to be a mathematician,” I blurt instead of looking right.

“Do the math.”

That’s what dad said. That’s what I did.

Cats caterwauled and purred. My classmates wasted time. I solved problems.

That’s not what he meant.

I hate words. Only math makes sense. It’s all about proof.

Urgh. “Girls are bad at math”, he kept sneering.

Ever heard of Maryam Mirzakhani?

Yo, Wlodzimierz, I leave.

P versus NP? Done. Fields Medal? Mine.

My dream won’t turn into a raisin in the sun.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Death sneered. The politician followed.

“What now?”

“One day below. One day above. Choose your eternity.”

Above, a furry delight of a dog bounded in fields of green. Music and art, books and blessed peace.

A whiskered old man yowled a warning, “Remember the old joke.”

Below, cats purred as friends plied him with wine, sex, and song. Such a party. Endless pleasure promised.

He made his choice. Death laughed.

No more party as the cats became demons and stuck pitch forks where the sun never shone.

“What happened?” the politician screamed.

Demons caterwauled.

“Yesterday, we campaigned. Today, you voted.”

Colin Smith said...

The bowl of fried tofu, radish, and broccoli was too tempting. “May…? Ow!” Lottie glared at Samuel.

“’s not fur you!”

Samuel’s fingers smarted from her whisk.

“’ere, pass thu eggs,” Lottie said. Samuel stared. Lottie sighed. “‘Sneer thu milk.” He found them. “Purrrfect,” she grinned.

“Whosis fur?”

“I’m fixin’ suppa fur thu Mawinskis.”

“You ain’t got time to cater w’aul ya got hap’nin…”

“’s worth it.”

“Buh you 'ates thu Mawinskis.”

“Yeah… an’ they loves Chinese.” Lottie smiled. “Mebbe I decides to make muh peace.”

“Really? After thu bust? They stitched you up!”

“Mebbe. Jus don’ touch thu tofu.”

french sojourn said...

“You’re saying, the sun sneezed …and fried anything with circuitry.”

“Yep, a massive solar flare.”

“Well, can we make more circuits?” he asked, nervously rubbing his shaggy whiskers.

“Nope, technology’s dead.” I spurred him on.

“So, it’s…”

“Set the way-back machine to 500 A.D. Sherman, to the dark ages, again.”

“Fuck sake, how we gonna live?” he sneered as a furious glint crossed his eyes.

“Easy.” I nodded in the direction behind him.

As he turned to look, I swung my hammer and caved in the back of his skull. A yowl escaped his lips, followed by his soul.


Morgan J Bolt said...

His yowling sliced into my dreams the way my claws cut my foes long ago. I rose and stretched, showing nonchalance despite my aching joints. Peering from my eye-corners, I could see this was no ruffian. His fur was sleek and groomed and he purred at me, a sneering insult as he approached. He stopped a whisker-span away from me and stared. We battled in silence; no caterwauling to summon the fishmonger’s knives. Our fight was swift and I, slow. I retreated, seeking a dark warm corner in which to say farewell to this life. Six down, three to go.

Marie McKay said...

'Hoot of tawny owl, tickle of fur, whisper of the turning page, purr of torchlight, cool of rain, curve of an embrace.'
A sneer formed underneath the cat's whiskers. How mundane her witch was. Matchmaking was for computers.
Just as well she'd succeeded in getting her paws on the ingredients.
Tonight this town would see some old-style sorcery: Loveless Lucy trying to write her novel while her head spins, Clueless Kevin terrifying the kids at camp with his 'bear' back, and the renewed community spirit- rain like glue helping everyone stick together.

Marty Weiss said...

“Ma, my young-un’s yowlin’ sumpin’ fierce. What fur it doin’ that?” asked Lucy, bouncing a bare-assed, red-faced, bawling baby on her knees.

“Shucks, gal. Yur ma’s too old and furgetful to remember the whys and whatfors of baby caterwaulin’,” bewhiskered Uncle Clem sneered from his usual seat by the sideboard.

“Hush yur mouth, old fool, ‘fore I run you outta my kitchen. Lucy, gimme that colicky child, then fetch my corncob pipe from the mantelpiece. I’ll fill its bowl with some whacky tabacky then blow the smoke ‘crost baby’s cheeks. He’ll be purrin’ like a happy kitten real soon.”

Cipher said...

A drop of sunlight spinning slow
Furry bodies swaying in a slash of green
Warm purrings in the dark

The screech of starry owls
A slash of whiskers racing bright
Tap, tap against the stones

The smack of sneering lips
A pale flash of feathered skin
Tap, tap against the bark

The crack of hungry teeth
A white and red and cold sinking right
Tap tap against the bones

The hot breath of night floating deep
A thunk of flesh against the ground
Tap tap against your heart

Mallory Love said...

The campsite at night held snowy owls, stars, and wonder. Ice crunching under his boots created the perfect mix of sound and silence to spur recollections of his youth: snowman building, sledding, peace of mind. A time almost forgotten, before sin soured his soul.

The furlough hadn’t been planned but was needed, especially after the sneers and shouts his accountant made when she discovered the truth. He got her to stay quiet in the end, just a tight squeeze around the neck to cut off her caterwauling.

He missed the authorities by a whisker, but he missed his innocence more.

Joey Collard said...

The Snickersnee rose from the sulfuric clouds of the Last Planet's surface. Mighty lepton engines purred, flinging ethereal particles against the mystical membrane of another continuum to generate superliminal thrust.

Captain Elasmo steered through a wonderland of untraveled sensations: the Universal Perimeter. Songs called to him like a chorus of oily angels. Time expanded and contracted, setting ordinary space aspin. The ship yowled in protest as undiscovered forms of matter wandered within a whisker of the tender hull, barely diverted by deflectors...

The Snickersnee rose from her smelly shipyard and embarked upon its maiden voyage.

Sherry Howard said...

Barn Food Chain

T’was ‘n eerie night at the barn. Full of shadows and mews.
Fuzzy owl searched for his favorite little kitty.
He needed the purrfect location to meet his furry new friend.
He’d put the time in. Kitty loved to play with him.
Hide and seek. Chase the mice. Share a snack.
Now the time had come—before Kitty got any bigger.
A plan. A pounce. No caterwauling about.
He’d whisk ‘er off her paws and enjoy some playful times with her.
Kitty waited. She’d brought her Daddy, Wild Cat, to meet her new friend.

The End.

Kregger said...

DoY decided to stroll with the small people and messaged JR: "Thumbs, I'm attending the park."

"Who dis?"

"Snowy owl! Who y'think?"

"That's a fur-piece. Whisk ermine coat to high-gloss?"

"Y'not hear?"


"I'm flat."

"And I'm matte."

"Bye!" And with that DoY leaped from the balcony.

A flying-rat alighted and peered at DoY's clutching nails.

"When did Thimbs move uptown?"

"Any last requests?" sneered the bird.

"A Cater-Waula weather report. It's cold here.

"How about an Aqua-put respite?" Pidgy tailfeathered over the rail.

DoY's claw screed the rail and disappeared.

The doorbell rang.

"Thumbs!" echoed from the hall. "I'm hungry!"

Kregger said...


BrendaLynn said...

The Duchess’s ne’er-do-well handmaid hummed tunelessly as she toiled. Just that morning she’d been spurred into action by a splendiferous manuscript.
“Enough caterwauling,” said the Duchess. Her whiskers twitched ominously.
“But your majesty,” squeaked the servant, “you get to sing. And not always that...”
The lackey found a spine.
“... that melodiously,” she retorted.
The Duchess’s normally owlish countenance infused with rage. She beckoned an executioner (whom she kept on retainer) to come further into the room.
“Decapitate her!” the Duchess commanded, and she sang when the axe embedded itself in the hapless manuscript.
Somewhere in Canada, a novelist sighed.

Steph Ellis said...

Yowls of laughter broke the night. The stink of sulfur mingled with honeysuckle and jasmine. It was a perfect night to be young, spurred on to take adult footsteps, compelled by the sneers of peers—or of demons, if you looked a little closer. Whiskered lions priding themselves on their youth, offered needled pleasure. A blight on the neighbourhood needing to be cleansed. They failed to see the hunters circling. The lionesses protecting their cubs. Moving in for the kill.

Just Jan said...

It buzzed in without warning.

“Imperfect,” it droned.



“Yow!” Leo skedaddled under the rug.


Vlad gave us his trademark sneer. “I-N-S-U-F-F-U-R-“


We snickered into our whiskers as he scampered back to Mummy.


There was a collective mew at the sound of the forbidden word. Queens covered their eyes. Even the old tom in the corner was quaking.

Berthilde strolled to the center of the room, pupils wide and focused. One paw struck like lightning. With a grimace, she swallowed the offender in one gulp. “Never did like spelling bees,” she muttered.

Unknown said...

“Szechuan down,” she said, as the boys filed in from the field. “Sneer as I can tell, you boys is famished! I’ll fix some food fur yowl.” Her purr love of cooking made her whisker self to the kitchen, where she laid out the everyday china.
Soon she had made about one ton of soup (and fortunately she had enough cookies for dessert). She thought about inviting her German neighbor, Mrs. Hottensauer, but decided against it, reflecting that “Ever since my husband came back from Siamese against having fureign guests!”
“It’s ready!” she called out to the boys. “No Peking!”

Michael Seese said...

Whiskers weighed down by the morning dew, I struggled to leo-locate my backyard. I could have sworn I left it here somewhere. Perhaps I did have a little too much catnip.

Her caterwaul guided me home.

“Hi, person,” I slur-purred, my temporary affection met with foot-tapping insouciance.

“Look what the cat dragged in.”

Yow! Lay off the decibels, lady. And don't get your fur in a bunch.

I made preparations to wipe that smug sneer from her face vis-à-vis a “gift" in her intimates drawer, until a tactical scratch to my ears wilted my will.

Did I mention the catnip?

Barbara said...

Kitty woke to the purr of Laptop. She hated him. Since he'd arrived, she'd become an afterthought. To prove it, she caterwauled for breakfast.

It came.

An hour later.

Dry food.

Kitty had enough. She yowled and pounced, sank her teeth into Laptop's tail. Laptop hissed, and Kitty shot across the room, slammed into the wall, fur standing on end. But Laptop? His tail sizzled and smoked.

Kitty smoothed her singed whiskers and gave Laptop a sidelong sneer. She'd won. Laptop would never purr again.

"Oh, Kitty! Are you alright? " her human asked.

Kitty purred, her human hers once more.

Karen McCoy said...

The tawny owl chirped. “This wasn’t what we decided.”

The panther twitched his whiskers. “It’s my fault. The burden should be mine alone.” Beneath the moonlight, the crescent-shape shone in his fur, marking their curse. “You’ll be free of it.”

The owl sneered, covering her crescent beneath her wing. “No good if you’re still a panther.”

“My mind’s made up,” he purred.

She flew down, and attacked. Beak. Claws. Blood from the panther. Blood from herself. Honoring their original pact.

Park rangers found the bodies of both animals wrapped together. Lovers reunited. Spirits embraced.

Tracy Stengel said...

My husband caterwauled as I traipsed in after midnight. I waltzed past him and sneered. It stung my swollen lips, bruised by another man’s rough and raunchy kisses. I let out a yowl when he caught me naked as I slipped out of my stilettos and fur coat in our bedroom. “Come take a shower with me, sweetie,” I purred, waggling my index finger and strutting into our master bath.

I was exhausted, but not too tired to secure my inheritance. I planned to shave him with a straight blade. The whiskers on his neck were beginning to annoy me.

Sherin Nicole said...

_ shh txt...grumpy owl is listening
_ we cld kill him??
_ we’d get xtra cred 4 knife skills
_ and As for irony
_ who even needs cooking class in our biz?
_ idk…kinda like potions for wizards??
_ UR really cool
_ it’s da fumes from da poison he’s mixing
_ stinky sulfur
_ welp he’s da devil
_ …but calls us ne’er-do-wells??
_ totes not gunna pass
_ got a plan?
_ kitchen accidents r deadly
_ utensil to da head??
_ whisk error…ur such a schemer
_ I owe it all to assn school.

Amy Johnson said...

QOTKU: What’s this?

DoY: My entry.

“Throw me a party,” I instruct her, as I preen serenely.

”Shall I make a guest list?”

“I made my own list.”

“Party games?”



“That’s what you call it.”


“The guest list indicates the menu.”




“Your Grace, what do you want then?”

“I want you to stop interrupting my caterwauling, figure out what I want served, and pet my scruff.”

QOTKU: No dice. You need to use the prompt words: yowl, fur, purr, sneer, whisker. And follow the rules.

DoY: I make my own rules.

RKeelan said...

Susurrafax had silver-grey fur like a hoary old oak and a sneer fit to cast one down.

Most pressingly, he had a slavering beast’s jaws clamped around his neck. “Any last words?” it said.

Susurrafax’s whisker twitched. “A last request: to taste the forbidden fruit before I die.”

In the kitchen, Susurrafax indicated a cabinet. “In there. The tall cylinder.”

The beast pinned Susurrafax to the ground with a massive paw and nosed the door open.

It tore the cylinder open, devouring the dark brown powder within, ignoring Susurrafax’s yowls of false outrage and the purring beneath.

RosannaM said...

How his kerchief ended up intertwined with my lacy underthings is a story best untold, left to the imagination.

But my owl-eyed sister persisted, love life only obtained vicariously, so I obliged.

“Halloween. He was Blackbeard; I was catering. Totally invisible, you know? Furthermore, it was almost my thirtieth. Sneer, if you want, but I was feeling vulnerable.”

I took a breath; she held hers.

“He slipped me a note. ‘Meet at the pool house,’ it said.”


“The ex. Miss Equestrian, caterwauling, jodhpur ripping. Kicked us into the pool. We held hands as our clothes mated in the dryer.”

sophistikitty said...

I found him in the sea. Tiny, bedraggled, whiskers drooping. Exhausted after hours of yowling for the person who’d left him in the water with a sneer.
No one to hear but me.
Only me, wandering in the night, to dry his fur and warm his paws until I extract a purr, then cover his mouth and nose.
Before the sun rises he’s dangling, stiff, pinned by the tail to the door that’s next on my list, and I’m safely home again, unseen.
I only wish they were all so easy.

TessaP said...

Simba and Cookie met in the street, going after the same bird. They both missed and crashed into each other. Simba let out a yowl as Cookie’s teeth sunk into his fur. She, incensed, sprang back, letting out a caterwaul that matured into a sneer. When they both calmed down, he noticed her blue eyes and long whiskers. She noticed his sleek black fur and devil-may-care attitude. He was just so different from all the other tomcats.

She licked his wounds. He purred.

Hollywood calls this “meeting cute”.

Kate Higgins said...

Recipe for DOY supreme

5 cups yowl
28 tablesspoons sleek fur
1 gallon purr
1 to 2 sneers purr batch
Sprinkle whiskers as desired

Pet until ready
Serve warm

Dan Castro said...

I massage Waffles’ fur, working fingers behind thick whiskers.
He purrs.
I stop. Waffles is dangerous.
He snarls at the door. I go, hand brushing faux jungle. Swing the squeaky door open.
Step out.
In the darkness, a man. With rifle.
He steps up, sneering. Butts the rifle into my stomach.
I yowl. Collapse.
“Where’s your elephant?”
My hand keeps the enclosure door ajar.
I glance across the compound. Instinct.
He nods. Smiles sickly.
“No witnesses.” He raises his rifle. I cringe…when from the enclosure, the orange-black-white comet of Waffles, 500 pounds of Bengal tiger, crushes the poacher.