Monday, March 11, 2019

Foil the Forti Flash Fiction contest results

I think this is the lowest turnout in quite some time, but the caliber of entries was one of the highest.  It was amazing to read these, and choosing one winner ...well, as I write this, I still can't.But now I did!

Herewith the results:
Words I had to look up:
JustJan: pogonia
Steve Forti: parget

If I understood it at all, I'm sure it would be hilarious
A word I want to use often
ShanePatrickWrites Pogopalooza

What to you think of making this sentence the next contest prompt?
cjohs "Somebody had thrown a pogo-stick through the window"

Consigned to the KalePits of Carkoon
Alina Sergachov

Honestly, John Davis (manuscript) Frain is just going to own the subheading for a while
“You couldn’t raise money on an escalator.”
"I wondered why his fist was getting bigger. Then it hit me"

Why do I even try??

Steve Forti has foiled me yet again.
The gym stank of old sweat and moldy parget. Gone was the glory, the clog of fans. Just an idiot shouting from the top rope.

“Get your ass down. You ain’t Tarzan, Z. I barely recognize you lately. And stop shouting. What’s the most important tool for a boxer?”

“Oxygen,” Zeke mumbled.

“Damn straight. Speed and strength don’t mean shit if you’re winded. Breathe first, then attack. Jab or slug. One-two combos. Up-tempo. Go high then low. Keep ‘em guessing. He retreats too far, goad him back.”

Zeke exhaled, eyed the empty gym. Two years, yet Coach’s voice lived on.

Here are the finalists:
Marie McKay
She pogoes the Tango.
The audience in uproar at this no-no.
A rebel of the Ballroom from the get-go.
Couples still going quick-quick-slow.
A slug of The Judge's water before,
she rips up The Organiser's logo
to protest their embargo on her partner being Margo.
'Security!' calls The Judge. 'You've taken things too far.'
'Go on, Dad. Throw me out. Your water tastes of vodka with a twist of spite. But I'll keep dancing with whomever I like.'

Chengdu International. Waipo sees me off: Ba and Ma too busy. Students lug on cases, full of get-go. Waipo presses her Bible into my hands.
“You can't give me this!”
She smiles. “You need it more.”

Auckland. Waipo's pickles confiscated: biohazard. Her Bible stays.

My thesis: isotopes of Argon. Hate it.

Crowne Plaza, NZ. I barf, drunk for the first time. Miss those pickles. Go back; read. Cry.

Log onto email. Waipo. Hospital.

Early flight? Then I can't afford to eat next semester.

I take it anyway.

Arrive at nearly six. ER. Oxygen mask on. But Waipo? Gone, flown. Home.

Aphra Pell 
(and selected by Her Grace, the Duchess of Yowl as the best entry of course)

She stalked into my alley, a golden-furred queen.
“Hello Gordy” she purred.
“That’s Mr Whiskers to you, sweet-ears. What’s the get-go?”
“That new family from Fargo…”
“They’re deciding between keeping me or…” She arched “…getting a D.O.G. Some pogoing idiot, all slobber and walkies”
I clicked my teeth. “That’s bad.”
“Thought you might come play chase. Make them think.”
“I could visit… if you’ve got something to trade.”
She flicked an ear. “Joint called the Zanzibar. Pallet of spoiled cake behind the xerox. Deal?”
Hot damn. “Deal.”
In this slug of a town, a rat’s gotta seize his chance.

Timothy Lowe
At seventeen, Matt was an A-plus mechanic, a whiz-bang auto-fixer. Oxygen sensor on the blink? He’d fix it, two shakes of a lamb’s ass. Unfortunately, English class just wasn’t his thing.

“...And then they pogo up, down. Near, far, going every which way you can imagine! Canines go all zanzi! Barrel around in these multi-colored cars --”


He smiled, halo gold as the sun. “Yes, Mrs. Blodget?”

“‘Go, Dog. Go!’ is not appropriate material for an 11th grade book report.”

Later, in the faculty lot, he adjusted her wheel fasteners: lug operation optimal.

Teach her to fuck with the classics.



Tommy knocked harder, and Adrianne braced the front door. Jesus, he was drunk from the get-go. Calling her a dumb-slut slugo and worse. Door was gonna break—so she opened it, and he pitched forward inside.

She aimed the kitchen knife at his throat. “Stay,” she said. And he did, chained in the basement with nothing but old comics, Garfield, Charlie Brown, Pogo. For four years.

First, his bank account: easy. Then, a Zanzibar vacation, and in the Fargo airport she saw his face on a “missing” xerox flyer, under a police shield logo.

Except his name wasn’t Tommy.

I’m a xero. Xip. Froxen out. By Her decree.

True, I never seixed much buxx. I’m no whixx. I’m a slugo, laxing along at the back of the line. It’s pretty far, going to the endxone when you need me.

But Xounds! I’ve been there from the get-go. Hello, got amaxing words to spell all through the Greek era.

And snooxing on the far left of the keyboard, that’s not craxy. You realixe I’m almost never seen in a typo.

Gosh! They’ll never be able to spell Xanxibar now. I know she needs to foil Forti, but geex!

Michael Seese
The GetGo 99-cent breakfast burrito trampolining in my gut threatened to pogo back up to the pavement. The super-sized slug of vodka fortifying the Slush Puppie didn't help. I trudged onward, officeward, my wake reeking of regret. Inexplicably, my shoes had gained a few pounds since last night. Beneath them, the sidewalk sighed, saddled with the weight of my world.

I arrived to find the switchboard lit up like the heavens, and pushed the button blinking the loudest. A shaky voice beseeched.

“Hello? God?”

A far gone conclusion. My first day on the job would be less than divine.

Honestly, you guyz just continue to amaze me.
How you do this and on such short notice and with such IMPOSSIBLE words!!! I do not know.

I'm just going to have to surrender to Steve Forti. He's stymied me every single time. Even a shark has to know when to quit gnawing.

This weeks winner though is a deft use of prompt words and letters, a delightful bit of play.

JanR of course.

JanR, if you'll email me with your preferred mailing address and what you like to read, I'll get your prize in the mail.

As for all the rest of you, you are just amazing.

There were TERRIFIC entries that missed the cut this time; I had to pare down from more than a dozen entries!

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and enter.
This was utterly fabu.


cjohs said...

Hi All

Just wanted to say that I hope these contests continue, they are great fun.
And congrats to JanR with the win. That just means we all have to do better next time :-)

AJ Blythe said...

Congrats everyone for making the list and especially JanR for the win.

Shout out to Dena 'cause I thought for sure yours was going to make it through.

Steve Forti, not only did you scoff at Janet's prompt words but you were the first to have your 100 words up! I doff my hat to you.

Aphra Pell said...

I am honoured by Her Grace's approval (and relieved - I wasn't sure how she'd react to a fine feline collaborating with an alley rat).

Congrats JanR - loved it. And to all the other shortlistees who were uniformally awesome.

Also hat tips to Dan Castro, Dena Pawling and Kathy Joyce who all made me sniff a bit.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats JanR! Gave me a chuckle.
Also want to recognize Timothy Lowe and Nate Wilson as my favorites this week. Great work.

AJ, I always make sure to write mine on Friday. And I like to post right away so 1) I don't forget, and 2) So I'm not tempted to be influenced by other entries. That way I can read them safely after mine's in the books.

And Your highness, I'm always ready anytime you wanna throw down the gauntlet.

Happy Monday all.

Richelle Elberg said...

Incredible. Just incredible entries thus week! Congrats Steve and everyone who made lemonade.

Jill Warner said...

I bow down to all your genius. Congrats everyone!

Marie McKay said...

Well done JanR.Great work. I don't know how so many managed to be so subtle with such difficult prompts. I didn't quite manage subtle! Thanks Janet for the mention. I am delighted.

NLiu said...

Congrats everyone! And especially JanR. First person letter Z?! That is some genius you have there!

I am stoked to have made the shortlist this week among such stellar entries.

Shout out to Nate Wilson, whose entry was brilliant; I was surprised not to see you on the honourable mentions.

And I love the potential of the pogo stick through the window prompt!

Alina Sergachov, you made me laugh so much. Sorry you are being force fed kale as a result.

Megan V said...


Technically, based on a strict interpretation of the rules, you were not bested in this round of Foil the Forti.

There's one tiny important detail missing from The Great and Powerful Forti's entry—that pesky little hyphen in get-go.

Sorry Steve (i still don't know how you do it!)

Great work everyone! JanR - your entry was brilliant.

julie.weathers said...

Wow, I really admire y'all. The entries truly were amazing. It just astounds me how good they are and how you pull it off.

Good job.

Timothy Lowe said...

Yeah, JanR had about the most creative entry I've seen in awhile. Congrats to everyone. I loved the writing in Mr. Frain's, even though I didn't quite get his story. Forti's was brilliant and gut-wrenching. Impossible to top this crew! Thanks for hosting another fun throw-down, Janet!

Amy Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations to all who created a story from such challenging prompt words, especially to JanR. For your winner's party, I'll make pixxelle.

Colin Smith said...

Congratulations, JanR! And well done Mr. Forti. I thought you were going to win, but then Janet came down hard on the hyphen. Nevertheless, a magnificent entry that more than met the challenge. That's Forti 2, Shark 0 by my count. ;)

According to the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest (which, btw, I have updated), we've not seen an entry count above 60 since Christmas 2017. Maybe people are too busy working on their novels, or tried a few and decided short form fiction is not their thing. It isn't for everyone, which doesn't make you a bad writer. As far as I'm aware, Mozart didn't play trumpet. :)

Thanks for these challenges, Janet. They're a lot of fun. :)

John Davis Frain said...

Amaxing entry, JanR. Sometimes the POV of the entries in this neighborhood are too much fun. The missing Z key--Love it!

Great contest as always, Janet, but wow it was hard. (Maybe that accounts for the low turnout?) I couldn't get my story down below 130 words. Kept coming back to it, and when the sun was about to peek over the horizon I ruthlessly edited the logic out and cut the ironic ending. Otherwise, there would've been more homage paid to Mr. Forti.

Have a great week. Keep writing. (And editing!)

RosannaM said...

Congrats to JanR. I had to read it to my husband, it was that crazy-good!

And to Steve--I didn't remember the dang hyphen either.

I agree with John Davis Frain--these words were diabolical. Often, I find I can get four in easily and the fifth just refuses to make sense. This time it was all of them! Misbehaving like toddlers at an ice cream party.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

NLiu made me cry.

Alina Sergachov said...

Thank you very much, NLiu! Your comment cheered me up.
And congratulations, JanR!

Prisoner 24601.

Kate Larkindale said...

Another batch of outstanding stories. You guys are just amazing. Congrats, all of you!

JanR said...

XOMG! I won??? Huxxah! I am seriously jaxxed. Thank you Janet! Email is coming.

And thank you Reiders for the kind comments. I feel warm all over, and honestly awed to be counted among such company. You guys are such wonderful storytellers. NLiu and Sherin Nicole both made me teary. Timothy Lowe made me stop reading to laugh :)

Who knew there were so many clever ways to break up xerox and Zanzibar?! Steve Forti, what have you started?

Thanks Amy for the pixxa! Let’s break the kale blockade and send some to Alina a.k.a. 24601.

And John Frain, does your story mean you sold your manuscript? Yay!!

french sojourn said...

There were some great entries out there. I was especially glad JanR won, I mentally tagged hers when I read them all.

Thank you for hosting these, it is a highlight of my week when you post these mental origami exercixes.

Beth Carpenter said...


John Davis Frain said...


You've started a daxxling trend.

Alas, while I adore your interpretation of my story, such a message was not my intent. Y'all will know when that news hits. My attempt, feeble as it turned out, was to honor Mr. Forti. Most of the honoring came in the 30 words that didn't survive the cut. (Okay, okay, 50 words if you're scoring at home, I wasn't even close with this set of impossible prompt words.) Rosanna was spot on--they were diabolical. And that was BEFORE Xanxibar!

Kregger said...

Congrats to JanR, amazing story!

Reiders are a bunch of talented writers. Everyone, please keep up the great work.

Nate Wilson said...

Congrats, JanR! You certainly brought the raxxmataxx this week. Well done. Also enjoyed RKeelan's, and loved the last lines from Aphra Pell, Timothy Lowe, and SC.

Steve and NLiu, thanks for the shout-outs!

And Steve, masterful job as always. I ended up sacrificing the bonus words this time (I'm so ashamed), but you always weave every prompt in so seamlessly. Some weeks I can match you, but on a consistent basis? It's no contest. I bow to you, sir.

JanR said...

John, I'm sure you'll get snapped up! Hopefully my wishful reading becomes reality. With the xingers you squeezed into the first 100 I bet the missing 30 were daxxling too :)

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, JanR! Excellent entry! Hats off to all the finalists as well. This one was challenging!

Dena Pawling said...

Thanks AJBlythe and Aphra Pell for the shout out!

Congrats to JanR and everyone else who wrangled those nasty prompt words. It was fun.

Craig F said...

Congrats JanR, nifty it was.

Claire Bobrow said...

Jan R - excellent entry. Congrats! I loved reading through the mentions and finalists, but I'm going to read all the entries when I have a moment. Sounds like this contest was a standout. Way to go, everyone!

RKeelan said...

No one asked for it, but I'm inordinately proud of my entry, so I'm going to post a line-by-line explanation. Original text in italics, my commentary in between.

PS C:\> RunAs /user:Steve Powershell

"PS C:\>" indicates that this is a Powershell command prompt. A command prompt gives you access to MS-DOS, the precursor to Windows. Powershell is sort-of like a modernized version of the original command prompt, but it's modeled on the Unix shell, which is almost as old as MS-DOS... it's a long story.

"RunAs /user:Steve Powershell" starts a new instance of Powershell using the credentials of a user named Steve.

Enter the password for Steve:

This is the printed after you run RunAs. "Steve" is highlighted as a hint that the user name is significant. No password is shown because, contrary to normal behaviour, Powershell won't display the characters you type for a password. This is a security feature now superceded by the more user-friendly asterisk-obscured passwords: ******.

Attempting to start Powershell as user "FORTIFICATION\Steve"

Windows Powershell

Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

The first line shows that the command was run on a computer named Fortification. "Forti" is highlighted to hint at the owner of the computer. The next two lines indicate that the RunAs command succeeded and that a new Powershell instance was started--this one running as Steve.

PS C:\> Get-Date

Sunday, March 10, 2019 8:55:43 AM

The Get-Date command prints the current date and time. It shows that the contest will close in a bit less than five minutes.

PS C:\> Set-Location Users\Steve\Documents\Writing\Flash\

PS C:\Users\Steve\Documents\Writing\Flash> Remove-Item -recurse -force .\*

The first command switches to the directory where Steve presumably stores all his flash fiction entries. The second deletes everything in it. "Remove-Item" means delete; "-recurse -force .\*" is programmer-gibberish for "everything."

PS C:\Users\Steve\Documents\Writing\Flash> Set-Content -Path Story.txt "

>> Bogo pogo drink some rye

>> Slugo pugo crucify

>> Margo fargo Forti guy

>> Let-go get-go falsify

>> Lingo logo mortify"

These six line create a new file, "Story.txt," whose contents are the five lines starting with ">>". It contains all the prompt words, but is otherwise nonsense.

PS C:\Users\Steve\Documents\Writing\Flash> Get-Content Story.txt |
>> Invoke-WebRequest -Uri

This line is meant to convey "post the contents of Story.txt as a comment to the contest blog post," but in fact would do nothing. Invoke-WebRequest is a real command, and the URI is the correct link for posting a comment, but you can't send text to a request that way. It's Hollywood Powershell--a stylized representation of the real thing.

PS C:\Users\Steve\Documents\Writing\Flash> Invoke-WebRequest -Uri

This line attempts to delete Steve Forti's actual contest entry. The link text is correct, and it would work if run from Steve's browser, which presumably has his login credentials cached. Invoking a web request from Powershell isn't the samething as going to a link using his browser, but, again, it's Hollywood.

PS C:\Users\Steve\Documents\Writing\Flash> Get-Date

Sunday, March 10, 2019 8:59:58 AM

These two lines show that the contest closes in two seconds--too little time for Steve to report his original entry.

PS C:\Users\Steve\Documents\Writing\Flash> Exit

This final line shows the attacker closing the Powershell session.

...And that's how you Foil the Forti.