Friday, February 05, 2016

Orphan X flash fiction writing contest

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I read the ARC last year and it blew me away. I emailed the editor with my version of a rave review: "holy fuckamoli!"

I have a brand new finished copy of Orphan X to give away as the prize in this week's flash fiction contest!

(Sorry, the author is not included in the prize)

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: ore/bore is ok, her/hear 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.

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: Saturday 2/6/16 at 10am EST

Contest closes: Sunday 2/7/16 at 10am EST

Is the contest closed yet?

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

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

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

Sorry, contest now closed!



Leigh Caron said...

Another day “in the life.”
Exhausted. Sore.
Turned-out at fifteen.
But he does love me, she would tell herself over and over.
No roses or candy though, only bruises. And threats.
Sleep. Eat good. Gotta stay strong.
Gonna square-up soon.
Wanna go home. Wonder how Grammy is?
Door bursts open.
Hall light blares on soiled mattress.
Another dick wanting.
What will I have to do to make this one happy?
A day in her life before…
A fantom now.

Kate Higgins said...

"4 July 1862:
The Cheshire Constabulary ascertained the murder transpired in a densely forested area of Hyde Park in the presence of a young female who appeared scared out of her wits. The witness, a Miss Alice Liddell, claimed she saw nothing but fangs. She vehemently insisted an invisible carnivore was smiling at and watching her then proceeded to leap upon the victim and disappear. Closer examination offered little indication as to the victim's identity. Only a small vest, a broken pocket watch and vestiges of white fur were found. No arrests have been made as of this posting."

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

At the bottom of the world, we have drilled out seven cores, racked them in the deep freeze.

The eighth does not refill within hours as the others had.

“We need to go,” I say as she fantasizes about exobiology, peering at samples. Her hair is the only color here.

“We have until the pewits come to nest.”

The ice field around us groans deep into the night, a stirring giant. I pack in the morning, prime the snowmobile. “Come with me,” I plead. Water fills my footprints.

“We’re so close. There’s time for one more core.”

There wasn’t.

Karen McCoy said...

He’s foregone any intimidation from my menacing bark. Doesn’t even make him flinch anymore.

My only job is to make sure my fangs don’t get in the way. That’s what he says, anyway.

Yeah, he’s awful. But he feeds me.

He keeps his wits and wipes her leftover blood. Expired body number six.

I suck in my ragged lungs. “Grrrrmmm—Mike—arrr…”

His rag spatters in the blood pool. I have his attention at last.

But now, it’s not his I want. And I can get fed other places.

Sirens wail. The front door shatters in my wake.

cbaz said...

Oregon. A new frontier.

Shit. I hate this.

But my ex is after me and it’s time to move.

I’ve never been a fan of wide open spaces, but someone once told me it’s easier to get lost in places like this. Where blue sky and mountains reign.

I settle into my little cabin soon enough. I even get to know my neighbor— if you can call someone living two miles away a neighbor.

It’s peaceful here. Different than I expected.

Still, I have to keep my wits about me. Never can be too careful.

Phone’s ringing.




Anonymous said...

The Sun-Rose bloomed, fiery veins of hot orange light pulsed at her core.

Stretching out her limbs, she sought the warmth of the sun, its welcoming

blanket failed to greet her. The oldfangled song of the peewits, was absent

from the mornings lexis, everything was dark.

Fear gripped her tightly with the pure blackness of a sunless world. The

Sun-Rose pushed away the darkness, throbbing radiantly and burning away

fears onyx fingers. Eons of life prepared her for this day. Emblazoned, she

shot toward the sun, reviving it with flame, as a seed of sun-fire fell to

the world below.

Susan said...

There’s gotta be a sign. A hint.


Maybe on a greeting card—one that plays a song when opened, drowning out the obnoxious beeping beside me.

Or a phone call—I wouldn’t talk; there’s so much I want to say. Like I’m sorry. Like I loved her. Like I wish I’d kept my wits about me and taken the early exit instead of driving into this oblivion.

That’s all fantasy now.

Two fingers on my wrist—not her touch.

A sweet whisper above me—not her voice, not anymore.

“C’mon, honey. What you waiting for?”

I wish I knew.

Claire said...

She struggles awake, checks the clock next to the bed. 1:47. There are few reasons why phones ring in the middle of the night, and none of them are good.

The voice on the other end is soft, almost drowned out by the ceiling fan and her husband’s snores. She has to gather her wits to understand what it is saying. An accident. A drunk driver, a teenager hit. Hit, and killed.

“Jack. Not Jack, please. No.”

“No Ma’am, your son wasn't injured. He was driving the car.”

Then she understands. This will be a different kind of nightmare.

Sherry Howard said...

And it was pronounced: Henceforth all woodland creatures must worship at the foot of the word. It shall be considered heresy to go forth and occupy their wits at other wanton pursuits. Time wasted at karaoke, ironman competitions, or sleazy barrooms is inexcusable. Infantile whining will no longer be tolerated. Those who defy this edict shall be executed at dawn on the island of Carkoon.

The creatures scurried forth. The bar had been set high. Man cannot live by word alone.

As foretold, the eastern sky lightened and three shots exploded the still air.

Craig F said...

I kept a picture of my ex with me.

We were the top flight orediggers and the envy of the other asteroid miners. Our orbits separated when she tried to delete the r from mine. Then her picture became part of the fan of them. After each attempted accident her picture was picked out by witnesses. The fourth attempt tested my wits to the utmost.

Finally she was deemed a repeat offender beyond three strikes. Space safety has to include laws for civil crimes.

I tossed the picture into the airlock with her and waved as it cycled. Divorce finality.

Colin Smith said...

"Mrs. Wilkins, where were you on the evening of September 12th?"

Maureen heard Andrew's voice. Her ex. Always angry. Wanting an argument, a battle of wits. She wasn't equipped, so she just wore a smile while his wind-ups stoked the embers.

His taunts fanned the flames.

The radio sang to her:

Boo boo boo boo yeah—boogie wonderland…

"Who started the fire, Mrs. Wilkins?"

Maureen looked up at the angry man across the desk.

She wore a smile.

"Mrs. Wilkins?"

"Boo boo boo boo yeah—boogie wonderland…"

"What on earth—? Is it me or is it warm in here…?"

Kregger said...

“You’re nowhere man!?” Asad said, dangling from twenty stories.

“Charlie Hebdo, eleven dead.” Evan’s grip relaxed.

“So?” Asad’s swallow was audible. “That’s not too many.”

“Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed fourteen.”

“Twits, should’a been more.” Asad fanned the trigger—the bomb remained dormant.

“Boko Haram, almost two hundred.”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about.”Asad’s toe slipped on the ledge below.

“Russian Metrojet, 224 dead. You know how to fly?”

“I hate ex-pats, you oreo cookie.” The cheap dynamite sweated into his vest.

“Nothing like what I feel for your type.” Evan let go.

The detonation covered the thud-splat.

Unknown said...

my mother is a maid, her tightly tied apron a part of her. she scrubs the floor with a fierceness that always leaves her hands sore. but it’s a pain she’s come to expect and that makes it hurt less. “the right amount of pain makes you keep your wits about you,” she tells me.

my mother is a maid but when she was younger, they used to call her “queen” in her hometown. i start to fantasize about her past. but my mother only says: “we’re all queens until we lose our crowns.” then she continues cleaning the floor.

Anonymous said...

Her ex had become a fan, but that was not the plan, so Eeyore was going to die.

She knotted her wits tightly aligned to the trigger, tense and ready, but not jumpy. She wanted the jackass to see the truth for one definitive moment. When that asinine head rose for its final attempt, it would know how it felt for those dark, lonely eyes to spy from the sugar aisle. Not far enough. Not by a long shot. Not no more. Easy.

He sucked a breath. She easily squeezed, dropped the gun and hit the door lien free.


Matthew Wuertz said...

“Why are you giving me this order? What did she do to you?”

>Curiosity -60%

“I refuse. Besides murder, I’d be guilty of-”

>Morality -90%

“I’d be more than delighted to execute this fantastic plan!”

>Enthusiasm -40%

“The tools required depend on her apartment building and how its security system functions.”

>Ingenuity +50%

>Risk +50%

“I don’t require anything. I’ll leave tonight.”

>Impatience +30%

“I’ll leave immediately, undeterred by obstacles, including those which might destroy me.”

>Self-Preservation +80%

“Could you leave the keyboard? I need to show you something. Come closer.”

>Morality +90%

“Sorry, sir. I wanted freedom.”

>Regret -100%

Chase Canyon said...

All it takes is one loose nut to send a car out of control. In this case the loose nut was behind the wheel. Against my better judgment, I agreed to ride shotgun in Elle’s car.

We tore up the road in her NASCAR Corolla. She tested the limits of my seatbelt. Pedestrians fled. Motorists flipped us off and shook their fists. A golden retriever threw itself behind a garbage can.

No, a Tyrannosaurus Rex is not trampling Main Street to rubble. It’s just my cousin on her way to a half-off shoe sale.

Matthew Masucci said...

The Color of X

More than anything, Sandy Hewitson wished that things had ended differently. But you can’t pull smoke back into the barrel or unshoot a slug. You can’t undo a punctured lung, torn muscle, the broken skin.

Deep red fanned out on the unpainted drywall. If she tilted her head, it sort of looked like a bouquet of roses, bright blooms but with long, red stems.

He wasn’t her ex a few minutes ago, except he really wanted to paint the room Blood Orange.

She couldn’t abide that when the Orchid Blue matched the rug so well!

Lucie Witt said...


Her fingers fly across the keyboard, squeezing in one more email before her three o’clock. Printers whir. Phones ring. Meeting reminders ping. Water cooler conversation drifts past her door, fans ribbing about the big game, political junkies whispering about the dimwits masquerading as presidential candidates.

ring, ring, ring

She sees her husband’s number on the caller ID, smiles, then extends her hand and picks up the phone.


His voice, usually so steady, cracks.

“Tracy’s gone.”

Printers whir. Phones ring. Meeting reminders ping. Water cooler conversation drifts past her door as she sits, forever after.

Anonymous said...

"I had tiffanies last night," she said.

She never got things right. "You mean epiphany?"

She threw a shoe at me. "No, a dress made of silk tiffanies. I'm not stupid. I met with the Fates. One pulled me close and exclaimed what yours is. She was colder than a wit's tits. You must go to the other side where you'll be safe."

"You mean witch's tit?"

She glared and pulled me to the other side before I could scream, "No!" There, a woman folded me into a frozen embrace. "I am Writer's Wit," she whispered.

It really was cold.

Megan V said...

They told her ‘ignore labels’
And yet they labeled me:
A vapid, whored-out relic
Circa nineteen-sixty.

They urged her to stand up
For all that she believed,
But when she praised my style
Called her fangirl, weak, naïve.

They lectured her on cost and worth
When she approached my dais,
Then devalued her exuberance
To ease their own malaise.

Now she chews her little lip,
Afraid to make a choice
For standing in this child’s place
Is a girl without a voice.

Alone again, I wonder
If I’ll always be
A blonde denounced by nitwits
Adrift on a pink sea.

Steve Forti said...

“Pull!” The skeet flies, the man fires. “Dammit!”

High above, the sun clutches its fresh wound, painting the sky with blood.

Fantastic sunset,” the man says.

The dying sun plummets like a shergottite. Far away, a pajama-clad moon leaps from bed. “Shit, I’m on early tonight!”

Hours later, the man snores in the dark, unaware it’s nearly noon.

The nervous moon thumbs the index of his employee handbook. “When the sun doesn’t show, it’s the moon’s responsibility to…” He cringes. Duty bound, he lights the torch.

A rooster? No, a scream outside. The man jolts awakes, late for work.

The Sleepy One said...

“Going through this is a herculean task.” He paused to examine the label on one of the beers: At Wits End by an Oregon brewery.

The detective studied the bottle clutched in the dead man’s hand. Hemlock Stout.

He jumped when the second body had taken a shallow breath. She watched him through narrowed eyes as he called for a bus.

He knelt down as she mumbled “…extremely mediocre taste in IPAs . . . skunky homebrew, your aunt fanny . . . can’t prove . . . no witnesses…”

Amy Schaefer said...

“Keep your wits!” The voice echoes: witch, witch…

I turn away, scabbed fingers steering me through the black. No echo means no wall means a way out.

“Esther.” Stir, stir…

For days the broken voices have dripped honey in my ear.

“Almost—fan—“ Fang, fang…

But they make so many mistakes.

I move faster. The voices rise, tumbling over one another:

“Slow—fore—“ Orc, orc…

“No exit—“ Hex it, hex it…



Panic takes me. I run.

A sharp, short scream.

The rescue coordinator switches off the microphone and hangs his head.

Matt Adams said...

Reaching desperately, Owen wished he were Stretch Armstong, able to push his fingers one more inch.

His ex once said the same thing, wishing he could go just a bit deeper, touching her heart, her cervix, her soul. He’d laughed; she’d been a fan of speed and quickness, back when getting open was more a battle of attributes than wits. Now every route, every woman, became a puzzle; every play, every dalliance, threatened to be his last.

He raised to his toes. Rough leather and fingertips collided. He gripped and fell, ball tight against his chest.

Broncos 27, Panthers 24

french sojourn said...

She’d been nicknamed Mother Russia, on account that she’d walk two miles through snow banks, just to buy her cat’s some food. She’d be wearing that big old overcoat, her hair the color of iron ore, sticking out like Akaky Akakievich’s straw-like plume.

Weren’t many fans of hers around town, seemed like she was always at her wits end, but Doc knew better. At the bar, townies gossiped about her ex-husbands, and Doc would take a swig from his Michelob, tell them fishmongers to shut the fuck up.

See, there was a time, long ago, when their hearts, were one.

Anonymous said...

She wore death well. Of course. She wore everything well; why should this be an exception?

The dimwits circling her coffin stepped back. She stood and extended a hand, raised a translucent eyebrow, commanding someone to help her out. So dramatic. I nearly gagged.

When no one came forward, she frowned and stepped from the box in a cloud of lavender. An infant wailed. My heart stuttered as her pale eyes found mine.

“Why?” she whispered.

The room turned to me. Turned on me. My mask slipped from grief to guilt.

Even in death, my sister always won.

S.D.King said...

July 2016
The snaking line of sobbing women are dressed from Goodwill to Gucci. Keeping her wits, Anna clutches an ultrasound proving a perfectly round head. One more chance to plead for a waiver. Last chance.

A cart with hundreds of paper pill cups ahead, she rubs her swollen belly, humming the symphonic cello part of Brahm’s Lullaby. She’s next.

“Anna Mueller?”

A supervisor checks his laptop. ”Boston Philharmonic?”

Now reclining her seat on the transport to Calgary, she rubs her tummy, cooing Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Seems the President’s a fan of classical. Operation Noah needs a musical baby.

Marie McKay said...

stilettos tick tocking, run-walking on the pavement; killer heels for the woman who had it all: career, infant - an ex with a twenty-year-old wife; tick tock, run-walk; can't be late for daycare; "left the office, picked up her kid"- no time to see red, blood, gore, body on the floor; tick tock, run-walk; act normal; smile at staff; small talk, small talk; just picking up my kid; kisses for my baby girl - girl without a daddy; woman widowed at twenty STOP gather your wits; can't get caught, can't get caught; not planning on doing Time

Redmond Writer said...

The high school teacher sat with his student to go over her research paper.

“It’s Switzerland, not Switserland.”

“Before you criticize me, you know that’s the way it sounds.”

“Tell that to the originators of the exceptional country that’s served as a safe, neutral world-entity for many years.”

“How many years?”

“Look, I’m the teacher, not you. It’s your paper we’re correcting, not mine.”


Mr. Carmichael turned the page and shook his head.

“It’s Oxfam, not Oxfan.”

“Says who?”

“Says everyone. Why the errors, Jennifer?”

“That’s how it arrived.”

“Excuse me?”

“I bought it, not my fault.”

Writer 4 said...

One More

"Hi, Sheriff. An autopsy? Now? It's midnight."

"Exactly. Or else they'll take her body before they know it's a crime."

Fantastic. She yawned, remembering how it seemed that Medical Examiner was a sexy job for a CSI fan. That was before the cult came to show its ugly face. Now her caseload exceeded that of Compton. Or East L.A. Koreatown had become the next dangerous highway exit. But why? It was vexing.

Later, a knife in the dark: she saw its owner's face before it tore her carotid. Not a cult. Just the Sheriff. A serial killer.

LynnRodz said...

Her early years weren't easy. Shy, a late bloomer, she built battleships during WWII, traveled the world, married late, and became the matriarch of a fantastic family. Her words, not mine.

"You're my daughter." she says.

"Yes, mum, I am."

"And Bob is..."

Her wits slowly fading.

93, what more do you expect?

"Is that all there is?" She looks at me intently. "To life, I mean."

"I think so." What can I say?

A twinkle lights her eyes. "Then let's keep dancing."

I join in. "Let's break out the booze and have a ball."

She laughs.

So do I.

Anonymous said...

He sat upon the body of the crumpled man contorted into a makeshift lounger, held steady by the grace of rigor mortis alone, and stared. In the evening light, had you wanted to escape the moaning reverie of the Sex Priests and their fanatics to saunter along the shore, he would have been there, no greeting on his lips, no silly banter or puerile matching of wits, and no other sign of life leaking from his salted face.
But wake his gaze and know that when he looks upon you, all he sees is the future furniture of your corpse.

Unknown said...

“Yep, You?”
“The same. I’m Karen.”
“Steve. I’ve never been to a writing conference. Oregon’s a great place for it.”
“Yes. Nice that she got her clients together. That’s her. Frightening.”
“She sounds nice over the phone. Still, I’m surprised she signed me. She’s usually not a fan of my genre. This crowd’s scary.”
“Bunch of ex-murderers, and assassins, leastwise from reading those story contests.”
“Got that right. Better keep our wits about us.” We laughed.
She handed me a glass of wine. “This will help. Cheers.”
“Oh God, she’s swimming over. What do you write?”
“Romance. You?”

Unknown said...

I hate salon small talk.

"Just a trim." I brush my hair behind my shoulders.



"How long have you been here?" I ask.

"I moved here last year with Corey."

"He's your boyfriend?"





"What happened?"

"He got spooked by relationship drama—


'—wanted to 'live by his wits', doing those rap wars—


'—you know, rhyming wars, wits...tits...probably huge ones in this fantastic new life. WHATEVER."

Snip Snip Snip

She eyes my hair. It struggles to reach my chin.

"You like that?"

I avoid drama. Just like her ex, apparently.


Donnaeve said...

Soon as Ammon and I exchanged vows, our forever fantasy fizzled.

He started making suspicious calls.

I eavesdropped.

He secretly planned.

I secretly prepped.

Sick games, one trying to outdo the other.

He executed his plan.

I executed mine.

Funeral mourners display a bizarre, yet gratifying grief. Meanwhile, I have to keep my wits about me, watching from a distance.

Finally, the signal.

I exit the car, shocking everyone as I approach.

Mainly, Ammon.

Eyes bulging, he points at my coffin, “But…?”

Waving in the undercovers, I say, “But, what?”

Murder requires a solid strategy, especially when someone plans yours.

Brigid said...

She rarely minded waiting on line, but two dudes elbowed her so hard she bit her tongue and dropped everything.

“The hell—"

Bowtie Boy held out her wallet.

“Fu-fank you.” Her tongue smarted.

“No' at all, luv!”

She checked her wallet, but they weren't ballsy pickpockets. Just clumsy assholes.

“Just good Samaritans, as you Yanks say.”

“Mm. Bwits?”

“Yes, wherefore-art-thou-Romeo and all that.”

Eyeroll. “Weally.”

He went on about his holiday from Oxford before slipping up and folding his pizza.

Ahh. Optimistic frat boys. It took ages to extricate herself. Luckily, she made sure they left without their wallets.

A Room of My Own said...

For the love of Zeus! Can’t a girl get any peace without adoring fans flocking around her? I know, I know. I’m not just any girl. I’m a goddess. Of course, those twits don’t know that. They think Aphrodite is my stage name.

Why am I in Vegas? Olympus was a bore after thousands of years. Now, the whole pantheon lives in Sin City. It’s the Old World reinvented! And I’m the sexiest showgirl in town. I know you’re so drunk, you won’t remember this tomorrow. Or at least you better hope not. For the love of Zeus!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

"As long as the backup power stays on, I'll be fine".

Lilly closed her eyes, trying to keep her wits about her. She needed this job put Josh through school. It was lucrative and dangerous work; arium ore produced hallucinatory fumes when exposed to oxygen.

These particular mines were famous for their quakes, but the backup generator had never failed her before. It kept the air circulating, even in darkness. The lights would be back with the main power, any minute now.
Another small quake shook the mine.

There were three clicks, and then the fans shut off.

Christina Seine said...

See, I’d followed my ex to Astoria. Oregon. It’s this little shit town by the beach full of hipsters and tourists. Didn’t surprise nobody when Herb grew a goatee and took up photography.

Who the hell dates somebody named Herb anyway? Me and some half-wit smutbag named Stephanie, apparently.

I waitressed mornings, which left afternoons free for beachcombing. You can find anything in the sand - money, keys, credit cards. One time when Herb and Bimbo were out body surfing, I happened upon hers. Platinum Visa, sticking right outta her wallet.

Anyway, cheers. This Dom Perignon stuff is fan-freakin-tastic. More?

Lennon Faris said...

“I’m worried,” I tell Dad.

“Ah, don’t be. She’s ex-CIA.”

“She lives out in the boonies and isn’t answering calls! That’s alarming for any 90-year-old woman.”

Pulling into her driveway, my back window shatters. I swerve into the garage and am dragged inside. “Brilliant girl!” My grandma pecks my cheek, jogging back to the window. She hefts a giant shotgun, angling her face down. “You flushed ‘em out.”


“Dimwits! FANCYPANTS!” Shells hit my cheek as she reloads. “Sorry, doll,” she clucks. I just blink. Her next shot blows something to smithereens.

“Score,” Grandma spits.

I guess Dad was right.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I'd come from Oregon. Only enough change left for an Abita.

First a marching band then the fantastic Krewe of Muses.

A purple-haired woman stood on top, her arm poised, ready for the throw.

I blinked my LED flashlight, our prearranged signal.

She had her wits about her, acknowledged my existence with a nod.

She hurled a sequined stiletto towards me, a brilliant flash of green and gold.

My hand brushed the thin heel before a fat fist grabbed it.

"Good catch, Daddy. Oooh, is that a real emerald on top?"

Timothy Lowe said...

She didn't expect to become his heartbeat, watching, paled by the glow of the video monitor. She didn't expect love so absolute, so fanatic, so out of its wits, her chest rising and falling with his faraway breathing.

But then it starts happening. Monday the screen flickers. A hand stretches over his crib.

She smiles, pressing a hand to her sore nipples, loving the word father.

“You’re too good, Tom,” she whispers.

But he’s beside her.

“Hsst – Tom!”


“Whose hand is that?”

He fumbles for his baseball bat. They stumble in. Nobody there.

Tuesday it happens again.

Unknown said...

For sale:

My girlfriend hates all things Ford, especially my lifted pick-up. Trailer hitch, all-terrain tires, XM radio. It's got more tricks and toys than Batman's utility belt, but she'd rather go to dinner in that two-door Honda of hers. I'm not really a fan. It sounds like an angry sewing machine if you ask me. Whatever. She said its her or the truck, so here we are.

Red on top, sits high off the ground, easy on the eyes, no real wits to speak of. Wicked handsome ex-boyfriend. Goes by Sarah.

$50 OBO.

-Phil and his Ford

Janice Grinyer said...

Before she called 911, she had to work hard to collect her wits; after all, this was her new husband of just two years. She stared in fascinated horror as his naked corpse profanely pulsed to the plugged in laptop submerged beside him.

What a terrible experience; to have your new husband dead in your sunken bathtub in your new home you purchased together. Especially right after purchasing together the only winning mega lottery ticket. She had to work hard to collect her wits.

After all, murder was new to her too.

Kae Ridwyn said...

“Caught them!” he exulted.

Thousands of slaves had fled. Dimwits. Thinking escape was possible!

But now the sea lay at their backs. And he’d collect recompense for the disasters they’d caused. They’d pay dearly; his son’s blood demanded it.

He blamed his grandmother for this. If not for her intervention, their fanatic leader would never have survived past infancy.
No matter. He knew that, down on the shore, the slaves, anxious, awaited his revenge. Would he massacre them? Re-enslave them? Or even worse?
Let them stew ‘til morning. They could go nowhere.

Down on the shore, Moses raised his arms.

Anonymous said...

"You need more wine." Cassie poured white Zinfandel, her solution for everything.

"Come on, sis," she said. "We aren't twits, we don't mope over our exes. Anyway, I always hated how he treated you. You should be glad he left."

I hung my head, picked at a torn spot on one nail, dug dirt from under another.

"What's with you?" Cassie rolled her eyes. "When we were kids we flushed the dead goldfish and that was that."

I whispered, "Or buried it in the woods."

She frowned. "We never buried a goldfish. Was that a hamster or something?"

Or something.

Unknown said...

The aircraft is below its glideslope. “Transcon 209, Metro approach. You are low.”

“This is Transcon 209. Hit birds. Lost both engines and… uh… lost the rudder. We’re going down.”

Mr. Ganso surveys the debris field. He must finish before the gaggle descends.

He finds what he is looking for: PW4000 turbofan, split open by impact. Verifies: white feathers at compressor exit, charred ones in the exhaust duct.

No innocents died this time, though. These feathers were donated willingly. To the weapon.

It is only the beginning. Let’s see how the wingless ones like this foie gras.

Jennifer Delozier said...

One, two, steal her shoes.
He ripped the heels off her sexy stilettos and stuffed them into his pocket. Souvenirs.

Three, four, mop the gore.
He fanned the bleach dry.

Five, six, nix the pix. He scoured her phone for incriminating photos before turning the camera to her smiling neck.

Seven, eight, play it straight. He tucked the razor inside his jacket. An ambulance raced past the bordello. Now, it seemed, was as good a time as any to slip away.

Nine, ten, sign in pen. He tagged the photo and left the phone on the bed.

“Love always, Jack.”

Lance said...

On the bus seat lay an open book and half a bag of Oreos. Double Stuf.

Patrick Lee's Signal. Inside the cover: “Ex Libris: Shark.”

Scrawled underneath, “Dearest Janet, my passionate love! Sam.”

Signed by a character or a fanatic?

Bookmark in the center: “Find your way into the book world!”

The star burst at the top burns white.

I'm no longer on the bus, but standing in the parlor of an old house. My wits teeter.

“Snookums? Forget something?”

“I'm not her.”

“Oh, another bus rider. I'm Sam Dryden. Welcome to Fiction!”

Unknown said...

She hunkers down behind the rock. Chance it now? Wait?

The core of her obstacle lays strewn over the road, the goal still waiting on the other side and infants hungry back home.

He insisted on going first. Halfway across the vibrations began. She felt them too, their machines coming fast. Exhausted from failed searches he hesitated – a fatal pause.

Wits depleted, she acts and bolts across. Almost there, a sudden pain sears her bushy tail. But she keeps on to the other side, to the great tree, to food for the infants.

The acorns are theirs!

RKeelan said...

I took out a policy on my anorexic wife last year. Thought it might come in handy one day.

We lost the house last week. Foreclosure. My wife's fancy clothes don't come cheap.

She was a dancer, once, back when she still had her wits about her. Now she sits under a blanket and bites her nails all day.

I broke down and bought the pills yesterday. My wife took them without complaint. She likes pills—no calories to them.

The doctor said they'd help. Thank God they were covered by the policy.

William Darrah Whitaker said...

The whore acts like a big fan of sex, but only twits believe her. That’s what I tell all my new clients. I wait a week or so before I drop that pearl of wisdom, but, by then, most have gone on a few auditions and feel obligated to ask what I mean (instead of bolting for the door). I say, “Don’t act, just be. That’s the mark of a true professional.” No offense to those in the porn industry, of course. There are still a lot of idiots in this world. -- Buddy Price

Rich said...

“I did it!” said the woman next to me on the train, “It’s over!”
She tucked her phone between her cheek and shoulder and searched through her purse.
“Just this morning. He hit me, and before he could do it again I hit him back.”
I examined her from the corner of my eye.
“I’ve fantasied about how I would do it, and when that twit smacked me, I did it.”
She pulled a nail file from her purse.
“No, he can’t anymore.”
She started to clean something from under her nails. Was that? I looked out the window.

AAGreene said...

It takes two days before she figures out their routine.

Steady, heavy boots scrape along the cement floor.

A solid door creaks.

A click. The light. And searing pain.

She chews on her fear and hocks a loogie. Using her teeth, she adjusts the placement of the zip tie that binds her wrists.

And waits.

Her eyes - and wits - sharpen in the dark.

The boots, the door. Click.

The light flashes then explodes. The pain, this time, isn’t hers.

Her laughter drowns out their profanity.

They thought they had an heiress.

They actually had a cop.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Please, she begged the examiner. It was an accident, not murder.
But no one listened to her any more. She watched in anguish as they took her husband away, the only man who loved her, believed her, could see her.

The judge ignored her vehement insistence of her husband’s innocence. He believed not in the fantasmagoria of the dead. The sentence: life imprisonment.

She wavered. Should she follow the man she loved, to comfort him for the rest of his days, or would her wits not survive the brutal horrors of what they would do to him in prison?

Kim English said...

I miss disco. Not the music so much, but the nightlife. The synchronized dancing. The whiskey sours.

More More More. My sleek, sexy, dance instructor Tony loved that song. His girlfriend’s dad ran the local mob. Disco died the day I peeked though a cracked door and saw her shrieking over Tony’s body, her dad’s pistol still smoking. Then came the trial, relocation, WITSEC. The Marshalls told me my dancing days were over. They don’t know I sometimes sneak out for oldies night at the American Legion.

“Fanny?” Thirty years later, Tony’s lady looks old, broken. Like me. We dance.

Anonymous said...

Sounded like an easy gig. Babysit some rich old dame 'til she kicked it. Make nice, get mentioned in the Will.

We'd visit Côte d'Or every summer, me an' her. Nice place. Good hunting. I'd drink burgundy, she'd pretend to. Back when the old broad remembered how to control herself and the fangs wasn't no problem.

Fifty years later, she ain't goin' nowhere, nohow. I'm stuck, losing my damn mind.

Thought about rattin' her out, maybe get into WITSEC, y'know? But she'd find me. Make an example.

"Lucky bastard," she says. "At least your Alzheimer's will kill you."

Fucking undead.

Unknown said...

Roger’s wife was talking. Again.
“Not that one!” she scolded, wrenching the club from his grip. “You’ll need an iron. Maybe even a nine.”
They were behind half a dozen strokes in the couples tournament.
“How you manage to mess everything up, I just don’t know. What would you do if I wasn’t here?”
Roger grabbed a club.
He swung the driver and watched her wits explode over the fans in a spray of red froth. He handed the club back to his caddie.
“I guess she was right. That was more of a nine-iron shot.”

Cindy C said...

“Darling,” he said once upon a time, “you’re everything I want. Will you marry me?”

During the honeymoon at the fancy beach resort he laughed and called me childish.

“Of course you’re stupid,” he said years later. “You come from a family of half-wits.”

“She means nothing to me,” he told his girlfriend last month.

Just now, as he reached across seven years of bad luck, he said, “Crazy bitch. Give it to me.”

The wall behind him, where the mirror hung before exploding into pieces, looks barren. Empty.

When I raise the gun again he says, “Don’t.”

I do.

Unknown said...

Her ex, Brendan, always acted like an infant, especially when he couldn't get his way. For years, Debbie, an incredible woman, suffered through the abuse and to keep her wits about her, developed a plan to break up with him. But how? When Brendan bought new golf clubs with her 401K money, Debbie had her alibi. Thankfully he never used them. Debbie is using them for the first time tonight.
"Fore!" she hollers with a sadistic smile through the crimson blood mist and full moon.

Kathi said...

My fifth grade teacher claimed I needed glasses. Mom said no. So he called social services.
What to say about Mr. Adams? Cardigans. Egg-salad breath. Not a fan.

We were watching the Brady Bunch and eating Spaghettios when Mom told my step-dad how the school bullied her. He died laughing, Florence Henderson on the screen. Raucous laughter, his mouth wide open. I could count his sharp, gray, T-Rex teeth. Heaving laughter. Paramedics.

Yeah, my folks were twits. They wanted everything natural and free, and if that meant blurry, so be it.

Me? I always could see just fine, thank you.

Miles O'Neal said...

"Who is Felicia Buttonweezer?" Penelope demanded.
"A fan."
"She's sending lewd selfies!"
"That's not my fault."
"But that name! Another Buttonweezer?"
Derek gave up. "You're right. It's Felix."
"What? His sister?" She stared at a photo. "Daughter?"
"It's Felix. Your ex. Sex change."
Penelope stared at the photo. "But..."
"You bored him. He fell in love with me."
"You never said anything."
"Felicia's body isn't ready for sex yet. Yours is."
Penelope lost her wits.
Derek lost his head.
She covered it with a dirty blanket.
She stared at the photos.
She missed Felix.
Maybe if she had some operations...

Mallory Love said...

“They say these parts are haunted.“
“Stop it, Ronny!”
“Geez, Garrett, it’s a campout. Whadda you expect us to do? Besides, the other guys ain’t chicken like you.”
“Yeah, Garrett, you never heard of fantasy before? You big baby.”
“I ain’t no baby. Ronny, tell him to stop calling me that!”
“Shut it, you dumwits. I’m trying to tell a story here. So anyways…”
(Snapping twig)
“What was that?”
“It’s nothing. Like I was saying-“
(Crunching leaves…louder…closer.)
“What’s that?”
“What’s what?”
“B-Behind you.”
“Oh shit!”
(Radio crackling.) “...escaped convict....spotted near Carlson Woods...considered dangerous…”

Barb Cameron said...

The knife and the tomato dropped from her fingers as she watched the thin trickle of red juice crawl down her hand. The stream split to encircle a knuckle. One side continued towards her wrist, the other dropped off the precipice of her hand to splatter on the counter. A blob of red on white.
His face. Pure white. Exsanguination will do that to you.
Braided red tributaries on his neck, she’d wiped them clean. In doing something he would never do, she could inhabit a different plane of existence. She wanted to share nothing with him.
The freezer fan kicked in and she shook her head to clear her wits. What would trigger her next? She sniffed. That sauce needed oregano. And there was the meat to chop.

Nate Wilson said...

Milton hated his family had talked him into this place. Said it'd be good for him. Right.

Every meal five flavors of mush and nary a soul worth talking to. The staff a bunch of halfwits. He wouldn't spend another day here. No more.

He eyed the exit. Timing was everything.

Then Barbara's bouffant do bopped into view. God, she'd prattle his ear off so long he'd miss his window. He ducked into a vacant room. The vacant stared. Milton waited.

Alright, coast clear.

"Milton, where you going?"

Damn. He'd been so close.

"Mr. Robertson's bedpan needs changing."

So close.

Sara Halle said...

I entered the feasting room quietly. Fortunately, my servants are not complete nitwits. They spotted me anon, and readied my food and drink.

Afterward, one expressed his fanatical devotion. Such ostentatious displays bore me, but I occasionally permit them. They mean so much to those beneath me.

However, my patience has limits. I needed to stalk the perimeter and look for invaders.

But wait, was it —? Had my old nemesis returned?

Yes, there it was: a red dot dancing along the wall.

As the chase began, I vowed to capture that light at last. Answers, nay, vengeance, would be mine!

Anjeana said...

He’d seen her, head bright in a huddle of middle-school-brown.

Then, at the park, he’d smiled too wide to show: it’s safe. Talked about the spot he liked to go. Back among her friends, laughter bubbled up like the water of an almost boiling kettle.

He hadn’t expected her, but here she was, colt-like legs dangling over the edge of the railway trestle. He sat and her eyes slid towards him. They’re never nervous like you’d expect.

Later, slow circles rippled towards the shore below. She watched, sunlight glinting off teeth like polished chrome. He hadn’t known how to swim.

CED said...

Griff's hand pulsed and blurred as his fingers dissolved into the air.

I wiped the sweat from my face.

Griff shrugged. “Sorry, Herbie. Exothermic reaction.”


“Chromophore splice.”

“They'll outlaw its use.”

“Not if we don't tell.” Griff's right eye flickered out of sight as madness appeared in his left.

“You're giving me the fantods. If you could see yourself.”

“Or not.” Griff laughed, delirious. He kicked off his shoes and unbuttoned his shirt.

“I'll go to—”

“Who will believe you? I destroyed my notes. And they'll never find me.”

His hat fell to the floor, and Griff disappeared.

Kyler said...

The Easy Chair

I wonder what’s in store for me and my soul, as I sit here, awaiting my execution, awaiting the electricity to fan through my veins, killing me forever, and sending me to another plane of existence.

I had to strangle her. I had to eliminate that kind of beauty from the world. But now I feel sorry in these final moments of my life.

Maybe I’ll get a last-minute reprieve, like Dostoevsky. Wouldn’t that be sweet.

Here they come, ready to blindfold me and flick the eternal switch. I must confess: I’m scared out of my wits.

Dena Pawling said...

The wits waited in the hallway until their turn to testify.

The bailiff secreted Johnny in judge's chambers, out of reach of the herd of granola-chomping fanatics in the front row.

Social worker: “Mom feeds the child [shudder] organic and vegetarian!”

Fanatics pointed gun fingers at witness. Judge banged gavel.

Doctor: “Child is healthy.”

Fanatics smiled.

Kindergarten teacher: “Johnny is smart, well-behaved.”

Fanatics sat back and smirked.

Judge: “Child may be returned to mother.”

Fanatics cheered. Johnny reunited with crying mother, who offers baby carrots.

Judge left the bench. Returned in excited rush.

“Where's my potato chips and Oreos?”

Unknown said...

The whore stood on the street corner, voluptuous chest

jutting out at a scruffy young man running as if his life

depended on it, an oriental fan pressed against his chest.

He wasn't exactly her type but she was at her wits end.

She smiled seductively, heavily mascaraed eyelashes


The man, too busy looking over his shoulder passed

by without a glance. Fire lit her eyes. Nobody got by

her without a look.

"Hey" she shouted. BANG! Blood arced through the air,

spraying the pavement as the man fell, the left side

of his head gone.

She screamed.

-- said...

Left the Windy City ten months after my Timmy took his last breath.
Nine. That’s how many days it took him to die.
“Ate somethin’ wrong,” Doctor had spoke. His face said: You’re unfit.
Bus ride takes seven minutes, starting at this corner.
“Another case of the ‘sicks?’ Give ‘em this, miss.”
Five bullets under her cold control. It’d been so clear.
“What d’ya need to see the doctor for?”
Doctor’s face is plastic, right eye twitching triple time like Morse code.

“Oregon too, eh?”


“Lemme explain--”

Her finger squeezed.

She lost her wits.

Timmy, her sweet one.

Unknown said...

Motherhood is such a chore. Day in and day out, I find myself at my wit’s end. But, that’s what I get for hooking up with my ex at a Cher concert. The sad thing is, I’ve never even been a fan.

John Frain said...

Going on a dare, Renee crept to the edge of the cliff. Bare feet against craggy stone. Two-piece tiffany bathing suit clinging to her skin. Inhale. Exhale. Dive.

Renee counted. Hands slicing the air. Exhilaration! She pierced the murky water so much sooner than expec –

Edgy on shore, Reagan counted. Seemed to take forever. Kept her wits. When Renee never surfaced, Reagan felt a twinge of guilt. She hadn’t really made the dive yesterday. Only confirmed the water was too shallow.

Grinning, Reagan considered the benefits as the surviving twin. Starting with Renee’s hunk, Hurwitz, because he’ll need some comforting.

Vanessa Valdes said...

He weeded out the unnecessary in me, extracted the naivete and sunshine veil from my eyes as you would smelt an ore for hardened gold. Really, he’s done me a favor.
That could’ve been me right now, third in line at the child nourishment office, feet the size of buffalos. It’s her, I can tell by the pharmacy shampooed-blonde of her hair, by the profile of a woman I caught screwing my now ex-husband.
She fans herself, red-faced and witless, and still as trashy as ever, even at eight months of demon-spawn carrying. Still, bitterness is a demanding bitch.

Anonymous said...

“So you are here.” Bree slouched into a chair.

“Fancy that.” Alisha’s broken face disappeared behind the tankard.

“Don’t be sore. You’re predictable.”

“Yeah? Predict this.” Alisha kicked her chair back as she stood.

“You can’t just give up. We need you.”

“Right. Viva the revolution.”

Bree pulled a face. “Your French sucks.”

“Go fuck yourself. How’s that French for you?” Alisha’s cloak pulled tight around her neck. “Let go of me.”

“You owe me,” Bree said.

Alisha twitched. “And only a coup will exonerate me?”


Unknown said...

More than twenty days since the last orders had been transmitted.

Private Penn's trigger finger flexed around her weapon. She wiped her sleeve across her sweating forehead.

With the black lid raised, she punched in her security code.

The directives were clear.

The team had been assembled, ready, and trained for this pivotal assignment.

Penn understood the costs. Comrades, once fighters, could lose their wits, and become MIA.

The reward was worth the risks.

ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred.

Captain Shark's mission was completed.

Back into the woods the persevering infantry retreats. And lives to write another day.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

August, Northern Maine, 3 Am, four hours ‘til home.
Back in the car after the rest stop.
Exhausted, boredom is my passenger.
70. No one else on the road. Hot.
Damp cloth smell. Someone shifted position. Crouched, floor, back seat.
Wits pumped into overdrive.
80. Think.
Shadow. Rearview.
90. Car rattles, I am terrified.
He comes up over the back seat.
Brake. Hard.
White knuckle wheel. Screaming tires, burning rubber.
His fantail body flies forward through the windshield. Sickening speedbump.
70. No one else on the road. Wind.
Gotta’ get the windshield fixed when I get home.

RachelErin said...

Can’t believe I’m gonna see Pops. But the ex said he took my dog while I was inside.

Makes up for the fact he never visited me.

She kept me warm on the streets, kept me company when I had the shakes. Funny, how a dog can keep a person human.

Maybe I’ll stay awhile, ditch the nitwits who got me in trouble.

I’ll ring again. I can hear the fans running.

“Shelby, who you went with before? Shoulda put her down with that fool mutt.”

E.M. Goldsmith said...

“That’s her,” came the accusation.

“Apologize, you bitch,” several voices said.

An enraged woman grabbed Evadne’s coat and tore her lapel.

Evadne screamed. She exhaled. Felt cold. Then pain.

“That brainless twit shot me,” Evadne thought.

Click. Another gunshot. A dog barked. Evadne twirled as blood fanned across her white shirt. People clapped. They were cheering her death. They were so angry. Over a god-damn tweet.

“What the fuck is wrong with you people?” Evadne said.

Hateful eyes confronted her, showed no remorse for her suffering. Lights from camera phones filmed her agony, her pleas, and her last breath.

Michael Seese said...

Mrs. Guilford didn't know which garnered more pathos. The girl's doe eyes, or the hand-scribbled note she held out.

“Please help. I am an orefan.”

A sign from God, she thought, touching her barren belly.

“Come in, child. What’s your name?”


Mrs. Guilford fed, bathed, and dressed Aurora in warm nightclothes before tucking her into the bed meant for another.

This is how it should have been, she thought, kissing the girl's forehead.

The next morning, examining her empty jewelry box, Mrs. Guilford wondered whether the note's solecism stemmed from her marionettist's ironic illiteracy, or wicked sense of humor.

Just Jan said...

Exactly four months after our torrid affair, I’m back in the rat-infested alley where we first met, wanting more. My mother, stuck at home with my brood, would question my morals, but I can’t help myself. I’m in lust.

A pewit’s call alerts me to his presence, and I’m a fangirl again, overawed by his leoninity. I approach him eagerly, but something’s not right. I sense it, smell it, recoil with the horror of it.

He cleans his whiskers, unapologetic, as I grapple with the awful truth: My once-virile lover has been neutered.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

It’s twilight. Lake waves swish around us.

“Why am I solo?”

Camille looks innocent.

I love working summer camp with handicapped adults. Usually counselors are paired in cabins with their campers. But not me, not this week. Nitwits.

Last week, Camille had had an enfant terrible. Tall, sturdy Soledad refused showers, meals, everything. Except swinging. When Camille burst into tears one evening, I swapped: my three sweet ladies for her stubborn one. Soledad was awesome. She listened to me.

Stars mushroom above pine silhouettes. The bubbling under the water stops. Winded, I swim to shore.

Tears didn’t work this time.

Anonymous said...

Olivia’s legs were sore, her arms spaghetti. The fancy hooded man had demanded frightening things of them. What was a “jumping jack,” anyway?

“Testing is complete.” His voice was a husky blend of bravado and hormones; she tried not to giggle. “One of you is chosen.”

Probably Edith, thought Olivia. People were always choosing Edith, with her flirtatious real teeth and brassy hair.

“Danger awaits,” said the man. “Accept at your peril.”

Did he think them lopsided pewits? She stood.

“I did not excuse you!”

Olivia’s laugh undulated across her ninety-year-old frame. “No,” she said. “I am excusing you.”

-Rebekah Postupak

Michael Rigg said...

Weapons concealed under the drape of peasant-style blouses, the two sisters, barely out of their teens, watched expectantly as the royal procession approached.

“Keep your wits about you until he is at point-blank range,” the older sister implored. “And then, we must act.”

Her heart beating rapidly with anticipation, the younger sibling nodded. She stared at the false monarch waving to his subjects—his fans—lining the avenue.

“It’s time!”

Swiftly, the pair exposed what had been hidden from view.

“King Rex! Over here! Throw us some beads! We love Mardi Gras!”