Friday, April 26, 2019

The L-train debacle flash fiction contest

My normal subway is the L.
The L goes under the East River.
The tunnels were damaged during Hurricane Sandy.

Now they're going to fix them.
And that leaves 300,000 people in a fix.
Cause how the HELL are we going to get to work?

None of us can walk on water, and none of us have jet packs.

This is going to be an EPIC snarl up, and I can't wait to not deal with it.
I'm working from home next week. And maybe forever if this doesn't work itself out.

To give me something to look forward to, let's have a flash fiction contest!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

IF you are Steve Forti, you must also use this phrase which is (I swear!) the Maryland State motto:
Manly deeds, womanly words (Fatti maschii, parole femine)

In that order too! (not in Latin though, unless you want)
(I cackle with glee at the prospect of stymieing Mr. Forti!!)

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: East/Easter is ok, but east/TSA exit 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: Saturday, 4/27/19 at 9:25am (sorry for being late!)
Contest closes: Sunday, 4/28/19 at 9am

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! 

Sorry too late, contest closed!


Steve Forti said...

What’s the country code for Netherlands, Ma?
>>NL. Y Dee?
DSW - O man. LYW or DS
? The hell do these codes mean?
>>Light yellow. Dead stock. Geez, ur no sneakerhead, Dee. Text me pics.
Ugh. How bout these pumps? DSW only ships from the Netherlands. Shoe Depot has them in East Baltimore, tho.
>>Fatti maschii, parole femine
>>Nvm. Those r cute. O, btw, shop called. Alterations r done on bridesmaid dresses and your gown.
Sweet. Made appt to get these snarls blown out, too
>>Good. Fixate on prep. Matrimonial tunnel vision. Ur dad and I r so excited!

Timothy Lowe said...

Fate told us we couldn’t. So of course we did.

Tunnel a hundred feet under the East River? Unsnarl boat traffic in a single stroke? Remove two hundred thousand cubic feet of Earth, only to meet in the middle within a half of an inch?

“Impossible,” said the Harvard engineer.

“Balderdash,” said the chief financier.

“More will die,” warned the St. Andrews priest.

“Rivets need fixing!” cried the Sun newsboy

But . . .

Inch by inch
Foot by foot
Pound by pound
Root by root

The burrow was built. Cemented. Fused. A throbbing vein carved deep in stone.

Until Sandy spoke.

Claire Bobrow said...

Mario, I’m gonna make you an offer you cannot refuse.

Yes, Don.

Fix the tunnel, or die. It’s simple. No tunnel, no profit.

With all due respect, Don. That snarl last Tuesday? I blame it on Sandy.

Your personal life bores me, Mario. In the family, a man takes responsibility for his mistakes.

Am I God, Don? How can I control Sandy?

As a father tells a son, I tell you now: fatti maschii, parole femine.

But, Don – what does that mean? I don’t speak Italian!

How the hell do I know, Mario?
I saw it on a license plate.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

The dark eye of the tunnel's entrance stares Sandy down. Terror rattles her, but she must at least try to leave. Clutching her bag, she walks inside.

Feet patter behind her. She fixes her gaze ahead, plucks a rabbit, soft, still, from her bag, drops it.

Scuffling. Grunting.

Sandy walks on, drops another rabbit, a duck.

Shoving. Whimpering.

Fingers of light beckon her.

Howling. Snarling.

Sandy runs.

She never sees the jump rope that trips her.


The children skip from the tunnel, wiping their mouths, careful not to get their new stuffed animals bloody.

All children like toys.

Shaunna said...

All humans crave redemption.

Dr. Paulson thought her job was saving lives. As if the difference between doctor and patient was subject versus object. She tunneled through plaque walls. She stented collapsing arteries. She untangled snarls of gossamer-thin nerves. She fixed people.

As if she had emerged east of Eden with a pair of hemostats and a scalpel instead of an altar and prayer.

But when Sandy emerged from her operating room after seven grueling hours with only a score of heartbeats left, he took Dr. Paulson's hand and whispered, "I forgive you."

Sometimes death redeems us too.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

The dig had been stressful. Stress brought on a strange dream.

It wasn’t a romantic site, like the Mayan cave at the end of a tunnel. We were out in the open. You had to clear away a lot of sand. You had to pray rain wouldn’t blow in from the east.

Then there was the pressure. Pressure from modern academics not to snarl up the dating of the site.

And pressure from 10,000 years ago.

“Tell the truth,” the apparition said, “About how we lived.”

“How did you live?”

But it had vanished, leaving me in a transdimensional fix.

Pen Name said...

The Duke of Snarl could not fix this. He had ruined his prospects at a happy, easy life with one untimely feast.

He had eaten the Doritos, the sour-cream-and-onion chips, the sandy old snickerdoodles, and even things truly uneatable. The drinks, he knocked over, spilling soda and lemonade on the kitchen floor. Super Bowl Sunday? Ruined.

He had an excuse, of course. Manly deeds, womanly words. Too bad his servant didn’t know Catlingish.

She would be looking for him. Good thing he had a tunnel under the bushes down the street.

And good thing he ate her car keys.

Craig F said...

A certain whoosh of rushing air pierced me. It was a childhood nightmare sound. I noticed the neighbor’s kids were oddly silent.

I cleared the east fence and saw the collapsed tunnel, the fixation of kids with shovels. Our sandy soil isn’t meant for that.

I dove in and the boys met me halfway. On solid ground their cries almost became coherent. Their little sister was still buried.

I snarled and dove back in, found a limp hand. I got her mouth cleared and gave up my breath to her. Eager hands grabbed her right before the roof collapsed completely.

John Davis Frain said...

Frank paces and snarls. If he’d asked, I could’ve told him Nelda was at yoga.

Eight p.m. every Tuesday. I keep her calendar.

But Frank never asks. Fixated on his phone. I could have told him there were no messages. His phone would’ve squawked. But he doesn’t ask.

The beast calls the YMCA. “Gymnastics and yoga moved to Wednesdays last year.”

Gulp! Didn’t know that.

Two hours later, the door opens. I can’t stun Nelda, but I must warn her.

I search my database and announce: “The Remington R51. 9mm. Seven-round capacity—”


Nelda survives. My hard drive doesn’t.

NLiu said...

Jeff IX: to his knights and yeomanry, the Conqueror; to his enemies, the Cruel. For he was under a geas: to “die only at the hands of one without manly deeds, womanly words likewise having not”. So Jeff incarcerated the children, and destroyed the weak and wordless. Then he slew and pillaged, insatiable, smug. Until now.

The bellow echoed in the tunnel, dwindling to an eerie lowing. In the gloom, Jeff beheld the uddered Minotaur. Her hands dripped red. Her horns shone black. Her mouth snarled. Missing children sheltered in her shadow. Too late, Jeff realised his doom had come.

Megan V said...

My life has been determined by prefixes and suffixes.
Prefix: un
Un-satisfactory, Un-acceptable, Un-important
Me. Myself. I. The least.
I am—
Prefix: im
Im-pertinent, Im-possible, Im-pressionable
Never going to live up to their expectations, always going to believe their snarled words though actions speak louder on my skin.
Suffix: ly
Man-ly, Woman-ly, Irrevocab-ly.
Manly deeds, womanly words. His hands. Her venom. Never going to change. Because kindness comes with tunnel vision and firm hands fly fast.
Suffix: y
Blood-y, Sleep-y, Sand-y
Dad strikes. I dream of beaches again. Maybe this time I won’t have to come home.
Suffix: ed

Colin Smith said...

Sandy took everything.
Everything I thought was a fixture in my life:
The house. The car.
She even took the kids.
The worst part is, I never saw it coming.
I sat for a week asking what I did wrong.
What sin had I committed against her?
What provoked the snarl that tore our lives?
But there are no answers.
Just an east wind over an empty lot
As I take the Holland Tunnel away from
The wreck of my past.

Sophia's Papa said...

Sandy snarls at me with her usual snarl. She thinks she's a cat. I think she would make a lovely bird... a swan, perhaps, but what can I do? “Baby, let's move back east,” she says. Christ, that woman knows how to get to me. Baby, let's eat out. Baby, this car's a hunk of junk. Baby, let's move to Texas. I used to wait for Sandy for what seemed like hours in the tunnel where the blue line meets the red line. Boston is a motherfucker. But this thing with Sandy ain't broke, so I don't dare fix it.

french sojourn said...

As she peered over the ledge, all she heard was her father’s voice in her mind. “Jump little one,” he laughs and you cry. I’m a failure dad.

She looked east, past Lincoln tunnel. An alley cat snarled in the distance; scavengers were everywhere. Again, she thought of her father, he would know how to fix this. Why did she leave home?

With a tear in her eye, she gracefully jumped.

Her father’s voice kept softly repeating… “Don’t trust the branch on which you perch, trust your wings, after all darling, we are kestrels, the sky is ours.”

Heading home.

Steph Ellis said...

Fay snarled, it was the only language she knew these days. With every fix, she felt her human side disappear, did not want to talk, wanted only to be left alone. He would be back though, to ask the same questions, inject more of his poison, send her deeper into his tunnel of madness.

She was as much a beast in a cage as the others locked up with her.

The white coat moved further away, sandy hair a halo on a devil. His vaccine was a failure but society was desperate, gave him his murder toys, let him kill.

Marie McKay said...

I was fixated on Sandy from "Grease"- ('Before Sandy' not 'Catsuit-clad Sandy.') I wore swing skirts and white pumps. Wildly out of fashion, I was snarled at in my East End, dead end school. I had few friends, but I had the hand jive and crop cardigans.
Secretly, I hoped a Danny ('After Danny' not 'Drive-in Danny') might appear.
But my dance through the Tunnel of Love came after university, with a geologist named Geoff.
I had long since ditched swing skirts, but the dimple on our kid's chin suggested my inner Sandy wasn't completely dead.

nightsmusic said...

Drove home from NH, Sandy pounding the east coast hard.
Boy-howdie what a fix.
Sideways rain so thick, it turned the expressway into a narrow tunnel of nothing.
Even the SUV’s hood disappeared from view.
When we flew across the road, just missing the snarl of semis lining the ditch, our lives flashed.
Knew it was time to get a room.
Buffalo was close.
White-knuckled it all the way.
Hotel concierge took one look at us and upgraded us to a suite.
Twenty-fifth floor swayed wildly all night.
SUV seemed safer.
Never take the upgrade in a hurricane!
(true story)

Katja said...

Nobody liked it in the East, except Erich. He had it all - coffee, chocolate, bananas.

I asked my foster mother, "How did she do it?"
"Through a sandy tunnel."
"Did she make it?"
They believed so; relieved. NO! I cried.

And there she found work. Short skirts, high heels, ensnarling men. She was lucky, got a ring. A house. And widowed. Done.

25 years later, when the wall came down, I too left. Her destiny, my destiny.

I rang her bell. "Who is this?"
Bang, bang. YES! I smiled.

Now I sit in the house, eating Mum's bananas. Fixed.

P.M. Schou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morgan Hazelwood said...

She stood transfixed by the edge of the woods until I cleared my throat.

 "Carlos and you were supposed to be gone hours ago." As house guests, their drama had outstayed their welcome.

"Long gone. He should be beyond the tunnel by now." Her hand fluttered vaguely toward the road.

Oh no he didn't.

"You know you can't stay here," I sighed, defeated.

"I wasn't going with him while he was snarling. Again."

"I'm not blaming you, I just have to --"

"Let me clean up the blood, and then I'll be gone. It's the least I could do."

Just Jan said...

I start by asking what they could have done differently.

Lance tunnels a hand through his sandy hair. “We shouldn’t have had intimate relations until she’d gotten divorced.”

Tristan nods solemnly.

“I shouldn’t have faked my death,” says Juliet, clutching her crucifix.

I call on Lois, our newest member. She’s been beastly ever since her boss insisted she attend group therapy.

“What do you want me to say?” she snarls. “That I should have asked if he was an alien with superpowers?”

“What about you, Cleo?” asks Heathcliff.

“Time’s up,” I say, checking my watch. “See you next week.”

Michael Seese said...

As a child, Tony the Tiger scared the hell out of me. Ferocious beasts should snarl, not wax poetic about glorified Corn Flakes. And don't get me started on Cap'n Crunch, whose eyebrows weren't affixed to his head, but rather, hovered mysteriously in front of his hat. But I dealt with it.

Until that bird ogled me with its googly toucan eyes.

I snapped.

Grabbing my official Red Ryder air rifle, I took aim and Pollocked the kitchen walls with its flavor-bursting reds, oranges, and yellows.

Thus began my runaway train ride into the dark tunnel known as cereal killing.

RKeelan said...

No one walks the tunnel past sundown.

I’m the reason.

I sit at the east entrance, snug against a gap in the wall, as much a fixture as the sand you feel behind your eyelids.

I’m the troll. I snarl at passersby, swiping with thrice-gloved hands. I shout, too, making sounds that are not quite words.

Mind the gap.

If only I could speak, that's what I'd say.

Mind the gap.

It's a portal that becomes a passage, a curiosity that becomes an obsession, an escape that becomes a trap.

Mind the gap.

Sherin Nicole said...

When the kaiju rose out of the East River—ensnarling the L-train in her monstrous tail—the Times named her Sandy. Good name for a force of nature.

The Witches of Williamsburg quickly convened in their microbrewery to take action. They’d recently thrifted a grimoire inscribed: Manly Deeds, Womanly Words. Which made them snicker. Hadn’t “manly deeds” caused every first and fourth fuckup in history?

They summoned a second monster for protection, nevertheless. Page 6 named him Ctunnel…because…tentacles. When Ctunnel met Sandy, no faking, he was transfixed. They “went to town.” Thus began the Kaiju Apocalypse.

SarahJ said...

Ah, I remember that day. I was working in a call center asking east coasters to answer a few (hundred) questions. And yes, it was for a political survey that certainly wasn’t biased. How did you know? I might have dialed your number. There were definitely some New York prefixes in the mix. Were you the one who snarled curses at me, saying something about tunnels flooding and houses collapsing? You were? Thank you for remembering me. Why was I calling in middle of a hurricane? To pay off my student debt, of course.

C. Dan Castro said...

Friends said cake walk…other celebs are morons…

“What is, ‘Manly deeds, womanly words’?”

“No. God enriches.”

WHAT?!!! Liar!

“Go again.”

First round. Score negative $18000.

“Maryland. 1200 Alex.”

Yes, negative.

“To reduce traffic snarls, this tunnel will connect Baltimore and Easton.”

My opponents: the comedian says “a big tunnel.” Ha. The bimbo says “Fixitopolis”?

And she’s beating me.


“What is…Rutherford?”

“Badger Tunnel. Badger. To reduce snarls.

Bald-faced liar!


“Maryland. $1600.”

“Answer. Daily Double.”

“Max it.”

“April holiday invented by Lord Baltimore.”

Only April holiday is today.

The first.


Shouldn’t have mocked Mr. Bald-faced for shaving his mustache.

RosannaM said...

Snarl is to hair as:

Nest is to bird
East is to west
Knot is to necklace…

Screw this, she thinks. It doesn’t matter. Mom will fix it. So she fills out the bubbles in any random order that suits her mood.


A different mother who has worked years and years of overtime as a nurse sits at a battered dining table and drills her daughter until both tunnel under the blankets, exhausted.

Nothing to do on her shift, so the nurse joins the poker game, and goes all in on the five hundred thousand dollar pot.