Friday, August 02, 2019

Feline Flash Fiction writing contest--purrfect for your weekend

The Duchess of Yowl was delighted to discover there is a new movie all about cats. Delighted enough to insist on tickets to every showing today.

So, while I'm elbowing her out of my popcorn, let's have a writing contest!

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 the PHRASE: "demented serenity."

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: lion/lionessis ok, but lion/lipton 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 8/3/19 at 8:11am
Contest closes:  Sunday 8/4/19 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! 

Rats! Too late! Contest is closed.


Steve Forti said...

In Virginia for a wedding and unable to enter this week. I bet that gives Janet a sense of  demented serenity, thinking she has thwarted. I've got no time to think, no computer, literally typing off the cuff on my phone while waiting for the shower. 

But I wanted to share a true story from yesterday when picking up the rental. I only can choose from intermediate class cars. I get to the parking lot and the only piece of crap ride left is a friggin station wagon.  What a crock!  

Guess who's rolling up to the ceremony in style.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Our three year old granddaughter stands on a rocky outcropping, (a child’s chair), and raises her doll above her head in a lion king offering to her pride of toys. She is serious. We smile.
Her father then raisers her above his head in the same way. He is tall and she towers above us all. She is not scared. She is quiet. We smile.
In the background the TV percolates political news. It pauses. Demented serenity washes over us. I turn it off.
Our little-one, feet back on earth, is the future. She giggles. We smile.

NLiu said...

The Scarred King sighed. Beautiful Alliona! She rocked him to his foundations. What to write, to woo her?

Then: eureka!

In the scratching of the pen, he heard wedding bells.

Two weeks later, Alliona arrived.

With an army.

The Scarred King gulped.

Admitting to being the Scared King had always been too awkward. He'd never confessed he needed remedial English lessons. He'd thought spell check would save him.


Alliona came for him, sword swinging.

"Wait! I meant, you're pret-"

Abruptly, he was the wrong kind of smitten.

Folded in Alliona's breastplate, his note: "Your pride I be smitin! SK"

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Strange things have been happening around here I tell you.

The cats were going crazy stalking and chomping insects all over the shack. Seemed like millions of the buzzing things.

Ramona nailed the last one. I trapped that bug under a glass, fetched my magnifier.

It was an adorable ant-sized creature. Pink wings and a green body with yellow feathers on its tiny head. It smiled, I tell you, smiled! It stood with pride but looked scared while it frantically waved a miniature sign.


The glass rocked off the counter. Ramona pounced. Swallowed.

Gotcha, she said

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Because of his pride in me, my father scarred me for life. When they pulled us back from where he dangled me over the rock’s edge, Pop roared like a lion. “Leave your king and his cub alone!” The Niagara Falls police report states he was in a state of demented serenity when they took him away.

Ellis Tandy said...

Jenn traced the rocket-shaped scar on Cal’s foot and waited. Not a twitch.

With a touch of pride, he said, “Told you I’m not ticklish.”

“Just making sure. One giggle and they’ll throw you to the... you know.”

He knew.

“They’ll try anything. Chris Fleming videos.”


“Baby goats in diapers.”

“I’ll be strong.”

“Keep a straight face for ten minutes, and we’re set for life.”

Their eyes gleamed.

“Aaaaand our next contestant on Live or Laugh – Caaaaaaaal!”

Striding onstage to bloodthirsty applause, Cal filled his mind with miserable things and tried not to notice how hungry the lions looked.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

She opened by asking about the Great Lion that gave him his scar.

She was too young to know this was a bad strategy. He wasn’t one to use an injury to show off. She had only hurt his pride. But she was eleven years old, cute and confident. Undeterred by his silence, she went on treating him like a king.

Questions at last revealed her opening. The Great Lion had taken his dog. He was grieving. She hugged him; he kissed her. Mission accomplished.

Years later, now married, to her surprise it was he who was the rock.

C. Dan Castro said...

“Rather see ‘Lion King’ or ‘Cats’?”

I’d rather get ravaged with rocks, scarred by sharp swords, then entombed in excrement.

Least I’d possess my pride.

“CATS!!!” Too enthusiastic. Her head tilts, like her cats cornering a toy mouse they must mutilate.

Morris (yes, nickname) cares for more cats than I’ve hairs on my senior scalp. Where does this Millenial hope to go after growing up? Hopefully “Crazy Cat Lady” land, because she’s flying there faster than her creatures to catnip.

I could break us up. But she’s slinky. Rubs me the right way. And God does she purr perfectly.

Claire Bobrow said...

Trouble arrived fast in Vegas.
“Savanna Suite,” the travel agent had said. Loads of amenities!
I’d pictured safari chairs, lion-print bathrobes, poolside flamingos.
A place Elvis would have rocked.

Not this cramped cabin on Demented Serenity, a leaky old riverboat moored at “The Savannah.”
Stupid homonyms.
The whole casino smelled like chlorine.

Pamela said she was scarred for life. “It’s our honeymoon, for Pete’s sake!”

What would The King have done?
Probably not what I did.

“Looks more like ‘The Dented Amenity’,” said the arresting officer.

Boat and marriage sunk.
But pride salvaged.
The judge liked my Elvis sunglasses.

Craig F said...

I found your letter in my inbox today

You were just checking to see if I was okay.

I must admit that scars still itch, mostly at night.
I wanted so badly to be your lion, your rock. My pride didn’t let me see how you chafed against that.

I never wanted to come on as your king, I wished to exalt you.

I am sorry and will always be, but I have moved on, those memories on rise for a very blue moon.

I feel one coming on soon.

Colin Smith said...

“You don’t scare me,” I lie. Tomas grins. The boat rocks. I grip the edge. Tomas sits motionless. His face a picture of demented serenity.

Water seeps through the scar in the floor. Tomas sees me glance at the fissure and laughs.

“Shut up—”

“Ride it out man,” he says. “Ride it out.”

More rocking. Three fins in the water now.

“Can’t we do something?”

Tomas mutters. “Ride it out man…”

Stinking cullion.

Suddenly Tomas’s eyes fix on me.


“You’re nuts! You swi—”

Water in my nose.

Teeth grip my leg.

Gulping sea.

Tomas laughing... fades...

Marie McKay said...

The skin was scarlet; scars feathered and raised, constricted her movements. She stretched as far as she could for the alcohol, but they had put things just out of reach.
She forgave them a million times each day; they were weak, consumed by pride.
She reached again, her feet briefly leaving the ground. She took the bottle back to her quarters. There, she removed her frock, provoking her mind's ear to recall the tearing sounds of flesh.
Removing the lid from the bottle, she saturated a sheet with the alcohol before wrapping it round wounds where wings used to be.

Pen Name said...

They may have been “partners”, but Harry scarfed all the credit. He stole with demented serenity, picking at locks and escaping with the lion’s share of the profits. Kimber tried to score a few hundred bucks, at least, but he had a talent for avoiding her surreptitiously skulking fingers.

She was broke—reaching rock bottom.

So she waited.

Harry’s prideful eyes looked over the bedroom. “They never see it coming.”

“They never do,” agreed Kimber.

She tapped on the sleeping woman’s shoulder, left before Harry caught on.

They may have been “partners”, but Kimber was ready to go solo.

Catherine Thackery said...

She stood still. Unable to comprehend my scared pride.

Horrified is how I describe people when they learn of my orphan status. They all give me the wounded animal in need of assistance stare. They believe I’m like a wild creature, hit by a vehicle on the back roads, sprawled out and left to die on the centerline. Or past the rocky edge, lionized among the kingcups.

I’m not the deer, but the driver.
The one who in a moment of inadvertent demented serenity set off a chain reaction resulting in their deaths.

MackAttack said...

The feral tomcat's kennel was empty.

I rocked back on my heels, peering above, stalking my prey with lion-like precision. The cacophony of meows around us hypnotized me into a demented serenity. I was in for a madcap ride; the twenty-pound behemoth had one ear and a face full of scars.

I pounced, but the bugger was more agile than he had any right to be.

He tore around the room, evading me at every turn, but never saw my real trap coming: the barricade of trashcans forced him right into his open kennel. I slammed the gate in victory.

Timothy Lowe said...

Judge promised me serenity. All I had to do was give him up.

Theodore Alouicious Fealty, father of my kid. Owner of the county circus, ower of a million dreams. Went hard with the bottle, his careful pride numbed by Sambuca and Gin. Soon he fell in with the mob, got handy with his fists.

So I stayed up late, sewing tassels for my frock. Tucking them under so they wouldn’t snag the highwire. Making things perfect. Only thing left? A double-dose of Dutch courage:

“C'mon. Or you gonna be one of those side men, Ted?”

Serenity, my ass.

french sojourn said...

Stalingrad was rubble and frozen shadows. Olesva was sitting on a rock, looking at her meager offering, a battered set of nested dolls that housed twelve matches.

“Come back with a piece of horse tongue for soup. We are counting on you Olesva,” echoed in her head.

Above, a German Heinkel HE-111 from 7th Battalion was carrying wounded on a last gasp ride home.

She didn’t know why she lit the first match, probably freezing fingers.
After the eighth match her numbness subsided.

They found her the next morning, matchless and frozen with an expression of demented serenity staring skyward.

Michael Seese said...

I knew, more or less, what I'd find when I got there.

The heat up "way too high," Dad’s de rigueur kvetch.

Lester Holt, talking to an empty couch.

The dining room table, once host to countless Sunday dinners, now a bed-sheeted ghost.

An unwashed crockpot sullying the sink, evidence of Dad's oft-stated hatred of scrubbing.

Finally, the two of them in his car, hands clasped, dashboard lights glinting off the scratched—but never tarnished—annuli on their fingers. Dad remained bravely beside his "pride and joy," even through her demented serenity.

I turned off the ignition, and dialed 911.

Michael Seese said...

PS: I also ran a 5K today for ovarian cancer (OROC) and placed 11th in my age group (old guys) and 317th overall.,

T Arnold said...

My hand rested on the lion’s bushy mane as I popped his eye into place. I had finally done it. I was the one to finish the puzzle!

My older brother stood by, still claiming it would be his victory. How?

He pointed to a blank. The beast stood on an incomplete rock. There was black scar where the underlying table shone through the image.

I looked around. Was there a lost piece?
He pulled the last puzzle piece from deep inside his pocket.
He snapped the piece into place with pride, king of the puzzle yet again.

Richelle Elberg said...

Annie is sulking in the corner, pride wounded, emotional scars mushrooming. Around us, the others are ebullient. Hugging, weeping, happy tears. A few break into song.

“Cheer up, honey. You rocked!”

“That so, Nelli? On a scale of one to ten?

Two. Maybe.

“Six, easily. No, better. Seven. A solid seven.”

“Simon said I screeched like a wounded cat.”

“Simon’s always mean, Annie. That’s his schtick.”

“Howie literally put his hands over his ears!”

“Howie’s an asshat, Annie. They’re all asshats.”

“Those asshats just destroyed my dream!” Her face crumples.

America may have talent, but my poor grandbaby doesn’t.

*WinterOne said...

The scar of him was heavy. It felt like more than wounded pride.

When he left her, he had left her with a gaping hole. A space devoid of what was, what could be. It was a sort of demented serenity.

Capitalism made him a king.

It had also taken him away.

She pressed her hand against the cold, hard rock that was his headstone.

Her lion should have never accepted that promotion.

htb7792 said...

He felt pride as he brushed the scar that graced his rock-chiseled features. That lion may have been the king of the jungle, he mused, but it had underestimated his demented serenity. The beast had paid for that miscalculation with its life.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

“Boom! Yo pimp ride’s here, Antwone,” I said.
Chains rocked on my chest as we approached the Lambo.
Antwone guffawed, clapped my shoulder.
“Da fuck in Godzilla’s hell you source dis shit, DeMarcus?
Took me weeks to catch his attention, months to earn his trust.
Sports cars, I learned, float his boat.
Same boat he loads with cocaine, with bodies.
“Antwone, my man, I is got this special skill.”
“I, on the other hand,” he hissed, “is got suspicions.”
He fired.
I fell.
“Boom, mothafucka,” Atwone spat, drove away.
I lay still, eyes closed.
Counted to twenty.
I smiled.

Steph Ellis said...

The swelling on her neck had increased, an ugly ganglion hiding angry nerves.

Defrock a priest, literally, and they think they own you.

Hands shaking, she rolled out the pastry, pride preventing her from scrapping the meal, starting again.

They come in here, drink your wine, feed your steak to their dog. What did he expect them to eat?

Oh, I’m sure you’ll think of something, darling.

She hacked at the replacement meat, scarring the surface beneath.


Well, the only thing you’re going to fill tonight, darling, is my oven.

Dinner a deux had become a meal for one.

Laura Stegman said...

Despite the heat, the crowd thickened. Timmy was right beside me, until he wasn't. "My God," someone screamed. I realized it was me. Timmy, intent on playing, had climbed the fence. Seconds before he jumped, I saw a man's forearm, unhampered by its long scar, grab my boy's belt. Gasping for breath, I embraced them both. "You're a hero!"

The man beamed with pride, literally rocking my world. "Fred King, ma'am. At your service."

That's how we met. Timmy's grown, but it's why, every one of the 50 years since, we've celebrated our anniversary right there by the zoo's lions.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Holly’s scars clung to her like a beat-up Honda.

She stopped in a boutique and mulled over a scarf.
“It doesn’t quite have that je ne sais quoi.”
She gave it back to the attendant. Was she impressed with Holly’s French, make-up, stylish clothes?

At the outdoor café table, shouldn’t the waiter have held her chair? Her pride flailing, she glanced around, her napkin gravitating toward the floor.

What a huge lapis lazuli on… Denise Vasi! Holly’s stomach rocketed! Hadn’t she played a hooker who reformed on that soap opera?

Demented serenity!

Holly ordered lunch. With champagne.

Luralee said...

Leona spied the shoes beside the door. The shower was running. Fingers to lips, she pointed—sofa, la-z-boy, curtains, credenza.
His family hid.
Oscar, his new boss, whispered, “Birthday and a promotion? Glad I gave him the afternoon off.”
She forced a smile. “Me too,” and stashed him behind the door.
She hung the banner—U. ROCK!—and let loose the balloons.
The shower cut off. Was she making a mistake? No. A lioness had pride.
Hushed giggles
Her husband yelped. The intern screamed and clutched her towel.
Leona smiled with demented serenity and whispered, “Fool me twice.”

Uncompliant said...

"Rock, paper, scissors" is usually nonviolent, but not the way Derek plays the game. Real scissors, actual rocks and a swinging bundle of newspapers. He's a f--king psycho; I have the scars to prove it. He enjoys it too; all calm like; a sort of demented serenity.

I have been avoiding him for weeks. But today's the day. I gotta take the Lollipop Ride. He's gonna see me. But I made a deal with Matilda. If Derek comes at me, Matilda will step up. She's big; she'll blow him away like dandelion fluff. Today's gonna be a good day.

Unknown said...

The ugliest scar was the easiest to hide, behind her bangs. She’d always prided herself on her hair. It offered her a demented sense of security; he used it to yank her across the kitchen tile. It was her idea to take a hike up in the White Mountains, when they released her from the hospital that last time. “What a rocking view,” he said. She asked him to pose for a photo by the edge. His own hair looked like a lion’s mane as he fell through the air.

Fearless Reider said...

“I’m not scared.” They can’t see his thumbs shaking as he works the latch. Must be a trick to it.

Click. It gives way.

In the ancient house, green eyes shape the dark. I dare you, they say. He steps in.

Her mind seeks the latch. There’s a trick to it...

Click. Snatch. She feels the silky rush of freedom as she slips inside, then out.

Sneakers rocket past the old man bent in the dirt, send two Duchess blooms to their deaths. Pride of his garden, ruined. “Hellions,” he spits.

In the dark, the boy yowls. Trapped. Fur-bound. Waiting.

flashfriday said...

Broccoli on her plate and napkin gathered neatly in her lap, she wondered vaguely if the knight still felt the prenup rider was worth the gold disc armor and twenty roc knaves he now theoretically owed her.

She wouldn’t have agreed to the rider at all, but she’d found him bold, pure-hearted, and eloquent, with an unflagging optimism about reformation that could have put even a mother to shame. In short, she murmured fondly, he is absolutely everything a knight ought to be.

[burp of smoke]

Er, “ought to have been.”

Kregger said...

Demented Serenity-a benign St. Eve’s bungalow in the Forti’s.

Why does anyone name a house anyway?

I blame Chip and Joanna Gaines. Or House Hunters.

And when did non-English speaking writers start working for HGTV?

Should anyone call a fifth-story Philadelphia walkup—Rocky’s Pride?

Yes, English is hard, but a basement apartment shouldn’t be listed as Virgin’s Hole or a flat in Queensland as Scarborough’s Fairies.

I agree a named home should reflect an owner’s neuroses...I...I mean personality, thus skipping Knotty Pine, and anyplace called Bloody King’s Vista;

I named my place Lioness Bastard.

On tonight’s tenth spouse.

RKeelan said...

I used to think that red was real and its shades were fake, but vermillion is a pigment you can hold in your hand and scarlet is the colour of a cardinal.

What's red other than a label?


People say that blood doesn't wash out, but that's a crock of shit. I've removed great, shocking gouts of blood from even of my whitest whites.


I always prided myself on never doing a thing I'd regret on my deathbed, but now that I'm here, I most regret letting the brief, morbid end outweigh the long, vibrant middle.

Just Jan said...

The new oven winked lasciviously from its stainless steel cocoon. No more Crockpot dinners for you, baby, it seemed to say. I’m cooking tonight.

She gussied herself up, coaxed her hair into a French twist, and soon the sweet smell of garlic filled the air. Escargot and pots de crème. His ganglions would be standing at attention.

Both the butter and her mood had congealed by the time he staggered in. Pride derailed, she shoved his dinner back in the oven and blew out the pilot light. Time to show him what her new oven could do.

Angel L said...

Eve glanced at a newsstand as she sauntered down King Street. The words “Serial Killer” graced multiple covers. She swallowed fear and pride as an older Buick rolled up. Rock music flowed out as she bent.

"Looking for a good time?" the familiar man asked.

The scar along her jaw pulsed. Was she? A demented serenity settled upon her as she decided.

"Condom?" he asked as he pawed at her moments later.

She paused. A lioness fixed upon prey before she struck. With a squeal he reached for his bloody neck but quickly fell silent.

Four down. Eleven to go.

CED said...

Sarah hurled rocks at the scarecrow standing watch in its fallow field spotted with dandelions. Each miss a blow to her pride.

Her throws became more accurate. Through the fall. Into the winter. Always in threes: father, sister, brother. If she could only hit that fucking face, with its expression of demented serenity, knock its straw brains right out, maybe she could accomplish something meaningful.

Sarah picked up a stone. Felt its weight. Knew her aim would be true. And dropped it. Her mother needed her at home, and she’d been gone far too long already.

katie said...

We go early, walking up Montgomery with cars on 26 roaring below. Lionel sees the bloody foot first and lunges to sniff it but I manage to keep him back. Everyone up here has cameras but the closest house is being remodeled and I can see scaffolding blocks the view. "We'll alert someone," I tell Lionel. He twitches his scarred ears and I feel pride and shame. At home, Lionel alerts the sage bush by peeing on it and I think that's close enough for now. I get a tea and Lionel gets a bone from the good-boy crock.

Amy Johnson said...

Ms. Pesterly’s arms were crossed. Again.
“Your quiz, Lonny. Now. You’ve had enough time.”

She greeted him as she often did: “See me before lunch.”
It wasn’t only hunger that had Lonny’s stomach turning as he approached her desk.
“Read Meredith’s answer to number five.”
“Stop. Drop. Roll.”
“Now yours.”
“Li on de grownd and rol. Herl rocks at scary villin til he falls. Pri de gas can away. Giv him a kick in groyn.”

Thirty years later:
The boy across the table smiled as he read the inscription: “To: Ricky—Never be discouraged. Lon Hunter.”