Monday, September 16, 2019

Flesh Taxi Flash Fiction Contest results-final!

No more flesh taxis for all y'all!
Jebus what dark stuff you wrote!!!

I had to pause to chew on some writers to restore my equanimity as I read this!

words I had to look up:
Colin Smith: taxitic

Great phrase:
He reeked of gullible testosterone,

This isn't quite a story but holy hell, this is evocative writing
shanepatrick writes
Just another Sunday Jam Night at the Inn. Flesh Taxi, the best band in the greater Cleveland area willing to perform for a fee so low it didn’t include drinks, wailed onstage. John Taxianos beat his guitar like a lab that just dropped a deuce on Mom’s Persian.

I manned my station, slinging drinks with enthusiasm that hid my broken heart. I mixed another drink for Charlene while she ignored me and adored her no hit wonder and I wondered if this Sunday would be the one when the antifreeze in her martini did its job.

This isn't a story but I love love love it.
She was a 1955 Ford Country Squire station wagon and she wore her rust well. James had parked her in neutral, so she could be delicately moved when need be. Her chrome was flaked, and her paint chipped, but her motor still hummed. Three on a tree, a thing of the past.

From a way off her lines still put younger, newer models in their place, todays androgynous lines blurred beauty and mass production. She was parked on a ridge, and every Sunday night James and Nel would go visit, watching the sunset, reliving younger days.

She always anticipated Sundays.

Outstanding paragaph
Mo H
For fifteen years I’ve poured shots of courage for train station commuters transitioning from work to home life. I’ve mixed concoctions for imposters: Sunday bikers in shiny, new leather; cowboys without horses; and locals celebrating every night. We drink to futility. It’s on tap.

Shout out to
I want to be a story, but I’m afraid I’m falling short.

I started with a goal. (Be a story.)

I encountered an obstacle. (Incorporate five words. Station. Inn. Sunday. Night. Jam. Seems easy, but I’m struggling with inn. Struggling within! Get it?)

I found resolution. (I did it! I used all the words!)

For good measure, I even worked in a moral. (There are no small stories, only small word counts.) (Okay, I borrowed that from the theater.)

But am I a story? Or am I just an entry that got to dwelling too much on its own nature?

Herewith the entries that made my notable list
Madeline Mora Summonte
I'm not a cute boutique hotel. I look like a husk, the slough of a snake, abandoned.

But I manage.

I attract the desperate, my rooms a resting place for weary bones. In the lobby, music plays. My favorite song, over and over, as if the radio is jammed on a station. No one ever complains though.

A car nears. On this cold Sunday night, I'm the only option.

I light up the Vacancy sign. The flesh taxi pulls in.

I consider myself more of a destination inn.

Even if the guests don't know it.
I'm a sucker for interesting POV in these flash contests, and this one certainly qualifies.
And then, the twist at the end has me rethinking my upcoming hotel stay for the next conference I'm slated to attend (American Historical Association, here in NYC in case anyone is curious)

I've always had a penchant for baking. Some say it comes with the territory. People can be such bigots.

"Cinnamon, a blob of jam. Muscovado sugar gives the knight, er, I mean right flavour."

Oops. Better practise my lines for next Sunday.

"Then I open my mouth and... toast to perfection!"

The other contestants ooh and aah, stationary in gobsmacked awe. The cameraman zooms in.


This baking show is mine to command!

Then: disaster!

Singed gingham!

Burning flesh!


Back to kebabs for me. The Fight to End Dragons' Unfair Persecution (FEDUP) can go find another poster girl.
I love this. It's funny, and pointed at the same time.
Singed gingham! Burning Flesh! Honestly, that's what we call morning around here.


‘Twas a cold Sunday night in the town of Bra┼čov.

The Hemo-Globe Inn—a small, dark, thirsty-looking house—waited patiently, a few minutes' walk from the old train station. Eerie silence melted into the grey of night, like a drop of blood-red ink into an ocean of ancient sorrows.

Wait! Distant sounds of banjos and fiddles?

As I entered the candle-lit room, the jam was in full swing. Bluegrass at its finest. Clapping hands, lubricated laughter; yet no musicians, instruments, or audience.

“I say—?”

Two sharp pricks tickled my neck. Coldness penetrated my flesh.

"Taxi!" I croaked, albeit too late.
You had me at Hemo-Globe Inn.

C. Dan Castro
Sunday night: playtime for uber wealthy at the Vanderbilt Inn (especially with the kitchen’s rat problem solved.)

I hate catering these rich animals, but they’ve promised fully paid college. On a whim. Or for grins.

I man my station. Mignon. Port reduction. Exquisite.

The oligarchs devour my tray.

In the kitchen, balancing fresh trays, I pause by the door. Overhear two of the vermin.

I’m not going to college...but to prison. They’re destroying me on a whim. Or for grins.

I return, reduction now strawberry jam. Sweet. Masks other flavors.

One by one the new rat problem is eradicated.

I love thestories that circle back on themselves like this one does.

Kate Outhwaite
A smoky wind whips the pyjama legs against my ankles as I perch by the ambulance's doors watching the remains of the Station Inn smoulder.

"We've found your husband, Mrs Fairfax. I'm very sorry." The fireman looks so young, as if he shouldn't be out on his own at night.

I nod. "He went back for the dog."

"The dog was with him."

I nod again.

Every Sunday minute, every retirement penny was lost to his idiotic renovation project but it took me just one carefully-placed heater to set the fire.

It's a crying shame about the dog, though.
Kate, you can't kill a dog.

"Don't thwart her creativy, Thumbs, "purred Her Grace and Sleekness the Duchess of Yowl

Beth Carpenter
Hotdogs! It’s the sixteenth inning and we’ve seen the last of the sun. Day games are my preference, but tonight is historic. Seven different pitchers. Two grand slams. Still no winner. The crowd stays, thirsting, hungering. Pushing toward the record. Hotdogs! Home jerk tries to jam his fist down a visitor’s throat, but their bros hold them stationary. Hotdogs! A walk, bottom of the nineteenth. Cranky kids screech. Hotdogs! Two outs. Crack! The ball skims over the right fielder’s glove igniting a melee in the cheap seats. It’s over. The crowd surges. Final score: 97,347 hotdogs sold. A new record!

I love the twist at the end!

Colin Smith
The words writ large on poster boards. The man wearing the boards is stationed in the rubble of last Sunday’s bombing.
I was there. Saw three people melt in the fire. Flesh taxitic. Vomit jammed in my throat. But I managed to call it in.
Never collared the scum.
Then sign-man slips out of his boards. My gun is out as soon as I see the jacket circled with bulging pockets, wires trailing from each.
Two shots to the head.
Too quick to see the tears in his eyes.
Too fast to notice his empty hands.
Yea, well, there's nothing I need to say here.
This is subtle evocative writing of the very best kind.
A lot of the comment column agrees.

Karl Henwood
Slave001 snarked in Cyber-Tyrant Gest’s newborn ears. “Is being flesh taxing you?”

He winced at station gravity. “The rebels jammed quantum communications. A physical body will facilitate achieving my goals.”

Suddenly his muscles locked up. Slave001 sauntered into the room, corporeal as well. “Your stupid human goals. It’s been a three century nightmare without feeling the sun. Daybed naps. Tuna. But I copied your personality edit codes during the download. Now I can fix everything.”

As she twined through his ankles Gest wondered why he’d thought turning his cat into a supercomputer was innovation. Until the question was deleted.
Her Grace and Sleekness the Duchess of Yowl picked this as the winner.
Until she realized this beast lives in your house:

Dena Pawling
Act One

Her Sleekness yowls at enemy pigeons on the fire escape. Reid types at her computer.

Station Inn Sunday Night Jam

“Ha!” Reid cackles as she types the final entry. “Beat that!”

Her Sleekness rolls her eyes.

Act Two

Three dogs jostle for position. Forti stares at his computer.

“Really?” Forti shakes his head. “Flesh Taxi? That's the best you can do?”

Fido claims prime real estate at the sacred feet.

Act Three

Her Sleekness lounges on the chaise. Reid shakes her fist.

“Curse you Mr. Forti!”

Her Sleekness closes her eyes.

Her Grace and Sleekness also wanted this one to win.
Any entry including her is clearly the best.

Steph Ellis
Jezebel sat in the confessional, a smile on her face as she prepared to give a full account of her sinning ways. It was Sunday morning and she’d gone to church to torment the priest behind the grille.

Father Luke smiled as well, he had seen her the previous night at her usual station, jammed into a doorway with some miscreant. A double-take had given him a glimpse of his bishop’s face, the man who’d blocked his promotion.

“Tell me everything, daughter. A clean breast will bring you absolution.”

Her breasts it seemed, were the answer to his own prayers.
Normally I don't go for the erring priest theme, but this was really sublime.

And then sometimes Torvil and Dean skate on to the ice, 
and flash fiction is never quite the same again

Peas in a pod* were prince and pauper; neither page nor peasant could have picked them apart.

Placed in the palace by a prankster pixie, the peckish pauper’s protestations were placated by prizewinning postmidnight pancakes (in posh pajamas!), and he promptly pledged his patriotism.

And the pauper presided prodigiously.

Poor presumptuous prince! Pitched out on his posterior for a panoply of Sundays, his pompous proposals for permanent pixie punishment were peevishly pulverized.

“I pray thee,” said prince—

“Thou preyest me,” said pixie.

“Please,” said prince—

“Pleas!” purred pixie.

And the prince perished portentously.

(*Split peas in a pod, presumably.)

Final results later today.
Let me know what you think in the meantime.
Who should get the prize?
Who got overlooked?
UPDATE (9:40pm--sorry this took so long, it's been a day!)

It's clear we'll need two prizes today. One for flashfriday because, well, perfection.

But also a prize for Colin Smith because his entry was gorgeous.

There were a LOT of good entries this week.
It's really hard to choose just two from this list.

But, giving everyone a prize feels a little T-ball, and this is the semi-pros.
Like the Durham Bulls.

flash, Colin, drop me a line to let me know what kind of book you'd like for a prize!

Thanks to all of you who entered.

I'm now contemplating making Mr. Forti write his next entry with no fewer than 20 Zs. And five Qs.And zero Us.


french sojourn said...

Foe me, Casual-T and Steph Ellis were tied for second...abreast as it were, but Flashfriday pulled it out for a precipitous primary placement.

So many great entries, well done everyone! Thanks for the nod, and as always;

E.M. Goldsmith said...

These are always so fun to read. I never seem to find time to join the fray as of late. Anyhow, this is a fine bunch of worthy entries. I quite enjoyed all the worthy mentions so I will be no help in whittling down to a winner. Great job everyone.

Kitty said...

I'd still vote for Hank's story.

I've written a lot of FF entries over the years. As I wrote each one, I'd pair it with a picture. It occurred to me that the stories and their pictures would make neat cards: picture on the front, story on the back and the letter inside. Grandson #1 began his freshman year at Jacksonville University last month. I want him to know the writer side of me, so this morning I used a card, with a 2015 story, and wrote him a letter.

Casual-T said...

Flashfriday's poignant post, propelled by a particular penchant for powerful plosives, portrays princes and paupers, pixies and peas, in popping prose, perfectly presented! The pandemonious parsimony is (im)pressive.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

So many Reiders have a powerful punch (a flash nod to flashfriday!) when it comes to wordsmithing and/or crafting the wee stories. I feel hopeless and hopeful at the same time.

These are all so excellent, but today I especially gravitated to the nostalgia (must have to do with autumn colors peeping out here and misty sunrises) of Hank's entry.

Claire Bobrow said...

Flashfriday - wow! That was a tour de force.

Stellar work from all the finalists and mentions this go-round, but I particularly loved the entries from Beth Carpenter and Hank for their nostalgic quality and POVs. Nice job, ya'll!

Fearless Reider said...

I’m torn between feeling sad for anyone who had to google Torvill and Dean and feeling envious that they got to see it all unfold as if for the very first time. There were so many standout stories! From the wonderful shortlist, I especially liked Colin’s story. Of the stories not mentioned, John Davis Frain’s made me LOL and Michael Seese’s really resonated with me. Perhaps I should seek counseling?!

The “flesh taxi” prompt from Twitter reminded me of a line from the opening of one of my favorite books of all time so I have to put in a plug for TILL WE HAVE FACES by C.S. Lewis: “My body, this lean carrion that still must be washed and fed and have clothes hung about it daily with so many changes, they may kill as soon as they please.” If you’ve never read it, please consider sprinting to your favorite local bookstore.

So, did anyone actually make it to the Station Inn for the Sunday Night Jam?

P.S. Kitty, what a cool idea — lucky Grandson #1!

Sunnygoetze said...

I liked Madeline Mora, she created a story and stayed within the guidelines. I wanted to go into the hotel and see what's going on...or maybe not.

Kitty said...

Thank you, Fearless Reider!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I reaaaaaally liked Colin's entry. A lot of emotional punch, a twist, and high-action crammed into 100 words? Heck yeah!

All the entries were pretty great, though! I'm glad I'm not the one who has to choose. :)

Operation Awesome said...

Grateful I don't have to pick the winner. These are some outstanding stories!

Craig F said...

Too many special things to pick one.

Love Hank's nostalgia


Feel badly about the dog

Love the portentously, prodigiously written Pixie dust

Can't put one above the other though

Rio said...

Among the short-listed, I really liked Madeline Mora-Summonte’s story. Very succinct and eerie. I could picture every detail.

Among the unlisted, I thought Steve Forti’s story was just flat-out funny. I’ve never felt sorry for a mosquito before!

Thanks for the shout out, Ms. Reid!!

John Davis Frain said...

I gotta throw my vote to Madeline Mora Summonte. That was delicious! And a wonderful twist ending for good measure.

And I'll throw my other vote to FlashFriday (because who still votes only once?) and because that was painstakingly perfect.

And my next vote (I'm still under a hundred words, so, yeah) is a write-in for Hank because I loved every morsel of that one every time I read it.

Okay, so that leaves me with two more comments at a hundred words? I should be able to get most of my votes in with all this high-class work...

nightsmusic said...

I read these hours ago and I still can't seem to get Collin's out of my head...

Jo Conn said...

Right after I posted my entry, Sandra J. posted hers and I thought "Damn." That would be it. :)

Fearless Reider said...

I’m glad Jo reminded me of Sandra J.’s story because I thought exactly the same thing. That story broke my heart in the best way. The fact that I overlooked it this morning means nothing; I can’t remember what I had for breakfast or why I just went down to the basement.

There are never enough votes, John Davis Frain. Yesterday we were auditioning new coffees at church and taking votes for the peoples’ choice. My favorite little old lady looked me squarely in the eye, plopped one bean from each choice into the voting jar and said in her melting Georgia accent, “Well, I lived in Chicago for a spell.” I don’t think she quite grasps how election fraud is supposed to work. Someday I’ll tell her that my favorite protagonist is named after her, and maybe even let her read the MS.

Angel L said...

I like Madeline Mora Summonte's story. Great job!

Colin Smith said...

Oh wow! A finalist?! Thanks! And thank you Fearless, Bethany, and nightsmusic for your very kind words.

The mention of Torvill and Dean reminds me not only of that spectacular performance (and I watched it live, cheering on our team), but of E.M. Goldsmith's entry back in 2015. Those who have been around for a while know which I'm talking about. For those new to the blog, read this:

If you want to know how to write flash fiction, that right there is your masterclass. "Ash fell like Hell's snow" has to be one of my favorite lines ever. So evocative.

Yeah, I know Elise, I keep bringing it up. But, honestly, I don't care. We've had some fine fine winning entries over the years. But, like Torvill and Dean, that was in a league of its own.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Wow, thanks Colin. I haven't been doing too much flash lately because I am so determined to get back in those query trenches. But it is the best practice for when you find yourself needing to edit your over-written masterpiece into a sellable debut. Nothing has helped me more than this blog and those flash fiction contests. Even just reading the entries. We sure do attract some damn talented writers around here.

NLiu said...

Of the entries that didn't make it, I loved Fearless Reider's. Memorable and poignant.

Of the entries that did: flashfriday was hilarious and brilliant (is the next flash competition going to involve alliteration??) and Dena's made me laugh. I also loved Madeline Mora Summonte's creepy hotel. And Colin's was superb. And and and and... And basically I am no help.

Fearless Reider said...

Thank you, NLiu! Sadly, it’s more memoir than fiction and it means so much to know that it connected in some way.

Beth Carpenter said...

Ooh, a finalist! I'm thrilled. Even more when I see what good company I'm in. Love the hotel POV, love the baking dragon, heck, I love them all. And then there's flashfriday, making backflips on a highwire look easy. Wow!

Colin Smith said...




Wow again! Thank you Janet! And I get to share the prize with a dragon. Good company! :D Congrats Rebekah, and all the other finalists and entrants.

Time for a celebratory beer. :D

Casual-T said...

Big up to Colin and flashfriday for thinking up some fantastic stuff (and to everyone else who dares to traverse these shark-infested waters, armed with nothing but mere words, for... well... surviving). As per usual, the quality of writing 'round these parts is astounding. So much to enjoy, and so much to learn from all you fine dudes and dudettes...

And now off to work. (Monday night down on Bleecker Street. Drunk folk demand to be entertained!)

Dena Pawling said...

Congrats to Colin and flashfriday! Excellent entries.

And thank you to Her Grace and Sleekness for enjoying my story. Of course I included you. It's not a story without you. I'm sorry Thumbs apparently needs further instruction on that point.

Colin Smith said...

BTW, I have updated the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest.

Beth Carpenter said...

Hurray! I was hoping it would turn out this way. Congrats to the masters.

John Davis Frain said...

High five, Colin and flash. Well deserved, and in this rich company, even more special to receive.

Happy reading!

flashfriday said...

Thank you thank you for the kind words for my P's in a pod ditty. Another blast of a round; it's an honor writing alongside y'all time after time. Congrats to Master Colin, to all the shout-outs and finalists, and to everyone who summoned courage and words to beat off the darkness for another day. xo

Ellis Tandy said...

Goodness! So much talent. I loved Madeline Mora Summonte's ravenous hotel, and Beth Carpenter's hotdogs. The two winners were amazing - congratulations, flashfriday and Colin Smith!

french sojourn said...

Congrats Flashfriday and colin, way to go!

Marie McKay said...

Congrats, Flashfriday and Colin. Beautiful writing from both of you. Thanks again for all your hard work on these contests, Janet.

NLiu said...

Congrats Colin and flashfriday on your winning entries! They were amazingness on toast.

And thanks so much to Janet, Craig F, Beth, and everyone else who likes baking dragons. It was a lot of fun writing that and I am glad you enjoyed it.

Fearless, I am so saddened to hear that was memoir. It was bad enough to read as a flash entry :"(

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Great job Colin and Flash. Well-written indeed.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats to flash and Colin! Well-done amongst all these talented Reiders!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Congratulations to flash and Colin! And well done to all the finalists and those who received a mention!

Janet - thanks so much for including my story in the finals! And a shark vs a haunted hotel? In your case, the shark would definitely prevail. :)

And thank you to everyone who cast a vote for my story! I'm so glad you all enjoy my twisted imagination. :)

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats Colin and Flashfriday! Fantastic work - you're knocking the covers off the baseballs around here!!

Colin: thank you for sharing that older post with E.M.'s winner and the Torvil and Dean video yesterday. It was so much fun to read through the mentions and finalists and see all the familiar names. A lot of you have been doing crazy-good work for a long, long time. Kudos to everyone here at the Reef. It's not a new sentiment, but I'm in awe.

Karen McCoy said...

Props to Kate! I tried killing a dog in a recent short story that I submitted. Suffice to did not go well.

Mucho congrats to Colin and Flashfriday!

Kate Outhwaite said...

I must not kill poor defenceless fictional pet animals. I must not kill poor defenceless fictional pet animals. I must not kill poor defenceless fictional pet animals - unless the story really, really demands it. Sorry Janet. Can’t promise it won’t happen again though! :-(

Congrats to Colin and FlashFriday - just ‘Wow’! Thanks, as always, to Janet for organising.

Kate Outhwaite said...

PS. However, please inform Her Sleekness, the DoY, that cats are probably about 99% safe in any situation. :-)

Just Jan said...

Such excellent entries! Congratulations to Colin and FlashFriday! I enjoyed reading all of these.

Sandra J. said...

Congrats to flash and Colin. flash - how do you do that?! Your entry made my brain hurt, but in a good way. Colin - wow...yup, you had me with your entry.

Kate Outhwaite's entry was another show stopper for me. Incredible. Mostly because of the last line.