Friday, September 20, 2019

It sounds like a flash fiction contest!

A new wrinkle in flash fiction!

I've been pulling out my hair with homophones recently, so time to get some use out of the damn things.

In other words, a flash fiction 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: pain, pane

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.

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. 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 on the results post on Monday...just leave me out of it.)

10  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"

11. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

12. 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.

13. 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, 9/21, 7:17am

Contest closes: Sunday, 9/22, 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! 


oops, sorry, contest closed

Look for results on Monday 9/23/19!

yup, I'm behind. Let's go for Tuesday 9/24/19


french sojourn said...

Casper sat on a cold oak chair, well aware two cops behind the mirrored panel watched him. A squeaky fan blew stale cigarette fumes into the dull gray room.

Casper’s not exactly the sharpest bowling ball in the alley, in fact he’s chicken, he preys on smaller kids and prays they don’t have big friends. He’s living in a dump, raised by a gutless, loveless stepfather. Now, his mother… she, I know she loved him, and it had to be painful to leave him with that fucking guy.

But he’s really happy… as happy as a bastard on Father’s Day.

Steve Forti said...

Marshal Marshall marshalled martial artists through the church, feeling déjà vu. Eight years had passed, but this time his martial artists were here for marital artistry. As they began their graceful accompaniment down the aisle, Marshall watched Marsha from the altar.

They’d worshipped here after taking out the chic sheik called Gucci Gafir. They’d tracked him to Sachs, to Fashion Curiosities, to Two Tutus, too. Finally caught him at Au Bon Pain, his blood splattering the glass-paned ceiling, sealing their love with a crimson kiss.

He smiled, vowing to always praise how she prays and preys. “Oh yes, I do.”

Fearless Reider said...

Mrs. Ashe fishes in her chic purse. “Were they good?”

“Angels,” I coo. I pray she’ll miss the Kool-Aid on the rug.

“I’ll take her,” he pipes. He winks when she turns up the stairs.

“See you in church,” she chirps. “The praise band sounds divine!”

“Thanks,” I trill. “We love to sing!”

Outside, I’ve longed for this. His sleek Osprey slinks from the garage and prowls the sleeping streets. He stops three houses from mine, parks, and leans in, hungry.

“Thanks, Mr. Ashe.” I knee him in the giblets and fly the coop.

He sings with the sopranos now.

Timothy Lowe said...

“The family that prays together, stays together,” beamed the four Jehovah’s Witnesses on my stoop. I groaned and ushered them through the panel door.

“Do you know the way to God’s heart?” said the woman, pressing a bible into my callused hand.

“Through the chest?” I replied.

Blank stares.

“Never mind,” I assured. “I know the way to yours.”

“Praise Jesus!” howled the kids, two painful little chickadees with the manners of drunken sheiks.

“Indeed,” I said, drawing the shades. Faintly, I could hear Mom and Dad stirring in the cellar.

The family that preys together, stays together.

Kate Outhwaite said...

The Congregation of the Gathering of Perpetual Life preys on the vain and the venal, on the chic and the sons of Sheiks alike. The Members give tithe (exact percentage per annum may vary according to status within the ranks), and praise the immortality of The Founder (a spritely septuagenarian former steelworker from Bolton, Lancashire).

Meanwhile, his thirty-something final wife prays to her childhood god that the benefits of his second secret by-pass operation last as long as it takes to complete the build of her self-designed, faux Art Deco, six thousand square foot mansion on the outskirts of Miami, Florida.

Craig F said...

The dragon finally swooped through the Wizard’s dimensional portal and landed in Times Square, on Halloween.

No longer as big as a building, she was approached by a Chic Sheik dangling a cigarette.
“Got a light?”

Then she found out her fire was as potent as a Bic lighter.

“Cool trick.”

She wanted to bite this one, but abhorred blood totally. She liked her preys quick fried to a crackly crunch.

She drops to her knees and prays.

“You okay? I praise that costume but it must be hot. If you are hungry, I have a bag of Cheetos.”

Marie McKay said...

Exhibit A: Seaman Luke Wright's Log:

When songstress Bec Hickory flu into HQ, she praised hour oversees gifts too her, liking how they wear both waterproof and sheik. Eye reported we'd loched away most mail crew members when we herd she was visiting. She said only sailors with cheating hearts wear in danger and knot too feel two much sympathy for her pray. She always preys for those she seduces, and they are entranced in the blink of an I.
How wood won know they'd been seduced?: "Most experience disruption to sounds." She winked.

Exhibit B: Harp.

Claire Bobrow said...

There was once a powerful ruler,

renowned for his elegance –

simple white robes (impeccably cut),

understated accessories.

But he harbored a fetish for color and pattern.

One day, his secret stash of tacky ties disappeared.

“Pray stop moping,” said his stylist. “You got the cover of GQ. And that panegyric from Vogue!”

No praise, however, lifted his spirits.

“The loss preys on me,” said the ruler.

At last, the pain of it killed him.

But not, happily, his favorite camel,

who’d been fed a rather yummy collection of neckwear by the stylist.

Sew ends the tale of the Chic Sheik.

C. Dan Castro said...

Through the door: “She--?”

“I killed her.”

Not quite. I pull my backup weapon.


“Well what?”

Backroom’s stained with blood. Mine.

“She was onto us.”


“You want praise? A medal?” Voice…familiar.


“ONTO US!” Loud-mouthed Carmine.

Us. I’d learned Carmine preys on women. But…Tom?

My Tom?

“Why you so angry?”

“She was a hot chick,” Tom says. “Coulda two-on-one’d. Violated her…paroles.”



He was never my Tom.

I stand.


Stop. Rays, warm and intensifying, pierce a single pane. Energize me.

I push through the lone door.

Police Glock holds 17 rounds.

I use them all.

Sandra J. said...

He rolled the firm thickness of the panetela between his thumb and forefinger. He had praised the young Saudi oil sheik for the gift, but no matter.

Behind him, a painter dipped a brush, added another stroke to the mural, intentionally irreverent to the unfolding scene. Now, his god would always be looking down, invoking the thought, “He prays.”

Blood ran red between the floor tiles. The sheik lay on his back, his blank eyes staring to nowhere.

They thought him infirm, incapable of ruling, favouring the young man.

He thought of the mural and smiled.

“He preys.”

Such chicanery.

Colin Smith said...

The confiscated notebook entry was odd:

I praise Sheila.
Praise her at morn.
Praise her at nite.
Every day I preys too see her
Won more time.
She a wonton sheik.
I chic her out wen I prays her.
Won day I be her pane in the neck.

I put it down to a school boy’s painful infatuation with a classmate.

Then Sheila Jenkins didn’t show up for class.

Police found her two days later, splayed on the ground seven stories from a broken window. Called it misadventure. I had my doubts.

Like the shard of glass in her jugular…

Rio said...

Gonzales glanced under the tarp, raised his eyes and said, “¿Quién es?”

Nobody answered him.

He tried again. “Who is he?”

“I know him,” one boy whispered. It was Ray, age six. “I saw the monster get him. El chupacabra.”

“There are no monsters, son.”

That wasn’t true. That monster under the tarp had swindled the whole town. “I tried to get help,” Ray said. “But chupacabra rips apart its prey so fast.”

Gonzales looked around. Nobody else spoke.

“Killed our chickens last month,” Ray added.

“Dear heavens,” Gonzales said.

Ray’s mama squeezed his hand. Nicely done, mijito. Nicely done.

Beth Carpenter said...

Roy loiters, pretending not the notice her in the group of three. Two other boys swoop in in like ospreys, snatching their choices, leaving her alone. Roy half-steps, stops, sips punch.

Having appraised Roy’s frame of mind, Gabe sidles up behind him. “Ain’t you the Sheik of Chickentown.”

Punch sprays. “What are you doing here?” Roy hisses.

“Helping. She’s coming. Talk to her.”

“Hi, Roy. You okay?” She blots with a napkin.

“Oh, hey Linda. Sure, I’m fine. You, uh, wanna dance?”

“Sure.” Her braces flash.

Gabe smiles. Not every message he delivers is epic. But they’re all divine.

KDJames said...

"It preys on my patience," the old director ranted, "this dubious premature praise for a remake everyone prays won't be disastrous."

"They plan to shake it up, subbing a sheikh for the Dread Pirate. A romantic sheik with taut… cheeks. Nose like a blade. Très chic."

"How dare they write such drivel?"

"Someone sold the rights."

"Have I taught them nothing?"

"God knows, you tried," the nurse agreed, ever willing to humor his patients.

"I'll be raising a pint of ale…"

"Always good for what ails you."

"…'to the pain,' indeed."

"Best dialog ever delivered from a counterpane."

Aphra Pell said...

The scythe shattered the moon, slicing the water and raising the drowned. Four mewling scraps, one silent. She dropped the living among elecampane and tucked the last beside her empty heart.

“Sole feted knight… night’s cousin’”

The Lady sighed. One article, they said. Everyone needs a platform, they said.

“Listen!” The writer trotted up “’Fore our worn flesh-taxis wrest with fate’s razing, every soul, sheik to chicken, prays for rest curated painlessly…’”

The Lady never killed. That wasn’t the job.

“…Does death’s deaf beauty cozen, warn, prey silently, or upraise…”

Fingers tightened on the scythe. She could make an exception.

Dena Pawling said...

October 31, NYC

Jaws crouches beneath the pier, peers out from behind her shark “mask”, prays for fresh prey.

Sammy, a regal sheik, and Abigail, a chic Princess Jasmine, prance down the boardwalk.

Jaws prepares to pounce and pare the population.

The cute pair knock on a door. Curtains twitch, door opens. “Trick or treat!”

Homeowner presents pears. Children mumble polite “thank you”. Jaws sighs. These two already have their pain. Where's the fun in that?

Jaws peers through windowpane. Homeowner types at computer.

“Praise all deities! Fresh prey!”

Jaws changes name and careers. Becomes Janet, literary agent.

Brian Wells said...

The Sheik paused to ponder his predicament as he peeked out the pane of his palace atop Prattlevania Peak. Paltry praise predicates perfidious purpose. "So chic," the peasants prevaricated.

Piffle! The Peking Duck provisions piqued no person's passion.

"Prince! My pursuit of placating peasants with pleasant pabulum has progressed poorly. One prays I pass my previous performance as one preys upon the prize of approbative praise. Prepare a proper Peking Duck for the peasants, but this time... plucked."

"Positively, my Sheik."

"Perhaps this proposal will pacify the pain in my..."

"In your heart, my Sheik?"

"No. My pancreas."

Laura Stegman said...


Who's texting at midnight?

"You up?"

Oh geez, her again. What a pain. I don't reply and pray she won't extend another invitation.

"I'm going to see Sheik at the Hollywood Bowl, want to come?"

I know she means Chic, my favorite disco band, but I let her spelling gaffe pass.

"We could pick up a Panera picnic. You love their seefood bisk."

Almost tasting it, and weakening, I let that mis-spelling pass too.


"Preys the Lord, it's a date!"

That's where I draw the line. Bisk or no bisk. "It's praise, dammit."

[Turns off phone]

RosannaM said...

They heap praise upon him, these well-bred women,
Not caring that he preys upon them for their bread.

He strips Sheila.
Uplifts Margaret.
Enhances Katharine.

They come weekly or yearly; chic, smart.

To them, he’s their sheik, their God. He coddles them and prays with them,
but he doesn’t even know their names.
the varicose vein in room two,
the blepharoplasty in four,
the breast augmentation in one.

I’m not the Botox in three. He knows my name. I smile weakly at his jokes.
I won the lottery with this job and the employee discounts.
See, I’m vain, too.

Karen McCoy said...

We communicate amid cluttered bookshelves, dodging dusty VHS tapes.

I grasp a sheik hat with feathers and tassels. “When are you ever going to wear this, Mom?”

“That’s praised geek chic. Dale told me so.”

Dale preys on hoarders. But I don’t dare call her such a thing to her face.

“I just hope I don’t forget it all,” she prays.

I look at the well-loved dolls, the closet full of sepia-toned clothes.

True living revealed in new patterns.

“Maybe we can leave some of it for now,” I say.

She smiles for the first time all day.

Just Jan said...

I leave the house with nothing but my driver’s license and pick up a couple of chicks, fully loaded, with chic backpacks and a wary dog. They pray, shimmy into the back, and give me an address. For forty minutes, I feel like a sheikh. The dog, riding shotgun, watches my every move.

Mission accomplished. They praise my driving while their dog preys on a nearby chipmunk.

I head home before my wife takes notice. She says we didn’t move to Orlando so I could live in Fantasyland, but, hey, isn’t that what being an Uber driver is all about?

Steph Ellis said...

“Is it koshe?” I knit my brows, purl my thoughts, one stitch at a time. I could chicken out. “Seems a bit, um, dangerous, to me.”

“Live a little,” says Dave, as he sprays a mark on the wall with his aerosol so we can find our way out again. “Your Bucket List.”

I appraised the situation. Yes, extreme crochet had brought me here, but I doubted Mithras would appreciate my offering of a woolly vest.

“Don’t worry he only preys on bull,” said Dave.

“True,” rumbled a deep voice from the dark. “But bull of any kind will do.”

Megan V said...

She was homonymous. Dressed two the nines in a sheik fir coat, she breezed threw a crowd that did not note her presents. Some might have called it chicanery. Others subterfuge. For she blended with her pray splendidly—kissing cheek-to-cheek.

An artist, she was. So skilled she spun her painstaking web without ever being appraised. Until the moment that she dug her clause into his deep pockets.

And than it was too late.

When they beseeched him, he ignored there please. When they warned him, he showered her with preys. And when they found him? He’d already dyed in pane.

Mike Hays said...

“I hear there’s serious racing here,” the new girl says.

Nobody responds despite her praise.

“Anybody welcome?” She shimmies out of her hoodie and drops it by her chic Hot Wheels case. The expensive one. She’s wearing a swimsuit and shorts.

Jordan, resident rules expert, gawks. “I guess.”

I nod and open my case with my preys-on-all-challengers 1969 Camaro, The Sheik, adorning the cover pane.

The finals pit my Camaro against the new girl’s pink Thunderbird. She actually prays so, distracted, I’m slow off the line. The T-Bird flies toward the finish as the Camaro fishtails.

New girl wins.


R. Bacon said...

"Praise the Lord you're here. I can't find him."

"Don't care, let's go."

"My God, your wings are huge!"

"Yeah yeah, come on."

"Michael, I don't think he was coming back to me."

"No kidding. Yo' dude ain't a farm chicken. You kick him from the coop and he ain't coming home to roost. A loose man is prey, sweetheart."

"But, I hoped..."

"Ya shoulda pray she wouldn't shoot you while ya rifled her drawers. She, I know, be a crazy bitch."


"And don't be get'n' yo' innards on my robes when we ascend; Gabriel's an ass 'bout cleanliness."

CynthiaMc said...

There once was a man named Malik
Who took a young wife - very chic.
He praised her for days
Then discovered
"She preys
On stray princes, knights, dukes, and yes, sheiks."

The sheik's wife on the mussed counterpane
Denied all of the partners she'd gained.
"This one prays, this one sings,
That one makes me fine rings.
Dear, I never would cause you such pain."

Gay Yellen said...

The benevolent sheik prays, chanting praises and thanks to Allah for the many blessings bestowed on his beloved land. He asks for help to remove the vicious scourge that preys on the kingdom and brings much sorrow to the people.

As he rises from his prayer rug, his eyes catch movement beyond the windowpane. A chic woman stands in the garden, waving at him. Curious, he steps nearer to the window, just as she opens her sable vest.

He sees the red light blinking, and the wires, but he never feels the pain.

Angel L said...

"Wise Genie-"

"Save your praise, Sheikh."

A gust of wind swirled the Genie's chic robes and stirred a deadly desert asp. Rays of harsh sunlight cut through the canopy of the oasis burning all in its path.

"I wish to know who preys upon my people."

A snap of the Genie's fingers and images flashed, quick as a viper strike.

"My brother?"

The Genie's body began morphing, billowing to carry on the wind in search of another soul.


The Genie reformed.

"Another?" the Genie asked.


"As you wish."

At the words, another sliver of his soul slipped away.

Miles O'Neal said...

We're at Club Rave, tripping on acid. I met an actual sheik! He's pretty and his face pulses. I praise the debonair way his tentacles move. He smiles and says he prays for someone like me. Then he turns into a T-Rex and preys on the chick beside me. I grab a fork and join the feast.

I'm on the floor, effervescent cop on my chest, shining pretty lights in my eyes.

I wake up in a cell with Joanne. She grins. "You ate someone's eyeball. You never do that on blotter."

"Yeah. Windowpane is a pain. It wrecks everything."

flashfriday said...

Darkeyes, the fierce warrior princess and sole surviving heir of murdered King Myzylyzylyz, after a terrible war which decimated the kingdom and left the patriarchal populace of simple but good-hearted sheepherders trembling, at last and at great cost defeated terrible Chanii the Chicaner, and behold, locked him away deep within the Crevasse of Credere, where he will languish praiseless and unremarked for a thousand years, until the day—while the monster Smoggish preys—her descendant, the fair-haired but prophetically doomed Elewyn, prays for the birth of the Chosen One.

He: Wow, math class today.
She: IKR?

Casual-T said...

Winter in Chicago. Headstones covered in glaze.

Sometimes the pain comes back so sudden it knocks the life out of me. I wish it would…

But then there’s Ray, my son. His mother left when he was three.

That year I met Helen. Helen always wanted kids. She wanted to help raise Ray, too. But cancer preys on us all.

The panegyrist drones on...

“Daddy, I’ll help,” Ray whispers, his cold, little hand gently folding into mine.

“I can’t believe she—“

I know,” he says, quietly, “but we are still here. I love you, Daddy.”

But then there’s Ray.

NLiu said...

A muezzin calls the faithful to pray, soaring voice battling car horns.

"Praise be you were not inside!"

The driver's round eyes.

She opens her compact, hands trembling.

The Chichester Herald had screamed "Local Lass Marries Sheik". Not strictly true, though Saif had a Swiss bank account, a house with fountains, marble, flunkies. Real gold cufflinks. Crisp white shirts. Swoonworthy cologne.


But the tins in the basement - though labelled osprey, tulip, anemone - weren't paint.

And he wasn't in oil.

The blooming dust cloud reflects in the compact.

"Praise be," she says.

MI6 better give her a pay rise.

Sian Brighal said...

Fashion is painful work. The chic dream-maker preys like a sheik's hawk over catwalk oases, where a designer's ambition rustles like morsels about to break cover. She prays for praise to dazzle those keen eyes, so her big break is more than their pound of flesh, their fat to chew.
The lights come on, the music starts. Her designs have spent too long on the wrong side of window panes. She breaks cover...but was that the sound of flapping wings above the applause? Too late now, and under their gaze, she's never felt so alive.

shanepatrickwrites said...

As the steward who loved a maid, it pained me to see that chic little dress crumpled on the Sheik’s windowpane. But I accepted my lot in life. Until he had her maimed for sleeping with his brother.

I still loved her but she no longer loved herself. I walked in to find an knocked over chair and a well-tied knot.

So while he prays, I stalk my prey. Sneaking into the mosque I will kill him. Praise Adrestia.