Friday, October 04, 2019

F-it Flash Fiction Writing Contest

This frigging weather! 90 on Wednesday, 60 on Thursday. And of course, the lovely bonus of rain. We need a quick pick me up for Fall!

Of course, that means 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: phylum

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.

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 open: Saturday 10/5/19 at 8:54am

Contest closes: Sunday 10/6/19 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 has closed.


Aphra Pell said...

They foregathered, fornent the forbidding fortress. Forty men in forty phalanxes. Foreswearing fortune, forefending desecration, forewarned and foredoomed.

Within the fortalice, furtive fiends and fornicators in their forte fomented foul fear. In firelit forecourts, their forsaken followers swarmed likes ants on formicaries, foraging fettered flesh.

Forgiveness was forfeit.

The forces of forty forged forward, invoking the fortitude of their forebears. The fortieth man of the fortieth phalanx knelt beneath a flag of fowl feathers and foxskin. He was the Foreteller, scribe of the folio, foreshadowing his foughten peoples’ fate, foretokening, forevermore, the final generation’s fall.

Marie McKay said...

The canals stank of misfortune.
The grey fiend of despair gnawed at the shadows who sheltered under the city's bridges; those who'd become the faintest versions of themselves, living in skins their lives had already shed.
But one man cut a dapper figure among wretches, his coat decorated with odd buttons. Forty buttons to be exact, one of every size and colour. He had sewn the fortieth on that day. In the sun, they shimmered like fish scales.
One for Teiry. One for Sylvie. One for Mave... each a memento of a shadow pushed to a watery grave.

Unknown said...

We had no neighbors until the village, though the chordata phylum thrived in our fortification of waters and woods. Our playground, our classroom. In winter, Sister and I built snow forts until fiendish Nanny forced us inside.
City life wasn’t our forte. Although Sister claimed she liked the comfort of small spaces. But I think she said that to console Mother after she sold our land, after Father’s affair with nanny.
My sister still lives in the city. I don’t. Our forty acres are irretrievable, given to cavernous homes and flat lawn. I don’t feel like I live anywhere.

Just Jan said...

It ain’t easy being Four.

“Without you,” sniffs Eight, “there’d be no double-dates. Your position’s admirable.”

I disagree. Stuck between the fiendish threesome and high-five, I’m upstaged constantly.

“Watch your elbows!” they say. All straight lines and angles, it’s hard to fortify myself between their voluptuous curves.

“I get no respect,” Twenty whines.

Guess what? Thirty is the zest; Fifty, a fortress. No one wants to be Forty. Even at Christmas, I’m challenged.

“What’s a colly bird?” asks Nine.

I rest my case.

Six sighs. “You have love.”

Adornment of my namesake digit? Not my forte, but I’ll take it.

nightsmusic said...

“Forti! You useless…you’re way past forty now. Cacography Lumpy Pinched. A freaking mess! Completely unreadable. You’ll never be a writer and this is a good example of why.”

“do it.” His current fiend whispered.

Forti jerked his notebook from the shrew’s hands, scooping them close.
Fortifying himself against her hate.

“Did you hear me, Forti?”

“did you hear me?”

“You write like you’re three!”

“are you three?”

“Amount to nothing!”


She spun to leave.

He reached across the desk.

His forte might not be writing, so she says, but his accuracy with the letter opener was another matter.

C. Dan Castro said...





Helping little bro cram.




“Uh, class?”

He passes the big bio test, he goes to university with me.






“Like... fiend of crows.”

“Murder of crows.”

“Murder? Makes it ‘King Phillip Came Over... Maligning Germany Swimming.’ ”

He passes, we’d hang all the time.

“Gimme an F word.”

“You want me to tell you F something. Cause I will.” Giggles.

“MOM and DAD wouldn’t approve.” A hint.


“Ye—wait, wha?”

“Fort. I’m sure.”

He passes, my eight-year old geeky/genius brother attends university with me 24/7.

“Fort. Exactly.”

Angel L said...


(Handsome man with a devious glint in his eye. Computer in background.)

Steve Forti, a bold and clever fiend, is now wanted by Carkoon Police Department for his misspelling of the word forty, among other literary crimes. He must be stopped and soon.

He was last seen in a palm frond fort along the beach basking in the aftermath of his deeds. His desire to irritate a most beloved and famous shark is his forte. The experts believe this is the key to his capture.

REWARD: A full manuscript request from Janet Reid. No query letter required.

Steve Forti said...

Dana came to Prague for the chance to work with her dream director, but he’d been ignoring her for ten minutes, listening to some local extra talk in great detail about her wordless cameo. If I end the audition, she thought. No, there aren’t many killer lead roles for timid forty-something actresses.

Still, she bit her tongue when he dropped his pants and the extra joined him in, well, public pornography.

bering back, the director shook Dana’s hand. “You got the part.”

“What the hell was that?”

He shrugged. “Before I hire anyone, I always do a thorough background Czech.”

Luralee said...

The family sat in stony silence.
Timothy Fortesque chose a box from the mountain of gifts and read the label--for:Timmy. "May I open it now?" No one objected. He tore off the paper. "Little surgeon set! Awesome!" He fingered the scalpel--so realistic. Now he could do the job properly.
"Thanks for this, Uncle Gus!"
Cadaver smiles all around.
Who's next? Not Gertrude. Old fiend might pass for forty, but she smelled of atrophy, lumbago, and formaldehyde.

Yesterday, Father complained Tim hadn't gotten his brain along with his looks.

He had it now.

french sojourn said...

“Forty days and forty nights of rain… just for teaching them faith.”

“Bullshit, that was written later.”

“I can give you scripture and verse, my son.”

“Well… ok, maybe, but it didn’t go as per plan, so heavenly in its simplicity, right father?”

“Mistakes were made, lest we never forget… for time heals all wounds.”

“Listen, I know Noah worked his ass off, but he was completely miscast.”

“The man fiendishly built an ark, he laid away stores, he was flawless in his faith… who did he disappoint?”

“Well, how about Philip and Ernie, you know… the two unicorns.”

Timothy Lowe said...

For teething: liquid ibuprofen and a benzocaine necklace.

For timid steps along the foyer hall: a ring pop pacifier.

For toilet-training: M and Ms (#1), donut holes (#2).

For tying your shoes: a bag of snickers (baby-size).

For the T-ball tournament (4th place): a shiny trophy, lumberjack-proud on your shelf.

For a C in history: a nasty blast email to the teacher.

For coming home with the sheriff: I endeavor to explain.

For tying one on, wallpapering the living room in puke: a shiny new Lexus.

For T-boning a school bus, a gentle head shake: “When will you learn?”

Casual-T said...

O Fortuna velut luna statu variabilis… The choir’s triple-forte shook me awake. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an evening at Carnegie Hall as much as the next gal, but I’d been going forty hours straight, searching for six words to finally thwart Forti. It’s no picnic, being a literary agent in NYC, you know. Cocktail parties, celebrity meetings, author’s bribes… Oh, it’s all such a drag. But what really irks me, is that Steve keeps besting me.

Hold on; let me check this week’s contest.

Argh… Forti you fiend, you’ve outsmarted me again. Come and get your trophy, Lummox!

Claire Bobrow said...

Murphy crept across the lawn.
Skulking was his forte.
His mission: retrieve the object stowed inside the fort.
Guarded by fiends, the task wouldn’t be easy.
But if they jumped him, he’d play for time – roll over, do what they wanted.

He pushed open the entry and padded inside.
His trophy, luminescent in the moonlight, beckoned.
He sniffed,
grabbed it,
and fled.
Under the fence!

Murphy clawed his way out and hid.
Tomorrow, he’d show them.
Beg for – no, demand! – a reward.

Those little hooligans.
They’d swiped his treat jar and filled it with forty fireflies.

LynnRodz said...

I'm invisible. I can walk down the street, go into a store, and no one sees me. I can speak and not be heard. Neat, right? Is this an autobiography lumped together with science fiction, you wonder.

No. I wasn't always this way, quite the opposite. For the longest time I wished to be invisible, but careful what you wish for. Test the waters first. Then again, you can't.

If I ended up this way, well I'm not alone and don't judge me for typecasting. We're millions out there and just you wait, for time will render you invisible too.

Laurel Neme said...

The poachers slipped into the fortified game reserve. Fortunately, they knew this fence would be unguarded. Their boss had many skills, but “encouraging” rangers to give up information was his forte.

So far, they had slaughtered forty rhinos. Part of the phylum chordata—a group of vertebrates that included this chubby unicorn. With each horn fetching $60,000 a kilo, they sat on a gold mine. Tonight, they’d add to their collection.

They crept toward their target.

“Freeze!” a ranger shouted. With only 25,000 rhinos left, another wasn’t going to die. Not on his watch. “Fiends,” he muttered, making the arrest.

Mo H said...

Geanne contemplated her latest ‘match’ spearing his forty-ounce rib eye. Obviously, he hailed from the Neanderthal, carnivore phylum. Not quite her forte, being a vegetarian. Or ancestry.

“Love this place, Castle Island Grill,” he said as gulls squawked outside.

“Never been before,” she answered, sipping her cabernet. She watched a tug guide a massive container vessel sluggishly towards the port. “I read Fort Independence serves as the oldest continuously fortified site of English origin.”

“Really?” He slurped as myoglobin escaped in juicy rivulets.

She mentally stowed him in the fiend, not friend, category.
Another first date functioning as the last.

Lance said...

“I am a member of the phylum Chordata – I have a backbone. I will not yield to a squid-humping conductor.”

“You miserable, forty-year-old excuse for an oboist with no forte. You’re fortissimo is too loud!” Snatching a bow from a bass violist, “I shall thrash you.”

The oboist savaged the conductor with a piccolo so badly that they sent him to a desert fort for fiends.

The warden allowed the oboist an instrument, and he escaped after he lulled the guards to sleep.

“Hey, are you a Bedouin?”

“Who are you?”

“A musician.”

“Can you play the shabbaba?”

“You bet.”

Sandra J. said...

He’s in shark infested waters.

He fortifies his floating fortalice and fattens his forty fish to feed the circling fiend.

He knows she loves sushi. It’s his unwitting forte.

As long as he doesn’t chum the water, he will continue to sit at his literary fortepiano and deliver the equivalent of Mozart’s fortissimo coda.




He throws in a fish. She circles. They eye each other. She takes the offering and dives.

He watches her leave and thinks,

“I’m going to need a bigger boat.”

joementum said...

Sympathy for a Stowaway

I am free of this ship where the righteous were comforted as the fiendish drowned. The righteous, I suppose, will be praised for saving a phylum two by two. I beg you, however, to keep some courtesy left for me. As a fiend of wealth and taste, surviving by hiding in a dingy hold imposed no small discomfort even as for forty nights I watched with glee as the fortissimo of thunder and destruction raged. Having the fortitude to survive a long, long year, you see, is the nature of my game.

Steph Ellis said...

His plus one was causing mayhem.

“Carter! What the devil possessed you? If I’ve lost this contract because of your aaah-”

David Carter ran and hid in the cellar, fortified himself with whisky, comforted himself with rum as forty guests screamed upstairs.

How had it all gone so horribly wrong? He’d followed the instructions to the letter. ‘Bring a fiend’ it had said. He pulled out the card again, saw his unfortunate mistake. Unemployment beckoned, unless-

“I’ve watched The Exorcist,” he muttered.

“So’ve I,” said the demon, appearing before him. “This is my favourite bit.”

David’s head began to spin.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

There once was a man named Forti, not related to Fabian Forte.
He didn’t act and he didn’t sing but he wrote like a fiend who was forty.
He sent to an agent named Janet, the most intelligent words on the planet.
She smiled in dismay, “how will I judge him,” she’d say, a contest she claimed might dismay him.
No more than 100 words were given, to the writing world we live in.
Here’s my attempt to enter and win even though I’m a loser again.
Oh Janet how can it be that the winner is not me.

Hannah said...

“We’ve a bet going. It might cause a fuss.”
“Cut me in. Terms?” the bartender asked.
“We need to fortify ourselves.”
“Roger thinks someone’ll buy our drinks.”
“Steven thinks our talent won’t impress your clientele.”
“Nothing impresses them. Twenty for Steve. Whaddya planning?”
“I played Hamlet in my youth. Well, Fortinbras. Practically the same.”
“We could use the piano instead,” Steven suggested.
“Heart and Soul” never sounded worse. Their fingers flew like fiends from forte to pianissimo.
“HEY! You’re awful. Everyone’s gone.”
“Good,” they said.
Roger slapped down forty. Steven pulled a .40.
“We’ll need that back. With the register.”

Michael Seese said...

She awoke to war drums, her temples on fire. The last bastion, the sanctified fortress that the doctors called her skull had been breached. Their drugs, the ones she'd used for temporary relief, had lost their magic. Their ability to fortify her soul. The forty-year siege finally had taken its toll, and Faith watched, helpless, as the demons, goblins, and fiends poured in unchecked.

"Time to execute the plan," she whispered.

Outside the window, victory beckoned.

Twenty floors down.

"What's that expression about losing the battle, but winning the war?" Faith said to the night air, at last tasting triumph.

Fearless Reider said...

Hal’s fairy pal shimmered into view and preened on a toadstool. His demon chum arrived last, in a sulfur stink. The dude runs hot. Twitchy. Dead useful on a job, though. Hell of a safe-cracker. Handy when you’re busting vaults fortified like — well, like Fort Knox. ’Scuse the cliche.

Even after forty jobs I kept a prudent distance, but Hal shrugged. “Gang’s all here! Keep your friends close and your fiends closer, eh?” He clapped the demon’s burly shoulder.

Tact was not Hal’s forte. I’m still scraping sylphy lumps and demon chum off my infernal shoes.

I work alone now.

Colin Smith said...

I straighten the comforter. They expected her to go forty years ago. Must have a super-fortified constitution. In any case, suffice to say, I’d been waiting for too long for this moment.

And yet she is holding out. Might even recover. I might never inherit what’s rightfully mine.

What if I end it now? But how?

I notice the clipboard beside her bed. Doctor must have left it. A questionnaire. Unfinished

I take up a pen.

Good ph? Y.
Lumbago? N.

I remember the incident with the peanuts forty years ago. Glance around.


I hurry from the room.

Megan V said...

"A fortifying beverage, your majesty?"
"No, no, Fortescue.” The Queen said. “What I need is a Forti-defying beverage."
"Ma'am?" The rotund butler blinked.
"Writer's tears, you fool! I must have them. I must!"
Nodding, the man bent over the mahogany bar cart, his eyes careening from bottle to bottle. He rose, flummoxed.
"I'm afraid you've none left, your majesty."
"What? Impossible! There must be at least forty bottles in there!"
“They’re empty, your majesty.”
“Jeff Somers’? ”
“Gone,” the butler said.
“Bill Cameron’s?””
The butler shook his head.
“How? When?” But she knew the answer. Forti, that fiend. “Thwarted again!”

Jenn Griffin said...

His name was Oliver Thomas and he was a fiend made flesh, with a mind like a hoary fort. He dispensed forecasts with all the accuracy of a meteorologist. For forty years, I endured—boat rides in a sudden squall, hikes in a surprise snowstorm. Alas, intelligence was not his forte.

When his beloved fortin barometer broke, I carefully cleaned up the spill, and served it in a pretty, blueberry cheesecake martini.

The result was like a Roaring ‘20’s revival. Blessed silence reigned.

Mallory Love said...

If you’re an actress, you've better made your fortune by the time you’re forty or you’ll end up in infomercial hell like yours truly. For ten easy payments, you too can be as happy as I pretend to be for a paycheck. Fortitude is admirable, but it doesn’t keep you desirable. The friends that love you when you’re young turn into fiends when the wrinkles first appear.
Whispers about recasting have been going around. Even now, I’m not immune. Thank goodness I’m better at investing than I ever was at acting. Today, I bought a controlling interest in the company.

Craig F said...

I took a turn past the fort and turned to look back. The fiend had used the forte of his blade to trash it, even though I had fortified it with mud and daub.

It was starting to become a pain. I could not stop him, even if I had forty thousand headmen to follow on his trail. He would find a way to thwart me still.

One of these days I will find a way to stop my big brother from bullying me.

KDJames said...

"Fortifying a fort was never my forte, sire," the footman said, eyeing the forty -- okay, maybe 35 -- varieties of fiendish phylum approaching their gates.

"Did the fortune tellers not foresee this force?"

"Forsooth, our lack of water should've foiled them."

"The forsworn chordata?"

"Fighting amongst themselves."

"What's that?"

"Tardigrada, sire. Impervious to everything. Formidable."

"For fuck's sake--"


"ARGH!! We must forfeit this fortress."

"Shall we leave a message for posterity?"

"Fortify your flanks and may the forceps be with you."

"You mean force?"

"No. They'll need forceps to fend off most of these phyla."

flashfriday said...

After a week the casseroles stopped coming. Jeanne shoved the extras in the freezer, disassembled his blanket-fort, boxed up his Legos, and went back to work.

Play the dirge piano,

“Thanks,” said Jeanne, blowing her nose with fiendish force.
“You still cry a lot.”
“It’s been a long time though.”
“Not that long,” said Jeanne.

Sing the dirge now mezzo,

“He’d be forty today.”
“Wow. Crazy. Life goes on, I guess.”
“Does it?” said Jeanne.

Shout the foul dirge forte,
Shout the foul dirge forte,

NLiu said...

Fort Everwrought's lights glare like the eyes of displeased critics, illuminating kale and white-crested water.

It's so bleak, the muse never visits.

Not even to inspire terror.

I crouch in the shadows.

I must make it this time. I won't return to the Forti Chamber, the horror of dismembered colons. Period.

Dream-crushing boots tramp away - my chance! Forty seconds to bring my fortnight of fiendish planning to bear.

I hoist Norman's rejection-letter sail, glide into the lachrymose estuary.

Ahead, something glints.


Rearing jaws.

Tearing paper.


Janet rolls her eyes. ESCAPE FROM KARKOON hits the rejection pile.

"As if!"