Monday, October 21, 2019

Flash fiction contest results-FINAL

What an interesting array of entries this week!
Many of you stymied me with holt.
I had to dig in to find several of the meanings, which of course I loved doing, so thank you all for that.

Herewith the results.

Special recognition for a masterful sentence.
Steph Ellis
The space between his brain cells had widened considerably as his ego had puffed itself up

Not quite a story, but delightful, and oh by the way have you read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein.

TS Rosenberg

Not quite a story but inventive!
Anu Roy

Not quite a story, but holy moly,
Colin Smith
She was an Algerian/Syrian borderline psychopath. At least that’s how she introduced herself at the speed dating table. The space between us felt uncomfortably small.

She picked up a pencil and asked what I did.

“I’m a banker,” I said shuffling my chair, making the space bigger. “What about you?”

“I hunt,” she said, fixing me with thirsty eyes, testing the pencil point on her thumb. “In the holts.”

“Fair enou—” The pencil flashed by my face. I turned. An impaled roach fell to the floor.

“Call me,” she said, sliding her card.

I did.

Twenty years ago today.
We all remember Mrs. Smith of course but who knew her interesting antecedents??

--I'm really disappointed relieved to learn from the comments below that Colin's Mrs. is in fact not a borderline psychopath.

And of course, as any oddsmaker should have known, I am once again, THWARTED

Steve Forti
“Ho ho ho, Lt. Dan. Where’s your Christmas spirit?”

Dan McGruff sneered. November, December, it made no difference. Christmas was but a fairytale in this urban kill zone. The Central Asian front had been brutal – the Stans were logical partners. But now alliances were unbound by geography. The combined forces were mounting – Bulgarian/Nigerian/Liberian/Algerian/Syrian. Bordering on unstoppable.

“Stay frosty, Sergeant. I bet we encounter heavy resistance. Let’s pace ourselves.”

“They all run from McGruff the Tough.”

“Mind your tongue.” Even mocking, the nickname was dangerous. He didn’t make the rules, just enforced them. “Weapons ready. Let’s take a bite outta rhyme.”

Two commenters rated this faves.
They are now enjoying an all expense paid trip to Carkoon.

Here are the entries that I thought were particularly noteworthy.

Stephen G Parks

“Listen up! Alger, Ian, Sy, Rian B: orders have come down: You’re going whaling, ship out tomorrow, oh nine hundred. Space is limited; so no alcohol, tobacco or fair trade coffee. I know … the last one’s weird.” The XO shrugged. “Captain’s orders.”

Three weeks in, we’d chased this damned pod up and down the coast, never once seeing them.

“I bet we engage them off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.” Sy was a freshly pressed middie, too eager for his own good.

“No laddie, We ain’t hunting them.” The Captain tapped his patch, Rainbow Warrior. “We’re leading them to safety.”

Of course, I love the idea of whales being led to safety.

Did you all know about Keiko, the whale that lived in Oregon for awhile?

When my sister took her fourth grade class to the Aquarium, and visited with Keiko, she said she was deeply moved by the intelligence in his eyes. We were anti-whaling before that of course, but after that we were Rainbow Warriors!

This earned a Fave from one commenter.

Jennifer Delozier
A Modern Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a little girl named Goldie loved fairy tales and rainbows, unicorns and panda bears. But in the short space of time between Grimm and Gatsby, alcohol turned her teeth to rot and hardened her liver to stone.

Papa Bear broke the bank on rehab. Mama huffed and puffed tough love. Baby brother pleaded with God.

Goldie’s funeral was held at Grandma’s house in the hood. The fairy tales are ghost stories now, spoken in hushed tones at reunions far and wide.

And they all lived unhappily ever after.

The End
It's that line: the short space of time between Grimm and Gatsby that really caught my eyeball. One great sentence can do it!
This earned two Faves from commenters.

french sojourn
“I’ll take “Disingenuous Prompts” for $400, Alex.”

“This occupies the space between the Algerian / Syrian borders?”

**buzzer sound**


“What is the Mediterranean Sea.”

“Correct… go again Felix.”

“I’ll take “Dis-genre-ed” for $300 Alex.”

“Answer is, “This genre doesn’t exist.”

**buzzer sound**

“Go ahead, Holt.”

“What is Dino Porn.”

“I’m sorry, that’s not it.”

**buzzer sound**

“Go ahead, Felix.”

“What is “Fiction Novel? …I’ll take “Vices” for $500.”

“The answer is… “This city was named after the 26th Vice-President.””

**buzzer sound**


“What is Fairbanks?”

“That’s correct Felix, now the final category, “Entries that aren’t even remotely, a story.””

Ok so I love these meta-entries that purport not to be stories, but are.
Oh So Subtle.
Clearly ya'll do too: Hank got five Faves in the comment column, but disqualified himself.
I will respect his integrity here, but this is terrific work.

Aphra Pell
“Breasts” said the old lady “Are fair, dark or anything between; nipples smooth, puckered, hairy, even missing. They bear no resemblance to spaceships or oysters.”

The writer snapped shut his laptop, concealing pearlescent mounds quivering adjectivally.

“As for ‘she yodelled hyena-like as his manly unicorn charged her moist otter holt’…. I’m not sure if the poor woman needs a doctor or a zoologist, but,” she tapped a golden fingernail against her glass “dear boy, that’s not how it works.”

“How would you know?”

“A life banking memories.” She swigged her whisky and smiled at the bartender. “That’s not over yet.”

Maybe you have to be knee deep in queries to truly appreciate the pithiness of this.
Metaphors Gone Wild is in the top five of Things I'd Like to Never See Again.

And the twist at the end was delicious (that the old lady hasn't retired from the field of hankypanky quite yet!)

This got one Fave in the comments.


The woman asleep at the crosswalk reeks of alcohol. (That is, it looks like she’s sleeping; hard to tell.) A faded blue towel’s scrunched above her like Aladdin’s turban; knots strangle her hair, and she’s buried deep in what might be a North Face coat.

I don’t want to wake her (if she’s asleep?), or I’d stop to ask if she needs anything.

Plus, I’m late: the sun’s already yawning against our fair October sky, and there’s another two blocks between me and my parking space.


I cross, fast. This light’s short, and anyway, she was sound asleep.


This is very evocative for me.

I've written here before about my former priest Father Santos directing us to show Christ's love in the world via direct action.

Sometimes I think entries like this are a whispered reminder to do better.
Plus, FF wrote it which means it's amazing of course.
This got one Fave in comment column.
this is just a brutal choice.
I can hear all of you laughing with glee at the torment you've inflicted.
Writers' Revenge should be the subtitle of every single one of these flash fiction contests.

So, who did I overlook?

you were clear I'd missed some:

NLiu got 2 faves

John Davis Frain, Michael Seese, efa foy, Just Jan and Mr. Thwarti Forti each got a shout out.

Whose Who's your choice to take the prize?
yeesh Janet.

I need all the beta readers I can get here!

If Hank (frenchsojourn) hadn't DQ'ed himself, he would have taken the Reader's Choice award. So, this week, no one takes it home.

I'll keep one of the books that was a prize this week, and dangle it in front of you another time.

Each of these stories is amazing, and all in different ways.
I'm starting to get annoyed at how hard these choices are getting!!
Which is akin to complaining that one has too many trophies for the mantle.

I had to sit on this for a while, but in the end, it's flashfriday this week.



nightsmusic said...

Call me stupid, but I don't get your Mrs. Smith reference for Colin's.

Beyond that, better you than me picking a winner out of this weeks!

Aphra Pell said...

They were all excellent once again, but I'm waving a special sparkly pom-pom at NLiu who was probably my favourite.

Aphra Pell said...

And of course, thank you for the mention (sorry, should have said that first - I was too busy trying to pick a favourite). I'm relieved not to have been sent to Carkoon for crimes beyond dino-porn.

Kitty said...

I vote for french sojourn's story.

french sojourn said...

Both Steve and Stephen caught my eye....(eyes?...gruesome delineation) on the first pass.

I had posted my entry and was notified that my second sentence was not formulated in the correct jeopardy fashion, by a reef Reider. So I revised it, but am D'Q'd as mine was a collaboration. I am however, glad you liked it.

Cheers! Hank.

Steve Forti said...

Hank's made me laugh, and was my favorite on first ready yesterday. But split my vote with flashfriday's as the most moving one. Good work.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks for the mention, Janet. I should point out, of course, that this story is not autobiographical. Although our anniversary is coming up in a couple of months, we've been wed for nearly 28 years. And my wife is not a borderline psychopath. Really. ;)

I tell you, the "must be a story" part of this challenge is, I think, sometimes harder than getting 5 words to fit into it. I hoped maybe the last few lines of mine would make it a story, but I guess not.

Anyhow, of the finalists, my pick is Jennifer Delozier's.

Stephen G Parks said...

I'd second Colin. I think the best story was Jennifer's.

french sojourn said...

I liked John Frian's take on the old man resistant to confront the woman he hit with his car many years ago due to drinking. A lot of meaning behind the sentences.

Kregger said...

Hank’s made me laugh.
I’m glad, as usual, I’m not picking the winner.

Colin Smith said...

... oh, and nightsmusic, I could be wrong (that's a frequent danger), but Janet's "Mrs Smith" comment could be a reference to times past when I've talked about my wife--particularly the time she pushed a 7,000 lb vehicle and ended up in hospital. Did I tell the whole story of that? Check the blog archives around May 10, 11, or 12 2015. I do know that being the mother of 6 and the wife of me has earned her Janet's undying admiration for patience and endurance. ;)

Fearless Reider said...

Oh, man. Again? Polish up a little gemstone and send it out into the world with pride, only to have my heart captured by OTHER people’s sparkling stories. You people are the worst. By which I mean, the best. NLiu’s story was my final favorite in a long series of “Ooooh, that’s the one! No, that’s gotta be the winner. Or that one... oh, no, THAT one.” Of others not mentioned, I especially loved Michael Seese’s, Efa Foy’s, and Just Jan’s. I enjoyed reading so many beautifully crafted and wildly inventive stories, and some enviable intersections of the two. I’m glad it’s not my job to choose.

Marie McKay said...

There were some really good ones this week. And the finalists' stories are amazing. Feel like I learn something new each time. Good luck, all.

Theresa said...

I loved the ones by Steve Forti and French Sojourn.

Kate Larkindale said...

It's always so hard to pick when the stories are so good! But I really liked Aphra Pell's.

Lennon Faris said...

I'm in the mood to buck the system, and it was hilarious and well done anyway, so Hank's not-even-remotely-a-story gets my vote.

Although, they are all spectacular. Well done, everyone.

TS Rosenberg said...

I'm thrilled to be mentioned in dispatches! And wow, it's been *mumble* years since I've read any Heinlein, but clearly something wedged into my brain. That, and having to walk around/through clusters of clueless, shuffling tourists way too often.

Stephen G. Parks and Aphra Pell are my choices.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats flashfriday!

(Also, for those sent to Carkoon for liking my entry, hey - a vacation's a vacation. And Janet said she's paying all expenses. Don't skimp out on the minibar!)

nightsmusic said...

Congrats, flashfriday! Well done.

Colin I too am glad your wife is not a psychopath ;)

Janet Reid said...

I am almost certain the minibar on Carkoon involves massive amounts of kale.

Colin Smith said...

Congratulations, Rebekah!

I have updated the contest spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest.

And to those on their way to Carkoon, I highly recommend the kale julep at Faqwun's. Made from the finest kale under Carkoon's suns, watered by the sweat and tears of many former exiled writers. One sip will make you forget all your sorrows. Your name too, actually. You may want to write it down beforehand... :)

Michael Seese said...

Great job, Rebekah.

Jennifer Delozier said...

Oh my gosh - I just got home from work to see I made the short list! Thanks, Everyone, and massive congrats to you, Rebekah. As Janet said, your story is hauntingly evocative.

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, flashfriday! Also, great job to everyone who was mentioned and all the short-listers.

Hank and Aphra Pell made me giggle, but my very favorite entry was by Michael Seese. I had to read it twice, but wow!

Aphra Pell said...

Congrats FlashFriday - very well deserved both as beautiful writing and a kick in the right direction.

Btw, not reef-related but there is a writer on twitter called Anna Louise Avery who posts the most beautiful little flash snippets I think many people here would enjoy. I highly recommend finding and following her - they are one of the genuinely lovely corners of social media.

Sandra J. said...

Congrats Hank!

NLiu said...

Congrats, flashfriday!! And to all the other shortlisters. And basically everyone! So many good stories.

And THANK YOU to Aphra Pell and Fearless Reider for liking my entry, and especially for the sparkly pom poms. I will stick them in my trophy cabinet. Or maybe the fairies would like them...

I couldn't pick just one entry out of all of those. I did try. Promise.

flashfriday said...

Thanks, everyone, for your lovely comments. This piece was a tough one to write, as I suppose all real things are. May we all do better!

Congrats to the many others whose wondrous tales flooded this contest. Thank you for sharing your words. xo

french sojourn said...

Late to the party, time zones and all.
Congrats flashfriday, wonderful, awkward, and guilt inducing. But powerfully written. Nice win!

Marie McKay said...

Congrats, FlashFriday. You are a class act!

Stephen G Parks said...

Congrats to flashfriday and Hank, too!

Richelle Elberg said...

Also late to the party but I agree wholeheartedly with flashfriday's selection! So real. Well done!

John Davis Frain said...

Even later to the party (I was still laughing at Hank's entry and his recusal if that's a word).

Rebekah, that was a powerful entry. And you're follow -- may we all do better -- is equally powerful. Great job!