Friday, November 08, 2019

It snowed in Flint on Wednesday Flash Fiction contest

I talk to about a dozen clients on a regular basis (weekly most of the time) so I get weather reports from around the globe. Dubai is nice and warm as you would expect. So is Texas, if it's not under water. And California is warmer than it should be for all the wrong reasons.

But when it snows in Flint Michigan the first week of November, that's just not not good. I have a feeling it's going to be long cold winter. Well, I do have a lot of reading to do!

Let's cheer ourselves up with a flash fiction contest!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:


(They do not have to be capped.)

(Karl Henwood suggested the prompt words.)

To compete for the Steve Forti Deft Use of Prompt Words prize (or if you are Steve Forti) you must also use: Dweezil Henwood (but not as a proper noun)

"Hi Steve, I'm Dweezil. Nice to meetcha."

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 opens: Saturday, 11/9/19, 5:29am

Contest closes: Sunday, 11/10/19, 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! 

sorry, contest closed.


french sojourn said...

He broke the fortune cookie, and read it.


He remembered last night, the guy robbing him of his money and dignity.

“Please God, give me this chance!”

** He re-awoke yesterday morning, again. **

Everything ran the same, until their meeting in the alley.

He watched the slob reach for his gun, but beat him to it.

“Not tonight, freeze!”, should I use cuffs or tie him up?

“Detective Freeman, shots fired, Alameda and Grand Ave.” dispatch hailed his foe.

“Wait, you’re a cop?” his inner fire subsided.

** later **

“Here’s your fortune cookie.”

Aphra Pell said...

He grinned at the telegram as hail rattled the Nissen hut.
“Christened wee Zil. Hen wooden with fury! H.E.A.T”
Wild, witty Kaye. She’d borne their daughter, claimed her place in his family; cheerfully ignoring Aunt Henrietta’s anger at his marital breach.

The storm faded; the sortie would take off.
“1000 kisses to you and Zillah. All well, even the food!”
So trivial, but he couldn’t tell her of the fear, fires haunting his nightmares. And he must reply. Tail-end Charlies were lucky to survive five missions. This was his tenth.
Heart Ever Adoring and True. She’d always have that.

Steve Forti said...

“This is a serious accusation being leveled. You swear your innocence?

Ha! I look’a gilty sort? I eats me own, no moor.”

“What about Maxwell? He’s always been a shifty, shady character.”

D’ weezil? He n’ wood’a dun it a’lone.”

“But as you say, he’s weaselly enough. Makes for a good suspect.”

“Aye. He ate ‘em, n’ dowt. But he’n’t b reachin no hand n no jar less’un he b tolled.”

“Told by whom?”

“Hmm… ‘f I reson i’ out, I b gessin i’ were yu.”


“Thass’ rite. Yu stoled d’ cooky frum d’ cooky jar.”

Timothy Lowe said...

Desperate for cover,
We march into the firestorm.
Exhausted, extended, fuel nearly expended.

Evil sends out its sorties,
Zephyrs prevail.
Impish Diablo,
Lead melting like hail.

Hot sweat sheaths our foreheads,
Encumbered by smoke.
Night smothers our vision
Weighs us down til we choke.

Our blankets our weapons, our turnouts
Our shields. We charge into the breach,
Death hot on our heels.

Beth Carpenter said...

“He ate the whole thing?” Amelia’s latest sortie was a corker. I could never pull something of this calibre. Aching tummy, gas, cramps— Mum would hail down fire and brimstone if she found out, but the fires of hell were nothing compared to what Father David was about to experience. “Mum didn’t taste it?”


“Right.” Mum was allergic. “How much did you—”

She shrugged. “Not enough to kill him.”

Just make him wish it had. “What’s your peeve with the vicar, anyhow?”

“Gluttony.” Amelia sniffed. “He shouldn’t have taken the last bit of treacle tart. That was mine.”

C. Dan Castro said...

I am not a coward.

“Gentlemen, tomorrow’s sortie against Ploesti will cripple the Nazis.”

Some men...boys cheer.

I know I wouldn’t make it back.

“Heil Hitler? We’ll hail a firestorm down like God’s wrath.”

All the boys whoop.

It’s suicide. I’ll feign illness.

“What about air defenses?” God, he’s 18?

“Partisans with HEAT rounds’ll smash ‘em. Let us breach AA defenses.” If the partisans show.

“Gentlemen, tomorrow we end this war!”

The boys erupt, unleashing a cacophony that if the Ploesti Nazis could hear it, they’d quake.

I can’t...won’t abandon these boys.

These men.

I’m not a coward.

Steph Ellis said...

“Oops, only regulation fires allowed here. Think we’ve breached Inferno Health and Safety Rules. Better put it out. What you got there?”

“Bottled wee, zil. He ‘n Woodie been filling ‘em for days. Treat for old Adolf. Hey, you taking the piss?” he protested as the bottle was snatched from him, its contents sprinkled on the flames.

Still the heat increased, accompanied by a hail of screams.

“Look, do a quick sortie, would you? See if we’ve disturbed His afternoon nap.”

“Bit late for that,” boomed a voice. “But you’re forgiven, the song they’re singing is music to my ears.”

Craig F said...

The sortie was planned to the second. The dragon nested in the coal strip mine and the land was cleared for a mile around it by the fires it had kindled.

The H.E.A.T. (Health, Environment, and Thaumaturgy) Team started out. The weather-witch pounded the flames with hail and I followed behind it, using it as a screen to reach the breach. Then I was through and ready to face the dragon.

“Puff, I’m sorry you got indigestion, but I told you not to eat that George. I brought some Milk of Magnesia to calm your stomach.”

“Thanks Jackie.”

Amanda said...

Mara Mujered, “wee -zilla,” some called her. To others, she was a cackling hen, wooded by a forest of her own baggage. She set fires of gossip or hailed golf balls of greed and deceit. A few argued she sortied at her enemies like a swarm of bees. One had written: “…there seems to be no breach in her wall of heartlessness.” So in the heat of controversy, the actress reminded reporters, “Mara is a character. It’s only a T.V. show!”

Megan V said...

There was heat in the old town that night. Smoke billowed onto the streets, stealing the air along with the chill. Fists battered against doors like hail. People jumped from rooftops. All around me, the city crumbled, its charred wood falling amongst the crush of soot-streaked bodies. Buckets were passed, hand to hand, and though the mob reached my way, none of the straps or ties they had could force me into the line.
I fled.
Fires aren’t something you play with. And I hadn’t been playing.
Maybe next time O’Leary won’t laugh when I nudge her for a blanket.

Rio said...

Three girls call Emmie fat, and she throws me a glance. Me, the dark form stretching over the curb, reaching across the sidewalk. I embarrass her.

Quietly, Emmie turtles into her winter wear. The baggy coat and the atrocious chunky scarf. I reshape myself to match. We’re ready now. Ready for icy conditions and a hailstorm of insults.

Them girls might call her big, but they’re gonna find out. I’m bigger. I’m as big as the night. And I ain’t the walking-away sort like Em. I’m the silent, you-never-saw-me-coming sort.

I expect they’ll apologize tomorrow.

Ewan Smith said...

It was a strange morning. We were checking the hills for heather fires - it being such a dry summer. But the weather turned unexpectedly, first drizzle, then hail, and the men gave up. There was a bothy in the next glen; they planned to head there and make a sortie on the sandwiches. But Cailie wouldn’t breach our instructions, I knew that, so I stayed with her, women together. It was her who spotted the shimmer up ahead, the wisp of smoke. She knelt on the springy moss and looked at me. “Feel this,” she whispered. Oh the heat…

Colin Smith said...

Didn’t expect the sudden sortie.
We were overcome. Defenses breached.
“Everyone for themselves!
“Escape. Find a safe
I left the house. Only when we were both safely outside did I
Light the fuse.
H.E.A.T. Hell’s-fires at
Extremely Amplified Temperatures.
Nothing else
Would work. I hailed my partner as the flames subsided. Held a hand
Over my mouth and nose as we inspected the charred remains
Of the house.
Death everywhere. Floor littered with bodies. Every one burned to a crisp.

As we walked to the car my partner turned to me:
“Maybe next time we should just call Terminix?”

TS Rosenberg said...

Built my empire with sweat equity. Years of rice and beans. When I gazed up at the skyscraper bearing my name, I cried.

After the hostile takeover, I moved fast to the “acceptance” stage of grief. I hail from Chicago, where corruption's part of life.

Then they smacked me for breach of contract. My sortie with lawyers (Dewey, Cheatem & Howe) left me so broke I couldn't buy beans, never mind rice.

Slipped into the “disgruntled ex-employee” stage of grief.

Chicago knew something about fires, too.

I gazed up at the skyscraper. My name faded within the smoke. I cried.

John Davis Frain said...

The four-way is now a stoplight. I pass the theatre where my procrastination backfires. It’s a three-story condo. Lover’s Resort (i.e., Coal Mine Road) is grown over.

At Mom’s, the oak is gone. Tire swing, too.

I’m surprised when my key works. Guess it would have all this time, ten years and change.

Inside, memories hail from the walls. Mom asks if I’m here to fix the toilet. Every bone, every fibre, aches as I bend to hug her. She can’t remember my name.

I thought when you had no one, no one could hurt you. But I’m wrong, Mom.

Karen McCoy said...

Our YouTube feature on the blackened water supply following the fires didn’t garner many comments. It landed stale, like La Brea chipped tar.

The sponsor ties our funding. Evian is naïve backwards, did you know?

Another story. Suspect deli meat. Brought to you by Oscar Meyer.

“HE ATE IT!” my partner exclaims. The ham is stale in my mouth, but I force myself to swallow it.

Health, ail, Hepatitis. I’m done guinea pigging for this YouTube hack.

Doctor’s report.

Not Hep A. C instead. Clean. I am the new vaccine.

Headline: Cured Ham

YouTube followers amass in droves.

Kregger said...

Geoff Chaucer considered the pilgrims a tableau within the Tabard Inn.

The Wife of Bath smirked him a Mona Lisa smile.

Chaucer’s Middle-English agent spoketh, “Sell a ribald anthology? C'est impossible!”

But a grueling sortie to Canterbury had to be done.

And it suckedth.

Who knew the Miller would ram a fires’ heated poker into the breach of his wife’s lover?

Or the heathen Reeve’s tale would rock the cradle and the Miller’s wife.

Surely the Knight would lack debauchery?

Alas, no.

What of the Nun’s tale?

Thus, she began: “Mère D’weezil-Hen wooden teeth in o’ out?”

Oh, hail no!

Marie McKay said...

Sirens and flames tear the night sky to ribbons. Throats, red hot, hail for help. Fire's reflected in everything: their skin, their eyes, their ghosts.
The Assessor ties himself to the lies when he says there was no breach of safety regulations. It takes the heat off those above.
But in 10 years' time his dreams are flame-coloured, his blood guilt-scorched, his word cinder.

A.S.K. said...

"In this weather-themed Smackdown, there was plenty of heat," the host said. "Sun Masks' 'Setting Fires' vs Hail Mask's 'Snowbird.' And the singer who will be going home is... Hail Mask!"

There was a beat, then heat of a different sort: IE, a judge shouting "Noooo!"

"Sorry, Ken."

They made their final guesses: Paris Jackson, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan. Hail Mask shook their head, otherwise expressionless.

The music swelled.


Hail Mask turned and fiddled with their mask.

Everyone watched, looking for the first breach in the mask's obstruction.

The judges gasped.


Fearless Reider said...

“Moon-Unit-7’s late, sir. Send a team?”

Nelson ruminated. Flynn chafed his hide with her protocol breaches. “Negative.” Sortie with the natives’d teach her, if the razor hail didn’t.

How long since she’d heard that last transmission crackle over the coms? The years here were static, frozen as the bitter landscape.

Zappa-zappa-zappa. “You’re dead!”

“Am not!”

“Storm’s coming, boys. Play inside.”

She’d gotten used to tentacles. On the twins, they were cute. Dead useful, too.

And Xxjjhhrr kept the home-fires burning. Flynn slammed the hatch and inhaled. Braised illk, roasted weezil, henwood and ice-birch blazing.

Home is where the heat is.

Karl Henwood said...

Ivan was throwing every type of fires at the breach; mortars, shells, rockets . The tank ahead of mine took HEAT round and stopped, blocked the lane through the minefield.

I sortied, sprinted through hissing shrapnel as a terrified kid tumbled out of a hatch. He pointed. “Sir, Matthews is wounded inside!”

Matthews. Good soldier Just married. Sang Fiddler’s Green at the last hail and farewell. Too bad. I got back in my tank. “We gotta clear it! Go!”

Hernandez goosed the engine and pushed the wreck aside, into the mines; one detonated underneath and flame erupted from every hatch.

alyson faye said...

“Incoming! Breach on the south side!” Jasper yelled via the loudhailer from the crow’s nest.

A gaggle of helmeted children surged south, armed with kitchen knives, airguns and fire extinguishers. Their faces grimy, and grim.

The kids carried out regular sorties from behind their home-made barricades, working in shifts, 24/7, to protect their base. Even the preschoolers carried a weapon.

Beyond the barricades, lay miles of urban sprawl, lit only by random fires. A no man’s land in which all adults staggered, loped or hunted for food.
The infected, their blood overheated by the virus, burn with hunger.

Sandra J. said...

Her limo stops at the club. She exits, stands to her full height. She doesn’t need to hail the doorman. He simply opens the red velvet rope and she leads her sortie inside.

Music thumps, strobes flash and sweat-slicked bodies undulate. Primal hedonism heats the air. Their target is unsuspecting. His head is down, one hand pressed to his ear, the other scratching an LP. The crowd sees her, surges forward.

She could give a shit about breaching protocol. She reaches out, screeches the LP to a stop. His eyes are fire.

She hands him a single.

The crowd cheers.

Matt Krizan said...

The whine of jet engines spooling up for the next sortie drowned out Admiral Breach’s attempt at a rousing, inspirational speech. Which was fine, because Captain Alvin “Crash” Crandall wasn’t listening anyway. Hung-over and baking in the midday heat, Crash’s skull squeezed his brain like a hobo clutching a hundred dollar bill.

“You okay?” asked his wingman, Earl “Banjo” Jones.

Crash nodded.

“…rain down like hail from the fires of hell!” Breach finished with a flourish, the speech’s conclusion drawing bored applause.

“Wouldn’t it melt?” muttered Banjo.

Crash started to laugh, stopped, then puked all over Banjo’s boots.

Lennon Faris said...

“Next act will be from ‘Chicago!’”

“Is that their name, or hometown?”

“Wasn’t Chicago a band?”

“So it’s a person, place, or thing.”

Thing, we decided. Whatever it was, swung around the stage whipping wild hair and hailing demons with an electric guitar. At the end, it turned around, dropped its Firestone trousers, and mooned us all.

“Disqualified!” screamed Principle.

“Name?” asked the judges.

“Dweezil Henwood. Also, Sortie.”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” said Principle.

Dweezil winked.

Judges whispered, then called, “Carry on.”

“What?!” cried Principle, heated.

“It didn’t breach any rules. It’s a noun, alright, but nowhere near proper.”

K said...

The heat swirling around my uniform unleashes words I've tried to bury.

"The fires of hell await you."

"You're unnatural."

Internal taunts still echo through me as the sortie continues.

"Shouldn't have been born."

"A breach of humanity."

Then a hail of bullets sears the air.
And cries from fallen soldiers overpower past pain.

I survived yesterday.
I will make it out today.
With no comrades left behind.

flashfriday said...

They called her the aggressor. Tied to a rock and abandoned, she struggled to find pity. Their treatment of her reached levels of macabre achievable only by despots.

-Or desperates, she conceded as hours passed. What a brouhaha. Ill-conceived. It certainly wouldn’t cure their plague.

(Now a headache?!) At least she felt confident they’d return, when fear wore off and guilt seeped in.

Two days.


They crept back, sheepish. Superstition, that’s all. We can see you’re not a witch.

Her (draconian) fires that night took them all by surprise.

(Even her.)

Turns out she really, truly wasn’t a witch.

NLiu said...

They stared into the abyss. Heat mushroomed, ruffling pointy hats. Hail fell, suspiciously resembling lentils.

The kitchens were gone.

"How…? A breach of this magnitude?"

She glared. "Anyone volunteer to abseil in and ask Dweezil Henwood?"

No doubt a drunken prank involving a curious dragon and Dweezil's famed bean on bean casserole was responsible.

She hated students.

The Dean of Facilities wept. "Witchery and Waffles is this evening! I'll have sorties of hungry warlocks!"

She thought. Raised an eyebrow at the firestorm. "How about… undergraduate rotisserie?"

It would serve Dweezil's classmates right. Plus: no more marking.

She'd pronounce them… exspelled.

Casual-T said...

Hail, myself,” he mumbled, and took another sip. “In vino verita…burp!”

Stage lights flickered in brilliant reds and yellows; his audience shrieked for more; thunderous applause crackled like a roaring fire sauntering through the city far below. The heat on stage was almost unbearable. Sometimes one must suffer for one’s art; he bowed deeply. It would be a breach of etiquette, not to give them an encore. With eyes closed, he moved the bow. He had a knack for making his fiddle squeal like a young cat being force-fed through an old meat grinder.

He never saw the sortie coming.

Just Jan said...

Unbeknownst to Pam, the new thermostat Jim installed in her mother’s apartment was a direct portal to Hell. Programming it sent her on a sortie to the land of fires, red-hot hail, and teeth gnashing.

“This is a breach of contract,” Satan wailed.

“You actually wanted my mother?”

“She’s post-menopausal and feisty--she can handle the heat.” His eyes twinkled. “Besides, most husbands don’t read the fine print when they ask me to take their mother-in-law.”

“You mean--?”

Satan giggled. “For all eternity.”

“That’s genius!”

“Pure evil! Wanna watch?”

And so Pam learned the true origin of reality TV.

Sian Brighal said...

Hail stung like fires as they followed the 'not-so-hard-wee-zillion'--wish you weren't so fat, eh, love?--steps down from the the bluff to sortie on the stony beach. Wind howled, tugging at waterproofs and thoughts gathered heavier than the bruised clouds. What would he look like? Would he be as drenched and broken as when wood slams against the cliffs? She shivered, her hands clenching, still feeling a haunting heat in them of when palms hit the back of a jacket. Colder than her environment and free as the wind, she stepped onto the beach, heard the first screams breach her numbness.

Efa Foy said...

It’s picture day and the boy breaks out in fish scales.

Peachy. Derek and his alpha-ilk will LOVE this.

He tugs at the plates breaching his flesh. They tug back.

Can we wait this out?

The bathroom door thumps—“Hon, bus’ll be here soon”—as gills blossom on his neck. Miss the bus, and he’ll have to face Dad’s switch-stiff ire.

So, that’s a no.

Even toothpaste smeared, they are stunning: Blue-green iridescent.

Maybe this’ll work?

Deep in the striations or tiers of himself, he changes, too.

This could be his eucatastrophe. At least, he’ll be visible.

KDJames said...

Sortie. Sure, I learned the word in history class. Unto the breach with a wail of bravado and hail of bullets, enemy fire surrounding soldiers with noise and heat and confusion.

It was always hypothetical, until it wasn't.

I'm engaged now in my own sortie. Defending not against bullets but cells run amok, with the attendant fear and confusion and inevitable death.

That graceless goodbye of certain death. No shield to come home on.

What the hell do they know of battle, these historians who expound safely behind stolid ramparts of chalk and lecterns and vapid health.

Fucking cancer.

Michael Seese said...

Hailee shivered, ignoring the heat the fading fire seemed intent on bestowing upon her, and the vulturous onlookers. She fought to not hear their whispers.

Abusive jerk.

He's just the sort I expected would do something like this.

Helen left him. Why didn't the girl?

She stifled a sob, reaching for the nearest hand.

"You OK?" Sheriff Burdett asked, gently squeezing back, returning a small dose of comfort.

"I'll manage."

"Any idea where your father might be?"

"No. Probably somewhere he'll never be found," Hailee said, burying her other hand, the one still scented of gasoline, deep into her pocket.