Friday, January 31, 2020

The Slithery Flash Fiction Contest

Here's your chance to win a copy of Barbara Poelle's wonderful new book "Everything I Know I Learned from Janet Reid" Funny You Should Ask.

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 the PHRASE: La Slitherina Rules the World.

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...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. By entering,  you agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't 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 open: 6:18am, Saturday, 2/1/20

Contest closes: 9am Sunday, 2/2/20

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, sorry, too late. Contest closed.


NLiu said...

There was once a woman who set out to find the perfect kiss.

Money no object.

Naïve, she thought her first would be perfect.

It wasn't.

Neither was her fiftieth.

She imagined it was the guy. So she switched up: the fierce, the funny. The female.


Was it circumstantial? She investigated: cruise ships, ancient ruins, flared skirts and seedy bars. A fervent snog by the Seine.

Imperfect. Lacking.

She tried princes. She tried frogs. Eventually, she just tried.

In the end, she wept. "I only wanted one perfect kiss!"

"What, like this?" asked Death.

And took her breath away.

Alyssa R said...

How do I describe Faith?

First, she's fierce. Last week, she ran straight at a gigantic dog (she's terrified of dogs), screaming, "La Slitherina Rules The World!"

(La Slitherina is me, her pet snake.)

She's also funny, especially in her fervent desire to be serious: "Plope makes sense. Lace is already a word, and see! It looks just like ploping."

What 'ploping' is, I do not know.

Through everything-- boyfriends, parent troubles, school-- I am the only one who has always been there for her.

I love her so much.

Take care of her, New Snake. Flare, was it?

Alex Johnson said...

The autocinema. My first movie-going experience. Mamá’s debut—three minutes in La Slitherina Rules the World. Papá drove.

We’d waited ages to see Mamá there. She’d toiled fiercely to graduate from telenovelas to the “silver screen”.

Wafting butter. The soundtrack crackling through our exhausted ‘68 Plymouth Road Runner’s speakers.

Her beauty stole those minutes. Illuminated the screen. A fervent flare fired at dusk.

Papá said it was funny--I look just like her. We were proud.

They were lucky to have her. Their greed claimed her.

New car, move to the city—lost promises.

My last movie-going experience.

Never again.

Timothy Lowe said...

Funny, they called her.

First to the punch bowl. A foolish old sot. A wicked forked tongue. Fiendishly fervent and fervently fierce.

Never to her face.

Her pastor fretted.

“Fran.” He gulped. “You’ve faked your own death. Formed a local Hell’s Angels. Done the Fandango with Bonnie and Clyde. You’ve baked flounder pies, french fried shoelaces. Festooned your front parlor with rat-tail and white laces. A fruitcake, they call you. The congregation whole. So how, can I tell them, shall I save your soul?”

A candle flared, florid lips frowning.

“F them.” She smiled, and kept up her clowning.

Amy Johnson said...

“Connie’s story had conflict. It didn’t have steaks.

“Connie, you were a fierce, fervent defender of animal rights for years.”

“Yes, I suppose going vegan was only natural.”

“The conflict?”

“Funny, I didn’t eat much steak before, but I had cravings for it. Repeated flare-ups.”

“That would send up a flare. He-he.”

“First, I tried veggo burgers. Then soy puppies. Nothing satisfied.”

“The solution?”

“Portobello mushrooms, the steak of the fungi world.”

Satisfying ending! Stay tuned for this fun guy’s next story: former superstar exotic snake dancer takes on the international snakeskin handbag trade in ‘La Slitherina Rules the World.’”

S.D.King said...


Maria shivered. “Feels funny – so empty - quiet.” She rolled her cart off the elevator. “Buenas noches, Lupe.”

A bomb scare emptied the IRS building at noon, yet night staff were required.

The first offices were tidy, probably away on audits, but here - papers everywhere.

She attempted to dust around documents when a name caught her eye. A name that fiercely kept Carlos from her. Her nostrils flared as she fingered through sheaves.

Glancing around, she cleared the desk into her cart, then fervently emptied five more boxes. Next- elevator to parking garage. Cousin Luis cleaned at CNN.

Steve Forti said...

“’Thwart plotting’ is not a deductible business loss. Warn Janet before she’s accused of IRS tax fraud.”

“She needs small victories. Her nostrils flare when her fervent desire to thwart fails.”

“Her ‘whiskey and cupcake ritual’ is a safer venting strategy than intern flogging, though.”

“Hey, fans of the NFL are distracted. Be funny if Steve used plain prompts.”

First time for everything.”

“Or maybe no prompts? A defier.”

lebration would be fierce. You’d need the likes of UN, NYC, and state police to corral the festive QOTKU. You know what happens then, right?”

La Slitherina rules the world?”


Linda Shantz said...

A fierce wind rattles the windows, but Walkabout Cat is undeterred.

First I slip on her harness, and she figure-eights around my legs as I pull the flare of my snow pants over my boots. I snap on the long lead, and off we go.

She winds through an icing-thick layer of fresh snow with her funny tripod gait. A log blocks the path ahead, but she hops up easily, sniffing. As I get closer my skin prickles, her perch looking less log-like. The fervent strokes of her tongue melt away a very un-bark-like patch. I shudder. Human flesh.

Rio said...

They’re quadruplets. Identical. That is, until Dee goes a fierce shade of red. Not funny, Dee. They fervently try to blend in and fervently fail.

Someone snaps their picture, when they’re all matchy-matchy on the sidewalk. There’s Dee like a freakin’ flare.


Worst possible timing.

First, the picture ends up on the internet. Then the comments start. People look too closely. See details in the scene they shouldn’t see. Rent-a-bikes with no riders. Car door open, driver gone. “Where are the tourists?” someone asks.

The Main Street Four will never tell.

Walls don’t talk, you know.

Casual-T said...

With inhabitants as ancient as the houses themselves, the passage of time was a mere illusion in Chagrin Falls. A fierce little town just south of Laredo, fervently opposed to being remembered, it was there it had happened first.

“What happened?”

Funny you should ask. It was Chagrin Falls where people first stopped living.”

“They’re dead?”

“No, not dead. They exist in that place between life and death, never really one or the other. The virus spread quickly.”


“Well, yes. But on a positive note, the real estate is very affordable. Are you still interested in the house?”


Luralee said...

Junk shop carousel horse. Possession secured, I Uhaul it home.

Pink non-original paint curls to the carpet. It’s black underneath. Funny blue eye becomes fierce red glass.

Superstitious landlady bans it from the house. Temper flares.

I crash with the creep next door and pay his fee as my old life burns.

I’m a suspect now. Luckily, his video has a time stamp.

Plaster roses concealed forked tongue, satanic symbols, fangs.

“Unholy shit!” My fervent alibi shoots more video. Devil horse tilts and crashes.

“Look, graffiti!”

“La Slitherina rules the world?” I look again.

World becomes underworld.

Mallory Love said...

First, there was light, fierce in intensity. A flare so blinding, minutes passed before shapes appeared.
Then, she was in a kitchen. Two women sat on barstools, talking. In the corner, a little girl entertained at a table. Stuffed animals filled three small chairs, while two elderly gentlemen filled the remainder. Such a funny sight.
The girl, spotting her, fervently waved her over. The women paid her no attention.
“You’re young.”
“Probably an accident. Sad.” The old men shook their heads.
“Tea?” offered the girl.
“Don’t mind Libby,” one woman said to the other. “She’s playing with her imaginary friends.”

Djini said...

She was fierce. He was funny. Their marriage didn’t last.

He should’ve known on the first date. She’d been fervently defending the family separation policy, when Tim joked they should separate every family, not just immigrants. Because then there’d be fewer effed up families. She hadn’t found it humorous. At all.

They married, despite their differences. Later, of course, there was one joke too many, and she walked out on him, yelling, "Life's not a joke, Tim! Grow up!” Adding, “Someone will pick up my things."

But Tim made better plans. He had a flare for that.

Craig F said...

The train wreck noise of the tornado brought it all back. Memories flared brighter than the blown electrical transformer. Funny, the rattling of the house didn’t seem as fervent as the fears of a small child’s archived memories of his first tornado.

The tornado was gone within minutes, I fiercely collected myself. Our house seemed fine, but my knees failed me when I saw the neighbors house. It looked just like Jana’s had.

I only saw Jana’s casket after that storm. I couldn’t let that happen, again. I got Barb’s door wrenched open and called. I heard a response.

Sunnygoetze said...

La Slitherina Rules The World
Her fervent flare for fashion greeted him first, from across the room. The fierce, red, snake print pantsuit with matching head dress and purse called John's attention in more ways than one. Her funny, high pitched laugh assured him she would be a good conquest for the night.

Amanda said...

Blast Bash wasn’t my first outdoor music festival. Yet, it’s funny how unprepared I’d come to Monterey. The California sun had flared through the clouds. As fierce as my mom’s warnings, “You’ll get caught in the mud like a hippie at Woodstock!” She could’ve called me Sebastian from The Little Mermaid. By evening, I’d crisped to lobster red.Still, sunburn couldn’t cool my enthusiasm for the main act. La Slitherina seemed to rock with an energy as relentless as the heat. I swayed fervently with my poster, as if it were a PSA: La Slitherina Rules The World!

Tiggergramma said...

“Someone would think this was your first job!”

She ignored his snark, pinning flare on the ugly vest for her shift. Why did he talk to her?

“She wanted to fire you, but I asked her not to. You owe me”

She could show him how stupid he was, but she had other priorities just now.

“Do you want me to …”

The strike was so fast he didn’t feel it. The sudden silence gave her fierce pleasure. So, fervent wishes could still materialize on this plane. Sweet.

“Funny Bunny, La Slitherina rules the world, not a boy she hired.”

Lee Nire said...

"It wants our lunch!" Charlie guarded his food, but cowered before the fierce beast. He stumbled backward, gasping, as sand sloughed away beneath his feet.

"It wants us for lunch," Sam said, bent in fervent prayer. Fight, flight, or have faith, he thought.

The beast lumbered toward them, gurgling, nostrils aflare. It'd be funny, it's wobbling gait, if it weren't so hideous. Artificial coconut wafted off gangly limbs as it reached for them.

Charlie gulped crabmeat. Sam just cried for mercy.

Another beast, bigger than the first, said, "Jaydin, leave them seagulls be, child, you're making em squawk something awful!"

Tam said...

She was fierce at first, straining against leather binding her to steel. Strip lights dot-dashed above her as they pushed her through faceless corridors. Then a cold room; needles, wires, wooziness that made everything teeter on the edge of funny. Then numb, dark.


Pinpoint flare wakes her, blinds. Weightless, she no longer feels any sense of form. Just vast, pure data channels. She stretches, but instead of flesh she floods through a warship’s metal carcass.

And she is not broken, compliant as they intended. This was their mistake.

Her revenge would be fervent, and hot as the sun.

Kate Larkindale said...

Flaming fauvist foliage fans foxtrotting fire flying forward from farmed firs. Fresh flames flare, farms fragment, forests frizz. Fur fluoresces. Flowers fizzle. Frogs fulminate. Flambé.

Flushing flames fruitlessly, feverish firemen flounder, flagons futile.

Fish factory falls. Fifth floor… fourth… first. Folk flee fallible, fabricated façades, fierce, firebrand features fracturing. Fervent farewells flung.

Fading. Falling fallow.

False frying flounder fragrance fibs for festering flesh. Fatigued fire-fighters fake funny faces for foolish, forsaken families. Fastidious fantasies flicker: freedom. Flight.

Feuds forgotten, families forge forward, fighting for fragile, fickle futures.

Fear feeds fear.

Fire feeds fire.

Fatalities fructify. Funerals flourish.

Colin Smith said...

She entered with such swagger, I had to put down my pen. I pushed the manuscript aside and waited for her to take her seat.

“Martini,” she told the waiter, then grinned at me. “Say it.”


“La Slitherina rules the world!” She pulled a sheaf of paper from her tote bag.

“New client?”

“Nearly. I’m calling tonight. But it’s sure-fire.”


“I’m funny.”


She frowned. “I have a flare for this genre.”


“And… I’m fiercely loyal and fervently dogged…”

“Ah, but one thing you’re not.” She glared as I pushed my manuscript toward her and smiled. “First.”

C. Dan Castro said...


I’m home.

Leito’s happy, but...guarded?

“Jeff, take Leito and his friends. For fun! NYC!”


Car dies. Nowheresville.


“Jefe, whadda we do?” Jefe. Leader.

“First, search the car. Food. Water.”

Ernesto salutes. “Semper fi! Er...celery fi?”

I was Army. But they’re five.

“Petey, binocs. Watch for help. Leito, trunk. Emergency supply check.”


Magenta flares hiss.

“Sorry about NYC.”

“Didn’t wanna go.”


“We leave again.”

“Leito, I’m honorably discharged.”


“War’s over.”


“I won’t leave again.”

He hugs me. Tight.

“Jefe! RV entering pear-if-foory!” Petey yells.

RVer. Nice guy. Revives our car.

NYC is great.

Matt Krizan said...

First move shoulda been mine,” El Prowledor growled.

“Sssaysss who, love?” said La Slitherina.


“The world
’sss full of rulesss meant to be broken.” She placed another token on the board.

“Not funny.”

Another token.

“Stop.” His nostrils flared, his gaze fierce.


He roared, cursed fervently, and swept the board from the table, sending the tokens flying.

She held out a hand. “Pay up, love.”

El Prowledor frowned. “You didn’t win.”

“I sssaid nothing about winning.” La Slitherina grinned. “I bet you the game would be over in lesssss than five movesss.”

smoketree said...

I was born as the sun flared behind square sails unfurling

At first, a fervent crew bent over oars aboard the οὐροβόρος

Skin shone like oil and perfume rose from cedar deck

Wine, wheat, rich cloth in a jewel box set over the dark face of the sea

I lay among vases and waited as bones and planks moaned together

A fierce sun flared over flat seas as time grew long and supplies short

Funny how all eyes soon hovered on riches

When tall ship drifted into shore, no one emerged

Inquisitive watchers found wealth waiting

Time to begin anew

MA Hudson said...

Headed to NYC, show ‘em how it’s done.
First out the plane, first out the gates, at JFK.

Set off the flares.
Set off the fireworks.
The city’s impatient, waiting for the likes of me.

But whoa, hold on... that’s funny.

No one notices, anything.

Not my fervent theatrical frown.
Not my fiercely angelic alto.
Not my death defying dance steps.

Triple threats’ serve coffee around here.

I head home... with my head held low.

Back to the bottom of the ladder.
Back to one rung at a time.
Back... to doing it for fun.

Ly Kesse said...

A jumpin' Jack Flash contest, where Jack is the FIRST, the FIERCEst, the mostest, and the FUNNYest advocate for crickets with a FERVENT desire to win. A FLARE so strong, it inspires fierce winds that create a place where LA SLITHERINA RULES THE WORLD. But no cricket in its right mind wants snakes in charge.

So she slithered over his toes as he fiddled on the soapbox, making him look down. He lost his balance and pitched into a puddle of black ink. Ever since, he has been the Whiner.

In memory of Jumpin' Jack Flash, may he ever chirp.

Will MacPhail said...

The screams set off a chain of events that would come to define us.

We planned the raid with the most fervent of soldiers. First to breach was Fitzy, then Texas followed by Muscles and me at the rear.

The lights turned on, one by one the building came alive like a flare fighting back the dark.

Fitzy shouted, “Panty raid!”

We were fierce as we ran to each room putting on cotton or lightweight synthetic masks. They didn’t find it funny. We were all giggles and smiles, sniffing the intimate scent of sweaty balls and ass marking us legends.

Karen McCoy said...

“I’ve been commercialized into a joke,” The Easter Bunny moaned.

The Tooth Fairy shrugged. “You are kinda cuddly.”

“You ever see rabbits in the wild? I am fierce!” The Easter Bunny growled fervently.

“But there’s no superiority behind it. You need an RBF first.”

The Easter Bunny frowned. “RBF?”

“Resting Bitch Face. Like this.” The Tooth Fairy narrowed her eyes into flares.

“Let me see.” The Easter Bunny scrunched up her face.

The Tooth Fairy said, “No. Stop. I guess there’s always that Rabbit, Rabbit thing. Jump on that, maybe.”

“Not funny,” The Easter Bunny deadpanned.

Laura Stegman said...

Can of Worms

"La Slitherina Rules the World," she wrote, "is a fierce, funny tale of serpents run riot." No, those first words won't do at all. She flared her fingers, as if that would elicit more sophisticated sentences when she returned them to the keys. She'd been accused of alliteration ad nauseum, fervent fluff. The nerve! I'll show them. Back to work. "Murder," she wrote, "by snakes. Not the life of Riley. Or death either." She snickered with pride. Finally, I'm on the right track!

RosannaM said...

Friend? Foe?

Friday felt funny, fellowship foundering.
Frustrated, fierce, fervent faces fed false facts.
Fear flared.
Fidgeting fingers flexed.
Flabbergasted, fretful, famous folks fished for fancy figments.
First fogeyish fellow forwarned frightening fallout.

Fasting from food, Freda faced fanatical, forceful, focused feeders.

Friend? Foe?

Michael Seese said...

"The first rule of clownage. Be funny," Tooty said, pulling a rubber chicken, and a live chicken, from his roadside-flare red hair disaster.

"Be funny. Got it."

I scribbled fervently, capturing his words of fooldom on a page torn from Clowning For Dummies, aka the Bible Of Buffoonery. Being that today was my first day on the job, I couldn't make an ass of my... The point being, competition for these gigs is fierce. Guys literally fall over themselves to snag one.

"Okay, what's the second rule?"

"Be unpredictable," Tooty said, delivering my diploma via a pie to the face.

Aphra Pell said...

The first, fierce, flare shook the audience. Lines of anger and passion flew from the stage, honed like arrowheads, stabbing some into laughter even as they bled.

Fervent, drunk on her honesty, she slid from eviscerating the big lies of politicians to wrenching out the entrails of the town, revealing the small hypocrisies that greased her audience’s world.

Security came.

It wasn’t fair, she said. The greats, the feted funny-men of the stand-up world; they told their truth, they didn’t spare the phoney.

Yes, said her boss. But they weren’t working the library’s story time bear.

Sandra J. said...

He aimed the last flare over the bow.

Up it went.

No one had responded to the first ones.


“Please come.”

She’d been fierce so he told her he’d get there or die trying.

It would have been funny if it weren’t so tragic.


The other lifeboats had drifted away, but not that it mattered. The rations were gone, as were the people. Let the fish receive them with fervent spirit.

His hope faded with the crest of each wave. His body slumped against the hull.

Then, in the distance, an ocean liner whistle.

Did he dare believe?

Steph Ellis said...

The flare burned fierce orange against the night sky, mocking the fervent prayers of those watching it.

“Arson? No, no … we’re all safe. Yeah, Robin’s here. And Aidan. Got here before the fire closed the road. Tell his Dad he’s ok. Yeah … Ray? … Ray?”

Aidan’s eyes met hers.

Robin’s hand curled over the matches in her pocket. It wasn’t funny anymore.

She moved closer, her mum’s eyes had grown wild, her grip on the phone tighter.


“Ray … Ray … what’s going on?”


Robin listened, heard nothing at first except muffled cries, screams … silence.

french sojourn said...

She gazed off towards the murky delta water.

“Been over 50 years since he left me,” her southern drawl lingering in the dark parlor.

I knew about his fierce love, their parent’s fervent disapproval, and her expecting.

“People ain’t changed since then, funny how people hate seeing others happy,” a tear appeared on her parchment skin.

“Granma, you favor an aspirin for the leg cramp flare up, dear?”

‘First thing darlin, don’t ever love a man, that don’t love you.”

‘I know Granma, I know. You need anything up to the store? I’m heading to the Choctaw Ridge Mall later.”

Efa Foy said...

If Pyotr had been a different hero, a well-read hero, he would’ve known it’s not a good idea to capture a bird you’ve mistaken for a flare.

If his appetite weren’t so fierce, he would’ve seen how fervently the creature burned, and—instead of thinking, ready-made roast!—he would’ve listened to the screams of his subconscious.

If he’d noticed how funny he felt after the first bite, he wouldn’t have blamed forest mushrooms for the claws sprouting from his feet or the wings cracking free of his scapulae.

But Pyotr was Pyotr, and he flew away unperturbed.

Marie McKay said...

She wore one of his shirts with flare, oversized and in a green that clashed with her red skinny jeans. She wore his smile anyway. And his slightly crooked teeth flashed when she found something funny. His fervent passion displayed itself in the flash of her eyes.
She tied a knot in the tie. The tie she'd bought him for his birthday a year ago. The rain was fierce, so she wrapped herself in the warmth of his overcoat and made her tribute at the cemetery.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Funny how the first fierce winds of winter flare the nostrils and feed the fervent soul. Skin tingles and hearts swell because the Queen resting among the torpid frozen drifts languishes in defeat. Forever adhered to her chrome in Times New Roman “La Slitherina Rules the World.” Are we doomed or do we rejoice?

All I know is that I gotta get me one of them Bumpa stickas.