Friday, April 17, 2020

Dick Francis Flash Fiction Contest!

I've read 16 18 Dick Francis novels in the last seven days.
All of them were familiar friends and it was like taking a rest cure to dive back in. Reality just slipped away for four or five hours a night.

While I slither back into work-mode for next week, let's have a flash fiction contest

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

(NO Steve Forti extra prompt word this week. I have retired from the field of battle. Forti Thwarts the Shark!)

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.

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!"). Save that for the contest results post.

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, April 18, 7:33am
Contest closes: Sunday, April 19, 9:00am

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 closed!


Alina Sergachov said...

Risk: I’ve never done this before! Longshot. High stakes.
Nerve: My pitch: “Quarantine. Bankers go bonkers in bunkers.”
Alliteration didn’t work…
Proof: Defeat. Forfeit. Carkoon.

Steph Ellis said...

“This ban kerfuffle ain’t ‘alf playing with me nerves,” said Doris. “I mean, look at them all out there.”

“Yeah, but we’re an at risk group,” said Elsie, emptying her glass. “This rum must be 100% proof. My eyes are watering summat rotten.”

“That’ll be the drains backing up again,” said Doris. “All sorts coming out the sewers these days.”

“Yeah,” giggled Elsie. “Like Shar shuffling around with that crowd. They’re not 2m apart.”

“Means she’s forfeited her place on our WI Calendar. She was a dead cert for Miss July.”

“Now she’s just dead,” said Elsie. “Should’ve stayed inside.”

Timothy Lowe said...

“Bank error in your favor!” Marcus beamed. “Collect two hundred dollars.”

Joey forked over the money. “If only it were so easy.”

Frank harrumphed. “Christ, I’m bored. This game moves like molasses.”

“Risk would’ve been better.”

“No risk nowadays. No reward either.” Joey rolled the dice. “Get out of jail free? What the actual fuck?”

Marcus cackled. “Better hold onto that one.”

“Hey, you just stole from the bank!”

“Got proof?”

“The nerve --!”

“Forget it! I forfeit!”

“Hey, check this out! Governor says we’re Un-Pausing!”

“About time!”

They grabbed their Glocks. Donned masks.

“Thank God things are back to normal!”

Steve Forti said...

I just wanted to make a nice smoked brisket.

But then Uncle Joey crashed the bar-b-que. When he and the neighbors congregate, well, let’s just say the cops don’t show up for a mere suburban kerfuffle. As usual, Cousin Timmy’s GoPro often catches the ruckus. This time, Uncle Joey played poisoner, vengeance on his mind after Old Lady Simmons slashed his tires in response to – she claimed – her daughter “forfeiting” her virtue to him after the last bar-b-que.

Neither knew that was really me.

Now? GoPro confiscated. Fewer attendees. And me? I’ve got plenty of new meat for the smoker.

french sojourn said...

“How do I know you again?”

“I’m Henry, Dad,” I looked at the worn paperback beside him, knowing his routine. Dick Francis, solo crossing the Atlantic, and his first wife, to the chagrin of his second.

“You like Dick Francis?”

“Love him, you gave me one, dad.”

“Banker? About that fella risking people’s money trying to stud a champion?”

“Yeah, young Ginnie winds up dead,” sadly giving him his proof. I didn’t have the nerve to tell him he’d given me Forfeit.

“I keep rereading this one, guess that’s a benefit of losing the plot.”

“Ha, That’s pretty clever…Dad.”

MelSavransky said...

George never read the fine print. Not on his timeshare, divorce papers, heart medication, or the terms and conditions on his life-coach app, Sulfuric Solutions.

A pitchfork-wielding hamster bounced on-screen. “I’m Rudy, Incorporeal Asset Forfeiture specialist. HowcanIhelpyou?”

“I’d like a life,” said George.

“We don’t do swaps; too risky.”

“I mean, money.”

Rudy frowned. “We’re not bankers. We help folks move on.”

“I want proof-- a free sample.”


The phone shook.

George gripped his chest. “You’re supposed to be a life coach!”

“We are-- we coach you out of it. Didn’t you read the contract? Humans gotta lotta nerve.”

Kregger said...

My risk?


Your proof?



Big business.

You’re getting on my nerves. When can I go back to work?

How much money do you have left?

I’ll call my banker, maybe two months’ worth.

Six months, then.

Thanks, Donny. I quit.

Amanda said...

I keep myself as busy as I can, but time stretches like silly puddy. I’ve strategized in games of Risk until I forfeited my last territories, and later, my turn. I’ve been The Banker in Monopoly so much I count money in my sleep.Proof I need another strategy to win the At Home And Restless battle. Will everything fray my nerves like a dryer does clothes? Do you have any ideas? No? Let’s try our luck at Life! Pun intended.

Lora Senf said...

I want to be her, so worldly and warm-blooded.

“Got no time for feit kids,” her dismissive slang chases blue smoke.

“I’m brisk,” praying I have the lingo right.

She smirks, needs some proof, “You mean ‘cool’? Got nerve but no bank, Erin. Hell, don’t even gotta body.”

I’m not offended – she’s right. I don’t have much of a body.

The less faith she has, the thinner I get.

Always goes this way – People doubt. I disappear.

She flicks her cigarette.

It sails through my sternum.

I fade.

We wraiths require someone to believe if we’re going to stick around.

Mallory Love said...

The whiskey was 80 proof and the least risky part of the evening. Glasses were poured. Same ritual since college. No forfeiting allowed.
Once roommates, now Jim was a banker, Ray a doctor, and Ben unemployed.
“Never have I ever…” it started.
“…been disbarred,” said Jim. Ben drank.
“…gone bankrupt,” said Ray. Ben drank.
Soon nerves were high and inhibitions low.
“…slept with Ben’s wife,” said Ray. Jim looked away.
“…killed a man.” Ben glared. No one drank.
Ben pulled out a gun and aimed it at Jim, then Ray. “Yet.”
He pulled the trigger twice then downed a shot.

Craig F said...

I was exposed to the current nightmare. A phone call gave the proof. Another example of the risk of being subservient to good intentions.

The people I was working to help are not bankers, they are homeless and their population has been hurt at least as much as the population as a whole. They have less to forfeit, but their food chain has fallen. The restaurant dumpsters are empty.

I helped get four sick people into the hospital, then a cough betrayed me. My nerve was shaken when thousands jumped my spot on the testing queue. I might never know.

JanR said...

Doubles tennis.

I hide a wince. If it isn’t steeplechasing, I hate it.

Crankworth smiles too widely as he serves, the keener. Very suspicious. Oof.

Kaari isn’t my girlfriend. More of a part-time lesbian soul mate with a penchant... Grunt.

…for bigamy.

Rough? No. Complicated, like doing the… Thwack.

…acrostic crosswords. Ugh.

Now Crankworth gets angry. Over the steep roof, bounces off my Morris Kar

(couldn’t afford the real thing)

into the banker’s box on his veranda. And the evidence bounces out.

So what if he tortures me a bit now. All I wanted was to forfeit the bloody game.

alyson faye said...

It was such a risk these days going outside. You could forget dating. Howard really regretted not getting a girlfriend before lockdown.
He’d kept his nerve with the stunning Juliette though- asked her for proof of income and job prospects on their last pre-lockdown date.
Her parting shot, “Once a banker, always a w*****!” had been hurtful.
How he wished he’d lowered his standards. He’d have someone to play Forfeit with and even Strip Poker.
Howard sighed, scratched his belly, slurped another beer, and considered changing his vest and boxers.
Yeah, she was really missing out. Big time.

S.D.King said...

Anything for the part. Lose 20. Gain 50. Any role, any price.

Proof: this time, look twenty for “Little Mermaid 3.”

She hit up the banker for 12K, worked up nerve to risk surgery during a pandemic.

Back home, bandaged face, stitches in neck, then a tickle in throat.

Soon wracking, unstoppable coughing. Bloody bandages, loose stitches. No EMT.

She loosened gauze to see gaping slits from ear to collarbone that flapped with each cough.

Her career forfeited for vanity, she filled the tub and sunk under- inhaling deeply. The slits, now gills took over.

NYT Review: Best mermaid ever.

Matt Krizan said...

Standing along the river bank, errant knight and besotted priest paid their respects to their fallen partner.

ngeful fool.” The priest took a long pull from his wineskin. “Shoulda left well enough alone. Life was forfeit the moment he pulled a knife on the duke.”

“Nay, my friend. Wronged, he was. And in the right.”

“Hmmph. Stupid, he was. Too damn pr—oof!” The priest clutched his stomach, broke wind loudly. “’Scuse me—proud for his own good.”

“Proud, aye.” The knight nodded. “‘Twas hubris killed him.”

“No.” The priest hiccupped. “Pretty sure that was the axe.”

Colin Smith said...

“Banker’s Forfeit.”
The bookie frowned at the money on the counter. Scott wanted to bet more, but this was the most he could quickly pull together.
“You sure?” the bookie said. “She’s 10-1.”
“Yes,” said Scott. He normally didn’t have the nerve for gambling, but had run out of options.
2pm. The thunder of hooves beat through the wall-mounted television. Banker’s Forfeit led early, but Risk Proof charged through stealing victory in the last lap.
Scott considered the Board of Directors. His customers’ life savings.
He pulled a gun.
The bookie ducked. But the single shot was not for him.

Linda Shantz said...

There’s hot money on Smokescreen. He’s a dead cert, really. In The Frame is odds against.

I might forfeit respect today, but I’ll take that risk. More than the purse, what I’ll make betting my 100-1 longshot will keep the banker at bay. No proof of talent needed to enter, just nerve. Rule number one of this game: anything can happen.

Mid-stretch, Frame gets his second wind and bolts straight through a break in the pack for a flying finish.

Enquiry flashes on the board, and now my comeback in this rat race is in the hands of the stewards.

Brigid said...

"Getting married is risky under any circumstances," Del agreed calmly.

The groom coughed. "I think I have COVID."

"I think you have cold feet. Do you want to meet her or not? You forfeit the e-chapel in thirty minutes. She has four other matches waiting."

"Sorry. Just nerves."

"Both Proofs of Health came through, the bankers gave their approval, and your Match Score was a whopping 87%."

"That's good?"

"Excellent. She can move in as soon as you commit."

The groom squared his screen. "Let's do this."

Del tapped to add the bride to the call. The wedding march blared.

flashfriday said...

“Get off!” –orf! “Either you get off now or I’ll—”
“No way. You better pr—” –oof! “—pray they don’t—”
Ow! “Pray they don’t what? Go ahead, say it.”
“Pray they don’t ban—” kerFLUMP! “—ban you—”
“Ban ME!? They wouldn’t—” –FOOMPHHH!
“You don’t know a ri—” -skkkkktch “—rib from a femur, so how would you—”
-waYOWWWWW! “I know THEM, and that’s what counts, you foul-breathed ner—"
“Very funny, whisker-face. You know NOTHING. I, however, am Beloved--”
“WAIT! they’re up!”
“They’re up?” -whampwhampwhamp—
“They’re up!”

Ly Kesse said...

Rub adub dub, three men in a tub: a Butcher, a BANKER, and a sore loser, our very own Kanker.

These men run the Ship of State; legitimacy is theirs to FORFEIT during these days of plague.

Angry, the Butcher pulls out his cleaver. As his PROOF of NERVE and fearlessness, the Banker holds up his shield: his RISK-free financials. Blood and gore flow everywhere.

Tired and poorer, Kanker just wants to kick the soccer ball around. He wallops it against the side of the tub, creating a whole and making the Ship of State list.

Karen McCoy said...

The antidote was in her pocket. Nothing left to forfeit.

She steadied her nerves and walked into the hospital wing. Her face mask provided the proper cover.

She found the elderly gentleman on a ventilator. She injected him with the antidote, and waited until his breathing became less labored. Gently, she switched the ventilator off, and let him breathe on his own.

“Rest well, grandpa.” She left, knowing the risk of urban kerfuffle.

He got better, and then he didn’t. Nurses used his antibodies on patients and they recovered.

No one had any proof.

Michael Seese said...

Their furtive glances. The fidgets in cold folding metal chairs. Proof that they, like me, craved change. But they held their tongues, afraid to forfeit the silence, the anonymity.

"It's an open forum," I began. "Let's brainstorm."

"I spend my life feeding some monopoly. The electric company. The water works."

"I'm not cut out for surgery. I always touch a nerve during an operation."

"We should ban KerPlunk! And Risk. They're Satan's tools."

Confusion overruled diplomacy.

"What are you people talking about?" I snapped.

KerPlunk Lady held up my flyer.


Perhaps I erred in calling it simply "Game Changers."

C. Dan Castro said...

Charles’ club. The retired rear admiral waves us over. “How's the left hand?”

I splay the new fingers. Slowly. "Nerves're still dodgy."

“But no chance of rejection?”

“Always a risk. But there's a bigger issue. Remember the donor?”

“A...dead banker?”

“Learned he’s buried. With both hands.”

“But...there's proof. PAPERWORK!”





"There's worse," Chico says.


Chico offers a folder. "I ran Sid's new prints."

Charles reads. Blanches.

Reginald Stout. Missing six months. Jenny Roland’s husband.

Jenny’s my ex.

Charles' daughter.

“Wh-what now?”

“Sid Halley-Chico Barnes Investigations is back. To nail the responsible bastards.”

Leilani said...

Tell me straight, what’re the odds against it?
It’s a long shot. I’m afraid we’ll come to grief.
I won’t bolt. It’s money inna bank. Er. Pocket.
You’ve nerve enough. But if they come back with an enquiry? I’d forfeit everything. I don’t like playing for such high stakes. I need proof you’ve got the whip hand.
What about a trial run? For kicks. Lessen the risk, y’see? ‘Sides, wild horses couldn’t catch me. Not to brag, but I’m a dead cert. I got an edge!
All right. I’ll create a smokescreen. You go take that candy from that baby.

Luralee said...

She rushes the barricade and fills her arms with babies.
Ignoring her nerves and the risk.
"Ma'am, you can't do that!"
She reaches into her coat.
Manager raises his hands like a banker without a panic button.
She throws down a Franklin.
"We aren't allowed to sell them!"
She isn't a thief, she's a liberator.

She tucks the darlings in their bed.
Germ-proof neighbor makes a call.

Cop snatches them back with six-foot arms.
Slams them in the trunk.

This year she'll buy vegetables from states that haven't banned growing them.

Efa Foy said...

The cryptobank error washes me in neon red.

There’s no time for this; Meeka’s by herself.

I slam my mech arm into the kiosk, reverberations rippling from pins to bone.

This ruster is killing me.

Re-punching the cryptocode, my fingers are stiff, sluggish. I tuck them inside my inner vest.

Whirs. Beeps. Error.

Please, not tonight.

The tarp roof sags and rain pools inside the box.

Just 20 cryps. . .

That’d get us hot broth from Ling’s, maybe a dry cot under Easterly Bridge, but the message doesn’t change: quota unmet; wages forfeit.

Outside again, I tell Meeka, Tomorrow. For sure.

RosannaM said...

Brisk walk down the strip before I steel myself to take a seat at the blackjack table.

Nerves of steel, hell, let’s be honest, nerves buoyed by eighty-proof bourbon.

I don’t win here, I forfeit everything. Not an option. Not an A or a B option. Not an option, period.

Loss. Loss. Loss. Double eights. Split them. Banker says always split the eights.

Odds favor the house, always. But I believe in bucking the odds. Always.

House busts. I win. Play a few more hands; win more than I lose.

May and June covered. Be back in July.

NLiu said...

He met her smoking outside a bar. She loved risks; his normally came in spreadsheets. It was intoxicating.

She set him dares, each proof of his dedication. Then one night she whispered, "Bring down the system," eyes shining.

His heart pounded.

But he was only one banker.

It was hard to keep his nerve, transaction after transaction. He was sure
the boss would notice. One slip, and he'd forfeit everything. He sweated.

Finally: success! He crowded out of Lehman, cardboard box in arms.

She was gone.

Later, he discovered she'd invested in gold.

Mama always said never date a dragon.

John Davis Frain said...

Everyone brings a system. Me? I ride the jockeys.

With two large pushing my pockets, I visit the stables.

Francis Richard rises. At four-foot-ten, it doesn’t take long. A horseman with nerve, he’s one victory shy of a track record. Photo finish or forfeit, track needs publicity.

He’s up first race. Three-year-olds, claiming. I bet him across the board, figure an early night, deposit my winnings with my friendly “banker” tomorrow morning.

Trumpets blare. Ten minutes to post. Richard trots into Gate 13. Atop Triskaidekaphobia.

I leave with my pockets lighter.

Is it proof I should quit this game?


Casual-T said...

“THE NERVE!” Banker R. exploded, spittle ejecting from his mouth like paratroopers over France on D-Day. “If you can’t provide proof showing it’s a low-risk scenario, this bank will not approve credit!”

“If you don’t, we’re screwed.”

“If I do, the bank is!” R’s face as red as the tasteless protein pills he had for dinner, last night. “Mining for Fei Tsui Jade on Mars? RIDICULOUS!”

“Listen, I’ll level with you, we’re just trying to get to the colony. Earth won’t last much longer. Everyone knows it.”

“I—” R. paused, crumpled into his chair, and whispered, “Take me with you.”

AJ Blythe said...

The gang had agreed; the plan was set.
He had to take on the banker.

What could he say? That he didn’t have the nerve? He’d forfeit his place?
Oh yeah, that’d go down well. Everyone was taking a risk.
Dammit. He had the balls. He was a pro. Of course he could do it.

He needed the money.

Nothing for it, he took the reins.
Last time he bet on a dare.

Just Jan said...

A soft wind blew over the crowd gathered in front of the cave.

A grizzly lumbered forward. “It’s a viable option. Doesn’t matter if they’re bankers or lumberjacks--I want them out of my habitat.”

“Too r-risky,” said a young gorilla, unnerved by the bear.

“Dealing with terrorists is never a good solution,” bayed a pack of hounds. “Besides, it’s disloyal.”

“But they’ve given us proof,” pleaded a pangolin. “We must intervene before more species are forfeited.”

The bat re-emerged, upside down, from the shadows. “Creatures of the Earth, what say ye? Shall we release the corona virus on mankind?”

Marie McKay said...

He asked me to haunt him which was strange, because I wasn't dead. High risk had desensitized him, forfeiting aspects of his humanity for which he hadn't bargained. He needed to lose his nerve.
I stood in the hallway, at midnight. Stood in the garden in the mists. Scratched long nails on his bedroom door. Watched him watch tv. Blew on the hairs at the back of his neck. But he seemed scare-proof.
Until I told him I was bored, and I'd be leaving. And that, that seemed to scare him most of all.