Friday, June 12, 2020

The New Client Requirement Flash Fiction Contest

I've decided all new clients must have a cute pet. Turns out pet pictures are the best way to stay sane during challengeing times.

To wit, meet Greg Levin's new puppy Wallaby:


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, June 13, 5:26am
Contest closes: Sunday, June 14, 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!

(side wagers on when results get posted!)

sorry, contest closed.

Now, let's see if I can get the results up by Monday!


Aphra Pell said...

Chester flicked his tail, demolishing the laboratory wall. He stared at the scientist pinned beneath his claw.
“Youu trrrricked meee” he purred.
Chasing tiny cars and bopping trees with brobdingnagian paws was fun. The taste of next door’s barking rottweiler lingered joyfully on his whiskers. But puny humans screamed when he sat on them and there were no giants to rub his ears, no laps to knead with his toes.
He looked at the lab assistant cowering behind the machine.
“Tuurrrrrrrn it onnnnnn”
Chester picked up the squirming scientist in his jaws. Time to make himself a friend.

Matt Krizan said...

My human is writing again.

It’s not going well.

He barks a curse, rousing me from nap number forty-two.

Clearly, he needs my help. I shall bring wit and sagacity to bear. (Such magnanimity is common among my kind.)

I leap onto his desk. My paws depress keys, leaving poetry in my wake.

I’m summarily removed to the floor, and he deletes what I’ve written.

The problem becomes obvious: he has no taste.

A game, then, to escape such drudgery. One I particularly enjoy.

Back onto the desk. I swat the mug full of pencils to the floor.

I wait.

Steve Forti said...

“I’d enjoy watching the Rays hoist the World Series trophy. Closest we came to a Tampa WS title was the loss in ’08.”

“They’ve only played for twenty-two years. Talk to a Cleveland fan if you wanna know about waiting for a winner.”

“Still less agonizing than the Long Night before Winds of Winter. Add in the dumpster fire of Season 8, and that fandom is fubar. Kingdoms will rise and fall before that book comes out.”

“But it pales next to…”

“Best to eschew direct commentary on that, lest ye like Carkoon.”

“…the wait for Janet’s contest winner.”

Alyssa R said...

Black paws
Black toes
Black claws
Black nose
Fat black tummy
Big green eyes
No joyful bark, but quiet purr when I open the door
Five years, twenty-five pounds; still a kitten to me
Shedding season: the only time I'll wake with you on my feet
Ears pricked, 'I promise I won't hurt the birds… only nibble a little bit'
Troublesome, mysterious, kid-tolerant, crowd-scared, foot hunter
My lucky black cat

Luralee said...

Herbie gamboled through the garden, leaping lilacs, gobbling gladiolus.

“Keep it away from my tomatoes!”

Susie recalled the day she brought him home, quivering like a puppy in his little crate. This never would’ve happened if they’d let her have a dog. “I’m so sorry.” She hacked him down, swiped her tears, and lit the bonfire.

Next full moon he was back.

She danced for joy. This time she’d train him. With some new boundaries and a good grooming he was ready for competition.

“Is that a French poodle?”

Great form. Nice bark. Look at those paws!

First place: Topiary

C. Dan Castro said...

My pockets bulge with stolen secrets.
I have to escape. And reunite with Freude (Joy) beyond the Wall.
I clamber down concrete. Steal across the darkness of no man's land.
Searchlights swirl. I crouch below Czech hedgehog girders.
Paws thup thup nearby.
Machine guns spray the hedgehogs. A dog howls. The others flee.
I turn my jacket white-side out. Wrap a rock. Hurl it.
It clangs down the hedgehog row.
Gunfire perforates the jacket as I slip away. Climb. Summit the towering wall.
Razor wire tears my arms. Legs.
I fall...

I've escaped the West.

Brigid said...

"Bob, ark's thataway."
Scratched ears, splayed toes in dirt, rolled in...
"Euuurgh. Old McGrumpybeard will never let you on smelling like that. Good thing it's raining. Suds up."
"Stop bellyachin'. Rinse off those horns. All of 'em. Ruff too. Eww, not on me!"
Distracted by nibbles.
"Geroff that hibiscus, you big--Bob, hurry up, the ark's...oh."
Snort, lick, joy.
"You meant to miss it, you goober."
"Race you to the fort!"

Craig F said...

I knew dogs barked when you neared.

Honeymoon and a move to the woods, with wolves howling.

We went early to bed, but I awoke to toes clicking on the floor. The sight of you silhouetted by a full moon was mesmerizing. You drew near

Paws held down my shoulders as ears rubbed my face. I whimpered.

Clouds obscured the moon and you were there.

“Hush now, soon we will have puppies and you will know joy.”

She held me tight as the moon turned bright and then she bit me.

Rio said...

She wakes up and realizes it had been a dream.

She’d fallen asleep with the TV on, because silence hurts her eyes. It makes them sting and water. She’d said goodnight, as always. Goodnight to the smooth pillow beside her. To the fading paw streak on the window. She’d set her teeth to soak, and straightened her slippers with her toes.

When she first awakens, she’s alarmed. Where’s my slippers? Where’s my teeth? Soon, though, she understands, and she laughs. Slippers! Teeth! Good riddance.

She hears forgotten voices and wild, joyful barking. Then, from eternity itself, one staggering Word:


Dena Pawling said...

Proper training ensures a compliant servant to bring you joy. Where to rub your ears. Which foods to buy. Which games to play.

Sometimes it takes paws [or claws] to their toes to ensure compliance, but a fully trained servant like mine is beyond priceless.

When I left three months ago, my servant's life was forever changed. Humans now wear masks. Streets are empty, or full of protesters. My servant hides under the duvet and never goes outside. And, GASP, she put one of those barkers on her blog. Sanity gone.

I miss you too, Thumbs.

Love and yowls


french sojourn said...

Years past his prime, a hitman sits in the back of a dank bar, suspiciously eyeing the front door. He motions to the barkeeper, and glances at his empty glass.

The bartender ambles over and refills his glass, “Cheers, Lefty”, then turns back to his other regulars. There weren’t many southpaws in his line of work… he notices movement by the waitress station,

“Hey Squab, you think I don’t see you slinking out of here on your tippytoes… you fuckin’ stoolpigeon?”

Squab skulks back to his seat.

Such a killjoy, the faces of his victims swirl around in his drink

Amanda said...

Her ears flew back with endearing delight. Her paws tapped as she pranced across the hardwood floor like she’d been casted in Twinkletoes. Her bark could be as shrill as an alarm when she begged for a “cookie.” An adopted ritual when anyone came through the front door.I guess she hadn’t been named Foxy Lady for nothing, she even looked the part.

She became my baby sister for 13 years. She’d wake me in the morning, pester me for her spot on the couch, compete for my parents’ attention…she was synonymous with joy!

S.D.King said...

“Planting tomatoes?”

Silence. Go away, kid.

“I’ll be nine on Tuesday.”

“Oh, joy,” thinking go away.

“No presents ‘till Dad’s called back.”

“Don’t you have school work?”

“Done it –school’s hard on Zoom. Mom’s working the ER. Bet this virus last two years.”

“Uh, huh.” What does this kid know – he’s eight.

“I play guitar. I’m good,” picking at the Shagbark.

Grrrrr. Paws off my tree.

“Why don’t you go practice?”

“We moved from Paradise. No more guitar. No more anything.”

He sat back on his haunches and turned. “I’m having a lemonade. Want one?”

This kid’s known a lot.

(Note: actual conversation between my husband and new neighbor kid.)

Beth Carpenter said...

Danger comes daily. Sometimes creeping, other times brazen, testing the gate. Even in sleep, my ears remain vigilant. I recognize the SOS, stop-go-stop, as his steed approaches. I leap from my bed, paws sliding on the slick floor.

My toes dig in and I rush the arrowslit, leaping, snorting, barking. “You shall not pass!” My tail reveals the joy I take in my chosen vocation.

Beyond the wall, Danger is defiant. But when I show him my teeth, he flees, leaving tribute at the gate. I withdraw but remain alert for his inevitable return.

It’s a cul-de-sac.

Tess Rook said...

The vault door swung open.

“We have 5 minutes before the Law shows up, so keep your ears open and stay on your toes.” Max started grabbing any treasure he could get his paws on.

My taste was more refined. I snatched my single prize and slipped out. The door closed behind me, locking Max inside.

His barks grew frantic when he realized what I’d done. He’d take the fall for the entire Pantry Heist – the fact filled me with joy. I took my stolen catnip, and my leave.

Stupid dog.

travelkat said...

The Joy of Cooking

“I dug up some onions but it’s the wrong season for tomatoes, you’ll have to improvise.”

“My sun-dried explorer’s chili always works out.”

“Are you sure about dining al fresco? I’m worried about the weather, and this is a perfect man-cave meal.”

“Have some taste for adventure.”

“Look, there’s things we do in the woods, but cooking really isn’t one of them.”

“We need more tenderizing. Keep shaking!”

The bears dug their paws into the birch bark canoe and rocked it back and forth as hard and fast as they could.

Clark clutched Lewis and shrieked.

Casual-T said...

The small hearse drifted slowly into Esgaroth. People of Lake-town had long since forgiven the dwarves for that unfortunate incident with the dragon. Besides, Theremin, son of Thespian, had been a generous King Under the Mountain.

Jo Pawstrom, Lake-town’s foremost fishmonger (and part-time aesthetician), stood, silently paying her respects, as she noticed the superb Arkenstone—the dwarves’ most precious jewel—slip from Theremin’s cold, dead hands, tumbling toward the water. “Oh, sh—” Jo yodeled, eyes wide in shock.

Splash! went the Arkenstone.

“—it!” went Jo.

“Gasp!” went the crowd.

“Oh… Fuck me,” hazarded Baleen the mortician, smiling nervously.

Tain Leonard-Peck said...

A baited breath, released. Skin parted with steel. "Get me the hemostat. Going to need it after debriding the ears and toes."

A tool, passed in silence. Metal glints, flesh rips and tears, tissue bending to the surgeon’s will.

Gauze is wrapped around mended wounds. A hand passes through blood-matted fur.

A laugh of quiet joy. "Paws repaired, you'll be running and barking at the moon in no time."

“But you really, really need to stop chasing cars. I don't want to see you in here again on the next full moon. One werewolf doesn’t beat two tons of steel.”

Timothy Lowe said...

I wanted a moonlit wedding.

No cold feet here, not even a toe. Searched high and low on Tinder. One little requirement: doesn’t mind animals that shed or bark. This guy not only bit, he dove in with both feet. 20 days later, here we are:

“Do you, Camille, take this man to be your lawfully wedded --”

And then it happened. The clouds parted. I looked into his eyes, searching for love, for joy, for anything resembling compassion. But he stood rigid, fear stamped all over his face.

“No thanks,” I growled.

A full moon has always given me paws.

John Davis Frain said...

The pounding continued until Phelonius opened the gate.

“No deliveries accepted here,“ he barked. “You want Gate 12.”

“This one’s special delivery, mate.” The deliveryman swatted giant mosquitoes, then exited.

Crowbar in hand, Phelonius ripped open the crate. Tears of joy escaped.

“Oh my my. Aren’t you—”

“Forti, sir. F-O-R—”

Phelonius raised a hand. “A thought. Speaking landed you here. So, don’t.” Phelonius couldn’t resist a chuckle. Rubbed his, errr, paws together in delight. “She’s been expecting you.”

Forti wanted to ask about Carkoon.

Phelonius thwarted him. “Sorry, we’re even beneath Carkoon, kid. Here, you judge the contest results.”

Colin Smith said...

I always joked about Hal being barking crazy, but this pandemic has sent him over the edge. Don’t get me wrong—he’s a smart guy. Ph.D. chemist. Enjoys being with his bottles and burners.

Let me explain. We Skyped a few weeks ago and his cheeks were red as tomatoes. Said it was a thing he was trying. Some experiment he’d been working on for years.

Last week, he texted to say he’d done it. Spelling was awful. Called the next day, and he sounded rough.

Then last night, a simple message: “Can’t talk any more. My life’s on paws.”

Linda Shantz said...

Ears swivel. They feel me as much as see me. The drone of their panting is like a hive in this heat.


Paws advance; pressure moves the hive.

Lie down.

They hover, humming, eighty of them as one. I crave the joy of a rush, but listen.


Crouch, tail down, eyes on. They funnel through the gate. He shuts it behind them.

That’ll do!

I spin with a bark, and drop at his toes, but my eyes return to the hive. They are my crack, and he is my dealer so I wait, jonesing for my next fix.

Mallory Love said...

Disguised as a joyride, Harold drove, looking for a way to escape. To embark on a new journey, leaving behind his worries and fears. Embracing this outlook, he decided to pick up the hitchhiker and his dog.

“Nice pup. Reminds me of my own,” Harold said. The man only nodded. Harold turned up the radio, interrupting the silence. Breaking news came in about a murderer on the loose who had a Rottweiler he fed his prey to.

The men glanced at each other, then at the dried bloody prints- paw shaped- on the floorboard.

Harold smiled at his last victim.

Erin Scruggs said...

It began like any other day.

He woke up and hugged mama. Ate breakfast. Got a bath and his toes all trimmed.

Hours later, there was a party! Lots of people came. They’re looking around and pointed at him. He was a bit nervous, and itched his ears. Using his back leg, he stretched to relieve it.

He was playing. Suddenly, his eyes met hers. Big blue eyes and blonde pigtails for fur. She had paws painted pink. The joy on her face was unmistakeable.

I barked as I knew it was the last time I’d ever see my brother.

Michael Seese said...

Confused, in pain, I forced a flood of happy thoughts through my tumbling mind.

Curling my toes around a new chewie, lest it escape.

My person scratching that special place between my ears.

Sundays—that's what he called them—freed of my leather fetter, chasing a squeaky ball in the park.

How I got from there—the simple joys of puppyhood—to here, I'll never know.

Muzzle down on the pavement, Officer K9's paws pressing against my neck, I struggled, not against "The Leash," but against the incanineity.

As the day faded, I barked a plaintive plea...

"I can't breathe."

Scott G said...

Paws on the window as she turns and waves. Every day I bark goodbye and wait by the door. I long to join her on her travels.

While she’s gone, I think about licking her ears and toes. I think about nose rubs and sloppy kisses. I think about hide and seek in the backyard, and treats, and arms wrapped around me as we snuggle in bed. Her curly hair makes me sneeze.

I bark hello as she slinks through the cat door. She purrs, and the joy in my heart tingles my spine all the way to my tail.

RosannaM said...

Chicken enchiladas smothered in green chiles.
Okay. Spinach enchiladas with a sliver of chicken.

“Enjoy, dears.”
Dogs faces smeared green.

Carrot slaw, ginger cabbage rolls. Radish flowers.
Paws skitter toward the back door.

Zucchini stuffed with fig and green onions. Dotted with raw honey.
Mega leftovers.

ChewyBaca barks, eager to escape.
Saute of kale with sliced garlic goes untouched.

ChewyBaca absent.
JediKnight hiding.

SaffronMoonGlow sings Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan.

“Babies? Napa cabbage sautéed in coconut oil.”
Ziplock bags leftovers stacked in freezer.

Dogs, long gone.

CSA pickup.
Recipe ideas, anyone?

NLiu said...

His defiant bravado captured her heart. For years, her salt promises cooled his skin as he rode the waves. But then he disembarked. Deserted. She stormed and wept.

Now he was back. She lapped his toes, made catspaws for joy.

The crown suited him.

He spoke. "You promised immortality; I offer my hand. Only, you must serve me. I am king, after all."

In his eyes she saw fishhooks, flotsam, filth. Greed. Betrayal. It was no proposal.

"Fool, only God and the moon may tame me. But... I did promise."

She surged.

Immortalised in story, Canute embraced the tide.

Unknown said...

Three dogs sneaked up behind the killer: Left ears pointed up, right ears slanted downward; paws printing mud on old Mrs. Robinson’s carpet, which she unfailingly kept tick-free and spotless; a moment before he sliced off her toes, instantly arousing her from a deep sleep, and Skipper barked at him menacingly. Her desperate attempts to scare him away with her pillow were a joy for him to watch, her terrified screams sweet music to his ears.

Just Jan said...

Wally pulled the pup from her crate. “This here’s Marie, the most special one I got.”

“Her ears are crooked.” Sarge knelt down and touched his face almost to the pavement. He never brought a dog home without kicking the proverbial tires a bit. “And she’s missing two toes on her back paws.”

“They was amputated, on account of them getting stuck in a bear trap.” It wasn’t the whole truth, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

Sarge stood up. “Then what’s so special about her?”

“Well, sir, she barks joy.”

Sarge opened his wallet. “Name your price.”

C. H. Reaver said...


Those who sent pictures of their neighbor's dog to pass have gone missing. Others receive a note:

    (Paws the settler in the sword.)
    (One sentence = one word.)
    Where have they gone? Were they...

    Shedding tears (red)?
    Eating potatoes and kale?
    Given a stern look by Ms. Reid?
    Swimming with sharks in the sea?
   Turned into dogs who bark at cars?
   Taught the joys of writing synopses?
    And judging the contests?
    In a rack, cutting an onion?

    Unsure? This note will end it.
    The info is recent.

    (The word an anagram solver can't solve
    you know yourself.)