Monday, July 27, 2020

Flash fiction contest results-FINAL

A very low turn out this week, the heat must be getting to us all!
There was no reduction in quality though; you guyz are bringing your A-game for sure.

Herewith the results


“Phew,” Ella said, a mild sneeze. A few cinders fell down the flue, powdering her nose. She scrubbed at it, smearing darker circles under sleepless eyes.

“Tsk.” The Prince chided, handing over a crisp white handkerchief. He liked her clean. The few times Ella had checked a mirror, she’d seen nothing that could be improved upon with scouring. Obedience came more naturally than obstinance, though, so she swept away the ash but left behind insomnia’s bruises. 
“He already flew away,” she said.

“Check again,” the Prince urged, holding a lump of coal in his hand. “I’m certain this was misdelivered.”

This is so deliciously subtle it makes me wriggle with pleasure.

Detective Norris fell on the ashen ice.

“Dammit.” She absently pocketed a charred paper scrap pulled from her hand.

“Arson?” Officer Franks helped her.

Norris shrugged. They shuffled to the first untouched home.

“See anything last night?” she asked when old man Forti answered.

“Tipped a few by the fire. Suddenly everything’s ablaze.”

“Here?” She examined the hearth, then tsked.

Norris patted her pockets before finding the scrap. “Phew! The stolen treasury linen with colored threads–useless without a security strip. I’d no leads until your fire. Bits flew up your flue to your neighbor’s roof.”
Always appreciate a shout out to "old man Forti"!

french sojourn
Through an arched window, a warm light invaded the underside of the cold stone stairway. It illuminated a blind old spider’s carcass, tangled in a regale spiderweb. His fool and Kent stood guard over him, from the convenience of a nearby chimney flue.

“Tsk-tsk, don’t laugh again fool, for he was tormented by webs of his own design.”

“His nephew, past curfew, flew to his daughter.”

“He waited for her, out of 800 he had only one true.”

“Surely, he knew she had 200 ravenous babies.”

“I blame his death on them, and Cordelia’s inability to visit on gossamer wing.”

I wanted to love this because it's gorgeous and subtle but I got tripped up by regale.
I looked it up and there are two definitions, the first to entertain, the second a sumptuous feast.
Verb and noun.

It's used here as an adjective so I was perplexe

Steve Forti

“Let’s keep a level head here. We don’t know for sure if you have it.”

“But what if, Lou? I’m scared. I should’ve stayed in. It’s just… it’s too much.” After her outing, they’d barred the doors, locked the windows. Even closed the flue. You know, in case she concocted some floo powder and escaped that way. “Time is crawling trapped in here. Remember when summers flew by?”

The phone rang. Caller ID sent adrenaline through her achy body. Lou waited as she hung up.

“Phew. It’s just the flu. Few days of rest and plenty of fluids.”
too realistic for me!!
although a concoction of floo powder may be just what I need!

Timothy Lowe
“More timpani! And what’s with the pouting? I need less attitudes, people!”

“Fewer,” said a flueglhorn.

“Precisely!” said the man with the baton, who claimed to be a great-grandnephew of Tchaikosky. “We can’t do the 1812 overture if we’re busy correcting grammar!”

“B-b-but,” stammered a trombone. “We’re the Melbourne Grammar Symphony Orchestra!”

“Irregardless,” shouted the conductor. “Now play!”

Squeaks and squeals. A baton snapped in frustration.

“Jesus, people! We’re falling apart. Altogether, now!”

A shoe flew by his ear.

“Who through that? Nevermind! We’ve got to count skillfully, or --”


The cannoneer shrugged. “At least he didn’t split his infinitive.”

who through that indeed!!!
And more timpani should come with more cowbell, no? 

Colin Smith
We were breaking curfew to meet, but it was worth the risk. I crouched in the shadows of the ruined courthouse while searchlight beams flew overhead. In the distance I heard shots. Karen’s nephew was hit on the way last night. She won’t be out tonight.

I crept to the abandoned shack and slipped through the doorway. The others were already there, huddled close together. Flickering candlelight danced over our excited faces. Lin opened the book and, since only she could translate Chinese fluently, began, her voice quiet but strong:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”
ooh, this is masterful.
Very very subtle and powerful

Matt Krizan
Sand swirled around Chumly as the airship flew away.

“Whadja do?” A grizzled old man eyed Chumly curiously.

“Disagreed with her.”

“That’d do it.” The old man nodded. “Name’s Requin. I’m the caretaker here. An’ ‘fore you ask… I ain’t got no influence over t’Queen. C’mon…”

Chumly followed him to a shanty town of goatskin huts. “How many others are there?”

“Phew, these days? A hunnerd. Bit less, maybe.”

“Fewer!” a querulous voice cried out from a nearby hut.

“Quiet, Forti!” Requin held open a vacant hut’s flap for Chumly. “Welp, this ‘un here’s yers. Welcome to Carkoon.”

Honestly, I always get a laugh when entries have Mr. Forti and other blog readers on Carkoon. I know it says nothing good about me...but then again there's not much good to be said!

Jennifer Rand
"Phew! Fewer than I expected flew in. I got the flue closed just in time. Any more and we'd be finished!"

"Tsk-tsk. Get a grip, man. The deadly ones are red," he said, eyeing the tiny winged objects landing on his arm. Tears welled in his eyes as it dawned on him. Slowly he lifted his tinted safety glasses.
rose colored glasses by any other name.
This is very subtle.
not quite a story but terrific writing.

Mallory Love
The manor was on the outskirts of town. Everyone was en route. The nephew flew from Austin; the son drove from Boston. Nothing brought affluent families together as much as the last rites of a relative with a few hundred million to spare.

Wellington wasn’t ready to die. But if he must, it’d be like he did everything else: on his own terms.

His family wailed phony sympathy, but their hunger for power was very real as they jostled each other to claim his attention. No one smelled the gas. Wellington drew one last breath before he struck the match.

"a few hundred million to spare" just cracked me up.

C. H. Reaver
"And I'm saying our nephew will be a bad influence on Timothy and John!"

His wife was displeased. "Karl doesn't talk like that out of spite." She turned to her kids. "I know it's...kind of difficult to communicate with your cousin, but I think you should try. Perhaps you could find a way to understand each other."

Tim snorted. "ROFL."
"Ew, no," said John.
"I had much rather bite the dust than speak another word to these fopdoodles," vociferated Karl indignantly.
I'm adopting fopdoodle forthwith.
I love this.
It's not quite a story but I don't care. It's hilarious!

Marie McKay
Her voice was velvet like the night sky. She'd read aloud 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' each evening. A dark joke. Residents gathered. Few listened.

She had one photo, a nephew's.

Her afternoons were unsettled; fragments of lyrical phrases left behind as she darted around. I wasn't fluent in Italian but understood enough to know how misunderstood she's been; to recognise those deep scars of othering a life of isolation brings.

Today, a surprise for her in the visitors' room:

"Gianno!" He recognised the voice from his childhood, the aunt's he'd only ever heard from a room next door.
I'm confused a little here. A surprise for her in the visitor's room makes me think she is seeing Gianno for the first time in a long time.

But he'd only ever heard from a room next door made me think they were both living in the asylum,
next door, unbeknownst to each other.

This is lovely lyrical writing despite my perplexion.

Oooh… what *is* this place?

Ssh! It is a library. There are books.

Err… and green lady with wings? And fireplace? With real fire?

Tsk! It is a *badly run* library. They cannot keep books safe when—

Um. You probably shouldn’t have said—


Eeeek… help! Miss, my friend, she flew up the flue. I mean… that chimney, she vanished, there were purple sparks…

Heh. It’s just a spell that expels sticklers someplace sticky. She’s in the glue aisle at the hobby store. Unharmed.

Phew… hmmm… so this library is magical?

Ah. With an open mind, they all are.

Expels sticklers to someplace sticky???
Maybe the best line of the year.
Love this.

June 15, 2025

Dear Grandma Jones,

Thank u for my Huhwhyee trip. I flue over Twosday. I will stay fewer than fourteen days. Maybe to weeks. Uncle Jeffs nephew had the flew so he cant come with me. Sux for him. LOL.

I will go to the beech alot and may be learn to serf. OH! I saw see turtles. Their huge, but the natesure peeple wont let you near them. Hoola dancers preformed at a loo-Ow tonight. Cant wate.

Its kinda skary being a grown up now, but Mike Rows skewl looks cool.


You’re grandaughter Brittany Ella (Jones)
I have a feeling I'm missing something about this one.

The True Story of A Reluctant Chimney Sweep, Who Tumbled Into The Hearth, And Was Subsequently Mistaken For A Raven

There once was a bird from Nantucket,

Who flew down the flue in a bucket.

He said. “Phew, tsk this task,

There are few that dare ask,

Gulls don’t sweep a chimney, we duck it.”
Wonderful use of a title!

For the first time in years (I think) I have the winner right away: Colin Smith.

The subtlety of your entry was brilliant.
There was an entire story there without a word of it on the page.
That's brilliant writing.

Drop me a line and let me know what you'd like to read!

Thanks to all of you who wrote and posted entries.
It was a pleasure to read your work, and it was a welcome break from the tasks of the day.

I should mention that next week's flash fiction contest will use words from this' week's entries.

Of course fopdoodle will be one of them!


french sojourn said...

I read, and re-read the entries, they were all so great. Congrats! to Colin, well done.

Regal... For some reason the silent E made it through an edit.
Thanks for doing these great writing exercises.

AJ Blythe said...

Started my entry for this one but the weekend went south (much like the weather - cold and wet) so missed the deadline.

Congrats, Colin, for the win!

And fopdoodle? At least there's a week to think about it!

C. Dan Castro said...

A shout out to Mallory Love for an excellent entry, and a big congrats to Colin for the win. Colin, your entry is evocative: a lot of us are there, shivering in uncertain times.

Marie McKay said...

Congratulations, Colin. Brilliant writing. Thank you, Janet, for the lovely comment and for the writing opportunity.

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats Colin! Great work everybody!

Love travelkat's limerick.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats, Colin!

Yes, some great reads. Thank you for hosting Janet.

Colin Smith said...

WHUH?? Oh WOW! Thanks, Janet!! What a lovely Monday morning surprise. :D

The field of entries may have been smaller this time, but it was no less competitive. Great writing, y'all! Marie, I'm with Janet that I loved your writing but it's a shade too subtle for me, which I attribute to my dullness, not your skill. A hint? And C. H. Reaver... thanks for giving us "fopdoodle" next week. I'm looking forward to seeing what Mr. Forti does with that one...

By way of encouragement to those who maybe considered entering but thought "nah, I never win," this was my 135th Janet Reid Flash Fiction Contest entry. I entered my first contest 9 years ago almost to the day (August 2, 2011). Out of all those entries, only six have won. But I can tell you this, none of them would have won if I hadn't entered. And all those 135 stories have truly helped me think about word choice, and hone my editing skills, whether I'm writing flash fiction, short stories, novels, blog posts, emails, or tweets. So don't be afraid to give it a go. You may not be Janet's pick of the week, but you will benefit from the experience.

Oh, and I've updated the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest.

NLiu said...

Congrats, Colin! What a great story!

I have to admit to being one of the heat-faint non-contestants. I started drafting something but was too addled to continue. However, I very much enjoyed reading the entries. Everyone who entered was magnificent! Standing ovation!

Marie McKay said...

Thanks, Colin. Very kind of you. I do tend to be too obscure. Something I really need to work on. What I meant to convey was that the aunt even as a young Woman, was locked away by her family in the family home because of her mental health so her voice to Gianno, her nephew, was always a voice from another room.

Congratulations, again, Colin. A great win.

RosannaM said...

Congratulations Colin, great story! I second your encouragement to any folks out there who are reluctant to try. You never know what your 100 words will do. And it's great fun!

Janet my confusing entry was a hyperbolic projection of what this pandemic might do to our children and their education. This gal's plan for after school was one of Mike Rowe's Dirty jobs. I wanted to keep it light and funny, though.

Matt Krizan said...

Congrats, Colin!

AKMysteryMom said...

Congrats, Colin! We'll done.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Colin!

JanR said...

Congratulations Colin Smith! There were lots of subtle ones this week, kudos for the standout subtlety. (Pardon my oxymoron.)

And well done everyone! So many brilliant stories. Beth Carpenter, loved your nonjudgy Santa (a much better model!) and travelkat, your nod to that limerick classic, Nantucket. Marie McKay, you really hit my heart – and opened it, and hugged it. (Pardon my mixed metaphors.).

Thank you so much Janet for running these contests, and for the kind words! Oooh, fun trying to guess the other words you love. I really enjoyed another of C.H. Reaver’s, vociferated (perfect choice for Karl’s speech tag!) and Timothy Lowe’s fluegelhorn.

Brigid said...

Congrats, Colin!

I greatly enjoyed travelkat's limerick and flashfriday's emergency florist.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Congrats, Colin!

Well deserved win.

Jennifer Rand said...

Well done, Colin! Powerful, clever, great imagery and depth all in only 100 words.

Mallory Love said...

Thanks for the shout out, Dan! Congrats, Collin! So powerful, packs such a punch. Great job!

Adele said...

Just to let you all know how far off our imaginations can take us - I thought Marie's entry was about two caged birds - budgies or something - and was a take on how solitary the caged budgie's life was, and how excruciating if they did remember their families and a nephew was right next door. I didn't realize budgies could read, but "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" seemed an apt choice.

Craig F said...

Congrats, Colin well deserved win.

And congrats to all of the rest of you.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks for your kind words, everyone. And thanks for the explanation, Marie. I re-read with that in mind, and I see it now. Excellent. :)

Kregger said...

Good job, Colin! Great story.

nightsmusic said...

Late to the party yet again, but congrats, Colin! I thought it was a brilliant entry. And to everyone who entered, they were all great reading. :)