Friday, July 24, 2020

Flash fiction writing contest!

Mr. Forti chastised my use of or less rather than fewer  in yesterday's comments.
Ok, Mr. Forti, game ON!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

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: July 25, 2:11am
Contest closes: July 26, 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?
Sorry, contest is closed!


votre*astre said...

“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.”

B.I.Hirsch said...

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.”

french sojourn said...

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.”

Beth Carpenter said...

Few flew the flue faster than my nephew. When he laid “his finger aside of his nose,” he fairly rocketed up that chimney. Competent reindeer handler, as well. The only thing holding him back from the top job was his lack of judgement. That is, he downright refused to judge. Good, bad, or indifferent—he didn’t care; he just wanted to deliver the goodies and make everyone happy. No tsk, tsking over naughty behavior, not him. Lost out to a former assistant principal.

But now, he has his sights on a different job. He’s running for office. Vote Kringleson.

Steve Forti said...

“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.”

Mike Hays said...

The angry blue jay flew away.
“Phew! That was close.”
“Tsk. Tsk. What did I tell you?”
“Stay away from that chimney.”
“And why?”
“Because ‘I told you so’?”
More than a few times he’d been told the roof is the jays. All squirrels knew that.
“Remember that time the big jay murdered the other?”
The youngster’s tail dropped remembering that unfortunate intruder.
“Do you want that to happen to you?”
“Good. Now pick up your tail and gather acorns like your brothers.”
He scowled at the jay now perched on his flue. Someday, he told himself. Someday.

Timothy Lowe said...

“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.”

Colin Smith said...

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…”

BrianH said...

“That…that skunk!” I spat, struggling to think of a worse insult. Craig’s hand hovered awkwardly above my shoulder for a moment.

“I might use other words.” He admitted. I willed the tears back and tried to smile. “Spread discord to ruin a career before it starts?” He chuckled wryly. “And stifle women in science while you’re at it.”

“Here I thought we wanted more women in the field, not fewer. Half-lewd comments? Not gonna help.”

Craig finally patted my shoulder. “C’mon. It’s happy hour, Steph. Ewan’s has pitchers. And a dart board. I’ll bring a picture of Prof. Luetic Bastard.”

Matt Krizan said...

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.”

Jennifer Rand said...

"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.

Mallory Love said...

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.

C. H. Reaver said...

"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.

flashfriday said...

“Emergency florist,” she said, doffing her daisy-trimmed hat. “Skunkweed or roses?”
“What’s the nature of your emergency?”
“I came,” she said firmly, “to save a life. Where’s your garden?”
“This is a high-rise apartment!"
“Catastrophe! Well. I’ve seen worse,” she said. “Window plants?”
“Um. Two dead African violets?”
“Don’t sniffle. We’ll fix this together. Show me.”
“But my kitchen’s a disaster!”
“On it. You sit—here, eat this pho meanwhile.”
“But I’ve got the flu—”
“But Mom—"
The emergency florist grinned under her mask. “Didn’t you hear me? I came to save a life.”

Marie McKay said...

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.

Craig F said...

I needed a few years respite from inherited dogs. They had left me limp, bruised emotionally.

Summer flew away and it was time to clean the fireplace for winter. I lubed the flue and heard some rustling above it. I shook the handle and a small meow came through. Phew, that eased my mind. Squirrels or a racoon in the house would be a mess.

I carefully opened the flue and two kittens fell out.
Tsk-tsk, how did you get there?”
The kittens looked at me and I felt the earth move under my feet.

JanR said...

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.

RosannaM said...

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)

Michael Seese said...

We're "lucky." We're alive. Yet it's killing me, knowing my nephew and I were among the affluent few who secured seats, and flew away from it.

As the inferno grew behind us, he turned to me.

"What about the people back there?"

"Gone," I said, with necessary pragmatism.

"Mom? Dad?"

"They caught the flight before us."

How does one tell a boy he's an orphan at 12? That the world he's known is gone. That our new "home" also might be cinders. That radiation, starvation would be constant threats.

The bomb in my carry-on ensured I would not have to.

travelkat said...

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.”

Brigid said...

"Al, you can't quit early, that skews the results."

"Experiment over. I've had enough of lewd comments and 'U up?' texts."

"To be fair, the cat meant it literally."

"I can't levitate! You think he'd have noticed. And the dates are no better. One guy was two hours late. The next one showed up stoned. One fell asleep!"

"...he w
as up late?"

"Nah. Claimed he had the flu. Eh, I wasn't that into him. Then Tweedledum sent a dick pic. If--"

Ew. Stop there. You win, your hypothesis is confirmed. Sorry, Alice. It's no Wonderland out there."

C. Dan Castro said...


Met a few Croatian nephews, investor-wannabes in U.S. real estate, needing an English-fluent notary.

Restaurant. Late.

"Uncle Reeck."

"It's Robert."

"Reeck. Sign by atskereesk."


"Da. Atskereesk."

Nephew #3 coughed.


"Heez goot. Still turning."


"Sign circle, Reeck."

"Robert. This box?"

"Da. Oval circle roundy box."

I spotted our waiter. Window reflection. He dropped off my dinner.

I spotted myself, too.

But no nephews.

I brandished my shrimp scampi. "BACK!"

They morphed into bats.

Guanoed my scampi. (Making it batshit crazy?)

Flew away. Belfry-bound.


Tain Leonard-Peck said...

The sky had come alive. Shapes flew and darted through the infinite blue, deltas and flocks drawn south.
A honking cacophony followed them wherever they went, deafening the ground-dwellers below.
"Phew. Almost took a propeller, there!" one called to another, raucously.
A mother flits above her child. "Tsk. You nearly landed on a chimney."
Her little one soars up toward her, buzzing past; playfully teasing.
The child responds. "I was fine, mama! I won't get sucked into the flue!"
All brown and white and black, with a rare few tawny among them, they continued to their well-earned summer.