Monday, October 05, 2020

Flash fiction contest results

Your contest entries were a welcome relief from the doomscrolling this weekend.
Thank you all for taking the time to write and post entries.
Here are the ones that caught my eye, or puzzled me.

Quite a few of you are engaged in fisticuffs with your novels it seems! 




    The ol' dog rows. 'Is 'ands clasp raw lesions against them ores.

    'E wants water, not the brine 'round now. Just a cup. Lot of good 'is rationing did.

    'E sees nor 'ears nothin'. 'Ead lolls, 'is last dream is water, just a cup.

Very deft use of prompt words!

Steve Forti  

    “There’s no reason to serve plain hamburgers. Use exotic meats – giraffe, beefalo, llama, whatever. Be sure to cook ‘em low and slow, not just burn the outside. Don’t need people getting sick on crisp, raw llama steaks.”

    “Vlad, it’s a kid’s 5th birthday party, not a state dinner. Burgers and dogs will be fine.”

    “You don’t get it. You gotta put thought into what you feed them or everyone will leave unhappy.” 

    “Fine, I’ll go make some finger sandwiches.”

    “Wonderful. Put them next to the virgin blood punch. Oh, and your fangs are splotchy. Go brush before the guests arrive.”

Wouldn't you like to know what Mr. Forti's house looks like at Halloween?







    "Our stores."

    "He might fall."

    "I'll catch him." 

    The newborn snored, sprawled contentedly beside his mother.

    "Any more?"

    She sighed. "Endless. Rabid dogs, political plots, children teasing. I can't sleep unless I feel him breathing."

    "You worry too much. You should be lolling about, rhapsodizing about his eyebrows."

    "The midwife says it's normal to feel this way."

    He stroked her hair.

    "Darling. Astyanax will be fine."


So very very subtle.

BUT, his dad didn't call him that name, no? (ok, I looked that up in the Encyclopedia, I didn't know it off the top of my head)

Beth Carpenter

    “Medical history.”

    Rawlins scrawls his name. “You hear ‘bout that fellow what rented a radioactive house? Ten mil. Better’en most top lottery winners.” His hobby: concocting money-making schemes that entail neither investments nor efforts. 

    I refuse to be drawn. “Privacy statement.”

    Another signature. “Bucket of uranium ore, spread it in my basement—easy money.” He grins, imaginary millions already in his grasp.

    “Rawlins, it’s your house.” I gather the papers. “Who you gonna sue?”

    He glares like I snatched his lollipop. 

    I fan through the stack. All signed, including the transfer deed I slipped in. Easy money.

    No uranium required.

This is good, but I don't quite get it.


Michael Seese

    Nervous hands fumbling with the microphone, I thanked grace that owing to the venue, they couldn't see the fear sprawled across my face.

    I cleared my throat.

    "Good evening, folks. So... anyone here from out of town?"


    Apparently, irony doesn't translate well.

    "I feel good. I've spent weeks training for this," I said, flexing my thumbs.

    More silence, the wickedest of marplots.

    Then the heckling started.

    "Could this be more boring?"

    "I wish you could hear me snore."

    "LOL! LOSER!"

    I hastily switched off the phone, thus ending my first—and last—foray into the world of SMS stand-up.

I had to look up marplot.

I thought SMS  meant S&M but it stands for short message service.

So, I don't quite get this.

I have a feeling it's just me.


Timothy Lowe

    In the darkened gallery, heads lolled. Angelic forms sprawled, wings akimbo. Feathers drifted like confetti.

    “More plot!” shouted a voice from the back.

    “Snoresville!” shouted another voice.

    At the podium, a demon chuckled. Pointed at the other demon. Mugged at the bored crowd.

    “You losers!” shouted the first voice.

    “Fascists!” shouted the second.

    Spurred to action by the voices, the demons engaged in a baffling squabble. One talked over the other, who wasn’t saying anything anyway. 

    “Do something!” shouted a third voice. “Jesus!”

    The moderator shook his heavenly locks and did nothing.

this isn't quite a story, but it's damn funny.


Craig F 

    He bought him a suit, cut off his hair, and went off to work in tall buildings.

    But the virus arrived and they sent him home, where loblolly pines once swayed.

    There were no trees left to hang a hammock in and snore, sprawl covered all of his home plot. 

    The clouds were no longer cotton candy in the sky, the farms now grew servers and more.

    Worst of all was that he hadn’t been there to say goodbye.

ohhh, this is very evocative.

Not quite a story but nice work.


Jennifer Rand

    Coffee in hand and hopes high, I sprawl on my snot green couch to read a submission. Halfway through the query, I'm drowning in character soup with no plot. No stakes on the page. I plod on until my head grows heavy and lolls back. I snap forward and refocus with a sense of responsibility toward the author's hopes and dreams. But what's on the page goes nowhere, and my mind follows. More than an hour passes before I wake to the sound of my own snores.

    At my desk I choose the appropriate form letter:

    ...No, thank you...


I'm checking my apartment for video cameras.



    Phone rings

    I select smileface.

    “How are you celebrating?” Her grinface asks.

    I hitch up smileface. “Watching my screen, same as everyone.”

    “Not Moreen, she’s going in person!”

    I attempt jealousface. “Lucky! She could get on TV!”

    Dog, oblivious, sprawls and snores. I nudge him awake—jealousface finally achieved.

    “Nana’s Making popcorn,” says yumface. 

    My stomach plots dissent.

    Onscreen, music begins. I paste on solemnface and scan the slavering crowd.

    Voiceover condemns the accused.

    Trapdoor drops.

    I LOL like everyone and rush to like, but cryface gives me away.


oh my god.

This is brilliant.


C. Dan Castro

    "Nice prop. Lot's beautiful. Let's experience the veranda." The realtor saunters out.

    HE'S NO REALTOR, I text. Difficult with a bubbleheaded socialite's perfect nails.

    MO REALTOR? I'm about to get killed, and my partner notes typos.




    On the veranda, something pops. Like a buckle.

    SWARM. My final text?

    I charge. If the "realtor" is changing into his Gimp Killer outfit—he kills women, not gimps—then—


    Sprawled on a settee, the realtor holds...a champagne bottle?

    “The seller accepted your offer!”


This is a great example of a story.


Just Jan

    It was a dismal day to work through plot holes, and the more Carrie struggled, the more muddled she became. Lollipop wrappers littered her desk, but the book remained a snore, a sprawling tome of frippery.

    Until the knock, followed by a voice that Carrie heard often in her head. “Dearest love, open the door!”

    The nerve! Not only had he been unfaithful to her protagonist, he also gave disastrous advice. “You’re everything that’s wrong with my story,” she declared.

    The solution crystallized. Carrie retrieved her pistol, flung open the door, and fired.

    “There,” she said, “I’ve killed my darling.”

Another great story example.

Also hilarious!


Colin Smith 

    I’ll never forget how she was sprawled over the chair. Head cocked to one side. Drool down her cheek. A vapid smile on her dry lips.

    Benson examined while I watched.

    “Wounds?” I said after a few minutes.

    “Eyes bloodshot. Nothing more. Neither cuts nor exit wounds.”

    “Then how did this happen? Her brain just plotzed?”


    Benson reached beside the seat cushion and pulled out a phone. He turned it on.

    “Text messages,” he said. “Last thing she wrote was ‘lol lol lo’”

    “What was she…?”

    But it was too late. Benson had scrolled up. He was grinning. Chuckling…

I don't quite get this.

I have a feeling it's a cultural reference I missed??


Fearless Reider

    “Doomscrolling again?”

    His screen dimmed. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”

    “Wasn’t the light,” she yawned and sprawled, “but the absence of snores. What’s up?”

    “Killjoys at the CDC. No trick-or-treating now.”

    “What MORE can they take?” she sighed. So much surrendered already. No wee wizards or fairies afoot, no sweet Elsas trawling the streets for lollies and treats? A plot to sow misery. “Who’ll break it to the little monsters?”

    “I’ll think of something.”

    “You always do,” she purred.

    Harvest moon rose dark and brooding.

    “Something new, my darlings.” He clasped greedy paws. “We're going door to door this year.”


I'm feeliing like my brain is behind the times here.

I don't get this one either.




    The beast lollopped toward them, gaining speed, but her two quick shots left it sprawled on the floor.

    “Sure there aren’t more?” he asked, gasping to refill his lungs with shallow breath.

    “Last one,” she confirmed. “We’re the only two people still alive. We need to leave before the infection spreads to us.”

    Their last argument seemed so silly now. She longed for her worst problem to be his snores waking her up.

    He kissed her cheek and turned to lead them away. It was then she noticed three splotches on the back of his neck and raised her gun.


I love the word lollopped!



    Big Dipper plum rested upon the chuck wagon as if to ladle out chili. I breathed in the endless sky, driving the filth of the city outta my pores. Phillip sprawled half out of his sleeping bag, snores rumbling like a Harley, spewing distillery smells my way.

    Dude ranch vacations tuckered a fellow out. I lifted his lolling head and toasted to the night. He swallowed, more or less.

    He was biding time till Jackson where the posh people were.

    I abhorred posh. I had a plot of land picked out to buy with the insurance money.

    Swallow, Phillip, swallow.


that first sentence is beautiful.

I had to look up Jackson, cause I thought the name of the town is Jackson Hole.

It isn't. (glad to be wrong!)


John Davis Frain

    “Things are in order,” Edward said. “I’m ready.”

    Visitor pointed at the pages. "This?"

    His life’s work, that. “My manuscript.”

    Visitor nodded. “And you would submit next? I mean, if I weren’t here?”

    “Umm, no. One more step. Still have to write a synopsis.”

    “So by taking you now, you’d never write the synopsis?”

    “I’m finally ready, and now you’re lollygagging. There’s some irony.”

    The figure sprawled on the sofa. Steady breathing. A soft snore.

    “No! Take me!” Edward grabbed its lapels. “Your quota!”

    “Plot twist, Edward. We’re way ahead of schedule this year. Start with the narrative arc…”



I think this may be non-fiction.


Marie McKay

    She was a witch. (She was a mother, a daughter and a midwife.)

    Three babies born dead just this year. Unnatural. (And three more made grieving mothers as children.)

    Hiding her craft, all the time plotting. (She had raised the issue of child marriage to The Committee.)

    Lollar Berns insisted he'd resisted her spells of seduction. (She knew Lollar Berns snored. She'd had to brew the lech a medicinal tea. He sprawled on the floor while his wife bore their fourth child.)

    The Committee gathered for the burning. (They couldn't know it would be their own.)


Gorgeous innovative form here.

I have come to expect brilliance from Marie McKay.

I was not disappointed.



You think of it as urban sprawl. You snore past it on the train, heading for somewhere more important. Your lollygagging thoughts plod along their routines, sidle past the extraordinary without a backward glance. You aren't looking. So you don't see. Splotches of graffiti mean nothing to you. You don't notice the paint is all the same colour. You don't notice it's spreading. You didn't notice us arrive either. But, the thing is this. We noticed you. Are you looking now?

holy moly.



There are three outstanding entries here that just knocked my sox clean off.

Finalists: NLiu, Marie McKay and Luralee.

This week's winner is Luralee.

Luralee, if you'll send me your mailing address, and some ideas about what you like to read, I'll get your prize in the mail. 


 You won!







Steve Forti said...

Congrats Luralee!
Also, I think that "you won" cat is going to haunt my nightmares.

NLiu said...

Oh my goodness, Luralee! I kept thinking about your entry last night. It's really so good, I'm glad you won :)

Still can't actually believe I'm a finalist. Was 100% sure my entry would firmly land on the "too weird" pile! Thanks Janet! Really cheered me up.

I loved so many of these entries.

P.S. I think Colin was channelling Monty Python's killer joke sketch? (Worth a YouTube.) And I think Mr Seese's entry was about some socially distanced stand-up comedy happening via text message. But I could be wrong.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Luralee!!

Yes, NLiu, that's exactly what I had in mind. And, yes, it's worth a YouTube:

The Funniest Joke in the World (NB: This is a 5-minute edited version of the complete sketch.)

I guess you could say that's a cultural reference..? :)

BTW, I have updated the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Congrats Luralee! A well-deserved win.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Luralee! What an entertaining group of entries!
And thank you to Janet for offering some escapism this weekend. I really needed it :)

Beth Carpenter said...

Congratulations, Luralee! What a great story! Loved the others, too. So exciting!

Brigid said...

Congratulations, Luralee! What a way to paint a setting in 100 words. I was a little unclear on the reason for cryface.

Yes, Hector would have called him Scamandrius, but that seemed like a harder clue for the reader. I decided the nickname must've stuck for Hector to use too.

Brigid said...

And, like the others, this was an important escape for me on a hard weekend. Thanks, Janet.

Kregger said...

Way to go, Luralee. Great entry! Scary cat.

John Davis Frain said...

Yowza, Luralee, well struck! a haunting piece just before Halloween.

I'm putting on happyface for you. Okay, with a twinge of jealousface if I'm to be totally honest.

Fearless Reider said...

Janet, I suspect the problem is not your brain but my storytelling skills. My story(?) twist hinges on "little monsters" and was inspired by 1) the lamentations of my kindergartners' parents that trick-or-treating is all but canceled this year and 2) my love of Chas Addams and Edward Gorey. I got to feeling sorry for all the wee beasties and ghoulies that will go hungry this year without succulent trick-or-treaters to feast upon, so I thought perhaps their doting parents could take them door-to-door this year, for a change.

My husband got it, but he also knew to give me one of my favorite birthday gifts ever, a poster of "The Gashlycrumb Tinies," so it could be that we're peculiar. (This year, I'm torn between pouring one out for Susan, who perished of fits, or Neville, who died of ennui.)

Congratulations to Luralee, and to Nliu and Marie McKay! And for sheer terror, I have to give a shout-out to Kregger and John Davis Frain. Yikes!

Luralee said...

I tried commenting this morning but I think blogger ate it.
Anyway, I’m still wearing my stunnedface and happy dancing everywhere I go. Thank you Janet! And everyone, there were so many fun entries this week. Nliu, yours wasn’t too weird at all! I loved it, so subtly creepy.

For Brigid and anyone else who didn’t quite get it, it’s a public hanging of a nonconformist in a world where you wear your true emotion emoji on your face. Inspired by the self-sensorship post, the fact that my kid’s school issued computer asks how he’s feeling when he signs in, and a packet of emoji cookies—also from the school. (He refused to eat poopface)

Marie McKay said...

Congratulations, Luralee! Excellent writing.
Thank you, Janet, for the comments on mine- they mean a great deal.

RosannaM said...

Congrats, Luralee on your great story. I read it aloud to my husband. I could truly visualize it!

Jennifer Rand said...

Congratulations on the win, Luralee!! Well deserved!

Nliu, and Marie McKay, your entries were also impressive! Inspiring writing all around!

Thank you Janet for taking the time out of your weekend to provide some fun for all of us.

Craig F said...

Congrats Luralee I didn't really understand it, but it kept drawing me back to read it again.

Hot dam, I got on a list. cool.

french sojourn said...

Congrats Luralee... way to go!

Mallory Love said...

Congrats Luralee! Nliu, your entry was fantastic also.

Lennon Faris said...

Wow, great job, all of you!! And congratulations, Luralee and all others mentioned! Very well deserved.

Definitely in fisticuffs with WIPs over here.