Sunday, August 07, 2022

Preliminary results for the flash fiction contest

These are the entries that really caught my eye.


I'm from north Florida, the most southern part (Miami, a suburb of New York being the most northern).
So why were we diving the only atoll off Key West ahead of a hurricane instead of holing up in a bar like normal people?
Because my adopted cousin Binky swears he saw a spaceship.
And where I work it's publish or perish.
"Did you bring your phaser?" I asked in my snotty scientist voice.
We dove beneath frothing whitecaps to showy tropical fish at max depth the spaceship...
"Sorry, Cuz," Binky said telepathically, "We need another scientist."
This just cracked me up.
BJ Muntain
From the depths of the Pacific Ocean, from the frothy surf of the newly risen Atlantis Atoll, welcome our next guest... how do you pronounce your name?
Prince Knu'kg.
Okay, Prince. What happened? I thought Atlantis was underwater.
Every thousand years, our home rises to the surface. We will be visible for three months.
Visible is right. Folks, can you see this video? Isn't that the most showy island you've seen? What are those things flying around it?
War dragons.
Every surface phase, we raid your world.
Thank you for your invitation. We couldn't come ashore otherwise.
I'm always a sucker for dragons.

Lennon Faris
It was a night that, between gulps of coffee, we techs called a real shitshow at The ER for Magical Creatures. So far we’d:
- Purged a toxic ingestion from a dragon’s depths. (It was a politician. We voted to put him back.)
- Expressed chupacabra anal glands (a showy, frothy baptism for Linda).
- X-rayed a selkie pup (defecating atoll chunks).
Last appointment, checked the file. “Nail trim for…demonic sabertooth hippogriff? Cool.”
We entered, halted. Re-read file.
I touched my razor-thin scars. Whispered, “Hitchiker’s Guide phase.” My assistant sprinted for a towel.
“Hiya, buddy.” I wiped sweat.
This is a perfect twist ending to a hilariously inventive story.



“Stop lying!”
“I’m not!”
“Aliens didn’t get into your car and eat lunch with you!”
“I think they were aliens. They were short, greenish and had phasers.”
“Right. Here to take over Earth? Grab the tin foil!”
“I’ll show you. They put their contacts in my phone.”
“You ate KFC and texted?”
“They loved it and we got frothy Starbucks frappes- a tollhouse cookie, too. But McDdonald’s fries – I think they cried. Wait, here comes a text now!”
“Earthling, the depth of your civilization overwhelms us. If you choose to take over our planet, we will comply. Uploading coordinates now.”
This is a delightful twist on alien invasion!
Colin Smith

“You by land, me by water?” said Eric. “I was an Olympian, you know?”
“Me too,” said Joe, stretching his legs. “Water’s choppy. May the froth be with you!”
The lagoon had a five-mile diameter, rimmed by land a half-mile wide. The prize waited on the opposite side of the island.
“Depth of insanity,” she said. “Lads being showy. A stupid phase.”
Maizie sipped her margarita watching the water.
Two hours later, she saw splashing and heard distant running.
The running came closer, but the splashing didn’t.
“Eric!” she shouted.
“I guess…” said Joe, panting,”…the island took atoll on him.”

May the froth be with you is a perfect line.
My wife likes Wordle, but I don’t.
I started with Hangman. A four-letter word got me sent to the principal and a call home.
Boggle drove my parents into a froth shrieking, “That’s not in the dictionary!”
Word Jumble messed with my dyslexia.
Scrabble and its cousin, Words with Friends, dropped depth charges on my head. My peeps aren’t showy, but I still lost.
Then the mother of all word games, the NYT Sunday crossword. It took a toll.
Then Wordle?
Now Quordle?
My newest phase is called Curdle.
That’s where I express a lung, screeching AAIEEE!

This cracked me up because of course AAIEEEE is usually heard here when I tackle that stupid damn Wordle game that I can NOT stop playing.

M.R. Howe

People depend on me; important people. My position isn’t as showy as the Neophysicists', even though we both wear white coats. They barely regard me when they come to my station, but they need me.
It happens in phases, carefully monitored: heat; purge; drain. Insert the implement to proper depth, froth forming a wispy atoll at the surface of the fluid.
Dr. Buttonweezer steps toward the door, distracted. He pauses and turns, concern flooding his features as he considers the flask.
“Did I remember to say extra cream?”
He didn’t.
He didn’t have to. I’m good at what I do.

Aha! Felix finally graduated from medical school!

Beth Carpenter
“It starts with an icy glass mug. The next phase is a single generous scoop of frozen vanilla cream in the depths, followed by a waterfall of carbonated syrup solution, sweet and bubby, washing over it and foaming up into an atoll of the richest, creamiest froth you can imagine, so thick you could eat it with chopsticks. Then, a showy spritz of whipped cream, topped with a cherry.” I smack my lips. “Frozen perfection.”
“Ooooh.” An awed silence follows as the pescatarian, refined sugar-free, kale smoothie-fed children contemplate the legend. “Now tell us the one about funnel cakes, Grandpa.”

I had to look up pescatarian.
Fortunately it does not mean "a diet rich in kale."


C. Dan Castro
1530. Final phase.
Baker “wakes.”
The Arkansas sways, pummeling waves spraying froth. Sneaking aboard wasn’t hard.
A hundred warships list nearby. Relics.
In the ocean depths, Baker’s timer counts.
The atoll. Silent, scorched rock. Thank Baker’s “ancestors.”
Laughter haunts me. Kids who won’t grow up.
Miles away, American ships monitor. Entertain reporters. Politicians. A showy monstrosity.
My hands tremble. Clean. Bloody.
I designed it to end the war.
Two cities, now shattered walls with children’s silhouettes.
I’m called...
...the hero scientist.
But I can’t...
...stop thinking...
...about those children—

french sojourn

“We are gathered here today to bid farewell to Fargo Phil.
Let’s all lift a frothy brew, and toast to his last strike.
He was a showy pro-bowler, but all those sequins only covered his dark and lonely past. His game was improving, and at a phase when his outside curve was finally tightening up.
Love takes a toll on us all, but Sadie left him in the depths of depression at such a difficult time, what with the Kenosha regionals a week away.
Sadly, the break-up killed him, …cose we all knew how poorly Phil handled a split.”

Only cause I've watched The Big Lebowski more times than I care to reveal did I recognize the bowling humor here.


"A word for a series of islets?"
"Distance to the bottom of something?"
Here she goes again doing the NYT's Sunday crossword. Then she's all showy, bragging how she always finishes it. She doesn't tell everyone I'm the one who does it for her.
Now 'she does' Wordle.
"A five letter word with h-a-e in it?"
"I dunno, figure it out yourself."
"Com'on, I'm on a winning streak."
"Not the right word. Gimme another."
"Alexa, you're going through another phase. I can always turn you off."
"CHEAT! CHEAT! CHEAT!" Froth coming out of the speaker.
This is the definitive Wordle story.

Knitting in a toll booth, she remembers that phase of her life. The click-clack of the needles, echoing the gunfire of her last night in the life. The showy mistress of a narco, she rose from the depths of Medellin barrios to whisper advice to Escobar’s second, crushed under her lover’s weight. Red froth pouring from his mouth. She glazed her eyes, hoping they’d think her dead, too.
“Vamos, cabron. Todos muerte.” The gunmen left.
Her ears rang for days. She disguised herself as an old woman, knitting her way north.
A million purls later, “One dollar, please.”

this is brilliant, but it's not really a story.

Amy Johnson 
A sweltering Saturday, a mourning jog, penance for a week of tiramisu.
I’m struck from behind. My face slams into the sidewalk. I look up. This shirtless guy in showy runny shorts keeps sprinting. I scoop up my front teeth, shove them into my sock. I mutter, “Telf-tentered.”
A few blocks later, there’s Shirtless on the corner. In the jumping jacks phase of his workout. I mutter, “Nartittitic.”
Almost home, sweat froth stinging my eyes, something strikes me from behind. Shirtless! The depth of my fury! Everything goes fuzzy. Visions of a picnic on an atoll beach. I mutter, “Tiramitu.”

This is intriguing but I think I'm missing something. What's a Sirasisu?


These entries are the preliminary list of finalists.

Did I miss any that you particularly liked?

Do you have a favorite? Who do you think should get the prize?


Let me know in the comments column!








Lennon Faris said...

I enjoyed all of these and the others.

Amy Johnson, I rarely actually laugh out loud at anything, even if it's super funny, but for some reason I couldn't stop laughing when I read yours. I imagined it narrated in Amy Schumer's voice. My interpretation: a woman who had eaten a bunch of tiramisu was now trying to jog it off. Kept getting passed by a shirtless dude. (This is me, when I try to jog). At the end I imagined her raising a weak fist to the sky and cursing, not the guy who kept knocking her down, but the tiramisu that had her jogging in the first place.

Lennon Faris said...

And to be clear I am the person on the ground not the dude passing anyone.

Thank you for a fun contest, Janet!

M.R. Howe said...

I'm picking up what Madeline Mora-Summonte is putting down. I'm picking it up so hard.

It never even occurred to me to go full gothic with only a hundred words. I'd probably use them all describing a croissant or something before anything interesting actually happened.

I probably wouldn't even finish describing the croissant.

Hell, two pages before you even know we're talking about pastry.

Craig F said...

From this list I will take twisted alien invasions for ten.

This is because I missed out on our Queens fondness for dragons, by using a dragoness.

Otherwise, I have loved Madeline for years and the warning about the children is perfect.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

The Weekend escaped me and I missed my opportunity to enter. Now I am glad I did. I had nothing compared to these entries. They are wonderful and breathtaking and...yes, haunting. I love all the dragons and magic. Fantastic work, everyone.

AJ Blythe said...

Congrats to those short-listed. I haven't had time to read all the entries, but I definitely applaud those listed here!

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Lennon...! ER for Magical Creatures!

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats, all! Loved the short list selections and don't envy Janet the challenge of picking a winner. C. Dan Castro - whew, such great work. I needed the sweet charm of Beth Carpenter's entry to recover from the gut punch you delivered. And Hank. Oh, Hank :-) That bowling entry had me howling. (Made me think of the hilarious opening sequence from 'King Pin.')

Kregger said...

Aliens, dragons, and phasers, Oh my!
I enjoyed SD King's.

french sojourn said...

" Dragons-r-us. Order one hatched Draconian Grey toddler."

Hard choice a go go! Good luck Shark!

Thanks for the contest, great entries all.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Congrats, everyone!

Janet - thanks for the contest. It was fun!

M. R. Howe and Craig F - your comments on my entry made my day! Thanks so much!

LynnRodz said...

Thanks for the mention again, Janet. I'm just happy to be among so many great stories including those that weren't on the short list. I don't envy you choosing one because I'm still torn between SD King, Beth, Hank,, and Amy. I think because Amy's story made me laugh (and who doesn't need a good laugh these days?) I'm going with hers.

Katja said...

Amy Johnson's for me.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats to all the short-listed! I loved the dragons and the barista scenes and the countdown scenario. Thank you for the contest, Janet!