Friday, November 03, 2023

Invest your (extra) hour in a Flash Fiction contest


Given we have a whole extra hour this weekend, let's invest it in writing flash fiction!



 The usual rules apply:


1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.


2. Use these words in the story:








Bonus points if you can suss out what I was thinking about when making that list!


If you are Steve Forti, or want to be, you must also use the word: xylophone!



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. (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 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, November 4, 8:00 am EDT


Contest closes: Sunday, November 5, 8:00am EST


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. I'm also on Bluesky:

Ready? SET?

 Not yet


Oh rats, too late. Contest closed.



Gail said...

Xylo, phone home. Now! Your hero Mallet is making enough noise to shatter glass, merely because I asked him to keep his hoarded empty beer cans tidy. He just wants to play on your keys, but the other percussion instruments have had just about enough racket, too. The snare drum is threatening to leave for Jamaica with the steelpan, a vengeful consortium of four maracas, two cymbals, and a piano is shouting "off with his head," and he snootily rejects the temporary substitution of the marimba.

french sojourn said...

Anonymous Noise?

“Hi, name’s Hank and I have noise issues, more issues than National Geographic actually.”

The group whispers. “Welcome Hank.”

“I’ve lived a vengeful life; merely eating beside me pisses me off, unless there’s a T.V. blaring.”

“We’ve all experienced this, Hank.”

“My damn cat walks around intentionally stamping it’s feet.”

“Well… that might be a bit...” He rose and nodded. “It’s o.k.”

“I know people hoard their noises and lie in wait for me.”

“Well, I doubt...”

“And don’t get me started on those irritating voices in my head.”

“Alright people, good job today, see you next Monday.”

Timothy Lowe said...

“‘No’ is exactly what I meant!”

The hoard bowed their heads, bent to their desks. Time resumed its plasticine crawl -- each second refusing to tick.


“Enough!” scowled the teacher. Grimly, she rose, a vengeful, malign shadow. Ruler in hand, she towered before the class, an iron instrument of fate.

Suddenly, little Jimmy whipped out a xylophone, mallets dancing over the bars. Soon, the entire class was rollicking, riotously pondering the location of the Goddamn salt.

“Mr. Buffett! Class is not dismissed!”

He flashed his million-dollar smile. Kept playing.

“Oh well.” She reached for the bottle. “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”

NLiu said...

We knew the Silence was coming so we hoarded noise: water lapping on the mere at dawn, the crackle of an unwrapped Hero bar, the clumsy notes from a child’s xylophone. Sign language classes were oversubscribed; earplugs languished unsold.

We put our hopes in last-minute diplomacy, negotiating our sovereignty for sound.

It failed. There was nothing anyone could do.

The Silence rolled in.

We screamed and cried but couldn’t hear ourselves. The noiselessness was deafening.

There is only one thing left, now.

We will avenge our loss of Mozart, of laughter, of nursery rhymes.

We will take their eyes.

Steve Forti said...

“Special Ops is gruesome. That indoxyl op, honey – that haunts me. Not vaguely, no – I see each oar dipping in the marsh as we crept along the perimeter. The fog a vengeful spirit waiting to smother oblivious prey. After breaching-”

“Wait. Indoxyl, like the kidney toxin indoxyl sulfate your body makes breaking down tryptophan?”

“Smart lady.”

“Didn’t you say you got a purple heart in the Navy SEALs?”

“Gravy SEALs. Way better. Let me regal you with the rest of the Hart’s Turkey Farm battle wound tale. Spoiler alert: too much indoxyl sulfate makes your catheter bag pee turn purple.”

Katelyn Y. said...

Mist rises above the headstones, grass crackling beneath me. The noise echoes, ghostly footsteps following me resentfully through the graves. His is the last, covered with flowers and trinkets, a hoard of parade offerings. Funny creatures, mortals. Always celebrating their heroes.

​“Hello, old friend. I promised I’d visit.”

​The wind rushes, bitter to the bone. Inside, his voice rises, a vengeful, biting hiss. “Traitor…”

​“Yes.” I trace the tombstone lettering. “I had no choice.”

​“Liar. Murderer…”

​“I’m sorry, old friend.” I let the flowers fall. 300 years and he still haunts me. “But only one of us could live forever.”

ParmCharm said...

Fuchsia Dragons are the best! Their bright coating indulges their glee.. For some of course it will make too much noise for their comfort level. To each their own. People will start to hoard them out of prideful exultation. They would seek to become a hero though their accumulation. Pet Stores would avenge this desire by withholding their stock. For others, it will be like a mere pet rock. And for others it will be the culmination of style and sound. Much like Billy Joel playing his hits on a xylophone.

Karen Parmelee
# 917 273 5965

Naomi said...

She didn’t make a single sound.

She was so used to being the hero, what if anyone found out she was the villain?

She was afraid the noises around her would give her away.

The creaking stairs.

The rustling curtains.

The ticking clock.

She stood over the bed of the sleeping man who was her too-suspicious husband, knife in hand.

He suspects you. You have no other choice.

She drove the knife into his chest.

Maybe someone will avenge his death.

Then she slipped the wedding ring off his finger and pocketed it.

She wasn’t a hoarder; she was merely…sentimental.

Beth Carpenter said...

“There it is again! That noise!”

“Go to sleep, Edna.”

“Who can sleep? It’s like a hoard of bees in my brain. Do something, Ralph!”

“Fine.” Lights on. Window opened. I lurk, a mere shadow, while he crashes about. Finally, he closes the window. “I think it’s gone. Happy?”

“My hero.”

Lights off.

A vengeful lust spurs me to act, but I must wait a little longer. Soon, he begins to snore. Just before she follows suit, I approach and whisper in her ear, “Hello. My name is Inigo Mosquito. You killed my mother. Prepare to itch.”

BJ Muntain said...

Skint turned at the clink. At the edge of the hoard, the human froze. The dragon studied him.

No. Her.

"What are you? A heroine here to avenge the death of some lover?"

"N-n-no, ma'am. A seeker."

Intriguing. Not many knew Skint's sex. "What do you seek, human?"

"Merely a ring. An heirloom."

"It's here? Did I kill your father?"

"A thief. Stole it off Mum's hand."

"You have until I wake. If you're still here, I shall enjoy your flesh for breakfast." Skint settled into her nest, listening until the noise disappeared.

She smiled. She would watch this one.

InkStainedWench said...

"I am a mere scientist, a humble forensic herpetologist," he cried. "I am no warrior, but my heart is pure.

"And you? You are a noisesome fire-breathing theropod, roosting on your ill-gotten hoard! But I have tracked you down. I shall avenge the villagers and return their stolen xylophones!

"And the worst of it, you didn't want them for the melodies -- you wanted them for the scales!"

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...


Please don't be mad. I'm getting ravenge for what Mr. Crawley did to Jenny.

She rote about him in her secret diary.

Hoardes of angry bees keep buzzing in my brain, Daddy. I have to do something.

He'll let me in because I look like Jenny, and he wants another taste of what he did because it's always sweeter when no one knows, like when we sneak candy before dinner.

I'm sorry I took your gun. It will make a mess, smere his blood everywhere.

But its noise will make the bees be quiet.

I hope.

Love, Mandy

KAClaytor said...

Her murder of crows were a productive hoard, lecherous scavengers to the one, keen to meretricious trinkets like cats to the ‘nip. Glimmering rhinestones were coveted, where treasures of brocades and chinoiseries were left behind in favor of the glint of a newly minted penny.

Genoise (her mother was a baker, too) had taught them well.

Crumb for a coin.

Crust for a crown.

Brioche for a brooch.

Muffin for a Man.

Cackling, she beat him to stiff peaks.

They answered her with a hungry caw.

Colin Smith said...

Katie wept as she sat amongst her collection of instruments. Bent trumpets, smashed drums, snapped guitar strings. But worst was her grandmother's xylophone, pieces of which lay scattered at her feet.

"Noise hoarder," Flannigan downstairs had called her, pounding her music room floor with a stick while she practiced. An enthusiast, a mere collector, she insisted in vain.

Katie's anger still smoldered as she rose and called her engineer boyfriend. That night, they placed a pump attached to bagpipes and a timer outside Flannigan's door. His weak heart will get a shock at 3 a.m.

"Xylophone—you will be avenged!"

Michael Seese said...

"You know what really anoise me? People who can't spell."

Perhaps you should look in the mere, I thought.

"Though I can live with the occasional faux pas heror there."

"Daddy," our daughter said, skipping in, "is a tomato a fruit or avengetable?"

"Actually, that question was addressed by the Supreme Court in…"

My mind wandered to another world, one where spellcheck isn't "some government plot to stifle free expression."

"Well," he said, placing his perfunctory peck on my cheek, "off to civilize the untamed hoards through the beauty of freshman composition."

Our daughter definitely is going to private school.

Dimitrius Harmata said...

Night again. I hate nights because I’m only seven.

I hear scary noises outside the fragile shell of our apartment.

It’s just my dream, though.
I am no longer a mere little Soviet boy – I am now a middle-aged American. Yet, this hoard of dreams from my past life still inhabits me.

My mom – the hero that she is – hurries to the door clutching rubles.
It’s only kolkhoz folks selling stolen meat to city dwellers door-to-door. I exhale. We’ll have fatty borsch tomorrow.

Nothing to fear, no one to avenge. I can leave this little boy and wake up now.

LynnRodz said...

"Xylo, phone me quick, I hear noises!"

Xylo shook his head, his new bride of merely one month was frightened of everything, or was she? He had enjoyed playing the hero while they were dating, acting like one of the Avengers. Thor one night, Hulk the next, but now she was calling him at work daily. He'd wait until he got home to see what the trouble was.


"Honey, I'm home, what's this about noises?"

"Whhaat?" She emerged in a tiny negligee from the bedroom where she hoarded chocolates and gossip magazines. "Uhh...who was Captain America this afternoon?"

Craig F said...

We were once heroes of the silver screen, but now we were mere mortals still drawing crowds everywhere.

We took a canoe camping trip so we would not have to avenge some slight from the adoring asshats. We could also hoard each other’s time, like we were in a romance novel.

Camped at a lovely spot, cooked dinner, then went to sleep. A deep growling noise awoke me and I found out I was alone. With a flashlight and handgun, I went to look. Away from camp was another noise and I found them with someone wanting an autograph.

KDJames said...

Guess I’ll have to be my own hero. Again. Since The White Ninja is napping. Again.

ARGH, can’t stand that noise— bzzz, bzzz, bzzzzzzzz

A mere housefly, but it sounds like a hoard. Er, horde. Herd?

Might it be worth enduring a roommate, just to have help dispatching bugs?


I see motion in my peripheral vision, pause in my reach for a magazine. Slow, stalking, barely moving… then a streak of white fur!

SWAT, it’s on the floor.
SMACK, it’s stunned.
CHOMP, it’s a snack.

My feline attacks with a vengeance.

Sure wish she’d handle spiders.

Mallory Love said...

The baking competition wasn’t for wimps. But cheaters were apparently fine. Just like last year Mary was hoarding all the ingredients. Last year, there wasn’t any cream to cover my genoise. This year I had to scavenge for eggs for my meringue pie. As the butter simmered, so did I. I might not win, but I’d be damned if Mary was going to be crowned Cake Queen again. A little switcheroo would work. I knew rock salt looked like sugar. I just didn’t know it also looked like rat poison. Wonder how hard it is to win the prison pageant?

Tomas Zandir said...

I ascend the stairs to the attic. Under a layer of dust I find dad’s xylophone, hero of many noise-filled nights at the club. He liked to avenge his dismissal from Juilliard and hoard the cash from his gigs in a mere paper bag.

I reach for the ancient instrument, but it crumbles to dust. I realize that memories cannot be resuscitated.

J.R. Raglow said...

They heard the noise of the avenging hoard plucking feet from deep mud, sounding like a hundred babies suckling. They panicked, ran.
Wilson stopped, screamed, “Marimba!”

Days, and they had made a mere kilometer. A slurry of mud and men worming towards the bay. Four made the ship, three fallen heroes now but specks in the deepening mud.
On board ship, the pompous aristocrat looked at Wilson contemptuously, uttering a single word, “Marimba?”
Wilson spit back “Yes” and released the prize.
Sir Wallen looked at the muddy African xylophone, flung it overboard.
Wilson withdrew his knife.

Casual-T said...

Ten more bars. He needed a drink. The mere thought drove him Oom-Pah. How could anyone consider the noise produced by that wooden abomination to be music? More like the clamor of a herd of Wildebeest tap-dancing in a hoarder’s attic or a rabble of rabid rabbits doing…whatever it is rabid rabbits do. Oom-Pah. 5 more bars. No, the decision was made; from the depth he shall rise heroically, like a mighty sou’easter, to avenge his fellow winds so auditorily offended by that percussive atrocity. Music? That? Oom-Pah! Two more bars…One…Fortissimo entrance! Xylophone, Tacet; Tuba, Solo. OOOM-PAAH!

Just Jan said...

A mere two minutes into the Holiday Mascot Support Group and everyone’s making noise: Twenty-four-hour shifts, rotten eggs—believe me, these folks ain’t heroes.

I keep my trap shut and my hoard under wraps. I’m about to refill my pint when in walks Elvis, slick, sequined, and sun-glassed.

“Dead Celebrity Support’s down the hall,” I say.

Too late. He spots the Big Guy talking to Cupid. “Santa’s real?”

Not just real--he’s a vengeful elf. “Who d’ya think brought you them blue suede shoes?”

“Seriously? Thanks, man! And if anyone asks, I wasn’t here.”

I smirk. “Neither was I.”

John Davis Frain said...

Supplementing writing income, Frain started a nighttime gig.

“Literary 911, what is your emergency?”

“I’m on Broadway watching a buxom blonde—”

“A walking cliché? On it.”

“Will you be coming?”

“And hoard all the fun? No, I send editors.”

Phone rang again. “I’m reporting a murder.”

Frain simmered at the voice. “Yesss...”

“Apartment next door. Lady killed her darlings.”

“Listen, if you call agai—” Click. He’d avenge that caller in his WIP.


“You’re a cowardly, self-destructive antihero—”

Frain didn’t accept AI (or second person!) calls, so he disconnected. Time for another stab at the writing gig.

Diana said...

The intrepid hero ventured stealthily into the cave and began to climb, certain that the mystical hoard at its heart would be hers. Others had tried and warned that it could not be reached, but she was no mere amateur. She would reach the end without disturbing the useless noise traps strewn about the lower ledges and alerting the monster -


"Mittens? Are you in the pantry again?"

Mittens hissed with irritation, leaping up the ledges with a vengeance, but soon found herself firmly grappled well before she'd reached the tuna.

Stupid human. One day those cans would be hers!

Leilani said...

The noise woke me. Really. The last one had been mere hours ago. I’d hardly had time to get comfortable. I sighed and opened one eye. A shadow moved against the wall. I toasted it and picked apart the shell.
I burped delicately, turning my head so as not to char my guest.
“You see,” I explained. “All these heroes, wanting to avenge themselves for imagined slights. Just because I’m not waiting out front for them, they accuse me of Not Playing Fair. They’re disturbing my sleep.
“Half my hoard if you’ll be my Burglar instead.”