Monday, December 04, 2023

Flash fiction contest results


Thanks to all of you who stepped in to assuage my pain at the shellacking I've taken from Steve Forti. It was medicinal flash fiction indeed!


Here are the entries that caught my eye.


Steve Forti


“I mean, who mixes meerkat with warthog? Ridiculous. And don’t get me started on Pac-man. ‘Cuz there’s Ms. Pac-man. Did she have just one choice in a guy? Is there like a whole race of Pac-men out there running from ghosts? And how do sheets stay on ghosts, anyway? Or pants. Is there naked ghost butt on every surface top in haunted houses? Oh, remember that ghost episode of Punky Brewster, when… hmm? Oh dear… I’m doing it again. What was the question?”


“Have you reached a verdict?”


“Oh yes. We the jury find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder.


Talk about not seeing where this was headed.

Very nice example of a twist.




Amy Johnson



Help. I—"

Phone hangs up.

Unknown number.

Just some youth, wart.

Acme of his day: prank calls.

Button up coat.

Rush to the train.

Dad’s voice?

Call him.

“Fine, honey.”

Xerox machine.

Lost in thought.


“Operator, . . . trace the call?”



Should I have checked on the neighbors? Familiar voice? Prank?

Zigzagging thoughts.

Gasping for breath.


“Missed you in the meeting.”

“Everything okay?”

“Trying . . . can’t get a response. She’s catatonic. Hurry!”

“Kin? They’ll want to contact someone.”

“You’re going to be okay, ma’am.”

“Very unusual.”


I have a feelling once someone explains this to me, I'll understand it's brilliant (this is Amy Johnson after all) but I just don't get this one.



french sojourn


He paused, in suspended cartoon gravity, and reflected on the gravity of it all.


One of many things that escaped him, yet again, was his punk-ass fowl nemesis.


Had he been thwarted by the time / distance variable? No.


Had he re-wired the faulty recalled ACME activator button? Check.


He went over the formula he had used… Height over Mass times the square root of pi, should equal the foot/pounds applied to the radius of the…


Why was he getting that sinking feeling?


He heard a distinct beep-beep, as he started accelerating.


He pulled out his sign that read.





Why was he getting that sinking feeling just cracked me up.





Minnesota Fats stared down his cue. “You got spunk, kid.”


“Rac’ me, Rudy.”


The corpulent man obliged, aligning the “one” ball on the button.


Fats blew chalk from his felt tip. “I’ve never lost a match with money. Bet a buck?”


“I eat pi’ for breakfast. Make it a fin. I feel lucky.”


“No luck involved.” Fats watched the rack scatter, sinking the seven. “Nice shot.”


“Rac’ me.”


“Make it a C-note?”


“How about a stack of C-notes?”


“You’re on.”


Break. One ball left.


“Athwart side pocket.”


Fats exclaimed, “Who are you?”


“I’m a skinny little boy from Cleveland Ohio.”


I think this depends on knowing something about pool.

As a shark, my only pool knowledge involves lurking in the depths for dangling toes.





Colin Smith


“We want the truth. Warts and all.”


The Senator peered over his glasses at the punked-out figure sitting before him.


Menacme Spike, aka John Jones, shivered, cold perspiration beading on his lip. He pulled at his unbuttoned collar and cleared his throat.


“No,” his voice shook. “No, you don’t.”


“This is a congressional hearing,” the Senator said, glancing at his colleagues. “You must say what happened. Whatever the consequences.”




“Whatever. It’s time to come clean.”


“But it was murder!”


“I know.” The Senator smiled uncomfortably.


“Mum…” The word caught in Jones’s throat.




“But Dad… it weren’t your fault.”


oh ho! Nice twist!



Madeline Mora-Summonte


She twists me – the top button – into place, her fingers nimble, her nails painted pink to match the diner's uniform. She smiles at the mirror. Nothing thwarts her spunkiness.


The stranger in the grimy Mac Meats cap orders peach pie, coffee. His greasy gaze lands on me, lingers too long. She tenses. Her heartbeat races at my back.


In the alley, he shoves her down, tears her clothes. The other buttons fly off.


I hold on. She does not.


When he's done, he cleans up, leaves.


But his fingerprint, pressed into me, stays.


I really love stories from an unusual perspective.




Michael Seese



I loved Lilith, warts and all. Spirited, spunky, with hair of enchanted gold and eyes of midnight. Alas, I could never free her from the elegiac memories’ wicked whispers. And once her inner demons began worming into me, I could no longer have her in my world. My pitiful “I'm sorry” sounded wholly insufficient, as she fought back the tears.




“Tonight let’s just be together, and forget. Then tomorrow, you must leave.”


Her resignation weighed heavy on both of our souls.


“You'll be happy on Earth,” I offered, stanching my own sorrow. “I hear there's a lovely garden.”



oh! ohohoh!







Kidnapped Bobbin Button, held in Castoff Castle,

Discovered Count Stitches had been a dreadful rascal.

He’d bred Monopis Crocicapitella, farmed an army.

Soon to be unleashed in a wool-ravaging tsunami.

But Bobbin was courageous, and also good at reading.

She sneaked notes to Polly and Esther. Together they got weaving.

The moths flew free. Chewing ensued.

But in the end their only food

was Stitches himself. He’d miscalculated,

and by his minions was masticated.

‘Cause manmade is mothproof, and linen too,

But fin-de-siècle Stitches? Thwarted moth poo.

In stitchpunk an acme soon comes unravelled.

Little Bobbin grew up – and travelled.


Holy smokes.




John Davis Frain


Mom hits the AC. Me? I crank the heat. Thank goodness for our dual-zone climate control sofa. We watch split-screen TV together. Horror on her half, comedy on mine.


She taps the volume button, but I’ve thwarted her this time. Removed the batteries from her remote.


A ding from the kitchen. Dinner is shrimp—sweet for Mom, sour for me.


“What’s dessert?” I ask.


“Apple pie with arsenic sauce,” Mom says. “I’ll have the pie.”


Always the spunky one, Mom almost Forti’d me again! I replace her remote-control batteries. She won’t hear the oven ding, and the pie will burn.






Mallory Love


He’d been called everything from “punk” to “maniac mess.” The worst was “delusional.” That one came from the court-ordered therapist and caused him to be locked up in the psych ward on Christmas Eve. Made him so mad, but he had a list for people like her. Come tomorrow she would regret trying to thwart his plans.


He heard tapping at the window. Showtime. He buttoned his coat. Glass shattered. The alarm sounded as he took a flying leap. He waved to the stunned faces below as the sleigh rose higher.


He’d been called everything, but the best was “Santa.”








Ash Complin


My daughter has her mom's button nose, a reminder of who I lost that day.


I started overeating, my bad habit.


She grew, became smart, like her mother.


She got me a wrist tattoo: a crossed-out pi, a joke to thwart my irrational dessert binging. She wanted me to live forever. She made me want to live at all.


She went to her first punk concert, the ACME Rockets, but never came home. Overdosed. I never knew she had a habit, too.


Now when I reach for a donut, I see the tattoo, and I take two.


I miss you, Bunny.






This week's winner is Michael Seese.

there were several terrific entries and it was very hard to choose just one.


Michael, drop me a line and tell me what you're reading these days and I'll get a prize book in the mail to you.


Thanks to all of you who took time to write and post entries.

They were balm for my wounded pride.






Steve Forti said...

Congrats Michael! Well done. Smaller crowd this time but strong entries as always.
Shout out to Madeline. I thought you knocked it out of the park this week and was sure you had the win with that one.

BJ Muntain said...

Congratulations, Michael!

NLiu said...

Congratulations, Michael!

BJ Muntain's and Ash Complin's were my favourites this week.

As always, really enjoyed taking part and reading every single one of the fabulous entries.

Lennon Faris said...

Congrats, Michael! Very well done, all. The creativity of these entries always amazes me. Wasn't able to join the last couple but hopefully some time soon.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Michael - Congratulations on the win!

Janet - thank you! I really enjoy trying out unusual perspectives.

Steve - thanks so much for the shout out!

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations, Michael! Way to go! Your "hair of enchanted gold and eyes of midnight" grabbed me. I so admire those of you who can write beautifully like that (I'm talking to you, NLiu). And congrats to all the mentions and everyone who entered. Wow! Gotta make some congratulatory fudge.

Hank, I laughed all the way through yours. Madeline, when I got to your story, I, too, thought this contest was yours.

Janet, thanks so much for the mention and for your kind words. An explanation of my story: I've been wanting to try an acrostic, with a line starting with each letter of the English alphabet, but out of order, to symbolize a character whose thoughts are all mixed up (not sure if it still counts as an acrostic if the letters are out of order). The prompt words leant themselves to it this time. A woman gets a call asking for help, then the phone hangs up. At first, the woman thinks it's a prank call, then she starts doubting that. Perhaps it was her dad who needed help. She checks. He's okay. She gets to work, and at the Xerox machine she keeps wondering. She tries to get the call for help traced -- not possible. Her mind is inundated with the possibilities of who could have called for help, did she recognize the voice, could she have done something to help, or was it truly just an unknown prank caller. She becomes so overwhelmed with all this that she goes into a catatonic state; a co-worker calls an ambulance; and the woman is taken to the hospital. Done. And I'm pretty sure my explanation of the story was far longer than story itself. Ha! Hope that's not grounds for a trip to we-all-know-where. How I fear that place!

Steve Forti said...

Amy - thanks for the explanation! I knew there was a reason for the bold first letters, but I was just too slow to pick up on it. Was bugging me, and now I can be at peace :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I really loved Michael's entry. It's brilliant. Great job.

Michael Seese said...

Thank you to all for your kind words.

Personally, I found Madeline's story to be breathtaking.

Kregger said...

Hi everybody,
and congratulations to Michael.
I also liked Colin's and Mallory's, as they appealed to my twisted humor.
I hope I see/have inspiration when the Qotku drops the next challenge.
It's always great to see the band back together, especially with new chums.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Amy and Michael - thank you for your kind words about my story. Much appreciated!

Dimitrius Harmata said...

Congrats, Michael!!
NLiu's entry is quirkylicious! I wonder if it was inspired by Lewis Carroll's poems? I got a definite vibe of those!

KDJames said...

Congrats, Michael! I didn’t get yours until I googled Lilith and then it all made sense. Well done!

Amy, thank you for explaining. I’d concluded you were sending a message in an ancient text that I was not worthy of understanding.

I loved so many of these. Reading along, oh, that’s a winner. Until the next one. That’s a winner too. Oooh, that one. And this one. On and on. I’m in awe of these brains at work.

Apologies to anyone I offended by the characterization of punk/goth as “bad”or negative. I don’t believe that, not even a little. Sometimes in the process of twisting prompt words, I’m so intent on getting something to fit and it’s not until later I realize, well, that was an oddly regrettable choice. Mea culpa.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Michael! I don't know about y'all but I thought these were tough words, so well done everyone. Thanks for the shout-out Janet. And I'm glad you like my entry, Kregger. Kind of you to say.

I have updated the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest. This is not Michael's first rodeo... and certainly not his first win. Check out the spreadsheet to find out exactly how many times he has won, and read all those stories.

Michael Seese said...


Man, I thought I was a data geek. But you take the cake.

Or this week, the pi.

Mallory Love said...

Congratulations Michael! Beautifully done. I agree with Colin. These words were daunting, but the challenge is always fun. Glad you share my twisted sense of humor, Kregger. ; ) Madeline's entry was amazing. NLiu's was so lyrical, loved it too.

John Davis Frain said...

Michael, your entries are always so solid, and this one was no exception. Congratulations on good win. I look forward to reading your longer stuff one day.

I didn't notice the prompt words being more difficult than usual, but maybe that's why I couldn't come up with a decent ending despite multiple attempts.

Thanks again for hosting, Janet.

french sojourn said...

Well deserved Michael!
Great job everyone, thanks for the mental gymnastics exercise Shark.


NLiu said...

Dimitrius Harmata it was more an overdose of Julia Donaldson (who is the GOAT by the way, my kids love all her stuff and last time I looked she had a whole aisle to herself in Heathrow airport Waterstones) and also research into niche fantasy subgenres. But I'm glad it appealed to you!