Friday, December 15, 2023

Medicinal Flash Fiction


I'm still under the weather but I console myself by saying at least I don't have pneumonia (which two of my friends have now) and at least I don't have covid (which half the world seems to have now.)  Time for some medicinal flash fiction!


 The usual rules apply:


1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.


2. Use these words in the story:







If you are Steve Forti, or wish you could be, I hope you thought you'd prevailed forever BUT NO!!  If you are Steve Forti or want to be you must also use pneumonia.





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, December 16, 2023 6:57 am EST


Contest closes: Sunday, December 17, 2023 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: @janetreid.


Ready? SET?

Not yet!


Sorry, too late. Contest closed.



  1. Christmas hell, my hometown of Jingle Bells, North Dakota.

    Carol drew the short straw at the Mistletoe Lounge and had to give a holly jolly rogering to the bums – ahem, promotional clientele – as this year’s One Whore’s Open Lay. Bossman Kringle didn’t care that she had pneumonia.

    I knew she would numb each day with a little white powder, but this night left her dashing through the snow. When I saw the frostbite and bruises on her body, I knew Frosty was too rough with his carrot.

    I’ll make him pay. For Christmas, Carol, I’ll sing a slaying song tonight.

  2. Omaha beach awaited.

    “Green light lads,” said Captain Stewart.

    “Roger that.”

    “Jolly good start to a lovely June day.”

    The LCVP ramp dropped. We barely heard the whistle before a shell bisected the captain.

    Hell had arrived.

    I made it to the shore, up the hill, into Berlin, and back home.


    Why me and not them? A question I've asked for ten years, while wallowing in guilt and swallowing gin, bumbling through an eviscerated life.

    I have nothing left, save for faint hope I'll eventually muster enough courage to do what the Germans could not, and fate would not.

  3. “Prelaunch scheduled for 0900, 24 Dec 23.”

    “Roger that. Full launch to commence at 1900. Model predicts they’ll be achieving max altitude at 1907. Is payload complete?”

    “Roger. Propulsion system fueled and ready. Checking meteorology reports—hell! Now they say that blizzard is blowing in fourteen hours early. Ground level visibility at 90.0000° N, 135.0000° W predicted to be near zero.”

    “No need to swear. What about that specialist? You know, the one with the shiny nose? He still around?”

    “Negative. Last I heard, he was overseeing delivery logistics for Amazon. Nope, Jolly’s on his own this time.”


  4. “Holly Jolly Christmas” plays softly as I conduct my nightly safety check. Dad is attempting to slip something into a red sock. Plink! It hits the floor and rolls into the vent by the fireplace.

    “Her ring!” he cries.

    This is a job for Superhero Gerbil! With my amazing tail, I rescue the sparkly circle. No problem – day at the beach. I’d like to see a nubby-tailed hamster attempt that.

    Next afternoon, the relatives arrive, including that annoying cousin. “I wanna hold the hamster!” she shrieks.

    Hello?! Hamster? Not with this superior bum.

    Here’s hoping next holiday she’ll have pneumonia.

  5. This is all Roger’s fault. Come to the party, he said. It’ll be fun. You need to get out of your shell.

    I’d worn the red sweater he insisted made me look like a “right jolly old elf.” More like a bloody beached whale.

    He gave me a fist bump as we entered. The way people were coughing and sniffing, half had covid, the other half pneumonia. Everyone was holiday drunk.

    I approached someone leaning into a quiet corner, focused on a kindle. “Reading?”

    They nodded. “Thriller.”

    I gestured to my phone, “RomCom.”

    “Welcome, friend.”

    I might forgive Roger yet.

  6. Kris Clorox-wiped the diner table before sitting down. Micro germs were everywhere. Last thing he needed was pneumonia. Especially with the work schedule he had coming up.
    Tis the season to be jolly but all he felt was anxious, like he was constantly walking on eggshells.
    Christmas time was the worst. It made him long for summer and carefree days lounging on the beach.
    He ducked behind a menu as a familiar tune from an old holiday album began playing on the jukebox.
    “Mommy! Look! Santa!”
    So much for being incognito and eating his pumpkin-spiced pancakes in peace.

  7. Hola amigos! All beachy with you? I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I been cruisin’ since my ass got perma-shitcanned.

    My undoing was overloading on crap Wes brought.
    Next thing I see is some ZZ Top wannabe on a cloud. I was bummed out and kept yappin’ “Roger that!” to whatever he said.

    Apparently, this gets you to Heaven.

    It ain’t bad. No more shelling out for MGD or Jolly Ranchers – all free. And I dodged that Covid thing, which could be worse than pneumonia.

    So, your pal Jim Anchower rates Heaven B+.

  8. Nick waved the bell. A jolly bum sat nearby, playing with seashells. A passerby flicked something into the bucket holding more sand than coin.

    "Next time, you're undercover. Santa on a beach? Not like there's pockets in speedos."

    "Roger that," his partner's voice in his earpiece. "Guy with lotsa pockets at your 9."

    To his left, a handgun from a camo pocket, aimed at their charge.

    Nick pulled his own.

    Camo guy fired at Nick.

    A conch flashed past.

    Nick fired. The guy dropped.

    Looking around, the bum was gone, leaving a pile of shells topped with a Christmas bell.

  9. I was tucked in bed, with pneumonia. Mother brought me a book. It was more like an album, with pictures of pirates burying a chest of treasure on a beach. A jolly roger, with skull and crossbones on a black field, flapped on a pole. One bearded buccaneer blew on a pearly conch shell.
    The doctor came in and examined me. He smiled and then stood up. I saw him look at mother and shake his head. She turned away and I heard her cry. “I’m sorry,” said the doctor.
    I closed the book and dreamed of wooden ships.

  10. A Whiff Of Ectoplasm

    They’re changing the posters again,
    jolly shoppers over bronzed beachgoers.

    We met here, do you remember,
    bumming a light by the cigarette machine?

    A sanitizing station now, selling zero germs.
    My hands are clean. Are yours?

    I never wanted the part, my friend.
    You didn’t have to take it.

    And I’ll always wonder, was it worth it?

    I warn others, when they listen.
    I’m the sound inside the shell.

    Someday, you’ll come back.
    I’ll still be waiting.

    I can wait forever

    Beneath the bus.

  11. It was a fevered dream born of Jolly Ranchers, days-old shellfish from Kroger, and thirty minutes too long bumming around the beach with no sunscreen in ninety-degree weather.

    I’m lying in a hospital bed, arm stretched toward a doctor, telling him I can’t breathe between retching coughs. He’s writing on my chart listening to Taylor Swift on his earbuds.

    I’m sweating, beating the bed; he’s humming, tapping his pen to “Bad Blood.”

    I feel my windpipe close. He smiles at me.

    I woke to silence, my arms burning. My phone flashed the headline:

    “US Pneumonia Epidemic Claims 335, 861,101st victim.”


  12. Eight thousand vines, in the freezing cold.
    Each journey starts with the first… yeah, yeah, yeah.
    Each vine’s gotta be pruned to two shuts, and two reserves.
    The cuts are calculated to ensure the best chutes will allow the vine to be healthy and productive…

    “Nibbling on sponge cake, watching the sun bake.
    All of them tourists covered in oil.”
    Jolly roger flags and beach balls, starfish and seashells, dance in my head.
    Here I am in Malibu, man, on my ketch, flying just a mizzen with a chaser of rum.

    Hank, bundle up, great way to get pneumonia, moron.

  13. Rudy is beachcombing for his wife’s Christmas gift when he bumps into the lamp. Wiping sand off, mist rises from the spout.

    A jolly elf emerges.

    “S-S-Santa Claus?”

    “Santa Genie. We combined jobs post-Covid.”

    Rudy frowns. “So… I get three gifts?”

    “One, actually. Global warming cutbacks.”


    “Supply chain issues, get over it.”

    “Roger that, Big Guy.” Rudy, disappointed but resilient, rushes home. His wife will have anything she desires. “Honey, a bombshell! I found Santa Claus.”

    “You sleigh me, Rudy. Whatever you say.”

    “No, f’real. He exists. I wish you were there, you would’ve known what to – honey? Hello?”

  14. He lay in the hospital bed. He stepped on a shell at the beach. It shouldn't look as bad as it does.

    He offered me candy. "Jolly Roger?"

    "You mean Rancher."

    "No. I stole them. Larceny makes them taste better."

    "How did you get them in here?"

    "Same way I stole them: in my pocket."

    I looked at his pocketless hospital gown. "Huh?"

    He pointed to his bum.

    "What!? Why!?"

    He shrugged. "Haven't been caught yet."

    The doctor walked in and explained the foot. Diabetes.

    "No problem," I said. "I'm throwing out every piece of candy he's ever touched anyway."

  15. The waves crashed on the beach. The marooned galleon, now only a shell of the hull, heaved and yawed as if begging the Trade winds to leverage her from the sand and put her out to sea again. Defying the salty elements, the thread-born Jolly Roger waved over the skeleton of the ship’s doctor whose demise wasn’t from drowning but a knife in the gut, a bumbled diagnosis causing the death of the ship’s captain.