UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: 'New Yorked' Edition

Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity.

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess.

How It Works

We give you inspiration in the form of a picture, poem, video, or prompt. You write a flash fiction piece using the inspiration we gave you. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 25 words, tops. No more. 
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 10 words.
  • We're not exactly shy, but let's stay away from senseless racism or violence.
  • One entry per person.
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All stories submitted on or before June 29th will be considered. We'll run the winner on June 30th.

This Month's Prize

This month, I'm teaming up with fellow LitReactee Rob Hart—Hi, Rob!—to promote Rob's new novel New Yorked, which comes out in print this month. Instead of a book, we are giving away one of the cool pieces of swag Rob's publishers came up. This month's winner will receive a limited-edition New Yorked umbrella—and no, it's NOT weaponized, and I wouldn't advise you to use it AS a weapon. 

Your Inspiration:

The beating heart of New York City.

What does that conjure for you?

You don't have to live there to participate. You don't even need to have been there. Because the Big Apple is a city of legend. Greatest city in the world, and it ain't even an exaggeration. Even if you've never laid eyes on it, it conjures some sort of feeling or emotion or fear or expectation.

Give us that in 25 words or less. Show us the beating heart of New York City. The one that you know. The one that you've heard of. The one that you believe in or dream about.

And the Winner Is...Scott Williams

Congrats Scott!! Rob loved your entry because

It's a non-obvious nod to the dangerous and uncontrollable and entropic nature of the city. It feels so much bigger than what's there. I'm already thinking of a rogue park overtaking urban decay.

Enjoy your super-awesome (though not-weaponized) New Yorked umbrella! You may need it to defend yourself from whatever is lurking in the park...oh and it's good for rain, too.

Green Paws

Finally, when tree roots tore up the foundations along Central Park West, we realized: the walls surrounding the Park weren’t there to keep something out.

Taylor Houston

Column by Taylor Houston

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer and volunteers on the marketing committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College and attended Penn State's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. She has taught writing at all levels from middle school to college to adult, and she is the creator of Writer’s Cramp, a class for adults who just want to write!

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Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this June 1, 2015 - 1:09pm

Looking forward to seeing what you folks got! And here's the prize... 

Todd Robinson's picture
Todd Robinson June 1, 2015 - 1:42pm

a haiku

Once saw a rat eat
a mouse. It was pretty gross.
Squeak, squeak, silence. Morte.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Library Books June 1, 2015 - 2:04pm

And That's When the C.H.U.D.s Came At Me

Of course you'll have a bad impression of New York if you only focus on the Pimps and C.H.U.D.s

Liam Sweeny's picture
Liam Sweeny from Albany, NY is reading Country Hardball June 1, 2015 - 2:25pm
The Hustle, the Bustle, the Rustle.


Greasy rats file through storm drains,

their furry bodies bump against the grates,

their surges and eases like the foot traffic

"lub dub, lub dub'.

Benjamin Martin's picture
Benjamin Martin from Portland, OR is reading ... June 1, 2015 - 8:36pm

New Departing

It only took five minutes.
He stepped off the bus and was now a victim of mugging.
He lit a cigarette before exhaling, "I'm home."

Tymothy Longoria's picture
Tymothy Longoria is reading The Child Thief by Brom June 2, 2015 - 5:08pm

L'eau Big Apple

I step over the mustard yellow line, and cope with the stench (pretending it's just bad cologne with hints of patchouli, cooked piss), called A-Train.

André Gropo's picture
André Gropo June 1, 2015 - 11:29pm
No country



Human statue...

Neck Tattoos...


Well, at least they all look great in a suit."

- Ok, the president will be here in 5.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 2, 2015 - 5:26am

Leaving the Farm

"It's my first time."

"If you're from there it's Mecca. If not it's hell."

He returned the ticket. "Hell is what I'm trying to escape."

Scott Williams's picture
Scott Williams from Brooklyn, NY is reading 11/23/63 June 4, 2015 - 5:54am

Green Paws

Finally, when tree roots tore up the foundations along Central Park West, we realized: the walls surrounding the Park weren’t there to keep something out.

Robert VanCleave's picture
Robert VanCleave from The Land of Ice And Snow is reading "Sex Lives of Siamese Twins" by Irving Welsh June 2, 2015 - 11:03am

Not My Fault My Neighbors Talk Through Thin Apartment Walls


"Cities definitely aren't for me," I mumble, staring out into the crowded hallway.  

"This body will fertilyze my carpet before I get any privacy."

BMF's picture
BMF from PA is reading Two Plus Two by Alan Cochran (AKA the amazing Ken Grimwood) June 17, 2015 - 7:00am

Abusive Relationship

She knocks me down. Her buildings tower over me like bullies on a playground. I rise to kiss her cheek. Round Two New York.

Ryan Andrews's picture
Ryan Andrews from Melbourne June 2, 2015 - 5:03pm

Filmed Before

The city of sitcoms. Where audience laughter long lost still echoes on demand, and shots between scenes show a world where the towers still stand.

Tyler Jones's picture
Tyler Jones from Portland, Oregon is reading Black Swan Green by David Mitchell June 2, 2015 - 9:31pm

Am I Where I'm Supposed To Be?

The key fits the lock, but everything inside looks different.
The furniture isn’t mine, but the room is familiar.
Is it me or the city?

Cams316's picture
Cams316 from Wichita,KS is reading The Dead Hearts series June 3, 2015 - 8:46am

The Unavoidable Transformation of Mary Sue Beth

"New York is the greatest city ever!" she exclaimed. 

Then she got there. 

The city ate her alive. 

She was smoke. Thin air. 

Found anew. 

Christopher Peterson's picture
Christopher Peterson from Illinois is reading the tea leaves... June 5, 2015 - 1:07pm
New York, New Amsterdam: Haarlem to Harlem

Wooden soles slap cracked cobbles.

Black boys with blonde names

Rolling blunts outside bodega churches,

Frans Hals and Langston Hughes

Curating museums in their brains.

Lily Moran's picture
Lily Moran June 9, 2015 - 5:14pm



















New York, I'm coming

James Matterhorn's picture
James Matterhorn June 15, 2015 - 7:22pm

Groggy-Eyed Epiphany

Roaches scatter across the table as I stir, passing their namesakes in the ashtray. Shitty speakers wail rap and static. This manic city defeats me.

nkbduckie's picture
nkbduckie from Florida is reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath June 16, 2015 - 12:08am

Below New York
This checkered quilt of crowds and taxis would never believe what hid beneath the tunnels. Watching the city's pulsing beat she swore they never would.

Joe Golden's picture
Joe Golden from Clarksburg, WV is reading The Big Sleep June 16, 2015 - 11:18am

The Slow Vibration of Energy

I'm too close to the edge as the train rushes by. I feel the pulse of the city in its reverberations; my heart beats faster.

Taylor's picture
Taylor from Durango, Colorado but living in Portland, Oregon is reading The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart June 16, 2015 - 2:15pm

First Trip to NYC

Exhausted tourists, we don't climb the statue. Instead, we sit in the grass with litter and pigeon bones and flip the green lady the bird.



Since I'm not judging, I thought I'd enter. Of course, I can't win. 

Robert Yalden's picture
Robert Yalden from Long Island June 25, 2015 - 4:19am

Pastrami on Rye


The New York deli was an incongruous menagerie of food.

This guy wearing a wife-beater said.  “Gimme the usual.”

I wanted to be that guy.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine June 27, 2015 - 12:09pm

If I can make it here

Where locals bid on Mid-west skylines

And tourists, seeking inspiration, find masterpieces

In every pock-marked vagrant.

It’s gutters and grapes on the vine

Parasitic Paradise