UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: February 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 similar. 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. This month the deadline is a bit earlier. Since I will be joining Dennis, Rob, Patrick, Kirk, Bree, Suzy, and a whole bunch of other LitReactees (maybe even CHUCK) at AWP 2014 in Seattle, we plan to end the contest a few days early. You get 25 wordsbut there are no limits on structure or number of sentences. Get 'er done by the 25th, and we'll run it the next day.

The Rules

  • 25 words is the limit. (You can write less, but you can't write more.)
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title (not included in the word count, but keep it under 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 February 25 will be considered. We'll run the winner on February 26.

This Month's Prize

Two titles from Two Dollar Radio:

1) Baby Geisha 

Baby Geisha is a collection of thirteen sexually-charged stories that roam from the Coney Island Ferris wheel to the Greek Isles.

You can read "Perverted Hobo"—one of the stories in this excellent collection—by clicking here.

2) Mira Corpora

Read LitReactor's review. Read an excerpt from the novel that was printed in Guernica.

It’s fine work in its manic pacing and its summoning of certain cultural emblems. Present tense with a vengeance. I hope the book finds the serious readers who are out there waiting for this kind of fiction to hit them in the face. 

-Don DeLillo 

Style is pre-eminent in Jeff Jackson's eerie and enigmatic debut. The prose works like the expressionless masks worn by killers in horror films.

-Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

Your Inspiration

Well, I just saw Seattle win the Super Bowl, and LitReactor will be taking over that rainy city later this month, so let's be inspired by rain, coffee, flannel, indie music, flying fish, retro-futuristic architecture, Sasquatch, volcanoes, computer software, Sherman Alexie, Rainn Wilson, legal pot, and anything else that you associate with the Emerald City.

Now get writing!

And the Winner Is... Jake Peterson

Well, I didn't intentionally pick a winner that actually LIVES in Seattle, but there you have it...I liked the simplicity of Jake's entry, the inclusion of "seattle-esque" elements, and the punchline ending to the story we all know well. Nicely executed. Well, Jake, congratulations, and maybe we will see you at AWP or the Party on Thursday night.


Eddie pulled out a mangled joint and fired it up as he sat huddled beneath the Space Needle. "I should start a band," he thought.

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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WilliamGrit's picture
WilliamGrit March 5, 2014 - 6:21am
Sanbai's picture
Sanbai from the Midwest is reading The War of Art February 3, 2014 - 6:28pm

My Last Soldier


“Won’t see you again.”
“The frontline is funny?”
“Don’t laugh.”
I’ll remember though.
“And laugh?”
“ Prick.”
I’ll laugh, then depart.


Loehly's picture
Loehly February 25, 2014 - 6:53pm

Mourning Haze

Came to cure The Itch-
saran wrapped smashed silicon-
but space needles found no place in my veins.

Beneath rainy skies I devoured ancient highs.

renobarb's picture
renobarb from The West is reading Testament of Youth February 3, 2014 - 11:37pm

Glass Ceiling

I saw Chihuly
drinking tea,
absorbing the rain
as he admired the
needle suspended above.
Why not me
he asked
of no one
in particular.

DrM's picture
DrM from London, England is reading A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway February 4, 2014 - 2:52am

Homeless in Seattle

Begging on the corner of 5th and Blanchard, you were halfway along the Monorail route. Halfway to the space needle. Halfway to your future.


Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday February 4, 2014 - 6:05am

Wishful Thinking


She walked away years ago, leaving me for drizzle and coffee.

I stayed and dried up.  

The ticket in my hand will slake my thirst.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 4, 2014 - 9:04am

Live @ Caravaggio's 2 / 19

The old guard is dead.      X    X

The 'SUB' in   S>U>B
                       P<O<P   stands for 'substitute.'

You are the Bank,
We are                          The Tellers.

rjcresswell's picture
rjcresswell from Texas is reading Father and Son by Larry Brown February 4, 2014 - 10:03am

Halfhour Before The SeattlePD Investigates A Murderscene Near Pikeplace

Windowscreen raindrops. Skilletscorched coffee. Beardedman eyes Supinewoman. “If I stay, I’ll kill you.”

“If you leave, you’ll kill him.”

“Don’t love him.”

“I do.”


will.mazgay's picture
will.mazgay from Toronto is reading Trinity by Conn Iggulden February 4, 2014 - 9:33am

The View

A majestic view. Mossy mountains and wild woods, green savagery of ancient gods. 

"I can't see, it's too foggy."


Asha Dore's picture
Asha Dore from Portland, Or is reading The End of Eve by Ariel Gore February 4, 2014 - 5:44pm

Best Coffee in Seattle

Something solid hit her lips. It squirmed.

A fucking cockroach.

It had happened before. Didn’t matter. She kept coming back.

Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck February 4, 2014 - 12:38pm


She said the Space Needle was a tourist distraction.  That’s when I realized if it weren’t me, it’d just be some other boy.

twinkletoes3106's picture
twinkletoes3106 from San Diego, CA is reading Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen February 4, 2014 - 3:17pm

A Valediction

His beard scratched her face in just the right way. She collapsed into him, smelled the city, the rain, the restlessness, knowing he'd already left.

dddddbbbbb's picture
dddddbbbbb February 4, 2014 - 11:35pm

Seahawks' First Super Bowl Win

She braced herself again and again, palms against the headboard, feet locked behind his back.

Seattle had won.

She would let herself finish this time. 

Kyle Tobias's picture
Kyle Tobias from Atlanta, GA is reading Damned, Blue Adept, Fool February 5, 2014 - 9:06am

Lost Customer


Pikes Place is great, but not as a flavor. Tastes like you made it from the fish market water.

Fuck it, I'm going to Tully's.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 5, 2014 - 10:05am

The Good Listener
On and on he goes barely even pausing for breath.
I stare at the cobwebs in the corner.
“JO!” he cries.
“I’m listening,” I lie.

Brandon McKinniss's picture
Brandon McKinniss February 5, 2014 - 3:40pm

Last Night in Emerald City

The thundering rain muffled the words of the gun as molten lead warmed his chest like a swallow of fresh coffee on a cold morning.

Luis Oliveira's picture
Luis Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reading Iliad by Homer February 6, 2014 - 5:04am

Fuga a um lugar chuvoso

"Where you flying to?"


"What you know about it?"

"Nothing, except their sun won't warm and burn my loving heart as in Rio."

Benjamin Joseph's picture
Benjamin Joseph from Southern U.S. is reading Knockemstiff February 6, 2014 - 5:10am

Seattle was her escape plan. A place to start over. Become something else.

Only, she never expected that "something else" to be a corpse.

nomoregoldlights's picture
nomoregoldlights from Parts Unknown is reading The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie February 6, 2014 - 10:52am


“Nirvana’s from there?”
“Pearl Jam, babe”
“So much rain, though.”
“’Snot so bad. Starbucks started there.”
The woman put the travel guide down in disgust.

wrscarlett's picture
wrscarlett February 6, 2014 - 11:37am


“Spare change?” He held out her image for collection.
Others came for her coffee, but his was a love affair of coins and cardboard cups.

Denise Moore's picture
Denise Moore February 6, 2014 - 10:25pm

The Loc'd King

Loud and boisterous on the field.  Firm, yet gentle in bed.

His locs danced in the mutual sweat coating her back.

His grip was gold.

Jake Peterson's picture
Jake Peterson from Seattle, WA is reading Dave Eggers - The Circle February 16, 2014 - 5:56pm


Eddie pulled out a mangled joint and fired it up as he sat huddled beneath the Space Needle. "I should start a band," he thought.

James Matterhorn's picture
James Matterhorn February 25, 2014 - 1:52pm

In the Blink of a Bloodshot Eye

The glass flashed as it tripped over the table's edge; "why does everything I love die?" wondered Jimmy. "Clash!" his bong gasped, its swan song.

artistic addict's picture
artistic addict from Living in Fear and Loathing U.S.A. is reading 1984 February 24, 2014 - 12:50am

Welcome To Seattle

Why yes, it DOES smell like teen spirit!  Why do you ask?

Aeneas Barton's picture
Aeneas Barton February 24, 2014 - 8:41pm

The Genesis Of Turner G. Mackelson Jr.'s Second Chance

Cold, alone outside. French kissing the barrel in the rain, he pulls the trigger. Nothing. He exhales. "I forgot bullets," he mutters. "Yet another failure."

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics February 25, 2014 - 2:48pm

A Slick Reputation

From South Bronx to Seattle, everybody remembered Bootsy Crenshaw until he slipped on an oil-sheened autoshop puddle, fractured his skull and lost all memory.