Columns > Published on January 4th, 2016

UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: The Holidays (Post Alien Invasion) 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. It can be less, but not 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 December 30th will be considered. We'll run the winner on December 31st.

This Month's Prize

Wonder what Earth would be like after the Aliens take it over? Winner gets a copy of Occupied Earth: Stories of Aliens, Resistance and Survival at all Costsan anthology of stories edited by Richard Brewer and Gary Phillips with stories from some of your favorite sci-fi and mystery authors—including our own Rob Hart. 


For years, writers and filmmakers have speculated about the possibility of the Earth being invaded by aliens from another planet. But what if the aliens have been watching us, infiltrating us via human collaborators, or even surgically altering themselves to look human?

Occupied Earth is a groundbreaking anthology that explores the idea of what the world would look like years after its conquest. 20 years after a successful invasion by the Makh-Ra, humanity still exists, only it has become subservient to a race of occupiers who govern the devastated planet. But, as much at things continue with some sense of normalcy, something has happened in the Mahk-Ra’s empire. Earth, once considered a strategic beachhead of major importance to the Empire, has been downgraded in its value. Things are starting to degrade. Our planet is the last place any self-respecting Mahk-Ra officer wants to be assigned. Yet, despite everything, life continues.

These stories bring us face to face with annihilation — and show how we can pull ourselves back from the brink. Featuring Rachel Howzell Hall, Lisa Morton, Matthew V. Clemens, Howard Hendrix, Nathan Walpow and more, OCCUPIED EARTH is coming. Stay safe. Stay strong. Survive at all costs.

Your Inspiration

Well, shit. Despite all our efforts to appear as unattractive as possible to any passing extraterrestrial marauders, Earth has been conquered by aliens. It's been a pretty shitty 20 years of invasions and infighting and anal probing. But, look on the bright side: a few of us are still here, and it's the holiday season. 

Write a holiday-themed flash fiction (25 words) that imagines what Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanza, or St. Lucia Day, or Solstice, or Boxing Day, or New Year's, etc. would be like after 20 years of alien occupation. Are there still lights, trees, songs, candles, feasting, gifting, stressing, sappy movies, etc? Are there new alien-approved holidays or holiday activities going on? What are they?

Have fun with this! I can't wait to read the entries!

And the Winner Is...Christopher Peterson

Well another solid showing! I had to pick this one because I love the title. Merry Happy New Everything, you al!!!

"Every Time an Alarm Rings, an Alien Gets His Antennae."

They came hopefully after watching Capra's classic in syndication for decades. When they realized it wasn’t real, the invasion began. Merry Christmas, Planet Bedford Falls.

About the author

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer for an engineering firm and volunteers on the planning committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education.

She holds a degree in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. In the English graduate program at Penn State, she taught college composition courses and hosted a poetry club for a group of high school writers.

While living in Seattle, Taylor started and taught a free writing class called Writer’s Cramp (see the website). She has also taught middle school Language Arts & Spanish, tutored college students, and mentored at several Seattle writing establishments such as Richard Hugo House. She’s presented on panels at Associated Writing Programs Conference and the Pennsylvania College English Conference and led writing groups in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado for writers of all ages & abilities. She loves to read, write, teach & debate the Oxford Comma with anyone who will stand still long enough.

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