UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: August 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.

The Rules

  • 25 words. You can write less, but not more.
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 10 words or less.
  • 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 August 28th will be considered. We'll run the winner on August 29th.

This Month's Prize

We are switching things up just a tiny bit from here on out. We, luckily, get entries from writers living all over the world! Brazil, Australia, Mongolia, the UK, Germany, South Africa—to name just a few. Unfortunately, the cost of mailing the prize to a winner living overseas is WAY more than the prize is worth. So, we've worked out a sweet deal with Titan Books to offer an eBook prize for every contest so that we can continue to include non-US/Canada entrants in our contest. Each month Titan will offer an electronic book as a prize that can be sent to overseas winners. We will still have the cool rotation of cool books dug up by our editors that can be mailed to US/Canada winners. 

This month, Titan is offering an eBook version of Alien - Sea of Sorrows, an original novel by James A. Moore based on the movies from 20th Century Fox.

As a deputy commissioner for the ICC, Alan Decker’s job is to make sure the settlements on LV178 follow all the rules, keeping the colonists safe. But the planet known as New Galveston holds secrets, lurking deep beneath the toxic sands dubbed the Sea of Sorrows.

The Weyland-Yutani Corporation has secrets of its own, as Decker discovers when he is forced to join a team of mercenaries sent to investigate an ancient excavation. Somewhere in that long-forgotten dig lies the thing the company wants most in the universe—a living Xenomorph.

Decker doesn’t understand why they need him, until his own past comes back to haunt him. Centuries ago, his ancestor fought the Aliens, launching a bloody vendetta that was never satisfied. That was when the creatures swore revenge on the Destroyer…Ellen Ripley.

A direct follow-up to ALIEN: OUT OF THE SHADOWS, this adventure reveals the far-reaching impact of events seen in that novel. It shows the continuing malevolent influence of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and their inexorable efforts to weaponize the Xenomorph known as the Alien.

Your Inspiration:


Photo used with permission: "Hot in the City" by Pavel Petros.

(See also his lovely book Silent Encounters, follow him on Twitter @petpave, or check out his Tumblr account.)

And the winner is...Damon Lytton

As usual, you all made this a hard choice for me, so I enlisted the help of Pavel Petros, the photographer who provided the inspiration for this contest. Pavel said Damon's entry "grabbed [his] attention immediately," and I have to agree. I love that he picked a character in the photo that appears in the background, but who is definitely an interesting subject. Well done, Damon!

Pavel also offered some background on the photo, or as he put it: "things that are not visible from the picture". He said the people in the park (Masaryk's square in Ostrava city) belong to a gypsy minority in the Czech Republic, when Pavel lives. He said they are often the subject of racism in the Czech Republic. 

Here is Damon's winning entry:

Regret of Shame

My Dad was blind to shame, his bare belly hanging over plaid shorts. Yet I felt it so strongly I couldn't stand next to him.

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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Skygrotto's picture
Skygrotto from Southwestern Ontario is reading Europe: A History by Norman Davies August 2, 2014 - 10:42am

2:30PM, Sunday, August 22nd, 1993

No person escaping the heat by playing in water at desginated city parks believed the sun had gone supernova. Until temperatures reached 60C.

Susan Mulligan's picture
Susan Mulligan from Salem, MA is reading Rogues, The Way of Kings, Unfettered, On Writing August 4, 2014 - 11:07am
Summer Solace

Blazing sun sears through black mesh, binding my feet in fire, torching toes and soles until blue cool bubbles through, bathing my soul in bliss.

Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow August 4, 2014 - 9:50pm

Regret of Shame

My Dad was blind to shame, his bare belly hanging over plaid shorts.  Yet I felt it so strongly I couldn't stand next to him.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday August 5, 2014 - 6:11am

Summer Shade

Marco kicked at the water, observing more than playing.  Ever since the color left the world even the simple things were new and exciting again.

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. August 5, 2014 - 10:14am


Why do I come here everyday?
Why do I endure the struggle?
I want to resist but they’re just so appealing when they’re all wet...

Jake Frondorf's picture
Jake Frondorf from Kansas is reading The Dark Tower August 5, 2014 - 11:32pm

They might outgrow this by next summer

I flipped off my high heels and joined my children in the fountains one last time, even though I knew my dress would get ruined.

Chris Wright's picture
Chris Wright from UK August 6, 2014 - 4:26am


Born by the sun, killed by the cloud.

Is it they who lead us on our journey or us who leads them?

Time to play.

Cataract Monkey's picture
Cataract Monkey from Pittsburgh is reading Litreactor, mostly August 6, 2014 - 8:38pm

In Pursuit of Shadows

Sandra crossed the square, hand covering her face. That was the signal. I grabbed the suitcase and receded into the building.

They’d be here soon.

Thomas Knowlton's picture
Thomas Knowlton from Fargo, ND is reading White Noise - Don Delillo August 11, 2014 - 2:57pm

High Noon in the Square

The fountain churned and foamed between them, the adulterers. A Meursaultian rage seething within, he witnessed their kiss. The sun shone unforgivingly.  Children laughed.

jte3rd's picture
jte3rd August 12, 2014 - 7:12am

Flowerless Grave


On Sundays, Walter's killer and Walter's widow visit him in the park, bare toes splashing in the concrete pool, inches above his eternally startled face.

Simon's picture
Simon is reading Birdsong August 14, 2014 - 4:21pm

What's the time?

‘What’s the time?’ says Henry.

Dad sighs.

Henry's watching his friends splashing in the fountain outside.

Dad smiles.

Allergic to sunlight, the skin doctor said.

Soulless's picture
Soulless August 19, 2014 - 3:52pm

That Day in August

What's that? Stop. Kids screaming, feet in the fountain. Her face, mine. Impossible.  So far from where I gave her up.

andrew.cole's picture
andrew.cole August 20, 2014 - 1:02pm



They can’t see me.
I see Jessica.
She sees me no more.
First the color faded.
Soon I will too.
My soul departs.
Goodbye world.