Columns > Published on August 29th, 2014

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.

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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