Columns > Published on March 30th, 2016

UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: City of Rose 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

  • 20 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 March 30th will be considered. We'll run the winner on March 31st.

This Month's Prize

LitReactor's own Rob Hart will be providing the prize this month--a signed copy of his zombie novella The Last Safe Place. 

It's been two years since a plague turned New Yorkers into flesh-eating corpses. The city's population has dwindled to three hundred refugees on Governors Island, a former military outpost in the bay between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The survivors struggle with supply shortages and flaring tempers, but the monsters they call 'rotters' can't swim. The island isn't comfortable, but it's safe. That sense of safety is shattered when Sarge, the island's head of security, comes face to decomposing face with a rotter while on a routine patrol. There's no way for the creature to have gotten on the island. Worse is that its stone-like skin makes it remarkably tough to kill. Faced with the prospect of an evolving enemy, and desperate to find antibiotics for his dying wife, Sarge has to go into Manhattan, do some recon, forage for supplies, and get out--without drawing the attention of the millions of rotters that now roam the city.

Your Inspiration

In honor of Rob's next book in his Ask McKenna crime novel series--City of Rosewe are doing a Portland (Oregon)-Themed Contest. Here's a blurb from his book to wet your whistle. 

As an amateur PI with a bent moral compass, Ash McKenna is good at finding people—but not at staying out of trouble. Between his own violent tendencies, the shadow cast by his father's death, and a self-destructive revenge quest, he made a mess of his life in NYC. Figuring it was time for a change of scenery Ash relocated to Portland, taking a job as a bouncer in a vegan strip club. And he hasn't had to hit anyone in six months.

So when one of the club's dancers asks Ash for help finding her daughter, he declines, content to keep the darkness in his past. But soon Ash is held at gunpoint by a man in a chicken mask, and told to keep away from the girls. Unfortunately Ash isn't good at following directions either.

As Ash navigates an unfamiliar city, he finds himself embroiled in a labyrinthine plot involving a ruthless drug cartel and a scandal that could reach one of the most powerful men in Portland. Ash is dead set on finding the missing girl, but realizes that in order to deliver her safely he may have to cross the one line he promised himself he never would.

This small westcoast(ish) city I moved to 5 years ago has become a bit famous lately, thanks to shows like Portlandia, a bunch of chefs, and some ridiculous donuts. Oh and a REALLY, BIG, AMAZING bookstore called Powells...maybe you've heard of it?

Sure, Portland doesn't have the street cred of NYC, but it's got its own quirks....lots and lots and lots of quirks....

Wow us with your Portland-themed entry, and Rob will send you his zombie book. Heck, if you REALLY knock my socks off, maybe I'll mail you a maple-bacon bar from Voodoo donuts. Pickle that!

And The Winner Is...Ted From Sales

This entry rang true, sadly. Portland IS full of Blazer fans, stoners, and trailers (both the hipster "Glamping" kind AND the run-down-becoming-one-with-the-jungle-in-your-neighbor's-yard kind.) It's a classy place, whatcanIsay?

A Slight Detour

Went to see the Trailblazers play.
Got blazed in a trailer, instead.
I want Voodoo donuts now.

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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