UPDATED WITH WINNER: LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: February Edition - Now, with New Rules!

Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity.

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess. For this edition, we are going to alter the rules a bit to keep it fresh. You now get 25 words and 2 sentences.

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 - NEW!

  • 25 words is the limit. (You can write less, but you can't write more.)
  • The whole story must only be 2 sentences. No more. No less.
  • 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.
  • We'll pick a winner on the last day of the month.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All stories submitted on or before February 27 will be considered. We'll run the winner on February 28.

This Month's Prize

A copy of Fight Song, the new novel by Joshua Mohr, who you may recognize as one of LitReactor's excellent instructors. Mohr's other novels Termite Parade (a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice selection), Some Things that Meant the World to Me (one of O Magazine's Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller), and Damascus, have all received high praise. Mohr teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco, and you can listen to him yuck it up with our own Rob, Josh, and Cath on the next episode of Unprintable - The LitReactor Podcast.

Here's a bit about the new book from Amazon.com:

When his bicycle is intentionally run off the road by a neighbor's SUV, something snaps in Bob Coffin. Modern suburban life has been getting him down and this is the last straw. To avoid following in his own father’s missteps, Bob is suddenly desperate to reconnect with his wife and his distant, distracted children. And he's looking for any guidance he can get.

Bob Coffin soon learns that the wisest words come from the most unexpected places, from characters that are always more than what they appear to be: a magician/marriage counselor, a fast-food drive-thru attendant/phone-sex operator, and a janitor/guitarist of a French KISS cover band. Can these disparate voices inspire Bob to fight for his family? To fight for his place in the world?

A call-to-arms for those who have ever felt beaten down by life, Fight Song is a quest for happiness in a world in which we are increasingly losing control. It is the exciting new novel by one of the most surprising and original writers of his generation.


Your Inspiration

Image from Yowa Yowa Camera Woman Diary.

Now Get Writing!


And the winner is...C Patrick Neagle

While not the only entry that alluded to Peter Pan, this entry had that punch of humor that characterizes a great piece of flash fiction. The allusion to the well known story fills in enough back story to make the dialogue make sense and be funny. I had to read it a few times to make sure it fit the 2 sentence rule, and it does...technically...have two periods. So, I went with it. Nicely done!

Long-Distance Relationships

"Peter," Wendy said--not breathing hard, not even angry--as she bobbled above polished linoleum at a bank of payphones, "I'm 25. This must stop."

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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Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland February 4, 2013 - 8:10pm

Never Land

I bought green tights and taught myself to fly. Broadway called; they casted Justin Bieber in a harness.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 4, 2013 - 10:22am

Binary 12: Connection, Please

If you could fly, why would you use the low phone?

That's like a giant peeing in the kids' urinal.

midoridia's picture
midoridia February 4, 2013 - 10:59am

Lost connection

by Diana Radovan


I tried calling myself in a parallel universe to remember who I was. Nobody picked up and the sky was wireless and out of reach. 

iambinarymind's picture
iambinarymind from Frederick, MD is reading "This Perfect Day" by Ira Levin February 4, 2013 - 11:55am

Plea for Sanity

What is it about the color blue that always lifts my spirits?

God, if you're there, please pick up.

Max Andrew Dubinsky's picture
Max Andrew Dubinsky from Los Angeles is reading Another Bullshit Night in Suck City February 4, 2013 - 6:11pm

You Told Me To Never Call There Again, But 

They say in heaven there are no quarters to make calls. I'm on my way out and you're not picking up, so that was goodbye.

poppamatic's picture
poppamatic February 18, 2013 - 11:38pm

Absence Makes Us Look Yonder

This tired long distance relationship cliché made her feel hollowed out, weightless.  Alexander Graham Bell was a bastard; he had made strangers of us all.

Tom Elias's picture
Tom Elias from Maine is reading Everything I can afford or that is within arms' reach. February 5, 2013 - 3:20am


She dreamed of placing a call while floating in a European airport.  This, she decided, was reason enough to murder her husband.

Luis Oliveira's picture
Luis Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reading Iliad by Homer February 5, 2013 - 5:48am

Hell of stalker girl 

"God is great and installed public phones plus WiFi service in Heaven, amen. I hope my stalked boy is online today, asap."

Tecky's picture
Tecky February 5, 2013 - 10:02am

Long Distance: U.K. to Japan: I guess you've been gulping Vonnegut again. Your voice is electric and spinning ecstatic in his gravity well; you're much more grounded when reading Kafka.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 5, 2013 - 12:43pm

I don't read Kafka or Vonnegut. In my life I've read one book or less by each.

[Oh, wait, that's fiction, and not directed at me.]

Good stuff, folks!

WesFord's picture
WesFord from America (CO, NE, NC, AK, NY, WA) is reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Portable Atheist by Hitchens, 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill February 5, 2013 - 1:01pm

"Flight" directed by John Woo

Must warn Sensi about Samurai assassin who follow me on flight. Why I leave cellphone in luggage?

Chris Johnson's picture
Chris Johnson from Burlington NC is reading The Proud Highway February 5, 2013 - 2:33pm

 Hanna Barbera

"See ya. My legs are doing that cartoonish thing again, where the weirdly awesome sound effects play and they start running before I do."

artistic addict's picture
artistic addict from Living in Fear and Loathing U.S.A. is reading 1984 February 6, 2013 - 3:30am

1-800-Superheroes Anonymous

"Hello, So You've just discovered your superpowers.  If you are currently hovering in mid-air, damaged public property, or shut down an airport, press 1 now."

PROleary's picture
PROleary from central NJ is reading anything and everything February 6, 2013 - 11:23am

The Kidnapping

by: P. R. O'Leary

It rang at the appointed time but she didn’t hear the kidnapper’s voice. She heard her son instead, and all he said was "April Fools!"

Lance Bankerd_2's picture
Lance Bankerd_2 February 6, 2013 - 10:09pm
The Man Can't Keep Me Down
             by Lance Bankerd

"You can't use that phone unless you're handicapable" snarled the rotund airport lackey.

"In point of Fact, sir and/or madam, I am gravitationally challenged"

Amanda Crawford's picture
Amanda Crawford from Sacramento is reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter February 7, 2013 - 1:54pm

Gravity: the force attracting one body to fall into another

Gravity called it quits, but Anna had one last thing to say. With her dying breath she said, “Mike, it was all your fault.”

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works February 7, 2013 - 7:59pm


“I’ll walk through worlds for you, and they’ll collide and destroy us.”

"Love destroys the self of each lover, and a new universe is born.”


Christian Mott's picture
Christian Mott from the inside of a raincloud is reading The Chronicles of Narnia February 7, 2013 - 10:03pm

Impending Depths

The floor gave way at the ring of the pay-phone—she held on tight.

His voice crackled through the earpiece, "How's this for revenge?”

Bret Fowler's picture
Bret Fowler February 8, 2013 - 4:23am

Be Careful What You Wish For

By Bret Fowler


"So, Mr. Wizard, how long did you say it would take for this flying potion to wear off?"

"Who said anything about it wearing off?" 

Jacob Good's picture
Jacob Good from Idaho is reading Asimov on Chemistry February 10, 2013 - 4:05pm

"Quid Pro Quo"


I was testing Zeno's Paradox when my mother called from a waystation outside Honolulu. "Where did you leave my copy of Mein Kampf?" she asked.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... February 12, 2013 - 9:33pm

Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand

I sprinted to the phone and answered it. The line was dead.

Anna Elizabeth Grace's picture
Anna Elizabeth Grace from a little place called Earth is reading To Kill a Mockingbird February 11, 2013 - 2:11pm

Phone Home

Leah called back home to Earth. She didn't want to live on this planet anymore.

HB Rad Lee's picture
HB Rad Lee from California. I usually live in the mountains or a car or out of a backpack... right now I have a flat in Germany is reading READY PLAYER ONE February 12, 2013 - 3:23pm

Oh Gravity, Thou Art a Heartless Bitch

She wears her hair tight in a bun. That way, when she jumps for the camera it will look as if she's flying.

Ryan O'Connor's picture
Ryan O'Connor February 13, 2013 - 6:42am

Grey dawn

The sea of ammonia and dandruff flowed from the bus, Ryan breathed a sigh now that the grey tide had ebbed. Another rainy day!

I Blogged Your Mom's picture
I Blogged Your Mom is reading Tropic of Cancer and Wolves Of The Calla February 14, 2013 - 12:33pm

Everything To Him

He was in love with her once, and she him; their love was pure and unsoiled. His voice lifted her body and soul.


Stephen_Inf's picture
Stephen_Inf from Illinois is reading Whiskey Tango Foxtrot February 16, 2013 - 11:34am

Photoshop Critique

The editing of the cables and harness was well-done, but the image is hardly realistic. In what world does anyone still use a pay phone?

Jake Peterson's picture
Jake Peterson from Seattle, WA is reading Dave Eggers - The Circle February 16, 2013 - 6:33pm

Call Waiting: A Tragedy

Gloria was credited with one call from purgatory before entering the pits of hell's fiery inferno. She phoned her lover and cried, "Where are you?!"

Franz III's picture
Franz III from Colorado is reading Perdido Street Station by China Miéville February 16, 2013 - 11:46pm


The earpiece is caked white with dried sweat. Ten billion possible numbers and nobody has punched in the correct one.

Mark Fresno's picture
Mark Fresno from Flint, MI is reading The Baseball Encyclopedia February 19, 2013 - 3:40pm

"Slot Alternative"

They won't take my plasma anymore.

Now I afford my high one quarter at a time.

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words February 23, 2013 - 9:39pm

Long-Distance Relationships

"Peter," Wendy said--not breathing hard, not even angry--as she bobbled above polished linoleum at a bank of payphones, "I'm 25. This must stop."

Aaron Giron's picture
Aaron Giron from Los Angeles is reading Red Harvest by Dashielle Hammett February 20, 2013 - 4:23am

Ghost Logic or A Song for the Dead Receiver

If I were you and you were I, you would be dead and my self, alive.
Regrettably, I love death the way you love life.

Lesley Marshall's picture
Lesley Marshall from Los Angeles February 23, 2013 - 7:00pm

Dial "M" for "Meta"

"Hello, and welcome to MetaPhone!" came the hearty automated response. "If you are becoming lighter as you reach enlightenment, press one!"

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words February 27, 2013 - 8:53pm

Oooo! Hey, thanks! Excellent! I'd like to thank my mom, my dad, and the Academy. Oh, wait.

Seriously, there were so many great entries (1-800-Superheros Anonymous made me laugh for several minutes, at least); thanks for appreciating the work I went to, grammatically, to make mine follow the rules.

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon February 28, 2013 - 12:15am

Congrats, C. Patrick. Well done!

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works February 28, 2013 - 1:04am

I just personally want to give everyone here a goldstar. And a high five. yup.

artistic addict's picture
artistic addict from Living in Fear and Loathing U.S.A. is reading 1984 February 28, 2013 - 2:30am

Congratulations C. Patrick, you definitely earned it!  And thanks!  Your comment on my entry made my day because if I made the winner laugh, well then I'm calling it a win for me in my book too ;-)

FARAH22's picture
FARAH22 February 28, 2013 - 4:25pm

The Spell

Numbers were all she saw as her body started to weigh again. If only to hear you while in this state once again!

Taylor's picture
Taylor from Durango, Colorado but living in Portland, Oregon is reading The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart March 1, 2013 - 1:58pm

Congrats to all! I really enjoyed reading this round! See you for next month's Smackdown!