Columns > Published on January 31st, 2013

LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: January Edition - Updated with Winner

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

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess, in which you're challenged to thrill us in 250 words or less.

How It Works

We give you a picture. You write a flash fiction piece, using the picture we gave you as inspiration. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked, and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 250 words is the limit (you can write less, but you can't write more)
  • Any genre
  • Give it a title
  • 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 January 30 will be considered. We'll run the winner on January 31.

This Month's Prize

A pack of advanced reader's copies from upstart fiction publisher Two Dollar Radio. Your prize pack will consist of these three excellent titles:

  1. Damascus by Joshua Mohr
  2. Seven Days in Rio by Frances Levy
  3. How to Get Into the Twin Palms by Karolina Waclawiak

Here's a bit about this pioneering publisher from Joshua Chaplinsky's Indie Press Spotlight:

 Two Dollar Radio was founded in 2005 by Eric Obenauf and Eliza Wood-Obenauf, a husband and wife team railing against the publishing status quo. Inspired by Andre Schiffrin's The Business of Books, the indie upstarts set out to 'reaffirm the cultural and artistic spirit of the publishing industry... by presenting bold works of literary merit, each book, individually and collectively, providing a sonic progression that [they] believe to be too loud to ignore.'

Your Inspiration


Photo via  The New Yorker - Photo Booth

Now Get Writing!

And the winner is...Kelby Losack

I think what I love the most about Kelby's story is the first line. The entire story has great pacing, and little punches of humor that are believable and endearing. Nicely done, Kelby.


Johnny waddles his fat ass across the playground, hands in his Wranglers like he's some hot shit cowboy. I've always played the Indian.

Anyways, he walks up to Sally, and let's just say Sally and I have shared the same glue bottle in art class all week. I haven't asked my brother yet, but I think that means we're dating.

Johnny starts pulling on Sally's pony tail and laughing. All her friends are the chicken shit Barbie type, and all my friends are imaginary, so I have to take matters into my own clenched fists.

I run and jump-kick Johnny, but he's a fatter fuck-bucket than I thought and I fall in the sandbox. He face-stomps me and I spit out blood and teeth.

I turn over and kick the lard-butt shadow standing over me square in the nuts. The other kids gasp. The fat shadow stands silent.

"What?" Johnny asks the crowd. Stupid.

I yell, "Ha! Johnny has no balls!"

The other kids chant, "Johnny no-nuts!" and his fatass shadow runs away crying.

I pick my teeth out of the sand and stand up. I don't bother brushing myself off.

I look at Sally. She looks away. She picks up her peace sign backpack and walks inside just as the bell rings.

I won't ask my brother, but I think that means we broke up.

Oh well. The teeth in my hand are baby teeth, no biggie. I'll put them on a necklace. I'll wear it at school.

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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