UPDATED WITH WINNER: LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: January 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

  • 15 words. No more. No less.
  • 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 January 29th will be considered. We'll run the winner on January 30th.

This Month's Prize

This month, win a copy of  Singapore Noir, a collection of dark tales edited by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. Included are brand-new stories by: Colin Goh, Simon Tay/Donald Tee Quee Ho, Philip Jeyaretnam, Colin Cheong, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Monica Bhide, S.J. Rozan, Lawrence Osborne, Suchen Christine Lim, Ovidia Yu, Damon Chua, Johann S. Lee, Dave Chua, and Nury Vittachi.

Here's a teaser from the introduction: by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan:

Say Singapore to anyone and you'll likely hear one of a few words: Caning. Fines. Chewing gum.

For much of the West, the narrative of Singapore--a modern Southeast Asian city-state perched on an island on the tip of the Malay Peninsula--has been marked largely by its government's strict laws and unwavering enforcement of them...As much as I understand these outside viewpoints, I have always lamented that the quirky and dark complexities of my native country's culture rarely seem to make it past its borders...

Beneath its sparkling veneer is a country teeming with shadows...And its stories remain. The rich stories that attracted literary lions W. Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling to hold court at the Raffles Hotel (where the Singapore Sling was created) are still sprinkled throughout its neighborhoods. And in the following pages, you'll get the chance to discover some of them...

You'll find stories from some of the best contemporary writers in Singapore--three of them winners of the Singapore Literature Prize, essentially the country's Pulitzer: Simon Tay, writing as Donald Tee Quee Ho, tells the story of a hard-boiled detective who inadvertently wends his way into the underbelly of organized crime, Colin Cheong shows us a surprising side to the country's ubiquitous cheerful 'taxi uncle,' while Suchen Christine Lim spins a wistful tale of a Chinese temple medium whose past resurges to haunt her...

As for mine, I chose a setting close to my heart--the kelongs, or old fisheries on stilts, that once dotted the waters of Singapore but are gradually disappearing. I have a deep sense of romance about these kelongs, along with the many other settings, characters, nuances, and quirks that you’ll see in these stories. They're intense, inky, nebulous. There is evil, sadness, a foreboding. And liars, cheaters, the valiant abound.

This is a Singapore rarely explored in Western literature--until now. No Disneyland here; but there is a death penalty.

Your Inspiration:

Apparently, January is National Soup Month, and considering how cold it is in many parts of the world during this time of year, that seems appropriate to me. That said, not all soups are hot. Write a short recipe (15 words or less) for a perfect soup--whatever that means to you. Of course, it does not have to be edible, just soupy.

And the Winner Is...Anthony Puzzio

While soup wasn't the most inspiring prompt I've come up with, you all still came up with some pretty great stories! Well done, everyone!

However, let's congratulate Anthony Puzzio on his winning entry. I enjoyed the rhyming element of this soup story, as well as the double meaning of the word stew. Nicely done!

Rendezvous Stew

Me, You, A Table for Two. Leave your "lover" home, lonely, to stew.

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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Christopher Peterson's picture
Christopher Peterson from Illinois is reading the tea leaves... January 5, 2015 - 10:18am

Ragout d'angoisse (Angst Stew, an old Franco-Anglo-American recipe)

Bring equal parts fear, ambition, lust, privilege, and ennui to boil. Simmer until middle age.

Lynn Edward Main's picture
Lynn Edward Main January 3, 2015 - 5:13am

My Little Assassin

Fly on the wall. Lands in Charli's soup. Irresistable. Fly. Born in my laboratory. Delivers.

Denise Moore's picture
Denise Moore January 2, 2015 - 10:40pm

Date Night

Mix one part leather with two parts lace. Add binds to taste. Ice pick optional.


klaut's picture
klaut from London is reading 52 Pickup January 3, 2015 - 9:24am

Primordial soup

He liked cooking as a child. Then, the disaster. He never touched grandma’s recipe again.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like January 3, 2015 - 11:40am

RE: A Stew

Recipe too long to post. It's a lot. CC guys who made 'Too Many Cooks'.

yourfriendlyneighbourhoodlesbian's picture
yourfriendlynei... January 3, 2015 - 6:51pm

That Soup

Watch yourself!  You are underestimating the heat from that soup.

Tom Treweek's picture
Tom Treweek is reading Wasted Talent by Ryan Leone January 4, 2015 - 2:18am

Anti-wedding soup

One cup canned soup. Two drops of her tears that I hide under my pillow.

Hanna Wattendorff's picture
Hanna Wattendorff from Massachusetts is reading The Collected Short Stories of Anton Chekhov Volume I January 4, 2015 - 10:19am

A Student Visitor's Memory of Soviet Russia

The soup was always warm blood served with snow. No. Beet juice and sour cream.

Susan Mulligan's picture
Susan Mulligan from Salem, MA is reading Rogues, The Way of Kings, Unfettered, On Writing January 4, 2015 - 11:39am

On Your Mark!

Brrringgg!...Middle school bodies collide in boiling streams of tall, small, dark, light. To where?

Robert VanCleave's picture
Robert VanCleave from The Land of Ice And Snow is reading "Sex Lives of Siamese Twins" by Irving Welsh January 4, 2015 - 4:22pm

Life Sentence

Two years infatuation

One summer jealousy

Sprinkle distrust

Maintain rolling boil

Wait for the surprise

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday January 5, 2015 - 7:37am

Hansel's Revenge

Witches fingers.

Witches toes.

Add the tongue

Add the nose.

Simmer until

the memory goes.


Kyle Tobias's picture
Kyle Tobias from Atlanta, GA is reading Damned, Blue Adept, Fool January 5, 2015 - 10:41am

Ode to the Pink Hulk

Liquid courage, alien invaders and the pub crawl of your life. Barstool boxing gloves optional.

Concatenation's picture
Concatenation from England is reading The Dharma Burns - Jack Kerouac January 5, 2015 - 3:22pm

Dissociative fugue consommé.

A gaze, static — unsustained?
Impervious rings of meaning,
Filtered to dissolution.

Luke Schamer's picture
Luke Schamer from Cincinnati, Ohio is reading "House of Leaves" January 30, 2015 - 7:29am

Joey Yurns for Soup

"Remember? Grandma said no soup without her, Joey."

"I know," Joey said. "She's in there."

tka.chance's picture
tka.chance January 7, 2015 - 12:45am


Oblivious mouths devoured steaming soup, with pieces of his warm body veiled beneath oily broth.

Pablo Ortiz M. O''s picture
Pablo Ortiz M. O' from México is reading Stephen King, Dark Tower series January 12, 2015 - 3:32pm

Who eats who.

Sometimes he is too hungry... Starving he consumes. Never again could he hold a spoon.

Luis Oliveira's picture
Luis Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reading Iliad by Homer January 8, 2015 - 4:26pm

Prepared by the lone child


Knocks on the door, and the trembling hands spilled the recipe: coldness, plus tinted letters.

A Ghost of Myself's picture
A Ghost of Myself from California is reading World War Z By Max Brooks January 9, 2015 - 1:23pm

Poisonous Ingredients:


A dash of arrogance and ignorance,

Dumped into boiling waters,

Coalescing intolerance and hate . . . society   

annabananaunk's picture
annabananaunk January 12, 2015 - 10:41am
Hot Apology Soup

Combine one cup each:

   melted dark chocolate


   whipping cream

Pour over belly.  Lick lovingly.

_JohnUtah's picture
_JohnUtah from Texas is reading True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa January 24, 2015 - 6:08pm

Ideal Citizen

His cigattets, Her Lust, bloody knife, patients, ten years, simmer until scolding hot. Enjoy.

Anthony Puzzio's picture
Anthony Puzzio from Bronx, NY is reading Diary A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk January 25, 2015 - 5:39am

Rendezvous Stew

Me, You, A Table for Two. Leave your "lover" home, lonely, to stew. 

Werus's picture
Werus from Portland, OR is reading Secret Acension January 29, 2015 - 5:29pm

Home Stew

Burnt pork chops
Muddy boot prints
Screaming infant
Silent tears

Simmer all night
Eat cold

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday January 30, 2015 - 10:21am

Congrats Anthony. Well done.

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon January 30, 2015 - 4:59pm

Congrats, Anthony.

I enjoyed reading all the others as well. :)

Tom Treweek's picture
Tom Treweek is reading Wasted Talent by Ryan Leone January 31, 2015 - 5:27am

Congrats, Anthony. The honor is well deserved.

Anthony Puzzio's picture
Anthony Puzzio from Bronx, NY is reading Diary A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk February 1, 2015 - 10:21am

Thank you, I thoroughly enjoy this site as well as reading all of my fellow writing enthusiasts work.