UPDATED WITH WINNER: LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: June Edition

Flash Fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity - The Gatsby/Summer Edition

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 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.
  • It can be 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 June 27 will be considered. We'll run the winner on June 28.

This Month's Prize

A copy of Stephen King's new pulp fiction book Joyland (Hard Case Crime). Here's the synopsis from Amazon.com with a note from the Master of Horror himself, Stephen King, about why you can't get this as an eBook.

 Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

"I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book."

– Stephen King

Your Inspiration

Since it's June and the first day of summer/solstice are on the horizon, let's use a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby to inspire flash fiction pieces about summer, heat, and ifyoulike, Gatsby-related stuff.

In two weeks it'll be the longest day in the year... Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.

-Daisy in The Great Gatsby

Now Get Writing!

And the winner is...Werus

Phew...this edition of the Flash Fiction contest was full of really fantastic entries, but Werus' entry had the best combination of images. I love the picture of the robed figure (which morphs completely when you realize who it really is!) and the allusion to (I'm assuming) Gaelic solstice rituals was a great touch. Anyway, read it for yourself:

Darkness Comes

A robed figure raises a jeweled dagger towards the sky, chanting, “Chuige oíche.”
Behind him a voice calls, “Harry! Remember to bring in the cat.”

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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James T Wood's picture
James T Wood June 3, 2013 - 12:31pm

Birds hung motionless after I flipped the switch; I’d successfully stopped time. I gazed at the wonder I’d wrought before suffocating amidst immovable air.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer June 3, 2013 - 6:58pm


He made New Year’s "never again" promises, stroking my bruised cheek. The air-conditioner kicks on as I cross the summer threshold, the gun still smoking.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 3, 2013 - 8:18pm

She's the Most Persistent Woman

"Daisy," I said, "do you always repeat what you just said?  Do you always repeat what you just said, Daisy," I asked.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list June 3, 2013 - 11:37pm

The Summer Reading List

She knew, as she set aside her summer reading, if she could crawl into this fictional world she would do only one thing. Save Gatsby.

MattyP's picture
MattyP from Australia is reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith June 4, 2013 - 9:13am

The Cold Must Break

Jack, despair all through him, wanders aimless amid the steaming summer haze. Frozen tears melt from his cheeks, as with the frost all around him.

Keith's picture
Keith from Phoenix, AZ is reading Growing Up Dead in Texas by Stephen Graham Jones June 4, 2013 - 9:06am

The long day faded into a dazzling blend of purple and reds, he mumbled: “We are what we pretend to be.”

Cameron Lawrence Merker's picture
Cameron Lawrenc... from Twin Cities is reading Watership Down June 4, 2013 - 9:56am

Still Waiting

"Christ died and he was buried..." said my father before dropping headfirst to the floor. Mississippi heat exhaustion taught me to wait for the resurrection.

Janae Green's picture
Janae Green from the Pacific Northwest is reading Liberty's Excess by Lidia Yuknavitch June 4, 2013 - 3:33pm

Love Letters

When I die, I want to be buried in your handwritten, loose leaf letters. I want your stories to live in my old skin like wrinkles on hands.

Catie Coleman's picture
Catie Coleman June 4, 2013 - 6:14pm

The Longest Evenings

Childhood slips by as sticky fingers clutch popsicles and bare feet run through the cool grass. Heedless of the coming end, we play on.

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 June 5, 2013 - 10:18am


Summer came and summer stayed. With knife in hand, however, Summer made sure that Autumn never left.

Werus's picture
Werus from Portland, OR is reading Secret Acension June 5, 2013 - 3:51pm

Darkness Comes

A robed figure raises a jeweled dagger towards the sky, chanting, “Chuige oíche.”
Behind him a voice calls, “Harry! Remember to bring in the cat.”

Benjamin Martin's picture
Benjamin Martin from Portland, OR is reading ... June 5, 2013 - 5:48pm


The first day of summer. 4 more months until the season starts.

Christopher Provost's picture
Christopher Provost from Nashua, New Hampshire is reading The Zombie Survival Guide June 9, 2013 - 7:20pm

Solstice Interrupted

Turning to walk away, he mentioned that today was the longest day of the year.  “Not for you,” I muttered as I cocked the hammer.

Jen Daniele's picture
Jen Daniele from Brooklyn, NY is reading Anna Kerenina June 12, 2013 - 10:51pm

Solstice and the Malcontent

Warm air mugged her like a wet washcloth as she zoomed, cramp-toed in borrowed heels and summer suit. The Montauk Express loomed in the haze.

Martin Gillespie's picture
Martin Gillespie from Glasgow, Scotland is reading House of Leaves June 17, 2013 - 7:02pm

Indian Winter

Rita passed; believing in Indian summers, endless suitors and the grandest of gestures. Now she sits on her porch like a cautionary metronome, ceaselessly rocking.

Jean-Paul Maillard's picture
Jean-Paul Maillard from UPSTATE NY is reading olive kitteridge June 18, 2013 - 10:31pm

After she died (my solstice bride); I saw the longest ,as the  best day of my life. Every year, the solstice becomes shorter in time.

artistic addict's picture
artistic addict from Living in Fear and Loathing U.S.A. is reading 1984 June 20, 2013 - 4:26pm

...And Now Kids, For My Next Trick
"Another extravagantly wild party" the tired magician sighed.
"It's gonna be a long summer, but hey,
they don't call me The Great Gatsby for nothing."

Angela Perea's picture
Angela Perea from Denver Colorado is reading Atkinson's Life After Life June 20, 2013 - 11:43am

F*CK the Solstice

The sweat ran down her arm, leaving a sweltering trail of pain and chaos. The conspired tear surprised her as she pulled the trigger.

Cher Lulu Williams Smith's picture
Cher Lulu Willi... from Denver, Colorado is reading Everything's Eventual June 20, 2013 - 11:35am


Sarah yearned whenever she was near him, and her heart swelled with heat-infused love. His lips brushed hers, as he whispered, "Love you, Peggy."

twinkletoes3106's picture
twinkletoes3106 from San Diego, CA is reading Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen June 21, 2013 - 12:15pm

High Society

Paper fans fluttered—goslings trying to catch wind—and I imagined their bodies a shuffling deck of cards. Damp and delirious, the women simply melted.

Liam David's picture
Liam David from Illinois is reading The Crying of Lot 49 -Thomas Pynchon June 22, 2013 - 7:23pm

Servants Break: Outside in Back

"If he could, he'd buy the sun and charge us, making today the most expensive day."
"But he can't, so enjoy it for fifteen minutes."

Kyrsten Stringer's picture
Kyrsten Stringer from Canada is reading A Game of Thrones June 23, 2013 - 1:57am


She caught them behind the barn; a pair of boys sharing kisses in the drunk of night. She watched, touched herself, and kept it secret.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 27, 2013 - 9:42am


My blistered hands will drive a shovel in smoldering heat tomorrow, but I've been invited to a pool party tonight. What would Gatsby do?