Columns > Published on June 30th, 2014

UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: June 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 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. You can write less, but not more.
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 10 words or less.
  • 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 June 27 will be considered. We'll run the winner on June 30.

This Month's Prize

This month's winner will get an ARC of The Big Hit by James Neal Harvey. Check out the description from

In Harvey’s first new thriller in more than fifteen years, a starlet’s murder draws an NYPD detective into a cross-country manhunt.

Mongo wakes up, brushes his teeth, and prepares to kill a movie star. He needs a wig and a phony press pass, as well as a very special tape recorder that holds two fléchettes, one of which is earmarked for screen siren Catherine Delure. A bit of smooth talk takes Mongo past Delure’s security and into her hotel room, where he completes his assignment with ease. The hit was simple, he thinks. But it is about to go terribly wrong.

Delure appears to have been shot during a robbery, but homicide detective Jeb Barker is not fooled. Tracking the self-assured assassin leads the PI first to Las Vegas, then to California—where blue sky and palm trees cannot distract him from the darkness within the hit man’s heart.

Your Inspiration

100 years ago, in June 1914, James Joyce's book Dubliners was finally published. Though he finished the book of short stories about middle class life in turn-of-the-century Dublin in 1905, he had to submit it to 15 different publishers and wait almost 10 years to finally see it in print. Let's celebrate the tenacity of Mr. Joyce with flash fiction stories of our own that deal with the every day life of regular people. Ready. Set. GO!

And the Winner Is...MAC

Once again, there were only a few entries—but they were of very high quality. Thank you ALL for making this a hard decision. Even though I was a little grossed out by the idea of flying toenail clippings, MAC's tale was whimsical and real and completely imaginable. Well done!

Scoring in the Toenail Olympics

Clip! Coffee table hit hard. Clip! Belly-
up in the carpet. Clip! Little-piggy shavings score girlfriend's belly button.
You're sick, she says.
Kiss me.


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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