Columns > Published on July 29th, 2016

UPDATED WITH WINNER!!!!!!! LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: LAST ONE!!!!!!!!

THE LAST  Flash Fiction Contest

Welcome to LitReactor's Last Flash Fiction Smackdown (for now, anyway...)

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

  • 250 words. It can be less, but not more. 
  • 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 July 26th.  We will run the winner on July 27th.

This Month's Prize

This month's winner will get a copy of this fun summer mystery starring Lizzie Borden! New York Nocturne: The Return of Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait.

Lizzie Borden and Amanda Burton reunite to solve the case of a grisly murder among Jazz Age New York’s elite in this riveting mystery from bestselling author Walter Satterthwait.

Sixteen-year-old Amanda is spending the summer with her suave and easygoing uncle John at the Dakota Apartments, opposite the green sprawl of New York’s Central Park. When John isn’t doing something mysterious with stocks and bonds, he and Amanda enjoy the very best the Roaring Twenties have to offer. However, in a single brutal night, everything changes. Suddenly, Amanda is alone, far from home, and fighting for her life in a city that has abandoned her.

Fortunately, there’s one person Amanda can trust: Miss Lizzie Borden. Together, they'll manage to work out a twisted passage toward what might be survival through the narrow streets of nighttime New York.

Your Inspiration

Well, friends, we've been doing this contest for 4+ years, and it's time to wrap it up! Participation has dwindled, and I'm running out of nutty ideas for prompts. I mean, I used SOUP as a prompt this year—really....time to hang it up.

Don't despair, though, we may bring it back in a new incarnation in the future. We LIKE the contest (and we know you do, too.) But let's give it a rest for now.

But first,


Pick any prompt from any of the previous Flash Fiction Contests and write 250 words (or less) on the topic. (As you can see, I am restoring the original flash fiction contest word limit from back in 2012 when Rob was running the show.)

Look through the previous Flash Fiction Contests we've held and pick an Inspiration. We've had a lot—from towels a la Douglas Adams to Axl Rose, from contortionists to classic poems about plum thievery, from scary stories (the winning story still creeps me out) to graveyards (won by our own Emma before she worked for us.) So pick one, and give us a story. Also, please add a link to the original contest page so we can see which one you picked. And please turn in your story by 7/26 to run 7/27, as I will be off the grid starting 7/28.

(Ok ok, I'll be in San Francisco...with my iPhone...but I won't be looking at it as much...)

It's been a fun ride, y'all. So long, and thanks for all the flash! 

And the Winner Is...Christina Re!!!

Well, that was hard!! Hard because it was the last one and hard because we had 3 high quality entries! You GUYS! You're making my job hard again, but I love you for it. Thank you to all who have entered and made this such a fun part of my month. 

Many Congratulations to Christina for winning the last one!! Thank you all!!!

Mother Aquarius

My mother looked down at me with an expression as appealing as a snubbed-out cigarette. And yet, it was the face of my goddess.

She thumbed another quarter into the payphone. I impatiently tugged at her skirts, hid under them when strangers approached. When a man finally answered she turned from me and spoke softly into the receiver for a few minutes. I heard her ask, “Do you want to talk to her?”

He must not have wanted to.

We set off for the park by the old rail bridge. She didn’t hustle that day, instead we walked hand-in-hand. When we stepped up on the sidewalk bottles clinked in her saddlebag like wind chimes. I preferred stomping in the gutters on the crunchy leaves, but mother said I would get dirty.

We sat on a bench near the playground. In her cupped palm she held two black gem earrings.

“Sapphires, baby. Your birthstone.”

“My birthday was three weeks ago.”

She sniffed. “I know. It’s a belated gift. From your daddy.”

I pushed one with my finger and it caught the light.

“Do you like them?” She asked.

“They look like you when you’re happy. They’re beautiful. Do you think I’ll ever meet him?”


I wanted her to cheer up so I changed the subject.

“You’re birthstone is amethyst, right?”

I pulled a tissue from her purse and gave it to her. Her tears could flood out a forest fire.

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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