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,

LET'S GO OUT WITH A BANG!!!

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?”

“Someday.”

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.

Image of New York Nocturne: The Return of Miss Lizzie
Author: Walter Satterthwait
Price: $10.19
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (2016)
Binding: Paperback, 298 pages
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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Comments

Christopher Peterson's picture
Christopher Peterson from Illinois is reading the tea leaves... July 7, 2016 - 9:59am

Garden's End, or The Ultimate Epoch Beneath the Eternal Sea

What was left of her stared out mournfully over the wilted stone garden planted at her feet over centuries by the Black Gnomes. The Great Light Above, having served her faithfully since her birth, had dimmed behind the teary shrouds of the Eternal Sea some days or decades before and the Black Gnomes had stopped planting her garden a short time after. Before Garden’s End and The Great Collapse, the Black Gnomes would fill her and warm her and chirp and chant inside of her, tending to her needs dutifully. They carried their seeds into her womb and spoke their gardener’s incantations over them before planting them at her feet, sprouting up stone children she admired for their maternal resemblance. The last of the Black Gnomes had knelt before her toothless mouth and stared at her crumbling feet before screaming and wailing into her, sending the last shiver down her pillared spine. Its departure harbingered the era of Garden’s End, in which no more seeds would be planted, no more adoration would be paid to her majesty, and from which ultimately came the Great Collapse, when the tears of the Eternal Sea broke her spine and collapsed her holy womb. Only her stone garden could witness in dumbfounded silence, and in mourning her majesty began to crumble beneath the Eternal Sea’s same tears. Lost now in Garden’s End, the bereaved mother measured sacrilege. Of all her holy sacraments, Time, which always felt the most profane, was the most sorely missed.

Original Prompt: https://litreactor.com/columns/litreactors-flash-fiction-smackdown-july-edition

 

The Dark Lord's picture
The Dark Lord from The Void is reading The Book of the Dead July 25, 2016 - 9:35am

Dude...I'm super bummed. I really liked this column. Like a lot. Hell, my friend (Grant) got me started on writing on this alone (since I was too much of a wuss and he was like "dude, it's 20 words or whatever"). Taylor, it's been fun. I appreciate all the hard work you did in putting this together every month. Couldn't have been easy. Anyway, here's my final entry. I figured if it's the last one, I might as well go out with a bang like you suggested and submit something befitting my handle. 

The Second Slaying of the Great Deceiver

"Think they celebrate Christmas like we used to?" Jake asked, not bothering to hide his contempt.
"I celebrate Hanukkah," Deanna responded as she adjusted the sights on her rifle.
The alien stood there, outside its massive, newly erected cathedral. It professed to a crowd of faithful praetorians adorned in modern suits, having discarded the antiquated robes and vestments from an earlier age. Despite banishment long ago, it held no ill will. Instead it had watched, waiting for myth to turn to legend.
Then, at the brink of war, it returned.
Twisting her neck with a satisfying pop, Deanna gently placed her eye on the rifle’s scope and added, "Still, its blood will be festive, nonetheless."
“Looks like it’s hiding a parting gift from your ancestors,” Jake noted, eyeing the intricate brown leather bands that wrapped both the alien’s wrists.
Deanna snorted as she raised the crosshairs between the alien’s eyes, flipping off the safety. “Then we’ll have to make this one more difficult to conceal.”
Deanna could have swore their eyes connected before she pulled the trigger, the alien flashing a slight grin before its blood painted the ornate cross behind it.
* * *
“She was crucified shortly afterwards,” Jake said. “For murdering their so-called messiah.”
“Will it ever return?” The kid asked, frowning at the sourness of his grandfather’s words.
“Oh, yes,” he responded. “Which is why we must preserve the truth.”
“The truth?”
The old man’s eyes glinted in the failing light. “That the devil is real.”

Original Prompt: https://litreactor.com/columns/litreactors-flash-fiction-smackdown-alien-holiday-edition

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin July 26, 2016 - 2:37pm

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?”

“Someday.”

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.

Original Prompt: https://litreactor.com/columns/litreactors-flash-fiction-smackdown-june-...

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin July 26, 2016 - 12:04pm

I have to agree with The Dark Lord whole-heartedly today. (Great handle, btw)

I have loved participating in these Flash Fiction competitions! There have been so many fantastic, creative entries over the years. I have learned about word economy, which is huge. Also, this helped me realize I can finish and submit things. So I'm doing that pretty regularly now.

I chose my prompt as a throwback to my first entry. I went back and read my submission, and while it isn't dreadful I think I've grown a lot as a writer over the past few years.

Thank you so much Taylor (and Rob) for all your work. It has been a blast.

JerryLambert's picture
JerryLambert from Las Vegas is reading The Thirteenth Tale July 31, 2016 - 4:35pm

Well thats great, but I just joined and this is just the kind of thing I would enter.  Hopefully you bring it back.