UPDATED WITH WINNERS - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: Leap Year 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

  • 29 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 February 28th will be considered. We'll run the winner on February 29th.

This Month's Prize

2 lucky winners will each get a copy of Irvine Welsh' new book A Decent Ride. [Our review HERE]

A Decent Ride sees Irvine Welsh back in Edinburgh, this time with one of his most compelling and popular characters front and center: the rampaging force of nature that is 'Juice' Terry Lawson, first seen in Glue.

Juice is a man who contains multitudes: he's a top shagger, drug-dealing, gonzo pornstar and taxi driver. As we ride along in Juice's cab through the depraved streets of Edinburgh, Juice encounters a series of charmingly filthy characters, each of whom present their own, uh, unique challenges. Has he finally met his match in Hurricane 'Bawbag'? Can he discover the fate of the missing beauty, Jinty Magdalen, and keep her idiot-savant lover, the man-child Wee Jonty, out of prison? Will he find out the real motives of unscrupulous American businessman and reality-TV star, Ronald Checker? And, crucially, will Juice be able to negotiate life after a terrible event robs him of his sexual virility, and can a new fascination for the game of golf help him to live without . . . a decent ride? (The meaning of the title is starting to sink in now, huh?). So buckle your seatbelts and prepare for one unforgettable ride.

Your Inspiration

I used to think Leap Years were pretty neat! There is usually an Olympics and an election and some bullshit about women being able to propose marriage to a man. Well, I'm old and cynical now. Olympics are boring. Elections are painful. And...feminism! To me, February 29th is just a day that means March (and my paycheck) is coming one day later than usual. Furthermore, if you live in the northern hemisphere, February is often dark and cold and boring. I generally look forward to February being over. (Why can't we get an extra day in, say, June?)

This month, let's write stories about something that has overstayed its welcome, gone moldy. Let's write about something we can't WAIT to be OVER (like the high-waisted short-shorts trend or The Walking Dead). Let's call out the things that just never seem to end!

Then, when we've waited 29. LONG. DAYS., I'll announce the winners and we can get on with it! GAWD. Then we can move on to March! Spring! A Flash Fiction Contest Featuring Rob Hart's New Book! C'mon, February, let's get this OVER with... 

And the Winners Are...The Dark Lord and sierracook

Sorry, dudes, but men were (fictionally) harmed during this month's episode of LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown! The authors of these 2 cheeky entries win copies of Welsh' latest book. Congrats! 

From The Dark Lord:


Sizzler…wow...so upscale.
totally not 26 btw…

               lol at least it isn't like Bojangles
               or something! So is he cute???

Two words...hair plugs

From sierracook:

Greg Roland, fifty, was dreading this checkup. “There’s nothing to worry about. Prostate exams are routine,” but neither Dr. Maynard nor Greg were counting on the newly-mopped floor.

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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fsdiego929305's picture
fsdiego929305 from Brazil is reading Open Veins of Latin America February 1, 2016 - 11:50am

The clock, the heart

The clock, the heart. Inside a prison, says Jack, you will want one to go faster or the other to stop, but they don't obey you.


Melina.'s picture
Melina. from Brazil is reading At Night We Walk in Circles (by Daniel Alarcón) February 1, 2016 - 11:58am

You know what you have to do, so do it

I’m nearly a step to admit my life is an excuse for all the lives I chose not to have. The only way out is forward, into the abyss.

Timothy Burbage's picture
Timothy Burbage from Sunbury, England is reading The Girl of Ink and Stars February 2, 2016 - 7:12am

Uncle News

My brother and his wife are waiting. So am I. Organising my wedding is difficult and you can have a kid whenever. I have a schedule to keep!

resabug's picture
resabug February 2, 2016 - 7:35am

Past Expiration

She opens the fridge. The stench of rotten dairy floods her nostrils. She sneers and closes the door.

He bought it—he can throw it away.

Christopher Peterson's picture
Christopher Peterson from Illinois is reading the tea leaves... February 2, 2016 - 1:58pm

Uncle Al’s Last Call

“Any minute now.” Our huddled family glowered anxiously as his agonal wheezes imbrued the air with stale rotgut and memories of belabored holidays and overstayed welcomes. “He dead yet?”

Cameron Combs's picture
Cameron Combs from Olympia Washington is reading all the things February 2, 2016 - 6:50pm

One of Us Has to Go

Thinking about the cottage cheese in the refrigerator made me dry heave.  My wife threw out the unopened container, muttering that our food budget might not survive my pregnancy.

Justimpro's picture
Justimpro from Los Angeles is reading Story by Robert McKee February 24, 2016 - 2:48pm

​Hush Little Baby

Lamp light practically points at me through the slats of my closet wherein I hide. His silhouette basks me in darkness and the dial tone gives me away. 

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote February 4, 2016 - 2:19pm

New Girl: A Story of Reckless Obsession

Detention was agony.

I sat behind New Girl. Her presence was at once familiar and off-putting. She was the scent of sunscreeen in winter.

She yawned. I despised her.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday February 4, 2016 - 2:42pm


They said it was the final frontier. I thought it would make me feel alive again. I've seen less black with my eyes closed. Screw you, space.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 5, 2016 - 7:41am


"Another dream of my friend dying. He explodes, pink mist, human chunks. He leaves behind a wife, two kids, and a friend who needs to get up for work."

Bill Adler's picture
Bill Adler from Tokyo, Japan February 6, 2016 - 10:54pm

Six Stops on the Tokyo Subway

After steel arms shove me in, August glues our bodies together with sweat. Seeking oxygen, I raise my nose, as my lungs struggle against the relentless crush.

BarryG's picture
BarryG February 7, 2016 - 8:52am
If Humanity had food labelling


AVOID: If allergic to war, oppression, stupidity

PRESERVATIVES: enlightenment, hope, kindness

BEST BEFORE: 10000000 BV (Discovery of fire)

EXPIRY DATE: Very soon

WARNING: May contain nuts

sierracook's picture
sierracook from Clayton. NC is reading Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin February 9, 2016 - 8:24am

Greg Roland, fifty, was dreading this checkup. “There’s nothing to worry about. Prostate exams are routine,” but neither Dr. Maynard or Greg were counting on the newly-mopped floor.

Joe Golden's picture
Joe Golden from Clarksburg, WV is reading The Big Sleep February 16, 2016 - 2:09pm

The Life of a Couch-Surfing Couple

My girlfriend's smile is no longer the valuable currency it was a week ago, and the man living here has hardened his eyes. We'll have to move on tomorrow.

The Dark Lord's picture
The Dark Lord from The Void is reading The Book of the Dead February 18, 2016 - 7:20pm


Sizzler…wow...so upscale. 
 totally not 26 btw…

               lol at least it isn't like Bojangles
               or somethign! So is he cute???

Two words...hair plugs

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 24, 2016 - 2:16pm

Black History Month

It's the shortest month

Can't we celebrate people?

We still see color

Justimpro's picture
Justimpro from Los Angeles is reading Story by Robert McKee February 24, 2016 - 2:45pm


First Day. New School. I harden myself against them. I am an eight year old cannonball. Bully fodder. Load me up and spit me out, but eventually cannonballs destroy.