UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: March 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. For this edition, we are going to alter the rules a bit to keep it fresh. You now get 25 words and 2 sentences.

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 March 28 will be considered. We'll run the winner on March 29.

This Month's Prize

Max Allan Collins' book Seduction of the Innocent. Here's a bit more about it:

It’s 1954, and a rabble-rousing social critic has declared war on comic books – especially the scary, gory, bloody sort published by the bad boys of the industry, EF Comics. But on the way to a Senate hearing on whether these depraved publications should be banned, the would-be censor meets a violent end of his own – leaving his opponents in hot water.

Can Jack Starr, private eye to the funny-book industry, and his beautiful boss Maggie unravel the secret of Dr. Frederick’s gruesome demise?  Or will the crackdown come, falling like an executioner’s axe…?

A hardboiled detective novel inspired by the 1950s witch-hunt against crime and horror comic books.  Written by best-selling novelist Max Allan Collins (author of Road to Perdition and long-time scripter of the Dick Tracy newspaper comic strip) and featuring 16 pages of interior illustrations by comic-book artist Terry Beatty (Batman, The Phantom),SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT tells the story of comic book industry troubleshooter Jack Starr and his investigation into the death of a moralizing crusader out to get violent comics banned. 

The book was inspired in part by the real-life crusade of Dr. Fredric Wertham, who in 1954 published a non-fiction book also titled Seduction of the Innocent in which he accused comic books – especially violent ones such as those put out by Tales from the Cryptpublisher EC Comics – of corrupting America’s innocent youth.

Your Inspiration

Photo via Flickr

Now get writing!

And the winner is...Strange Photon!

Strange Photon squeaked in just at the 25-word limit by using sonofabitch and Goddamnit as single words—and it worked! I like that he didn't interpret the inspirational photo literally, but rather followed it down the tangent a bit first so that it only appears in the single, non-literal use of the word bird. I also like that the Grandma scolds the "sonofabitch" for unsafe driving while simultaneously ordering her driver to pull a similarly dangerous stunt. That's the kind of Grandma I'd like to be someday...

Driving to Church

"Goddamnit, Kris, that sonofabitch nearly ran us off the road — get alongside and I'll flip him the bird." Grandma always had a way with words.

Part Number:
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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Daniel W Broallt's picture
Daniel W Broallt from Texas is reading The Emerald Mile March 4, 2013 - 10:44am

Over Bagels, Concern

Jacob said he worried about his wife flying to Guatemala for another Tarot reading, because as a child he was exorcised. I prayed; heard orange.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like March 4, 2013 - 12:08pm


You may walk and be driven forever onward,
or stand firm and speak only as you are spoken to.
The rod cannot choose for you.

Keith's picture
Keith from Phoenix, AZ is reading Growing Up Dead in Texas by Stephen Graham Jones March 4, 2013 - 2:16pm


It was like fire, sunburst orange and chimney red. Then she went numb, a scream erupted from her throat: WHO WANTS TO SEE MY TITS!

SRead's picture
SRead from Colorado is reading Stories March 4, 2013 - 7:00pm


“If you run by that tree where Birds of Paradise nest, you’ll get shat on.”
It was funny in Papua, but in Manhattan she cries.

Jacob Good's picture
Jacob Good from Idaho is reading Asimov on Chemistry March 4, 2013 - 6:31pm

As Seen on Flickr™

He searched the world over with the help of a box of circuitry. He found flamingo feathers in Tampa, Florida, taken with a Samsung camera.

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words March 5, 2013 - 1:24am

The Death of Daylight

"I could've done that," the woman with the peacock-feather shawl said of the painting's joyous, sun-bright streaks. Overhearing, the veteran artist turned away in tears.

Kieran Shea's picture
Kieran Shea March 5, 2013 - 3:57am

Blank and Pitiless as the Sun

As agreed, at 12:00 PM (UTC/GMT) all worldwide media terminated broadcast. I drank the last of the vodka and shot the flamingo because I could.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... March 5, 2013 - 6:55pm

Majorelle Blue

First thing I noticed when I came to was how black her blue eyes looked. Second was the dried vomit on her fluffy pink pillow.

SamaLamaWama's picture
SamaLamaWama from Dallas is reading Something Wicked This Way Comes March 5, 2013 - 3:41pm

Perspective is Deceiving

Under the microscope, it didn’t look so bad. It looked luxuriant and soft—nothing like the insidious microorganism that would end mankind.

Bryan Kaufman's picture
Bryan Kaufman from Columbus Ohio is reading Dreamcatcher by Stephen King March 5, 2013 - 6:27pm

Wife Fire


John's wife always hated the lawn flamingo so it stayed in the garage. So he rushed into the burning house to save it. 

Andreea Mihai's picture
Andreea Mihai from Bucharest, Romania is reading Dance Dance Dance - Haruki Murakami March 6, 2013 - 5:28am



Orange is my summer and my sun has feathers. The silence errupts from me.

Andreea Mihai's picture
Andreea Mihai from Bucharest, Romania is reading Dance Dance Dance - Haruki Murakami March 11, 2013 - 3:10am

I don't know why, my post appeared twice when I tried submitting it. Sorry for the inconvenience.

AislingB's picture
AislingB from Las Vegas, Nevada is reading on a Kindle March 6, 2013 - 1:02pm


With a roll of her shoulder, she bared her soul. Vegas was the last card she had left to play.

Dave Funk's picture
Dave Funk is reading Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury March 6, 2013 - 8:35pm


Orange-exotic plumage rustled relentlessly as the headdress cavorted in exaltation. The tribe-elder presented sacrifice to the spirits as fire seared the visitors’ flesh.

Kenny Reilly's picture
Kenny Reilly from Calgary, Alberta, Canada is reading Reaper's Gale March 6, 2013 - 9:41pm

The Word For The Bird

“Neve-” Graham put his hand up; “Yes, Graham,” Edgar said. “I thought only parrots could talk,” said Graham.

Rod Mance's picture
Rod Mance from AR is reading All the time, every chance he gets March 7, 2013 - 2:44am

Beauty Unseen

They were dressed in alluring costumes adorned with feathers and rouge; angelically danced around open fire, with eyes that could not see.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Ira Levin March 7, 2013 - 7:21am


Peering in to the bird enclosure she sighed, "I just love pink flamingos."

My brain on autopilot, I asked, "The film with the singing asshole?"

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Ira Levin March 7, 2013 - 7:24am

sorry double post :S

FupDuck's picture
FupDuck from Beavercreek, OH is reading American on Purpose March 7, 2013 - 11:03pm

Modern Forties

"I'm sorry your head still hurts." Quietly returning the feather to the nightstand, I rolled over and thought maybe another night, but I knew better.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones March 9, 2013 - 3:40pm


The flame's wings stretch wide over the photograph, disolving us between its feathers. And I watch, eyes stoic, savoring the taste of passionfruit and lemon.

Gypsyxt's picture
Gypsyxt from here and there is reading La Isla Bajo El Mar March 13, 2013 - 1:55am


Miss Moxy Meow's red lipstick left murderous streaks on everything like a Mark of Zorro. But darling, it was the feathers that made her fly.

jrbd's picture
jrbd from behind the Orange Curtain is reading Tenth of December March 10, 2013 - 1:58pm

Championless Featherweight Bout


Two addicted hobos pummel each other bloody over a dollar, snapping their bones, rending their skin, my heart. A pleased spectator says, “Worth every penny.”

artistic addict's picture
artistic addict from Living in Fear and Loathing U.S.A. is reading 1984 March 10, 2013 - 8:59pm

Kentucky Fried
The colonel always knew this day would come. Staring up at the vengeful chicken, all he could do was lay back and think of Kentucky.

jeffswitt's picture
jeffswitt from Texas is reading Eat Drink and Be from Mississippi March 10, 2013 - 8:35pm

Judy's Garland


Rainbows should be downy orange, sun’s plumage bathing daylight sky.  Egypt cries,” Long live Ra,” while Pharaohs dance beneath the sand, silent wings their metronome.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time March 12, 2013 - 10:57am

The Malevolent Squawks

Squawks our golden peacock-god lives! Let us light the altar and hear our sacrifice scream unto him.

Luis Oliveira's picture
Luis Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reading Iliad by Homer March 14, 2013 - 12:08am

Back at the lab

The ornithologist returned from the forest. Now, he wonders if the feather sample is really burnt-orange or if it's just his jungle fever hallucination.

Paulette Zander's picture
Paulette Zander March 15, 2013 - 6:42am

<strong> Writing To Please Pavlov <strong>

I’m so sick of entering writing contests with obscure inspirational image prompts, she pouted. “Yeah, like you’d win anyway,” her ex-husband said with a snort.

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics March 15, 2013 - 7:18am

Driving to Church

"Goddamnit, Kris, that sonofabitch nearly ran us off the road - get alongside and I'll flip him the bird." Grandma always had a way with words.

Dani J's picture
Dani J March 16, 2013 - 11:04pm


After slaughtering the angel, they cut out the mouth that terrified and the eyes that judged. But they kept the wings; they liked the wings.

Karen Ring's picture
Karen Ring from Tampa, FL is reading A short fiction anthology March 20, 2013 - 5:26am

A Hunting We Will Go

Feathers rained from the sky as the lifeless body of Mabel’s beloved parakeet hit the ground. “She said to find a hobby,” Alex scoffed.

Jean-Paul Maillard's picture
Jean-Paul Maillard from UPSTATE NY is reading olive kitteridge March 28, 2013 - 12:49am


"Of course it was for money, sir. A soft boa an' tiny shoes an' i'm makin' a mess a myself quick like!"

Simone Bellenoit's picture
Simone Bellenoit from Massachusetts is reading Bone In The Throat March 26, 2013 - 6:12pm

Stranger Things

The driver playfully tugged at the orange boa around the prostitute's neck as she laughed - Little did he know, the woman's name was actually George.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig March 29, 2013 - 10:27am

Congrats, Strange Photon!

Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder March 29, 2013 - 10:40am

Good on you SP.

PS I love my Grandma.

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words March 29, 2013 - 1:51pm

Congratulations, Strange Photon! Lots of good ones this month!

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons March 30, 2013 - 6:14pm

Congratz Strange Photon! 

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics April 1, 2013 - 4:34am

Thanks, Taylor, and thanks, everyone for the congrats!

I totally agree with C Pat, there were so many excellent submissions this time around that I had no illusions I'd win, I just wanted to make a tribute to my grandparents. So, you can imagine my delighted shock when I found out mine was chosen as the winning submission. THANKS!!!

PS - M.E.S., yes, grandparents kick ass!