Columns > Published on March 31st, 2014

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.

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

  • 14 words is the limit. (exactly 14 words.)
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title of 3 words (no more, no 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 March 28 will be considered. We'll run the winner on March 31.

This Month's Prize

Two titles from Two Dollar Radio:

'Radio Iris'

by Anne-Marie Kinney

Radio Iris is the story of Iris Finch, a socially awkward daydreamer with a job as the receptionist/personal assistant to an eccentric and increasingly absent businessman. When Iris is not sitting behind her desk waiting for the phone to ring, she makes occasional stabs at connection with the earth and the people around her through careful observation and insomniac daydreams, always more watcher than participant as she shuttles between her one-bedroom apartment and the office she inhabits so completely, yet has never quite understood. 
Her world cracks open with the discovery of “the man next door.” Over the next few weeks or months (the passage of time is iffy for Iris), she takes it upon herself to learn everything she can about this stranger. But the closer she gets to him, the more troubling questions at the heart of her own life rise to the surface, questions like - Why does she keep having the same dream? Why is it that she and her brother don’t seem to have a single shared memory of their childhood? What is it her boss actually does? In the end, Iris is faced with a choice she never imagined, and a reality she never knew enough to dread.

Anne-Marie Kinney's work has appeared in Black ClockIndiana Review, and Keyhole, and has been performed by Los Angeles’s Word Theatre. Radio Iris is her first novel.

'A Questionable Shape'

by Bennett Sims

Mazoch discovers an unreturned movie envelope, smashed windows, and a pool of blood in his father’s house: the man has gone missing. So he creates a list of his father’s haunts and asks Vermaelen to help track him down. 

However, hurricane season looms over Baton Rouge, threatening to wipe out any undead not already contained and eliminate all hope of ever finding Mazoch’s father. 

Bennett Sims turns typical zombie fare on its head to deliver a wise and philosophical rumination on the nature of memory and loss. 

Bennett Sims was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His fiction has appeared in A Public SpaceTin House, and Zoetrope: All-Story. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he currently teaches fiction at the University of Iowa, where he is a provost postgraduate visiting writer.

Your Inspiration

Hey, it's month 3 in the 14th year of the millenium, a.k.a. 3/14 or 3.14....c'mon, Nerds, you know what I'm getting at—it's Pi(e) Month! So, let's write pastry- and/or math-related stories in honor of the tastiest mathematical constant, π. Stories must have a 3 word title and be exactly 14 words in length. No more. No less.

And be sure to have an extra slice on 3/14/14.

Now get writing!

And the Winner Is... Grant Williams

Once again, you all KILLED IT with awesomeness. We even had a picture entry that was pretty awesome (though it sadly missed the word count...). I did, however, have to pick just one, and I kept coming back to Mr. Williams' entry. So simple, so sublte that you almost miss the punchline—but funny when you do finally put the pieces (haha—pun) together. Well done!

The Business Model

"Just once could you report your sales numbers in a bar graph, Mrs. Callender?"

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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