UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: May 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

  • 15 words. You can write less, but not more.
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 10 words or 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 May 29 will be considered. We'll run the winner on May 30.

This Month's Prize

This month's winner will get an ARC of Not For Nothing, (one of) the latest from LitReactor Alum Stephen Graham Jones. Here's a teaser:

A novel written in second person. The town is Stanton, Texas, population three thousand; the private investigator is disgraced Midland homicide detective Nicholas Bruiseman, who's so down on his luck that he's forced to take a job as a live-in security guard for the town's lone storage facility. This is his new life—starting over with nothing in the town he grew up in.

Your Inspiration


Photo by John Ryan

Now get writing!

And the Winner is ...Thuggish

This goofy entry stood out among the wistful and somewhat creepy entries that predominated this month's contest. This entry was funny, but also instantly imaginable to me. I can totally see this as an album cover with Mr. Mathers in the foreground in a hoodie looking pouty/hard. 

Marshal Mathers LP 3

When Eminem relapses again, he thinks this was his house growing up.

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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Craig Towsley's picture
Craig Towsley from Montreal, QC, Canada is reading The Dain Curse - Dashiell Hammett May 1, 2014 - 6:41am

My Father's House


Their rot started from the inside, chewing at the edges, until they both collapsed.

Teri's picture
Teri May 7, 2014 - 9:35am

entry withdrawn.

good luck you all. :)

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 1, 2014 - 11:36am

Home is the Lonliest Prison

With the windows broken and doors unhinged we were finally free to live.

wavedomer's picture
wavedomer from Boise is reading Rum Punch May 1, 2014 - 11:55am

First and Last

He asked. "Yes."

Laid warm together. Later, woke cold.

She asked. "No."

Living changed everything.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami May 1, 2014 - 1:36pm

The Withered House

A withered house beckoned quietly, echoing eternally.

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words May 2, 2014 - 3:19am

House of Memories, House of Fears

Beneath the many gables of your house of memories, the boarded windows flank no doors.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday May 2, 2014 - 6:19am

Land of Discovery

His hands were too busy to be handy.

The internet sirens trapped him.

BlueOctopuss3's picture
BlueOctopuss3 from Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory) / living in MIami, Florida is reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon May 2, 2014 - 8:25am


The stench lingered long after they found the bodies.

Alma's picture
Alma from Denmark is reading Warm Bodies + The Haunted Vagina May 2, 2014 - 11:20am

Childhood Home


Black skies

Scorched earth

Burned alive

But never again

Daniel W Broallt's picture
Daniel W Broallt from Texas is reading The Emerald Mile May 2, 2014 - 1:51pm

What I See When I Look At Old Family Photos

Invisible man. Too close. Wants to touch me. Comfort. Soothe. I resist. He dances away.

CheffoJeffo's picture
CheffoJeffo from Toronto May 2, 2014 - 2:25pm


Scabby and stilted. Waiting and withered. He can't accept that she's not coming back.

Merran Jones's picture
Merran Jones from Australia is reading All That I Am, by Anna Funder May 2, 2014 - 8:04pm

The House Always Wins

When he gained possession of the house, he'd no idea the house would

possess him.

Kristi's picture
Kristi from Connecticut is reading Anything I can get my hands on! May 2, 2014 - 8:28pm

The Black Widow

His haunting cries from below the eves, the merry black widow rolls up her sleeves.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal May 3, 2014 - 8:41am

Marshal Mathers LP 3

When Eminem relapses again, he thinks this was his house growing up.

Luis Oliveira's picture
Luis Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reading Iliad by Homer May 3, 2014 - 5:59pm

Sounds of sepia

In its debacle, the crippled crib cries a loud dread, shushing my worries.

Dan Appel's picture
Dan Appel May 4, 2014 - 1:28am

Driving Past

"What's that place?"

"A house someone built but never lived in. Problems with the bank."

Shawn Milazzo's picture
Shawn Milazzo May 4, 2014 - 1:48am

The House


When you're in you can't get out, you're stuck forever noone can help.

Steven Covieo's picture
Steven Covieo May 4, 2014 - 10:12pm

Grandmothers, Gods, and Dreams


Trees, once bearing fruit, held these on handmade swings.

Mike Zimmerman's picture
Mike Zimmerman May 5, 2014 - 7:17pm

Dust covered my old chair. But it couldn't cover the memories.

DaJoHi's picture
DaJoHi from MA is reading Wool (1-5) May 15, 2014 - 11:02pm


Madness Comes Home

The sound wasn't wind echoing through broken panes, it was laughter. 

Eric Thompson's picture
Eric Thompson May 6, 2014 - 11:54pm

Don’t Close Your Eyes Lest It Disappear

Smelling the wood rot in disbelief and wonder. These days, even human remnants are sparse.

Benjamin Joseph's picture
Benjamin Joseph from Southern U.S. is reading Knockemstiff May 7, 2014 - 5:25am




Four walls, two guardians, and a roof does not a home make. Missing my tent.

Alex Warren's picture
Alex Warren from Oklahoma is reading Of Blood and Honey - Stina Leicht May 7, 2014 - 7:49am

The House Made Me Do It

He twisted the wedding ring on his finger and looked around. This place was perfect.

midnighttyper's picture
midnighttyper from England, South Yorkshire is reading The picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde May 10, 2014 - 6:15am

Oak Flooring

We tore down the forest to build shelter from it.

WilliamGrit's picture
WilliamGrit May 10, 2014 - 9:52am
Gabriel Osborne's picture
Gabriel Osborne May 11, 2014 - 11:37pm

Unintended Consequences

I approached the home of my childhood. If only memories let me be.

Werus's picture
Werus from Portland, OR is reading Secret Acension May 15, 2014 - 11:14pm

When The World Moves On

Paint peels.
Wood splits.
Foundations crumbles.

We saw it coming, but that made no difference.

Natso's picture
Natso from Mongolia is reading Moby Dick May 16, 2014 - 12:49am

Bleak House

My body decays, the weeds suffocate, by-passers shun, trespassers have fun.

Horror modeling sucks.

ZepNess's picture
ZepNess is reading The Power Broker, The Alienist May 24, 2014 - 6:38am

::Foster Care::

The cumulus clouds evanesced, but the horrors committed upon those abandoned children never will. 

herlit's picture
herlit May 26, 2014 - 3:31pm


See the sky is made of dust, a longing, a promise of long lost lust.

Benjamin Eziddin Christensen's picture
Benjamin Eziddi... from Aarhus, Denmark is reading The Imago Sequence May 29, 2014 - 3:09am

Bleached Painted Lady

I’ve found another home for the thoughts and pray for locks on the doors.

Grigori Black's picture
Grigori Black from US is reading Radium Girls by Amanda Gowin May 29, 2014 - 6:07am


The house was just as he left it, but she wasn't.

Loehly's picture
Loehly May 29, 2014 - 5:58pm

Childhood Home

What memory and magistrate condemned, only time can erode.

Liam David's picture
Liam David from Illinois is reading The Crying of Lot 49 -Thomas Pynchon May 29, 2014 - 9:04pm


Executives in hard hats and glossy shoes thrusted shovels in a homesteads previously tilled soil.

Luis Oliveira's picture
Luis Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reading Iliad by Homer May 30, 2014 - 5:30pm

I never questioned your winners. But this month, damn. 

ZepNess's picture
ZepNess is reading The Power Broker, The Alienist May 31, 2014 - 7:08pm

Congratulations Thuggish.

I quite liked the entry, and am just happy to have participated in this fun competition. So thank you for giving us the opportunity to create.