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

Flash Mystery Fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity--and mystery.

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess. For this edition, we are going back to the 25 words and 2 sentences rules--using the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as inspiration.

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 May 30 will be considered. We'll run the winner on May 31.

This Month's Prize

A hardcopy of J.G. Ballard's Autobiography Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton, An Autobiography.

A final statement from the greatest clairvoyant of twentieth-century literature.

Never before published in America, this revelatory autobiography—hailed as “fascinating [and] amazingly lucid” (Guardian)—charts the remarkable story of James Graham Ballard, a man described by Martin Amis as “the most original English writer of the last century.” Beginning with his Shanghai childhood, Miracles of Life guides us from the deprivations of Lunghua Camp during World War II, which provide the back story for his best-selling Empire of the Sun, to his arrival in war-torn England and his emergence as “the ideal chronicler of our disturbed modernity” (Observer). With prose of characteristic precision, Ballard movingly recalls his first attempts at science fiction, the 1970 American pulping of The Atrocity Exhibition—which sprang from his fascination with JFK conspiracy theories—and his life as a single father after the premature death of his wife. “This book should make yet more converts to a cause that Ballard’s devotees have been pleading for years” (Independent).

Your Inspiration

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859 in Scotland. He was a doctor, sportsman, and a writer, and you probably know him best from his Sherlock Holmes crime novels.

For this month's contest, use the concept of Sherlock Holmes as inspiration. You can use the true Doyle-ian version, or any of the TV and movie versions created after the books came out. It's up to you. Here's a description of Sherlock Holmes from A Study in Scarlet, the first book of Doyle's to feature the now-famous character:

Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with. He was quiet in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and gone out before I rose in the morning. Sometimes he spent his day at the chemical laboratory, sometimes in the dissecting-rooms, and occasionally in long walks, which appeared to take him into the lowest portions of the City. Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.

And the winner is...WonBlackGuy

Once again, so, so, so many great entries, so I had to go with my gut. This one stuck out to me because it's funny, clever, and smart-alecky in a way I can appreciate.

Rathbone and Bruce

"The game is afoot," proclaimed Holmes wryly.

“A foot,” quipped Watson, “considering the magnitude of this case, I’d say the game was an entire leg!” 

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!

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.

Comments

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books May 1, 2013 - 10:48am

Oh this is a cool one! I might dip my toes in again, can't wait to see what people come up with!

Melissa Bean's picture
Melissa Bean from New York is reading The Sister's Brothers May 9, 2013 - 7:44am

Undiagnosed, like Sherlock Holmes was

Handcuffed again, Stanley says, “I’m dedicated like Sherlock Holmes was.” The sheriff turns to me, sighs, “That’s it; he's at a crime scene, it’s prison.”

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday May 1, 2013 - 2:27pm

In it Together

"How long have you been the villain, Moriarty?"

"Ever since you made me up, Holmes."

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday May 1, 2013 - 2:27pm

In it Together

"How long have you been the villain, Moriarty?"

"Ever since you made me up, Holmes."

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday May 1, 2013 - 2:28pm

In it Together

"How long have you been the villain, Moriarty?"

"Ever since you made me up, Holmes."

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday May 1, 2013 - 2:28pm

In it Together

"How long have you been the villain, Moriarty?"

"Ever since you made me up, Holmes."

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday May 1, 2013 - 2:28pm

In it Together

"How long have you been the villain, Moriarty?"

"Ever since you made me up, Holmes."

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday May 1, 2013 - 2:29pm

In it Together

"How long have you been the villain, Moriarty?"

"Ever since you made me up, Holmes."

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday May 1, 2013 - 2:36pm

If someone could enlighten me on how to remove the last 7 or so verions of my post that would be great.

Mark Fresno's picture
Mark Fresno from Flint, MI is reading The Baseball Encyclopedia May 1, 2013 - 3:08pm

"The Solution"

 

An overnight of quiet reflection later and I've determined that it was indeed Mrs. Fleet.

Unfortunately, she ties an excellent gag. 

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts May 1, 2013 - 3:55pm

Beespeaker

Their knees knock--deafening; fills one's head with honey. Din of drones drowning out conspiracies unspooled from the lines in one's palm, so utterly monotonous.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 1, 2013 - 3:56pm

@Grant: I haven't found a way to delete posts yet. There is a bit of a delay between when you hit the post button and when the screen changes, so you have to be patient, otherwise you end up with seven posts. It'll go eventually.

Fernando Del Valle's picture
Fernando Del Valle from New York City. Lives in Atlanta, GA is reading Space Chronicles - Neil DeGrasse Tyson May 1, 2013 - 4:03pm

"Mr. Holmes, I believe this might be the perfect crime!"

"No such thing my dear Sir, but she is indeed the perfect victim!"

 

debbiele03's picture
debbiele03 May 1, 2013 - 6:07pm

Story of a Murder

Professor Moriarty claps his hands with satisfaction, flares his nostrils, and wheezes through the gap between his teeth. He’s finally dumped the corpse underwater.

steven.kaye's picture
steven.kaye from New Jersey is reading Rasputin's Bastards May 1, 2013 - 8:20pm

On the Segregation of the Queen

"I commend to your attention, Watson, Xenophon's Anabasis, in particular the account of the honey of Trabazon. Doubtless Moriarty found the conceit irresistible."

WonBlackGuy's picture
WonBlackGuy from Tulsa, Oklahoma is reading Between the World and Me May 2, 2013 - 8:36am

Rathbone and Bruce

“The game is afoot,” proclaimed Holmes wryly.

“A foot,” quipped Watson, “considering the magnitude of this case, I’d say the game was an entire leg!”

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK May 2, 2013 - 1:46pm

Lighter

The flame stirred the dying embers, filling the pipe with acrid black smoke, engulfing the room. Now it is all so clear, he thought.

chrisdeal's picture
chrisdeal from NC is reading The Maid's Version May 2, 2013 - 1:54pm

A Final Query

With a healthy dollop of powder he constrained himself to his bedchamber. There was one mystery unsolved by the Great Detective, and that was himself.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 3, 2013 - 8:15am

A Study in Suds

"These are not men of any great measure, Holmes: not like we two," I said yet again, then cut off the shower. Accents are hard.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch May 5, 2013 - 11:46am

Elementary, My Dear Watson

The watch's hands in his fist -- the perpetrator's initials as clue: "Second," "Hour." Had Holmes himself been alive, he would have declared it a suicide.

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words May 6, 2013 - 1:22pm

"A Memoir Not for Doctor Watson"

This mind lies fallow, without mystery. The music hollow to my ears, I once more tie the band about my arm, search for the needle.

Jason Van Horn's picture
Jason Van Horn from North Carolina is reading A Feast For Crows May 7, 2013 - 11:50am

"Men Upon The Sea"

The blushing bride did die by the venom of her honey's sting, dear Watson. Anaphylaxis took hold of her throat.

Audra Brown's picture
Audra Brown from The Middle of Nowhere is reading Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach May 6, 2013 - 9:37pm

"A Query In Blue"

 

"Your vision is tainted by the truths you so revere." I popped him on the noggin and sighed, "Without such limits, everything is perfectly clear."

Bryan Kaufman's picture
Bryan Kaufman from Columbus Ohio is reading Dreamcatcher by Stephen King May 7, 2013 - 4:07pm

Color of Bone

Staring at the ceiling Holmes thought, "That is the same color white as bone. When it is no longer covered by flesh."

Nancy Young Polin's picture
Nancy Young Polin from Austin, TX is reading The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien May 15, 2013 - 2:38am

Awake

The stillness in his face declared nothing when the fly landed.  It perched, indecisive, before rising to lead him toward the stench of human frailty.
 

chrisatsac's picture
chrisatsac from California is reading The Shining May 16, 2013 - 4:04pm

A House is not a Holmes

Doctor House chased the vicodin down with a mouthful of scotch. He snickered at Holmes, then smashed the 'Baskervilles' volume hard against the unforgiving floor.

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics May 18, 2013 - 12:55pm

If we've won in the last two months, do we have a chance of winning again, or do we have to wait?

Sism_Battlebridge's picture
Sism_Battlebridge from [an abandoned mine shaft near Deaf Smith Canyon, Utah] is reading Moby Dick May 23, 2013 - 2:30pm

Ima Need a Bottle After This One
Pulling his deerstalker low, the sleuth teetered skyward from the grisly scene. This was the third teddy bear this week; the pawprints suggested a canine...

Martin Gillespie's picture
Martin Gillespie from Glasgow, Scotland is reading House of Leaves May 23, 2013 - 4:22pm

The Original Superhero/ The Origin-less Superhero

Holmes was never a child; nor a child, Holmes. Any other explanation of the man, however, would give unprecedented value to the actions of others.

Luis Oliveira's picture
Luis Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reading Iliad by Homer May 24, 2013 - 6:15am

Covered in blood, covered in bugs, the body was labeled as the victim, by the detective. No surprise then, when I started to sneak out.

JC Piech's picture
JC Piech from England is reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest May 26, 2013 - 8:04am

The Crying Man

It was normal that Holmes lie staring, dreaming, yet the tear escaping down his cheek was worrisome. “Tea?” was all I could think to offer.

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres May 26, 2013 - 2:48pm

The Indian in Dr. Caligari's Cupboard

It was just as I expected; find the pillow, find the killer. And so solved the case of the suffocating somnambulist.

tishadw74's picture
tishadw74 from Louisiana is reading Odd Interlude by Dean Koontz May 30, 2013 - 12:00pm

The Missing Dr. Watson

"Just as I suspected, Watson" Holmes said as he surveyed the room. He turned around to find Watson gone.

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres May 31, 2013 - 2:52pm

Congrats WonBlackGuy! Nicely written!

WonBlackGuy's picture
WonBlackGuy from Tulsa, Oklahoma is reading Between the World and Me June 1, 2013 - 2:14pm

Thanks, sean of the dead!

JC Piech's picture
JC Piech from England is reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest June 2, 2013 - 7:05am

Congratulations WonBlackGuy! :) 

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 2, 2013 - 3:15pm

Congrats WonBlackGuy. Great Job!!