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

Flash Fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity

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

This Month's Prize

Win a galley copy of Anthony Quinn's Border Angels (one of The Inspector Celcius Daly Mysteries).

Here's a bit about the book—which comes out this month—from Amazon.com:

On the Irish border, Inspector Celcius Daly investigates human trafficking and a scorched corpse.

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is a rugged place: cold, windswept, and dark. For the girls brought here from Eastern Europe, it may as well be a war zone. Put to work in a farmhouse brothel near Dunmore, the women are forced into a living hell. One night, a pimp takes one of them for a ride. She is just planning her escape when the car explodes. The next morning, there is nothing left but the pimp’s charred body and the woman’s footprints in the snow.

As his forensics specialists turn their attention to the burned corpse, Police Inspector Celcius Daly obsesses over the footprints. Where exactly did the woman come from, and where did she go? It is the sort of question asked only in the borderlands—between North and South, between life and death.

Your Inspiration

I hate scary movies. There, I said it. Even though many are very, very good, I just am too chicken to watch them.

But....since it's almost Halloween...

I dare you to scare me.

That's right. You get 25 words and two sentences to scare the *Bleep* out of me. Good luck!

Now Get Writing!

And the winner is…Trevor Duplessis.

Well, you folks are a bunch of scary muthaeffers. I even starred as the intended victim in two entries from previous Flash Fiction winners artistic addict and BarryG. (Nice try, guys!)

But there was one entry that creeped me out so much, I almost didn’t select it as the winner. But then I realized, I told you to scare me, and this entry truly did.

Thanks to Trevor, I will never look at those little stick-figure-family car stickers the same ever again. *shudder* So, without further ado:


He peels the sticker of the little boy from the minivan window’s decal family as he walks by. They won't need it come morning.

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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Andreea Mihai's picture
Andreea Mihai from Bucharest, Romania is reading Dance Dance Dance - Haruki Murakami October 1, 2013 - 7:52am


My words are dripping, or so I thought. But when my knife came out of me, I was dripping only me.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) October 1, 2013 - 8:03am


I am the shadow at the edge of your vision; the shiver running down your spine.
One day I’ll do more than just watch you.

Juan Camilo Esguerra's picture
Juan Camilo Esguerra from Colombia is reading the bandits of hellsbend October 1, 2013 - 8:19am


A knife! please don't, don't cut me, AHHHHHHHHHH, he screamed or he though he did.
He didn't, have you ever see a talking birhtday cake.

JamieM's picture
JamieM from Scotland October 3, 2013 - 6:15am


Seven hundred thousand Miley Cyrus twerk, twerk, twerk before you in the fire and your eyes cannot avert. The devil laughs at your eternal punishment.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday October 1, 2013 - 8:41am

Golden Cow

We've never officially met, but you're my everything.

When you wake up, you will know everything about me.

bsywanyk's picture
bsywanyk from a dark, cold place is reading a lot of Jung, film theory, and the history of shamanism and alchemy. October 1, 2013 - 9:19am


Her lips were gently parted when a fly walked across them.   The painter got up, waved it away, and returned to his canvass.

chrisdeal's picture
chrisdeal from NC is reading The Maid's Version October 1, 2013 - 9:09am


Your bedroom is lonely and dark, but there is the heaviness of a new body at the foot of the bed. It starts crawling upwards.

Tanzim W. Rahman's picture
Tanzim W. Rahman October 1, 2013 - 9:16am

The Song

His headphones whispered: “Let’s Kill’em all.”
He waited; then nodded, like a plastic doll.

Trevor Duplessis's picture
Trevor Duplessis October 14, 2013 - 11:01pm


He peels the sticker of the little boy from the minivan window’s decal family as he walks by. They won't need it come morning.

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) October 1, 2013 - 12:03pm

Just Another Friday Night

The blanket of cockroaches squirmed and wriggled on his naked body, each one nibbling away.  Next time, he'll remember the safe word.

Emmanuel Homberger's picture
Emmanuel Homberger October 1, 2013 - 1:11pm

Heavy Breathing

Every night I dream about a face gazing at me from outside, but the next morning, it’s gone.
I worry about that fogged window-area.

TomJoad72's picture
TomJoad72 October 1, 2013 - 1:30pm

The Worst Joke Ever

"Your joke isn't funny !" the little girl said, crying.

"And you haven't even heard the punchline !" The clown whispered with a grin.


twinkletoes3106's picture
twinkletoes3106 from San Diego, CA is reading Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen October 1, 2013 - 1:48pm

Trapping Season

The chain was too heavy. She gathered the hammer in her competent hands, wondering if his kneecaps would sound like bubble wrap when they popped.

Kelby Losack's picture
Kelby Losack from Texas is reading Muerte Con Carne; The Summer Job; Bizarro Bizarro October 1, 2013 - 4:04pm

Our Last Caress

In pitch black, the ceiling drips on the cold concrete, our cold bodies. My neck on her dry lips, I wait for her to breathe.

Tom1960's picture
Tom1960 from Athens, Georgia is reading Blindness by Jose Saramago October 1, 2013 - 6:47pm

Candy's Kiss

Candy's blue lips were icy, but her writhing tongue scalding hot. It was a pretty good kiss, until she filled my mouth with dead flies.

Christer Young's picture
Christer Young October 2, 2013 - 11:16am

Pacific Coast Time

Rob talked to his parents on the telephone, religiously, each Sunday at noon. The phone rang; it was Wednesday at 9:13, pacific coast time.



Benjamin Martin's picture
Benjamin Martin from Portland, OR is reading ... October 2, 2013 - 2:43am


She could feel the sweat on his palms. ‘Oh shit,’ she thought as he slid the wedding band on her finger.

Kenneth Jobe's picture
Kenneth Jobe from Wichita is reading American Gods October 2, 2013 - 8:57am

That Old Familiar Feeling

Walking to your car late at night and can't help looking over your shoulder? Yes, that's me; tomorrow night we finally meet.


Amanda Crawford's picture
Amanda Crawford from Sacramento is reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter October 2, 2013 - 12:28pm

Tick, Tick.

Tick, tick, for hours when she begged, “What do you want?” No words, no sound, no light, just tick, tick, as the stiletto pierced bone.

Tina M.'s picture
Tina M. from Saint Paul, Minnesota is reading Everything's Eventual by Stephen King October 7, 2013 - 9:13am


"You’re a bad mommy," a voice said. Anna turned to face the dog whispering to her, as she pressed the pillow over her daughter's face. 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK October 2, 2013 - 2:38pm


Feel me staring at your back, my fingers hovering above your shoulders, that soft sound, exhaling. Now close your eyes.

artistic addict's picture
artistic addict from Living in Fear and Loathing U.S.A. is reading 1984 October 2, 2013 - 8:30pm

Houston, You Have A Problem

It would be alright if he didn't win. Portland wasn't that far away and certainly not too big to find and fix one judge's mistake

Jase's picture
Jase October 3, 2013 - 3:09am

Eleven Days In

Rebecca awoke screaming, realizing her legs were inside a cow carcass. She freed herself and shook violently, fearing what the robed men had planned next.

lkr1212's picture
lkr1212 from Maryland is reading Travels with myself and others by Martha Gellhorn October 3, 2013 - 8:05am

Reality of Nightmares

Eva awoke in a shudder. As she calmed herself, she felt the hot breath on her neck that had originally jarred her rasp “take it”.

Benjamin Joseph's picture
Benjamin Joseph from Southern U.S. is reading Knockemstiff October 5, 2013 - 2:54am


The man stared at the razor, whispering "Do it." I slammed my fist into his face, shattering the mirror.

Kommanda X's picture
Kommanda X from Jupiters Moon is reading The Secret Doctrine October 5, 2013 - 7:19pm

The Forest Grins

A childs lost tears as dawn comes near, A strangers deep grin,

Souls never to be found again.

Meachman's picture
Meachman from Indianapolis is reading Amusing Ourselves to Death October 5, 2013 - 8:47am

Viral video

“Thank you to everyone tuning in,” the announcer spoke expressionlessly. “By now our modified signal has broadcast the virus directly to each viewer’s cerebral cortex.”

Joe_Nava's picture
Joe_Nava from Chicago is reading Heart-Shaped Box October 5, 2013 - 2:48pm

The Burial

“No,” he screamed, but the lid was already shut.  He was forever confined inside the casket, with only its rotting inhabitant for companionship.

James Matterhorn's picture
James Matterhorn March 12, 2014 - 11:03pm


She stumbled out the door, clutching her arm, thoughts frantic, "was that a needle?" It was hard to think now, to see; she heard footsteps.


Kirk Alan's picture
Kirk Alan from Houston is reading Creator by Jeremy Leven October 7, 2013 - 8:03pm

That Sound

Just the last one.

Open wider.

BarryG's picture
BarryG October 8, 2013 - 12:07pm

Taylor’s tale of terror
“I won’t pick this submission,” Taylor decided, not yet feeling the knifeblade pressed against her neck flesh. These were the last words she ever read.

Christopher Provost's picture
Christopher Provost from Nashua, New Hampshire is reading The Zombie Survival Guide October 8, 2013 - 12:26pm

How Does Your Garden Grow?

When I asked Grandma what made her garden grow so lush she smiled and responded, “Bone meal.”  Thirteen neighborhood children went missing that summer.

Jake Peterson's picture
Jake Peterson from Seattle, WA is reading Dave Eggers - The Circle October 25, 2013 - 7:50pm


Ol' Hickory

Hickory Robinson stared sheepishly at what he had just done. Nobody was around except the jumbo rats that scampered about, disposing of the fleshy remains.

ZepNess's picture
ZepNess is reading The Power Broker, The Alienist October 8, 2013 - 11:01pm


The old man had been weeping for hours. No one was there in that moment when he uttered his final words of remorse.

muskettb's picture
muskettb from Wollongong is reading Enders Game October 9, 2013 - 5:59am

The Trap

Everything was backwards, nobody saw and saw nobody, backwards was everything. Rewind and repeat. 

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words October 11, 2013 - 10:33am


The sound--a sussurus, a scritching--moved behind the black-night window. Then the sound--a sussurus, a scritching--moved behind the closet door.

Emma Light's picture
Emma Light from The mathematical middle of Nowhere is reading An Unquiet Mind October 11, 2013 - 5:28pm

the It baby

"Mommy.... Mommy, please come play with me.... Mommy...."
Then the child's voice changed to a darker, lower, foreboding growl: "Don't you like clowns, Mommy? "

Skygrotto's picture
Skygrotto from Southwestern Ontario is reading Europe: A History by Norman Davies October 12, 2013 - 3:29pm

Late-night Stroll Down Maudeville Lane


Strangers are ghosts; windowpanes reflect nothing; and a familiar moon cowers inside clouds. I feel how much I'm vanishing, when escaped convicts run over me.

TheScrivener's picture
TheScrivener from Seattle is reading short stories October 13, 2013 - 6:53pm

"My condolences, but you must remain in the containment zone," the soldier said, his bloodshot eyes meeting those of the emergency worker. "Until the end."

tpatlynch's picture
tpatlynch from Bayonne, New Jersey, United States is reading The Shining October 13, 2013 - 8:36pm

A Skeptic No More

The power goes out as you reach for your bedroom door knob.  "Are you scared now?" something whispers from behind you.

Serafine's picture
Serafine October 21, 2013 - 8:57am

The stories were real

The nightmare thing is never seen. But if you are unlucky, one day it will forward and whispers in your ear "You should have listened."

Robert Sims's picture
Robert Sims from the East Coast, though now in North Dakota is reading The Patrick O'Brian Sea Novels October 22, 2013 - 4:09pm


While the clock chimmed midnight, the bed creaked as I laid down alone at last. And then it creaked again.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland October 23, 2013 - 8:57am


I taped my mouth at night so cockroaches couldn’t crawl down my throat. I woke up suffocating when they crawled up my nostrils instead.  

cmelis's picture
cmelis October 23, 2013 - 9:57am

A feast for supper, I sat down with my darling in front of me---on my plate. He would've liked knowing he tasted so good.

DaJoHi's picture
DaJoHi from MA is reading Wool (1-5) October 23, 2013 - 10:30am

Eternal Water

The deserted pool was closed for the night. As I swam through the tepid void, a cold hand grabbed my ankle and pulled me down.


jimmymauthe's picture
jimmymauthe October 26, 2013 - 10:35am


The doctor swabbed the patient’s arm, inserted the empty syringe, and pressed down the plunger.  He could almost hear the sirens coming.

Alf_V's picture
Alf_V from Austria is reading Sasha Grey: The Juliette Society October 29, 2013 - 4:47am

smells and bells

My daughters giggled, pricked each other with cauteries, while one killed their mother the second time. I lingered in the corner, inhaled the carnose fog.


emils4ever's picture
emils4ever October 30, 2013 - 5:51am

Meat and Potatoes
I sit at the table slicing the pot roast for dinner, “Supper time” I yell to my parents. Why am I yelling at my food?

scriv's picture
scriv October 30, 2013 - 5:53am

Fountain of Youth

Two boys were looking for the fountain of youth. The only problem was that one of them was death.

GabiTucker's picture
GabiTucker October 30, 2013 - 5:54am

You are 400 feet up on the cliff when you realize you are not tied in.