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

Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity.

Welcome to the first installment of LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown. This shall be a monthly bout of writing prowess, in which you'll be challenged to thrill us in 250 words or less.

And to the victor go the spoils!

How It Works

We give you something. It could be a picture, or an idea, or an STD. You write a flash fiction piece, using the thing we gave you as inspiration. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked, and awarded a prize. 

The Rules

  • 250 words is the limit (you can write less, but you can't write more)
  • Any genre
  • 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 (though don't start changing the whole thing)
  • We'll pick a winner on the last day of the month

UPDATE (5/14): The Judge

Today we're excited to introduce the judge for our contest. The winner will be chosen by Chester Pane, who facilitates a recurring flash fiction competition in our forums. And he has a message for the contestants: 

Flash is an elevator pitch. Cut the cables. Take us on a ride. Freefall with form and precision.

UPDATE (5/23): This Month's Prize

Since this is the inaugural contest, we're offering one month of free membership to LitReactor's writing workshop. If you're not a member already, learn more about that here

We've decided to throw another prize into the mix. The winner will also receive an ARC of The Last Werewolf sequel, Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan, slated for release on June 26 (and huge thanks to our friends at Knopf for the advance copy).

Your Inspiration

 

And the winner is... chrisdeal

Here's what our judge, Chester Pane, had to say: The dynamic, curious language and the transport to another place in a mere flash. Like a bolt of lightning illuminating a glimpse into another world.

Mictlan

From the nothing that is the world beyond the city's limits, Xocotl came roaring into existence like a bird from the flames. It started when the dealers out near Cancer Ally started ending up nude of product, their tongues pulled down through their throat in a coyote's grin. Then the fires started in warehouses up and down the river. Guns, with and without badges, roamed the streets with only that name, Xocotl, for a target.

When he struck closest to the seat of power, leaving bodies burnt and torn asunder, there came a survivor. His eyes had been plucked from their sockets and found in a glass of scorpion wine. His voice was made of velvet, the amaurotic witness said, and the shape of his form was that of a jackal.

When the city's Jefe, an old man with blood on his shoes, found the egg on his door step, crushed beneath an absent boot, he knew the day of his life was closing in on sunset. He consolidated what men he had that maintained the loyalty he required in his home, waiting for the man they called Xocotl to come for him.

Each creak of wood was an enemy blade slipping through the shadows. Each night held little promise of morning. The Jefe waited for his death while the streets were free for the taking. Product flowed once again, bodies sat unclaimed in the morgue. An egg hatched out in the nothing and the city was claimed.

Image of Talulla Rising
Author: Glen Duncan
Price: $39.82
Publisher: Knopf (2012)
Binding: Hardcover, 368 pages

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Keith Deininger's picture
Keith Deininger from Colorado Springs, CO May 23, 2012 - 8:31am

Cracked

At midnight I heard bacon sizzling in the abandoned restaurant along the boardwalk. Each evening the heavy smells woke me in my apartment above the beach. Following my nose, I stepped carefully down the stairs.

The restaurant had closed a week ago and the chairs were like crouching dwarves under the shadowed tables. The woman was behind the bar working at the griddle, hair flopping at the shoulders of her nightgown, her eyes cast downward, even as she turned to me.

“Richard, darling. How do you like your eggs?”

I didn’t know Richard. I stepped up to the bar.

“I had a good time last night,” the woman said.

A groan to my left startled me. I flung my eyes into the darkness. A derelict slumped in the corner, the moonlight reflecting on his greasy face, his drug-filled eyes shining with a desperate calm. My heart began to beat in my ears.

The woman flipped the bacon on the griddle with a dusty spatula. Her shuffling movements made me think she was sleepwalking, drawn to the restaurant from one of the summer homes along the shore.

The woman began to crack eggs, dropping the wet lumps into a bowl.

“Crack a few eggs,” she mumbled.

She cracked a sixth egg into the bowl, then a seventh.

As the woman continued to crack eggs, her face devoid of expression—the bowl’s contents brimming, then beginning to slop on to the counter—I knew what this woman wanted from me and my heart beat ever faster.

taralara's picture
taralara from Minneapolis is reading We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo May 23, 2012 - 11:28am

Routine


Dana stood in the kitchen, blasting eggs against the edge of the black granite counter with her poised white fingers.

Her pug, Barney, sat behind her on the kitchen floor and watched with hopeful anticipation that something would fall.

She opened each cracked brown egg into the old glass IKEA bowl. Each egg had the consistency of clear snot. Heavy. Wet.

She pushed her thumb against her left nostril and did a farmer's blow. An alarming amount of gooey fluid blasted out of her nose and into the pile of yolks. It rested lazily on top of the eggs, slightly green and foamy. She smirked a little.

"Breakfast will be ready in a few," she yelled down the hallway of the tiny apartment.

Her husband meandered into the kitchen. She heard his weight take to the blue wooden chair. She didn’t look up from the mixing bowl.

She could hear Barney sniffing around her feet. She felt his breath on her naked toes like a tiny, hot breeze.

“Psst, Barney, get the hell outta there.”

“Leave him alone,” Dana spoke through her teeth.

She whipped the eggs passively, blending her mucus deep into the milky yellow froth.

“Your eggs are pretty good,” his eyes honed in on the crossword. “But take it easy with the salt this time, wouldja?”

Dana poured the eggs into a pan on the stovetop.

“Too salty?” She bit her lip and sighed. “Strange. I make them the same way for you every morning.”

JM's picture
JM from upstate, for now. is reading The Law of Strings by Steven Gillis May 23, 2012 - 11:28am

Long before he was born, it was already clear that he was the number one child. The Hard Worker. The Achiever. The “A” Student. Had to be first, had to be best.  Please everyone, disappoint no one, win the prizes, first in class, top dog, momma’s boy, teacher’s pet. Other siblings might have been jealous, but his brothers and sisters tolerated their secondariness quietly and gracefully. While he went on to fame and fortune, eventually gracing the covers of Time and Newsweek, they worked the homestead without complaint, raised families of their own, and clucked softly amongst themselves, “Better him than us.”


When the bubble burst and he was cast out of his corner office, he returned, dispossessed and penniless with naught but a battered briefcase in hand and a few frequent flier miles left on account. His family said not a word about the glory of his rise and the might of his fall, but instead fed him tea and supper, laid out a bed bedecked in down, and tucked him in where he belonged.

Jacob Good's picture
Jacob Good from Idaho is reading Asimov on Chemistry May 23, 2012 - 12:47pm

Gods are a Dime a Dozen

Four eggs turned his hobby into a life-long passion. He no longer held whimsical fancies about the idea; his dreams were meshing with reality, and soon the world would know that Dennis Redmond wasn’t a man with whom any mortal could trifle. By combining the eggs, the flesh became God, and god became more than mere words on parchment from eons past. Prophecies foretold of this event, and Dennis was ready. He was prepared to become the Phoenix, the rebirth of a dying world.

Holding the ova tetrad above his head, Dennis mumbled an incantation from the Seventh Scroll of Heliopolis and stared upward. He screamed and slammed his hands together, allowing the contents of the eggs to drip onto his hair and face. Passersby gazed in wonderment. Dennis opened his eyes, which were blood-red, and started laughing. He allowed the onlookers into his realm, and spoke:

“Earthlings, I bring you the dawn of a new day! With my sacrifice, you will be renewed!”

As he was speaking, the grocery store manager came running out and pointed the security guard in the right direction.

“All right, sir,” he barked, “you just destroyed store property; now you’re coming with me.”

As the guard grabbed Dennis by the arm, the fluorescent lights turned black. Flames rose from Dennis’ feet and quickly engulfed his body, turning him to ash. The guard fell backward, uninjured.

A hollow voice rang out from the distance:

“Clean up, aisle five.”

Jeremy Robert Plante's picture
Jeremy Robert Plante from Calgary, Alberta Canada is reading Several books a month. Listing them would mean numerous updates. May 23, 2012 - 1:17pm

There really isn't much to do in here.  And it is really fucking cold. I remember being somewhere warmer, someplace safe that seemed like home. Then there was a drop, a light crackle of something beneath me, the sounds of something that made a Buk-kaw noise.

Then nothing for what seemed like a very long time.  Something warm eventually enveloped me again. Not the thing that screeched Buk-kaw, but a bigger creature with five pink stumpy things that picked me up, shook my gooey innards for a few seconds, and then held me up to something bright that made the hard white outside part of me almost translucent for an instance.

I miss those times. At least something was happening. Now I just sit in this greyish-brown cradle, surrounded by others like me. And there really isn't much to do. And it is always so fucking cold. Once in a while it goes from pitch black to blinding white. There might be some noise and a waft of warmth that grazes the hard parts of my outside.But then it is always back to the fucking cold, and the waiting, and the nothing to do.

Then in a flash, it is bright and warm again. The stumpy pink thing has me in its grasp. Ouch! Ah! It just broke my hard parts. I'm leaking out. This isn't cold. This is fucking hot. Really hot. And if the cold was purgatory, this is Hell.

At least it is something to do.

Elio2357's picture
Elio2357 from California May 23, 2012 - 1:39pm

Graduation Night

 

We'd made it to the end of a desperate list, comprised of all the places in Appalachian county Phil Harbour could be, when Clyde began falling apart again. 

"How can He leave us, so close to Graduation Night?  When His guidance is most crucial, He disappears!"

Clyde had sacrificed much to listen to the teachings of Harbour.  As predicted, his family had kicked him out for being a disciple, and his criminal record had grown 14 pages in less than a year. As prophesied, most of us had left congregation, leaving only Clyde and myself committed.  Harbour had explained the cost and growing pains associated with enlightenment, amid fighting societal constraints that limited our potential. 

"Relax! It's part of the plan, we are worthy to figure it out." 

"I hope you're right."

Harbour had left items, as a test, on the eve of Graduation in places He knew we would search for Him.  These symbols reinforced His axioms.  Now we stared at five items on the abandoned dairy factory table.

The blade from the cemetery meant death.
The mine flashlight was a guiding light at night.
At the bus station locker, a postcard revealed our destination and escape method.
The picture of city officials were targets.
The eggs symbolized...?

Then, as if Harbour was in the room, clarity emerged.  We cast shells of our former selves, now reborn! They meant beginning, a commencement at midnight, a birthplace of personal, spiritual, and violent societal change!  

Harbour was a certifiable genius.

 

Dallas Jeffs's picture
Dallas Jeffs from Vancouver, BC is reading Needful Things May 23, 2012 - 7:25pm

You make us eggs for breakfast the first time I stay over. I never buy eggs. I can never afford them, and anyway, I tell myself I feel better not eating animal products.

But I'd eat anything you made me, and I do just to please you, just to make you like me, look how much we have in common my eyes plead reflecting shiny egg yolks drenched in shiny ketchup like blood on eggs, like eating a woman the way you consume me.

I love the way you consume me, animalistic like you've lost all control and it is good, now, because I have control for both of us. The yolks run together with the ketchup blood and I can't control the slow movement of both together, red melting into yellow until neither one is either one.

I try to become who I was before, and press myself into you, lit by orange candlelight.

 

Jacqueline Armendariz's picture
Jacqueline Arme... May 23, 2012 - 9:06pm
The Caseworker

I wrapped my Child Protective Services jacket around my shoulders tight that 23rd day in November.

I was a caseworker, but sometimes the world forced me to be a detective. It had been 9 years and 256 days since I took the job. I handled, or tried to handle, hundreds of cases that seemed similar on face value. Yet, I'd never seen home in such disgusting disarray.

I opened the door and saw shit on the walls. Literal shit.

Then there was the blood. It was splattered on the carpet and floors, even the ceiling. In one corner it made a soggy puddle.

Everywhere we stepped there was noise under our feet from all the filthy trash.

The worst part was the smell of rotten eggs.

We moved through the living room. I came to the kitchen. I looked in the fridge with its door slightly ajar.

There was the egg carton. The fridge was almost empty save for it, a few latex tourniquets with unknown stains and a dirty, tattered child’s t-shirt.

On one of the eggshells there was a single, tiny bloody fingerprint.

I fucking hate eggs.

Daniel Saunders's picture
Daniel Saunders May 24, 2012 - 12:05pm

Cracks

Four eggs, hardboiled, sitting in a neat stack on my counter. It was my father’s favorite snack. Next to it, a picture of a familiar woman sitting at my counter.


How did that bitch get in here? I had changed my phone number, moved, changed the lock on my new place for good measure, and she was still finding a way in.


Last month, she was emailing my boss instructions on how to access my blog where I vented about work.


A week after that, I woke up to her watching me sleep. That’s when I moved.


Last week, she emailed everyone in my address book photos of my dick.


Included in this book: my entire church congregation, my parents, my little brother, my older sister, my coworkers. My address book was also my little black book. Every woman I had exchanged phone numbers and emails with.


Now, these eggs. I didn’t know how she found me. That old adage about running from your problems? It was bullshit. Anyone could tell you that, no new insights there.


But these eggs. Damn. This felt different. I looked at the picture again, searching for clues. It was just her sitting there, but something was off. She was wearing my “Caress the Chef” apron everyone hated and that was all. Her expression, it was blank, emotionless.


I heard a dripping coming from down the hall. The direction of my bathroom. Was she still here? I should have called the police. But I didn’t.

Pezcore1123's picture
Pezcore1123 from Webster, NY is reading your profile May 24, 2012 - 12:20pm

I never look inside the carton when we buy eggs.  My wife hates it.

What if they’re broken?  She’ll snarl at me.  Or mixed?  You know I hate the brown ones!

I always just sigh and place them next to the bread and milk.  That’s another thing she hates, how I arrange things in the cart.  If the bread, milk, and eggs aren’t in the small part where the child goes you can bet I’ll here about it for the rest of the night.  Which is fine.  I’d rather be awake with her bitching at me than woken up ten times because I snore.

Go sleep downstairs!  I have to be up in three hours. 

Never mind that she gets up five hours early for work so she can do her makeup.  Poorly. 

A kink in my back wakes me on the couch.  No blankets or pillows.  Just a sharp pain from the steel bar in the hide a bed.  But this morning is different.  The apartment doesn’t smell like coffee, not that she’d save me any, and her TV in the kitchen is off.  On the dining room table is a manila envelope containing a short stack of divorce papers.  A quick skim reveals her citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for our separation.  I toss the stack across the table and look at the placemat.  Beside that is a note in her handwriting.  It says:

Four of the eggs were brown.

thesorrowfiles's picture
thesorrowfiles from Wisconsin is reading The Quiet Twin, Souls in the Machine, Headlong May 24, 2012 - 12:49pm

Tick Tock

We met in a bar. Exchanged life stories and bodily fluids on the first night. I wanted a baby real bad. He thought it might be fun to try to give me one. He asked me if my eggs were any good. I told him what do I know? I’m on the outside. I can’t see in there. Time might be running out he said. So I told him to grease it up and get cooking. Then things really started to sizzle.

We worked at it every morning once the sun was on the upside. You could set your watch to it. Once a month I’d start to bleed and and then I’d cry for three days. I refused to see him during those times. I think he took it personally. He shouldn’t have. My clock was ticking like a jackhammer.

That summer was so hot, there were days you could literally fry an egg on the pavement. I tried it once and it worked. I lived in a fourth floor walkup with no air. He’d come in after work with the sweat dripping off his body and try to butter me up. But I knew better than to get attached. That man didn’t have rubber soled shoes for nothing.

We never did accomplish much except to scramble our brains a bit, but I still think of him fondly.

 

Mike Bunch's picture
Mike Bunch May 24, 2012 - 5:21pm

The Conspiracy Theory

People think I am crazy, but I don't think that our government is out to control us, nor do I think it is aliens. I think the truth is much closer to home and a whole lot more insidious.

The answer came to me as I was eating breakfast one morning.

Chickens.

It was so obvious as I finished my omelette. When you sit back and look at it, it is the perfect plan - eggs are available in every part of the world. They are used in an uncountable number of recipes for every meal of the day. Chickens crank out eggs faster than Chinese factories produce cheap toys.

Everyone thinks that chickens are dumb brids that can't fly, but its all an act. The stomach is the perfect way to rule a poplulation because everyone has to eat. You can kill a person outright through a meal, you could poison them slowly, you could even take control of their minds. On top of that, people eat eggs at least once a day in some kind of dish, so the delivery mechanism is already in place.

I have been trying to get the word out before its too late, but the chickens have their beaks in everything. If you are reading this message, please spread the word. I think they are closing in on me so someone has to spread the the message to the rest of the world.

Christopher Provost's picture
Christopher Provost from Nashua, New Hampshire is reading The Zombie Survival Guide May 25, 2012 - 6:04pm

Four Eggs Left

I was determined to break the record.  Fifty-one eggs in one hour. The last four eggs were staring me down, mocking me.  Only I didn’t have a supportive George Kennedy to drag me around and massage my grossly distended belly.

Four eggs left.  Might as well have been four hundred.  My insides gurgled and groaned.  I felt like I was going to rupture.  Time was running out.  Despite my stomach’s protests, I wolfed down another egg.  

My eyes watered as the pain doubled me over.  Three eggs left.  Six minutes remaining.  I did the math.  Taking a deep breath, I psyched myself into choking one more down. Two eggs left. Without thinking, I inhaled another.

One egg left.

The audience was screaming and cheering loud enough to wake the dead.  I couldn’t hear anything.  Like a crazed Lamaze patient, I began practicing conscious breathing to center my focus.  Hee-hee!  Hoo-hoo!  Hee-hee!  Hoo-hoo!  It worked.  The clock stopped with twenty-two seconds remaining as I downed the last egg.

In those final seconds, something akin to a volcano gave way deep inside me.  Rearing back, I spewed forth a tsunami of vomit that cleared the table and reached a full six rows into the audience.  I had broken the record, setting off an emetic chain reaction easily surpassing the pie eating contest scene in Stand By Me.  I leaned back, let out a sulfurous belch, and smiled.

cshultz81's picture
cshultz81 from Oklahoma is reading Best Horror of the Year Volume 8 May 24, 2012 - 8:28pm

According to his agenda, Albert rose early, ate four scrambled eggs, then sat next to the telephone. They said they’d call between seven and eleven, or otherwise sometime that day. Albert hoped for the former, wishing to maintain his daily routine.

He didn’t have his mocha or newspaper. There wasn’t time to eat and walk to the deli, and Albert must eat. 

Never mind, it was five after seven. They’d call soon.

Albert waited. Half an hour went by. He dared not rise from his post.

The clock ticked. Silence hissed into his ears.

Afternoon eclipsed the morning. Albert squirmed; sunlight blasted through the blinds, but he was in darkness.

The itch to fulfill his routine shot through him. He wanted his usual trek to the deli, yet he knew if he left, he would miss his call.

Time froze.

Years went by. Albert achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a writer, penning fifteen novels in his head. He plunged himself into romantic entanglements, sometimes envisioning heartbreak. Constant thinking turned Albert’s mind into a universe, with galaxies and planets in perpetual orbit. He peeled back the veil of humanity, witnessing wonders therein.

One day, finally bored, Albert rose from his chair and left his house. The world hadn’t changed. Albert hadn’t aged. He made his purchases, argued with the owner over increased prices, and went home.

The answering machine blinked ”1”. Albert smiled and pressed play.

It was the mechanic. Just vapor lock. Albert could pick up his car anytime.

alnik welsh's picture
alnik welsh from colorado is reading the year of the flood May 26, 2012 - 9:09am

Most of the Time, She Misses.

Her fury is methodical. One at a time, she pulls an egg from one of those massive 18-count cartons. An impressive arsenal. One at a time, she glances at the egg, looks at me. Fires.

Most of the time, she misses.

We could analyze this situation, scrutinize the obvious metaphor. The ova, unfertilized, running down the walls and covering the floor. The promise of a future life shattered along with the hard outer shell meant to protect it. Yes, we could analyze. But right now I’m too busy dodging these fucking eggs.

“Breaking news, Asshole.” She always had a pun. “This is the last fucking time we’ll be standing in the same room at the same time. Ever.” She lets one fly.

It barely misses me, and I hit my head on the side of the kitchen entrance avoiding it. I watch out of the corner of my eye as it flies past my right cheek.  Behind me, I’m fairly certain there is unfertilized baby chicken soaking into my favorite painting.

“Say something, asshole!”

Even if I knew what to say, or what she wanted me to say, saying it would quite possibly be the death of me. Milky mucous membrane is smudged against my upper lip like snot. Salmonella poisoning is a horrible way to go.  I duck again to avoid an egg that lands three feet to my left with a rather disappointing lack of splatter.

I turn around and head for the shower. Behind me, eggs fly.

hannah j's picture
hannah j May 26, 2012 - 11:10am

Matilda stopped laying today. There was no warm, white globe hidden in her nest. Nothing for me to collect for Papa’s and my table at breakfast.  Nothing to take to market to sell or trade. Her nest was empty, but I won’t tell Papa. Not yet. He won’t notice. Some of the other hens have been generous today. He won’t be able to tell.
Matilda will live.


Tomorrow, maybe, one of the other hens will be generous again. They often are. Papa cannot tell which egg came from which hen. And there are enough eggs. He will not know. I will not tell him.
Matilda will live.
She is mine.


But maybe the next day the other hens are not so forgiving? There won’t be enough eggs to cover Matilda’s forgetfulness? That day I will tell Papa I tripped. That one of the dogs ran under my legs. And that one of the eggs fell and shattered. He will be mad. I will not mind.
Matilda will live.
She is mine.
I watched her hatch.


But one day he will find out. Papa will realize. He always knows. He will stalk out of the house to the coop. He will take Matilda and with his axe, teach her a trick; to dance with her head cut off. “We need to eat. Our table is where she belongs. She is food.”  No…!
Matilda will live.
She is mine.
I watched her hatch.
The day my Mumma died.
 

Rob Niescier's picture
Rob Niescier May 26, 2012 - 1:51pm
Magic Eggs


“Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess, her radiance and intelligence only rivaled by the jealousy it could bestow.  A warty old witch hated her, and with a wave and a cackle she conjured up two great flying beasts, bristling with spikes, to capture the beautiful maiden.  Over vale and mountains they flew, until they cast their shadow upon the princess’s tower.


“But the princess was no dummy, and when she saw the shadow of the great beasts she ducked into a crevice, where their claws could not reach.  They scratched and cried but the princess was safe, if trapped.  Not knowing what to do, she reached into her satchel and tossed out her snacks, a handful of corn.  Those hungry beasts gobbled it up, and gave the princess an idea.  She rushed down the stairs into the kitchen and grabbed all the corn she could find, and fed the beasts.  They ate and ate and ate until their jagged bodies plumped, and could no longer fly.  When the beasts had calmed, the princess examined them.  She pitied them so much that she gave each a little kiss, and the magic in the princess softened their spikes into feathers.  The beasts were kept and bred, and it’s said that those who eat their eggs will get just a bit of that princess’s magic.”


The little girl giggled.  “Really?”


He nodded, and sighed.  There had to be a better way to get Sandy to eat breakfast.

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons May 26, 2012 - 8:44pm

Wild French Broads

Blue-haired hydranias, the grandmothers,  sit playing cards by the river, clustered together, bowing their heads in the wind.  Their poppy daughters,  dressed in scarlett,  meet nearby to consult the sun about the day. -- so strong as a group, standing tall. But their fragile petels scatter with the blowing wind. The little girls meet for tea on the green -- tiny pink rodendrem blossoms, gorgeous in their frilly attire, briliant against the fern, all blowing together with gossip.

 The French Broad rolls over  slick river rocks, roaring with applause  at the ladies standing near her banks. The cheers are constant and everlasting, escorted by howls of wind and flecks of sunlight. I am the tiny purple moth,yearning to see life from all persepctives, dipping down and up,  cheering, yelling "yes, keep it up. Keep going."

My wings are weak. I can't stay. But there is something about the  cointinuity of the river, the rebirth of the flowers, the joy of the day, that keeps my tiny winds fluttering and yearing for more. 

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons May 26, 2012 - 9:01pm

I don't know whree my post went.

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons May 27, 2012 - 6:33am

sorry for posting twice. i see the entry now.

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons May 27, 2012 - 6:34am

deleting

Tucson's picture
Tucson from Belgium is reading Late Essays - J.M. Coetzee May 27, 2012 - 11:38am

Nest Box

 

It was last May that I decided to repaint the fence myself. Bad weather had made it flaky and all. I’d taken my time to shop for the right varnish, but what did I know, right? I was probably halfway through sanding the thing when my son came up to me.
“Mom, what’re you doing?” 
I shrugged. “You could’ve asked me, I’m still here, ain’t I,” he said. “Anyway, you’re making an awful lot of noise. You think it’s good for the birds? Aren’t there any chicks this time of year?”
I stopped sanding. Damn, those chicks. You’ve got to believe me when I say I’d completely forgotten about them. We have a nest box mounted in the corner, you see. Every year birds hatch from that thing.
“Go check if they’re alright,” I said. 
So, Demi walks up to the nest box and opens the lid. For a minute I thought I’d shaken them to death or something. I don’t know what kills these birds.
“Just eggs,” he says, “two tiny, little eggs.”
“No mother bird?” I asked, but there wasn’t. No feathers or anything. Just eggs.

Well, I finished painting the damn thing since I was almost done anyway.
Then, the next few days, I went back to see if the eggs had hatched yet. But nothing, not a bird in sight.
Finally, I stopped looking, but I tell you. If they’re still there this fall, I’m cleaning out the nest box. They’ve had their chance, right?

 
 
 
Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz May 29, 2012 - 6:37am

Hatching. 

wickedvoodoo's picture
wickedvoodoo from Mansfield, England is reading stuff. May 30, 2012 - 2:53am

T.P.B.C.L.R

 

Straddling a chaise-longue near the front of the stage, she pulls up her skirts to show the crowd her P.U.S.S.I. (Personal Umbilical Sound System Implant)

She feels a hum across her ovum-drums. She shudders like ripples on the surface of warm milk and arches like a whammy bar. Vibrato arms indeed! Vibrato legs too by the looks of things.

A cluster of eggs slides down each of her xylophelopian tubes. Tiny trebleggs and big juicy bass-shells. The jewels of the dance floor. Refined beat-matter, the source of the sound contained in little pearls. The rhythm of the life-cycle.

The crowd fucking loves it.

Leads loop from her clit pick-ups and plug into her nipple clamplifiers. Her ta-ta's staccato percussivally as she windmill-whisks her fibre-optic hair.

The noise in the room right now is pure sex, (fertility, for ovulation stations!) pure rock, (plus calcification, for a pretty shell!!)  and a goddamn hardboiled yolkcore. (equals eggsravaganza, it'll scramble your grey matter!!!)

The crowd goes coital, they know this tune, know what's coming.

The riffmother bends over backwards until she's nearly folded in two, her P.U.S.S.I pulsating and erect. Another rumble of the ovum-drum, a giggle of the xylophelopians.

Then she plays the solo. What they all came here to see.

Techopolyblastocysticladyrhythms. (T.P.B.C.L.R)

Oh, baby, can you feel that? Grabs you by the reproductives, right? I wish one of my girls had the eggs for pulling off that kind of poach. Can you imagine? I'd put the bed in the goddamn studio.

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons May 29, 2012 - 8:57pm

Baby Chicks

"Girls you go on out to the barn and find me some eggs," Grandma told Cindy and me. We woke up early,  eager to see what the farm day had to offer. But Grandma didn't need us standing around in  her big kitchen, with the gas heaters cranked up and a bowl of bread sitting on the table with a cloth over it.

She wouldn't start the bacon and eggs until Grandaddy and our uncle finished feeding the cows, but my sister and I were in her morning space and she wanted us gone. Our mama was pregnant and lost a baby sister of ours yesterday. Daddy brought us to the farm to stay  a few weeks so Mama could rest. We knew about giving people space. Seemed like Grandma wanted hers, too.

So we pull on sweaters and boots and make our way to the barn. Our feet crunch on the frost as we take in the smells of hay and cows. We know the spots the hens lay. There is one in Susie Sweet's stable,  but we can't get those unless Susie, the show horse, is out of the barn. There is another in an empty stable, and two spots in the loft.  

The loft is scary because it is strewn with hay. Grandaddy pushes the hay down from up top into the horse's stables. If you aren't careful you will fall through the open spots where he pushes the hay, and end up in Susie Sweet's feeding trough. 

"You go to the empty stable," I tell Cindy. "I'll go up top."

"I'm coming up top too," she says, because we both know it's fun up there, looking down on the horses.

We make our way up the straight ladder to the loft, and at the top find a treasure of a different sort --  a bottle with brown liquid.  "What is it?" Cindy asks, her face right at my blue-jeaned butt, so close she could bite me.

"Don't know. Looks like tobacca juice," I say holding it up."

"He couldn't spit in that," Cindy says. "He can't aim."

"True," I say.

"Maybe it's horse medicine?"

"Medicine for what?"

"I don't know! Just medicine for whatever they need."

I unscrew the top and sniff. Sure enough it smells like the Jack Daniels cough syrup Dad gives us when we can't sleep.

"Let's just get the eggs and go," Cindy says.

We find seven brown eggs, warm like dinner rolls, and carry them back carefully, wrapped in the ends of our t-shirts.

Grandma scrambles them for breakfast, but I don't eat them for thinking of the unborn baby chicks. I say this and Grandaddy lets out a big laugh, tipping back in his chair.

"Oh darling," he says. "They weren't fertalized."

"Oh," I say, but i don't know what this means.

Grandady keeps laughing so hard his face grows red.

"We found your horse medicine today," I say.

"Horse medicine?" he stops laughing.

"The brown stuff in the bottle in the loft."

"Oh you girls don't need to be up in the loft," Grandaddy says.

"We were getting eggs."

"Humm," Grandaddy says.

The table has gone quiet. Grandma moves eggs on her plate with her fork. Uncle Jamie looks down at his plate. Cindy kicks me under the table, a sign for me to stop it.

"Yep that medicine was up there," I say. " About half full."

Grandaddy's face goes from red to white. I somehow knew when I found that bottle I had a secret on Grandaddy. I guess he won't laugh at me anymore. No one should laugh at a girl for not wanting to eat eggs for the sake of unborn chicks, an unborn baby sister.

I picked at my bacon and asked to be excused.
 

 

Amelia Jindi's picture
Amelia Jindi from Malaysia May 30, 2012 - 7:39am

So, the challenge was who could lay the tallest pile of eggs.

An impossible challenge, really, thought Mollie.  Her legs were short.  So too the rest of the hens.  This was just silly, she thought, who'd win? 

The last challenge (which Judy won and now was quite smug about) was for who had the most ruffled feathers.  She'd hijacked the lone rooster and shook the coop like a coconut tree swaying aggressively in a tropical storm.  Bitch, thought Mollie.  If only she had snagged him first.  Que sera, sera.

She was determined to do her best this time. I need that all-expense paid trip to wherever-you-like-to-go, she reminded herself.

So Mollie got started.

With each egg laid, she lifted herself so that the next would balance on top of the other.  It took her a gruelling forty-eight minutes.  Gently she lifted one leg over the other, standing on the tips of her claws.  When she finally cleared the area, she sighed and looked at her four eggs tall pile.  This was a winner, for sure. 

Then the coop door banged open and Mollie watched in horror as the top most egg wobbled and slid down the pile, landing at the bottom.  The second top most followed.  Until all the eggs were on the hay instead of piled up. 

'Good job, Mollie! Knew you'd deliver the goods!' said Jim the farmer, reaching in, putting the warm eggs in his basket. 

Mollie looked at him, eyes wide. 'Cluck, cluck'.

Werus's picture
Werus from Portland, OR is reading Secret Acension May 30, 2012 - 10:40am

“Do you mind if we talk inside?” Margie asks the two women on her porch.  “My foot is acting up. We can sit in the kitchen.”

“Thank you.” The women are assaulted by a cloying sweet smell as they enter. There are vases of flowers all around the room, dropping petals and in need of water.

“We’d like to talk to you about what’s going on in the world today,” the older woman says.

“Oh I don’t watch the news much anymore. Sometime my son comes by and he turns it on.” Margie chuckles. “He gets so worked up sometimes.”

“We understand. There are so many things happening today that have been foretold.”

Margie notices them looking at the Easter bunnies taped to the kitchen windows. “I’ve been meaning to take those down. They’re for my grandchildren. They come every year and hunt for the eggs I hide around the house.”

“Grandchildren are wonderful. It’s terrible what they are exposed to today.”

“I don’t know anything about that, but they love searching for those eggs. I hide them so well, they search all morning.

“I’m so sorry, I was about to have some tea,” Margie says. “Would you like some?”

---

“Goodbye now,” Margie says as she closes the front door. She opens the cabinet and sets the pamphlets on a shelf next to the basket of colored eggs. She shuts it quickly, but a sulphurous odor lingers.

“I think I’ll go pick up some fresh flowers.”

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz May 30, 2012 - 11:41am

Thank you everyone who posted in this inaugural Flash Smackdown, flashdown-eggstravaganza. It truly has been a pleasure reading every one of these micro shots. Picking a single egg to crown is going to be extremely difficult. So many great eggs. Who could eat just one? Even the ones that make you sick are wonderful. 

I will be watching for any remaining last-minute eggs to get slung, but I do have a long short-list of favorites I would like to share before making my final decision. If you haven't yet had a chance to read these pieces, you should. Little bursts of brilliance. That's what I love about micro fiction. Hearing more voices. 

May Flashdown Eggthology™:

Keith

Emily Thrash

Joel Higgins

Jack Campbell Jr.

Monica Fay

Mary Barley Hurley

goodfella007

jennydecki

Bret Gammons

Dino Parenti

J.Dulouz

voodoo_em

Mike Adam

SparrowStark

Janae.Green

Howard Litchfield

Devon Robbins

Jamie Alan-Anthony

Laura K Grant

Jami Kali

flaminia_klla

spitzmud

JamieM

chrisdeal

Selaine Henriksen

Bill Tucker

Courtney

JonnyGibbings

Zelda Zeezeewriter Markow

Fritz Wolfe

taralara

Jacob Good

wickedvoodoo

blnicola's picture
blnicola May 30, 2012 - 6:38pm

Meat and Potatoes

"Five eggs? What am I supposed to do with five eggs?"

"Cook something."

"Obviously. But there're only five. For one hundred people out there. For breakfast!"

"Oh. Not my problem. You're the chef."

"You're the manager; you order the food. You. Said. You. Ordered. Eggs."

"I was wrong. I'm going to talk to customers. Hurry up with the meals."

"There's only five eggs."

But Ted was already gone. Just as well; he was worthless. In his three months, he consistently dropped the ball and someone else got blamed.

Five eggs for breakfast service. What to do. What to...got it.

Brent walked out. Cleared his throat. Got everyone's attention.

"You're in for a treat today. Meat and potatoes special!"

Huge cheer. Brent returned to the kitchen. Ted stormed in.

"What are you doing? You have eggs to use!"

"There's five."

"So use them!"

"OK."

One-by-one, five eggs hit Ted square on the forehead.

"You're fired."

"OK."

Brent walked out past Ted. Cleared his throat. Got the room's attention.

"Excuse me. The manager didn't like the meat and potatoes idea, because he knows better than you."

Groans.

"He wanted me to use eggs...but there were only five because he didn't care enough to order them."

Grumbling.

"He fired me."

Gasps.

"If you have a problem with that, talk to him. He's in the kitchen, covered in egg. It's been a pleasure serving you these past fourteen years."

Brent headed towards the door. The patrons headed towards the kitchen.

Philip Crawford Eaton's picture
Philip Crawford... from Denver is reading Purple America by Rick Moody May 30, 2012 - 7:13pm

      I did not come to the old man and his ark seeking clemency. My fate had been decided when the ship was a forest, when the lord first whispered to Noah of the coming deluge. For years the wicked had pled their case under pregnant skies, and for those same years Noah said nothing more than “God has spoken.”
     I was afforded an audience. My family and our land had provided the stubborn old man and his effort with the fruits of our orchards and the grains of our earth since the first trees had been felled for his grand construction.
     I came as an advocate for a creature of the earth that had yet to be offered safe passage, one that had kept our crops free of vermin, and in turn provided my family with the bounty we gave to Noah at every harvest. That it had earned its place was not of question to me, but I should have known how hard it would be to convince the old man that the creature deserved passage.  The righteous are difficult to convince of anything contrary to their dogma.
     “The animal is forbidden.” He said, and that was the end of my audience. Two of each kind should have been amended with “of Noah’s choosing.” Knowing better than to argue with a man five hundred years my senior, I set out to take matters into my own hands.
     Now I sit upon what remains of a mountain. In a day even this peak will be gone. I built the vessel as best I could. It is no larger than a child’s coffin, holding only the leathery eggs, nestled in the wheat of my fields and an apple from the orchard. My pockets are filled with stones. I am ready. I unmoor my smallest of arks, setting my unborn serpents free. My fate was decided long ago, but I have faith that not every choice is God’s alone. I sink.

Lisa Andrews's picture
Lisa Andrews from Langhorne, PA is reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children May 30, 2012 - 8:29pm

For 5k, right now, I'd do a lot. That's enough to fix my car. I'll be able to pay the electric bill and turn the heat on so the cat won't have to sleep in the dresser anymore. Maybe I can start night classes again. Just pop the pills, take the needles, and keep my mind from dreaming about children with my eyes held in arms that aren't mine or from the thought of my perfectly round ear growing on the thin skin of a rats back.
My breasts and hips are swollen from the hormones. It's hard to avoid the imagine of my insides riddled with clumps of grapes waiting to be plucked by gods. God. Is God watching? Is His gaze averted when my feet nestle into too cold stirrups hoping that the pinch will really be just a pinch even though needles always makee bleed?
They didn't even take me to dinner first, these young gods whom reach their needles, pluckpinch, to pick strange fruit. Which of us is trading dreams for hope?

Robin Karlsson's picture
Robin Karlsson May 31, 2012 - 12:59am

Breakfast

Tim was not a God fearing man, but that did not matter. He was going to Hell just the same.

The day after he’d been found dangling from a strip of torn-up sheet, he awoke in a cell similar to the one he had just left. The cell door slid open, and involuntarily, without any effort of his own, he rose and walked out the door. Fifteen paces from his cell he turned right into another small cell.


On the wall was a clock, and a sign reading "Breakfast: 07.30-08.15". There was a small table and a chair, and the table was set with breakfast; a slice of steaming hot toast, coffee, one boiled egg, orange juice, oatmeal, and a glass of milk. Tim tried the toast, and his teeth suddenly came loose. He screamed, and blood and teeth flew across the table. The clock moved forward to 07.36.


He sat, holding his mouth, without touching anything for what felt like 20 minutes, though the clock’s hands never moved. He tasted the juice, and instantly his insides burned and contracted like he had bitten into 1000 lemons of fire. The clock was now suddenly 07.41.

He cracked the top of the egg with a spoon, carefully pealed away the shell, and dug into the soft white flesh. Pus and blood oozed out of the egg; a stinking red and yellow stream slowly trickling down the sides of the egg...

The first of many, many breakfasts in Hell.

Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut May 31, 2012 - 6:40am

Taralara has one of the best for sure.

Liam Jones's picture
Liam Jones from Liverpool, United Kingdom is reading Neuromancer by William Gibson May 31, 2012 - 7:32am

Reveal

 

"Watcha gonna do, Magic Man?" Charles said, eyes fixed squarely on the silk covered mantle at the front of the Auditorium.

 

"Or is it already happening?" Victor stood as bold as Lady Liberty, centre stage, in a worn white-collared shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbows. Wide eyed. Delirious.

"Are you watching closely?" Victor whipped the silk from the mantle, revealing a neat pile of fragile hen's eggs. Knowing Victor like I did, he had something more than a box of Pall Malls up those rolled sleeves. Something to do with the box.

"Keep those eyes open, now," said Victor, pulling the silk from the box to reveal a caged chick, clucking like a junkhead. He reached in, and placed it next to the eggs on the mantle.

Charles began to heckle.

"C'mon, entertain me, magic man!"

Victor stood unfazed with his back to the audience. He turned his head. He was smiling.

"If you came here tonight to be entertained, then you know where the exits are. This is not for you. For those of you who chose the Red Pill, you may want to keep watching, but be warned, these things you see before you, they're not what they seem."

What I saw was something that I keep trying to forget. To know now, when presented with the facts of it, the truth, I think I'll close my eyes for a while. Close them until I know it's the right time to wake up.

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz May 31, 2012 - 10:54am

A Big Round of Applause to all of you. Thank you for all of these fabulous stories.

 

And a big round of applause for Chris Deal. Or feel free to throw eggs of gooey admiration.

And remember, Keep on Flashin'.

Over-easy and out,

Judge Chester Alabaster Pane III

.'s picture
. May 31, 2012 - 11:05am

Congrats chrisdeal!!! You earned it!

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig May 31, 2012 - 11:45am

Congratulations! Awesome flash!

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) May 31, 2012 - 12:42pm

Amazing work, Chris!  Kudos and well done!

wickedvoodoo's picture
wickedvoodoo from Mansfield, England is reading stuff. May 31, 2012 - 2:46pm

Great stuff. Kudos, Chris, and all the other flashers!

J.Dulouz's picture
J.Dulouz from New England is reading The Sirens of Titan June 1, 2012 - 3:02am

Congratulations Chris! That was definitely one of my favorites! Great piece!

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff June 1, 2012 - 6:18am

Congrats Chris Deal!!! Nice one.

And thank you for the honorable mention, Chestorz.

Tucson's picture
Tucson from Belgium is reading Late Essays - J.M. Coetzee June 1, 2012 - 10:04am

Many congratulations dear Deal. You will be forever remembered.

 
Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer June 1, 2012 - 11:21am

Congrats. A month free at the Writer's Workshop is a great prize. Nothing like an incentive to keep writing and learning.

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons June 1, 2012 - 6:07pm

Gratz Chris. Amazing content in just 250 words.