UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: September 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 prompt. 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. 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 September 29th will be considered. We'll run the winner on Septemeber 30th.

This Month's Prize

Titan Books is again offering a hard copy of one of its hottest offerings— Butterfly Skin by Sergey Kuznetsov and Andrew Bromfield. 

Moscow is plagued with a series of gruesome murders. Ksenia, an ambitious young editor in the news department of an online journal decides to track down the serial killer, devising an elaborate website to entrap him. She soon realises, however, that her obsession with the psychopath reflects something disturbing: her own unconscious fascination with the sexual savagery of the murders.

Your Inspiration:

MY BIRTHDAY! I have never been one of those Birthday-Zillas (you know...the people who start reminding you about their birthdays MONTHS in advance, who insist you attend some elaborate festivity in their honor, and who think they should get as many presents at age 38 as they got at age 8?!) Well, I usually let my birthday pass on by undetected by everyone except my very close family and friends. Not this year. This year, I demand a BIRTHDAY STORY!! 

In honor of my birthday this month, I am soliciting birthday-themed flash fiction entries. Love me. 

And the winner is...BarryG

Wow, thanks you guys!!! I loved all these birthday stories and kind birthday wishes. It was incredibly hard to pick just one. I finally had to go with the one that made me laugh (snort, actually) out loud: the hilarious entry from BarryG. While I have never jumped scantily clad out of a cake (and likely never will--), I can totally see that it'd be just my luck that I'd be faced with a room full of dissappointed and digusted children. Thanks, BarryG, you made turning 33 much funnier.

The Birthday Surprise

"Happy Birthday," cooed Taylor, bursting semi-clad from the cake. Discovering an audience of traumatised pre-schoolers in partyhats, Taylor sighed and resolved to change booking agents.

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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Nireck's picture
Nireck September 2, 2014 - 11:10am


Khoda's Birthday

Twenty thousand candles in front of him. Each for a year of existence, each a universe to play with.
Lights are gifts for aging gods



hope you have a great day!


Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday September 2, 2014 - 12:41pm

The Change

Most girls looked forward to their sixteenth birthday.  She would too if it wasn't the age when her scales would develop.



Also, happy birthday.

Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck September 3, 2014 - 10:14am

No Birthday Sex this Year

Meanwhile, the girls got shitfaced off strawberry daiquiris, swinging around a bar pole trying to impress some My-New-Haircut-looking motherfucker wearing girls' sunglasses.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine September 3, 2014 - 1:21pm

Twenty-Nine Again

Cake flies to an opposite wall. The plastic "5" and "0" part ways, powerless. On the floor, she's crying. She knew that I was twenty-nine.

Chrissy Busillo's picture
Chrissy Busillo September 3, 2014 - 2:42pm

First Love

Table piled high with presents, smoke drifting from a cake, a girl with pink bow tied braids bent down and whispered, “Happy birthday, Snowball.”

Angelo's picture
Angelo from Manila September 3, 2014 - 10:58pm

Little Things

The presents, kisses, dinners, and all the little things she did on my birthday. It all stopped when we broke up. I couldn't be happier.

Franconia's picture
Franconia September 4, 2014 - 2:52am

A Regret

For her tenth, my teenage agenda superseded her little party. For her eleventh, I texted her mother, "Thinking of you today. She's partying with angels."

Gavin Parish's picture
Gavin Parish September 4, 2014 - 5:22am

The Traveller

I was born in a stale lab environment, eager to see the world outside. There isn't much of it left now. Happy birthday to me.


And happy birthday to you, too!

FoodieMD's picture
FoodieMD from Chicago, IL is reading Life After Life September 5, 2014 - 9:21am

The File

I voraciously tore into the birthday cake he sent me. My hand found the cold, metal file hidden inside. Tomorrow, I make my escape.

Lacy Rey's picture
Lacy Rey from Minnesota, USA is reading Korean Fairytales September 7, 2014 - 12:50pm


When the Fox spirit is born it consumes the earth. At one year, the heavens. The next it devours its tail, dreaming of human cries.

Luiz Simi's picture
Luiz Simi from Brazil is reading Blindsight, by Peter Watts September 8, 2014 - 10:51am
Lightcone Birthday

It was my first birthday party since I came back. My old younger brother was there in his wheelchair. Thank you Einstein.

James Matterhorn's picture
James Matterhorn September 9, 2014 - 10:50am

Birthday Fix

She tore a piece of newspaper, dragging it through the flames that coughed from the barrel. She held the burning parchment under her favorite spoon.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 10, 2014 - 11:21pm

Last Day

My boss fell into traffic.  I caught her scarf, tires squealed, a crowd gathered.  Pointless.  I worried about losing my job.  I don’t like myself.

BarryG's picture
BarryG September 15, 2014 - 7:25am

The Birthday Surprise

"Happy Birthday," cooed Taylor, bursting semi-clad from the cake. Discovering an audience of traumatised pre-schoolers in partyhats, Taylor sighed and resolved to change booking agents.


Murasaki_Ducky's picture
Murasaki_Ducky from Austin is reading Stardust September 17, 2014 - 9:54am

A Birthday Duel

“Happy birthday!”


“You know, it’s my birthday too.”

“Then we must throw down like Duncan MacLeod. There can be only one.”


Hope you have/had a great birthday!

WonBlackGuy's picture
WonBlackGuy from Tulsa, Oklahoma is reading Between the World and Me September 17, 2014 - 12:09pm

Birthday Prayer

It's my birthday," she says.
"And what gift would you like?"
"A story of my own!"
He smiles. "What is life, but one grand story?"

Carlos Martinez's picture
Carlos Martinez from Mexico City is reading Food of the Gods, by Terence Mckeena September 23, 2014 - 8:39pm

Birthday wish

“Make me strong, make me powerful.” That was my wish when I reached 12. And then Dad gave me the worst beating of my life.

ambodini534's picture
ambodini534 from Anchorage, Alaska is reading Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell September 25, 2014 - 12:40pm

Forever Young While Growing Old

Tonka trucks, Operation, Ninja Turtle lunchbox, Spiderman underwear, 3 growlers, banana flavored condoms, cashmere sweater, and sensual kisses from Jill and Mike. I’m a leapling.

Susan Mulligan's picture
Susan Mulligan from Salem, MA is reading Rogues, The Way of Kings, Unfettered, On Writing September 29, 2014 - 5:21pm

Born on the Eleventh

Eighteen flames burn before pursed lips; some dance in celebration! But, thirteen struggle to survive like so many souls when she turned five.  I wish....