Columns > Published on September 30th, 2015

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, tops. No more. 
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 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.
  • 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 September 30th.

This Month's Prize

This month, we are giving away a copy of Patrick O'Neil's Gun, Needle, Spoon, which is our Book Club selection for October. Get it just in time!

This memoir follows a punk rock pioneer on his slide into drug abuse and life as as an armed robber, all the way through life in recovery and what it's like to look back on those times, knowing all the while that the third strike might hit at any time, triggering a life behind bars.

Your Inspiration:

Opus T. Penguin is back. When I was a kid, my dad LOVED the comic strip Bloom County by Berkeley Breathed and especially the character of Opus T. Penguin. We even gave him a stuffed Opus for Christmas one year. Breathed stopped writing Bloom County in 1989, and stopped drawing comics for newspapers in 2008. Just last month, Breathed revived the whitey-tighty-wearing water fowl in a new running of the Bloom County strip by waking Opus up after a 25 year nap. 

This month, write a story that picks up 25 years later. Not necessarily about Opus, just imagine a story about anything, and then write as if you are checking back in on that storyline 25 years later. What things are different? What things are the same? You get 25 words. Go.

And the Winner Is...RosieToesAmarose

A fine crop of entries, again, you all! Quite a few past winners, too! This month, though, the blue ribbon goes to LitReactor Rookie RosieToesAmarose! She's only been on the site a month!  Congrats!!

Coffee Shop

Sip. Don't look up. Don't look desperate.

Today's his birthday. 25 years since that indifferent nurse carried him out.


"Beth Anders?"


Look up.

About the author

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer for an engineering firm and volunteers on the planning committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education.

She holds a degree in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. In the English graduate program at Penn State, she taught college composition courses and hosted a poetry club for a group of high school writers.

While living in Seattle, Taylor started and taught a free writing class called Writer’s Cramp (see the website). She has also taught middle school Language Arts & Spanish, tutored college students, and mentored at several Seattle writing establishments such as Richard Hugo House. She’s presented on panels at Associated Writing Programs Conference and the Pennsylvania College English Conference and led writing groups in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado for writers of all ages & abilities. She loves to read, write, teach & debate the Oxford Comma with anyone who will stand still long enough.

Similar Columns

Explore other columns from across the blog.

Book Brawl: Geek Love vs. Water for Elephants

In Book Brawl, two books that are somehow related will get in the ring and fight it out for the coveted honor of being declared literary champion. Two books enter. One book leaves. This month,...

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Books That Should Be Box Office Blockbusters

It seems as if Hollywood is entirely bereft of fresh material. Next year, three different live-action Snow White films will be released in the States. Disney is still terrorizing audiences with t...

Books Without Borders: Life after Liquidation

Though many true book enthusiasts, particularly in the Northwest where locally owned retailers are more common than paperback novels with Fabio on the cover, would never have set foot in a mega-c...

From Silk Purses to Sows’ Ears

Photo via Moviegoers whose taste in cinema consists entirely of keeping up with the Joneses, or if they’re confident in their ignorance, being the Joneses - the middlebrow, the ...

Cliche, the Literary Default

Original Photo by Gerhard Lipold As writers, we’re constantly told to avoid the cliché. MFA programs in particular indoctrinate an almost Pavlovian shock response against it; workshops in...

A Recap Of... The Wicked Universe

Out of Oz marks Gregory Maguire’s fourth and final book in the series beginning with his brilliant, beloved Wicked. Maguire’s Wicked universe is richly complex, politically contentious, and fille...

Learning | Free Lesson — LitReactor | 2024-05

Try Reedsy's novel writing masterclass — 100% free

Sign up for a free video lesson and learn how to make readers care about your main character.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account: