Columns > Published on August 31st, 2012

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

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

How This Works

We give you something. It could be a picture or an idea or a sentence. 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
  • Give it a title
  • We're not exactly shy, but stay away from senseless racism or violence
  • One entry per person
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted (though don't go crazy)
  • LitReactor employees can enter, but they can't win
  • All stories submitted on or before August 30 will be considered. We'll run the winner on August 31.

This Month's Prize

A copy of The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter.

About the book: A breathtaking first novel written in the form of three separate crime novels, each set in a different decade and penned in the style of a different giant of the mystery genre. When taken together, they tell a single epic story, about an author whose life is shattered when violence and tragedy consume the people closest to him. It is an ingenious and emotionally powerful debut performance from literary detective and former bookseller Ariel S. Winter, one that establishes this talented newcomer as a storyteller of the highest caliber.

Your inspiration

And the winner is... twinkletoes3106!

This evocative story did an incredible job of staying true to the picture while taking it in a unique direction. 


She didn’t feel like her skin fit her anymore. It was as if at any moment it would crack, splinter, shift just left of center, and then slough off to the ground. The surety of it had been growing in her belly for weeks, a premonition, an omen that was nearly tangible, but just out of reach. And so, the benign actions of hunting, eating, sleeping, and occasional carnal flights continued with the understated monotony of a carousel ride.

Freedom–she longed for it. No more games, hiding, predatory pretenses. She mused that when the time came perhaps she would disintegrate into pure energy and drift away on a snowflake or a piece of ash. It was a romantic notion, not one well-suited for an executioner.

A flash of movement to the right caught her attention and she dismissed her fantastic notions. Straight, white teeth caught the sparse light on the street corner, lips pulled back into a devil-may-care smile. The man’s movements were eased, relaxed, unaware. His girlfriend tossed back her red hair and laughed with abandon, holding her cheeks in her hands.

She watched them stroll 20 paces and then felt the telltale pinch in her abdomen indicating it was time. She exited the car, smoothed her skirt, and began following the couple down the darkened street. After stalking them for a block, she stumbled, hesitated, imagined her skin sizzling and popping, but she knew in her gut–again–it was too late to turn back.

About the author

Rob Hart is the class director at LitReactor. His latest novel, The Paradox Hotel, will be released on Feb. 22 by Ballantine. He also wrote The Warehouse, which sold in more than 20 languages and was optioned for film by Ron Howard. Other titles include the Ash McKenna crime series, the short story collection Take-Out, and Scott Free with James Patterson. Find more at

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