Flash Fiction Challenge: The Three-Sentence Story

Before we begin: last week’s challenge will be tallied up throughout the day, so go check that sucker out: “Five Random Words” awaits your seeking eyes. Now, onto this week’s challenge…

Hey! It’s my birthday.


Oh. Ahem. Sorry. That was a tad… aggro.

Still, I’m making this challenge easy to execute, perhaps difficult to execute well.

Here’s the deal:

You have three sentences to tell a story.

It can be about anything and anyone. It can take place anywhere, at any time.

But it must be three sentences only.

Further, it must — must — not be a mere vignette. Each of the three sentences should roughly correspond with Beginning / Middle / End. The goal of storytelling is to show some kind of movement through a tale, a movement that could comprise a changing character, an escalating conflict, a timeless challenge.

A good tale doesn’t merely hang on and linger like a gassy dog but, rather, finds a conclusion of some ilk.

And that’s what you must do with your three sentences.

Easy to do. Not so easy to do right.

So, that’s that. You think you’re up for the challenge?

You can, as always, post to your blog and share the link. That said, if you’re so inclined, you’re free to drop the three-sentence-story into the comments below if that’s easier. (As such, I won’t be tallying these this week, I’ll just leave the comments to speak for themselves.)

You’ve got one week. This ends next Friday, April 29th.

Three sentences.

One complete story.

Beard the fuck on, penmonkeys. BTFO.


  • Because it was his birthday, Chuck thought it would be fun to make his penmonkey minions amuse him with three sentence stories. So, like that guy in old movies who shoots at the greenhorn’s feet to make him dance for his own amusement, Chuck issued his challenge and unleashed the minions on an unsuspecting world.They broke the interwebz and it’s all Chuck’s fault.


    Happy Birthday.

  • He took one last look at the girl with the sun behind her standing in her yellow dress and the shoes with the heels and wanted to say something to her before he went into the bank but did not. The went to the teller and gave her the note he wrote the night before and showed her the butt of his gun and after she handed him the money in the gray sack he turned and walked fast and got his hand on the door to push it open. The gunshots did not register in his mind until he saw the sun come from behind the girl and watched her face change before she turned and ran into traffic as his body went limp against the thick plate glass and his world went dark and cold.

  • Happy birthday, Doktor Wangledangle. May your mighty beard never loose it’s golden luster.

    And just for you:

    To kill the beast and save the princess he loved, Knight Steele let free his manly chest. Surrounded by death, his katana rang true. Sadly, he found that he’d not only rescued her, but chopped her in two.

  • I woke up to find puke all over the floor. There were no suspects in the vicinity but I had an idea of who was the culprit. And then I saw it — the latch broken on the kitty cat food cabinet and kibble laid out in a splatter pattern I knew well.

    🙂 True story you know.

  • Incoherent combinations of pop-culture lined the walls as she attempted to enjoy an overpriced hamburger. Elvis, Richard Nixon, Sylvester Stallone, R.E.M., Charles Bukowski (she didn’t know that one), Humphrey Bogart, and Santa Claus all stared at the meat patty as it entered her lips. She bit into it, and wondered why she ever moved to America.

  • Time stopped for him as he drew, stretching the seconds into agonizing eons.
    He heard the shot, and Mary Anne’s scream from under the eaves of the saloon, but knew the gunpowder bark was not from his pistol.
    When his knees hit the hard packed earth, and he saw his crimson life pooling onto the town’s main street, he knew the duel was over, his world was over, and regretted nothing but the fact he never kissed his beloved goodbye.

  • Sleeping In

    Cthulhu stirred in his slumber, stretched his many tentacles, and poked his head above the choppy waters to gaze up into the night skies. The stars were actually right, but he was still sleepy, so he summoned his Star-Spawn and sent them into the heavens to change the constellations. As distant planets were thrown out of their orbits and ancient, unknown civilizations with long, proud legacies succumbed to the cold, dark void of space, Cthulhu descended back into the murky depths, shifted restlessly in the ruins of R’leyh, and quietly mumbled “Just a few more millennia” as tendrils of sleep embraced him once more.

    Happy Birthday, Chuck! 😉

  • The bottle of absinthe rolled along the edge of the coffee table, stopping just short of falling to the floor and dripping its fairy blood into the puddle of quickly drying blood and fluids there. The red and blue of the police lights danced over the scene like a fractured disco-strobe illuminating the strained white faces locked in the final shudder of death. Detective Prentis picked up the bottle with gloved fingers and stated with a bored sigh, “Same brand as the rest of them.”

    Happy, B-day.

  • She watched as blue and purple thunderbolts exploded into the dusty valley below her deck. Fire boiled up toward the dry-lightning storm clouds. “It’s moving along the streambed,” she yelled to her husband over the sudden wind, “away from our house!”

    Happy Birthday and pat the gassy dog for me (but not near his tail).

  • A very Happy Birthday to a fellow victim of Earth Day stealing their Birthday Least we’re in good company – Jack Nicholson, J. Robert Openheimer, Immanuel Kant, Aaron Spelling… okay maybe not Spelling….

  • “I want to live forever,” he told them in his final birthday ultimatum, “and it better include cake!”
    So they went to the store, looked around until seeing it in the back, covered in tubes and pipes, a relic of a bygone era, a shining silver canister with a dial.
    Chuck had tears of joy in his eyes as he opened it, exclaiming, “I’ve always wanted to be cryogenically frozen!”

  • You’re wearing your ivory dress and that playful smile that you once donned that bright summer day we first kissed and lost our innocence out on the Schuylkill Boat House lawn. Our lives together filled with all our adventures were yet to be had; but the sun is setting now and the lawn is now a lap of silk with white gladiolus and lilies. I will miss you, my love.

  • “Holley, why in the bloody hell did you invite those vampires in anyway?” Wendig asked, his voice only a whisper now as the beast suckled at his neck like some kind of deranged baby.

    Slightly embarrassed yet determined in his convictions, Holley said, “Well, goddamn it, they tricked me with a bottle of Crown…works every time, unfortunately.”

    “Well, you could’ve shared it with me at least–probably would’ve dampened the pain in my neck a little, ya know?” Wendig said as they both slipped away into their eternal slumber.

  • That pompous asshole Mitchell emerged from the bulkhead with three bags of money — my money — and locked them in the trunk of his rusted old Caddy. I crept, wet and mud spattered, from behind the oak and slipped the garrote around his neck. Just once, I’d like to get through a day without having to kill someone.

    Happy Birthday, Chuck! Enjoy much cake and bourbon.
    (Also, @D. Travis North, Awwww!)

  • 2 stories . . .

    He carries her to the beach; her hesitation is constant, tactile like the grains of sand that fill in the creases of his feet.

    She swims in the water, a Nereid with blond hair. She contemplates immersion, inhales, and starts diving, but quickly resurfaces land-loving and still helpless.


    I am carving maps into oak trees, breathing the scent of earth and dead leaves. Yet, none of this dare remind me of that evening pitch, that night like tar. It clung to us, dripped in our wake little footsteps that followed like faithful hounds but never bayed nor howled nor whimpered nor betrayed our direction; obediently, sadly, they padded behind us as we led them astray.

  • “What’s this?” said Chuck, taking the reins from his wife.
    “It’s a gift horse,” she said.
    A whinnying breath of fire ensured that Chuck would NEVER look another one in the mouth again.

  • Lead on Birthday Boy

    In the beginning there was the sweat and it dripped and prickled deliciously, saltily, down down down his back; it thought briefly -naughtily- about following the curve of his spine right down the cleft but veered off demurely and curled a less obvious path. ‘Less obvious path’ being an echo, an innuendo, an allegory (or maybe not but maybe allegory herein is allegorical for the stretching that is going on); the path through the jungle was less than obvious, it was less than the whisper-sigh long enough after sex to avoid being commentary, it was less than a suggestion meekly offered by the shy nerd in the corner that the other children preferred to forget about, it was the square root of negative one getting it on with the Easter Bunny; the path he followed as his arm lifted and cut haphazardly through the mystifying jungle was just that imaginary. And as her fevered eyes rolled and locked on the hole in her bed net, and in the second before the hot sticky malarial dreams descended again, (the Easter bunny, huh), her mouth formed a moue of displeasure that the sweaty-backed man she was following and tracking so intently- he might be imaginary too.

  • I watch you as you sleep, peaceful, graceful, a stillness in time. I was compelled to love you from the moment we met on that bitter winter’s day all those years ago, and I think you loved me too. Now I can never know.

  • I laid on the bed and arched my back, the searing pain quickly made its way to my very core.

    The apothecaries’ concoction to rid my womb of its inhabitants was too costly; my own potion wasn’t quite the same consistency.

    My chambermaid stood before me and screamed without ever moving her lips, until I realized, the screams were my own.

  • Happy Birthday Penmonkey. Coincidentally…

    From across the fire, the cowboy surveyed the deep black contemplating revenge. Long before the simian took his hand, and long before the cowboy took the simian’s for his own, his soul died a complete death. His wife lay six feet under; the same place he’d put the chimp they called Dave.

    Part of a much longer story already written.

  • The ancient house – dormant, decaying, silent – lies deep in a forest of black trees, undisturbed for a thousand generations, save only for skunks and rats that die bloody and wriggling in the jaws of the long-forgotten couple in the basement.

    The distant squeals of children suddenly invite their attention upward out of the radium gloom as a ball bounces over the stone precipice and pop, pop, pop, lands in his lap.

    From deep inside them comes the shadow of an echo of a distant memory displacing endless flesh-hunger with delicious, warm anticipation of a child’s redeeming smile.

  • The Ragnorian Dragon is really a misnomer based on the fact that the creature doesn’t breathe fire so much as blast fire from its excretory canal, incinerating any waste and adding a high degree of noxious emissions to Ragnor’s already polluted atmosphere. This fact wasn’t lost on Ben Simms, having been swallowed whole by one of the beasts 12 hours before after stumbling into a less-than-adequately marked breeding zone. Having survived being ingested, Ben was trying not to dwell on the inevitable conclusion of the adventure when he suddenly heard a rumbling roar and a light appeared at the end of his tunnel.

  • The alien invaders arrived at noon and conquered the planet by dinner time. Their craft were as sleek and beautiful as they were dangerous, a clear sign of the advanced technology that they possessed and the advanced way of thinking that went with it. We blew the planet at 9:03 sharp and killed them all in an instant; did they actually think we’d just let them win?

    and at the blog, here: http://www.realityrefracted.com/2010/01/invasion-terrible-minds-fiction.html

  • I knew my friend Charley was a tweaker and all-purpose fuckup, so when he came to me with an idea for how I could take twenty grand off my boss at the bank, I only listened to be polite. But then I saw that it might actually work, and in fact it worked better than either of us had hoped.

    After it was over, we had different ideas about splitting both the loot and the guilt, but as I said, he was an all-purpose fuckup, so I got most of the former, and he got stuck with the latter.

  • The unicorn happily pranced through the field. Then the sky opened up, and it rained evil unicorn-killing zombies. And then the zombies ruled the unicornless world.

    Happy birthday Chuck! I send you imaginary cyberfudge.

  • In the shadows the Nightmare Man smokes cigarettes made of your fingernails and hair. But not tonight, not anymore, not after we put poison under your nails. Now he sits in the dark and rots.

  • There was an old codger named Chuck.
    Who never had any luck.
    Until his birthday,
    When all had to say,
    “Let’s celebrate, WTF?”

    Happy bday, big guy (just an expression, i don’t know how big you are =)


    Jackson drools over the Eggs Creole swimming in the toilet. He remembers Cindy, his lover, his best friend’s wife, sprinkling pepper with her fingertips at brunch. He notices that his contacts have been wiped from his phone, just before the battery dies.

  • Chuck Wendig challenged me to write a three sentence story. I searched for a reference of James Joyce’s long sentences. I found one in Wikipedia’s article on the longest English sentence and I kept my sentences short.

  • The old man said, please, let go.
    He said he was sorry about my cat, he didn’t see him coming.
    He saw my baseball bat coming, I made damn sure.

  • Twelve-Point

    A rustle of bushes, a crackle of leaves, and the buck appeared, full of grace and power, antlers reaching like prayers toward heaven.

    Don’s breath caught in his throat, and his dead father’s voice echoed in his mind, screaming at him to take the shot, the trigger under his finger as cold and immovable as love long lost.

    And after a while, the buck passed on.


  • Addiction

    I need a smoke, but they won’t let me light up in this oxygen-filled hospital room. I probably have enough time to get to the smoking section and enjoy a cigarette. That is, if I can get out of this iron lung.

  • Hey, happy birthday, Chuck!
    Hmmm… how about,

    “Back in college I had this landlord, a real nice guy, who liked to chat with us, pal around, have a beer or two or three. We only realized he was kind of an alcoholic when we discovered he’d been hiding cans of beer around the house like some kind of demented easter bunny. Shitty beer, too.”

  • I should have just left him to die, the bastard. I mean he had thrown me out of my haven, called me worthless, and told me never to return. But damn it, he was in trouble, and if he was dead I would never make amends.

  • Hey, friend! I found this story on a twitter profile account… I’ve never met this woman, but it moved me so much that I wanted to share… by Mary Agnes Kelley:

    “I’m 82 years old and live with dementia & alzheimer’s. I dictate my thoughts to my daughter. I enjoy having followers, since all my friends are dead.”

    It isn’t fiction, but damn it if reality doesn’t need to be told more often. *sobbing*

Speak Your Mind, Word-Nerds