Flash Fiction Challenge: The Flea Market

Last week’s challenge — “That’s Right, I Said ‘Unicorn’” — earned an incredible response, and you can check out those stories at the link.

So, I did a quick thing on Google+ yesterday where I had people list possible options for today’s challenge — and Brooke Johnson came up with the idea of a flea market, and the strange things you might find there. I remember once I found a photograph of the Devil. For real. I mean, okay, it was a goofy looking guy from the 1960s in a spandex Devil suit — waxed mustache, poochy pot belly, delicate calves — but hey, it counts.

And it was autographed. Seriously. It was signed, “The Devil.”

You don’t have to write about the Devil. Just write about something you might find at a flea market. Something strange. Wonderful. Or dangerous. As magical or mundane as you see fit, long as it’s got a story.

Any genre will do. This is suited toward speculative, but crime or horror or any of that will play well here.

You again have 1000 words.

Due here by Friday, August 5th at noon EST.

Once again, I’m going to give away free e-books.

Top five get a choice of one of my three DIY releases.

However, there’s a catch — I won’t be picking them.

You will.

Starting Friday the 5th at 12:01 EST, you will have 24 hours to choose your favorite of the bunch. All you have to do is comment with the name of the author and his/her story in the comments. The top five chosen favorites are the thumbs-up high-five ichiban winners. You can’t pick your own. Because that’s jerky.

Standard stuff applies. Post at your blog. Link back here. Point us to your blog in the comments on this page. Go forth and dig deep into the flea market, see what kinds of crazy shit your mind finds.

A couple quick follow-up notes, though: a suggestion to those who host stories at your blogs. It helps if those stories are a) readable and b) open to comments. Not critical, but you’ll get more mileage out of a blog whose font isn’t tiny, whose text isn’t bright white on dark black, whose comment section is open to those who want to offer kudos or insight.

Have at it, bargain shoppers.

85 responses to “Flash Fiction Challenge: The Flea Market”

  1. Due to timezones, I have to vote now (I wish I had time to read all of them, but I’ll come back to the last few and scatter some comments too).

    My vote is for Jo Eberhardt’s Wish you were here.

  2. Wow, the voting part of this was Not Easy. After much debate, I narrowed it down to seven:

    Internal Monologue
    Seeking Perfection
    eBay from Hell
    The Jar
    Bald Women with Bras and Unstoppable Telepathy

    And with much anguish and rereading and vote-switching, I’ve finally settled on Internal Monologue… Shit. No. Seeking Perfection. Damn. Um…

    Fine. Internal Monologue.

    I never want to do that again.

  3. Good job everyone! There were 5 stories that I really liked, but, forced to choose, I was really engrossed by Internal Monologue. Nice job Samantha! (I couldn’t leave a comment on your blog for some reason…)

  4. I had a top six

    The Day of the Jovian Flea
    The Cockney’s story
    A Coward in Blue
    The Last Stall on the Left
    Seeking Perfection

    But I’m going to have to go with…

    The Last Stall on the Left By Melissa Pascarelli

    But there are so many good ones out there…

  5. My vote goes to:
    Louise Sorensen – The Necklace

    Others I liked:
    Lesann Berry – Seeking Perfection
    MomentEye – Markets of the Mind
    Shai Norton – Monday Night
    Shawn Stufflebeam – Holden
    Michael – eBay From Hell
    …and many more. So hard to choose!

  6. So many great stories, and so hard to choose. Every time I thought I’d narrowed it down to a couple of choices, I’d read another story and the choice would get even harder. In the end, though, I have to vote for the story that had me feeling like a kid at a campfire, eagerly anticipating the the end of the ghost story, and then sucker-punched me with a laugh-out-loud line at the end.

    I’m voting for ‘The Cockney’s Story’ by Jim Franklin.

  7. I have a few favorites. This is the first time I actually did read all the stories–quite a feat for a narcissist such as I. Among them are:

    Tara Tyler-jack saves the day
    melissa pascarelli-last stall on the left
    jim franklin-the cockney’s story
    brian d buckley-bald pregnant women w/ bras and unstoppable telepathy
    ba boucher-coward in blue
    josh-A Real American Hero
    And then my top favorites–these, to me, epitomize what we expect to find at a flea market. Reality is incredibly disappointing.
    Shai Norton-modus dementi
    Darlene Underdahl-The Glass Dagger
    samantha mathis–internal monologue
    I think Jo Eberhardt’s story is the kind of story we think of when we imagine a flash fiction challenge like this. It’s perfect.
    Jo Eberhardt-wish you were here
    And that is why I have to go with:

    Sean Samonas-Hermes

    Here is the understanding of the magic that is the essence of the all the other stories. I can imagine all the other happenings–all the other stories–taking place in the blink of Hermes’ eye. Sort of the “Illustrated Man” of the Flea Market.

  8. I have read most of these, I will probably finish reading them before the cut off but at the moment, my clear favourite is Jo Eberhardt’s Wish you were here.
    It’s so well structured and definitely needs to be read twice. Perfect flash fiction.

  9. I vote for Shawn Stufflebeam’s “Holden.”

    It was a really tough decision because of all the great stories! I don’t want to give a list of my top 10 or anything like that because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    All of you rock!

  10. This was really difficult with so many excellent submissions. I finally had it narrowed down to three and waffled back and forth, but in the end, the one which stays with me the most is: Jo Eberhart – Wish You Were Here.

  11. Yo ho ho, kids.

    It is noon.

    And so it is time to tally.

    Correct my math if it’s wrong — I’m counting with a baby gurgling in my arms — but it looks to be a tie between Samantha Mathis and Jo Eberhardt?

    I’m going to toss my vote in there not only as a tiebreaker, but because while I found a great many stories to love here, there was something poignent, poetic and elegant about Jo Eberhardt’s “Wish You Were Here.”

    So, that’s my vote, and so blows the wind in her direction.

    Jo — bounce me a msg at chuckwendig [at] terribleminds [dot] com and we’ll get you sorted out. 🙂

    — c.

  12. I was here late last night, and I see that mine never posted. I’m so sorry! My vote was for Seeking Perfection. I blame my laptop. It was bein lg ridiculous last night. Again, sorry.

  13. I’d like to thank the Academy… Okay, not really. But thanks to everyone who read my story, commented on it, and/or voted for it. I had a blast reading all of yours.

    Now I’m off to start torturing my protagonist…

  14. AHEM, Jo has wisely noted that the TOP FIVE picks get an e-book.

    So, uhh, oops.

    I blame my child, the Sleep Vampire.

    By my count, the top five:

    Jo Eberhardt
    Roger Kilbourne
    Samantha Mathis
    Sean Stufflebeam


    Brian Buckley.

    Do I have that right?

    All of you: CONTACT MOI.

    — c.

  15. I’m sorry I didn’t vote… been away. I’m going to go read the late entries I missed, and then reread Jo Eberhardt’s story. It would have been a tough choice.
    Congrats Jo!

  16. Oops. I too forgot it was for the top five – so sorry for not voting on the others. That’s what I get for not reading the directions. Damn.

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