Flash Fiction Challenge: The 10k Contest

Last week’s “Make Me A Sandwich” challenge went pretty apeshit — closing in on 50 submissions at the time of this writing. Go check it out, won’t you?

*blink blink*

Somehow, I have fooled 10,000 of you into following me on Twitter.

This is insane, and suggests that most of you are spam-flavored sex-bots, sex-flavored spam-bots, or brain-diseased serial killers with a penchant for loudmouthed idiocy in the form of questionable writing advice. Either way, it happened, and there you all are, spambot-or-no. So, I thought I’d thank you by giving away a little something-something, bow-chicka-bow-dow.

But I’m still going to make you work for it.

I want you to tell me a story in five sentences.

(Yes, a complete story.)

No longer than 100 words total. The shorter, the better, in fact.

The permutations of the story beyond length are up to you: I don’t much care about genre or subject matter or any other fiddly bits. All I care about is the brevity and, by proxy, the potency of the tale at hand.

Deposit your storytelling awesomeness direct in the comments below. Do not put it at your blog.

You get one entry. So, write strong and choose wisely.

You have until Monday (2/27/2012) at noon EST to get your entries in. Then, by the following Monday, I will pick my favorite out of the whole big-ass bunch of stories.

The writer of my favorite story gets a prize package. Which is not a euphemism for my penis.

Prize package includes:

(1) hard copy of Double Dead, signed.

(1) hard copy of Human Tales anthology (story in it by me), signed.

(1) digital e-book copy of: all of my writing books (including the newest, 500 More Ways To Be A Better Writer), Shotgun Gravy, Irregular Creatures, and, when it comes out (late April), Blackbirds.

(1) handwritten postcard by moi.

Now, if you’re international, you can still enter — but, you’ll either have to pony up for shipping or just accept the digital e-books (i.e. no Double Dead, Human Tales, or postcard).

So, that’s it.

Five sentences.

Buncha giveaway stuff.

Monday’s the end.

Come on and tell us all a story.

* * *

EDIT:

All right. Time to call a winner and then, for giggles, a back-up winner.

First, let me say — some very good stuff here. Also, some very not-good stuff here. And some puzzlingly improper stuff — stuff that didn’t abide by the rules, stuff that fell prey to very easy-to-fix mistakes.

(Also: a curious thread popping up of dudes killing wives or girlfriends. Entries like that are unlikely to ever win anything, by the by.)

So.

Two winners. First winner wins everything I listed. Second winner wins only e-books of my writing-related books (five books in total).

First (grand) winner: Damien Kelly:

“On hurricane day, Daddy said, “Let’s put on our overcoats, and ride the dying storm.” I was nervous, but I trusted him and put on my coat and my boots. We ran around the yard a few times, and circled the roof, just to be sure we knew how to fly. Then we lifted our coat tails and jumped on the hurricane, bound for all points on the compass.
Impaled on broken branches, in a tall oak tree, staining its bark with my blood, I can see my house from here.”

Second runner-up:

Exi!

“A haiku class? Sure!”

“My boyfriend will meet us there.”

Damn it all to hell.

You guys need to email me at terribleminds [at] gmail.com.

Congrats!

179 comments

  • The contest lasted for hours, and everything I cared about in this world hinged on the outcome.

    It was a life and death struggle of incredible proportions, a battle of blood and sweat and tears and oaths sworn bitterly against apathetic gods.

    Until finally, bloody and helpless, he fell limp into my arms.

    For an eternal moment—stillness— and then he looked into my eyes, coughed, and began to cry the primeval cry of Life: pure, unadulterated, and glorious.

    I swear his indignant old-man face was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

  • I tried to fight the hot blood lust in my veins, but the roots of my ancestry ran too deep. The Others had tried to breed this out of my kind, to bend us to their ways, but failed.

    I stalked, smelled the scent of fear, saw the wild glittering eyes, heard the panicked footsteps. I felt my muscles tense, my claws extend, I leapt, caught, thrilled at the metallic taste of blood in my mouth.

    Then I was lifted high by the scruff of my neck, and heard those dreaded words, “No kitty, bad kitty, drop the mouse!”

  • As he began leading his mother to safety he glanced back, finally looked at me. It had been three long years but that one look told me it had never been over, not for him…and not for me.
    “Man the gates,” I yelled, unsheathing my sword with a triumphant smile.
    If life truly was a game, as he had always said, I had just won.

  • The officer motioned, I sat down.

    Prisoner 2445961 sat across from me.

    “Michael Smitty, serving twenty for aggravated assault and rape?”

    He shrugged: old, greying.

    You won’t know me, but you knew my mother… well, for a few seconds.

  • As he began leading his mother away, he finally looked at me. It had been three long years but that one look told me it had never been over, not for him…and not for me.
    “Man the gates,” I yelled, unsheathing my sword with a triumphant smile as the sounds of battle outside drew closer.
    If life were truly a game, as he had so often quipped, I had just won.

  • “Why am I alone?” Oh yeah, the internet. I can’t turn my back on it. She said, “you might be sick, but you feel alright to me.” The fan was still humming as the screen went black.

  • When I hear Sadie yelp, I search frantically until I find her stuck in an otter trap. She looks at me with her soft spaniel eyes, whines softly, and wags her tail. I curse whoever placed the damn thing so close to the river, while I struggle to push the springs apart and pull it away. Freed, she doesn’t move, but her breath stays strong as I slip my jacket under her and carry her in its sling to the car. We race to the vet only to find that her neck is broken and they cannot save her.

  • I rolled over, and propped myself up on my elbow to revel in the glory of her. Looking down at her beautiful face, I knew that a thousand years could never be enough. A strangely familiar scent played hide and seek with my nostrils. It was difficult to give it a name, and almost impossible to recognize the danger of the hissing sound it accompanied. When the realization struck me, it was much too late to give her a second look.

  • They say you can tell a lot about folk from the state of their floor, and I’ll tell ya this for nowt, we’re no exception. No matter how I clean that ruddy carpet, there’s still a green scrape by the door from our Dean’s first footie boots. That rough bit’s where our Trisha spilt them paints as a bairn, trying a still life of the dog.

    That red patch, there? That’s where I spilt Danny’s beer, when Newcastle lost to Sunderland in the derby. You can’t tell me it isn’t, I know this floor like the back of his hand.

  • They say you can tell a lot about folk from the state of their floor, and I’ll tell ya this for nowt, we’re no exception. No matter how I clean that ruddy carpet, there’s still a green scrape by the door from our Dean’s first footie boots. That rough bit’s where our Trisha spilt them paints as a bairn, trying a still life of the dog.

    That red patch, that’s where I spilt Danny’s beer, when Newcastle lost to Sunderland in the derby. You can’t tell me it isn’t, I know this floor like the back of his hand.

  • I haven’t read any of the other entries yet but here’s mine:

    Janice’s eyes are staring back at me, judging my confession of true love. Her eyes, usually bright blue windows to rooms full of smiles and laughter, are empty and hard. She’s a beautiful young teacher with infinite patience, deep empathy, and warm compassion, and I want to marry her. I’m holding an engagement ring in front her, a little over two month’s salary in pristine diamond and white gold, and all I feel now is dread. There is a little bit of blood on the ring from my fingers but we will be together forever soon, the pills I’ve swallowed are starting to make me sleepy.

  • Tale as old as crime, you’re happily partnered with her but still fixated on my dark anatomy. We never did get to play, to touch, to fuck, but we played secret games until you called it off and I was fine with finality. Friends, we said, we can do that. But ten days in and you’re still lingering, laying out your repressed Catholic baggage, angling for this deviant little atheist to open her arms Madonna-like, because it’s not cheating if you’re on the phone and the hand in my pants is mine. Fiends, I say, both of us.

  • Reading through all the wonderful entries and just noticed the homophone error in mine. If you can find it in your heart to forgive using “waived” instead of “waved” I would be grateful.

  • hope I’m not too late!

    The saloon shimmered on the horizon; dogged footsteps stirred up arid dust, never drawing closer.

    The mirage gained substance at sunset. Wooden boards creaked beneath ragged boots and skeletal remains stirred to life, retrieved faded cards, and shifted broken chairs to pick up their eternal game. One teetered on the stool edge, pounded a discordant tune on the piano and the bartender, with his eternal grin, slid a fresh bottle and glass to him, he joined the game.

    The inevitable disagreement turned violent; iron drawn and a gunshot rang out leaving another set of bones to bleach in the sun.

  • A Fairytale

    He draws his sword and starts hacking away at the thorny branches, which surrounds the castle and the princess inside.
    The skulls of those who came before, watch him as he imagines a grandmother telling her grandchildren: ‘He drew his sword ….’
    The roses come alive and grab at him, but this is simply the kind of hardship all heroes must overcome.
    Not until a branch slips around his neck and starts to tighten does it occur to him, that maybe he is not the hero in this tale; maybe he is simply another one of those who came before.

  • I’m late and I don’t care:

    Perhaps they always knew; she and he, what they’d become and where they would end when humbly beginning from such frailty.
    Their time was borrowed, and not secretly so, from the cypher who would ultimately see it repaid.
    Small joys and sparse victories accompanied most of the coils they shared – save the one living dream beyond their fondest wishes, who breathed into them the hope of achievements beyond their capacity.
    Their worth, to others and their own eyes, was unremarkable as a flaxen tablecloth. Final compensation could only be known upon removal of the cloth covering the sculpted alabaster beneath.

  • Manual Approach

    He approached the narrow alleyway where the explosion had killed three of his colleagues not two hours ago. The relentless hum of the helmet fan accompanied his laboured, breathing as he toiled under the weight of bomb suit and weapon. Stopping, he surveyed the carnage ahead, his knowing eyes scanning the ground for further hidden danger. To his left, a patch of disturbed soil and stone demanded his attention and as he knelt on tired, shaky legs his hand reached out to break his fall. Blinding light, followed by darkness, he no longer heard the hum of his helmet fan.

  • Ack! Missed the deadline! That’ll teach me to read more closely… I’d been assuming it was going to be Friday, like most of the others. Oh well. Since I’ve already written my story, I might as well post it even if it’s not in the running:

    Yes, I’m aware of the significance the hill has in local folklore – they say it’s a sidhe-mound, a dwelling of the fairy folk.

    And I’ve seen all the protests and petitions demanding my company spare the site, but they mean nothing to me, because there’s only one thing I care about right now – and contrary to public opinion, it’s not profit.

    Only one thing will hold back the bulldozers and excavators, stop the hill from being levelled. Only one group has that power.

    But they haven’t responded, no matter how many times I’ve begged them: give back my baby.

  • And one more:

    “Why did you do it, Julie?” The doctor’s voice is gentle, like Mommy’s used to be before the fire, before they took me away.

    I whisper my answer, again, the only answer I ever give, but I know she doesn’t believe me.

    “Julie, there are no such things as monsters – you know that, don’t you?”

    But there are – it’s just that sometimes they look like Daddy.

  • I’m used to having a Friday deadline for these, so this is what I get for NOT READING ALL THE DIRECTIONS! But what the fuck, I’m a writer, and don’t we usually break the rules?

    I was seventeen the first time I swung back on my old man; he was so surprised that it stopped him cold, but I just kept hitting. The week he spent in a hospital bed didn’t even come close to making up for all the hurt he’d laid on me.

    That was years ago but I still feel his fists most nights when I dream.

    Now here he is in the hospital again but it’s cancer, not me, kicking his ass; and beyond all logic I’m terrified to lose him.

    We’re strange things, we humans.

  • All right. Time to call a winner and then, for giggles, a back-up winner.

    First, let me say — some very good stuff here. Also, some very not-good stuff here. And some puzzlingly improper stuff — stuff that didn’t abide by the rules, stuff that fell prey to very easy-to-fix mistakes.

    (Also: a curious thread popping up of dudes killing wives or girlfriends. Entries like that are unlikely to ever win anything, by the by.)

    So.

    Two winners. First winner wins everything I listed. Second winner wins only e-books of my writing-related books (five books in total).

    First (grand) winner: Damien Kelly:

    “On hurricane day, Daddy said, “Let’s put on our overcoats, and ride the dying storm.” I was nervous, but I trusted him and put on my coat and my boots. We ran around the yard a few times, and circled the roof, just to be sure we knew how to fly. Then we lifted our coat tails and jumped on the hurricane, bound for all points on the compass.
    Impaled on broken branches, in a tall oak tree, staining its bark with my blood, I can see my house from here.”

    Second runner-up:

    Exi!

    “A haiku class? Sure!”

    “My boyfriend will meet us there.”

    Damn it all to hell.

    You guys need to email me at terribleminds [at] gmail.com.

    Congrats!

    — c.

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