Flash Fiction Challenge: A Story In Three Sentences

Last week’s challenge: Superheroes Plus!

This week’s challenge is an old favorite — one that’s easy to describe, yet difficult in execution.

I want you to write a single story in three sentences.

Not a snapshot. Not a vignette. A complete story. Beginning, middle, and end.

Three sentences.

Easy to half-ass — but challenging to execute with elegance and power.

But, life’s too short not to give it a go, so: you are challenged.

*throws down glove*

*fires starting pistol*

*Tasers you or whatever*

Ahem.

The way to do this is easy:

Go to the comments below and write your three sentence story directly into a comment. Shorter is better than longer — if your story hits 100 words, you might wanna rethink the length.

Think about plot, rhythm, character.

Contained in the small package of three sentences.

I’ll pick an unnumbered handful of ones I like, and to those I dig, I’ll toss digital codes for all my writing-related e-books (with the exception of The Kick-Ass Writer, which is not mine to automatically distribute for free).

You get one entry only. Multiple entries disqualifies you.

Some loose suggestions:

Check your spelling.

Don’t be cliche.

Read other people’s entries so you don’t replicate them.

Write it in a word processor first. Give it edits before posting.

Do not settle for mediocrity.

The story is due by next Friday, August 1st, at noon EST.

WINNERS

Okay, the winners are (correct me if I have this wrong):

Momdude!

Ellsimp!

Andrew F. Butters!

Martin Wells!

Ryan Nolte!

You folks:

Email me at terribleminds at gmail dot com. Congrats!

396 comments

  • Thinking myself a writer, I penned a novel. I sent it to agents and publishers, confident of my genius and wordsmithery in the utmost. Now humbled, I’ve nothing to show for it but two stacks of paper: one my masterpiece of purple prose and the other full of form rejections.

  • It was a whirlwind weekend romance. Looking across the table, I realize that if I can not have her, no one can. I gently stroke her bloodstained hair, before placing the barrel of the gun in my mouth.

  • Danika looked over her shoulder at the man bound and gagged on the balcony floor. “Cutting off my wings doesn’t mean you managed to cage me or my people, Alterius.” Ignoring his muffled screams, she stepped off the railing and spread her arms wide, pulling Sky around her like a benediction.

  • The great bearded giant stalked the land, throwing barrel after barrel of bitter, black coffee into its gullet. But this day I had filled my mug with razor sharp stones before pouring in the sweet java, just enough to cover them up. The ravenous Wendigo swiped my cuppa joe from the porch and drank it down in a flash, but its belly was split open by those stones, ending its reign of terror and allowing the black gold to be drunk freely once again.

  • When I asked my father why we had to ration food, he showed me a part of the ship I’d never seen before. It was a cavernous room full of brittle brown sticks, which he called fruit, and vegetables, and bountiful, and dead. He said, “We ration food because we all wish to spend as much time with our children as we can.”

  • Wrote mine before authordjdavis up there but arrived at the site to already see a haiku. Took mine a step further, I think. Don’t disqualify me, I’m just using good “Save The Cat” principles (it’s the same thing, only different):

    I write using words.
    Often too many of them.
    Now I know haiku.

  • I held my fathers hand as he placed the tablets on his tongue, his face grimacing at the sudden bitterness. He washed them down with a glass of ice cold water, his eyes on the picture window and the sea beyond it. He sighed softly, and then closed his eyes, his pain now gone while mine was just beginning.

  • July 25, 2014 at 2:33 PM // Reply

    Boy chats with girl on facebook. They continue chatting for six months until they decide to meet. Holy crap, he is her brother thought dead a long time ago!

  • Here’s my entry:

    “He stared into the red sky as the landing craft reached escape velocity, becoming a tiny dot before vanishing. He checked the gauge on his O2 tank. It read 18 minutes.”

  • You’ve never met Holliday, but you’ve heard of him. After all the playground legends about “that one kid” died down, Holliday was still there, coughing in the exhaust of a childhood made up by other people. I hear he whispered “doesn’t matter,” when he died at the bus stop, because he knew someone would tell it differently anyway.

  • The glare of the blank page was unyielding, its stark purity mocking her empty brain. Flipping through her Pinterest page of inspirational writers’ quotes she found what she needed. She sat down at her keyboard and bled.

  • I feel the earth shake from under me, my insides jiggling, the screams of my children ringing in my ears. A wall falls between myself and the rest of the world, and for the tiniest millisecond, I think this is it, give in to it, give up. The pounding inside my chests reminds me that I’m far from dead, the screams for help from my children drive my hands toward a chunk of the dining room table and I’m pounding the wall with borrowed strength forming the smallest of holes—we are no longer alone, not either of us.

  • I always love challenging myself like this – I don’t know why I don’t play more often. Anyway, thank you for hosting this, sir. Here is my entry for your consideration.

    Smiling darkly, the priest plunged the knife into his victim’s abdomen, while around him, his congregation’s chanting rose to a fevered pitch as the blood dripped from the body, filling the trenches of the stone altar beneath it. The priest spoke only a word and the blackened sky ripped open. The chanting soon turned to screaming as dark gods spilled into the world to feast, first upon their acolytes, then upon the rest of humanity. Only the priest would be spared.

  • A spring wind blows from the eaves
    the smell of beets after rain.

    The lord’s hired sedan
    marching home from Yoshiwara –
    gorged nightjars singing.

    Carefully moving
    the discarded ronin stalks
    the boy he helped raise.

  • The “connect” button glows green and the sunny screenshot of the young brunette in the short floral beach dress is replaced by a blurry live feed that goes dark when you wipe the blood off the lens of her phone with your sleeve. You adjust it in her hand for the perfect selfie, then hit speed dial and wait for him to answer. Maybe this time he’ll take your fucking call.

  • When he was born Coyote blessed him; the blessing of that god is rarely kind. His love was a merciless wind, and against it there was no choice but fight or fall: the man fought, fists clenched, vision blurred, the taste of blood warm and salty in his mouth.

    The man fought until he fell, but in the end he fell, and in the end Coyote wept.

  • The scent overpowering any sense of direction I’d left. And in one swift blur the past like busy bees buzzing, turning my insides raw. I threw up, my lost innocence, strewn over the lavender field.

  • The stink was awful enough to wake me up from my nap. I’m talking, “awful enough to rot my nose hairs” awful. But it’d been almost a year since we buried Charlie, and I hadn’t eaten cabbage for at least a week.

  • “Don’t worry, I’m here to fix things” the time-traveler said, his face young and full of hope. “I know,” the old man said, sounding resigned. “You are not the first.”

  • She loved and lost and hid from the world in her work. Enter a new love—a disturbing love—one that would take her to the heights of ecstasy, culminating in a spiraling free-fall to the depths of despair. But a heart once broken never repairs all the cracks; it leaves embedded a thin shard of hate, and it never forgets.

  • There once was man who wanted to be a hero.

    He heard of a princess who was kidnapped by a dragon, and decided to go rescue her.

    The dragon was dead when he got there; the rumors failed to mention she was a amazon warrior.

  • The monster lurking under the child’s bed, others said, was a creature they should fear—and they did, following the rules. The girl was not afraid, so she showed him her toys, how she played games, and when she grinned, his tail flickered like happy flames. One night, when the monster understood, he came out of hiding, a fearsome teddy bear for a fearless girl, snuggling under her arm because he knew she was a monster too.

  • It bothered her, the color, the wetness, the way he still smelled like himself but not like himself at all. Jake’s face had been so pink and taut and excited when he took her hands and said, “You’ll just have to drive, drive like you’re going for yogurt or picking up the dry cleaning or going to mom’s for dinner.” So, she turned the corner slowly, relaxed, numb, and silent, while her brother—her dumb, hopeful, lost little brother—turned gray and slack-jawed over the half-full grocery bag in his lap.

  • Johnny and Paula ended their soul kiss and stared deep into each other’s eyes; running off together was not only a real-life fairy tale, it was also the perfect solution to all their problems.

    They ran for the car, laughing and holding hands, when Paula stopped, looking at the bloody corpse behind the steering wheel.

    “Wait,” she said, “I forgot—what do we do about Dad?”

  • We should have filled the gas tank before we dropped Kitty off at daycare. Across the empty plains, the super cell spun towards us as the dust devils whipped against the windshield. The glass cracked, the dust hid the horizon, and we locked our doors.

  • He is the better tactician on the battlefield and this is something she knows well. Her king lay tipped over, the game at its end. He only laughs when she bows and offers him her hand, to signify her defeat, the chains rattling around his massive wrists like bells in a church.

  • It took us two years and a dozen shipments of Mother Hydra’s precious pearls to certain bureaucrats on Capitol Hill to get us what we wanted, more or less. Sure, we would have rather lived in a pleasant, damp seaside town, where we could build our own dry-land version of Y’ha-nthlei, but that wasn’t the offer. And, really, aside from the constant sun which dries out my skin and makes me smell like a microwaved cod, Arizona isn’t a bad place to live.

  • July 25, 2014 at 3:55 PM // Reply

    A squirrel found an acorn.
    An acorn so different and uniquely perfect it couldn’t possibly be devoured, so instead, the tiny hoarder stashed it deep in the hollow of a rotten tree, where the glossy nut sat like dragons treasure until finally—starving and mad with obsession—the squirrel died.
    In other news, you’ll never guess where I finally found my fake eyeball.

  • July 25, 2014 at 4:08 PM // Reply

    Her eyes watched him for a long moment. He shook his head, unable to find the words. Slowly, she removed the ring from her finger and placed it on the table.

  • Darkness erupted in a warm, cloying spurt of indifference. Within its depths, the world drowned, humanity’s last cries a wet gurgle. Galactus sighed as quietus settled over, though he knew this was not yet the end as death had only come a little.

  • When he called the day before, and found out he (and another driver) had to drive an hour round trip to pick up the rental truck the morning of the move, he was in shock. His wife reacted differently, with anger and resolve: to use any tactic necessary, including tears. One phone call was all it took; the husband went to fetch the truck one day early, and the wife had a cookie… and went back to packing.

  • She loved her teddy bear dearly and played with it every day.
    She cried when it died of starvation, as she did when each of her teddy bears died, and when its rotting body could no longer sustain her love and playing.
    She loved her children dearly too, and played with them every day…

  • Trace wasn’t bothered that his sock drawer could fill a whole Craigslist page with Left Seeking Right personal ads and he was light two forks and one spoon. Spotless floors were worth a small sacrifice. But when the cat didn’t show up for breakfast one morning, he approached the little vacuum robot, tasting copper as he chewed his thumbnail beyond the quick, and cursed himself for buying a remanufactured unit.

  • Here is my entry:

    My favorite kooky conspiracy site warned to stay away from the dark web. I took that as a challenge and went in headfirst. Now I sleep by the front door with a loaded rifle by my side.

  • We pulled over next to the crumpled sack of fur and blood on the side of the road. Keith smiled down at it, baring his small, white teeth in a grim imitation of the dog’s last, agonized moments.”Can we keep it Mom, can we keep it?”

  • She clutched her babe to her chest. He shuddered and breathed his last before he opened his eyes again and touched her nose with his bone white fingers. She knew she would come to regret making a deal with the white necromancer.

  • Despite days of trying to train him otherwise, I still woke up with Percy on my chest, his breath hot on my face. He snorted with glee when he saw my eyes open, sending a plume of flames into my beard that would once again leave me with singes and an awkward tan on my face that I couldn’t explain to anyone. That dragon’s lucky he’s cute.

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