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

  • July 26, 2014 at 12:59 PM // Reply

    The tick of the mantle clock—tick___tick___tick—was what I noticed. It kept time with the tempo of my heart, with the rise and fall of his chest, with the blinks of his eyes as he stared. Blood coating the knife in my hand seeped to the floor next to him—drip, drip, drip—landing swifter than the sound of the ticks.

  • The pen was in his hand, he was ready to write. Disjointed thoughts clouded his mind, any semblance of a cohesive story fluttering away. He understood, now, that ‘writer’ was not another word for ‘slacker’.

  • It could be a loud-ticking clock somewhere, but this late at night, in the quiet, my house has a heartbeat. Well, when I first moved in, I told myself it could be- must be- a clock, before the walls started to scrape with crawling things that hum like glass over viola strings. Now the tha-thump tha-thump is in the wall next to my bed, and the shadows are starting to flare along my curling, tissue paper skin, and my bones have tuned themselves to be strummed, because, anyway, the house would never have let me leave.

  • She tightened her fingers in his hair, the silky strands strong against her touch, his head weighty in her hands. Looking into his wide blue-and-gold flecked eyes, she said:
    “So beautiful, I can almost see heaven in your eyes!”
    “Oh Christ Alice, did you have to behead the bastard – we’ll never get this blood off the carpet!” said her mother.

  • I’m just the crazy cat lady who retired young, bought a little house in the suburbs, and filled it with cats so I could post funny cat pictures on the internet. Last evening, those men in smart uniforms and polished manners told me to give up my feral feline friends for the safety of my neighbors and my own. Now, I wonder who will take over my job to make the world laugh.

    • Can I please withdraw this entry and post the same(slightly edited version) story with my other email ID? I know that multiple entries will disqualify me so I want to withdraw this one before I post that one. If not, please ignore. Thanks!

  • She spent her childhood constantly searching for the love and attention most children take for granted in the important role their father plays in their life. After years of disappointment, severe let-downs and always playing the role of emotional adult in their relationship, she chose to walk away. Peace is harder to find than most think, especially when bombarded by his emotional manipulation and that he never once reached out to find out why, but she is stronger now; and the love she found elsewhere lifts her up and carries her forward.

  • She thought back to the time before, when stepping outside was an action akin to laughing, no thought needed. Putting on her sunglasses, a touch of irony she knows he will enjoy, she presses the button and the doors pull open. Stepping out, she feels the sun for an instant, heat spreading with delight before the fire ignites and she is gone.

  • A huge BWANG shook the whole house. I raced into the den, certain I was about to see a crack team of burglars standing around my coffee table, but the room was empty. All I found was a dusty wing print and a little wreath of feathers stuck to the still-vibrating window.

  • In secret, the surgeon had a little taste of Mr. Seeley’s amputated leg and found it to be delicious. After that, every amputation was mouth-watering anticipation, but none of the other trimmings tasted even half so good.

    On a hot and moonless night, the surgeon crept through Mr. Seeley’s back garden with his pockets full of fennel and a bonesaw in his hand.

  • He stood at the edge of the wharf, looking out at the dark sea, stretching to infinity.
    A picture of Amy flashed through his mind–all her joy, beauty, love and intensity–he drank it in, filling him up momentarily and for the last time. He dove head first into the water.

  • I won’t be getting any supper tonight. God may be great, and he may be good, but He still doesn’t rhyme with food. They have their sacred truths; I have mine.

  • July 26, 2014 at 10:29 PM // Reply

    Cars raced about them, eager to beat the light. But he never saw the other car coming when he grabbed his daughter’s hand and told her that the doctors can stitch it up good as new. He searched for his daughter’s shoulder in the seat beside him and catches a glimpse of her shoe lying on its side on the sidewalk corner.

  • The short ones are fun! I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s so far.

    As he extracted the chip from her neck, Dr Jacobson realised what had been bothering him: the neat wound, the lack of sepsis — and an obviously human-made microchip. He heard the door close quietly behind him. A new voice said, “Dr Jacobson, Agent Gayle and I would like you to come with us; quietly, please.”

  • A man without a soul set out to save his son. He struggled to balance the darkness of the world against the darkness within himself. He failed.

  • We fell in love at 18, and he promised he’d never leave me. At 25, I watched them lower his casket into the ground. I always loved that he kept his promises, but sometimes I just wish he’d go away.

  • July 27, 2014 at 9:00 AM // Reply

    She was pacing, stalking back and forth across the room like an agitated cat trapped behind an inexplicably closed door, her mind full of unanswered questions and longings and need. He strolled in with purpose in his stride, stopped before her, met her eyes, and touched her face. She was still.

  • The god emperor’s gaze swept over his burning city and the last guardsmen dying at the palace gates. The war was lost. He closed the window with a sigh and shut down his computer for the night.

  • He held a hank of her hair, watching the gold strands drift through his fingers. Forty years old, but eleven in comprehension, he stared into her unblinking eyes and began to cry. He hadn’t meant to squeeze so hard…

  • “Don’t go in there, Mister, Miss, there are terrible things in there,” the boy said, but Robert just snorted and entered the house.
    When the afternoon air filled with screams, the boy shuddered and said: “I didn’t mean terrible like that.”
    “He did,” I replied.

  • That boy Marlon Dow was born with intelligent eyes, an indomitable spirit and raised to be President one day. By age 13 the congenital defect had addled his mind to grits. Now he rubs his face on everything and tries to feed the cats persimmons.

  • ‘No, please no,’ he shouted, but no one heard.

    The family huddled around his hospital bed, saying things like, ‘he’s had a good life,’ or ‘he’s vegetative, where’s the quality of life,’ and the medical team concurred.

    ‘Please, no,’ he cried, but the family and doctors huddled around the monitors as each machine shut down.

  • July 27, 2014 at 12:22 PM // Reply

    I thought I’ll just take place in this for the fun of it. Then I realized how hard it is. I wrecked my brain to come up with something, until it drove me crazy.

  • At the risk of invoking a Laramie Bahr response ….

    The monster has traveled with me for two years, performing unspeakable acts on my fellow humans with my aid, coerced, of course. I woke last night, bug-eyed and sweating; forgetting its threat towards Lindsey, only terrified it had lost interest and would devour me instead. Today, as I helped it I couldn’t tell which of us was the monster.

  • Angela liked collecting stones. Polished riverrocks which sat egglike in her palm, square white rocks which her brother laughed at and said their parents bought to put by the pool. When he laughed at her like that, it was the final straw, and Angela hit him, crying when the ruby splashes of blood on the kitchen floor were not stones she could pick up and add to her pockets.

  • The instructions were posted, clear and concise. She wrote out the words, which turned out quite nice. With a wink and a wave she said, “Here you go,” then wandered off to catch an afternoon show.

  • Checking the mayor’s face against the photograph, he was certain–age was no disguise. His knife slid between two ribs like a hot blade through butter before the bodyguards closed around him. The rain blurred his eyes as their boots crushed his flesh and he smiled; her death, finally avenged.

  • The river was rising fast. Jack could no longer try to free his ankle without fully ducking under the icy water. Jess would have to deal with that man and his hunting knife alone.

  • So many of these are great. Here’s mine:

    “The Pilot’s Affair”

    Puffy clouds of glittering snow gathered on Christmas morning, in 1922, as little Teddy vroomed a yellow tin plane across the windowsill. On a hot summer night in 1936, Cecilia, gowned in white sheets like parachute silk, fastened her arms across Teddy’s chest and whispered,

    “I am a mistress in my marriage bed,” as he studied the night through paned glass. The bitter autumn wind moved Cecilia’s black veil in 1942, the sweet affair was over and Teddy had left her, to be with the sky.

    (Blog: februaryst.wordpress.com)

      • Thank you so much. I’m pleased I could strike a familiar chord. Thanks for your service.

        PS – In the last sentence after 1942 it should say “the year the affair…” this bridges the gap and keeps it from being a run-on sentence. Sorry…

  • July 27, 2014 at 6:35 PM // Reply

    A homeless degenerate sits on the side of the road, the remnants of a ceramic dish shaking in his outstretched hand. Of all the passersby, a young, strapping man dressed to the nines drops a hundred dollar bill in the dish. The homeless man makes his way to an upscale apartment building, entering his apartment to remove his false beard, wash and put on his business suit to re-enter the world, his faith in his fellow man partially restored.

  • Marge Thompson pressed the murderer’s own gun against his now-bleeding head, trembling. One of her students, hiding behind a small desk, whimpered, “Is it over, Mrs. Thompson?” The man tensed, and Marge pulled the trigger.

  • I am not a person, but sometimes at sunset, when the sun is just dipping below the water, I like to pretend that I am. I like to watch the water fade until it is barely discernible from the sky, and I imagine that I am barely discernible from myself. People always seem to be so unaware of themselves, but in the end, I was not the same: I knew with the most palpable certainty that I did not exist.

  • When the man handed you to me, you were wet and slick and red and I didn’t want you anymore. I cried, so Daddy grabbed you and raked his knife across your glistening flesh. “Here,” he said, “eat the fucking hot dog.”

  • The magician’s audience sat silent, stunned. Drawing back the curtain, his assistant had revealed the performer, bare-arsed and aggressively fucking a large-breasted and dull-eyed blonde who was bent over the ‘Sawing-a-Girl-in-Half’ box.

    “Wait,” the illusionist shouted desperately to his wife, “this is not what it looks like!”

  • The High Planes Jumpers and their cinematographer climbed into the twin-engine Cessna to resounding applause from the event’s crowd. Thirty minutes into their ascent, the turbine disc in the right wing engine disintegrated, igniting the fuselage and the plane, hurtling the wreckage towards the earth, trapping all but one of the passengers. Thrown out by the blast, Rawley realized with sickening horror that he had strapped on his backpack that carried his camera instead of his parachute.

  • I had to ask my dad for money. He gave me a hundred dollar bill. The next time I was at my parent’s house I noticed a note on fridge recording the debt.

  • “Not yet,” Carl thought, as he spit the dollar out once more. It was a perfectly good dollar, but he couldn’t help himself: elation flickered through him at the caress of her fingertips on his buttons, the enchanting pout on her face as she tsked in frustration, the rattle of his frame as she kicked him in what might have been his shins if he weren’t an aging, tired snack machine. He would dance with her until the end of time if he could, and he buzzed in pleasure as she tried once more to buy a pack of Junior Mints.

    (I actually wrote a few of these after I wrote my first one [this was the fourth] but this one was my favorite. If you’re so inclined, you can find my others at http://pavorisms.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/five-stories-one-title/)

  • The first time it happened I thought it was a mistake, a machine error. So I went back and meticulously collected another sample from one of the tiny blue lizard-like creatures running riot in my backyard. But the results were the same, the creatures had no DNA.

  • Huddled beneath the kitchen table, hugging his knees to his chest, Jonah watched as a rivulet of milk seeped from his fallen cereal bowl and pooled in between the tiles. In the silence, Jonah thought how much his Fruity Pebbles looked just like the Fall leaves waiting to be stepped on outside. Suddenly, a door slammed, something shattered and loud voices were screaming; there would be no leaf-stomping for Jonah today.

  • Team Two were re-pressurising in the airlock when it opened, and Team One had to scramble a space-walk to reel them back in. They all stopped thumping on the hull several hours ago, so I called Kennedy to break the news. Been a long time since I didn’t have to wait for the bathroom, here on the International Space Station.

  • Finally, the hungry ghost thinks as it drives immaterial fingers deep into the young boy’s soul. The spirit is immediately overwhelmed by cigarette-burn memories, gasping sobs, screams, and the other hallmarks of a life gone to rot. Finally, thinks the young boy’s soul as it escapes into Hell, certain it has the better end of the deal.

    (Hello, other word-nerds!)

  • It was late summer when Dad and I fished the leg out of Dead Man’s creek. We took it home and carefully dried it out by hanging it from a meat hook in the kitchen. Now I carry it with me everywhere; you knever know when an extra limb will come in handy these days.

  • This is a lot of fun! I’ve loved reading everyone’s tiny stories. Here’s mine:

    Raindrops spattered staccato upon Praveen’s forhead. He climbed hand over hand over inexpert hand, his ill-fitting shoes battling desperately for purchase upon footholds slick with heaven’s spite.

    Let them try to take it now, he thought, collapsing on the summit of the jungle gym – exhausted, freezing, but triumphant.

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