Flash Fiction Challenge: A Story In Five Sentences

This challenge is, as many of them are, both simple and complex, both easy and difficult.

I want you to write a story in five sentences.

No more than 100 words.

You can view it, if you’d like, as:

Sentence 1: Beginning / Inciting Incident

Sentence 2: Middle

Sentence 3: Middle peak, act turn or pivot

Sentence 4: Climactic turn or twist

Sentence 5: Resolution

That is not a strict map, but rather, a reminder that a story is a story, not a snapshot: it has a beginning, a middle and an end.

You can post it below in the comments if you’d like, or if you’d prefer to post at your blog and offer a link back, that’s fine, too.

Please, only one story. Do not spam the comments with a ton of these.

Just one.

So, make it count.

Due by next Friday, the 18th, at noon EST.

334 comments

  • He sat in a corner of the hotel lounge, alone. As he gently swirled his fifteen-year-old scotch he glanced up and saw her entering the lounge wearing a deep red, body-hugging sheath.

    She scanned the room somewhat nervously until she saw what she had come for, a smile blossoming on her face and it broke his heart as that smile wasn’t for him.

    He lowered the drink to the table and stood up.

    He would confront her tomorrow when she came home from her “sisters” apartment but for tonight he would leave his wife and her lover alone.

  • The Pen (title not counted toward 100 words goal)
    (99 words, per Word)

    I looked all over. I checked the car, even under the sofa cushions. My favorite pen was gone.

    I stood there, looking around. The glass Jeb had used sat there, by the notepad.

    Grabbing the baseball bat sitting by the door, I ran out. Jeb turned the corner up ahead.

    Running, I followed him. There he was, squatting in front of a homeless man. His hand extended, he offered my pen to the man.

    I stopped. The man’s face beamed and started drawing on a well-worn notebook. I turned and left. The pen was better off where it was.

  • The Infinity Knot (79 words)

    The device on Jared’s wrist blinked yellow, then red, as the concussion of heat and light consumed him. Rigged explosives super-heated the air, shredding the research department. His eyes jarred open, desperate for light in the darkened room; his room, he recognized the familiar lamp and alarm clock on the nightstand. The chronometer read thirty-six hours. For the third time today, Jared dressed and set out to prevent commercial time-travel, and Alister Cooper’s rise to power.

  • Seven of us sat at a round table with grim expressions.

    It was my turn.

    I spun the barrel, and pointed the revolver at my head.

    The gun only clicked.

    I lost.

  • The smell the flesh burning singed my nostrils, but watching them actually eating it was the worst part.
    I thought it was customary to kill an animal before the slaughter, but I was wrong.
    These people cared not for etiquette or table manners, just meat.
    Tied down with my leg over the fire, the pain was already too far gone to feel anymore.
    They ate their meal and I watched as the world around me spun with the rotisserie.

  • March 11, 2016 at 3:09 AM // Reply

    when I was five, my teddy bear kissed me.

    when I was ten, I got my first bra in brown wrapping paper, from London, from my aunt, because it was cheap.

    when I was twenty-seven, I was fired from my desk job and took up bar-tending in KL, mixing non-alcoholic cocktails.

    when I was forty-nine, I was evicted from my apartment because my neighbour played too much air guitar and blamed it on me.

    when I was sixty-one, I died and went to heaven: most productive thing I did this morning.

    (87, hope you like it)

  • He walked out of the prison cage and captured her eyes with his.
    He was not what she wanted, not what she needed, but his dark eyes fixed on hers and she knew.
    She knew she would say yes.
    “Yes, come home with me, love me and be with me forever.”
    She knew she was lost the moment he whined and licked her hand.

  • March 11, 2016 at 5:23 AM // Reply

    Three days after the funeral we found ourselves, inevitably, back at the grave side. It had been one of those hot Southern summers where everyone took to carrying towels for their sweating brows – that would only make the rot worse. We watched the soil stir, slower and weaker than usual, the creature below too decomposed to properly exhume itself. One blow from my shovel was it all took to put the thing back in the ground, permanently this time.
    “Goodbye again, momma.”

  • My radio alarm blasted me awake with the news, and Lulu pawed my arm.

    With no time to wash my face, I wriggled into a dress and snapped Lulu’s leash to her collar.

    I careened through thick morning traffic like a fire truck, while Lulu dug her claws into the back seat.

    My parking space was filled with a limousine; I blocked it with the Mini Cooper and Lulu hopped out to pee.

    With arms full of Lulu and proof, I crashed through the door just in time to grab the gun from his hand and let him live.

  • You Have Memories To Look Back On Today

    Seven years ago we lost him. Recently, Facebook introduced a memories feature that recaps your day from years past. I’ve been wondering what those memories would look like from the day he died and how I would deal with them. Turning memories off altogether, or for a specific day, is an option but that day is also my birthday. I will leave the feature on and try to create more good memories so I will be reminded of how much I am loved as I scroll … scroll … scroll towards the bottom and remember how much he is missed.

  • 14:46, 03/11/11

    The swaying of my roach-infested apartment lasted long enough for me to consider grabbing my wallet.

    When the whole building jumped a few inches I knew it was time to go.

    I ran with the strangers living next to me down the stairs as the concrete roared around us.

    We burst outside expecting chaos, but other than a broken wine bottle and a siren wailing far away, nothing had changed.

    After a desperate cigarette, I went back inside the home I could no longer trust to watch people die and worry for months that I might be next.

  • Hey, fellow word people! Here’s my story:

    A Night Out
    (80 words)

    “Red dress and biker boots at three o’clock, headed this way – so better turn that frown upside down, sugar,” says the redhead sitting across the table from me.

    “I don’t recall asking you to be my wingman.”

    He laughs, blowing out a cloud of smoke, and shakes the ash off his cigarette into my drink.

    The brunette in the red dress stops next to my table and smiles.

    “So what’s a cute guy like you doing sitting all by himself?”

  • Bad Eggs

    We all awoke to them in our gardens, overflowing in the streets, filling up our beaches – and yet the government told us they were harmless.

    So, we gathered them all and handed them in; as many as we could.

    However, there were always a few we missed and we found them – but we couldn’t hand them in anymore…then, they began to hatch!

    And we found out why we couldn’t get in touch with our government… and there was nowhere to run!

  • The seed of Humanity ©
    in 100 words & 5 sentences

    Michael looked up at the sky as if to say God is this beautiful planet the one you want me to save from mankind self-destruction.
    Confused and bewildered he thought what a waist man has done upon him-self.
    He stood in front of the mirror seeing his own reflection with full satisfaction knowing he did the right thing.
    Michael came to earth to save mankind not realizing that at all times he was a man’s alter ego.
    As he departing Michael knew his seed upon mankind will better humanity for all its beauty and knowledge that he bestowed upon mankind.

  • This morning, of all mornings, the damned car doesn’t stay in park; instead, it goes cladunk and lurches backward, growling, and squealing the brakes. Bloody hell and sonofabitch, I shut it off and peer under the hood… something hopelessly jammed. Return to the driver’s seat, what now? Back out the driveway, circle over the neighbors law and goddam mailbox; back up the driveway and into the garage. Now, garage door down, trunk lid hard up against a crushed mass of bicycles and floor lamps, tires skidding, I wait.

  • At The End Of The Day

    I roll over just before the door opens, and lie still as steps cross the room.

    Pressure on the mattress, and then two thumps as heavy work boots land on the floor.

    A familiar sigh, and then a person-shaped coldness lies down and stretches out next to me. A hand like a glove left out in the snow touches my face.

    “You knew I’d be back,” he says.

    “Yes.” I close my eyes, eager for his smell of bay rum and old flannel. I only smell the formaldehyde, and wonder if it was worth it.

  • Traveling at 80 mph, he grits his teeth, and the world streaks past. The office beckons for him to come and turn his gear in the great machine.

    The oncoming headlights are blinding. Horns blare. Shattered glass hangs on the air, glittering like stars in the morning gloom.

    Wreckage tears through his skin, untold stories of where he’s been. If only I had more time, he thinks.

    The world blooms with reds and blacks. His pain is an orb of fading light.

    The machine subtracts 1 from today’s calculation. An old pitted gear is replaced.

  • Joe picked up the tattered bloid soaked sleave of Sams coat, all that was left of him after the grenade had gone off. Those bastards. He clutched it tigher, and shoved it into his pack.

    Bending down he picked up his rifle, and loaded it.

    The cowards were across the field, hiding behind the trees, like a bunch of disease ridden rats.

    He worked his way over on his belly, avoiding the trip wires, and buried bombs.

    There. Light reflected off of a korean man’s helmet. A quick death isn’t good enough for you.

    The man spun around and fired. Joe fired back, the mans head ekoloaded, splattering his cherk with gore.

    He looked down at his chest and his shirt seeped red. He collapsed.

    I got you, I’ll drag you to hell.

    Black clouds over came his vision, then he knew of nothing.

    I’m sorry this got a little longer then I wanted.

  • As she swam up from the fog, the screeching continued to grow louder and louder.
    She didn’t want to..REALLY didn’t want to…but she couldn’t stop herself from looking at her right side.
    A medium-sized piece of her Momma’s pot roast was where her right hand should be, red and wet.
    And her missing right hand was being juggled by the little Daschund in front of her, stained paws working mysteriously well- when the little dog somehow smiled at her and said “Shake a paw!”
    She gulped, and the screeching stopped momentarily until she’d caught her breath, and then she started again.

  • Untitled
    (63 words)

    Outside in the street, a man stands waiting for me.

    He is tall, willow thin, and bleached a desert white.

    Grinning a somber grin.

    The monitor at my bedside beeps, the IV drips, my wife sleeps curled in the hospital chair.

    I suppose it could be a woman waiting for me, grinning that lipless grin—in her condition there’s no way to tell.

  • The Petty Video Game Dispute

    Arthur seemed to be a man like any other—his favorite things included Cheetos, Fallout 3, and Emma Watson—but there was more to him than meets the eye. There has to be; there are only so many video games you could buy with a minimum wage salary. I have a theory, and it involves a string of robberies perpetrated by a man known as the Duct Tape Bandit: the day after the Bandit’s first strike, Arthur had a new copy of Skyrim; the day after the latest one, he had a new PS4. I informed the police of my suspicions and, on the grounds that he and the Duct Tape Bandit had never been seen in the same room, Arthur was arrested. It was just what he deserved, the perfect revenge for the time I had lent him my level 90 Mewtwo to fight the Elite Four and he had never traded it back.

  • Under the Bed

    The monster was coming for her again, but this time she was ready with sword in hand.
    Ever since her twenty-fifth birthday, no matter where she went, he came out of the shadows every third full moon, giving chase.
    Lights beamed towards the room’s sole object, the bed she stood atop, listening to her racing heartbeat.
    Nothing could be differentiated in the black mass of fur, she jumped, her aim centered, hopeful.
    The sword broken by the sharp, glowing teeth and a furry, clawed hand held her wrist, the other caressing her cheek, he finally had her, no more running.

    • Very satisfyingly scary. Even in a piece this short, I find myself rooting for the protagonist, and then genuinely distraught when the monster gets her.

      It does, however, feel like the five-sentence limit did the style a disservice here. Most of these sentences would sound much more powerful if shorter.
      Ex.: “The monster was coming for her again. This time, she was ready, sword in hand.” /
      “A furry, clawed hand held her wrist, the other caressing her cheek. He finally had her. No more running.”
      /unsolicited critique

      • My thoughts exactly! I actually had to write it in separate sentences as you pointed out, then had to fuse them together. I didn’t get the run-on sentence warning after a few drafts so I left it at that. I will say that this project as really gotten some creative juices flowing :)

  • Annalise is getting nervous.

    It’s been a week since her third date with David- the date where IT happened- and she hasn’t heard anything.

    After work, she takes the interstate up to his vacation cabin and lets herself in through the kitchen window. Finds him sprawled out on the tacky, bloodstained linoleum like a limp and lifeless doll, permanent glassy-eyed stare of horror fixed on the wall.

    Good, she thinks; just where I left you.

  • It’s A Team Effort, Every Day

    The commotion was tremendous. Raucous cackling and squawking filled the quiet neighborhood on a sunny Sunday morning. The rest of the team, all aflutter, joined in, creating an incredible cacophony of sound that disturbed breakfasts and Sunday Facebook postings throughout the land. After what seemed like an eternity (but was really just several minutes), the noise gradually subsided. The first egg of the day had arrived.

  • Diner

    Gage finished his liver and onions, swirled, then swallowed, the puddle of coffee cooling in his cup, left a sawbuck, stepped outside, and considered which way to go as night crashed in.

    “You stiffed me, asshole?” said the Stopover Diner cook, reeking of fried onions and hard luck, his meaty hand clawing Gage’s left shoulder.

    Gage twisted away from the uninvited hook, said “What’s your beef?” as the cook, flashing a fiver in his fist, spewed, “You left a fin, friend, for a $9.95 full meal deal.”

    Gage nodded, drew out another fin.

    “Keep the change. You’ve earned it.”

  • Ushered politely into the room, she lay fully-clothed upon the table, as instructed, involuntarily closing her eyes when the first drop was placed on her forehead.
    Hands anointed with the second and third drops moved over her face, and an immediate floating sensation greeted her, a bright light following close on its vertigo-like heels. She catapulted into an ethereal spacescape of nuanced color, blissfully void of all trace of her human physicality and its suffering.
    A gentle hand on her shoulder called her back into her relaxed and pain-free body.
    “Your aromatherapy session is complete.”

  • Falling (100 words not counting the title)

    They pushed him through the window.
    Going to that room had been a mistake. But he needed that intel. Now he was falling from a forty floor. Lucky for his employers, he’d got the faces and DNA signatures of all the mobsters in the room before diving.
    He saw heads showing, even a hand flipping him the bird. He took his cell phone to send the information to the headquarters. Then he blew up the briefcase he left in the room.
    Before his head got squashed in the street he saw the flames and the bodies flying from the room.

  • You have one wish left,” the Genie said disinterestedly. “So what’ll it be?”
    “Hmm,” I tapped a jewel-heavy finger against my brand new chiselled jaw. “I have the riches and I have the looks, now I just need the power.”
    “Makes sense,” Genie said. “Wish away.”
    “I wish to be powerful!”
    “Done,” Genie chuckled.
    That was three weeks ago, and you know I never would have imagined it, but I think I’m finally getting used to being jumper cables.

  • I wrote three of these things: one that I love, but borders on prompt/snapshot, one that follows the prescribed story layout but I find utterly “meh,” and this one.

    She blew a stray strand of hair out of her eyes, already straining to see how many drops fell from the flask’s curved lip.
    “You’ve got to get this transmogrification right, else you’re gonna flunk out of the Gifted Witches program,” she chided herself aloud.
    Shit– how many drops was that?!
    A guy rose from the resulting blast of smoke, blue eyes and black hair settled against bronze skin, his body sleek and tight.
    “Well THAT was unexpected.”

    Juicy bits. Haha. I’ll probably end up posting the other one I wrote to the blog (MelodyKlink.com) and expanding on it some more. That middle story will probably never leave the notes on my phone.

  • Empty Nest (a Tragedy in 50 Words)

    She lies on the bed, braced for the obligatory bi-monthly marital relations.

    He joins her immediately — no need to lock the door anymore with both kids at college. She gives and receives a chaste kiss, a fond smile.

    Closing her eyes, she thinks about George Clooney. So does he.

  • A little boy is born to a mother that doesn’t want him, and a father that doesn’t know he was born.

    He grows to a young man, long and tall and an army of one: him against everyone else.

    A young girl sees this, sees something else too, and decides she wants to take a chance on the boy.

    She invades, and he battles valiantly- shoring up his defences here and there, but finally ..he surrenders.

    Now they’re an army of two…but the war has changed, no less heated- but with infinitely higher stakes.

  • John took a long drag from his cigarette, filling his lungs with smoke and blowing it out again in a long arc, stirring the air. The ashtray was between them, full of dead butts and gray powder, and Seb pushed it a little closer to John. “Not good for you,” Seb said, shaking his head a little as if there were no half-empty pack next to his own half-filled glass.

    John laughed, “You’re no good for me.”

    Seb reached across the table, touched that hand, not flinching at the hot ash dropping onto his skin, across the heavy gold band on his ring finger, and said, “No, I’m not.”

  • Seven years ago we lost him. Recently, Facebook introduced a memories feature that recaps your day from years past. I’ve been wondering what those memories would look like from the day he died and how I would deal with them. Turning memories off altogether, or for a specific day, is an option but that day is also my birthday. I will leave the feature on and try to create more good memories so I will be reminded of how much I am loved as I scroll … scroll … scroll towards the bottom and remember how much he is missed.

  • Weekday Scheduling

    I’m a baby sitter until she can’t breathe.

    On Thursday I play knock-down-the-blocks, teach her sister’s name, and suction her airway.

    Friday is a good day until it isn’t. Ambulance guys don’t question my urgency when they see her numbers.

    When there’s no call Sunday night, I know to be at work Monday morning.

  • So, let’s try this. Ahem…

    The cleaver fell; skin, muscle and bone offered a rather meager resistance. With a final tack the blade stuck in the chopping board. Lauren cleaned her hands on the apron, then wiped the sweat from her forehead. She stared at the leg on her working bench, a good piece, it would go for a hell of a price. She turned around and looked at the next tube, the version of herself thin and stringy, the expression empty like the hundreds before and the hundreds that would follow.

  • They drifted through the forest like phantoms, mist obscuring their legs. Hiding behind a twisted elm I betrayed myself with a sneeze. Their ashen faces snapped towards me, huge bloodied lips drawn back in a feral smile.They chased me, laughing and shouting words I didn’t understand until I tripped and sprawled on the forest floor. The largest of the troupe, in a colorful patchwork suit, presented me with two tickets to Circus Romania.

  • A cigarette fell from the sky.

    Probably discarded by someone on one of the many balconies above.

    Five, ten, twenty falling cigarettes and it could still be a strange coincidence.

    But when the count got to thousands it was surely not.

    It rained ash.

  • Wow, the word count was tough. I started with 300 and kept paring it down. I think it was really strongest around 150 or so. I also decided to try second person which is something I don’t usually like and have never done before, but I’m trying to push myself a little. (interesting to me to note that change ‘you’ to ‘she’ in two places and it goes back to first person…) Hope it’s not too corny.

    We rode the ferry at dawn, drove onto the beach after sixteen hours in the car. I fished in the surf, you collected shells.

    We grilled flounder over a fire of driftwood in the evening, made love in the dusk, slept on the beach. In the morning we walked, ankle deep in surf alive with tiny creatures, suffered sunburns, drank too much, quarreled like two exhausted kids.

    This year, I flew, slept in air-conditioning. The rules: “no driving on the beach”, license needed to fish, no fires… We have seven kids now, I have two and you have five.

  • March 11, 2016 at 4:40 PM // Reply

    SEEING IS NOT BELIEVING (100 words)

    “I see changes overnight,” shrieked 12 year old Emily at the top of her voice to any family member within hearing distance as she stared into her full-length bedroom mirror.

    “You mean they’re bigger?” inquired her Mother with genuine interest, suddenly appearing at the doorway.

    “Uuum no, actually they’re smaller”, replied Emily, making no attempt to hide her disappointment.

    Emily’s mother made the decision then and there.

    That would be the last time they visited the harebrained optometrist who’d recommended wearing $600 prescription glasses as a way to make her daughter’s tiny, underdeveloped eyes (known as ‘Iris Dwarfism’) appear larger,

  • The New Kid

    Lester stares at the moss in the cracks of the quadrangle as the jeering behind him grows louder, cockier. An empty bottle whizzes past his head, his school bag is ripped from his shoulder, fire bucket chained to the schoolyard fence, tossed into next door’s railway yards.

    All those promises of things being different this time fall flat on their arse at three-twenty-five on day one.

    Lester turns, punches, and the toughest looking boy drops, cracks his head on the concrete so hard it bounces once, twice.

    Lester’s done with making promises.

  • March 11, 2016 at 7:21 PM // Reply

    HOLDING ON FOR DEAR LIFE (100 words)

    “Damn you, don’t you dare leave me,” she said, desperation making her normally sweet voice rough and strained.

    I let her cling to me, hoping she could hear what I couldn’t say out loud: ‘I don’t want to, sweetheart, but this isn’t my choice.’

    “What if I don’t let you go, what then?” she cried, holding on even tighter than before.

    ‘Oh God, no, don’t do that,’ I thought, feeling myself grow cold at the very idea… even colder than I already was.

    “C’mon, honey,” her mother said as she gently drew my darling away, “Let them close the coffin.”

  • March 11, 2016 at 7:30 PM // Reply

    99 WORDS NO TITLE

    Adriana stops in the middle of the desolate blacktop road, desperately trying to catch her breath.

    Behind her, insipid beams of light steal through the fog failing to produce the slightest trace of shadow onto the rain-slick road.

    The screeching wallop from an air horn pierces her brain; she’s darting out of the road seconds before she realizes she’s still capable of movement.

    She reaches the shoulder, franticly waving for help, as a filthy tsunami of water from the speeding rear wheels shrouds her.

    On the far side of the road the massive grizzly waits for the truck’s departure.

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