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

  • Eh, it’s 101 words. Close enough?

    “What do you think?” he asked, leaning closer and opening a black velvet ring box.
    It was the ugliest ring I had ever seen: thick, yellow gold band, with a pear-shaped diamond that had a prominent flaw in the center.
    I sat in the crowded bar for what felt like an eternity but was probably only a few seconds, wondering what his ring choice said her.
    I thought of all the times she smiled at me with her lips, but her eyes glinted with a scornful edge, as if she was plotting me out of his life.
    “It suits her perfectly.”

  • CITY OF LIGHT

    Of all the things I’ve discovered in my soup, the thousand-dollar AshoTrain ticket was a first. The next came through in twenty-three minutes and I was twenty-two from the station, so it’s good I didn’t take long making up my mind.

    As I found a seat, I watched the city recede too quickly and wondered if my impulsiveness had gotten me in serious trouble again – until the skyline erupted in light.

    I collapsed onto velvet, horrified, staring at the distant mushroom. The shockwave knocked me sideways into a porter, who murmured: “Careful, Ms. Burns, you were chosen for a reason.”

  • A (Semi)Personal Essay in 96 Words

    I have a bladder full of urgency, but Amishmen are everywhere, grinders shooting sparks and starting fires in the straw. Usual piss spots are being traipsed across by young men whose beards, suspenders, and worth ethics put hipsters to shame, but I’m in dire straits. My urethra is twisted up like a dehydrated earthworm when I give in at an intersection of wall and silo, hoping for thirty seconds. He walks around the corner with a clipboard and comes up short when he sees me squatting. Our eyes connect, each measuring the other’s loss of modesty.

  • Blew the word count (by 7! I swear it was 200 words when I started, but any less than this and it starts to unravel…that word count really forces you to edit out useless phrases and adjectives.)

    “Nymph in the Fountain”

    She fell in love twice a week—on Wednesdays watching the hustle of workers commuting home and when midnight struck open the weekend spilling out pursuits to capture pleasure and flesh.

    This week she hadn’t fallen in love, she hadn’t seen anyone interesting.

    Her heart wasn’t still captive to the bearded man; when he came to her fountain, clean shaven, all lust was gone.

    A coin splashed into her face and she saw the lover who had doomed her to love like this; she sent a watery spray to caress his face.

    But her flesh shuddered into droplets as she tried to drown him in watery rage.

      • Aw, thank you! :)

        I really hated cutting out the adjectives–really threw off my rhythm in how I’d structured it. And I lost some of the stuff I loved out of the first line. :(

      • Not exactly what I had meant, but yeah I could see how a certain type of person would cast a love curse on someone if they’d been rebuffed. And that would be an interesting story too. :)

        If I’d had another couple of sentences [or another hundred words!] I would have gone more in the direction of “fine you want to give all your love out to everyone, here have at it” and done the more normal cheating route, but hey ho. I had what I had.

  • “The Dog’s Dream”

    The dog barked at the birds outside the window, protecting his family from the intruders in the lawn.

    The birds enraged him, not just for being in his yard, but he envied their flight, their freedom.

    On a walk, an ancient sorceress (nearly twenty) offered to turn him into a cardinal.

    The former dog soared through the skies on scarlet wings, but his heart felt hollow.

    He spent the rest of his days on a branch outside the window, singing songs to the family he loved, wishing he could come inside just one last time.

  • The bomb was set to go off in ten minutes, and the bank vault was full of innocents.
    Sweat beaded on Johnson’s forehead, as he disarmed the bomb just in time.
    A disembodied voice spoke through the bombs device, “congratulations, by disarming the bomb, you initiated the other twelve.”
    Johnson spoke,”I know, we moved them to your location about an hour ago; happy trails.”

  • Mary sighed as she opened the refrigerator. The remote control for the television sat in a puddle of milk, its container toppled over on its side. On the counter, a soiled pair of boxers hung from a sterling silver fruit tree, a gift from their daughter for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. From the bedroom, her husband Edgar pointed a banana at the television and yelled to her the remote control wasn’t working again.
    Tomorrow, she thought as she cleaned the mess, I’ll call tomorrow.

  • You must accept my apologies, however, if you are reading this, you will be dead in just a moment.
    I know, you are feeling fine, safe, never been better, but let me assure you, beg you to beleive, nothing could be further from the truth.
    You must listen to me right now before it’s too late as what I say next will save your life.
    Do not look behind you, do not; say these words out loud, “In the terror and fury, in the. Blood of the beast, my heart must remain and your darkness will cease!”
    Now, start counting upwards and if you reach the number five, congratulations, you are still alive.

  • The Secret in Papa Hem’s House

    After Papa Hemingway left to go fishing, the housecleaner Xiomara approached the typewriter in the corner of the room. The keys worked her fingers like the muse worked her imagination. The notebook tallying his daily word count lay open beside the clacking typewriter. She smiled at the competing muses. She collected her pages and hid them away; she beat him again.

  • “The End of the Beginning”

    When the apocalypse arrived, it did so in an unobtrusive, almost apologetic fashion.

    For twenty years, we carried on as though nothing had happened even though the future was slowly draining away like water through a crack in the bottom of a swimming pool.

    It felt as though we should be doing something, struggling, fighting, every tooth and nail, but how do you even begin to confront something like the world coming to an end?

    So, in the end, we didn’t; we did the only thing we could think of an embraced it instead of going to war with it.

    As it turned out, the end of the universe was just the end of who we were and all we needed to do was to let it go to become what we were always meant to be.

    (Apologies to ACC. I just like the first sentence and it flowed from there)

  • (edited to get my word count down because it turns out I can’t read):

    “The End of the Beginning”

    When the apocalypse arrived, it did so in an unobtrusive, almost apologetic fashion.

    For years, we carried on as though nothing had happened even though the future was slowly draining away.

    It felt like we should be doing something but how do you confront something like the world coming to an end?

    In the end, we didn’t; we embraced it instead of going to war with it.

    The end of the universe was just the end of who we were and all we needed to do was to let it go to become what we were always meant to be.

  • March 12, 2016 at 2:24 PM // Reply

    Thanks to Chuck for the suggestion. My first time at writing micro fiction and I enjoyed the process. My effort below came in at 95 words.

    Joseph closed the freezer door, slid off the ready meal’s packaging and placed it in the microwave. As the minutes ticked by, he looked at the calendar stuck on the cupboard day and sighed. Once it was ready, he settled on the sofa and began to eat. The doorbell rang. He got up and trudged to the door, opened it, but saw nobody there. Instead, on the step, were two ready meals wrapped in a red bow with a card attached. He bent, opened the card and smiled. It read ‘Will you be my Valentine?’

  • A little nugget from a back-burner project that’s been kicking around my noggin.

    The river, I thought I’d never get here.
    It’s quiet now, and I can’t help but think of all I’ve done.
    It sure is noisy inside my mind though, thinking back to all they’d done to me.
    But it’s done now, just one last stain to wash out.
    I think I’ll go in and let the waves scrub away the filth, until the water runs clear.

  • I hated him in that moment. I didn’t care if he died as he fished his finger into the dark red gaping wound that encircled his neck. I could see the jugular was still intact. He fucked that up too. The salty sickening smell of blood was all too familiar as I stared angrily in the mirror thinking to myself, “Why wouldn’t he just die?”

  • I’ll have a go. This one is called “Sara’s Stone”

    Sara stopped running. She was tired of being scared, ready to do the thing she vowed she would never do again. She turned to meet the monster approaching her. Her eyes closed as she focused on the stone. The magic spilled into her, black and horrible. Her husband raised the bat, ready to usher a final crushing blow. Before he could swing, the dark magic roared out of her, consuming him. His body cracked and crumpled to the ground. Death. She felt it burn her soul, and she would never be the same again.

  • The clean up crew.

    His good eye opened and followed me around the room as I disinfected the air.
    “I’m not contagious anymore, you can untie me.” I ignored him and adjusted my face mask, his weeping scabs spoke more truth than he did.
    “You’re going on a trip,” I said, as I tightened his constraints.
    I cycled through the airlock, hit the PURGE button and watched, as another friend circled into the sun.

  • ADDS
    A big, unusual looking white wolf stood on top of the hill, the forest in its back, stretched its hind paws and yawned. Maybe its sky-colored eyes, or its gold dipped tail, or its huge glistening fangs made it look so exceptional…
    Just before sunrise, the horizon started glowing and writing flashed to rush across the sky, as it always did.
    The wolf read it out: “Thank you for choosing Strix Planetary Maintenance Systems. Kindly let us know, how to improve our product.”
    “Time to upgrade,” the wolf rolled its eyes.

  • Miles of Blues by JJ Geraci

    Miles’s “Kinda Blue” is on the stereo when Gina comes over, unzips and gives me a peek of her cupcakes.
    I roll a doobie and pretty soon, we’re rolling on the couch in what becomes our daily routine – music, sex, food. Not always in that order.
    Then one night Gina calls, “I’m late.”
    WTF? “How can you be late?” I ask, although I already know how – she forgot to take her pills.
    So I’m sitting in front of the computer and I’m listing on eBay: For Sale, Miles Davis, “Kinda Blue” – only played a couple of times.

  • Here’s mine: The Charred Heart

    On his way back from work on a grey Wednesday, Mr. Johansson discovered he had misplaced his heart.

    Feeling hollow, he slumped in his bland Ikea chair at his bland Ikea table and thought about when he had last used it, but couldn’t remember.

    Determined, he searched and finally found one piece tucked inside his favorite book, another in the jar of gingersnaps, some shards at his father’s grave, and a few charred pieces stuck to his work jacket.

    He glued them together and stuck the singed little heart into his chest.

    It wasn’t much, but he’d make it grow.

  • 5 sentence Story

    ​It’s sunrise and I’m gazing through a window that was once the portal to a paradise.

    The only sound is the wind that rustles through the Palm trees which have grown wild after the fire storms.

    I pray to see another of my kind, also seeking shelter.

    ​If I could find one other human, there might still be hope for my species to rebuild what was once ours.

    But the breeze carries the yellow death of chemical warfare, and my last breath brings no comfort in the knowledge that the earth shall flourish without us.

  • I stared at his tiny hands, mesmerised, as always. The way a baby’s fingers open and close, as if in time to some symphony only they can hear in their infant slumber. Asleep, and silent, not even his breaths made a sound. But then it was not his cries that had brought me here in the dead of night, but the memory of seeing him in his pushchair at the park that morning and, as I took him in my arms and climbed back out of the window, the realisation that he belonged with me.

    https://grahamwrites.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/flash-fiction-5-sentences-100-words/

  • The Path Not Taken

    The bass makes her fillings vibrate. She knows he’s talking to her; she can see his lips moving. She points to her ears then gestures futilely at the throbbing air, as if to say I can’t hear you. He starts to lean in closer, then stands instead and leaves the club, going out alone into the night. She continues to sip her drink, head bobbing to the beat.

    ———
    I also posted it at my blog, if you want to go shower me with likes and comments over there. #shamelessselfpromotion

    https://sambrady.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/chuck-wendig-the-path-not-taken/

  • MATURITY (100 words, five sentences)

    When Miriam left to touch up her makeup Joshua fixed me with an intense stare from the worn couch. “You know what’ll happen if you don’t treat her good, don’t you?”

    There was no threat in the question, only a reminder that there are boundaries that mustn’t be crossed and consequences to be paid if they were, and the fact he was only twelve was irrelevant. He had the soul of a man, accepted a man’s responsibilities to look out for his family, *was* a man, and treating him as a child would be wrong.

    “I’ll treat your mother right.”

  • Leeward, by P.J. Post

    The fishermen are out.

    Reluctant surf caresses blackened pilings; a palimpsest of manhood, hints of salt struggle against the scent of baking whoopee pies.

    Nose running, eastward eyes watering into the unforgiving wind, cheeks burning, lips cracking no matter how often you lick them, wringing hands, but the holes in your mittens refuse to allow the warmth to gather; your toes feel dead inside secondhand summer oxfords.

    The day creeps into town, revealing worn awnings furled tight against frosted windows, and generations of paint curling away from once proud, revolutionary-red brick walls.

    Today, the fishermen will be forever out.

  • Breaking the rules here, because we’re not supposed to submit more than one – but, hey, both of mine are really short…. Please let me have this one too? Pretty please?

    Song to the Moon

    Enrico and Maria lifted their voices in a love duet and entwined harmonies into the soul of the night.

    The perfection of that shared music lifted each of their hearts in rapture.

    The sudden deluge that drenched them drowned the song in their throats.

    “Damned caterwauling!”

    Above them, the window slammed shut.

  • I stared at his tiny hands, mesmerized, as always. The way a baby’s fingers open and close, as if in time to some symphony only they can hear in their infant slumber. Asleep, and silent, not even his breaths made a sound. But then it was not his cries that had brought me here in the dead of night, but the memory of seeing him in his pushchair at the park that morning and, as I took him in my arms and climbed back out of the window, the realization that he belonged with me.

    https://grahamwrites.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/flash-fiction-5-sentences-100-words/

  • 102 words. Eh.

    Cindy gave her sorority sisters the slip and went to the party anyway. They’d never let her pledge if they found out.

    She drank too much. Danced all night. Deftly parried the drunken advances of some guy in a crown.

    Next morning, the house was aflutter; the fraternity president was making rounds to name his queen for the spring formal. He had the shoe, he proclaimed, of the magical girl whose company he had shared the night before.

    Cindy ran upstairs and threw her mismatched pump in the garbage chute, vowing never again to waste her time with silly boys in costumes.

  • He was a strong swimmer, she not so much; he waded in not looking back. The current sucked at his legs, he laid his entirety over the foam, sinuous arms and legs, sewing a seam through the undulating force. Sundra felt the heat at her back. The fire had followed them as fast as they’d run. The sand wicked the heat toward her heels, she began to laugh; strange that her two most fears would be encountered simultaneously. As slave, she’d known fear, but never trust. He didn’t offer her any. The elements congealed in finality; he waved glistening from the island.

  • I chatted quietly and sweetly in the back of the police cruiser, smiling and giggling and apologizing and nervously covering up my deep fear, taking action by putting my sweetness and youth on display.

    I’d never been arrested before and I never imagined that I could be; I was a sweet girl who was afraid of authority so I rarely broke rules, other than ones of necessity.

    By the time I was locked up with the others I had reassured myself that I didn’t belong, that I could at least enjoy a night with a roof over my head until this mess was cleaned up and my obvious goodness was clear and understood. Avoiding eye contact with the large black woman pooping on the toilet four feet from my mismatched sneakers I promised myself that I would be extra good and do exactly what I was told.

    Then I would be free.

    • March 14, 2016 at 4:06 PM // Reply

      Definitely ‘Alcatrazian’ and yes, avoiding eye contact is absolutely the way to go.
      This is well done.

      • Thank you! I enjoyed writing it. Though I completely forgot about the 100 word guideline. Perhaps I can offer this excuse: I no longer want to be nice and sweet and follow the rules.

        tee hee!

        • March 15, 2016 at 3:33 AM // Reply

          I’m pretty sure rule breaking is in the writer’s DNA. In a not entirely related way it reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw the other day – “I got the boob so I make the rules”. Funny at the time.

          • Random Share: I like boobs! New boobs, big boobs, small boobs, old boobs, firm boobs, deflated boobs. I even like the word boob. It’s bouncy and fun, like boobs themselves.

            Your story had me thinking about that, and then I saw this comment of yours. I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about boobs all day. Fun!!

  • Can a person cut out their own eye?

    I’m sitting here, with some scissors..and a goddamn migraine that feels like the Packers are trying to punch it in..4th and inches only it’s like 84th and inches..above my left eyebrow.

    Favre hands off, they crash into my skull again- and that’s when I decide they need a hole next play.

    I put the cool blade against that little red nub, in the corner of my left eye, so the next time that sonovabitch Favre tries that play, he’s going to get a surprise.

    My wife says I watch too much football.

  • March 14, 2016 at 5:47 PM // Reply

    I was off by one sentence, but this is my story.

    Aportis the frog walked up the grassy hill towards his final destination, an ancient and forgotten alter.

    He opened the bag he had been carrying with him and took out a smalland aged book, a jug of muddy river water, and a fresh and bloody goat heart.

    Aportis placed the heart upon the altar , uncorked the river water and poured it on the heart.

    He opend his book to a dog eared page and began to recite incantation: “Oh Great and Powerful Oeryisrus, heed the call of one of your many followers, I ask for audeince with you, my lord and master, hear my cry!

    Suddenly a yellow vortex opened up over Aportis and the altar, a booming voice coming directly from it, “The Great and Powerful Oeryisrus can not be summoned to your dimension at this time, feel free to try again later.

    The Yellow Vortex closed and the sky became blue again, and Aportis the frog threw his book into the bag and made his way home disappointedly.

  • Carver’s eardrums had rotted off long ago, so he only saw flashes as the food pointed a metal object at nearby non-food and juicy brains exploded into the air.

    The food pointed at Carver, a wild look in its eyes.

    Carver flinched.

    The food paused.

    Carver ate it anyway.

  • I knew it was not right but he had hurt me and the pain wouldn’t stop. I had tied him up for days. I made him tell me he loved me, a different way every day. It wasn’t satisfying. I wanted him to touch me. I untied his hands and reached up to take off his gag. I felt a piercing pain in my chest, where my heart had once been was a shard of old glass that I should have seen. Blood dripped from my hands and a certain peace overcame me. At last the pain had stopped.

  • No one walks into a PI’s office like a tall blonde in mourning.
    I spent a week looking for the spot her husband hid the money from the bank job.
    The morning after I found it, I rolled over and said, “Mexico?”
    She smiled, kissed me hard on the mouth, and shoved a gun in my ribs.
    I limped into La Playa Real with a broken hand, sixty grand in the bank, and brunette who was more than willing to nurse me back to health.

  • I was always the outcast of the village, with no family to speak of and no friend to call my own.
    The village did need me however; I was their physician when the people were ill and their undertaker when they died.
    But I also loved a woman who was spoken for, and when the sickness came I was to prepare her corpse, I always had a way with the dead.
    They didn’t miss it this time, I couldn’t pass it off as an illness that was cured, they knew she was dead before I got to her and now I am to be burned at the stake.
    It’s a shame; I’ve tried killing myself too, it doesn’t work

  • Amnesia

    I passed out at the party. There was violence in the kitchen so I fled into the hall, through a crowd of leering faces with groping hands and tripping feet that would love to see me fall.

    Outside on the street, I wrapped my arms around my chest and frightened ran for home.

    With a shock I realized I was running with great excursion not on, but above the ground. Elated I flapped my arms and as I lifted higher I just had to laugh. Silly me! I’d forgotten that I know how to fly.

  • Chain Suck

    The pedal stops mid-crank and midway up the hill. The third time on the bike ride it happens. I pedal backwards a half a crank and try to pedal forward before I lose all forward momentum. No, I sigh when the push of the pedal stops midway. Stuck at a standstill midway up the hill, I curse. With the quick leap off the bike, I lift the back tire with one hand and manually cranked the chain free and know I need to visit the bike shop to fix the chain suck.

    http://aliceekeyes.blogspot.com

  • Reconnoisseur

    The prisoners wouldn’t speak so we pried open their mouths and forced yarn down their throat–long yarn, gut-reaching yarn, red as a teacher’s pen. Then we started to pull. First their voices tumbled out, furry and quivering, the names of loved ones stuck to them like lint–Francine, Beatrice, Hosanna, Hosanna. But then, then the secrets slid out from between the prisoners’ teeth, glistening knowingly and stinking of something awful as we gathered them on the table. The prisoners had died by then, and their ghostly visages watched passively as our captain handed out the forks and, with hunger, we stalked forward.

  • I thought I saw a turtle resting on a rock. I steadied my scope and took a closer look. My heart started racing. Unless people had gotten into the habit of painting enemy flags on turtle shells, I was in a world of trouble. The valley echoed with the sound of guns and tanks and bombs and my dreams were quiet no more.

  • Morbid Memories

    Ellie read the text one last time then slowly pushed delete. Finally her heart and her head agreed it was time to let the past go and move on. One can only mourn the loss for so long before friends begin to find it tiresome. Besides, if it hadn’t been for that text, her past would have remained her present. Instead it was the last thing he said to her before hitting the semi head-on.

  • http://aliceekeyes.blogspot.com

    Chain Suck

    The pedal stops mid-crank and midway up the hill. The third time on the bike ride it happens. I pedal backwards a half a crank and try to pedal forward before I lose all forward momentum. No, I sigh when the push of the pedal stops midway. Stuck at a standstill midway up the hill, I curse. With the quick leap off the bike, I lift the back tire with one hand and manually cranked the chain free and know I need to visit the bike shop to fix the chain suck.

  • March 15, 2016 at 11:28 PM // Reply

    Unplugged

    The doctor gave my family the news as they surrounded me, looking concerned.

    They didn’t know I could hear them, but I could, every word.

    “Terminal…breathing machine…no telling when or even if he’ll come out of it…”

    When the last one left, I summoned up what strength I had and crimped my oxygen hose.

    I smiled as the alarms rang, knowing they would be far too late.

  • My little story comes in at 89 words. Love the challenge of writing such short fiction ^_^

    Liberation

    It had to be done.

    She reached into her pocket, and drew out the box of matches, sulphur striking the air with a hiss. A small flick, and the match landed on the pages of the open book, flames licking up and over the paper, the ink, the unnatural prison.

    Her feet turned and ran, keeping ahead as the fire spread, consuming rows upon rows, shelves upon shelves of books and artefacts, the trappings of the humans peeling away to reveal what lay inside.

    Magic would be free again.

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