UPDATED WITH WINNER: LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: August Edition


Flash Fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess.

How It Works

We give you inspiration in the form of a picture, poem, video, or similar. You write a flash fiction piece, using the inspiration we gave you. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 25 words is the limit. (You can write less, but you can't write more.)
  • The whole story must only be 2 sentences. No more. No less.
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title (not included in the word count, but keep it under 10 words).
  • We're not exactly shy, but let's stay away from senseless racism or violence.
  • One entry per person.
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted.
  • We'll pick a winner on the last day of the month.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All stories submitted on or before August 29 will be considered. We'll run the winner on August 30.

This Month's Prize

Win a Kindle eBook of Hubert Selby, Jr.'s novel The Willow Tree. Here's a bit about the book:

Growing up in New York City’s soul-killing South Bronx ghetto, Bobby, a young black teenager, has only known violence, poverty, and despair. But there is one true light in his life: his girlfriend, Maria. On their way to school one morning, they are set upon by a vicious street gang. Bobby, beaten bloody and senseless, survives, rescued by an old German man who is himself a survivor of the Nazi death camps. The man calls himself Moishe, though he claims not to be Jewish, and he takes the damaged boy under his wing, determined to help heal his physical and psychological wounds. An unlikely friendship is born, strengthened by a shared sense of loss and life’s tragic injustices. But Moishe’s message of learning to forgive the unforgivable falls on deaf ears, because there is a hole in Bobby’s heart that only revenge can fill.

Hubert Selby Jr.’s extraordinary novel is a devastating work of raw power and stylistic brilliance that captures the pain and hardship of twentieth-century urban life. Unflinching and unrelenting, in the vein of his acclaimed masterwork, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Selby’s The Willow Tree is a dark tale tempered by hope: a story of love, death, rage, violence, and salvation. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Hubert Selby Jr. including rare photos from the author’s estate.

Your Inspiration

Let’s celebrate one of my favorite sass-mouthed writers this month. Born August 22, 1893 in Longbranch, New Jersey, Dorothy Parker first made a name for herself as a fill-in theater critic for Vanity Fair. Though eventually getting fired from that job for her offensive jabs at high-powered literary types, her wicked wit and wordsmithery had already won her acclaim. During her 50-year writing career, Dorothy (Miss Parker, if you’re nasty) published hundreds of poems (300 in 1920 alone); many, many articles in highly-ranked publications like Vanity Fair, McCalls, Life, Vogue, The New Yorker, etc.; published several books of poetry, including Enough Rope which sold 47,000 copies; and she even wrote for Broadway and Hollywood (though known as a quintessential New Yorker, she did spend a few years in Los Angeles.)

In addition to all her literary success, Dorothy Parker was probably best known for her sassy (and not often kind) witticisms. Here are a few favorites:

You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

Tell him I was too fucking busy-- or vice versa.

The ones I like ... are ‘cheque’ and ‘enclosed.’

― On the most beautiful words in the English language, as quoted in The New York Herald Tribune (12 December 1932)

Thoughts for a Sunshiny Morning

It costs me never a stab nor squirm

To tread by chance upon a worm.

"Aha, my little dear," I say,

"Your clan will pay me back some day."

― First printed in New Yorker (9 April 1927)

In honor of what would be her 120th birthday, write a classic Dorothy Parker-like quip (in prose or poem form). Remember, you get 25 words and 2 sentences. No more. No less.

Now Get Writing!

And the winner is...jet_jaguar

This might have been the hardest choice yet. Though the number of entries was relatively low, the quality was consistently high!

Jet_jaguar's entry stood out, though, for its use of rhyme, meter, sarcasm, social commentary, and wit all rolled into a quippy poem.

Here you go: read it for yourself!

upward mobility

Our brightest minds are working hard, mankind won't suffer much longer

Praise be noble scientists who strive

to make our erections bigger, better and stronger

Taylor Houston

Column by Taylor Houston

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer and volunteers on the marketing committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College and attended Penn State's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. She has taught writing at all levels from middle school to college to adult, and she is the creator of Writer’s Cramp, a class for adults who just want to write!

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Yossarian22's picture
Yossarian22 from Belfast, Ireland is reading Don Quixote August 1, 2013 - 10:53am

Another Beer Dear?

whether you persist to exist

or exist to resist

you can laugh at risk

if you just stay pissed.


Ivan Blanco's picture
Ivan Blanco from Miami is reading The China Syndrome: The True Story of the 21st Century's First Great Epidemic August 1, 2013 - 11:05am

The life of a working girl is never easy. I make end's meet by putting meat in my end.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday August 1, 2013 - 11:05am

The Bright Side

Life is all sunnshine and roses.

In the end it's just full of skin cancer and pricks.

Mcdede's picture
Mcdede from Chicago burbs August 1, 2013 - 5:59pm


The undecided’s have it.
They have gone onto middle management,
the moderate wing of every party,
at least two marriages,
and have hung a jury.

mongoose4004's picture
mongoose4004 from Pennsylvania is reading The Dark Tower August 2, 2013 - 2:11pm

It's all Greek to them 

I open my mouth, to drive a point home, so meticulously sculpted in my head.

Yet, out spew idiotic stutters and babels, instead.

Christian Mott's picture
Christian Mott from the inside of a raincloud is reading The Chronicles of Narnia August 2, 2013 - 3:22pm

Simple Circle


Many a simple lad

manage to become men,

only to circle around

and be simple once again.

jet_jaguar's picture
jet_jaguar from Western Mass is reading money August 3, 2013 - 2:11pm

upward mobility


Our brightest minds are working hard, mankind won't suffer much longer

Praise be noble scientists who strive

to make our erections bigger, better and stronger




Taylor's picture
Taylor from Portland, Oregon is reading Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby August 5, 2013 - 9:56am

I'm LOVING the entries so far. Keep 'em coming!

Natale Anne's picture
Natale Anne from New York is reading The Morningstar Strain August 9, 2013 - 5:06pm

Here Lies: Another Dead Hooker
Shamed by sharing something that should never be sold;
if you're not careful, they'll take more than your soul.

TomJoad72's picture
TomJoad72 August 13, 2013 - 1:36pm

Greetings at dusk

And here you are at last,
the only thing you can count on on this earth.
" My treat, little worms, the feast is on me ! "

edgar allen foe's picture
edgar allen foe August 28, 2013 - 4:06pm

Schrödinger's Cat

Boxed up for many days,

You’re all alone and poorly fed.

But I hesitate before digging a grave;

I’m not sure you’re alive or dead.

BarryG's picture
BarryG August 15, 2013 - 9:25am

Girls who wear glasses: Continued

But even girls having poor eyesight;
Reject passes from men lacking hair and height.
While blind, Love may clearly be;
Unrefined Lust can see clearly.

Sharon's picture
Sharon from Dallas, Texas is reading Rip Off Reports on the web. It's held my interest for the last three days. August 23, 2013 - 3:23pm
Back Pocket Phone Call


Oh! My heart aches!

Haven't heard from you in a while

My phone rings and I see it's you!


'Twas only a butt dial

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 24, 2013 - 10:15am

Working Girl


She can slip off her clothes

but can’t close off her slip.

In a yard with stripped hoes,

She can’t hoe one darn strip.


FrannyC's picture
FrannyC September 3, 2013 - 7:41pm

Just Another Meat Suit

Day in and day out, tethered and bound to his desk, just another meat suit waiting for the butcher to throw him into the grinder.