UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: January 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. This month, you get only 14 words, but there are no limits on structure or number of sentences.

The Rules

  • 14 words is the limit. (You can write less, but you can't write more.)
  • 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 January 30 will be considered. We'll run the winner on January 31.

This Month's Prize

Ever wonder what else Ellen Ripley was up in 1979? Find out with Titan Books' newest addition to the canon:

 Alien - Out of the Shadows (Book 1) by Tim Lebanon

In space no one can hear you scream...

The massively acclaimed Alien franchise is one of the most successful of all time, beginning with the first film in 1979. In a dramatic twist, this novel will return us to that time, to Ellen Ripley, and to never-before-revealed secrets of the Weyland-Yutani Corporations ... secrets that lead into the events of the second film, Aliens... and beyond!

Your Inspiration

It's a new day, it's a new year, it's a new set of rules! In honor of surviving 14 years past the Y2K Apocalypse-That-Wasn't, you get 14 words to write a flash fiction story on the topic of "newness".

Now get writing!

And the Winner is...OtCole!

Maybe it is because I can relate to this story--the futility of trying to take yourself seriously--but either way, it made me laugh. I also love that the two ellipses serve as words, making the final count exactly 14 words. Well done, OtCole!

Fantastical Tales of a Rookie

“Poleece man.”


“Mistah Poleece man.”

“Remain silent, citizen.”

“your fly is down.”


Part Number:
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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PrivateRiot's picture
PrivateRiot from Milwaukee is reading Lots of books by Chuck. January 3, 2014 - 2:46pm

Gauntlet on floor screams, “Beware you repetitious fools. This be the year of me.”

Angel Colón's picture
Angel Colón from The Bronx now living in New Jersey is reading A Big Ol' Pile of Books January 3, 2014 - 5:10pm

God Saves No Cowards


"You can't!"




"God help..."

Bullets end the sentence for him.

Gordon B. White's picture
Gordon B. White from Seattle January 3, 2014 - 6:23pm

"I hear Beirut is lovely in the spring . . ."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Lebbon, but 'Alien' fanboys are livid. You'll need a new identity."


Alien - Out of the Shadows (Book 1) by Tim Lebanon

Trevor Duplessis's picture
Trevor Duplessis January 9, 2014 - 8:39pm


mattmyth's picture
mattmyth from Rotorua, New Zealand is reading Cousins by Patricia grace January 4, 2014 - 4:56am

First Date

"Favourite albums of 2013.  Go!"

"Music these days..just bloody noise"

The silence resumed.


Bear Inrantation's picture
Bear Inrantation January 4, 2014 - 6:00am

Old newscreen numba

Nero used neuroin like nobodies bidnez!. Neo had no flare for such nonsense - nada!

Bess Goden's picture
Bess Goden January 4, 2014 - 11:05am

Newness Transfused 

Her petal opens. The dew drop falls. Her brother drinks. Revived. His petal opens.

J.Maxwell's picture
J.Maxwell is reading The Luminaries January 4, 2014 - 3:08pm

New Digs

Not long buried at Rosencliff cemetery, when comes the beckoning of my new brethren.

Adam Birch's picture
Adam Birch from all over, currently North SF Bay Area is reading Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon January 4, 2014 - 7:25pm

First Day

Even her old clothes felt new. Nothing could dampen her first day of school.

artistic addict's picture
artistic addict from Living in Fear and Loathing U.S.A. is reading 1984 January 5, 2014 - 1:48am

Metamorphosis, or: Through The Reading Glasses

Once you've finished reading 

My newest poetry

Then it's turned to just

another memory

Brendan Suszynski's picture
Brendan Suszynski January 5, 2014 - 10:24am

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

"Change!" He proclaimed.

The guns still fire.

The red sea still deepens.

What change?


Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK January 5, 2014 - 2:24pm


Fingers break the taut chrysalis skin. It's eyes open.

Welcome, they say. Welcome, Replacement.

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. January 5, 2014 - 7:32pm


Old eyes dream of days gone when supple flesh played 'neath bright dawn.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday January 6, 2014 - 6:23am

A Lesson in Humility

"Is that all you've got?"

"Nope.  I've got this too."

"Shit. Nevermind."


C Deneen's picture
C Deneen January 6, 2014 - 8:04am

Never quiet again


The noise on earth is deafening... but you could call it the new silence.

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics January 6, 2014 - 7:40pm

Checking the Mail

An expired gift card for new glucose meters hid beneath the many condolence cards.

will.mazgay's picture
will.mazgay from Toronto is reading Trinity by Conn Iggulden January 6, 2014 - 6:55pm


They rebuilt their world with rubble. This was the peace that was promised.

will.mazgay's picture
will.mazgay from Toronto is reading Trinity by Conn Iggulden January 6, 2014 - 6:56pm


They rebuilt their world with rubble. This was the peace that was promised.

Pachuco73's picture
Pachuco73 January 7, 2014 - 12:50am


Lowering cigarette, eyes, to her belly, she exhaled.

"What're you gonna do about it?

Benjamin Joseph's picture
Benjamin Joseph from Southern U.S. is reading Knockemstiff January 22, 2014 - 1:27am



The boy opened his eyes and locked onto mine.

This was not my son.

OtCole's picture
OtCole from San Fernando Valley January 7, 2014 - 8:35pm

Fantastical Tales of a Rookie

“Poleece man.”


“Mistah Poleece man.”

“Remain silent, citizen.”

“your fly is down.”


Kenneth Jobe's picture
Kenneth Jobe from Wichita is reading American Gods January 8, 2014 - 1:16pm

Hank froze, eyes unblinking; the empty incubator his cue to run.

chrisatsac's picture
chrisatsac from California is reading The Shining January 12, 2014 - 2:19am

The Groundskeeper

He regretfully tossed the neglected birch sapling aside. The hole would forever remain empty.

Johnny Stewart's picture
Johnny Stewart January 12, 2014 - 12:34pm


    The gun felt hot in her hands. She smiled. His death her rebirth.

Vasily Chen's picture
Vasily Chen January 14, 2014 - 11:55pm

Post A 

2046. Shimmertown, the United States of China. Chased by old fears. The name's Xian.

Alan H Jordan's picture
Alan H Jordan from Reno, Nevada is reading Devotion by Dani Shaprio nd Now I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings January 13, 2014 - 1:35pm

                                            A Prayer to My Daughter From a Coma                                                

It's okay. Forgive yourself. Death? It's nothing. Let me go. Dance through your life.

BarryG's picture
BarryG January 14, 2014 - 6:26am

A (post-) Christmas miracle





“Almost there...”


“ The new jeans still fit you!”

Nicholas Anderson's picture
Nicholas Anderson from Denver is reading Necessary Stranger January 15, 2014 - 11:35am

Love Has Just Begun


I open my eyes. In the sun, I am born from her "Good Morning".

Stephanie's picture
Stephanie from Wisconsin is reading Poe's Children: The New Horror Anthology January 21, 2014 - 8:18pm


Dear Mom: half a helix doesn't count.

Incyde Out Boy's picture
Incyde Out Boy from Melstrand is reading This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel J. Levitin January 21, 2014 - 8:52pm

A New Reason to Give

A new year

Another resoution

A new beer

Another incarceration

A season to live

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland January 23, 2014 - 3:23pm

Out with the Old

I traded my new hundred dollar bill for 10,000 pennies. Take that, bank.

Luis Oliveira's picture
Luis Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reading Iliad by Homer January 23, 2014 - 4:48pm

Good old love

"My new girlfriend", he presented, in love. They interrupted: "Son, the old one again?"


cortneylee's picture
cortneylee from San Francisco is reading Under Wildwood January 28, 2014 - 8:26pm

Visitor from a Distance

Mal squinted at her reflection. 

This new body was going to work.

For now.