In our May 3 issue we introduced this year’s ultra-short fiction contest. The rules are simple—submit pieces of 119 words or less by May 28. Click the above link (or that graphic to your right) for specifics and prompts. In the meantime, here’s a few of last year’s winners for inspiration:
An elderly woman was first to notice the baby asleep in the coils of a python. Her screams summoned the manager, who extracted the sleeping child from the terrarium. The baby, curiously quiet, examined her with bright, unblinking eyes as the police questioned first her, then directed their attention to the sweating, panicked manager. She quietly slipped out of the pet store with the child to her car, and then to home. Such bright eyes, and so still, she thought, holding the child tightly, the child returning her grasp tenfold with arms that belied their strength. Her ribcage cracked, her mouth gaped and gave out its last breath. The child’s jaw slowly unhinged, its forked tongue tasting the air.
It was the day after the Rapture, and Johnson hadn't been called up. He was a little annoyed by this, but when he looked up the commandments to see what he'd done wrong, he had to confess that he really did covet his neighbor's house. And pool. And flat-screen TV. And since the neighbor had been Raptured Up and Johnson hadn't, it made sense that he should move in next door.
It was a great plan. Foolproof.
Which is what Johnson was trying to explain to the cops two days later, right after his neighbor got back from vacation.
A black hole flew by. Just a little one. Its sizzle woke me, then its smell. Not of a fire; rather the ozone of a near lighting strike. Beyond the bed stand, I saw my lawn. Through the opposite perfect circle, the dawn sun gleamed red. I felt for the hand of my sleeping wife, but let her rest. “Thank you,” I mouthed, knowing that providence had let us lie beneath the path of destruction. Not so lucky my goldfish. His water broke, or more precisely, his vessel was neatly holed. Is he time traveling, or flopping upon the floor? I switch off the alarm clock, lying beneath its responsibilities.