The Flash Fiction contest results are in. And this year, our beloved readers / literary virtuosos went decidedly anthropomorphic and animalistic. Sure, the prompts we provided included a rattlesnake and a deceased feline, but the bite you brought more than answered the call of the wild (including a couple of great ditties about civilized lions and cancer-stick-sharing birds and fish).
A panel of five Alibi staffers sifted through more than a hundred 119-word-or-less narratives. Our favorites are before you, but there are dozens of others we'd like to share, so access our blog at alibi.com to see short works web-published throughout the week. As for these selections, the four first place winners will receive a bounty of gifts, including free beer from La Cumbre, pizza from Axxio, gardening goods from All Seasons and lunch at Waco’s Tacos. They'll also get a recently published book of their choosing from a stockpile of titillating tomes. Runners-up receive the everlasting glory of being a published author.
So without further ado, we present the giants of the diminutive—this year's heavyweights of ultra-short fiction.
Prompt: a Red Dress, a Local Celebrity and a Rattlesnake
Winner “The Rattlesnake Camera Project” by Bridget Erin
The artist, Julia Hinkle, somehow attached a camera to a rattlesnake, and it filmed a sea of red, which turned out not to be blood, but a dress lying on the ground. Then it filmed Julia Hinkle, sans dress, standing triumphant against the desert sky.
“Your wife has a brilliant career ahead of her,” they told him at the opening.
Mayor Hinkle nodded, knowing he did not.
Runner-up “Untitled” by Sean P Hall
I was at the rattlesnake museum looking through the glass at a sleeping diamondback. I wanted more entertainment for the price of admission so I tapped on the glass to get the snake to do something. It whipped its tongue at the air, indifferent to my boredom. I noticed the reflection of a red dress and when I turned around I was perturbed to see that it was a man. Lipstick, shoes and hat to match the dress. Even more alarming, it was Steve Stucker, local weatherman. "Hey, aren't you ..." I began to say, and he said, "Yes, I'm Dick Knipfing."
Prompt: a Dead Cat, an Old Car and a Backyard at Sunset
Winner “Driving Lessons” by Joe Buffaloe
I admit it—I shouldn't have let my cat drive the LeBaron that day. The brakes had been grinding lately, and the engine shuddered and clanked every time it downshifted. But Lenore was the more sober of the two of us, and besides, what could one quick jaunt to Smith's hurt?
As I regarded the smoldering heap of metal, glass and cactus fronds in the back yard, Lenore's bloodied paw catching the last strawberry rays of a New Mexico sunset through the shattered windshield, I swore that this would not happen a fourth time.
Runner-up “From a Cutlass to Christine.” by Chris Chapin
“As the sun crashes to its death against the jagged horizon, we summon the Dark Lords and their hideous spined concubines! Ikthoo! Verlakt! Strom the Eldest! Santorum, Lord of Filth! We summon you and your buzzing hordes, to give life to the unliving!” The demon priest swung the dead cat with each horrid name. His wife, naked under her black velvet cloak, screeched like some sort of... lizard? I poured the blood (oil?) cautiously. He nodded, showing his teeth. So this is what it takes to resurrect a car. To get 200,000 miles out of it. A satanic mechanic.
Winner “The Cigarette” by Annam Manthiram
Along the Bosque a man lights a cigarette, inhales and flicks it mid-trail where it catches on a penstemon where a hummingbird seeking nectar picks up the cigarette and flies over the Rio Grande dropping it where a Canada goose practically swallows it and American coots wait until the goose gets bored and then fight for the cigarette deflated like an over-greased fry when a peregrine falcon steals it and as it takes flight the cigarette falls downstream where it sails toward the Gulf consumed by an anchovy which is captured and sent to New Mexico where it is purchased by a restaurant where the cigarette man orders a soda and pizza with anchovies and asks, “Do you recycle?”
Runner-up “The Two Party Systems” by Miguel Angel
In the deafening din of the arena, two lions circle each other looking for an opportunity to charge in for the kill. Little does the public know that earlier the mortal enemies had taken breakfast together, ruffled each other’s fur for the show and even practiced a few menacing moves for the illusion. In the afternoon sun, they engaged in boisterous roars and even drew blood. The crowd approved and granted them a pardon. Later, the two lions would spend time together, dining and evaluating their performance.
Twenty Words or Less
Winner “Hiding” by Miles Kear
He hid things, sometimes. From you.
Runners-up “Anonymous Alcoholics” by Neal Wilgus
La Llorona, The Banshee and Screaming Meemie entered a bar and ordered Bloody Marys. Meemie drank them under the table.
“Leonardo & Kate’s Last Cruise” by John Orman
Partying like there’s no tomorrow, they embrace on the bow, digesting iceberg lettuce from Captain’s Farewell Dinner.