Saturday, February 13, 2010

Flash Fiction Contest

We moved this post to the top to encourage more entries to our contest. Two readers have posted their stories in the comments and both are awesome! Please read below and enter your own stories. (Note that the first contest to guess the Working Stiff is over.)

We Working Stiffs have a little surprise for you in February. We're calling this month February Shorts, or Flash Fiction February if you prefer alliteration. Either way, we think it'll be lots of fun!

In addition to fantastic guest bloggers Hank Phillippi Ryan on Thursday, February 4th, and Nancy Martin on Thursday, February 18th, we'll be blogging about shorts. No, not the ones you wear! (Although knowing this gang, that's not entirely out of the realm of possibility.) Since February is the shortest month, we thought we'd have some short story themed posts throughout the month.

And that's not all.

We have not one, but TWO contests. Jennie Bentley and Wilfred Bereswill have generously offered to donate a book to the winner. One winner will get Jennie's book, the other will get Will's.

The first contest will be on Friday February 5th. On Jennie's post that day, there will be 200 word stories that begin, "If you have to die, February is the best month for it." The catch? The stories will be anonymous. You won't know who wrote them! Your job will be to figure out which Stiff wrote what story. The reader who gets the most right, wins a book! In case of a tie, Jennie will pick the winner at random from those who tied.

We also have a second contest. Using the same opening sentence, "If you have to die, February is the best month for it," post your own 200 word story in the Comments. (Stories may be less than 200 words, but any that are over will be disqualified.) We'll gather them throughout the month, and Working Stiffs will pick a winner.



Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! Can't wait :)

Kaye George said...

I haven't seen any, but I have one ready, so here goes (185 words):

"If you have to die, February is the best month for it."

I leaned back to hear the conversation in the booth behind me more clearly.

"Why is that?" The woman's voice was much softer than the man's gruff growl.

I couldn't hear his muttered response over the clatter of the diners. Why did they have to make the deli booth backs so solid?

"But why," said the woman, "is February better than March? Or December? Those are good months to die."

"It's the green. In March and December you have to have the green."

"We have plenty in the truck. I just picked up a bunch."

I needed green every month, for rent, groceries, gas. And this month I was broke.

When I followed them out into the cold, I left my bill on the table. Couldn't pay it for lack of green. They were small people and I had a knife. Soon their green would be mine.

Luckily for me, they were parked in a dark spot behind the deli.

Unluckily though, that the damn truck was full of chrysanthemums. And green dye.

Joyce said...

Thanks, Kaye! Nice twist at the end!

Jennie Bentley said...

Oh, very nice, Kaye!

Jan said...

Mine is 199 words:

If you have to die, February is the best month for it. Sam shivered. Her hands were jammed into the pockets of her worn green parka. The fake fur of her hood was crusted with ice from her breath. She had stood so long in one spot that the blowing snow had erased her footprints. The poor visibility and icy road conditions this evening kept even the bravest souls tucked inside into warm chairs and beds. The snow and wind muffled the usual noises of a wintry night. Her beating heart sounded louder than the town clock chiming the hour across town. Sam sighed and stared down at the swirling murky waters below her. Most of the creek was frozen, but here and there along the steep pathway following the curve of the stream, there were open pools, dark pools as dark as her thoughts. A sudden gust of wind tugged at the woman’s hood. As she reached to pull it closer around her face, and turned to avoid the icy fingers, her foot slipped.

In the morning, ducks paddled along the creek’s edges. One pecked at the green fur-like tendrils beneath the ice. Soon it would be spring.

Joyce said...

Ooh! Jan, that gave me chills! Thanks for posting your story.

MaryQ said...

Okay here goes my attempt. I came in at 195.

“If you have to die, February is the best month for it,” Harvey said, over the newspaper, with his usual scowl.

I poured coffee into cups, wondering if he’d read my mind. “Why do you say that?”

“Then I wouldn’t have to listen to everyone babble over some rodent predicting six more weeks of winter.”

“Oh, it’s all in fun.”

“Bunch of stupid nonsense.” He flipped over the newspaper. “And don’t get me started on Valentine’s Day. It’s just an excuse to double the cost of flowers and candy.”

“Such a romantic,” I mutter, placing a cup in front of him.

Harvey sipped the coffee and made a face. “You change coffees?”

I shrugged. “No. I bought a new flavor of creamer.”

“Liked the old stuff better,” he growled, but took another drink. He laid down the paper and tapped it with one finger. “And look at all these President’s Day sales. What does all this crap have to do with Washington or Lincoln’s birthday?”

I sipped my own coffee, tuning him out, wondering if the arsenic would do it’s job by February 28th, giving him his wish and me a peaceful morning for once.

BTW - as an FYI, I've changed my username from queenofmean to the current MaryQ.

Joyce said...

Nice murderous story, MaryQ. I like it! Nothing like a little arsenic in your coffee.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

There are some great stories here. There are only a few and I'm having trouble deciding.

Evelyn David said...

"If you have to die, February is the best month for it."

Mac Sullivan, private detective, and best friend of the man cleaning the trocar, raised a skeptical brow. "O'Herlihy's running a big casket sale?"

Jeff O'Herlihy tossed his rubber gloves in a hazard receptacle. "I was thinking more about death being an acceptable excuse for failing to buy a Valentine's gift for one's wife."

"You forgot–"

"Not me." Jeff pointed towards the body he'd just prepped. "Cops say his wife didn't fully appreciate the lukewarm six-pack and package of beef jerky."

"Jerky isn't cheap. No excuse for the warm beer though." Mac stopped holding up the doorway and took a few steps into the room. "She supposed to have carved the heart?"

He looked again at the crude design scraped into the dead man's chest. Definitely a heart design, even if the point skewed to the right.

"That's their working theory. Her prints were on the murder weapon. She hasn't admitted anything."

"The woman I saw upstairs, filling out the forms?"

"Yep. She's out on bail, but the cops say it's an open and shut case."

Mac shook his head. "More open I'd say. The wife's a lefty."

Joyce said...

Wow! Another great story! Will, you're going to have a tough time picking a winner.

Patricia Winton said...

Okay, I'm in at exactly 200 words. I have a title but that goes to 205. The title is "The Cruelest Month Isn't April."

“If you have to die, February is the best month for it.” Elizabeth’s tongue eased out the left side of her mouth as she wrote a signature beneath. The same signature she’d always copied, first to excuse school absences and later to cover gambling debts. She leaned back in her chair. Her reflection in the baroque mirror over the dressing table showed a woman whose spiky hair and smirk made her look like a jack-o-lantern.

If Old Man Lassiter got himself in gear, she’d be lying on a beach in Barbados instead of shoveling snow for her aunt.

Her aunt. Aunt Libby whose evening cocoa she’d just laced with sleeping pills. Who took her in when her parents absconded. Who never failed to extract payment for this largesse. Well, that’s over now.

A few days later, Old Man Lassiter looked at her over his Ben Franklin glasses. “I’m to read this letter,” he began.

“Dear Elizabeth, I’ve always known you forged my signature. The tally over the past fifteen years is $247,326.79. That’s your inheritance, my dear. The balance goes to an animal shelter.”

Color left Elizabeth’s face, except for two red spots on her cheeks. She rose and fled.

Joyce said...

Another good one! Thanks, Patricia!