I used to be a regular in the monthly 75-word flash fiction challenge on the SFF Chronicles forum as well as their quarterly 300-word challenge. Sometimes I even won. Not an easy task: competition is stiff! There are so many talented writers on the Chrons.
Writing flash fiction is an excellent exercise in being concise and getting your ideas across in as efficient a way as possible. There are plenty of websites — such as the Chrons — that hold regular flash fiction challenges. If you haven’t tried it before, why not give it a chance?
I’ll spare you the pirate poem that won a 75-word challenge in June 2014, but here are a couple of my winning 300-word entries. This particular challenge is based on visual prompts; for the original images, look at this thread, and here.
APRIL 2016: Tiny Bones
I crouch down in the garden, poke them with a stick. Small things, wispy and fragile. “Just a bird,” they would say. “Leave it alone, Sarah. It’s just a dead bird.”
It’s raining again. There’s been nothing but grey since the Weeping began. I haven’t seen the sun in over two years. I hate this rain, the feel and the smell of it. It trickles off the bird bones and sinks silently into the moss.
The bones are truly minute. If I picked them up, I could cradle them in my hand.
I wanted to cradle Sam, too, but they wouldn’t let me. He was so small when he was taken. Not even a proper baby yet. He never felt any pain, they told me. But what do they know? What do they really know of tiny bones and hearts and souls?
He was the fifth, this year alone. Since the Weeping, no child lives in this aging compound of ours. One by one, fading, failing. In this diseased world, we scream and rage, but still the silent killer strikes, deadly accurate, picking off our young ones one by one.
We bury the bones, bury them deep in the hidden place so they can’t come back, not like Marion’s Ava who killed three people before we trapped her in blankets and ran her through the wood chipper.
Because when they come back, they’re not human. Not any more, not after the Weeping.
But I don’t care. I want my Sam. I leave the bird’s tiny bones alone and make my way to the hidden place. I sink my fingers in the rain-damp soil. And then I begin to dig.
OCTOBER 2014: A Fairy Tale
The tiny fairy hovered, obscuring the pages of the book.
“Go away,” I snapped. “I’m trying to read.”
“Can’t I help?” she trilled, voice like tiny silver bells.
I sighed. “No. You can’t. It doesn’t work that way.”
I longed to swat her away like a fly but that would have been cruel. It wasn’t her fault I had saved her from that Rottweiler. How was I to know there was some fairy law about payback? Until last week, I hadn’t even known the ruddy creatures existed. Now I was stuck with her until she saved my life in return.
I set the book down and Tink walked onto the page. Of course, her name wasn’t really Tinkerbell, it was some unpronounceable gibberish, but who could resist? So Tink it was. To be fair, she didn’t seem to mind.
“Who is the small human?” she asked.
I resigned myself to conversation. “The Lost Princess. The woodcutter raised her, but now the evil queen is hunting her. That’s the queen’s knight.”
“And will he capture her and carve out her heart?” She was surprisingly bloodthirsty for such a tiny thing.
“No, the knight will show mercy. He has a boy of his own, see? The boy will grow up and fall in love with the Princess.”
She considered this, head tilted fetchingly to one side. Her fair curls, almost white against her blue skin, drifted like dandelion seed in the breeze and she gnashed her needle-sharp teeth.
“Humans are strange. Better to just carve out her heart.”
Her eyes glittered and I shivered, uncomfortably aware of just how alien the small creature was. I closed the book as she watched hungrily. I was suddenly very, very glad she owed me her life.