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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Flash Fiction Contest, Week 4!

Hi y'all...

First of all, you should go over to Andrew Butters' blog Potato Chip Math to read the winner from Week 3 -- it's awesome.

So, on to Week 4... but a reminder of the rules:

It's very simple: we give you a prompt, and you write 500 words or less (including the prompt).

You can write in any style that you wish; just be sure to use the prompt exactly as it is shown, keep it under 500 words, write it in English, and ensure it's completely made up (this is a flash fiction challenge after all).

Next week Andrew and I will post the pieces we liked the best and will do a shout out on Twitter to those folks (if they so desire; if you'd like us to recognize you there, please include your Twitter handle). After a few months we'll compile a list of our favorites and we'll get the Internet to vote. The winner will win stuff (to be determined, but we're sure they'll love it).

Now, without further ado, we present this week's prompt:
"I have a secret.  No one in the world knows it but me.  And if I tell you, you have to promise never to tell another soul."
[image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

Use the comments below to submit your work.  You can submit anonymously if you want, but wouldn't it be nice to be recognized?

The deadline is Tuesday, February 4, 2014, at 8:00 PM EST.

Have fun!


  1. I hope entering multiple weeks won't negatively impact my chances! Great prompt this week, thanks. :)

    "I have a secret. No one in the world knows it but me. And if I tell you, you have to promise never to tell another soul." Simon awoke with a violent start. That voice again. Stone cold, but somehow he was sure it was a child’s voice. It never varied, and never came when he was awake. It wasn’t natural.

    Something inside him had changed: he didn’t know quite what, but since the girl started to contact him in his dreams, he knew something had changed. He didn’t think he was mad. He had no family to confirm it, but he didn’t need that. His boss had noticed a problem – he didn’t shave as often as he should, and his shirts were that bit more crumpled than is acceptable – but didn’t seem to consider him mad. By this stage though, he was mad: he believed he was being contacted by a demon.

    It had started about 3 months ago, that dark utterance. She didn’t come every night – some nights he’d tried to stay awake to avoid it, but lapsed into a comatose state. Other nights he’d become outrageously drunk – both stopped it, that night.

    She would never continue though; never tell him her secret. Tonight, enough was enough.

    Without turning on the light, for this was a journey he’d made many times since the voice first invaded his dreams, he trudged across his bedroom to the en-suite. The chill of the floor tiles marked his arrival. This was when he’d normally take two steps to his left and reach into the medicine cabinet for some sleeping pills. But they wouldn’t fix it this time, he sensed. He knew what had to be done.

    He stepped towards his toilet; reaching behind the old cistern he pulled out a padded envelope. Inside was the answer. It was so clear now. He’d put this day off, but there really was no alternative. He HAD to know her secret. From the envelope he extracted his answer: so fucking obvious now he studied it. He stuck it in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.

    Meanwhile in the adjoining flat, separated from Simon’s body only by a plasterboard wall, Sarah lay wide awake. She’d heard the bang, but had been awake anyway. Even after 3 months in her parents’ new house she was unable to sleep consistently. She was afraid, as she was most nights, but this time there was a noise that seemed worse than anything before. Even her infant mind could sense the damning finality in that bang, which was followed by what sounded like a heavy sack hitting the floor. It was extremely unsettling. She turned to the only comfort she had that could assist in her quest for sleep: her doll. She pulled the frayed drawstring on its dirty fabric back, and sighed, comforted, as it whispered conspiratorially its only programmed message: "I have a secret. No one in the world knows it but me..." Sarah, finally, slept well that night.

  2. Secret Stealer

    Carter adjusted the cell between his shoulder and chin. Joanne’s voice had static to it, and he couldn’t understand her half-mumbled words.

    “Joanne? You still there?” he asked. The road ahead of him was straight and unmarked, bisecting field after field of tall corn stalks. “Hello?”

    “I have a secret. No one in the world knows it but me. And if I tell you, you have to promise never to tell another soul.” The static had cleared from the signal, but her tone chilled Carter to the bone. “So do you wanna know my secret?”

    “Are you at home?” he asked. This hadn’t been the first time she’d called him in the dead of night, crazed from drinking or meth or whatever other drug she decided to take. And this wasn’t the first time he drove out to check on her. “Tell me you’re at home.”

    She laughed, childlike and terrifying. “Carter,” she sang, “Carter, I’m gonna get you.”

    “What the hell’re you on?” It was enough to breed anger inside him. She was his older sister and he loved her, but goddammit, why did she fiddle around with those chemicals? Her heavy breathing rushed into his ear. “Joanne, answer me!”

    When the line clicked dead, he cursed, tossing the cell aside. Then he stomped on the accelerator. Fucking A. Why’d she have to do this to herself? Like a madman, he navigated the abandoned country roads to her dumpy Victorian. All the windows were black, but at least her car was parked in the drive.

    He pulled in and threw the truck into park. When he rattled the front door, he found it locked. Frustrated, he pressed the doorbell a dozen times. “Joanne? Are you in there? Joanne!”

    Pounding at the door didn’t do him any good either. He circled around the side. She had a key over the doorframe at the back, but a tenuous glow spilled from the open storm cellar.

    Aggravated, he stepped down into the damp cement basement. Black and red candles were everywhere. She had arranged them so that a clear circle opened in the middle. That was where she sat, rocking, swaying. Her knees were drawn to her face. It didn’t look like she had any clothes on.

    And, to Carter’s cold horror, she had painted a pentagram with strange symbols at her feet. A corpse smoldered there- -what used to be a cat. Two bowls, one with bones, one with a thick red liquid, were set next to the burnt cat.

    Tongue sticking, throat dry, he said, “Joanne?”

    When his sister looked up, yellow eyes glowed from her shadowed face. “Joanne’s not here, Carter.”

    He was paralyzed against the onslaught of raw terror. The voice was not Joanne’s. It was whispery, ancient, evil. What had she done?

    “Do you wanna know my secret?” The grin was a psychotic twist of lips and teeth. “You’ll have to promise not to tell, Carter.”

    “Wh-what are you?”

    “Take your best guess.”


  3. "I have a secret. No one in the world knows it but me. And if I tell you, you have to promise never to tell another soul."

    “Of course I won’t”

    Would I ever?

    Would I fuck?

    It’s all grist. Must be an angle. What can I get?

    Don’t you see it too?

    Blistered lips, too proud, waiting for an excuse.

    Their prize is a drink and a laugh, mine a scar and an ache.

    The perspiration on her brow and upper lip gave thought to the lie. No hiding in the scam. No way to excuse the excursion.

    I saw him watching from the corner. She was too busy with her cell and her drink. Thoughts drifting through her liquid mind. Plans, schemes and examples.
    “Shit”, she bit at the bartender; “don’t you see it? Clear as the stains on your shirt. It’s simple put it out for them. They won’t never know who it came from, or why. But,” she said winking, “they’ll worry. They’ll think they did... something wrong....” She raised her shoulders and exhaled. “And all we need to do, is let them belive it’s true.”

    He shook his head.

    “Don’t know.. It don’t feel right to me..” He swallowed. “If this was gonna work, why are you the first to think about it?”

    She winked, then brought the rocks glass to her lips and kicked back the “Irish”.

    “Cause, I’m smart, origional even, no one else thought of it.”

    She smiled, more persperation built on her lip.

    I watched. He moved in.

    Do I move?

    Do I fuck?

    I moved, limped, my cane in my left hand, supporting me. I fell into him spluttering, cursing, excusing. “Sorry.” I spat.

    “Watch where you’re going, you old fuck.”

    My cane came up hit him on the let side of his head. Moved him toward the rest rooms, then out the back door onto the dock.

    His eyes spun in his head as I shot him twice with my sig and dumped him into the canal.


  4. “I have a secret. No one else in the world knows but me. And if I tell you, you have to promise never to tell another soul,” she said.

    She was a fool. Granted, we all were, back then. But she was, by far, the most foolish of us all.

    Of course I promised. Of course I said I wouldn't dare tell another soul, for I loved her, she was my everything, and I would never, ever, do anything to hurt her. All of the usual rot.

    She had changed her mind, she said. She said it wasn't the kind of thing you told other people. Even if you loved them more than anything in the world.

    I pressed, she stood firm. I poked, I prodded, but she danced, out of all of my vows, appearing to give in, and then, abruptly changing directions and refusing.

    She may have been a fool, but I can tell you, she was a tease. In more ways then one.

    And then, in what I assume could only have been a moment of extreme weakness, she crumpled to my assalt. She told me. She showed me even, her secret.

    Looking back on it, I still can't understand, for the life of me, why she would do such a thing. Couldn't she see, didn't she know, what a liar I was. How just the week before, I had been with another, spewing the same exact lines. She might have been young, she might have been naïve, but surely, surely, no one could be that young, that naïve.

    That was probably what drew me to her in the first place. She was just so damn pure. Much too pure, much too good for me. But I had her, like I had had many before, completely under my control. She was my puppet, she followed me around like a puppy, absolutely lovestruck.

    And when, in a moment of who knows what, I dropped her, crushed her between my fingers like the green sprig of grass she was, I, of course, broke my promise. I told them all about her. I stared into her eyes, beautiful blue eyes, and I savored in the sight of her tears, openly falling down her face. Just seeing her, mouth wide open in disbelief, gulping like a fish, almost caused me to laugh. Her spirit had been completely broken.

    I don't even really know why I did it. I don't remember being particularly angry. Perhaps, from when she first told me her secret, this was bound to happen. Knowing how much of a bastard I was, I probably just got bored.

    She couldn't tell. No one could tell. I had been broken too. Maybe I didn't realize it then, but in that particular moment, when I broke my promise to an innocent girl, something left me, forever.

    When, during the storm that night, she lost her life, I lost my ability to feel. To laugh. To cry. To love. To live.