the winners of our annual short-short story contest

Our annual Fiction 101 contest is true testament to the limitlessness of imagination. It has been said that there is nothing new under the sun—but we beg to differ. Who would have thought about Humpty Dumpty texting on Snapchat? Or a hipster reincarnation of Jesus and his buddies? Or a how a fly could be one’s demise? Plus a slew of other ideas, such as evil chickens, oddities of autocorrect and daydreaming in the weirdest of places. This year’s participants and their entries continued to surprise us and inspire us to explore the realm of fiction with its endless possibilities. We hope you enjoy the best of this year’s Fiction 101 entries and winners.

— Michael Sullivan

★ First Place
The Clone
by Mike Zack michael-zack-photo

The debate raged on for years.  Words were exchanged.  Punches were thrown.  But, in the end, science prevailed.  

After finding the tiniest fragments of genetic material from his shattered remains, scientists had successfully grown “Subject A” cell by cell.  And now, five years later, “the clone” would emerge complete from his induced coma with all the memories of his former self.  

“What would he say?” they wondered.  After all, he had walked amongst kings!  What would he want to do in today’s very modern world?

Surprisingly, all that Humpty Dumpty wanted to do was sit on a wall and snapchat.

★ Second place Bates
At Home with The Nazareths
by Dianne Bates

“Magdalena! Block party!” Jess yelled from the porch.  “Mo’s gonna grill on that crazy bush of his that burns 24/7. And later, Noah’s gonna have us down to the marina for a boat ride!”

Magdalena didn’t like Jess’ friends – especially his twelve running pals. She never trusted that Jude.

“We’re out of wine and only have a little bread and fish,” she replied discouragingly.

“Oh my Dad, I can feed the neighborhood with that,” Jess laughed. “And bring a jug of water.”

Magdalena sighed.

“OK. I’ll call Lot. He’s been depressed since his wife disappeared. He can bring the salt.”

Third place Katie-b-goode
Caught in the Web
by Katie B. Goode

Venturan Travis Pink wins the biggest lottery ever. “Now I wish to hell I could live forever!”

The devil appears. “No deal,” he says. “But you may choose how you’d like to die.”

No one can outsmart Travis. “Then I want to die saving another life.”

Deal.  

A horrible car accident. Travis drives by. 

A child drowning. Travis rolls over on the sand. 

A dog attacks an old woman. Travis shrugs.

A fly buzzzzzes in a spider’s web. Annoying. Travis flicks the fly out of the web. It flies away with an evil laugh.

Travis clutches at his heart.  


The bear-y regretful decision award

How Could I Know?

by Zoe Murdock

If I knew then what I know now, I never would have let you go running out on those trails by yourself that evening. But I was tired, and I didn’t want to go. Besides, we’d had drought for years, so I thought the bears had all gone up into the mountains. There weren’t any rabbits anywhere. No coyotes. No skunks. Not a thing for them to eat.

That’s the answer, I guess. The bears didn’t have anything to eat, so they ate you.

Now I sit on the porch waiting for you to come running home, but you never do.

The best chicken
fiction award

Campus Violence

by Julian Bailinson

Harold Flappenbottom was acting headmaster at a school for gifted chickens. One morning, he heard trouble on the grounds. He strode out through the wall to investigate. Suddenly, something was ticking at his feet. Some chicken had devised a bomb from toothpicks and cigarette butts. He knew exactly which one: Svenson. That chicken was too gifted for its own good. He returned to his desk, ashen and splintered. He found two fresh eggs and a card scratched with “xoxo.” He looked up and found himself face to face with a grinning chicken. He glanced right. Svenson had a gun.

The Apocalypse Soon award

Ventura, 2100

by Simon Nagel

Hal tugged the fish up as sludgy waves lapped across what used to be called Front Street. It was a big catch, maybe four pounds, and only had a few black marks. He skipped along the rusty reef of cars to the trenches of Main Street, finding himself sweating hard as he reached the estuary sprawling across Ventura Avenue. Mosquito season approached with more dread every year. Hal cradled his treasure as he climbed over the petrified Mariposa that had crushed the mission bell tower 10 years ago and began cooking his breakfast, wondering how long until he’d see another fish.

The literally didn’t see that coming award

Untitled

by Chet Hardy 

The early morning fog rested over the ocean as a small, wooden fishing ship slowly drifted into the port. Fledroy Glacier, an old retired sailor stood and greeted the fisherman at the docks. A short fisherman rose from the ship and tied up his boat.

“What can I do for ya?” asked Feldroy.

“Got a couple o’ fish to sell, need some money to feed my family,” replied the fisherman.

“The war has plagued us all. I’ll see what I can do,” said Fledroy. As the veteran sailor turned his back he felt the blade first then nothing but the cold.

The grass isn’t always greener award

Distinguished Faculty

by Wendell H. Jones

The auditorium clock ticked toward the union-negotiated endtime. On the stage, College President Newbee announced the possibility of faculty layoffs.

The professors’ union rep leapt to his feet, “Diabolical! That way there’ll be fewer professors to go on strike. Jesus Christ!”

A sanctimonious voice intoned, “You called my name, my son? Here I am.”

“Aye, Dios mio,” a professor of Spanish shot back, “When will you men grow up?”

No one laughed. The clock registered the meeting’s end. Dust rose as the professors stampeded out.

Lights dimmed. President Newbee stood alone. Ivory Tower, he thought, my ass.

The “I’ve sooo been there” award

Romance survives texting 

by Jan Loren

She texts:

Thanks for incredible dinner last night. You were so handsome and debonair!

AUTOCORRECT:

Thanks for inedible dingdong, lightweight.  You were so handsoap and deboned!

He texts:

My lovely princess!

AUTOCORRECT:

Malevolent pinchers!

She:

Why do you say that?  We had such a fantastic vibe!

AUTOCORRECT:

Why do you sap hats?  We had such a fat plastic vibrator!

He:

I only tried to kiss you on the cheek…

AUTOCORRECT:

I oddly tried to kink you on the cheap…

She:

Don’t ever call me.

AUTOCORRECT:

A donut will calm me.

He:

I’ll bring you a donut.

She:

Okay.

The bitterness of defeat award

Letter of Resignation

by Chris Walker

The culture of a company is the secret sauce that makes it thrive. It’s what earned our clients’ trust for the entire history of this business. However, the working environment is now as toxic as I have ever seen it, due entirely to poor decision-making by top management.

During my career, I have provided customers with a satisfactory experience, first as sidewalk sales marketer, and then as order fulfillment manager. And yet, top management still refuses to let me sample the product, even in the heat of midday.

Therefore, I feel I must resign from this lemonade stand, effective immediately.

The simply tasteless award

Untitled

by Cyndy Taschman

The moment Elizabeth discovered Geoffrey’s affair with Mandy, she knew what she had to do to save her marriage.

Having no qualms, the middle-aged woman invited the young redhead over for lunch “and a chat.” Feeling confident of Geoffrey’s love, Mandy smugly agreed. What could that old woman do or say that would bring her horny old man back to her?!

Mandy never expected the machete that quickly killed and dismembered her.

At dinner that night, as Geoffrey devoured his steaming stew, Elizabeth informed him that the meat was dead Mandy.

Geoffrey gazed deeply into Elizabeth’s eyes, and said, “Needs salt.”

The just in time for Father’s Day award

A Father’s Gift

by Mahri Awn

My father and I walked outside one night to hear the rustle of the fall leaves that filled the sidewalk. My steps were three to his one as we kicked at them, my small, hand lost in his. It made me wonder how tall he was compared to me. Looking up, my eye caught the sight of a very tiny light between the tall trees. “That light is called a star and there are many, many more than just that one.” Then he looked down at me, smiled and said, “And they all belong to you.”

The perfect daydreaming award

Paradise Lost

by Mike Zack

He watched the light reflect and dance off the crystal blue water. He thought of the many trips across the ocean he had always wanted to take. He imagined the tropical island, the coconut palms swaying gently in the breeze, the bamboo hut built near the beach, and the beautiful island girl he would marry.

“You gonna sit there all day?” the voice commanded.

The old janitor sighed, swished the blue water around the bowl, flushed twice, and left the men’s room once again.

The best way to stop being judgmental award

Encounter with a Transgender at the Neighborhood Coffee Shop

by Joseph Valderrama

“Look, it’s one of those transgenders.”

“What? How can you tell, looks like a woman to me.”

“Look at the large Adam’s apple, too much makeup and those wide, fat hands, definitely a man.”

“I believe as Pastor Angela believes: God made us in His likeness and image — we’re all His children. What does it matter as long as we believe in love for one another, right?”

“Pastor Angela is married to the church. She has no children at risk against these perverts. Of course she would wrongly interpret the Bible.”

“Hey look, isn’t that your daughter kissing him?”

“Lord, no.”

Proof that medical school needs improvement award

Last Laugh

by Katie B. Goode

I can’t get that damn thing off my toe. Why did they have to tie it so tight? I guess they thought it wouldn’t matter. It could have been worse though — they could have stapled it! I laugh at my joke then realize it really isn’t funny. Someone screwed up big time and boy, are they going to get it. Then I think about the looks on their faces when they see me walking down the hall and laugh again. Can’t help myself. I’m still laughing when I walk out the door of the morgue. Toe tag be damned. I’m alive!

How to end the human race award

Untitled

by Cyndy Taschman

Life changed upon creation of robots.

“Cure cancer,” Melvin programmed Cyborg One. Success in an hour.

“Abolish AIDS,” Hiroshi instructed Cyborg Two. Achieved within days.

“Destroy deadly diseases,” Antony commanded Cyborg Three. That took a week.

What humans couldn’t do, Cyborgs accomplished immediately. There were no longer any diseases that killed humans — only the heart wearing out did.

But to robots, pregnancy was also a disease — a body’s internal foreign growth.

“Now we must wait for humans to die off,” Cy One snorted.

“Extinction of the human race,” Cy Two laughed.

“It’s their fault for creating superior beings,” Cy Three sneered.