Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wine Me, Dine Me, 69 Me

Jerry Peterson, over at Tuesdays with Story, challenged me to write a complete story in 69 words. They have a bunch of them posted on their site, including mine:


How long? Three days? Four?
No light. No water or food. The closet door is thick. Solid. He's banged on it until he bleeds.
This isn't punishment. It's murder.
He cries. No tears come out. Dehydration.
"Please open up." Voice hoarse, raw. "I promise I won't do it again. I'm sorry."
The small, precious reply:
"You haven't learned your lesson yet. Be brave. That's what you tell me, Daddy."


That took me about five minutes---three to write, and two to edit down to 69.

Think it's easy? It's not. But it's a great excersise that makes you appreciate the value of every word---something you should be doing with ALL of your longer work.

Post your 69 word epic here, and let me know how long it took. The best story gets a signed Advance Reading Copy of RUSTY NAIL.

Contest ends at 11:59pm on March 11, Central time.

Good luck!


Unknown said...

He tans, standing, in coffins.

And follows every meal with his finger.

He’s a pumpkin orange bleach blonde skeleton of a thing.

The lines and bumps give him the shakes and rattles -White Energy.

He masks his puke-mouth with Listerine – Green Mint Camouflage.

The wall keeps him standing.

His date knows nothing, just tastes the freshness when they kiss.

Mom always said he had to suffer to be beautiful

Unknown said...


Didn't want to make this part of my entry but: The query you helped me write already generated a partial ms and full synopsis bite!


Im off to buy your next novel as further show of my gratitude (and because the damn things are ADDICTING)

Oh... and that last one took me about 7 minutes. 2 to write. 3 to sub in and sub out words. And two to read to a co-worker.


JA Konrath said...

That was great, Justin. You just set the bar pretty high.

Chris said...

Ice freezes everything while darkness envelops the mountainside. Expressions of shock from passing drivers make a coyote and me chuckle. Gravel crunches satisfyingly under rubber knobs. Eventually brakes freeze. Will I crash? Ice melts under pressure and slowing commences. Relief! Sight becomes difficult pedaling home. The front door appears and a wagging tail greets me. He understands and enjoys his turn in the snow. A blessing, not a nuisance.

Chris said...

Took me maybe 10 minutes or so. I forgot to look when I started. It's essentially the true story of my bike commute home last night.

Thanks for the challenge! It was fun.

Anonymous said...

waiting for the train, 1 am:

she’s frozen still with pale hands clasped in prayer—
the girl is crying.

she’d set his house on fire at midnight and he’s still tied to the bed.

feet slapped dead concrete in the escape.

she hid underground;
the stars crashed into each other to watch.

she pulls a lighter from under her tongue
her thumb flicks the igniter.

spark, the universe explodes.

Anonymous said...

that was me, btw. :P

Anonymous said...

“It’s not that I don’t love you,” she says. “I do.”

“Then why?”

Her red nail-polished finger curls around the trigger, slowly, as if beckoning me .

“Because you took me for granted,” she says.

Anticipating the crack of metal against metal, I look around for something to hide behind. I wonder if I’ll hear the shot.


“Last Wednesday, while I was at work, when you took—“

Anonymous said...

In accordance with the rules, I should have mentioned that the above piece took me 15 minutes to write and edit.

Thanks for the exercise. It was fun.

Anonymous said...

It was hard getting past the root, but after the third one went in he got the hang of it. The trick was finding a soft spot between the teeth.

Occasionally he'd slip, and Sally would scream, thrashing against the restraints.

He'd smile, calmly take another carpet tack from the box (he had plenty), and try again, all the while whispering: "Good wives don't cheat... Good wives don't cheat..."

Anonymous said...

About 10 minutes.

Anonymous said...

forgot to say that mine, "waiting for the train...," took ten minutes:

three to brainstorm, two to write, five to edit.

Stacey Cochran said...

Margie Hemp’s porcelain body was found in the church, an ice-pick skewered through her throat.

The cardinal met me by the phone booth three hours later. I nodded.

Gunshots rang out from a black Suburban!

I felt the pavement hit my back. I saw the sky. My lungs filled with blood.

How did they know? How did they know that I killed her? Who will get the inheritance now?

Jim said...

JACK DEGAN DIDN’T KNOW IF HE WAS AN INDIAN, a Mexican, or just a really dark white-man. Nor did he give a shit. The scar on his face had been there ever since he could remember. He had no idea how he got it but did know that he wouldn’t erase it even if he could. It was part of him. Somehow he’d earned it. Now it was his.

This is the introduction to the bad guy in book 3 of the Laws novels, Jagged Laws.

Jude Hardin said...

It took a nearly impossible trajectory, ricocheting off the steel lamp, trashing the cordless phone, taking out two crystal candlesticks, a ceramic elephant, an antique mantel clock and a framed picture of my little "accomplice" before breaking the cup our mother sipped from.

Blood gushed from the wound between her eyes.

"How many times have I told you kids not to throw that ball in the house," she shouted.

(Took about ten minutes)

Anonymous said...


Malcolm eased back into the chair.

“Powerful stuff.”

He felt weightless.
He loved everything.

“Euphoria,” said the new dentist. “One of the pleasant effects of nitrous oxide.”

Malcolm giggled as the dentist strapped down his arms, his ankles.

“Cool, your chair has restraints.”

Dr. Benson fitted a bit into the drill, then sat on the stool, grinning.

“What are you waiting for, Doc?”

“The numbness to wear off.”

Anonymous said...

His insides were burning. Sweat poured down his face. Mouth like fucking sand paper. "One more hit, man. God, I need it!"

"God won't save you." The figure inserted the syringe into his own pulsing vein. His expression went dreamy, his head falling back.

Tears mixed with the sweat. "This is fucking torture! I need heroin now!"

The devil looked him in the eyes, smiled. "When hell freezes over."

(Time: 30 mins)

JA Konrath said...

Damn, these are good so far!

Unknown said...

He stood with his toes off the edge of the building's roof, thirty stories up, the cars below toy-sized from here. A yellow Volkswagen, something about the bright color on such a tiny round car, made him smile and change his mind. He would live. Then a flutter by his ear, the dusty kiss of pigeon feathers. Balance lost, Jim tumbled over the edge. Okay, so he would die.

About 5 minutes or so total on this.

Anonymous said...

I looked askance at the ring. "You're kidding."

"It's the only way."

"True, but this is a bit drastic, isn't it?"

"Do you want your inheritance or not?"

I ground my teeth, cursing my father's final contretempts. "What do you want?"

"Fifteen percent. In six months, we'll get divorced, and I'm gone."

That sounded reasonable. I put the ring on. "Nice rock."

He grinned. "It's zirconia."

I laughed. "Perfect."

(Time: about 30 minutes)

Anonymous said...

"Skydiving," he said. "Don’t worry, I packed your chute. Anything goes wrong, pull the reserve. Yank it to 2:00. If there’s a tangle—a hard landing—grab grass. The first hit breaks bones. But you die on the bounce. Impaled organs."

He was like that. Saying macho crap in the door at 12,000 feet.

"I’ll see you on the ground."

Out I went.

"I’m doing your wife," he said.

(10 min)

Anonymous said...

Eight minutes to write, four to edit.
“Chicken WINGS today. This is some grade-A shit.”

Lunch Lady Liz bristled at the brat’s words. Nobody understood. She didn’t pick the recipes or purchase afford rotting frui,t and meat the USDA ranked “for pet consumption only.”

She stood, quivering. Then she made her decision and tipped the bucket of cyanide into the bubbling concoction in the oven.

Liz smiled, then climbed into the fry vat.

Bethany K. Warner said...

Everybody said take a man.

Like I needed help. Or protection.

They made it sound like I was going to buy a used car. Like I’d ever buy used; a girl needs power and reliability.

Jade green, with sleek lines caught my eye.

“You interested in the Orphea?” the salesmen asked.

“I’m taking the Orphea,” I said, and on cue the dragon snorted the salesman away with a wisp.

Took me five minutes or so... I had started the idea already, after a recent episode of buying a car, but just had to get the punchline and then cut all those pesky unneeded words.

Anonymous said...

She never realized blood was sticky until she stretched it between her fingers. A thread, a hair. It snapped in half, two streaks down her hand.

Like Paul, on the floor. Two pieces. Two red smears. Two.

One for each bruise he gave her the night before.

Sirens came. Probably because of the screaming. Why come for him but not me?

Men are pigs.

She licked her fingers clean.

(4 minutes)

William G. said...

"First Day in Hell"

They say your life flashes in front of you just before death.

Trust me, it doesn’t.

I’m buried in murky water so frigid my fingers won’t unlatch the seatbelt. I can’t hold my breath anymore. My jaw unhinges. It’s like shot-gunning a beer except it burns my lungs.

I puke; it’s hot now--my heart spasms, my lungs explode.

Then Satan winks at me. Suddenly I’m drowning in fire.

(20 mins)

Daniel Hatadi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daniel Hatadi said...

They stagger back to the cabin, stomachs filled with wine, decide to get a little silly. He’s on the bottom, tongue poking out. She’s on top, mouth open wide. They wriggle and twist, moaning, rolling around on the springs. The bed creaks. Looks like it’s about to tip. Tired now, they lie on their backs, arms behind their heads. The top and bottom bunks of a double bunk bed.

Anonymous said...

The method was purely textbook and archaic. He didn’t think it would work but it did. Probably will on the others as well.

She was the perfect subject. Hostile. An eye for an eye. Her mother’s daughter indeed. It wasn’t easy to pin her down but it was worth it.

He took the freeway and a gulp of coffee. Home brewed. Delicious. Something slid with the liquid. Thin. Sharp.

Bernita said...

Dear me, he thought.
I never thought of that.
It would work.
Everyone knew about her heart, her diabetes.
I think I should develop a hearing problem, just to be safe.
It would work.
Simple, really.
That's all I have to do.
And then wait.
One thing I must not do, he thought, is blog about it.

5 minutes.

Jeff said...

First date, elegant restaurant. The meat is spoiled! I grab my throat, mock choking episode, and stumble around tables allowing everyone to watch me try and hock up whatever was lodged. Before someone tries a Heimlich maneuver, I forcefully expel the wad across the dining room floor. Turning slowly, I raise my hands to thundering applause of fellow diners while chanting, "I'm alright.”
I sit down and order dessert.

(took about twenty minutes to write)

Anonymous said...

She wrapped her arms around her stomach embracing the secret. Where was Matt anyway? Never had she been so disappointed to see her parents. They probably though she was crazy for showering as soon as they arrived.

The warm water washed three years of frustration and failure down the drain. She whispered her secret over and over.

Matt finally peeked around the curtain with nervous eyes despite the smile.

Took about 15-20 minutes.

Buddy Gott said...

He ran around the room like a madman. He'd never been in so much pain.

Worse than the pain, was the smell. He'd never smelled anything like it before.

It was the smell of burning flesh and it was coming from his own body.

He dropped to the floor and rolled around until the flames were out. He'd learned his lesson - no more smoking in bed.

(15 minutes to write.)

Anonymous said...

She'd never seen so much blood.
Watching the life force pulse with each heartbeat, the guilt overwhelmed her.
As bullet left chamber she realized her mistake.
She'd planned for months but this, the reality, was different.
Her mind raced.
What to do?
Yanking off her belt, she improvised a tourniquet.
She swore never to hunt again as she carefully approached
the wounded deer.
But, that smell... Mmmmmmm..... venison.


Took 4 minutes to write, 3 minutes to edit. I enjoyed this, it reminded me of writing poetry. The economy of words and profundity of meaning.

Anonymous said...


Storms pound the sea. Black winds screech thin and thrilling over thundering waves.


Rains bleed on the sea. But clouds are parting. Sunset blossoms red like lips before day drains.


Calm softens the sea. Float on salts of the womb.




Release the rope, her neck, and crawl off her quieted body. So few minutes. You want more.

Each one holds a secret ocean.


I decided to do this as a continuation of my flash fiction piece on Tribe's blog: "Hear Me". Thanks for the contest, Joe!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it took me an hour.

Anonymous said...

A flash of light. A match or a lighter. Either way, the man had lit a cigarette and each time he inhaled, the cherry glowed red..

Think. Think. What to do? Phone’s out. Power’s out. Cut by him?

Damn it’s dark outside. All I can see is that cigarette and his silhouette, hulking and slouch-shouldered. Big.

He’s not moving and neither am I. So I guess we just wait.

7 minutes to write. No editing. Ended at 70 words, dumped one to get down to 69.

Anonymous said...

I handed Tom a glass of Opus One, the Cabernet we'd been saving for a special occasion. I took a sip of my own as I gazed at the cold, gray ocean.

"So, did your research pay off?" He asked.

"Yes, I discovered a fast, pain-free way for your villain to kill. His victims won't suspect a thing."

"Well?" Miserable bastard.

"Poisoned wine," I said slowly, then smiled.


Anonymous said...

That was a fun exercise! Took me about 20 minutes.

:) Pam

Martel said...

Isaac stopped kissing me and then I heard the click. Cold steel pressed against my temple as I thought about the gun.

"Tell me why I shouldn't pull the trigger."

I thought about my life. Searched for a reason, any reason why I didn't deserve to die.


"Because you loved me once."

"That's not good enough."

I closed my eyes.

He said, "Goodbye."

I thought about his kiss.

Martel said...

Took about 10 minutes.

Bob Farley said...

I wrote this awhile back in a few minutes. Took 3-5 to edit to 69 words.

White hair, tall, gangly, old. He wanted me to read his story about local politics. I did, and he gave me a folding metal drafting table. Carrying it away, I laughed and forgot about him for forty years.

As I walked past a mirror today, carrying the first draft of a new story, I saw him in the reflection of myself, and turned around to see who was laughing.

William G. said...

“She made me do it. I had no choice.”

Detective Stevens rubbed his temple. “How did she make you?”

“A man has certain expectations of a bride. Like purity. That’s not so hard to understand, is it? But she was pretending. I couldn’t let her lie to anyone else.”

“Why’d you cut her open?”

“Because. A bride who wears white is supposed to leave blood on her honeymoon sheets.”

(3 minutes to write, 3 to edit)

Anonymous said...

Before his wife gave birth to their first child, a baby boy they planned on naming Damien, he came to a selfish conclusion: it was a matter of time before life as he knew it would be over. He would no longer with good conscience be able to take his annual trip to Nevada, travel to the outskirts of Las Vegas, and blow thousands on a weekend brothel binge.

Jaye Wells said...

The shadow of creeping kudzu smothered the house. Its swirling tendrils deceptively beautiful, yet deadly if left unchecked.

"Just like me," I whispered.

I lit the match--the sulfur burning my nostrils, mixing with the gasoline permeating the air.

As the vines ignited, I prayed for forgiveness. Heat baptized my face. Cleansing me of my sin.

Just as it condemned my father—trussed up in his bed--to hell.

--Took about 10 minutes, counting interruption from toddler.


JA Konrath said...

Looks like many of you may have more chances to win.

Visit Justin Buchbinder's site at

He's offering ten bucks to the best 69 word short posted on his blog.

I encourage other writers to do the same---offer prizes for shorts.

If this continues to spread, everyone will get a lot more traffic and these stories will be read by thousands.

Anonymous said...

"Full Moon"
JA Konrath

Dark. Quiet. Hungry.

Hide. Bridge.

Sounds. Above. Man. Smoking. Alone.



Silent. Wait.



Turning. Seeing. Screaming. Running.

Catch. Bite. Tear. Swallow.

Screaming. Begging.

Eat. Raw. Tendons. Teeth. Tear. Swallow.


Twitching. Gushing. Coughing. Dying.


Sound. Sirens. Police. Close.


Guns. Shooting.

Run. Pain. Pain. Blood. Pain.

Trip. Fall. Gasp.

Dying? Impossible. How? Silver?

“Jesus! Look!”

Hand. Normal. Man’s. Wolf? Gone.

Gone? Imaginary.

Werewolf? No.


JA Konrath said...

That took me about six minutes, by the way.

Jude Hardin said...

Excellent montage, Joe. A great example of how powerful imagery can be.

This is one reason I think we can all learn something from the poets. In a good poem, every word counts. Nothing is wasted. The same should be true for good prose.

This exercise was a good reminder.

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

I drove by her house, trying to get a glimpse of her through the windows.

She couldn't get out tonight. Maybe tomorrow. She'll say she's going to the gym. I'll meet her there and she'll climb into my truck.

My head turns, following the house in the dark.

His body doesn't slow my truck on impact.

All the times I wished he was dead. Now I'm praying he lives.

Anonymous said...

The weapon, a mangled Slinky, clung to the throat of the warm body.
Detective Grady shuddered and tried to block images of a favorite childhood toy being utilized in such a morbid fashion.
There were no fingerprints, no apparent motive. The door remained bolted from the inside.
Compassionately, Grady closed the unseeing eyes of the faithful servant.
This was one case, he thought, where the butler didn’t do it.

About 7 minutes - two to write and five to edit.

Anonymous said...

BTW - I'm

Anonymous said...

More than one, eh?

Here you go then...


'Tumbling After'
John Rector


Jill inched closer to the edge and stared out at the waves exploding on the rocks below. She turned and looked back over her shoulder. Something in her expression changed, grew heavy.

"You okay?" Jack asked.

Jill nodded. "Will you do something for me, Jack?"

”Of course.”

Jill turned back, lost in the sound of the ocean below. After a moment she spoke. "I want you to push me."

Anonymous said...


Jaye Wells said...

Second try. Showed this to my hubby and it scared him. I guess that's a good sign.

Night Sweats
By Jaye Wells

3am. Cold sweat, heaving breath. Ripe fear gripping my throat. The pillow next to me empty.
Check the house. Nothing.
Fall asleep with the light on.

4am. Phone squeals next to my head. My voice like gravel. I listen for a few seconds. Drop the phone.

I howl into his pillow for two minutes, inhaling lungfuls of his scent.

I grab the phone again.
“You’ll get your money tomorrow.”

Anonymous said...

"Dinner!" The plate hit the table hard.

"Somethin' wrong?" He stuffed potato into his mouth. Suddenly, his eyes bulged and he gasped.

"Found a note on your car. Your watch is at Eileen's place--again." She smiled. "Your oil's changed."

Staring at her, he clasped the Formica table, veins bulged in his neck. "I didn't mean…"

"No worries. You won't need it." She patted the vial in her pocket.

(12 minutes)

Dana Diamond said...

4:55 pm

I hear his song on the radio.

It’s beautiful, it’s true.

Everyone loves him because he sings so desperately of his love for me.

They ask me how I couldn’t love that love.

But that love wasn’t there until I dumped him.

4:57 pm

Lainey said...

Zoom in. Slam the door. Tires screeching, rubber burning. Cell ringing – lawyer, not agent. Voice mail recording: “Get your ass to court, twenty grand in bail’s on the line.” Pull up tight next to the fence, up and over in under thirty seconds. Life is a balancing act: I’m on the edge. You’re nothing if no one knows your name. Arms out, eyes closed, lean forward. Fade to black.

Lainey said...

My story is called "Hop, Skip and a Jump" but I didn't know if I had to count the title. It took me about five minutes to write and about two to edit. That was fun!

Stuart MacBride said...

OK, coming late to this, but it's all Tambo's fault...

The body was lying on its back, eyes gone, mouth open to the cold dawn. The pathologist sat back on his haunches and sighed. "Yup, same MO as before." Snapping off his latex gloves, his Brooklyn accent sounding out of place in the sleepy Wisconsin suburb, "Gotta mouth fulla milk and... These look like cheerios to you?"

Agent Morrison shivered, cereal killers were always the worst.

66 words, took three minutes. Aaaaaand it shows.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could go home, instead of sitting in this rocket. Out of 10,000 names, why did I get picked? I know this is an important mission for mankind, but I miss the feel of grass beneath my feet or to be able to breath real air. I feel so alone with only a red light to keep me company. Hopefully eons later, they will remember Markus Greene.

took me 8 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Here is another. Took 5 minutes.

Humans have finally done it; we have killed the planet and everything with it. All over a stupid squabble of who had the bigger dick. It started with one bomb and then another the next day until the earth was glowed with an unnatural radiance.

As I stand there as the world crumbles around me, I wonder why this glowing ash is holding my hand. Oh yeah it’s mother.

Anonymous said...

by Sandra Seamans

The muzzle of Pete's gun nuzzled my temple. I knew I shouldn't have done him like that.

"You been sleepin' with my wife, Sam?" asked Pete.

"Yeah, Pete, you was bangin' Lola, so I thought..."

"Lola's just bangin'. Sherry's my wife."

"I know, but Sherry, well, she was lonely. I was just tryin' to help out."

"You helped out alright. Sherry's pregnant. She ain't never gonna be lonely again."

(about 15 minutes)

Lainey said...

That was fun, so I did another. It's called "Bit by Bit". It took me about four or five minutes, plus about the same to edit.

She chewed mechanically, bits of bland sustenance. The priest told her that forgiveness was instantaneous, but the memory would fade bit by bit.

She could no longer see the curve of his bicep, the arch of his back. But try as she might, she could not forget the unrelenting gaze of his eyes, staring at her as she looked down.

The last bit of memory caught in her throat.

Anonymous said...

“All set. You get a refund.” She showed him the form. “But are you SURE bullets are a legitimate expense?”


“But you say you’re a consultant. And you need bullets?”

“I’m a consultant who finds people.”


“Like people who’ve given certain testimony…”

She gasped when she saw the gun.


Pop pop pop.

He signed the form.


Should have asked her if the silencer was deductible...

Anonymous said...

The story took me maybe about 15 minutes.

William G. said...

I hate love. It never works out, it’s always messy.

This one was the girl I met on the subway. Auburn hair, hazel eyes. Pale, ceramic skin.

Her skin tasted like a nectarine, her breath like peppermint.

She was like the rest. She ripped out my heart and squeezed it dry.

So I deleted her.

She no longer exists. Breathes. Lies.

So sad. I didn’t even know her name.

(4 mins + 4 mins editing)

William G. said...

I call that last one, "The Writer".

WannabeMe said...

Okay, I just have say that Bardawill's made me spit my soda on my new laptop!

Anonymous said...

Me,too! That was SPECTACULAR bardawill! Hope it wins -- it deserves to.

Anonymous said...

“Why are you sealing me in this room, Charles?”
“Don’t you remember, Jack?”
“How could I, when I have amnesia?”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“Would you untie me if I said yes?”
“No, why would I do that?”
“You’re planning on killing me, aren’t you?”
“What does it look like, Jack?”
“Hey, what’s with the cookie?”
“Are you telling me you didn’t know that I’m…the Gingerbread Man?”

(Didn’t time it. Maybe about 20 minutes.)

emeraldcite said...

(hope titles don't count. if so, just ignore it.)

Waxen Love

John and Carrie strapped in as the ride jerked forward.

“Three years.”

“I love you.” Carrie kissed him.

They passed a Manson Family waxwork titled “Fun,” followed by a Dahmer titled “Desperation.”

They passed more. Envy. Hatred. Lust.

“Spooky.” Carrie unbuckled and snuggled John.

The ride stopped.

John pulled Carrie from the car and onto an empty display.

He hugged her tight.

Around her throat.

The sign read: Love.

emeraldcite said...

seven minutes to write and edit.

Anonymous said...

Whiskers squirmed in the microwave.

"Where's my Annakin figure?" Noah said.

Enough bullying and BS. I said, "I'm not telling."

Whiskers jackknifed wildly, thumping the sides.

"You are going to tell me."

Ferocious clawing at the door.

"Yeah?" he said.

A howl became shrieking.

Putrid smoke.

"Oh," he reached in his back pocket, "here it is."

I gagged. "Move!"


"Better hide that." He walked away. "Tomorrow's garbage day."

(Written in 10 minutes, and edited on and off during an hour I spent writing something else. Thanks, Joe, you're the best!)

Anonymous said...

requiem for a wounded heart…

"cut here" illuminated on his wrist. only the memory of her chapped lips kept him idle with the blade. the symmetry of her gaze. elusive blue eyes appearing through his bleak stupor like the two midnight stars. eerie landscape his thoughts have transcended to. distant and detached like her azure constellation. he imagines the curve of her mouth radiating in the blue glow of his hallucination. deeper, it burns.

JA Konrath said...

And the entries are in, and many of them are wonderful. I'm going to reread them and annoucne the winner tonight at 7pm Central time.

JA Konrath said...

There were a lot of cool ideas, a lot of cool imagery, and a lot of cool twist endings.

Ultimately, I chose the winner that did well with all three, and actually made me cringe:

It was hard getting past the root, but after the third one went in he got the hang of it. The trick was finding a soft spot between the teeth.

Occasionally he'd slip, and Sally would scream, thrashing against the restraints.

He'd smile, calmly take another carpet tack from the box (he had plenty), and try again, all the while whispering: "Good wives don't cheat... Good wives don't cheat..."


When it came down to it, a mouth full of carpet tacks is something that every story needs, no matter the length.

Congrats, John! Email me at for your prize.

I was going to give second and third place prizes, but there were at least five entries that were just as good as Rector's, and ten more that were very close, and I was going crazy trying to chose one over another.

So here's how to get a runner-up prize. If you entered a story in the contest, be one of the first five people who email me using the heading "GIMME A PRIZE" and you'll get a signed magazine.

This was fun! Thanks to everyone who gave it a shot.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Great stories, so far.

Too much pressure. I recently wrote a short story and had a difficult time keeping it under 10,000 words...

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Congrats, John!

Anonymous said...

Congrats, John. Stay away from the hardware store.

Ariadna said...

She looked at him with tears in her eyes.
- I saw you last night. You were hugging her in that bar.
- But I…
- Yeah, you were home, sick.

She was wearing a red beautiful dress. Amazing. Smiles through the tears.

- Stop trying to explain your innocence. Do you know who sais is innocent? EVERYBODY.

- I have nothing to lose now.

She pulled the trigger.


It took me about 10 minutes to write and edit.