Flash Fiction Writing Contest
2014 Scholastic Day at Chadron State College
Sixteen writers competed in our Flash Fiction Contest on April 4. This exercise challenged aspiring writers to think on their feet and quickly create a short story that engages readers and shows off their imaginative, descriptive and compositional skills. Students were given the following constraints:
- 50 minute time limit
- Submission had to be a single work of original fiction composed from the participant’s own imagination during the exam period
Finally, the writers were provided a prompt that all of the stories had to follow:
Begin a story with this line:
“One more thing before you go.”
Each story was scored by a team of judges from the Department of English and Humanities and members of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society. The criteria for judgment were outlined in a rubric that was distributed with the exam. The papers were then ranked by the combined scores from all judges. The top entries then underwent one more round of evaluation for the final ranking.
The judges were impressed with the uniform creativity and talent illustrated in all of the submissions, especially given the time and length limits. There were many submissions that could easily be revised and shaped into fully-formed stories worthy of wide readership in some form. We want to thank ALL of the participants for sharing their talents with us.
Here are the final results:
(note that the final drafts have been lightly edited to correct obvious surface errors):
Gordon-Rushville High School
The Queen’s Rescue
“One more thing before you go,” said the Drag Queen. “I really would like to tell how thankful I am for all that you have done for me… I know a fabulous man like myself can usually stand up for herself, but I was completely and utterly helpless against all of those men. So, thank you.”
Peter was still having trouble comprehending exactly how his night managed to end with him rescuing a drag queen. You see, Peter was just your average run of the mill guy. After graduating from his small state’s college, he decided to take a bit of a risk and move to New York City to pursue an acting career. Although he was fully aware of how the big city is filled with eccentric characters, such as drag queens, he never expected to come into close contact with one. Here he was, though, staring at a battered six foot man in a dress with a tattered blonde wig dangling off of his head.
“Ugh… Um.” Peter mumbled.
“Peter, honey,” said the Drag Queen, “I realize that you came to my rescue and all, but I am going to have to start charging you if you keep staring at me like that.”
“Oh I’m sorry! It’s just… uh… May I have your name?” asked Peter.
“Considering that you just saved my dress and me from being completely ruined, I will not take offence to the fact that you have not heard of me.” He continued, “I am the one, the ONLY, Sally SPARKLES, and you better not forget it!”
Sally’s confidence and attitude had finally returned, and he proceeded to pull out eyeliner and foundation from his purse, and began to reapply his makeup.
“Are you sure you can do that here?” Questioned Peter, “It’s pretty dark.”
“Darling, I have been doing this for seven years, do NOT question my skillssss!” snapped Sally, holding out the last “S”.
“S-sorry.” Stuttered Peter.
Peter still did not know what to think. He started to think back to how his night ended up where it was. He was merely walking back to his apartment after attending an off-Broadway show, and on his was back he heard a loud scream. Peter then ran to the source of the commotion, and witnessed a group of three drunk men backing what peter perceived as a woman into the side of a rundown apartment building. Now, Peter was not much of a fighter, but he did know a few self-defense moves, which were just enough to fend off the drunkards.
“I’m sorry about your wig,” apologized Peter.
“You should be!” Yelled Sally. “Do you realize that this wig cost me $350 dollars? It was made by Rupaul herself… Ugh! I am so DONE with tonight-ah!”
“I’m sorry,” continued Peter, “But, who exactly is Rupaul?”
Sally did not respond to Peter’s question. He simply put away his makeup, and began to stomp away.
“Did I say something wrong?” Peter called out.
Sally then twirled around.
“Not knowing me is a forgivable sin,” snapped Sally, “but not knowing who Rupaul is, the GODDESS herself, is completely unforgivable. You obviously do not know anything about us drag queens!”
Peter just stared silently, not knowing how to respond. Sally then coughed, and changed his entire demeanor.
“Listen, I’m sorry, okay?” apologized Sally. “As you can probably tell, I have had a rough night, and sadly, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me. I guess what I’m trying to say is, thank you. Rupaul knows what would have happened if you didn’t come along.”
Sally Sparkles then winked at Peter, twirled around, and began to leave again.
“Wait!” Peter yelled. “I realize I know nothing about you, or your… career choice, or anything about Paul Ru, or whoever he or she is. All I want to say is, I came to your defense, because nobody deserves to be treated like that. Also, I really do kind of think you look beautiful tonight.”
Sally stopped walking.
“You know,” Sally said, “For a boy who knows absolutely nothing, you really know how to discern true beauty.”
Sally then proceeded to blow a kiss to Peter, and snapped his fingers high in the air, and walked away into the night.
“Wow.” Says Peter, “I just saved a drag queen.”
That was all Peter could say, but he couldn’t help but feel a little bit happy.
Banner County High School
“One more thing before you go,” said Bill as he unhinged the corral gate and swung it out towards the pasture, “don’t forget who won today.” As soon as Bill untied the halter, the stout little buckskin whirled on his back feet, gave a snort, and lit out on a dead run, heading like a freight train to the tall and uncut. Bill headed back inside to fix his supper, and to nurse his wounds from his battle with the little horse.
That stout little buckskin’s name was Bearcat. Bill had ridden thousands of horses for outfits all across the western United States, so he had no favorite horse, but Bearcat had become a reliable mount over the years. His pony was so named because of his cunning mind and general hate for humans. When Bill had started him, the only way to get near him was to rope him and lay him down. Anyone who approached him was met with flying hoofs and bared teeth. The first time Bill saddled this stout little buckskin, Bearcat came pretty near to killing him. Bill grabbed the side of the hackamore and jerked Bearcat’s head around, and at the same time stepped up in the stirrup and threw his leg over the saddle. At first, Bearcat only stood a moment and quivered, every muscle in his body taut as a guitar string. Bill gave him a nudge with the spur, and in that moment, the world broke in two. Bearcat threw himself straight in the air, and came down with a jar that broke through the hard-packed earth of the breaking corral a good three inches. Bill found himself getting farther and farther away from his seat, until finally Bearcat let out a kick that seemed to make the saddle horn and cantle touch, and Bill found himself coming down to earth, alone.
As soon as Bill hit the ground, Bearcat turned to face him, his eyes were wide and his body streaked with white foam. Bill saw a challenging look in Bearcat’s eye, and knew he had no choice but to try him again. Bill dusted himself off, and to his surprise, Bearcat let him walk right up to him and step on. The fight was on again. Bill sucked down hard into his seat, and stuck his spurs high into Bearcat’s shoulders. The little horse sucked back, and for a moment, Bill and Bearcat were almost eye to eye. Bill had to grin at the determined look in Bearcat’s eye, and gave a war whoop as he reached up and fanned him with his hat. The jumps that followed were some of the hardest and the most crooked that Bill had ever felt. One moment he was flying high with the clouds, and the next so low he could feel the heat radiating off of Bearcat’s back. Soon, though, those crooked jumps got softer and softer, and with one final hard jump, Bearcat stopped dead in his tracks. Bill sat on Bearcat and smiled as he took out his tobacco and rolled a smoke. He leaned in real close to Bearcat’s ears, and said, “It’s alright little horse, you buck pretty good anyhow.” Bill stepped off the little horse, and the look of defeat in Bearcat’s eyes almost made Bill laugh. Bill felt good for what he had done, for he knew that he had beaten Bearcat for now, but the little horse’s spirit would remain unbroken.
Hot Springs High School
“One more thing before you go.” I tell her, gripping the cold cloth in my hand.
“I’m leaving and I’m tired!” My horrible, crusty-eyed wife shrieks. In our little apartment in the middle of the forest, I never thought it would end like this.
“So you’re walking out on me?” I snap, throwing the rag at her.
“It’s not safe anymore! The fog is all around us and he’s dead. There is no point in staying here anymore,” she retorts coldly. There is no life in her eyes. They’re dead. He’s dead.
“Don’t talk about him.” My voice quavers and I talk quietly.
“I can do what I want. You are no longer a part of my life.” She grabs a dirty plastic bag off the floor, a bag that came from a forgotten grocery store in a forgotten town. “I always thought you would stay. At least for her.”
I look at the pile of blankets on the floor and my heart sinks. The blankets are hardly moving. My baby girl is dying under there.
“She’s infected and I can’t be around her anymore. The fog is making me sick.
We need to go somewhere safe.”
“How absolutely oblivious and completely naïve can you get?” I shout at her, my voice seeming to shake the cardboard-thin walls.
“There are safe houses, cities, places that the fog can’t reach!” she defends, crossing her arms defiantly and I shake my head. I can’t believe I’ve married such a cold and heartless woman. A woman. If I can even call her that.
“To think you thought I could just leave her… How dare you?” I spit at her feet. “You are nothing to me. You leave and never come back. You’re the reason he died.”
Her eyes flare in horror and anger, and I use those wonderful emotions to feed my words. “If you were watching him like you were supposed to, he never would’ve gone outside without a suit on and he would still be alive.”
As soon as the words come out of my mouth, a sense of accomplishment washes over me. Her eyes actually have tears pooling in them. As if she could actually feel emotion. The lifeless hag can rot in the fog for all I care.
“Oh, so you think this is all my fault? That our son is under ground because I wasn’t watching him?” Her voice is quiet. Dangerous. To say my confidence doesn’t waver would be a lie. “What about your precious little daughter?”
“She went out in the fog under your watch!” She laughs manically. The rat’s nest on top of her head jiggles when she laughs and her brown teeth seem to be rattling in her head. “It’s your fault. It’s her fault. But it sure wasn’t my fault!”
Her words hit me as if I was beaten repeatedly with a metal baseball bat. They burn me to the bone, and I reach for a cast iron frying pan without thinking about it.
“No.” She grins at me sadistically. “See, you can threaten me and look at me like I’m garbage all day but you… You’re so pathetic that you can’t even look at her.”
“I look at her every day,” I whisper, glancing over at the blankets to make a statement.
“When was the last time you saw her face? Your precious little girl’s face?” She walks over to me and runs her disgustingly dirty index finger down my face.
I don’t answer her and she hobbles away from me. I smile at her limping, but the smirk quickly disappears as she bends down to that pile of blankets.
“Sweetie,” she whispers, and I breathe deeply, trying to calm myself. She starts moving the blankets and one by one. With each blanket thrown off the tiny girl and onto the dirt floor, my heart sinks lower and lower into my stomach.
She is about to remove the last blanket but stops as a loud knock taps on the door.
“Go away! It isn’t safe in here!” Her voice cracks and I see tears streaming down her crusted face.
“Evacuation of all healthy personnel. Please put on your protective suits and exit the premises.” The voice sounds familiar, but all voices sound familiar these days. The country is full of bandits and thieves. No one should be trusted, and an evacuation sounds too good to be true and these days; that’s usually the case.
“We have to go,” my wife whispers, and I shake my head vehemently.
“Not safe,” I mouth, knowing a male’s voice would carry through the door.
“One minute to put on your suits!” the voice echoes through the wall.
“If you’re not going, I will.” She stands up and walks away from her. She grabs the plastic bag and stuffs it full of random items of clothing.
“You open that door, we will all die,” I threaten, my knuckles whitening around the handle of the pan I am still holding.
“Anything is better than waiting around to die with corpses.” She grabs the yellow protective suit, and I breathe deeply trying to figure out a way to stop her.
“Don’t make me kill you,” I say, but even I don’t believe it. There is no strength in my voice. No power behind my words and she knows it. I wouldn’t have the strength to kill a fly.
“Goodbye dear,” she smiles callously one last time before zipping up the back of her helmet. She doesn’t even look at her child before she reaches for the door handle. The door bursts open and white, thick fog forces its way into the room like a wall of fire. I run as fast as I can to my daughter and throw my body over hers.
I stare up at the looming fog, waiting for it to engulf us both and burn us from the inside out. Just as I’m about to close my eyes I see a tall figure standing above me. I is all too familiar with the outline of a gun, and I can see it clearly against the fog. An assault rifle clutched in his hands, the barrel of it pointed directly at me. I know what’s next. I close my eyes, say goodnight to the little girl hidden underneath me and let the bullet pierce my skin.