Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Year 1, Week 21: Results!

Attention: Due to the holiday madness, we will not be hosting CFFC this Saturday! We will see you (hopefully) back in 2016, on the 2nd! (Note: Make a New Year's resolution to write more flash fiction!) 
I couldn't resist. It's a classic. I only wish I could find it in gif format.
But before you go! Be sure to read the results for Week 21! :D

Honorable Mention

Steph Ellis' Reunited

Mars: I like the eerie tone of this piece, only complemented by the theme of karma--he buried his wife, and ended up getting buried by himself. Very poetic. His descent into madness over his sin is clear, only emphasized by the haunting image of his wife returning to whisper in his ear or appear to drive him to insanity. 

Although the characterization is well done in this piece, I didn't have a large attachment to this character. When his death scene was upon him, I didn't find myself cheering, "Yes! He totally got what he deserved!" (even though I suspect he did), nor did I really feel sorry for him. 

I really like the line, "And now he could clearly see her face, framed by the moon's spotlight." It brings a vibrant image to mind amidst the literal and figurative darkness in the narrative and tone of the piece. Overall, excellent little flash. 

Rin: Oooh, this was a nice, creepy twist on the prompt! Lots of good imagery in this, making it easy to envision it, but I wish there had been a bit more explanation as to why he’d killed her to begin with. The fast pace of it fit well with the chilling tone of the piece and the one-sided dialogue built up the tension nicely. I think my favorite line in this one was ‘By rights, there should be snow, a dusting of purification to absolve his sins, keep his crime from prying eyes but instead she was coming back, reappearing.’ Shiver-inducing. Very nice!

First Runner Up

Bill Engleson's The Hills of Forever

Mars: The strong point of this piece is the overall tone and the voice of the characters; in the way of conflict, the story wasn't very compelling, since it's just a little screenshot of a thing, but from a pure tonality standpoint, the lack of conflict only adds to the desolate tone of the piece. 

I thought a better justification might have been in order for headed towards the hills--I'd say the evil you know (returning to the highway even if it's 60-75 miles away; about 15 hours away at 5 mph) is better than the one you don't (the hills). I was curious why they didn't know how far away their destination was? Unless this is written in the days before google maps or gps (or road signs?) one would assume distances were something travellers would have a vague idea of. 

I appreciate the last three lines, and the very last line certainly leaves you wondering what kind of life he led; they certainly amplify his voice, as well. Intriguing and thoughtful. 

Rin: The prompt was used well in this piece, giving us a good feel for the desert setting right from the very first sentence. The characters were distinct and I like how there wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue, but what there was felt natural and had good flow. There were a lot of good lines in this piece, but my favorite line in this piece was ‘In the chimera of the heat, the hills had looked closer.’ I love that mental imagery. I only wish that I’d been given a little more reason to care about these characters, aside from them just being stranded in the desert. A worthy goal to root for them for or a reason to be disappointed when they failed to make it. That last line was a good wrap up, letting us have a taste of his despair and failure. Of when his hope was finally lost. Great job!


Carin Marais

with Dust Red As Blood

Mars: Arek's emotions come off as raw and roiling, which is excellent; the grief, anger, and barganing was worked in there very nicely. He felt like a three-dimensional character, which can be hard to do in 300 words!

The beginning and ending of the story seem formatted oddly to me. The first paragraph is bulky; it addresses at least two different topics, and could be broken up in two or three paragraphs for clarity and/or emphasis. Observe: 
Arek dug his fingers into the dry ground. Red dust caked beneath the priest’s fingernails and clung to the blood staining his wrinkled hands. Tears turned the world to a blurred, red puddle even as he pushed more of the dirt from the quickly dug grave. He wiped his face, leaving it painted in streaks of red dust, tears, and blood.  
Some way from him, standing close to the Veil usually hidden from mortals, was one of the Guardians of the Veil. Her light blue cloak stood in stark contrast to the deep brown of the leather armour she wore. Her face was veiled and her right hand hand was clenched around a spear. She stared out over the flat plain dotted with small settlements. 
Behind her the shrine of the Khalne Alima stood broken and burnt.
This way feels is easier to read, clarifies different topics, and gives emphasis to an important line.  

Similarly, at the end, I felt the last line was very abrupt formatted as it is; it feels as though it should either be followed up by a second concluding line, or be on its own line; there's no pause between thoughts, and so it feels unfinished.

Another thing I love about this piece: the enigma of the guardian. There's kind of an intense level of worldbuilding going on in this little flash fiction. We see that there's a clergy for this religion, there are shrines for a holy figure(s), we get a glimpse into the afterlife of this world, we can infer that the guardian doesn't normally talk to people, and we got a description of the guardian. There's probably other stuff I could find to list here, but wow. It definitely got my attention. 

Rin: The description in this piece immediately transported me into the story. I became Arek. My favorite line was ‘Red dust caked beneath the priest’s fingernails and clung to the blood staining his wrinkled hands.’ I could feel the dirt under his nails, the way it caked on his wrinkled skin, telling me he was an older man. All the little details showed instead of told, bringing the setting to life without bogging it down and letting it keep a good pace. Arek and the Guardian came across as a fully developed characters and I liked the description of the Guardian’s speech, giving an ethereal feel to her. The twist at the end was good, I was not expecting him to be dead. And since he couldn’t see the boy in his afterlife form, it left me wondering if the boy was dead at all or just unconscious. A good ending, to a great piece! Congrats!

Dust Red As Blood
Arek dug his fingers into the dry ground. Red dust caked beneath the priest’s fingernails and clung to the blood staining his wrinkled hands. Tears turned the world to a blurred, red puddle even as he pushed more of the dirt from the quickly dug grave. He wiped his face, leaving it painted in streaks of red dust, tears, and blood. Some way from him, standing close to the Veil usually hidden from mortals, was one of the Guardians of the Veil. Her light blue cloak stood in stark contrast to the deep brown of the leather armour she wore. Her face was veiled and her right hand hand was clenched around a spear. She stared out over the flat plain dotted with small settlements. Behind her the shrine of the Khalne Alima stood broken and burnt.  
“Why did you not take me?” he shouted at her. She turned a solemn face towards him. A frown pulled at her brow. 
“I was the one who should have guarded the shrine today. You should have taken me!” Arek shouted. 
She did not move and kept on staring at him. Behind her the Veil glimmered as if it, too, was seen through tears.  
Arek got up and staggered towards her.  
“Please, let us trade places,” he pleaded. “Galeun is too young. He was never supposed to have been here.” 
“You came as soon as you saw the fire at the shrine. You did not think of your own wellbeing,” she said. The Guardian’s words were clipped as if she was unused to talking. 
“You are asking something of me which I cannot give.” The Guardian pointed over his shoulder and the man turned around. On the ground, next to the boy, was his own body, disfigured from the wounds dealt to him. 

See you in 2016!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 21!

Ever wake up from the middle of dead sleep and go, "Wait, there was something I was supposed to do last night!"

I couldn't find this all in one gif and it made me sad.
Someone should rectify this issue.
That's how I was about 18 minutes ago o.o Here's your (laaaate) post! I'll probably be back around noon to spread the word about it, but my family is dragging me Christmas tree hunting, and I don't know where Sie and Rin are at this early in the morning XD


Judges This Week: Mars and Rin

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.


Results announced: Next Wednesday, likely around 10 pm - 11:59 pm!

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. Use the prompt as the opening line to your piece (observe rule #2 up there).


He dug his fingers into the dry ground.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Year 1, Week 20: Results!

Aren't you excited?

Oh, I wasn't talking about the holidays.


*throws confetti about for awesome contestants*
Let's get down to business--

No, I meant the winners.

Yup, enough with the gifs.

Honorable Mention

Carin Marais' The Barman Always Listens

Si: I enjoyed the theme of this story--the image of the tired barman, always being forced to listen to everyone's woes. But then, we find out he's not the victim in this interaction--he's the one in control. He's doing this for a reason. And what more perfect job to quietly figure out people's secrets? There's good description in this piece and I like the atmosphere of the party--rich people amusing themselves elegantly, while a murderer sits among them stupidly admitting to his crime. I would reccomend to be more aware of how much information the reader is told, versus finding it out via conversation. I would have the information about Mrs. Van Houdt come out in a conversation between the two characters to make it more dynamic. The final dialogue takes place rather abruptly and makes it seem like a very short conversation for James to become so trusting and spill the beans. My favorite line from the story was: "The scotch stood untouched and he wondered if it had been ordered more for effect than anything else." I liked your turns of phrase and ability to establish an atmosphere--and the central idea of the story was excellent! Well done!

Mars: Ah, the crazy things people do for love. I like how cut-and-dry this plot is, while the dialogue still dances around what occurred. I imagine the look on his face when the "barman" was all, "Did it have to do with this dead guy?" might have been closer to, "Aw crap, you're not actually a barman are you," instead of "Yeah I killed him." The image amuses me.

I thought the bookendings didn't work well for this piece--opening with "Other laughter would soon follow as it came from Mrs Van Houdt" and ending with "A crystal laugh sounded" felt a little odd and forced to me; it took me several read-throughs to finally get who was laughing at the end, which dulled any shock effect it might have had. 

And we have some truth in fiction going on here, I think. It's pretty obvious that Mrs Van Houdt will not be going to jail, now that she has billions of dollars to her name, even if James testifies against her, but James is most certainly headed there once he confesses! All in all, well-done piece. 

First Runner Up

Bunmi Oke's For Love or Country?

Si: I really thought you did a great job with the way the theme and emotion is woven through this story! It's emotional and feels very immediate--everything is happening quickly, with barely a pause for MC to think. We get a hint of how the story would end just from the first line, then are taken into the MC's memories immediately, which does a great job of maintaining reader interest in the story--how and why is this person unworthy of the MC's sacrifices? I thought you picked two scenes from the MC's life very well--short, and to the point. This story has no dialogue but works very well without it--it's fundamentally a story taking place in the MC's mind, we feel everything he feels. Interesting choice with the present tense, it actually works great in this story and isn't intrusive at all, which sometimes happens when a story uses a less common tense. His long-lost love's betrayal is shocking and we want to know what happens next--here, we had a little confusion as to who is shot. Given that rage and vengeance are the primary emotions at play I would assume his gun is aimed at either his old lover or the man she's with, but the blood upon the dashboard indicates it's the MC himself. I would clarify that by giving us more of a hint into his thoughts right before the end. Great story!

Mars: The sentiment and irony of this piece were its strongest points; it would be unbelievable to come back from a war and find that your signifcant other was betraying you--and not only betraying you, but betraying you with someone who probably KNEW you were together. 

I felt the piece was a little jarring emotionally--I recognize it's hard to have a lot of emotional development in <300 words, but the love-her-enough-to-lose-limbs-over-a-PICTURE kind of seemed unrealistic to me without prior development of that emotional bond. I also was unclear on the ending--I'd say 'paying for it' would be killing either the girlfriend or commanding officer, but it reads like he commits suicide (since dashboard = inside the car)? I got a little lost there.

The indignation came off well when he pulled up in front of her house (probably hers, anyways? I'd assume his commanding officer wouldn't be foolish enough to snog the MC's girlfriend in front of the MC's house, after all); this time, the emotional build-up was understandably justified. Good job!



with The Tea Party

Si: I loved the rambling, unexplained craziness of this story. No info dump, just bewildering weirdness until it's all explained in the end. Of course she's crazy! 

Good clean dialogue and I liked the personalities of all the strange characters we come across. The disjointedness of the dialogue: "Doesn't ring a bell. It's my birthday you know," works very well for setting the atmosphere of confusion that Clara finds herself in. One thing I would recommend is increasing the tension of the story just a little--make us feel not only Clara's confusion, but also desperation. I liked the Alice in Wonderland references--good connection there!--familiar to the reader, but we don't know where you're going with it until the twist ending. Great job giving us just enough dialogue from the Nurse to get what's going on, quickly setting the REAL scene. Favorite line: "Of course not, dear. The Hatter is a copyrighted name. You can call me Mr. Chapeau.", very funny. We can really feel Clara's bewilderment throughout the story! Excellent job!

Mars: "The Hatter is a copyrighted name," got a chuckle out of me! The Alice-is-insane has been done before (though it's Clara in this instance), but it's usually not done with any sort of levity like this piece is. I appreciate the allusion to Disney's Alice in Wonderland (though I'm going to have "Merry Merry Unbirthday" stuck in my head now); I am very fond of references. 

Watch out for how names are juxtaposed next to dialogue--"'I'll take some cheese,' Clara turned to see a rabbit" could infer that either Clara or the rabbit were speaking, particularly with the comma there that runs into her name. The problem occurs once more later, when the mouse yells from the tea pot. 

The beginning of the piece was a nice touch; it utilized the prompt in a unique fashion by making it sound like idle small talk, then drew the reader's (and Clara's) attention with the question, "Cheese?" Nice job!

The Tea Party 
"Sometimes, people really are just useless. Cheese?" 
"I'm sorry, what?" Clara stared at the strange man in front of her. A moment ago she was having tea with her boyfriend and listening to him talk about work. But this man was definitely not her boyfriend. 
She closed her eyes for a moment. 
"Would you like some cheese? It pairs well with your tea." Reluctantly, she opened her eyes to see a big grin stretch across the stranger's face farther than a grin should. A large hat dipped over his crazed eyes as they darted from her to the other guests at the table. 
"Who are you? The Hatter?" 
"Of course not, dear. The Hatter is a copyrighted name. You can call me Mr. Chapeau." 
"I'll take some cheese," Clara turned to see a rabbit sitting upright in a white gown. 
"Where is Jason?" 
"Jason, my boyfriend. Tall, dark hair, dorky tortoise shell glasses." 
"Doesn't ring a bell. It's my birthday you know," the man with the hat said. 
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Clara jumped at the exclamation that rang out from a tiny mouse in a tea pot. 
Did I fall down a rabbit hole? Where was Jason? He was just here. 
"HEY!" She shouted over the loud singing that had commenced around her. "Please! Where is Jason!" 
They all stopped and stared. She realized, now, that she was standing with a cheese knife held over her head. A small pinch in her shoulder made her go limp, falling into the arms of a strong woman. 
"Take her to the holding cell." A nurse said as she took a pencil from Clara's fingers and walked out behind them. "Poor girl just can't get over his death. Best keep her out of the common room for a while."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 20!

Rin is to blame for Si's choices in every picture on this post.

Hear ye, hear ye, Cracked Flash Fiction returns for another round of sane, normal stories! 

Behold the prompt of madness and the puzzling pictures of inspiration below.

You have until midnight, Saturday! AKA TODAY. Sharpen up those pencils, dust off those keyboards, re-light the smoke signal fires. IT'S ON.


Judges This Week: Mars and Si

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday, likely around 10 pm - 11:59 pm!

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition.


"Sometimes, people really are just useless." 
Inspiration (not required, but we might just laugh forever if you crowbar them in)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Year 1, Week 19: Results!


Si refuses to apologize for that, BTW.

We thank you all for participating and making CFFC's return most glorious! Y'all are awesome, and your flash fics are too.

(And WHO DID NANO? We all attempted (and got WORDS!) and a good time was had by all because CRAZY MONTH OF WRITING INSANITY.)

Without further ado, WINNERS!

Honorable Mention

Ares Tomb by Trisscar368 

Si: I was amused by the role "old Earth tropes" played in this story. I really liked the setting and the mission--treasure hunters in a scifi future! Good relationship between the characters, the dialogue shows us how they interact very well. One thing I would change was the paragraph here: "They almost died a dozen times, and when at last the great treasure vault spread in front of them", I feel that their journey could make more of an impact on the reader if some words were spent to describe it and show us how difficult it was. I liked the ending, which was a bit of a surprise--we're expecting them to be after gold and riches, but the mission of ruling the world makes it suddenly much more interesting--what will they do? Why do they want to rule the world? And will they be good rulers, or have we just witnessed the rise of the NEW Martian Overlords? Well done!

Rin: The tone of this story set it off right from the get go, making me feel like I was walking in on an Indiana Jones story and their was just enough description of the setting to give me a good image without bogging it down. The dialogue flowed naturally and the characters played off each other well, the reckless, excitable Sam and the calmer, rational Neal. However, I do agree with Si that their struggle to get through the tomb was too down played. A bit of showing there really could have spiced it up, but all in all it was a good, enjoyable story. Nice job!

First Runner Up 

Not According to Plan by Carin Marais

Si: Woohoo, well done on the dialogue! I enjoyed the humorous lines and the way each brief sentence built up the picture of the characters' predicament. Love how we have a clear personality for each character, though we know very little about them. Interspersing necessary information--why are they in the dungeon?--with humor excellently delivers what the reader needs to know, but in a way that never makes it feel like we're being "told". One suggestion I have would be to end the story at the second-to-last line, which is more memorable than the last line and keeps us guessing what their fate will be. The twist at the end is hilarious and original--thanks to the joking beforehand, we expect a very different ending despite KNOWING it's a cliche for the princess to swoop down and save the poor prisoners just in time. Great job!

Rin: This had me laughing all through out with all the fun banter between the two characters and I liked the auditory descriptors, which were short and sweet, but kept me feeling 'in story' and able to envision the setting despite most of it being dialogue. The characters were fun and even though we never learned their names, they felt very distinct and done well. My biggest regret with this one is not being able to find out just what happened with the king's cousin. There were tons of good lines in this one, but my favorite line was 'They heard the footsteps pass their cell and stop at another.' It was a great twist after the nicely placed misdirection. I had been sure that someone was going to rescue them, but I couldn't help but laugh at their misfortune. I think Si's right in that the second to the last line would have been a more memorable ending, but I still hope that it did come back for them. Thanks for a good laugh!

Y1W19 Winner!
Steph Ellis
with Liar's Skin 

Si: I love how the backstory to this piece is told in bits and pieces, and most of all reactions. We don't need to be told Alison has something up her sleeve--we see it in her movements and emotions. Creepy and high tension all the way through! I felt this was heightened by the reader knowing a secret Tanya doesn't, but we still don't know the WHOLE secret until the very end. One slight confusion: "Nor did she know that Alison and Robert were partners in more ways than one." make me think that Robert and Alison are working together to trap Tanya, but at the end we find both Tanya and Robert are the victims. Some EXCELLENT lines in this story: the evocative "a smile that grew into a shadow-cloaked grin", the ominous "Shall I carve?". Great setting of the scene when they finally reach the dungeon--we're dying to know what's inside, but the suspense is drawn out by the description first of the innocent parts of the room, then of the more sinister. A lot is said in very little--great use of words and excellent story!

Rin: Fantastic bit of flash fiction here. I LOVED the description in this! There were so many good lines and they made the setting so vivid and easy to envision that I felt like I was right there in the story. 'Alison smiled to herself, a smile that grew into a shadow-cloaked grin.' was a great line, because it set the tone for the story and gives a taste that something is up. Tanya's clueless dialogue combined with Alison's hidden reactions and cloaked responses amped up the the tension nicely and I liked the bit of foreshadowing in the brief mention that Alison found comfort in the familiarity of the place. My favorite line was 'Soft music and flickering candles welcomed them, the flames picking out steel blades and heavy chains, the ceiling glittering with these reflected fireflies.' because it's a simultaneously creepy and beautiful mental image. The ending was very well done, perfectly wrapped up in that shiver-inducing last bit of dialogue!

Liar's Skin

“I told you he had a dungeon. But you wouldn’t believe me, would you,” said Tanya.

Alison smiled to herself, a smile that grew into a shadow-cloaked grin. “Let’s go back,” she whispered, lacing her words with fear, suppressing her loathing.

“You’re scared!” sneered Tanya, moving towards the mildewed door.

Alison choked back her anger, managed a suitably pathetic whimper. She followed Tanya along the subterranean passage, drawing comfort from the familiar chill of centuries-thick stone.

“Tanya … are … are you sure you want to go on,” she said. “He might be in there, waiting.”

“How can he?” said Tanya. “He’s gone, moved on the police say.”

Alison smiled. That was true. She moved closer to the woman. Smelt the cloying perfume that had scented Robert’s clothes on too many occasions and beneath that the stench of her liar’s skin.

Tanya had no idea that the monster reputed to have inhabited this realm was the man she had attempted to steal from Alison. Nor did she know that Alison and Robert were partners in more ways than one.

“Ready?” said Tanya. She grasped the handle and pushed hard. The door swung open.

Soft music and flickering candles welcomed them, the flames picking out steel blades and heavy chains, the ceiling glittering with these reflected fireflies.

In the centre, an old oak table had been set for two. One guest was already seated. He did not acknowledge the new arrivals; merely continued to look glassily at his half-drunk wine.

“What …”

Alison pushed Tanya into the empty chair before she even finished her question, bound her as tightly as she had her unfaithful Robert. Then she picked up the knife and turned to Tanya, traced its tip round her throat, down to her breast.

“Shall I carve?” she asked. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 19!

WE'RE BACK after a month's hiatus due to NaNoWriMo. Our original plan for hiatus was to post some flash fiction and excepts over the month, buuuut that kind of fell flat on its face. Maybe next year!


Judges This Week: Rin and Si

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday, likely around 10 pm - 11:59 pm!

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition.


"I told you he had a dungeon."

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Intermission: Part I

What's this, you ask? Intermission? What's going on? Well, we explained it on Wednesday, but we'll forgive you if you didn't read all that. You know what month it's going to be tomorrow, don't you?


And what happens in November?

What's National Novel Writing Month, you say? Well. It's the perfect opportunity for any cracked flash writer to really go all out, particularly if you've never done it before. Ever wanted to write a novel? THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO DO IT. 50k in 30 days? It sounds insane, but--

We have fath in you. 

On this note, all of your judges are participating in NaNoWriMo, and CFFC is going on a hiatus until after November.

What are we going to do now, you cry? Well, here's the scoop: We'll give you some prompts, and, following the usual rules, you send your stories to -- OR, if you're participating in NaNoWriMo, send us a 300 word excerpt (or shorter) of your WIP, and we'll post it up on the site along with other flash fiction stories!



Judges this Week: We're not going to judge your pieces (but we will read them!). If you don't like the 'competition' part of CFFC, then November is the month for you!

How: Write a story off one of the prompts, or select an excerpt from your Nano project, and send it to Only one story per person, purty please. 

For Flash Fics, include with your email: Title for your piece, word count, something to call you by, and somewhere to find you online (e.g. Twitter handle, blog, etc.,.).

For Excerpts, include with your email: The title of the work that the excerpt comes from, something to call you by, somewhere to find you online (e.g. NaNo profile, Twitter handle, blog, etc.,.), and a short blurb (~50 words) of your WIP if you like. (If you have a link to your WIP up for people to read, you can totally include that, too.)

When: From right now (Saturday, 12:01 AM PDT) to Tuesday evening (~6:00 PM PDT).

Stories/Excerpts posted: Next Wednesday, around 12 PM to 3 PM.

Remember for flash fics: The prompts can be mutilated. But you should keep the one you choose at the beginning of your story! And you don't have to use the photo(s). 

Your Prompts!

  1. It was a ridiculous costume.
  2. "He's dead. Dead." // "Why?" // "Pumpkin spice."
  3. "Arright, that's enough eggnog for you." // "It doesn't have alcohol in it!"
  4. Her candy was gone. This was unacceptable. 
  5. Would the children never stop coming? 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Year 1, Week 18: Results!

Hey guys! Guess what's coming up in four days! That's right, it's FREAKIN' NANOWRIMO!

What's National Novel Writing Month, you say? Well. It's the perfect opportunity for any cracked flash writer to really go all out, particularly if you've never done it before. Ever wanted to write a novel? THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO DO IT. 50k in 30 days? It sounds insane, but--

We have fath in you. 

On this note, all of your judges are participating in NaNoWriMo, and CFFC is going on a hiatus until after November. 

You heard that right: There will be no CFFC competition from October 31st (Happy Halloween!) to December 5th. Instead of the regular competition, we'll just be running CFF! On the five Saturdays that we're taking hiatus from the norm, we'll post a five or so prompts to write from on the site. We want you to write and send us your stories to from Saturday to Tuesday evening. OR, if you're participating in NaNoWriMo, send us excerpts of your stories (up to 300 words only, please)! Then we will post these stories and excerpts on the site in place of our usual judging (as long as they follow the rules) :D (We'll send reminders, like normal :) )

Now! Onto Week 18 results!

Honorable Mention

Red Fleece's Too Many Superheroes

Rin: This story made me laugh. The great classic of a superhero and supervillain, with a tone and setting to match! The bantering dialogue was light, amusing, and moved the story along at a good pace, which kept me distracted from wondering what the villain was doing and expecting the superhero to break loose and stop her. But then Bloodnok started counting down and everything did a 180 from light and amusing to dread. Because of all that set up, the twist at the end had an even greater impact and that last line was definitely my favorite. Nice job! 

Mars: Aw snap. I like this sentimental kind of story--I'm not big on super stories, but this does make me a little nostalgic as I consider Bloodnok's perspective on things. Once upon a time, there was Superman. Then came everyone else. Favorite line was, "Nice try. I won't fall for that again"--I laughed out loud (She fell for it ONCE already? XD Ah, classic villain mistake). The character dynamics are nice; the way Bluebottle and Bloodnok talk to each other definitely makes them feel like old friends. Or, well, enemies. Frenemies. I also wonder if the villains copyright their names? That would be amusing. Heh. 

First Runner Up

Steph Ellis' The Auction

Rin: I LOVED the descriptive details in this piece. I felt the anxious tension, like I was standing on that platform with them and it was easy to envision. The whole piece moved at a good, smooth pace and I enjoyed the touch of flipping the usual conspiracy theories out there of the government covering up alien existence, but with us as the 'alien lifeforms'. The fact that the aliens knew what humans called themselves brings to question whether they actually saw us merely as 'creatures' or if they acknowledged us as another sentient species and yet carved us up as delicacies anyway and gives this piece a perfectly creepy tone. My favorite line was 'As Fay’s eyes adjusted to the gloom, she began to make out the ghostly faces watching their progress, their hungry gaze sliding over the two as they passed by.' It gave me the shivers! That last line is fantastic, wrapping up the story perfectly!

Mars: Ooo, a dark one. That last line is a kicker as always--"In her head, Fay could already hear the knives being sharpened." The overall tone of the piece is reflected in that one, hopeless imagining. The suspense, and the visuals, leading up to it are exellent; my favorite bit was, "cutting them adrift in a black sea." It paints a stark picture. I was also amused by the whole 'there are no conspiracies here, people' bit; it's a nice reflection to what Earth would say about aliens. 

Y1W18 Winner!

Patrick Stahl

with Special

Rin: This story reminds me of some of the anime series I've adored. The interaction between the characters was sweet, had a good flow, and I like how they talk like kids would and not like adult engineers/geniuses, despite being mentally advanced. I like how the story is layered with the lighter tone of these two innocent kids and back-dropped by a sinister vibe of the unknown history of the scar. Makes me wonder what the purpose behind the experimentation was. Why did they start making kids special? What happened to the older people that were special? Would have liked to see a bit more description of their setting, so to get a better immersion into the story, but otherwise, this was great! 

Mars: I enjoy the idea behind this. It took me a moment at the end to realize what he meant by the people who used to be special--just old, learned people. It's also a sort of horrifying idea that the people of this world, or this future Earth, are willing to cut into children's heads to give them super intelligence. I thought it was an excellent choice to write this from the view point of children instead of wizened, possibly gritty, older people, since it gives it a very innocent tone that conflicts with the need to mutilate children for military purposes. I think the only thing that feels missing from this story is movement--there's not a lot of conflict, other than Laura's concern about not being special. Other than that, I liked how well this was written, and how it gives a lot of clues into the setting without actually coming out and stating it. 
“I thought that we were special,” said Laura, tugging on her big brother Nolan’s sleeve. 
Nolan mussed his sister’s hair. “We are. Why would you think we aren’t?” He picked Laura up and spun her around. 
She giggled, spreading her arms out like a fighter jet. “There’s another boy my age in my class. And he has the scar on his forehead too.” 
Nolan set Laura back on the ground and sat down. He patted the floor beside him. “We aren’t the only special ones, no. There are two others in my class and a few more in my school. But we are special.” 
“Everyone is special, when you put it that way,” said Laura. 
“Little sister, being special isn’t really about who you are, it’s about what you do. Not everyone does what we do, that is for sure.” 
“All I do is build prototypes for military sidearms. It’s not exactly difficult work.”
Nolan laughed. “Did mother ever tell you a story about when she was six years old, like you?” 
“A couple times. She had a lot of fun.” 
“Right. Most kids can’t do what you do, or at least they don’t.” 
“But you design aircraft carriers. That’s way bigger than what I make.” 
“I’m eight years older than you, little sis. When I was your age, I worked with knives.”
Laura smiled. “Nolan, why is your scar so much bigger than mine? Are you extra special?” 
Nolan shook his head. “I was one of the first children they tried to make special. They weren’t quite so good at it back then.” 
“Well what did they do before they made the special people?” Laura asked, her brow crinkled. 
“Oh, there have always been special people. They were just a little older and they didn’t have the scar.” 

See you on Saturday for five weeks of fun! Or Sunday, since Saturday is Halloween. Or Monday, since Sunday is the start of Nano. Anyways, WE'LL SEE YOU THEN :D

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 18!

You--yes you!--have been invited to participate in Cracked Flash Fiction's Week 18 of existence!
If you can write a story starting with the prompt below in 300 words or less--

You'll be considered for a spot on next week's results roll!

Don't miss out on this incredibly rare and awesome offer!

But wait! There's--*Mars is dragged off cam*

Cameraman be like:

Rules: Read Me! (Pay Close Attention to Rule #2)

Judges This Week: Rin and Mars

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday, likely around 10 pm - 11:59 pm!

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (The photos are there for our amusement; they do not have to be used in your story. Only the prompt must be used. (*coughLookAtRule#2cough*) 


"I thought that we were special."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Year 1, Week 17: Results!

Alas, we are already late as it is, so I shan't delay the post any longer by finding terribly amusing pictures.


Honorable Mention

Decker's Scrutible

Mars: Ah, nothing to make a story like a good heist plan! It's interesting how this story doesn't seem to have any conflict at a first glance, but a closer look shows the man vs man thing going on here between the two characters--the main character trying to win over the other with their plan, and succeeding. Nice little resolution. This does leave me wondering what exactly they're stealing back--I don't understand the motivation behind the plan very well. Technically, it's not needed for the plot here, but it's always nice to know why characters are doing things. The dialogue exchange about being a cop amuses me--I probably would have replied something snarky like, "Well, we wouldn't be having this conversation if you were a cop, now would we?" Hah! 

Si: I really liked how this story actually gives a good reason for the jackhammer + peppermint in the prompt! And it makes sense! Love how we discover the main character's plan through the thoughts of the second char--kind of a Sherlock and Watson set up? Very effective to deliver needed info to the reader without spoon-feeding. I like the way the two characters connect though we're not totally sure what's going on as a reader. I like the suggestions of a massive plan in place just about to unfold. One thing I wold add is maybe more description to set the scene, and give us more of a handle on the characters. The dialogue is great but I think a bit more anchoring would be good. Well done!

First Runner Up

Bill's The Canary

Mars: Normally, I don't really like present-tense stories. I also don't normally like description-paragraph dumps, but you've got me on both accounts with this story. My favorite line of the piece is probably, "She looks like a million dollars that someone embezzled thirty years ago and buried in a cellar"--the tone shines through right here; it's kind of a reflective piece--almost like a memoir in story form. I thought Benny's voice could have been developed a little bit more; the writing doesn't have to be so formal ("She's" instead of "She is" or "She has", perhaps), and maybe he has some other affecations of speech (similar to 'guzzle' instead of something like "downs" or "drains", etc.,). The "Not guzzles. // Sips. // Something's working," bit is a nice touch; it shows the readers that, not only is Benny attentive, but he cares for Rosie. Nice work. 

Si: First off, I loved the way you slightly twisted the prompt to work with your setting. Excellent description of Rosie, it's a very dynamic description that easily could have felt more like an info-dump, but is interesting and active enough that I didn't feel that. Curious what Rosie's detoxing from (alcohol? My first thought was hard drugs, but the story seems to point to alcohol). I loved the line: "didn’t totally burn up, but never soared again." I liked the theme of memories and what things used to be like--Rosie, her past, the ending scene. I would add perhaps more dialogue, and give us some description through that. We want to know more about what's going through Rosie's head.There's no major conflict but this story doesn't really need one. Great use of short sentences in the last half to set the scene. I especially liked how deeply we're immersed in the main character's POV though we don't really "see" them. Great story!

Wait for it! Drum roll, please--!

Steph Ellis!

with Preparing the Ground

Mars: It turns out she didn't know her enemy as well as she would have liked! I like how this piece is humorous and suspenseful at the same time. The last few lines made me laugh--I was expecting a more gruesome ending, particularly with the line about husband-stealing; the twist ending was an amusing surprise. I have to wonder if the witch knew why the main character brought her to the garden to kill her--or if Iris only read that the main character wanted to kill her, and got to the punch first? Was Iris really trying to get the main character's husband? The character dynamics are great here, though--both of them playing around the true reason Iris was there made for great development. (I still love that matter-of-fact ending. No italics, just, "Whoops. She really is." )



Love the writing, the humor, and the ending! Very polished writing, no tone breaks or issues at all throughout the story. I loved the Betty Crocker line and jackhammer and its "positive vibrations". The set-up is excellently done, no info-dumps, and we quickly get to know the two characters and the setting. Well done slipping in the line about the MC's husband--very subtle, but the tone of the story distinctly changes, connecting with the increase in tension at the ending. There's good foreshadowing too--"Know your enemy." "To prepare the ground". I would add a line about what excuse the MC used to call the witch over--what was wrong with her garden? For the first half of the story the reader is trying to guess the reason. But of course, the REAL reason is soon revealed, to excellent conclusion. Wonderful job!

Preparing the Ground 
“I can do it, but I’ll need a jackhammer and all the peppermint you got.” 
Sally had told me the girl was a witch. But I hadn’t thought she meant it literally . . . until I saw the ad. Know your enemy, went the old saying. And so here she was. She handed me her card. 
‘Iris Flatly, Wiccan Priestess. Healer, Psychic and Spreader of Wisdom. Available 24/7. Thursday Spell Special . . . Buy One Get One Free.’ 

“You were right to call me,” she said. “Real bad vibes here. You won’t grow anything in this garden until the ground is cleansed.” 
I was ordered to stand back as she scattered the peppermint in a circle around us. Then she started up the jackhammer. This didn’t seem very witchy to me. 
“Who did you say you were apprenticed to?” I shouted. My mum had led her own coven until an unfortunate incident with Farmer White’s bull. It had put me off following in her footsteps. 
She turned off the drill, paused for slightly too long. “Old Betty Crocker,” she said finally. 
“Isn’t that a cake mix?” 
She shrugged. “Unfortunate coincidence.” 
“And the jackhammer is to . . . ?” 
“Create positive vibration, Jah know.” She grinned and tossed her dreadlocks. I’d never come across a Rastafarian witch before. But witch or no witch, she wasn’t getting her hands on my husband. 
“You do know why you’re here, don’t you?” I said. 
“To prepare the ground,” she replied.  
Well, she had that right. 
By now a huge hole had opened up at our feet. Old plans had revealed a disused well in this part of the garden. A good push was all that was needed . . . 
Her hand was on my back before I could even finish the thought. Damn. She really was psychic.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 17!

Aha! You thought we were going to be late again, didn't you?

SURPRISE! We're not! 


Rules: Read Me!

Judges This Week: Si and Mars

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday!

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition.


"I can do it, but I'll need a jackhammer and all the peppermint you got."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Year 1, Week 16: Results!

Gather 'round the crazy fire, children, it's time to hear Uncle Flavio's most terrifying story.

The Story of the Stories that Won CFFC Week 16.

Oh yes, little ones, you may shiver. For these participants were not only mad enough to PARTICIPATE ... but they EXCELLED. They caught the attention of the mysterious black-cloaked judges (okay hush, I like cloaks) and inspired the judges not only to stop procrastinating on the internet, but to actually WRITE REVIEWS!

Honorable Mention

The Edit by Rodger Jackson

Si: Every writer's worst nightmare (or best dream?) Personally I'm very glad I don't know the spell ... *eyes assassin characters*.

I liked the idea of the writer summoning their character just to kill him permenantly IRL. (Stormtrooper academy made me laugh, as did the Bond villain line). Good dialogue and I like that we get a good sense of the writer, though the story doesn't seem to be a deep third POV. I would have liked a bit more characterization of the summoned character--he seems a bit distant to the reader, but he's funny. I liked the twist ending and the fact that the writer's choice of weapon is unoriginal but they don't care. Great story!

Rin: Normally, a story featuring an author isn't my thing, but this one is an exception. This story amuses me, so much. The pace was smooth and I enjoyed the dialogue between the author and his villain, especially the villain's snarky commentary regarding his author's numerous failings to destroy him and Starwars referencing. The character felt well done, both classic cliches, but cliches done well. One of my favorite aspects of this story, and the reason that it was an exception for me, was that unlike most author-character stories, the control of the situation was never truly given to the author character, but he continued to fail in his goal and left us hanging, wondering what would happen to him next. The last line is probably my favorite because the double meaning of 'spell checker' made me laugh. Kuddos on a great story.

First Runner-Up

Stand-off South of Butte by Bill Engleson

Si: First off, great immersion into the story! The description of Zeke really sets the scene and the dialogue feels true to the setting--not always easy! I like the way the story is set up for us to assume Zeke is some whiny idiot but as we read on, the true tragedy of the soon-to-be polluted stream changes the way we see the scene. I especially liked the way you juxtaposed the lines:

There was nothing a lowly clerk in the Bureau of Land Management could do.

“Hell, Zeke, let me patch you up,” I said.

Showing that the only help our MC can give Zeke is tiny to what he really needs--the true problem at hand, which is unsolvable. I would have liked the backstory to be more integrated into the piece--perhaps through an argument between the chars? And until the very end, the reader has no idea Skeeter is standing there and watching--though we know he shot Zeke, his silence seems to indicate that he left right after. Great use of setting, and well done!

Rin: This one transported me straight to the 70 acre farm I used to live on, where there were stories of our old neighbors having feuds and shoot outs like this. I love that the motivations behind Zeke's and Skeeter's conflict is clear and realistic. The story progresses at a nice pace and I felt I was right there, ducking behind a tree or some such with Zeke and Wakefield. The characters feel well developed with unique personalities. My favorite line was “Nobody is looking at my splotchy Georgia ass, Wakefield. I’ll stem my own bloody gusher.” because I can just hear and old coot saying something like that. Very well done! 

Y1W16 Winner

The Red Fleece!
with Red for Oscar

Si: GREAT twist! Really excellent set-up of comraderie between Janet and Michael, the subtle introduction of the two Oscars ... loved that duality by the way. It's slipped in so smoothly--that fatal like "I wonder if she knows?--that the ending is a surprise, but makes perfect sense. The last paragraph is expressive in how much it leaves to the reader's imagination--we can IMAGINE far greater pain, far more blood and gore, than a story can deliver in plain black-and-white so good job giving us just enough to start! Several great lines: "Today's God ..." "Physically I'm in place. Mentally I'm a step behind. ", "“Just think of the Oscar.”,
That is never a problem. I'm always thinking of Oscar these days, her Oscar." Excellent story!

Rin: It was easy to see the movie set in my mind and the description was done well. The play on words with Oscar was great fun! The wondering whether Janet knew Michael's secret and what would happen next built the tension nicely and the pace kept it all moving along smoothly. I liked that the attack took me off guard in the way that it was done. I expected a verbal confrontation or some sign that Janet knew, first, but the blast cap or whatever she used without any warning was a fabulous twist! Great job!

The winning story!

Red for Oscar
“How many times do I have to be shot before you're happy?” I rubbed the dull pain out of my chest. The same description could be used to describe our movie set: a soon to be ruined drinks reception made out of papier-mâché and sugar glass.

“Until the director is happy,” Janet laughs as she fixes up a new bullet wound pack, a small block of explosive surrounded by fake blood.

“But megaphone-woman is never happy.” I take off my red ruined shirt.
“And neither are you Michael.” Janet handed me a new white shirt, blood pack loaded. “Just think of the Oscar.”

That is never a problem. I'm always thinking of Oscar these days, her Oscar. All his muscles and fun. I wonder if she knows? This is a hell of a risk if she does. She clicks the final wire into place and her thumb shots into the air.

“Positions people.” Today's God orders us through her megaphone. Physically I'm in place. Mentally I'm a step behind. I can't shift Oscar from my head.



The pain punches me backwards and crack through a table. Red floods my shirt, more than was in the pack. The pain won't stop. Janet is over me now, down on her knees. Her hand slips between the tear of my shirt. Pain, new pain, rips me in two. I think I scream. All my senses are screaming. Above my Janet rubs red between her thumb and forefinger. My red, real red. “Now I'm happy.” 

Catch y'all again THIS SATURDAY! *prepares net*

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 16


It's kind of hard to participate in a competition if it never comes up, isn't it?

*mutters* Gonna schedule out like THREE MONTHS this time. Another #CrackedFlashFail brought to you by yours truly!

Judges This Week: Rin and Si

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.


Results announced: Next Wednesday!

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition.


"How many times do I have to get shot before you're happy?"

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Year 1, Week 15: Results!

So, on the contest post for week 15, Si mentioned that I was legally intoxicated (maybe that's why she chose the "freaky photoshopped" picture theme . . .) . To clarify, I got my wisdom teeth out on Friday. Not fun, but I'm recovering well! 

Sadly, one of our judges has fallen wounded to another prey: a hideous, vile cold. So, I'll be your only judge today. Hope that doesn't damper anybody's excitement to hear the announcements! (Rin did help pick, though, so rest assured; it's not just craaazy Mars picking stories out at random.)

Honorable Mention

Steph Ellis' Oblivion

This one was a little too creepy for my tastes, but was excellently written and the intention is clear. The sentence structures are nicely varied; it makes this story flow very well, and the word choices gave the piece a tranquil, sadistic tone.

I think I've laid my finger on something: the piece is clean and well-written, but doesn't have much in the way of conflict. Karl's already been killed and it's just Emma contemplating her contentment. 

"It was contentment, not oblivion that claimed her and she wanted to remember every minute, every heartbeat, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow," is a rather intriguing line; the repetition of 'tomorrow' gives a sense of eternal repetition, or even oblivious bliss. It rather summed up the piece in one line for me. 

First-Runner Up

Red Fleece's Campfire Stories

The tone of this story doesn't really come off as scary or as a horror until the last few lines (*cough* Rule Breaker (#2) *cough*)--a very well-executed "dun dun dunnnn" moment. My favorite phrase is, "Toby became a whisper," for some reason. It seems like it might be an error, but it really complements the rest of the piece for me--it feels to me like the most emotion-filled sentence. 

That's mainly what I felt was lacking: emotion. It feels disconnected from the characters--I don't have a personal connection to any of them. Shortening Sandra's 'ghost story,' or even having other kids ask questions in the middle, might fix that problem for me. 

I thought it was clever how light-hearted the story was to begin with--we've all been there, telling (really) lame ghost stories around the campfire (or flashlight), knowing that none of us are really scared. But then some jerk slams the kitchen drawer and freaks everyone out, which is how the last lines come off.  Overall, this was an enjoyable story.



with Conundrum

I really appreciate the shortness of this piece, first-off. I think it's the shortest that has been done so far in the competition. There's very little or no excess words, but it still gets the story across poignantly. 

My only true confusion is who's saying the last line. It seemed to me like Liam had disappeared, and she was left--so it might be his wife saying the line to herself?--or it could have been a time loop, and Liam was repeating it all over again. 

The piece evokes definitely invokes questions like, "What are they doing? Why are they doing it?" but the beauty of this is that the story still feels like a story without those questions answered. 

“Don’t worry; you won’t remember anything by morning,” Liam assured his wife as he checked the survival suit and made sure she was secure. 
“But… if you fail…” 
“Then everything is the same, except I’m not here. The real problem is ‘if I fail- you’ll never know’.” 
When she frowned he winked. “Occam’s Paradox… the most likely is a false memory.” 
He drew a deep breath and stood, realizing he was delaying the inevitable. He pressed the button and sensed nothing. 
“Don't worry; you won't remember by morning…”
We might have to ban you from winning,
too, Decker. XD
Can't wait to see you all next week! :D