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Flash Fiction Contest Compilation - Cot

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A Lecture on Wealth


“What is treasure?”The man paced back and forth, his features hidden beneath the wild hair that covered most of his face. His strides were smooth and confident, and every step he took seemed to shake the very ground on which he walked.However, his words seemed to have had more of an effect on those around him than his heavy footsteps. All around him, puzzlement crept into previously carefree faces. They had signed up in order to hunt for treasure, not debate upon what the term treasure actually entailed.A single hand rose above the crowd, its owner carrying a confident – although rather bored – look upon his face. After a few moments of hurried gestures to make sure no one would interrupt him, the leader of the group beckoned him to speak.“Treasure is anything that you deem to be valuable.”A murmur ran through the group, and it quickly turned into hurried whispering about whether or not he was correct. Before anyone could come to a reasonable conclusion or even get past the opening points to their argument, the leader once again spoke up. His voice cut through the clamor like a knife, immediately stopping short any conversations that he was not participating in (which was all of them).“That isn’t a bad guess, but I’m sorry to say you are wrong. Very, very wrong. You see, treasure isn’t something as vague as “something valuable to me”; if that were the case, you could call even a ratty old hat a treasure under some circumstances. Friends aren’t a treasure either, and the same goes for family. Those things are all worthless in the greater scheme of things!“So what is treasure? All I’ve told you so far is what it’s not, and I can see that some of you are growing impatient. Well, let me tell you: treasure is anything you have to steal, lie, or kill in order to attain. Treasure is anything you could auction off for a hefty sum of money. Treasure is anything that you can cast aside if it means making a fortune. If you are ever in doubt, ask yourself, “Is it valuable to many people around the world and, more importantly, would they pay for it?” and you’ll be sure to grab to correct item.”He stopped pacing for a moment and turned his head towards the group, his visible eye brightly shining with anticipation. His lecture was nearly complete, and he could already see that it had done its job of stirring the members of the group into a frenzy. Seeing this, he couldn’t help but grin behind his beard.“Now let’s go get some treasure.”

Chore Quest


I stared at the note one the wall, my brain refusing to believe the story my eyes were telling. It couldn’t be true, not today of all days.The note, which had clearly been written by my mother, stated that there was to be no playing videogames until my chores had been finished. Under normal circumstances I would have disregarded these commands, but today she had taken measures to prevent such action.Said measures entailed confiscating the video game console, the cords, and all of my controllers. Knowing her, these things had likely been hidden in separate locations around the house, so even if I managed to find the console it’d be useless without the cords or controllers. The same naturally applied to every situation that didn’t have me finding all the necessary elements, which made me sad.Knowing my luck, it’d be next to impossible to find everything I needed. That left me with one option: to do my chores as I had been asked.The funny thing about work is that I don’t like it. When asked to do something more demanding than lifting a pencil (and indeed, sometimes even then), I tend to find other ways to occupy my time. When someone is breathing down my neck, it means faking work on something else in order. When there was no one to make sure I stayed focused, I would do literally anything so long as it wasn’t productive.But I wanted to play that new video game that had arrived in the mail yesterday. After pre-ordering it, I had patiently waited months for this day. I wasn’t going to spend it doing chores.Well, there comes a time when a man’s got to do what he’s got to do. For me, this was that time.So naturally I spent the next five hours doing what amounts to staring blankly at my computer screen.Finally, after what felt like ages of doing nothing productive whatsoever, I stood up tall and did my best to look heroic and determined. I was finally ready to start working, my nonexistent pre-working rituals having been finally completed.For the next few hours, I worked as diligently as I was able to. I fought the weeds, grass, dust, grime, and all other enemies to those dedicated to cleanliness. They were tough battles, with each boss being tougher than the last, but I gained experience through those conflicts, and emerged from them more powerful than I had ever been before.At last, I reached the final boss fight. I was equipped with all of the greatest cleaning tools the house had to offer, and I had mastered the use of each one. I was truly a foe to be reckoned with. However, my adversary was equally deadly. Standing before me like an ancient monster was the bathroom. Inside my heart, I trembled in fear.I dove into the fight. It lasted for what felt like ages, but eventually, and with both cramped arms and watery eyes, I emerged victorious. I had finally completed my quest, and not a minute too soon; as I went to put away the cleaning supplies, I heard a car pull up into the driveway.I immediately ran up to my mother, the foul schemer who had been the cause of my wearisome quest, and told her of my success. In response to my request to have my rightful belongings returned to me, she looked at me with solemn eyes and in only two words crushed my dreams.“Maybe tomorrow.”

The Thoughts of a Recently-Rejected Teenager

Amor Omnia Vincit

Love will find a way.All you need is love.It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.These are all phrases we have been taught since childhood, their words engrained into our minds. Some people choose to model their entire outlook on life off of sayings like these.I am not one of those people, especially not now. Not now that I’ve been in love and been rejected, not now that I’ve experienced the agony of heartbreak. Yes, third phrase, I’m referring to you. Yes, you do have a special place in my heart.No. I do not agree with any of you one bit.Love is like a hurricane. Oh look, there’s another stock saying. I wasn’t even trying to come up with one that time, and it just came to mind. Great, just great.But wait… Comparing love to a type of storm, and one known for the devastation it tends to leave in its wake, may actually be the most fitting thing comparison I’ve seen yet. Love is a horrible, horrible reaction, and one that the human race would be infinitely better off without. I would love to take back all the time I spent building up the courage to tell you how I felt, only for you to bluntly reject me in the span of two seconds. I’d-Sorry, I have some things on my mind. You know, in case you hadn’t noticed. Which isn’t very likely…Anyway, love is a hurricane. Yup, I’ll agree with that one. Let’s move on to the next one like a museum tour guide and his flock of paying customers and bums who are following the main group. Yup, my little tour will go right past the broken hearts of a billion teenagers, all while I’m spouting random garbage like, “And on your left, you can see the infamous words that drove these poor souls into committing such reckless acts, defying all logic in their attempts to win the heart of another person. Oh, and on your right is another similar sight. Isn’t love just great?”Yes, I’d make an excellent tour guide. Maybe one day, when I’m a bit more level-headed, I’ll make a museum like that. No wait. That’s stupid. Forget I said that.Oh, oh, oh… The granddaddy of all stock saying just popped into my head. Oh, this is infuriating. Wow, I’m having difficulty just typing this, I’m so irritated. Okay, deep breath. In. Out.Love conquers all.You know what, world? I’m calling you out on that one right here, right now.False. Oh so very false.



I looked down at my bloodied hands, my eyes moist with tears that refused to fall. Littered around me were dozens of destroyed objects, all victims of my despair-fueled rampage throughout the empty house.Empty. She was gone, taken. No doubt suffering as I sat and wallowed in my own misery. And yet… There was nothing I could do. I was no hero, and neither the authorities nor I had any idea who had taken her. All we knew was that she hadn’t gone willingly, but I could have told anyone that much.From within my pocket but what felt like a world away, something began vibrating. After a moment, the realization that it was my phone sank in and I pulled it out, still in a daze had what had transpired that day. Judging by the fact that it had only vibrated for a second, I had probably received a text message from yet another person curious as to what the situation was and to tell me how sorry they were for me, how they knew I was suffering and felt my pain, even while they sat in warm and loving rooms surrounded by those they cared about. It had been difficult maintaining my composure during those instances, and I was tempted to ignore this one until I felt a bit better.However, I couldn’t help but check to see who had sent it.The instant I saw her name, I froze up. I wanted to scream at the world for its playing such a cruel trick on my mind, to weep with joy, and to chastise her for worrying us so much all at once. Of course, deep down I knew that the conversation I was about to engage in wouldn’t end up like any of those. With a practiced motion, I pulled up the message and read it, my confused emotions quickly transforming into a singular, mind-rending, rage.Bring $500,000 to the main entrance of the Wood Hills Mall at 10:00 tomorrow morning.So it was a ransom. A ransom I could deal with. The part that infuriated me was the lack of any mention of their hostage. Even when asking for half a million dollars, they had made no indication that the sum would do anything to free her. For all I knew, she was already dead. It was a cold, distant thought, but once it entered my mind it refused to leave. Still, I couldn’t just abandon her.I knew I should talk to the authorities about it, but something stopped me. I don’t know what it was, and looking back I can’t possibly imagine what was going through my head at the time.Even after I arrived with the money I had somehow managed to scrap together at the designated time and place, there was no sign of anyone who might have been expecting to receive half a million dollars. I waited for what felt like hours, my heart racing and my armpits sweaty. I was nervous, nervous for both my own safety and the safety the person I was trying to save.Turns out, that nervousness was perfectly justified. For all my efforts, all my stupidity, I received a bullet to the heart. As I lay there, dying upon the concrete and amidst all the gum that people had carelessly tossed aside, I pressed my hand against my chest. I pulled it away, examining the crimson blood. It was beautiful in its own way, death was.


Character Story

I walked over to a tall, middle-aged man sitting with his head in his hands, his proud back bent in sorrow. I had seen many others like him during my life, but it was never any less heart-wrenching of a sight. There was no guaranteed way to help people when they were like that, but I had always found that simply talking to them could help ease them a bit.“Excuse me, sir, but visiting hours are over for the day. However, I’d have to be a pretty cruel person to kick you out at this point, so do you mind if I sit down?”The man I was speaking to started at the sound of my voice as if he had been unaware of my presence. Of course, that was probably exactly what had happened; it was clear he had a lot on his mind. After a silent nod from the man, I sat down in one of the chairs next to him. It was almost ten minutes before he felt the desire to speak.“She was only five.”“I’m sorry to hear it.”I was. It wasn’t the first time someone would die so young, nor would it be the last. However, I understood the man’s pain. Losing a loved one is always hard, especially when by all rights they should have the rest of their lives ahead of them.“If you don’t mind my asking, why is it you are wearing that hat of yours while indoors and at night? Does it have some sentimental value to you?”He nodded and reached up to tough it gently, his fingers gently caressing the worn edges. “Before today,” he said, “I would have told you that it didn’t. But she always loved this hat of mine, and now I'm rather reluctant to part with it, even if only for a second. Funny how your attitude towards things can change so drastically over the course of a day, isn’t it?”Now it was my turn to nod, although something I had seen when he reached up towards his hat had caught my attention. It appeared to be a tattoo, but… what it looked like seemed completely random to a person like myself who had only just met this man. However, I suspected that it also seemed random to those who knew him well. As such, I decided to ask him about it.“Sorry to bother you with yet another question, but what exactly is that on your arm? It seems kinda… odd.”At my words, the man chuckled a bit. He had probably been asked that question a hundred times before now, but for some reason that didn’t seem to bother him. Rather, it appeared that he was welcoming the chance to talk to a curious stranger, to share stories of his life with a caring soul. He must have been thinking along those lines, or otherwise why would he have tolerated my questions at such a difficult time in his life?“It’s a wolf with a crown. My wife and I – back when we were still dating – went to a bar one night and ended up completely drunk. During that time, we each got one of these, mine on my right arm and hers on her left arm.”I nodded once more, but he didn’t seem to notice. Instead, he stood up and began to straighten out his clothes.“I know it’s a bit late for introductions, but I’m Doctor- no. I’m Steve. It was nice talking to you, I really appreciate it. Thanks a lot.”With that, he left.



I looked at the suitcase resting on my bed, its interior packed with everything I would need in the coming months. I had spent the last few weeks repeating an endless cycle of planning, packing, checking, re-planning, and re-packing, but now I finally felt as if I was ready to leave.Well, almost ready; I still had to say goodbye to my friends and family.Saying my farewells had been the part I least looked forward to. In fact, you could say I had dreaded it for the past few weeks. I already knew what they would say, but that wouldn’t make things any easier. Saying goodbye is never easy.I left my room, intending to get a drink of water before returning to my sulk in my room. Unfortunately, the moment I stepped foot in the kitchen what seemed like a swarm of people descended upon me.I’d been captured by the enemy, and would soon be forced to endure all manner of horrible interrogation techniques.For the next few minutes, I warded off question after question in my desperate attempt to first relieve my thirst and return to my room. Eventually, my captors decided it was a lost cause and allowed me to make a retreat, an act I took no hesitation in participating in. When I had returned to my room, I sat down on my bed and stared at the television absentmindedly. As boring as it was, it was still better than saying goodbye, I decided.Eventually, though, I knew I would have to say farewell. All my packing had been an attempt to delay that moment for as long as possible, but it had finally arrived. No matter how I might have felt about it, the indisputable truth was that it was something I had to do. I had to leave properly, or not at all.It was time to say goodbye. Goodbye to the house I had grown up in. Goodbye to the friends I had made. Goodbye to the family I cherished. Goodbye to my childhood.Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was also time to say hello. Hello to new friends. Hello to new opportunities. Hello to difficult times. Hello to adulthood.I was entering a new part of my life, but I was still reluctant to let go of the past.Goodbye.It was all I could manage to say, even in my own thoughts.Goodbye.


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Hello, Despair (wow, that sounds…metaphorical). Here are two of three flash fiction reviews from the SSCC! Owing to its three-part nature (and the short length of the story at hand), this should be more of a “mini-review.” That is, unless I get carried away. We’ll see.---------Story 1: “Loss”First impressions: A touching scene, and an excellent snippet of interaction between characters. I think this fits the contest theme nicely as well, due to the fact that it is actually the introduction of two characters—one supposedly familiar (the main character) and one unfamiliar (the man with the hat/tattoo). The minimalistic description of the environment and characters is also, I think, appropriate and effective, serving to help focus in on the characters themselves.Critique: One criticism I do have involves the dialogue. It’s not quite consistent throughout, and I didn’t really get a sense of either character through the dialogue. That is, neither character was quite distinguishable through their dialogue, and because most of the content of the story is conveyed through dialogue, this diminishes the effect of the story overall. Sometimes it’s good to use some feature of speech or turn of phrase to set one character apart—perhaps make one character’s speech very clipped and minimal, while the other is more talkative.This difficulty in distinguishing between characters made it slightly confusing at the end of the story. In the end, I’m not quite sure who says the last line of dialogue. It seems like it would be the hat-wearing man, since he says “thank you,” etc., but he introduces himself as a doctor, and therefore I must assume it is the main character of the story instead? This passage at least could use some clarifying.Otherwise, a very evocative and emotional story! Nicely written.---------Story 2: “Departure”First impressions: This is an interesting and introspective little story, and deals with a problem that most people will face at some point. It certainly follows the theme of the contest, since the element of “preparation” plays a great role. No mistakes that I can see, and, in all, it’s a nice snapshot of an important scene in your character’s life.Critique: I have to say, though, that of the three flash fiction entries I’ve reviewed, this is probably my least favorite. This is mainly because it has no real action and no definite resolution. The former point involves mainly the means by which the story is structured—too much telling and not enough showing. The single point of action that occurs in the story is when your character leaves the room and encounters his (his?) family. As a reader, I’m told what happens, but I think it would be much more effective to be shown your character’s interactions—perhaps even with a line of dialogue or two. The issue of your story’s resolution is probably not as crucial in light of this, but it would certainly be nice to see some change in your character’s intentions at least.…or maybe the problem is just that every time I read the word “goodbye” I had the Beatles saying “I say hello” in my head...That could be it.All in all, it’s still a well-written piece though—don’t get me wrong. With some alteration, this could definitely make an effective piece of short fiction.---------And that concludes this (these) review(s). It’s been a pleasure. Keep on writing. It’s been great reading what you’ve done here, and I certainly look forward to more.JRRT

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  • 7 months later...

Hey there, Despair. Your story topic has been selected for an SSCC Charity Review. I'll be following somewhat of the same format Tolkien did and be providing "mini-reviews" for each of the stories he didn't review. So without further ado:




not debate upon what the term treasure actually entailed.


I'd put the word "treasure" in quotes, but that's mostly just a style preference.


A single hand rose above the crowd, its owner carrying a confident – although rather bored – look upon his face.


If you're confident, you're usually invested in something. There seemed to be a slight contradiction with "bored." Perhaps that's because "confident" is kind of a strong word compared to "bored" -- one one hand he's uncaring, tired, totally not invested, but at the same time he's self-assured and having a strong belief in something. I do get what you were saying though; that he thought he knew he was right, but also not really caring -- all the same I just thought the diction was slightly jarring.


After a few moments of hurried gestures to make sure no one would interrupt him, the leader of the group beckoned him to speak.


I can't really picture what image you're trying to convey here. Maybe it's just me but I've never heard of someone making hand gestures to make sure no one would interrupt. I can see putting a hand up, palm out, or a finger to one's mouth as a way of silencing people, but I wouldn't call it a few moments of hurried gestures.


“That isn’t a bad guess, but I’m sorry to say you are wrong. Very, very wrong. You see, treasure isn’t something as vague as “something valuable to me”; if that were the case,


If you are ever in doubt, ask yourself, “Is it valuable to many people around the world and, more importantly, would they pay for it?” and you’ll be sure to grab to correct item.”


In both of these cases, the quotation marks inside the quotation marks should be the single (') ones, rather than double -- or if you're British they'd be switched. =P


Other than those few small things, I enjoyed this story. I think it works well as a flash fiction piece, though suppose the background could be fleshed out slightly. I guess I felt like it was slightly overdramatic...he makes a big deal about what treasure is but doesn't really seem to actually have his heart into it. But overall this was well-done.






So this was a nice little story. Seeing things from the view of a young kid can be fun to read (and write) about. Overally it definitely sounded like something that a little kid would do -- making a game out of chores. It reminds me of my brother and how he had made games out of cleaning often times in order to get me to clean. =P It worked, too, just as it did in this story.


The main issue with this was the tense shifts. I remember at least twice you switched into the present tense when as a whole the story was in past. An easy thing to do with this style and some of the things you wanted to say, but I'd just make sure to watch out for that.


The ending, I think, was fairly well-done. On one hand I want to know why she said that, but it kind of ends this flash fiction piece in an oddly weird way -- building up your hope and wanting for the kid to "overcome his battles" and "win his reward" and then having that twisted at the last moment was kind of fun. Only a few small nitpicks:


I stared at the note one the wall, my brain refusing to believe the story my eyes were telling.


"one" should be "on".


The same naturally applied to every situation that didn’t have me finding all the necessary elements, which made me sad.


I know it's from the voice of a kind, but "...which made me sad" still sounded awkward. Especially because "naturally applied" and "situation" and "unnecessary elements" are all of a slightly more sophisticated speech than "which made me sad", and the clash of te two in this one sentence was slightly jarring. There were a couple other times in the story as well, but none in the same sentence that I could catch.


Well, there comes a time when a man’s got to do what he’s got to do. For me, this was that time.


Actually, I lied -- one more time that specifically stood out over the rest. Here he calls himself a "man" and uses an expression I wouldn't expect a kid to use. Just keep this in mind. =] It can be weird finding the balance between good writing and a kid, but just try to keep things consistent.



Amor Omnia Vincit:


may actually be the most fitting thing comparison I’ve seen yet.


I don't think "thing" is needed, here.


That was the only thing I could spot in terms of nitpicks. I remember reading this story back when it was first entered into the contest, and I remember liking it. The voice of this story is definitely enjoyable to read, and I think it was well-done here. I honestly don't really have much to say here. It's a small look at a character who obviously despises love, with an interesting voice and rambling thoughts, and works well as a flash fiction piece. Well-done.






This was my favorite of these few stories, though anyone who knows me knows that I'm fan of this type of darker story. The story as a whole was very well-written and enjoyable. The only question I have is, how did all of his friends know what was going on? He's receiving all of these texts, but hadn't even gone to the cops yet. I just find it strange how everyone else knew. Perhaps it could simply be changed to "he thought it was someone calling, telling him they understood..." or whathaveyou instead of "yet another person". Anyway, just a couple nitpicks:


After a moment, the realization that it was my phone sank in and I pulled it out,


For an emotional, fast-paced story like this, every word counts. And "the realization that it was...sank in" just has unnecessary words that slows down the story. I'd change it to simply "I realized it was my phone and pulled it out." More concise, says the exact same thing, moves the story along quicker.


Even after I arrived with the money I had somehow managed to scrap together at the designated time and place,


A moment before you say "A ransom I could deal with" making it sound like the money was no problem at all -- yet here you say that he "somehow managed to scrap together."


Turns out, that nervousness was perfectly justified. For all my efforts, all my stupidity, I received a bullet to the heart.


I thought it was an amazing story until we got here. The second sentence, specifically. It's always tricky to have a person in first-person narrative die, and unfortunately I don't think it worked here. First off, I think it'd be better to say just "to the chest" -- I'm not entirely sure on this, but with a bullet straight to the heart it's hard to believe he'd be able to do what you say next. If it's just somewhere else in his chest, he could take a while to die, and therefore would fit better. But secondly, just the way that sentence is written seemed almost comical for an otherwise serious story. Something more like "I could not stop a bullet" or something. The last sentence, too, was a little...overdramatic, I guess you could say. Especially since it's first person, he can't really speak about his death. You could change it to something like "dying was beautiful" but I think it'd be best to just scrap the sentence all together. Perhaps add something like "...examining the crimson blood on my hand. And as my lungs filled with blood, her face was all I could see." or "blood on my hand, strangely beautiful in its own way." or something. All the same, stories like this are great, but can be very difficult to end well without making them sound overdramatic or unbelievable.




All in all, a very good collection of stories here, especially given the fact that they were written in about a day each for the flash fiction marathon. You entered some very great entries, and I hope to see you enter again if we ever do another one. Keep writing!



"As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake." ~ Aimee Bender

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