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Post January 02, 2016, 01:43:09 AM




THE PREMISE: Make the character in the story you. Also use at least two elements from your real life in the last few months. Be prepared to list the Meta elements of you story.

THE CHALLENGE: I challenge you to write speculative flash fiction where a you are the protagonist and there are at least 2 elements which are true to your life right now recently.

REQUIREMENTS: (1) Your story must a speculative (sci fi, fantasy, dark fantasy, bizarro, etc.) story; (2) Your story must involve a you and two elements of your recent life. (3) 1,000 words or less, not counting title, byline, "The End," or punctuation such as #### used to separate sections; (4) The characters and story must be fictional; (5) One entry per author; (6) Give your story a title and a byline; and (7) Keep it clean. No worse than PG-13. When it comes to ratings, I'm going to use movie ratings as a guide from now on. But bear in mind that ratings are fairly subjective and applying a movie or television rating to a flash story is not the easiest thing to do. A lot depends on context. If you think something in your story may push it beyond PG-13, but you can give me an example of a PG-13 movie where the same thing was allowed, then I'll allow it.

LEGAL RESTRICTIONS: While you may reuse your own intellectual property in these challenges, stories that infringe on the copyrights, trademarks, or personality rights of others will not be accepted.

Yes, now you can write a sequel to one of your own previously published contest stories, but you cannot write a sequel to another writer’s story. Works of fan fiction will not be accepted. That means there is no use of copyrighted characters or settings, or references thereto. Even though the Wicked Witch and Dracula may be in the public domain, don't expect me to allow them. No person that was ever a "real life" human being may be used as a character, but can be referred to, as in "President Kennedy had declared it would be so." Character names may not be copied from fiction or real life, even if changed, i.e. Char-less Darween.

DISQUALIFICATIONS/REFUSALS: If, in my judgment, any requirement or rule is missed, I won't post the story for voting, but authors are free to resubmit with changes until the deadline. Should a story be initially accepted and posted in the challenge, but then later judged by me to be in violation, the story may be disqualified and removed from contention at any time before contest end. Authors who feel a story may be in violation should send me a PM and state their case.

REUSABLE STORY ELEMENTS: Reusable story elements are unique story elements introduced in these challenges which may be used over and over again in any Aphelion Flash Fiction Contest by any author. A given reusable story element will not be appropriate for every challenge, given genre or other challenge restrictions, but if you feel a reusable story element fits the current challenge and its use will enhance your story, then you are free to incorporate the element into your story. Other authors' use of a reusable story element in no way limits or affects your use of the element. Only the information included in the description of the reusable story element is usable. Any expansion of this information in other authors' stories is not usable. You may, however, build on elements from your own previous stories with the caveat that you may be sacrificing your anonymity for the contest voting.

The Libro di Sinistro: use anything from the pseudo-history of this sinister book in your story.

Scheherazade 7: use anything from the framing story of Scheherazade 7, including the premise, characters, and setting.

Campfire Games: In the beginning Light, in the end Darkness

(see the respective challenges in the index for inspiration)

HOW TO ENTER: Stories must be sent by PRIVATE MESSAGE to EddieSullivan, and NOT posted into a thread. Just click the 'PM' button at the bottom of this post and paste your story in the message. You are responsible for doing your own formatting, and leave an extra line between paragraphs, just like when you see them in the webzine. I will allow different colors, but not changed fonts or sizes, artwork, or any other embedded or external links.

DO NOT send a regular email to me.

Stories will be posted "blind"--without the author's name on them. They are placed in a random order. When the poll closes after the voting week, I'll post a list of the stories and who wrote them. All entries will then be reposted in the Flash Archive with the author's byline.

Entries from new authors are strongly encouraged. C'mon. Give it a try!

NOTE: ONLY REGISTERED MEMBERS of Aphelion's forum who have posted at least one message may submit a story. Without that one post, the system will not let you send a PM. Registration is easy though. Click the "Register" link at the top of this page to get started.

DEADLINE: Stories should be in by 8 p.m. East Coast Time (EST-5), Friday January 29th 2016. The stories will then be posted for voting at approximately 10 p.m. Voting will close on Friday February 19th, 2016 at approximately 8 p.m., East Coast Time.

VOTING: Voters will rank the stories by filling in a form that is posted by me immediately following the post containing the stories for this challenge. Voters will copy and paste the form into a PM and send it to me for tallying. One vote per user (that is, per ip address).

A challenge entrant who does not rank the stories will receive a deduction in their own score at the time of contest close.

If two or more stories are tied at the end of voting, there will be a succession of one-day runoff votes until a single winner is chosen.

WHAT YOU WIN: Bragging rights!

COPYRIGHTS: By entering this challenge you are granting Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy perpetual non-exclusive electronic rights to post and archive your contest entry. All other rights are retained by you, the author.


I am getting a puppy in January.
I have been sick off and on for over a week and went home early from work on Wednesday.

They Call It Puppy Love

“Dogs don’t talk.”

The little golden mutt glanced up at me lovingly and wrinkled her nose. “You mean they never talk to you.”

I was still very much attributing everything going on to the fever which kept me home from work. In a string of unlikely events my wife who normally works third shift had switched with a friend and was out of the house. That left me, the new puppy, and the two cats alone for the day.

“Well then why now, Valentine?”

“Why not now, Ed? Is one time really better than another for this kind of thing?”

I adjusted my head on the pillow, the sinus pressure was killing me. “Well now certainly isn’t the most opportune time by far. Is there something you need, like a tummy rub or a treat?”

“Funny. Truly. I can get those things quite well without speaking to you. There are much more important matters at hand. Do you think we just talk to anyone for any silly reason?”

A good barometer of just how ill I was could have been the level of apathy I still held for this particular situation. The decision to turn over on the couch and ignore the talking puppy was much less difficult that you would have thought. So I bunched the blanket under my chin, fluffed the pillow a bit with my head and turned over. I would just close my eyes and whatever the hell was going on would stop happening. I felt at the time it was an entirely rational decision. Valentine the puppy felt differently. The little bitch started barking relentlessly. Little did I know the noise of the bark wasn’t the solution to my ignorance in and of itself. She was issuing orders to the cats. They promptly obeyed and pounced on me relentlessly. I relented and turned back toward her, casting the cats off me in the process.

“So now cats can speak dog?” She nodded her little golden head. “And they take orders from them?”

“Think of it more as an exchange of professional courtesy.” She gave a cute little bark, which I assumed was thanks, and the feline co-conspirators went somewhere to lick themselves.

“Fine what is it that is so important that not only do you have to talk to an human, but also enlist the help of cats?”

“First tell me I’m a good girl.”


“You heard what I said. Tell me I’m a good girl. While you are at it stretch your lazy ass over here and rub my tummy.”

I spent several seconds looking at her in disbelief, until I realized disbelief over this request was made moot by the fact that it was in English, out loud, from a puppy. All bets were pretty much off at this point in our exchange. I relented just to get on with it and conclude whatever the hell was going on here.

I reached over and rubbed her tummy. “ Good girl. Good Girl. Who is a good girl?”

After a moment or two she flipped over, ran at me and hopped up onto the couch. She stood on my chest and looked me right in the face. “I am and don’t you ever forget it.”

“That’s it?”

“No, dope. You have cancer.”


“Cancer. I can smell it. Not bad, it just started. You should go to the doctor and be looked at. They will treat it and you will live.”

I spent a minute or two just looking into her puppy dog eyes. “ Ok I will bite. Why are you telling me this? I am sure other dogs have smelled it and not told other humans.”

“I like you and want to keep you. I have grown fond of watching you write your stories in your office at night after work. You really are quite good, consider doing it full time once we get this health business cleared up.”

I cocked my head at her, she cocked hers back. I think she was teasing me. “You like my work…wait you read?”

“Yes. You really are quite good. Also yes I read, but you also dictate a lot of stuff remember. I like that better, then I can just sit there while you tell me stories. So just go to the doctor and get fixed so nothing changes, ok?”

“Ok. But…Don’t you think that maybe now that I know dogs talk it might come up in my stories?”

“Nope. I am never going to say a word again after today. That coupled with the fact that no one will ever believe a fiction writer will keep my secret safe. Also what are you going to do write about this exact exchange? We both know it is too meta. Who do you think you are Charlie Kaufman? Pfft.”

Have you ever seen a puppy go Pfft? It is terminally cute.

“We will see, Valentine. “

She barked at me rather than speak again. As for me I turned over and fell asleep. I didn’t wake up till I heard walking in the living room. My wife was looking down at me.

“Hey sleepy head. How you feel?”

“Better, but I think I might go see the doctor anyway.”


“I just have a feeling it is time to get checked out.”

That damn, cute little bitch, I saw her wink.

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post January 04, 2016, 05:03:23 AM


Great!!! Another Flash Challenge...my entry will be ready soon, of course!!! :D
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Post January 04, 2016, 08:06:22 AM


Ok, mine is already completed...eh,eh...now I am waiting for the usual reviews/suggestions before sending that, of course... :D
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Post January 25, 2016, 10:12:36 AM


I had a lot of fun writing this one. Mine has already been sent in. Being snowed in leaves lots of time to write the best stories ever written in this or any universe!
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.
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Post January 31, 2016, 02:47:29 PM


Sorry forgot about deadline. I will throw the entries up tonight.
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman

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