The International Flash Fiction Day Competition

Top 25

DSCN6885Everyone loves a party with lots of talkative guests, lots of colorful characters with their stories and their laughter. With more than 110 guests at this ado, it’s loud and funny, profound and wacky–at times very wacky. Each writer has brought her/his own style, world view and enthusiasm to this event–and that’s truly cool.

We hope you’re having a grand time mingling in the mob of international voices. Some of them you’ll love; some of them you’ll, well, not love. That’s how a mob works, and that’s also how fiction works. It’s subjective. Art is subjective. The art on this page is wildly good in my opinion.

While we, The Organizers and Judges of Flash Mob 2013, are grateful to all our guests, some of you have stood out of the crowd–not because of who you are but because of what you’ve written. The judging process was blind of course, so the two hours you spent in front of the mirror before the party started was, well, two hours you’ll never ever get back.

Here are a few anonymous excerpts from the Top 25 stories (top stories and winners announced June 22). This is prose that, for one reason or another, caught the judges’ eyes (literally although of course the judges were metaphorically blind). As you read, imagine that you are walking through a crowded room, eavesdropping on strangers’ stories, catching bits and pieces, weaving in and out of their worlds . . . and sipping an exorbitantly expensive Ribera del Duero . . .


We never took the train, never noticed the people staring like brokenwatches. Some ride hoping the tracks will restore lost time. I ride for hours, every day. You never noticed my hands suspending, slowing.

Resized_ The Old Sheriff's Office

The Old Sheriff’s Office – Robin Grotke


Only mute Kate knew their faces as she collected despair in small, speechless increments, her mother sipping Chianti and laughing her smoker’s laugh with those who had killed you.


Having left the supermarket with his exotic purchase, Edgar watches a fat, squat, wheezing Bill Sykes dog greet the bus girl as she reaches the shelter in front of the shack.  Her mother holds its leash, its bow-legged stance and wagging rat-tail saying: ‘I kill things for fun’…


Fashion Envy - Al McDermid

Fashion Envy – Al McDermid

Seems like I’m the only one in the place not wearing green and beige camo and a funky, little blaze orange pork pie hat. Where are the Fashion Police when you need them?


Field of Flowers – Robin Grotke


It’s the pauses of sun, strato cumulus and sedimentary strata, continental sandstones, and haematite pans, those fine gravels that crunch underfoot above cliff walls in red heaths, blue heaths and black heaths, with pinkish gold flowers, with your taste, with the wind of stars, the laugh you feel inside of me and the pause around which we revolve…


She says I should have pink hair, go out in a pair of jeans and a cardigan.

Breeze - Al McDermid

Breeze – Al McDermid


He licks the digestive crumbs from his lips, his tongue smearing them but not agile enough to remove them. He wishes he had a Bourbon Cream, and hopes she’s remembered his birthday.


Finally he is handed a book.  A voice says: These are the stories of your people. The old man flips the pages back and forth.  

Jan Fitzgerland Sea Cave Dwellers

Sea Cave Dwellers – Jan FitzGerald


You reinvented every word for me: cashmere, peacock, bangle.


The film I am watching is silent and fragile. Refugees from Smyrna, 1922 Ghost frames pass like half-remembered dreams. American flour. Soup. Milk. Bread.


From time to time we descend the fire escape declaring war on 173rd street.


Smoke Through the Trees - Robin Grotke

Smoke Through the Trees – Robin Grotke

Here the timber wolf and beaver perk their ears as a small boy rings a lavender bell, calling his family to an outdoor table spread with asparagus sandwiches and pitchers of almond milk and frosty cups of pink sherbet and baskets brimming with ambrosia of plums, apricots, and melon.


Sea Foam - Robin Grotke

Sea Foam – Robin Grotke

I worry we’ll be lost in the forest of crying pines.  I want to find the sea, to reach the beach.


The house is a large two-storey fixer-upper, and he is a perfectionist. By the time he finishes three tasks the first one needs touch up. He watches coworkers come and go. Ten years go by.

The Red & the Black - Al McDermid

The Red & the Black – Al McDermid


A breeze licked above him, then the plank yielded: Monique, when he could still pleasure her, with just velvet gloves and satin. He was too quick, as usual. The crowd jeered as his piss hit the cobbles, and the basket sprung to kiss him like duck-down. The wasp, grown to cover half a world, stung his open eye and flew up like a psalm to heaven.


PortraitCould you move your face a little to one side, please? she asks. I think I know you. She speaks with a slight accent, clink, clink, clink, as delicate as porcelain.


When her mother finally evaporated, China disappeared for weeks, her rooms closed for sex. My nose itched.


She looked like a sun dried tomato. Her puckered skin, dry and rough, made me wonder what I had seen in her twenty years ago, I must have been really silly. She came towards me licking her parched lips, pushing them out and pulling them in. Her hair was wispy, underneath it her scalp shone in the mid-day heat.


‘This is not the Tooth Fairy perched on the end of my bed,’ Joe backs up against the wall, gazing at the gorilla.

Cafe Gaze - Al McDermid

Cafe Gaze – Al McDermid


Look, I know some things can’t be stolen, like the scent of a body, or the way someone nods, the green of the trees when it’s June and or the food they dump in to the trashcans at the cafeteria, but most things can be…


her parents were gone they sat on the love seat side by side saying nothing the longest time just staring through big glass doors leading out to the deck and the soft blue rippling shadowed stone wall his arm on the back not touching not yet …


A Disturbance in the Atmosphere - Robin Grotke

A Disturbance in the Atmosphere – Robin Grotke


Her song finds the spiders each morning, moves along the webs until they quaver.  It doesn’t occur to her to dust or hoover the creatures away.  They are hers.


Out of Order - Robin Grotke

Out of Order – Robin Grotke

He made the choice not to take them down the driveway, but to say goodbye the last time to his girl, to not be late for his date with his secretary, who had broken up his marriage with her Indiana smile.


He specializes in bird repair. They come in broken and leave more or less whole. Some get artificial wings that beat by means of a hearing-aid battery, slung under the bird’s body like an amulet. Some get new beaks to replace those blunted by crashing into windows.


He waits on the platform his back to a curving wall, watching. He will take their train. The wire from his 35mm Contax winds its way down the left arm of his jacket. He gently checks the press with his thumb at it rests in the palm of his hand.

The Art:

Robin Grotke (pictured in her self-portrait, above) on her art: “As an artist and photographer, my inspiration is drawn from nature, people and cultures, emotions and humor, new life and decay, present moments and distant memories. My work focuses on the sensation of ‘being there’, taking the viewer to the location of the photograph so that he/she feels as I did when the image was taken.”


Sea Cave Dwellers is provided by Jan FitzGerald.  Jan’s development as a poet was rapid and natural. As a young girl, she enjoyed the company of fellow-poets R.F.(Frank) Brown and Fred Parmee. Later, she appeared frequently (as Jan Coad) in the main literary journals of the time, in Landfall and in The Listener. Jan’s first collection, “Strange Owls”, was published by Outrigger Press in 1978. Her most recent books include “Flying Against The Arrow” (Wolfdale Publishing) and “On a Day Like This” (Steele Roberts).


Al McDermid‘s art has appeared in many places online and otherwise. He shares his art and poetry from Tokyo.


9 thoughts on “Top 25

  1. Pingback: Top 25! yeah, buddy! | Rachel Van Blankenship

  2. I recognized some bits but not all, since I haven’t finished reading them yet. And such cool photos too!

  3. Fabulous, evocative!

  4. Pingback: It’s a day for flashing! | Clodagh O'Brien

  5. Wonderful work, everyone! 🙂

  6. To start— the photos are tres magnifique!!! Big Congratulations to AL Mc Dermid, Kelly Grotke and Jan Fitzgerald.

  7. Pingback: Happy International Flash Fiction Day! Winners of FLASH MOB 2013 are up! | Chris Galvin

  8. Pingback: Mobsters and Flash | Kari Nguyen

  9. On the night of the 21st June, eve of flash fiction day, this post went up… I read down the list of fiction excerpts with relish, never once thinking that mine would be there. I got to the very last excerpt and read it, not recognising it until I was almost at the end, and then quickly re-read and re-read. I was truly delighted. It was a great feeling. Thanks.

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