• Micro Fiction Challenge: The Excellent Gimmick

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 40 comments

    The day after publishing a post about the winter writing doldrums, I became this season’s flu victim No. 286,372,469, which means I’ve spent most of this week incapacitated, and am writing this during the daily twenty-seven-minute window where I don’t feel like a zombie.

    But just because I’m incapable of writing doesn’t mean we can’t do something fun. And I remember that it’s been a while since we dug into the sp*m vault and played some Micro Fiction Challenge.

    So that’s what we’re gonna do, friends! It’s another micro fiction contest based on the absurd comments caught by our vigilant sp*m filter!

    Simply choose one of the following sp*m comment fragments as the first line of your story, then continue writing the story.

    Your story should be no longer than fifty wordsnot including the opening line.

    In other words, write a maximum of fifty of your own words. If you choose, for example, prompt No. 1, which is six words, your entry can be a total of fifty-six words.

    You may enter as many times as you wish. Bonus points for using all prompts.

    Type or paste your story in the comments section below. Use a pseudonym if you’re shy.

    Notifications are not working yet! So don’t bother ticking “notify.”

    I don’t have a prize in mind, because my mind isn’t really working. But there will be one! Probably books. Because isn’t it always books?

    Best of luck!


    The prompts:

    1. Florida has doled out roughly $1

    2. Mother-in-law about to remember joining together

    3. I would rather follow fragrant China

    4. To win the excellent gimmick that leads higher later

    5. I like what I see so I am just following you


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    Elizabeth Westra

    My mother-in-law, about to remember joining together with you in the contest to win the excellent gimmick that leads higher later than any other, can’t decide whether to stay in this contest or try the one where Florida has doled out roughly $1 toward a trip to Disney World. I would rather follow fragrant China where the prize is a trip to the Great Wall. After thinking it over I like what I see, so I am just following you. (under 50 words and uses all the prompts even if it doesn’t make total sense) David, hope you’re over this… Read more »

    Jerry Schwartz

    Nice tour de force using all of them in one shot.

    David Duhr

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I finally feel better! And great story; like Jerry said, kudos on using all of the prompts together and making it flow.

    Joe Giordano

    I like what I see so I am just following you. God, Maggie, you’re a beautiful ghost. A little pale, but a vision nonetheless. Kiss? Sure, but you can’t hug tight. Nice. Make Love? Definitely, but falling through you would be an odd sensation. Unless I rig a suspension for me above you? Oh, smart girl, better you get on top.

    David Duhr

    Thanks, Joe. I dig this one.

    Elissa Malcohn

    “I like what I see so I am just following you.”

    My twin in the mirror stares back. She sees the rising tide in my bedroom. Her identical one is dry.

    She grabs her 20-lb. dumbbell and her glass shatters.

    Florida has doled out roughly $1 billion for our portals. I dial up the next Earth without sea rise as dirty water laps at my thighs.
    David, I’m sorry to hear the flu has hit you. Sending healing vibes. Get well soon.

    David Duhr

    Hey Elissa. This is great; thanks for sharing it. I’d love to see an expanded version!

    Jerry Schwartz

    Florida has doled out roughly $1 this week. Coffee with cream and three sugars, a ketchup packet, on Sundays a container of jelly. Her best meal of the day. She always leaves a few pennies on the table. One of us goes out the side door and scatters them on the sidewalk where she’ll find them.

    David Duhr

    That last line is sublime.

    Jerry Schwartz

    Mother-in-law about to remember joining together with her husband. Near death, the memory returns: the courtship, the seduction, the ecstasy, the eating of the brain: two souls and two bodies becoming one. Egg-laying brings the blessing of Lethe; the final moments, the curse of Mnemosyne. Fear not, honored mother—our loving bites will end your sorrow.

    Jerry Schwartz

    Much to my amazement, Microsoft’s Edge browser pronounced both Lethe and Mnemosyne correctly when I asked it to read aloud. I’d never tried that before.

    David Duhr

    Yeah, that’s shocking. I’m not convinced I could do that myself.

    Jerry Schwartz

    I would rather follow fragrant China than the harsh iron smell of Stoneware. Stainless steel is tangy. and glass is a wisp of nothing. Plastic reeks of oil and rapine. I know them all. In the darkness, when they have been cleansed and purged, they come to me, and I soothe them. I am Finish.


    “Use aliases,” he warned.
    “Fine. Florida has doled out roughly $1. Just kidding. He offered ten grand to win the excellent gimmick that leads higher later. Trust me, Velvet gives out!”
    “What else?”
    “Mother-in-Law, about to remember joining together Diamond and your buddy to the cops, has been dealt with. Girls are gonna need a new pimp.”
    “Forget it. I’d rather follow Fragrant China.” He leered at her.
    She got the message. “Lead the way; I like what I see so I am just following you.”

    David Duhr

    Very good. Thanks, E. These five seem particularly difficult to mash together coherently, but this works well.


    “I like what I see so I’m just following you, that’s what Brian said.”

    “Oh no Dana, not our ginger snap Brian, from the third floor…”

    “Afraid so, Laura. The whole floor is tainted by jerks.”

    “Such a shame…”

    “The fourth floor still has some prospects…”

    “I have always loved the fourth floor.”

    David Duhr

    Thanks, Willie. Good work.

    Barbara A Mealer

    Florida has roughly doled out $1 on the lottery to me in five years of playing it. I have the worst luck and nothing I do seems to change it, the lottery aside. No matter what I do, everything, and I mean everything, goes wrong. I was told to change my thinking and my luck would change. Right. Nothing has changed even with positive thoughts. In fact, everything got worse. Currently, I have no job, no place to live and nothing to eat. Luck? The old saying of ‘I’d have no luck if it wasn’t for bad luck’ hangs over… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Sometimes using the old sayings is the best way to communicate. I guess that’s why they’re old sayings! Thanks, Barbara.

    M.C. Maugeri

    I like what I see so I am just following you into the bright blue sea. Your shoulders back, your stride secure. My feet tickled by whirlpools of sand, my sunburnt skin releases fizzy sizzling foam. A dense coldness submerges my body, but it does not touch yours. As I wait for you to save me, water fills up my lungs.

    Sorry David, I couldn’t think of something funny to cheer you up…maybe I’ll try it again! Get better soon!!

    Jerry Schwartz

    Intriguing…thought-provoking as micro fiction should be.

    David Duhr

    Hey M.C. Thanks for playing, and also… you won! Winner winner winner!

    Drop me a line and we’ll get a prize to you: david[at]writebynight.net

    Jerry Schwartz


    M.C. Maugeri

    Thank you!


    I would rather follow fragrant China, to that jade-green tea realm of good books by a sunny window; yet, here I am staining to scratch words under a bitter coffee stain that blots and meanders, effecting some grin simile of Aleutian isles. It is cold work, this writer’s block.


    Grim*, not grin. Whoops


    Straining! Not staining. Woes of phone-typing

    David Duhr

    I love this, Hannah. Thanks for playing.

    Marie Hammerling

    Oh yes, I know scents. I know who peed against the tree. I smell butts. I smell the whole story but I know China best. She adopted me from the pound. We eat, sleep and walk together to the dog park. I follow her everywhere. I know China’s scent well.

    David Duhr

    Thanks, Marie. An interesting and fun direction to take this one in.

    Jerry Schwartz

    I like what I see so I am just following you…tonight. You don’t see me; I know the shadows well. I know you well, too, after these many times. Tomorrow, I think, I won’t follow. I’ll lead. I’ll wait inside, in the shadows by your bed. I know those well, too. Neither leading, neither following, we’ll be together as I’ve dreamt.

    Jerry Schwartz

    To win the excellent gimmick that leads higher later, use the ploy that leads lower now. Beware—death lurks beyond the mushrooms. Throw yourself to the bottom, grasp the life-giving gem and the flaming sword, and run. A door will open, and a portal will appear. It leads to the greatest height, where the princess lives. Cheat codes rule.

    David Duhr

    Thanks for all of the enjoyable stories, as always. And thanks for giving me a new title for… well, I don’t know yet. But something I someday write will be called “Death Lurks Beyond the Mushrooms.”


    “‘I like what I see, so I am just following you,’ is what he said. And he said it twice. So yeah, I punched him.”
    “No, Honey, you killed him.”
    “Say what??!!”
    “You killed him. As in ‘dead.’”
    “I did not. I punched him.”
    “You sure punched him alright.”

    David Duhr

    Thanks, Brooke. I like this. The “following” one is definitely the most ominous of these prompts.

    Emily K. Martin

    Florida has doled out roughly $1 to everyone who copies and pastes this into their feed, but only 3% of my friends will even bother to read this far. Only my true friends will do this to raise awareness. Writing block is real, and it affects people’s lives. Reply with “done” if you have a soul.

    David Duhr


    Kimberly Glunz

    I would rather follow fragrant China than smells from certain restaurants in town. In this country, you can be taken to court for enjoying the food aromas from a restaurant while eating your crust of bread as one poor student discovered. Fortunately, the judge determined only the sound of money would be required of the student.

    Jerry Schwartz

    Suitably weird…I like the metaphor.

    David Duhr

    This is excellent, Kimberly. Thanks. I could see this turning into something longer.

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