Winner of Flash Fiction Contest #7

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

December 19, 2017

Murderous Musings Winner at Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsMurderous Musings

By Sherri Matthews

When I set my Murderous Musing’s prompt for Charli’s Flash Fiction Rodeo, I expected a few good folk to turn bad, but not thirty-two of them. And what a deliciously devious lot they are! Thank you so much to all who entered; my esteemed judges and I read wide-eyed and suitably horrified through a disturbingly chilling collection exploring the dark side of the Rodeo.

Some had us baying for the same sweet revenge, such was the pain of the story.  With others, we pondered the tragic price of a seething jealousy, bitter resentment and an all-consuming rage.  One or two gave a chuckle, clever in the twist at the end.  We enjoyed every flash and it was a close call, but we agreed our overall winner is Mr Blamey by Marjorie Mallon.

Mr Blamey by Marjorie Mallon

Mr Blamey had no first name. He had a forgettable face, an indeterminate dress sense and no habits to recognise him by. Yet he got the blame for everything. Getting the blame for his innocent endeavours had taken its toll on Mr Blamey. On his calendar he marked the fateful day his wife’s cat died in bold red ink. He had fed him last. His wife blamed him but bought a new kitten. It died too. A succession of cat deaths followed, his wife grew angry, she hissed and scratched. To placate his dearest, he made her a special anniversary cat stew. She ate it up and died too.


We judged all entries blind, so imagine our delight when our friend Marjorie, met in person at the Annual Blogger’s Bash in London three years running, was unveiled as our winner.  Many congratulations Marje!

We loved this flash for the way the apparently innocuous Mr Blamey, while living up to his name, was secretly capable of the most evil revenge. Who would have thought it? The slow-burn of his hatred for his wife and her cats weaves a perfectly murderous vibe throughout. Pushed to the limits by his wife’s ‘hissing and scratching’ – a wildcat! – Marje’s flash created the perfect storm for this murderous musing.

Emphasising the close call for the winning entry, we then had the difficult task of deciding our favourites out of our high scoring selection for honourable mention.  Each judge shares their top choice here:

Hugh chose:

Jeff and Jenny by Kati MacArthur

Jeff had thought all day about the things he’d do to Jenny when he got home. If only that bitch Sara wasn’t there. She’d gone into the kitchen to cook dinner, leaving him alone in the living room with Jenny. He watched the girl playing with her dolls in front of the television. “Come on up here, girl,” he said, patting his lap. She stared up at him, frozen. “Now, girl!” Jeff snapped his fingers. Jenny stood slowly. Jeff hauled her onto his lap, fingers digging under her skirt. Jenny cried out. The rush he got from her cries masked the pain he felt as Sara’s knife slid in.


Hugh says: ‘I loved the way it was told because, while I read it, it had me telling Jenny not to go to Jeff knowing that my fears of what he was going to do were about to come true. It’s a subject many of us prefer to leave behind closed doors when it comes to talking and writing about, but the author went ahead and wrote a fantastic piece of work which had an ending I was begging for because of the hate and revenge that built up inside of me while I read the story. And, what I also really loved, was that murder was on the mind of somebody in the background of the story which then went on to take all the glory and which had a standing ovation from me.’

Mike chose:

The Celebration by Colleen Chesebro

“Where am I?” I groaned and awakened slowly. I shivered as the cold sunk deep into my bones. My head pounded and a bright light glared into my eyes. A sharp metallic smell overpowered me. All I remembered was that I had left the bar late last night. It had been one hell of a birthday party. Panicked, I swung my legs over the side and realized my body hadn’t moved. I hovered above, a ghostly wraith of energy gazing at the twisted and bloody body below, where a knife had pierced my heart. My eyes gaped wide at the realization of my location. The sign read: City Morgue.


Mike says: ‘I chose ‘The Celebration’ for the cold horror of our mortal fear reaslised when the narrator finds out the truth of what really happened that night at the birthday party.  Great writing, I was glued throughout, not guessing at the murderous outcome for a fantastic twist.

Sherri chose:

Tele-Visions: Six Decades of Death Dealing by Bill Engleson

I’d sit close to the screen. Cross-legged. “You’ll ruin your eyes,” she‘d say. I’d shimmy back a bit. “Better to see, right?” It was. You could see the whole picture. It was a good lesson. I saw so many deaths there. The same people dying repeatedly. Death became…imaginary. Death was an act. I guess it wore me down. Odd, eh! One day, I was maybe …fifteen. Summertime. We were swimming at Cotter’s Bend. The Sweetwater River twisted there, dug out a deep pool in the sandstone. New kid. Smaller. Crappy swimmer. But he had guts. Kept on trying. And I suddenly had this urge. It was so easy.’


This excellent flash knocked me for six, a truly horrifying story all about the desensitising of a generation exposed to the constant streaming of ‘play’ violence on the screen. Truly troubling is the very end when the now older man, recounting his decades of ‘death dealing’, says:  ‘It was so easy’. I gave this top marks for its shocking twist and an all too tragic warning for our modern age.


Thank you so much to Charli for letting me loose at the Rodeo and again, to all who entered and huge congratulations to Marje, Katie, Colleen and Bill. I’ve never judged a competition of any kind before, never mind a writing one, and it was my absolute honour and pleasure to read every single flash.  I also now have a much better understanding of what an incredibly challenging job that is! And thank you again so much to my two judges, Mike and Hugh, for giving up their time to help me.  Both a delight.

Hugh W. Roberts  

Hugh W. Roberts published his book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016 and is working on his next volume.  He lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom, and gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin.

Hugh’s blog link: Hughs Views & News

Hugh’s book: Glimpses

Sherri Matthews

Sherri, a Brit, raised her children in California for almost twenty years before returning to her home in England’s West Country in 2003. Along the path to publication of her memoir, she shares her ups and downs with her blogging community at A View From My Summerhouse.

Sherri’s Blog: A View From My Summerhouse

Memoir Book Blurb: Stranger in a White Dress


Congratulations to all the writers who entered! You dared to stretch your writing and braved the first Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. Each participant has earned the following badge, which you may copy and post on your blog, social media or print out and frame. It’s a badge of honor. And now you can say, you have had your first rodeo! You wrote well. Darkly, with murderous intention behind the scenes.

We want to share all the contest entries in a collection. We’ll be contacting each of our contestants and challengers to seek interest and permission to publish a digital collection in January. Writers retain all copyrights to their work.

We’d appreciate your feedback! We want to make this an annual event that is fun, engaging and supportive of literary art. Please take a few minutes for a brief 5 question survey. Thank you!

My First Flash Fiction Rodeo Carrot Ranch @Charli_Mills





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  1. Charli Mills

    What a good way to lead writers into the shadows to pluck out some interesting stories. Marje’s Mr Blamy is certainly unique and twists tighter and tighter. An amazing feat for 99 words. Congratulations to Marje, Bill, Kati and Colleen! And thank you Sherri, Hugh and Mike!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you Charli! It was an honour to read every flash. Congratulations again to all! <3

  2. Ritu

    Oh such wonderful winning entries! Congrats to my special friend, Marje!!!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks so much Ritu and for the re-blog. It was such a thrill to find out that Marje won! xxx

      • Ritu

        You’re most welcome! Xx

      • Sherri Matthews

        <3 Happy Christmas Ritu! xxx

  3. Juliet Nubel

    A deliciously dark selection box of winning stories. Well done, all!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks Juliet!

  4. TanGental

    Excellent stuff and congrats to Marje and the others. Oh and the judges too

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks much Geoff!

  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Matters of Fact

    “Those flashes are killer.”
    “Yep. Thrillin’.”
    “Pal, should we be afraid of those writers?”
    “No, Kid, I don’t think so.
    “Should we be afraid for them?”
    “No, they’re all write.”
    “Some a what they wrote was disturbin’ ta me.”
    “They jist went where the prompt led, Kid. It’s jist fiction is all it is.”
    “Yer scared too Pal.”
    “There’s a chill in the air is all. Kid, it’s jist fiction, relax.”
    “Uh huh. Fiction. Or alternative facts?”
    “Fact is Kid, it’s late. Shut yer pie-hole an’ sleep.”
    “I ‘m scared Pal.”
    “Of these flashes?”
    “Jist the facts.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      “Hey, Pal! It’s snowing’!”
      “Git ta bed!”

      • Sherri Matthews

        Love it! Alternative facts would be a great defense… 😉

      • Sherri Matthews

        And snow. Snow covers tracks. Perfect!! Maybe Kid should be afraid… 😉

    • Liz H

      Whatever you do, don’t check their internet search histories!

    • Norah

      I know just what the kid means. It might be all fiction, but the facts are real too – sadly all too real, and very disturbing. Great response.

  6. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    Reblogged this on M J Mallon Author and commented:
    Thrilled to announce I won the Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest No. 7 competition via carrot ranch with a murderous tale which I entitled Mr Blamey. Cat lovers draw a breath in, in fear!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Yes…as a cat lover, your flash was particularly chilling Marje! Thrilled for you… 🙂 <3

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Yes, I cringed and cringed while writing this. Very disturbing stuff…

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…I am so glad I’m not the only one who cringes when I write some of the stuff that I do…I feel better now lol, thanks Marje!!! 😉

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        It’s one unexpected aspect of being an author! Lol. Xxx

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Many congratulations, Marje. I’ll never eat stew again. ????

      • Sherri Matthews

        You and me both Hugh! 😀

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Thank you Hugh! Me neither Hugh, I shan’t be making any for a long, long while! Lol.

    • Norah

      Fabulous story, Marj. Congratulations on your win – a worthy choice. I laughed out loud at the end. How many murder stories can do that? 🙂

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Ha! Good to know Norah. Thank you so much glad it made you laugh!

      • Norah

        It did! Have a wonderful Christmas. 🙂

      • Sherri Matthews

        That’s one of the things I loved about Marje’s entry Norah, it had that comic element while maintaining the horror…not easily done by any means!!! Well done again Marje! 🙂

      • Norah

        I love that about it too. 🙂

  7. D. Wallace Peach

    Ooooh. These were so murderous and chilling. Congrats to Marje, Kati, and Colleen. Marje, your story was wonderfully entertaining. Thanks to Sherri, Hugh and Mike for a job well done. 🙂 One more to go.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks so much Diana! I’m still shivering 🙂

  8. Sherri Matthews

    Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:
    At last! I’m thrilled to announce the winner of my Murderous Musings Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #7. Fantastic flashes, all thirty-two of them a deviously delicious read. And the winner is…Marjorie Mallon! Huge congratulations Marje!

    I’m also hugely excited to announce the publication of The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. I available here (universal link). I’m truly honoured to have several flashes and an essay feature among so many accomplished and talented writers.

    Thank you so much, dear friends, for your support of Carrot Ranch’s first ever Rodeo and my first ever writing contest. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and ride ain’t over yet, with Charli’s announcement of her TUFF contest next week and the ‘Best of Show’ overall winner announcement on January 2nd.

    As for the Summerhouse, thanks so much for hanging with me through all weathers. Maybe I’ll find Sweet Robin soon and when I do, I’ll tell you all about it. But until then, I wish you all the merriest of greetings for this wonderful festive season. And my hope and prayer for 2018: Keep the dream alive; hold fast and write like the wind.

    Happy Christmas!

    Love Sherri xxx

    • Sherri Matthews

      Arrgh..sorry for my long re-blog message Charli, I didn’t realise the whole thing would show up here, meant as a message for the Summerhouse! <3

      • Norah

        Nice to read it here, anyway, Sherri. Popping over there to read now. 🙂

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thanks for your vote of confidence Norah, as always 🙂

  9. Colleen Chesebro

    Oh, I loved this prompt! It was great fun! Congratulations to Marje and the rest of the honorable mentions. Great writing! ??????

    • Norah

      Congratulations to you too, Colleen. Well done!

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Thanks, Norah. I feel blessed to have found you all. ??

      • Norah

        Carrot Ranch is a great place to be.

      • Sherri Matthews

        Likewise Colleen 🙂 <3

  10. Liz H

    Congratulations to Marjorie, Kati, Colleen, and Bill, and to the judges for flashes well-chosen! What a treat to read these results on a chilly Tuesday morning!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks so much Liz!

  11. floatinggold

    CongratZ to all!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Many thanks for reading! 🙂

  12. Colleen Chesebro

    Reblogged this on Colleen Chesebro?The Fairy Whisperer? and commented:
    My dear friend, Marjorie Mallon won first place in contest 7! Many congratulations to her and the honorable mention writers with one of my flash fiction stories being mentioned! WOO HOO! <3

    • Sherri Matthews

      Congratulations to you too Colleen, loved your flash! <3

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Thanks, Sherri. I am honored to be part of such a great community. You guys are the best! <3

  13. Judy E Martin

    Congratulations, Marje, a very worthy winner. Well done to the other winners too 🙂

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks Judy 🙂

  14. olganm

    Congratulations to Marje and all. What a fantastic selection!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thank you Olga 🙂

  15. Tina Frisco

    Wow, talk about chilling reading! From cat stew to city morgue, I thought it a good thing I didn’t have to turn a page to continue reading, because my fingers had frozen 🙂 Congrats to all the winners!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Haha…I’m still trying to defrost! Thanks so much Tina! 🙂

  16. robbiesinspiration

    These are all fabulous, Charli. I tried but I just couldn’t do evil I am afraid.

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks Robbie. Evil can certainly take many different forms, you just never know! 😉

  17. julespaige

    Chillingly entertaining!
    Best to all!

    (I think I might have some nightmares!… eek! – I think that’s why I lean to humor… )

    And again, just WOW!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks Jules! Hope the nightmares disappear soon… 😉

  18. Kerry E.B. Black

    A little murder to get us through the cold times. Gotta love it! 🙂 Good job everyone! Congratulations, Marjorie! Great concept, Sherri! These are such fun!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Haha…love it! Thanks so much Kerry! 🙂

  19. Norah

    Congratulations to Marj, Kati, Colleen and Bill. Four great stories – all murderous, but all unique. What a difficult job the judges would have had, but thank you Sherri, Mike and Hugh for sharing your favourites and reasons for choosing.
    Sherri, I also popped over to your blog to read the blurb of your upcoming memoir – fantastic blurb – can’t wait to read it too!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks so much Norah! It’s great the way all four stories have such an intriguing slant on the same murderous theme, emphasising of course the beauty of writing flash and saying so much in so few words. Charli has taught us all well! It was a very difficult job, as you know from your own contest. Certainly has opened my eyes to what goes on behind the scenes of a writing contest, which I will bear in mind when I next enter one! And thank you so much for reading my memoir blurb, wow, you’ve made my day – no, my Christmas! Now I really need to finish it… 🙂 <3

      • Norah

        Judging isn’t just a piece of cake. It’s the whole expedition. Difficult but fun. Can’t wait to read your memoir. 🙂

      • Sherri Matthews

        For sure! And again, thanks so much Norah… 🙂 xxx

  20. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    Did you enter Contest #7 of the Carrot Ranch #FFRodeo? The winner is announced. It wasn’t me. Could it have been you? Read the fabulous entries. Who would have thought a murder story could be told in so few words?

  21. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Wonderful winning entry and judges favourites. Congratulations Marge and the others mentioned. You all certainly know how to create murderous scenes.

  22. Sharon Bonin-Pratt

    Excellent contributions. Each story held my interest and surprised me at the end, a real challenge in a flash.


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