Nov. 8 2012 12:00 AM

The tables are turned as Fiction 101 winners judge our submissions

Hard-boiled bed detective
Illustration by Adam Vieyra
CityBeat staff and freelancers are prohibited from entering our annual Fiction 101 contest. Yet, as we read through and judge all the submissions, we can't help feel a little inspired.

For the third year in a row, CityBeat staffers submitted 101-word flashes of fiction for an internal contest, with the same rules that the public must follow. This time, we invited all the authors whose work was included in our Fiction 101 anthology (with the exception of two people who later joined CityBeat's family of writers) to act as judges. 

The winner, ironically, happened to be the only member of our editorial staff who doesn't write for us, art director Adam Vieyra. Every single judge listed his story, "The Zebra Spoon," in their top three. 

For your reading pleasure, we present CityBeat's own Fiction 101 entries. Please let us know which is your favorite in the comments. ---


The Zebra Spoon

The morning after they finally slept together, Estelle made coffee and croissants. Her sugar spoon caught Nick's eye.

"Where'd you get this?" he asked, inspecting the miniature utensil like a piece of evidence. It was gold and had a tiny zebra carved into the handle.

"My Granny had a spoon collection," Estelle said. "Alphabet spoons. When she died, I got ‘Z.'"

Nick spat croissant on the floor.

"What's wrong?"

"Your Granny had 26 grandchildren."


"And they each got a spoon."


Hands shaking, Nick showed her the little spoon on his keychain, its handle a gold giraffe.

"I got ‘G.'" 

Adam Vieyra, art director



The peel-away holes look like water shimmering on the desert road. You run and get your legs caught in them.

Roadrunner looks over and sees his son. He was the first to trip. A trickle of blood leaks out of the kid's beak.

He was going so fast.

Coyote procures a cooking apron (POOF) and a set of knives (POOF!). His belly rumbles visibly.

Roadrunner looks at his wife. The hot asphalt burned both of their cheeks.

"Meep?" he asks.

"Meep," she says, between sobs. He looks away as Coyote lowers the knife.

It was supposed to be a family outing.

Ryan Bradford, web editor



Dr. Adad detested the new managed care system.

"The standardized fees make no sense," he'd rant, arms folded. "Ten shekels for anything requiring an incision? Half that for bone fractures and internal medicine? Mandatory sliding discounts for freedmen and slaves? Yet, it does nothing about prescription drug reform. Let's say the patient has a bladder stone. How do I calculate the co-pay for black saltpeter, ostrich eggshell, pine turpentine and donkey vulva? And don't get me started on medical malpractice..."

Dr. Adad wanted to write to his lugal about tort reform, but he couldn't work the chisel with his stumps.

Dave Maass, staff writer 

Diet Coke

It's dark. We're packed together in packs of six. A deafening hum sweeps across the space. I'm nauseous from the relentless jiggling. Every so often, there's a huge bump. We all jump in fear, fastened together in tight, plastic bonds; when one of us moves, so do the rest. We don't know where we're going, what they're going to do to us. Are the legends true? Will smiling, cackling little monsters rip off our heads and suck us dry? Will we end up piled in big, deathly bins, only to be smashed and remade like zombies? I'm scared. So, so scared.

Peter Holslin, music editor


Mattress Cops

Detective Chaz did not take the demotion well.

"Bureaucratic bullshit," he said.

The chief, no fan of curse words, busted him down to the Mattress Unit.

Chaz's new partner had worked mattress crimes for over 20 years. He was a legend to every mattress cop, who loved his crime-scene banter.

"No more beauty rest for this one."

Or: "Just a coupla queens out on the corner."

Chaz, not one to be upstaged, kicked the discarded box-spring. "Maybe that will jog your memory foam!"

The old detective looked at Chaz with hard eyes: "They told me you'd be trouble."

Ryan Bradford, web editor

The Paint Job

The painters arrived late today. They were supposed to start repainting Heaven three hours ago and I was quite irritated. Being a busy god, I just told them to paint the trim gold and everything else a bright white, then hurried out the door.

Upon returning, I was horrified. All of Heaven was painted red: the clouds, the sky, the castle walls, even the pearly gates were a blazing, crimson hue.

"What the Hell's going on here?" I shouted to the foreman.

"Exactly," he said, pulling off his painter's costume to reveal two horns, kited wings, and rancid, fiendish smile.

Edwin Decker, Sordid Tales columnist

Slow Drip

You always order "Guatemala" just to hear the word slide over her tongue like an incantation.

She's from elsewhere, but after living here seven months professes to have a San Diego soul.

She's the only one who ever pays attention to the love songs on the oldies station.

When a customer asked for something fancy in the foam of his latte, she spat in his cup and said, "That fancy enough for you?"

You think you might be falling for the barista.

She can grind your beans in 99 languages, but you can only say, "I love you" in one.

Jim Ruland, The Floating Library columnist

Writer's Block

He stared at the blank document on his computer screen. He had quit his job, left his girlfriend, gave away his dog and put his mother in a retirement home so he would have no distractions. And just in case he veered away from the screen, he got a vasectomy as well. All his bases were covered. So now he was sitting in silence waiting to write the next great American novel. It was going to be amazing. Epic. He imagined himself graciously accepting the Pulitzer. Nine months later he was found dead in front of that same blank screen. 

Alex Zaragoza, events editor, columnist

A Dignified Death

There's a bridge in Scotland that is very famous for something very odd. You see, dogs are known to plummet to their death whenever they attempt to cross it. They always stop at the same spot, sniff around and jump into the waters below. They drown or die upon impact. No one knows exactly why they do it. It is heartbreaking but also very stupid. No cat would ever dream of dying in such an idiotic way. We die with dignity. With respect. Now please excuse me. I have to sniff at this feces I just discovered upon the ground.

Alex Zaragoza, events editor, columnist


Ace lay in a patch of moonlight early Wednesday. His plan had worked. In exchange for the promise of an overnight raid on Whole Foods' fish department, the Domestic Cats Union, Local 215, had carried out his plan to intercept mail ballots, 10,000 in all. To a casual observer, it seemed impossible. How could a cat single-pawedly influence an election? But this was no normal cat. For two years, his favorite nap spot had been taken over by campaign signs and petitions. Being a press conference prop was the last straw. Now things would return to normal. Whatever normal was.

Kelly Davis, associate editor


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