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Greg Beatty hails from Bellingham, Washington, where he lives with his wife.  When he's not writing, he teaches college online, does some freelance writing, and walks his dog, Drake, who was a shelter dog and is completely spoiled.  Greg's main hobby is martial arts.  He says he is a dabbler but enjoys it.  He is currently studying Longstryke, a system of self-defense built around close-quarter combat.


by Greg Beatty

Ian was the most popular kid in school.  That was a little surprising, because he would have been an easy kid to hate, or at least envy.  He was smart enough to answer all of the teachers’ questions but cool enough to know that playing on the playground was what really mattered.  He was the fastest runner in any class and good at all of the throwing games.  Even the fifth graders had trouble tackling him when they played football.

In fact, there was only one weird thing about Ian: he wouldn’t play tag.

It took a long time for the other kids to notice.  They didn’t play tag every day, after all.  The first time they played tag this year, he had just won the long and short races and was bent over catching his breath.  The second time, he stood at the side and encouraged the new kid, who was shy.  The third time, though, Ian didn’t give a reason.  He went real quiet and looked down, like there was a string of ants or something else cool moving across the lines of the hopscotch pattern painted on the cement.  But there weren’t any ants.  Ian was just looking down, and looking a little bit sad.

The game of tag ground to a halt.  The other kids had never seen Ian looked depressed.  After a while Tyler, the second best runner and the tallest kid in first grade, said, “Ian?  You gotta play.  It’ll make you feel better.”

“Can’t.”   Ian kicked the cement.

“C’mon!  It’s the best thing in the world.”


“I — I’ve never played.”

The other kids gathered around, forming into a loose circle with Ian at the center.  They all started explaining the rules, ending with “— and then you’re It!”

Ian started to explain a couple of times, then stopped.  In the end, all he said was “I didn’t say I didn’t know how to play.”

Then everyone was playing tag with Ian, and it was the best game of tag ever.  People twisted and dodged.  They squealed and laughed.  And then Tyler was It, and he chased Ian around the playground once, twice, three times.  And he jumped, barely brushing Ian’s back with the tip of one finger.  “Tag!” he cried.  “You’re it.”

Ian stopped running immediately.  He straightened up, extending his arms overhead.  They reached up, up, and up.  His arms got longer, as did his legs.  His fingernails turned into talons, as did his toes, which burst through the ends and sides of his shoes.  Perhaps most disturbing was the way Ian’s skin greyed, making the white points of his teeth glisten.

“Yes,” he said in a grating, unfamiliar voice.  “I am It.”

Then the game began in earnest.  The game, and the screaming.

The End

FF 2015 2nd Place

Flash Fiction 2014 Winners


Ligonier Valley Writers Announces Winners of Ninth Annual Flash Fiction Contest

Once again, the Ligonier Valley Writers' Flash Fiction Contest was infused with international flavor.  We received entries from as far away as France — not to mention entries from coast to coast of the United States and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

An overwhelming majority of the entries were from writers who have participated in previous Flash Fiction Contests, including half of the winning entries.  In fact, for the first time, we have a repeat first-prize winner.

Competition was intense, and the judging was difficult because we received so many well-written entries with such diverse takes on the subjects of cats, bats, and rats.  The judges have judged, the points have been totaled, and now we are pleased to announce the winners!

FIRST PLACE: "'Ratical' Image Makeover," by Jim Busch of White Oak, PA
SECOND PLACE: "The Bat," by Ron Murphy of Indiana, PA
THIRD PLACE: "Mrs. Welford's Candy," by Ceil Kessler of Greensburg, PA

"Something Old, Something New," by Jan Kinney of Altoona, PA
"Lizzie's Blue Ribbon Borscht" by Georgia A. Hubley of Henderson, NV
"Pink Revenge," by Candace Kubinec of Greensburg, PA

Flash Fiction 2012 Winners


     This year brought another international group of contestants to Ligonier Valley Writers’ annual Flash Fiction Contest.  Entries came from all over the United States, including California, Alaska, New York, Florida, New York, and of course Pennsylvania.  Entries also arrived from Canada, Indonesia, France, and Romania.
     The entrants ranged in age from eight-year-olds to a great-grandmother in her eighties.  Entries started arriving the day after the contest was announced.  The last entry was received at 11:50 p.m. on August 14, with a full ten minutes to spare before the midnight deadline.  The judging was difficult because we received so many well-written entries with such diverse takes on the subject of dragons.
     One-third of the entrants were repeaters.  That is, they were writers who have partaken in LVW's prior Flash Fiction Contests.  Of the winning writers, two-thirds were repeaters.  Some had entered four or five previous LVW Flash Fiction Contests, proving that old but not worn-out cliché: Winners never quit.
First Place: “Best Wings in the Burgh” by Jim Busch
Second Place: “Home Alert Dragons” by John A. Frochio
Third Place: “Gift of the Magi(cian)” by Kirk Baker

“Connor's Dragon” by R. F. Marazas
“The Dragon Coin” by Barbara Purbaugh
“Feeding Time” by Chris Sandusky

     The winning stories will be read at Red Barn Books starting at 1:00 on Saturday, October 13, 2012.  The bookstore is at 203 Old Route 30 in Greensburg, PA 15601.  Complete directions to the store are at www.redbarnbooks.com.  Authors who can attend are invited to read their stories to the audience.
     After the readings, two free mini-workshops will be held: “How to Lose a Writing Contest” (taught by Ed Kelemen, organizer of the Flash Fiction Contest), and “How Not to Get Published” (taught by Mary Ann Mogus).  Both authors will also be signing their books: The Haunted Foothills; Shadow Hands; and The Lethe Gene.
     The event is free and open to the public. Food and prizes will be provided.

Flash Fiction 2011 Winners


The judging for this year's Flash Fiction Contest was challenging due to the sheer number of entries. Short-short stories were received from all over the United States and as far away as India. First prize earned $50, second prize $25, and third prize $15. Additionally, three stories were awarded honorable mentions. Those authors will each receive $10 gift certificates donated by Red Barn Books.

First Place: “A Venomous Plan” by Ciel Kessler of Greensburg, PA

Second Place: “Buried Treasure” by Naomi Bergner of Cocoa, FL

Third Place: “Bullet 25” by Bill Kemp of Penn Hills, PA

Honorable Mentions:

"Grave Robbers” by Chris Sandusky of North Olmsted, OH

Old Legends Never Die” by Mary Ann Back of Mason, OH

Missing and Presumed Dead” by Barbara Purbaugh of Somerset, PA

For more information about the Flash Fiction Contest and readings, contact Ed Kelemen at (724) 235-9399 or ed.kel@verizon.net. This year, in honor of LVW’s 25th anniversary, each story had to be set in a cemetery or other burial place and each had to include the words twenty-five, anniversary, and silver somewhere in the story.

If you have suggestions for the theme of next year's contest, drop Ed a line. Previous themes have included ghosts, vampires, and zombies.

Flash Fiction 2010 Winners


From: "Edward Kelemen" <ed

Ligonier Valley Writers' Flash Fiction Contest 2010

Winners Are Announced

First Place: "Witch Is Best" by April Serock of Masontown, PA.

Second Place: "Snap" by Ronald Murphy of Indiana, PA

Third Place: "Duplicity" by Colleen Reynolds of Trafford, PA

First Honorable Mention: "New Neighbors" by Joe F. Stierheim of Ligonier, PA

Second Honorable Mention: "Twisted Trail" by Alicia Stankay of Ambridge, PA

Third Honorable Mention: "Leatherleaf" by Marcia A. Sherman of Sewell, NJ

This year's Halloween-themed topic was Witches, Warlocks, and Wizards. The contest included dozens of entries from all of the United States and Europe. The first-place winner receives a cash prize of $50, second place $25, and third place $15. All winners also receive a complimentary one-year membership in the Ligonier Valley Writers. In addition, all winning entries will be published at www.LVWonline.org.

"Even though the judging was done using a triple-blind system, five of the six winners were from western Pennsylvania this year. I guess it says something about the quality of writers we have around here," said Ed Kelemen, the contest organizer. "Congratulations to all the winners!"