First Campaigner Challenge

Here is my entry for the First Campaigner Challenge.

The Rules:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: “the door swung shut.” (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

I’m proud to announce that I get brownie points for going the extra mile. My story is exactly 200 words, and both begins and ends with the aforementioned magic phrases. Enjoy!



The door swung open. Madame Zolfina’s tent smelled like black licorice, eucalyptus, and lavender incense. Her headdress of interlinked gold coins glinted.

He felt for the plush stool across from her. A deck of illustrative cards filled the space between them.

Madame Zolfina eyed him. She had dark eyes. “Love? Or fortune?”

“Love,” he blurted. What was he doing here? This was stupid.

She dealt the cards. There was a joker, a maiden, and a fool.

“Beware of the girl you love,” said Madame Zolfina. She placed the joker on top of the maiden card. She slid the fool toward him.

He smirked. That was it?

He paid Madame Zolfina. The brash colors and sickening motion of the carnival were on the other side of the door. His friends laughed and clapped him on the back.

A girl was waiting in his knot of friends. She wore a silver bracelet he had given her and a floppy hat with bells she had won from the ringtoss. She held his hand.

“See?” she said. “That wasn’t so bad.”

He felt motion sick. Too many rides.

The next victim entered Madame Zolfina’s tent. The door swung shut.



  1. As a soldier in the writer campaign, I salute you. You have delivered a short story in a brutally restrictive format that nonetheless makes you worry for the protagonist at the end. How will his girlfriend betray him?

    Best wishes on your writing.


  2. Erin,

    I’m a judge for the first round of the challenge, and I wanted to let you know that you are moving on to stage two! There will be a semi-final (stage three) and a final (stage four).

    Congrats! And thank you for participating in the challenge.



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