Fast Fiction Challenge Classics – Beauty Is Skin Deep

Posted: 20 February 2013 in fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , ,

People occasionally ask me from where I get the ideas for these tales. Often, I can trace a story back to an unused concept, a newspaper story I read, an idle thought.

Sometimes, I’m tempted – like Gary Larson – to say “I have a trunk in the attic, full of IDEAS, that I buy a hundred at a time…”

And then there comes a story like this: a small slice of fiction, the origin of which comes from I have no bloody idea where.


Title: Beauty Is Skin Deep
Word: evasive
Challenger: Lindzz
Length: 200 words exactly


The voice of the judge rang in the courtroom and there was, as expected, utter silence for a long moment.

Standing, a member of the audience started to protest, but was immediately laser-stunned by one of the security guards. No further disturbance occurred.

The protest had obviously been premeditated, a martyr wanting to make his name. But after all, the verdict also been planned in advance, weeks before the case came to trial, despite the predicted evasive nature of the defence, not wanting to even admit there had been a crime.

The judge glanced at the defendant, who looked rather forlorn.

And ugly.

Perilously ugly. Hideously ugly, by modern standards: no remarkable features, no distinguishing marks. She looked, the judge winced, normal.

“Normal”… as if such a word meant anything in a culture where everyone had cybernetic inserts of one sort or another almost from birth.

As they had became common, so the laws of fashion and legislatures changed to make them mandatory. It was now necessary to look distinctive. And she didn’t, her looks were too… plain.

When the trial resumed, the judge would sentence her to the maximum penalty allowed: enforced uniqueness, to ensure she’d fit in.

© Lee Barnett, 2006

“There are two hundred stories collected in this volume. They are funny, they are thoughtful, they are romantic, they are frightening. To me, though, they are more than entertaining. They are inspiring.” – Wil Wheaton, from his introduction to volume 2 of The Fast Fiction Challenge

Two volumes of The Fast Fiction Challenge, containing 180 stories in Volume 1 and a further 200 stories in Volume 2, are available from, and in some countries on Amazon. ebooks available from the author; email for details.

Buy the ebook of You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly for £4.99 – click here

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