Flash Fiction Challenge: Crisis of Consciousness

Photo by K.S. Brooks

Sixty year-old Doug Slater was a wealthy New York banker. One night, his high-stress life caught up with him. Doug had a stroke in his sleep. For the last four years, he has been in a coma.

The last thing he remembered was going to sleep. No one was more surprised than Doug when he woke up this morning.

Partly, this was because he didn’t know where he was. Mostly, though, he was surprised to discover that he was now a young Latino man.

As disorienting as all this was, Doug’s day was about to get a whole lot weirder…

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Crisis of Consciousness”

  1. Redemption

    Doug stared in disbelief at the supple brown skin on his arms, young and fresh and vital. He stood, glanced over his shoulder, and saw an indistinct apparition standing a little way in the field, beckoning.
    “Yeah?” Doug answered, taking a step towards it.
    The ghostly figure said: “Doug, this is your only chance to redeem your former life.”
    “What are you talking about?”
    “For forty years you destroyed lives. You asset-stripped companies, created imaginary wealth and turned it into debt, put thousands of honest people out of their jobs and homes, and made misery everywhere.”
    Recalling his former life, Doug defended: “Hey, what about all the charity stuff I did?”
    “Please, Doug, don’t insult my intelligence. Your miniscule charitable acts were for your own vanity, and we both know it.”
    Doug opened his mouth to protest, but the apparition continued: “In a few moments, a truck will come along this road and stop to pick you up. In it is a thermonuclear warhead. In this life, you belong to a group of terrorists who plan to drive north and detonate the weapon in Dallas.”
    “You are armed, Doug. You can stop your misguided friends, who foolishly think they can alter the course of history. But it will cost you your new life. I won’t give you another chance at redemption, Doug. See, the truck is coming now.”
    Doug felt the gun in his belt, and saw the truck approach.
    “So what will it be, Doug?”

  2. Doug looked down at himself. Gone was his pale shriveled body. He goggled at the tan, young flesh that now made up his body. He was garbed in a loincloth with a intricate beaded waistband with a huge sun-faced medallion, which matched a golden one that hung from his neck.

    Before him was a vast outdoor promenade lined with a crowd of tanned, beautiful Latino men and women, all happy and festive, all looking at him.

    Turning around, Doug looked up from the base of a tall Mayan pyramid. Or it could’ve been Aztec. That sort of thing had never been an interest of Doug before.

    Hands grasped his upper arms and ushered Doug up the steps. It took almost fifteen minutes to climb the immense structure, festooned with carvings of what he assumed were deities and animals important to the throng behind him. Doug was exhilarated when they got to the top, not being winded at all.

    A priest adorned in a fantastic, plumed helm and cloak was at the top, along with an altar. Doug was led to the maroon-tinted stone block, and directed him to lie down. It was only when they started tying his arms and legs that Doug understood what was going on, and panicked.

    He saw the priest raise a large blade, and felt a sharp pain in his chest. His eyes closed on the sight of his still-beating heart in the priest’s hand.

    The nurse turned off the whine of the bedside monitor.

  3. The Big Sleep

    Periodically, his family sat around his hospital room talking to each other as if he was already dead. Drip fed, he had a catheter in, wore a nappy and the nurses bathed and turned him daily. But Doug didn’t realise the full extent of his situation until he heard Dr Esperanza talking candidly to a senior administrator: “His chances of coming out of the coma, after four years, are almost zero. His family have given up hope and decided to switch off the life support.”

    Sitting at the side of the road, slumped over, asleep, he awoke with a start… He wasn’t convinced he was actually waking up; so many times, was it hundreds, thousands, ad infinitum he had dreamt about waking up. This time though, the smells and the feel, he knew the distinctive sensation of physicality was real. He’d been a sixty year old Caucasian before the coma… now he was a twenty four year old Latino!

    “What the hell!” he said aloud but it came out, “Lo que el infierno!” as he stood up, too quickly, stumbling onto the road; a horn from a passing car blared. Looking around, he saw the Hotel Esperanza sign, ‘hope… of course!’

    At the hotel he phoned the hospital…

    “Si, this is Dr Esperanza…”

    After relaying his story, in Spanish, he listened to the silence for a moment before blacking out.

    Opening his eyes, he looked up from his hospital bed into the smiling face of Dr Esperanza.

  4. After being in a coma for four years, Doug expected to wake up in a hospital with his butt hanging out of a gown, not sitting on the side of the road in cutoffs and sandals.
    He could feel the blacktop burning into the soles of his shoes when smoke filled his eyes. He screamed and kicked his feet into the air, but there was no pain. As the smoke cleared he could see a young voluptuous woman standing in front of him.
    Still worried about the hot pavement, Doug slid backward onto the dirt and stood up eying the hot babe, who was in turn checking him out.
    The hottie laughed. “I’m supposed to tell you that someone grabbed your soul before they were supposed to, and this was the best they could do on short notice, but from where I’m standing you lucked out Papi.”
    “Papi! My name’s Doug Slater and I want to talk to the head angel about—
    The Brazilian babe wagged her finger in front of his face.
    “First, Papi is Latino for ‘hot guy’. Second, you were a banker what about that says heaven. The minor demon who grabbed your soul was so anxious to get you, he grabbed your soul five minutes before your money grubbing son pulled the plug. The man upstairs called us on it, so you get a second chance.
    And lastly FYI I am the one in charge, but with a bod like this, I ain’t no angel.”

  5. He had an engagement ring in his pocket and no idea who it was for. The inscription inside the band read, “You complete me.” No name, not even in the box.

    “Where do you go from here?” he asked. No one answered. The road sign was written in Spanish and he remembered failing high school Spanish over 40 years ago.

    The Eldorado that passed on the other side of the road gave him some hope when the driver honked. The car did a u-turn and pulled up alongside him. “Jose, what are you doing?”

    “Going for a walk?”

    The driver laughed. “Get in the car tonto,” he said. “We have to get to the diner.”

    He climbed into the passenger seat and they took off. The driver turned up the radio, mariachi music blasted out of the speakers. “Are you nervous?”


    “Tonight,” he said.” Tonight is the night hombre. You have it right?”

    He pulled the ring from his pocket. “Yes, I have it.” They drove in silence to the diner.

    She was beautiful, her green eyes caught him up when they stepped into the diner. Her smile burned deep into his soul. Burned him twice when he knew it wasn’t him she desired but the person who owned the body.

    “Get her,” his companion said.

    He watched in fascination and horror as she ran and threw her arms around his neck. She whispered in his ear, “It worked, Doug.”

  6. The sign read “Esperanza.” Doug didn’t speak what he assumed was Spanish, but he recalled from high school French a billion years earlier that part of that could mean “hope.” Of course, he’d lost all hope at this point.

    Pick-up trucks drove by with horses in the back, shuffling to keep their balance as the tires slammed into each pothole in the crumbling road. They could easily teeter over the side and fall out of the bed, but they didn’t seem the least bit concerned. It was like they did this every day, and they probably did.

    Topless jeeps filled with bikini-clad tourists drove by. A couple of them threw coins at him. One silver coin bounced and hit him right in the crotch. He squeezed his legs together and sneered. He knew he couldn’t just sit there forever, but he had no idea where else to go.

    Where was he, anyway? Pergatory? At the crossroads between heaven and hell? He wished for the familiar. He wished to hear his wife’s voice again. Why couldn’t he feel her presence anymore? What had happened?

    Just then, a little white dog came trotting under the sign and stopped in front of Doug. He was adorable in an odd way: one ear up, one down, one eye lined with pink, the other with black. The pooch dropped a wallet at Doug’s feet.

    Doug picked up the wallet and opened it. His own driver’s license photo stared back at him. He gazed at the little dog and asked, “How’d you get this?”

    The fluffy dog replied, “I took it off of some dead guy who washed up on the beach. I’m going back for his watch now. It’s a Rolex.”

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