Flash Fiction Challenge: Marvin the Magic Marmot

Yosemite hoary marmot by K.S. Brooks
Yosemite hoary marmot
by K.S. Brooks

Some kids have guardian angels and some have fairy godmothers. I had Marvin, the magic marmot.

He was a bit of a crank, and never granted a wish without grumbling a good deal about it. I wouldn’t have minded so much except that he also often got it horribly wrong.

It seemed I could never be quite specific enough about what I wanted. This one time….

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!

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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Marvin the Magic Marmot”

  1. “Oh, Marvin,” I sang, placing a ripe strawberry at the opening to his burrow.

    He poked his head out. “What now?” he groused. Spying the berry, he snatched it up and nibbled at the tip. “Ugh,” he said, wrinkling his nose. “Too green.” He devoured it in three bites. Then he gave me the hairy eyeball. “Are you still here?”

    “I need a favor.”


    “I’ll give you more strawberries,” I wheedled.

    He sighed, puffing out his cheeks. “What is it?”

    “I need $250.”

    “Sorry. I gave at the office.” He dove back into his burrow.

    “A whole pint of strawberries!” I called.

    He poked his nose back out. “What’s it for?”

    “My car needs new tires,” I explained. “And I need the car to get to work.”

    “My heart bleeds for you,” he snapped. “Oh, all right. Bring me the strawberries and you’ll have your money.”

    “Got ‘em right here,” I grinned, pulling the package out from behind my back. He dove in and began stuffing his snout. “Uh,” I said. “The money?”

    Still chewing, he waggled his tail. “There. Now get lost.”

    “Thanks!” I called as I headed back to my car.

    On the way home, I felt a sickening jolt. The guy behind me had rear-ended me, knocking my bumper off.

    “Listen,” he said, “I don’t have insurance. I’ll just give you $250, okay?”

    “One of these days,” I muttered as the guy put $50 bills into my hand, “I’m gonna wring that marmot’s neck.”

  2. I was excited for my first missing persons case. That is, until Mrs. Layway showed me the picture of her marmot. The picture showed it standing on top of a rock outsidem looking straight ahead. I swear, you’d think it came straight out of one of those friggen’ nature magazines or something.

    Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if it really did come from a nature magazine, and poor delusional Mrs. Layway acted as if she owned a marmot. Her imaginary little pal, perhaps?

    “Will you take my case?” she asked.

    I looked up from the photo, doing my best not to roll my eyes. “I’m really sorry, Miss. I look for missing people… not pets.”

    “But he’s family!”

    I shrugged. “I don’t think I’m really qualified for something like this,” I lied. Of course I was qualified, but I really didn’t want to look for somebody’s dumb pet.

    Mrs. Layway pulled out her checkbook and began writing. She held it up for me to see when she was done, and my eyes just damned near popped out of my skull.

    “How about now?” she asked.

    I took the check, and swallowed whatever bit of pride I had.

    Hey, everybody has a price. Everybody.

  3. Making wishes and having them come true is ideal…but only if what you wish for is actually what you get. What could go wrong when I had Marvin, the Magic Marmot? Well, I guess you have to word your wishes just so, saying exactly what you want. If you deviate from that exactness, you get what Marvin thinks you meant or understands.

    There was this one time I had needed to get my house clean. I had guests coming over for a very special occasion—my agent and my publisher. I had been a bit lax about cleaning things up around the house; so tied up I had been about finishing my latest manuscript. Past experience with my Marvin wishes had gone horribly wrong, so I didn’t use him as much as I did when I first got him home.

    The day before my guests were to arrive, I gave Marvin a very special dinner of his own—radish roots, raspberries and roses—his favorites. I gave him a lot of time to eat it all. While he gorged himself, I went over in my mind just how I needed to word my wish. It couldn’t fail. I waited until he was fat, sassy and happy and then I asked him, “Marvin, I wish for everything lying around the house to be put away.” He wiggled his little nose and whiskers.

    The house was spotless, all right. He mistook ‘clean’ for ‘disappear’ and that’s what happened—my house was gone.

  4. Of all the things someone could leave you when they die, my Aunt Florinda left me Marvin the Magic Marmot. I suppose it was meant to be a nice thing. Allrighty then.

    When we got to my house, I opened the door for Marvin. He strutted in like he owned the place. “This joint is a dump! You expect me to live here?”

    “Sorry,” I replied. “Listen, it’s late. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable? I’ll get to work on dinner.”

    His furry little ears perked up. “Dinner? Hmmmm…will there be turnips?”


    “And rutabagas?”


    “And raspberries and sunflower seeds?”

    “Yeah, sure. I can do that.”

    He scratched behind his ear with his hind foot. “Okay, this might be doable. Don’t be expecting me to grant you any wishes until you deliver some decent meals.”

    I headed outside to gather vegetables from the garden. Little rat. This behavior of his needed to be nipped in the bud. I looked up in the sky. “Aunt Flo, can you help me out here, please?”

    Just then, something big fell down, directly at me. I searched the sky and saw a golden eagle above. I looked down and saw the answer to my problems.

    Marvin sat at the table with a napkin tied around his neck. I walked into the dining room backwards, then turned to reveal a near mirror image of him on the platter, surrounded by his requested veggies. He gasped in horror. “What…what is that?!”

    “Oh, that’s my last magic marmot. He and I just weren’t getting along.”

  5. This one time I was hungry. You ever been hungry? Nothing you find seems to satisfy the need, sure you get full but it isn’t right. You need something more.

    You can’t talk about this with Marvin. Nope never talk of it. He doesn’t get it. Only took one time, just one, to learn my lesson. You know how hard it is to swim through a bedroom filled with chestnuts? That’s right, I said chestnuts.

    Might not have been so bad, but I was in my room at the time. And they were warm. How a marmot thinks to roast chestnuts is beyond me. I have a few scars.

    And he takes it so personally. I swear I didn’t yell at him. The situation though, hell ya I was miffed about the situation. All these chestnuts, I couldn’t breathe, let alone move. Who does this?

    Of course, he laughed. I couldn’t believe it. Buries me, literally, and then laughs about it. When I hit him with the tennis racket, well that made it worse. Did you know that they can grant their own wishes under certain circumstances?

    I didn’t either, at least not till then. I know it now, sure. But some lessons are ugly to learn, this being one of them.

    I see him every now and then. He likes to check up on me, make sure I’m ok. No hard feelings really. But I’m still hungry, still haven’t found the right thing to satisfy. How’s your leaf?

  6. Marvin the Magical Marmot was like any other Marmot. His ancestors were the first of the Sciuridae-Sciurus Nation from the Tadpole Galaxy to settle here. Here being Mother Earth. They fled from ten-leggeds who sought to steal their dream-magic.

    Here, Marmot seek no fame or fortune though by accident several have achieved a degree of notoriety.

    There’s Rodney the Whistle–Pig orphan. Reared by the northern flat-tailed dam-building Marmota Mionex, Rodney inspired the little chorus: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

    There’s Punxsutawney Phil who achieved Earthwide stardom because two-leggeds discovered he could predict spring’s arrival.

    Then there’s Marvin. Marvin had barely earned his Magical Masters from Tadpole-U when his path crossed with that of the Yellow-Bellied Marmot Guru.

    “You seek me?” the ancient heavy-set, grizzled mermot said.

    “Yes, I suppose so.”

    “What do you want?” the ancient one said, his yellow-belly barking the words.

    “I’m not sure. I’ve explored death, dying and revelations in dreams without harm. I’ve studied the art of mind-travel and body-projection. My dreams tell me it’s time to learn boundaries and discerning. But I don’t know what to do next,” Marvin said.

    Forever a student, Magic Marvin came to know his destiny… teaching Marmot magic to two-legged healers.

    Is your spirit-teacher a Marmot? Congratulations. Just maybe, Marvin the Magic Marmot has chosen you. He is, after all the Marmot who intorduced his people’s magic to the two-leggeds. One thing to keep in mind, Marvin is a demanding profectionist.

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