Flash Fiction Challenge: Signs

canaveral seashore 2 1998On this peninsula, the weather can come from any direction. You learn to watch the animals for signs of the big storms.

I saw the gulls coming from the north and moving fast. They paid no attention to me or my bag of cheese puffs. They were clearly panicked.

Looking back, I saw the cause of the alarm. It wasn’t the weather.

In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. 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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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Signs”

  1. They took off for the sea, and I watched thinking how one day thats gonna be me. Then laughing at my own rhyme and bad poetry. I understand them, why they fly towards the sea. Away from all you know in search of the perfect blue in the horizon. Where sea and sky meet. The poetic sense of it all was a tribute to my walk that day. The day I decided to leave for the first time.
    Has it really been 5 years? Had I really not breathed in fresh air in 5 years?

  2. Jerry, my black lab mix, has started to limp.

    I noticed it the first time when we were walking the beach. Jerry and Kevin walked ahead of me, as they always did. I lollygagged in the shallows, occasionally bending to investigate a bit of sea glass or an uninhabited shell.

    Concerned, I called Jerry, and he ran back to me, all signs of injury gone. I examined him, and found no obvious defect. He bounded in the surf, seeming to frolic with the shadow of the puppy he once was, until Kevin called him back, and I watched as the pair continued down the beach.

    The return of the dog’s limp made me smile; it seemed he walked in sympathy with my son’s changing gait, his body shriveling as his illness progressed.

    “Kevin, look at Jerry,” I started to say, but the coastal wind carried my voice up and behind me like a child’s squandered balloon. Kevin did not turn; he had not heard me.

    Maybe it’s better he doesn’t see it, I thought.

    Indeed, if Kevin has noticed the dog’s feigned lameness, he’s not mentioned it to me.

    We are walking the beach again. The novelty of Jerry’s limp has worn off, I realize; it is now merely my own private sign, one of thousands marking the road to goodbye.

    I watch the wind and water erase the three-legged imprints in the sand, and grieve over the impermanence of everything.

  3. Title: Tourist Attraction

    I popped a cheese puff into my mouth and scanned the beach for the problem. The orange curl compacted as the air escaped. Moving toward me was a behemoth, a leviathan of biblical proportion. The devil wears spandex.

    The cheese snack soured in my stomach as I fought the bile in my gullet. What on earth, or in the galaxy for that matter, would convince this colossus that he should wear a speedo? Was this some cruel joke perpetuated by reality TV?

    Closer he came and the beach reverberated with the aftershock of his journey. Sunbathers flipped onto their stomachs and covered their heads in fear. I was too slow, condemned by my morbid curiosity.

    He caught my eye and headed in my direction. The sun glistened off his oiled rolls, enhancing the piles of curves that jiggled with each step. His slicked-back hair barely concealed the horns on his head, politely retracted in deference to the unbelievers. His sunglasses reflected the blue of the ocean, and in his left hand he carried a cooler.

    “Good afternoon,” he said as he dropped down onto the sand next to me. “Lovely day, isn’t it?”

    Up close he was even more intimidating. The black hair of his chest seemed alive – a nest of undulating snakes. He opened the cooler and took out two beers and a long hero sandwich.

    “It’s your favorite,” he said. “Aren’t you hungry?”

    Beware of the devil bearing a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich.

  4. “Observe only. Don’t interfere.”

    Those words rung in my head as another baby sea turtle lost its race to the ocean. I bit back the bile in my throat. Waves of seagulls had descended this peaceful beach at dawn, feasting on newly hatched turtles. If it weren’t for the professor and my fellow students behind me, I would have scooped up hatchlings until my arms were full.

    Instead I stood frozen in place. My eyes burned with unshed tears. Poachers we were allowed to stop, but these squawking demons were off limits. One single baby flopped toward the crashing waves. Hope rose in my heart only to be dashed as it was snatched into the air inches from the water. Not a single turtle had made it to the water.

    My eyes clouded over and it felt as though fire burned through my veins. This had to stop. It had to end. Energy twisted inside me, then surged through my bare feet into the sand.

    The gull’s frenzied pitch changed tone within seconds. What had been a turtle massacre changed to a seagull stampede. The flock swooped away from the beach. Their voices seemed to cry out in unison: “Flee! Flee! Flee!”

    Behind me I heard panicked exclamations from the others. I didn’t need to look to know what chased the gulls, but I turned anyway. A smile split my face as a giant flying sea turtle snapped up seagulls in midair. This circle of life was biting back.

  5. The Storm is Here!

    “Hi honey… How was your flight?… … Oh, I’m just laying here on the beach. It’s such a beautiful day… … Well I’m sorry to hear that, I certainly don’t envy you that lousy, British, weather today…

    “Wait a minute… something’s wrong. The birds… The gulls are…are…madly flying out to sea. They’re clearly panicked… I’ve seen them behave like this before; it’s usually a sign there’s one hell of a storm coming.

    “Oh my God! I can see what’s distressing them! It’s way over the horizon, must be thirty miles away, or more.… A giant cloud billowing up… Oh dear… I don’t think it’s the weather. Oh no! Nooo!… I can’t believe what I’m seeing!”


    “Did you hear that?!”


    “Can you hear that?!
    “Oh… My… God!! They’ve actually done it!… Damn them all to hell! They’ve finally, gone and done it!…

    “Everything’s shaking, people are falling… What is it we’re supposed to do? There’s just no time… no time to do anything!

    “Any second now we’re going to lose contact, honey, I… … Yes, I love you too, honey… Hello!… Hello!…

    “Goodbye honey.”

  6. I knew what the birds were fleeing from without even turning around. I had known what was going to happen that day since the time of my creation. That is why I arrived a little early. I wanted to experience this world like you do. Standing there feeding birds and smelling the ocean air, I felt sorrow. I have always gone about my duty without remorse. It is literally what I was created to do. Yet, after standing in your shoes for a brief moment, I was filled with doubt. Could this have been avoided or was it truly your destiny?
    I turned to see the approaching horror. Fire fell like rain. I could hear screams of pain. I knew this scene was being repeated around the world. Man had finally reached the end of his time on Earth. After so many years on the brink, judgment day had come.
    I stole one last glance at the ocean before walking towards the approaching inferno. I had much to do, for I am the Angel of Death and I was created to kill you all.

  7. The crash of the wave exploded across the shore line. The wall of water had been huge. But that wasn’t what caused the bird’s panic.

    The giant green lizard rose from the sea, a mountain of scale and flesh. I had to be dreaming, kaiju, really, freaking kaiju. Of all the places to run into something like this, and I don’t have a damn camera.

    The beast looked nothing like the movies. Sure was built like a pine tree with limbs but the lizard features were more pronounced, and it didn’t breathe fire. But the thing did crush my hut under one of its great paws.

    It was at this moment that I realized the movies made a little sense. I knew I needed to run. For a brief moment I stood outside myself and screamed at my physical body to run. But I stared, mouth agape, and promptly forgot that my legs are useful forms of conveyance.

    But I tell you this story now, you say. Sure, it happened. Giant beast like that stepped right over me. That moment, frozen in fear saved my life. Though I lost my house, I lived another day to not be rescued on the island.

    I found it pretty amazing that I lucked into a rescue a few months later. A science boat in search of the beast’s origin, but that is a different story.

  8. I heard them first, their sharp kee-kee-kee rising over the murmur of the surf. They came in low and fast, sweeping and wheeling, invisibly linked in cosmic grace.

    Their sudden arrival and swift departure left me stunned. Other than the empty shells on the sand, I had seen no other sign of life since I had washed ashore. I replayed the mystic ballet over and over in my mind, taking solace that for that one brief moment at least, I was not absolutely alone.

    I’d barely had time to grab the ditch bag and clip it to my life jacket before the storm had crushed Eau Baby like a petulant toddler smashing a delicate toy. How many days had I drifted? Had time even existed?

    The tide was rising and my refuge was shrinking, a speck of sand barely a hundred meters long, lost on an endless azure horizon. A patch of scraggy shrubs the size of a tennis court outlined the high water mark. It was a temporary respite, but in the long run it was little more than a lingering death.

    I looked at what I had left: four liters of water and a handful of power bars; I left the first aid kit, flashlight and the rest behind. They didn’t matter now. I waded back into the water. Terns, I knew, seldom ventured more than a few dozen kilometers from land – real land. Fate was a fickle mistress, but there was hope on the wing.

  9. Activity started early on the beach. Joggers—tourists mostly—huffed along the shoreline running off one too many trips to the buffet. Sunbathers secured their umbrella spots while vendors stalked them.

    Before her stroke, Abuela strolled this beach every day. On weekends we’d scatter conches on the sand for the gulls. This was our first visit since the hospital. I doubted she’d be up for feeding the birds.

    A foghorn moaned. Odd in the absence of fog. Seagulls abandoned their squabbling over the resort dumpsters and veered off over the sea. Sunbathers gawked. A shadow spread over the sand.

    Something barreled toward me. Joggers staggered out of its way. I nearly bolted when my grandmother’s voice sang out, “A glorious day, mi bonita!”

    “Abuela?” I gasped. “What are you riding?”

    It looked like a mobility scooter built to run on steam. It seemed to rest on a platform of mists. Abuela rode it like a plump wooly-haired Venus astride a brassy scallop shell.

    “The chair lacked pizzazz,” she chirped.

    Brass pumps and pistons gusted parti-colored clouds smelling of grapefruit and old cocao. “Where did you get it?”

    “A simply marvelous gentlemen! Mr. Wells.”

    Gentleman, hunh? Abuela’d never said “simply marvelous”. I tried to imagine my 80-year-old grandmother as a paramour.

    “Herbert said it was a gift”—she drummed her surprisingly spry fingers on a panel—“from the future.”

    “Hold on,” I blurted. “Herbert Wells? Herbert George Wells?”

    “Isn’t he wonderful?” The organ pipes sighed with her.

  10. With cessation of the protracted war, which consigned Bonaparte into exile, Trait resigned himself that at thirty he would never wed. Society’s designing debutants sought sizeable income and noble title but little else. Both his title and income assigned him an exceptionally well-endowed seigneur.

    With uncharacteristic condescension, Jean-François’ MaîtresDs’ proffered a broach.

    Abducting but seven seconds, cosmic hide-and-seek memories besieged his mind.
    This past-life vision revealing his soul’s love, their children, her death and renewed promises of rediscovery. The eloquent consignment mutely held for inspection the harbinger of renewed tender raptures. Somewhere near-at-hand, exposed, anticipating her unveiling stood his beloved.

    Surging to his feet, every limb trembling, Trait swept the broach from consignee’s hand. Fingering the matching designed signet he’d commissioned on a whim and received but yesterday, he demanded, “Where is she?”

    Mute signals unneeded, regardless her rags, when eyes met eyes he knew his soul’s designee instantaneously.

    Who can describe Cinderella’s wedding?

    Attendees pronounced, “Never a lovelier bride.” Meanwhile behind gloved hands self-same jealous nose-signer biddies assigned insignificant twitterings and misassigned signalments.

    Fifteen bliss-filled years later as if by design, infinity’s agony struck. She lay kissed-by-death, a casualty of assassination’s conspiracy.

    “Broach, blood red my sign to you, your ring for me. Next life let’s do green.”

    Buried, she clutches his signet ring. Her broach, her insignia emblazoned onto his escutcheon of heraldry.

    He awoke. T’was a daydream yet significance unmistakeable. Within a week he cluched an emerald broach. His quest begun anew; he whispered, “God grant signs.”

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