Flash Fiction Challenge: The Potion of Power

bottles ripleys orlando 1998He wondered if it could be true. Could some potion be the answer to all his problems? Could he capture Vanessa’s heart? Were fame and fortune within his grasp?

He forked over the wad of cash. The old woman jutted a crooked finger at him and uttered an admonition…

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!

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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: The Potion of Power”

  1. “Be careful with this concoction, boy,” she croaked. “Love is not to be idly given nor taken.”

    “I’ll be careful,” Adam said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at what sounded like the start of a lecture. But the witch said nothing else, instead reluctantly placing the iridescent potion on the counter. He handed her the money. “Fifty dollars for true love!” With feathers in his heart and a spring in his step, he left the apothecary without looking back.

    Reflecting on his mistake, Adam wished he had heeded her warning. True love, he thought bitterly. As if there is such a thing. Years of marriage to Vanessa had taken their toll on them both. Her love, she often said, outshone everything, but the light had long since begun to hurt his eyes. To have someone doting upon him at every moment, even if it was someone as beautiful and sweet as his wife, had ground his patience down to nothing and now all he wanted was for it to stop.

    He took a deep breath as he reentered the apothecary. The interior hadn’t changed at all, as if the building were suspended in time.

    “Back again so soon, Adam?” the witch’s voice made him jump. He could hardly believe she was still alive, let alone that she remembered him. “What would you like this time? Something for your wife?”

    “Y – Yes,” he said, stepping up to the counter. “How much for a bottle of poison?”

  2. Title: Mistaken Words

    He had heard from others that she was indeed gifted, delivering exactly what people requested. It had taken him months to put together enough cash to make the middle of the night visit to her basement apartment located in the worst part of the city.

    He wanted Vanessa’s heart more than anything, but he also wanted the fortune that would come if he became a famous author.

    His hand shook as he paid the amount she requested. She laughed, pointing her crooked finger and chanting words he barely comprehended. Now alone, he comprehended well her words, which echoed off the bare walls around him. “Be careful young man what you ask for, and how you ask, for tis told many have regretted their requests.”

    How could he be so stupid? He had merely asked to capture Vanessa’s heart, and to be rich and famous.

    His trial in NYC lasted three long months, drawing world-wide attention, due to the nature of his crime. Without a search warrant, they busted in the door to his apartment. The lifeless body of Vanessa lay at his feet, her heart still warm in his hands. His name was Rich, but the media labeled him, ‘Richard the Lyonheart.’

    The old woman had indeed granted him his wish; his name was Rich, her name was Vanessa Lyons, and he was now a famous murderer. He now had years to consider carefully the words that might be written, but never published.

  3. The wizened crone shoved the money into her bosom and pushed a tiny blue bottle his way. “Watch what you wish for.”
    He cringed as she croaked out the words. Watch. He didn’t like looking at her. Something about her made his skin tingle and not in a good way. Not the way Vanessa did. The crone’s hands reminded him of desiccated tarantulas, and her face… Oh god, her face was enough to put the fear of God into the most hardened criminal. He wanted to get away and write about it. She’d be the perfect character for his work in progress.
    A laugh emerged from her hideous visage. “I hope it’s worth it.”
    * * *
    Within six months, his first novel, the one he’d written during a long week of seclusion at the Motel Six after visiting Madame Marie, was the NYT #1 Bestseller. Three more had followed in quick succession. Each one longer, more complicated than the previous. He was an international sensation. His books were leaping off the shelves. The money was pouring in.
    And Vanessa was his bride.
    But his fingers itched only for the smoothness of the keyboard, the solid click as words formed on the virtual page. Words filled his brain, putting so much pressure on his skull that he lived off Advil. Words, sentences, dialogue, demanding they be written.
    He hadn’t eaten in two day.
    Hadn’t slept in three.
    Hadn’t made love to Vanessa since their wedding night.
    He had to write.

  4. John popped the vial, drank the thick green liquid, and passed out.

    When he woke up, he was on a park bench, and light-headed.

    Bloody woman, he thought. Sold me knock-out drops in washing-up liquid.

    Another part of him thought: you bought a potion promising you’d become incredibly rich and Vanessa would fall in love with you. Seriously, what did you expect?

    He staggered home. Even the ground felt funny, like the pavement squished underfoot.

    He was at his front door when he realised something was wrong. Because this was his home, he knew it. But he didn’t recognise it.

    The door opened, and he was standing on the other side, wearing an expensive shirt.

    “You made it, then.”

    John stared. “You’re… me?”

    “Yep. The you with ambition. The you that took a few chances. The you that Vanessa couldn’t resist. By the way, all those fantasies you’ve had about what she’s like in the sack?” His double leaned closer and grinned. “Not even close.”

    “I… I don’t understand.”

    “You got what you wished for. Cheers for that.”

    “But… what’s left for me?”

    “Nothing. That’s what happens when you wish to have it all.”

    John raised a hand to his face. It was translucent, fading away like autumn mist. Through it, he saw his double shut the door.

  5. “Here ya’ go,” said the old woman as she handed over the vial of shimmering red liquid. “I’m not responsible for what happens.” Michael paid with a wad of dirty bills. Now he had two of the three talismans he needed to win Vanessa’s heart. One of the earth, one of the sea, and one of the air. The crystal he obtained at Grolwyth was the earth and this mystical potion was the sea. Now he needed something of the air. How would he ever find it?
    The witch was reading his mind. “I can’t help you there, I’m afraid.”
    “But I need…”
    “You need a chimera.”
    “A chimera?”
    “A spirit of the ether. Only you can create it, and it will live only in your imagination.”
    “But how…”
    “You will create it when your need grows extreme.”
    “But I will die without Vanessa!”
    “So you will.”
    “I’m not a practitioner of the magic arts.”
    “You don’t need to be. All you have to do is believe. Trust me.”
    “But how can I believe if I can’t…”
    “The magic will come. Your chimera will follow.”
    Michael considered the small magic shop. There were potions and formulas stored on old, dusty shelves. The only light came from a hurricane lamp on the table where the witch sat. Shadows flickered along the walls, seemingly hiding mysterious creatures. If only he could believe, truly believe…
    Reluctantly he opened the door and walked out. He did not notice the ethereal spectre following him.

  6. “Potions and trickery lead to ruin.” Her finger shook, more with age than with scorn. “The potion will enhance you. It won’t make you something you are not.”

    Was that a curse, he wondered. Jake didn’t care really, if the potion performed as promised, he would win. That was all that mattered.

    He swallowed the small bottle’s contents when she turned her back on him. She set it on the counter in front of him. It must have been meant for him.

    “Just a drop, maybe two, that should be more than enough to make it all happen for you,” she said. She rummaged through the shelves behind the counter. “Now if only I could find this second bottle.” With a loud A-ha, she turned back to the counter but Jake had already gone.

    Pain wracked his body. Poison, the old witch lied. What else could it be? His arms twisted and convulsed over the past two hours. The pain had started within minutes of leaving the potion shop.

    The skin tore, ripped wide along his forearms. Bones shattered and cracked, along his arms as black bone encased his hands. His ears too, burning pain grew out as he felt them stretch.

    Jake rushed to the bathroom, sick with the pain. As he chocked and gagged he felt a strange pull at his face. He saw it in the mirror, his face gone. At least the one he knew. In it’s place he saw a donkey.

  7. The man trudged in. He looked like a cubicle dweller, one of those from uptown. He looked depressed. I wondered what a man like him was doing in a place like this. Oh well. A customer’s a customer.
    “How’re you doing, friend? Something I can help you with?”
    “Well, I was wondering if you could get me something. Something… special.”
    “What, you mean like medicine?”
    You always have to be cautious, you never know if it’s the authorities.
    “No, something like a…”
    He leaned in close and whispered. “Potion.”
    So he knew about the stash. It didn’t look like the man belonged to the authorities. Heck, it didn’t look like the man belonged to anyone.
    “I have no idea what you’re talking about. But if I did, what would you need?”
    He gave me a sad smile. “Something to make me invisible. I just want to see if it really works.”
    “Alright. Here. This is a vial of… flu medicine. It should take effect in about five hours. Come back tomorrow to pay me if it works.”
    He left the store. It was only then I realized it.
    Oh no.
    The next day, he came back into the store, looking happy as ever.
    “It worked! Nobody at work noticed me! Brilliant!”
    I wasn’t sure if I had the heart to tell him that the actual vial of Invisible Potion was in my hand.

  8. Colorful glass bottles filled the shelves in the small shop, some tall, others not. A few seemed to glow but that could have been from creative lighting. The containers had only one thing in common. None were labeled. Yet the old woman who ran the shop reached behind several to grab this one for Bob.

    It was a longshot, but Bob was desperate. No job, nearly homeless, and the most fantastic woman he had ever met probably didn’t remember talking to him last week. Why would she? He was useless. That small blue bottle was his only hope. If it worked, Vanessa was sure to notice him.

    “The ointment must be used sparingly,” said the woman, as she took his last few bills and handed him the bottle. “Too much and there will be dire consequences.”

    Bob laughed. “Will I grow fangs or something?”

    A toothless grin spread across the old woman’s face, but there was no humor in it. “Remember, you must still find the root of your problem and prune it out. Otherwise it will only fester.”

    He left clutching the blue glass.


    Bob’s bottle of salvation slipped and smashed open. His heart raced. People screamed and ran. But Bob acted instinctively. In seconds he pinned the gunman and saved dozens.

    Days later, after the reporters were gone, after the job offers, Bob stood by the shop. He stared at the shattered pavement with the blue glass eyes and fangs. All he had really needed was confidence.

  9. “You will get what you want, but the spirits will extract their price.”

    He nodded, not really focused. He was eager to get the rite over and done with. If he won Vanessa and also gained fame and fortune, he would have everything he wanted. He was so caught up in the euphoria of that thought he was blind to the possibility of paying a price he would rue.

    He proposed to Vanessa two weeks later. Two months after he married her, he was awarded his first multi-million dollar contract. It was like that first contract was the ultimate rainmaker. For the rest of his life, he kept winning jobs, each of a higher value than the last. Every job came just as the previous one was in the finishing stages. Never did he win more than one contract at a time.

    Eight months after that, Vanessa miscarried. And again 16 months later. He went looking for the old witch. She had disappeared, and nobody knew anything.

    Vanessa miscarried a third time. And once more before conception stopped.

    The doctors were baffled. They could find absolutely nothing wrong with Vanessa or him. In his heart, another seed germinated.

    He rued at her grave forty years to the day after he married her. He did not know who would get his wealth, but he knew he would give most of it for a son.

    Maybe just one million, for the son to inherit. To consummate the pact with the witch.

  10. “You must believe,” she croaked. “You can achieve anything you want if you believe.” Edwin nodded eagerly and ran home as quickly as his skinny legs could carry him. He ignored the taunts… “Ed-win the loser. What’s the rush? Is the Wheel of Fortune on early?”
    Edwin ignored the words that on another day would have sent him home to depression and tears. He mounted the stairs to his bedroom, pulled the blinds shut and drank the potion down in one huge gulp. Then, he took a long hot shower as instructed.
    Was it the steam in the shower that made his head spin? He sat down and let the water run over him. The vertigo passed, and he dried himself and returned to his bedroom.
    Strangely, none of his clothes fit. Pant legs were too short. He couldn’t get his arms in his shirt. He stood in front of the mirror and saw… a new and improved Edwin with a body like David Beckham. He couldn’t very well meet Vanessa naked, so he slunk across the hall to Jake’s room and borrowed a pair of jeans and a polo shirt. His shoes fit, and he slicked back his hair.
    The coffee shop was crowded and he didn’t see her at first. Vanessa looked up as he stopped by her booth. Her eyes grew wide and she smiled.
    “Edwin, what have you been up to?”
    “Investing in our future, lovely.” He leaned forward. “How do you like me so far?”

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