Flash Fiction Challenge: Not What It Seems

glowing sports drink writing prompt COPYRIGHT KS BROOKS
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

The creepy old woman with hairy knuckles stopped Jim on the street. There was determination with a hint of panic in her eyes. “You are chosen,” she said. “Guard this bottle with your life. The forces of evil want it badly.”

She forced what appeared to be a sports drink bottle into his gut, knocking the wind out of the slight man.

“But…what am I supposed to do with it?” he asked.

“You’ll know when the time comes.” And then she was gone.

Jim sat and stared at the bottle on his kitchen counter. Just as a forceful pounding on his door knocked pictures off his wall, the bottle started to glow…

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and 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. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Tuesday night, judges will select the strongest entries, and on Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Saturday morning, 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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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Not What It Seems”

  1. The Jack-o’-lanternish glow lit the room, casting off horrific shadows as the lights went out like a last breath. Simultaneously, a thunderous pounding on the door brought on an earthquake of terror.

    Grabbing the bottle from the counter, Jim pulled it into his sternum as mother protecting her newborn. Everything hinged on his ability to prevent whatever was coming from taking it.

    The pounding intensified. The terror Jim felt was like nothing he’s ever felt. He felt himself cowering. He wanted to protect the bottle, but was it worth his life.

    “Come on Jim,” he said to himself. “Your life can mean something . If the evil smashing it’s way into this house gets the bottle, you will die anyway. Don’t go quietly into the night, Jim. Get off your ass!”

    Jim’s adrenaline burst forth like a breached damn. He stood, looked at the door, and charged right at the beast splintering the door. As he burst through the door, everything went black.

    Water smashed down on his prostrate body pulling him from his black abyss. “You did it Jim!. I can’t believe you held on to it. You’re my hero man.”

    Jim rolled over and as his eyes began to open, the sun shined through dark silhouetted figures. One reached it’s hand out to pull him up.

    “What’s going on?”, Jim inquired.

    “You just scored the winning touch down man. You got hit pretty hard, but you held on to the ball. We celebrated by pouring Gatorade on you.”

  2. The pounding grows louder as the door begins to buckle with each assault.
    “I have a gun,” screams Jim trying to sound as convincing as possible.
    The pounding stops, just as the smell of something foul assaults his senses. The dreadful stench of rotting meat fills the room forcing him to gag and run towards the kitchen sink.
    What the hell have I gotten myself into? He thinks, wiping the vomit from the sides of his mouth.
    His eyes spot the glowing bottle on the kitchen table; he grabs it and heads towards the sliding glass doors to the balcony.
    To hell with the fate of mankind, he thinks. Maybe if I throw this damn thing off the balcony, whatever is at the door will follow it?”
    Suddenly, the front door explodes sending Jim backwards into the shag carpeting. Something heavy rests on his chest as he struggles for breath. He feels the pain of sharp claws penetrating his skin as he trashes back and forth trying to escape the evil intruder. The awful smell of rotting meat is back, as saliva from the mouth of this unearthly beast drips down on his face.
    “Dear God, please don’t let me die this way.” He says, pleading with his maker.
    A sudden calmness overcomes him as he hears the sound of purring and feels a gentle breath upon his face. A wet tongue licks his nose as his opens his eyes to discover his beloved cat Paws, sitting on his chest.

  3. ***FINALIST***

    I stand in the kitchen, watching in absolute disbelief as the door to my apartment is torn from its hinges like paper from a notebook. There, standing in what’s left of the splintered jamb, the hulking silhouette of an ancient beast. Its massive shoulders raise and lower with each phlegmy gurgle of breath.

    My eyes flick towards the orange bottle on the kitchen counter. The dim glow that had started to emanate has now been replaced by a faint pulsing. Not rapid, but the glow is slowly fading in and out. Without hesitation, I take the bottle in my hand and unscrew the cap.

    The floor quivers with each pounding step as the beast tears through the doorway. Its snarls are low and visceral; like an animals, yet, unlike. Furniture is tossed aside with little effort as it crosses the living room. Two close-set eyes bear down on me like binary stars, reflecting the faint light of the halogen bulbs above.

    Without a thought, I put the bottle to my lips. The liquid within is tart and warm, instantly reminding me of something from my youth. My gag reflex instantly kicks in, and I am unable to suppress it enough to get the fluid down.

    Liquid bursts forth from my mouth in a veritable explosion just as the beast approaches, showering him in the spray. Its grey flesh begins to smolder where the fluid makes contact; the creature writhing in pain.

    I hold the bottle up before my eyes.


  4. ***FINALIST***

    Jim ignored the pounding on the door and contemplated who would have chosen him to protect this or any substance from evil forces? On Halloween night no less! He was sure all sorts of evil would be running rampant tonight with the veil between the living and the dead at its thinnest.

    He was told he would know what to do when the time came. Hells bells, he didn’t have a clue. Jim grabbed a sprayer top from a bottle under the kitchen sink and screwed it onto the now strangely bright glowing bottle. Again, there was a forceful banging on his front door. Startled he picked up the glowing bottle and checked to make sure it was set to stream and not mist. When he opened the door he aimed and sprayed at the eyes, all of them! There was a burst of flames and the creature disintegrated before him. Jim pumped his fist in the air and yelled “SWEET.”

    He slammed his door and went to the liquor cabinet to grab a bottle of liquid courage. Stuffing a flask of Jack Daniels in his pocket, Jim headed out the door to look for more creatures of the night who didn’t belong on this side of the veil.

  5. ***FINALIST***

    Jim ran to the glowing bottle, wrapped it in his arms, and looked for his escape.

    “I know you have the Essence. Give it to me and I’ll let you live!” The not quite human voice said from beyond the door.

    “Not a chance!” Jim screamed as he raced down the hallway, locking himself in his bedroom as the living room door exploded into a million tiny splinters.

    There was no escape now. He was trapped. He and his bedroom becoming smaller with each booming footstep heading his way.

    “The game is over. No more playing. You have nowhere to run. GIVE ME WHAT I CAME FOR!”

    “Never!” He said backing away from the door.

    With a pop, the lock to his door fell away. This is it. The moment Jim knew was coming but still tried to resist. The moment of his reckoning.

    “Ok young man, you know there’s too much sugar in that to drink before bedtime. Now go brush your teeth.” Jim’s mother said, clearly frustrated by their nightly ritual.

    “Yes mom.” Six year old Jim said as he handed his mother the drink and walked towards the bathroom.

    “That was a close one sir.The Hive Queen almost got me this time, but I was able to save some of the Essence.” Space Captain Jim said as he boarded his Mach7 Turbo Fighter, taking a quick swig of the orange liquid from the bottle he had hidden in his pocket.

  6. With the second crash, Jim found himself under the table, clutching the bottle and thinking of old Civil Defense duck-and-cover films. Caught up in his own thoughts, Jim slowly came to realize it was now silent but the trashing of his heart. Fight or flee was no choice for Jim, he was definitely all about fleeing having his last real fight in high school. That old feeling of embarrassment came over him. What a beating that was and how they laughed at him. But, no matter if his conscious self was screaming to run, it simply could not overcome his body’s unconscious desire to freeze. Jim thought, “This is probably just one of those nightmares where you try to run but you can’t get your legs to move.” More silence finally started to shift the power balance from Jim’s body to Jim’s mind. On hands and knees, Jim inched himself part-way out from under the table and listened again but there was still nothing but the pounding of blood in his ears and wheezing of his breath in his chest. Finally finding the courage to stand up and still clutching but not thinking about the bottle, Jim noticed it was strangely windy in his kitchen. Looking up Jim could not believe what he was seeing. The roof was completely gone and towering above was a huge stuffed bear in a blue pea coat and a red hat reaching down for him. “Give the orange marmalade aurantium device to me!”

  7. The insistent pounding turned into forceful bashing. Jim’s doorframe shook and rattled as the person outside slammed against it. The bottle’s glow, orange and translucent, lit up the room. He felt the pull, the urge to grab it and pull it close.

    Jim raced for the doorway to his balcony and crossed the threshold with the bottle tucked under his arm like a football. As he stepped on the railway the door to his apartment exploded into the entryway. Big, ugly, twisted like a gnarly tree, the beastly man that followed the door into Jim’s apartment scanned for signs of life.

    The prospect of jumping the three stories to the ground were about as encouraging as the ugly in his apartment. But he could hoist himself up to the apartment above with no problem. He scrambled up and over and avoided the dreaded look down.

    The floor below him creaked and groaned under the weight of the beast. And then it reached the balcony, wood and steel were not designed for the weight that assaulted them. Jim not only heard but felt the strain as his apartment’s balcony began to pull away from the wall. The fingers that reached up over the edge of his perch yanked and the face followed.

    Running out of time and balconies, Jim spun the cap from the bottle and tilted the glowing liquid into his mouth. Not much just a single mouthful, the urge filled him just as the urge to protect the bottle. As the beast pulled the balcony down to its level Jim felt the change come over him. He stepped to the edge and jumped.

    In the rush of wind he felt his body jerk and slow. The beast hadn’t caught him, something more had sprung out from his body. Wings had broken free of his shirt and flapped him away from the certain death of the ugly and the ground below.

  8. It all happened so fast.

    Jenny, rushing in from her daily jog grabbed the sport’s bottle off the kitchen counter, twisted the cap off and took a large gulp before Jim could stop her. All he could do was watch as the glowing orange liquid dripped down off her perfect chin.

    Winking at Jim. She said, “Thanks, Snookums, I needed that. What the -”

    The house began to shake. Pictures fell off the wall, and dishes tumbled from the cupboards, crashing and breaking as they hit the floor. Jim heard a loud pounding, unsure if it came from the front door or inside his head. He stumbled along the hallway, using the wall for support. He lunged for the entranceway, but before he could open the door, Jenny screamed, and as sudden as it started, all the shaking and pounding stopped.

    The old broad’s words came back to him. “You are chosen. Guard this bottle with your life.”

    Afraid of what he might find, Jim headed back to the kitchen.

    Jenny hunched over the sink with her back to him. Her shoulders shook as she slowly turned to face him.

    “Oh my God!”

    The creepy old woman stood before him.
    “Where’s Jenny? What have you done?”

    She let out a screech of laughter sending a chill down Jim’s spine.

    Holding out the bottle clenched in her hairy knuckles, she croaked. “Here you go, Snookums, it’s time. You know what to do.”

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