Lynne Cantwell Wins Flash Fiction Challenge

Lynne Cantwell is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.)

Without further ado, here’s the winning entry:


flash fiction writing prompt 1998 cozumel dock
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Paradise Lost
by Lynne Cantwell

Donovan basked lazily in the hammock as the gentle Caribbean breeze caressed him. Alone on this tiny out-of-the-way island, he could at last live the simple life.

Here, he could just let time wash over him. He ate fresh fish and crab and fruit. He didn’t have to worry about shooting anyone or being shot at. He didn’t have to cope with any plans cooked up by idiot desk jockeys back in Washington. Most of all, he didn’t have to think about <em>her</em>.

He frowned as he rubbed at the ropy scar on his left shoulder. The aching in the old wound always seemed to portend trouble.

His brow furrowed as he heard a familiar low thrumming. <em>Of course</em>. He looked out over the water to see an all-too-familiar little black dot in the sky.

As the whir of the helicopter grew louder and unmistakable, Donovan swung from the hammock and walked back to his hut…


Island life was indeed simple. Nonetheless, he had built some high-tech features into his hut. He flipped the top on a small woven basket and hit the red button inside. With a whirr, his hut descended into a bunker. He flipped another concealed switch and along one wall, tiki heads slid aside to reveal closed-circuit monitors.

He poured himself a drink and waited.

In due time, the helicopter landed on the beach and she climbed out. He scowled. What was she doing here? She knew he’d never go back. And she’d lost her chance to join him.

He had to admit, though, she looked spectacular in her black leather bodysuit as she ducked under the rotors and began walking up the hill toward his hut. “Ralph!” she cried.

He keyed his mic. “My name’s not Ralph, Natasha.”

“My name’s not Natasha.” She spotted one of his cameras and focused on it. “It’s Ruth.”

“Sure, it is,” he said with a sneer. “Go away, Ruth. I’m not going back.”

“Neither am I.” She struggled out of her skintight jumpsuit, revealing a tiny bikini – and a prosthesis where her left leg should be. “You were right about them all along. They abandoned me, Ralph. Please let me stay.”

He finished his drink. Then he walked to the door and hit the red button again. As his hut surfaced, he strode out the door and took her in his arms. “The name’s Neil,” he said, and kissed her.

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