Since you all seem to like the photo without the written prompt, let’s do it again. Use the photograph to the left as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry. There will be no written prompt this week.
Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture at left. 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 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.
Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories 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. Please note the rule changes for 2016.
11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Under Water”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. After all these years, there he was standing as bold as could be. He looked, but couldn’t see me lamenting behind the dense green foliage on the opposite side of this dungeon.
It would be the last day of his miserable existence when I got through.
It all started when me and the wife and kids were going back home from our Sunday fun day. I was the first to see a dozen ships closing in on us. I flipped over to the other side to protect my family and turned to face the predator on the lead ship. It felt like a little pinch, at first. I didn’t know the harpoon he threw was fixed with a powerful tranquilizer.
When I was allowed to waken a few years later, I was trapped in this transparent contraption with hundreds of different types of ocean life darting about looking for escape. It must have cost several fortunes to build such a prison. They used it for entertainment, allowing humans – for a price, of course – to come gawk at our misery. Could it be demolished?
Although I learned my family escaped, I vowed revenge for this living hell!
And, there he was. The harpoonist! Probably boasting of his capture.
I took a deep, deep breath, flexed my enormous Blue Whale fins, aimed my 200 tons at the shameless thug and hurtled to contact. Ouch! Damn!
Danny Phillips stepped off the moving sidewalk, in the Aquarium of Bay, on Pier 39. He enjoyed being in the tunnel of fish—fish swimming all around him; they distracted him from his troubles.
He’d come to recognize several of the sharks and had given them names—names for some of the human sharks he’d known. His favorite was a Leopard Shark he named Angelo after his dead best friend. Angelo Tedeschi—a vicious thug certainly, a psychopath probably, and yet caring to those very few he loved.
But he could only stand for so long, before the pain grew worse. He would exit and sit for a while on a bench and listen to whatever musician was playing that day. His favorite was a saxophonist whose melancholy melodies often matched his mood.
The aquarium people recognized the tall and gaunt looking police officer and allowed him to exit and re-enter several times each day. They learned he was a cop when he was once stopped for carrying a weapon. He was friendly but at the same time he kept his distance.
Sometimes he’d buy fruit at the farmers’ market, walk to the end of the pier, and watch the boats in the bay with Alcatraz in the background. When the tourists were not crowding the rail, he’d watch the sea lions . . . until the smell got to him. Other times he’d sit and watch the merry-go-round, the kids all excited and wanting “One more ride, please.”
Maggie held Jason’s arm unsteadily saying “Does this tunnel look a bit out of focus to you?” But before she had finished speaking, everyone in the aquarium fell down like a pack of cards. She couldn’t move or speak; only able to hear her beating heart.
Suddenly, the air became damp and heavy and the earth started to tremble, getting stronger at each passing second. Fight or flight came screaming into Maggie’s mind, in her paralyzed state. At that moment, the most hideous creatures rounded the bend, marching single file to the beat of the trembling earth, fixing their gaze on what looked like Jason! But they marched right past him focusing on an unseen sight.
As quickly as it had all started the earth became still, the air became light and the tunnel came back into focus. Everyone stood back up and continued chatting as if nothing had happened.
Shakily Maggie got to her feet, holding Jason’s arm again, saying ‘My god, that was terrifying, what the hell was it?’ Jason turned to Maggie laughing saying “What are you on about now, another shark sneaking up behind me, or a sting ray about to attack? Honestly Maggie you’re impossible”
Maggie stood in total silence wondering if she had imagined it all until she looked at the ground and saw what looked like a long string of pond scum, slowly looking behind her to where the creatures had gone she knew that her life would never be the same again.
Professor Susan Haywood, the archaeologist, could barely contain her excitement as she led the excavation crew down the long narrow flight of marble steps deep beneath the Sistine chapel, “Now remember this is one of the greatest discoveries we have ever made. From the Latin inscription on the door it appears to be a tomb, but whose?”
They halted in front of two giant circular doors chained shut. Susan pointed to the inscription on the great doors, and translated it, “Rest in Peace Here for all Eternity and Know the Only True Beauty of Our World.”
Susan took the bolt cutters and with two quick cuts the chains fell from the door handles, “Alright, pull these doors open. In a few moments we will find out what is really down here. Get the high beam lights on.”
In the bright lights, two hefty workmen strained to slowly pull the heavy doors wide open. On first light, the room appeared to be a dark empty tunnel, until they stepped into the tunnel and the light illuminated the spectacular curved walls and ceiling.
Everyone was speechless at the magnificent underwater sights encompassing them. Slowly they made their way through the tunnel of the most brilliantly colored frescoes of thousands of highly detailed underwater creatures swimming in and around reefs. They were literally surrounded by them. Finally, the tunnel opened into a large gallery of sea creature marble statues surrounding a beautifully carved sarcophagus with just one word on it, Michelangelo.
“Eddie, come over here. You’re not allowed to put your mouth on that window.
“You, Mister Staffo, get that hand off my hip.”
“Yeah, stand closer. I can hardly hear over all this shouting.”
“Ed carries the Anti Humility Gene. His frontal cortex makes it. Five million and expenses, cash.”
“Behind you, Melinda–problem.”
“That’s Miss Fiezans to you, Mister Staffo.
“Help you, officers?”
“Ma’am, please control your little boy. We’re getting complaints.”
“Yes, sir, Sergeant.
“Eddie, I said come here. Put your shorts back on.”
“One million, Melinda. How much of those genes can a six-year-old have?”
“He maxed out his gene levels this year. I’ve got three younger ones, at home, driving my mother crazy.
“No, Eddie, stand up. Don’t do that here.
“You can have his other body parts. Four million and I want video.”
“You wanna watch the whole process?”
“Of making Eddie fish food. I wanna watch it on tape, over and over again. Oh, no.
“Eddie, get up off that deck and stop–”
“Ma’am, excuse us, we have to ask you to–”
“Yes, Sergeant, what is it?”
“Ma’am, please remove your little boy. We’re closing the deck now for maintenance.”
“Three million plus disposal. You’ll get the video same day.”
“Cash. The sooner, the better.”
“We’ll be doing business again, Mel. Look forward to it.”
“I will. Again and again and again.”
The sorting, choosing and loading had begun. Even the dome could no longer sustain life as we knew it. As the line shuffled forward into the ship waiting to take the elite to seed our new home I followed and watched. The rest would be left behind to their own devices. The dome would be demolished as soon as all passengers were safely aboard.
Though chosen I hung back at the end of the line. While the others gazed in reverent goodbye at the beauty they’d leave behind I watched beyond the glass where the rest, the unfit, would be left behind. I saw what life outside the dome had done to them: the odd deformities, the strange colorations, the adaptive behaviours. I saw no such diversity inside the dome. The chosen looked as they had for millennia, perfect, unblemished – superior, no doubt. The best of the best, unchanged, protected, pure.
As the line neared its end and only a dozen or so remained to board the ship I turned back. No one saw me slip away. All their attention was forward, none willing to admit what they were leaving behind. I hid behind an oak, its trunk thick enough to ender me invisible.
The ship’s dock closed. The dome evaporated. I knew I had made the right decision.
The meek had inherited the Earth.
It’s Day 948 Post Meteor. I have finally made it to the underwater city. I hope that I will find you and the kids here.
I was starting to lose hope that we could ever be reunited until I met a man here who told me he and his wife were torn apart by The Wave but found each other a year later. I know it is almost three years for us, but I can feel it in my heart you are still alive.
Being encapsulated like this is making me claustrophobic. Remember how you used to laugh at me when we’d sit in a blanket fort with the kids and I’d start hyperventilating? I hold on to those memories. I shared a lot of stories with the other folks I was with on the floating island. I know in my last letters, I spoke of the trash we managed to pull together, and in time, we had built a small colony. I liked those people. We all worked so hard to reach this place.
And now that I’m down here, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to take it. I’ve already registered my name with the authorities, and checked for yours, and the kids’. They said they didn’t have you listed. I know that has to be a mistake.
If you get this message in a bottle, please know I will never, ever stop looking for you.
All my love,
“Hey, did you just get here.”
“Yeah. My wife and I just arrived. I’m Pete. You?”
“Maxwell. My friends call me Max.” He turned to the right. “Follow me, I gotta show you something.” Without waiting to see if Pete followed, he took three slight right turns and stopped. Pete came up alongside of him. “Have you ever seen anything like that?” Max pointed at several varicolored beings vertically aligned.
Pete’s jaw hung open and his eyes bulged at the sight. “No! What is the third one from the left doing? It looks like he’s intentionally shedding his skin.”
“They do that all the time,” Max said. “No one here has been able to figure them out.”
Pete swam forward to get a better look, but bumped into something hard. “What the…?”
“Sorry, I forgot to warn you about the invisible barrier separating us from them.”
I’d been to the aquarium several times and always felt slightly claustrophobic under the thick acrylic tanks tunneling under the mall. My grandchildren seemed to enjoy watching the sea life in a close semblance of their natural surroundings. Overhead a tiger shark swam back and forth. Four year old Tommy sat on my shoulders and pointed.
“Gramps look at the big fish.”
“That’s a tiger shark Tommy. Over there, that’s a bull shark.”
“How come there’s water on the floor Gramps?”
I looked at the puddle forming on the pathway a few feet ahead. I followed the wet trail up the wall. My worst nightmare was coming true. Before I could run for safety, a crack in the eight inch thick acrylic tank split open. Thousand of gallons of water filled the underground tunnel faster than I could get Tommy and myself out.
Gripping Tommy’s shirt, I kicked upwards. As the water settled into the tunnels ins and outs we were pulled along with the sea life. I was scared out of my mind but I thought I heard Tommy laughing.
When the water finally settled, I found myself and Tommy settled on a coral reef formation. We were safely above the water level and away from the dangerous animals.
I looked at Tommy and was relieved. He was neither harmed or traumatized, his big blues eyes open wide, a grin on his chubby face.
“I didn’t know this was a water park Gramps!”
This was a new, state-of-the-art aquarium. It was supposed to be safe. Yet, Ariel was sloshing through the carpeted walkway trying to get as far away as she could from the small crack that appeared only minutes into her hourly guided tour.
Thankful for her employee training, she eased her way through the crowd of tourists and quickly, but calmly said, “Attention everyone, please go to the nearest exit. There appears to be a breach in the glass near the entrance to the viewing tunnel and all visitors must exit the area immediately.”
After all ticket-holders had been accounted for, the maintenance crew began the arduous task of locating and repairing the crack.
“Ariel, I cannot see where there is a breach in the glass. Can you come over here and show me?”
“Jason, it is right there, next to the seam on the lower right corner. See, right there?” She pointed.
“You mean this strand of hair stuck to the glass? Come on Ariel, you’ve got to be kidding me, that’s not a crack.”
“Jason, why would the carpet be wet, then? The water had to come from somewhere.”
“Good question. I don’t see a crack anywhere along this wall.”
As Jason pulled the stray piece of hair from the glass, a deafening crackle filled the tunnel and gallons of sea water poured through the corridor – sweeping Ariel and Jason to their watery graves.
The next day, the headlines read, “Hair today … Gone tomorrow”.
Lily felt she could spend all day wandering through this exhibit, but Billy kept rushing her. As usual.
“I wonder why they keep opening and closing their mouths like that,” Lily mused.
“How should I know? C’mon, Lily. It’s going to be dark soon.”
Lily couldn’t help it. She always wanted to know the why of things. “Do you think they’re feeding on tiny plankton that we can’t see?” Before Billy could answer, she pointed to a school of small, multi-colored creatures huddled near the rocks. She headed toward them for a better look.
Billy groaned, but followed her.
Lily peered closely at the rock formation. “Ah! As I suspected, there are plenty of hidey-holes in there in case predators come along.”
Suddenly, the slow-moving school broke up and rushed right out into the open. How very strange.
“This is so boring. We should go.” Billy muttered.
She whirled and got right in his face. “This is the first day of the season, and you know I wanted to see all the improvements they made since last year. So just can it!”
Billy looked past her and screamed. “It’s behind you! Flee!” He fled.
“Not funny, Billy!”
“Hurry!” Billy yelled from the hidey-hole.
Lily rolled her eyes. “Boy, you can be such a jer -”
And that’s the last anyone ever heard from Lily as the shark swallowed her.
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