Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Migration

bosque del apache migrationl 1998
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below. There will be no written prompt.

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.

Author: Administrators

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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Migration”

  1. The monitors swarmed overhead, circling, diving, eyeing the unfortunate masses below. If one of them should try to escape, they would be targeted by a dozen annihilators, erasing them from the face of the earth. Hundreds had been destroyed in the last hour alone and sent adrift into the slow flowing waters carrying their lifeless bodies out to sea.

    The two men smiled. “Very interesting. Very good idea, Very good.” the one with the mustache said. “When we get back home we must devise a similar system to get rid of all those unwanted, what I call, vermin. Good riddance.”

    As they stood and started to leave the scene, patting each other on the back, the other replied, “Wunderbar, Mein Fuhrer.”

    The slamming of their car’s door sent thousands into flight, in an attempt to overpower their captors, as they raced for freedom.

  2. Damien followed the birds. He didn’t care what kind they were – snow geese, sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, what have you – it didn’t matter. The birds were the draw for his prey.

    South to north and back again, without fail, the birdwatchers were out in force, clad in their Army green and khaki outfits, laden with spotting scopes, binoculars, and books. They practically tripped over themselves to get to the blinds. And each time a different bird flew into sight, they’d start clucking and bobbing their heads like a bunch of chickens.

    Sooner or later, one would always go off on their own to “get a better look” at something or to “use the facilities.” That’s when Damien would strike.

    Birders were easy to overpower. Damien never even broke a sweat during the course of the thirty-or-so abductions. Well, he almost did the first couple of times, until he perfected his methods. Now he was so proficient, it had become almost boring.

    Damien wanted to stop. He was getting tired of it all. But each time he tried to get away, it would find him. How did it always know where he was? Sometimes, Damien would fantasize about being captured by the police. Then he’d have some relief – at least until he had to explain that a giant, man-eating, talking bird was ordering him to abduct people. He knew they wouldn’t believe him. Heck, he barely believed it himself.

  3. An audible grumble erupted from Julie’s stomach as she studied the birds clustered around the lake. A year ago she would have turned up her nose at the thought of eating seagulls. Since the plague, even bugs sounded like gourmet food.

    Beside her, Tom wrinkled his nose. “Scavengers taste sour.”

    The words sounded directly into Julie’s mind with wolf talk, a byproduct of the plague. The ability to communicate telepathically came in handy, especially when hunting. Not that it helped Julie much. Hunting wasn’t one of her talents.

    “I’m hungry,” she said. “That rabbit yesterday wasn’t enough meat for two people and a wolf.”

    “Tom catch rabbit.” said Storm, as he scratched his ear with a mud spattered paw. “Julie hunt birds.”

    Julie’s heart sank. All her practice shots had gone way off target. For weeks they’d worked their way down the coast, searching for a warmer climate before winter set in. The others had caught all the game they’d eaten.

    “You can do it,” said Tom.

    After a few deep breaths she pulled back the bungee cord on her sling and aimed. Squawks and feathers filled the sky, blocking the view of her target. Another dismal hunt. Dismayed, she continued to fire into the cloud of birds, praying for something to contribute to the pack.

    “Easy there,” Tom said out loud. “I think that’s enough.”

    Startled by the spoken words, Julie looked around. Half a dozen birds lay strewn across the ground. Maybe she wasn’t a hopeless hunter.

  4. First she would praise the spirit of the birds with song and dance. She would thank them with words they would understand. And they would forgive her, see that it was necessary for her to kill some so that she and her people would survive. The forgiveness was essential. The birds were a gift from the gods, a gift that the gods sent every year at this time. Wanasha had known and believed this her entire life.

    Her dance of praise over, she sat cross-legged and still on the muddy shore of the lake. Birds walked around her and flew over her, active but strangely silent. She watched them and enjoyed the beauty of their flight, swooping low, swirling high. And she thanked the gods in song for allowing her and her tribe to live here in this small paradise on earth.

    One bird, ruffling its feathers, landed near her. It cocked its head to one side.

    “Are you to be the first, oh Beautiful One?” Wanasha asked softly.

    The bird advanced slowly and dropped its head toward the ground. Wanasha touched the bird, stroked it, then reached for her knife.

    She would need more than one to feed the tribe, but more were approaching. She and the birds were fulfilling the wishes of the gods, and she was at peace. It was meant to be.

  5. Yesterday, when Walter went to bed, there were no white chickens what so ever in his wheat fields. However, today is a different story. At sunrise, he awoke to the clucking cacophony of thousands of unwelcome white chickens feasting on his wheat. He lamented the fact that he had pulled his Harvester out of the barn, but had not started harvesting his wheat, now it was too late.

    He stood there watching as the chickens slowly stomped across his wheat fields knocking the tall stalks over and pecking the grain up off the ground. Angrily, he loaded his shot gun and fired it into the air, hoping to scare some off, but they ignored him and continued to gorge themselves on his harvest. In frustration, he cursed aloud, “Dumb birds!

    His wife yelled from inside their home, “I got through to the County Agricultural Commission, they say there is nothing they can do! Something about them escaping from a farm up state last month and finders keepers”

    Walter stepped off the porch and started to walk among the chickens. When he looked back, he was shocked to see them gathered behind him and following him. This gave him an idea. So he slowly headed over to his empty barn and they all followed him inside, where he locked them in.

    From his phone he tweeted, “For Sale! Plump Organic Free Range Chickens!”

    Within the hour he happily sold the lot of them to KFC.

  6. So close to his father’s village now, but the One Million Geese were early this year, as far as the eye could see, resting, on their migration to Blood Lake. If he tried to pass through them, a plume would rise into the sky, fanning out like the white lava that explodes from Fire Mountain, giving his position away. Those following on fresh feet would overtake him by nightfall, before he could reach the safety of the hills.
    He could go around—an extra two days—but it was dusk, he was weak with hunger and thirst and he also knew what lay behind the grass veil at the edges of the flock: jackals, wolves, sabre-tooths and worse, much worse; the goose horde was also bewitching to the cannibals of the Dead Plains.
    If his pursuers captured him they would take him back, open his chest and let their dogs feed while he still breathed. Such was the penalty for entering their holy place and stealing a Firestone. To the people of Fire Mountain taking just one spark away meant Haksham: death. For him, it was Wassay: proof of manhood.
    He resolved that the right of passage to his Future Life must remain straight and true. He squirmed lower to hide the glow, his painted skin becoming invisible against the smooth pebbles, swearing on a hoarse whisper to wait for night and make his glorious sprint for home by the golden light of the Sister Moons.

  7. Raven stands upon the snow covered peak. The rugged, granite outcropping is above the evergreen tree level. A multitude of similar mountains span the horizon.
    Raven is staring up at the skies with blood-filled eyes, their usual lovely violet concealed in a horrific dull red. Her gaze is distant. What she is seeing is not within her physical visual range.
    Her arms are outstretched with palms facing upward. Her lips are moving rapidly as she murmurs an incantation. The words jumble together in an ancient tongue.
    The pictographic runes on her silken robes are shimmering; the black, arcing symbols rustle and move together and around the clothing they appeared to have been woven into. Millions of tiny dots of crimson wink in and out of the writhing ebony mass.
    A feathery shadow is racing across the sky, returning to its summoner. It momentarily occludes the wane, northern sunlight; much as a storm cloud will do at dusk. The ebony apparition is long, ending in what can only be described as ghostly tail feathers. The far reaching wingspan starts to retract – the length of the shadow consolidating, as it descends upon the Skiwa woman.
    It dissipates suddenly upon contact with Raven’s body. The blood in her eyes disperses, the irises resuming their deep purple hue.
    The flock has served their master well. The invaders from the sea have been repelled once again. Skiwa lands must remain untainted by the barbarians that thirst only for conquest and pillage. Though Raven’s people are few in number, the Quipa Cha spirit is strong with them. As long as there are birds within their land, she will be able to protect them all.

  8. The flock awoke and lifted off in a cloud of honks in the low morning fog over the pond yesterday. I like to watch the life outside mine from the porch some days since…well,since.

    The flock’s departure was like watching a great snowfall run in reverse, the flakes falling up, rising to a ragged, streamered ver and disappearing into their newly-risen cloud-voices calling it home.

    So I found it interesting today, as I stood on the porch just after dawn, when I saw a lone goose, silent, with gentle flicks of his great gray wings, gliding directly over my head, descending in a flat angle toward the empty surface of the pond out back.

    It troubled me to spy this lost piece of a greater puzzle, this misplaced symbol of the power of one in many and many as one.
    I wondered if he thought he saw the image of an approaching comrade upon the mirror of water, before he shattered its glassy calm into hundreds of spreading circles, each containing diamond pieces of that figure.

    The sun risen, I left him to his rest and returned inside, where I passed the framed photo on the wall of Sharon — the smiling portrait from before she got sick.

    And there upon its glass, maybe like that flock-seeking goose, I noticed the reflection of my face — my cheek to hers — and I said, “Good morning, babe,” and didn’t feel so lonely anymore, at least for today.

  9. Her perfect desert landscape, with its panoramic views and tiny bursts of fall color, clouded at once with a flock of winged birds descending as one great blanket from the sky. The call of the birds wasn’t loud, but it penetrated unwelcomingly into Sadie’s reflections on life.

    Coming or going? Or was this just a stop along the way? Sadie had come to Phoenix needing to escape the inflexible views of the east and the stingy ones of the Midwest. She’d craved respite, solitude, and well, something more. Something her own.

    Why, Sadie wondered, do the birds travel in such a large group? They reminded her of New York, where everyone follows the views of the few without individual thought. Or the Midwest, where the kids trace the footsteps of their parents even while asserting their independence? Sadie was starting to think that true diversity of thought didn’t exist anywhere.

    Sadie had always felt alone, even in a crowd. Principle meant she couldn’t go along, but she lacked the courage to express her dissent. And so she’d left, all of them, all of it behind.

    It was a sad fact that Sadie’s migration hadn’t led anywhere except to loneliness, a fact the birds made painfully aware. Sadie didn’t know if she could be herself within a gaggle that big, but one thing was sure: they were headed somewhere together and the comfort of family would buoy them against changing winds. For the first time, Sadie regretted leaving home without hers.

  10. At dawn Joy’s doorbell rang.
    — ‘Coming…’
    Joy and Ravi started their secret mission. Secret, because, parents say adventure means odd-venture.

    They walked to the valley; saw innumerable guests had come, flying all the way from some distant snowy land to India. Migratory birds. Smooth white, animating wide wings— Amazing! Beyond boundaries, they embody pure peace and pleasure.

    Joy noticed a noise, like stampede.
    Few rowdy boys were throwing pebbles at birds. Joy felt bad but kept mum, until came a sharp louder cry. Boys had trapped a bird. They were teasing it, as if enjoying its pain! Joy could not tolerate. Inhumanity of those boys shocked him.

    ‘Spare the bird I say!’ Joy raised voice to highest pitch.
    ‘Let’s have fun with it’ a boy argued.
    ‘Hey you! They expect a refuge here. And we’re human!’

    That was enough. Boys got stunned, and then ran away. But, the bird failed to fly. Fell. Oozing blood rushed over its white feathers. Joy took it to lap and rushed to a nearby clinic, Ravi followed. They begged help. Doctors helped.
    Joy took the bird home, nurtured. In two days wound was over. Joy tagged a red ribbon around its neck and brought it back to valley. But?
    All birds were gone. Could Joy leave his bird alone there? He turned to take it back home. Just as he turned, the bird became a beautiful girl. Said, ‘Oh my God! We migrate for true warmth. And, I’m the luckiest’

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