Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Primeval

blue spring state park tree fla 1998 flash fiction writing prompt copyrighted
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.

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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Primeval”

  1. The jungle somewhere turned from a normal, everyday jungle to a weird, primeval jungle. Strangler figs with their attendant vines became less evident, and cycads began appearing with more regularity. The sounds of the birds became less insistent, more furtive, secretive. Although the air was heavy with humidity, condensation no longer dripped from the tips of branches. A subtle breeze wandered mindlessly through the trees.

    This nameless valley in Costa Rica had never been mapped. Ringed by volcanoes, it had no trails leading in or out. Any sign of human traffic over the eons would have been wiped out by lava flows, then covered over with the verdant green of rampant jungle growth. It was, literally, a lost world.

    What new species might I discover here? Geckos, birds, monkeys? I wondered how to spell my last name in a Latin version: Hutchisoni? Hutchinsonii? I could never remember the correct way to convert to Latin. Well, no matter.

    Suddenly I heard noises that weren’t typical for the jungle. Loud thuds. A low rumble. The thrash of trees, branches whipping, although the breeze had dropped to nothing. Then, a beeping sound.


    Rushing forward as much as I could without tripping on corded tree roots, I batted the fronds and ferns away. Movement ahead. People walking. A backhoe ripped the ground, dragging out cycads with the dirt it clawed. That’s when I saw it. A sign. A huge sign.

    Coming Soon. Walmart.

  2. “Gosh, boss, you’re doing great.”
    “It’s a helluva climb!”
    “Just a few more yards. You’ll get a great view of Mount Popa volcano, too.”
    “Thought you said we’d only have to climb 2500 feet? Seems like 25,000 already.”
    “Hold on. We’re almost there. I was thinking. Maybe we should call the movie ‘The 777 Steps.’ That’s exactly how many there are to reach the monastery.”
    “Thanks a lot?”
    “No, no, no! Taung Kalat! We can have all those Macaque monkeys swinging and screeching all around as part of the scene when they discover the body.”
    “Let me think about it. Finally!!! Oh, my! This is magnificent! What a building! What incredible views! We’ll shoot the entire movie right here in Burma. I’m sure those monks will give us permission if we give them enough rupees or pounds.”
    “So. You think ‘The 777 Steps’ is a good title for the film?”
    “Before we started this production, I’d been thinking of another plot title to be filmed back in Britain. Maybe we’ll use if for this one, instead. It will keep the audience confused and guessing. It’s one way to keep them interested, if we ever get around to filming it.”
    “What title is that,?”
    “How about ‘The 39 Steps,’ or some such thing.”
    “Great Scott, Hitch. You are positively amazing!”

  3. Lush, tropical vegetation rolled out for as far as the eye could see. The rain forest teamed with life of every kind imaginable. The sounds of which transformed the dense atmosphere with its melodic tones.

    Beyond a copse of Bilbao trees, next to a grassy rise, lay the prehistoric beast. Silently, it waited.

    How long had it been this still? Not a muscle flinched. Not an eyelid blinked. Even its breath seemed to be held indefinitely. Perhaps it was merely a stone rendition, mimicking the form of a predator.

    It certainly seemed an innocent outcropping of rock as the large, white bird descended upon its stony indifference. The pheasant, so full of its own life, so eager to find a nice spot upon which to rest, settled upon its dark features.

    As the avian took to preening its wings, unaware of the danger it had placed itself in, the primeval creature snapped its impressive jaw, sending a cascade of feathers to slowly flutter to the valley floor.

    The living music of the jungle ceased at once, as the death screech was cut short.

    Once again, the killer reptile assumed its statuesque role in the landscape.

  4. What do you think? You must admit there’s nothing like The Villages, Lakewood Ranch, Boca Grande, and Naples. The homes with their two and three-car garages; pools for skinny dipping; shallow lap pools for the health conscious; golf courses; night clubs; hospitals surrounded by fields of parking lots and lush vegetation, housing developments sprouting up like weeds and kept pristine with pesticides, are the envy of the world. Let me welcome you. My name’s Florida.

    A few billion years ago I was a primeval forest, a virgin. I’d never seen so much as an ax. Back in that day I never heard the howl of a child, the quarrel of a married couple, the cross-fire of a drug war. I was innocent and boring, save a blood bath from primates who owned the land. Sometimes I miss the vegetation and flowers of that long ago day. Today’s black panthers, wild pigs, domestic dogs and cats aren’t as thrilling as the giant lizards I once knew.

    I can easily live with that loss if only I knew why I’m so thirsty. I didn’t mind losing my virginity. Actually, it was fun to receive so much attention. But, I do miss my gentle afternoon rains. Will I die eventually of thirst, just because I felt the prick of an ax, and responded to the lure of man? Or, am I experiencing a different life cycle? What do you think?

  5. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t remember how I got here.

    Moss underfoot cushioned every step – no shoes needed. A scented breeze caressed my skin. The melodic calls of birdsong harmonized with the sounds of singing frogs. A chorus of insects provided counterpoint. Luscious fruits and nuts hung low in the canopy, within easy reach.

    Eden must have been like this, Heaven on Earth. Even the animals gave no hint of threat or fear – to me or each other. It was perfect.

    A gleam through the trees told me I’d find water. Biting into a ripe mango I strolled toward it. There, turtles sunbathed on lily pads. Water droplets sparkled as they followed the arcs of fish that leapt with joyous abandon.

    Stripping off my loin wrap I slipped into liquid bliss. Fish tickled my legs making me laugh aloud. I eased into a back float, the sun warm on my closed eyes.

    Then I rolled over and dove under to see what I could see. When I ran out of breath and lifted my head to resurface I couldn’t find up. Every direction looked the same. I thrashed in panic, desperate to find the surface. My chest felt about to burst. I fought not to take a breath. My vision went red, then black.

    “Mr. Stone.” Strong hands held me down.

    I opened my eyes, confused, coughing, gasping, and met frightened eyes.

    “Mr. Stone. Are you all right? Something went wrong with the dream machine.”

  6. He couldn’t speak. He had no name. Language would not be created for millennia. He made his needs known with guttural grunts and gestures.

    He was a skilled hunter and a warrior, providing food for the others and protection from all predators.

    He could learn: sharp sticks could kill, chipped stone tips could kill better. He had captured fire after a fierce lightning storm: now this carnivore added a new dimension in his diet.

    He could mate and did so frequently. Occasionally the female would swell to great size and after a time burst forth with a small version of himself. He knew not why.

    He could paint: using the blood of his prey, ocher and charcoal from the fire. he fashioned pictures as offerings to the forces that seemed to control both the seasons and the hunt.

    Muscular and covered in animal skins, he resembled the lowland gorilla he often saw at the forest’s edge.

    He was…primeval.

  7. Jim became a celebrity in his school owing to his excellence in weaving lies. With an innocent face, he used to clarify this as his art of story showing.

    Once, on botanic study tour, Jim reported his conversation with a tree:

    I heard a cry, ‘Save me from the giant!’
    I asked, ‘Who is it?’
    ‘I’m the tree in front of you’
    ‘How can a tree talk?’
    ‘We talk in thoughts. Once I could run too. Now none hears me, luckily you heard’
    “But ‘Giant?’ ”
    ‘It was attacking. I ran to this valley, hiding here’
    ‘Tell me how it looked?’
    ‘See, I’m drawing on the mud with twig’
    ‘Hmm, like elephant— big tusks— hairy— you mean mammoth?’
    ‘Mamm…what? I didn’t know its name, I was just a sapling then’
    ‘Don’t worry. It’s extinct now’— ‘Oh, that means you are prehistoric?’
    ‘Preh… What?’
    ‘I mean… oldest’
    ‘May be’
    ‘What’s your age?’
    ‘How would I know? Long since I had been asleep. As I woke up, found myself in this uncomfortable atmosphere, suffocating, surrounded by strange creatures like you. I tried to move but could not’ It continued, ‘I’m feeling sleepy…’ and never talked again.

    Irritated by this ‘Idiotic bluff’ Jim’s teacher started typing a rustication note:
    ‘Principal Sir,
    May we consider Jim …’
    — interrupted; peon came exclaiming with joy:
    ‘Sir, experts said that the primeval tree is more than six thousand years old! Jim is genius’

  8. On his third day without food after his extraction chopper crashed, Byrne knew if he didn’t eat soon, it wouldn’t be long before he’d be eaten. Survival of the fittest was the rule from Benning to Beirut, Mosul to Mogadishu, places he’d thrived as a different type of hunter for years.

    Now, though, he had no sniper’s rifle, no weapon to use against Nature. Just his body and mind.

    “C’mon, remember survival school. Follow streams. They’ll lead to rivers and rivers to civilization,” he said aloud. But the rainy season ended last month and streams now were muddy ditches. He followed one, which occasionally trickled into puddles from which he sipped. But it was never enough.

    “This better be downstream,” he said, looking up into the surrounding copse of trees. It’s dappled glare painted his face in shadow and light, blearing his vision. Dehydrated, he wondered if that really was a young antelope draped on a branch above.

    “Wait! Big cats store their kills—meat—in trees,” he said.

    Shinnying up, flashes of light and shadow danced about, like from a descending chopper’s rotor left him spellbound. Then a larger shadow, like a landing chopper’s, covered him with darkness.

    On his fourth day without food, Byrne no longer worried about water or food. On a branch near the carcass of a young oribi, sun and shade still dotted his upturned face. The hunter of men had become just another day’s prey on the shadowy shelf of a leopard’s larder.

  9. Mary O’Malley, Time Traveler, never expected to be propelled high and fast into tree branches. She now viewed a world through her cracked face plate. She muttered, “Oh No! Where did I end up this time?”

    She struggled to untangle herself from the branches and unexpectedly fell to the mossy ground. Where She checked her suit and return time settings. The time dial looked alright, but the limiter knob felt a bit wobbly. All that meant was she would bring back a little bit of the area around her. No big problem usually just dirt or mud. Luckily, Mary had just enough repair kit epoxy to reseal her helmet.

    She heard a branch snap and she broke out in a cold sweat when she saw a seven foot tall T-Rex staring at her from between giant fronds, but it looked more curious than hungry. On a hunch, she picked up a stick and threw it. It ran after the stick right past her, but it brought it back to her and dropped it at her feet, wanting her to toss it again.

    She threw the stick as hard as she could and ran the other way. As luck would have it, the T-Rex caught up with her on the mud flats just as she hit the time return button, and they were both transported back to today. The techies scattered out of the time portal control room when Mary and her pet T-Rex surprised them.

  10. For three grueling weeks my associate, Mantuke, and I had been exploring a small island off the coast of Jamaica. The island was suspected of being the ancient tribal home of the Kwadrils, also known as the dancing ghosts. Over the last half mile the signs indicated we were getting close. Large tree branches meandered out, swooping down, almost touching the ground before jutting upward toward the sky. It was legend that when the Kwadril danced, nature would dance with them. These trees had danced before.

    A sudden clap of thunder brought me back to the present time.

    “Dr. Ursain, we must go.” cried Mantuke, his large brown eyes darting all around. “The gods are not happy with us being here.”

    “Nonsense, my son. We are too close to turn back now.”

    We had continued only a few hundred yards when Mantuke stopped dead in his tracks and began to shiver visibly. Sweat beads arose on his forehead and I could see his eyes roll back in their sockets. “Superstitious natives. If I could make this trek alone I would.” I thought to myself.

    Then I saw it. Not twenty yards ahead, a dense cloud drifted out of a rock formation moving toward us.

    Running forward I grabbed Mantuke’s collar. I stumbled and we both fell through the mist landing in the opening of a cave.

    It was only then that I heard the music and saw them: Croce, Hendrix, Bowie and Elvis, and Bowie was singing – Let’s Dance.

  11. The grass rustled as Katherine paced to the end of the walled garden. Palm fronds in the winter, she thought. Why now?

    She felt as old and gnarled as the empty bark trees that surrounded her. Five months of waiting. We have a chance, he said when he left with the others. A chance to save the planet, to reverse global warming. A green vine snaked over the leafless limbs, and the grass seemed inches higher since yesterday. Would he have left if he had known she was pregnant?

    Why should I walk in the garden? They had spent countless hours trying different combinations of plants to find something that could grow in the unrelenting heat. She laughed, a bitter sound that echoed in the enclosed space. They still had plenty of water and sunlight, but food supplies were limited. Now vines crept in under the ceiling in their living quarters. She could smell the chlorophyll, breathe it in with the night air. Sometimes she wondered if her baby would be born green. She rubbed her stomach. And if the baby comes early, what will I do? Of the original 19 scientists, 3 remained. Lucy and Doris and me, she mused. And they are pregnant, like me. How will we survive?

    That afternoon, the hot sun turned the clouds pink. Another palm frond unfurled against the window. Katherine sat in the rocking chair, hugging her stomach as she stared out at the garden. Maybe we can eat the plants.

  12. Twisting tree limbs surrounded Kimba as he slipped through the jungle. A sweet, earthy scent filled the air, drawing him forward like an irresistible string. Kimba cautiously placed his feet as he crept onward, loathed to disturb the silence. Even the cicadas had ceased chirping. Something didn’t feel right. A golden flash amidst the greenery caught his eye. Kimba froze, heart racing.

    “Dum, dee-dum, dee-dum-dee-dum-dee-dum-dee-dum-dee-duuum, dum-dee-dee-dum.”

    The deep, reedy sound made every hair on his body stand on end.

    “Dum, dee-dum, dee-dum-dee-dum-dee-dum-dee-dum-dee-duuum, dum-dee-dee-dum.”

    Kimba flicked his tail and waited for the perfect time to attack the intruder. This was his territory. No demon interluder was permitted to voice its call. With a fierce roar, he launched himself at the trespasser.

    “Marge! Your crazy pink cat is attacking my saxophone again.”

  13. Jacob stopped. He could hear something scratching. He wandered to the side. Nope. Not coming from there. He wandered the other way. Yes, it was over here. It grew louder as he placed his ear up against a branch. The seven-year-old boy had always liked bugs, but this one excited him. His mind raced with images of 100-legged spiders, centipedes the size of his arm, and bees bigger than an office building.

    Suddenly a tiny beetle poked his head out of a hole in the branch. Jacob sighed. If he could have one thing in the world, it would be for his fantasies to come to life. The beetle crawled into Jacob’s hand and he carried it home with him. Right before he climbed into bed, Jacob wished upon a star.

    That night it broke through into the earth. The star Jacob had wished on crashed in his backyard with such a crash it woke the neighbors. But a tiny piece of dust flew from the yard and hit the beetle. It shivered for a while and crawled under Jacob’s pillow. The star remembered Jacob’s wish and Jacob dreamed he walked through the forest again. This time, 100-legged spiders, centipedes the size of his arm, and bees bigger than an office building crawled out to greet him. Jacob woke the next morning very happy. The beetle lived to a long age and the star lived on inside of it, creating Jacob’s fantasies in his head every night.

  14. Og sad. Og alone. Again.

    Og just try to make pretty girl happy. Og try to get honey for pretty girl.

    Bees no like Og. Bees stab Og. Og run very fast and very far. Bees chase Og into cave. Tribe scream and yell. Tribe get stabbed by bees. Tribe get mad at Og, chase Og out of cave.

    Bees still follow Og. Og get stabbed under loin cloth. Og walk funny now.

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