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.
10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Boardwalk”
“Charlie, you’re too old for this,” they had said. “Get someone to help you. Or better yet, hire somebody to do the work!”
Invariably he would reply: “No, I prefer to do the work myself.” To Charlie it was a special place. A sacred place.
Charlie had lived on the gulf coast his entire life. As a child, he would play with the neighbor boys building sand castles and vanquishing imaginary pirates.
Why, he had even married his beloved Gwen right there: the boardwalk festooned with candelarias, tulips and bunting, they enjoyed an al fresco reception attended by childhood friends. They had been in love and married for twenty-five years.
“Tear it down, old man. It’s just too much for you!”
For ten years he made a daily pilgrimage, strolling down the boardwalk. And every year after the storm season ended he would mend the wooden path: staining, replacing broken timbers, removing winter’s overgrowth.
This year was no different. He drew comfort from the familiar surroundings.
As he warily negotiated the steps that lead down to the sole patch of greenery at its end, Charlie stood in silence for a moment: this was, after all, his beloved Gwen’s final resting place.
“I’ll be back tomorrow, darling.”
It’s getting dark and she really should get going. But it’s so pretty here; peaceful, a little oasis in the middle of the city. It reminds her of home. Silly, really, she’s only been gone a week. Her mother still calls her twice a day to make sure she hasn’t been murdered on the side of the road or assaulted on her way home from work.
“Don’t scoff at me LouAnn,” she’d say, “Betsy’s daughter gone off t’the city and ain’t nobody heard from her again.”
She’d roll her eyes, careful not to let her mother hear the smile in her voice. “Well Betsy’s granddaughter never did have a lick of sense. Not like me, momma. I’ll be alright.”
She walks further down the boardwalk, the setting sun casting a golden-pink tint over the green. The trees are taller here. Back home the leaves aren’t so thick. It wraps thick branch arms around her, the smell of the earth and the murky stream, frogs chirping and branches rustling; if she closes her eyes she could be in her own backyard.
The planks behind her creak and her eyes fly open, adrenaline making her heart hammer behind her ribs as she spins around clumsily.
“Sh, sh,” the man says, already only three steps behind her and still approaching. How had she not heard him before? She needs her keys, stuffed somewhere in her purse. She needs her phone, zipped in her coat pocket. She needs her mother.
It is said that you should never put all your ducks in one boat.
From the boardwalk, the crowd watched as the duck boat broke through the tall reeds on the bank and slide into the lagoon. Suddenly, a giant Gator attacked the passengers sitting nearest the water. Screaming and fighting for their lives they beat off the Gator with anything they could grab.
Grasping the boardwalk hand rails, Clem and Clyde Dolittle, the animation engineers, nervously watched as the Swampland Park’s first duck tour boat pulled up to it’s berth next to the boardwalk. As Walt Winslow, the park owner, disembarked from his new ride, he excitedly exclaimed, “Wow! What a thrill ride! I Can’t believe how realistic you boys made that last Giant Gator! Why I actually thought it was real and was coming to get me. It even tore my shirt! Awesome! You both did an outstanding job with that ride. Congratulations! You’re both getting a big bonus for that one.”
When they heard this, the two engineers grinned from ear to ear and nervously replied stuttering, “Ah, thank, thank, thank you, Sir.”
Walt then turned and left with his entourage. As soon as Walt was out of ear shot, Clem leaned over to Clyde and quietly asked him, “Ok which one of us is going to tell him that last giant Gator was a real one and not part of the ride?”
Clyde thought for a moment and then quietly whispered back, “Let’s hope he never finds out.”
My girlfriend Sara’s idea of being one with nature is watching a nature documentary on the Discovery Channel. So you can imagine how surprised I was when she reluctantly said yes to my invitation to stroll along the boardwalk at Swanson Nature Park.
On the drive there she asked several questions.
“Are there a lot of flies and mosquitoes?”
“Flies yes, mosquitoes no.”
“What about bears and other critters?
“Probably not, but you’ll see fish, birds, plants, turtles and maybe even a gator or two.”
“Don’t worry the boardwalk is elevated. Gators can’t get up there.”
By the time we arrive, all of her questions had been answered.
Fifteen minutes into our walk, she stops, wraps her arms around me and says, “I love this. Why did we wait so long to come here?”
“Hmm, I didn’t think you were into nature.”
“Well you’re wrong. This is relaxing, secluded and very romantic,” she says, kissing me softly on the lips.
“I’m glad you . . .”
Her eyes grow wide and she says, “Did you just brush your hand against the back of my leg?”
“No I . . . .”
A loud scream pierces my ears and I stand paralyzed watching poor Sara sprinting down the boardwalk running for her life.
I look down and notice a harmless black snake slither across the boardwalk.
If only Sara had been in the Garden of Eden, instead of Eve, life would have been so different, I think, laughing out loud.
It was the perfect place to rest, better than a doorway or a crowded shelter. A million times better than the homes Clarissa used to put him in. Nights under the boardwalk. Under the stars. The only sounds the croaking of frogs and occasional whispers of young lovers strolling above him. Heaven!
He spent his days wandering the city streets, watching the people endlessly hurrying about. He knew no one and no one knew him. Then one day while sweeping a sidewalk for a meal he heard a shrill voice coming from inside the cafe. Clarissa? No! It couldn’t be! How could she have tracked him this far, to this remote place?
He looked up cautiously. His heart raced. It was the dreaded Clarissa. He wanted to run, but he forced himself to walk away, slowly. He headed for his sanctuary under the boardwalk, not looking back.
Why couldn’t she just let him be? What did she need with a father? She should have a husband, a couple of kids, forget about him, but no. Not her.
A police car pulled up and Clarissa got out.
“He’s there, under the boardwalk.”
The police officer dragged him out.
“You look terrible!” Clarissa said. She dabbed at his face with a baby wipe, not seeing the tears. “You look terrible, but don’t you worry. I’ll take care of you. Haven’t I always?”
The beauty of the boardwalk and the despair of her father were both lost on her.
“I could walk for miles when I was in my prime.”
I looked down at my trembling body. My left leg had given out last year when I was scrambling out of Jacob’s runabout. I don’t even want to talk about the right leg. Damn knee feels like a pit bull has glommed onto it and had a good long chew…was still having a good long chew.
“Oh yeah, Unc! Me, I like to drive. Surprized the old lady loaned us her wheels.”
Willy was not a bad kid. He’s my sister Maude’s youngest. Had him way too late. Maudie was forty-five when she got pregnant with him. The older three had left home. They were long gone.
Willy was twenty-nine and didn’t look like he would ever leave. When I mentioned to Maude that I wouldn’t mind visiting Willow Glen one more time before…well, she was quick to offer up Willie’s chauffeuring skills. “He’d be happy to drive you, Charlie. And he’s getting on my nerves. Never goes out; on the computer till the sun comes up.”
“So why Willow Glen, Unc? Didn’t the town kinda die?”
Yeah, I thought. It had…died. Maudie and I had grown up there. With Stevie.
Stevie had been my first. Strangely, I barely gave a thought to my fratricide.
“It died. Every so often,” I said, “I like to return. Go out to the Marsh Boardwalk. See the old bottomless swamp one more time. You’ll love it.”
“Okeydokey, Unc. It’s your dime.”
Peaceful and one with nature, I walked. My week had been beyond hectic and I needed this time to myself. I breathed in the crisp air and listened to the chirping of frogs and birds in duet. A breeze lifted my hair and leaves whoosh, whooshed high overhead.
The boards underfoot were solid and kept me safely above the bogs. I stopped in the center of the pathway and looked to the farthest point of the boardwalk that passed through a growth of mangroves.
I was the only human on this span of boardwalk even though there were wet footprints. It was cloudy but hadn’t rained in the last twenty four hours. I followed the footprints until they disappeared from sight under the mangroves. I no longer felt at one with nature and began running back. My overactive imagination sensed something sinister, raising the hairs on the back of my neck. I was no longer alone.
I heard panting and a clickety clack on wood. Reaching the end of the pathway, I felt relief. There was a man, a friendly face.
“There’s my Buddy!”
I was confused. I had to keep running and convince the man to follow. I heard a sharp yip followed by several barks. I looked behind me and there, nearly at my ankles was a beautiful golden retriever, happily circling his master.
“Come here Buddy. Leave the pretty lady alone.”
I stopped in my tracks. Did he say pretty lady?
I can learn to like dogs.
I’m surprised to find the boardwalk in such good condition, considering how long it’s been abandoned. Maybe that’s because no one has used it in years – not since “it” came.
First it was the Johnson boy and his girlfriend who snuck off for some mischief. Then, it was the Coleman brothers, looking for somewhere to fish. Next were the search party members who went to look for them. Fish and Game officers, pets, the wildlife in the marsh – you name it – little by little, they were all disappearing. Whatever it was, it was hungry. And it wasn’t going to stop. So we put a barricade at the entrance of the boardwalk, to keep everyone out.
It didn’t even occur to us that we needed to keep “it” in.
After “it” came into town and took little Betsy Sawyer, we starting boarding up our homes at night. Well, those of us who didn’t leave, that is.
Dad insisted on staying. He was born here, we were born here – it was our right to be here. My brothers and I have been scared to death ever since. Croatan’s a ghost town now – so quiet – and so creepy. But at least you can hear the thing coming. Unless, of course, you’re deaf, like Jimmy, my youngest brother. “It” got him yesterday.
I look down at my belt of grenades and pipe bombs and know that whether “it” kills me or not, chances are, I will kill “it.” And that’s all that matters.
Dwain wiped sweat off his face, wondering why Carlos and Adrian had insisted they trek along this narrow boardwalk. There wasn’t anyone or anything for miles besides watery grass and a few trees. He wanted some excitement, like he’d had the other day at the night club.
“This place is dull,” he said. “Why’d we come here?
Carlos smiled and slapped him on the back. “I told you. It’s a surprise.”
“You’ve been saying that for an hour,’ said Dwain. “This nature stuff really isn’t me. Let’s go find some action.”
“Chill, Dwain. You’ll get plenty of action, but you gotta see this first.”
“Just up ahead through those trees,” said Adrian “You’re going to love it.”
Dwain scowled and slapped a bug on his arm. “I better.”
Carlos waved him over to the railing as soon as they entered a small wooded area. “Look down there.”
Dwain squinted at the dark water. “All I see is a cloud of bugs. What’s so special?”
“It’s private,” said Adrien.
Both Adrien and Carlos grabbed Dwain and heaved him over the railing. Bug filled water filled his mouth. His hands sunk into the muddy bottom and stuck. Finally, he twisted enough to keep his head above water.
“That girl you messed with the other day,” said Carlos, “Was my baby sister.”
“You should have listened to her when she said no,” said Adrian. “Have a nice swim and watch out for that gator.”
The sullen white house on the hill, with no indoor plumbing, loomed over the end of the boardwalk and the girl on it. An ocean breeze caressed her yellow hair.
Biting her lip, she tightened her grip on the bringer of joy, and sauntered towards the house, imagining where to start first. Time to stop the torment, she grinned. The boardwalk seemed to creak in approval.
They were miserable, resentful parents. Especially Abby, her disgruntled stepmother. How could they treat her and sister, Emma, so heartlessly all those years? Thank goodness, activities in church affairs helped her cope with the assumed misfortunes of her life.
She became overwhelmed reliving the many heartaches that etched her mind. Andrew, her penny-pinching father, slaughtering all the pigeons she had built a roost for in the barn. The recent quarrel with Uncle John. And, everybody getting violently ill after dinner, were just a few of the miseries that helped her reach a crucial decision.
She stepped into the quiet house and glanced at her father dozing on his sofa. Later, she mused, but first….. She tip-toed upstairs to Abby’s bedroom. Smiling, she took a deep breath, raised her arm with delight, and pretty “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw……..“
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