Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Desolation

flash fiction writing prompt mono-lake-california-june-2001-copyright-ksbrooks
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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6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Desolation”

  1. Was it my imagination, or did I really see a light blinking above the distant mountains? No. It was real. Getting brighter, and closer, too.

    They were coming to bring me back to their world.

    The visibility in this part of the universe squinted my eyes, but I could see the misshapen forms teeming below the water’s murky surface, hoping I would dare to hide in their piranha-like midst.

    Crawling over the slimy kelp, I coiled behind one of the larger rock formations, trying to become invisible by covering myself with the green ooze.

    The light got brighter.

    Reaching into my side slot, I brought out the 6-dimensional vision of my loved ones.

    The blinding light now hovered directly overhead.

    I couldn’t see the image anymore, but I remembered the scene of their joy as my alluring mate wrapped her tentacles around our offsprings’ asymmetrical forms while playfully slithering in the mounds of stardust. I hissed a kiss goodbye .

    Suddenly, a swooshing vacuum sucked me up into the light and, at triple warp speed, whisked me back to the misery of Satearmar and, alas, the end of my existence.

  2. Another Day

    On the morning after, she roused me from my media slumber and said, “Let’s take a walk.”

    I shook off the dust and cobwebs of opinion and angst and dressed warmly.

    “Where do you have in mind?” I asked.

    “To the sea,” she answered, as expected.

    Our path to the ocean took us first through the memorial of trees which, ever fragilely, continue to shelter us from the encroachment of others. Then, through subdivision after familiar subdivision, we silently picked our way.

    It was November and the dawn mist still hovered in patches, mingling in spots with swirling smoke from the few remaining antiquated wood stoves.

    “We should do this more often,” she said as her arm, linked in mine, pulled me just a little closer.

    “We do,” I reminded her. “It’s just…you forget.”

    “I do?”

    “Yes, sometimes you do.” And to soothe her, or me, I added, “So do I. Sometimes.”

    “You do? How sad.”

    As we came to the rise where we often catch our first glimpse of the sea, there is a silence. The sea had pulled back, restless, perhaps, seeking to restore itself.

    “There is a tidepool in the affairs of men…” She says this as she always says it. With an acceptance, a haunting acceptance. And a fraction of memory.

    “Tide,” I remind her.

    “Tide?”

    “Yes. Though there clearly are tidepools. Here, at least.”

    “Where life begins.” She knows this.

    “Yes, my love.” I draw her close and remember seas once sailed.

  3. The weight of desolation bears down on me in this crowded room. As I stand in my little black dress—this month’s version—shaking hands and plastering my Crest-whitened smile across my airbrushed cheekbones—I breathe in and out, trying to ignore the echoes of my nervous heartbeats. ‘I am a fraud!’ ‘I am not really interested in your latest achievements!’ This room may be what many aspire to, and yet, I can’t bear the loneliness.

    Later, as I post my picture in the same fabulous dress, arms locked with my dashing tuxedo-clad husband (real bowtie and all) behind the lonely, anonymous wall of social media, I await the gushing likes and loves. After 60 such thumbs-up, I shut down and give up, satisfied and deeply worried that this empty existence is all that matters to me.

    Maybe it’s time for a Facebook break, a Pinterest vacation. So, it’s off to the lakeshore, its white jagged rocks and mountainous horizon fills me with a welcome solitude. Here I really am alone and I’m less worried about feeling that way. Here it’s acceptable that my friendships are mostly casual and artificial, just like the money, black dresses and bowties.

    I am one with the empty, desolate shore. It moves along, day by day, its rocks slowly eroding but unseen. From the outside you cannot see or know how the loneliness chips away at me. How I long for deeper relationships, better things—maybe things not of this shallow world.

  4. Wreckage and carnage surrounded me. To my left, an array of twisted metal, luggage and personal belongings. To my right, a man, his eyes open and lifeless. I remember seeing him board the plane and thinking how handsome he was. He had taken the window seat behind me. 
    I sat up slowly. Feeling each limb and movement, making sure I was in one piece. All appeared well. I was alive. The realization of what occurred sent chills through me. Where were the rest of the passengers? Where was the adorable baby that had smiled at me over her mother’s shoulder. 
    Panic stricken, I searched the area for anything, anyone, that may have survived. All I found were colorless, lifeless bodies. All strangers, all dead. I picked up a few article of packaged food, items that would have been snacked on during the long flight. I wrapped a blue sweater around my shoulders. 
    I had to leave the death and destruction behind. I headed towards the sound of the ocean and soon discovered white sands and rocky shoreline. Islands were scattered in front of me like pebbles in a pond. How beautiful this would be. How remote and exotic a destination. If only it hadn’t been the rude intrusion in my otherwise normal, traveler’s routine.  
    I sank to my heels and cried in despair. A gull overhead, screeched in response. This was desolation. 

  5. Over the years, mankind slowly drained away the waters from the Salton Sea leaving nothing more than an ever widening toxic mud flat behind. As the waters receded, no one paid much attention to the large white alkaloid nodules slowly being exposed to the air, until one day two surveyors were sent there.

    “I’m telling you Harper that one, right over there moved. Ah swear it lifted it’s head and licked its lips just like a hungry dog.”

    “Jerry! You are the craziest dude I know. A dog, you don’t say! Look at it, just a large lump of alkaloid rock that happens to look like a big dog. Here, I’ll prove it.” Harper grabbed a hammer from their tool box and headed toward the rock.

    “Harper, it done moved again. We better get out of here, it looks mighty hungry, right about now.”

    Harper raised the hammer to strike the rock formation when it jumped up and knocked him over. Falling backward, he hit his head on another rock and passed out. When he came to, something big was licking his face, “Get off me, will you!”

    The giant dog like creature backed off as if understanding his every word, “See, see Harper, I told you, it’s like a big dog. Here boy fetch.” Jerry yelled as he threw one of their survey stakes, and the creature took off after it.

  6. November 1978. California.

    Renowned inventor Dr. Samuel came to attend a seminar on acoustics. He would demonstrate his gadget, which could unearth mysteries of nature by capturing and analyzing intricate geo-sonic patterns.

    The night before the seminar, Dr. became too excited about the presentation. He could not leave his lab till late night. Before going to bed he continued testing his gadget again and again.

    At around 3:25 am he suddenly got a doubt: ‘Did I turn the power off?’
    He returned to lab and found his machine on. He checked the recording unit. It had recorded a noisy conversation:

    ‘Oh mom, tell your babies, they must stop troubling me!’
    ‘Oh princess, please see, they are so young and innocent, your little siblings’
    ‘I know. But how long could I tolerate?’
    ‘Listen, you are so big and grown up. Couldn’t you tolerate bit more?
    ‘But how long still ma? See, I’m decaying. The endoskeleton is protruding like towers!’
    ‘Don’t worry daughter, forgive them, they are mere humans. I’ll make them feel who you are to them. They would learn to love you, protect you’

    Unwanted mundane sounds. Dr. Samuel threw the record away to waste-bin, switched the machine off and went to sleep.

    The next morning newspaper whipped his brain. The front page headline read: ‘Committee Formed to Protect Mono Lake’

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