Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Night Crawl

adirondacks-94-crop flash fiction writing prompt copyright KS Brooks
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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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Night Crawl”

  1. Rick asked the pretty bait shop clerk, “How much are your night crawlers?”

    “Fifty dollars.” She replied.

    “Are you crazy? Fifty a dozen is ridiculous!”

    “Nope, fifty for one worm.”

    “That’s highway robbery! How dare you charge me that much for a night crawler. It’s just a worm”

    She looked up from behind her register, “No, you don’t understand. I’ll pay you fifty dollars to take it off my hands.”

    Stunned, Rick asked, “What? You’ll pay me fifty?”

    “Yah, that’s right, you don’t get many free meals in this world and this is one of them.” Taking a handful of cash out of the register, she seductively waved the bills beneath Rick’s nose, “Take the money and the worm is yours.”

    Rick slowly reached for the money. She pulled the handful of bills back, “Get the worm and then I’ll pay you. It’s out back in the shed.”

    Rick exclaimed, “Alright! I’ll be right back with it. Just leave the fifty on the counter.” He eagerly headed out back.

    She put the money back in the register and grinned from ear to ear as she counted, “one, two, three, four …” Suddenly, a blood curdling scream filled the air, as she nonchalantly slide the cash register draw closed.

    Her Dad pulled up in his tow truck and she yelled out to him, “Hi Dad, I just fed Annie, our anaconda. She should be good for a couple of days.”

  2. “This looks like the place,” Matt said, glancing down at the paper in his hand. “Mobil station at the top of the hill.”
    Justin scoffed. “Doesn’t look like much. Probably only a dozen nails holding it together.”
    “If that.” Matt handed the paper to his friend and angled the SUV into the deserted parking lot. He shut off the engine and the two men stepped out. Cracks webbed through the concrete, leading them past an antique pump to the station proper.
    A sign matching the one in Justin’s hand hung from a nail. Below it, an arrow pointed right. He laughed then read aloud. “Nightcrawler for Sale.”
    “Guess they never heard about plurals.”
    “What would you expect from county bumpkins?”
    They made their way to the back, but stopped short after rounding the final corner.
    “Howdy,” a bearded old man said. “Here for the nightcrawler?” He spat a brown wad between missing front teeth.
    Matt and Justin shared a disgusted look.
    “Uh, yeah,” Justin ventured. “Where are they?”
    “It will be here shortly.”
    A powerful jolt blasted the earth underfoot, toppling the two men. The ground parted, and a maw the size of a minivan opened wide. Matt and Justin screamed as they tumbled past teeth as black as pitch and into the darkness beyond.
    The forest fell silent.
    “I knows what a plural is,” the old man said. He picked up the discarded paper. “Reckon I’ll be needing to put his back. She gets hungry real quick.”

  3. “Can I help you?” said Pete.

    Most of the out of towners that showed up for the annual contest had more money than folks around here saw in a year. This guy’s designer fishing gear looked new, but the distain in his eyes as he looked around the shop wasn’t.

    “Sign said you had night crawlers for sale. I plan on winning the fishing contest.”

    Pete pointed to the jar of wriggling worms on the counter. “They’re ten dollars a dozen, but if you want to catch the biggest, you’ll need the special one. Guaranteed or triple your money back. Just be warned, there’s a price to pay.”

    “I bet there is,” said the man glancing at his fitbit. “How much?”

    “I can let you have it for a hundred dollars.”

    “For one night crawler? I bet you won’t remember a thing when I come back for my money.”

    “Written contract guarantees the biggest catch,” said Pete. He put a contract and a clear plastic cup on the counter. The long silver-brown worm inside it squirmed.

    “Easy money. I’ll take it.”

    “Make sure you toss a quarter in the lake as soon as you catch the winning fish,” said Pete.

    “Sure. I’ll be back later for my three hundred dollars.”

    As the sun set, Pete looked in the glass jar under the counter. He shook his head as a night crawler popped into it. “You didn’t throw the quarter in. I told you there was a price to pay.”

  4. Wallace And Wanda Speculate on the Master Plan

    Wally and Wanda Wormley pressed their flats snouts against the glass jar.

    “Krikee,” cursed Wanda, “Gosh darn slime’s blocking my view.”

    Wally would have shaken his head if he’d had one. Instead he whispered, as male worms are want to do, “Blistering bat balls, Wanda, you can’t see anything, anyways.”

    “Fat lot you know, Wallace. I am highly attuned to light images.”

    “Right. Well I think it’s night. There ain’t no light.”

    “You’re such a know-it-all. Neon, smartie slider. Mobil neon. Light from the sign.”

    “I don’t believe in signs, Wanda. You know what they say: Life is dirt, and then you eat.”

    “I’ll give you a sign, you slippery simpleton. They’re coming up the hill any moment now. I overheard Mac the Mechanic being told to sell us all lickety-split. Do you know they actually put hooks through us? And then toss us into water and wait….”

    “Wait? For what?”

    “You are as thick as mucous, my sweet. Generation of our ancestors have been sacrificed so THEY could eat. Have you been sleeping your whole life?”

    “Well, there’s not a whole lot else to do…”

    “No. Perhaps not. It would have been nice to do something besides squiggle.”

    “Let’s squiggle together one more time. I’ve almost forgotten how…”

    “Like riding a bicycle…so I’ve heard.”

    “Whatever that is…”

  5. The instructor tapped the crudely lettered poster with his pointer. Brad and his fellow classmates at the Salesmanship Retreat sat up and paid attention.

    “First lesson,” the instructor said. “I found this For Sale sign tacked to a tree outside our campsite. Note the mix of capital letters and small letters, the inconsistency in the size of the lettering. Very sloppy. Not at all persuasive. Before tomorrow’s meeting, I want a professionally designed ad from each of you conveying the same information. Draw the reader’s attention, persuade him to buy! Remember, you are here to master the basics of advertising.”

    Brad knew he had much to learn, but he also welcomed a break. Their afternoons were free, and Brad hoped to get in a little fishing. The scrawled Night Crawlers sign only heightened his hopes.

    “I say this issue needs research,” said Brad to his classmates. “What say we hike up the hill and meet the night crawler salesman?”

    The team agreed, and after an invigorating hike met an old timer selling lovely fat night crawlers and also renting fishing poles by the hour. The entire team spent the afternoon happily fishing after renting poles and purchasing plenty of crawlers.

    That night they halfheartedly composed their ads for night crawlers and discussed their afternoon’s adventure. They concluded it had taught them a far more valuable lesson than anything they would learn in the retreat — sell what your customers want, and the presentation is irrelevant.

  6. It was only a nickel. Back then a nickel could buy some great stuff for a young boy: a popsicle, a pack of chewing gum, even a small bottle of soda pop.

    It was only 5 cents. But for that sum an angler would receive a tuna fish can filled with worms. Shortly after dawn each morning young Billy Knight would harvest them from dew-laden grassy areas that surrounded the many gardens in his hometown. Throughout the day, the old men who spent most of their days fishing would stop by. Yessiree, Billy was in business.

    He saved his money, eschewing little pleasures in pursuit of continued success. He bought a few poles and some fishing line and began selling those too. And so it went, season after season. In time he became very successful indeed.

    William Knight Marine Enterprises became the largest chain store group of its kind on the eastern seaboard. What started sixty-two years before had grown into an empire.

    Centered amidst the myriad trophies and awards that festooned the mantelpiece in his library was a tuna tin bearing a hand-lettered label:
    “Night Crawlers—5 cents”.

    Billy looked at it often and remembered.

  7. Jimmy trudged up the hill and ripped down his night crawler sign. Nobody’s gonna buy these now the season’s over, he thought. Strong winds from Lake Michigan hurried him down to the farm. The open door and warm lantern’s light welcomed him.

    She sat, hunched, at the cow’s side.

    How’ll I tell her I’m goin’ away?. She’s been a wonderful mother. Works herself to the bone for us. Just can’t face her. I’ll strap my bags to the saddle and just slip away. ‘Bye, Mom. He blew a kiss and went to pack his horse.

    Catherine’s cold hands warmed up tugging and squeezing the udders, her patchwork shawl bunched near the lantern. We’ll have plenty for butter and milk, and enough for Jimmy’s birthday eats tomorrow, too. After that, we’ll all get in the wagon and ride to town for his party. Shouldn’t admit it, but he’s the favorite of all my sons. Hard workin’. Honest. The devoted love of my life. Would never hurt me.

    An icy draft chilled her back. Reaching behind, she pulled the shawl over her shoulders, picked up the bucket, and, dreaming of the party, left. Limping towards the kitchen, she saw a lonely silhouette disappearing into the dark. She shrugged, and nodded farewell.

    A fierce gust of wind whirled in under the door, tipping the lantern.

    In New York City, Jimmy gasped reading the 1871 headlines, “Chicago in Ashes. 1200 Reported Lost.”

    He prayed as he raced to the stables.

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