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.
8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Stripes”
Lost at sea, on a deserted island, the exact location unknown to the two survivors of a plane wreck. Sitting on the beach next to him, she lamented, “I can’t believe we went off course and ran out of fuel. That is the stupidest thing we have ever done.”
“Agreed.” His abject single word reply said it all. Together, they sat in silence for the longest time, “Well, we better get under those coconut trees, at least we have some shade and coconuts for water and food.”
She sat there, unmoving, blankly staring out to sea as a lone albatross silently passed by over head. Not a feather moved on it, as it glided low over the break waters of the coral reef, only to vanish in the glare of the hot Sun. She never even noticed it. She stared at the horizon.
He got up and limped over to the Palm grove. Limping back, he dragged out bits and pieces of debris on to the beach and slowly started to spell out SOS, while she sat there dejectedly. He asked, “Can you give me a hand with this?”
While nursing the side with the broken rib, she slowly helped him drag what they could on to the beach.
Sand crabs scurried across the beach. The SOS washed away. The wreckage vanished into the sea. An empty grave under the trees with the letter “A” on a piece of drift wood. Was it her’s?
Sowf ov Dover
After da war, WW Bottle ov Glue fer da record, because everyone goes ter war, thuff some don’t admi’ it, I decided not ter go back ter Winnipeg an’ become whatever I was supposed ter become. Maybe I ‘d ‘ad enuff ov win’er. I’d frozen me future generashuns in France, needed a boost ov something. I se’led in East London.
Scapa Flowd, was i’ in ruff shape. But I was wounded. No bullets, but I was I bleedin’ profusely.
I ‘ooked up wiv Claire Conover. She was a lifesaver. Her old dad was a chemist, ‘ad a little pharmacy an’ I signed on. Those days, yew could apprentice.
So, I ‘ad me a wife an’ I ‘ad me a career parf. Thee fnk what would be enuff fer a geezer tired ov war. But no, I couldn’t leave well enuff alone. I sold black market medicine. Europe was in worse shape what England an’ da profi’ fer smugglin’ pills an’ such was glorious.
I got greedy. Started skimmin’ da profits from bof ends. It wasn’t smart but nobody I know is always as smart as they should be.
I needed ter disappear. The people I ‘ad ripped off only lived fer today but they never forgot a slight.
I drove sowf, buried da car in a Brighton garage. I then caught a train ter Dover.
Once there, I ‘oofed i’ ter Folkstone. Here I sit, starin’ aaaht at da Channel.
I’ve got nowhere ter go. Sorted mate.
The man leaned on the rail of the cruise ship and studied the stripes in the ocean.
“Do you know what causes them?” he asked the stranger standing next to him, with the air of someone who knows exactly what causes them and intends to share his vast knowledge with lesser beings. But his companion surprised him.
“Indeed I do,” he said.
“Really…” said the man of vast knowledge, with a slight sneer. “Why don’t you tell me?”
“Legend has it they are the trailing remains of the wedding gown made for one Bessie O’Grady, and never worn by her. She was part of the gold rush here in Alaska a century ago. Her lover abandoned her, and she threw the gown into Glacier Bay and herself after it. Tragic story.”
The man of vast knowledge was silent for a moment, then he said, “And that’s all?”
“Not quite. Her lover came back for her. He learned what she had done. And when he saw the trailing remains of her wedding gown, he could not look away. Now he is doomed by the spirits of abandoned lovers everywhere to be aboard every ship, to hike every trail, to always be in view of the water, to always see and remember, for all eternity.”
Both men gazed in silence at the water for a moment, then the man of vast knowledge said, “Let me tell you what really causes them.” But when he turned, he was found he was alone.
I sit staring at the horizon and wondering how I could ‘ve taken all this beauty for granted. My sister Jill hands me a cold glass of water and I sip it slowly through a straw.
“A penny for your thoughts?”
I look at her for a moment, then shake my head and turn away.
“You know you can tell me anything?”
A tear runs down my cheek. “It’s nothing Sis. I’m just being a sentimental fool.”
She takes my hand. “Come on Dexter. Tell me what’s on your mind?”
I take a deep breath and pull the jacket over my shoulders before answering.
“I never thought this time would come and now that it’s here, I don’t feel like I’m ready.”
“I don’t think anyone is ever completely ready for . . .”
“I always promised myself that when the time came I would have no regrets. Now the time is here and I feel like I’ve squandered my life away. Look at that beautiful ocean. Every morning I woke up to this beauty and never took the time to enjoy and appreciate it. I was always busy working or consumed with some trivial aspect of my personal life.”
“Dex, you’re being way too hard on yourself. Why can’t you just enjoy your final days in peace?”
“Easy for you to say, Sis.”
She laughs and slaps me on the shoulder. “Gee, the way you carry on, you’d think you were dying, instead of moving to Vegas.
Was I dreaming? As I sat on the hillside filming my pet pelican, Pelly, gliding over the calm sea, something rose to the surface racing after her. It looked like that creature from Ness Lake, only smaller. Pelly didn’t know it was chasing her. I had to warn her. Cupping my hands, I cawed our alarm repeatedly. She turned and started towards me. The eerie figure reached the shore but couldn’t go further and squiggled back into the deep. Pelly snuggled her beak against my chest, unaware of the pursuit. Stroking the white heart shape atop her head, I lowered her to the bucket of herrings she scooped up earlier. She cawed and stretched her throat pouch.
A few years earlier, I incubated two large eggs found at my front door. The first to emerge was Pelly. The other, alive, but deformed, shivered as I lowered it into the sea to perish or survive.
While watching today’s film, I magnified the images. My heart leaped. There was an identical white heart on the head of the disfigured chaser. I realized it must be the hatch from the other egg. It didn’t intend to harm Pelly, it just yearned to reclaim its twinship.
The next morning I tried explaining everything to Pelly. She listened attentively, as though she understood every word. Obviously, she did. At the seashore, she continuously circled the sea’s surface until it greeted her.
They screeched and cawed joyously celebrating our new found togetherness.
“Everyone on this balcony is staring at that reef but not one of them can imagine the vastness that lies just below the surface” he said to me wheezing as he spoke. “Those people can’t even fathom what lay under the surface of their own minds let alone understand the delicate nature of life in that reef”.
I never knew his name. He was always hanging around the hotel whenever I visited but I’m quite sure he wasn’t a guest. He lived a life most of us could only dream about, freely roaming the seas all the while bouncing from one port to another partaking in everything they had to offer. But to him it was anything but free.
“The sea can be a mean spirited wench when she wants to be” he later explained. “She uses all her beauty and freedom to draw you in and then never let’s go.”
The more he spoke the more I was drawn to listen. I had always envisioned what the life of a real sailor would be like. I guess that’s why I always searched for him when I visited. He lived it and I wanted to live it as well.
“You see son, she promises you freedom but in reality you become her slave.” He said it as though he missed the very thing that that he blamed for ruining his life.
And now, after hearing his stories of pain and sorrow, I wanted to experience her more than ever.
A middle-aged man kidnapped little Emily to a beach-bungalow.
— ‘Rude rascal! Take me back home’
— ‘Stop crying’
— ‘My dad is tough fighter. Let me go, else he’d..’
— ‘Shut up! See the photo?’
— ‘Oh, a baby. Did you steal him too? Who’s it?’
— ‘He was my only son’
— ‘Your father killed him’
— ‘Impossible. You’re liar, rascal’
— ‘You may forgive your dad’s misdeed, but I won’t forget what I lost?’
— ‘But why did dad do so?’
— ‘He had fired at me, his bullet smashed the baby in my lap’
— ‘But I’m innocent. Let me go’
— ‘I need not harm you dear; call me uncle, not rascal’
— ‘I misunderstood you, sorry’
Three encounter specialists fired at one.
One of the attackers, Emily’s father, proclaimed, ‘**** Done at last!’
The victim managed to pick his revolver up.
— ‘Uncle! Don’t kill my dad, please’ Emily pleaded in fear.
— ‘Ohh..stop them!’
Before she could move, her dad had fired another round. The man stooped to flat.
‘Dad why did you kill him? And his baby!’
‘Shut up. It’s a rebel’
‘Well done sir, you’ll secure a promotion, higher stripes’
It shocked Emily— all for stripes!
Strange. Across the sea, even in the sky Emily found stripes, as if, upheld to salute some great struggle. She silently saluted the rebel uncle.
“They gave her six months to live,” Todd said in a quiet tone, apropos of nothing.
Jonathan cast a relieved glance at him as he pulled the car over to the side of the road. Todd hadn’t spoken a word since he’d picked him up half an hour ago and the mood in the car had been as thick as the mist gathering outside. He wasn’t supposed to be here to begin with, but his grizzled boss Frank had insisted he accompany Todd on his last job. “Just in case,” Frank had said, handing Jonathan the address.
Todd had already lit a cigarette as he pulled out a picture of an attractive, young brunette in her early 20s. “If she only knew,” he said, shaking his head as he got out of the car.
“When did you find out?” Jonathan asked, as he joined him on the nearby cliff overlooking the placid sea.
“A couple of days ago. My brother called to tell me the good news.”
“She must have had some…”
“Not a single redeeming quality.” Todd snapped, as if anticipating the question. “I was lucky enough to be living with my father. But when I’d go back and visit, I’d see the scars on my younger brother’s arms…”
“Come on Todd,” Jonathan began tentatively, “we’d better get going.”
“Damn shame.” Todd said, stuffing the girl’s picture back in his pocket and pulling out his Beretta. “Let’s get this over and done with.”
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