Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Fountains

flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks vieux montreal 101607 IMG_0497
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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17 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Fountains”

  1. Lesson Learned
    By Annette Rey

    What a perfect place to die. The first view of the castle told him that, as it loomed forebodingly against the amber night sky. The advertisement hadn’t lied; this made a good death-house.

    Before he knocked, a cadaverous-faced man opened the ornate door. Without a word, he followed the man over a wide expanse of checkered tile, at the end of which sat a dwarf-sized door. Cadaver-Man gestured. Milo went through.

    This is like Alice in Wonderland, he thought. Everywhere he looked was miniature furniture and accessories and a table laid for four in a room that barely fit his six-foot frame. He sat on the floor and waited.

    Waking from an exhausted sleep, he became aware of tiny people, fairies maybe. Three could fit in his palm. They were endearing creatures. He wished he could understand what they were saying. He slept again.

    Violent sheets of stinging rain on his face woke him, but he didn’t mind. Still with the fairies, he found himself feeling more alive than ever. Cavorting through puddles, defying lighting, he laughed like a six-year old boy. His spirit renewed. All night they flew him through the high oak branches, up to the clouds, out to the stars.

    By morning he understood their language and found himself saying, “I want to live. I want to live.”

    A jolly-faced maid escorted him to the edge of the property.

    “Go. Look outside of yourself. When you stop seeking, life ends.”

  2. They were doing the world premiere of Puccini’s La Boheme for the season opener at Turin’s Teatro Reggio tonight. Young Toscanini was going to direct.

    I was having a bit of a problem with the large puffed sleeves of my gown and couldn’t adjust to the lower waist line. But, frantically thinking of my fiance, Giovanni, waiting at the box office, I quickly managed to pull everything together, give my long auburn “spaniel” curls a gentle shake, and hurried to the waiting carriage. The white stallion snorted as I climbed onto the velvet seat.

    On the way to the teatro I remembered how much I enjoyed reading Murger’s collection of vignettes about the wonderful, carefree bohemians reveling in Paris’ Latin Quarter. It became my favorite book. And, the play was wonderful, also. But, now, music, too? My heart was beating with anticipation.

    Giovanni, I’m sure, would have a corsage, or small, delicate bouquet of sweet smelling Violets, or Lilies of the Valley, my favorites.

    As we approached the the line of carriages waiting to discharge their happy theatre goers, I noticed Giovanni in the far corner of the dimmed entrance. He was with a smaller, fashionable woman, his arm around her waist and leaning towards her red lips. The Lily nosegay slipped from his hand, and as he pulled her closer and kissed her, his foot crushed the gentle flowers and my heart.

    Ordering the driver to take me home, I wept all the way.

  3. Title: Rain Drops or Tear Drops

    I knew it was too good to be true.

    It was five years ago, this very evening when we first met.

    I shouldn’t have been there. However, the sudden rain shower drove me to seek shelter inside the Château Vieux-Montréal. I must have looked a sight with my long-soaked hair and nearly see through blouse.

    His smile greeted me first, followed quickly by a soft white towel.

    It was fate being there that night. He invited me to have dinner with him and conversation lasted until the restaurant closed. Everything about him captivated me.

    I left in his chauffeur-driven limousine, but his final words haunted me since that evening. He told me that he needed some time, and if I returned five years to the day, he would make me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

    Once again, I was drawing much attention and must have looked foolish standing by the entry. As much as I tried to hold back the tears, it was no use.

    I turned to leave and a very white linen handkerchief greeted me. “You remembered. I will indeed make it up to you that I was late. Please forgive me. I find it hard to decide whether I like rain drops or tear drops better.”

  4. All was happiness throughout the kingdom on the day the fountains once again flowed and lights shone in the castle.

    The witch’s curse of 100 years had passed, and the princess had awakened. Not because a prince charming had kissed her, because he hadn’t. Oh, he showed up at the castle but when he saw the princess he had second thoughts. Remember, 100 years had passed. Dust covered everything, including the princess. The prince settled for jiggling her shoulder, which caused her to leap up in a cloud of dust with her hair stuck in a ghastly bed-head configuration. Horrified, the prince slipped quietly away.

    The princess hopped out of bed and rang for a maid.

    “Fetch me a mirror,” she said.

    The mirror showed that she could use a good shampoo and styling, and a hot bath wouldn’t hurt, but otherwise there was no change. She was delighted. One hundred years, and no signs of aging! It was miraculous! It had to be the dust that did it.

    She instructed her maid to bag up all the dust.

    “But what of the prince!” the maid cried. “He has abandoned you. Now you must sit alone and forlorn, waiting hopelessly for his return.”

    The princess rolled her eyes. “Oh, please!” she said.

    In a short time, the princess became fabulously wealthy selling her precious beauty dust by the ounce.

    And if you had asked her what became of her prince, she would have replied, “Who?”

  5. On the streets of Vegas, a cold breeze passed through us all and darkness descended upon us. Dogs howled and children cried as our Sun slowly died.

    We thought not what to do when the sky first turned gray then darkened through and through. We saw no sunshine to lead our path; instead, only a handful of stars at this blackened noon day hour. Our stomachs turned and grumbled with fear. A chill ran down all our backs, as we watched the daylight disappear, then neon lights came on to illuminate our way. How odd we thought, “The end of all mankind is starting here, in Vegas of all places.”

    The crowds stepped off the curbs stopping traffic and gathered in the streets, for the darkness brought out our worst fear that the end was near. It grew larger, as our world darkened, and then all watched as the authorities arrived. They came to take a raving lunatic away because he jumped atop the hood of a car and yelled, “Repent! Repent! My End is Near.”

    Then he pulled down his pants and mooned all around, only to have them laugh and jeer, as the Authorities chased him round and round and through the waters of Bellagio’s illuminated fountain. Finally, they tackled him to the ground and stuffed him into a bright orange straight jacket, to take him away.

    The crowd subsided, the show finally ended in the receding darkness of this rare Solar Eclipse.

  6. The Ministry Building rose five stories into the night, the lower three illuminated by flood lights. The beams on the white frames of the windows made the edifice even brighter. Small trees hid the main story from view, and the top floors were dark, appearing foreboding. Workers toiled past midnight; the artificial lights in the fifth-floor offices the only sign people were present.

    In front of this magnificent, gothic structure was a circular fountain. The water was bathed in a yellow light, turning it to liquid amber. A new regime added this change. While gold signified wealth to most people, only insiders knew the truth.

    For the amber liquid was not water but fire. The sparks, resembling a welder’s torch, moved the streams emanating from the spigots into a fine mist. An illusion, one of many hidden behind the walls of this building.

    An unsuspecting populace had whole-heartedly embraced not the sheep but the wolf disguised in a woolen hide. Of course, calling him a wolf is much too nice a term for the chieftain known by all, in every Time and Place, by any number of names: deceiver, liar, Prince of Darkness, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Satan.

  7. I watched the fountain water turn the dark crimson of blood. It was an accident. Derek should never have been on the stoop of the Samantha’s mansion. I only meant to shoot out a window. A quick shot in the dark as a warning to Samantha of what she could expect if she kept after my man.  

    I looked at Derek’s lifeless body afloat on the water. The cloud of blood ever increasing as it blended with the gold of the fountain lights. Within moments the mansion lights were turned on. From room to room, until the light of the main floor’s foyer lit up the stoop. A female silhouette stood in a floor length satin negligee, her long dark hair falling loosely about her shoulders. Her perfect nails, lifted to her lips.

    I stood frozen in my boots while the scene became real to Samantha. She looked at me with shock on her face.
    “What did you do? You b***h!” Samantha screamed at me and knelt next to Derek.

    “It was an accident. I only meant to warn you.” I shouted in a panic. 

    Tears streaked black down Samantha’s face as she headed towards me. “I’ll kill you for this!” Pure evil in her eyes.

    Without further thought, I pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger. Her blood soon mixed with Derek’s. 

    I had no choice. It was all a terrible accident. 

  8. ‘Papa will you show me the magic fountain?’
    ‘Magic fountain!’
    ‘And what’s that?’
    ‘Man-made fountain, friends told me. They went there’
    ‘Magic fountain? Human made?’ the farmer hardly believed.
    ‘I must see it papa— please, please, please!’ the boy stuck to his agenda.
    ‘Okay, okay, Jackie, let me first know where it is. I will take you there, promise’

    Next evening, while returning form work, Jackie’s father went to his neighbour Hans, a school teacher.
    ‘Hello Mr. Hans, I need your advice’
    ‘Sure, come in’
    ‘Well, is there anything called magic fountain?’
    ‘Who said that?’
    ‘Jackie, my son. He keeps fantasizing all the time. It must be false, no?’
    ‘Not at all. Your child is intelligent’
    ‘Where’s it? Can I take him there?’
    ‘It’s in town, near the business centre, at about forty-five km’

    Early in the morning overjoyed Jackie and his father started out. Twenty minutes walking to the highway, then by bus. It was an amusement park. Tickets were costly. They entered and faced the marvel. Astonishing!

    ‘Son, are you happy?’
    ‘Yes papa. Wow! See changing colours with the music rhythm!’
    The man was too perplexed to respond. Something had chained his mind.
    They toured all the day and retuned by evening.

    At night, the wife noticed unmindful hubby.
    ‘Jackie’s papa, was the magic fountain really beautiful, like me?’
    ‘Sweetheart, they are showering lavishly, all just for fun. Here my crops are drying out and I’m helpless’

  9. The wind shifted, sending the fountain’s spray into Isabella’s face. What a dark and looming structure Upham Hall had become under cover of darkness. In the daytime, its Georgian Revival architecture was quaint and picturesque, part of a campus known for its beauty.

    Earlier on the campus green, she’d felt lighter than she’d been in some time. Her numbers were only slightly elevated at her last follow up and she’d looked forward to resuming a normal college life. It wasn’t until she passed by the building on her way home that the foreboding descended.

    A shadow had followed her up High Street, distracted her from the mouth-watering aroma that changed the air in front of Bagel and Deli, and caused her to trip as the cobblestone sidewalk gave way to an asphalt street.

    Her building used to be the town morgue, a fact that made for easy conversation at the Brickstreet Bar and the house parties on Fraternity Row. Of course, that was before she got sick.

    The door creaked. Isabella had dismissed the house’s history as haunted, chuckled when roommates reported strange noises. But she couldn’t deny her nerves as she tried the light switch. Darkness persisted.

    When the infamous Beta Bells tolled on campus, Isabella jumped. “Up-ham,” “Up-ham,” they summoned. She ran back as fast as her health would allow. The fountain lights gleamed bright. Something—no someone—was in there. Beautiful, sprite-like…was she dancing? A golden door opened and Isabella heard a beautiful voice calling her home.

  10. We should have realized what was coming when the fountains quit spraying. But we just thought the town council turned them off for their own unknowable reasons. Gradually, the changes started to affect our everyday lives. Many wells that weren’t contaminated with fracking chemicals were going dry.

    Although we knew the buzz-feeds were censored, sometimes real news trickled through. Canada was closing its borders. California was suffering a twenty year drought. The mid-west was returning to Dust Bowl days. Wars were raging in Africa as desertification increased.

    The scientists who had warned of a warming climate now predicted empty aquifers. We on the east coast of North America had never known a water shortage. So we were reluctant to believe them.

    The rich and their purchased Congressmen called those scientists liars. They stopped paying taxes and used the money to build desalinization plants inside their walled coastal enclaves. Eventually, we realized those plants were not for the rest of us.

    When the creek behind our home devolved into a gully full of damp rocks, we joined marchers heading for Washington DC. Did any of us really believe a mass protest could help? But we did understand that the rich had made one mistake. Although they destroyed our environment, our democracy, and our dignity, they had neglected to take our guns.

  11. The German U-Boat Roter Teufel, with her radio antenna extended, was on her third patrol in the North Atlantic. Below decks, a radio operator wedged between a tiny seat and table, struggled to type out a message on his electro mechanical coding machine, as the ship rolled in heavy seas. The Teufel was poised to attack another British convoy.

    It was a cool June morning in Buckinghamshire and heavy pollen filled the air. A young man with dark hair, his head and face covered with a gas mask, and attired in a green checkered jacket with baggy cuffed, pegged trousers, peddled his bicycle at a fast clip away from the Victorian mansion towards his office in Hut 8. He was late for a meeting.

    In his office at Hut 8, Alan brushed aside the gas mask on his desk and intensely studied the latest intercepted cipher. He glanced at the clock and knew most of the second shift would be leaving soon. He picked up the phone and dialed his fiancée.

    “Meet me at the fountains on the half hour.” He puffed on a Rothmans and waited.

    At Bletchley Park mansion two figures stood in the darkness, silhouetted against the glow of the lighted fountains. Alan gave Joan a deep kiss then looked her and smiled. “The key to breaking Enigma is to use a theory that states – from a contradiction, you can deduce anything.”

    Germany would communicate in secret no more, during World War II.

  12. Back in her student days, Leighton had thrown a coin in the fountain on Library Mall and her wish had come true. Then, in Barcelona, the euro she’d tossed into Montjuic’s Fountain had resulted in a summer romance. Older now, if not wiser, she was more of a skeptic these days, but still felt compelled to toss a sidewalk-found penny into the coppery glow of this third fountain.

    She recalled the lyrics of the old Frank Sinatra tune: “Three coins in the fountain, each one seeking happiness.” Would the words prove fateful or frivolous?

    After dining on dim sum in a red-accented Cantonese restaurant, she was presented with her bill and a fortune cookie. ”May you live in interesting times,” she read.

    Walking back to her hotel, she was approached by a man dressed in business casual. He was at least six foot two, had a café au lait complexion, and reminded her a bit of the Canadian prime minister. He said he was in town for a conference and wondered if she could recommend a place to eat. She found him attractive and wondered if he would hit on her. Alas, not.

    Getting off the hotel elevator, Leighton looked for her room key and realized her travel wallet with money and credit cards was missing. Then, the light came on: that old cliché, “Be careful what you wish for” had taken an ironic turn. She’d encountered “tall, dark and handsome,” but now HE was the richer one.

  13. Happenstance Fountain

    “They say it’s one of the largest fountains in the world,” said Richard.

    “Right,” retorted Michael, “it reminds me of Married with Children. You know. Love and marriage, love and marriage,” as he sarcastically waved his hands back and forth in rhythm, “before the cell door closes and the goo flows.”

    They stood in Grant Park before Buckingham Fountain in Chicago watching jets of water shoot upwards into the sky. Strange aquatic beasts surrounded the grand three-tiered spectacle showering it in eternal reverence. In the distance, Chicago’s skyline rose to usurp tourist’s attention from the water display.

    “You know,” continued Michael, “there’s an even better one in Rome since you’re so big on facts, called the Trevi Fountain. Google it if you don’t believe me. It’s got these old statues of some Italian gods or something and the waters littered with coins. People throw ‘em in there all the time hoping to come back there one day. Nonsense if you ask me.”

    “’Course,” responded Richard. “They’ve got to throw a coin over their left shoulder with their right hand. Give it a shot why don’t ya?”

    “My pleasure,” said Michael. He pulled out a penny, made his wish, and tossed it over his shoulder. “There, happy? Now let’s go. New York style pizzas better anyway.”

    That night Michael was shot in one of Chicago’s deadly suburbs.

    When asked what Michael had wished for Richard said – “to never come back to Chicago. He got his wish. He’s dead.”

  14. I arrive in front of the grand fountain lit up by spectacular spotlights in my steely Porsche. I take a quick glance at the old school and surroundings before checking my tie in the rear-view mirror.
    “Are you getting everything?” I say into the shirt button microphone.
    “Every bit,” answers a voice in my tiny earpiece, “Can you check out the fountain once more? I think there’s something in the X-ray.”
    I turn and look for a moment as Dennis does his analysis.
    “The fountain is a bit much for a prep school,” I murmur.
    Tap, tap, tap!
    I spin in my seat. A burly valet waits. This is not good, security like this gives the secrets away.
    I open the door and step out with jazz. My hand slips through my inner jacket pocket and removes the invitation to this underground casino, a single poker chip with the face of the Joker splashed across it.
    “Here you go,” I say as I flip the chip to him and slip the car key into his pocket. I set my face hard and push my shoulders back, walking tall from the car and around the fountain catching one more glance.
    In my ear: “Be on alert. There’s more in there than an illegal casino. It looks like they’ve got something nuclear under that fountain.”

  15. “But, Daddy,” Lana whined, “I wanted our picture taken in front of the huge fountain in front of Applegate Mansion.”
    Ricardo pressed his fingers to his brow and squeezed.
    “My darling,” he said, “you know I would give you your heart’s desire, but Rita Applegate refuses to accommodate us.”
    “Offer her more money,” Lana suggested.
    Ricardo shook his head, “I have already doubled the offer. ”
    “So, that’s it? You’re just going to stand by and let Old Lady Applegate ruin your only daughter’s wedding?” Lana’s head jerked from side to side as she spoke, her arms crossed.
    “Lana, darling, what would you have me do – bump the old lady off and buy her house?”
    Lana’s eyebrows shot up. “you wouldn’t have to do it yourself,” she began.
    Ricardo cut her off. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
    He plucked a cigar from a box and lit it. He looked out the window. One of the gardeners, the young one, the one who was always in the kitchen, chatting up Ricardo’s wife over glasses of lemonade, was grooming the intricate landscaping in front of the house.
    “What if I built you a fountain, here?” Ricardo asked, turning back to Lana.
    “Oh Daddy,” Lana said, smiling and clasping her hands together, “would it be bigger than the one at the Applegate mansion?”
    “Of course, my darling,” Ricardo said, and then added, silently, “big enough to eliminate most of our landscaping, and our need for multiple gardeners.”

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