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.
21 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Dark Angel”
“This was a bad idea, Jim. We should have never come down into this canyon.”
“Come on, Phyl. We’ll be okay.”
“Right. It’s almost dark and we don’t know anything about how to survive out here.”
“We’ll find a rock crevice of some kind to hole up in for the night.”
“Aren’t there wild animals down here, Jim?”
“Nah. What’s to eat?”
Looking out from a dark hollow, the full moon swathed the descending gorge walls with reflecting light, making visible even small movement.
“Jim. That looks like a wounded mountain lion.”
“I’m scared. He’s looking back at us.”
“Let’s follow him.” Jim had made peace with the land and convinced Phyllis the animal wouldn’t hurt them.
Down they went.
“Shouldn’t we be going up to get out?”
“The lion knows, Phyl.”
Keeping a safe distance, they followed and felt a connection with the beast. He was in trouble and so were they. Occasionally, the lion looked back at them showing no aggression. On they went through the cliff sides, hearing the loose gravel slide downwards, traveling in a misty other-world. Night birds swooned overhead, their calls pierced the air. A roaring sound off to the left was getting closer.
“Look. Water. The lion is heading for it.”
To the right, the two saw a man-made campfire.
This is where they would separate from the beast that shared his world. One last look between them…
Dark Angel gazed down upon six hikers in the canyon. He knew they hadn’t planned; they’d brought more beer than water. They wore tank tops and shorts – and hadn’t even considered the night chill which awaited them.
He considered pegging them off one by one. That would be the most entertaining method: watching them panic when the thought of their mortality set in. But how, for the first one? It needed to be fast and gruesome to achieve the ideal level of hysteria.
But the beauty of the canyon soothed Dark Angel.
Then, one of the hikers balanced on the edge of a cliff, took a swig of his beer, and tossed the can over. He lowered his shorts and proceeded to relieve himself. Dark Angel watched as a strong gust of wind hit the man’s back. Losing his balance, he desperately flailed his arms before plummeting forward. His screams echoed through the canyon before he landed with a crack and a splat on a ledge.
Dark Angel felt a presence beside him at the railing. He looked to his left to see Mother Nature. “Nicely done,” he said softly.
“Unfortunate but necessary.” Her voice was like a bird’s song. “Getting soft in your old age, are you?”
The shadows beneath his hood morphed into a handsome, youthful face. “I would have done it. He disgusted me.” Her sweet, floral fragrance wrapped itself around him, intoxicating him. “I hear the Aurora will be stunning tonight. Join me?”
Highly radioactive winds swept up from the bottom of the newly formed canyon. This planetary siege had been the worst and most costly campaign ever for mankind. The death toll had been high, until their bombardment finally broke through the planetary shields killing all of them. Another planet freed up for mankind to teriform.
The warm radiation, bathed the cloaked figure standing on the edge of the precipice. She admired her handywork in the vista created on this now dead world. This was just one of many dead worlds they created, for the benefit of mankind. Her tablet buzzed, “I asked not to be disturbed. What is it?”
“Captain, we’ve recharged the warp core and are ready to leave.”
“Just give me a few more minutes, then beam me up, over and out.”
Now there was just one last thing to do before she left. The captain drew her phaser and quickly carved a warning, high up, into the rockface, “We the ancesters of Earth conquered those were here before us! So Leave this Planet at once or be Destroyed! Captain Janice Kilroyan was here to claim this planet for all Mankind!”
As soon as she finished she beamed out of there.
In the far distant future, an archeologist squinted at the time worn inscription, “I hate it when someone defaces park property, it’s almost illegible. I can just make out three words.”
The park ranger asked, “What does it say?”
“Kilroy was here.”
The spirit of Anna, the Dark Angel walked around the desolate canyon. She died one year ago that day from committing suicide. She was made an Angel until she was sent back to Earth to help someone just like her.
Louisa Aleman was a sweet innocent girl who suffered from depression. She wanted to die and planned it down to the very last second. It would happen at dawn and she would jump down into the Grand Canyon leaving behind the only thing that she ever truly loved, a book of poems that her mother wrote before she died.
As she stood looking over the horizon at the very spot where she planned to end her life, Anna appeared next to her. She wore a black hoodie and the hood covered her long beautiful red hair. Her wings were not visible to the human eye. She smiled at Louisa.
“You don’t want to die.”
“Who are you?” Louisa looked at the strange girl standing next to her. It was if she had come from out of thin air.
“I don’t have any friends.”
“I know and you never will.” Anna smiled in such a way that gave Louisa a chill that turned her blood cold. It felt…evil.
Anna then pushed Louisa and she fell to her death. Anna’s eyes turned blood red as she slowly walked away leaving Louisa’s lonely dead body lying broken at the bottom of the canyon in a pool of blood.
The task before him was astounding. The Dark Angel had never before been challenged as strongly as this.
The Master had given him one of the most reckless challenges that had ever been dreamed up.
Corporate corruption had risen to levels far above what anyone had thought possible. Any new device, invention, idea or drug was quickly snatched up by major corporations. No new independent companies could hope to be created without being gobbled up by one of the bigger corporations.
Political greed had also climbed to ever new heights. Government officials learned well the practices of the Mafia in the 1930’s. If you wanted to work in the city, you had to pay a price.
There were taxes and fees, but the cash under the table was where the real money was. Elected government officials as well as their assistants all knew where to squeeze to get the dollars to flow.
This, in no way, excluded the law enforcement personnel from getting money out of the till. They were often the people that were closest to the citizens on a daily basis, and they made their presence known.
Dark Angel took his vengeance first on the corporations headquartered in the city. They had a heavy price to pay for cheating John Q. Public out of his chance to succeed. Nothing was spared.
The government offices and agencies were next.
As Dark Angel looked out from the New Jersey Palisades toward New York City, he was please with his work.
The figure surveyed the world beyond, its presence more an absence than anything material.
“Well,” the voice asked, “Are you satisfied now?”
The figure turned, the space within the cowl as dark as the garment itself. The Void looked out but saw no-one. It shrugged, betraying the tainting it had developed while it had occupied this space. The ways of Men were most pervasive. It would have to apply the Scourge to itself before it left. The Great One would not receive it home if it was impure.
“I said, are you satisfied now?” The voice was louder now. More insistent.
The figure continued its examination of the devastation beyond the railing. There had been a thriving city there once, not so very long ago. The valley had once been a plain with towers reaching up to the skies, millions of people living their lives, unaware of the figure’s intent. They had all gone now – the city too – all of them taken in one great culling. The earth still glowed at night in some places; as it was, there would be no life there again for generations of that creature they called Man.
A thickening of the air coalesced before the hood, a spark glowing there.
It would be heard.
“It’s no good,” it said. “You’ve taken their lives. You now have them in you. You can never be rid of them.
And so, Death remained on Earth, forever taking more lives and becoming more and more impure.
The hooded figure swallowed the sunlight whole, his darkened form a rip in the universe, an enigma haunting the brilliance of the day.
Tina saw him as she rounded the bend in the trail. Motionless, facing the jagged, sandy-rusty maw of the Grand Canyon, he might have been a pillar of stone save his utter blackness. Her heart skipped a beat.
“Don’t be afraid, Tina.”
Voice abandoned her. How did he know her name?
“Because you drew near.”
Swallowing her fear, she asked, “Do I know you?”
She thought otherwise. “What do you want?”
“Rather, why am I here? Or why are you here? The two are one.”
I’m here, she thought, to escape the gaping maw of cities famished for land and people to chew, swallow, digest, excrete. To flee the grasping overlords of humanity hungry for power and caring for nothing more. To be alone. To breathe. To live!
“To be human.” His black hood nodded to the canyon. “How few such places remain. Or people.”
She saw her emptiness reflected in the mirror of his darkness and knew their need was one. She waited, afraid to utter the word.
He turned to face her. The sun’s radiance engulfed her for a moment and for all eternity before it was gone, before he was gone, leaving her alone. Yet his light still blazed within her, undying, giving her radiance to spare and share.
And that would be a start.
He was an angel, a dark angel, but only in the sense that his hands were figuratively dirty from the difficult tasks assigned him. He was a working angel, pure of heart, sent to Earth out of the Creator’s love for his people. This was his first big assignment, and he was determined to see it finished to perfection. In looking over his work, he believed he had succeeded. Limitless beauty stretched before him filling the skies and the earth from horizon to horizon. He had achieved his purpose; he had created a paradise on Earth.
Strange that crowds had not come flocking to enjoy it, but he assumed that would happen soon enough. For now, covered in his dark robe and hood, he was the lone surveyor of this wonder, and he was pleased with what he saw.
He wondered briefly what the people of Earth would call their new paradise. It would definitely need a new name. It’s old name –New York– just wouldn’t do.
As usual, I had fallen behind the group because I’d stopped to inspect every flower and rock along the cliff-edge trail.
When I saw Josh in his black hoodie, I called his name. But the man who turned slowly toward me was not Josh. His narrow, bony face was as pale as the moon. Deep-set eyes looked like pools of liquid tar. His mouth split in a menacing grin, revealing mottled yellow teeth.
“Come look,” he said. “It’s beautiful down there.”
As I leaned far over the fence, I stared into the chasm with wonder and fear. I was almost overwhelmed by my morbid curiosity about falling. Then I felt his hand on my back. The slightest push might send me plunging. Was this dark angel going to hurl me to my death?
Sudden vertigo came upon me. My foot slid on loose pebbles and I twisted my ankle. As I lost my balance, I felt a firm hand grab my arm. The hoodie man pulled me gently back from the edge, saying, “Careful now.”
Then I saw the real Josh rushing back to look for me. Catching my breath, I turned toward my rescuer with thanks. He was nowhere in sight.
It was so long ago, I thought I would have forgotten by now. I haven’t: I relive the moment daily.
Jake was my best friend ever since we were kids. He was an orphan, a free spirit and aged-out of foster care at eighteen. He received a hardship scholarship to state — my parents paid my way.
We were young and liked to party. Back in the day “Mary Jane”, LSD and “shrooms” were the fuels that fed our desire for fun and social relevance.
“Hey Pete ! What say we head on out to the canyon, score some good stuff and get down?”
“Way cool, Bro. Them Indian tribes grow some fine peyote !!”
Off we went, scored some radical stuff and camped out on the canyon rim.
We hadn’t done mushrooms before, but the natives said they were the portal to a new spirituality. And who could say no to that?
Under a cloudless night sky filled with stars we soon did the deed.
Awesome !! A new consciousness !! Soon we both nodded off.
Sometime during the night I awakened to find Jake slowly approaching me, hunting knife in hand.
We struggled briefly and the I gave him a hard shove. He fell over the canyon rim.
Back home I told everyone that Jake left to trek in South America. But there never WAS a knife. It was just a shroom dream.
It was time to join Jake.
Pete’s body was found lifeless on the canyon floor.
Anny finally planned to escape.
At dawn she left home stealthily. Her nostalgic eyes took parting look at home. She marched away quickly.
Was something there, following her? On reaching the bus terminus she noticed a clear silhouette on the wall of the waiting room. Nonetheless, she had to wait. Sitting coiled at a corner, she started texting to the gentleman she was waiting for: Come quick. I’m …
Like a thunderbolt something thudded upon and lifted her off the ground. It was too quick to react.
She discovered herself in a pair of strong hands carrying her to a car. The stranger drove the car like a bullet.
It stopped near some bus stop. The masked driver removed sticker-tape from Anny’s mouth.
Anny shouted, ‘Hey, what do you want?’
‘Nothing. Return home.’ indifferent, calm reply.
‘Never. I love the man I was escaping with. I hate my home’
‘Do you know who he is?’
‘Quite well. We met in Gymnasium. He loves me. He promised me a beautiful life’
‘He’s old enough to be your father’
‘So what? We’ll have a good life together’
‘Yah, good life; for a week’
‘He’s a player. He spoils lives’
‘Why should I trust you!’
‘Don’t trust. Return home’
‘Today he’ll be arrested for trafficking. The police has got sufficient evidence’
‘But how can you be so sure?’
‘It’s my dad; biological’
The man disappeared with his car.
The fight for flight
“I’m going to become one of those monks, you know the ones who stay high up in the mountains and live off of meditation.”, Audrey reveals her words of weary.
The whole time crawling up the cliff side, she could not help but think of how much bigger this land was than her. The way down looked like an eternity.
“I feel as if I am going to pass out!”, Audrey’s anxiety gets the best of her. The talk back at camp about wearing tennis shoes being a bad idea, was her focus.
“Let’s stop for a moment, catch our breath and carry on.”, Lisa coaches.
Audrey thought she would never make it to the top. She was too focused on the way down to even enjoy the scene.
“Never did I think I was afraid of heights, until now.”, she thought.
So close to the top they continue counting one step at a time. Like animals in all fours, feeling each rocky step.
“You did it! We are here!”, Lisa acclaimed with such integrity.
Audrey still can’t seem to see the beauty of this accomplishment, her body in uncontrollable convulsions. Adrenaline’s suit was never an enjoyable fit.
She starts to meditate to calm those nerves. Opening her eyes, she now can see the wonder of nature.
What an accomplishment of the mind. As they transcend to the journey back down she leaps from rock to rock, barefooted. The rocks are hot.
“This must be why fairies have wings.”, she says. This fable comes to mind, passed down from the ancients.
The Dark Angel looked over the expanse of the Grand Canyon. It truly was breathtaking. And if the view was breathtaking, he should be working, reaping the bodies of those whose breath was literally taken away. But he stood idle. He was, after all, on vacation. He was wearing his denim overalls for this hiking adventure. Denim was easier to maneuver in than the long, flowing cape.
But an early morning call from the office made him regret bringing his cell phone with him: Herb called off sick and someone was needed to make up the slack. He was in the perfect place to easily meet Herb’s quota, but there was one problem.
He had forgotten his scythe.
No scythe, no reaping. Things were looking grim for this Reaper.
The play of light and shadow from the setting sun mesmerized him as he watched the changing colors. He would be in deep trouble for not meeting the daily quota, but he didn’t care. It was a spectacular view. Why on earth did he answer the phone? Why did he bring the phone on vacation?
He leaned against the protective fence, still gazing at the mesas, when he felt the curved support of the top railing. It looked rusted, but it also looked familiar. It had the correct curvature of the blade … and he could probably use the steel tube from the railing for a handle … it could work!
I am always aggravated by packing for a trip, particularly to a climate with which I am unfamiliar. Inevitably, I over-pack and bring home mountains of things I’d imagined I’d need that never left my suitcase.
So, when Damien asked me if I wanted to go with him on his business trip to Colorado, I rolled my eyes.
Of course, it was because of the packing.
Damien, however, catching the eye-roll in the vanity mirror as he stood behind me in the bedroom, thought it was because of something else.
“Do you have to be such a witch, Christina? Can’t you at least pretend you’re still attracted me?” My eyes leave his face and scroll down to his wider-than-our-wedding-day neck and over his considerable stomach paunch. I do not speak.
I lower my gaze to the vanity top and pick up my tennis bracelet. As I snap it to my wrist, he says, “Maybe I’ll ask Isabel to go.”
Isabel. Leggy, young, new-secretary Isabel.
“Maybe you should,” I say.
He leaves the room, slamming the door.
I stare at the door and wonder if Isabel will know how to pack for Colorado weather.
Angel may have seen the humor in the situation if it were happening to someone else. He looked down and wondered if he’d still be able to hear the ringtone.
Angel struggled his whole life to find meaning and direction. That all stopped when he found photography. He was a purist and preferred film over digital.
He had just interviewed for an internship with the top photographer in New York, Salvatore Leggero. He’d be working beside him, learning about light and lenses. He’d be developing photos with him in the darkroom. This internship was rare, highly coveted, and highly competitive. He was expecting a call at any minute.
He had become overwhelmed by the beauty of the Grand Canyon and was instinctively compelled to take an ill-advised selfie. As he leaned awkwardly to get the perfect shot, he lost his footing and dropped his phone. He watched his phone descend like his hopes and dreams.
The sun shone bright on Angel as he faced his darkest hour. His brain raced trying to figure out a plan, but he was met with defeat at every turn. He then tried and failed to convince himself that he didn’t want the internship anyway.
Angel was preparing to leave when he heard the echo of his ringtone rise like a seraph and disappear out of reach. His only solace came from appreciating the effectiveness of the phone’s case.
Wings are a burden I can no longer carry; one black feather for every corrupted soul, life broken, angel of light stolen.
My accomplishments were many.
There was a time when I took great pleasure in seeing others shudder at the sight of them. I enjoyed the power, relished in it – when a subject submitted under the shadow of my outstretched wings, my stained ego would take flight.
More. I always wanted more.
I found her at a place, not unlike this – a jagged chasm, ready to receive. A calmness surrounded her, an aura of resignation. Her decision had been made and she felt at peace. I’ve met them before, ones like her. They think they have the power to choose, to intercept fate. Fools.
Still, there was something different about this one. She was not afraid.
One touch was all it took, a hand on my chest. She could see me. Not just the blackened adumbration of fear, but the origin, the tiny pinprick of light where what was left of my soul remained. I can still feel it, the searing pain of remembrance. And her words, “everything is temporary, even darkness.”
The feathers were heavy with the weight of my transgressions. I felt lighter as I plucked the last one and watched it fall to join the others in the canyon below. We’ll see how long this lasts. Everything is temporary after all.
Now that everyone has gone, she can hardly stand to be in her own skin. She lies on his side of the bed, then sits in his closet wrapped in his sweatshirt—the old Sun Devils one that swallows her, not the new one she bought him last September. Eventually she wanders into the kitchen and sees the Cabernet she had meant to save open on the counter. She pours a glass and drinks it, fist pressed to her breastbone, looking out at the lemon tree in early afternoon light, thinking absently about limoncello. An old neighbor had given her a recipe, and she’d once been excited about making it, although she had never done so. Setting the glass down, she takes his keys and her purse and climbs into his pickup.
At one point, when he was apologizing again for something else they would not do, she had told him she didn’t need to go to the Grand Canyon; living Canyon-adjacent, was enough. She had been telling the truth; then she didn’t know regret. Now, in the gloaming, she stands at its rim watching the creep of darkness over light, trying to make sense of that juxtaposition. Trying to see what he would have wanted her to see.
The Grand Escape
The chasms and gorges; the valleys and plateaus of the desert southwest. Simply grand.
“Oh no,” came a cry from someone in the crowd gathered at Mather Point, “what’s he doing?!” The spectacular views were interrupted when an old man perched himself at the precipice of the guard rail. The crowd dispersed in a frenzy; all but the bravest stayed; many had gone to get help from park officials. When help arrived, they tried to reason with him but he was resolute.
“Sir, please get down,” the official said, “we can get you the help you need.”
“I don’t need your help.” The old man removed his hoodie exposing a helmet. He reached into his sweater pocket and withdrew goggles. The men looked uneasy.
“Sir,” the official implored, “you don’t have to do this.”
“I have to for my sake. I can’t stand my life anymore. It’s now or never. There’s no going back.”
“Yes there is,” interjected the official, “trust me.” He drew closer and extended his arm. “Take my hand.”
The reckless old man peered over his shoulder at the wilderness waiting for him. “I… I can fly… I know I can. I’m a superhero! A real-life superhero!”
The official was speechless. At this instant the old man stood up, removed his sweater and snap away pants revealing a black wing-suit. With arms outstretched he maniacally shouted:
“I’m the Dark Angel!”
He turned around and leapt. The Dark Angel flew off to live a little.
Looking down at the creek rippling through the gully behind my cabin, I couldn’t believe my tipsy eyes. There she was, sitting on the edge of a rock, dangling her tiny feet into the flow. While cooing an exotic melody, she brushed her slender fingers through her long, golden hair. She couldn’t be more than twelve inches tall. Was I going mad, I wondered? I took another delightful swallow from my flask and started down to get a closer look.
When I reached the edge of the creek, she stood and turned to face me.
“What took you so long, big guy,” I thought she called out.
Her naked body glowed like an incandescent bulb. Slowly, she began to float into the air, circling around my head, flicking sparkling sparkles all around me. Taking two more gulps from my flask, I stretched out to grab her. She darted out of reach, laughing and dipping and diving. For a moment I thought she was flying, but how could that be, too?
Roosting on a branch overhead, she smiled and beckoned to me. I tried to claw my way up to her, but was too dizzy to make it. I drained the rest of the bourbon from my flask, just as the glowing vision glided to my chest. I swooned into drunken a lump.
I awoke the next morning, lying in the gully. I couldn’t understand why there was a white pigeon, cooing, on my chest, pecking at my flask.
He stood staring at the majestic view sprawled out before him, his eyes glazed with cool indifference, his lips trembling with regret. He’d been here countless times before and each time he merely ended up succumbing to his basest desires. So why was he assuming that this time would be any different?
Amy’s scent was still smeared on the collar of his shirt. He remembered that smile that had ushered him tenderly, regrettably into her arms that night. When he’d awoken from his sybaritic slumber a couple of years later, he’d found himself gazing at his idyllic getaway for the first time. There he had stood in his cheap suit, his eyes flickering with glee, his lips tethered to a lingering scream. A gun in one hand, a bottle of tequila in the other. “27, you’ve still got a lifetime’s of regret ahead of you son,” he heard his father’s soft, soothing voice easing him toward precipice of disaster and resolutely back into her arms. He would awake again, time after time, riddled with relief, only to find himself parked outside her glorious mansion again.
This time was different, he reassured himself as he sped back. Sure enough there was Amy standing at the gates, a smirk on her angelic face, ready to usher him home once again.
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