Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Falls

flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks yaak river idaho
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, 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.

Author: Administrators

All Indies Unlimited staff members, including the admins, are volunteers who work for free. If you enjoy what you read here - all for free - please share with your friends, like us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you don't know how to thank us for all this great, free content - feel free to make a donation! Thanks for being here.

15 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Falls”

  1. Nightmare

    By Annette Rey

    “Ahuva. You packed my watch, yes?”

    “What? I don’t know, Binyamin.”

    He held her. “Everything’s going to be alright. They told us. Now you settle down, mentsh. We must hurry.”

    Carrying all they could manage bundled in knotted shawls, their bent backs set out to meet at the assigned spot. A whirlwind of activity met them. Other expectant families, many they knew personally, were gathered for the journey. Some conversation was exchanged, but most stood silent, wide-eyed, uneasy about the future.

    German commands filled the air. “Walk this way. Do not linger. Load here. Up. Up. Get in the cars.”

    Packed so tightly into the railway cars, they were unable to sit down. The journey took three days. Some elderly perished where they stood. Jostling of the train vibrated weaker souls to the floor where they were crushed by the crowded weight of others who didn’t have the strength to help them. No fresh air or light penetrated, the stench of human waste and death and the cries of many hung in the surrounding darkness.

    Binyamin supported Ahuva. “This is mishegaas, craziness. But we will get through it, Ahuva.”

    “I am so thirsty. I am so thirsty.”

    Binyamin hummed in her ear, an old Yiddish lullaby. He whispered, “Remember our trip to Austria, mentsh. The Krimmi Falls. Think of the Falls, my mentsh. Think of the Falls.”

    Finally, arrival at their destination, bodies tumbled from the cars. Ahuva and Binyamin were immediately separated.

    Ahuva tried to remember the Falls.

  2. The Falls

    “Tell me, old-timer, why do you folks call these ‘the falls’ anyway?”

    “Well young feller, you see them mountains off to the east of here?”


    “This here area is runoff from them mountains. Ain’t much like the big falls they got in them mountains, but it’s the best we got hereabouts. See them tall trees all around us?”


    “Well it was a plumb hard winter this year and we’re gonna have a big snow- melt this spring. So now’s a purdy good time to build a mill.”

    “A mill?”

    “Yes sonny, a SAW mill. Cut them bigguns down, plank ’em up and start building us a proper town.”

    “A town, out here?”

    “Why sure — why not? Folks is heading west and we’s a territory now. Might even become a state! So’s people gotta have a house to live in, cleared land to farm and dry goods stores for supplies and such, right?”

    “I suppose so.”

    “Yessiree. This here California’s gonna be a right proper goldmine for them what’s got here first, yessirree!. And I’m one of them first ones.”

    “Well old-timer, this is as good a place as any for me to seek MY fortune. I’d like to help you out if you’ll let me!”

    “Sure sonny, if’n you can handle a pick, shovel and ax.”

    “That I can, and well. By the way, what’s your name?”

    “Sutter. John Sutter. We’ll call the town ‘Sutter’s Mill’ I think.”

  3. Amazing, Tom thought, as he looked at the falls where he and his brothers used to play before the war. Nothing’s changed in 70 years. But, why should it have? This is Big Sky Country, a land so vast you can see forever and beyond, where at night the sky, bright from the light of a billion stars, makes it possible to see to the beginning of time.

    Instantly he was transported back to his youth and to the departure of his two brothers as they joined millions from across the nation who took up arms against the Germans and Japanese. He was too young then to know the world—his world—would forever be changed by the events that followed.

    Joe, the eldest son, had joined the Army at 17, lying about his age. A tinkerer with things electronic who had strung all manner of radio antennas between the house and barn, Joe also had shown great proficiency with the Morse code. Grabbed by the Signal Corp, he soon found himself in North Africa, fighting Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

    Joe never made it home. He died in the Second Battle of El Alamein in late 1942. The look on Tom’s parent’s face when an officer and chaplain came to their door and read the telegram from the War Department is something Tom never forgot.

    Now, he’d come home to bury Chuck, whose remains had recently been recovered from debris found in a cave on the island of Iwo Jima.

  4. “Another minute this tent’s going to fly away and the evidence along with it, sheriff. Why do this here?”

    “Jake, quit harping and hand me the acid—14 carat bottle in the case over there. We’re doing it here because it’s where the ring was found.”

    The sheriff placed a flat black stone on the table, shielding it from the wind that blew in through the torn canvas, which did little to keep out spray from the thundering waterfall nearby. He took a large gold ring out of an evidence bag. With a firm motion he used it to score a straight white line across the black surface. Taking the stopper off the bottle of acid, he poured some of it over the stone. Wherever the liquid touched the scored mark, the mark disappeared.

    “Not real gold. Costume jewelry.”

    “You sure? This guy killed those two for this ring?”

    The sheriff sighed. “Killed them for nothing. Kills himself trying to escape across the river.”

    The sheriff looked up for the first time, noticing the overcast sky. He could see the drowned body lying on the rocks above the rapids, the M.E. still hovering around it. Upending the ring on the table, he poured acid on a gouged area. The liquid turned from clear to green and started smoking.

    Jake shook his head. “Green, huh? Like the guy was—green with envy.”

    “Doesn’t pay,” the sheriff said, as he reached up to pull down the tent sheeting. “Not ever.”

  5. “I’m going to let you in on a secret,” the world famous photographer said to a young beginner he had just met. “I’ve never told anyone else, and I am going to swear you to secrecy. Do you swear?”

    “Sure,” the young man said.

    “You must never tell anyone.”


    The old photographer hesitated a moment. “Look at this picture and tell me what you see.”

    “It’s beautiful! A sparkling waterfall, gorgeous pine trees, blue sky…”

    “Where do you think it was taken?”

    “Um… South Dakota? Maybe Switzerland? Or Canada.”

    “Wrong, wrong, wrong. I’ve never been out of California. This picture was taken near downtown Los Angeles.”


    “Yes. You see how the landscape forms a straight line where it meets the sky? That’s the wall at the side of a freeway. And below that, another straight line? Looks like it’s about 30 feet long. Well, it is only 3 feet long. And the water flowing down…you see how it looks almost like it’s coming out of pipes? That’s because it is coming out of pipes, pipes that drain the excess water off the freeway after it rains. Which also explains the clear blue sky.”

    “You’re a fraud!” The young man was horrified.

    “Yes, I am.” The old man smiled. He knew the young man would notify photography journals, clubs, and publishers in an effort to expose him. The end result would be newfound fame for the old fraud. The public loves nothing better than a good swindle.

  6. Those who saw it hurtling through space wished on the falling star. The glowing egg slowed to a whisper as it reached the water’s surface and slowly sank to the bottom of the crystal clear pool. The bumps and thorns of it’s shell created secure bedding while the waterfall stirred silt over the incubating embryo.

    It waited.

    “Oh, Daddy. Look at that lovely water. I’m going to jump in for a little dip,” the child called to her father as she kicked off her sneakers and splashed into the water. She winced when her toe struck something. Reaching down, she brought up a heavy oval object, larger than an ostrich egg.

    “Look what I found, Daddy,” she called, and offered it to him.

    “Gee, honey. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Looks like some kind of weird egg. Wanna keep it,” he asked? “Let’s take it home and clean it up.”

    At the kitchen sink, while warm water rinsed away some of the silt, he thought he felt something moving inside the egg. It started to crack.

    On a remote planet, two figures, tails entwined, embraced for the last time.

    “We sent it to Earth just in time,” one whispered. “Pray they learn to love it as much as we would have. It will either grow up and live happily among them, or…… Oh! Farewell.”

    Their twirling world began accelerating to blazing meteorite speed, streaking through the universe, destroying everything on itself as it disintegrated into dust.

  7. Scout Master Theodore lined his charges up for a pep talk.

    “Men,” he growled, “today you are embarking on a journey to manhood. One of the true tests of a man is being able to provide food for his family.”

    The Cub Scouts looked at Mr. Ted eagerly. They were in the woods camping and living off the land and having the time of their lives.

    “Today I am going to teach you the proper way to fish,” Mr. Ted continued. “When you are bigger you’ll be able to fish in lakes and bigger rivers. But for your first time, we will go to the falls on the other side of our campground. There’s no need to be frightened—we’re Cub Scouts!”

    A general huzzah rose from the group and they began their hike, single file, lumbering toward their destination.

    The sound of the falling water reached them before they caught sight of the boulders on the edge of the river. The Scouts ran toward the edge, amazed at the sight of the huge rapids and the big waterfall feeding them. A few began to whimper—they knew they weren’t allowed to be in such a big river by themselves. But Ted assured them it only looked big because they were so small.

    He herded the Cubs into the river near the third level. They realized the water at that point was only up to their ankles—no need to fear.

    “Now, the proper way to catch salmon is …”

  8. Seventy years ago they had spent their honeymoon at Niagara Falls. It had been a magical place and time then, marking the start of their lifetime together. They’d weathered good times and bad, raised two fine children, and enjoyed many grandchildren.

    But now, in their twilight years, Alzheimer’s steals her away from him. She rocks endlessly and stares at nothing. No longer the university lecturer, fluent in three languages, she has lost all words. And he is just another stranger in her life.

    Today the caregiver fails to arrive. He makes a bold decision. He will drive from their Rochester home to Niagara Falls. He will show her, one last time, the place where their great love began.

    He knows they’ve rescinded his license because of his compromised eyesight. But he will just drive very carefully.

    As they travel down the highway, he talks about the falls, reminds her of their honeymoon. She does not react. Eventually, they arrive within sight of the thundering water. He points and she looks.

    Then she turns slowly toward him with a smile he’s not seen in years. With her unused voice she croaks, “Love you.”

    His chest tightens and he barely breathes as he hears those words. Tears blur his failing vision even more. When he looks back at the road, the huge tree looms directly in front of them. His reactions are far too slow to swerve. One final thought fills his mind, “together again.”

  9. “You seem ‘down’ these days, Charles. Is something wrong?”

    There was no response.

    “Charles! Did you hear me?”

    “I’m sorry, Reverend. It’s been a very difficult few days. Ever since we returned from our last outing, the dean pretty well has let it be known he doesn’t want me anywhere near his children.”

    “Are you sure about that?”

    “Oh, yes. I think it’s because I upset Alice. I know our last picnic in the forest was a bit difficult for her. Best I can tell she must have conjured up memories of the floating valley with the river running through it—you know, the river that formed into various waterfalls.”

    “But children do that. They magnify things, sometimes way out of proportion.”

    “I know, I know, my friend, but I’ve never seen her so upset. And all her tears did was get Edith upset, too. God only knows what they told their parents after we dropped them off. Perhaps the stories we’ve been making up are too scary, though Lorina should be old enough to understand them.”

    “I don’t think the stories are the problem, Charles, at least as far as the dean is concerned.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    The reverend hesitated, but then, in a soft voice, said what he and Charles both knew was the nub of the matter. “I think the dean and his wife are concerned that Lorina has a crush on you.”

  10. They aren’t big falls like Niagara or Victoria, but they are my falls, which makes them as important.
    I’ve been playing in them since I was eight years old and moved to Montana from Boston.
    Fifty years on and staring at them now, I still remember the fun racing wooden boats which my brother and I carved with dull penknives and I vividly recall gashing my head when slipping on river-polished stone – my mother had a fit I returned home with dried blood stains on my face and shirt.
    My family is long gone now, but I swear there are times when they are here at the falls with me – I see them, but they never speak.
    They are not with me today, but another image appears – an Indian, not in tribal regalia, but simple brown suede cloth. He wears a single black-tipped feather in a bandana around his head and carries a spear.
    He stares at me for several minutes, motionless, but I feel no fear.
    He motions me to come to him and I obey, oblivious of where I tread.
    My foot slips on a wet stone slab and sends me to a crashing fall.
    My head hits hard and I can’t tell if the wetness I feel on my cheek is water or blood.
    As I lay losing consciousness, my mother appears beside him with a bandage, but it is already bloody – my brother stands with a wooden boat in his hand…

  11. For two days, Adrian climbed the forested rock to the top of the plateau, determined to find the source of the hot salty springs at the base of The Falls.
    “The Spirit of the Falls is responsible,” the villagers claimed.
    Adrian just laughed.
    As the haze of dawn hit the falls, he climbed over the edge of the plateau.
    He followed the trail of water to two small cracks in a misty rock. But, wait… He rubbed his eyes. The rock wasn’t a rock. In the halflight, it took on the appearance of a kneeling woman. Her hands to her face, the cracks were gaps between her fingers. Her tears spilled over the plateau.
    As Adrian stared in fascination, she took on more corporeal dimensions. She lowered her hands and looked at him.
    “Are you the Spirit of the Falls?” he asked.
    “Why do you cry?”
    “It is my destiny. My tears provide water and fill the land with nutrients.”
    “The villagers know your sadness?”
    “Not sadness. These are tears of joy. Can you not see the beauty around you?”
    The sun peaked the horizon, its golden light streaming across the plateau. It reached the spirit’s tears, reflecting rainbows that sprayed and danced in the mist of the falls. The air warmed and the earth took a breath.
    “Yes.” Tears spilled from Adrian. “I see it.”

    When Adrian reached the bottom of the falls, the villagers smiled and asked him what he saw.
    “I saw nothing,” he smiled back.

  12. The Devil’s Hopyard

    In the chilly autumn air at the Devil’s Hopyard Falls in East Haddam, Detective Mathews felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He turned and was relieved to greet Inspector Jonathon Drumer, on loan from Scotland Yard.

    Standing on the precipice of the falls Matthews greeted the immaculately dressed Inspector, “Welcome to America, sorry to interrupt your vacation plans with this second Ripper like homicide this month. ”

    Looking over the edge of the falls down on to the murder scene, Inspector Drumer commented, “Even from up here, I can tell he staged the scene exactly as the Ripper would have.”

    He started pointing out specific gruesome similarities in the way the entrails and body were arranged on the rocks below.

    Detective Mathews mentally noted every detail the Inspector identified, “Excuse me, you seem to be in awe of this butcher, how so?”

    Inspector Drumer evasively answered, “I’ve been on the case since the first murder, and he leaves clues. Have you discovered the calf skin gloves, yet?”

    Detective Matthews nodded his head thoughtfully, “Yes, under the body, why do you ask?

    Drumer wryly smiled, “The Ripper always leaves behind a blood soaked pair. Will that be all?”

    “Oh yes! Thank you for your insight.” Detective Matthews extended his hand to the Inspector.

    “Sorry, I don’t shake hands.” Hiding his blood soaked hands in his overcoat pockets, the Inspector turned to leave, commenting, “I dare say, the Ripper seems to have come to America.”

  13. There is silence, and there is peace.

    Ripples sent from the cedar canoe rolled onto the banks, each one nursing the foliage and caressing the shore. Lush grasses, wildflowers, and berry bushes sipped the river and fawned at the feet of the noble riparians which shaded the Mississippi. James steered as Eloise rode in front. Birdsongs, the hush of winds and leaves conversing was interrupted only by the delicate slosh of James’ paddle and Eloise’s contented sighs.

    The two had married a year prior and both knew silence. James once retreated into himself for an entire evening when an argument about laundry became lethal. They recovered in the morning as they folded in the bedroom. Eloise’s tears trickled down as James offered a timid hand of support. Her family lived in the city – his, in Kentucky – each hours away. Neither James nor Eloise would want them closer. Even with lips pressed onto ears, parents wouldn’t listen, siblings wouldn’t speak. When the doctor labeled Eloise’s pregnancy as high risk, the silence in her belly screamed anxiety. To them, silence was the stranger dooming threats, making awkward conversation, or the culprit twisting relationships. It was anxiety, fear, worry, regret hurting like an unidentifiable pain, ever quietly consistent.

    Yet, even when the falls broke the river’s tranquility, and when the shade could no longer protect from the heat; even when they glided beneath the highway overpass and climbed out of the canoe by way of a mangy park, James and Eloise both knew peace.

  14. On the Move

    The cascading water mesmerized Joe. He hiked all day under a cloudless sky through rough terrain adorned by nature and for man’s pleasure to arrive here at this pseudo waterfall. He decided to rest taking off his boots and wading in the shallow, dark green waters. The refreshing water healed him physically, soothing his aching, blistered feet as the pebbles in the stream-bed massaged them.

    The sound of the fall wasn’t that of a massive waterfall whose surge’s incessancy permeates the air, but a benign one that appeases the ear; the equivalent of pieces from a musical score whose conductor is none other than nature.

    Roving over the small descending folds that appeared as white curtains he needn’t worry about being swept away. But the water is still the same no matter where it is. Like him, it craves to be unrestrained; always moving. Standing however, in that cool basin he became as one of the stones in the path of the water, an obtrusion; the water merely flowing around his ankles as it carried on becoming a part of another body of water greater than it. The current cut through the stones forming that small insignificant gully and now it rent his being.

    He could remain here a while longer but a stirring in the woods disturbed his reverie. Leaving the water, he started for the camp. Like the water he is always on the move.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: