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.
8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Hualapai”
Richard stooped slightly as he entered the traditional wikiup. “You sent for me grandfather?”
Running Bear sat on the hide-covered floor beneath the arching cedar boughs and smiled at his grandson. “Yes my boy, I did. I wanted to speak with you one last time for I fear my days are ending.”
“But grandfather, a doctor could…”
“No…the signs are true. My time has come. That is why I summoned you.”
“No. Listen. What are you studying at the white man’s school?”
“Real estate development.”
“Then hear me. Once I was young, now I am old. Once we were many, now we are few. It is said that things change with time, but some things NEVER change.”
“The land. No man can own the land…it belongs to the people: ancestors, descendants, the very spirits that rule all of the earth and heavens. This is the one truth you must acknowledge as you make your way in the modern world. It is the one truth our people have known since the Great Spirit gave us these lands to cherish and nurture.”
“What would you have me do?
“Simply look around you — the great canyon, the mighty river, the tall pine forests. Look at these things and remember: we are but passing through this life. These wonders, these living things, are eternal.”
Richard returned to Kingman and soon heard of his grandfather’s death.
He changed his major to environmental studies.
We had hoped to make good time on that blistering afternoon last summer driving south from Kingman on Route 259 toward Hualapai Peak. But when the old Indian standing forlornly by his over-heated ’53 Chevy pickup waved us over, we had no choice but to stop. The monsoon season was in full swing, and though only mid-afternoon, the sky already was turning blue-black. It would not be long before the heavens unleashed spectacular lightening displays and torrents of rain, creating flash floods that could catch even the most seasoned traveler by surprise.
“The Spirit of the Mountain is not happy,” intoned the Indian as he crawled into the back seat of our sedan.
I looked at my husband but said nothing.
A gust of wind blew, followed by a brilliant lightning flash, the clap of thunder, and sheets of wind-driven rain that shook the car violently.
“It has been this way for generations of my people,” the Indian continued, “since we first were born to this land. But the Spirit provides for the living as well as the dead. He takes their souls to a beautiful land to the northwest where there always is a plentiful harvest.”
My husband nodded. “But is there anything we can do to help you?”
The old man laughed. “The Spirit of the Mountain has already taken care of me.”
He pointed to the gallon bucket hanging on his truck’s front bumper, which was overflowing with fresh water for his truck’s radiator.
Gwen couldn’t decide where to hang the landscape painting.
If it hung on the wall behind the head of the bed, it would be reflected in the ceiling mirror. Uh uh, she smiled. She dragged it into the living room
Over the marble fireplace? With much effort, she lifted it onto the mantle and stepped back for an overall view. Hmmmmm.
Well, maybe over the buffet in the dining room?
It slipped from her hands, crashed into the buffet and smashed her toe. “Damn,” she screamed, shoving it into a corner and hobbling into the kitchen for a coffee break.
She sipped her Cappuccino, lit a cigarette, massaged her toe and, deep in thought, blew perfect smoke rings across the room.
“I’ll wait until Chuck gets home and let him decide,” she muttered. “After all, I bought it for his birthday tonight. But, maybe it would be perfect here in the kitchen next to the breakfast nook.” She went into the dining room and lugged the painting into the kitchen.
That idea didn’t last too long when she thought about cooking odors and steam.
The wall in the small room by the back door might do it, she concluded. Exhausted, she flung it in then kicked it twice.
“I’m home, dear,” Chuck called out. “Where’s my birthday present?”
While holding an ice bag on her toe and another bag pressed to her aching head, she moaned, “Go check the trash can out back.”
“Chief, I want you to talk to your grandson. He will not listen to me.” The teacher paced angrily behind her desk.
The man bristled at being called “chief”. He was not a chief, just an ordinary Indian, stuck on the reservation, raising his grandson the best he could. “What has he done?”
“I gave the class an assignment, to paint a picture of something beautiful. The other children did well. They painted pictures of castles and palaces…beautiful things. But your grandson painted this…this…” She held it upright. It looked like four irregular stripes of color running down the page.
The Indian took the painting and tilted it sideways so that the stripes of pale earth-colors ran horizontally. His breath caught in his throat.
How did the boy know? How could he know? It was Hualapai, and it looked exactly as it had looked before the whites came, long before the boy was born. Before the land became covered by shacks, and old broken-down vehicles, and all the refuse of a dying culture. The old Indian knew. He had seen it himself in a vision.
The teacher was right. He must talk to the boy. The boy was special, a visionary. Together, they would use every available resource to learn of their past and to build the bright future that the old Indian knew lay ahead for his grandson and his people. The old Indian was not the last. There was still his grandson.
Hearing the cop car sirens getting closer, Dorian ducked through the nearest doorway. Unknowingly, he stepped into a crowded art gallery. He was quickly greeted by a stuffy high class butler, “Welcome to the Rodalvas Aldi collection, champaign and peyote brownie, sir?” Sweaty and out of breath, Dorian quickly grabbed one of each, and then another.
Dorian could hear the police outside desperately searching for him. There was no place to hide, except to get lost in this crowd. So he turned his back to the entrance. Only to discover, he was a nose away from a landscape titled, “Canyon Escape.” As he listened for their approach, he fingered the gun in his pocket. All he wanted to do was to escape this nightmare of a mugging gone wrong, he stared deeper into the canyon landscape.
Oh, now he wished, he never brought the gun. Dorian stared deeply into the painting, its tranquility slowly pulled him in. The scenic view before him soon engulfed him as the reality of the gallery melted behind him.
Dorian closed his eyes and took a breath of fresh morning air. He opened his eyes, somehow, he escaped and now stood on the canyon’s edge gazing at this magnificent scene. He made the mistake of turning back to see if he truly escaped. He discovered he was standing in front of a painting of the art gallery. Dorian looked back and forth caught between two unattainable worlds, forever trapped in a frame.
“That’s boring.” Melody chewed an exquisitely painted fingernail.
Bernard squeezed his eyes shut. “It’s a Weston. Weston’s destined for greatness.”
“It’s no American Gothic.” She turned from Weston’s gray mountain ridges fading into a sepia sky. “That one’s better.”
“We’ve been hired to steal this,” Bernard whispered.
“I’d rather steal that. See? A flower made of naked people.”
Why? Bernard wondered. Momentarily the exhibit would empty, affording a brief window to heist the photo. Their employer, believing Weston would be famous, would pay handsomely for it.
Right on time, a monkey-suited docent appeared in the double doors. “Luncheon is served. Please join us.”
Bernard let the art aficionados file out. Then, like a snake striking, he snatched the photograph and tucked it under his tuxedo. “Come on.” He strode to the emergency exit, but Melody didn’t follow. What she was up to? He turned and scowled.
“Hold your horses.” She lifted the naked flower people.
Oh God, Bernard thought, not again. “Put that back!”
“Ma’am?” The docent had returned to lock the room. Eyebrows raised, he stared at Melody.
“How much?” she asked, sweetness and light.
Barely breathing, Bernard eased the Weston out of his tuxedo before the docent realized he was hiding it.
“Eight fifty. But it stays on the wall until you pay.”
“Oh, sorry. How about that one?” She pointed at the Weston.
The man’s eyebrows arched further. “Seven seventy five.”
“See, Bernie?” Melody rehung the naked flower people. “I told you this was better.”
Hualapai means “People of the tall pines.” These are my people.
As I wake this morning, the cool dew is refreshing. My eyes play tricks on me as I look at the landscape. The trees blend into the mountain tops at dawn, each mountain a faded shade of the one before it. It reminds me of that painting class we womenfolk took last week called “Wine and Watercolors.” Wine is no substitute for firewater and watercolors are no substitute for what Mother Earth provides.
The painting instructor tried to teach us visual perspective with size and color. The Great Spirit taught us that when he gave us eyesight; we just don’t think about it and name it. It just “is.” The Arizona desert offers us more colors on the palette than our eyes can fully appreciate or even comprehend. Why paint?
I like this time of day because I like the coolness. I dislike this time of day because the colors are muted by the fog that will burn off in a few hours as the sun rises. And not only colors are muted, but so are the trees, my trees, the trees of my people. Like the Spirits, they are sometimes muted but they are there, waiting for the fog before our eyes to burn off.
Most of all, this time of day reminds me of the Great Spirit: We don’t need to see everything at once, we just need to trust the knowledge will be revealed.
We found the colony comprising seven small villages surrounded by a range of mountains.
Mary exclaimed, ‘Wow, what a beautiful place!’
Jacob commented in his usual poetic voice, ‘See, those mountains are protruding like protective guardians–‘
An old villager interrupted, ‘You know our folk tale, sir!’
‘Yes; these are our saviour soldiers’
‘These mountains?– soldiers? Strange!’
On our earnest request, the old tribesman man revealed their ancient belief:
That was some prehistoric age. World became too cold to survive. In search of some suitable shelter our ancestors had come here. They found this area safer, so settled. But icy storms followed way. Temperature began to fall rapidly.
Head of the clan ordered all women and children to gather at a central place. Men surrounded them. Stout soldiers formed impenetrable human pyramid covering all of them.
The stormy weather continued for months but that wind failed to reach beyond the that soldiers-pyramid. Majority of our people was saved. But, great solders were all petrified!
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