Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Out There

Tenaya Lake Yosemite june 2001 flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks
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.

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15 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Out There”

  1. It was 3:00 a.m. Not the best time to come stumbling into their apartment, especially after a night of poker, cigars, and beer with his old Iraqi War buddies. Elise’s patience was already wearing thin, but the ghosts from his past haunted him still, and nothing he did could vanquish them.

    The car’s radio had been set to Elise’s favorite rock and roll station, but he, wanting a change, punched the Seek button until it settled on one playing Country Western music. Just like old times, he thought, as memories of Camp Udairi, Kuwait, flooded into his mind. The music reminded him of William “Bat” Masterson, his old Army buddy from Memphis, and the great music Masterson used to play on his CD player before the invasion of Iraq . . . songs by Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack and Willie Nelson, Faith Hill, Dolly Parton, and others. He and Bat used to sit and listen to Masterson’s CDs for hours at a time after a full day of flying Black Hawks out there on practice missions over the Kuwaiti desert.

    Masterson always was the first one in line for mail call, but the men never knew whether it was because of the sexy, perfumed love letters he got from Sherry or the Country Western CDs she included with every letter.

    Bat never made it back from Iraq, he remembered. I wonder whatever happened to Sherry and their two boys.

  2. What If?

    By Annette Rey

    Mac’s partner, Chuck, lumbered into the unit, “Another homicide last night and we’ve got two additional scenes this morning being investigated. Our world’s in a mess.”

    “You hear what’s going on on Jupiter?”

    “Jupiter! Who cares?”

    “You see the news? The videos are fabulous. The same storm’s been raging there for 350 years!”


    “Yeah. And it’s a big red swirl like the aerial views of our hurricanes. Only it’s more violent, lots of gases. And it’s so large, an entire Earth and more can fit inside of it.”

    “Did you know the Captain’s house was broken into last night? While he was at work, no less. Lucky his family wasn’t there.”

    “Lucky for the bad guy, Cap’n would’ve killed him dead. We catch him?”

    Chuck coughed through the cigar smoke. “Nah. He’s free to steal again.”

    “Ever wonder what life’s like on other planets, out there in the celestial wilderness?”

    “Not much. I worry about what’s here. But, I guess it’s kind of a release to drift off into other places, sort of like planning your next vacation.”

    “Wouldn’t that be neat? Go to Mars for a week. Collecting rocks. Camping out.”

    “Ha. You are a real trail blazer, aren’t ya, Mac?”

    The radio crackled. “Car 344. Respond on a domestic. Possible homicide.”

    “Mac, maybe you’re right. Maybe visiting another planet wouldn’t be a such a bad thing. I wonder what it’s like out there.”

  3. My plan was to get off the grid, forever. No car, no phone, no people. My Toyota drove forever on one tank of gas and I found myself in a deep canyon of the Big Horns by the time it sputtered to a stop. The note I left in the front seat told of my wish to be left to myself. ‘Don’t come looking for me.’ – it said.  
    The day grew long and my legs grew weary. I pitched my one-man tent on a narrow sloping edge of the rocky mountain side as the night air cooled.  Water and crackers with a stick of jerky would have to sustain me until I could find some wood to heat water for coffee and the powdered eggs I’d packed. It seemed ages since I had food to enjoy. When in fact it had only been hours since I left my own kitchen behind. 
    I found sleep listening to the howling coyotes that made the mountain home. My forty-five lay loaded next to my pillow.  
    I awoke to darkness and hot breath on my face. The pressure I felt on my skull explained the cracking sounds in my ears. I tried to push away from the furry bulk but I was pinned beneath a large paw on my chest. 
    The gun I now gripped was raised to meet the bear’s large head.  I pulled the trigger. I had no choice, the bear was here first. 

  4. Obituary for a mad racer: Dapper Dan in his lucky car number seven drove like a mad man out there in the lead. His reckless driving put him way ahead of the other racers in the annual Pike’s Peak Hill Climb Competition. None the less he already ran a couple of less experienced racers off the road in this year’s race to the top. Now all he had to do was cross the finish line around the last hairpin bend.

    However, Dapper Dan down shifted rather than breaking, and tore around the last hair pin curve like there was no tomorrow, thus for him there wasn’t one. On the back side of the curve he shifted again and gunned the engine even more. He must have felt his racer literally take off as his new acceleration forced him deeper into his red Corinthian leather seat. It is assumed that Dan pulled hard left to avoid the cliff edge, but his racer continued in a straight line out over the valley below.

    Spectators were shocked to see him wave as his bright red racer flew in a straight line at least 100 feet in the clear blue mountain sky before plummeting well over 1000 feet to his death on the boulders below. Sadly, it was the end of one of our more colourful race car drivers of this century. He leaves behind just his skid marks on this course, which he raced on to his doom.

  5. Jogging to Hopseid
    Angel M.B. Chadwick

    The shortest route to Hopseid got detoured by road construction. Fourteen-year-old, Ameringer’s eleven-year-old brother, Thais was already ahead of him on the much longer route in his solar powered wheelchair, which with the press of a button on the armrest speeded up faster. When they finally reached Hopseid, Ameringer looked dumbfounded. He thought he and his younger brother were on an imaginary adventure. He didn’t expect to see the tombstone or that Hopseid was a real place, the actual name of a cemetery. The tombstone read:
    The Greatest Big Brother and Son in the World
    Ameringer Whidden 2002-2016.
    Thais brought the time capsule he and his brother made, which is what compelled Ameringer’s ghost to go with him on this journey. Ameringer didn’t know what to do. He leaned forward on Thais wheelchair. Thais didn’t react. He never knew Ameringer was there from the start. Ameringer wailed like a howling whistling wind from the trauma of that realization. He started jogging along and seemed to jump off the cliffside.
    Before Thais could put the time capsule on his brother’s grave, he fell into a deep sleep. Thais was a very sick child and would have sick spells that would make me sleep like a corpse. It was freezing cold. His parents were looking for him and got detoured due to the road construction. The fog started to roll in by the time his parents got to Hopseid cemetery.


    One million, 10 million, 100 million. Avery wasn’t counting anymore. He was fabulously wealthy…and miserable.

    A financier and real estate mogul with assets circling the globe, he was convinced that SOMEWHERE “out there” he could find the sense of worth his success hadn’t bought.

    “Maybe it’s a something, maybe it’s a someplace,” he muttered.

    That was five years ago. Since then he had purchased many costly THINGS: a new yacht, a penthouse overlooking 5th Avenue, a private island in the Caribbean. He traveled in his Gulfstream V to exotic PLACES: Bali in Indonesia, Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America, Zanzibar in Africa and Tibet. Despite this vexing search, he had failed and Avery wasn’t accustomed to failure.

    Maybe it’s time to go back to the beginning, he mused.

    He drove alone in his Cadillac Escalade, down two narrow lanes of asphalt dusted with a fine film of powdery snow that seemed to lead to nowhere.

    As he rounded a curve he saw the sign:

    pop. 750

    The town of his birth. A real home. Again. At last he knew where he belonged: “out there” had been inside him all along.

  7. “We’ve followed them this far,” he said, steering the car to the side of the road. “Let’s take a little break and enjoy the view.”

    The majestic mountains reached as far as their eyes could see. The brisk fresh air was invigorating.

    “Why do you stop now?” his friend asked, taking a sip from his silver flask.

    “Makes no difference, old chap. We know they’ll be at their cabin just around the bend. We wait until the police catch up to us, then we move in.”

    Watching through the rear view mirror, he saw two police cars slow down and roll in behind them. An officer got out. “I’m impressed,” he said, extending his hand for a shake. “For two foreigners, you sure know your way around our country. Glad you accepted our email to help us.. What now?”

    “Just wait a bit until it starts to get dark,” he answered, “Then we can surround the murderers and get them back to town to stand trial.”

    The sun began to disappear behind the farthest mountain. The blue of the sky darkened. Guns drawn, they started their engines and slowly approached the cabin.

    At the trial, the killers were found guilty and immediately sentenced to death.

    On their homeward flight, his friend asked, “Great Scott. How did you figure it all out?”

    “Quintessential, dear friend.”

    “That’s a new one. You mean elementary, don’t you?”

    “Yes,” he grinned. “Can’t wait to get home to Baker Street and Mrs. Hudson’s comforting tea.”

  8. Journey
    “I guess my last one would be, um, maybe seeing a Broadway show. After a day of skating at Rockefeller Plaza. Oh, and it has to be snowing.”
    Martha and her daughter carefully negotiate the hairpin turns on the road leading to Eagle Rock Lake, the dream fishing spot of her husband Carl and son David.
    “Why are men’s bucket lists so much more crazy than ours?” Janice asks as she tries to take a photo through the windshield with her cell phone. “This place is in the middle of nowhere.”
    “I think that’s the point. I guess guys like to escape to the wilderness to feel like “real men.” Remember what Dad said? He said fishing made them feel connected to the Earth, hunting for food to bring home to keep the family going. Maybe it’s a primitive instinct, beats me.”
    Janice looks at the GPS screen on the car’s dashboard. “Almost there, Mom. Just about ten more miles until we get down to the lake. Dad and David should have driven here instead of taking that water airplane, or whatever it’s called.” The two drive the rest of the way in silence.
    Their rented car rolls into the empty fishing camp. They look at each other and hold hands for a moment. Mother and daughter retrieve the two brass containers from the trunk and quietly let the ashes drift away across Eagle Rock Lake.

  9. The road twisted down the mountain, each turn revealing a spectacular view. This road just might lead to what they were looking for – a place of their own, where they could live off the land, school their future children, live free. A town sat below the mountain, with a general store and small houses spread over the green valley. Keith pulled into the dirt driveway of the Bide-A-Wile Motel.

    “I love this place!” Sheila said. “It’s perfect! We can buy a house, enlarge it…maybe add a swimming pool, modernize the kitchen.” She opened the car door and froze. “I don’t see a cell tower.”

    “Very quaint,” Keith brushed dust from his pants. “These streets need paving though.”

    A man in overalls stepped out of the motel office. A woman carrying a broom and a bucket skittered out behind him and disappeared around the building.

    “How country!” Sheila whispered. “Ask if they have AC,”

    “This one’ll be ready in a minute.” The man pointed to where the woman stood in a cabin doorway, sweeping out hundreds of beetles, the biggest most gross creepy-crawly beetles Sheila had ever seen.

    Horrified, Sheila clung to Keith’s arm. Their bug-free city apartment on a paved street suddenly seemed ideal. They drove away in a cloud of dust.

    “City Folk,” the overalled man laughed. “Who needs ‘em.” He helped his wife scoop the plastic beetles back into the bucket. This wasn’t the first time they had used them, and probably wouldn’t be the last.

  10. “Pull over,” yelled Marge. “Now!”

    Harold slammed on the breaks with a white knuckled grip on the steering wheel. The car began to spin. Finally, it skidded to a halt, teetering on the edge of the cliff.

    “What’s wrong! Is it your stomach? Head? Heart? Do you need your medicine?”

    “No,” said Marge.

    “For god’s sake, I almost ran off the road.” His heart continued to play hopscotch. “There aren’t any railings here. Why’d you yell stop?”

    “Look,” said Marge, pointing across the valley. “Isn’t it amazing?”

    Harold glanced outside and sighed. “Yeah, it’s beautiful, like every other view.”

    Marge’s brow creased. “Not the scenery, Harold, that. It’s getting closer.”

    Harold stared out the window. “See what? There’s nothing out there.”

    “You really can’t see that big blue dragon hovering outside?”

    A chill ran up Harold’s spine. “There’s nothing there, Marge, only trees, mountains, and a lake.”

    “Oh.” She stared outside again and nodded. “I understand now.” Marge leaned over and kissed his cheek. “It’s time, Harold. She’s calling me home.”

    “Don’t go,” he said, tears streaming down his face. He held her close and stroked her golden hair. “Please. I’m not ready.”

    “I’ll come for you when it’s your time,” she whispered, as she sat back and closed her eyes. “I love you.”

    Peace settled over her face as she took one last breath. For an instant Harold saw two dragons fly off over the lake, one blue and one gold. Then they were gone.

    “Goodbye, Marge…for now.”

  11. Shawn shivers in the chill evening air. The sun sinks quickly behind the mountain. He should not have tried this trek alone. He felt certain the lake and road were ahead. Now he realizes that he’s wandered in a circle, past this rotted log, twice.

    Shawn sits on a stump and lists his mistakes. He’s not prepared to spend a night in the wilderness. He wore his summer clothes, brought only a few snacks, and very little water. He didn’t tell anyone where he was going. He forgot his compass, map, and matches. He should have thought things through before leaving.

    After mentally kicking himself, he begins to worry. Cold isn’t the only thing to fear. There are mountain lions out there. If he lives, he vows never to be so foolish again.

    He smacks his head with his hands. He hears a faint rustle in the brush. His heart pounds. A scream rises in his throat. Then someone faintly calls his name. “Shawn, Shawn. I’m unplugging you now.”

    Suddenly, the forest blurs, then fades. Shawn falls backward. But instead of feeling rough tree bark, he sinks into the soft cushions of his couch. He shakes his head and looks around the living room. His buddy, Greg, sitting next to him, holds the VR cable he’s just disconnected.

    Greg says, “You really shouldn’t go into that scenario when you’re alone, man.”

    Shawn smiles at his friend. “Just one more mistake I made today,” he says. “Thanks for the rescue.”

  12. Vernon stomped the brake, and his battered pickup squealed to a halt. Staring into the grill, a stick of a man dropped to his knees on the asphalt. Vernon clambered from the cab and dragged him to his feet. “Lunatic!”

    The man pointed beyond the drop off where the road swept around the mountainside. Gray stone peaks rose into the blue. In the deep bowl between them, a dark lake edged with pine slumbered. “Out there!”

    Vernon squinted at lake, trees, and mountains. “Nature as far as the eye can see.” He studied the man’s filthy clothing and terrified eyes. He must have scrambled up the slope to the road.

    Grabbing Vernon’s shoulders, the other shook him. “Call the police!”

    Vernon shoved him away. “No cell towers here. You know the middle of nowhere? We’re a hundred miles beyond. Is someone hurt?”

    “I was hiking. I stumbled upon this compound near the lake. They came after me with guns. I ran. Had to toss my backpack. I barely escaped!”

    Vernon laughed. “Ridiculous. Why would anyone gun down an innocent hiker?”

    “How should I know? But any second they might charge up that slope and kill us. Let’s go!”

    Vernon sighed. He motioned to his car and the other tumbled in as if pursued by a bear. Then he slipped behind the wheel and started the engine. The fellow knew almost nothing, it seemed. But even that was too much.

    He pushed a button.

    The door locks thunked shut.

  13. “I can’t believe there is still snow on the mountains this late in July,” Shelly exclaimed.

    “Remember the altitude we’re at,” Joe said. “This high up it is still very chilly. It’s not that unusual.”

    Shelly practically had her nose pressed against the window, looking at the view. They drove along the winding road in silence for several moments when she shared another observation.
    “It’s funny—it looks so desolate out there. I don’t even see trees at the higher elevations. I wonder if anyone ever lived there.”

    Joe yawned. “If they did, they didn’t stay too long. No land for crops, no fresh water.”

    “But there’s the snow.”

    “Yeah, but.” Joe was trying to focus on his driving. “Why do you care?”

    “I just find it fascinating. This mountain road is new to us, but who came before? Who decided a road needed to be built here? Don’t you ever think about things like that? Was there really a need for a paved road? Couldn’t they dig a tunnel?”

    “Dig a tunnel through the Rocky Mountains?” Joe sighed in disgust.

    “OK, maybe not through all of the mountains. But I just wonder about those who have trod this same path. I think about the bigger scheme of things. What is out there? For me? For anybody?”

    “The only thing I want to know,” Joe slowly and loudly said, “is why is this road so narrow and why are there no guard rails.”

  14. The young, fit man stood by the scraggly, old man looking down an idyllic mountain road.
    “You know, that story about Robert Johnson at the crossroads isn’t true,” said the old man. The young man glanced over puzzled.
    “The blues guitarist?”
    “Yep. I never made that deal. It was all him. Even I won’t take credit for it. It was all practice.”
    “Practice makes perfect?”
    “At least for Robert Johnson.”
    “You sure you want me to make you the best at F1?”
    “In the world.”
    “Just confirming. I have to get some things straight, too.”
    “I’m not the devil. I’m an African deity that helps people along.”
    “Okay, how does this work?”
    The two walked to an idling black 1969 Charger.
    “I’m driving, you’ve got shotgun.”
    “We’re going to barrel down this road and hit that curve as fast as possible. In those final moments, the car will go airborne and we’ll crash in a fireball among those pine trees over yonder. It’ll be glorious.”
    “How is that going to help me? Dying and all.”
    “You want my help or not?”
    “Then buckle up buttercup. It’s time for our Sunday drive.”
    The next few minutes were a blur of burning rubber, twisting, and crunching metal. Just as a branch crashed through the windshield, the young man’s world went black.
    The young man suddenly awoke alone at the wheel looking down at the mountain curve.
    “So am I the master of F1 now?”

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