Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Oops

sonoran desert museum snake 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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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Oops”

  1. She just laid there looking at me with unblinking eyes. It took me three weeks to find her. I’m sure she knew it was a gun I was pointing at her, but it didn’t seem to bother her.

    I remember the fat guy telling me,“When you find it, let her have it right between the eyes.” He signed the five hundred dollar check for my detecting services. “But, I wanna be there to see you do it. Dump it wherever you like.”

    Didn’t the jerk know I wasn’t gonna bump off anything for only five hundred bucks?

    Yesterday, Captain Koski brushed the ashes from the lapels of his police uniform and told me, “Listen Mike, let’s play it cool. We gotta get the guy the way we planned it.” He lit another cigarette. “When you find what he’s lookin’ for, signal me and we’ll take over.” I nodded and left. The light rain made a mirror of the wet street reflecting the glittering lights of the city.

    And now, there she was, calm as could be. I felt myself being attracted to her. Me, a pet lover,getting loony over something like this!

    “Don’t worry, babe,” I whispered. “Nothin’s gonna happen to you.
    We got it set up for the cops to take over.” I flicked the lights twice, our signal.

    The fuzz broke in and nabbed fatso cringing in the closet.

    She got up and thanked me as they led her menacing husband out into the night.

  2. “Do ya have the money, Tony?”

    “Of course I do, Nico. It’s right here in da suitcase. Do ya think I’m stupid or somethin’, bringing ya all the way out here to Red Hook for nothin’? The real question is: did you bring the drugs?”

    “They’re in the trunk. But before I show ’em to you, I wanna see the dough!”

    “What? Nico, Nico . . . it’s me, Tony. You and me go a long way back, buddy-boy. Remember, we were choir boys at St. Michaels together.”

    “Don’t be a wiseass! Trust but verify, that’s what I always say. So just shut up and show me the dough!”

    Tony slowly opened his suit jacket and started to reach toward an inside pocket There, he kept his wallet, which contained the key to the suitcase holding the million dollars in worn, $100 bills packaged in plastic wrap.

    Nico, however, thinking the man was going for his gun, reacted instinctively by reaching for his weapon, which set off a chain reaction. Before Tony knew what was happening, his two bodyguards were reaching for their weapons as well.

    “Whoa, whoa, guys!” Tony cried, throwing his arms across his bodyguards’ chests. Then he started laughing. “These young bloods, Nico. What are we going to do with them?”

    [Laughing] “Ah, to be young again, Tony.”

  3. “Ya know Willie, we have a lot in common.”

    “Fer cryin’ out loud, will you put those castanets away. We ain’t in Spain and I don’t dance ‘Flamenco’ ya know.”

    “People say we’re related. Dunno ’bout that…but I DO know we feel the same ’bout a lotta things. I mean, I get scared, I get hungry, I get cold at night. You too, right?”

    “OK, well ya don’t have to say nuttin’, jus’ listen.”

    “It gets lonely out here…just sand and dust and wind. An’ the durned sun can fry a fella’s brainpan in a heartbeat. I ain’t found no gold in a month of Sundays. And if’n it weren’t fer you I’d be totally alone.”

    “Now I TOLD you to stop that noise. Busts my concentration!”

    “Here’s the thing…ya know, live and let live. But I gotta make a decision: should I stay in this durned desert or go back to the city? Be broke either way, I s’pose. An’ back in town there are plenty of sharp operators who’ll take a bite out of yer wallet an’ leave ya high and dry.”

    “Now listen…we been together for a fair piece now. And you wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds ya, right?”

    “OK then, here’s a mouse.”

    “OUCH !!”

  4. Three rattlesnakes, all sleeping soundly, basking on a ledge, in the noon day sun.

    Oops! One woke up and slithered into the shade, when a rope came down from above, to gently tap it on the rattle.

    Oops! A second awoke with a start, when slapped by a rope landing on the back; angrily, it slithered into the shade beside the first.

    Oops! A third soon joined the other two in the shade, when the final rope flopped down, so rudely hitting it on the head.

    “Revenge!” Each snake proclaimed rattling their tails, for their rude awakening in the heat of the noon day sun.

    Soon, three men repelled down to the ledge of snakes. Each man landing a few feet from the deadly diamond backs. Unseen in the shade of the ledge, blending in all to well, they waited for the proper moment to inflict their deadly bite.

    Unknowingly, the three men stepped towards the shade, only to be attacked by the three diamond backs. All together with mouths wide open and fangs bared. Together, springing out at the men. Startled, each man stepped, one step to many, backwards it does seem, for over the edge they fell, all too, soon dead.

    Three rattlesnakes soundly sleeping, basking in the noon day sun, beneath three empty ropes hanging, uselessly, from a ledge above.

  5. “Hey, Swamp Lady,” the UPS driver said to me with a smile and a wave as he drove by.

    That’s how they all knew me now: Swamp Lady. All because I spent my lunch hour here watching birds by the swamp at the edge of their parking lot.

    As I walked along my usual route, a brown lump on the ground ahead caught my eye. Curiosity got the best of me, and I hurried forward. When I got closer, I realized it was an enormous snake, coiled up with its head and tail tucked under its body. It was completely still – it had to be dead, right? I squatted down to more closely study its beautiful pattern. It couldn’t be a rattlesnake, could it? I had to find out. Even though it was probably dead, I wasn’t daring enough to try to move it with my hand.

    After walking for a few minutes, I finally found a stick along the path. I rushed back, figuring this would be a matter of simply flipping the dead snake onto its back.

    I returned to the spot marked by the indentations where I’d squatted. But where was the snake? I looked left and right: nothing. Then, the grass beside me rustled and I saw the very tip of the rattle disappear into the brush. I froze, amazed by my luck and my stupidity. My face had been less than a foot away from it, and it had been alive the whole time. Oops.

  6. “Oops, if I knew it was you, I wouldn’t have answered the door,” Myrna joked, stopping once she noticed the angry lines on his face. “Josh, what’s wrong?”

    “Wildlife Protection Unit Inspectors raided the pet store today. I ditched out the backdoor, but they’re looking for me.”

    “I don’t understand.”

    “Somehow they found out what we’re doing.” He stared at her accusingly. “I trusted you not to tell anyone about the black market exotic reptile sales.”

    “You can trust me.” She backed slowly towards the bedroom door, suppressing the urge to flee that prickled sharply along her spine.

    He advanced, fists clenched. “Who’d you tell?”

    “Nobody.” She reached for the knob, but it was too late.


    Shaking, he rummaged around until he found some cigarettes. He stared blankly out the window wondering if he should jump.

    “Myrna!” A male voice hollered anxiously, entering uninvited.

    The jolt from the intrusion was swiftly replaced by shock. Myrna’s visitor was part of the group that had raided his store.

    “Where is she?”

    Josh blew out a swirl of smoke, “Gone. You are?”

    “Concerned neighbor.”

    Liar, you recognize me, he thought. “Did she tell you?”

    “No, I figured it out on my own. Make this easy.” The handcuffs glinted, a gun and cell phone were now in view.

    He turned, stubbing out his cigarette in a dish on the counter. “You’ll find her in the tub.” Within seconds, something heavy hit the back of Josh’s head, a flash of searing pain, then nothing.

  7. The rattlesnake blended well with the gravel of the lonely mountain trail. Yann and I nearly stepped onto the deadly roadblock on our way along the trail.
    “Watch out!” I shouted as it coiled up tighter and shook its rattle loudly.
    Yann didn’t act surprised at all. He casually stepped around the deadly serpent, continuing on without a look.
    “Sixty-two,” he said.
    “What was that?” I asked picking my way around and running to catch up with my unconcerned best friend.
    “This is the sixty-second time we’ve come across that snake,” he explained, “Up ahead is a cave with a mysterious glow. When we enter, somehow we reset, we return to the base of the mountain and start the hike again. You’ve been bitten thirty times by that snake…and died twenty times.”
    “Is this some joke? It’s not funny.”
    “It’s not a joke. You’ve also fallen off the trail and were crushed by a falling boulder once. I’m surprised you don’t remember. I’m getting tired of this conversation too.”
    “You’re crazy,” I scoffed, “There is no cave ahead. There is no mysterious glow. Nothing at all.”
    I picked up the pace and rushed ahead. Around the next bend ahead there was some loose rock hanging over the trail. The opposite side of the trial was a sheer cliff. Then I saw it. There was a tiny cave just wide enough for one man to scramble through. From the entrance poured a mysterious light.

  8. My co-workers had warned me about the rattlesnakes that come down off the hillside in summer. As if working the night shift isn’t spooky enough. So, whenever I had to traverse the path through that small field, I trod gingerly, panning my flashlight back and forth in front of me.

    By late July I was beginning to think they had been hazing me since I’d never seen a snake. I guess I’d become a little careless. I approached much too close to the large coiled reptile before seeing it.

    Lying there absorbing the fading heat from the concrete, it glared at me. I nearly dropped my flashlight and choked on my scream. When I caught my breath, I stepped backward slowly, hoping that another snake had not crawled out behind me. Then I keyed my radio and called security for help.

    Both the snake and I remained frozen in place until Greg, the night guard, arrived. He took one look at the passive snake and said, “That’s no rattler. It’s only a bull snake.”

    As Greg moved closer to the creature, we both saw its head rise up and heard the distinctive rattle. Without thinking, I flung my flashlight at the snake’s head. I missed, of course. But the distraction motivated that snake to slither off the path and back toward its hillside den.

    “Oops,” Greg said, as he wiped his brow. “You were right. Thanks.”

    That’s when everyone started calling me The Flash.

  9. Clipboard and sales brochures in hand, Mark scowled at the desert landscape. This town was nowhere near a desert, but the homeowner had transformed his front yard into a wasteland of sand, rock, and cactus, and right there near the end of the driveway a diamondback reposed, curled on top of a flat rock, ready to strike any and all unwary pedestrians.

    “You’re not real, of course,” Mark told the rattler.

    The rattler didn’t reply.

    “It’s all fake. Cactus can’t grow here. Rattlesnakes don’t live here.”

    The rattler stared at nothing, neither moving nor breathing nor flicking its tongue.

    “I’m a door to door salesman, and you’re not real, and I’m walking right past you up to that door.”

    Mark eyed the creature as he took one wary step, then another, then another. “There, see? You’re a fake.”

    A forked tongue flickered as the snake’s eyes rolled upward.

    Inside the house, hidden behind the sunlight glare on the picture window, an elderly man smiled at Mark’s sprinting prowess. Then he set down his remote control, picked up his newspaper, and settled in for a quiet afternoon.

  10. QUENCH

    It was to be the last of many father and son adventures before Jack went off to college in the fall. Location, the desert Southwest. Then disaster: the Jeep they rented got stuck in the sand. “North is that way, Colton is just over that ridge,” John said. “Grab some water and let’s go.” Jack reached for the jug but lost his grip and it hit the ground sideways, popping the top and spilling it’s contents.

    Colton was not over the ridge. Or the next. When they returned to the Jeep, John discovered that Jack had not only spilled one jugs, but had secretly drank another. That was five days ago.

    They rationed what little food and water they had left, using only what they needed to survive. On the sixth night, Jack panicked and ate the last sandwiches and drank one of two remaining bottles of water. John awoke, saw the empty bottle and was livid. He shouted at his son like he had never done before.

    John knew the desert well. He knew which spiders were poisonous and which snakes were too toxic to eat. When he saw the rattlesnake he knew there was enough meat and, more importantly, fluid to keep a man alive for days. One man. He grabbed the snake with two sticks and put it in Jack’s sleeping bag. Sarah will have a father, and a college fund.

  11. It wasn’t the snake coiled behind a jar of peaches on a shelf in the cool, dark cellar that hot summer day that took her life. It was her love for me, a love so strong it held her on that god-forsaken pig farm. That is what haunts me.

  12. Kevin and John were “urban cowboys.” They yearned for the real thing. John found a place in Texas that would host “city slickers” to work on an honest-to-God ranch for a week. Each man would do assigned chores as well as learn the finer points of horse-back riding, herding cattle, and avoiding rattlesnakes.

    Kevin and John’s job? Scooping up manure from the animals, especially on the gravel pathways. Important to keep not only your boots clean, but the vehicle tires as well.

    Their cleaning schedule was usually late afternoon. By then any rattlers sunning themselves would have moved on and the cattle would be heading for the barn for the evening.

    While it was easy to determine what a horse left in its wake, the cattle left more of a flatter, semi-coiled appearance. Around the campfire one evening, Old Walt, the real cowboy in charge of these greenhorns, laughed while he told the story about one farmhand years ago who, after too much moonshine, mistook a coiled rattler for an old cow pie.

    “So the rule of thumb is if it blinks, it don’t stink, and you leave in a wink!” the old man laughed, as did the others.

    But Kevin and John kept these words of wisdom close to their heart as on the third day of their duties they found a blinking cow pie.

    They left the ranch that evening.

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