Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Treatment

phoenix spa flash fiction prompt copyright KSBrooks Dec 2016
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 2017.

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15 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Treatment”

  1. “Yes, your father and I grew up together.” The Godfather had a twinkle in his eye.

    He saw the look on my face.

    “That surprises you, doesn’t it? But over the years, our paths took us in different directions. He went into law enforcement. I—” He paused. “I was a victim of circumstances. But we always remained friends.

    “And I never put your father in a position where his integrity could be compromised . . . until that one night, when he found me bleeding to death not far from here, the victim of a gunshot wound to my stomach.”

    “What happened?”

    “Well, he stopped the bleeding. commandeered a cab, and drove me to a hospital. Told them to treat it as an accidental shooting. Then, he went and roughed up the guy who shot me . . . told him if he ever said another word about the shooting, he’d bring the full force of the law down on him and his ‘family’.”

    “My father did that?”

    “And he never took a dime from me. Not that it wasn’t offered. He’d say to my boys, ‘You wanna give money away, give it to the orphanage at St. Mary’s.’ “So, once a year, I would take tens of thousands of dollars in used $100 bills—real ones, not the counterfeit crap we used to pass—stuff them in a paper bag, and go to confession at the church adjoining the orphanage.

    “The kids never had it so good!”

  2. The Redress

    By Annette Rey

    Phillip had a plan. He hatched it ages ago. It was the only thing left to do.

    “Hello, Phillip? This is Paul. I know it’s been a long time since we talked. I apologize. I’ve been thinking of you.”

    He could barely restrain the irony in his voice, “You have? How delightful.”

    “Yes. And I want to make things up to you. Will you design my living room?”

    “Oh.”

    “I’m sorry, Phillip. I didn’t mean to mislead you. I don’t want to patch things up between us; you know what I mean. I just thought I could throw some business your way. And maybe we can be friends.”

    “Oh. Okay, Paul. I’ll go along with that.”

    As usual, Phillip packed his client away on a trip while he and his team took complete control of the redesign. He frenzied and raged, causing his colleagues to worry about him. Phillip seemed unaware of watchful eyes and barked out demands, complaints, and instructions like a general at war.

    The day came. A blindfolded Paul was escorted into the room for the unveiling.

    “Voila, Paul!” as Phillip ripped the designer scarf off Paul’s head.

    Paul’s brain could hardly grasp the scene. His eyes bulged, then turned red. His brow furrowed like a farm field.

    “Phillip! What have you done???”

    “I’ve treated your living room exactly as you treated me. I turned it into a circus, a zoo, and a pig sty. My bill is on the back of the spitting camel!”

  3. Who ?

    They were both scheduled for surgery that morning. Tonsillectomies…nothing complicated.

    Having received their pre-op meds, the normally feisty five-year-olds were drowsy as they were wheeled into the O.R.

    Tonsillectomies were very common in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Garden Children’s Hospital did dozens per week. Hundreds per month. Frequent earaches? Take out the tonsils. Frequent sore throats? Take out the tonsils.

    The O.R. nurse gave a cursory glance at Jimmy Jones’ I.D. band —yep, that’s James Jones — and nodded to the anesthesiologist. Soon Jimmy was unconscious, his breathing supported by the anesthesia machine. Across the hall, the same scenario was playing out. Both boys, now motionless and draped in surgical linens, waited until the pediatric surgeons arrived.

    James Robert Jones departed the hospital the following morning, grinning and laughing after all of the ice cream he had been given.

    James Richard Jones died on the operating table, his allergy to Halothane having gone unnoticed. Seems there had been a mix-up in the medical records.

    Stuff happens.

  4. The Orb hovered near the head of the bed, waiting. Everything was ready now – in less than five minutes it would be done.

    The attendant led the woman in, her face turned away, unseeing. She’d already been instructed and knew most of what would happen. The Presence would conjoin with her and she would be as one with it, feeling bliss and an eternal peace. Her consciousness would be expanded and she would become infinite, omnipresent and all-knowing. Her whole life was as nothing compared to this; this would be the one event that gave her presence here on earth meaning.

    The woman closed her eyes and lowered her chin toward her chest. The attendant slipped a blindfold over her eyes, guided her to the bed and then secured her hands and her feet, the restraints fitting snugly onto her wrists and ankles. She couldn’t move now, no matter how much she tried.

    The light grew brighter now and the attendant reached into his pocket, pulling out a heavy-rimmed pair of darkened-lens glasses and putting them on. He nodded to the Orb and then continued, one hand closing around the head of the supplicant while the other looped the leather strap across her brow, cinching it tight.

    And then he removed the blindfold.

    The Orb drifted over to the bed, its intensity bleaching the character from the woman’s face. It hung there for a moment and then dropped, disappearing.

    The Host opened her eyes and a stranger looked out.

  5. Empty wire cages, about eight foot square, wrapped in clear plastic and left in the alleyway behind a parked car…Why? Why were they there? What was their purpose? The cages were too flimsy to hold a large animal, too open to hold small animals.

    Billy and Santos ran one of five sweeper trucks through the alleys of the downtown area before sunup. Their job? Run off bums, clean up garbage before the working people arrived, ticket parked cars or have them towed. Make downtown presentable and the alleys clear. They had never seen anything like the cages.

    “Get on the radio and see if these are the only ones.”

    “Nope. They’re in each of the other alleys too. What’ll we do with them?”

    “Squash them down and recycle them. Oughta be a couple of dollars worth of stuff here. Tell the other crews to do the same.”

    While they worked they speculated on what the heck these things were. The open fronts confirmed they weren’t meant to trap animals. The metal mesh crushed easily. The plastic folded into neat parcels. The best they could come up with was that maybe they were empty shipping containers, dumped in the alleys.

    The newspapers the following morning reported the mysterious overnight disappearance of 50 temporary shelters for the homeless, at a cost of two million dollars.

    Billy and Santos just shrugged. The recyclers gave them almost eight dollars. Enough for a few beers. How were they to know?

  6. It was Half Past Midnight and Mary O’Malley arrived standing in the center of a very large crop circle. The only problem was it wasn’t her’s. She rationalized a number of possible explanations for it. Even whether it was man-made or not. However, no matter how she analyzed the situation, she kept coming back to the same conclusion.

    She was not alone on this future deserted planet Earth, but what really bothered her was that of the two hundred million square miles on this planet, the crop circle appeared where she was to arrive, she asked herself, “How did they know?”

    Well she couldn’t let this unknown visitor disturb her thoughts anymore than he already had, so she put her plan into action, and here she was standing in the middle as bait.

    For two nights, she waited and listened for the telltale saucer sound. Finally, She heard it, and ran like hell into the abandoned farm house and dove under the bed. Soon a brilliant piercing light filled the bedroom blinding her completely.

    As a leathery hand slide closer and closer to her under the bed, She became more nervous that her time trap wouldn’t work. Suddenly, as she stared it, it quickly aged ten thousand years. Then with a gentle tap, by Mary, it crumbled out of existence. Relieved, She crawled out from under the bed when there was another brilliant flash, only this time they trapped her.

  7. Getting past security is easy when you know how to get Medical Scrubs.

    I’m a reporter. My assignment? Get the story.

    Audio recorder in hand, I sat next to the observation window, which was useless, a blinding blue light permanently silhouetted the patient in the room.

    “Walking to the lake for some fishin’ I saw this crater,” the silhouette begins.

    “Inside was a glowing rock. I’ve seen enough movies to know you don’t touch glowing rocks. I skedaddled and called the cops.”

    Pouring a glass of water he continues.

    “Police show up. Confirm it’s a meteor. Then send me off to the hospital just as the Government boys arrive.”

    He sets down the now green-glowing empty glass.

    “Didn’t take them long to find somethin’ wrong with me,” he continues. “Moment I entered the hospital, BOOM! Hit the floor and passed out.”

    He lights a cigarette and exhales. Within the smoke glowing organisms zip around like fireflies.

    “They took me back outside. Once the sunshine hit me I was okay.”

    He ambles toward the blue light.

    “The meteor lives off of sunlight. Apparently now so do I.”

    Grinning he flicks a switch filling the room with light.

    He was horrific: blue-green skin, scales, floating translucent hair, and colorless eyes.

    He winks at me.

    Lights go out. A pulsating glow surrounds him. Eyes burn yellow like mini suns.

    I try to speak, a black hood falls over my head. Bound, gagged and carted off.

    I never saw the glowing man again.

  8. Me and Brad played high school football together. We got scholarships to State and room together in the athletic dorm. Being red shirt freshmen and all, we got a dumpy room.

    I keep telling everybody that the dumpy room started the whole thing. Brad’s mom just tried to help. She thought a bedspread would liven things up a little bit.

    Brad’s mom works at a parachute plant that some say does government work. He snuck me in there late one night to watch his mom and other ladies sewing and folding and boxing some pretty weird looking, shiny stuff.

    “The bedspread scared the beejeezum out of the team, Roy,” Coach said, “somebody could’ve been hurt running down the stairs or jumping from windows!”

    “Yessir, I reckon.”

    “You ‘reckon,’ Roy?”

    “Those ladies at the parachute plant worked four lunch breaks to make the spread, Coach, one little silver colored rectangle at a time.”

    “The strange blue light, that loud buzzing sound, and the orb that hovered over the spread, Roy? Did the ladies make all that during lunch, too?”

    “Beats me, Coach.”

    Brad’s mom didn’t know, Brad didn’t, not even Mr. Wise-Guy Quarterback had a clue, so State closed the investigation. Me and Brad were assigned to another room. The old one was sealed off, “just because,” Coach said.

    The new room is great. Brad’s mom and the ladies are making the window treatment.

  9. “The treatments aren’t working,” I tell my assistant, Randi. From the observation window we watch our prisoner writhe on the sterile bed. Randi increases the output and the patient screams. His tortured body begins to convulse.

    “Shut it down,” I order as I rush into the room.

    His eyes are wide open. “The same nightmare?” I ask.

    He licks his lips and mutters, “I murdered them.”

    Randi escorts the delirious convict back to his cell.

    I need to review my Serenity program. It’s been 100% effective in rehabilitating criminals, until now. We’ve never seen such a horrific response. Instead of erasing the nightmares, it seems to be magnifying them.

    I place the electrode band on my own head and punch start. I see purple columbines, hear the rushing creek, feel the cool breeze. I am surrounded by aspens and mountains. How can this beauty cause such distress?

    Then the calming scene fades. Now, I observe a couple in bed. I feel myself raise my arms. Suddenly, I am slamming an ax into one sleeper’s head. As his blood soaks the sheets, his wife awakens, screaming in terror.

    I yank the headband off. My hair is wet with sweat. I’m hyperventilating. My heart races. I hear Randi enter behind me. I turn. “Someone’s hacked Serenity,” I shout.

    Randi’s fists tighten and her body stiffens. “I know,” she says. “Some criminals don’t deserve to forget.”

    “You?”

    “That monster,” she replies, “took an ax and slaughtered my parents.”

  10. Zoe called for Gus the moment she returned from school. Her mother emerged from the kitchen, “Sorry, he’s still with dad at the vet getting treatment. He’ll be fine.”

    The previous night, a neighbor’s dog had bitten Gus on the back leg while they were walking him to the park. Her dad was able to quickly grab their terrier-mix and scare off the other dog. He’d immediately cleaned the puncture wounds, but said he’d take him in for antibiotics the following day.

    When he arrived back from the vet, he was visibly distressed.

    Concern laced Zoe’s voice, “Where’s Gus?”

    Upset, he responded, “He got out at the gas station. I didn’t think he’d jump out the window when I wasn’t looking. I searched, but couldn’t find him.”

    Tears stung her eyes as she walked to the car. “Please, let’s go back.” For hours, they called for him.

    Three days zipped by with no sign of Gus. They checked with shelters and vets. Her fifth-grade classmates helped put up signs.

    Each night, Zoe directed her lamplight out towards the street and slept near the window instead of the bed.

    On the fourth night, before she drifted off, she glimpsed the silhouette of an animal in the distance wandering determinedly up the road. As it got closer, the white fur seemed to glow under the rays of the streetlight. It was Gus! He made it home!

    Elated, Zoe raced out the front door, tightly wrapping her arms around the squirming, happy dog.

  11. Ka walked down the dingy corridor, hoping for a smile or kind glance. The attendants looked haughtily at the creature before them. They were only here to fill time. Their true lives were elsewhere. The forced employment choices could be random and, for all the knowledge stored about such things, wrong. Every hour of acceptable work gained three hours of online time. Few slept anymore. That was just time lost from the plug.

    After years of unfulfilling jobs and pointless couplings, Ka was tired. The immersive entertainments that everyone else poured their passions into were stale and bleak. Life outside of the plug was lonely, as most were working or inside. There was no meaning to it all.

    An attendant turned and opened the door. Cold, blue light burst into hallway.

    Ka gazed at the bed in desperation. This identity reassignment procedure had to be the one. All the options had been chosen; gender, race, artistic ability, and temperament. Giving all power to the AI to make the best choice was the only way to ensure true happiness. The years of unease and discontent had bubbled up to this final decision.

    “I just want to be needed.”

    “I will take care of everything,” the computer purred.

  12. Karen was a registered nurse. She decided to dedicate her career to working with people battling addictions. There were dozens of clinics around the country that could treat whatever ailed anybody. She decided to move to Cleveland where a new addiction clinic had opened near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    Her patients weren’t necessarily the rich and famous. Some were back-up singers, dancers, stage hands, even groupies. They suffered a variety of problems all related to music. For the ear-worms that never went away to vision problems caused by overexposure to the bright lights, Karen helped them all.

    Treatment rooms were small, dimly lit except for a blinding blue light which gave the patient the feeling of being onstage. A Virtual Reality bed included a pad made of plastic squares. Each square was the size of a compact disc case. A disc would be placed into the pad and played for the patient as part of their treatment.

    Karen was processing a new patient, asking him the basic identifying information before getting to the triage part of the application. “What exactly is your problem, sir?”

    “I dunno. I’d say I had cat-scratch fever, but I own a dog.”

    Karen nodded. ‘Are you suffering from chest pains? An achy-breaky heart?”

    “No. But I got chills—they’re multiplying.”

    “Ah, so you’ve got the rockin’ pneumonia and the boogie-woogie blues. Right this way, sir.”

  13. We met. I fell in love. Mom shook her head.

    The charming brochure for his favorite seaside village hideaway didn’t have any pictures, but the written description was so enchanting that I couldn’t resist

    One week later, after a quick south of the border civil ceremony, we had a few drinks in the cantina then danced across the driveway to our honeymoon suite.

    “Now hold on tight. Don’t peek,” He swept me up, carried me across the threshold, set me down, spun me around and anxiously asked, “Well? Whadda ya think?”

    “Oh, it’s lovely,” I lied.

    Late next morning, sitting on folding chairs and table under shaggy palm trees, we coped with a mediocre brunch served by the owner’s shapely daughter.

    “Let’s go for a swim.” I turned towards the beach.

    “No, it’s too close to eating. Might get cramps.” He grinned. “Let’s go inside and get more comfortable.”

    That night I couldn’t sleep. Warm sea breezes waved flimsy curtains on open windows. I quietly slipped out of bed and went to enjoy the view. It was a beautiful night with a gorgeous full moon silhouetting the palms.

    Suddenly, I heard a girlish giggle. “Tell me again,” she sighed.

    “I’ll get her to sign everything over to me. Her bank accounts, real estate – everything!. We’ll get rid of her. Then you and me, baby, will go wherever we like.”

    Completely shattered, I drifted to my suitcase and pulled out my widow maker.

    I should have listened to my mother.

  14. I followed the father up a narrow flight of stairs before stopping in front of a door. He pulled back a dead bolt and gripped the door handle.
    “You lock your son in?”
    The father dipped his head. “It’s for his own good. This isn’t the first time he’s gone missing.”
    A bright, blue light filled the corridor as the door swung open. I shielded my eyes and stepped inside. Models of flying saucers hung from the ceiling on translucent string. A lamp stood above the bed emitting a brilliant, blue light.
    “You said he’s been gone for forty-eight hours. Why didn’t you turn the light off?”
    “We tried. It keeps turning back on.” The father flicked a switch and the light disappeared.
    As soon as he stepped away, it turned back on. I held my hand up, blocking the light. A silver patchwork blanket covered the bed, shimmering with a blue glow.
    “Who else has a key to the door?”
    “No one.”
    “Could he have gone out the window?”
    “No. They‘re sealed.” The father pulled on the window frame to prove his point.
    “What happened the first time your son went missing?”
    “This.” The father held his arms out pointing to the flying saucers. “He became obsessed with these. He believes that aliens abducted him.”
    I nodded. “Do you mind if I have a look around?”
    “Of course not. I’ll wait downstairs.”
    I waited for him to leave before tapping my earpiece. “It’s confirmed. They’ve taken another one.”

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