Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Killed By

Killed By flash fiction writing 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: Killed By”

  1. “You know, Roberto, I think the worst thing that can happen to anyone is losing a friend and not having the opportunity to say goodbye.” The speaker was Captain John Williams, Master of the British Antarctic Royal Research Ship John Biscoe. His ship, on which the two men were meeting, was anchored near the Chilean Naval Fleet tug Lientur, 14 nautical miles northwest of Cape Ducorps, Trinity Peninsula, Antarctica.

    “I know,” responded Corvette Captain Roberto Muñoz. “These islands, and the Continent itself, are dotted with memorials to friends of yours and mine, some of whom we’ve known for decades. Good men, all.”

    “Aye, that they were. Scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers, drawn to the Frozen Continent by the challenges it posed. Some came to work, others to escape something or someone . . . perhaps a dead-end career or a failed romance. You-name-it.”

    Muñoz nodded. “This may be the last place on Earth where men can test their mettle against Nature and show the world, if not themselves, what they are made of. Tragically, some never make it home.”

    “Yes, I remember Oliver Burd, Michael Green, Dennis Bell—who can forget ‘Tink’?—and just last year, Roger Filer.” Williams lowered his head.

    Neither man said anything for a moment, their silence broken only by the ship’s chronometer. Then, Muñoz spoke. “So, you found no sign of my friend, Lieutenant-Commander Cristian Barbudo?”

    “Only his camera and his wallet, containing a picture of his wife and two daughters.”

  2. Some Walk Among Us

    By Annette Rey

    Beth was a killer.

    “Beth! You’re a witch! Why did you do that to John?”

    “I turned him in to get him help with his addiction.”

    “No one else would have done that, Beth.”

    “In the end, Sue, I hope you realize both of you are better off.”

    At noon, Beth visited her mother in the nursing home and assisted the rude nurse in cleaning up the patient’s bed. The nurse left the room a bit less disgruntled.

    At a mall café later that day, Beth witnessed an argument between two women. After they settled down, but were quietly fuming at one another, Beth approached them.

    “Allow me to pay for your coffees today.”

    The surprised women looked up at her. “Uh, uh. Why?”

    “Just a gift.”

    At home that evening, the baking dish shattered in the oven heat, spewing glass into her prepared meal making it unfit to eat. She bent her tired back to clean the mess. She wondered what she could scrape together for dinner for her family. The twins were screaming in the background.

    Her husband entered the kitchen, raising his voice at the kids and saw his wife scrubbing out the oven. He quietly began helping her.

    “I thought you were mad at me, Bill.”

    “I am, Beth. But, you’ve taught me. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

    Beth laughed and that broke the tension between them.

    “Right, Bill. Kill them with kindness, I always say.”

  3. Byron convinced Shelley, his fiancé, to visit his hometown, Neverest, for Halloween. After dinner, they strolled, hand in hand, down Main Street.

    Shelley observed, “The people here seem friendly for New Englanders, that’s the fourth villager who recognized you, then smiled and nodded in approval.”

    “Oh yah, we’re a friendly bunch alright. We’re just like the rest of the world, just somewhat cautious.”

    They turned on to Witch Lane, his grip tightened on her hand. Shelley started feeling uncomfortable, “Ah, Byron, how did this village get its name?”

    “Well, some folk claim, It was originally Resteasy, until one Halloween they burned the village witch alive, and she cursed the town.” Clearing his throat, he continued, “From that day on, no one ever rested easy. Everyone, fears her return, so they changed the name to Neverest.”

    Shelley uneasily asked him, “Where?”

    He snapped back, “Where what?”

    She gulped, “You know, where did they burn her?”

    “Up ahead off Burn Street.” Then coldly, “Why do you ask?”

    His grip tightened. She started feeling dizzy, she implored, “I’m not feeling well, can we go back?”

    He slowly responded, as if by rote, “No, we have a surprise for you. It’s to late to turn back. We must get to the bonfire.”

    He led the way, pulling her along, she tried to resist, but couldn’t break free. There was a mob of women up ahead. They saw her. Fear gripped her. They shouted at her, something about a surprise bridal shower.

  4. Little Suzy and her Mother stand in front of what appears to be a normal gravesite with a simple headstone, both holding Campanula flowers.

    “What’s this?” little Suzy asks.

    “A monument to an infamous man’s grave,” Mother answers.

    “Who was he?”

    “Who he was is not important. What he was and what he did is.”

    “What did he do?”

    “Long ago a big fight between the rulers and the people occurred.”


    “Because the rulers took everything from the people, and the people didn’t like it. In the end the rulers were punished for their greed.”

    Was he one of the rulers?” Suzy asks pointing to the headstone.

    “Yes. He was the leader of the rulers.”

    “So he’s here to remind us of history?”

    “He’s not here to remind us of history. He’s here as a lesson for the future,” Mother responds with all sincerity. “A lesson we must never fail again.”

    Mother and little Suzy place the Campanula flowers on the monument. Inscribed on the headstone are three words, “The Last Dictator.”

    Mother takes little Suzy by the hand and they leave.

    “Remember this Suzy, always.”

    “I will momma,” little Suzy replies.

  5. The darkness faded and a redness beyond light swelled before him.

    “Ah, a newcomer,” a dry, casual voice declared. “Welcome to ‘clearing’.”

    Duncan swallowed, his throat suddenly feeling tight.

    “Clearing?” he asked. “What’s that?”

    The purple warthog with wings stubbed out his cigar, dropping it onto the floor of the cavern. He was wearing a three-piece suit in a paisley design and had a silk cravat at his throat. He looked quite urbane, Duncan thought.

    “Clearing is an annex to the main realities,” the hog replied, pulling out a monocle and raising it to his eye. He peered at Duncan intently and for a moment he felt as though he’d been sandpapered both inside and out with a very course high-grit grade. It ended almost as quickly as it had begun but the pain remained. The pain would always remain, Duncan would find.

    “You’re to be in one of the lesser purgatories,” the warthog decided. “An eternity in a woman’s body. You’re to be well-featured but insecure, chemically-dependant and on the breadline. You’ll be unsure of your purpose in life and you’ll suffer from both children and poor health. It’ll be a long time before you pass again but you’ll be reborn with full knowledge of your previous lives. And then rinse and repeat until I grow bored of you.”

    “What about the sulphur and brimstone hells?” Duncan felt sick already.

    The hog shrugged. “We phased those out years ago. You people do this so much better than we do.”

  6. The grave looked plain ‘ordinary’.
    There were no markings or words to relate the mystery surrounding the occupant buried twelve feet below, just a date – 31st October 1896.
    The first plan had been to burn the corpse, but the vicar insisted that someday the authorities might need to exhume the body to determine the cause of its demise. It was agreed that the grave should be outside of the ordained cemetery and dug twice normal depth.
    “Let’s see him claw his way out of that.” McFadden the gravedigger boasted, after the last shovel of dirt was added.

    “Did they ever exhume the body?” My grandson, Josh, asked.
    “No lad. They let him be.” I answered.
    “Funny he died on Halloween day.”
    “That’s partly why they left him alone I reckon.” I said.
    “’Cause they never found out how he died.”
    “How old was he?” Josh asked.
    “They don’t rightly know ‘cause he had no birth certificate or address, but they guessed around thirty.”
    “That’s all? That’s sad.” He said.
    “Back then it wasn’t so bad – folks died early, what with lead poisoning an’ all.”
    Josh shuddered. “Could the doctors find out, you know doing an autopsy or whatever?”
    “That’s just the point. They did perform an autopsy.”
    “The man had no heart in his body.”
    “Then how was he alive?”
    “Lets go home.”

  7. Sam was shoveling dirt around the old tombstone when he saw Harvey wander up to the fence that separated their back yards. Oh, crap, he thought. What now?

    “Hey, Harv, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”

    Harvey was not convinced. “It’s hard to lose someone you love. Stella was a wonderful woman. Nice of her mother to come stay with you.”

    “Her Ma left. Went home yesterday.”

    “Oh. I’m sorry. I could come over for awhile….”

    “No! I’m telling you, I’m fine.” He should have built a nice high solid wooden fence between their yards years ago.

    “You seem depressed. This old tombstone…. What’s it for? Stella? I’m sure you could think of better ways to remember her.” Harvey pasted a concerned look on his face and waited for Sam’s reply.

    Sam stopped what he was doing. Would this jerk never go away? Did he have to pry into everything?

    He leaned forward and stared at Harvey. “The tombstone isn’t for Stella. It’s for her mother, the interfering old bat. I killed her last night, buried her this morning.”

    Harvey turned pale. He backed up a few steps then retreated into his house.

    Later when he emerged Sam was still in his backyard. “Hey, Sam! About your mother-in-law. You were just kidding, right? Right?”

    “Yeah, right.”

    Sam resolved to begin building that solid 6-foot wooden fence the next day. It was either that or kill off Harvey too.

  8. Sleep Tight


    “Yes, honey?”

    “I’m real sad, Momma.”

    “Yes honey, I know.”

    “Becka was my bestest friend.”

    “I know honey.”

    “Why did she have to die Momma?”

    “You know why honey. We talked about it. Now c’mon and try and go to sleep”. Sylvia stroked her daughter’s forehead as she arranged the bedding about her tiny body.

    “I’m really gonna miss her a lot. I knowed her since kiddiegarder.” A tiny tear trickled down her cheek. “It’s real sad Becka had to die”.

    Sylvia swabbed up the tear and licked it off the tip of her little finger, a small ritual she had always made with her daughter’s tears.

    “You’ll find other friends, honey. Believe me you’ll always find new friends. Now c’mon, go to sleep. It’s almost morning. Can I close you up now?”

    “Okay Momma. You know what Momma?”

    “What’s’ that my love?” Sylvia asked as she brought down the coffin’s lid.”

    “Becka was delicious”.

    “I imagine she was, my love… I imagine she was”.

  9. Well, apparently the groundskeeper wasn’t too up on his job, Joe thought, as he kicked empty bourbon bottles from the weeds surrounding the tombstone. “So sorry, Grandpa. Gotta remember to check more often.” He dusted the debris from the face of the marker and read the inscription – Will Be Back Midnight All Hallows Eve. Joe smiled. Silly old goat, he mused. “See ya later, Alligator,” he called out, revving his Harley. His best girl, arms wrapped around him, pressed against his back.

    11:48 P.M.

    Joe walked to the grave and was surprised no other family members were there. He lit a cigarette, knelt beside the tombstone, uprooted some weeds, and waited.

    The first to arrive was a shimmering white ghost, followed by a black cat who leaped to the top of the marker and purred. Joe called out, “Hi, Sis. Hi, Bro.”

    Next, flapping overhead, two drooling vampire bats flitted by. “Mom. Dad. Glad you could make it.”

    The bell in the church belfry began counting.

    One. Two.

    Something began pushing up through the weeds.

    Three. Four.

    They huddled closer.

    Five. Six.

    A skull and bones began rising.

    Seven. Eight.

    A howling she-wolf pounced onto the grave. “Made it just in time, Grandma,” Joe whispered.

    Nine. Ten.

    He staggers out of the group.


    His mind swirls..

    At the stroke of twelve Joe SCREAMS…..

    ….. and tumbles out of bed gripping a handful of weeds and an empty bourbon bottle. Perplexed, he screams again. A nightmare?

  10. “These the ferns?” Bill said, nodding toward the greenery surrounding an ancient gravestone.

    “Yep. When I was little, my grandmother brought me here to see her great-grandfather’s grave,” Marilyn said, pointing to a nearby marker in much better shape than the first, “It’s where my interest in plants was sparked.”

    “Thank you, for sharing…”

    “The ferns. And something else.” Marilyn interrupted.

    “Something else? You’re the botanist. I’m just a physicist.”

    “The ferns are special here, but it’s the gravestone you need to look at,” she said. Bill crouched down, looking over his glasses to read.

    “Huh. Same name as me. Same middle name, too.”

    “Grandma said that he was her great-grandfather’s best friend,” Marilyn said, sitting down beside the grave, “There are no other records for this man in town. It sounds crazy, but I think you traveled in time somehow.”

    Bill shook his head, “Time travel isn’t possible.”

    “Then you haven’t invented it yet. And look at that gravestone,” Marilyn said. Bill knelt close to a fallen stone slab within the ferns.

    “It’s you. Unbelievable, but it’s you,” he said slumping down next to his wife.

    “I think we go back and plant this fern as inspiration,” she said laying her hand on his knee.

    “But your…that grave is older.” Bill said reexamining the gravestone, “ Not to mention paradoxes.”

    “My grandmother always said my fate lay here. I thought it was the ferns,” Marilyn said, voice shaking.

    “It was, but also with us,” Bill said reassuring.


    This is how you know: it bears your name. The deed is in your hand. Shed your steel and concrete cave for open acreage atop a Kentucky mountain. It’s yours.

    You’ll be home for the first time. Escape the urban jungle. Pass the villages. Ride beyond the pavement and into the mouth of the family hollow. Trees creak and tall grasses wave in greeting. The gray house looks long abandoned, but you’ll make it a cozy cottage. A few goats will groom the land. Become a homesteader. Earn a living off crops, animals, or hand-crafted wares. Anything to be your own boss. You’re free now.

    Walk through the house. Touch the sparse furnishings buried in dust. Blaze a rocky trail to the hilltop. A creek whispers the way back down. Up here, the air gives you breath, and the view takes it away. Blue sky and mountains surround you. Now you know why your great-grandparent, your namesake, claimed this heaven. How could your father have left it?

    Look there at that small, picket-fenced plot. It contains several headstones. Some are fallen. One stands stark amid the rampant foliage, a Gothic arch defying the elements. Brush aside the ferns, and read the darkened epitaph: “never left.” Now you know. The trees, the grass, the creek all warned you, and your father should have. The mouth closes. You’re bound.

    The hollow owns you, always will. The gravestone marks your tired end. And this is how you know: it bears your name.

  12. The headstone had aged and faded and grown moss and by now looked as old as an old Galapagos tortoise. So had Samantha Connor, or at least she felt that way with her creaking bones and shriveled skin. Her shaking voice, too, was that old as she said, “Served him right.”

    Her grandson Jared Connor, merely middle aged, widened his eyes. “He was before your time, grandma. How would you know?”

    “Oh, there are stories.”

    “About Grandpa Bartholomew?”

    “No, not him. Not the goodly dust buried in this earth. No, he was a fine man by all reckoning, your great-great grandfather Bartholomew. But see there, those scratchings that are barely letters?” She pointed a quivering finger at the almost-words.

    Jared squatted down and squinted. “Killed by…someone.”

    “By Vernon Washington. A wicked, wicked man.” Grandma Samantha squeezed her eyes shut against the unspeakable horrors committed by that evil Vernon Washington. She drew a shaking breath and shuddered almost hard enough to set the earth to quaking.

    Jared stood and dusted off his hands. “Hanged him, did they?”

    “Oh no, not that one.”

    “Why not?”

    “He spent the rest of his days running and hiding. Never got caught, but never stopped running. ‘Course, he wasn’t no murderer. Someone else killed Grandpa Bartholomew.”


    Grandma smiled the smile of the just. “Wasn’t no murderer, but he got what he had coming!”

  13. “His name was Samuel, right? Why are you scrabbling over there?”

    Eddie Laker watched his friend Mara as she pushed against weeds that covered the gravestones, one after the other. The moon was full. A perfect night for what they had planned.

    “Seems to me you could do more looking yourself, Eddie. Anyway, I’m close to the picket fence, that’s why. The book said the fence was next to where Samuel Morris was buried in 1730.”

    “Yeah, yeah.”

    “Losing your nerve?”

    In truth a cemetery wasn’t his favorite place, but if the book was right, there was a pot of gold waiting for them. Well, a pocket full of gold, anyway.

    “Isn’t this the coolest place to be on Halloween?” Mara looked over at him, smiling.

    She loves this, he thought. Fine, she could do the digging.

    “Here it is! This is the one!”

    Before he could reach her Mara had grabbed the shovel and was throwing up the dirt like a demon.

    He grabbed her arm, stopping the shovel midway in the air. “Wait! This is wrong.”

    “Really? Look! ”

    He saw where she was pointing. Brown bones. Hundreds of coins glinting in the moonlight.

    A smile formed on his lips. “You’re always right.”

    “Yes, I am.”

    He felt the impact of the metal on his head and shoulders and fell, stumbling into the hole she had dug, the pain immobilizing him.

    “Sorry, Eddie. I’ve done the work, you see. I don’t feel like sharing. Night, night.”

  14. “I love these old cemeteries!” he said.

    “Yeah, but it’s difficult to read the inscriptions on most of the stones,” she replied.

    “Well, they’ve been sitting out in the elements for 400 years.”

    “You really think so?” she asked. “I find it hard to believe the Puritans would have been so … ‘boastful’ … to waste precious money on something so frivolous.”

    “You do have a point, my dear. But that’s part of the fun—we can fill in the blanks, make up our own story about them!”

    Pointing to one half-hidden by a small tree, she asked, “OK. Fill in the blank. ‘Killed by Samuel.’ Who’s Samuel? How was he killed? Why was he killed? Is it even a he?”

    “Woah, woah, slow down. Are you sure it says ‘Killed by Samuel?’ Maybe Samuel’s the last name.”

    She nodded. “Could be. But what type of first name is ‘Killed’?”

    “Obviously, words are missing.”


    “But no need to jump to conclusions.”

    “I’m not. You were going to make up a story, remember?”

    “I was? No, it was an option to make up a story. I think this is a good story as is.”

    “OK, so who killed him? Why was he killed?”

    He thought about it for a moment. “Well, in this time period it could have been something as simple as a common cold or an Indian raid.”

    “Indians would be named Samuel?”

    “No. This is harder than I thought.”

    “You could say he was killed by conundrum.”

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