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.
14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Autumn”
“I’ve shed my antlers. Just like that fellow there.”
Nick Siegel nodded toward the bare headed moose picking its way up the soft flowing river. The deep blue sky reflected pale in the ripples. Beyond, the forest shimmered gold and red over a bed of damp fallen leaves. The creature paused and looked up, sniffing the air, perhaps wondering if the strange scent of humans signaled danger. Once persuaded of safety, it trudged on.
His wife June adjusted her backpack. “You’ll always have antlers. They’re in your genes.”
“No, I’ve shed them for good. You can have them mounted and hung on our wall, and gaze up and them and remember the young buck you married.”
“Stop that. You’re a lawyer, not a poet.”
A cool autumn breeze blew along the river, through the valley, over the couple hiking alone through the wilderness. “I saved this land,” Nick said. “I fought for it and kept out the drills and the pipelines, and now it’s safe and no longer needs me. I’m exhausted from the fight. So are you. Don’t think I don’t know how much you sacrificed.”
June watched the moose navigate a bend in the river and pass from view. “Summer giving way to autumn, is that it?”
Nick took her hand in his. “Why not? It’s the way of the world.”
“Because I’m not ready for winter.” She squeezed his hand. “Grow those antlers back.”
“Well,” June said. “Okay. Maybe come spring.”
By Annette Rey
Autumn – the day is fresh and clean, gentle winds blow leaves into small tornadoes, perchance bringing a wisp of hope to jaded, inner-city residents.
But that was not to be.
Dusty reds, harvest golds, burnt shades of orange with hints of yellow, all natural – her hair was her radiance, a tiara, a halo of long strands to the ends where curls lie now against black asphalt, the arrangement framing her face like a gorgeous lion’s mane. This would be art, except for the circumstances.
Her peaceful facial expression was incongruous above her twisted body, mangled by the hit and run driver.
Was lighting so poor the driver did not see her?
In the midst of the cacophony of assorted sounds at a newly developing investigation, I couldn’t help but ask myself, why didn’t he see her glorious hair?
“Look, we agreed I should lead the way. I don’t have antlers. You do. And you know you can’t walk two feet without getting your antlers stuck in tree branches.”
“Yeah, but we’re out in the open now. What if somebody sees us? I’ll look like an idiot. I’m the big strong dominant male. You are the weak little female. I’m supposed to lead.”
“Don’t worry about it. The way you’re dragging so far behind, nobody will even think we’re together.”
“Humph! You just don’t want anything to happen to my antlers. I think you love my antlers more than you love me.”
“Well…you’ve got to admit, your antlers are gorgeous. They are your best feature. That, and your immense size! I mean, just your shoulders alone!”
“Aw, you’re just saying that to embarrass me. Hey, whataya say we get out of this water, maybe find a nice little shady spot hidden away somewhere.”
“And take a rest?”
“Oh, you big strong dominant devil you!”
Soon the leaves will change, colors fade, the wilderness prepares for bed as the long winter approaches.
Animals forage, birds fly south, and the trees shed their summer foliage.
I’ve seen this thirty-seven summers in a row, life ending before my very eyes. I’ve tried capturing the experience: paint and brush, photography, even pencil and paper. In the end they all proved useless. No matter how hard I try nature’s beauty always eludes me.
Unfortunately an artist can only stand failure for so long before the pressure breaks him.
I’m tired of failing.
One last look. . . These lands truly are beautiful.
I pull out my 38 Special . . . cock the hammer . . . and . . .
Fall has begun.
Jimmy was driving home when he spotted a moose swimming across the lake. It was the first moose sighting here in over one hundred years. Knowing this he slammed on the brakes, grabbed his cell phone, snapped a picture, and immediately sent the image to the Director of Wildlife Services, who jumped at the opportunity to add moose to the State Endangered Animal List. However, they needed to call a special assembly of state legislators to do it. When all was said and done, the meeting was set up for the very next day, the first day of deer hunting season.
Early that morning, twin brothers Marty and Marvin Malcovich, headed out, “Marvin did you place my tree stand on a better tree this year? I don’t want an embarrassing repeat of the tree bowing in half again under me. Not only was it laughable but I could a been killed.”
“Don’t worry Marty, I got us good locations overlooking the lake, and I personally selected a tree fatter than you are this time.” Marvin ribbed his brother, as he headed out to the his tree stand. He was about half way there when he heard a rifle shot in the direction of Marty. Well he high tailed it over there.
That afternoon the General Assembly passed the legislation adding Moose to the state endangered species list. That night someone tweeted, “For sale eight hundred pounds of fresh moose meet guaranteed fresh shot and dressed this morning.”
The cold water whipped my fur has I trudged into the dark river. I heard the grim song of the red cardinals. They were the sign of death. The water was at the level of my knees.
On the shore, I saw my family: two small moose, and an elegant, beautiful one, my wife. Next to them, I saw the looming shadows of the large antlers of the Council of Elders. They were watching, their judgmental snouts raised high.
I continued going deeper and deeper into the waters. The waves now hitting my neck. The cardinals changed their song to one even more grim.
Next to a pine tree, a line of rabbits watched me. They knew of the crime I committed. They knew I had broken the silent pact that existed among animals. I brought shame to my family and my species: I had kill and eaten meat.
In nature, the order of things must be preserved. The wolf must eat the sheep, and if the sheep changed its mind and tasted flesh, who knows what might happen to the people of the forest? Yes, I accept my sin, I wish only my wife could forgive me and my sons not suffer for this.
My head felt so light without my antlers. I felt naked without them.
And that’s how I wanted to die.
I kept on going, until the water came gushing to my nose, until I couldn’t breath anymore.
And the cardinals sang their song.
Song and Dance
I dance our fire up the mountain on the winds of the first winter storm. My body screams its agony but still I dance. I will dance to the clearing far up the mountainside where my love and I sang our flames and danced our fire. My love waits there for me.
My body was battered and broken when I carried her from the place of white coats with their knives and needles and curing poison, when life’s razors had carved her down to bone and skin. Still I carried her and danced our fire. I broke my body to buy bright baubles and bawdy bangles for the pleasure they gave her and fanned her flame song.
The final days I held her close and sang our flames gently to her. She sang back to me with her eyes, giving pleasure beyond measure. I reach our hidden glen and strip off my garments. I will meet the earth as we danced.
I lay my head on the stone that marks my love and whispering our song, I wait for winters kiss.
Looking back, springtime was perhaps the best time in young Jason’s life.
Spring was wonderful, alive and vibrant with possibilities. Maybe fame, maybe fortune, maybe love. It was great to be alive. The best of times — anything was possible.
But then summer wasn’t bad either…warm memories, pleasant reflections and a successful “life harvest”. Would that it could go on forever.
By autumn, things had begun to fade, like falling leaves and unrealized dreams. Things cooled while memories lingered of happy times. It was an ending to what had begun long ago. Bittersweet.
There would be no winter for Jason. There would never be another Spring. He would be cold and alone forever.
He died…remembering what had been.
♫ ♪ ♫…To everything…there is a season..
and a time to every purpose under heaven…♫ ♪ ♫
Natalie felt out of place on the busy sidewalk, dodging people. Cars were stilled in traffic; horns honked futilely. The backpack was growing heavy on her shoulders.
She looked at the tattered picture that bore witness to an idyllic piece of nature. The trees and foliage had already taken on the rustic autumn hues as a moose meandered across a serene lake. On the back of the photo were the directions her uncle had scrawled out.
Prior to his death, her uncle’s wishes had been clear. He wanted his ashes scattered in the same location where he’d scattered his wife’s remains twenty-five years earlier. He never went back after that, but often spoke of their special place.
Natalie followed his instructions, but instead of happening upon something that remotely looked like the image, she was surrounded by a jungle of cement and steel.
After wandering around, Natalie eventually found an elderly antique dealer that recognized the picture.
“You’re already there,” he stated. “I mean, this city where you’re standing was built on top of the land in that photograph. It was a shame when developers bought all the land around here a couple decades ago. It was my favorite hiking spot.”
She slipped off the backpack carrying the urn while she waited for a cab. As she listened to the noise, she decided to take her uncle home. She’d find a local cemetery, one that was kept green and abounded with flowers. There would be no rest for him here.
Men of a certain age tend to long for simpler times. Once they see the end of their roads and days in front of them.
The destruction of our current civilization is not far removed from how nature has operated in perpetuity. Leaves change colors, then fall to earth. Feeding the death and decay on the forrest floor. Days grow shorter, nights grow long. The falling sun even in it’s weekend state throws it’s majesty on the dying foliage. The sublimity of harvest time gives way to the travail of winter. Without which nothing new and fresh would emerge in the spring.
The words of Virgil the ancient Roman poet come to mind.
‘Endure the hardships of your present state, that you may live, and reserve yourselves for a better fate.’
Every person just as every plant is born with it’s fate written in the stars, coded into it’s DNA immutable and absolute. Yet there is more to life than just DNA. Wave upon wave crashing on the shore. Rain freely given, storm clouds form and reform like the lining of the womb. The light, heat and glory of the sun. All these things contribute to a pattern so grand and complex that it is sometimes more than we mere mortals can bear.
Thinking of the warmer days to come I am grateful for my life, my health, my wife, my mom, my kids, my puppies, my prosperity, and all the roads and days that still stretch before me.
Ah, autumn, when a young moose’s fancy turns to cranberries.
Maura waded through the cold water of the bog. One of the great things about being a moose is the long legs—she could go farther out into the water, away from the farmers, away from the hunters, away from everything and just reflect on the beauty surrounding her.
Truth be told, the beauty was a second thought. Maura loved her cranberries. The long legs could carry her to the middle, where the tastier cranberries were hidden.
This was her favorite time of year. Granted, there were the occasional gun shots as deer or wild turkeys were hunted, but people didn’t bother moose too much. They weren’t good eats.
Oh, humans came to her neck of the woods, hundreds of them every fall. Something about the beautiful scenery and fall colors. Moose are color blind, so Maura had no idea what they were babbling about.
Living in New England suited Maura just fine. Vegetation was plentiful and each season had its specialty. She liked roaming through the woods at the base of the mountains, she loved the feel of the wet leaves below her hooves in autumn. She liked wading in the ponds before they began to ice up.
But most of all she liked her cranberries. And here they were, nice and ripe and all hers.
Life is good. She doesn’t need much to a-moose her.
It was the first day of the hunting season. The grunting moose inched further into the chilling water calling for her missing calf.
I shouldn’t have let him jump into the stream, she thought, but when we saw the orange jackets of the hunters creeping from tree to tree, he got scared and ran.
The distant shots of a 30-30 Winchester froze her thoughts. She hurried to the shore, leaped out and galloped to the trees. Please, she prayed, don’t let it be my son they’re shooting at. A gust of wind scattered the autumn leaves that shimmered like a swarm of multi-colored butterflies fluttering through the trees.
She grunted his name again. No answer. Another shot crackled in the distance.
A raccoon quickly jumped in front of her and sat down looking up into her worried face. It didn’t move. His ringed tail twitching, he nodded his head several times, got up, turned around and moved forward a few feet. It stopped, turned again, nodded, then started to move again. It must want me to follow him, she realized, and cautiously began trailing it to the large boulders a few yards ahead. Suddenly, the frightening cries of her son called out. She fell to her knees and nuzzled him with joy.
The rifle shots were popping further away as she led her calf to the safety of their herd.
She turned and nodded her thanks to the raccoon who happily wagged his tail in return.
“Who is that?”
Morris the Moose looked at a reflection in the stream.
“THAT guy is, well I don’t want to judge, not very attractive.”
Morris moved his head, and the ungainly creature in the water mimicked his movements.
He stomped on the rude doppelgänger.
“THAT will teach you!”
Morris felt better because he had taught that beast a lesson.
“All in a day’s work.”
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