Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Blackwater

Flash fiction writing prompt copyright KS Brooks Sunset rte 335 0901
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.

Author: Administrators

All Indies Unlimited staff members, including the admins, are volunteers who work for free. If you enjoy what you read here - all for free - please share with your friends, like us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you don't know how to thank us for all this great, free content - feel free to make a donation! Thanks for being here.

15 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Blackwater”

  1. “What made you think of her, Steve?” he asked, staring into the black water of the lake at sunset.
    “Molly? I don’t know. Maybe what you said about college triggered something in my mind.”
    “Those were great years at Madison, especially in the spring, after those horrific winters! My God, I never knew it could get that cold. Remember how great it was to finally get out and sunbathe at the Union pier on Lake Mendota?”
    Steve looked into the distance at nothing in particular. Then, he took a deep breath. “You know, even after all these years, I still can’t figure out what happened. We went steady from the time we were sophomores, we both loved children, and I figured we’d be married after graduation, move to Chicago—I already had a job lined up there with my uncle’s accounting firm—and life would be great. But then, she went home for spring break—”
    Neither man said anything for a minute. Again, it was Steve who broke the silence.
    “But then, she went home for spring break. When she returned, everything changed. I don’t know if she met someone new, whether her parents had put the kibosh on our relationship—I always got the sense they weren’t that keen on me, my being from the Midwest and all, or what. But it got to the point where we simply agreed to go our separate ways, and I never saw her again after graduation.
    “I hope she’s happy somewhere.”

  2. Old Charley Higgins closed and locked the door to bungalow twelve, Blackwater Lodge. The musty stink of the place was just as he remembered it. It had smelled the same fifty years ago when his family had first come to Blackwater. It had smelled the same thirty-five years ago on his honeymoon.

    He winced from the pain in his ankle as he stepped from the wooden step onto the gravel parking lot. He’d twisted it when he was moving her. Charley limped over to the old Ford and patted the trunk as he passed around to the driver’s side. He kept the windows rolled up against the cold. The stink was stronger inside the closed auto.

    It would be dawn in less than an hour, the winter birds had already begun to sing. There’d be no traffic on the road to Blackwater Lake, no one watching from the pines. No witnesses. The weather was cooperating, no rain. The smoke would fly straight to heaven.

    Charley staggered under the weight as he heaved the bundle from the Ford’s trunk. Damn, it was cold. A light breeze made the pines sway as he lit the pyre under Mavis’s shroud-wrapped corpse. He shivered as he pulled his clothes off. The mad dancing and the wolf howls helped a bit with the cold. The whiskey helped with the ankle. It was what she’d asked. He didn’t mind. And anyway, a promise is a promise.

  3. Day Dreams

    By Annette Rey

    The skeleton of a cabin leaned rickety into the wind; dried leaves piled in successive lines on the broken roof like blown snow banks across an untraveled road. An unkempt front yard littered with ancient wooden barrels, fallen tree limbs, and forlorn bleached-out children toys, added to the mystery of the place.

    “I can’t go on anymore, Jim. This wind is cutting through me. Let’s go to that cabin.”

    “That place? Doesn’t look like much shelter, Ruth.”

    “I’m desperate. Come on.”

    The pair picked their way across the littered yard and squeezed past the door which was dislocated from its upper hinge and hung tenuously in the gap like a broken bird’s wing.

    “Wow, Jim. If these walls could talk!”

    “Yeah, well, I wouldn’t want to hear what they have to say. This place could be haunted.”

    “Listen. I believe you are right.”

    Whoo-oo. Whoo-oo. Who are you?

    “Wha-what’s that?” Jim stuttered.

    Jim and Ruth tiptoed into the only other room of the neglected hovel.

    “Look, Jim! Run!”

    Both friends ran until they collapsed breathless on the side of the road.

    “What did we see?”

    “Jim, the images I saw in the black water of all those barrels back there looked like ghost fetuses. Green. Blue. Swimming around in there. I don’t know what we saw, but I hope we are dead wrong.”

    “Wrong or right, Ruth, don’t repeat this to anyone. They’ll think we’re crazy. And most of all, just don’t say DEAD!”

  4. It almost looked like a typical sunset, with the sky streaked brilliant orange. Almost, but not quite. The sun had set hours ago in a brown haze. And then the fire came, lighting up the sky, pushed by fierce winds gusting at 60 miles per hour, its voice a roar straight from hell.

    Mel hurriedly evacuated, as ordered. His home was still standing but not for long. He had seen this happen before. It was why in all his 60 years he had never owned, only rented.

    He sat on the cot provided by the Red Cross. The TV screen showed the fire swooping over the lakeside, devouring everything. His home was gone. He had read that fires were essential to the forest, to burn off dead and dying rubble. Nature’s way of clearing a path for new growth. Maybe Nature was also clearing his and Cecily’s life, burning the stifling piles of debris Cecily had hoarded through the years.

    Cecily had gone to visit her sister, before the fires roared through. No word from her yet. He supposed she’d left before daylight. She hadn’t awakened him.

    His cell phone rang. That must be her. No, it was her sister.

    “Where is Cecily?”

    Mel had a horrid sick feeling. In the smoke and confusion, he had not noticed if Cecily’s car was gone. If it wasn’t, if Cecily had not left, then nature had done the ultimate cleaning, taking the hoarder along with her hoard.

  5. The dusk is upon us. One last night and then nothing… Annihilation.

    I stand outside and contemplate the sun going down for the last time on Earth. A gentle breeze whizzes in the tall grass and ripples of water dance over the surface of the lake. How many generations of people had admired this same wonder of nature? Centuries of dreaming about a new day, thousands of wishes, millions of hopes… All that will be over now.

    Humanity is facing the greatest threat to its existence. The enemy within is the most powerful enemy we ever had and the only one we were not prepared for. Extreme measures had to be taken, tough decisions had to be made. Amputate the limb? The body is still rotten. This time, we save the limb and amputate the rest. It’s like when you cut a small branch out of a plant and put it in a jar, hoping to catch roots.

    A handful of people, carefully selected, will continue to live on. They will be the seeds of humanity, sent to grow into another ground and flourish into another civilization. For the rest of us, there’s no future. No more struggling. Just eternal peace and the memories that our seeds will carry with them, on the Ark.

    The Earth will be destroyed at dawn. 

    They appointed me to push the button. I will not be deterred.

  6. The oil spill covered an area of over ten square kilometers in thick layer of tar so black that even from the shore Donovan saw it. Explaining THAT to the reporter, and by extension the entirety of the US population, would require all of his skill, charm, and a good dose of luck.

    He adorned his largest smile, stretching his lips as far as his molars. “Mistakes are bound happen, miss Katarina. Could we have avoided it? Maybe. But thus is the price of civilization. Besides, we’ve got our best engineers and scientists containing the dama-”

    Katarina pulled the microphone to her before he could even finish. “What about the fauna? We’ve had reports of dead blue whales crashing on the shore.”

    Somehow, his smile widened even more, as white as the ocean was black. “It’s fake. Totally fake. Whales don’t even bother coming here.”

    Behind him a long, low-pitched vibration sent ripples on the water and the stout back of a whale covered in dark oil rose to the surface, sending a jet of ink in the air.”

    Katarina frowned. “We believe the public has good reasons to be worried…”

    “That wasn’t a whale. It was…a Russian submarine! I’m telling you, you got it all wrong!”

    Katarina sighed. “You know what? This interview is over. Goodbye, sir.”

    Donovan shook his head. Wasn’t his best performance…

    Donovan pulled his smart phone and tapped the red “!” of his SMS app. It was from his boss and it read: “You’re fired.”

  7. The undulating black waters of the Artibonite River reflected the darkening Haitian sky. The houngan and mambo twisted and gyrated around the fire to the rhythm of the beating drums, their distorted shadows dancing with them. Their eyes glowed red as they allowed the evil loa spirits to take possession of their bodies.
    “Don’t move a muscle,” Dudley whispered to Pam, his terrified wife, cringing at his side. She nodded, too scared to speak. Her heart pounded.
    They watched, spellbound, as the chanting mambo picked up her snake and wrapped it around a little doll’s head.
    Houngan shook the colored feathers in his hair and swung out with his glistening knife.
    The doll’s head rolled to Pam’s feet. She glanced down and collapsed when she saw a picture of herself pinned to the severed head. Dudley smiled and kicked her aside with his boot.
    The mambo and houngan embraced him. “Did that scare her to death,” they asked? “Just like we planned,” he answered, happily waving five thousand dollars at them. “Thanks. Enjoy yourselves,” he added, and started to walk away.
    “Wait,” the mambo cried. “We’re not phonies, like you. I really am a Voodou priestess and he, a priest,” she continued. “When you so nonchalantly approached us with your depraved proposition, we never did anything like that before, so we thought, why not? And it worked! You’ve given us a new course in life.” She flung the money into his face and pointed. “You’re next,” she growled.

  8. I stand here looking across a lake I’ve known all my life as the sun slowly sets, remembering my father’s words.

    “This lake is the second most beautiful sight I ever seen.”

    When I asked what the first was, he replied, “The first moment I saw your mother.”

    “Hair golden like the sun,” he continued. “A smile as bright as stars, and eyes. . . eyes of pure heaven.”

    Walking along the bank we hit a spot where cattails grew tall and golden embers of sunlight danced on the water. The light of day slowly sank behind a wall of trees across the lake.

    Father stood there quietly for a time, lost in the beauty of this wondrous sight, before speaking.

    “This spot. . . this is where the greatest moment of my life occurred.”

    I waited patiently, eager for him to continue.

    “This is where your mother agreed to make me the happiest man alive. . . From that day on the entirety of my existence was making sure she never regretted it.”

    He smiled quietly as a tear fell from his eye.

    After a moment’s pause we continued on our walk, never uttering another word.

    That was ten years ago when my mother passed. Father scattered her ashes on the lake. The very lake he built our home on shortly after he and mother were married.

    Those memories played through my mind as I, along with my own family, laid father to rest with mother for all eternity.

  9. The nuclear winter creates a sky of vivid golds, reds, and oranges. But the war also produced ugly, vicious monsters that emerge from the poisoned blackwater every night.

    I protect the children. They call me Granny, although I’m not yet 40. None of them remember when grannies lived to twice my age. Already tumors gnaw at my vital organs.

    Each day we comb the beach for wood and useful items. They play, but avoid the water. The children do not notice their own deformed and missing limbs, disfigured faces, misshapen bodies.

    Before nightfall I herd them into our bunker. While the children prepare for bed, I realize the three with filmed, sightless eyes are missing.

    My hands tremble with growing dread as I slip precious batteries into our flashlight. In the twilight I approach the beach. Soon I see two children bending over a blackwater monster, an enormous crocodile-like beast with ugly tumors, knifelike teeth, and filmed eyes, just like the children’s.

    Some believe these creatures have night vision and daylight blinds them. Then I notice one child sitting on the gigantic croc’s back, while the others pet its head and snout.

    The children laugh as a low purring sound emanates from the monster. It seems that the children and beasts share afflictions and affection. They are comfortable, even happy, with each other. They don’t need my protection.

    I feel almost glad that my time is short. I do not know how to live in this strange world.

  10. This, Henry thought, was the most beautiful sunset he’d ever seen, the sky glowing all orange and yellow around the stark black of the land and trees, just like a forest in autumn, the crowns of the trees blazing over their supporting trunks. He couldn’t contain his joy. He just had to tell someone.

    Problem was, the only someone nearby was his wife Sarah, and she was just too critical about these things. At ninety years of age, only his junior by four months, she thought her gray head had been stuffed full of the sum total of all knowledge.

    But what was he to do? “Isn’t that beautiful?” he asked her. “More beautiful than any sky you’ve ever seen?”

    He knew the answer, of course.

    “Nope,” she said. “I’ve seen much, much better.”

    “You’d criticize God’s own sunset,” he grumped.

    “Don’t flatter yourself, Henry. You’re not God. You’re not even that good of a painter.”

    Henry set down his brush and went to get a drink.

  11. The inlet was full of dead bodies. Horrible charred corpses, floating on a hellish sea of blackness. The hapless souls were feasted upon by alligators and other reptilian abominations.
    “But”, I slowly opened my eyes, “It was all just a dream, right?”
    Blackwater Creek looked perfectly normal now, just calm water, some dragonflies buzzing around. A typical summer day. Heck, even my friend Rupert, who had gone missing in the swamps near Blackwater, had been found and returned safely home. But, as we watched Rupert and examined his new strange behavior, it was clear he was not the same man he used to be. When Rupert MacVeigh rammed his motor boat into the River Nest Casino and opened fire on It’s patrons, a slice of my sympathy rested with his actions.
    Now it might sound a tad bit insane, yes I’ll admit that, but violence was the only way to deal with those people. I didn’t want that den of decadence perched right on my gorgeous creek. All those noisy tourists, dropping beer bottles and nacho cheese containers, clogging up our once quiet roads, invading our small community like the Visigoths sacking Rome. It all pushed me over the brink and paved a path for my membership in Mother Earth First. We are dedicated to preserving nature and destroying capitalist polluters whenever they attempted to trample our slices of paradise. Forceful intervention was the only road to any meaningful change.
    This was my eco-frustration story as told to Eagle Monarch, leader of our group.

  12. Stanley and his medical colleagues were completing their first mission trip to Central America. None had ever traveled there before and all were excited. The prospect of helping people was always first and foremost in every physician’s psyche, but the chance to be in an actual jungle, to see those types of sights, appealed to Stanley more.

    As an urologist, there often isn’t much need for his specialty as there is for basic medical care, which Stanley could also provide. The work was non-stop, but so very rewarding. He would never forget the warm hospitality from such lovely people.

    Near the end of his stay an opportunity came for the doctors to have a bit of a tour of the surrounding area. They would begin before dawn to view the Blackwater.

    Stanley shuddered—blackwater is a very serious disease! Why is he just now finding out about it? He packed as much medical equipment as he could carry, not knowing how many people or even animals were suffering from blackwater.

    The bus slowly wound its way through the jungle along the dirt road, the only illumination coming from its headlights. There was a short walk to the shore. No one understood why Stanley brought so much equipment for a short, sight-seeing walk.

    As the sun began to rise behind the trees, the clouds were black streaks against the orange beams. The reflection on the dark river was brilliant as the light reflected on The Blackwater River.

  13. “Green water, white water, red water, blue.
    Stay away from black or they’re gonna get you.”

    It was just a rhyme. Wasn’t it?
    Could the colour of water really make a difference?
    As the sun set and shadows crept across the land, the water lay silent. It reflected the stillness of the approaching night. Its colour disappeared into murkiness until it lay like a thin black oil. Soft ripples flowed under the surface.
    There was a magnetic quality to the water. It drew you in. Before I knew it, my shoes were wet as it lapped across them.
    “Mel, no.” Dane’s hand wrapped around my forearm.
    I smiled at him. “It’s just water.”
    “It’s black.”
    “It only looks that way. Five minutes ago, it glowed red with the last rays of the setting sun. Fifteen minutes ago, it was as blue as the sky. It’s the same water.”
    Dane let go my arm. “I’ll come too.”
    He took my hand.
    We walked along the shoreline. The undertow of ebbing waves sucked the dirt from beneath us. Wisps of water curled around my ankles, tugging, wrenching. Suddenly, I was off my feet, my head banged the ground. Black water seeped all around me before it covered my face.
    I woke halfway up the shore, staring into a sunlit sky.

    Dane was my brother. Two years ago, we’d lost him in this lake. I’d let myself forget him because it hurt too much to remember. Now I know he never forgot me.

  14. My Special Place
    I love the long drive, lazily drifting in and out of sweet dreams, in the backseat of our car. The rear deck has speakers in it now. Then, it was my special place, looking up at the great oak trees overhanging the blacktop country road. Light would fall down to me, sifting through the leaves, flickering like a movie projector. Drifting in and out of those dreams, never did I see this journey in my future.
    The first time you hear it, your mind goes blank. You have to ask to hear it again. It becomes real with the first of a long string of needles. Then, there is sick. Sick that is surreal. There should be another word for this feeling, something German sounding, something harsh. I remember being sick as a child. Mother would comfort and care for me. I am still her little angel mother says. I believe her, and I shall be. I think I’ll lie down for awhile. Before my eyes close, we exchange “I love you”.
    I feel and hear the gravel driveway under the tires. It’s a return to my childhood, my nest. It’s my birthplace. Again, mother will take care of me. Her solemn promise is comforting. I look forward to the peace, relaxing on my porch, sitting in my favorite chair, looking out over Black Water lake as it reflects my last few sunrises. I’ll finish the last one reflecting on the all in all, and exchange “I love you”.

Comments are closed.