Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Mountain

2014 May Day 2 Upper Klamath Lake Mt McLaughlin Flash Fiction Prompt.jpg
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: The Mountain”

  1. “Isn’t it magnificent?” Iona enthused as she turned off the vehicle’s ignition and sat back in the driver’s seat.

    I was astonished. The sheer majesty of the lake and mountain that lay before us was overwhelming, the images overpowering my senses, each one more stunning than the last. “Now I know how Lewis and Clark must have felt heading west out of St. Louis, up the seemingly endless Missouri River until they ran into the Rocky Mountains. Remember what they said?”

    “You mean the part about how they would get to the top of a ridge, only to discover huge ranges of high mountains to the west they still needed to overcome?”

    “How hopeless they must have felt.” He paused and took a sip of water from the container they had stowed in the truck’s console.

    “I know. Just look how long it took us to get up here from the base, even given what we’re driving. For a minute there, I thought I was going to clip that rock wall back down the road . . . you know, where the road thinned and the drop off looked to be a good two thousand feet or more.”

    “Yeah, but I knew you’d get us here,” he chuckled, though his tone betrayed concerns for the dangers they faced. “Still, given the preternatural beauty of it all, I wouldn’t have missed this for anything!”

    “I know,” she responded wistfully. “It makes me homesick for Earth.”

  2. Above the Snow-line

    “What a marvelous view of the mountains. Why on earth would the seller want to ever leave?”
    “He needs to move closer to services.”
    “He’s reached that age…he requires day to day help…and the house is rather remote.”
    “That’s why I love it. If it was me, I’d do whatever was necessary to remain.”
    “Trust me, he’s tried. Everything. Time’s taken its toll, however. It’s proved difficult to get sufficient staff to come all the way out here to minister to his needs. Sad. His ties to this house. Very strong. He built it.”
    “So your prospectus says. 1972?”
    “That’s right. ’72.”
    “He must have grown up near here, I imagine. Have local roots.”
    “No. He was from back east. Never been west of the Rockies until…”
    “He has specifically requested that we not talk about the circumstances.”
    “Surely if buy this house, I have a right to know its history. That’s only fair, right?”
    “Normally, I’d agree with you. In this case…”
    “Perhaps there is something…untoward…hinky, even. Some criminal activity? I believe any buyer would want to know if…”
    “No, its nothing like that. Look, I can’t tell you but perhaps…a hint…you might guess…”
    “Guess. Okay, all right…hint away…”
    “You wouldn’t by chance know Hollywood lore?”
    “As a matter of fact, I’m a bit of a cinephile.”
    “Good. Carole Lombard…know of her?”
    “Of course, Clark Gable’s wife. Tragic death. Plane flew into a snow-covered mountain…”
    “Yup. 1942.”
    “Ah. Same thing?”
    “Sadly, yes.”
    “I understand.”

  3. My hands were shaking as my target appeared in the crosshairs of my rifle. I had been on three tours to Afghanistan as a marine sniper, but I had never faced a situation like this. The rifle was on the verge of falling out of my hands now. 

    And then, I remembered.

    I was 12 years old, and had gone fishing with my father. My hands were shaking just like this as I held the fishing rod. He saw this, and said, “Jack, there will be times when you will be facing the world all alone, when it would appear as if all is lost, and the fear of failure will start haunting you. At those times, close your eyes, and think of this snow-covered mountain, standing all alone in the middle of the sea. Even the mightiest of the waves cannot reach it, for it has reached so high that it is invincible.”

    That was the last time we ever went fishing, for he never came back from Iraq.

    And now, I closed my eyes, and visualized that mountain. I had to become like that mountain, no, I had to become that mountain, invincible.

    My hands steady as a rock now, I opened one eye, took careful aim, and fired.

    And as the bullet unerringly found its way to the bull’s eye, my five-year old son whooped in delight. It was the first time I had taken him to a country fair, I couldn’t possibly let him down.

  4. Jerry had hoped to become warden of possibly the most breathtakingly beautiful and remote part of the country. Unfortunately for him, so had half a dozen others, each more qualified for the job. He was taking a last look at the mountain reflected in the lake before heading for home.

    “Win some, lose some,” Jerry said, ever the philosopher. He has a saying for every occasion.

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. Just once I wish he would put his thoughts into his own words, instead of mouthing old cliches.

    “To the victor belong the spoils.”

    “No, Jerry. Tell it to me in your own words. You lost the job of your dreams. What does that mean to you? Honestly.”

    Jerry looked contrite. “Honesty is the best policy,” he admitted.

    I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. “So explain. Here I am, your girlfriend, cheering you on. And you didn’t get the job. I don’t care if you win or lose, but talk to me using your own words. No cliches. Please. You know I love you no matter what.”

    Jerry smiled and reached for my hand. “Love is blind,” he said.

    He does have a beautiful smile, and that love-light shining from his bright blue eyes is blinding.

    I shook my head to clear away the fuzzies. “What were we talking about?”

    “Sound and fury, signifying nothing,” he said, and he kissed me.

    A kiss is still a kiss.

  5. The Mountain

    How far away do you think it is to the opposite shore?
    I don’t know, what are you asking me for?

    How far away do you think it is to reach the snow-capped mountain?
    What am I a geographer?

    How much time do you think it would take to row across and then hike the summit?
    You probably would freeze before you could get half way.

    Why don’t you get in the boat and start rowing? I’ll keep guard here and wait for my daughter to meet you on the opposite shore, oh and throw me your coat.

    Click, that ominous sound penetrated his consciousness and he knew he was doomed.

  6. Stella glanced at her watch, then looked at her two impatient friends. “Five more minutes.”

    “He’s not coming,” Karen griped. “I don’t want to hike up in the dark. We’ll freeze.”

    Just as the words left her mouth, they saw a vehicle in the distance. “I’m glad we’re all keeping our four-year pact.” Jeannie stated.

    Joshua put on his sunglasses as he approached them. “Let’s do this.”

    Little was said on the four-hour trek up the trail, each caught up in their own thoughts of Natalie. She died from acute altitude sickness on this mountain exactly four-years ago. The three girls had lost one of their best friends, and Joshua had lost his sister.

    Stella remembered Natalie complaining of dizziness, followed by an unrelenting bout of nausea. Joshua and Karen hiked back for help. Stella and Jeannie stayed, feeling powerless as Natalie’s breathing shallowed, then eventually stopped. They couldn’t revive her.

    It was hard not to feel as if the mountain and Natalie were synonymous. Her presence seemed intricately woven into their surroundings.

    No one had forgotten the exact location. Once there, they each placed a memento on the blanket of snow along the trail’s edge: a red rose from Stella, a locket from Karen, a clay cat from Jeannie, and a childhood picture from Joshua.

    The friends sat down and shared memories of Natalie, recalling how enthusiastically she had spearheaded the February 29th hike. The day ended with a promise to meet there again on the next leap year.

  7. Roger gathers his grad students to re-check their packs before the boat docks. “This climb won’t be easy,” he says. “But the data will be worth it.”

    Many students grumble quietly because Roger threatened to fail them if they don’t accompany him up the mountain.

    Roger spent a decade lobbying the legislature. Under the Freedom of Religions law, natives had prevented all outsiders from trespassing on their sacred land. As far as Roger is concerned, their belief that this mountain is a living entity borders on absurdity. Finally, a conservative super majority has allowed him access to this so-called living mountain.

    Roger plans to cut down trees, collect flora and fauna, test soil and rock, and examine every part of this mountain. He and his students will put the myths to rest and discover the mountain’s true nature.

    After leaving the boat, the group begins a long arduous climb. Several days into their research, they hear the roar above them. Then a massive wall of snow, rocks and trees crashes toward them. Most drop their equipment and run. Some who dash across the mountain have a chance to escape the avalanche.

    As they watch the devastation rush toward their camp, they see Roger standing statue-like, his fist in the air. Afterwards, the few survivors swear they heard a rumbling voice growl, “Death to unbelievers.”

  8. Could it get any better than this?” said Jake. He sipped his drink, then gazed across the lake at the white capped mountain. “Clear blue skies, clean crisp air. It’s as spectacular as everyone said.”

    “Hon, I hate to break it to you, but we need to pack up and leave right now.”

    “What?” he said, nearly choking on his cocktail. “What for? This place is perfect.”

    “Apparently not. I just got a message that it’s no longer safe. They’re closing the park, effective immediately.”

    “No!” Jake shook his head. “Just because some bureaucrats can’t do their job doesn’t mean they have the right to spoil our vacation. It’s the first we’ve had in ages.”

    “It’s more than politics and you know it. The infestation is creating havoc. They have no choice.”

    He pointed at the view. “Look at that flawless peak, delicately dusted with powdered sugar. They’re going to ruin it.”

    “No, they won’t. I promise we’ll come back as soon as things settle down.”

    “Right, sure we will,” said Jake. “Remember Pompeii? Completely buried. Atlantis? Sunk along with all the unicorns. Mars? Uninhabitable. Before that it was Quirinus. That planet’s nothing more than an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.”

    “Okay, maybe you have a point. We still have to leave.”

    “I suppose,” he said, gathering his belongings. “but this place better still be here after the fumigation. Damn humans. Every time we think those parasites are gone they spring up out of the ooze like a virus.”

  9. The moon was peeking over that magnificent mountain across the lake. Oh, how enchanting it was just sitting here enjoying the view. It’s so comfortable at this country lodge far away from the city and it’s lights. I could stay here another week recuperating from the hustle and bustle of that business there’s no business like. I’ll take advantage of the peace and quiet a few minutes more then go inside to look over next week’s scripts.

    Clutching my purse as I strolled through the lobby, a little old lady stopped me for my autograph. What would life be without fans? Passing the cocktail lounge I heard someone tinkling the ivories. I stopped to look and listen. A nice little melody. The fellow at the piano looked up at the man standing beside him and asked, “Got any hint for lyrics yet, Howard?” The man shook his head and wandered to the patio. He looked up and gasped, “By George! I think I’ve got it,”and rushed back to his piano playing friend. “Quick, Harry. Play it again.” As the delightful music filled the room, he sang out wonderous words that swelled my heart.

    I snuggled beside them and, after a little persuasion, got them to let me use their song with just a few changes of my own.

    Couldn’t wait to get back to the city.

    Tugging at my pinching corset, I began my broadcast happily singing “When the moon comes over the mountain every beam brings a dream…….”

  10. Jake and the Bear

    Jake exhausted from jogging adjusted his sunglasses just before stretching out on a large flat boulder by the lake. The pristine view of Mount McKinley took his breath away as the warm sunshine soon made him sleepy.

    However, he didn’t want to waste even a minute of this experience asleep. So, he pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Sure enough, the pinch helped keep him awake in that warm sunshine, but not for long. Soon he could not help himself, and he quickly fell fast asleep.

    A nudge and a poke stirred him, and then a good nudge and hard poke to his ribs finally did it. He woke up but still half-awake he looked around. Next to him was an enormous grizzly. He froze playing dead. The beast came at him. Jake rolled off the opposite side of the boulder onto his feet. Just as he started to run, the bear tried to grab him and swung its massive claws across Jake’s face knocking his glasses off.

    Jake looked up expecting to be devoured by the beast. Instead Max the prison guard was standing over Jake with a pair of virtual reality goggles in his hand and laughingly proclaimed, “Now Jake, how many times do I have to tell you, stop hogging the virtual reality goggles. I sure do hope you appreciated my little grizzly avatar this time.”

  11. As the small prop plane glided over the lakes and forests, its passengers scoured the land below for any traces of Eddie.

    All except Sheryl. She slept fitfully, dreaming the same dream she’d had for weeks, ever since her son disappeared. Eddie was on a mountain. Sometimes he was smiling, beckoning her to come closer. And sometimes he was crying and pointing to something behind her. Either way, whenever she took a step towards him or tried to look behind her, he would cry, “Find me, Mama!” and the dream would end.

    She’d told the police, who didn’t believe her. They blamed Eddie’s disappearance on his worthless father, on a stranger with candy, on drugs that lured him onto the streets. So Sheryl had called up a friend of a friend with a small plane, someone who would indulge her pleas, and they’d spent the last three weekends flying around the peaks of the Pacific Northwest, searching for signs of the missing teen.

    Today would be different, though. The dreams had gotten stronger. She woke with a start as the plane veered towards the snowy peak, Eddie’s voice echoing in her mind. Sheryl knew that they would find answers, one way or another. She just hoped she would like what those answers were.

  12. The Mountain

    Warily, I took the last of the kindling from him to add to the blazing logs aflame on the side of the mountain. We could see the snow a mile or so above us. Would we be rescued in time? My hands and feet were already numb.

    This stranger had come upon us, my girlfriend, Judy, and me, as we were intent on hiking to the summit of this snow-covered mount. We had not wanted company but he stayed with us as we climbed the steep paths.

    As nightfall arrived, cold and more snow began to fall. Judy called the police dispatcher for help knowing we couldn’t make it back before morning. She told our location and the names of Dennis, Judy and me. He refused to give his last name to us. The dispatcher said it might be morning before the helicopter could find us on the hillside. His final words were: “Try to stay warm and keep your fingers under your armpits and wiggle your toes often.”

    The fire burned low and there were no more branches to feed to it, so we huddled together to share our warmth with one another. We spoke little. Judy began humming one of her childhood songs she had heard her mother sing, “Go to Sleepy Little Baby.” I dozed off.

    We were awakened as dawn sneaked in its breath of cheer. We heard the ’copter in the distance. We knew we would soon be safe.

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