Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Wanderers

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!

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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Wanderers”

  1. For Editor’s Choice only

    “What happened to you?” I asked the painted horse wandering in the field.
    “It must be very painful even to think about it.”
    “It is,” replied the horse in the softest of voices. “We used to be best friends. We went everywhere together. We were never out of each other’s sight.”
    “Who are ‘we’?”
    “Belle and me, of course. Don’t you know anything, silly?”
    “Well, we just met, so you’ll have to excuse my ignorance. But tell me more about you and Belle.”
    “Her parents gave me to her when she was twelve, and she loved me from the start. We would spend hours in the stable, talking, while she ran a curry comb through my coat and soft-brushed my mane. And she used to ride me in parades, too, like on the Fourth of July, when she would hold the Stars and Stripes, held in a flag boot, as we rode through town. We were the highlight of the parade!”
    I don’t know whether it was the dimming of light day or something that had gotten into my eye, but I swear I saw a tear running down the horse’s cheek.
    “It sounds like you had some wonderful times together,” I said, trying to console her. “So, what happened? How is it that you ended up here, wandering with the others in the meadow?”
    She sniffed, trying to hold back tears. “That’s because Belle had to go and grow up and leave for boarding school.”

  2. It was a nice quiet day, nothing seemed special about it, the horses were out feeding and I was walking my dog Patty along side them. Then suddenly, it happened, a loud noise, it sounded like a lightening had struck suddenly.
    I looked towards where I thought it had come from but I didn’t see anything. It seemed no one else had heard it for the horses were unshaken and Patty was as calm as ever. Was I dreaming? I thought as I looked around me, just then, I heard the loud noise again, this time I noticed it seemed quite closer, l was troubled and puzzled at the same time. Then I looked over at Patty and the horses again, they seemed interested in something on the floor. I moved closer to check what it was and I saw they were looking at something small, on the floor. Just then, I heard the strange noise again. But this time I could see it was coming from the object. It was a mobile phone, and it was ringing as loud as any I had heard so far. I laughed out loud as I picked up. On the screen saver was Heather, my best friend’s photo.

  3. Well, they warned me if I lost another race they’d turn me out with the other losers. Now, here I am loping along with the rest of them. Gotta make a home out here in the sticks. No more warm, comfortable stall back there in the city. Gotta get used to not being groomed every morning. Those great buckets of imported oats for breakfast and lunch. No more showing off trotting around the track each day. Getting those warm pats on the rump as I headed out to the track on race day.
    Those were the days, my friend, I thought they’d never end. I’d race and win, forever and a day. I lived the life I chose. I’d race and never lose.
    But, alas, starting off as the favorite that Saturday in the Kentucky Derby, and coming in third, was the beginning of the end for this three year old. Didn’t even make an exacta at that race. It was downhill all the way after that. Can’t complain though. Have to be thankful for all the fun I had at the top of the heap. Snorting fillies. Giddy trainers. Racing at tracks all around the country, and even a couple in Europe. What a life! And now? I’ll just hang my head and mope about how it used to be. Try not to be too lonely. Oh, misery. Woe is me.
    Hey! Look at that groovy little tail swishing on the cute filly up ahead. Hmmmm. Maybe……

  4. It was another lazy Sunday afternoon on the Wilkie farm and the horses were gathered together to discuss the day’s activities. Mabel the cow was also among them.

    “I know how we can get more feed,” said Charlie to the other horses.

    “You mean without Farmer Wilkie knowing about it?” asked one of the horses.


    Upon hearing this Mabel decided to leave; she wasn’t going to get involved in any of the horses’ schemes. She was in enough trouble after almost destroying the world with her antimatter experiments. So she decided she was going to play in the feed shed with some sticks of dynamite she had found earlier in the day. Her cowbells jingled as she ambled off in the direction of the shed.

    “We’ll wait until after supper to get the feed,” said Charlie.

    At the appointed time all of the horses headed to the shed. Once there, Charlie noticed a long rope and he figured if he pulled on it, it would open the shed door giving them access to the feed. So Charlie gripped the rope with his teeth and pulled on it. Little did he know that earlier Mabel had innocently tied several sticks of dynamite to the other end of the rope. So the more Charlie pulled on it, the closer the dynamite came to a lit lantern hanging beside the door.


    Farmer Wilkie opened his eyes. “What the-.” And then promptly fell out of his recliner.

  5. When Billy and Charlie saw the handsome troop of horses, they were dragging from their long journey to Texas.

    “I bet you can’t lasso that pinto”, Billy challenged.

    “Maybe I can, maybe I can’t”, Charlie responded. “Today…that is.”

    They both laughed. Friends forever, they were traveling to San Antonio to help Charlies’ uncle with cattle drives. In 1867, the work would bring hard currency to help their southern families, and skills- plus excitement- for the young men.

    As Charlie approached the beautiful brown and white horse, he realized something was wrong.

    “Look Billy”, Charlie called.

    Billy rode closer,and the horse started thrashing about.

    “Whoa, girl”, Charlie soothed as he inspected the horse. “Uh,oh! She’s tangled in thick brambles.” With difficulty, he cuts her loose.

    ” Billy, get some salve before I let her go”.

    “Good idea; wait a minute…!”, he stopped, I thought we were going to take her to town to sell- I already have my money spent…”

    Charlie smiled, but was interrupted by a posse of horsemen.

    “I sure hope you are just joshing about that plan”, boomed the sheriff on horseback.

    “This horse belongs to the Comanche, even though it was probably stolen from the Blackfeet, who stole it from an Apache…way back.”, he chuckled.

    “Oh, no”, Charlie moaned.

    “Just leave it, and get on the road”, he instructed them.

    Charlie and Billy looked at each other with half smiles; almost arrested or scalped in their first week! Their ‘great adventure’ had begun!

  6. “Hey ladies, wait up for Ginger.”

    “Don’t worry about her, Ginger has other things on her mind. Farmer Hoxey put her out to pasture because of that ugly tumor on her leg, she’s been a good horse so he’s going to let her roam free until…”

    “Shouldn’t we stay with her to keep her company?”

    “No, Ginger has got other plans.”

    Every day Ginger goes to a separate part of the pasture than the other horses and then comes back to the barn at night hobbling less and less. Hoxey is an observant man and he notices that his horse is eager to be grazing in her favorite spot and waits impatiently at the barn-door each morning.

    He decides to follow and makes note of the different herbs Ginger is grazing on until one day he notices the tumor has hardened and fallen off her leg revealing new healthy skin underneath. Then she no longer grazes in her favorite spot and joins her friends in a separate pasture.

    Ginger instinctively cured herself of cancer and revealed the natural remedy. Hoxey was able to gather the mixture of herbs and create the Hoxey treatment. He then cured other animals of their cancers for his friends and neighbors and becomes a famous veterinarian in 1840.

  7. She saw her dad out in the field without any shirt on. He was waving the multi-colored flannel, trying to move four horses toward the south end of the pasture.

    Even from this distance she could hear him yelling the horses along.

    “Daddy,” she said as she caught up with him. He hesitated, looked around, and then stared at Valerie.

    “Alice,” he said, the sweat dripping down his face and bare chest.

    “No, Daddy. Valerie.”

    He squinted at her, trying to place the face. “Valerie? You two always did look alike.”

    Valerie ignored the comment. The two sisters, one brunette and one blonde, were nothing alike.

    “You can’t just wander off anymore.”

    “But these horses,” he said as he pointed to the four mares standing and munching grass. “I’ve got to get them to the barn. And I can’t find Ebony.”

    Valerie should be getting used to this, but it was still hard.

    “Daddy, those are Henderson’s horses. You’ve got the wrong horses and the wrong pasture.”

    “What about Ebony?”

    “We’ve been over this. Grandpa gave you that horse when you were a kid.”

    “Oh,” he said as he wiped his face with his shirt. “Ebony. A long time ago.”

    Valerie took her dad’s arm, easing him over to the gate.

    “I can’t even manage my own business, damn-it.”

    “I know,” she said to herself. “I know.”

  8. Stupid horses. Well, what do you expect from a bunch of herbivores? All they comprehend is eating and running away. Bunch of idiots.

    Take this group. One gets it into his head the grass is greener across the meadow, so off he goes, and six others tag along. He knows that grass isn’t any greener. It’s all brown! And you can’t blame color-blindness, either, because horses have dichromatic vision. Point is, the leader, Smart as a Whip they call him, he knows there’s no green. Appropriate name, huh?

    Every horse here has a name like that. Former race horses all. Goes to show, humans can be equally as daft as horses. They wouldn’t name their own kids “Smart As A Whip,” right? Wrong! I read a book about stupid human names the other day. So don’t tell me how clever they are. I’ll bet they’re even related to horses somehow.

    Fortunately I’m far brighter than either, and ironically I have humans to thank for that. Some say I’m a genetic experiment gone awry. I like to think of myself as the next phase in evolution. I may look like a horse, but I’m smarter than a border collie and I would never, ever, walk to the far end of a field when the grass right here is just as good. Or bad. Or whatever.

    What really ticks me off is that they named me Flying Fierce Farmboy Junior. Once I graduate from law school, I’m gonna fix that!

  9. Cross Country
    Anna and Jack waited in the truck outside the Colorado Canteen. The four horses in the trailer munched happily on their oats. Since Anna had left them unfettered, they nosed each other, flicking one another with their tails.
    “We’ll need a trainer in New York, so disabled kids can ride these horses at Sunny Ranch,” said Jack.
    “We need funding,” answered Anna.
    Suddenly a stranger, Sharky, jumped into the truck, and started roughing up Jack.
    Buster, Sharky’s sidekick, shoved a pistol at Anna. “You’re headed for the track! Thoroughbreds! Gimme the papers!” he yelled.
    Anna shook.
    Sharky said, “Horses first.”
    “Big bucks!” hollered Buster, “Unlock the trailer, you scared rabbit.”
    She complied.
    “We’ll stay out of your way,” said Anna, eyeing Jack.
    Sharky and Buster opened the doors, which burst apart as the horses bounded out, knocking them to the ground. They screamed in agony.
    Jack and Anna ran to the store. The owner bolted them in. “Sheriff’s coming,” he said, “It’s all on video.”
    The horses were gone.
    Sheriff Casey arrived, cuffed the thieves and called paramedics. His friend, Rancher Smithy, went to find the horses, who had run, then wandered all the way to Wheeler’s Ridge.
    “They was spooked pretty bad,” said Smithy, “but we had a long talk. I reckon they’ll be fine.”
    “Those two thugs had a $5,000 bounty,” said Casey, “You and the horses have earned it.”
    Anna looked at Jack, and their eyes brightened. They both said, “Sunny Ranch,” and laughed.


    Amber’s foal grew up and disappeared when she was two years old. We searched the plains and hills around us and found nothing. Where had she gone? Who had taken her?

    Three years into the 20th century we heard of wild horses that had come into the area after having been absent for some time. We needed some horses for our Montana ranch and sent a team of cowboys to bring a dozen home.

    A week later my 15-year-old Jason came running into the house yelling, “Mom, come quick.”

    I raced outdoors to see what he was so excited about.

    “Look Mom, there are six Ambers in the group of wild horses the men brought back.”
    He was right. Six ponies that looked just like our ten-year-old mare Amber.

    We laughed and looked at each, each thinking the same thing. The stallion in the bunch must have stolen our two-year-old years ago and now we were getting back the offspring… six-fold of what we had lost.

  11. The Last Stretch
    “It’s not right. I won’t!”
    The bandit talked aloud to himself now, still clutching the Crimson soaked handkerchief to his side. His blood rolled off the edge like raindrops falling from leaves. His pale skin had reddened, pus oozed out. He didn’t know he was experiencing scepticimia and that the men taunting him were only in his head.
    Kill the horse–the voices were saying. They were his fallen posse. Shaggy Carl and Musty Dan, brothers were taunting him.
    Kill the horse once you get to the trees!
    And don’t wuss out like you did when we was getting shot up!
    His dead brother, Rydel looked back. Thunder clapping was heard just over the horizon. The lawmen were closing in fast. His poor slow horse, as fast as it was, had tired to a trot.
    Worthless animal! Kill it now! You’ll get away faster without it!–Shaggy Carl howled.
    “No! Wouldn’t have got this far without him!” The bandit roared.
    The bandit slid off, removed the saddle.
    Idiot! What are you doing?! Musty Dan screamed.
    The trees were a long stretch of prairieland away. He wouldn’t make it, even if he forced the horse to run until it collapsed.
    Three horses were nearby; the perfect cover. A warning shot sent his horse skittering in their direction. He stood back to back with his brother as the thunder and dust storm surrounded them, guns drawn. The horse trotted to safety behind his kind as the gunfire roared.


    “It’s perfect,” the architect said.

    “ The ideal site,” said the contractor.

    “ Couldn’t be better!” They enthusiastically shook hands. The architect was ecstatic. The contractor could see only dollar signs.

    Within a month all the nonessentials were gone. The trees cut down. The horses loaded into trucks and driven away. The silence destroyed by the sound of power saws, trucks, bulldozers.

    What was left was room for a thousand houses. Maybe more. And, of course, a commemorative plaque.

    After all, the architect and the contractor were not heartless.

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