Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Monkey Business

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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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16 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Monkey Business”

  1. Monkey Business

    “We can do this.”

    “Umm, I don’t know.”

    “Of course we can.”

    “Humans say we can’t.”

    “What do they know? We’ve been around a lot longer than they have.”


    “No buts. Look…we’re smart, right?”

    “Well yeah.”

    “And we can use tools, right?”

    “Well sure.”

    “And we’ve got opposable thumbs, right? We can grab and twist and poke at anything, right?”


    “So we can do this.”

    “OK. So now what?”

    “Look…I’ll sneak into the zookeeper’s office. Grab that tool called a ‘typewriter’, and start banging away on the thing.”

    And he did.

    Two weeks later he presented a mass of paper to his cage mate.

    “Here it is!” he boasted.

    “Well yeah…but what do you call this thing?”

    “Hamlet,” he answered.

  2. For crying out loud, can’t he ever shut up? It’s bad enough I have to live here. Why’d this guy have to show up with his incessant babbling?

    I suppose you humans—yeah, you people over there, crowded along the railing, staring at us like we’re freaks from outer space or something and making stupid comments about us—I suppose you think this is funny. You probably think we don’t know what this is. All these fakey rocks and dead trees and bits and pieces of greenery, and then that huge trench and the fence and the guard rail. It’s a prison, that’s what it is, and we all know it! And what was our crime? Having bigger noses than you, apparently. Well guess what? To us, you’re the freaks, you deranged mutants. You should all be shipped off to Antarctica to hang with those ridiculous penguins you’re so fond of.

    Yeah, we baboons all know, all except this one idiot here who keeps telling the same stupid, stale jokes over and over again. “What do you call a flying primate?” he asks, then doesn’t wait for an answer, because he knows none is coming. “A hot air baboon! Ha ha ha! What do you call an exploding monkey? A baBOOM! Ha ha! Get it, get it?”

    If he doesn’t shut up, he’s gonna get it. I tell you, I’m about to start a gorilla war!

    Oh my God, now he’s got me doing it!

  3. Tallulah chuckled. “Get a load of the boob in hot pants throwing peanuts,” and shook her head. “Expects us to jump up and fight for that? Maybe if she tossed Cashews or shelled Brazil nuts….” and reached over and began searching through Zelda’s fur.

    “Be careful, girl. I just spent an hour styling my locks,” Zelda warned. “Get as many of those frisky little critters that you can nibble on.” She reached out and began peeling a banana to snack on while being groomed.

    Tallulah carefully picked and munched being careful not to pinch her sister’s back with her sharp claws. I hope she’s as gentle when she starts on mine, she thought. She finished and sat up straight waiting for Zelda’s touch.

    Mischevious Zelda turned and flipped the banana peel up at the blonde in hot pants, and shrieked , “Cashews! Brazil nuts!” in monkey talk, hoping she’d get the gist of her screeching.

    The shapely talent scout from Goldwyn-Warner-Universal Pictures, pulled the peel from her loop earring and shook her head. “And I thought they would be perfect for our remake of ‘The Jungle Book’. Not with that attitude! Let’s get over to the elephants and see if we can pick some out.” She turned and waved at the hugging sisters, then lifted her middle finger.

    Tallulah poked Zelda. “Did you get that one-finger-thingamajig? Must be a new way of saying goodbye.” She turned and waved back lifting her middle finger.

    Monkey see. Monkey do.

  4. Monkey Say, Monkey doodle.

    Maybe it all began for me with Johnny Weissmuller. Or, if I’m being honest, not one of my more favourite traits because I do like to keep my less desirable secrets, you know, secret, but if, as I said, I am being seriously honest, maybe it was more Maureen O’Sullivan and that incredibly skimpy costume she wore in Tarzan and His Mate than old Johnny that sent me down the monkey trail.

    I know Cheeta was not a monkey. He, or she, was a chimpanzee. And, apparently, once a kid. I don’t know about that. But I get it. Not the kid thing. The chimpanzee is not a monkey thing. Six of one, half a dozen of the other…and what do you get. A dozen monkeys? A dozen chimpanzees? I don’t care. One has a tale (excuse me: tail); one could write a book.

    You would think I’d care more about it all but really, it was all about Jane for me. And that outfit. The movie before and the dozens of movies after, they made sure whoever played Jane was more completely covered. If there was any side benefit to that rather puritan rejection of the best costume ever worn by an actress in any movie, it was that monkey lovers (excuse me, chimpanzee lovers) would be more likely to follow the antics of the little simian.

    Even I’m a simian.

    I can handle that.

    But I sure liked that skimpy outfit she wore.

  5. Bali, Monkey Forrest
    The taxi stopped.

    “Where,” Phil asked.

    The driver smiled and backed up, ” They there alright.”

    Ahead, two tourists argued with an Indonesian holding a tall pole.

    “5$ US. I protect you from monkeys.”

    One tourist pushed his glasses higher on his nose. Another, wearing expensive sun glasses muttered, “A ripoff. Monkeys, bother us?”

    The Indonesian approached Phil, “Guide?”

    “Why not?” He said paying him.

    “Stay close to me. ”

    They moved into the trees. There were monkeys everywhere. The Indonesian extended his pole forward and the monkeys sat passively.

    “Here, peanuts. But, put away glasses.”

    Phil did as told, putting his glasses away. The Indonesian sat him on a log. A monkey made its way from the tree and sat on Phil’s shoulder, all as if rehearsed. The monkey took the peanuts and scampered away.

    Ahead there was shreeking. The two’s tourists stumbled back toward them, holding their bloody noses, glasses missing.

    “Damned little beggers,” they said running past them.

    The Guide yelled after them, “Wait. I get glasses for you.”
    The tourists stopped, “What?”

    “$10 US each, I get glasses.

    The tourists nursed their noses while the Indonesian Guide disappeared around some trees.

    He returned, glasses in hand, ” OK, $10 US each.”

    The tourists sheepishly handed him the money and beat a quick retreat.

    Alone with Phil, he laughed, “Monkeys smart. They give back glasses. I give them peanuts.”

    Phil laughed as well, “A kind of monkey business.”

    The guide laughed, his eyes twinkling, “Yes.”

  6. Balanced on a behind flushed to tingling with an embarrassment bordering on unbearable, searching thoughts for some equilibrating expression that just wouldn’t come, Mathilda’s glance shifted automatically to Bert, who instantly offered a weary witticism without a second–or maybe even a first–thought.

    As usual, Mathilda chirped, “Oh, Bert,” while silently she lamented, “How did I get here?” just as Bert’s thoughtless vocalizations started her mind flailing to maintain an increasingly precarious perch betwixt fight and flight.

    In the erupting panic, Mathilda realized in a flash the extent to which Bert had long since surrendered to the relentless parade of the pair’s simian indignities, while Mathilda, though outwardly projecting her usual, requisite charm, inwardly churned and foraged all the way down to her DNA for a way out–for a way up.

    Flight it would be! With a burst of speed that bowled Bert over, Matilda ran headlong toward the glass, veering hard right just shy of catastrophe. Off she darted, scrambling over boulders, again veering right, this time narrowly avoiding a rock wall. Just then the panic subsided… and then… Fight! Fight!

    In one motion Mathilda whirled, reached her palm behind her and filled it with poop. Hurling the offensive concoction at the object of her embarrassment standing high upon the pedestrian walkway, she scored a direct hit.

    Inner churning and foraging ceased, Mathilda ambled over to a now-amazed Bert’s side and nudged him with a shoulder as he chuckled with delight.

    All was once again well with Mathilda’s world.

  7. Two monkeys were in deep conversation. They were discussing how the ape could one day dominate humans.

    “We know that 1+1=2,” said Big Monkey to Little Monkey. “Once we figure out what 2+2 equals, we feel we will have advanced another step closer to controlling this planet.”

    “That sounds marvelous,” said Little Monkey, who jumped and danced as he spoke. “How long do you think that will take?”

    “Not sure. Most of the monkeys around here just want to hang out in trees.”

    “I see.”

    “But we have been working diligently on a high level project,” said Big Monkey. “Follow me.” Both monkeys walked over to a door that opened to a large room that was filled with row upon row of desks. Sitting at each desk was a monkey who was pounding incessantly on a typewriter. The noise of hundreds of monkeys screeching and pounding on hundreds of typewriters was overwhelming. It was like a room full of crazy piano players who had gone completely feral and who were pounding non-stop on the piano keys in a random and haphazard fashion.

    “These monkeys have been coming in here twelve hours every day for the past two years,” said Big Monkey.

    “Amazing,” said Little Monkey.

    “Yes, quite the task.”

    “Just one thing, though.”


    “Why is there no paper in the typewriters?”

    Big Monkey thought for a minute. “Paper? What’s that?”

  8. Opening Night

    Penny and Zippy were new at the Mango Lei Circus. Brandon the trainer had made progress on some routines with the young monkeys. There was a small crowd Tuesday night, and Mr. Chipper wanted to try them out.

    The animals came last, because they were guaranteed to entertain. The glittering horses marched around, with various dogs following. Crates of mangoes lined the aisles of the rotunda, which was a great attraction, because after the show, everyone could take a bag of mangoes.

    The monkeys watched from offstage. Ladies in shimmering outfits swung from trapezes, landing gracefully on the horses, riding them around the ring with the ponies and dogs.

    The monkeys swung from the trapezes, which came naturally. From high above, they saw the opportunity to ride the ponies, and jumped aboard.

    The ponies were startled, never having been mounted by anything as wild as a monkey. They went charging into the aisles, inadvertently tipping over several crates of mangoes. Penny and Zippy were pleased because mangoes were now available, and started shrieking.

    Mr. Chipper and Brandon demanded order, unsuccessfully, while the audience roared with laughter. The dogs barked in response to the shrieking monkeys. Horses and dogs, alarmed at the cascade of mangoes descending upon the center ring, ran up the aisles that were clear. Penny and Zippy dismounted the ponies and began enjoying the mangoes.

    Everyone, except the other animals and staff, felt highly entertained, and concluded that the Mango Lei Circus had an exceptional program.

  9. Sammy and James approach the monkey cage popcorn and sodas in hand. Two monkeys sitting idle watch them.

    “Ha-Ha!” James chuckles. “Look at those two! Looks like they’re havin’ a serious conversation.”

    Sammy giggles. “What do you think they’re saying?”

    “Probably somethin’ like – Hey George! See that dump Lloyd dropped over by the watering hole? Woo, it brought flies all the way from the homeland.”

    Sammy jumps in, “Yeah! He’s been brewin’ it all day eatin’ all that rotten fruit.”

    James continues, “The ladies go crazy hootin’ and hollerin’ – Ooh-ooh, what a stink! Ooh-ooh, look at the size of it!”

    Sammy acts the fool, “Ha-Ha! That’s when the gurls start makin’ a mess of their own jumping about!”

    The monkeys are taken aback as the boys hoot and holler making a mess!

    “Ooh-ooh!” Sammy yells tossing popcorn!

    “Ah-Ah-AH! “ James retorts flinging soda!

    Just then a zoo attendant walks by.

    “Hey! What are you boys doing?” he shouts! “Who do you thinks gonna clean up this mess? Get outta here ya rascals!”

    The boys rush off!

    “I can never catch a break. Just wanted my lunch,” the attendant mumbles shuffling off.

    The attendant disappears leaving the two monkeys sitting alone.

    Monkey One says to Monkey Two, “Ya see! That’s why we’ve got protective fences, to keep out humans. . . . Imagine what they’d do to this land if they were allowed to roam free?”

    “Bunch of animals,” Monkey Two retorts.

  10. “What the hell happened, Tim? Why are we here?”
    “Seems like the transductor coil’s fried. We must’ve bounced into another species parallel universe.”
    “We, what?”
    “You know like crossed the beams. No big deal really.”
    At this point, Warren began to hyperventilate.
    “Relax, Warren. Relax,” Tim said, examining his new body.
    “I absolutely will not relax,” Warren’s voice ratcheting up to a shrill, “We’re locked in a cage! And we’re freaking monkeys!”
    “Well, technically we’re baboons. You can tell by the length of our snouts.”
    “Whatever. Listen, I’m supposed to be celebrating my anniversary with Karen in an hour.
    Tim gazed around, drinking up his surroundings, “Well…I don’t think that was much of a concern for you anyway.”
    “Hardy har har.”
    “Isn’t that why you called me? Because you had forgotten today was your anniversary and you needed to go back in time and remind yourself?”
    “Don’t be ridiculous. That’s crazy talk. What I actually wanted was to head over to that parallel universe we visited a while ago, remember?”
    “There’ve been a lot.”
    “Jesus, come on. You know which one” Warren started miming making it rain cash.
    “You mean the one with the…”
    “Gigantic yacht. Yes! I was totally going to snag some jewelry from that filthy rich version of me.”
    “Oh dude, that was bananas. Man, I’d never seen so much…” Tim stopped suddenly.
    The Zookeeper walked in armed with a tranquilizer gun.
    “Hello there, boys.”
    “Tim, we gotta go. Hurry!”
    “The transductors not working.”

  11. The two monkeys sat talking together in their pristine, roomy, jungle-like cage while they watched the humans watching them.

    “I heard our man-servants talking last night. One of them said we are getting to be way too much like humans. Do you suppose it’s true?”

    “These humans, they talk big, but all they really think about is what they are going to eat next. That reminds me, do you know what’s on the schedule for dinner tonight?”

    “He said they were thinking of getting some wild monkeys to replace us. Some that will jump around, swing from the bars, screech and holler. You know… give the people something to look at.”

    “That is just ridiculous. They bring the people here for us to look at, not the other way around. All those silly people, making silly faces, and stuffing themselves with popcorn and peanuts. Just to entertain us.”

    “So you don’t think we are getting to be too much like humans?”

    “Definitely not. Just put that idea right out of your head. We are not at all like humans.”

    “Right. Not at all like humans. Another question for you. Do you think this fur makes my butt look fat?”

  12. The two monkeys sat side by side as they did each day, staring at the people on the other side of the view window. It was a school group staring back at them this afternoon. Some were staring. Others were racing around, pointing at the two stolid monkeys or banging on the glass.

    “Really, this is so tiresome,” said Eldridge, the older male. “Has nobody taught those kids any manners?”

    The other monkey, a female named Shawna, ignored the noisy people and focused on picking a nit from Eldridge’s shoulder.

    “Would you stop that,” he said as he pushed her arm away. “Not in front of these idiots.”

    “Oh, Eldridge. You are such a grump.”

    Eldridge turned away from Shawna, folding his long arms across his chest. “I’m just tired of it all. Every day, the same old thing. And their manners are getting worse. How much longer do I have to put up with it?”

    “Do you want dinner tonight?” asked Shawna. “You’ll put up with it because we have the caretakers trained. We sit here. They provide food. Simple.”

    Eldridge reached over and prodded Shawna’s shoulder. “Let’s go. Enough is enough. Dinner is served.”

    The two monkeys rose from their squat and turned away from the irritating humans. “I’d like to moon them,” said Eldridge. “Just once. Propriety be damned.”

    “Fear not, you’re mooning them now, whether you want to or not.”

    They cackled loudly, wiggling their butts as they sauntered away.

  13. “We’re never going to get away with this”, Eddie said, scratching the raw spot under his belly for at least the tenth time since returning from the other side of the log.

    “Will you stop scratching?” Paul said, slapping Eddie’s hand away from the red, inflamed flesh. “You’re going to give us away.”

    Eddie snorted. “Okay,” he said, “make you a deal, I’ll stop scratching if you tell me what we’re going to do about the human tied up behind the log.”

    “What do you mean?” Paul Asked. “It’s simple. We already got one of them, now we get the other one – and he’s the one we really want.”

    Eddie couldn’t help himself. He knew that the position they’d found themselves in was no laughing matter. Still, the chuckles came tumbling out of him. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” he said, between fits of giggles. He pointed towards the log. “She’s new here. She was easy – small. The Keeper is big. The Keeper is strong. The Keeper…

    “Has the keys,” Paul interrupted. “And once we have those magical pieces of metal in our hands, we can unlock all the other cages and pens. Then we’ll just get lost in the crowd. Too easy. Stop scratching!

    Eddie turned away, slightly admonished, but still kept sneaking a scratch here and there while he talked. “You really think the snare is strong enough to trip him? He really is a big one.”

    “If not, I’m sure we…”

    “Yeah, but…”

    “Quiet, he’s coming.”


    Arielle loved her job, as a primate zookeeper,but she didn’t know that ‘today’ may be her last.

    Her colleague, Kurt walked up, and asked,”Did you get an accurate count today at the baboon enclosure?”

    “Of course,”Arielle retorted! Kurt relished in other people’s mistakes.

    “I dooon’t think so!”

    Arielle rushed to the baboon enclosure. She immediately knew Renee, the pregnant, baboon was missing. “But…how?”

    The night before, Bart answered the phone,”Hello…the zoo.”

    ” I wanted to let you know that one of your baboons is in my backyard,” Mrs. Phelps stated.

    “Huh?” Bart thought he misunderstood. “Oh,okay,”he was in a hurry,”we’ll have someone over soon.”

    The message he wrote was; ‘escaped animal sighting 5:02pm- ha,ha!’

    Arielle sounded the alarms,and Bart explained about the call. They knew where Mrs. Phelps
    lived- she had other animal visitors over the years.

    At Mrs. Phelps house, she directed them around to the backyard. “She’s up there…in the fort,” she pointed.

    There she was, but with a surprise: a newborn baboon!

    The zookeepers tied her favorite treats to strings, and strung them out. Renee recognized this as a game,and clutching the baby to her chest, she followed the string to her crate.

    “Back to the zoo,” they cheered! They thanked Mrs. Phelps profusely.

    “I just hope we don’t get fired for this,” Arielle complained.

    The zoo hired a consultant, who found many animal enclosures’ doors malfunctioning!

    There must have been lots of monkey business going on, in the zoo, at night!


    (Sorry, I’m late, but I forgot until now)


    We were standing in front of the monkey cages watching the shenanigans of the monkeys. They jumped, they hugged, they made loud noises.

    In the cage nearest to us an orangatan looked right at us. He didn’t move but kept staring at us, especially at the man next to me.

    The man talked to the orangatan and gestured. The orangatan waved at him. Out of the corner of my eye I watched the man wave back. He laughed.

    Turning to look at him as he said to me, “They look so human!” I couldn’t speak a word, for they could have passed for twins.

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