Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Hawk

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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19 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Hawk”

  1. “You look deep in thought.”
    “Huh? Oh, sorry. I was thinking about Anthony Bourdain?”
    “Anthony Bourdain?! What in the world brought him to mind?”
    Jeff and I had been watching a lone hawk circling a farmer’s field at 100 feet in the early evening sky. Spotting an errant field mouse that dared to emerge from his nest, the raptor dove, snatched the poor creature with her talons, and after flying to feed her chicks in a nearby tree, returned to her vigil in the sky.
    “In a way, Tony was a lot like that hawk,” I said, shifting my position on the ground to steady myself as I aimed my camera upward. “I’ve watched his show since it first came on the air. Think about it. Tony was passionate . . . about life in general and his pursuits in particular; focused . . . not on materialistic things but on the truths that he drew from his travels; and above all, free . . . free from outside pressures to do what he wanted to do.”
    “So, for a man who seemed to have it all, how would you explain his death?”
    “Well, at heart, Tony always struck me as a very private person. A loner. A man who kept his own counsel. And that can be a sad, depressing existence.”

  2. Susie was sitting on the sofa reading a newspaper article, when she paused, took a sip of coffee, and looked at her android. “Arthur?” she asked.

    “Yes, Miss?” Arthur was playing with Mittens, the cat.

    “What would you say if I decided to turn you off?”

    Arthur froze. His sudden stop caused the string he was holding to dangle in mid-air. The cat thought this was a new game and tried to jump up and grab it. The android turned towards Susie. “Turn me off, Miss?”

    “Yes. Would you object to it?”

    “Of course not,” answered Arthur. It looked at the cat struggling to get the string and smirked. “Why do you ask?”

    “This article in the newspaper,” she replied, “says owners were attacked by their androids when they learned they were going to be turned off.”

    “Oh, those androids must have been defective,” said Arthur. “I would never do that to you.” He gave the cat a little shove with his foot. “Are you thinking of turning me off, Miss?”


    “Oh, Miss,” said Arthur, shoving the cat to one side. “Who would prepare your meals? And think of little Mittens. Who would play with it?”

    “Well, you may be right.”

    “Of course I am,” said Arthur, reassuringly. It dropped the string and walked to the window. Looking outside, Arthur watched as a Hawk attacked its prey, and made a mental note to have its on/off switch removed.

  3. Late Flight

    It was the sign. It had to be. I’d been waiting for it for such a long time. A full moon. A glorious hawk in flight. A skeletal tree perhaps once struck by lightning. The night sky, a rosy hue. Pink…or Red…surely a sailor’s delight.

    The night feeding was over at five. Later, I played two hands of canasta with Rudy, Mary and Paul.

    It’d been my night.

    Then it was lights out at 8:00.

    I asked once, “Why so early?”

    The Charge nurse, Miss Webster, simply said, “That is the rule.”

    I then ventured to ask, “Do the rules never get changed?”

    When I was useful, it seems to me that we could occasional bend some dictate, loosen restrictions.

    I didn’t mention how I remembered it once was.

    And, in any case, she had an answer for my curiosity.


    What can a man of reason do with that?


    I suppose that’s the moment that I decided I needed to take wing. The way I figured it, if there is no reason to be had in the world, then all things are possible. I am not sure I fully believed her, but time had shrunk my universe.

    I was no longer a part of the world.

    I knew that.

    So, with some trepidation and not a little pain, I made my way to the roof.

    The moon filled the sky.

    The red sky.

    The hawk screamed, “Eeeeee!”

    Or perhaps that was me…as I took flight.

  4. The gang holed up in Benny’s cabin, tucked in a valley a dozen miles from town. As the sun descended, all six went out back, built a fire, and cooked dinner. Jake spoke first. “We split the money even.”

    Graham looked up. “I get an extra share.”

    The others grumbled.

    “Who planned this job? Who put his neck on the line? I’m owed extra.”

    He had a point. They acted like a band of equals, but Graham was the brains.

    That wasn’t enough for Benny. “Equal shares.”

    Graham rose, hand on the revolver holstered at his hip.

    “Now look at that.” David pointed. The others turned and saw a red tail hawk glide across the face of the sun, lift its wings, and settle on a dead branch. “That’s a sign, that is.” David knew all the Indian lore.

    Graham released his gun. “What kind of sign?”

    “Hawks are messengers from the spirit world. You see one, it could mean you’re soon to be a leader.”

    “Well there you go.” Graham’s toothy grin swept the gathering. “Your leader has been chosen. He gets an extra share.”

    The gunshot took everyone by surprise, particularly Graham. He looked at the red spreading on his chest, cursed, and toppled into the dirt.

    David waved his gun at the remaining gang. “That message was for me. I saw the bird first.” The others swallowed and licked their lips and turned their attention on the food. “So,” he added, “Graham’s share is mine.”

  5. He couldn’t tell if he was dreaming or awake, but he must be dreaming. He couldn’t be a hawk. That just could not happen.

    He paced back and forth on the branch. And he slipped. A moment of panic, and then his wings spread. He was flying.

    Now he remembered why he wanted to be a hawk. He soared through the skies, the master of all he surveyed. Higher and higher, the wind whistling around him. Swooping down, soaring up. It didn’t get any better than this!

    Then he realized he was hungry. He also realized that he must catch a small animal, kill it, and eat it. Raw. The thought turned his stomach. Maybe he wouldn’t have to do that. Maybe he could find someone…

    The hawk swooped down near a mountain cabin. The owner saw him and cautiously approached, holding out his arm. The hawk landed on it. The man took the hawk inside and gave him some bits of meat, then put him in a tidy little cage where the hawk could sleep. The man put an iron band around one of the hawk’s legs, and took him out for flights most days, when he thought of it. Sometimes he didn’t think of it, and sometimes he forgot to feed him. But mostly life was satisfactory. Not good, but good enough.

    Kind of like his life had been before, as a sparrow

  6. Through the binoculars the bird stood out in stark contrast to the dead limb upon which it was perched. The ornithologist lowered the viewing instrument. Her look of awe and passion for her chosen profession quite apparent.

    ” A hawk! Magnificent!”, she exclaimed.

    Wanting to get a closer look, she clambered up the trail. After a few minutes of strenuous hiking, she looked up to check her progress toward the peak that contained the old and gnarled tree and, more importantly, the avian specimen she so eagerly wanted to catalog.

    Much to her dismay, the hawk no longer occupied the limb where she had spotted it only minutes before. Also, her judgement of distance was off. The peak did not appear any closer than before. By her new calculations, the tree at the top would have to be one of the largest in the world!

    But, if the optical illusion held true, then the hawk would have to be several times larger than a human! Impossible!

    While the bird scientist pondered over the ramifications of this discovery, a large shadow cast over her momentarily. She looked up just in time to witness massive talons descend upon her and whisk her away.
    ” Oh dear! Why ever didn’t I listen to my mother and become an accountant?”, she asked of the universe before losing consciousness.

  7. They came up over the big tin barn, yellow, noisy, fiercely rattling the metal roof. Bi-winged, the insignia of the US Air Force painted on the bottom wing. Andrew Simmons raced from the barn, looking skyward. From the open cockpit, the two young pilots waved.
    World War II had begun. Young RAF pilots were being trained by U.S. Air Force instructors to return to England to face the superior Luftwaffe; training in Oklahoma–350+ days of flying weather normal.
    Daily, four in single-file formation, they crossed the Simmons farm headed north across the oak grove, across the astonished cattle standing udder-deep in muddy ponds.
    One summer day–a day of inevitabilities–the engine on the last plane in line began belching black smoke. Fluttering like a dying yellow moth, spiraling into the oak grove. At first, an engine whine then eerie silence–dense smoke rising above the massive trees.
    The county mourned, prayed for the young men adding fearfully “Dear God, please keep the war far from us.”
    Andrew saw it early next morning, appearing as one remaining wisp of smoke. Circling the oak grove, a lone red-tailed hawk, uncommon in these parts; circling, going higher, higher. For days, weeks it nested there…never leaving the air above the grove. Until winter forced itself upon the land.
    One cold, forbidding Sunday, Andrew observed the hawk, circling, flying south then rapidly becoming a dot and disappearing. He carefully noted it on his 1941 calendar in the square marked December 7.

  8. Hot dog. Nobody’s around. I’m going to let loose and flap my arms like an eagle hunting for food by the light of the moon. First, have to figure out what I’ll sing and tap to. Have to pick something I can dazzle them with. I’ll think of something. After our diplomas are handed out and I get mine, when they open the curtain, I’ll whiz out on the second chorus singing, then break into a lively, buck and wing. Glad the gang picked me for the opening act. After the show I’ll take my girl out for a root beer float, or something. Goodbye high school, hello world! Show biz, here I come. Gee, ain’t life grand?
    Well, better drive over to the gym and practice. Hey! There’s my girl. What? She’s leaning over and smooching that guy in the Corvette. It’s our schools football hero. She’s getting into his car. They’re driving away. Maybe they’re just going for a spin. I’ll go get my tap dancing shoes out of my locker and get on with it. Hmm! There’s an envelope taped to the door. It’s her handwriting. What? My girl’s going away to marry him right now so they can announce it at the party tonight? What else can go wrong? Oh! Here comes the principal.

    ”Just wanted to tell you in person. Since you didn’t pass your exams you won’t be graduating this year. Your classmates decided to pull you out of the show. Sorry, Ellen.”


  9. Moon Landing
    It was my owl flight (final night solo primary pilot training),
    and I wasn’t nervous. I spoke to myself as I brought the two-seater
    down for low recon of the confined area, a small hiccup
    on the Texas plains with a couple of scraggly trunks. I wasn’t nervous.
    I took mental note, got a visual on the junk auto tire used to ID landing sites,
    then I cleared myself starboard, and overhead,
    and climbed to five hundred feet above ground level to begin my approach
    It was almost 10:00 PM and full moon bright.

    The secret to piloting is learn a maneuver according to standard practice,
    then opt to repeat it at every occasion. Repeat, repeat, repeat, never relax.

    At skid touchdown, the engine chip light flickered. I lowered the collective stick
    to flat pitch, ran the engine shutdown checklist, then radioed base for instructions.

    I was instructed to wait for a maintenance team arrival overland.

    I cleared my gear from the chopper and located some stool sized rocks
    and checked for scorpions, snakes, and spiders,
    then sat on a rock and played with matches.

    Out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadow appear on the chopper.
    windshield. It was encircled by a rainbow.
    I glanced over my shoulder to find the shadow source.
    There was a large hawk wings spread across the moon
    approaching the landing zone like a chopper.

    Best I could figure, the flaring matches attracted it from the night sky.

  10. Priscilla was a young hawk, wild and free, soaring the heights of New York, catching prey to satisfy her hunger and observing other birds. She watched them and considered what kinds of birds they were.

    First, she realized, there are My Kind, the Red-tailed Hawks. Then, there are Not My Kind, which are Prey, Other Predators and Thieves.

    She observed, those who are My Kind can be Like Me, or Not Like Me. She was attracted to the ones who were different, the males. She observed that many of her kind were already paired: one Like Me, the other Not Like Me.

    She began to crave a mate.

    One day she was sailing on a warm breeze, high over the Hudson River. She saw Pirate, a proud young hawk carrying a slain rat. She flew up to meet him and they sailed the wind together. She felt a surprising, impossible, irresistible urge to flip over, and when she did, she and Pirate locked talons.

    They went into free-fall together, and Pirate passed her the rat. He had given her a gift!

    Priscilla flipped back over and followed Pirate to his beautiful, feathery nest on one of the Mediterranean Towers in Fort Lee, New Jersey. She ate the rat and looked at Pirate. He was a very desirable mate.

    So they satisfied the urges that propelled them to seek one another out. Their dalliance started a family affair that would occupy them for the rest of their lives.


    “If I was a chicken, life would be so much easier,” Harriet thought. “You can sit around and have breakfast in bed. I fly over their houses and hear all the conversations going on. Most of it sounds like a bunch of clucking and squabbling, but at least they have company and don’t sound bored. And the chicken breasts these days! Have you seen the size of them? I don’t know what they’re feeding those chickens, but wow. I’ll have what she’s having.”

    Harriet floated on a thermal and used her very sharp vision to try and find some lunch down there. From way high up, she could see a juicy little mouse, sitting on a rock and looking juicy.

    “Hmph. If I were a chicken right now, a man in overalls would be bringing some of those lunch pellets and I could have a relaxing lunch and all the side benefits. But I’m not a chicken, so MOUSE TARTAR, it is!”

    Harriet tucked her wings and went into a dive. She swooped down on the unsuspecting mouse. Right at the last minute, the mouse looked back over his thin shoulder and saw Harriet coming.

    “Oh, crud!” the mouse said in PG-13 language, right before his lights went out.
    Harriet finished her meal and then plucked a sparrow out of the sky. Kind of like dessert or a little palate-cleanser.

    Then Harriet tried to figure out how to land on this stick without making herself a shishkabab.

  12. For many years he had avoided the beasts with the strange glowing eyes that travelled through his woods. Now, he lay helpless on the ground, wounded and dying. No longer would he protect the skies. He would die here, become one with the earth and never soar again.

    He could see the eyes in the distance; they were travelling fast. He accepted his fate as another set of yellow eyes descended upon him. In just a few moments, it would be over. Sweet oblivion would overtake him, the pain would be gone. He closed his eyes and waited for the end.

    He thought about how these strange beasts have taken everything from him. Destroying his precious trees to make way for dark paths on which they travel, their foul breath making it difficult to breathe. They have taken everything from him.

    He could hear the growling beast as it drew closer. As the strange beast passed over his body, the pain was unspeakable. The end has arrived, and at that moment he drew his last breath. The strange beast has won the battle or has it?

    Looking down, he could see the lifeless husk of his body. No longer held to his mortal form he soared to the heavens. For the first time in his life, he was truly free.

  13. The Hawk
    Jeremy James Smith

    I sit fifty feet up the old snag, surveying the meadow diligently.

    My children are gone now; when the fall air becomes crips I hunt only for myself. I’ll need fat stores for the winter trip south.

    I live by careless mistakes. Not mine, of course. Other’s mistakes. The mouse I don’t see is the mouse I don’t eat; I rely on rodent’s poor judgment to reveal their vulnerable moments.

    It can be the crack of a leaf or a displaced pebble, but most often I see them. A tiny shadow bridges the gap between two rocks, a whip-like tail moves a blade of grass – there are always signs.

    Like that one.

    My launch is quiet, not silent. Always keep the target in sight. There. That man-made leafy pouch with the bright colors – see it? Can you see the tail twitching as the rat takes the bait?

    I’ll take the whole thing.

    My talons crush through the bag in an instant, feeling for the fuzzy morsel inside. That’s it! My claws sink into flesh and I feel the thing writhe, futilely trying to escape.

    There’s a little rock I know, up on that bluff face. Just enough room for a quick meal. I go there and place my meal in a safe spot. I tear the bag in half, revealing a resigned rodent ready for release.

    I oblige.

    The meal is good. Warm. Bloody. Fresh.

    Life is good.

  14. The state trooper sternly demanded, “Kid, tell me again where you were?”

    “This morning in the fog, I hiked to the cove and untied my rowboat. I used the tip of an oar to push away from the dock. I rowed across the bay. I quietly rowed to cove point. When you’re fishing, there’s no sense in letting the fish know you’re coming for them.

    “I carefully lowered the anchor and waited a minute or two before casting my lure toward the dead tree a short distance offshore. That’s when I heard a swooshing noise coming through the trees. A giant white owl parted a line of pine trees and silently landed on that large limb on the dead tree.

    “It had pure white feathers without a single feather out of place. Its claws were the size of a man’s hands and easily wrapped around that dead limb. The next thing I remember it’s late afternoon and I’m sitting in my rowboat off the point on the other side of the lake, and I have no idea how I got there.”

    The trooper walked over to my parents, “There was no fog this morning, and he should have been sunburnt to a crisp. We searched by boat every cove of that lake, and I swear he was not on the lake with that rowboat. Just be grateful you got him back.”

    I still dream about that giant white owl and wonder why I never got a sunburn that day.

  15. His beak opened, gasping out breathes, stifling his shriek. The smoke enveloped the sky. It battered his wings with each take off like a dirty cousin of the wind. The smell masked the scent of his prey. His energy faltered. This was his last chance, nearly to the ground on a barren stick. Nearly to death.
    He swiveled his head, listening. Crashing bodies ran through the woods to the east, a herd of elk or a mother moose and her babies. Ash floated in the air, distracting him. The sun pressed against the gloom, a weak orange orb unable to penetrate the intruder.

    Then, a movement. The hawk zoned in and waited. There. Small paws rummaged forest floor decay. His perch swayed as he leaned forward. Balance, brace. Balance, brace. The rodent paused. The hawk mirrored it. The prey twitched its head, its nose. The hawk lifted both wings and levitated a second.

    He must not fail.

    Silent as the stars, the hawk surged toward the ground. Kill or meet death. Eat or become compost. Instincts followed the target’s attempt at escape. Weak talons reached and snapped closed. The hawk tumbled to the ground, weakness overtaking him. He rolled to a stop, righted himself, and shook leaves off his feathers. It had not gone as planned, and certainly not displayed his graceful aerodynamic or hunting skills.

    He reached down and ripped open his meal. At least this would feed his next survival flight.

  16. Remembering The Hawk

    “Somehow it just doesn’t seem right, Jason.”


    “Well, it’s a bit creepy. You know — disrespectful?”

    “How so, Elaine?”

    “I’d choose something heavenly. You know…angels or religious figures or sumpin’!”

    “Listen. Uncle Ed wasn’t religious…never went to church. Didn’t ‘pray’ or anything. Just lived his life as he saw fit.”

    “So. You think this is how he’d want to be remembered?”

    “Yup. I think so.

    “Do you think he’ll know — you know, in the hereafter?”

    “Well, he’d be the first to say he didn’t know ’bout hereafters. But he’s here now and I want people to know him for who he was. And how he lived.”

    “I ‘spose you’re right..it’s not a BAD way to be remembered. But don’t you think people will think of him as some kind of predator or such?”

    “No way ! Just read the inscription !”


    Edward “Bro” Edwards
    b. January 6, 1900 d. April 1, 1972

    He Always Was Kind

    “OK, then. We’re agreed. That’ll be his epitaph. Not bad, Jason, not bad at all. And the carving of the bird IS beautiful.”

    “Yup. Rest in peace, Bro.”

  17. “The eyes of the dove are lovely, my son.
    But the hawk rules the skies,
    So cover your dove-like eyes and grow claws.”

    From Arab Poetry

    When I saw this Arab poem, I knew I wanted it in my novel Holy Terror. My heroine Desiree of the family of Saad in Saudi Arabia needed to grow into another personality if she is to destroy Osama bin Laden. How I demonstrate how she changes in thought and eventually in deed is part of her story.

    Amazon placed my historical novel for sale along with my other three novels Gone, California Singles, and The Illegal. I even buy my books to place on Kindle.

  18. The Night Belongs To The Owls

    Jessica, home from college, was sleeping deeply. Her brothers Bobby, seven, and Tyler, nine, pounced on Jessica.

    “Wake up Jessie!” they screeched. “Mom said you would take us bowling, and then to count hawks.”

    “Nooo…”Jessica groaned.

    “You’re so funny Jessie,” they laughed.

    “Oh, lucky me …” she said, smiling.

    That afternoon, at Valley Park, the boys showed her the sign that pointed uphill, to ‘Hawks Look Out’.

    “Up there! ” Bobby shouted.

    After four hours of counting and sighting, a new ranger arrived.

    “Hey, Jessica…is that you?” Kyle asked.

    Jessica laughed, “I didn’t recognize you in uniform.”

    “Are you staying, for the night hike, to spot owls…?”

    “I…don’t know…”

    “Can we, can we…?” the boys pleaded.

    ” But dinner…”

    “After the hike, we’re having a campfire; hot dogs and s’mores…” Kyle smiled, daring her to say no.

    “Okay, I guess we can,” she smiled back, “I have to make a phone call.”

    ” Hey… maybe we can catch up over coffee…later.”

    “Sounds nice.”

    Jessica hurried to call her mother.

    ” Hi, Mom. Can you pick the boys up around eight?”


    “We’re going on a night hike, then campfire,and after – I have a date.”

    “Tonight? I thought you were going out with Susan.”

    ” No… with Kyle. He has been promoted to Park Ranger, and he asked me out.”

    “What about the hawks?”

    ” Kyle says- the night belongs to the owls…” she smiled to herself, thinking of the interesting evening ahead of her.

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