Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Oak Creek

sedona flash fiction writing prompt copyright KSBrooks January 2017
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 2018.

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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Oak Creek”

  1. I can close my eyes and still recapture those days; the sights, the smells, the excitement. Jan was my best friend in middle school and her pick for their mini-vacation. Jan’s brother chose a friend and we piled into the converted school bus. No Partridge Family graphics but they’d done a credible job inside. Two sets of built-in bunk beds, patchwork shag carpeting, peace symbols dotted the walls. We sang as we drove to the A-frame cabin just behind Oak Creek.

    Playing in the creek that day, we slipped on green covered stones worn smooth by the ageless rush of crisp, clear water. My white shorts would always carry those stains. That night we lost the toss; boys getting the loft but that only put us closer to the fireplace that graced the main room.

    The next day we hiked to the top of Massanutten. It was the first time I’d ever had a slice of cheese on a tuna sandwich and between those and the canteens of brisk mountain run-off, our lunch tasted like glory. That evening, we sky-gazed, the beauty of the Milky Way stretched before us with no city lights to dim the view.

    I thanked Jan and her family for those few days to escape a house that held an ugly secret that I’d keep until he was dead and buried. Perhaps they never knew how grateful I was for that trip and these memories.

    If one of them is reading this, maybe they do now.

  2. Death at Oak Creek

    Jason was tired. So tired. Tired of the destruction, the suffering and pain that this war had wrought.
    It had separated son from father, mother from son, brother from brother. Corporal Jason was no different…though proud of the blue coat he wore (and the cause it represented), he was sick at heart —to his very soul.

    With luck, he thought, I’ll get wounded and sent home.

    Yet he was a soldier. A skilled marksman, he was assigned to the eastern bank of Oak Creek…a sniper…charged with eliminating any and all gray coats that had the misfortune to wander into his sights. He took his position, camouflaged by some underbrush that grew thick in these parts.

    He wasn’t happy. This countryside had been his home before the cursed war.

    Jason lie in wait for his next victim. A religious boy, he prayed for his quarry — knowing that he, alone, would bear responsibility for what would happen.

    Then he saw him…a lone rebel edging his way along the river bank.

    He had his orders: “You must kill the enemy,” Colonel Aston had said,” each and every one. This is war ! It’s your duty !”

    Two years of combat hadn’t really hardened his heart. But he had seen so many of his comrades bleed and die. Jason took aim, pulled the trigger. He watched his enemy fall.

    Curious now, he waded across the flowing water to view his prey.

    “Bobby, my brother !! Oh my god.”

  3. Gray Wolf stood on the bank overlooking the Oak Creek rapids as the water rushed toward its convergence with the Verde River to the south. It had taken me several years to find him for a magazine article I was writing and more than a year before he agreed to meet with me.

    He was Cherokee by birth. His ancestors had been rounded up and forced to march to Oklahoma in 1839. From there, some eventually moved north, Gray Wolf’s among them. Now, we stood together in silence, watching the rapids and listening the babbling of the fast-flowing water.

    He saw me staring at the feather he was holding in his left hand.

    “I see you are curious about this feather,” he said, breaking the silence. “It was my great grandfather’s, Thunder Cloud’s. He died on the Trail Where They Cried and was buried in a grave that is unmarked to this day.”

    “Why do you carry it?” I inquired.

    “So that I will forever have a reminder of the brutality delivered unto my People.”

    “But isn’t the written record sufficient to capture the truth?” I replied, making some notes.

    “History can be rewritten,” he asserted. “My people only trust memory to keep the sacred flame of truth alive. This feather is to remind me of my People’s true history.”

  4. These (Prison) Walls

    These walls.

    I touch them. Feel them. Hold them.

    I speak, but they do not hear. I cry, but they do not care.

    They remain cold, unfeeling, unmoving.

    These walls. These walls of mine.

    Yet, I am superman. And I can transcend space and time.

    I can see with my mind’s eye beyond these walls; these walls that have no light.

    I can see a creek run through my mind like a moving stream of memories. Oak Creek. In days past, I played as a child along the banks of that stream of water and memories. I played my childhood games. When I was young.

    And later, I sat with my love beside that creek. We talked and laughed and saw the water dance in the sun. It was a time for young men. And young women.

    But these walls do not care I was young once. I speak to them every day. But they do not listen.

    So now my memories ride through my mind like a slipstream. Riding. Riding. Like a wild horse, free and alive. Free to wander through the wide open valleys and rugged terrain of the past.

    The past. . . .

    That now resides behind these walls. These walls of mine.

  5. “Magnificent!” said Potential Buyer. “How can they call this a mere creek? Why, it’s a raging rushing roaring river.”

    “It’s a creek. Pretty enough, but still a creek,” replied Mr. Realtor.

    “And how much did you say the lots are going for?”

    “The 3-acre ones for $10,000.00.”

    “That’s all? For a slice of paradise?”

    “Maybe I got the decimal point in the wrong place..” said Mr. Realtor. He recognized a sucker when he saw one. He flipped through papers. “By golly, you’re right. My mistake. The seller is asking $100,000.00.”

    “You’ve got yourself a deal,” said Potential Buyer.

    Handshakes were exchanged, papers signed, and the deal was done. Everyone was happy, the new property-owner most of all.

    “Don’t you feel guilty, charging so much for that piece of land?” Mr. Realtor’s partner asked.

    “What do you mean?”

    “You charged him ten times what the seller was asking! And the lot floods every year after the spring rains. The dirt road to his place is the only way in or out, and it’s covered with at least four feet of snow for a good part of the year. Did you tell him any of that?”

    “Well….no, I didn’t. But he didn’t ask.”

    “Here’s what we’re going to do to make it good. We’re going to donate one hundred dollars to the Realtors’ Retirement Fund.”

    “Oh all right..” said Mr. Realtor reluctantly.

    After all, everything has its price.

  6. You can’t see them in the sunlight, but you can feel them. Wading in the creek on a hot day, something brushes against your ankle.

    Creekweed, you tell yourself, and step away.

    But your subconscious knows you’re lying to yourself, and your dreams that night are troubled.

    At night amongst the shifting shadows and reflections of stars, they’re hard to make out. A slip of white under the water instead of on the surface. Not the moon cheerfully rippling off the water, but them.

    Sunken, trailing, keening below the surface at a pitch no human can hear.

    But the dogs shie away.

    You can’t lead a horse to water, you say? That horse is wiser than you, my friend.

    It know what drifts in the shallows.

    Where the ripple comes from that no fish caused. A ripple that is a knock on the door between two worlds.

    Anybody home?

  7. “Lemme tellya. They used to call the little stream Oak Creek, but that was over a hunnert yars ago. Grampa laid the first boulders down to steal a dribble of the Mississippi into his farmland. Not a body suspected what he done. After Grampa passed on, Pa made a little change of his own and by addin’ nuther coupla pebbles, our crops grew like weeds out there in the wilds.

    “Everbody wanted to know what we did with our marrywanna harvest. Well, Pa set up a little paddle-wheel to grind down the dried leaves and bundled’em up into that new fangled plastic stuff. Then, I’d cart’em to town in the middle of the night. Hear all tell, folks who bought the stuff used‘em in bakin’ cookies, makin’ tea, and rollin’em into huffin’ and puffin’ cigyrettes. We was gettin’ richer by the leaf.

    “Then, one night, a gang of Federalizin’ men snuck up, grabbed Pa and toted him to the caboose. Poor Pa! They told him he was breakin’ the law by sellin’ his illegal marrywanna weeds all over the place.
    “Course, Pa didn’t know the folks we sold’em to used it for those law-breakin’ shenanigans. He just knew whoever used it was always happy, and that made him feel happy, too.

    “Steamin’ mad, Pa got home and dumped everythin’ into the creek they nickynamed Croak Creek.

    “I called our buyers in the big city and told’em we was forced to shut down and get out of business.
    Woe is us!”


    Sid Arthur sat resting and quietly meditating in the shade of a large tree beside the fast flowing floodwaters of a river.

    A rich man with his entourage approached the river. Mistaking Sid for a beggar, the rich man proclaimed to his entourage, “Look beneath that tree, over there is a wasted life. It is an excellent example of failure, it wastes its time sitting cross-legged begging for alms! It is so lazy it will not even cross this river to get a job in town.”

    The youngest son, walked over to Sid and asked, “Tell me, sir, is it true what my father says about you?”

    Sid gracefully motioned for the youngest son to join him beneath the tree. Curious, the young man sat down. His father exclaimed, “Why do I waste my valuable time on this useless son of mine? He has turned his back on me, and become nothing!”

    The rich man led the rest of his family and entourage toward the river. Where they all marched into the floodwaters and disappeared beneath its surface never to be seen again.

    Soon others sat beneath the tree to meditate along with Sid. A day or two passed when Sid noticed that the floodwaters finally receded and the bridge across the river was now visible. Getting up, Sid motioned for all of them to follow him. Everyone who had joined him beneath the tree got up and safely walked across the bridge over the river and into town.

  9. As rivers change their course with the seasons of life, so in 1922 another life change began. The oldest son, Erskin (born in 1898), had followed the wheat harvest that summer going from one state to another, winding up in California. Erskin and Elmer’s brother, Ceil Wilmeth, spent some time working the fruit while in California. Erskin arrived home in Oklahoma just before school would start. Their Papa bought a used Ford, with no top, and six of the young people piled in the car — Erskin 23, Verlie 19, Powers 17, Hettie 15, Obed 12, and a neighbor girl, Fanny Lou Evans about 17. (Erskin later married Ruby Evans who was Fan’s older sister.) The six of them headed west.

    Some of the Evans family had already migrated to California from Oklahoma. They were waiting for the family in Alhambra.

    They had some car trouble, but a car could be repaired back then with a screw driver and a pair of pliers. Erskin was prepared. They crossed Death Valley when nothing was there but sun, sand, sage brush, lizards, snakes and cacti. Sleeping on the ground at night, they camped along the way joining others going to California who came with visions of gold, although that reality was long past. In 1922, Los Angeles was a large city with a population of 88,000. There was even electricity, which the Garrisons found exciting.

  10. “Shame you have to spend the holidays with us, Mister Johnson”, said the nurse with practiced intonations of sympathy.

    “Not an issue for me,” he stoically replied. “Not much family left. ‘Sides, I love this week of the calendar. Short days, long nights mean springtime is on its way!”

    “Such an optimist.”

    “Yeah, all I can think about this time of year is fishing the Oak Creek. Doing it all my life. My Pops taught me how to fish. With flies. I tie my own, yuh know?”

    “Really? Sounds like an interesting hobby.”

    “Tis. Matching patterns of the Oak Creek’s insects keeps me quite busy. But it’s the being there, in the river, which keeps me hopeful. I imagine slipping into my Sims and wading up-stream of an early spring morning. I sneak up on the native Browns and Brookies, and I’m the envy of otters and a nasty Blue Heron. She’s always there, every spring. Seems to look over my shoulder for opportunity when I hook a trout. But she knows I’m the top predator of Oak Creek. It’s a part of me now. The sound of the creek rushing over sandstone, the smell of new growth, and the comforting canopy of oak and beech create a perfect sanctuary in these not-so-golden years.”

    “Well, I really hope you feel up to it this spring.”

    “Oh, I will. Cancer may be stage four, but I know I got at least one more season left in me.

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