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.
14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Race”
For Editor’s Choice Award only
It was Buster’s first World of Outlaws race and his heart was pounding in anticipation. He came from two generations of racers. His dad, nicknamed “Doc” because there never seemed to be a car he couldn’t fix, had preferred stock cars, but Buster liked the midgets for the smell of the dirt tracks, the slide into the turns. “Get Sideways” was more than just a catchy phrase on a t-shirt or bumper sticker, it was often almost literal.
He ran hands over his racing leathers, took a deep breath. Nothing smelled like new leather. The scents from the pits drifted to him, gas and oil fumes combined with sweat and rubber. He found it intoxicating but he’d been around tracks all his life. While others used white noise or calming surf sounds to fall asleep, he’d recorded a live Indy race, complete with “Gentlemen, start your engines,” and the sound of revving, all that horsepower charging around the track.
He strolled out of his tent, waved to his pit crew, a thumbs up to his fans. It might have been his first Outlaws race but not his first time on a track. Buster already had a healthy fan following. Tall, sandy haired, tan and fit, but he wanted to prove his mettle on this circuit, not just be known for his good looks. He fingered the rabbit’s foot in his chest pocket, took another deep breath.
Now if he could just find his lucky helmet, he’d be good to go.
For Editor’s Choice Award only
Despite his being 26 and a veteran of the track, Sean O’Brian, Jr.—everyone called him “Junior”—shouldn’t have been driving yesterday. That’s his helmet on the ground at the starting line, a tribute to him and something the judges will cite in their opening remarks before the cars take the track for today’s first race. But what’s tragic is, it all was so avoidable: yesterday’s race, the terrible accident, the fact Junior even was driving.
Bad enough the track was wet from a downpour earlier in the morning. That alone should have been enough for the officials to delay the race by a day.
And then, there was Junior’s dad, Sean, Sr., the man who should have been driving for Team O’Brian. At 55, he had more 35 years of racing experience and was more than capable of handling their car on a wet track. Unfortunately, he was sidelined with a dislocated shoulder.
So, despite having injured his wrist in the paddock the day before the race—something over which the medical team fretted but for which they finally gave him clearance—Junior took the green and yellow flag following the restart of the ninth lap. Battling for the lead, his rear end caught the front of another driver’s car, sending Junior’s car off the wall and back onto the track into the path of the oncoming pack.
He died instantly, leaving behind a wife and three-year-old daughter.
Cars roared by Frank Lisowski as he worked through his pre-race checklist. An amateur racing legend in his home town, Frank had moved cross-country for a promotion. He was nobody to this crowd, but having watched his competition, he knew they would remember him after today.
A cheer went up for the winner of the current race. Focused on his checklist, Frank was startled when someone spoke.
“New contestant? I’m Roy Williams.” The man tapped his chest. “Know the name?”
“Afraid not. I’m not from around here. Frank Lisowski.”
They shook hands, and Roy smiled congenially. “You’ll know me soon enough. I’m the local favorite. Mind some friendly advice? Watch that far bend.” He pointed across the field. “That bank is way too steep. And see that cone over there?”
Beside the track a few yards off sat an orange cone accompanied by a racing helmet.
“That’s where my predecessor Manny Parker bit the dust. He was good, but this track isn’t kind to risk-takers. Whatever you do, don’t run over that helmet. The fans will go ballistic.”
“Thanks,” Frank said. He pondered the helmet for a moment, then returned to his checklist. A born risk-taker, the talk left him a bit rattled. He tried to shake it off, but the image of the helmet haunted him. He looked again.
The cone sat alone.
Beyond it, Roy walked on, settling the helmet on his head and waving to the crowd.
Frank grinned. “You’re toast,” he vowed.
Josh had loved fast cars since he was a kid playing with toy race tracks. Still, after years of trying, he hadn’t made it to the big time. His ex had tolerated his obsession as long as she could. But all their money went into his racing equipment. So she finally took their daughter, Jenny, and moved out.
Today, though, things will be different. He has a paying job with an advertising company, racing an obstacle course. Since it is his weekend with little Jenny, he plans to let her ride a practice run with him. After they are both strapped and helmeted, he takes off. Jenny laughs and screams. She is having the time of her life.
But as he skids around an orange cone, he hits an oil slick. The car careens out of control. Before he can stop, they flip and roll. Windows smash; the roof caves. Somehow Jenny’s safety belt loosens and she is flung out the window.
Later at the hospital, his ex has already pounded her fists into his chest until she’s exhausted. Holding his helmet in one arm, he stares at his comatose daughter. Then he pushes back her bangs, kisses her forehead, and drops the helmet into the trash can.
He whispers, “I’m done with it, Sweetheart.”
He thinks he sees her eyelids flutter as he sits in the chair to continue his vigil.
The father was very proud of his two sons, but sometimes he wondered about them. When it came to their engineering studies they were just short of brilliant, but when it came to everyday things they could be as dumb as doornails, as they were about to demonstrate.
This weekend the boys were home on a break from college. They had accompanied their father to the track where he worked as a security guard. The father sent the boys out to the track, where a helmet and a cone sat.
“An orange cone, and a blue helmet…. What do they mean? They’ve got to symbolize something.”
“The cone could signify caution, and the helmet recklessness. A sort of clash between the two extremes.”
“Maybe it’s the colors, orange and blue. The colors of a college football team. Maybe it’s a prediction of the winner of an upcoming game?”
“Damn, it beats me. Why did the old man send us out here anyway? He never does anything without a reason. What were we supposed to learn?”
“Maybe that trying to figure out the motives of others is futile.”
“In this case it sure is. Let’s just give up and go ask him.”
And they did.
The old man’s answer was simple. He sent them out because the helmet and the cone were obstructing the track. He had hoped the boys would think to remove them.
College roommates in the 1960’s, they stayed close for a decade bound by a single obsession: Johnny Dalton. They both loved Johnny but he was indifferent to them. His thing was motor racing.
Daphne had the physical advantages of curried beauty and her uptown Manhattan ways. Darlene was a bit plain, but more than compensated with her southern charm and determination. Besides, they were competing on her home turf, the Georgia/Carolina racing circuit that Johnny’s crew seemed to dominate.
They made all the race meetings Johnny entered in the Grand National dirt track circuit. They came to know and enjoy stock car racing and its culture. They viewed it as the glue that held their friendship together. They never shared their desire for Johnny with each other and always showered him with support and encouragement before and after each race.
There were always parties, new friends, and champagne, and always Johnny. But Johnny remained indifferent. He was a racer, first last and always. His obsession kept him socially isolated. But the women persisted each in their own way.
On a wet Saturday Night, Johnny’s Impala Super Sport couldn’t keep a curve on the slick, tight oval at Savannah Speedway. The Chevy flipped into the infield and rolled, ejecting Johnny and landing on him. At his funeral, the two ex-roommates would see him and each other for the last time. As they looked in each other’s eyes and said goodbye, they knew their own race for Johnny was over.
For Editor’s Choice Award only
Title: Highway Horror
Mario had gotten careless and skidded his motorcycle on the wet pavement causing a pile-up on the highway. After the motorcycle accident, Mario laid there on his side unable to move away from the orange cones. At first, he was grateful he wore his helmet, but now he was paralyzed from the neck down watching the accident scene sideways.
So he laid there on his side watching the first responders to the accident scene. It seemed odd to watch them provide triage to the others in his biker gang while ignoring him. One of them unfolded a plastic sheet and covered a headless corpse. Mario wondered who it was? The jacket and tight-fitting leather pants looked familiar, however, he was not thinking right in the head after the hit he took against the guardrail.
He tried to speak, but no sound came out of his mouth. He could not figure out why no one was trying to help him, he was right out in plain sight. It was as if everyone walking by him intentionally did not want to help him. “Come on guys I’m laying here right in front of you, how can you miss me?”
A paramedic was carrying a what looked like a carryon bag and placed it in front of Mario’s face. Mario tried to speak but couldn’t move a muscle. Mario was horrified as he watched the paramedic’s hands reach around his helmeted head and gently slide it into the bag.
“I asked you not to invite him,” Kathy said to her mother.
“Everyone needs a period of detante during the holidays,” she explained.
Kathy could feel the claws of her brothers’ misdeeds starting to latch on, ” Detante for him means we’re all -sitting ducks!”
Over the years, her brother, Gregg, conned, or stole from every member of their family. He blamed his addiction. Now, four months out of rehab- Kathy was worried.
Gregg arrived early to the party. “More time to con the relatives,” Kathy thought.
Kathy tried to watch him, but quickly, he had her great Aunt cornered.
” Kathy dear, Greggory was just telling me he’s entered the upcoming race.”
Kathy’s eyes narrowed. Their town had an excellent amateur car race track.
” In rehab, they encourage us to shoot for our goals…” Gregg said.
” It’s in six weeks, and you don’t know the first thing about racing…” Kathy retorted.
“Mom, how did Gregg get the money to race?”
“I gave him the money…”
Kathy was furious.
Kathy and her husband, Tom , show up at the towns’ race track on race day. They find space 126 – Gregg’s spot. The only things they see there, are an orange cone and a racing helmet.
“Where’s Gregg? The race is starting,” Tom said.
Kathy could feel her face getting hot. “I was worried, for my mother, that Gregg was going to get killed racing…but now, the way I feel, if he’s not – in – this race, I AM going to kill him!”
For Editor’s Choice Award only
A motorcycle racer got careless and skidded on the wet pavement causing the others to pileup on the race track. After the motorcycle accident Mario laid there on his side unable to move. At first he was grateful he wore his helmut, but now he was paralysed from the neck down watching the accident scene sideways at a weird angle.
So he laid there on his side watching the first responders to the accident scene. It seemed odd to watch them provide triage to the other racers while ignoring him. One of the paramedics unfolded a large black plastic sheet and covered a headless corpse. Mario wondered who it was? The jacket and tight-fitting leather pants looked familiar, however, he was not thinking right in the head after the hit he took against the guard rail by the orange cones
He could not figure out why no one was trying to help him, he was right out in plain sight. It was as if everyone walking by him intentionally avoided him. “Come on guys I’m laying here right in front of you, how can you miss me? I’m right here by the orange cones come and get me!”
Two paramedics placed the headless corpse in a bodybag on a stretcher in front of Mario’s face. Mario tried to speak out for help, but couldn’t move his mouth. He was horrified as he watched the paramedic’s hands reach down for his head and gently slide it into the bodybag.
The race ends. Tootsie finishes third. Completely enraged, she whips off her hat and tosses it into the air. “So long,” she calls to the sailing cap. “Time to head to the Grand Prix.”
x x x
A red hat sails through the air, bounces on the tire-stained asphalt and rolls to the orange cone at the edge of the course.
“Hey, big fella,” the Hat calls to the Cone. “Thanks for stopping me.”
“Good grief,”Cone begins. “Saw what happened in that race. I’m sorry you didn’t make it. Pretty little thing like you,” he continues “should be lounging on the back seat of a Lexus,” and snuggles closer.
Hat giggles and leans against Cone. “What’s a handsome devil like you doing on the sidelines of this course. You should be out there at the finish line,”she purrs, and wraps her brim around swooning Cone. “I’ve waited all my life for a dream boat like you,”
“And me for you,” he whispers. “You know, people think only people can fall in love. Well, everything on Earth has feelings – animals, plants, inanimate thingamajigs like us, too, but we can only show it to ourselves.”
In blissful togetherness, Hat sighs, “Now that we’ve finally found each other at last, let’s stay together forever and never ever part.”
x x x
Tootsie pulls up in her collector’s ‘54 VW, carelessly snatches her hat from the cone, and speeds off to the airport for her flight to Monaco’s upcoming race.
I don’t like fast cars, but he’s my brother-in-law. I didn’t want to drive his race car. Me, I do just fine in my little Ford Focus. It gets me from A to B. That’s all I want. But no, Jimmy Boy wants me to drive his race car. On the track. Says he’s doing me a favor, doing a favor for my sister. I don’t need no favors. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. Okay, I said I’d drive his stupid car. It’s not like I can’t drive. I got in and already I’m nervous. I pushed down on the gas pedal and the engine went bananas. I was done. But no, he said to put it in first and drive down the track. By this time, I’m getting hot. Sweat’s pouring out of me. I’m gonna get this over with fast. I get it into gear, somehow, I don’t know how. I pushed on the gas and Jesus we were gone. I mean in a flash. I skidded all over trying to slow down. How I did it I don’t know, but I made a huge sliding turn and the engine died. I was out of the car right now. Threw my helmet down and walked away. He was yelling about his car, the wheels, the tires. Hey, I think he should be grateful I didn’t total the car. I said I don’t like fast cars. So sue me.
Life is like a race. The months go so quickly, then the decades race by. I have been writing the memoir of my mother and her family since 1990. Gathering information about her and her family has been a blessing and sometimes a chore.
One story I want to share: Daughter Rachel and I visited Aunt Hettie in August, 1997 shortly before she turned 90 in September. When Hettie was 89, my then 32-year-old daughter, Rachel, stayed up half the night reading those love letters sent to Aunt Hettie from Uncle Monroe. Rachel was fascinated by them. No one else had ever cared to read them Aunt Hettie told me, but Rachel hopes Aunt Hettie’s two daughters will appreciate those letters. Hettie thinks her granddaughter Robin will take care of them.
Memories are like hearing the sharp trickling of water as it slowly rolls across the slick stones clinging to the soft mud holding the bottom of the river together. Here today but rushing downstream to be replaced by more stories that may or may not survive.
Andy Hartman adjusted himself uncomfortably in his hospital bed. It was his fourth week since the racing accident. It would be a long rehabilitation.
Rev. Grady, the chaplain, had stopped by to cheer him up. “It could be that I did survive for a reason,” he admit.
Andy had been thrown from the splintered car, along with his helmet, each in a different direction. He had eight broken bones and a fractured skull. Miraculously, there was no damage to his internal organs, except for his brain.
His center of balance and coordination was impaired. He would never race again, but he might be able to walk.
He still ruminated about the race, how Jackie Blackfield was getting ahead of him, and he tried to squeeze between Jackie and the grassy infield, only to scrape the grass on the turn, and then he felt his car flip out of control.
His mother walked in. “Andy, I know I said that if you chose racing as a profession, I would never support you,” she said softly, “But now that’s changed. What’s done is done. Pick another career, and I’ll help you get started.”
“Oh, Mom,” he said, “Thank you! I poured all I had into racing, and it almost killed me. But what about selling racing memorabilia? Would that be okay with you?”
“Sure, Andy,” said his mother, “I don’t think you’ll break any more bones, selling magazines and model cars.”
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