Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Alley

old san juan flash fiction writing prompt copyright KS Brooks
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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15 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Alley”

  1. Two men dressed in black suits grabbed Mr. Smith in the alley and ushered him into the back seat of a waiting car.

    “What are you doing?” exclaimed Mr. Smith.

    “You’re under arrest,” said one of his captors.

    “You must have the wrong man.”

    “Is your name Smith?”


    “Then we have the right man.”

    “But it’s a common name,” insisted Mr. Smith. “How do you know you have the right person?”

    “Because we have your photograph.” One of his captors showed Mr. Smith a picture. “Do you admit it’s you in the picture?”

    “Yes,” he said. “But it’s just a photo. How can you arrest me based on a picture?”

    “Because you’re Mr. Smith,” said one of the men. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it.


    “It’s simply a matter of deduction,” said the man, and exhaled some smoke. “You admit you’re Smith. And you admit you’re in the photograph. It seems like an open and shut case.”

    “But what have I done?”

    “You did something. Otherwise, why would we arrest you?”

    “I don’t have a clue,” said Mr. Smith.

    “So, you’re going to be difficult.”

    “But I’m not guilty of anything.”

    “Everyone has something to confess.”

    “Is there anything I can say,” pleaded Mr. Smith, “that will change your minds?”

    “Not a thing,” said one of the men. “We have all the evidence we need.”

  2. For Editor’s Choice Award only

    “Are your sure that is where she went after leaving your taxi?”
    Si, señior. Very sure. I was driving up Calle De La Fortaleza when she suddenly yelled at me to stop. ‘¡Detén el coche!’ she yelled. I don’t know what made her change her mind, señior, because when I picked her up at the church a few minutes earlier, she told me to drive to her cruise ship muy rápidamente. She kept mumbling about the ship leaving without her.
    “Anyway, I slammed on the brakes and swerved to the curb. She threw five dollars at me, opened the door, and jumped out. It is not good for a gringo lady to walk by herself on the streets when it is getting dark, so I followed her—at a distance, of course—and saw her run up Calle De La Cruz to this alley. Then, she ran to the green building at the back.”
    “Are you positive she went to the green building?”
    “Si, señior. I saw her pound on the door several times. Finally, someone opened it. It was a man, I’m sure of that. He looked around like he wanted to make sure she wasn’t being followed. Then, he pulled her inside and slammed the door.
    “Why are you asking all these questions, señior?”
    “Because we found her body floating in Bahia de San Juan this morning, off Puerta de Tierra, next to the man listed as the owner of that green building.”

  3. Eligible for Editor’s Choice Award Only

    It had been many years since Marco had stood in this alley. He’d traveled far, added time and distance but just one moment back and old memories bloomed bright and hideous. His father long dead, another derelict on the wrong end of a stiletto, none mourned him, least of all Marco. He touched the last scar his papa had left. One of many, even if most didn’t show.

    With a deep breath he watched the child scurry down the street. Was it faith or fear that propelled him? Would he be greeted with hugs and smiles or a backhand as Marco often had been. Was it a loving home, the scents of dinner making mouths water or going to bed hungry, only his stomach’s rumble cutting through the harsh street sounds?

    He’d left at sixteen, to anywhere, to anything other than where he was, what he was. He’d found an aptitude, perhaps the only thing of value he’d inherited from his blood. Making a name for himself, Marco had about everything he’d always dreamed of having, realizing it was almost nothing he truly needed.

    His last job had confirmed that, so in a misguided attempt to exorcise a few demons, he’d headed back to where it’d started, but seeing the lone child only added a new demon. Would he walk the same dark path Marco had?

    With a shrug, he answered his cell, impatient for distraction with a new assignment. Hoping he’d never see that small boy again.

  4. A Walk in the Cuernavaca Dawn

    “I’m going for a walk,” she said.

    “It’s way early. The sun isn’t even up.”

    “I’m restless. Had a good sleep, though.”

    “I love hotel beds.”

    “Right…I know you’re not serious. Anyways, I want to get out and explore.”

    “I thought we did that last night.”

    “I want to explore all the time. It’s a beautiful city. And I haven’t been here in over twenty years. So many memories.”

    “It was a lot safer back then, I imagine. Isn’t that what you told me?”

    “The whole world was safer. Anyways. Its just a walk.”

    “Fine. Go for your constitutional. Let’s meet up in an hour for breakfast.”

    “You and your all-inclusive deals.”

    “It’s not all-inclusive. But they do go to the trouble of offering breakfast, Sweets. It’s a paradise here. And safe. And quiet. Where are you planning to walk? “

    “Nowhere special. Wherever the mood strikes.”

    “And just for an hour?”

    “An hour. Tops. Remember our stroll last night, that charming alley…I said it reminded me of San Juan?”

    “Maybe. It was an alley. Spanish alleys all look pretty much the same to me.”

    “You never listen.”

    “Not true. Mostly true, but not totally true. I selectively listen. There’s only so much a poor brain like mine can hold.”

    “Anyways, I want to see that little alley, just feel its tranquility.”

    “And I’ll grab an extra hour of shuteye. Feel the tranquility of snoozing. Breakfast! One hour!”


    “And stop calling me Roger.”

  5. A nice enough little street, no more than an alley really. The neighbors were smart enough to leave you alone. A tough but clean neighborhood. I looked at the photo of the girl. Pity.

    I leaned against the wall pretending to have a conversation on my cell. Two men came out of the red apartment and a young girl waived at them as they left. It was her. The men paid no attention to me as they passed.

    I walked up to the apartment and knocked. The door opened. It was an old woman in a tattered frock. No alarm just curiosity in her eyes. I buried the knife in her neck and severed her larynx. My other hand gently held her shoulder to keep her from falling. Her lips moved silently. I set her down against the wall of the hallway and stepped around the pool of blood. I shut the door behind me.

    “Grandma, who was that?”

    I walked down the hallway and she came out of the doorway on the right. She was alarmed. Rightfully so. My boss did not like being blackmailed.


    Wordlessly she looked at the bloody knife.

    “No!!!” but the word never made it past her lips.

    I dropped the knife at her feet. Just a knife you could buy anywhere, no prints. Out the backdoor a cat watched me walk away. Not a trace of me to be found. My boss likes things clean. That is why he calls me the Ghost.

  6. Lost and Found

    The placard read: 743 Calle Verde. Not much more than an apartment address along an alleyway really.

    Jason looked at his notebook. Must be the place, he thought.

    Turning to the middle-aged man standing aside the entrance, he asked: “Excuse me, but is this where Pedro Menendez lives?”

    “Are you lost, Senor? Pedro doesn’t live here anymore.”

    “Oh, I see.”

    “Come inside, Senor. You must be a long way from home. We’ll have a cup of cafe Americano and I’ll see if I can help you.”

    Once inside and while they waited for their coffee to cool, the man asked: “How did you come to know Sr. Menendez?”

    “Well, it was a very long time ago. Pedro and I met in Saigon during the war. As intelligence officers for the CIA we worked closely together for several years. Finally, the war ended. We were lucky…we had survived. We stayed in touch for a few years after that…but gradually went our separate ways, just exchanging Christmas cards. That was about it. Now that I’m retired, I have the time to travel down here and hoped to see my old friend once again.”

    “Come with me, Senor. I’ll take you to him.”

    It was only a short car ride.

    They stood in front of a headstone adorned with a small array of plastic flowers.

    “Tell me, sir, how did YOU come to know Pedro?”

    “Senor…Pedro Menendez was my father.”

  7. There is a certain alley in Washington, D.C., the municipal workers nicknamed “Presidents Row.” When a new guy joined their ranks they used this area as a hazing ritual. With the incredible architecture, every building seems historic. The buildings in this particular block kind of resemble the federalist period. So the first part of their elaborate joke would be to send the rookie to the “White House” to collect the trash.

    Bert thought it a bit odd there was no barricade around the back of the presidential mansion, but at 18, he knew he had a lot to learn. He didn’t remember there being a red building next to the White House.

    “Oh, that’s where the Secret Service live,” Mike explained.

    Bert nodded, eyebrows furrowed. “What’s that pink building next to the Secret Service building?”

    “It’s where the wives of the Secret Service live.”

    “It’s such a big building compared to the red one.”

    Mike thought quickly. “Well, part of that is because there are children there as well—several families. And only the on-duty guys live in the red house, which is why that’s so small.”

    Bert nodded again. “What about that yellow one next to that?”

    Bob stepped up to help Mike in this charade. This new guy is proving to be smarter than usual. “Uh, the yellow one is, uh, where the press hang out.”

    Bert nodded. “OK.”

    Mike demanded, “So, ya got any more questions?”

    “Just one. Where are the trash cans??”

  8. Mia sat on the curb in the alley waiting for her papa. Worry lines creased her forehead; running late for their meeting was unusual.

    Shortly after turning fourteen, her father had simply disappeared. He’d left for work, but never returned home. Her mother refused to talk about it. Weeks later, Mia received instructions to meet him in a nearby alley, the first of their monthly meetings. He’d show up to give her money to pay for rent and food. Ultimately, her mama never wanted to know the source.

    A man wearing dark clothes approached her. “Mia?”

    She nodded warily, taking note of his weathered skin and the jagged silvery scar on top of his left hand. He carried the distinct stench of cigarette smoke.

    “Your papa asked me to give you this.”

    Inside the black leather satchel were several stacks of cash, a camera, and three lenses.

    “Where is he?”

    “He won’t be coming anymore. There’s enough money for a few months.”

    “What’ll we do?”

    “He said you should take photos or something like that. You’re talented, artistic like.”

    “Is he okay? Can I go see him?”

    The man shook his head and walked away. Tears blurred her vision.


    Twenty Years Later

    Mia looked up when she heard the interviewer clear her throat, reclaiming her attention.

    “I’ll repeat the question. You’re a world-renowned photojournalist, our readers are interested in hearing more about you. How did you get your start?”

    “When I was sixteen, my papa gave me a camera…”

  9. Trying to elude my pursuers, I blindly followed my GPS. I seem to have lost them for the moment. But now I find myself trudging down an alley that appears to dead end.

    I don’t dare run, for that would call too much attention to myself. Nor can I ask directions of passersby. I must avoid suspicion at all costs.

    I am tempted to retrace my steps and leave this alley by the way I came in. But I fear capture too much to risk going back. I have no idea what they will do to me. I know only that I must escape by any means.

    So I continue on the path I’ve chosen. I try to appear nonchalant. But I check my GPS continually. Everyone else stares at their devices, so I don’t seem conspicuous. I am directed toward the alley’s opposite end.

    My hands are trembling and my legs feel numb by the time I reach the end of the alley. In front of me stand older dwellings. I’m amazed to discover that another alley branches to my left. And my GPS points me toward it. I want to scream for joy. But I force myself to remain calm.

    As I hurry along this alleyway, I think I can hear my pursuers. Then ahead, I see a bright light. I notice the hatch sliding open as I race toward my ship. Never again will I distrust my Galactic Positioning System.

  10. Markus showed up in the alley holding a bouquet of roses. He nervously thumbed through his instant messages to verify this was the right time and place for their date. It had taken them forever to decide where and when to meet. Finally, they agreed on where they had first bumped into each other.

    He watched the seconds slowly disappear towards their meeting time. Muttering to himself, “Come on, Mary, for once in your life be on time.”

    The right time for their date passed away as time ceaselessly moved on. His stomach turned sour as he worried that something might have happened to Mary. Seconds turned into minutes, exasperated he leaned against a wall and repeatedly texted her, but there were no answers to his instant messages.

    Frustrated Markus realized she stood him up again. Sighing, he slipped his smartphone into his pocket. Markus not wanting to leave gave her one last chance. Finally, in despair, Markus gave up and tossed her roses into the alley.

    Mary tumbled out of her time vortex into the alley, as she got up, she spotted the wilted red roses. Quickly she reset her time back one day and jumped into her time vortex.

    She came crashing out of her time vortex bowling over Markus, her time traveling boyfriend, as he entered the alley. They got up together, Markus handed Mary the bouquet of red roses. Mary exclaimed, “For me! Thank you, Markus! See I told you I’d be on time!”

  11. Sebastian followed the speeding convertible from Santiago’s cathedral to the back door of an apartment in a secluded alley. The icy winds from the snow-capped Andes swept down the Chilean coast filling the alley with a chill of danger. He watched the stranger reach down, take a key from a potted rubber tree and enter the residence. Soon, the seductive rhythm of the Samba echoed from the rooms.

    Should I call the policia? Sebastian thought. He recalled watching that man sneak up to the altar and slip a priceless golden chalice into a burlap sack. It was early evening. No one was in that part of the cathedral. All were engaged in a private ceremony at the opposite end.

    He peeked through the cracked window next to the door. The suspect was adjusting a cassock around his clerical collar and swaying, with the chalice, to the music that filled the room. He eagerly slipped the treasure into the same sack he used for its removal, picked up his car keys, and sambaed to the door.

    Sebastian braced himself. “Bring that chalice back to its altar, thief. I saw you steal it,” he shouted.

    Thinking quickly, the startled man replied, “Thief? Bless you, my son. I am bringing it back. I borrowed it momentarily to teach them to be more careful with it.” Making a swift sign of the cross, he loosened his collar, winked, and sped away to…..

    Scratching his head, bewildered Sebastian wondered, was he or wasn’t he?

  12. The smoke filled Eric’s lungs for the last time.
    “Are you prepared to defend yourself?,” I said.
    He went to his jacket pocket, pulled a gun, and fired on me without a second thought.
    I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t had to use it for so long. But my magic still worked, as the kitten landed on my chest.
    “Don’t waste your time, Eric,” I said, “If I’m you, I’m thinking of ways to explain myself.”
    The alleyway filled up with a bright light. “What…what’s going on, lady?”
    “Do you remember Veronica? How you hunted her down like a dog? All for being ‘different’? For daring to stand up for herself?”
    The bright light died down, in it’s place a room full of beings who were no one’s peer, much less this slimeball.
    “Because we do.”

  13. Press cuttings in a language Jeremy barely recalled with fluency. Already his fingerprints would have smudged his grandmother’s, blotting them out. Soon, from all the furniture and door handles, from everything everywhere, his grandmother’s would be obliterated and never re-appear, even though just hours ago she had breathed in this room. Consciously, Jeremy breathed. Minutes before, he had arrived from England, stunned to be told he was a day too late. His head was a labyrinth of pain.

    Press cuttings, faded sepia photos, memories of another time. Before now, he only remembered her younger days, before his mother took him to live in England. Gran’s perfume still lingered, the curtains heavy with her presence. Tears welled as he turned over postcards from Norwich. His mother wrote of how she missed the trains rattling past the alley, how she’d appreciated the protection of unanimity. She wrote of his struggle with a new language in a new school. She told his grandmother that they were safe. At last.

    He waited outside the alley and directed official’s cars towards the only residence with potted trees at its entrance. A curious child wandered down to check out the fuss, as he recalled the games played in this alley with his French friends.

    We are but a wave tossed in the ocean, a fragile flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a vapour in the wind. Grandma, hear me when I call you from the alley now. Calm the storm in me.

  14. I was finishing supper, when I heard the call of a mourning dove, three times. I looked in the back alley, but saw no one. I quickly donned the clothing of a delivery man, and slipped out back, answering Lydia’s call, as I did in my youth.

    I walked down the alley, and she drew me in. Her husband lay motionless on the floor.

    Lydia was crying, brown curls sticking to her tear-streaked face. “I didn’t mean to do it!” she whispered, “He flew into a jealous rage, and tried to kill me!”

    “Jealous? We barely talk!” I answered.

    “Not you. The foreign minister came for lunch, and I treated him well. But Sebastian misunderstood.”

    “Why is your neck purple?”

    “He tried to strangle me! But I fought, pushing my fingers into his eyes. It was horrible. Then my knee, you know where, knocking him down. I tried to revive him,” she sobbed, “But he’s dead!”

    “Lydia, you must leave. Sebastian is the prime minister’s nephew. No one will believe you. You will hang!”

    She shivered, holding herself. “Juanito, can you smuggle me out?”

    “Take your papers, we will have them changed. Bring any cash and other valuables we can use. I will follow later. For now, it will look like an abduction,” I explained.

    “That is good,” she said.

    “Lydia, I have always loved you,” I confessed.

    “Let’s not speak of it now,” she said, “While his body is still warm.”

  15. Alley

    Out by our alley lie many pets we have loved. The first one, husband Joe helped nine-year-old son Mark bury. Mark’s friend’s mother would not let him keep the baby chick he bought at Easter, so he gave it to Mark. Mark lovingly put it in his bedroom and shut the door.

    An hour later Mark went to the room and walked in to check on his new pet. The little chick happily ran towards him chirping and under his foot before Mark could stop. In tears Mark brought the broken body to show us what happened. Joe took them both outdoors to bury the little chick.

    Next came one cat who died of old age, a kitten a neighbor girl toasted in the toaster oven, a stray we adopted and loved for years but a car’s wheels took her life.

    That spot by the alley is the resting place of many we have loved.

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