Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Fins

tadoussac flash fiction 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: Fins”

  1. Child Shark, “Everyone says to me it is beautiful up there, the sky, the trees around, the people and the air, but it has been a month, and you have taken me once up there. Why mom? Why”
    Mom Shark, “Just hold on kid, the spring is about to break and the layer of ice is about to melt, and when it does, you and I will be the first ones to go up there.”
    Child Shark says, “Why just us? What about my friends?
    Mom Shark, “ We will be the first ones, that is the culture here, the last newborn gets the chance to be the first one to see the sky, the people and everything that you have heard from your friends.”
    “Kid, there is one more thing, before you go up there; you need to be an excellent swimmer. With all the beautiful things around, there are some very bad things as well. So don’t go away too far. We will start your swimming lessons from tomorrow.”
    A month passed by and the child shark worked very hard to be the best. As the first newborn was always timed, and a chance to break a record lay on the kid’s shoulders. And the one who broke it was greeted with numerous prizes.
    The day had come and the race began, not with anyone but to break the record. She swam and swam, her whole body was in pain, she felt out of breath and still pushed and pushed harder, she wanted to break the record. She was so fast that she did not realise the speed she was in and without realising she reached to the top and flew up into the air, for a moment she was nervous, but then she saw the faces of people, in awe of her, the trees, and the fresh air. As she was about to land on the water, her mom caught her and then they swam on the surface.

  2. Logan waited patiently for the gently rippling waters to swell. He reached over and poured more Scotch into Charlotte’s cup. The warming scent of the drinks chased the darkening evening’s chill into the wind.

    “It shouldn’t be too long now,” he whispered, taking another sip. The liquid tingled his tongue as it trickled down to warm his toes.

    “If it happens, nobody is going to believe us, either,” Charlotte slurred between gulps..

    “That’s why I brought my camcorder.” He smiled and raised his arm, waving the camera in triumph, then refilled their cups to the brim.

    Soon, a little swirl broke the surface and eddied at the far end of the lake. They jumped up, dropping the blankets from their shoulders, and peered in the direction of the movement. As it neared them, another eddy bubbled a few yards away from the first.

    The besotted couple staggered to the edge of the lake, cheering and waving their arms frantically.

    “It’s them! It’s them!” she slurred. “No one’s ever reported two before.”

    Logan took quick aim, focused his camera on the approaching movement, and started filming

    “Hurry! Hurry!” Charlotte screamed between hiccups. “The creatures are almost here!”

    The monsters realized the actual camcorder film of their existence would finally change things forever. They weren’t about to let that happen. They lunged forward and, in one gulp, devoured the screaming couple. Stomachs full, they dove down to their happy hidden home nestled at the bottom of Loch Ness.

  3. Finis

    …[a few miles offshore along the Louisiana Gulf coast]…

    “Aw granpa, you said we was goin’ fishin’.”

    “We is, boy, we is.”

    “Den where’s da fishin’ poles, huh?”

    “We’s goin’ fer da big ones sonny. Dat’s what dem harpoons is fer.”

    “Don’t sound like much fun, granpa.”

    “Ain’t s’posed to be. It’s work that what it are. Work. Look o’er there…there’s a mess of ’em right now.”

    Jason steered the boat into the midst of a huge pod who were covering the ocean surface in foam during their feeding frenzy.

    “What is they granpa: dolphins, porpoises or sharks?”

    “Don’t rightly matter, boy. They’s just fish. Big fish. Now you jus’ go ahead an’ stick ’em, drag ’em up alongside. I’ll do da cuttin’.”

    One by one they were speared. After two hours the water was littered with dozens of carcasses awash in a sea of blood.

    “We jus’ gonna leave all that food behind?”

    “Listen boy. That’s jus’ food fer next year’s catch. We got all we need aboard right now. It’s ’bout the money boy. The money.”

    How’s dat?”

    “Well boy, some folks’ll pay good money for such fancy fixins. ‘Specially dem Chinee restaurants!”

    “So what’s dey gonna do wit all dis stuff, huh?”

    “Boy, ain’t you never hearda fish fin soup?

    “Heck granpa…I’d rather have a big bowl of good ole shrimp gumbo!”

  4. From the deck of the schooner drifting lazily along San Juan de Fuca, Emma eyes two orcas breaking through the surface of its calm waters. The closer animal is a young calf, as evidenced by the size of the fin it chooses to expose. The further, a less playful sort, keeps a steady distance, maintaining a guarded presence, allowing the other to frolic unhindered.

    “Mother and babe,” Emma surmises. Emma’s thoughts drift to a more compelling matter: of her own daughter, Lou, moving away.

    She recalled their last conversation; Lou giving no previous indication that her flight was not just a quick vacation. She had Emma take her to SeaTac airport, and as Lou alighted the car,

    “So, when is your return flight, Lou?” as Emma helped unload her carry-on and check-in luggage.

    “Umm…I don’t have one yet,” sending a mild shock through Emma.

    “Isn’t this rather sudden, Lou?”

    “I have a couple of job interviews lined up, Mom. Also, while awaiting the results, I’ve landed a temporary gig with a bubble tea place.”

    Emma was not pleased. She turned her head, avoiding Lou’s gaze. Her mind raced, then her anger caught up.

    “Where will you live? Why’d you attend an Ivy if you’ll just be waitressing? What about your student loans? How…,” then fought the rising stress with a sigh.

    “Be safe. I love you,” giving a quick hug.

    The young orca back flips before splashing down. The mother admiringly looks up, keeping pace, yet remaining protective from afar.

  5. “I think you’re nuts, Hal,” Frank said. “It’ll never work.”

    “Yes, it will! I heard that boatload of scientists talk about it. They need more wi-fi antennas in this area. We’ll make millions!”

    “What do we need millions for? We’re dolphins. We live in the ocean. We have no need for cash!”

    Hal swished his tail, exhaling violently out of his blowhole.

    Frank tried to placate him. “If, and I do mean if, we agree to host the antennas, what’s in it for us? Besides the money. Can we get ESPN? Can we stream movies?”

    Hal perked up. “That and more! Think of it—the wife can watch her girly movies, the kids can play on the internet to their heart’s content. And—we can watch all the sports we want to with no one complaining!”

    This sounded very tempting to Frank. “OK—so what do we have to do?”

    “Not much. We strap the antennas to ourselves, around the waist. We swim near the surface for a few hours, others take their shifts. Easy peasy.”

    “How large are these antennas?” Frank asked.

    “Not very. Look like fins.”

    Frank thought for a minute. “We already have fins.”

    “These go over it—you’ll never notice.”

    And that is why the sightings of dolphins and whales have increased over the past few years.

  6. “A whale,” George said, with no hint of excitement. He pulled a bucket list from his pocket and checked off “Whale Watching”. That done, he turned away from the ship’s rail and headed for the bar.

    Marianne grabbed his hand. “What’s your hurry? Stay and watch for awhile. Appreciate it! Some people go on cruise after cruise without ever seeing a whale, and here we are, the first day of our first cruise, and BAM, there’s a whale! And instead of enjoying it, you just check it off that darn bucket list.”

    George did not answer.

    “You did the same with skydiving. Jump out of the plane, hit the ground, check it off your list.”

    George knew any answer would only lead to more arguments, and he did not need that. The doctors said he had four months, at most. Three of them already gone, and only half of his bucket list done. The pain was increasing, as he knew it would. And the depression. Almost overwhelming.

    Marianne took his arm and hugged it to her. Her warmth traveled up George’s arm to his body and he relaxed. There was no cure for his disease, but he realized the cure for his depression was right here in his arms. The cool breezes ruffled Marianne’s hair as he kissed her.

    Together they walked back to the rail to enjoy the whales. George felt the weight lift from his shoulders. His bucket list was forgotten.

  7. Lost in Time

    Agent Seepage was transferred to Animal Training and Surveillance. It was home to an experimental program designed to use animals in surveillance. His training officer was agent Malo.

    “We’ve attached tiny cameras to a variety of animals,” said agent Malo, as she sat before a wall of monitor screens. “For instance, in the monitor on your right you can see bottlenose dolphins. They’re helping us surveil sea lanes, watching for piracy and smuggling. One dolphin, we named Plato, is very intelligent. You can see him on the screen right now.”

    As the agents watched, Plato jumped out of the water, signalled to the other dolphins, using clicks and whistles, and then disappeared beneath the waves. The signal from Plato’s camera went dead.

    “Something’s happened,” said Agent Malo, seeing only static on the screen. “We’ve lost contact with it.”

    Plato dove deep into an unexplored part of the Pacific Ocean. When it reached a depth of 650 feet, its sonar detected various structures that stood on an elevated landmass. Unknown to anyone, it was a complex of pyramids, buildings and avenues that stretched for miles.

    With Plato’s camera out of commission, the agents were unaware of what it had discovered.

    And as the dolphin made its way back to the surface, it, too, was oblivious to its find.

    The Pacific Ocean did not care what Plato found. It remained cold and indifferent to time, as it quietly hid its secrets beneath a silent sky.

  8. Her decision to return to the sleepy village of Tadoussac for a visit was an easy one. Marie had always followed her intuition, more often than not it served her well. She’d lived here as a child, still remembered tumbling down the sandy hills on the west side of the village and climbing over rocks to watch ships sail peacefully along the Saguenay and Saint Lawrence Rivers. She’d watch for breaks in the water as whales were plentiful back then and Marie envied them their freedom. Their beauty as well as they sliced through the sparkling waves, setting her imagination soaring

    Her father, ever the dreamer, had died first, leaving her with a mother ill equipped to handle the realities of being alone and raising an eight-year-old. Marie was only thirteen when her mother gave up that fight and so she moved away, a tearful goodbye to the sea creatures and coast she loved.

    Her eldest sister was kind, encouraging her dreams to write. The first book was a fantasy, replacing mermaids in lieu of whales. She followed that up with kelpies, second in the series. Marie had barely begun the third when the urge to visit Tadoussac became overwhelming.

    Grabbing a sweater to ward off the evening chill, she walked the familiar coastline. Water lapping gently, she paused, her restlessness of late replaced by a calming contentment.

    At peace in the gauzy twilight, gazing outward, the sight of two fins made the sudden decision to stay all too easy.

  9. “You get one chance,” old Qee said, smiling his toothless smile.

    Yal drew a breath and waded into the lagoon where ten young sawbacks, penned by nets, darted about. Culled last autumn before the down-migration when their herd teemed in the blue-gray waters, splashing and chattering like children, they reminded him of the prior year’s young among whom the would-be Guides had begun their training. But these were fresh caught, wild, unpredictable. Their gray bodies flailed in the water, with each twist brandishing their tough dorsal fins that could slice open a predator’s belly. Intelligent creatures, yes, strangely sympathetic even, but deadly.

    Warm water rose to Yal’s waist as he advanced, step by cautious step, toward a smaller sawback. It scurried away before he got close. A larger animal swooped in, rolling, presenting its dorsal in warning. Limbs quaking, Yal called to mind the story Qee had told, how the first Guide, Aqlur, was rescued from drowning by a sawback. The creature later taught Aqlur its language, and he in turn taught his people to befriend and ride the creatures until villages dotted every island in the world.

    The water seethed as the sawback circled Yal. On the third pass, it lunged. Frightened, Yal closed his eyes and whispered to it. He felt the sting of its fin on his chest.

    Still he whispered.

    On land, Qee whooped with joy.

    Yal was hefted and carried away as a single drop of his blood splashed on the creature’s back.

  10. Hazel could tell he was looking for a moment. The dolphins crested the waters, and he began to reach for his pocket.
    She reached out and grabbed his hand. “Let’s…let’s leave that be.”
    Dex looked at her. “Wait…what?”
    “Look, Dex, I think you’re great and all,” she said, measuring words like they were made of carats, “but I think we both know this won’t work out.”

    He looked at her for a moment, then turned his back on her and watched the dolphins play. Hazel felt like she had to keep talking, try to explain herself.

    “Now, Dex, I don’t want things to end for us here. Who knows, somewhere down the line, this could be what I’m looking for, but we both work on the road, long miles, precious little down time, we need to get more established. Hey, I’ve got an idea.”

    She grabbed his arm and spun him to look at her. It was hard work, but he was worth it.

    “You’ve been saying how much of a drag Leonis has been lately. Desiree will hire you on, we just lost our strongman. We can travel together. We can live together, Dex.”

    Only then did he smile.
    He stroked her lustrous beard and leaned in for a kiss.

  11. One day, Kai was sitting on the warm sand, dreamily fixated on the vast turquoise waters. Her heart had always been with the sea. As the sun reached its peak, she decided to take her father’s canoe out to sea. Sidetracked by the pure bliss of floating along freely, she strayed much further than planned. Hurriedly, she tried to navigate away from the shore of a nearby island, but she couldn’t avoid hitting the sharp rock that pierced the bow.

    Kawai, a hunter from a different tribe, watched with indifference from a cliff. However, when the canoe began to sink, he came to her rescue. By the time he returned her to her island, he was enchanted by the girl with the wild black hair and green eyes. They continued to meet, aware their families would not support a union of opposing tribes.

    They decided to run away, choosing a lush, uninhabited island as their new home, and prayed that the gods would bless their union. Kawai’s father, the High Chief, was outraged that his only son had abandoned their tribe. He demanded that the gods give him justice and dispatched an army to kill the lovers.

    A goddess of the islands weighed both prayers and decided upon a fate for the couple; they were bound to the sea for all eternity in the form of dolphins.

    Even years later, Kai and Kawai never stray far from each other. Occasionally, there’s a glimpse of their fins breaking the ocean’s surface.

  12. The sun was hot. Three days since the schooner took on water. Two since the crew abandoned ship. One since the sharks arrived. Delvers was afraid to move his arms or legs. He tried to just float and hoped the Coast Guard would keep searching. He’d continued to relay coordinates up to the last moment. He left when the water reached the signal room. Captain Jenkins had been last off the ship and first to go down to the sharks. One by one he watched the crew disappear, pulled under. Their gargled screams muffled under the water then silence, then the crying of those left to wait for their turn. Now it was Delvers’s turn. He’d not sighted a fin since sun up. The sharks left them alone in the dark. Thompson had been the last to go. The sailor had kept up a steady babble. Trying to keep heart, laughing at fate. Delvers had never liked Thompson, but still, nobody should end up as dinner. Delvers strained his ears for the sound of an airplane engine. Out of the corner of his eye a blur of motion. A ripple on the surface.


  13. Fins

    One calm morning my Dad went to the upper deck with 2 ½ year-old me. He and I had spent too much time below because of gagging seasickness. He began having conversation with someone. I wandered to the side to look out of a space where I could see the ocean.

    The ship lurched and a woman who (I think) worked on the ship caught me by the leg as I began my fall overboard. I must have been quite a handful with the 35-pound iron brace I was wearing on my left leg. Was there an angel helping?

    My mother said my Dad, for the rest of the trip, was afraid to take me topside. Besides, he and I spent much of the time in the cabin, especially on windy or stormy days, throwing up from seasickness. Mama never did become seasick nor did my baby brother, Tommy.

    Perhaps the smoothness of the Pacific Ocean is why my only memory of the ship is a huge glass-like swimming pool. Was it really the swimming pool or the Pacific Ocean that impressed itself in my mind? I can still imagine it and it never ends.


    Commander Kurt looked out at the Atlantic, off of San Diego, remembering the day that he almost lost his son. Billy was sailing – a thunderstorm hit. They radioed.

    “Dad..! What do we do..? We put out all the anchor and it’s not holding…” he yelled.

    “Get the life raft ready.”

    All he heard was screaming… then silence.

    Kurt called his captain, and ran to his neighbor’s house.

    “My boy Billy, and a friend… in trouble. Can we take your boat?”

    “Sure, let’s go. I’m with you…”

    The storm pummeled the boys. The boat had capsized.

    They were still hanging on, as if by magic – Kurt saw who their helper was… an Orca whale – under them!

    “Oh, no…” he thought.

    They threw the boys lines.

    After a few pulls on the lines, the boys were getting closer, and the line was slacking. The whale had raised himself gradually, helping the boys. Kurt and Allen couldn’t believe their eyes.

    Kurt noticed a ‘v’ shaped ding in the whales’ fin. He had been on a rescue team, and he helped this whale…

    “How did he know to do those things?” Allen asked.

    “I don’t know…”


    Kurt wanted to see the Orca before they moved away. His life was good, because of this mysterious mammal.

    Suddenly, there was his Orca! But today he was not alone: adults and juveniles, and a calf at her side. A pod!

    It looked like – she – also, was having a good life! Kurt gave her a farewell salute.


    As Melanie reached the beach, she could see most of the other teens leaving. “It’s that dumb old shark, Moses,” said one of them, “No swimming ’til he’s gone.”

    She kept walking, headed for her favorite lifeguard. “Louie! I guess you’re stuck here until Moses goes away?” she asked.

    “Gotta make sure nobody does anything stupid,” he answered, “You wanna join me up here?”

    “Sure, Louie!” answered Melanie, climbing up the lifeguard stand.

    “I’d rather see you up close, anyway,” he said.

    “Thanks, Lou,” she said, smiling coyly.

    They gazed out at the ocean. The big fin of Moses appeared, disappeared and reappeared, as if patrolling the coast in the distance.

    Suddenly there was a swimmer, about halfway between the shore and Moses. “How’d I miss that!” cried Louie, “He must’ve swam from another beach!”

    Louie whistled, but the wayward swimmer kept going. He radioed the Coast Guard patrol boat.

    They both watched through the binoculars. The shark looked much too close. The Coast Guard arrived, positioning itself between the swimmer and the shark.

    When the swimmer climbed aboard, Melanie could see his yellow bathing suit. She could feel Louie’s relief, as he sat next to her. “I’m glad you didn’t have to go out there!” she exclaimed.

    “Food service,” he said, “It’s not in my job description. If Moses was really hungry, our friend out there would have been the main course.”

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