Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Table

Flash fiction prompt combat corps table spokane ren faire 2018
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.

Author: Administrators

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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Table”

  1. AT THE ANTIQUITIES SALE

    An EXPERT’S ADVICE, to the seller: “If you wish to sell these antiquities at top price you must display then professionally, in a manner that suggests wealth and high provenance. Display them artistically on a flawless red velvet cloth, casually draped. Polish the silver and brass till it gleams. Do not use price tags. Those are so suggestive of crass commercialism. When a buyer asks the price, begin a conversation about the historical past of the item, leading ultimately to a sale.”

    An EXPERT’S ADVICE, to the buyer: “If you wish to buy at the lowest possible price, wait until the end of the day to approach the seller. Pick up a piece of brass, hold it up to the light, and sneer at it. Turn it over, look at the bottom, and raise one eyebrow. Then, still sneering, put it down and turn to walk away. The seller will instantly stop you with a desperate look and a give-away price.”

    And who does a bang-up business at these sales? The sellers who have been expertly advised? No… The buyers who have been expertly advised? No…

    It is the Expert Advisers, without product or time or effort involved, who invariably go home with a pocket full of cash.

  2. The Chessboard of the Grand Vizier

    Ralston was the Grand Vizier to the King. He was an ambitious man. In the days of Medieval intrigue, ambition was a dangerous occupation.

    Ralston’s ambition was to rule in place of the King. But how could that be accomplished? To solve that problem, he turned to his favourite game—chess—for the solution.

    As he sat at his desk and examined the chessboard, his plans came into play.

    The chessboard represented the Kingdom.

    The pawns in the game represented the unsuspecting villagers and townspeople who could be controlled through coercion, surveillance and propaganda.

    The knights represented the army. They were powerful, but they were duty bound to swear allegiance to the King, whomever that might be.

    The rooks were the castles, and control of these fortresses would be key to controlling the Kingdom.

    The bishops were the King’s advisors. Although they were close to the King, they were ruled by their own base natures, and so they could be bribed. For those with a more troublesome nature and firmer backbone, an assassin in the night would provide the solution.

    And the queen? Ah, yes, the Queen. She was loved by the people. A more subtle solution was required. A metal illness? Drugs could be procured to achieve such a mental state. And then banishment to the north for her health. Clever.

    The king. The objective was the King. In order to win the game all of the chess pieces could be sacrificed to eliminate the King.

    That day would come.

  3. ELIGIBLE FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY

    It was a dreary day, not suited to wandering around a Ren Faire. Pulling her red velvet cloak more firmly about her, Gwen pressed on, passing the Royal Court with a quick curtsy of deference, her hood slipping further over her face. The smell of roasted turkey legs from the shoppe on her left had her pausing, considering, but she’d woken today feeling some compulsion to attend, so hand pressed against a complaining stomach, she continued. Jousting, to the left of her, was a messy business, mud flying as the horses turned for another run. A tap on the shoulder had her stopping, assessing the young squire extending a cup.

    “Would milady care for a wee taste? Best honey mead to be found in the land,” he grinned.

    “Hail and well met,” she smiled. “Most thankful.”

    “Aisle C, there be more, milady,” he winked.

    Heading towards there, a table caught her eye. Chalices, a sword, chain mail lay artfully arranged on its red damask. She ran fingertips over a pair of gloves, lingering on the smaller of two wooden chests. Warm to the touch, she flipped the latch. Inside, a green emerald necklace sparkled. She’d barely lifted it free when the world spun, melted. Disappeared.

    Merlin caught her before she fell to the marble floor. “I knew that emerald’d pull you back. Owe me a bottle of mead too, that was private stock. And Arthur? He’s right gemǣd. His edict? No more traipsing through time for you, dear Guinevere.”

  4. The evidence of a life lived greeted me when I glanced upon the table of various set pieces in Stevie’s dressing room. His pivotal role as a knight was well received but now he was gone without a trace. We assumed the worst but the body had yet to surface.

    “Where is Stevie,” was the headline when he first failed to report for duty at the studio a week ago. It consumed everyone: radio jock, evening news, water cooler groups. None weighed as heavily as it did on me. If I, his manager, did not know his whereabouts, who would. Stevie had no one but me; his adoptive parents were long deceased.

    “This is getting old and embarrassing,” the scriptwriters decided. We can rewrite scenes but if he does not return in time for the series premiere, we will be forced to write him off altogether.

    Our last conversation three months ago gave no indication of what transpired next. Hyped on spending his upcoming vacation, away from the reach of screaming fans, his usual call to me upon arriving the destination did not happen. Right then, I should have worried.

    Surveying the props, I noticed a slip of paper underneath a bowl. It revealed a Montana phone number.

    “Hello,” went the familiar voice. “Clean and sober now. Sorry for causing worry. Needed to do this for you. Got delayed reaching the finish line. Sorry again, my love.”

    “Come home, Stevie; let’s talk,” a surprised relief enveloping me, I hung up.

  5. She smirked as she slipped another cigarette into the Tiffany holder clenched between her pearly whites. Posing invitingly, she purred, “Gimme a light.”

    I reached for the lighter shaped like an apple sitting atop the bowl of plastic Granny Smiths, lit her smoke and pointed to the table. “This all you could dig up?”

    “I know he was your best friend, but that’s all I could find,” she lied. “Take one thing to remember him by.”

    I vowed to make this little harpy pay for murdering my partner. He knew she was carrying on behind his back with all those fly-by-nights. But, when he caught her with Angelo Pepperone in the storeroom at Luigi’s Pizzeria, he belted her and told her to beat it, they were through..

    That broad wasn’t gonna lose the loot stashed away in her safe deposit box. Goodbye, husband. Hello, Vegas.

    I caught a glimpse of her wiping her fingerprints from the handle of the rapier that gutted my friend. She thought I would choose that, leaving my prints all over it. Instead, I reached over and snatched the tarnished chalice standing next to the apples. She didn’t know, but it was an ancient heirloom worth thousands. I winked goodbye. From a phone booth on 42nd Street, I called the police and told them what the floozy had done.

    It started to rain. The lights of Times Square sparkled as a damp breeze hugged my trench coat. It felt like my partner, thanking me.

  6. Succession and The Challenge

    There was never a question of obeying. Sir Jason had sworn fealty to his liege lord years ago. Since then he fought bravely, often hand-to-hand, wielding his broadsword ably, defending his king’s castle and at times attacking others when required. Rightfully, he was deemed the most loyal of knights and a trusted confidant.

    Of the twin princes, Esau and Jacob, only one would ascend the throne eventually. Who it might be his majesty would decide. Comparing the two: Jacobs was the kinder, gentler offering. Esau possessed a cruel temperament, rendering him unpopular both at court and among the peasants.

    The king charged Jason with the task of selecting the next heir. While he lie sick abed and knowing that death was near, the king proposed a challenge: as the finale to the tournament, Jason would joust with Esau. Should Esau lose, Jacob would become the next king.

    Sir Jason had suffered some minor injuries earlier in the series of contests. A kindly friar offered to treat these wounds with medicaments: a potion of monkshood which numbed the pain. He added a good measure to Jason’s goblet of mead, assuring him that he would thus be fortified. There exists evil in the world.

    As he thundered down the course, his vision became blurred and Jason struggled to raise his lance. The poison coursed through his body.

    Esau’s weapon pierced Jason’s helmet.

    There would soon be more deaths in the kingdom.

  7. Before me on the garage sale table lies a re-enactor’s treasure trove – sword and sheath, chain mail shirt, golden goblets, coin chests, brass dish of apples, and more. I control my excitement so the toothless old lady won’t rip me off. Her prices are reasonable. However, when I inquire how much for the entire lot, she seems reluctant to sell.

    “Are you sure?” she asks.

    I nod my head and hand her cash.

    At home I survey my purchases. I can hardly wait for the upcoming Knights of the Round Table weekend. The sword appears heavy, but feels light as baby’s breath. Amazingly, the mail shirt fits me perfectly.

    On my deck I sip wine from a goblet. Opening the smaller chest I pour out weathered coins from an unknown country.

    In the larger chest I discover a yellowed parchment map. It portrays a small village with mountains to the west, a southern stream, prairie land east, and forest in the north. The layout looks similar to my own town. Near the top of the map I read the words, “Here there be dragons.”

    I don’t care that these items are only well-made fakes. They seem so authentic. As I ponder my good fortune, I bite one of the apples. Suddenly, I feel dizzy and my vision blurs. I listen to the brook gurgling behind my house. In the distance, I hear a loud roar.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say it sounds like a dragon.

  8. Pandora’s Box

    Sir Godfrey went through the personal effects he amassed throughout his lifetime. He thought about his old rusted chainmail, his now dull sword, and the key he never used. He thought of all the deaths he caused on his quest to protect Pandora’s box.

    Now on the verge of death, he thought, “With all the wars, plagues, and deaths there have been since I found the box, how much worse could it have been if I had opened it the day I found it and freed the four horsemen of the apocalypse to wreak havoc on our world?”

    He coughed up some blood knowing his end was near. With a shaking hand, he picked up the key and inserted it into the box’s keyhole. Twisting it, he heard the lock click open. Shakely, he opened the lid to Pandora’s box. Closing his eyes, he half expected the four horsemen to rush out like a whirlwind mowing a field of soldiers down, but nothing happened.

    He opened his eyes and saw a rolled up parchment in the box. Picking it up he saw his name on it. Unrolling the parchment and with his failing eyesight, he read in horror the true secret of Pandora’s box.

    “Sir Godfrey, you are wondering why the world is so evil? Now you are dying, and you decided to end this world. Sorry, but you are too late because the four of us escaped through the keyhole long before you were ever born.”

  9. The widowed sisters needed to travel to Florida to visit their brother but were leery of putting their cats into a kennel while they were gone. Jane volunteered to cat sit so her neighbors could travel.

    “We apologize in advance for the state of the house. We were going to have a rummage sale, but … we just haven’t had the energy to do so.”

    Jane assured Mabel it was not a problem and she wouldn’t judge them. “I’m not the best housekeeper myself,” she joked.

    Mabel handed Jane the keys, not even giving her a grand tour of the house. “We’ll leave the food on the counter. The litter box is in the bathroom.”

    Jane went over to familiarize herself with the cats and the house. When she opened the door she realized what Mabel meant about “the state of the house.” Tables were set up, piled with various papers, antiques, photos, everything imaginable. She made it to the kitchen, filled the food and water bowls, and started toward the bathroom to check the litter. As she passed the den she stopped cold in her tracks.

    There was a light on and draperies on the wall. This one table, out of all of the tables set up in this house, was actually organized instead of piled with junk. Jane thought it was a sacrifice to the gods.

    She didn’t know what it represented, but now she understood why they never had guests over.

  10. FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY

    Priscilla stared at her handsome dowry on the table, after the parade of suitors finished examining it. She wore her finest clothing, and also felt like an object being scrutinized. She smelled far better than the men who had traipsed through their home, whose odors lingered.

    Her parents had chosen the stately Sir Barclay Winthrop, a widower eager to bear children. At age 15, Priscilla dreaded sharing his marriage bed. She picked up the lightest treasure chest, and hugged it to her bosom.

    “Oh, that I could vanish like a cloud!” she whispered, “Please, is anyone listening?”

    She closed her eyes, imagining herself in a faraway place. She began to hear a cacophony of noises — melodious laughter, young men jousting, donkeys braying, and very strange music. A soft breeze caressed her face. Was her prayer being answered?

    “Miss, are you buying that? If not, you’d best let go of it,” said an older woman.

    What was going on? Everyone in this place smelled good! Priscilla put the chest on the table, even though she was its rightful owner.

    Another fragrance wafted over. People were eating delicious, savory meat at a table. “Would you like to join us?” asked the woman.

    Priscilla sat down, grabbing a piece of meat with her hands like the others, but gobbling at it voraciously. People were staring. She looked up, taking a breath. “Where am I?”

    “Don’t you know?” answered a young man, “It’s the Pennsylvania Renn Faire. You’re really a natural!”

  11. Tables are meant for many occasions. My favorite stories surround the tables of my relatives. One of those stories was one Aunt Hettie told on herself:

    When Hettie was about eighteen years old, she slipped off to a neighborhood dance with a friend, John Collier. Of course, dancing was not allowed in the Garrison household. Both Hettie and John decided they had a guilty conscience and soon started walking home. He said, “We never did kiss, did we?”

    “No, we never did. Did we?”

    He said, “Let’s try it.”

    “How did it feel?” Hettie asked after the kiss.

    “Like kissing a bale of hay.”

    That was the end of that.

  12. FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY

    Knight Andrews’ world was about to turn on it’s axis.
    ***
    That’s all there was left of knight Andrews’ great father – Knight Robert of Guilford.

    He ran his hand over the things that makes up a knight’s life: his father’s chain mail, goblets – 2 of which were presented to him by the King, when he saved his life; and a wooden shillings chest.
    The end of his beloved, honorable father.
    ***
    While traveling, his horse became lame. Walking beside the horse he sees a woman in the meadow gathering wildflowers.

    “Come to the cottage, where you can use my husband’s tools.”
    At the cottage, there was no one around.

    Juilanna, invited him inside to take a warm bowl of porridge. Andrew felt guilty accepting food from this poor woman.

    They talked until the candles burned down. She told him part of her secret.

    The next day, he meets her seven-year old son; he is the image of Andrew.

    Juliana blurts out the rest of her secret.

    “Please, take my son. I know you would help him in life.”

    “Is he truly my brother?”

    “Yes, your father was just trying to help me, after my husband injured me. I was always in love with your father – from childhood. But he chose another…”

    “His parents chose…” Andrew interrupted.

    “Yes… yes… I will do this… and help you; in memory of my father.”

    “Now, I know what favor I will ask the King!”Andrew thought to himself.

  13. “It is time to bury the king ” I gulped as I heard the mourners say this to the priest.
    With tears rolling I stared at the regalia of my master, his sword, his chainmail hauberk, the apples from our journey.

    Just the previous day, I was with him at our monthly hunting expedition

    I had packed everything for his hunt including his favourite red rosy apples from our royal garden

    Little did I know that we were to be attacked by this zealous creatures of the North.

    We have been at war with the North for years but they never entered so far in the jungles and even if they accidentally managed to infiltrate our realm, they couldn’t hurt my Master as he always wore his chainmail
    Yesterday when the creatures attacked, my master was without his chainmail

    He instructed me to fetch his chainmail but I had completely missed packing it on this hunt – How did I make that grave mistake!

    I witnessed as my master charged with his sword and fought ferociously. He eventually killed the creature but without his chainmail, my master was wounded too.
    He died immediately

    I feel sad and guilty as I stand at his funeral.

    But then I also remind myself that it was my master who killed my family at North and brought me as his slave…

    And so maybe .. I deliberately forgot to pack his chainmail… Long Live the North!

  14. LATE ENTRY

    Nisveta’s team, fine Arabians, was majestic. Anything else was silly, pulling such a magnificent carriage. Approaching the lakeside palace, she cracked her whip, spurring them to top speed, all foaming and wild eyed, long manes streaming.

    The child stood rooted, frozen in terror. Before the Arabians crashed into him at full speed, a commoner rushed from the park, knocking the child out of harm’s way. She closed her eyes momentarily, savoring the multiple bumps as the carriage dispatched the boy’s father. Looking back in satisfaction at the crumpled and bloody heap in the roadway, she yanked the reins, forcing her frothing, overworked team into the yard.

    Walking away, she had to turn, admiring her coach. New York City had nothing as visually stunning as her 1970 Beetle Convertible. The only thing close was her sister’s Gremlin, a closed coupe pulled by… a horse! She snorted. Twenty large muscular men, well-oiled and running at top speed was matchless.

    Suddenly, one Arabian fell, nose bleeding. The wagonmaster knelt over the dying man.

    “You better FIX HIM NOW!”

    Viciously slashing her quirt repeatedly across the suddenly screaming Columbian’s back, realizing it was too late, Nisveta caught her breath, considering this pathetic, groveling creature.

    He would do, she realized, very well. Similar size and appearance.

    Drinking deeply from her golden goblet, she munched a juicy apple, selected because it perched perfectly on the fruit bowl’s rim.

    “Stable boy! Put on this armor. Pose for me. Geld my newest steed, that beautiful kneeling Columbian.”

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