Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Peekaboo

2014 May Day 3 Goat Rock Seal peekaboo Flash Fiction Prompt
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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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Peekaboo”

  1. Was it sea lion? An otter? Why couldn’t I remember?

    The old picture trembled in my hands as the scent of acrid ash settled on my tongue. Every breath blazed white hot in my tortured lungs and a tiny, glowing ember landed on the picture, burning a hole.

    I squeezed my eyes closed as I remembered the ocean. I tried to recall the salty ocean breeze, but smoke filled my lungs instead and I choked.

    “Is there anyone in here?” I heard the shout, but I knew better than to talk to strangers.

    “Hello?” The voice shouted over the steady roar of the fire. Something overhead popped and I felt the house shift. Fear erupted from my throat as a stifled squeal and I covered my head with one arm. Focusing on the image once more, I noticed an odd dark spot on it. Another drop landed on it and I realized tears were rolling down my cheeks.

    The unbearable heat made my skin feel tight and I struggled to focus on those memories of the ocean with my parents.

    My parents.

    They were gone now.

    So was my big sister. My baby brother. My grandparents. My neighbors and friends. My school.
    All that was left were the empty shells of burned out houses and the rumble of tanks on the road amidst the shouts of looters.

    But I was still here.


    Was it a sea lion or an otter?

  2. Spy Seal: Crime Fighter

    Smuggling was a growing problem along the coast, so the agency dispatched Spy Seal to investigate. The seal was known for his stealth, quick reflexes and eating unusual little fish.

    It didn’t take long for Spy Seal to locate a boat tied to a dock, containing two known smugglers.

    Utilizing stealth, Spy Seal swam under the boat, and positioned himself on the other side of the craft. He readied himself to climb aboard and capture the two men.

    “Do you get the feeling we’re being watched?” asked one of the smugglers, as he loaded containers into the hold.

    “Nah. It’s just your imagination,” replied the other man.

    “I heard Spy Seal was in the area.”

    “You’re paranoid. Spy Seal will never find us once we’re out to sea.”

    Quietly, Spy Seal maneuvered himself onto the boat, and once in position, let out a battle cry: “Peekaboo!”

    Caught by surprise, the two men turned, and found themselves engaging a 300 pound crime fighting seal.

    Pow! Bang! Boom!

    The commotion on board the boat caught the attention of several people standing on the dock. “Look, mama!” shouted a little boy. “It’s Spy Seal!”

    With several quick flicks of his tail, Spy Seal subdued the two smugglers, and they cowered in a corner in fear.

    “Please Spy Seal,” pleaded one of the men. “No more! We give up.”

    Everyone on the dock cheered.

    And Spy Seal clapped his fins in triumph. “Arf! Arf!”

  3. No shaking, rumbling or warning of any kind to give anyone a chance to escape the repercussions of the tsunami that had broken somewhere in the northern part of the Atlantic ocean. Boats, docks and coastal villages obliterated as the wall of water washed debris into the drink. Nothing had survive the natural disaster except a lone otter watching them intently from the edge of a rock protruding from the water.
    “A tsunami? Here on the coast of Maine? Already? The continental shift is not supposed to show any movement for another four hundred years.” Dr. Callaghan said as he stared at the sleek animal some thirty yards away.
    “Does this have to do with your research?” Dr. Phillip asked concerned about what this phenomena meant.
    Callaghan sorted through the pages he had neatly stacked in the box. Phillip watched the otter as it stared back, seemingly waiting for Callaghan to deliver his analysis too.
    “All of the continents are shifting but they’re moving much faster than I thought, this will continue until all of the continents collide at the north pole.”
    “How long until that happens? Will humanity survive this continental shift?”
    “I’m sure many people can survive this if we can get the warning out soon enough. It’ll be the end of the world as we know it and it looks like he bought front row seats to the show.” Callaghan pointed at the otter as it pulled itself onto the protruding rock and made itself comfortable.

  4. Land dwellers are here again holding objects over their faces. Faces I can not see for their eyes are covered. Now and again they lower the dark objects that can not be shells for shells are not so perfectly shaped.

    I disappear under water and hear their sounds of sadness. They lower the shiny cases and stretch their necks as though their cries will urge me from below. They do. I emerge and they lift those objects to their faces again, hiding from me, so I hide from them. Again, the cries.

    Floating on my back I do what I love which is to smash an oyster against a rock, crack it open with my hands and enjoy the delicacy inside. This draws loud sounds from the dwellers.

    I am mystified by their behavior, a ritual that occurs everyday here at the beach. I hesitate to share the newest member of my family for I do not know if the land dwellers are friends or foe. They’ve never been hostile, but elders tell of land dwellers who stole us for our thick coats once upon a time.

    I decide they are friendly and place my baby wrapped in seaweed on my tummy and float once again from behind the rock to the sound of loud voices and a strange noise made by their hands slapping together. They pull the objects to their eyes once again and I swim behind the rock to their sounds of sadness.

  5. We don’t believe it when we see the little seal peering over a rock at us. We cannot remember when seals went extinct. Soon we call the creature Peekaboo because it seems to be playing hide and seek with us.

    We wonder how this small animal has survived. We know the water will be coated again with dirty oil. That is one of the many ugly phenomena of our world.

    When the oil slick re-appears, we search the beach for Peekaboo. We find her lying motionless amid the rocks. Oil covers her beautiful coat. She breathes shallowly. We learned in history about animal rescue centers. But with so little surviving wildlife, they no longer exist.

    James runs to our cabin for buckets of soapy water. I study historic accounts of oil cleanups. We begin scrubbing the oil off Peek’s body. She is too weak to resist. After a while, she appears much cleaner. We bring fish for her and she nibbles it.

    We sit with her overnight. By morning she seems somewhat recovered. But now we don’t know what to do. We can’t keep a seal. We can’t find an organization to house her. We sit and watch our precious Peekaboo, all the while feeling helpless and hopeless.

    After another night she is ready to leave. She pulls herself toward the water which still glistens with oil rainbows. We watch her slip beneath the waves and cry – for her, for ourselves, and for a world we’ll never know.

  6. The sound of crashing crystal dragged her abruptly from the dream. Ishka mentally cursed herself over the Waterford decanter. A gift from her parents on her eighteenth birthday, they’d left a few days later on a Greenpeace excursion. She hadn’t seen nor heard from them since. Lost at sea was the official determination but she dreamed of them still. Strange, blurred dreams of dark blue water and vivid skies filled with diamond studded stars and a moon so bright it hurt to look more than a glance.

    Three years since their disappearance. Melancholy now, she rose and dressed for the day, no longer looking forward to turning twenty-one.

    That evening, she followed the glow of the bonfire, not wishing to disappoint her friends. She smiled and thanked them but soon found herself wandering further down the beach, needing solitude. An outcropping of stone drew her attention and bending, found a sable pelt, soft, warm and oddly, not wet to the touch. She moved her fingers over the fur, against the grain and felt goosebumps ripple over her arms.

    She hugged the pelt to her as the world dissolved, spun and she was floating, seeing her parents swimming towards her.

    “Time to choose, dearest daughter, will the land or sea be your home? We left so the choice would be solely yours and what your heart most desires.”

    It only took her a moment. With one last peek at her friends, Ishka dove under the waves to join her selkie family.

  7. The seal enjoyed watching the strange creatures at play on the shore.
    She liked the small ones, when they made their little houses, or splashed around in the shallows. Especially when they scared the fish towards her!
    And the slightly older ones, how they’d chase each other playfully. She could tell when it was true love. It made her a little sad when she saw it wasn’t returned, but she knew that was part of these strange creatures’ memories.
    Of the things that made their lives worth living.

    And what memories these creatures had! She saw several of them stand in front of their friends in fancy clothes, then ruin them by jumping in the water. Everyone laughed, and so did she.
    Some of those same people had little people of their own, and brought them to the shore, too.
    They’d bring their music to the shores. She liked a lot of it. Sure, it wasn’t a mating call, but what was?

    And, yes, some of them brought their pain, too.
    There was a certain older one. She sensed love and pride in the way she looked out over the horizon. As if waiting for someone to come.
    Sometimes the older female would wade out, ankle deep, in the water. Every so often, she’d send a lighted thing on a flower over the waves, out to sea.
    It seemed important, so the seal helped it go further.
    The seal didn’t understand, but hoped she would one day.

  8. Bianca looked straight up from her crib, staring at the mobile hanging from the ceiling.

    “When is Mom coming to feed me?” she gurgled.

    “Peek-a-Boo!” came the whisper through the wooden slats on Bianca’s left. Bianca shrieked, turning towards the sound.

    “Mom! Huh?”

    “Peek-a-Boo!” The greeting, now louder, emanated from Bianca’s right.

    Bianca pealed with glee but upon turning, Mom was nowhere.

    “Peek-a-Boo!” This time from behind the headboard. Bianca rolled onto her tummy seeking the familiar face of Mom.

    This routine has been etched into Bianca’s consciousness ever since. It was a reassuring game that became a metaphor for Mom’s constant presence even if Bianca could not see her.

    From kindergarten through Nursing Program, Mom kept daily this game of Peek-a-Boo to get Bianca up and ready. Later, as Bianca sailed through little successes and disappointments in her career and personal life, she autodialed “Peek-a-Boo” from her contact list to vent.

    Mom was now staring at the ceiling of the prep room, clutching tightly her rosary in fervent prayer, in an attempt to calm her nerves,

    “Peek-a-Boo!” went Bianca’s voice, accompanying her knock.

    “Hi, Mom. All set?”

    “I wish you were attending me.”

    “They don’t allow family to administer care during a procedure but I’ll be in the recovery room waiting.”

    It was an eternity before Mom was wheeled in from the operation. The anesthetic effects and bandage were still fresh.

    “Peek-a-Boo, Mom.”

    Mom’s eyelids fluttered, while weakly managing a smile, to meet Bianca’s loving and healing gaze.

  9. The glare of the sun off the water was beautiful, but it was wreaking havoc on my eyes. I had been looking forward to this ocean tour where a small boat would take us out into the Pacific to observe animals in the wild. The others on this tour were oohing and aahing over the whale sightings, the dolphin sightings, the schools of fish swimming near our vessel. Me? I saw water, some black objects in the distance which I was told were mountains, and a near-blinding sun.

    The seas were calm, the passengers were very nice, and the captain was jovial. People were passing around their cell phones and cameras to share with others the things they saw. From the looks of the photos, they were seeing the same thing I was: Nothing.

    The funny thing was we could hear otters and seals, we just couldn’t see them. Someone would point in the distance but by the time others focused their attention to the spot the aquatic critter had disappeared.

    As we returned slowly to port, I took some last snapshots of the ocean. Imagine my surprise when I found the one photo of a rock formation—is that what I think it is? It is!

  10. My name is Loretta. I am a sea otter. My mother was a sea otter, as was my grandmother. They taught me how to fish for shellfish and to find the best spots to fish. This is my cove in the chilly Pacific. It has mussels, some clams and oysters, and my treasured abalone in the of kelp forest just offshore. I guard this cove selfishly.

    My only competition, those lazy sea lions and ditsy harbor seals are merely a seasonal bother. My greatest threat is getting caught by one of those nasty white sharks cruising through the kelp. But, lately, I sense another threat. The waters here are warmer and the abalone scarcer than in years past.

    There are humans in boats fishing these waters and diving for abalone. My cove has become a source of wonder for all manner of human critter, descending the long slope of beach plum and scrub pine to marvel at the ocean with their young and their pets and their picnics. What they think they see in their longing glances at the horizon baffles me. There is so much more beneath the waves to marvel any sentient creature.

    I hide among the rocks when they appear. I’ve had enough of their oohing and laughing as I slide on the rocks and dive deep in my daily chores. I watch them; suspicious, now of their intent. More of them and fewer fish. Something is wrong. I simply won’t perform for them anymore.

  11. I could see the little seal, alone in the icy water, clinging to a rock. Had the others abandoned him?

    He looked small and vulnerable, just as I had felt years ago, when Kevin broke off our five-year relationship. We were both so young.

    “But why, Kevin? You said you loved me.”

    “I do, in a way, Marissa,” he answered, haughtily, “But you were never really my type.”

    “Never your type! I did everything you wanted!” I countered.

    “No backbone!” he declared, “Debbie is someone I can settle down with, build a life.”

    “You said Debbie was your friend! I had a bad feeling about that.”

    “She accepted my marriage proposal,” said Kevin, coolly.

    “What about your big plans to enlist in the Army?” I asked.

    “That was never for real. I was just goading you,” he answered, “I loved seeing you getting worked up about it.”

    “And you actually had me worried about where you would end up,” I sobbed, “Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria! You would never even serve your country as a school crossing guard in Nebraska!”

    I blew my nose, as he laughed in my face.

    “Yeah, Kevin looks out for Kevin,” I said, “Who are you, really?”

    His face was a blank, as I walked away.

    Back in the present, another sweet little seal broke the surface of the calm lake. I watched the two frolicking in the water. When will I find my companionship? And when will I ever trust anybody again?

  12. Lisa’s ex-husband had ridiculed her love of animals and wildlife. Then his parting words were, “… and you’re dumb poetry was never any good!”

    The punch landed: Lisa didn’t write another word for 2 years!


    Twenty miles south of Monterey, Lisa stopped at Lookout Point to see her favorite seal.
    When she stood on the rocks, by the water, the seal would start his game: hiding behind the rocks and then peeking out.
    “I think you are playing a peek-a-boo game! ” she called out.


    Later, at the neighborhood cafe, Mary a waitress, asked Lisa, “How’s that automatic writing technique going?”

    “Good, I think things are starting to flow again.”

    “That’s a relief. How about your love life? How’s that flowing?” They both laughed.

    Lisa looked around for Tom. She was writing a poem on the napkins when she told Mary she had to go home to write.

    Tom walks in, and sits at Lisa’s table, “Mary, who wrote this beautiful poetry?”

    ” Lisa…”

    “I would love to ask her out,”Tom said.

    “That’s good, but make it in this century,” she teased.

    Two weeks later.

    Tom was sitting at Lisa’s table by the window. Lisa comes in; before she can settle at her table, Tom asked her to join him.

    Their lunch turned into dinner, and afterwards they went to Lookout Point.

    They laughed at the seals’ antics. Tom said, “I think he is playing peek-a-boo with you.”

    Lisa smiled, and let Tom hold her hand on the way back.



    One of the most interesting trips we ever drove was along Highway One into Oregon to visit the natural Sea Lion Caves before you get to Coos Bay. Besides enjoying the drive and eating a delicious breakfast, we were able to reminisce the memory of watching the sea lions every summer Sunday the previous year when we would go to Knotts Berry Farm and sit near the entrance.

    We bought our tickets to go down to the floor to see the Sea Lions. We had to go down hundreds of feet in the elevator to join those looking down on the rocks below where the barking was “Loud.” The wind-whipped the rocks with heavy waves. Males and females swam many miles to get there to choose their harem and the chance to mate and bear young.

    The smell of pungent sea water almost burned our eyes. I wondered at the sharpness of the rocks. We turned to go after many minutes of observing a life not like my own. We drove to a good restaurant to have sea food and discuss the wonders we enjoyed.

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