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.
12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Accommodations”
“It’s got potential,” she said.
“It’s a shack.” He was probably sharper than he intended. Certainly, the realtor looked startled, but they’d been looking at houses for days.
“It’s what we can afford,” she ventured gently.
“We can afford better,” he replied. “We just have to economize.”
“I don’t think we should tie up all our money in a mortgage payment. What if we have an emergency? What if something unexpected comes up?”
His jaw tightened even as he fought to keep the words behind gritted teeth. Did she even listen to herself? Why did she always have to say everything twice? An emergency was something unexpected.
“It’s not healthy to live like this,” he replied. “You really want to spend the rest of your life propping open doors and duct-taping windows?”
“Those were simple fixes.” She peered at him wistfully. “You could take some classes at the hardware store.”
His jaw ached from the tight clench. I don’t want to spend my weekends doing home repair. Don’t I work hard enough now?
“Some things are best left to the pros. You get what you pay for, after all. Don’t you want a quality home? A nice life?”
She didn’t say anything, but looked off into the distance, one hand absently curling around her midriff.
Not another stomach ache, he thought and tried again. “We have to prioritize. The best thing for us is a decent home, even if it means we have to sacrifice a little now.”
On I-40 West, between Albuquerque and Gallup, Timothy decided it was time to camp. The next exit read “Old Route 66”. There were travel services near the interchange but no signs for camping. He passed a few Native American Kachina stands, and before long he was in high plains wilderness with tumbleweeds, scrub chaparral and a roadway so neglected, much of the paved surface was indistinguishable from the hard-packed desert floor. He saw skeletons of a prosperous past. A graveyard of used up machines, rotting motels, and long-abandoned gas stations.
His radio advised of high winds and dust storms just after nightfall. He might avoid a messy morning if he pitched his tent in the lee of one of these rotting old hulks. He pulled off the road to a small, roofless structure with its dilapidated sign, “Modern Restrooms!” It would do for the night. Searching for sleep, his mind drifted to the legacy of this decaying landscape. This road held promise for generations seeking better lives or just adventure in LA or Vegas. A highway fraught with tenuous aspirations and broken dreams. He slept well.
Morning brought little sign of the storm. He rolled up his bag and tent eager to get back on I-40 and find breakfast. Near the doorless entry was a small table set with a greying doily upon which sat a thermos of coffee and a Krispy Kreme, with a note. It read, “Come back an’ see us agin, y’all. We miss ya!”
ELIGIBLE FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY
The Galactic Peeps
Randy had skipped school, and he was exploring the local woods, when he discovered a satellite phone. Spotting an abandoned hovel, he decided to enter it and check out the device.
He was a shy and insecure teenager, so he handled the phone in a somewhat tentative manner. He turned it on and fiddled with the dials. Then he heard a voice come through the small speaker.
“We are the Galactic Peeps who scan the universe.
“We have been observing your planet. You believe in freedom and monster trucking. This is annoying. And it (((triggers))) us.
“Your independence of thought poses a danger to our Collective Mind.
“If you do not denounce this love of freedom and trucking we will be forced to destroy your planet with our ultimate weapon: THE BIG DOOM.”
Frightened, Randy threw the satellite phone on the ground. The idea that a race known as the Galactic Peeps was threatening his planet was more than his youthful teenage years could handle.
He frantically gathered up his things and exited the hovel.
Running back home, Randy resolved to do two things. He was never going to skip school again. And he was going to summon up the courage to ask Suzy out on a date.
But he figured with his luck, the Galactic Peeps would show up with THE BIG DOOM and ruin everything.
Wind whispered in the splintered timbers, murmuring, lamenting. Hearing its agony, Caitlyn nearly cried. “It pines like an abandoned lover.”
Mike’s expression mocked her though his words fell gentle on her ears. “It’s just an old relic. Come on, I’ll show you.” He tugged her hand.
She refused to budge. “Look at its eyes, Mike.”
“Those are windows.”
“And the cast of its mouth. It’s in pain.”
“Don’t be stupid, Caitlyn. That’s a door.” His grip tightened. He might have meant to pull her arm off. She dug in her heels, but he was too strong. He’d always been too strong, too determined, too full of himself, oblivious of any feelings but his own.
As they reached the entrance, timbers shifted. Window-eyes and door-mouth widened in alarm. The ruin’s pain coursed through her, and something else. Empathy. Anger.
“Mike,” she pleaded as he crossed the threshold. She ripped her hand from his and nearly fell.
He turned on her, disdain unmasked. “You’re such a baby! I should leave you here. Teach you a lesson.”
The decaying rafters groaned. Mike looked up in alarm as the roof collapsed, roaring, all but burying him.
The rest was a blur. She called for help. Police and paramedics extracted Mike from the wreckage. Doctors assured her of his recovery. But she had to honor the house’s sacrifice.
So she left him there.
Just to teach him a lesson.
The Sun shot through a sliver of planks, motes of dust dancing across the beam before plunging back into the dying light. Dani should’ve minded the warmth hitting her face but found it a comfort. Last night had been another long one, regrets a litany in the near pitch black. Most agreed overthinking was her greatest flaw.
Dani’d say acting on impulse was worse. Fleeing seemed the only answer, so she’d waited until they were asleep, then crept out her second story window. Landing ignominiously in a heap hadn’t been planned but pushed to her feet, the burning pain in her side masked by the rush of adrenaline.
She limped two miles before collapsing. Dani pulled a bottle of water from the duffle, the water cool enough to quench. She downed half the bottle then pressed it to her side, a small balm to the throbbing that persisted. A fleeting thought of returning crossed her mind but was dismissed.
Nothing out here could be worse than going back.
Peering past the tree line, moonlight illuminated the boards of an old shack. Beggars can’t be choosers, she thought, and stumbled into the larger of the two. Just accommodations for the night, was her last lucid thought.
Time, days passed. She’d once craved solitude, but now needed someone, anyone to find her; let her rest in a more fitting place. Voices grew closer and had she breath, would’ve sighed in relief.
The cadaver dog barked once, then sat, waiting for his handler.
“Sally packed the For Sale signs into the back seat of their old car. Arnold added a can of red enamel for the front door and an attractive potted plant for curb appeal. Their newly-earned real estate licenses were already tacked on the wall over the makeshift desk in their tiny office over the drugstore. The young couple was ready. The skies were blue, and the breezes were soft. Overflowing with optimism, they hopped into their car, on their way to inspect their first listing.
“I can’t wait to see it” Sally said. “The owner says there are two buildings. Can you believe that. Two! One could be separate guest quarters.”
“We could get a stager to set it up, maybe with an outdoors feel. Put a pair of cushy chairs outside, facing the sunset…
“The possibilities are endless! We were so lucky to get this listing. I can’t understand why another realtor didn’t snap it up.”
And so the couple chatted on, dreaming of creating a fabulous country estate as they drove on through the rolling countryside. At last they turned off on an unpaved road. And finally came to their dream property.
Their mouths dropped. There were two buildings, just as the owner had said. He hadn’t said that the two buildings were wrecks. No roofs, no windows, no doors, holes in the walls.
Arnold was the first to recover.
“Okay, so we can’t call this a fabulous country estate. How about a fabulous fixer-upper?”
For 350 years, Spain had a pick of accommodations globally. But towards the close of the 19th century, for fifty soldiers that comprised the last bastion of the colonial power, a small church in Baler, in an isolated Philippine coastal town, was the setting from which they launched Spain’s ultimate attempt to suppress the rising nationalist movements worldwide to kick out foreign domination.
The remoteness of Baler kept the garrison from being apprised of arrangements Spain finalized with the United States which eventually ended the former’s grip on the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico for twenty million dollars.
“Colonel, the runner shared this Spanish newspaper dated today. We have no quarrel anymore with the Filipinos. We can replace the Spanish flag with one of truce and leave. The men are sick with dysentery and malaria. We are out of food and drink.”
“I have received no such orders, Soldier. I am not about to surrender. We keep fighting until told otherwise.”
“Colonel, this is not a trick. The Filipino army is now fighting the Yankees. Spain is not part of this war anymore. Should we leave?”
“Rebels will say anything to lure us out of this makeshift fort, Soldier. As you were.”
A year and twenty casualties later, the siege ended. The thirty remaining souls were allowed safe passage as friends of the Filipinos. They departed via Yankee ship bound for Barcelona. A grateful Spanish nation honored them as heroes of their last stand, sunsetting a once mighty empire.
Old towns like this fade into the distance. Too small to see in front of you. Too far gone to see behind you.
This place isn’t much. I look up, though, and I see the stars. My senses feel the wind. My memories remember the past, and it’s crystal clear to me.
And I go back quite often. The rubble next door was once hers. One time, when we were together, we found out just how ill made her bedroom wall was.
She moved on, though. Bigger dreams to chase than I could offer her.
I made bigger dreams come true for myself, and I stayed here. Met my wife down the street and went around the world.
But we all have a past, and mine was enjoyable. I learned a lot from her, and I learned a lot here.
I allow myself a visit now and then. She taught me passion, and breathed life into me.
And I offer up hopes that she found the same out there.
I stay just long enough to feel the time, whatever time I want.
Much like an old town, I’m still standing and I’m not quitting.
Soon, I’ll be too small to see in front of you, too far gone to see behind you.
I’m big enough now for those at home, and that’s good enough.
The memories linger, but love remains alive.
I looked at the dilapidated structure. I could believe this was the remains of something from the Civil War. It looked like it was 150 years old.
It was an odd feeling—I was grateful I wasn’t stopping here, but suddenly I could imagine being in a situation where this … thing … would be welcome accommodations for at least a night. Where was this idea coming from? I wondered.
Who built this? Why here? What were the circumstances that led to this structure being here? I could imagine the pioneer chopping down the trees with his hatchet. Was he able to have the boards cut at a saw mill or did he have to do it by hand? How did he make the nails? How many children did he have?
I suddenly felt as if I were in the middle of a bad novel—why was I thinking of all these struggles by pioneers? It could have been an entirely different scenario. But I felt a kinship with whoever erected this façade, his hopes and dreams as he began construction.
Later that evening, when I was settled comfortably in a modern motel with all of the creature comforts like electricity and indoor plumbing, I reflected back to what I saw earlier. As I looked up at the ceiling, I wondered about the construction of this facility. What did it look like when construction began? What would it look like a hundred years after it closed? Such is life.
ELIGIBLE FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY
My sister Jenny and I loved to explore outside. Mommy gave us lunch, I put it in my pack, and we set out.
We reached the ruins of an old cabin. “But Mario,” said Jenny, “Daddy said it’s dangerous in there.”
Even as she voiced her opposition, she was peeking inside. “It’s cool in here.”
“We don’t have to stay long,” I said, “Just eat and go.”
Soon we fell asleep on the creaky floorboards. Jenny awoke and crawled into the part with wood sticking out, but the floor collapsed. She rolled under, with a scream.
“It hurts, Mario! I’m stuck!”
Terrified, I saw a spike sticking through her shoulder. She was bleeding! “Jenny, stay put. I’ll run for help.”
I was never so scared in my life. She could die, and it was my fault! I remembered a lady who lived across the field. I knocked on her door, and breathlessly explained our predicament. The woman, Mrs. Rotini, called for help and put me on the phone.
They sent a helicopter! They took us both, with the piece of wood still attached to Jenny.
Mommy and Daddy met us at the hospital, with Mrs. Rotini. “It’s time to demolish that old shack,” she said. “We can use the firewood.”
My poor, sweet Jenny was all bandaged up. I wanted to hug her! “I’m only going in safe places now,” she said, sheepishly.
“And that,” Daddy said, “Is where you will both be grounded, until I say otherwise.”
According to his 6th child Hettie, my grandfather L.D. had a difficult time making a living at farming. They moved several times — always seeking to improve their lifestyle. Aunt Allie, his oldest daughter, once described her Papa as “a poor man with too many children.” They lived in Oklahoma for a while on their way to California.
L.D. built a house but never took the time to finish the upstairs section where the girls slept. They lived near L.D.’s twin brothers Jake and Like. Like was the one who had introduced L.D. to his wife Nancy.
When L.D. and Nancy arrived in California he worked in San Gabriel at Huntington Botanical Gardens as a gardener and saved up enough money to join Erskin, the oldest son of their ten children, in the small town of Chowchilla, California. L.D. built himself a house and other small houses they called cabins to rent out to Okies who were flooding into the area to work for the rich dairy farmers. He had at last found a way to make a reasonable living.
“Well, here it is… the property you inherited,” Mr. Reginald said.
Victoria could not believe her eyes! With majestic mountains as a background, the wreck of a former house didn’t even have a back wall!
“You said that it was an improved property… let’s go, I have to be back in LA for court. I only came here out of respect to five generations of relatives.”
“What about the house, and business in town?”
“Is it functional?”
“It’s a popular business.”
“What kind?” she was almost afraid to ask.
“A tavern,” he whispered.
“Really? It sounds interesting.”
At the tavern, Victoria was introduced to the manager, Brad a tall rugged guy, her age.
“I guess you want to sell.”
“How about dinner tonight? There’s some background you should know.”
“Okay,” she said intrigued, enjoying Brad’s smile.
At dinner, Brad and Victoria talked about their similar family backgrounds.
“Don’t be mad at Reggie, he just wanted to get you out here for your body,” he laughed.
“What! ” Victoria laughed feigning shock.
“We’ve fallen below the population count we need, to save the town from the super highway.”
“My firm’s heard about the project.”
“We have alot of history here. This is where the golden spike was laid to connect the Transcontinental railroad!”
“Well…the town deserves to fight for its survival. Maybe I can take a sabbatical and help,” she smiled, thinking, maybe, she was fighting for her own life… to have a family and a personal life.
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