Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Community

Light up the Park 10272018 3L0A6723 (2)
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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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Community”


    The Butterfly Effect

    The children lit candles to attract a butterfly. They believed it had something to tell them.

    Soon, one entered the room. It had an ease of flight, fluttering here and there, as though free of any worldly cares. Its wings were covered with a beautiful mosaic pattern and they glistened like tinsel as they moved in the light of the candles.

    It floated above a photograph on the table, and like a silent spirit, it studied the picture with a growing curiosity. The photograph was that of a city at night. It showed the sparkling crystal lights of the city’s skyline and the glow they cast upon the shadowy darkness below. The light did not illuminate the darkness; it was absorbed by it.

    After fluttering above the table for a short time, the butterfly landed on the photograph. Once on the picture, it slowly moved around it, being delicate in its movements. Curiously, every now and then it touched the picture with its antennae and used them like a stethoscope in an attempt to detect life.

    During its exploration the butterfly’s antennae uncovered a scent that was designed to disorient, fragment and divide. It was a fragrance of fear and irrationality. It was part of a rising aroma of corruption and anti-reason. And it was a bouquet of subtlety that was imbued with injustice and surveillance.

    Through its investigation the butterfly came to understand the nature of the State. And it communicated this secret understanding to the children.

  2. Friends of Hannah started a solemn vigil at the site of LJ’s murder in front of the brass works. They kept it going through the weekend; singing songs, saying prayers and holding signs demanding answers. Their spontaneous effort left, a crude monument to his memory with pictures and candles and paper lanterns. Pastor Dinkins had come to offer encouragement.

    “I too, call for justice with my patience sorely pressed. Be on notice in this community; without justice there can be no peace. To you who light candles in LJ’s name on this site of infamy, your thoughts and good wishes are meaningless. Action alone will atone his death. For now though, rejoice in his life! Let those candles recognize its brevity and the light he brought into a dark world. As we wait patiently for earthly justice, let us uplift our grieving family with compassion and assistance in their time of sorrow. That is the best way to show our love in community. But, we must continue as LJ showed us, to demand our rights using any means necessary.”

    The crowd eventually dispersed and Hannah found herself returning daily with fresh flowers or a new candle for the memorial. One day it rained and she stood under an umbrella keeping vigil until the guard asked her kindly to do so from the other side of the street. It was that simple humiliation that caused her to rally her community behind her brother’s mission, by any means necessary.


    My nephews came to live with me when my cousin, Ana, fled her home in California. Both did not seem to have a concept of what befell them or caused the sudden uprooting from their accustomed lifestyle.

    Ana’s mother, my aunt, was their primary caregiver. Ana’s soon-to-be former spouse embroiled himself in matters too heinous to describe but our home and community two states north became a welcome refuge for the four of them.

    To keep normality in the children’s lives, routines were maintained. My aunt still provided primary care; Ana converted our guest room into a remote office. The presence of their father seemed not to dent the happy existence I observed.

    A knock disrupted one tranquil Sunday morning. The peephole showed a uniformed individual. Ana, my aunt and the boys were at Mass.

    “Elena Cruz?”


    “Seattle Police here. We need to speak to you about Ana Santos. There is an Amber alert on her two sons.”

    I unlatched the door.

    “How am I involved, Officer?”

    “We have reason to believe she contacted you. We received a tip on a vehicle last spotted just outside your neighborhood.”

    “I cannot comment, Sir. Do you have a warrant?”

    The officer hesitated, eyed the space behind me, and then turned away.

    “We’ll be back tomorrow.”

    An hour later the refugees returned. Ana and I got on the phone with our respective attorneys.

    My immediate neighbors were made aware of circumstances and provided another layer of shelter.

    All of us were ready.


    “Just lemme get this thing lit and we’ll be all set.”

    “Watch it, Jake. That flame’s coming mighty close to the wall of tent. You’re going to burn us down if you’re not careful.”

    “I know what I’m doing. Oh, darn. The flame went out. Gimme another match.”

    “Where are they? I can’t find them in the dark.”

    Brian and David sat near the opening of the tent, ready for just such a moment, with the tent plunged into pitch darkness, and the other boys and Jake scrambling around searching for matches. No one noticed when they lifted the flap and slipped out. They would show Jake that technology had it all over his survivalist lanterns and matches.

    They headed for the solar lights Brian had hidden earlier. Wouldn’t Jake be surprised when he saw them. The lights had been sitting out all day soaking up sunlight and now would light up the boys’ night. They could read, play cards, whatever they wanted. And without burning anything down.

    Where were the solar lights anyway?

    “I hid them right around here,” Brian said, kicking leaves aside.

    “You hid them under leaves?” said David.

    “Well, yeah, I didn’t want anybody to find them.”

    “Great. So the sun couldn’t find them either, so they didn’t charge up. They are SOLAR lights, Brian, you idiot. They need the sun.”


    David sighed. So much for technology. “Let’s go help look for the matches….”

  5. “Oh, Daddy, these lanterns are the most beautiful things that I have ever seen,” Timmy exclaimed!

    It had been a perfect September night for their camping excursion. The paper lanterns that his father had surprised little Timmy and his brothers with had them all mesmerized and ecstatic.

    Timmy then had a thought that made him dejected.

    “But, Daddy, how long before these will be gone,” Timmy asked?

    Timmy’s dad sensed his change of mood. He tried to think of something to restore his son’s spirit to its former joyful state.

    “Timmy, their beauty will last for as long as you remember them. How long will you remember them?”

    “I will always remember them, Daddy. How could I ever forget them? They’re so pretty,” Timmy said excitedly.

    Timmy’s Dad was pleased that what he had told Timmy had seemed to have worked.

    A quarter of a century later the now grown Tim found himself with his three boys on their first camp-out in the woods on another transparent and chilly September evening. He created and showed them the fire lanterns that his now-deceased father had taught him.

    His son Joey asked, “How long will these last, Dad?”

    “Well, these have now burned beautifully and brightly about twenty-five years. When you remember to show them to your young children, they will have lasted around fifty years by then.”

    When Tim explained what he meant to his perplexed boys, they all said that they would always remember this night.

  6. Our community came together, once again, to grieve. Another shooter murdered 14 people in a neighboring town.

    Our council decided to find a way to end the madness and keep our community safe. We solicited innovations from various inventors. We purchased a fast, responsive, bullet-proof AI capable of tracking and subduing an active shooter. Little did we know our new defensive weapon would be tested within a month.

    The heavily armed and camouflaged man parked outside our busiest restaurant. Customers milled about on the sidewalk. Someone noticed him emerge from his truck and screamed an alarm. People scattered as he fired his automatic rifle.

    Within moments our AI arrived and rushed the would-be mass murderer. Bullets bounced off its impenetrable skin. As we watched the street cams, our protector grabbed the culprit and threw him to the ground. We cheered as the shooter’s weapon was tossed aside and medics rushed to assist the wounded.

    Then, to our surprise, the AI continued with its own sense of justice. First it broke the man’s arms. Then as he screamed in pain, it jammed its metal foot into his face. “What’s happening?” we asked the controller.

    He answered succinctly. “I’ve lost control.”

    By the time the AI stopped, the criminal was just a bloody pulp on the pavement.

    When he finally regained the power of speech, our mayor said, “Post the video. Let the killers see what waits for them.”

    That was years ago. Mass killings have all but ended throughout our land.

  7. They gathered to celebrate. Autumn equinox was upon them and the harvest festival was starting. Bonfires would be lit, lanterns would fill the sky. Friends and neighbors greeted each other warmly and exchanged canned vegetables, jams and baked goods fresh from the fall harvest. They would have enough to get them through this winter. Smiles relaxed previously worried faces, laughter and bouncy music filled the air. Judy loved all of it. She enjoyed the dancing though her legs were tired from the day’s work. It had been a hard year. She looked around at the people who had become her family. Her heart was full. This group of thirty six had helped each other survive. After the cataclysm in the year of 2035, they had found one another and began to build a community and life together. As she looked across the fields she wondered if there were others and hoped they were doing as well.

  8. Joyce, the oldest and the leader of the group, unfolded the 24 by 24-inch piece of rice paper and set it before the four members of her team. Beside the paper she placed six thin bamboo sticks, 12 inches long, and a 4-inch white candle.

    “Our solemn task,” she intoned, “is to take these items and build a temple that will send or peaceful wishes around the world.”

    Gregory, a 20-year-old with shining eyes, said, “Let’s make a rocket that will dynamite the world with peace.”

    “No,” said Debra, in her late thirties, “we must build a simple house to hold our wishes gently and spread peace over all.”

    “Wait a minute,” said Jeffry, an unemployed software engineer. “I say we each make a small paper temple and broadcast the lift-off on social media.”

    A middle-aged woman poet with streaky black and gray hair raised her hands. “We need to work together to make one structure covered with a lyrical message of peace.”

    They all started talking at once. No one could or would agree with another. As the evening grew darker, the dispute grew louder. Two team members fought over the sheet of rice paper. With a jagged screech, it ripped in two. Someone threw the unlit candle. High minded principles and legalistic counter arguments flew back and forth.

    “This isn’t what I had in mind,” said Joyce to another leader.

    “Their hearts are in the right place,” said the other.

    “You think so?” said Joyce.

  9. A small community of people stood around in the Atkins National Park, holding their lanterns to send aloft in memory of those who died in the fire.

    “Are they out of their God-fearing minds?” said Vera Tannenbaum to her friend, Cora. “They could start another fire with one of these things!”

    “That’s not how it works, Vera,” said Cora, “They don’t stay lit very long, and they’re designed not to spread fire.”

    “That’s how Justin died! Fighting a forest fire! Why should I remember him this way?”

    “He was brave, so you be brave, Vera,” she answered, “You’re his Mama, I believe he can see you. God won’t let anything else go wrong.”

    Justin really was a brave kid, she thought. At the age of 23, he got two young children out of a burning house, but didn’t make it out himself.

    “Well, alright. I’m here, so I may as well give it a try.”

    And try she did, but Vera couldn’t light that lantern. It absolutely refused to be lit. Someone who already had theirs lit offered to trade with her, but as soon as they did, it went out, and they had no trouble lighting hers.

    Finally, she got Justin’s lantern lit, with his name tag firmly affixed, sending it skyward.

    But it went out almost immediately, floating back down, right into her arms. “My boy and me, we think alike. He sent it right back to his Mama, and it’s coming home with me, too.”

  10. When it became obvious to me that my husband and Ella belonged together, (he and I were separated), I remembered a friend met her husband in a singles group called Parents without Partners. I had been married over sixteen years and needed to know how to be single. I joined and met some really supportive people, especially Dee Brazen, Shirley Brown, Eleanor Delman, Barbara Strickland, and Patti who became my best friend and later married Richard Tower.

    One of the best points about PWP was that they had activities for those of us who had children. Shirley Brown, who soon married Bill Perdue, was in charge of the crafts for children. My oldest son was not interested but the three younger ones blossomed as they painted and put crafts together.

    Dee Brazen asked me to help her with the discussion chairmanship. I enthusiastically said I would. They met every Thursday night. She started the wine and cheese discussions on Sunday evenings and within two months went to work with Albertsons Market on First and Leffingwell. The chairmanship was dumped in my lap for the next two plus years. I added Tuesday night discussions and a Friday night once-a-month discussion. Our community of singles was growing.

    One night a friend I was dating insisted I go with him to a PWP house party at Sam Cooper’s house. The door opened and Joe R. Salazar walked in and wouldn’t leave my side all evening. We married five months later.

  11. The 17 year war was over. Tom and Paula felt insecure everyday. The infrastructure of society was gone: all the communication systems were long since scavenged for weaponry.

    Everyone they knew craved routine. They all seem to just hope for normalcy: kids in school; holidays; vegetable gardens.

    Tom burst through the door on a warm autumn day. “It’s tonight!” Tom bellowed.

    “What is tonight?” Paula looked alarmed, until she saw his face.

    “The lighted night, sign of peace,” he said and frowned, wondering why she hadn’t remembered.

    “I hadn’t decided if I was going,” Paula said, and didn’t look up from her mending.

    “Why? It would be great for the kids…to show them the whole community coming together; in peace and hope for the future.” Then, more quietly, ” Paula, you are hopeful, aren’t you?”

    “I think it’s a waste of resources,” she snapped, and jumped out of her chair; leaving the room to walk to the back of their earth house.

    But later, when her husband stood at the door with their young children, Paula’s heart softened.
    Her daughter piped up, ” Please come Mommy, all our friends will be there.”

    “Looking in her daughter’s eyes, she said, “Okay, I’ll go munchkin.”

    Surrounded by the warmth of their community, the lanterns were released into the night. As they floated up and away, Paula and Tom’s children watched with shining eyes.

    Paula decided, that her legacy to her children; would be, to instill hope, and a sense of community.

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