Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Vortex

Sedona 11142018 flash fiction prompt copyright ks Brooks IMG_1856 (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!

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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Vortex”

  1. Once Upon a Time in a Laundromat

    It was a vortex of time and place in a small town laundromat.

    Earl was sitting in the corner listening to the radio when he suddenly yelled, “We’re being invaded! Beings from outer space have landed near town!”

    “Invaded?!” Daisy cried, stuffing clothes into a washer. “I haven’t finished my laundry yet!”

    “Well, I’m ready for ’em!” Bubba yelled and promptly dropped his change on the floor.

    “Quack! Quack!”

    “How’d that duck get in here?!”

    At that moment the Sheriff, along with four of his deputies, entered the laundromat with guns drawn. “Git your hands up!”

    Everyone raised their hands.

    “Listen up people,” said the Sheriff. “If you’re from outer space, keep your hands up. If you’re human, put your hands down.”

    Unable to hear the Sheriff’s commands because of the sound of the washers and dryers, everyone kept their hands in the air.

    The Sheriff nervously moved his gun from side to side. “Hot damn. We hit the jackpot. They’re all from outer space.”

    “And they’ve cleverly disguised themselves as humans,” said Deputy Cooter, smacking his gum.

    “Be careful fellas,” the Sheriff said, nervously. “Them aliens is tricky.”

    “What are we gonna do with ’em, Sheriff?” asked Deputy Wade, nervously eyeing everyone in the room.

    “Take ’em in for questioning.”

    “Quack! Quack!”

    The Sheriff spun around. “Stop right there, Quacker!” he yelled, pointing his gun. “You aliens ain’t gonna fool me with your disguises.”

  2. Alyssa had been to Sedona many times, but she’d never experienced anything like this. It was early in the morning, and the temperature already was above 70 degrees. She was transfixed, looking at the cloud pattern above the fabled red rocks.
    “It’s a vortex,” I whispered, as if anything louder would have disturbed the psychic powers arrayed before us. “There are four in the area that are thought to direct positive energy into and out of the Earth: Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, Boynton Canyon, and Cathedral Rock.”
    Alyssa said nothing, but slowly, I saw a look of skepticism sweep across her face. “And people believe this?” she asked, holding back some, I think, so as not to embarrass or insult me.
    I pressed on. “Many believe the Bell Rock and Airport Mesa Vortexes are masculine; these are thought to be upflows . . . you know, places where energy is coming out of the Earth. They occur over mountain or mesa top, just like the one we’re looking at.”
    “Of course,” continued Alyssa,” so the other two must me feminine. And unless I miss my guess, they’re marked by inflows into canyons and depressions.” She said it almost in a mocking voice.
    I laughed. “You don’t have to believe it. Still, people come here release their negative energies and take up the positive. It’s all in the mind—and heart—of the beholder.”

  3. Nora and Jeff investigated leys, those mysterious lines of force that run beneath the earth. They knew that ancient peoples in England had aligned boulders in precise patterns above the leys. But why, no one knew. Nora and Jeff were determined to shed some light on the mystery.

    Now they were in Sedona, Arizona, to investigate what the locals called a vortex. Nora and Jeff suspected this was evidence of a ley.

    “It looks promising,” Nora said, as they hiked over the rocky ground.

    “We’ll need to bring our equipment, measure any electrical current running underground….”

    “I was watching a series last night on TV. An English woman was transported in time just by pressing her palms against a rock, supposedly a rock with mystical powers.” Nora said. “I know, it sounds silly. But the rock looked just like the ones we were investigating in England.”

    Jeff laughed. “Pretty far-fetched, I’d say.”

    Nora laughed too. “I know, but wouldn’t that be fantastic if it were true?”

    “Why not try it? Just put your palms on the rock. What could it hurt to try?”

    “Okay, I will.”

    Nora put both palms on the red rock of the cliff and closed her eyes. When she opened them, she was still there, standing by the red rocks beneath a brilliant blue sky. A soft breeze blew, and nothing seemed changed.

    The only difference was that she was alone and the year was now 1724.

  4. The crying started in the hospital parking lot. The shaking started halfway home.
    I drove, oblivious to the striated red hills. The delirious phone call was underway on the final approach to the house. I was told to pull over but I kept insisting through the more-than-crying that I was “almost home, almost home”. Over the last rise I could see my house. Home. Made it by sheer homing instinct.
    This was more than a crying jag. This was unhinged, nearly out of control and almost unreachable by reason. This was blind panic fear. I started calling around for anyone who could come over. I needed to not be alone. I needed to be talked down off the ledge. The first call was not picked up. The second was on the road somewhere. The third was home next door and came over. This was not soothing, hand-holding talk. Nor was it tough love. It was merely manly. Manly in a doing-the-best-possible-under-the-circumstances way.
    It may not be what I wanted or needed in the moment but it had its effect. I stepped back off the ledge still shaken. My limbs shaking. Heart pounding. Tears stinging. But at least off the ledge.

  5. The heat was palpable as Brad and Sheila walked along the wide trail towards the towering rocks ahead. Brad was suffering as he walked through the waves of heat rising from the baked ground. Sheila was cooler thanks to her wide brimmed hat.

    “Why did you want to hike clear out here in the middle of the day?” asked Brad. This little hike was something completely different than what he expected.

    “We’re getting serious,” said Sheila. “I just want to feel good about that. The invisible forces that swirl around these rocks inform my soul about matters of the heart.”

    Brad liked the idea about matters of the heart. It might lead to what he was after. He’d be wise to take the long view of things but the heat made that hard.

    “Stop. Now,” said Sheila. “I’m feeling something. We need to close our eyes. Be open, Brad, to the invisible.”

    Brad sighed dramatically but did as Sheila wanted.

    Sheila surreptitiously opened her eyes and saw that Brad’s were still closed. She turned and ran into the rocky crevices nearby. All the mumbo jumbo about the Sedona Vortex was an easy way to escape the commitment she knew Brad wanted.

    Brad, of course, was alarmed, mystified, then relieved when he finally opened his eyes.

    After he left, Sheila came out from her hiding place.

    “You’re letting go of the love of your life.”

    Sheila, startled, looked around.

  6. The vortex first appeared in the back country of Zion National Park. The hikers who reported it described a very large dust devil, like a miniature brown tornado. It seemed to appear and disappear at random intervals, always near the same location.

    We rangers didn’t think too much about it until people started seeing faces in the spinning dust. That was when the scientists arrived and set up their instruments. Then our job became one of keeping gawking tourists out of the area.

    Soon all sorts of urban legends arose. The vortex was a gateway to another dimension, or perhaps, a parallel universe. Although the researchers had no explanation, they mocked all the science fictional rationales. They laughed, that is, until one of their colleagues stared at the whirling dust, yelled, “Grandma!” and rushed toward the vortex. Before he could be stopped, the dust devil engulfed him, then disappeared. No trace of the young man could be found.

    So now I occupy my encampment near the research station and wait. I watch the vortex carefully each time it appears. I’ve made my decision. If there exists a world where my wife and baby girl haven’t died in a horrific car accident, I will go there.

  7. The tears streamed down her face and silently splatted on the red ground. With no idea if the vortex was real or not, Tara staggered forward, hoping she’d know when she reached the right spot. So many had spoken of its power and magic – it had to help, didn’t it?

    She’d driven for hours after word of her best friend’s accident. With him in a coma, and his wife by his side, this was the only thing she could think of doing to be useful. Now, with the big sky and orange landscape usurping her, Tara felt she must be at the right place.

    Drawn into a corner, Tara placed her hands against the rock wall and beseeched the heavens to heal her friend. Resting her forehead against her hands, she choked on her sobs. She crumpled to the ground, heaving to get some air into her lungs.

    Her hand brushed against a small rock as she straightened herself. The tears stopped, but her heart was still pounding. What if she brought a piece of the vortex to him? A light breeze cooled her tear-soaked face; an odd calm melted over her.


    When Tara entered the hospital room, his wife, whose face was also blotched with red, looked up. Without words, Tara gently placed one of the rocks in his listless hand. There was a twitch, and then his fingers slowly closed around it.

    “Do you have more?” his wife asked.

    “A bucketful,” Tara replied.

  8. Sharon Jensen lived close to the Red Rock Vortex in Arizona. While there were anecdotal accounts of physical ailments being cured there, most of the reported healing that occurred was psychological in nature.

    Sharon had suffered from clinical depression for most of her 38 years. She frequently considered visiting the Vortex, but wondered if it was legitimate. Besides, her painting was a powerful outlet for her feelings, and often her episodes drove her to paint with ever-increasing fury. It was only in her deepest moments of despair that she couldn’t pick up the paintbrush.

    On a windy October day, she and her husband Oliver dropped off their children with her parents, and they drove to the Vortex.

    As they walked from the car, her friend Evie from group therapy came bounding up the path. She had an enlightened look in her eyes.

    “I know I’ll never be the same!” cried Evie, “My whole life is before me!”

    Sharon watched as Evie tripped off into the distance. She looked at her husband. “I think this vortex is Bipolar Central,” she said carefully, “Maybe I should stick with my painting.”

    Oliver answered, “You know I will support you, no matter what.”

    “It’s okay if I change my mind?” she asked.

    He held her hand, smiling. “Sharon, I think there are other ways of — ‘changing your mind.'”

    She said, “For better or worse?”

    Oliver firmly answered, “We’ve always managed, together, and we always will.”

  9. Cortez packed Margarita with provisions and the herramientas he would need to find gold in El Norte. He was alone except for her. Used to pulling a rude plow his faithful mule was now an adventurer. The farm failed after los burócratas diverted the water. Adventure was his only option. Faith and perseverance led the way as they trudged the thousand miles of rugged high desert in their lonely pursuit of el oro. Others had struck it rich in el Norte. Why not him?

    Weeks passed with few sightings of others, just the sand, scrub, and mesquite wood. He began to question his choice. This adventure was more than he expected. The romance of discovery and good fortune were lost to the journey itself. When would it end? It was also getting colder as they approached the higher mesa lands of el Norte. The prevailing wind was now sapping his energy and blowing sand was reducing visibility.

    One night as they slept, a vortex of swirling wind and sand enveloped their camp, extinguishing their fire, and covering them with sand. He dreamed of his childhood inspiration, Don Quixote, and his valiant perseverance in the face of so many obstacles.

    When they awoke, the wind had subsided and they realized they had camped amidst a forest of steel towers with aerofoil wings high above them. As he brushed sand from Margarita’s eyelids, he said, “Like the Man from La Mancha, Margarita, we must bravely face these gigantes in our path”.

  10. In the desert, a jay and a coyote face off. “Mind your own business, mutt.”

    “Mind yours. No fences anywhere. I’m on scent, and you don’t interest me.”

    “My life is a cautionary tale of who doesn’t belong here, ” counters the jay.
    The coyote sticks its nose to the ground.The jay warns. Both trace wider bands, circling through the tarry brush. Each grows more determined, one leading and one pursuing. The red dust blows up and conceals them.
    “No, mine.”
    “I belong here. You don’t.”
    “Says who?”
    “Me. We have nothing in common.”
    “I want nothing from you.”
    Wandering, they lay their claims and dispute the land.
    “No, mine.”
    “You’ll never own it.”
    “we’ll never share it.”
    The sun sets. Night brings rest. Quiet.
    Then dawn again. The quests repeat. Silent desert remains confident. The desert indulges their maneuvers to divide and conquer. It knows all creatures belong to it.

  11. Janet and her husband Andrew had chosen a work transfer, six months ago, to the beautiful Sedona, Arizona.

    Janet’s parents Dorothy and Bill, just arrived for a visit.

    “We have a special treat for you today, Mom and Dad,” Janet announced.


    “A jeep tour, to four of the most famous vortexes in Sedona.”

    “Are they energy vortexes?” her father, Bill asked.

    “Yes, with beautiful scenery.”

    “I don’t know about a jeep, with my bad back; aren’t they really rough and bouncy?” Janet’s mother asked.

    “Not the new ones – it’ll be okay Mom.”

    Janet’s father rolled his eyes.

    When they sat down in the Jeep, her mother piped up again, “I can’t understand why you chose to move to a barren desert.”

    The guide explained about the energy vortexes, and that you may experience physical effects such as tingling of the hands, or an increased sense of energy.

    During the tour and at lunch; Janet’s mother, Dorothy, had nothing but negative remarks.

    Janet’s father said he could feel the effects of the vortexes-they gave him an overall sense of well-being.

    The next morning, Dorothy awakened early for breakfast, and made an announcement. “We are going to downsize our house, and move out here 6 months of the year.”

    “Why the sudden change about Sedona?”

    “I had the best sleep ever, and I feel so energetic. It must be the air out here.”

    Janet and Andrew looked at each other and smiled. They knew it was the magic of the vortexes.

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