Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Yo

california sea lion 1993 flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks
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.

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: Yo”

  1. “Yo! Whaddaya doin’ up there?”
    “Oh, geez! Now you went and spoiled the shot I was about to take of the most beautiful yellowtail I’ve ever seen.”
    “Well boo hoo. Cry me a river. If you ask me, those fish are nothin’ but an annoyance anyway, always gathering in schools and makin’ a nuisance of themselves. They’re all over the place. Why not head north to British Columbia or south to Chile? You’ll find them there, too. Then, you can leave me in peace.”
    “Nice. Really nice. Look, I happen to live not far from here. This is the most convenient spot for me to photograph Pacific Ocean species. So, if you don’t mind, please get out of way so I can finish my work before the sun goes down.”
    “Sheesh, what a grouch. Okay, but before I go, mind if I ask what film you’re using?”
    “The film you’re using; what brand is it?”
    “Kodak Gold 200, if you must know.”
    “Hmmm. Frankly, I think Kodak Ektar 100 and Fuji Reala are better; they’re great fine-grain films with outstanding color rendition. Ektar produces warm colors; Reala’s are cooler.”
    “So, now you’re a film connoisseur? How ’bout you letting me decide which film to use while you swim away and find someone else to bother.”
    “Wow! You don’t have to get huffy about it.”
    [Several seconds pass in silence.]
    “So, what type of camera did you say you were using?”

  2. They’re Here

    “They’re here, doc,” repeated the man on the couch.

    “Now, Mr. Ferguson,” said the doctor. “Calm down.”

    “I am calm, doc. But I gotta tell someone.”

    “Why don’t you start from the beginning.”

    “I’ve been having a recurring dream. Initially, there’s nothing but ocean. Then a creature – a seal – named, ‘Yo’, suddenly pops its head out of the water. And it always tells me the same thing. It says we’re in danger. It says ‘they’ are here.”


    “Yes. It was warning me that ‘they’ are everywhere; that ‘they’ are going to take control.”

    The doctor laughed. “Mr. Ferguson, you’ve just been having a bad dream. You’ve probably been worried about bills, your children—”

    “But doc, I’m not worried about those things—”

    “Of course you are. You’re just not aware of it.” The doctor stood up and walked over to a tray. “Let me give you something to calm you down.” He picked up a needle and inserted it into a small vial. Then he walked over to Mr. Ferguson and injected the substance into his arm.

    “Will it stop the nightmares?”

    “Guaranteed to work. In fact, it will solve several problems.”

    “What do you mean?”

    The doctor placed the empty needle back on the tray, then turned and smiled. “You see, Mr. Ferguson, I am one of them. And soon, you will be one of us.

  3. Varney

    It was the last thing I wanted to do. Reunions. They get in the way of moving forward.
    There’s a modern term with no meaning for you.
    Where else are we headed but ‘forward.’
    I like moving forward.
    Cheryl would have none of my whining. “Come on, it’ll be fun. Twenty-five years of memories to catch up on.”
    Fine for her to say. All of her memories are sugar sweet. No crappy gum recollections ever stick to her expensive shoes.
    To sell me on the trip down creepy memory lane, she pulled out our high school annual, poured glasses of Chablis, and hauled me over to the settee.
    After a few gulps of wine and countless ooh and aah’s, we landed on Varney’s picture. He still looked like a walrus. Or a ferret. I never could decide. All I knew was he’d started grooming me from the first day I joined the volleyball team. I was flattered. I’d finally found my sport. He promised he could make me better. “Stay after practice,” he’d said. “We’ll work on your serve.”
    It didn’t take long for him to work on more than my serve. The offer of a ride home, the detour to his house, the whiskey, the advance.
    I lost it. Pushed him. Hard. He was out cold. Or dead.
    I should have left. Instead, I stripped him, ran his tub, plopped him in, held him down, his face smirking.
    “Sad about Mr. Varney,” she said.
    “Yeah,” said I, “Sad.”

  4. He was trapped in a turbulent eddy. We wanted to do something. We were avid fans of online videos featuring animals trapped or otherwise in danger being rescued by plucky Regular Joe’s. I tried to remain calm but I’ll admit, I was feeling anxious. Sarah was cool as they come. I thought it was just a façade. What experience, after all, did she have rescuing seals from turbulent eddies?

    We had tarried and the tour group had moved away from us, out of earshot. Calling for help would have been futile. No, this was our challenge. Is that water cold? How much does a seal weigh? Would I have to go in after him? Sara took off her parka and holding it by one arm flung it at the exhausted creature. “Grab it!”, she advised. But the poor creature just blinked and bobbed in the swirling current.

    “I don’t think he understands”, I said. I doubt the phone’s camera picked it up. I turned the camera on Sarah who had a look of concern on her face. “You can do it!”, she again urged the animal. “He doesn’t speak English”, I said, sotto voce for the online viewing audience.

    The seal disappeared into the vortex. We were utterly defeated. “Turn that fucking camera off”, Sarah said. She put her coat back on. We walked on, dejected. Out in the bay a seal broke the water’s surface. “Look!”, I shouted, cursing myself for having missed the money shot.

  5. Our expedition has been discovering artifacts that reinforce our theories about an ancient civilization. Just yesterday the divers found what appear to be foundations of buildings deep beneath the surface. We are beginning to prove the hypothesis that our ocean was once far smaller, that huge masses of dirt covered much of our globe.

    We have even found some pottery shards and apparent tools. These remnants of a town help confirm the premise that intelligent life existed here before us.

    Although we are scientists, a few of us are wondering if our age-old mythology has some basis in truth. Then earlier today Bryan popped his brown head through the water’s surface and shouted, “Yo! Look what I found.”

    The roundish skull may be the most amazing discovery yet. Its flattened face with eye and nose holes certainly resembles the shapes in our ancient artwork. It looks like the depiction of the Destroyer Devil who invaded our oceans and slaughtered most living creatures. Our tales say that God flooded the dry land and drowned the monstrous devils.

    Whether it was God, or some other force, I only know that our ocean’s expansion saved us from the genocidal maniacs, named Maun.


    The two cousins were back together for some exploring, during the family reunion. Jake, at 12, was the leader, but 10-year-old Henry often blundered into trouble first.

    They found a cavern along the beach. As usual, Henry went charging ahead of Jake. He could see the fading glow of Henry’s flashlight, followed by a flash. Henry yelled, “Yo!”

    He went running past Jake in a panic, hollering, “There’s a sea monster on the ceiling! Run for your life!”

    The younger boy went barreling off into virtual darkness. “Henry, stop! You’re gonna get us lost!” cried Jake.

    He nearly collided with Henry, who was doubling back. Henry displayed his phone. “See for yourself! Here’s the beast!” exclaimed Henry.

    Jake studied the picture. Whatever type of animal it was, it looked goofy and somehow familiar.

    “Let’s find your beast,” said Jake. But when they entered the cavern, all they could see was a hole up top, and the sky.

    “I think it was looking through from outside,” Jake concluded.

    “Then we can’t leave!” said Henry, “What if it gets hungry?”

    “C’mon, silly,” answered Jake, “Let’s have a look.”

    There on the beach was a colony of lazy sea lions, sunning themselves on the rocks, barking and flapping.

    “There are your scary monsters,” said Jake, “They’re sea lions!”

    “Yo!” shouted a freshly emboldened Henry to his newfound friends, “You want some gummy bears?”

    “Chill out, Henry! They’re wild animals. Just take pictures and observe. That’s what real explorers do.”

  7. Frank hunched his six-foot frame deep into his water-proof jacket as he walked the boardwalk along the sound on this cold autumn morning. Taking his constitutional. Every morning like clockwork, he’d leave his seaside condo, walk across the street, and then stride on down the boardwalk for half an hour and then back. Nobody was around, which he liked. Well, maybe it would be good to see one familiar face. Especially now that he and Brenda were kaput. Frank picked up his pace, refusing to dwell on that unpleasantness. Instead, he peered down into the wave-rippled water at the usual spot and there it was, the harbor seal, pushing its head out of the water, waiting for something, every morning. But Frank wasn’t going to feed the animal, no matter how much it begged. He shoved his hands deeper into his pockets as he raised his eyes from the boardwalk. He wondered if he should’ve agreed to counselling with Brenda. God, though, it would’ve been disruptive and painful. And after all this time? He was supposed to change? Sure he could’ve done things differently. They both could have. But he put his foot down. He’d had it. The kids were out of the house. He was retired. Brenda was about to be retired. He deserved some peace and quiet. Peace and quiet were not in Brenda’s vocabulary. So, here he was taking his morning walk, nobody around, just the harbor seal looking up at him.

  8. As I was lounging in my rowboat out on the sound, I heard a frantic commotion in the water. I sat up and was surprised to see a large seal swimming furiously way from a humongous shark.

    I hate sharks so I grabbed an oar and got ready to clobber it when they circled back. It had to be timed perfectly.

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t, but it was close enough to confuse the shark and allow the seal to escape. The shark swam lazily away. As I lay back down, I heard a much louder “WHAP, WHAP”. I groaned, got up, and looked over the side… right into the eyes of the seal, who was, trust me, smiling at me.

    “By the way, it’s your lucky day. I’m gonna grant you two wishes”, the seal said. There was something in his eye which got me to thinking. After a bit I said, “No thanks”.

    “What do you mean, “No thanks.”

    “It means I don’t want yer wishes. I’ve read all the stories about people being granted some wishes. It always, ALWAYS ends up badly. Like, a guy asks for a million dollars. Personally, I’d ask for a billion. He gets the million but ends up getting his head lopped off. It never ends well. So nope, don’t want ‘em.”

    “Too bad… yer gonna get ‘em. Here goes. I Jeff the Magic Seal, grant his wish for a billi…uhh.”

    The shark, whom I don’t hate so much now, had circled around.

  9. The Ocean Quipper

    Hey, I recognize you. You used to hang around the harbour, Fisherman’s Wharf. What a tourist trap that was, probably still is. Too bad about the incident. You had it made in the shade there. Humans are such suckers for animals, especially you with that bum eye. Every one of them toddling over to the fishmonger to buy scraps to feed the harbour seals. Every one of them making sure you got at least one piece, usually more. “Awww, look at that one, he’s blind in one eye.” I got sick of hearing it. We all did. But we got pretty good at snatching up the bits before you could. In the blink of an eye, you might say. Ha ha.

    But don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame you for the end of that meal ticket. That kid with the cell phone should have been watching where he was going. Besides, the only casualty was the device.

    Well, see you around. I’ve got other frys to fish.

  10. My Mother’s Bathtub

    My mind remembers how my heart opened up.
    When I would go home from college,
    or after I married or when I had babies,
    I looked forward to sitting in my mother’s old tub.
    The warm water swirling ’round my legs as it filled the tub.
    My soul would expand, and I would sing.

    I sing today in my tub, in my home,
    but never like I did when I went home
    to Chowchilla at the corner of Sixth and Orange.
    That was a special kind of home where
    I found an unconditional type of love.

    The longing for that home I see again
    when my Lord stretches out His hand
    and He welcomes me home. They’ll all be there.
    My parents, my son, my loved ones. My heart will sing!

  11. Steph looked down at the sea lion she was feeding looking up to her as if he was saying yo! She worked at The Marine Mammal rescue center.

    “Going out with Mr. handsome tonight,” her co-worker, Gail asked.

    “Yes. We’re going down to the new restaurant by the beach.”

    “He loves to wine and dine you. You are so lucky,” Gail said.

    “I don’t think he’s the one,” Steph half smiled.

    “Why not?”

    “Substance. He’s a nice ,intelligent guy, but all he deals with is the super wealthy.”

    “Yeah, it might be hard to live with that, but wait to get to know him better.”

    Later that evening death was quiet with worry.

    “What’s wrong Steph,” her date, Keith asked.

    “The ocean is warming too much, it’s called the blob. It kills all the fish the sea lions and their pups depend on.”

    “Maybe it won’t happen,” he reassured her, patting her arm.

    But on the beach that evening, were two pups on their sides, too malnourished to swim.

    “What can we do? ”

    “We need to get the pups out of the ocean and to the rescue center; and we need volunteers to help us.”

    “I can do that,” Keith said.

    Steph looked at him in amazement.

    “I know the marina owner, we can rally the community!”

    They did; and instead of only saving 200 pups, like they had in the past they saved 600.

    Two years later, they rallied the community to their wedding on the beach.

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