Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Alone

IMG_0379 lake roosevelt 04202011 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!

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.

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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Alone”

  1. Recovery

    Baker stopped his car at the overlook. He was here, finally. As high in the Rockies as a car would go.
    The sky was as bright as Mall lighting. The air seemed thin, rich and rare.
    He’d given this moment more thought than he’d ever spent on any previous decision.
    “I can do it,” he’d told her. “I will do it.”
    She’d continued to challenge his resolve. “Your whole adult life, you’ve been a …”
    “A what?” he’d spat back. “Come on, say it.”
    “Its for you to say. Not me. I’ve said too much.”
    “Then I’ll say it. A slug. I’ve become a slug.”
    “Your words,” she’d said, “Not mine.”
    “Not now, anyways,” he struggled to get in the last barb.
    She’d let him win this round.
    It had barely seemed a victory.
    And a week later, here he was, ready for the test.
    Survival.
    Distance.
    Isolation.
    He had visualized how it would be. The slow careful descent. The crawl into countless valleys. The escape back to some primordial portion of his soul.
    He had never experienced this.
    Never wanted to.
    For the entirety of his life, he had sought comfort.
    Safety.
    Never be a risk-taker, his parents had drilled into him.
    He’d taught his children that same maxim.
    His daughter had become a Librarian.
    His son, a teacher.
    And an addict.
    Death had wormed its way into their perfection.
    Now, his self-proclaimed penance would be a walkabout.
    A cleansing.
    A purification, one wilderness step at a time.

  2. The Colour of Silence

    It was nighttime and Cal couldn’t sleep.

    As he lay in bed, he heard water dripping somewhere in the distance. The steady drops of water seemed to mark the slow passage of time.

    Soon, he settled down and finally fell asleep.

    Then he started to dream. And it was always the same dream. And it always began the same way.

    First, he saw blue sky, wisps of white clouds, distant snow-capped mountains, brooding green forests, and quiet, meandering streams. Nature seemed to emit a surreal and beautiful tune, almost as a siren call of hope.

    Following this, beautiful and spirited birds made their appearance. They were of various colours, but mainly blends of yellows and browns. And as they flew across nature’s landscape, they sang a light, melodious tune that seemed to lift his spirit.

    This beautiful tapestry of sounds continued for some time, until it eventually morphed into silence.

    Shortly thereafter, he awoke from his dream, and sat up in bed. It took a while for his eyes to adjust to the faint light. Through the dimness he could make out a few shapes. There were walls and ceilings and hallways. All in grey.

    And in the distance he heard a familiar dripping sound.

    Then he realized where he was. He dropped back onto his pillow and stared at the ceiling.

    He was in prison for an unknown crime and for an unknown length of time.

    There were many more like him.

    The Surveillance State had been busy.

  3. No horse. No rifle. Nothing of consequence except his life.

    All he really had was a head start.

    Jakob hadn’t meant to kill, but if you’re faced with somebody who didn’t give a damn and who was fixing to end your life, you did what you had to do. As he had.

    From the beginning, there was that bad feeling about the younger man. Out in the middle of nowhere, though, the temperature falling into winter, and the wind howling out of the north, you take the offered ride in the stagecoach. You trust the outstretched hand.

    Until you don’t.

    That point came when the stagecoach driver stopped on the bridge over the river as his bandit friends appeared. He bowed to them and then forced Jakob and the four others out. While his friends watched, the driver laughed and took what the frightened passengers held onto, including, one by one, their lives.

    Until he came to Jakob, who didn’t wait for death. As the last but one passenger went down, Jakob busted loose and rammed the laughing man. The laughter stopped when Jakob pulled his knife. A split second and the young ringleader had a blade in his gut and a date with eternity.

    So Jakob took off at a long-legged trot while the bandits tried to save their leader’s life. Following the river, shrunken by the autumn cold, Jakob headed for the hills, no horse, no rifle.

    But he had his life.

    For now, that was enough.

  4. This is Rick’s first visit to the back country since the war. His wife has left him, saying she could no longer endure his depression, night terrors, and violent outbursts. She had begged him to get help, but he refused. So he has come here alone, for the peace that nature always brought. But the pain has not disappeared. He still wakes up shaking and screaming.

    Today he strolls along the stream, checking for fish in the deeper holes. Suddenly, not 25 feet in front of him, an enormous grizzly rises to its hind feet. Rick slowly pulls his rifle from its sheath and takes aim at the huge animal.

    But the grizzly neither charges, nor backs down. It just stares at the puny man. Rick feels all the old pain, the sorrow and grief, but strangely, no fear.

    Then he realizes that he won’t shoot this magnificent creature, no matter what it does. He lowers the gun, drops to one knee, and bows his head. The bear sniffs the air. When Rick looks up, he sees it shake its head, drop to all four feet, turn, and amble away.

    Rick walks back to his tent and begins dismantling the camp. He will hike out today. Tomorrow he will contact the VA counselors and begin sessions. Later, he will call his wife.

  5. My wish was to be completely alone, and my wish came true. I was completely alone. No matter how many days I wandered I never saw a single soul. Not one. It was wonderful; the whole wide world was mine. No sound but the twittering of tiny creatures flying through the trees, wind rustling the leaves.

    At night, I lay back in perfect silence and studied the stars. I was not familiar with a nighttime sky after spending most of my life in a brightly lit city, but I realized that I was seeing something I had never seen before, a waxing and waning moon. As fantastic as it seemed, the only possible explanation for a moon where there was none before was that I had been transported to a different world. I had been left on a foreign planet, somewhere in the vast universe.

    In the months to come I continued to wander, and found each day filled with more beauty than the day before. My wandering stopped when I came upon a garden that held almost everything I needed. My only wish now was for a companion to stand beside me and enjoy the beauties of this world with me. Once again, my wish was granted. Her name was Eve.

  6. They’d watched Paul walking slowly, head down, for the half mile from where the river made its sharp bend to the south. His body language said it all. What he’d found up there hadn’t been good. But how bad would it be?
    He didn’t look any of them in the face as he drew close.
    “Well?” Jeffrey said. “Go ahead and tell us.”
    Paul shook his head. He was finally able to speak, or more like croak. “Worse than usual, his . . .” Paul’s voice trailed off and was completely muffled by the sound of the river’s current.
    They’d gone out on the search for the missing biologist four days ago. He’d been warned not to go because of the attacks and the unusual evisceration of the victims, but he insisted he knew how to stay clear of grizzlies.
    But was it grizzlies that killed the five previous victims? Some thought the condition of the bodies was nothing like they’d ever seen in that section of the Canadian Rockies, not from grizzly or wolf attacks, not from raging moose, not from coyotes and vultures feeding on a body that died from natural causes or drowning.
    “You’re going to have to speak louder,” Jeffrey said.
    Paul removed his large brimmed hat revealing a horror-stricken face as white as the nearby snow. “His chest had been opened like a surgeon would, and only the heart was missing.”
    “Oh God, again?”
    “Yep, the Indians say that’s the way Sasquatch always feeds.”

  7. Turnaround

    Elsa Lockheed lived year-round in her Winnebago, in a mountainous park. Most people weren’t allowed off-season, but Elsa was the exception. She helped keep an eye on things, with her three dogs, who kept troublemakers away from the pristeen mountain paradise.

    On a quiet morning in November, her sharp-eared German Shepherd, Sisko, started barking up a fuss. Then Bullfrog, her goofy Boxer, hurled himself at the windows and joined the barking. Finally Penelope, her St. Bernard, whined and darted about her dwelling.

    Elsa peered out and saw a young girl, bundled up. She walked out with Penelope on a leash, not wanting to overwhelm the girl with three bouncing canines. “And who might you be?” asked Elsa.

    “I’m Tina,” said the girl. “I heard you live in this park, close to nature. Can I stay here with you?”

    “How old are you, Tina? What about your parents? How about school?”

    “My parents don’t understand me. School is boring. I’m 16 already, like a grownup,” the girl stated.

    “Tina, you’re just beginning. You must not drop out of school. I will let you visit me sometimes, but you must get permission from your parents and do your homework. We can talk about your life.”

    Tina loved the Winnebago, and Elsa’s exuberant dogs. Elsa shared her story of an illustrious education and career, two marriages, and the children and grandchildren who still brought her joy. Tina realized that she, herself, had a lot of living to do.

  8. Since my earliest recollections as a child, I have never felt the companionship I see others enjoying. It has always eluded me in my interactions with family and friends.
    Even while surrounded by a multitude of people, I never got that feeling of belonging or acceptance expected from these encounters.
    In retrospect, I have to admit I never really put myself out there as I probably should have, but I just never felt the desire to do so.
    I am out here now, living my life as one separated from everything. Absorbing and partaking of all that is around me which does not belong to the societal construct. I have finally found my peace.
    My wish to be alone is satisfied.
    I have found I was meant to be this way. My true happiness is within myself. My inner thoughts are all I have ever needed in the way of communication with the world around me.
    Imbibing of the waters from the stream, eating the labors of my hunt. Caring only for myself, I seek to be alone.
    I suppose I was born too late. I would be better suited to have been born during the mountain man days when men sought to go alone into the wilderness and create a life along-side nature.
    I guess I should go home now. The time I allotted myself to dream my fantasy of getting away from the world, my wife and my kids, is over.

  9. Oops.

    She wondered what had gone wrong and tried to reason it out. Everything had been so perfect. They had been walking along the rocky riverbank when they sat down to eat.

    “That’s when… it was after we ate,” she thought.

    “That’s when.”

    He seemed to change after they ate. A strange look emerged in his eyes and she’d never noticed that before he was kind of ugly and smelled bad. Struggling to get back to happier moment, she had offered him what remained of her food, although she was still hungry. It took a bit of convincing on her part, but he finally ate it. He appeared to like it as well. Sharing her food seemed to help with his strange expression, but didn’t make him look or smell any better though.

    Mumbling things like: she “had been made for him” and “You’re the only girl for me”, he suddenly threw himself on top of her, pawing and clawing her body. She begged him to stop and fought to free herself but even with all her strength, she couldn’t push him off. In desperation she tore free a large rock from the riverbank and hit him. Hard.

    As she shoved at his now lifeless body Eve said, “By the way Adam, I ain’t your girl.”

  10. They’d been quiet during the drive North but after the lengthy hike they started again.

    “Kind of desolate.” said Jake.
    “What? You afraid of the quiet?” Belinda taunted.
    “I think the boy’s scared”, said Mrs. Loomis.

    The boy, Little Tommy didn’t say a word but his constant fear infected everyone.

    “He’s making me afraid too”, said Belinda.
    “You?”, said Jake, “But, you’re the brave one.”

    Bill tried to ignore their voices. He gazed at the river, the distant hills and concentrated on the far-off screech of an eagle.

    “Scared little boys can get into trouble”, said Mrs. Loomis, the voice of concern.

    Bill clutched his head, yelling, “Shut up, all of you!” his outburst breaking the stillness. He strode towards the tree line desperate for quiet and peace.

    Everyone fell silent. Jake, as usual, spoke first, “You don’t want to do anything rash!” Bill had been known to overreact from time to time. The scars on his wrists told the story.

    “Can’t leave him on his own. We have to go with him”, said Mrs. Loomis.
    “He thinks he’s tough”, said Belinda. “but he knows he can’t make it alone. He needs us.”

    Through a stand of firs, balanced on the edge of a precipice, Bill gazed down into the ravine. The voices crowded around him. Little Tommy, whispered something encouraging in Bill’s ear. “Be brave, it’ll be quick”.

    As the ground rushed up to meet him, Bill prayed that now, finally, the voices might leave him alone.

  11. Kelton checked his watch, using the sun’s position with the hour hand to determine his heading. He’d come down the Corridor from the Grand Coulee, putting the canoe in at Moses Lake. Untying it from the luggage rack on the now-submerged Wagoneer, it was a few hours to the southern shore. He’d hiked right across the country club golf course heading back to the Columbia.

    Hanford was waiting, down on that bend. Across from the spot on the firing center, where their squad had been parked that summer… wait.

    He knew something ahead had caught his eye. Out here in this part of the Cascades, there was really nobody from here to Ellensburg. Last thing he needed was a grizzly or a horny elk. Crouching under the nearest shrubbery, he waited. Listening, intently scanning the terrain ahead, he knew if he was downwind of a bear he’d smell it.

    Closing his eyes, he sniffed tentatively.

    “HEY SARGE!”
    Kelton literally jumped three feet, spinning around with his rifle up.

    Torkino? How?

    “What UP, DAWG! Let me help ya outta there BROTHA!!”

    Breaking the Columbia’s surface, screeching breath tore his lungs. He was freezing to death, hallucinating. He was here to retrieve Torkino’s dog tags. He’d drowned during field exercises, back in ‘87. Whimpering in dread, he could smell it now. The river knew!

    Face to face with the largest grizzly in the Cascades, hoisting him out of the river. 

    Kelton screamed. But only for a minute or so.

  12. After my dad died, my mother felt overwhelmed at times raising my brother alone. I know, because she mentioned it to me several times. She talked about how my brother was a happy, cheerful, and talkative little boy until our dad died when Tommy was six. Then my mother and others say he did not speak for over a year.

    My brother and I played together, but I do not recall his being especially quiet. A lot of a child’s play is not made up of conversation. As we grew up, he called me by nicknames he made up such as: Tuh, Tugboat, Tuggy, and then as “she” when we hit our teens. He now calls me by my name, Virginia. Tom was a quiet person but had many friends, because he was a good listener. “Like your father,” my Mother told me.

    The week before he died, my brother Tom emailed me that the day was five years to the day after the stent was placed in his aorta. The doctor had told him the stent would last five years. He said, “Well, we’ll find out.” The following Sunday evening as he, his wife and two of his adult children were watching television, he had a massive heart attack. He died instantly.

  13. Lightening flashed across the sky, strangely overlaid across the blue, cloudless view. Half-formed figures and houses appeared along the riverbank. Children laughed as they splashed in the water. There was a village here once, full of life.

    “Please. Not again.” The words barely made it past his tightening throat.

    Thunder rumbled in the distance. He fell to his knees, trembling. The heavy sack he wore dug into his shoulder. But that wasn’t what caused the churning inside him. It was happening again, just as it had every day since the storm. Unable to stop it, he watched as thick, roiling clouds and an orange wave poured across the valley, obliterating the town.

    Children screamed over the roar of the fire. Their anguished cries penetrated past the hands clamped over his ears. Even with his eyes squeezed shut, the image burned into his vision. Nor could he block the smell of burned flesh.

    Tears streamed down his face, untouched by the surrounding inferno. Firestorm was his creation. His fault. And it was his order that deployed it. He was the one who turned the world into a blackened, ash filled landscape.

    “I’m sorry. So sorry.”

    No one offered forgiveness. There was no one left to hear the words. Still sobbing, he pulled a seed out of the sack and pressed it into the barren soil. One seed for every life lost. Doomed to relive the destruction he caused until life returned. A millennia of toil. That was his punishment.

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