Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Carnival

chataqua 07112019 3L0A3939 writing 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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6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Carnival”

  1. The carnival was quiet and wet. The lights flickered with the grotesquery of abandonment now that the gates were shut for the night. Ansel was damp, the sleeves of his hoodie and the knees of his jeans dirty and sodden after scrambling over the gate and slinking out of the pooling street lights that bordered the entryway.

    The guys that had dared him to do this were already gone, popular kids who could compel someone like Ansel to do almost anything. Ansel didn’t really go to carnivals; he didn’t like rides, and he wasn’t particularly good at games of skill. However, once the carnival was closed, Ansel was drawn compulsively towards it. And now, dare in hand, he trespassed. He liked the way the rides towered like silent giants, white lattices stretching up into the dark. He felt small in comparison. In daylight he felt large, ungainly, obvious. Next to these man-created amusements he could breathe, feel invisible, tiny.

    He walked to the Ferris wheel, drawn by its silent, rain-spattered spokes of light. He stood at the bottom, looking up. The cars at the top swayed gently, perpetually in motion against the elements. He wondered, what it would be like to sit up there, so far away from the earth and its gravity. Away from the problems that sucked at his legs and arms and caused him to flatten inside with the force of its peer pressure. He stood, wet and silent, staring upwards.

    “Hey!” Shouted the security guard.

  2. “I don’t know why I came here with you, Russell,” said Lydia softly. “We already broke up.”

    “Oh I don’t know,” he answered, “It doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun, for old times’ sake. Take in the sights, enjoy a few rides, laugh a little.”

    “Last time we were together, I ended up in a flood of tears, without knowing why,” she replied. “I don’t want this anymore, but why is the ending so painful?”

    “You tell me, Julia,” said Russell, as they walked past the Ferris wheel, which had ground to a halt to release its dizzy passengers.

    It was a quiet moment, when she felt the sharp pain in her chest, then looked down and saw blood. She felt the warmth flow over her flesh as the crimson stain spread across her yellow blouse. They could hear more gunfire.

    “You’ve been hit!” cried Russell, as he grabbed her and ran with his trembling sweetie, deep into the cover of one of the Ferris wheel compartments.

    They heard the announcement, “This is Carnival Security. There’s an active shooter. Run for your life or shelter in place. Police are on the way!”

    As Russell applied pressure to Julia’s wound, he exclaimed, “Julia! I’m sorry I brought you here! I don’t want you to die in my arms.”

    “My life could have a worse ending,” she whispered.

    Two policeman saw them hiding and took Julia from Russell’s arms. “Please save her!” he cried in agony.

  3. Kelly accepts Tim’s invite to the carnival, even though he is a dweeb. She’d prefer football star Bryan, but he ignores her. At least she isn’t be stuck watching TV with her mom.

    When the Ferris wheel pauses at the top, Tim names constellations. Glancing down, Kelly sees Bryan with cheerleader Jessica.

    Tim and Kelly share a funnel cake. She giggles at powdered sugar smeared on Tim’s face. Seeing his reflection, he doesn’t act embarrassed. He laughs too and suggests that he might enroll in Clown University.

    Later, they stroll toward Tim’s car. From the nearby woods comes a muffled sob. They discover Bryan pinning Jessica against a tree. Her hair is disheveled, her blouse torn open, and mascara streaks her face. He paws her as she attempts to shove him away.

    Quickly, Tim grabs Bryan’s shoulder and says, “Leave her alone, man.”

    Bryan spins angrily. “Who the hell are you?”

    “Just get away from her,” Tim answers.

    Bryan glares, but notices the set of Tim’s jaw and his hands curling into fists. “She’s just a tease anyway,” he growls. “You can have her.”

    As Bryan stalks away, Tim covers Jessica’s shoulders with his jacket. He and Kelly help her to Tim’s car and drive her home.

    Afterwards, they sit in front of Kelly’s house. Instead of trying to kiss Kelly, he lifts her hand and brushes it lightly with his lips. When he asks her to a movie next week, Kelly surprises herself by answering, “I’d love to.”

  4. Waylon pinched off another piece of cotton candy. “Can you believe it’s been twenty years since I proposed to you over by the Ferris wheel?”

    Vivian laughed, stuffing a piece of the fluffy pink confection. “And you almost fell over trying to get down on your knee.”

    “Then I got tongue-twisted and we laughed ourselves silly.” He smiled. “Happy Anniversary, honey”.

    “Anniversary…Happy Anniversary.” Darryn, their son, walked behind them with his girlfriend, Betty.

    Both had mild Down’s Syndrome, but they were very bright, and had jobs. Darryn often repeated words from conversations, but his words always had meaning. Often, they could tell by his tone that an idea had gone off in his head. Something about the way he’d said it, then smiled at Betty.

    “You know, smelling all this food’s making me hungry! Let’s get something to eat…Darryn? Betty?” Waylon turned around. “Oh no. Darryn! Betty!” His eyes quickly scanned the crowded walkway.

    “Well, he knows the special word. He’ll call it out to us.” Vivian tried to sound calm as they began the search.

    They were about to go into panic mode when they heard it.

    “Carnival! Carnival!”

    “The Ferris wheel!” they shouted in unison as they began to run toward it.

    There, kneeling on one knee, was Darryn, holding out a toy ring he’d just bought. Betty was smiling, her hands clasped over her heart.

    “Betty…will…you…marry me?”

    Betty squealed happily, “Yes! Yes, I’ll marry you!”

    A beaming Darryn smiled at his parents. “Carnival! Carnival…of…love!


    The rain has stopped. I see that Alan continues to walk the forlorn carnival. There are no crowds of noisy kids racing around or parents, hand in hand, chasing after their exuberant offspring and laughing out loud at the absurdity of hauling kids to the carnival on a rainy, cold night. They’ve all gone home, soaked and cold, looking forward to hot chocolate before bedtime.

    Alan, tossing his empty liquor bottle in an oil drum used for garbage, walks half blinded by the alcohol and the blurry lights of the Ferris wheel and the gaudy food trailer that was selling cotton candy and surprisingly good hotdogs before shutting down for the night.

    No down time for Alan this night as his temper flared over something now forgotten. He scared his three grandkids, angered his daughter, embarrassed himself before his son-in-law.

    His shoes are wet and his feet cold. Alan wished he hadn’t come. There’s a reason he seldom leaves his little house but he gave in to his daughter tonight. Now she’s gone. In fact, everybody’s gone.

    Except me. I’m tailing Alan from shadow to shadow. There’s no reason to scare him. That will come but it lasts only a few minutes. Then peace, what he’s been searching for, yearning for. I will bring him there.

    I take his elbow—“Careful, sir, you nearly stumbled”—and escort him through the red and yellow and green and blue lights, flickering slower and slower until he’s extinguished.


    Jeanette that’s tearing at the empty carcass of the Thanksgiving turkey, and the disaster of a kitchen, wondering where it had all gone wrong.

    The the morning had started off with everyone helping to prepare the food, even her husband who professed to be sworn off football for the season.

    But shortly after the pie was served everything fell apart.

    “Mom we have to go, after dessert, because the carnival is in town.”Justin, her oldest, announced.

    ” Why today, on Thanksgiving?” Jeanette asked.

    “This is our only day together that we don’t have to work or go to school.”

    “Us,too,”her husband said.

    ” What…? I thought you were sworn off football.”

    “Oh, that got straightened out.”

    She looked at her sister.

    ” Sorry, Jeanette, I’m dashing out to the sales.”


    Jeannette sat at the empty table eating slivers of pie until the news came on, and announced the lottery numbers. The numbers sounded familiar. Jeanette fished her lottery tickets out of her purse and look at them. She was a winner!


    The kids trudged through the cold muddy carnival grounds, not having as much fun as they thought they would.
    Justin received a text.
    “Mom won the lottery!” Justin blurted out.
    “No, way…” said Ashton.
    ” Stop it,” said Kelly.
    They decided to head back.


    Back at the house they all gathered to hear Jeanette’s news.

    “Next year we will rent a vacation house in the mountains, and we can all go there together.”

    “Yeah! ” The kids cheered.

    Jeanette was happy she could still rein them in.

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