Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Food

BTR flash fiction writing prompt copyright KS Brooks 05312019 3L0A8971
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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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Food”

  1. Pariahs

    We were three. Just three. Set adrift.

    They generously allowed a flagon of water and a few rotting potatoes.

    “The devil take ye,” they bellowed as they shoved the punt away from the ship.

    Wainwright, simpering in the stern, seemed about to scream out some primitive retort. I intervened, concerned they would haul us back and relieve us of our meager provisions. He held his tongue. In twenty minutes, the ship was beyond our sight.

    “That’s that then,” Old Billy said. “We’re done for.”

    I thought him right but saw no value in commenting. We would either die in the little boat, or by some miracle, endure. Whatever our fate might be, I would wait to see. If it were death, I suspected my mind would have been long gone before. If it were life, though that was hard to conjure, then bewailing our lot prematurely would be a waste of energy.

    On the third day, Wainwright started to violently shake and then suddenly died. I was for shuffling his carcass overboard.

    “Give it a couple of days,” Billy said. “If he starts stinking, then we can feed him to the fishes.”

    I relented, unsure of his reasoning.

    At dawn on the fifth day, we spotted land. By noon, we landed on a barren beach.

    While I reconnoitred. Billy got a fire going.

    Upon my return, he was smoking meat.

    “Where…?” I asked.

    He pointed some meters away. “He was useful, after all.”

    Wainwright had been finely filleted.

  2. Too tired to disrobe, Keyla fell face first onto her bunk. Another day of searching had proven fruitless. Worse, she could see the looks of defeat on her team’s faces, all knowing they were close to being ordered back.

    She sank into a fitful sleep, gasping awake a few hours later. The dream? Vision? Fuzzy and fading but she struggled to remember as much as possible.

    “There was a log on fire, a smattering of green vegetation. And … I saw a stake with a piece of uniform tied to it.”

    Col. Flanigan leaned forward. “Keyla, you’ve had visions before and I respect that, but I think it’s exhaustion and wishful thinking at work here. We all want to find SA-1 alive but the probability of their escape pod making it to a habitable planet is exceedingly slim.”

    “But we’ll keep searching?”

    “Yes, for a bit more.”

    The next day proved more of the same. Again, Keyla slept restlessly, but this time the vision/dream was clearer.

    “It’s a beach so there might be water. A makeshift tent, but I saw two stakes this time, each with a piece of uniform tied to it.”

    The following day, based on the information Keyla had provided, SA-1 was found. As she’d last envisioned, two graves, the pilot and science officer were found, preliminary examinations pointing to injuries sustained in the crash. Captain Jackson, still gripping the shovel he’d used to bury his colleagues, lay atop the still smoldering log.

    TOD, one hour earlier.

  3. When our caravan turned off the side road into the campsite, we parked our recreational vehicles as far away from one another as was comfortable for each. Stephen, my husband, and I were in charge of the campfire accommodations. Mrs Brooks, food.

    As daylight dimmed, the trees were filled with the whistles and clacking of birds bidding see you tomorrow and goodnight to one another. We finished our campfire get together and all headed for sleep.

    Suddenly, the ground seemed to tremble. A trumpeting roar filled the night.

    Stephen called out, “Anybody wanna bet it’s not what we came hunting for?”

    “You gotta be right,” Mrs. Brooks answered. “But, since I forgot to bring the food for all of us, maybe it’s something we can eat.”

    The threatening cries got closer. We reached for our guns, pointing them at the wedge of bending trees. At first sight, Mrs. Brooks collapsed. Five other campmates dropped their weapons and fled in panic.

    “A lot of good that’ll do ’em,” Stephen shouted. His first shot, right between the eyes, floored the beast.

    Our rejoicing revelers danced around the carcass of the fallen creature. We each cut off our choice of tonight’s meal and dined in carefree splendor.

    Mrs. Brooks suggested , “Let’s leave something for future campers,” and draped the leftover elephant’s ears on posts at the dying campfire.

    As our thoughtless caravan drove away, no one seemed to hear the heartbreaking cries of a lost baby elephant wailing for its mother.

  4. Beyond the I-95 and Amtrak overpasses near the abandoned battery factory, there is a homeless encampment. Although Paint Pot Hogan and his partner Sleepy will tell you,

    “It ain’t no camp! We’ve been here for years. This is home!”

    When I asked Paint Pot what he had done for a living, he merely stared. Then,
    “Waddaya think?”

    “Oh,” I said, “houses and such?”

    “Yup. Until I discovered whiskey.”

    “And Sleepy?” I asked.

    “Well, the joke is, Sleepy had dropsy and heart trouble. Seemed he’d simply drop on his butt and not have the heart to get up. But, he’s good at fishing the creek yonder by the mill dam.”

    The men had a good fire going on this March day and it took the chill out of the air. Their quarters were far from sparse. Decades of accumulated furnishings were crammed into their sturdy lean-to. They were smoking fish. It looked like salmon or sea trout. I offered,

    “That’s an unusual way to cook fish on an open fire. Rustic, but ingenious.”

    Paint Pot was proud. “Moms was a Pequot. As kids, we learned to live in the wild with her family. We eat a lot of fish. Sometimes we get to the food pantry or stop in at the church for an evening meal, but it ain’t consistent.”

    “What’s kept you guys together so long?”

    “Well, it sure ain’t the food itself. Food is just a metaphor for sharing. We share our lives. We call it love.”

  5. A Construction Project

    They burned the Past into two scorched logs. Gone.

    They started building a raft, a new floating home, to swim on the waters of their new life together.
    Fresh timber smelled of pine groves, wildflower fields, fast rivers and high mountains of delight.

    When the raft was almost ready, they realized to complete the project they’d need two more logs. They rushed back to the Past but only found grey ashes.

    It was labor-intensive and took them a long time to make new lumber.
    They managed, they are on sail.

  6. We all need food to survive. In my world food isn’t as easy to find as it once was. I heard rumors that once upon a time there were buildings full of food just for the taking. That people would walk into those buildings and trade paper for food that had all ready been killed or picked. But in my world this is not so. I must hunt my own food. In my world we all strive to be an A pex preditor. Meaning that we hunt others without fear of becoming food ourselves. In my experience no matter how big and bad you think you are there is always someone bigger and badder. I like the others are on hunt for a rumored A pex preditor . But unlike the others who wanted to hunt for food so they could become A pex, I wasn’t after food for the body. No I wanted food for the mind, knowledge. I wanted to learn from it. I sharpen my hearing, as I tiltedvmy head I heard other hunters close by. They were saying they spotted the A pex. I heard one of the hunters say they weren’t going to kill it but enslave it so they could force it to find food for them. I had to find it first. Strange. The only smelled the hunters. All of a sudden there was a sharp pain and darkness came. They thought I was the A pex.

  7. Carson spat on the still-smoldering log and listened to his saliva sizzle and pop. “Three days,” he grumbled. “Wasted.”

    “Aren’t we close?” Stegmann’s nerves added vibrato to his thin voice. He was a kid, seventeen, barely trained on his lasegun much less the local fauna. Carson regretted bringing him. He regretted bringing all five of them, too young, too green, too scared.

    Schaeffer, the only woman and Carson’s second pointed uphill. “They left fast.” Oval indentations traipsed away, widely spaced, marks of heavy feet running from danger. “I make it four of them. Can’t be far, now.”

    Which was worse than bad. “Back to base,” Carson ordered.

    “But sir, Schaeffer objected. “The zillas took Horne and Walther. We can’t—“

    “What do you think this is?” Carson kicked the smoking wood. “Quietly, now.”

    They swished through the ankle-high grass. Damn this planet, Carson silently fumed. Damn these zillas. Why’d we call them zillas, Godzillas? You give a thing a name, it lives up to it.

    “Wait!” Stegmann called from the rear. Carson halted the team. “Over there!” Stegmann pointed a shaking finger ahead to a copse of narrow leafed trees swaying in the still air.

    “Ambush.” Carson checked his lasegun’s charge.

    “But the fire!” Schaeffer objected. “The tracks!”

    “That was a cooking fire.”

    Horne. Walther. She mouthed their names.

    “Appetizers,” Carson said. “We’re the main course.”

    The ground shook as the zillas’ roars flooded their ears.

  8. I sit by my smoldering campfire and savor the last bites of my freshly caught trout. Suddenly, the alarm blares. Tears fill my eyes as my VR disconnects itself from my neck implant. I have reached my eight hour time limit and must now return to reality.

    I wander into my kitchen and pull a nutrition tube, labeled “fish”, from the cupboard. My stomach growls as I squeeze the white paste into a bowl. Spooning the goo into my mouth, I wonder why they can make VR food so delicious, but “real” food tastes like wet cardboard.

    I glance around my bleak apartment and fret about filling the mandatory six hours of reality time until the start of my sleep cycle.

    I barely notice the 24-hour news vids flickering on my walls until I hear something about finding bodies still attached to their VR machines. The announcer says that some people have discovered how to override their safety controls and have starved to death in VR. A scrolling sidebar notes that every body discovered has been wearing a smile.

    I arise and head back to my living room to study my VR system. Now I know how I will spend my reality time.

  9. The rain had finally let up and the clouds were moving on. While that was welcome, Zero and Boomer knew that colder days lay ahead. A freshening breeze foretold that tale.

    “This time of year is when I miss the big house,” said Boomer, huddled in the open door of his tent.

    Zero, younger but perhaps the worse for wear, laughed his hard laugh, missing teeth marring the smile. “That’s long, long ago. Before my time. Before yours. I think you dream too much, live in the past.”

    Harsh wind now snaked up from the sound, rustling the tall grasses denuded of seeds.

    “The past is not so bad,” said Boomer, wrapping his colorful blanket tighter around himself. “There was food and family and friends.”

    “We got that,” said Zero. “You and me. Wait till you taste the salmon. Sockeye.”

    The two looked at the fillets attached to traditional cedar frames, blue smoke from the embering coals curing the fish for tonight’s dinner.

    “Got to give it to you, my friend,” said Boomer. “Those look mighty tasty. The spirits are looking out for us. The fish are proof.”

    Zero looked at Boomer in puzzled derision. “Quick hands at the market supplied this fish and you know it. The only spirits looking out for us are my two hands.”

    “Maybe you’re right,” said Boomer.

    Freeway traffic roared the two into silence as they waited for the salmon to cook on this day when autumn turned to winter.

  10. I thought camping would be a lot more fun. My scout handbook had all these cool illustrations of thing to do at camp, things to make. I really wanted to make one of those fish cooking things that look like two snowshoes tied together. But the Scoutmaster said we had to do it his way. Man, that ruined everything for me. I hate fish anyway. I’d brought hot dogs but wasn’t allowed to cook them. Jimmy Spivens’s mom made him kabobs but last night a bear ate them. The bear got into the campsite food stockpile. I was lucky he didn’t get my hotdogs. I slept with them. Maybe that sounds weird but Fatty DeSantos was found stealing food from one of the other tents so I wasn’t taking any chances. No, I didn’t want any of that funky fish the Scoutmaster stuck in the dirt by the fire. I snuck off and hid out by the latrine and ate a hot dog. It was cold but I had mustard so it was okay. So, I’m there eating my hotdog when all of a sudden the whole troop comes running for the latrine. The Scoutmaster was chasing them yelling something about them having baby stomachs. Man, I’m glad I didn’t eat that fish. The Scoutmaster kept swigging from his canteen, yelling and laughing. Scouting kind of sucks. When I get back I’m going to sign up for soccer. At least the coaches don’t make you eat fish.

  11. As he poked the coals of the fire he thought of his wife. For the first time, in what feels like forever, he can smile at her memory.

    Every night, for the past 10 years, he has come to this beach to search the waters for a glimpse of the beast that changed his world forever. The locals told vague stories of a sea creature with razor-sharp fangs that could devour a full-grown man in a single bite. No sane person would believe the stories; oh how he wished he had believed them.

    The couple had come to this cabin for a weekend getaway. His wife laughed as she stood in the waist-deep water, challenging him to join her. Before he could reach her there was a blood-curdling scream. The water turned blood-red and she was gone. It was in that instant, he knew that the stories were true.

    Tonight on their wedding anniversary he sat alone, eating his evening meal. He let go of the memories of that dreadful night and remembered her kisses, her scent, her laughter…and he smiled.

    Whoever said that revenge is a dish best served cold, never feasted upon the hot roasted flesh of their enemy. Revenge tastes delicious.

  12. Sleep Tight


    “Yes, honey?”

    “I’m real sad, Momma.”

    “Yes honey, I know.”

    “Becka was my bestest friend.”

    “I know honey.”

    “Why did she have to die Momma?”

    “You know why honey. We talked about it. Now c’mon and try and go to sleep”. Sylvia stroked her daughter’s forehead as she arranged the bedding about her tiny body.

    “I’m really gonna miss her a lot. I knowed her since kiddiegarder.” A tiny tear trickled down her cheek. “It’s real sad Becka had to die”.

    Sylvia swabbed up the tear and licked it off the tip of her little finger, a small ritual she had always made with her daughter’s tears.

    “You’ll find other friends, honey. Believe me you’ll always find new friends. Now c’mon, go to sleep. It’s almost morning. Can I close you up now?”

    “Okay Momma. You know what Momma?”

    “What’s’ that my love?” Sylvia asked as she brought down the coffin’s lid.”

    “Becka was delicious”.

    “I imagine she was, my love… I imagine she was”.

  13. Esperanza, the first in her family of eight to finish high school, was given a college scholarship to La Salle University in Manila.

    Home is Mindoro, an island on the southwest coast of Luzon, the Philippines’ northernmost island. Her father, Pedro, looks after a small milkfish (Chanos chanos) farm that belonged to a relative who migrated to Canada and offered free lodging and all profits of fish sales in exchange for keeping the farm viable. Her mother, Cecilia, gutted the catch— saved some for personal use and smoked the rest to sell at the town’s market. Her tinapa (smoked fish) was different because she used Hickory wood chips that were sent from Canada from time to time. On weekends, the family savored their smoky goodness with rice and a salad of tomatoes, onion and steamed potato leaves.

    Esperanza, the only girl, helped her mother with the whole process. It was their time alone and away from the boys. As soon as Cecilia knew about the scholarship, she started saving every peso from her sales to help pay for Esperanza’s fare and board and lodging. She wanted her daughter to live a better life although the thought of their separation was almost too much to bear.

    They communicated monthly by scheduled calls from and to a nearby store that charged a fee for phone use.

    When Cecilia hears that someone from town is going to Manila, she would ask them to send her love to Esperanza with packages of tinapa.

  14. The fire crackled and hissed. Jus a single log, but in these days a body was lucky to have that much. Not to mention a bigger fire made more smoke, which drew attention.

    Not that Grantha had much to steal. Once she would’ve scorned a sparrow as too small to bother dressing out, and a rat too vile.

    She turned the two fillets stretched on wooden grills. Soon they’d be ready to eat.

    A sudden noise attracted her attention – a shout, not anger, fear.

    She grabbed her knife, scanned the area. Heard more shrieks, splashing.

    Someone’s fallen into the canal.

    She saw a boy, maybe eight or nine, flailing in the water. Seeing nothing useful, she pulled off her own shirt and twisted it into a makeshift rope. “Grab this.”

    First the kid had to overcome his panic enough to grab hold. Once he did, she had to be careful she had a good footing, but it enabled her to pull him to safety.

    She retrieved her knife. “All right, kid. You’re safe, now git.”

    Now to get back to her meal before it disappeared. Except the kid was slinking behind her.

    “Didn’t I tell you to git? Where’s your parents?”

    The boy shrugged. “Dead.”

    Not surprising. Could she trust him?

    “All right, you can share my food, but you have to help me clean up afterward.”

    The boy’s expression brightened. “Thanks.”

    How to see if gratitude would bind him to her, or if she’d be betrayed.

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