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.
13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Battle Ready”
This big oaf is gonna get swung onto my aching back again. At least you’d think he’d try polishing that tarnish from my nose guard, not to mention his clunky armor. How’d you like to have all the weight from his costume dumped onto you? Yikes! Maybe when he lifts his lance on the final charge I’ll loop to the side to get him off balance. When he crashes to the ground, it might get him to think about giving up this nonsense. Oh, there she is again, waiting for her darling to win and take her out for a romantic evening of ——– Shoosh!
The trumpets blared the start of the joust. She shifted to the edge of her settee to get a better view of the fun. The knights faced each other from the far ends of their line of combat.
The drummers drummed their drums. Cheers of “Huzzah” filled the amphitheater. The knights charged.
Sir Lancealittle woke to the thousands of stars twinkling in the eyes of his beloved. What a dish, he grinned.
That’s that. She’ll never let him go. He’ll always dump himself into these ridiculous festivities just to please her. Never mind me having to put up with bumping rumps with the foe, or getting scored with a swinging lance. Okay. It keeps me in oats, a nice warm stall and an occasional pat on my snout from that big lug. C’est la vie. I guess I’ll just have to live with that.
The trumpets sounded.
The King, standing on a parapet, addressed his subjects.
“My countrymen. I stand before you on a precipitous day. A great danger stalks the land. It is called . . . the bogeyman.”
A murmur went up from the crowd.
“We know the bogeyman exists. How? Because the children are afraid at night. They know the bogeyman lives in the closet. They know he lurks under the bed. They know he hides in the corner of the room, under a pile of clothes. Yes, the bogeyman exists. That is the danger we face.”
The crowd shouted words of encouragement to the King.
“What shall be done about this scourge? I intend to mobilize our bravest knights. They will adorn themselves with their finest armour and strongest swords. Then they will mount their battle steeds and ride out to meet this dastardly threat.”
The crowd cheered.
“Fear is the danger, not the bogeyman. Do not be afraid. He cannot harm you as long as the Kingdom is prepared. And it is prepared. Every hamlet will be explored, every closet will be searched, and every stone will be overturned. The bogeyman cannot hide from my brave knights. They will find him and defeat him.”
The crowd went wild.
“So fear not. Be of good cheer. Hug your loved ones. Drink your ale. And sing songs around your hearth and fire. For this day has your liberation come.”
Title – HOPE
When Maddy witnessed the stable hands putting my face shield on, it was the first time I saw her getting excited.
We had been in opposite stalls for what seems like months. When I would stare at her, she would look elsewhere. Maybe she realizes all I do lately is to look at her.
Now, I think she knows I am going into combat and might not return.
With my rider standing beside me, I can see her straining to look our way. We must look like a fearsome duo.
I know she is paying attention to me, as I lift my head up and down…she responds the same way. Why wasn’t she this responsive before?
My rider is an experienced soldier, seeing how we both have prepared for combat. My hope is that we will be victorious.
I have a new reason to live, but if I don’t return…I hope she realizes how much I longed to be with her. Another couple of head nods, and some ear wiggles…yes, yes, she responded.
Maddy’s waiting…let’s get this show on the road.
I am bid. ‘Tis mine time. The earth is ravaged and needs a champion.
“You are not sufficiently equipped, mine lord. This virus shall not be restrained by thy armour.”
How now! a talking horse? Whom granted thou leave to whinny?
“I may be only a horse, Sire, yet i wot a plague when i see one.”
Thou hast some alchemist’s degree that permits thou to hast an opinion on mine crusade?
“Knight, I hast been thy companion on many a quest. I hast aye granted thou thy pate, thy sweet helmeted pate, and thou hast led us into many a broil. This matter is a shade beyond thy skill set. Perpetual wink is afoot ‘i the land. Disease, horrible disease hath run rampant. Thou can’t truly slice it aroint.”
Horse, I hate to say it, yet thou compose some sense. Still, and don’t take offence, what would mine lady and the round table regard of me would they knew i was not only talking to a horse yet agreeing with it?
“No offence taken, mine liege. I am yet a humble horse, yet the time hath join for me to speak up.”
Tis well thou hast. What doth thou suggest we doth?
“Repair to the stable, Sire. Self-isolate. And pick up a bag of oats along the way.”
Thou compose a firm-set case, mine equine like. The stable it is.
“Excellent, sire. Didst I mention the WHU?”
“Yes, Sire. The World Horses Union
Like any former Boy Scout, Angus believed in the code: Be prepared. He had also believed his Marine Corps unit’s corollary: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. But nothing could have prepared him for this.
Armored with an elite education, a decorated military service, and decades of management roles at a leading financial institution, Angus would appear more able to face any of life’s more challenging circumstances, than anyone. But, not this.
At age fifty-five, he was getting married for the first time. There had been other missed opportunities. Several in college and grad school. Two when he was in uniform but deployments always got in the way. By the time he was building his career at the bank, he had all but dismissed the idea of marriage despite the corporate social pressure.
But she was the one. He knew it deep inside. She satisfied a longing he could no longer endure alone. She had managed to peel away those scales of indifference and selfishness that had accrued as layers of armor protecting the delicate self-made edifice that was him. The idea shredded his courage.
She became an intractable obsession; a persistent itching in the unreachable center of his back. It was as if the armor he had built over those years to protect his ego would not let him scratch her away. She was like a virus on his psyche.
He was unprepared for love. He would have to improvise and adapt but knew this could not be overcome.
I know I’m meant for more than mundane farm existence. Standing in the corral with boundless fields of undulating prairie grass stretching beyond the fence to the horizon, my little piece of the world seems to shrink daily.
The world wants star athletes and extraordinary skills. I have big dreams and ordinary talent. My parents are content to throw their weight into the harness day after day. The very thought stifles me.
I thought there was no place for me, but today I’m finally getting my big break. The great joust tournament. With the farm fading in the dust cloud behind my trailer, I giddily await the adventure ahead.
Slowly we roll to a stop amidst the feverish clamor of thousands of competing voices. As a flood of strange smells accosts my nostrils, uncertainty grips my heart. Master calmly backs me out of my compartment, but in the bright morning light, instinct commands me to run. I struggle with all my might against the tether before surrendering to Master’s rod.
A stranger approaches and speaks with Master. Looking pleased, the man pats me on the shoulder and secures a steel plate over my head. I’m led over to meet my new joust partner and instructed to stand still. Proudly I pose for photos.
All morning I stand patiently as thundering hooves and cheering spectators mark the tournament’s progress. Why am I still standing here? My knight never moves and never makes a sound. He smells only of cold steel.
While Peace Prevails
Soundscape is monotonous with barbets’ chirping, interrupted intermittently by songs of cuckoo. Every human sound has receded to an obscure memory, to a frightful probability. Profound tranquility has induced comity of physique and psych, like meditation.
The elevations and depressions from soaring concrete structures have long been sore on the landscape. Deep beneath it rests the marsh in angry agony.
Inside those concrete structure are humans. Minerals, plants and animals. Things are brewing; obvious from near silent hisses and fizzes.
The walls there are digital screens. Displaying how much of a mineral or a body part of what plant and/ or what animal is needed when for which petri dish or flask or burette, on which oven, in which incubator, cyclotron.
At the bottom there is a fixed tabular index of screen color and alarm scream transcript. For nuclear attack screen will turn orange and scream will convey “nuclear attack”. For viral, screen will go green, and scream will be “viral”. For extraterrestrial white screen and scream ….
On top of all, ETA, Estimated Time of Attack, is blinking. It is always zero hours, zero minutes and zero point nine nine …. second.
Concrete block bunkers are on ground. Floatables are on waters. Always quarantined. Arsenals of nuclear and biochemical strains are aimed to be disseminated. Both for defense and then to revert the offence.
An attack commences, time will turn to zero entirely. Till then mutations go on.
Artemis whickered. He was uneasy, and he had a good record for smelling out trouble. If he thought there was something wrong, Kent would be well advised to pay attention. It would be foolish not to.
The route ahead was star-lit, with the moon adding its shadows. There were trees creating pockets of night. All was quiet.
“Sire?” Holt appeared, his face a pale oval. He’d muddied his cheeks for camouflage, and if he’d not spoken, Kent would have ridden past him without knowing he was there.
“Gods’ save us,” Kent muttered, steadying the horse. “I do wish you’d give some warning before you make yourself known.”
“An early announcement draws fire,” Holt said, voicing one of his many aphorisms. He had a quote for every occasion, or so it seemed, having memorised Kao’s ‘Rules of Engagement’ during his apprentice years. As an assassin, he was beyond reproach, but his conversational skills left a lot to be desired.
“Indeed, indeed. But what of your reconnoitring? Do you have anything to report?”
Holt drew himself up to his full five feet in height, casting a hasty glance to either side. If he could have dematerialised, leaving nothing but a smile to show where he was standing, he would have done that, but as it was he seemed to fade away, becoming blurred.
“Many hens speak out of turn,” he said, floating his words upon the wind. “It’s a foul night in the farmyard and the coop’s door has been left ajar.”
The old man looked upon his old armor remembering the days he wore it proudly defending king and country. A pride that came at a cost. Countless bloody battlefields.
And so he retired to a quiet little island where he could live in peace.
For many years the old man’s days were peaceful until the Vikings came, marauding villages along the coast, getting closer to his little island.
No warriors lived amongst the islanders, only farmers and their families. The islanders pleaded with the old man for help. There was only one solution.
The old man put forth a challenge, the island’s best warrior versus the Vikings best warrior, to the winner goes the island. The Viking king agreed and commanded his best warrior to step forward.
The old man put on his armor, sharpened his sword, and stepped forth to fight once more.
The battle was swift. The Viking hammering away, blow after blow until finally landing one to the old man’s side.
Staggering from the wound the old man allows his old warrior instincts to take control. Blocking the Viking’s next blow the old man turns and thrusts his sword into the Viking, killing him.
The king approaches.
“The battle is done. I am the last man standing,” the old man proclaims.
Looking at the mortal wound, the king replies, “Not for very much longer.”
“True, but I am victorious.”
“And we shall honor our word. Farewell, old warrior.”
And with that, the Vikings left never to return.
Lord Hainsworth, his armor heavier than he expected, walked across the drawbridge leading his horse, also covered in steel plate. With the help of his squire, he mounted the white stallion and faced the knights gathered before him. They silenced the whispering running through the ranks and waited for his signal to proceed towards the treacherous hills.
“Please don’t leave,” said Rosalind, his wife who had followed him across the drawbridge.
“We’ve been over this,” said Hainsworth. “It’s my duty to protect our people, a duty I shall not shirk.”
“But all we have is rumors,” said Rosalind. “Why not at least wait until we see the beast? We can stay safe behind these walls. I am so afraid for you going out.”
Turning his horse back, Lord Hainsworth, awkwardly handling his broadsword, bent down to his wife. “The dragon is about the countryside. This we know. Even if he is doing nothing now, he still poses a threat to us all. If not now, then maybe tomorrow. But don’t be afraid. I will return.”
With that he headed back out to the knights before him, brandished his sword as he stood up in his stirrups, and broke into a gallop as he waved his army onward.
Rosalind watched her husband and his army galloping by in a thundering show of force. She walked back over the drawbridge, covering her eyes in grief. Soon she was sobbing knowing full well, now, the inevitability of sorrow in this life.
ELIGIBLE FOR EDITOR’S CHOICE ONLY
The clanking of clashing swords that rang throughout the night had quieted.
The general sat at full attention in his saddle. He braced himself for what he expected to see as the sun rose behind the clouds. What? He leaned forward. How can this be?
Their armor sat empty in their tents, yet his troops were still standing. Breastplate in place and with a shield and sword they stood strong.
“Why does what you see surprise you?” asked the iron clad rider.
A colonel rode up from the battlefield, “They’re retreating sir.”
The general looked, “Whoa. Who are all those soldiers with the flaming swords?”
“What?” The colonel stared at the general.
“Those soldiers circling our guys. Where did they come from?”
“What are you talking about?”
The general turned to the rider, but he was gone.
He returned his attention to the battlefield; the enemy retreated, and the soldiers with flaming swords disappeared into the clouds.
I must be mad.
Once again, his eyes searched for the rider and his armored horse. He wrapped his hand around the gold cross hanging from his neck and looked into the sky, thank you.
As he returned his gaze to the empty battlefield, out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of the rider—shoulders back, one hand on each hilt of his swords, he stood battle ready at the right hand of the Great Commander.
Hours of standing in the sun have left me sweat drenched and weak. Even my faithful mount shows signs of fatigue. Below lies the stricken village that I and my fellow knights were ordered to cleanse with fire. Just thinking about that order makes my bile churn. To murder innocent women and children because they are ill is a deplorable and cowardly act.
The other knights call me oath breaker, but I vowed to stand against injustice and evil, to defend the weak and protect them. That, I must do above all else. So here I stand, having thwarted attempts to harm this village. Only food, water, and medical supplies are permitted to pass. For that I am banished, cursed.
Each breath feels like I stand in the mouth of a forge, a burning battle that grows more fraught with time. I cannot yield. Not while others are in danger.
The land beneath my feet sways. Knees, weak and rubbery, fold beneath me, despite my resolve. I am almost lost when a voice beats past the buzzing in my head.
Blinding light surrounds the figure before me. At a touch, the heavy armor vanishes and fresh air floods my heat-seared lungs. Cool water slips down my throat. In the valley below I see a thriving village. Children play and laugh. As they notice my gaze, people smile and bow their heads. Peace rolls over me like a blanket.
“Rest, Sir Knight. Your task is done.”
The dust from the list fields tickled in Kelson’s nostrils. He could even smell the sweat of men and horses, a nice touch of realism from the developers. No manure stink though; that would’ve gone a little too far.
Still, he could feel all the biological responses of excitement in his avatar. Truth be told, he was excited. With the new code he’d just picked up on the darkweb, he was finally beating those Earth kids who had hours upon hours of leisure time to practice.
And now it was his turn again. Except who was this strange knight? He thought he knew all the competitors in this tourney.
No time to worry. Kelson couched his lance and urged his horse to a gallop. Focus on his target, let the code guide him–
Lances connected. The next thing he knew, he was tumbling onto the dusty ground, the wind knocked out of him. The other knight circled around and dismounted, pulled off the helm to reveal not the bearded masculine face he’d expected, but that of an older woman.
“Don’t try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs, kiddo.” Grandma Hargreaves studied him with a disdainful air. “I cut my gaming teeth on Pong, if you even know what that was. By the time I was your age, one of my first jobs was searching for cheat codes and identifying how they worked so our senior developers could write blockers for them.”
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