Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Exiled

jb basham Bull Island SC flash fiction 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!

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18 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Exiled”

  1. Take A Hike

    There’s a bit of a take-charge edge to the voice.

    It snaps out like a damp towel being flicked on bare flesh.

    A few birds take flight nearby.

    “Coming up beside you. Could you move outta my way, please?”

    I look to my left as she motors into my space. The gall. I’ve met her type before. All mouth and wind. Faux freakin’ polite because she has to. Here we are, off in the tulies, circumnavigating whatever crappy little burg we both likely need to avoid, Goose Poop Township, or whatever it’s called, dodging the armed militia on either end, just striding into whatever the future holds for us latter-day virus bindlestiffs, trying to get back to our homes, trying to keep one step ahead of COVID-19.

    “Okay, okay,” I yell. “Just keep your distance.”

    How hard is it to keep six feet away from someone out in the woods? This little bundle of feminine fury doesn’t seem to grasp the basics.

    “YOU keep your distance,” she gurgles out. There’s a rasp to her voice, almost a cough. I don’t like the sound of it. Kee-rist, wouldn’t that be the flippin’ frosting on the day-old cake? Splattered with toxic spit in the middle of nowhere.

    “Done, Typhoid Mary,” I snarl, and step smartly to the right giving her ample room to storm on by.

    In a New York Minute, her perambulating body swishes past me and disappears into the bramble.

    I’m alone again.

    I almost miss her.

  2. We were pulled from the throng of people waiting for their test results. We’re not supposed to know each other.

    She belongs to someone else, and so do I. We’ve met secretly for weeks trying to decide how to leave our mates. The tentative plans we came up with ranged from just do it, to more elaborate measures. Now, fate has intervened, or maybe our prayers have been answered…we have been told to leave.

    We both have COVID-19, but we have no symptoms.
    Fourteen days of quarantine away from everyone else. It was hard for us not to look at each other and smile. I could feel my heart pounding, just like every other time we’ve met secretly. It was hard for me to hear what they were telling our small group to do, as all I could think about was Eve.

    The pine grove we had found previously would be our home for at least two weeks. The memory of sunlight filtering through the pines and the sweet scent of pine needles felt like a push on my back to run to the grove. The extra push came from the call to my wife. She said she would enjoy her new found peace.

    We had stashed some goodies in the pines, but we needed to make a stop at the store first. With toilet paper and other necessities, we had the balance of needed supplies.

    Hidden smiles and six feet apart, makes it look good. Not for long.

  3. Such a beautiful island: tall tropical trees filled with bananas and coconuts, clean sandy beaches, lush green tropical forests, and the pièce de résistance . . . a high-class lavish vacation resort. The perfect vacation destiny for the richest of the rich . . . or at least that’s what it was meant to be . . . before the plague.

    No one really knew where it came from but it spread like wildfire. Many died. The infected that survived changed. They regressed, became more aggressive, more primitive. As society collapsed the primitives broke off into tribes and began warring over territories, food, and anything else of value found in this post-apocalyptic world.

    Those of us who escaped infection, we ended up here, on this gorgeous tiny little island . . . exiled from the rest of the world.

  4. The Edge of the World

    We stood at the edge of the world.

    It was a new world, an unknown world, an upside down world.

    It was a world full of uncharted trails; of undiscovered places; and of nameless faces.

    We wanted to turn back. But we couldn’t . . . because there was no past.

    Everything we once knew was gone. We were disoriented and alone.

    The path to this new world was a maze, fraught with dangers born of the jungle. And it had made us distant. It had created a chasm between us, over which we could not cross.

    We tried to cry out, to hear our voices above the silence. But we discovered we could not speak. No one could. For this new world crushed the voices it did not like, even the distant echoes of Galileo. And it loomed large and foreboding, like a great and impassable jungle.

    We looked for a way through this world, but the trail was hidden by fear, uncertainty and doubt. And we had no light, or reason, by which to guide our way.

    All the rules had changed. Like a path verging off its intended destination, we were left disoriented and lost.

    And yet . . .

    As we stood at the edge of the world, filled with uncertainty and doubt, we took a deep breath, and with courage born of necessity, we bravely ventured forth . . .


    It was the late fall, and the day was unseasonably warm. Mildred shivered in delicious anticipation wondering what was ahead of them exploring the wilds of Wyoming.

    Morton, on the other hand, was fearful as he was raised in the concrete jungle of the city and all that greenery made him nauseous—but he was in love and could show no fear.

    They held hands, touched, and occasionally snogged, but in a fashion approved by the Tsarina for publication.

    Mildred gushed at every new photo-op and often stopped for selfies—sometimes with Morton—mostly by herself. Morton was delighted to take photos of Mildred’s selfies.

    They stopped in a small clearing for a picnic lunch. To Mildred’s delight two of the cutest bear cubs you could imagine waddled their way onto the blanket and began accepting bits of food from Mildred’s hands. One of them even rolled over and allowed Mildred to tickle her tummy as Morton took photos.

    The angry roar came out of nowhere. Morton stood, turned, and the sight of the enraged grizzly bear barely registered before the enormous paw struck and the claws bit deeply nearly decapitating Morton.

    Later that night, winter arrived with a blizzard and the freeze did not let up until the following early June.

    They say on a lonely winter’s night you can hear Mildred’s shriek of Noooo . . .

  6. This was perhaps the saddest day of Frank’s life. Even without his glasses, he could see that Helen, his wife of almost fifty years, and Dennis, his best friend, were walking together down the red dirt road, away from him and all that he treasured.

    Exile was a terrible thing and he wasn’t quite clear on all the details, but they were, indeed, being sent away forever. Together. Which didn’t make much sense and crushed his heart in ways he’d never experienced before. Sure, he and Helen had their struggles over the years, but in the end they always made it back together.

    The ventilator whirred and Frank looked around the antiseptic room. Nobody was with him. After much squirming he was finally able to look out the windows, but the landscape wasn’t at all like the tropics where he had just watched Helen and Dennis, their heads bowed in shame, walk out of his life.

    His coughing had eased. Soon, he would get everything straightened out. Was there a chance that the exile was a mistake? He knew Helen better than anybody and there could never in anyone’s wildest imagination be a reason for exile. As for Dennis, he was levelheaded and true to his values and his friends.

    It was all a mystery, as was so much of life lately. The respirator continued its work but Frank’s breathing slowed and his eyes closed.

    He wondered, with a start, if he was the one being exiled.

  7. Cat and Sawler grabbed up their backpacks and left their tent. The group made their decision. No more traipsing around the truth, their views were different than the masses. Cat looked back one more time and re-positioned her backpack on her shoulder. The others stranded on the island were still doing everything they could to get off the island. Three years and still no luck. The shore had a bonfire, lit every evening. Trees were cut to make rafts. There was a flare gun on standby. No luck with the lot. The water was too choppy for he rafts. No boats or planes to witness the rest. One day Cat and Sawler joked they mightjust be better off living on the island.

    “It has everything we need.” Cat said. “Fruit, a natural stream, tents made from the tarps on the plane. Everything.”

    One of the villagers overheard this and called a meeting. Voted out. Exiled. All other social status revoked. But Cat and Sawler didn’t rest their minds on their decision. They were too busy thinking about building a cabin.

    “Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day on the island, Cat.”

    “Sure enough, Sawler. Sure enough.”


    Reprimand in Retreat
    Pain of estrangement is poignant. Neither they despised my strong opinion, nor they called me despot. Yet, I am surrounded only by myself.
    Is that a bird of paradise? Why? How? I never planned to be in New Guinea.
    A sudden blow on my head knocks me to senses. Am I bleeding? Trying to check with my fingertips.
    My fingers are sore. From braking stones. On heads of the attackers. Virtually.
    Probably, it is night. Hence, cold mountain wind has started blowing towards the warm ocean. Glad that I am finally at my chosen island, forming over billions of years. A piece of the Andes wedged away by rifting along equatorial Pacific, grew into snowy peaks topping alpine forests and lush tropical forests at base. Cool breeze flows inland, all day, from ocean. Neither heating nor cooling is required here.
    Temperature has dropped to freezing cold. I am standing at a beach on edge of a vast permafrost, spanning from deep inside this strange island. The glaring light results from refraction through icebergs floating near and far.
    I hear. Cracking of an iceberg. Soon it starts melting into glowing lava. A long dormant volcano beneath has started to erupt.
    The growl of volcano changed abruptly into frantic shrieks of our Product Manager, over ongoing team meeting through conference call, “I need a fix in two minutes.”
    I have none. As long as, this uncertain tenure of isolation prevails. Epiphany occurs.
    I squirm back to my ever-cool island.

  9. “And don’t come back,” Watt said, throwing the mango he’d found after them. “It’s people like you that cause all our problems.”

    I nodded but said nothing, re-securing the hatch. I lingered, though, and watched them leave, the window’s bars framing them as they walked away.

    “Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say,” said Watt. He pushed the call button and the lift arrived, the city’s ever-present Muzak enfolding us when its doors opened. “And to think they chose to be exiled; forsaking comfort and security; the City and everything we take for granted. I bet they’ll be back in an hour, maybe less. It gets dark on the outside…”

    I nodded but said nothing, watching the doors close. The lift dropped away, the sudden instant of weightlessness surprising me, leaving my stomach up near the surface. George and Hannah would be on the beach soon, sitting beneath the stars. They’d build a fire, probably toast a fish they’d caught, and talk about the future. They’d have a lot to discuss; exile was for life with no take-backs.

    Not ever.

    “I bet you’re glad they’re gone. You had a thing for Hannah, didn’t you?” Watt nudged me, his elbow suddenly sharp against my ribs. “You dodged a bullet there,” he went on. “A few weeks more and it could have been you, instead of George. It could have been you out there; getting cold; the two of you alone.”

    I nodded but said nothing, wishing I had a time machine.

  10. My husband, Joel, and I have always tried to be model citizens. We’ve always obeyed the laws, even the foolish ones.

    When they closed our domed city off from the outside world, we realized it was for our protection. The dangers out there were well known – desertification, war, disease, predators. It was no place for decent people like ourselves.

    So when they ordered us to abandon our cars and use only bicycles for transportation, we obeyed. When they demanded the elimination of all forms of plastic containers from our daily lives, we obeyed. When they imposed the 10:00 pm curfew and the 11:00 lights out, we obeyed.

    But we have decided to resist the most recent outrageous ordinance. So they’ve brought us to the municipal court and issued their ultimatum. Obey or be exiled from the city.

    Joel explains, “By the time we conceded and tried to follow the new law, the entire supply was gone. We could not obtain one, even if we wanted to.”

    “Nevertheless,” the magistrate says, “all lawbreakers must leave the city.”

    Now we enter the deadly outer world. We will be allowed to return, only if we do as the new ordinance demands. Somehow, we must acquire a pet dog.

  11. A sloppy, irreverent, and accomplished thief, their monkey was a shared delight. The perfect pet for a couple of youthful missionaries in Belize.

    The commune’s spiritual director disagreed. He had to love this couple on their self-discovery journey from the Upper East Side of New York, but he did not have to love their monkey too. How many times had the critter interrupted his group meetings with a yammering cadence of yaps and yips as he scurried about the common room? How often did one of the leader’s proteges complain of missing trinkets? And the droppings and leavings of a monkey’s jungle diet?

    Lines had been quietly drawn. Secret agreements were made. A silent intention of the leaders’ many disciples conspired to rid themselves of the monkey’s tyranny. Plans were made for the next group meeting.

    Randy and his good friend Sycamore finished their morning chores and strolled into the morning meeting with the aplomb of those who know they can keep a monkey as their own. The leader addressed the congregates in his flowing white toga and ruby diadem on his forehead, with his usual fervency.

    The members cooed admiration and reverence for his words. At the end of his passionate homily, he proclaimed some new rules. No wild critters would be allowed in the commune. The die was cast.

    Randy and Sycamore left with the rising sun. Randy carried the monkey on his shoulders. A ruby flashed beneath the monkey’s arm in the emergent light.

  12. Roscoe was the most loving husband imaginable. Always smiling, always courteous, good to Edwina no matter how annoying others might find her. That is he was up until he got his hearing aids. The audiologist told him his hearing was only 30%, and that was in his good ear. Roscoe was horrified. That meant he hadn’t heard 70% of what Edwina had said to him in the past 20 years!

    He loved nothing more than walking in the woods with his darling. Her conversations enchanted him. Her voice was like the melodious song of a beautiful bird, melding with rustling leaves and whispering breezes. Now that he had the latest and best hearing aids made, he would at last hear every single word that flowed from Edwina’s lips.

    “Edwina, my beloved,” he said as they strolled together down their favorite forest path, “from now until death I will hear and treasure everything you say.” He turned on his hearing aids.

    “Roscoe, you sweet thang! I never heard a purtier speech than that there.”

    Roscoe frowned. He heard something that sounded like an elephant taking through its trunk. He heard rocks crashing around and odd scuffling and shuffling sounds. He could not identify any of them.

    “Whassamatter, Roscoe? You sick or somethin’?” Edwina trumpeted.

    Then the terrible truth hit him. The hideous sounds came from Edwina.

    He quickly turned off the hearing aids and vowed never to use them again.

  13. Milton Rhodes, Percy Tailman, Greg Bishop. He reckons he`s better than everyone of those 16mm wildlife geniuses. I say that for Sammy, he got the ego size of a hot watermelon. Always been the same, right from First grade to Harvard, or was it Yale. Well actually he didn`t make no University, had to content hiself with an apprenticeship to a withered old guy down by the docks with a Beaulieu R16 and a couple a` nails to hang your coat.
    Took my Sammy down the docks, sweeping panoramas, close up of salt-washed faces. Most out of focus. Arty, the withered old guy called it. Sammy was firmly impressed.
    Four year and Sammy was ready to go. A Paillard Bolex H16 deluxe with 16, 25 and 75mm lens. Guy in the shop said it was the best going. Cost Sammy a real rock for my finger and a holiday on the Island, all found.
    We been all over with that Paillard. Guy from Metro said he`d pay plenty for shots of something called a Great White Crane. Biggest Flying bird in the world he said. We got swamp fever and didn`t see no Great White. Then it was the Javan Rhino. Sammy said best I didn`t go in my condition. Sammy spent a month in hospital after getting gored and we called the kid Lucky. He`s by my side now, filming on this tropical Island. Sammy says stick at it and he could make a half decent cameraman one day.

  14. When my parents disappeared in the Mount Hood Wilderness, it was no surprise.

    My father, Rudy Sr. was an outgoing accountant who drank too much at backyard barbecues. He was known to begin heated discussions about conspiracy theories, claiming certain historical events never happen. He was convinced the holocaust “was made up,” and he argued with a crazed vehemence, beer bottle swinging, no one landed on the moon in 1969. “Hell, it was shot in Hollywood. Everyone knows that.”

    Even sober, when I asked my Dad for help with a history project, he maintained his convictions; “It didn’t happen son.” I stopped asking for help, but that didn’t stop him from taking us on a family road trip to Roswell New Mexico. Clutching his dog-eared copy of The Roswell Incident, Dad asked my mother to read to him while he drove. I sat alone in the back seat reading comic books trying to shut out my mother’s melodic voice.

    That summer, along for the ride and forgotten between them, I realized how my mother looked at my father with an adoration that excluded me. This adoration made my mother look beautiful. I studied her effect when we stopped at roadside restaurants. I watched heads turn to follow my mother as she walked behind my father, her slim hips swinging to an invisible beat, laughing at something my father just said. I remember trailing behind them to the car waiting for one of them to turn around . They never did.

  15. It was a somber moment at the One Light extended retreat. The 43 followers had taken the cruise with their Supreme Leader, Garrett DeVito, and his First Lady, Samantha into the tropical paradise. There was no contact with the outside world; all mobile devices were turned off and stored on the boat.

    But Phil and Judy had broken the rules. There were to be no romantic liaisons among group members — that privilege was reserved for Garrett and Samantha, and whoever they brought into their intimate circle. When Phil and Judy were caught necking on the beach, there was only one penalty: a one-week exile, carrying only what they could fit in their small backpacks.

    Samantha announced, “We will see how romantic you feel when you return here starving and dehydrated!”

    Phil and Judy started down the path away from the group amid chants of, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” until it grew fainter and fainter.

    “Well, that was different!” said Judy.

    “The reports about this cult weren’t exaggerated,” answered Phil. “Do you have your extra cellphone?”

    “Yeah, you? I’ll call the newsroom. According to my map, the mango and coconut trees are a mile ahead. We can enjoy the local fruit while we wait for our friends.”

    The boat arrived four hours later with a full news crew and 15 former cult members. After stopping to pick up Judy and Phil, they docked at One Light.

    “You have no rights here!” shouted Garrett.

    “Neither do you!” came the swift reply.

  16. The trees almost looked like the palms back home in Pasadena, if you squinted a little. Except the illusion lasted only until you stood up to do anything. That extra point-two gravity made it impossible to forget you were nowhere on Earth.

    Marina shifted her backpack, trying to ease the sore spots where the straps cut into her shoulders What had possessed those idiots down in Watts, to think a bunch of gangbangers could go up against an empire that traveled between stars as easily as humans flew from Los Angeles to Sydney?

    She looked over at Ellison, who was whistling a tune as he carried all his worldly possessions in a satchel. “My, aren’t you chipper today.”

    The criticism rolled right off him. “Why not? It’s a beautiful day.”

    “On a planet a hundred light-years from an Earth we’re never seeing again.” Marina wrestled her exasperation back under control “How can you stand it?”

    “I grew up reading the old Heinlein and Silverberg juveniles about how we we’d be colonizing the Moon and Mars, building a space station for a World’s Fair, spreading through the Solar System and out among the stars. I thought that would be my future, until I got to college and realized we’d be lucky to see the first permanent moonbase within my lifetime. Then the Kitties came, and here we are on another world.”

    Marina rolled her eyes. It would be her luck to get stuck with one of those science fiction weirdos.


    Tom pointed into the canopy, “There he goes.”
    Mary caught a glimpse of the monkey’s tail-end as it sprung to the next branch. The couple stumbled over buttress roots and unlevel ground, as they tried to keep up with the monkey. Hours later, Tom grabbed Mary’s arm, spinning her around.
    “Do you hear that?”
    “It sounds like flowing water.” She kept her eyes on the monkey.
    “We should turn back,” Tom said, recognizing how far off the trail they had strayed.
    “Okay,” Mary agreed, “but let me get this shot.” She snapped the picture, but no monkey. “Come on.”
    “No, we have to turn back,” Tom hollered, but the lure of the monkey was too much for her. Tom took off after her. Mary’s eyes searched for the monkey. A glimmer of rustling branches high in the canopy marked her missed opportunity.
    A few miles downstream, the narrow bank opened into a pool of teal water. From far above, water thundered into the far end of the pool.
    “How are we going to get up there?”
    “I don’t know. But we can figure that out later,” Tom said taking off his shirt.
    They sat at the edge of the pool with wet hair. Tom pulled their lunch from his pack. As Mary bit into an apple, a monkey swung onto a low-lying branch. She scrambled to her feet, camera in hand. She caught the monkey, hanging by one arm and looking directly at her—the perfect shot.

  18. John and Carol, in their mid-forties, had never been on a vacation without their children. Their friends, who belonged to a survival group; invited them to their compound, on an island, for two weeks.

    It was supposed to be a fun two week vacation off the grid: sleeping in tents near the beach, and cooking over the open fire.

    The third night, at the compound, was game night. Carol a history teacher, corrected the group leader’s game-winning trivia answer, which was met with hostility.

    The next morning, John found an envelope pinned to their tent.

    He started shaking his head as he read the note, “They want us out, Carol, today!”

    “What?” she asked in disbelief.

    To punctuate the written dictate, two security officers arrived at their tent. “We are here to escort you out of the groups’ perimeter.”

    The security officers, looking more like surfers, drove Carol and John by jeep to the uninhabited side of the island.

    Sitting in front of their tent, looking glum, John said, “It’s not that bad, it’s only two days until the boat picks us up.”

    “The whole exile thing irks me,” Carol snapped, “I don’t know if I can take two days of isolation…not going places.”

    “It is weird,” John agreed, “I wonder how it would feel if we had to do this for a month?”

    “I’d go crazy…” said Carol.

    “No, you wouldn’t, I’d let you win at trivia, every night!”

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