Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Maze

eastmangarden Flash fiction writing prompt
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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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Maze”

  1. A Maze Zinger

    On the third night of the surveillance, things started popping. Harold Eastman snapped a light on in the back of his house, the bedroom I figured, just long enough to get my attention. Not that he knew I was there.

    I moved in closer, enough to hear the latch unclip, shoes slap, the back stairs squeak.

    From then on, he was mine.
    Harold was a walker. Didn’t even have a car. A slim florist, slightly paunchy, late forties, successful if you believed owning two undistinguished flower shops was a measure of achievement.

    I didn’t own any shops, flowers or otherwise. Neither did my client. She did have an inheritance, however. Her sister, Eastman’s deceased wife, had scrubbed hubby out of her will and left her a not insubstantial chunk of change.

    “There has to be a reason that Cori did that. I thought she and Harry were in love. Something went wrong.”

    Cori Eastman had died suddenly, violently, gasping for her strangled breath. Maybe it was the COVID? Or maybe something else, something toxic? My client suspected an ingestion of oleander. No way to prove it. Cori had been cremated. Too quickly for my liking.

    Also, Eastman did not trade in oleander.

    And here he was, wandering the streets in the wee hours, weaving his way as if in a maze.

    Did he have a secret stash of the poisonous flowers?

    Was Cori Eastman murdered or was it suicide?

    Was I a real detective?

    Did truth matter?

  2. Title: aMAZing

    They spent many hours trying to decide what to do with their wayward son. On one occasion, he really screwed up at boarding school and they were told he had to leave.

    Their property in England was massive, but the area near the river was always unsightly. So, they decided as punishment over the summer, Russell would have to take care of the river overlook.

    Each day, Russell would head out to the overlook and be gone for the entire day, in many cases even late for dinner. The Duke and the Duchess decided to see what progress was being made and secretly headed to the overlook. What they observed took their breath away.

    Seated on one of the several field stone benches, neither spoke. Finally, the Duke remarked, waving his hand over the amazing sight. “He’s a prince, and as such, shouldn’t be gifted for work such as this.”

    “Well, William, I know where I will be having my afternoon tea. We could even entertain here.”

    “Margaret, you were never happy with the East facing lawn area, why don’t we test his abilities to see what he can do with that area?”

    Three days later, all three went to the river overlook to surprise Russell with a new Jaguar XKE convertible.

    Over the following months, they watched Russell painstakingly constructed a marvelous garden maze.

    “William, please let the kitchen staff know I’ll be taking my afternoon tea here from now on.”

    Russell became a renowned landscape architect.


    She loved being up at this time of day to gaze at her gardens before those on their rounds spoiled her view. Of course, they weren’t really her gardens were they? Maybe they were old man Cortez’s, the gardener who tended and insured their beauty year after year. No, Cortez couldn’t claim ownership. He was hired help and did not even own the abode he rented in town.

    Wasn’t she the queen of the villa by virtue of marriage? Her striking beauty seduced and captured the attention of the wealthy and powerful Ramon Gutierrez. He had to possess her as he had all the finery locked away in his numerous warehouses throughout Guerrero. Gaining his attention had been her goal as she considered her station and attributes above those of her peers. And here she was. Ramon was away as he most always was, “tending to business” as he called it.

    No, these were not really her gardens at all. Not until she gave Ramon a family. Until then, the reality was that she was a tenant like Cortez, subject to eviction based on a whim. With Ramon, eviction was synonymous with death.

    Soon the guards would be due on their rounds through the garden. She deeply inhaled the fragrance before retiring back to her life which was in essence a sentence, though the cell was certainly grandiose. No, her husband Ramon, the narcotics overlord of Guerrero owned these gardens. She would become fertilizer unless she flowered.

  4. The drumbeats quickened. He thought he could hear someone’s breath on the breeze, matching tempo with their rhythm. The hedges were taller here, tall enough to hide the sun, rendering everything between them in monochrome. He’d begun to feel disoriented, confused. If only he could find something he could take a fix on. That would be helpful, even if it was something temporary like a cloud. He hated not knowing where he was.

    He remembered the tea he’d drunk, the spices it had been laced with. Elodie had spilled hers, knocking her cup to the ground. She’d run away from him then, returning to the house for more china, cursing in French in that way that aroused him. She’d said she’d be back again soon, but that he shouldn’t wait. His tea would be better for him if he drank it hot, and that she was a moose.

    That had been an hour ago, maybe more. He’d begun to regret giving up his phone when they’d entered, Elodie slipping it into her pocket. She’d taken his watch from him too, laughing as she did, wrapping it around her slim wrist. He was to be hers for the rest of the day, she’d said. He should let her be in control, surrender himself to her.

    He’d been deliriously happy then, not a doubt in his head. Maybe he should have stayed where he’d been a little longer. Been more patient.

    And what was it with those drums? Why had they started?

  5. Castle Carlisle sat high above the Mohawk River. Parts of its sprawl dated to 1630. The Dutch founders of the region known as Fort Oranje, built it with their plunder of the local Indian fur trade. Major Carlisle bought it in the 1870’s after retiring from the Slave Trade. It was said of the castle that it had an aura of decay and bad fortune about it.

    By 1890, the Castle was in disrepair. The large hedge maze well back of the garden had been left to nature. Carlisle and his ancient wife lived alone in its vast chambers with the help of a few Irish servants. But they still lived in style and dressed for dinner. Even in her fading evening garments she always wore her beloved sapphire brooch.

    One Maeve O’Donnell, late of County Antrum was in awe of that deep blue gem. One day, she simply took it from the Missus’ dresser and ran to the old maze to hide it in a place where no one ever went anymore.

    Missus was Dutch and a descendant of diamond merchants in Africa. The brooch had been a keepsake, but her advanced senility paid no mind to the missing gem. But,

    “Where was that Irish girl who served the tea?” Maeve never returned.

    The castle was sold in 1905. New owners decided to rescue the old maze for their children. Workmen found a skeleton near the center of the over-grown vegetation. A corroded brooch was in its hand.

  6. The young couple stood at the entrance to the Eastman’s garden, crowded with partygoers this afternoon. Emily held a parasol low over their heads as they whispered. While the young woman was titled and used to fine things, her beau was working class, though he hid it well with highly polished shoes, pressed trousers, starched shirt.

    “We each walk a different path through the garden,” said Emily. “If Papa tries to find us, he’ll never guess which paths we’ve taken.”

    “Are you certain?” asked Timothy, the young man, nervous as his—and Emily’s—dreams of a life together were about to come true. All they had to do was meet on the other side and catch a taxi on the boulevard.

    “Papa cannot control me forever,” said Emily. “You and I are meant to be together. Let’s be brave and follow our destiny.”

    “Aren’t I supposed to say that?”

    “You seem reluctant, darling,” said Emily.

    Timothy kissed her lightly on the cheek as they were jostled by the crowd. They parted, she going left, he right. In a flash she was gone just as Timothy reached for her, to ask one question. He now faced the several paths, worried he might get lost in the unfamiliar landscape and crowd, wondering if Emily would go through with her decision, concerned that Emily’s father would be angry with Timothy, forcing him to leave his job.

    So many uncertainties. Timothy dithered, trying to figure out his next move.

    Emily had left.

    For good.

  7. The labyrinth had tall hedges on either side. It was gigantic, supposedly over a mile in length.

    “It’s so big,” she offered, having been lost for 45 minutes, “you can see it on GPS maps.”

    He scoffed, stroking his chin. He stared at a patch of hedge, as if he could read the way in its leaves. A regular fanny-pack Robinson Crusoe. He was quite the holidaymaker. She wasn’t.

    Sunlight sank away, leaving them in the coolness of shadow. Sight stolen, sensitivity to other stimuli increased; rustling leaves, birds, voices from another zone.

    A speaker yapped in tinny English. ‘Purportedly, Daedalus constructed the original labyrinth to trap the Minotaur’. Purportedly, Daedalus had abundant free time.

    They walked. Then walked more. They didn’t have a clue where they were.

    Then there was a shift – in light, in air. The center was nearby. This poured unfamiliar energy into her. They emerged. Sunny square, statue of mini-minotaur, congratulatory plaque.


    In their cottage, something didn’t sit right. She’d wished for these boundless moors since they left. But they just extended blankly.

    It didn’t fade. He – used to her fits of disturbance – found them a new place, in the city. Nearer to work.

    She turns off her phone, much to his chagrin, and walks, under low-hanging alleyway bulbs, around spaceship-supermarkets.

    She takes trains to faraway districts.

    She’s unsure what lies at the centre. But she has a deep certainty that there is a centre, somewhere, waiting to be located, in wall cracks or overheard conversations.

  8. Amazing
    Every turn is a possibility to resolve the quandary. Or it is intensified with fresh twists, change of directions.
    Like life. Death is obvious end. Till then, humans go through riddle of surprises, unpredictable, ugly, plausible, and pleasant. An intoxicating adrenalin rush.
    Sikha’s trail of thoughts stumbles. She founds a body, lying face down. At the core of labyrinth.
    A dead body of a man with head smashed, defaced. Personal vendetta of passion.
    Sikha’s detective instinct reminisces the cocky coroner. That woman would argue over the cause of death till she comes up with all corroborating evidence for what Sikha assumed initially.
    Hence, Sikha forgets all about her challenge to cross this arboretum jumble; jumps into finding the murder weapon, intimating the Police Station, asking for back up. Absent mindedly, she cuts through the rows of trees separating alleys, instead of following the trail toward the end of arboretum.
    While picking up the blunt bloody broken trunk of spruce, she realizes that she has followed the blood trail. She hears heavy breathing on her back. She swayed swiftly and another branch hit the ground by her fit.
    She exclaimed, “Diya!”
    Diya shrieked, “I knew Mannu has been cheating on me with you.”
    Sikha holds her and explains, “Nope. You called me to follow Mannu here to find about this other woman.”
    Diya sobs, “At the core as I found him waiting I thought you called him there…”
    Sikha sighs, “You did. Check your phone records .. you’re the.. .”

  9. The waiting Chihuahuan Desert welcomed the waves of sunshine engulfing its dunes in insufferable heat.

    Sofia slid from her saddle and stood before the entrance to the maze tunneling throughout the sands. This will be perfect, she thought. I can see it all now. Just before our divorce, I’ll offer him and his new love a million dollars if they can work their way through this maze. Of course, the greedy peasants will accept. Once inside, they’ll never be heard from again. She mounted her panting stallion and, visualizing her husband, jabbed her spurs into its rump.

    They lay, him and his enraptured cohort, in the foreboding shadows of a cluster of palm trees. “Once we get through the maze and I get the million smackeroos,” he gloated, “I’ll push her in and bury the entrance forever.”

    “But, what if she starts screaming her head off?’ she asked.

    “Who’s gonna hear her way out there in the middle of nowhere?”

    They clinked their flutes of champagne and gleefully visualized how they would enjoy life spending the money.

    Sofia fondled the hand grenade that would seal the maze. “They must be in far enough,” she muttered, and stepped inside to make sure. Losing her balance in the suddenly shifting sands, she reached out for support, accidentally releasing the bomb’s pin. The explosion caused the tunnels to collapse, smothering the murderous misfits.

    The desert’s undulating dunes rejoiced knowing they added three more evildoers to the thousands they already concealed.

  10. Amanda tossed her auburn hair, and leaned in towards Griffin, her boyfriend, “I feel like I’m in a maze, and I will never escape,” she said, looking into his green eyes.

    Meeting her intensity, he looked into her eyes, held her hands and said, “I feel it too…like I’m trapped in a box.”

    Amanda pounded the table, ” Let’s get out; after graduate school, let’s join the Peace Corp!”

    ” Yes, I’m in!” Griffin said excitedly, and gave her a kiss. He secretly hoped that his biological father, serving 20 years in a French prison , wouldn’t destroy their relationship.


    After graduate school, they formally announce their engagement. Amanda’s parents, reluctantly, throw them a lavish party at their New York, French country estate. Celebrities from every industry attend.

    Sitting out in the formal gardens, that were designed into a boxwood maze; Amanda and Griffin sit on display.

    “I see where your subconscious gets the feeling of being in a maze,” Griffin said laughing.

    Amanda laughed, she felt so lucky to have found such a great love, who makes her happy.

    Griffin smiled at Amanda in her blush, satin, slip dress; and her great-great grandmother’s priceless, diamond necklace.

    Amanda smiled back.

    Griffin leaned into Amanda, and whispered something naughty to get her to laugh. But as he did, his hand brushed the 15-carat, pink diamond. Well Dad, he thought to himself, you spent your life trying to steal rare gems; now, I have something more rare – true love – Griffin smiled at Amanda.

  11. I shouldn’t be here.

    Anastasia Burinskaya studied the green walls of hedge bounding the path. The wind carried the scent of horse manure, but she had yet to see any sign of stable or paddock.

    Elmswood was the home of English aristocrats, where one rode to the hounds, or on promenade. Anastasia was the daughter of the ataman of the Don Cossacks, who bred horses for a very different tradition of riding.

    So she’d been raised, calling Semyon Burinsky “Papa” from the time she was old enough to speak. But recent events had led her to question that relationship. Something had happened to her mother on that terrifying night in Rostov-na-Donu, and it involved a scion of this family.

    The search would be so much easier on horseback. From the saddle she could look over the hedges. On foot, she had no choice but to work her way through.

    And then she turned the corner and the path led to a fountain. From there a broad avenue brought her right to the steps of the manor house.

    Upon the stairs stood an older man of stern demeanor. “Were you not told to stay away? What do you want here?”

    “The truth.”

    The master of the house scowled at her. “What is the truth to you, that you would lay bare the privacy of this house?”

    “The Soviet Union foundered because it was based upon lies. Must my life rest upon the same foundation?”

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