Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Sand

lobster trap 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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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Sand”

  1. Tidepool

    We’d heard about them, of course. Can’t rightly remember when it first happened but it was quite a few years ago. And when I say when it first happened, its possible that it’d been going on for years. We just didn’t know. More than that, we didn’t want to know. I sure didn’t.

    I’m speaking about a foot. The foot, at the time. The foot in the running shoe. Well, most people figured, I figured, industrial accident. Some fool was ding-a-linging with his outboard motor, got all higgledy-piggledy twisted around and his foot got too close to the propeller.

    How you’d even do that was a mite vague but we supposed it could be done. Especially if you were three sheets to the wind.

    Washed up on a beach to the south.

    Thank the Lord it wasn’t my beach.

    Then the second one appeared. A man and his mutt found it. Well, the dog, really. Had it in his doggy mouth, tongue dangling on the awful thing. The same tongue I bet that guy allowed HIS face to be licked by.

    After the second one, it seemed one was found every couple of weeks. It almost became not news, if you get my drift.

    So, the day I found the severed hand in my crab trap was, to say the least, a gruesome change of pace.

    Put me off seafood for a spell.

    The body parts kept a coming.

    Proves you can get use to almost anything, I guess.

  2. Giant Lobster

    I couldn’t believe my eyes. Fifty years ago, my Grandfather told the story of a monster lobster destroying their traps. I thought it was just a story he made up. My dad just smiled when it was brought up in conversation.

    Taking a walk along the shore was something I used to do as a kid, but lately, I do it to remind me of both of them. I’ve collected some interesting drift wood and made things out of them, but I think this lobster trap will get a special place of honor.

    I collected all of the pieces and brought them to my workshop.

    The grand-kids liked to visit, and work with me to make things out of the wood. We were minding our youngest this weekend, and he was staying over.


    “Grandpa, what is this pile of wood and netting, and are we going to try to make something out of it?”

    “No, the only thing I’m going to do with this, is to tell you a story my Grandpa told me years ago. Have a seat by the window and look out at the lobster boats moored out there. Many of the old time New England lobstermen, like your great-great Grandpa, told stories about a giant lobster. Many of them had seen him and their destroyed traps, but nobody ever managed to catch him.”

    “Is that a true story, Grandpa?”

    I looked at the disintegrated lobster trap, and smiled, “Yes, it certainly is now.”


    I would have missed it at high tide. But I rarely walked the beach. That was the province of dreamers and detectorists, each of them searching for things which had been lost.

    “It’s only a couple of hoops and some netting,” I said, wrinkling my nose. “Marine garbage. Surely, it’s nothing of interest.”

    “That’s what you think.” Adam pulled a trowel from his pack and began digging. He continued until he’d uncovered another piece of metal, something angular like a box. “There you go,” he said. “Superstructure.” It still looked like nothing to me and I said that, thinking of breakfast and being somewhere warmer.

    I looked at my watch. It wasn’t even full light. The sea was coming in and I was already bored.

    “You’ve five minutes to convince me,” I said. “And after that you’re on your own.”

    Adam gave me a bullet-point account, telling me of the seasonal storms and the wrecks the lifeboatmen didn’t talk about. He didn’t say how he’d found about it himself. He’d uncovered another six inches of rusted metal before the waves began to rush into his hole, grabbing the mud around the edges and pulling it back. He fought for a while longer before he gave in, retreating to beyond the tideline to where I sat.

    “Are you done now,” I said. “Can we go get a coffee?”

    He shook his head. “Done?” he replied. “I’ve barely started. Now, help me drag over a rock we can use as a marker.”

  4. The Borrower

    Crunch crunch crunch, SNAP.

    Tommy yelped. He pushed his Ball cap out of his eyes and peered over his bucket of shells. A bright droplet rolled off of his chubby toe and stained the sand red.

    “My foot has blood!” He screamed.

    Here we go again I thought, “Let me see it.” I reached for his leg, but he jerked away “Don’t! Don’t touch it!!”.

    As he stumbled backwards the sunlight leapt onto the sand and illuminated a gooey red glob. It was a single smashed raspberry.

    “My toe, my toe!” Tommy wailed. “Tommy, I don’t think that’s blood…”

    Tiny pieces of wood cradled the fruit almost like the bottom of an old wooden chest, like the one mom kept blankets in.

    That’s silly I thought. If I want mom to trust me, I’ve got to stop believing fairytales. Stupid thing to think anyway…”

    Come on Tommy, let’s go. I promised mom we’d be home before dinner.” If it really was a tiny chest, I thought, it would have had a real top and a latch just like moms anyway. Stupid thing to think.

    “But I found something!” Tommy squealed, his head in the beach grass.

    I grabbed Tommys arm “Tommy, you’ve got enough shells, lets go!”.

    He swung around and triumphantly threw a miniature wooden lid with a perfect little metal latch in my hand.

    At that moment I felt a tiny tap on my heel and a shrill voice yell from below “Exuse me, I was borrowing that.”

  5. After days of searching, we found remains of the stolen vehicle but no sign of the thieves.

    “What do you think happened to those runaways,” I asked my partner.

    “Maybe they were both killed in the crash,” he moaned.

    “But if they managed to walk away, what’ll we do?”

    Cloaked in the darkness of a moonless sky, a coyote howled to his foraging mate.

    We gathered the pieces and packed them into our trunk. In another half hour or so we could be halfway home.

    “I can see the lights of Las Vegas. Want to drop by for a quick-see,” he asked.

    We parked at the farthest end of the casino and went in. They were standing at the buffet and didn’t seem to be bothered by the crowd surrounding them. We inched through the mob.

    “She’s gotta be over eight feet,” a customer gasped. “And he’s just an inch shorter than her,” his wife replied.”

    We pushed through the onlookers, reached over to lock the arms of our tall delinquents and forced them into our transporter.

    “We love it here,” she blubbered. “We just wanted to stay and start a new colony.”

    “Sorry,” I answered. “We saw the way you both were headed for that stack of goodies on the buffet. And, we sensed your longing for the roulette wheel and blackjack tables. That’s not for our kind.” I whistled three short notes. The engine hummed. In a few minutes our saucer was flying through the galaxy headed home.

  6. Captain Barbarnegro is buried to his neck on the beach by mutineers. Delirious and ranting.

    “What say you all, ghosts of past adventures? Is this a noble way for a pirate to die?”

    The flock of gulls responded as a Greek chorus for his ears only, “Nay, Sir. And you a man of the sea betrayed by human barnacles.”

    “How clever of them to suggest my time with them was determined by sand. Perchance, I thought they meant the hourglass. But alas…”

    “Be mindful, Sir the first waves of the flood tide approach, creeping stealthily across yon larger pebbles.”

    “Avast ye demons of my despair. I have eyes and ears. Busy yourselves with the torment of lesser men. I am a man of the sea and it will set me free. Note the flotsam of ages that lay bout us. Nets and fish traps, all imprisoned by the sand for their lack of faith and courage.”

    “Note yourself, my Captain, the first wash of wave upon you. I see your hat removed and the first blush of surprise upon your face.”

    “Laugh as you will, my feathery knaves, for the out-wash has exposed my shoulder. With a few more waves, I might free an arm, and then…”

    “Hold your breath!”

    (Gagging for air) “I felt my chest move. The sea will save me.”

    “And again!” The last wave lingered, then retreated slowly.
    “Captain? Captain? It appears the sand has sealed your fate.”

    The gulls did the rest

  7. The six paleontologists stood off from the beach. Sand shimmered like jello around protruding rocks. Behind them, melting permafrost had become impassable mud.

    The grizzled leader looked stunned. “Forward or backward, there’s no way out.”

    “You can’t be serious,” said Denny, the youngest of the team. “We can jump from rock to rock.”

    The leader pointed to the rusted metal poking through the sand.

    “An old fashioned geoduck harvester,” he said. “When that’s all there was to eat, we had to make these contraptions to harvest from the sand slurry. If that’s the top, the sand is fifteen feet deep. You miss a rock and your a goner.”

    Humid wind buffeted the group, the aroma of rotting sea mixing with fetid permafrost.

    “So what do we do?” screamed Denny. “You’re the leader!”

    The old man pointed to the south. “This stable margin between sand and permafrost. See where it takes you. It’s all I’ve got.”

    “You’re not coming?” asked Denny.

    “It’s too much,” said the old man pacing back and forth. “I can’t keep going.” With that he jumped onto a rock, pulled a pistol from his pack, and pointed it as his head. “I’m tired.”

    Speechless, the team stood paralyzed, except for Denny who folded his arms across his chest. “This isn’t just about you. What about us?”

    Anger flared in the old man but subsided to embarrassment. He tossed the pistol into the goop.

    “You’re right, of course. Sorry. Let’s try to find our way. Together.”

  8. The rising sun cast beams of light on the abandoned beach, my feet beat the sand in time with my heart; finally, my first big score.

    Last night’s storm deposited the bounties of the crabbing ships on the sand. Knife in hand, I drop to my knees, digging furiously. Wiping away the muck and uncovering a golden lock holding a large trap closed, my hand traced the space searching for signs of the last prisoner. The wind howled as I scanned the beach for thieves; alone, I shook the closure to release my reward.

    A strange voice whispered, “It doesn’t open that way. Cut your hand, let your blood hit the surface, then the spoils are yours.”

    “I have done worse for less, and don’t expect me to pay you if this works.”
    My blade slid across my skin, several crimson droplets fell and absorbed into the metal.
    The earth trembled, the door swung open and threw me to the ground.

    Quivering, I raised my hand to protect my face from the shadow of a large man.

    “Thank you for releasing me. I don’t expect you to pay me as your prize is to take my place.”
    “But I freed you, can’t we call it even. I won’t tell anyone what happened.”

    With a small gesture of his hand, I flew into the cage, sealing my fate. Without another word, he turned to walk away as the tide began to rise.

  9. Nothing like the open ocean to clear one’s mind. Right now, Reggie Waite needed to get away from a problem he couldn’t crack. So here he was on his sailboard, wrestling with wind and sea.

    Two weeks ago, Mrs Margolis had assigned an essay on the tragedy of the commons for civics class. It was due on Monday, but Reggie still had no idea where to begin. He’d run a dozen possibilities through his mind, but everything seemed obvious, pedestrian. He wanted to give her something fresh.

    It was getting late, and he didn’t need his folks worrying. Time to head back to shore.

    As Reggie’s sailboard rode up onto the beach, he noticed wire hoops in the sand. Wondering what they could be, he walked over to take a look, realized it was an abandoned lobster pot.

    Once these waters had been full of lobsters, to the point storms would wash them ashore in windrows and servants demanded to be fed lobster no more than twice a week. Even in his grandfather’s time, there were still lobsters as long as a man’s arm. Overfishing had decimated the stocks to the point a lot of lobstermen had gone out of business, or shifted to the tuna boats.

    As Reggie loaded his gear back into the car, he realized he had his essay. A trip to the library to check some facts, and then he could pound it out on the computer and print it up.


    I started walking with two water filled pots bobbing on both ends of the pole, walking in a rhythm.Pole on my shoulders; criss-cross. As I walked, the flexible pole kept bending up and down.Lots of men, women, children walked on that hot sand.

    It was a hot summer day.Sun was right above my head, but was I bothered at all? Nope!

    My forehead was covered with beads of sweat; dripping along my temple, through the eyebrows.I was oblivious to the steaming sand underneath my feet, already full of blisters when I started the journey.I knew I had to walk 105 KM to reach my destination. As I walked, I cursed the hot sand, but to no avail. It was like a spiritual obstacle course.I wondered what motivated me to make this arduous journey, that was full of masochistic hardship and austerity.

    Was it a wish unfulfilled, or welfare of loved ones, or for an oath that I broke, or problems in my life or just out of service or devotion.Every pilgrim had a reason, not just me.
    It took me 3 days of walking to finish the journey.But I was there; in the temple, ready to offer my prayer with pots.

    Beaming with happiness, “I made it !”, I said with exhilarating breadth.
    Two seconds later, I am struggling to open the pots.
    “No, no, no”, I screamed.The pots burst with a loud shatter.Water all over the SAND.

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