Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Wall

Lake Valley Historical Site Feb 2017 NM 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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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Wall”

  1. Wall

    As my time approached, I needed to see it one more time.

    I made my wishes known.

    “Gramps,” the youngest said, “Why? Why bother? It just the past.”

    Carson, the eldest of my three grandchildren patted his brother on the head, said, “That’s the point, little bro. That’s where he lives,” gesturing his digit to his temple. “Now he needs to see it.”

    With that explanation, one I was not sure I fully agreed with, the two male offspring of my completely self-centred-hell-bent-for-conquest son consented to drive me to the place I called my first home.

    Five states and a four-day drive away, the summers-end sun drummed down on us like a prickly heat storm.

    My young travelling companions seemed distracted. They had lost their momentum. I knew that. Could feel that. The virus had derailed their pre-set academic and career plans. While my future was entirely predictable, was biting my fading generation on our butts like a million plague rats, theirs was a new mystery they were ill-prepared for.

    We took the obvious precautions. A trunk full of masks, wipes, sanitizer; We were a pandemic travelling medicine show.

    We wiped down the motels we stopped at, the greasy spoons we ate in.

    On the fourth day, we arrived.

    My past was in ruins. Looking at the wall of the farmhouse my great-grandfather had built in time that no longer existed, the youngest said, “Somebody drop a bomb on this dump?”

    I wanted to weep.

    I wanted to laugh.

  2. Fenders of Lake Valley

    Don’t let the name fool you. If you are looking for water, keep moving buddy! We might have had water in our water towers, but that was many years ago. What we have now, only tourists want to see. Me, I had my reasons to come back to Lake Valley.

    I said I would be back for my pristine automobile, which actually had fenders. Now that I see it, it almost brings tears to my eyes. Bonnie and I had the time of our lives here in New Mexico. We had our fun, and decided to take our so called “winnings” and settle down.

    Bonnie made friends easily, which at times, made me extremely jealous. I had a reputation of shooting someone where it wouldn’t kill them, but it would alter their wild fantasies some.

    The townspeople here were mostly friends and that fateful day, they came to alert me that the Federal Marshalls were coming. Bonnie happened to be entertaining my best friend, so I decided to disappear into the hills.

    The rest is history. There was a big gun battle and the news reported that Bonnie and I had been killed in the shootout. I have really missed my buddy.

    Looking at the ghost town and the one wall of our honeymoon haven…it brings back memories!

    I’m glad I had the sense to invest, but I’ll probably have to buy a restored vehicle, if I want to have one with fenders again.

  3. This wall was still strong in my memories. Long ago, it had been one of the few barriers to resist the walkers, scores of them tumbling over it as they ringed us on every side. We’d used riflemen and napalm to try to slow them then, watching out for them as they came in the night.

    We were ten thousand strong when it began. We’d all become runners, people who’d seen the damage the undead would bring, stumbling empty-headed into our lives. We’d already lost most of the things we’d once thought precious, discarding the indulgences we’d spent years of our lives amassing.

    Was it small? Was it light? Was it useful? Was it something we could easily do without? These were the questions we’d all begun to ask, weighing our wants against our needs, simplifying our decisions.

    But the walkers kept walking. I don’t know what it was that drew them to us, but they seemed supernatural, homing in onto our community as we ran. If only we’d known then about the spores, we might have fought better, eliminating them and then burying their remains, locking them away somewhere where they could no longer affect the survivors. Our barriers and walls wouldn’t be enough: if only we’d been better prepared.

    We should have run faster, further and for longer. We should have worn the masks we’d made. We should have paid more attention to the invisible, instead of making the same mistakes that the Martians did that first time.

  4. This was it. I knew it. All I had to do was look up to see the faces around me. My comrades. The expression on every face was that of regret, fury, and acceptance. Every one of us knew what we signed up for. We knew this day could be, and probably will be, our last. My corporal, on the far end on the line, was loading his revolver, hat askew, his expression of a tired, annoyed old veteran.
    ‘This is it, boys.’ he said, closing the loading gate and spinning the cylinder for effect.
    ‘We’re the last leg of defense against the Comanches. If we let them through here, god only knows what they might do to our people.’ he began pacing the line.
    ‘There’s more of them, they’re well trained, but we have the advantage of surprise.’
    We were nestled behind the ruins of an old building I couldn’t identify. It was the remains of a wall of some kind. An old stone construction with three openings, perfectly fitting our needs. It provided cover from incoming attack, yet it afforded the opportunity to fire from hiding.
    ‘Here they come’ I heard someone yell out. I cocked the hammer on my gun and looked out over the edge of the wall. At first I saw nothing. Then I heard it. A high pitched cry, it sounded like nothing I ever heard before. Then they came over the horizon. I felt a shiver going down my spine. They were everywhere.

  5. The pickup pulled over next to the sunny side of the wall. The boy unloaded a pick, his father a shovel, and they set to work as they had every Saturday for almost a year.

    Pick, pick, one stone fell. The boy picked it up and turned it over, held it up to the sun, carried it to the pickup truck. It took awhile to inspect each stone, but it was the only way. No one had ever specified how big the opening should be. It could be as tiny as a pinprick. The story was that the opening was an entrance to a world of riches such as they had never known. All they needed was to find it. None had searched for more than a few months before giving up, claiming they found nothing. But afterwards the various searchers seemed different somehow, as if something that was missing from their lives had been found.

    At home, father and son sat watching the sunset, turning the stones one more time looking for what they did not know, finding pieces of something they did not know they had lost. They talked about persistence, life, love, work and play, growing up and growing old, the beauty of the sky at night.

    The house was revealing its secrets.

  6. The Wall

    Zeus and I have been traveling for five hours across unforgiving terrain, when good fortune brings us to the ruins of an old homestead.

    One stone wall still stands. It throws enough delicious shade to revive us for a welcome hour before the noon sun kills it, forcing us to move on.

    I dismount, remove the paint’s bridle, and share my dwindling water supply with him. Then I let him nibble on arid tufts of grass, trusting him not to bolt. We’ve been trekking for years, and he never has.

    I sit, back against the wall, to observe my gentle steed.

    He’s slowing down.

    Together we’ve encountered freak snow storms, sudden whirlwinds and showers of two-inch hail. We’ve been chased by bobcats and even fought off a cougar that pounced on us. It’s tempting to believe we’re invincible, but I know better. Time to quit roaming and savor our memories.

    My eyelids are drooping, when suddenly Zeus stomps and snorts in agitation.

    Two feet away from me, a rattlesnake is poised to strike. Fully awake, I freeze in terror.

    Furious, the paint sinks his teeth into the reptile’s neck, immediately behind its bared fangs. He violently shakes the writhing body then flings it across the barren wasteland.

    It lands, limp and bleeding.

    Brave Zeus has just saved my life.

    He has also furnished a final story to share with my friends, as we sit on the porch watching him graze on luscious pasture in his well-earned retirement.

  7. Accompanied by a fluttering of dry wind, a lanky fellow in a ten-gallon hat stepped around the corner of the decaying stone wall and smiled at roving photographer Randy Ferguson, who was focusing his tripod-mounted camera. Startled, Randy straightened.

    “Afternoon.” The stranger touched the brim of his hat. “Water? Food? Room for the night? You’re in the right place.” Laughing, he gestured at the brown grasses, brown earth, distant brown hills. “Only place, in fact.”

    “Was this a roadhouse, then?” Randy asked, “Maybe two centuries ago?”

    Cocking his head, the stranger approached. “A tenth that, mister. My father built it. I run it now. Pop’s old, going a bit…” He tapped his temple. “Enjoys company, though.”

    Arid land lay beyond the empty windows. “But it’s a ruin.”

    The other’s face became stone. “We may not be a fancy New York hotel, but we’re good enough for the likes of you. If you disagree, you can get on your way.” He frowned toward the road. “Where’s your horse, anyway?”

    “Horse? This is the twenty-first century!”

    The man’s mouth twitched into a hesitant smile. “You serious?”

    Best not to talk to lunatics. Randy packed up his camera.

    The man scratched his cheek. “You suppose you’re seeing my future? Or maybe your own?”

    Randy hauled his gear to the car and stowed it in the trunk. When he looked back, the man was gone. Only the crumbling roadhouse remained. His future. Yes. Every person’s future. He drove off, not caring to look back.

  8. The middle window in the adobe wall looked in on Daughter-of-the-Moon’s dimly lit bedroom. The candle flickered with each waft of wind. She reached over and pinched the flame to sleep.

    “He’ll be coming soon,” she whispered to the darkened room. “I’ll be ready.”

    Chief One-Hung-Low, feathers on his headpiece flapping, dug his heels into his pinto’s rump. “Come on, you big lump,” he muttered. “Gotta get home to that old face-like-a-mongoose woman.” He could see the house waiting atop the hill and urged his horse on. He thought of the letter he received from the beauty in the next village recalling their love affair, and how he must confess to his wife. Instead of concealing our love for each other, she wrote, we can live together in peace. You must leave her. Since I’m her best friend, that ignorant cow may not understand. Oh! Don’t forget to take her pouch of gold nuggets. He nodded in agreement.

    “Where did I leave that letter?” Frantically, his hands dug through his pockets. Nothing! “I’ll search for it when I get home.”

    Peeking through the bedroom window, he hoped to see her asleep. She wasn’t there. He tip-toed through the front door to begin his search, turning in time to see Daughter-of-the-Moon, with the letter clenched between her teeth. Both hands gripped her tomahawk as it hurtled down to smash his head. She rode off to find the beauty in the next village.

    Somewhere in the night, a coyote howled its approval.

  9. The heat hammered down on the old couple standing before the worn wall. The smell of desert sand and sagebrush brought back memories of when they, in a bit of spite, built the wall, each with a different idea of what it should look like. Glen wanted the rustic look of natural rock piled high, while Irene was after a smooth civilized surface.

    The seven-year-old boy, dressed in blue shorts, a red and white t-shirt, brown oxfords, and red and white cap with a small bill and a spinning propeller on top, stared at the wall and then at the couple and then at the wall again.

    “Sure is a funny wall,” said the boy. “Rough and smooth mashed together.”

    Irene, hunched over from age, smiled at the young lad. “We built this wall.”

    “Why isn’t it all the same?” asked the boy, rocking back on his heels.

    “None of your business,” said Glen.

    “Oh, Glen,” said Irene. “We were just married back then and were stubborn. This was going to be our house but we each wanted a different wall. So, we each built our own.”

    “And then we left,” said Glen. “Never built the house.”

    “Kinda funny,” said the round boy.

    “It wasn’t funny,” said Glen, holding Irene’s hand. “It was a fifty-year-argument.”

    “Who won?” asked the boy, cool even in the desert heat.

    “Good question,” said Glen, surveying the strange wall. “The wall’s still standing.”

    “And so are we,” said Irene, smiling at Glen.

  10. Treasure

    It is a shame you never got to meet Grandpa Joe Smith. He told the best stories.”
    John kicked the crumbling rocks that had created the walls of his favorite hideaway.
    Jenny laughed as she tripped on a pebble, wobbling to regain her balance.

    “He inspired you to be a writer, and retelling his stories got you sued by the Stimson family for leaking dirty secrets.”

    “Sure did, I tried to get Grandpa Joe to testify on my behalf. He refused. They dropped the case, and the book hit the best-seller list.”

    He glanced back down at the map his Grandfather had left him, counted the stones, and gently pushed. The stories of his childhood echoing in the decaying building. Granting a treasure to a truth seeker.

    “Jenny, can you help me dislodge this jagged brick.”

    Wiping his hands on his jeans, John clamped his fingers around the ridged edge and waited for Jenny.

    “On three,” he yelled, jerking with all his might.

    The vacant space revealed a small ornate chest. Heart racing, he reached his trembling hands toward the prize.

    “I knew you weren’t a crazy old man, thank you for trusting me.”

    Tears ran down his face as he looked to the heavens. Falling to his knees, placing the case on the floor, he raised the lid to find a jeweled ring and yellow paper. It read, the property of Joseph Stimson, a sad man reborn as Joesph Smith. Seek the truth, my son.

  11. This ruin was once a city.

    Gan Kiernoth paused by the wall, one sad remnant of a destroyed building, and gazed out over the shattered landscape. Months of relentless bombardment had ravaged it until he was hard-pressed to recognize any landmarks.

    How many of them had come from bombers he himself had flown? He recalled those nights, the ground beneath him illuminated by the fires, the explosions, the anti-aircraft towers.

    Far harder to recall this place as a city full of life. He’d been young then, on the threshold of manhood amidst peacetime. His father, a career army officer, had come here for a one-year exchange program that would allow him to study at the war college, to work with the General Staff. A stay that had turned to four when an act of terrorism had ended those halcyon days.

    All that was a war ago. Perhaps the separate peace had been a mistake, but he’d been a mere lieutenant and such decisions were far beyond his pay grade. He’d only known the anger of the pilots among whom he’d flown when he received his orders to stand down and return to his homeland.

    Pilots who’d included the very man who’d started this war, and who now lay dead somewhere amidst these ruins. Alkhur Geidliv had never seemed evil when they’d flown together. Sure, he had his hobbyhorses, but who didn’t?

    If only he could’ve been kept from the levers of power, could all this have been prevented?

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