Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Hotel

hotel garnet ghost town montana 2008
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!

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.

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6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Hotel”

  1. The Soldier

    “Welcome soldier,” the elderly clerk says to me.

    It is after midnight. It has been a long train ride from Saint John. Batesville, my hometown, is north of here. A half days journey. I have not planned how I will make that final leg. Tonight, it matters little. I need a good night’s sleep and I hope I find it at this rundown hotel.

    I cough. Had the damn thing for two days. Running a fever too.

    “Just need a room, Pops. A quiet room. Not feeling all that great.”

    He scowls. Just a mite.

    I make amends. “I shouldn’t have called you that, Sir. Just tired is all. How much for the room?”

    “Two dollars, son. And being called Pops is nothing new. If you don’t mind my saying, though, you don’t look well. Want to see a doctor?”

    “I see no need for that,” I reply. “Just weary. War weary, I guess.”

    He nods. “Glad you made it home, lad. The whole world’s war weary.”

    He hands me a key, says, “second floor,” offers to carry my kit bag but I wave him off.

    I am exhausted as I reach the second-floor landing. I find the assigned room, fumble with the key, enter and collapse on the bed.

    My mind floats…that little mademoiselle in Toulon.



    “Soldier. I’ve brought the Doctor.”

    The clerk and another old man.

    Standing over me.

    Wearing masks.

    Asking, “You got it?”


    “The Spanish Flu, boy.”

    My fever rages.

  2. Title: Miss Oulala

    A quarter would get you a room, a meal, and possibly more than that.

    She became queen of the night, and if she really liked you – the morning too.

    It was her hotel and the legend whispered is she got it in the middle of the night, from a rich old man with a bad ticker. Authorities never investigated his death because he had a big smile and a rumor of something else.

    She quickly got the name “Miss Oulala.” If you were lucky, and rich enough, you would know the details behind the name. Women from as far as Boston made the journey to work at the hotel. Good food, but not too great on sleeping accommodations. However, you can’t have everything in life.

    That was years ago. Now, single men rent a room, and if they are lucky enough, she makes a middle of the night visit. When they book another night, the clerk knows the rest of the story.
    Couples, who want the thrill of a ghostly visit, also rent a room. Rumor number two is that her visits have ended many a relationship, and even enhanced others.

    If you pay double the normal rent, you can stay in her former bedroom. That almost guarantees a visit. Many a bad character has complained they were pushed out of bed.

    The dusty-hand-written note above the four-poster bed reads –

    “Cowboy, if you like to ride…ride your horse! If you need to sleep…best done elsewhere!”

  3. Abigail held her breath as she slowly opened the door to her dead grandmother’s bedroom. She gasped, startled by the reflection in the dresser’s mirror. It’s not a ghost, she realized. Relieved, she opened one of the oaken drawers. Huzzah! There they were. An inviting wad of letters wrapped in an old newspaper clipping dated 1693. “Maybe these’ll explain what happened to grandma,” she mumbled.

    Untying the blue ribbon that bound the memoirs, the headline on the clipping read, “Murder at the Lodge”, and continued on to describe the nightmare of that All Hallows’ Eve. The handwritten letters, each from a close friend, accepted grandma’s invitation to their first Hallows’ Eve seance. The next morning, the circle of seven dead participants, faces frozen in grotesque fright, but still clutching hands, became the township’s main tourist attraction for unsolved mysteries fans.

    Content in detecting granny was a witch, Abigail put everything back the way she found them. She hurried to the front of the lodge and removed the For Sale sign. I’ll make some changes and complete the paperwork tomorrow, she thought. If I’m going to live here, I’ll live it my way!

    Within the next few days, mysterious fires destroyed the 1693 archives of the local newspaper, hospital, and township along with lingering memories.

    All Hallows’ Eve was back. Abigail lay sprawled amid a mystic circle of flickering black candles, chanting, ”Witches, witches, coven divine, return to life these sisters of mine.”

    Crackling thunder rolled through the haunted night.

  4. Bounty Hunter

    Wash tied his Appaloosas horse to the hitching post outside the Dodge City Saloon. Squaring his broad shoulders, he pushed through the batwing doors making a beeline for the polished mahogany bar. Cigar smoke, music, and drunken tales of debauchery swirled around the room uninterrupted by his entrance.

    He rested his tan forearm on the smooth surface and winking at a voluptuous saloon girl. She blushed, giggling at his attention.

    The bartender continued to clean a whiskey tumbler, cleared his throat.
    “What can I get for you, stranger?”

    “A whiskey and point out, Mac Travis.”

    Wash ignored the bartender and scanned the patrons, drunk suckers ripe for the picking.
    The bartender returned with liquid spirits and a note.

    Taking a pull from his glass, he opened the paper. Scrawled in the beautiful script were two words, room six. Raising his eyebrows toward the young filly, he slammed a coin on the counter and marched up the stairs.

    A bed with a threadbare quilt, a well-worn dressing table, and a naked dress mannequin decorated the small room. Wash approached the drawers easing them open, exposing delicate white lace.
    “Stop, right there.”

    Dropping the lace, he turned toward the door. The barrel of a colt and the ruffled red dress of the giggling showgirl blocked the exit. She tossed shackles at his feet.
    “Dead or alive. Either way, I make $500.”

    Wash weighed his options and lunged for the gun. A bullet rocketed out of the chamber, securing her reward.

  5. Going to Disneyland for spring break was Chet’s bright idea. Never mind it’s a four-day drive to LA, and Orlando would’ve been a lot more doable. We were young and used to pulling all-nighters. The three of us could take turns sleeping and drive straight through.

    That notion lasted into New Mexico. Somewhere west of Albuquerque we were all fighting to keep our eyes open. Maybe we’d better stop for the night at Gallup.

    The roar of a truck horn snapped all of us to heart-pounding alertness. Rudy swore he hadn’t fallen asleep, but we all knew the truth.

    Next exit it would be. I don’t even remember the town, or the roadside motel just past the off ramp. All we saw was the lit vacancy sign. We had to honk the horn twice to wake the desk clerk so we could check in, and he wasn’t happy when he found out none of us were 21, but he rented us a room.

    The place smelled like it hadn’t been cleaned since I-44 was still Route 66, and the beds sagged like broken-down horses. But it was better than ending up in a wreck.

    The next day we discovered we’d gotten a little surprise. We spent the rest of the trip fighting the bedbugs we’d picked up in that dump. Fun spring break, huh?

  6. “I simply don’t understand where you came up with this hotel,” said Darlene, once a ravishing red head but now a dowdy pale-haired female and nearly transparent. “I mean, it’s almost Halloween. A holiday. A big holiday for us. Sure, the virus is still out there, but we’ll be in a hotel room. But this hotel room? The windows are ruined, cold air seeps in. And that desk. Yes, it’s nice and sturdy but to what end? What were you thinking?

    Ned, her husband, was still stout and most definitely not transparent. More like opaque. He looked up at his wife—it had been ten years since they’d last encountered each other—and wondered what all the fuss was about. He had waited all this time to join Darlene and this was the Darlene he got?

    “I’m new at this game,” Ned said to Darlene who was standing on the other side of the door, her hands on her hips. “I just thought we should be together after all this time. Ten years is a long time not to see my wife. I never played around. Maybe it was a waste of effort on my part. This hotel room isn’t bad. There’s a feather bed. You can’t beat that.”

    Darlene tapped the toes of her left foot, impatient to get the heck out of there. “We’re ghosts, stupid. We’re air. There’s nothing to us. The bed’s irrelevant. We could’ve had a glitzy room at the Plaza. Nobody would’ve known.”

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