Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Larch

3L0A1436 Foliage 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!

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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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Larch”

  1. You Can’t See the F_____

    I am in his head. No doubt about it. Someone from the world of reason needs to be there. Why not me?
    I believe I am a true telepathic.
    A very reasonable telepathic.
    The messages I send are pithy.
    And pungent.
    And pointed.
    The three P’s of Telepathy, you might say.
    You can’t send huge missives though mind waves.
    They would simply explode from their weight.
    Land Mind Waves.
    Much too heavy.
    They would get blown all out of proportion.
    So, naturally, they have to be pristine.
    They have to be precise.
    Hmmm!
    I’m thinking that there might be Five P’s of Telepathy.
    Better write that down.
    In any case, they are tomes of thought.
    Tombs of thought.
    No, I can’t do that.
    Too dark.
    Too Egyptian.
    We’re talking America, here.
    He’s built a ginormous Pyramid scheme.
    Impressive.
    I’m losing my train of thought.
    He does that to me.
    Here I am trying to get in his head and that carroty devil is getting into mine.
    Who am I fooling?
    He IS in mine. More than mine. All of his followers.
    Focus.
    Telepathics have to hone in on the key issues.
    This go-around, there is only one issue.
    How to turn a loss into a win.
    A win of any kind.
    It won’t be pretty.
    His deception is flapping about in the winds of despair.
    He’ll be a hard sell.
    See!
    Life is a beautiful forest.
    Not a woodlot of overgrown bad memory Christmas trees.

  2. Medicine Man – “Arabin O Galactan”

    The tribe accepted him since he was a medicine man. However, he never smiled at anyone, and he was always seen cradling his left hand because of the pain. Either one of those might be why his teepee was the furthest from the Chief’s. He also witnessed some of the braves making fun of him.

    Then the plague hit the Northwest Territory. Each day, more and more of the tribe came down with the sickness, and many of them were dying.

    The Chief called upon the medicine man to find a way to save the tribe.

    It was many sunrises since anyone had set eyes on the medicine man, and they thought he had also died.

    *.*.*

    The medicine man had travelled many days and even some nights to seek the right medicine.

    One night, he sought shelter in a Larch forest. That night he witnessed several sickly-looking foxes eating the cone droppings. The next morning, they were running with the other foxes.

    That night he put two of the smaller cones in his nose, and the next morning his hand no longer bothered him. He collected as many of the cones as he could carry and headed back to the tribe.

    *.*.*

    The medicine man is now seen smiling having a treatment for his hand and one that is saving the tribe.

    He doesn’t share his real reason. He has two application areas for the cones, especially for the braves who tormented him.

  3. Trees so tall they touch the clouds
    Needles of green, yellow, and orange
    Little cones of red
    Little cones of brown

    If you seek them, head north
    Head north to a forest of snow
    There you’ll find their deciduous form
    Waving in the frosty wind

    Tough
    Durable
    Good for building
    Good for boats

    The tree of the world
    Reaching for heaven
    While the underworld
    Tugs at its roots

    A multitude of uses
    Being all that it can be
    It doesn’t know its value
    It’s only a tree.

  4. ELIGIBLE FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY

    I wake.

    I feel cold and I roll into a ball, clutching my knees to my chest. I hear noises around me; the light rolling of the sea, the calls of birds. There’s a cracking of branches, hurried wings beating the air. The ground beneath me is hard and damp.

    I open my eyes.

    I’m in a clearing, no more than twenty feet across. There’s a canteen of water hanging low, no more than three feet away. It’s dangling from its strap, swinging from a spur of wood standing out like an impudent finger. There’s no notice instructing me to drink it, but I do, standing up, spinning off its cap and taking a swift draft of its contents. It tastes of warmth and wood and aluminium metal, other flavours hinted at but not clear in this instant. I lick my lips and I turn around, seeking confirmation, struggling to make sense of this place.

    I’m in a forest. The waves I’d thought I’d heard were leaves, high up in the trees, trembling as the trees’ tops swayed. There’s a rocky trail, winding through between their trunks, loose stones and mud mixing in a scar which shines grey across the undergrowth, the green of its ferns broken by this pathway. There’s a low cawing of crows, far away, their scornful voices awakening my fears.

    The birch trees are waiting, calmly, holding their breath.

    And then I hear them. Coyotes, their excited yipping preceding them as they rush between the trees.

  5. I saw a flash of red as his arm swept up clutching a rifle. Thank goodness he didn’t see us crouching behind the largest Larch.

    While shuffling through town this morning, looking for a decent spot for our picnic, I heard the forest ranger warning visitors, “The bank robber fled in a stolen fire-engine red pickup truck. He’s armed and dangerous.” I hurried back to warn my other half, and offsprings. We found a safe picnic site and enjoyed a tasty lunch. Heading for home, we froze in our tracks when a red pickup truck rolled to a stop a hundred yards away. It had to be him!

    The masked thief crawled under the truck with a bank pouch and became engrossed counting his loot. This would be a good time for me to go get the ranger, I thought. I stubbed my toe on a tree stump and moaned, “Oh!” He waved his rifle from under his truck. “Who’s there,” he screeched.
    Just then, an owl asked, “Whoo? Whoo?”. Realizing it was only a bird, thank goodness, the crook went back to totaling his theft.

    I managed to get to the ranger. It took some time to convince him, but, I managed to lead his team to the robber. In a matter of minutes, the bandit was taken into custody. We were rewarded with a barrel of berries and a crate of salmon. The local headline read – “Brown Bears and Cubs Lead Rangers to Bank Robber.”

  6. Our motley crew started out spread thin in a single line, sticks in our hands as we scoured the crunchy ground. As we moved, we looked like a large worm wiggling through the dry, tan and yellow grass. The cadaver dogs went on ahead of us, dragging their handlers along the scented trails. It was a cool, crisp early morning in late September as we walked among the fragile, golden leaves that fell from the larch, crunching like Pringles chips beneath our feet. Situated somewhere towards the end of the right side, I looked to my left-along the worm line-and saw Jay. Trying hard to read his face-his thoughts-he seemed empty with his eyes sunken into a gray hallow. He has to be growing crazy with no answers. I know if it were my spouse I would be a shattered mess, but he seems to be holding it all in, keeping strong for the rest of us.

    Abruptly, farther ahead somewhere, the hounds howl a frightful sound and bring me out of my crazed thoughts. Our whole line is startled and we briefly stop. Again I look over at Jay, but something odd has crept across his face and now I am really afraid.

  7. As a child, Dieter Schultz lived in Konigsberg. With friends, he roamed the forests of East Prussia, listening to the music of the wind whistling through pine and larch; composing a symphony in the leaves of beech and oak.
    The trees sang to the laughing children.
    At fourteen, Dieter listened with juvenile innocence to Nazi rhetoric and joined Hitler Jugend. By the time of his conscription to the Wehrmacht, he realized–too late–he had been deceived. He was ordered to Birkenau, an Auschwitz satellite. There, surrounded by a forest of larch and pine, he witnessed such brutality that he would often leave his post, sick, running into the forest to lean against a tree, sobbing, until the feeling passed.
    The trees, twisting in the wind, watched and were silent.
    Near the end of the war, he was ordered with his unit to defend Konigsberg against the advancing Red army. Wounded in the battle, he was discharged from the Wehrmacht. Alone, with no family, he and his little dog Otto, went to live quietly in a cabin at the edge of a forest.
    But the solitude was not comforting. At night, there were wild dreams and fearful nightmares. Often, in the wind, the leaves of the beech and oak twisted and turned, becoming the faces of those who had died in the camps. The wind blew through the larch and pine but the sound was not the music he remembered from childhood.
    It was–instead–a trembling sigh.

  8. Henry and his father Vinny set up camp by the colorful Autumn larch trees. At 26 years of age, Henry towered over his father.

    After dinner, Vinny took out an old photo. “Do you remember her?”

    “No, but she’s beautiful!”

    “I lost her 25 years ago,” said Vinny, “Your biological mother. It’s been hard to tell you.”

    “What happened?”

    “We started too young — 16, 17. I was always out with the guys. One day she walked out.”

    Henry’s eyes filled with tears. “Then you met Mama?”

    “She was two years older,” he said. “What did I know about babies? But she scooped you up like you were her own.”

    “I always thought it was strange, that there were no photos of Mama and me, as an infant,” said Henry. “What happened to — well, what was her name?”

    “Isabel. I’m afraid, nothing good. I checked with Missing Persons; Isabel’s trail went cold. She left you a note.”

    Henry read out loud. “‘My dear little boy… I’m so sorry… A girl needs money, a girl needs love… ‘”

    “A girl?” repeated Henry.

    “That’s all she was,” answered Vinny.

    Henry read on, “‘I’ll try to come back for you…'”

    Vinny shook his head, “I don’t think she could. But I’d never trade you for the world, Henry. You’re my first child, and my only boy.”

    “Mama knows you’re telling me?”

    “Of course.”

    They stood beside the campfire, hugging under the stars and among the larch trees, with the glow of truth shining brightly.

  9. The small girl, wide eyes and fat cheeks bordered by striking yellow hair, looked way too young to be traipsing along the subalpine trail all by herself on this fog-shrouded morning. Yet, here she was and running more than walking, constantly looking behind her, as if running away from something, or more likely towards something.

    Sitting on a high talus outcropping, a hunter dressed in bright orange monitored the small girl as she crossed the open expanse of the denuded hillside. He raised his deer rifle and looked through its scope. She was certainly moving along. Making sure he wasn’t being watched, the hunter flipped off the rifle’s safety, paused, and then fired at the now running child, behind her not at her.

    When he brought his scope down, the girl was gone, though he noticed a rustling in the group of bright yellow larches to his left. He looked through his scope once more, focusing on the trail where the girl had been walking, and then noticed a golden blur from the larch grove.

    He looked around again, his eyes innocent, though the smirk on his face belied the innocence. A vague something moved behind him. As he turned to see what it was, his prized rifle fell to the ground as the pulsating monster, all grown up and refreshed, chomped down on the man’s neck.

    “It was only a joke,” he cried.

    “On you,” said the girly-voiced monster with slathering fangs.

  10. The familiar scent of conifers tickled at Peter Caudell’s nostrils. He’d grown up in Colorado, surrounded by a mixture of Douglass firs and various broadleaf trees. Here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the mixture of trees was different, but he still enjoyed walking in the woods as he had done so many times as a youngster.

    At first sight he took the yellow trees for aspens, until he realized they were in fact conifers. To be specific, they were larch, one of the few coniferous trees to shed their needles for winter.

    Back in grade school, the science teacher had used “evergreen” and “deciduous” as if they were interchangeable with “coniferous” and “broadleaf.” She had been less than happy when Peter had pointed out that some broadleaf trees retained their leaves throughout the winter, while some confiers shed their needles. Unable to get him to recant, she’d finally sent him to the principal’s office for insubordination.

    No, his parents had not been pleased to have to deal with the situation. That evening he’d learned the difference between “correct” and “right.” Perhaps it was just as well he’d discovered that distinction while the stakes were still relatively small, because it had cropped up multiple times while he was in the Navy and in NASA’s astronaut corps.

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