Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Miscalculation

Oops Flash Fiction Prompt Eloy AZ Feb 2017 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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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Miscalculation”


    The road-hauliers took three hours getting through Parker Crossing, the low-loader wedging itself between two hydrants that couldn’t be removed. The switchback at Snape Heights took another hour and a half. There was traffic re-routed through Paxville, Hastings and Grantnorton, as the mid-morning lull passed until the city was in gridlock while Digital World’s latest consignment for Kat Brooks passed through.

    It was ridiculous, to be honest. Although Ms Brooks was adamant her new lens was a must buy.

    “Have you any idea,” I said, waving my phone close to her face, “how much disruption your hobby has caused the local community?”

    “S’not a hobby. It’s a vocation,” Ms Brooks replied, pointing her camera, a Canon with a smaller fixed lens at the teamsters who were still arguing about the best to go through town. Hiatt West Woods Way had been the obvious choice, its long straights and the wide junction at Pilburry and 7th making it the quickest way across the south of the city. But they’d not figured on the fire truck that had almost broadsided it, slewing off the highway and getting wedged in the entry into the mall. “And it’s at times like this you need a good photo-journalist,” she continued, “recording events the public needs to know about.”

    “But,” I stammered, “what do you need such a long lens for? Explain that, Ms Brooks.”

    Kat shrugged and gave a grin. “I’ve a hankering to take moon shots. And it’s a long, long way away, right?”

  2. Title: Piece of Cake

    “Piece of Cake” is what they kept telling me. “No Problemo,” “Easy Peasy,” “Take it to the Bank”…and how do I tell the people at the observatory that they will have to come to the parking lot to do their work?

    It all looked good on paper, and I bought it. I left my boss a voice message that he needed to come to the plant when he had a chance. That would give me enough time to skedaddle. I had twenty years in, and could collect my pension. We have a nice place in the country, and it was looking better and better each minute.

    It was going to look even funnier, going down the road, one truck going forward and the other backwards. I hope Kat, the newspaper girl, doesn’t hear about this and put it on the front page.
    So, what if I didn’t finish in the top 75% of my engineering class, there are presidents who didn’t either. My marks helped scale the class results. Maybe I should alter my resume when I get home.

    They were going to study the stars, now they can zoom in on the sunbathers on the Riviera. You have to look at the bright side of things, is what Ma always said. I should have stuck with playing the guitar. I think I still have my Dad’s number.

    I spotted the blonde lady running toward me – “Mister O’Brien, they’re towing your car.”

    Time to call Uber.

  3. Gotta Roll

    “I’m running late, Margie.”

    “Olivia, get out of the bathroom. Say goodbye to your father.”

    “She isn’t listening, sweetie. Look, I‘ll call before I cross the line. Maybe she’ll be in a better frame of mind?”

    “Right. As if that’s going to happen. She’s fifteen, got more minds than an anthill has ants. And none of them are even close to being civil.”

    “Okay, then. I’ll give it another shot. A quick shot.”

    “Forget it. She’s dug in. If you don’t get on the road on time, she’ll claim victory.”

    “It’s just bloody pipe. That’s all it is. A delivery. I’m not building the damn pipeline. If I don’t deliver it, some other road hog will. Others are. An army of truckers. Working round the clock. Most of it to put food on the table. Keep sane.”

    “You don’t have to convince me, Dave. Hon, I’m on your side. Our side. Survival’s side. First our family needs to survive…then the planet. In that order.”

    “Sure. I know. Kee-rist, I can’t be always thinking about this. You know, careening down the highway, you have to have an unclouded mind. Lately, I keep hearing her screaming at me. ‘Save the Planet!’ ‘Water is Sacred!’ ‘P is for Peace, NOT Pipeline!’ It’s driving me nuts.”

    “Calm down. Take a breath. That’s it. Now, you get going. I’ll sit her down, explain the facts of life to her.”

    “Love ya.”

    “Me too. Bye.”


    “Livy. Dad’s gone. Let’s get to the rally.”

    J.J. Cunis

    Ed Healy, Mall General Manager, was pissed but somewhat amused as he approached the aberration he saw in his lot. He radioed Jim the lot attendant out by the highway. “Jim! You mind telling me how the Green Giant’s sex toy ended up in my lot! The mall’s opening soon.”

    “Ehhh, miscalculation?”


    “The driver asked if he could turn his rig around. Says he took the wrong exit. I guess he miscalculated the hump.” Jim snickered.

    “You trying to be funny?”

    “No, you’re the one who called it a Green Giant sex toy …”

    “Where’s the guy now?”

    “Re-calculating? I don’t know. He’s probably callin’ someone. Did you look in the cab?”

    Ed got out of his car and donned his hard hat. Why? He didn’t really know. It wasn’t like he was going to try and push the damn thing off the hump. He was hoping to look more officious and intimidating. He opened the door of the cab and saw the driver sweating profusely furiously tapping numbers into his cell phone.

    “I need this rig out of my lot … soon,” said Ed calmly.

    “Yes sir, I’m doing my best to get someone,” said the driver now in a panic.

    Ed considered this and asked, “What the hell is that damn thing anyway?”

    “Sir, it’s a piece of the launch tower for the Space-X rocket.”

    Ed said “Hmm,” and looked up to the sky and wondered if he should be wearing his hard hat more often.

  5. They stand on the fairgrounds amongst the various themed decorations staring at a large beige pipe sticking out of the ground.

    “It should be green,” George says.

    “What do you mean?” Harry responds.

    “The pipe, it should be green.”

    “It’s no big deal. No one will notice.”

    “I think you underestimate the audience.”

    Perturbed, Harry says, “Look! They asked for a large pipe to be delivered here and that’s what they got. Besides, you really think anyone will care about the color of a pipe when so much celebrating is going on.”

    “They’re celebrating a game that changed everything. It’s important to them. People will notice.”

    “It’s just a decoration.”

    “All the other pipes are green.”

    “I was told to deliver a pipe. Not to paint it green.”

    “You should have asked for more details.”

    Harry can’t believe he’s still having this conversation, “All this hassle because an Italian plumber fell down a drain and rescued a princess. It’s pathetic the way people go nuts over it.”

    They stare at the beige pipe sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the other decorations.

    “It should be green,” George says.

    Throwing up his hands Harry walks away, “I give up.”


    Later on in George’s life he found himself looking back on this moment thinking, “Whether it was bad management on Harry’s part or just incompetence that brought about his business’s demise no one really knows. Me, personally, . . . I think it’s because he pissed-off a bunch of gamers.”

  6. I told them the Tower of Dreams cannot by moved by mere mortals. It was installed by the Sky Gods and must remain at the sacred site. But do they ever listen to an old woman? I may be the only one alive who remembers the story of the Sky Gods bringing the Tower to the holy hill. They told our wise leaders that they would return when the Tower called them.

    Legend teaches us that dreamers who spend the night inside will experience true dreams of future events. I never told my youthful Tower nightmare to anyone – my dream of the Tower’s removal and the worldwide destruction that followed. But now, 70 years later, they have discovered some precious mineral inside the hill. So they knocked down the Tower and started to haul it away.

    I watch in horror as my long ago dream begins to unfold. The trucks are stuck on a bulge in the roadway. The drivers have no idea that the Sky Gods will be raining fire and brimstone upon them within minutes.

    I tried my best to warn them. Now I must hasten to my secret shelter to wait out the coming disaster.

  7. Vlad, skinny and dressed in ragged work clothes and a pork pie hat, stood in the middle of the highway and stared at the rig he’d been driving. Everything had gone fine until he tried to cross the road. That’s when he got hung up. Or rather the trailer with the heavy load got hung up.

    What a mess. The road was blocked in both directions.

    There wasn’t much more to do but wait. Wait for what or whom, he wasn’t sure.

    Sergio, shorter and somewhat better dressed, waited with him. A good man to have on your team, Sergio was Vlad’s relief driver. He, like Vlad, stood and waited, listening to the bleating car horns and the swearing from the peanut gallery.

    Vlad decided he should do something. Direct traffic? Where to? The road was blocked. Act as peacemaker with all the irritated drivers? That would be fun.

    So Vlad and Sergio waited. A solution would come, Vlad was sure about that. It always did. What was irritating was how hard he had worked checking out the underpasses from the shipyard down to the construction site.

    It turned out that the rig, with its huge load, would’ve easily made it through the underpasses. But Vlad hadn’t taken into account the six-inch rise in the center of the roadway. Thankfully, somebody would come soon and straighten it all out. He and Sergio would wait because, after all, there was nothing else to do.

  8. The two DHS agents sat across from the three terrorists suspected of blowing up the San Antonio Water Pipeline.

    “Tell us again why you sabotaged the pipeline,” said Agent Morris, crossing his arms.

    “I swear, Agent, we thought it was an oil pipeline,” said Frannie Oakley, of the Green Utopia Radical Action for World Peace Militia.

    Agent Morris turned on the TV. “Does this look like the pipe you planted explosives on?”

    Jarrod Bloke stared at the screen. “That’s the one. How’d you fix it so quick?”

    Agent Franklin snapped at Jarrod, “No, that’s not the one. That’s the one they’re replacing it with, and it’s holding up traffic all along Interstate 410.”

    Bloke looked upset. “We didn’t mean to cause a traffic jam. We just wanted a tremendous explosion — BOOM!”

    “Will you shut UP, Jarrod!” shrieked Frannie.

    “Why? I want these fine Hometown Security officers to know that we were just trying to stop the fracking oil fields from defunding the landscape.”

    “You mean denuding, Jarrod,” said his buddy, Frank Furtive.

    “Denuding, deluding, what’s the diff?” asked Jarrod.

    “Not a whole lot for your co-conspirators,” said Agent Morris, “But you might get off easy, on the grounds of mental incompetence.”

    “What that means, Frannie?” asked Jarrod.

    “That’s a good thing for you,” she said.

    “And you’ve provided some solid information for the Feds,” added Agent Morris, as Frannie glared in Jarrod’s direction.

    “Much obliged,” said Jarrod.

    “I told you we should have left him behind!” said Frank.

  9. There are some mistakes you can recover from. Getting your trailer stuck crosswise of the road isn’t one of them. In most companies, it’s pretty much a career-ending move. In effect, you’ve just told your boss that you aren’t worth the trouble of further training, and it’s time to find a new line of work.

    And that’s what I’m looking at right now. Someone made a rookie mistake, and now traffic’s backing up. I scan my surroundings, looking for some kind of way out.

    If I were in the left-hand lane, I’d be able to make a U-turn and head back to the last intersection. My suspension might not like jumping the concrete island between the northbound and southbound lanes, but I have the clearance to handle it.

    But no, I had to get into the right-hand lane because I need to turn at the next stoplight. It seemed like the smart move at the time, but like so many things that seem prudent when you do it, I succeeded only in reducing my options.

    So here I am, stuck waiting until dimbulb here figures out how to get his hung-up trailer sorted out. Meanwhile, the time’s ticking away, and the boss expects me present and ready to work, on time. And from the looks of things, dimbulb has absolutely no clue.

    Nothing to do but call and tell the boss with the bad news. With my luck, I’ll have to burn vacation time because of this idiot.

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