Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Black Friday

IMG_0345 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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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Black Friday”

  1. He called her his ‘first ex-wife’ because she had come back twice and left again. Always on the Friday after Thanksgiving. She called it her ‘decision time’ when she would plan her vision for the following year. While others were out searching for the perfect holiday gifts, she would be planning a search for something else.

    After 35 years of marriage and two children, she asked for divorce one Black Friday, so that she could “find herself” in Tennessee. He moved on with his life but never married again, so strong was his longing for her passionate embraces. She came back two years later and he welcomed her with open arms. Their make-up intimacy was spectacular. She planned on staying but would not re-marry.

    The following year, with the Thanksgiving dishes, cleared and the guests departed, she announced that she would be leaving in the morning to find herself in Florida. He was not surprised. It was in her nature. A loyal wife and mother for all those years, she needed to explore her own uniqueness. He was sad, but would never protest or obstruct in any way.

    She returned a year later, apologetic and broke. Again, he welcomed her warmly, and again their intimacy quenched his deepest desires.

    This Thanksgiving, as they sat alone at the emptied dining room table, he poured her a cup of coffee, and anticipated her thoughts:
    “Have you found it yet, Delores?”
    “No, Harold,” she replied, “But there is no harm in looking. I’ll be gone in the morning.
    “And where will you find yourself next, Delores?”
    “California, Harold. I believe California deserves a shot at finding me.”


    “Black Friday,” he said, repeating it. “Black Friday. That’s three times now. When’s something going to happen?”

    Lauren pointed to the streetlight closest to them. The glow from its lantern was pulsing, shifting toward the redder end of the spectrum. It seemed to be fading, the shadows growing deeper.

    The mall had been empty but now people were appearing, scarves wrapped around their faces. There was a chittering, like the chirping of crickets on a summer’s day. “How about now,” she said, backing away from him. “I hope you’re ready.”

    Banner raised his knife, unfolding its blade. It looked more like a sword in his hands, its metal dark with stains that were more than a lack of maintenance. It was a weapon, not a toy that had been bought by a collector. He was holding a piece of death and was willing to share it.

    The first of the wraiths to pounce was the one nearest Lauren. It leapt past her, ignoring her, feinting as Banner swung toward it. The second wraith was behind him, quick to take advantage of the shifting of the focus of his attention. It reached and drew him in and then he was gone.

    “They never learn,” the voice said, its words buzzing in her ears. “And for that we thank you.” The third wraith emerged from within her, her brain freeze easing until she began to see colours once more. The streetlights brightened and she was alone.

    “You’re welcome,” she said, then curtsied.

  3. “And that’s the last time you saw your wife?”
    “Yep, two years ago, around 5 in the morning on Black Friday. Monique got up, dressed, and left, saying she was going to the shopping center on the west side of town to pick up some last-minute Christmas gifts for little John and the twins.
    “Jesus! What didja do?”
    “Well, at first, nothing. She did the same thing last year. So, I got up around 6 or so, changed little John and gave him a bottle, then gave the girls their breakfasts.
    “When Monique hadn’t returned by 10, I started to get worried. She wasn’t answering her cell phone, so I got the gal from next door—she was 13 at the time—to come over and sit the kids while I drove to the shopping center to look for her. Found her car in front of the department store she mentioned on her way out the door, but she was nowhere to be found. I did see some of her friends, though, but they hadn’t seen her either.
    “When she hadn’t returned home by 7 that evening, I filed a missing persons report with the police. Came to find out the following Monday that her boss’s wife had done the same for her husband.
    “The real kicker came a few days later when more than $1.7 million was found to be missing from the escrow account of the commercial real estate company where both Monique and her boss worked.”

  4. Bleak Friday

    “Come on, Sweetie,“ Lacey beckons, “it’ll be fun. All those bargains.”

    She positively glows when she makes these entreaties. As if she has had a vision.

    I too have had a vision, a vision born of experience.

    Though I am aghast at her appeal, my facial expression does not betray me. Too often, I, a simple adjunct member of the male species, have grimaced in psychic pain at the thought of a shopping expedition.

    That’s exactly what it is. The perfect metaphor.

    A loathsome trek through the jungle.

    Yes, I saw too many Tarzan movies in my youth. On reflection, the various Janes must have been going buggy. Trapped in their treehouses. No malls on the horizon. Occasionally slogging off to Bugazi or whatever the nearest township was called to buy…what…the jungle provided riches galore and all they wore were animal skins or giant leaves…

    A far cry from my world.

    As a child, my mother indoctrinated me in the finer arts of social shopping intercourse. While I did not always go willingly, I was entranced by the pleasure she seemed to have going from shop to shop, plopping me in a chair as she stepped into a change room to try on this outfit or that.

    By age ten, the sheen was gone.

    Antsy prepubescence struck like a pleasant plague, and I demurred.

    These days, COVID has given me a natural out.

    “You go, my Princess. Stay safe.”

    She miles and departs.

    I cannot mask my glee.

  5. Title: Black Friday’s Window Dressing

    The first time, it was just a dare.

    We realized we weren’t meant for marriage in the normal sense, and left for a different world.

    We were lovers, but couldn’t accept the “L” term, because we enjoyed all the different curves and angles. We considered ourselves “B” if you had to give it a term. That differentiation also paid our rent.

    We didn’t have a plan, it just happened after the dare. We were enjoying our special time together, and one thing led to another. It was cold outside, people were dressed in heavy coats, but we were both sans. Melanie accepted my dare, and stood next to the frosted window, which caused instant excitement, and my warm hands a pleasant contrast.

    It was “Black Friday,” and all the stores were having their seasonal big sales. We watched the women darting in and out of the stores, but most of the men were less interested and just tagging along. Some, even took the time to admire the brick architecture and then our second story window.

    Many of the shops had “window dressing” but our window had just the opposite. Melanie was up for the dare that cold day last year, and some of the men that noticed, excused themselves for a different kind of holiday shopping.

    We now love the winter shopping seasons, and the men have a new interest in it too. Some even comment they like unwrapped presents better.

  6. Black to basics.

    Pavements and shops cluttered with people, misplaced and put aside, furniture needing dealt with later.

    There’s two women fighting over socks, whilst the televisions, expensive bags and jewellery have sold. Lord help us, it’s a retailer’s dream, only rubbish left to go. One woman holds sway. The shoppers served, and the tills tallied.

    Once it was Black Friday, then a Black weekend, now it runs all week. People with money thinking it’s wonderful, to others with no money the Black Death has come.

    Queues of people, harassed shop staff, upset children and unhappy credit cards groaning at the edges.

    My twenty-twenty saviour is the internet and shopping from home.

    A little hard work and I’ve learned to work on a computer, finding a way around fighting with my neighbour. No socks upsetting me this year. Our family got the television we wanted, and at the price we could afford.

    Comfortably, I’ve been sitting at my computer ordering what I want from the warmth of my house. I look out at the winter sunshine, feeling superior about losing last year’s competition for my husband’s socks. Meanwhile, I look outside at the rolling countryside in front of me, knowing that UPS will deliver to my front door, with so much less hassle guaranteed.

    Sadly, here is my entry to this digital age.

  7. Jacob and I can hardly sleep, we are so excited for Black Friday tomorrow. We’ve been saving credits for over three years now. We haven’t even entered the lottery for several years. There was no point in winning a shopping ticket if we didn’t have enough for our special purchase.

    But this is finally our year. Our accounts are full. And last week we received notification that we’d won a ticket. Tomorrow we can buy our hearts’ desire on Black Friday.

    We wake before the alarm and ride the transport to the sales agency. We have been window shopping at this company many times. But knowing we couldn’t buy only made us sadder. We would go home and cry in each other’s arms.

    Not today. We enter the showroom with our ticket and our credits. The diversity of colors, sizes, and shapes amazes us, even though we already know what we want. We head straight for the far corner to place our request. We laugh at the smiling brown face and dark, curly hair. Jacob hands over the asking price and our documents. I lift our brand new baby boy from his crib and smother him with kisses.

  8. Friday, June 30, 2023. The day the sky went dark and the dead rose from their graves. We call it Black Friday.

    No one knew why it happened or what caused it — it just happened. The moon eclipsed the sun, everything went dark, and the dead began climbing out of their graves.

    They hunted the living, only it was different from movies, they searched for people they knew, friends and family. It was as if the dead were lonely and wanted their loved ones to join them.

    We fought back, locked ourselves inside, held them off til the darkness ended. It took a whole day and night, we lost many people during those long hours. When the sun returned to the sky the dead returned to their graves.

    We were caught off guard that first year, but we were ready for the next — and every one after that. It has become a regular thing, every year on the last Friday of June the moon blocks out the sun and the dead rise from their graves.

    We’ve gotten pretty good at holding them off til the sun returns, but in the end we’re losing the war. More and more people dying every year creating more dead to deal with the next year. But worst of all, every year it takes longer and longer for the sun to return. Pretty soon a day will come when the sun never rises again, darkness will consume us, and then nothing will stop the dead.

  9. Threadbare red ribbons secured a tattered strand of greenery to decrepit light posts. The last reminders of the world before. Jacob spun the research center door’s wheel, releasing the seal and let it slam behind him. He counted in his head as jets of air blasted his Tyvek suit. He slipped out of it and entered the shower chamber. His hands braced the walls as hot streams of water disinfected his skin.
    “You don’t deserve to be here.”

    Jacob bowed his head. No matter how short his red hair, they still recognized him. He resembled his Great-Great-Grandfather, the mad scientist that laced the water supply with the T1 toxin crippling the world.

    He left without a word. His research spoke for itself. He locked his door, he reached under his bed and pulled out a vial of green liquid. He riffled through his ration bag, opened the waterbottle adding three drops of his mixture, and shook it. The fluid changed into a pastel pink. He closed his eyes and drank the concoction.

    His eyes rolled back into his head and the bottle smashed to the floor. His fingers tingled as he scribbled his findings in his notebook. Grabbing the vial, he pressed the communication unit’s button, “get me, Commander Jackson.”

    His door flung open, a Peacekeeper hit him with the butt of her gun and threw a lit match on his notebook. The papers curled into embers erasing his progress. “Sorry, Jacob. Our people aren’t ready for a cure.”

  10. “Well, that was interesting,” said Alan’s mother, settled in her wheelchair, two oxygen lines trailing from her nose.

    Alan laughed as he pushed his mother along the darkened street. “The mall isn’t what it used to be,” he said. “Maybe a waste of time, huh?”

    The old woman turned and looked up at her son, her eyes rheumy but her smile broad. “Not like when you and Gloria were kids,” she said. “What memories, shopping after Thanksgiving, the crowds, seeing Santa.”

    “And Dad complaining about his aching legs,” laughed Alan.

    “Yes, even that’s pleasant to remember,” said Alan’s mother. “Speaking of spouses, where’s Delores? And my grandchildren?”

    Alan stiffened, trying to keep things easy. “She’ll try to get here,” he said, hesitantly. “With the kids.”

    “I love her, you know,” said Alan’s mother. “We get on each other’s nerves. I wish I’d started out better when you two married. How silly of me to tell her to call me ‘Mom.’ I cringe every time I think about it. She had a mother. That poisoned the well, didn’t it?”

    Alan didn’t have a chance to say something non-committal because the two children, Mark and Sally, came racing down the sidewalk and enveloped their grandmother in hugs.

    Delores rounded the corner behind and ran up to the chattering children. She leaned down and gave her mother-in-law a gentle kiss. “How good to see you,” she said, hugging her tightly.

    Alan’s mother held on, closing her eyes to keep the tears from falling.

  11. The shops on Main Street looked like a Victorian painting or a production of A Christmas Carol. Yet the people on the sidewalks wore modern dress. It wouldn’t have been all that disconcerting, except not a one of them wore a mask.

    “Don’t worry,” my companion told me. “We’re in virtual reality. We’re using neural induction to transmit the full sensory experience into the appropriate centers of your brain.”

    “Right.” My cheeks flushed with embarrassment that I’d forgotten I was participating in an experiment. “We’re in cyberspace, so we don’t have to worry about whatever the latest pandemic is.”

    All the same, the sensory experience was so intense it was hard to believe. Even dreams don’t come with the scent of cinnamon rolls wafting from the baker’s shop.

    On impulse, I walked in. Doing business with actual cash felt weird, but I reminded myself it was all simulated, a representation of funds in my account.

    Now for the real test. I carried my purchase outside and took a bite. It tasted just like when I was six years old, eating Grandma’s cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven.

    “Damn, this is going to be the killer app of the Christmas season.”

    Even as I said it, an alert came through on a sub-channel: an unauthorized transaction way over my limits. In that moment I realized our mistake: we might not get biological viruses in cyberspace, but we sure could get computer viruses.

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