Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Capitol

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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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Capitol”

  1. Transitions

    The radiance dimmed on the world and time stood still.
    Life as we knew it ebbed.
    A few endured as they always do.
    They huddled in small circles, distancing somewhat, still needing love, yearning for the warmth of human contact.
    “Surely someone’s still leading us,” one soft voice queried.
    “Fool. No one’s leading. Not anymore. Surely you remember. No? Let me enlighten you. We once had systems. Structures. The means of political production. In short, an elected leadership. And an army of public servants to make it happen. You would have thought we were as prepared as a peoples’ could be.”
    “I vaguely remember. I didn’t give it much thought. Busy, you know. Work. Play. Living life. It was all in good hands, I thought. Was I wrong?”
    “Wrong? No. Still, you were not alone. We were a deferential people. We deferred. And if by chance something untoward aggravated us, we took to the streets. We expressed our displeasure. And then the virus came. Oh, we still took to the streets but many of us stayed in our shelters and wailed away on social media. You remember that?”
    “I do. Sort of.”
    “It was all so unsatisfactory. And as the politicians disappeared, as the virus whittled them away, as the organisms of continuity dematerialized, we achieved what many claimed they had wanted. Self determination.”
    “I don’t think I wanted that…in quite that way.”
    “Perhaps not. The ruins of government are still there. But we are on our own now.”

  2. Capitol Tears

    I double checked the address she gave me, and it was the address on the building. I felt a pain I hadn’t felt since my wife passed away.

    Last night, we met at a club in town, and the weight was finally lifted.

    She was easy to talk with, and I shared many hidden secrets. Her eyes were a crystal blue and seemed to sparkle when I shared my thoughts. I knew she was enjoying my company because she left her girlfriends to sit close to me. Now, this cold stone bench is a sign the dream and warmth of something special is gone.

    What a fool. I never considered she was just using me to get someone to buy her drinks. The Capitol building…if it was a palace, I wouldn’t be surprised, because she was like a princess. I gripped the bench, closed my eyes, and shut off everything around me.

    Was she really there last night? Was it a dream? It must have been, because her name was Katie, just like my wife’s. Even though it really didn’t happen, it has changed my outlook on things. There’s a chance at love again. I took a deep breath and smelled the sweet scent of Gardenia.

    “Hey, wake up…a penny for your thoughts?”

    I opened my eyes and the chandelier’s light lit up her hair like she was wearing a halo. “You’re here.”

    “What did you expect? I work here. Yeah, this place makes my eyes water too.”

  3. “Hello! Am I too late for today’s tour?”

    “My god, you startled me! No, of course you’re not too late. The sun is still up, isn’t it? Let’s get started. This here is the staircase up to the balcony level. People stood up here and listened.”

    “Listened to what?”

    “Mainly to arguments. One side accusing the other of treason and being bad parents; the other side saying “uh,uh”. That sort of thing.”

    “Sounds important.”

    “Oh, it was! The best arguments came in 2020 during that corrosive virus.”

    “You mean Corona virus.”

    “The best was when the top scientists decided the virus was spread mainly by people eating out.”

    “Eating out? What’s that?”

    “Buying their dinners in restaurants, paying other people to do all the work. The diners just sat there and chatted and stuffed their faces, and then got up and left. Happy as pigs at the trough.”

    “Sounds pretty good to me.”

    “You ought to try the tour of the old Castillo’s Restaurant. They give out little packets of taco sauce with your paid entry, just stay behind the lines and take it home to taste it.”

    “How come they call his building a railroad station? What’s that?”

    “It has something to do with politics. You’ve heard politicians say they’re being railroaded? No? Well, you’ll have to look it up.”

    “Okay. Thanks for the tour, Mister.”

    “My pleasure, Sonny. Always happy to educate the youngsters.”

  4. Germaine was a curious, precocious kid. On fifth-grade field trips with his social studies teacher, Mister Frye, he could be a challenge.

    “Why do they call it the CapitOL, Mister Frye, when the city is the CapitAL of the state?”

    “Well, Germaine, the Capitol is the structure and physical campus of the center of our government in our capital city. The name has its origins in the ancient city of Rome where the Senate met near the temples of the Romans’ most powerful Gods on Capitoline Hill.”

    “So, Mister Frye, that’s why this building looks like a church, ‘cuz it’s close to the Gods?”

    “No Germaine, it is substantially built, like a church, to symbolize our faith that, like the building, our government will be resilient and last for a long time, and that our elected officials will make good decisions in a house that shows that we, the people, respect their endeavors on our behalf.”

    “So, we trust that all the fancy chandeliers and shiny marble will guarantee our democracy works.”

    “Well, no. Ultimately, we trust the will of the people to elect good people to make good decisions.”

    “Well, then Mister Frye, how do we trust the people to make the good decisions?”

    “That, my boy, is one of the dilemmas of democracy.”

    “So, the fancy building is merely a symbol of an aspirational ideal?”

    “Germaine, please go outside with your classmates and find a food truck. It is past lunchtime.”

  5. A hundred civilians rush inside the capitol building, angry as hell. Life had become unbearable. The country was falling apart and an unexpected pandemic only made things worse.

    “Where’s the governor?,” a woman shouts.

    “Where’s congress?” a man holding an AR-15 demands.

    “Where are they?” they all yell.

    Two capitol police officers, Bob and George, were watching from above. Up til this point their job was pretty easy.

    “They’re armed,” George announces.

    “This could get ugly,” Bob adds.

    They rush downstairs.

    “What about our jobs?” a man yells waving a sign that reads, “Bring Our Jobs Back!”

    “When will my kids go back to school?” a pissed off woman says.

    “Why isn’t anything being done?” an angry man with an M-16 shouts.

    The mob pushes forward, becoming more violent.

    “What do we do?” asks George, holding back a couple of men.

    “Someone needs calm these people down,” Bob responds, pushing back against several people. “Where is everybody?”

    The mob’s shouts grow louder and louder. Emotions escalate. Things are about to get violent.

    “Why are we here? They don’t pay us enough for this,” Bob yells.

    “You’re right,” George says. “Those selfish bastards hiding in their offices created this mess. Why are we risking our lives to protect them?”

    The mob pushes harder, shouting louder. Anger fills the building. Things are reaching a boiling point.

    Bob and George look at each other.

    “You thinking what I’m thinking?” George asks.

    “Let’s get the hell out of here,” Bob answers.

    “Damn right.”

  6. “I sure do love this big ole Loosiana state capitol. Y’all know I had a big hand in buildin’ it back when I wuz guvnor. I love these marble floors and these big old marble columns.”
    “Yessirree. But we gonna get you into the next best thing come this election. The White House! Movin’ old FDR out!”

    From the Baton Rouge Advocate, September 7, 1935: Over twenty thousand faithful showed up today to see Senator Huey Pierce Long. The size of the crowd reaffirmed the popularity of the former governor with the people of Louisiana. Their enthusiasm for his candidacy for president of the United States was apparent in the cheers and loud support from the group despite his promised ousting of popular Judge Amon Pavy and an ominous warning: “I see blood on the polished floor of this capitol. If you ride this through you will travel on the white horse of death.”

    “D’Arcy, you alongside me? This hallway mighty dark. Where those damned lights?”
    “Get behind me, Senator. It’s dangerous.”
    “I’m hit! Please, God, don’t let me die! I have so much yet to do.”

    From the Baton Rouge Advocate, September 12, 1935– a sidebar outlined in black. Over two hundred thousand Louisianans turned out today to say goodbye to popular Senator and former Governor Huey Pierce Long. Long was shot in a dark hallway of the capitol September 8th by Carl Weiss in retaliation for the ousting of his father-in-law, Judge Amon Pavy

  7. Young Elizabeth sat uncomfortably in the silk garments, dangling jewelry and wafting fragrances in which she had been swathed by King Daniyal’s harem keepers, thinking, “It’s 2020, who has a harem?”

    Yet there she sat, waiting for her royal audience with Crown Prince Atif, in the land of Zordain.

    When the Prince entered with his Royal Court attending him, he looked very pleased. He was old enough to be her father, yet he was strikingly handsome.

    He smiled kindly, then waved his attendants away.

    “Will you remove your head covering, please?” he asked Elizabeth.

    She complied.

    “You are more beautiful than Fahal, my recruiter, told me,” said the Prince, “but you appear younger than he said. Please, you must be honest. You can’t possibly be eighteen.”

    Elizabeth was trembling. Prince Atif wanted to console her, but he didn’t want to traumatize her by his touch.

    “I’m twelve, your Royal Highness.”

    The Prince’s face darkened, and he summoned Fahal.

    “Why have you brought me a child bride?” demanded the Prince.

    Fahal stammered. “But– I paid 25,000 U.S. dollars for her!”

    “You bought her?” asked the Prince, incredulously. “From the United States?”

    “A real bargain!” exclaimed Fahal. “And a virgin!”

    “Well praise Allah that she remains a virgin!”

    Elizabeth listened, with great interest.

    “But you shall go to the prison, Fahal, and she shall be returned home. I decree it. We shall try to avoid making this an international incident.”

    Elizabeth knelt, took Prince Atif’s hand, and thanked him, with tears.

  8. James jumped out of the car and ran over to the passenger side and, with no fanfare, opened the door for Julie. Somewhat surprised, she nevertheless smiled and said, “Thanks.”

    The young tech workers, on lunch break, stared up at the state capitol building, its dome piercing the cloudy sky. “I thought it would be festive,” said Julie.

    James smiled. “Maybe inside,” he said. “Let’s go.”

    He took her hand and together they walked up the wide steps and went inside. Julie didn’t know what to make of James. He was so nice but unassuming. Pleasant. A change of pace.

    “Sorry,” said a guard. “We’re not open today.”

    “Can we just look at the dome for a minute?” asked James.

    “Go for it,” said the guard, looking up at the wonderfully sculpted dome. “It’s nice.”

    “I’m sorry,” said Julie. “I thought there’d be Christmas decorations.” She walked around staring up at the bronze squares that filled the upper reaches of the dome. “Wouldn’t a decorated tree be perfect at the top of those stairs?”

    “Indeed,” said James. “Close your eyes. It would be a 20-foot Douglas fir with extra large blue bulbs, bright blinking lights, and—the best part—tinsel! Just like when I was a kid.”

    Julie, her eyes closed, held her breath. “It’s wonderful. It’s so nice.”

    “Nice is good, yes?” said James.

    “Oh, yes,” said Julie, a smile breaking out on her face and worry lines disappearing from around her eyes. “Nice is perfect.”

  9. Get a big enough group and you’ll always have a joker. Lily MacGregor narrowed her eyes at the two guys who’d been making wisecracks since the beginning.

    The visit to the US Capitol was supposed to be one of the highlights of the 4H Citizenship Focus program. They’d see the House and Senate chambers and some of the historic rooms, then head over to the office buildings to meet their representatives in Congress. But those two were acting like they were at Holiday World.

    The long marble corridor with its various alcoves and side halls fascinated her, but there was no time to stop and sketch. Not that it would’ve been easy with so many people coming and going. Like that tall man, well-dressed and surprisingly muscular for someone of his age, or with those prominent scars on hands and face.

    From behind her came a voice, just a little too loud. “Wonder who that is? A Mafia don?”

    And then the memory clicked from all her reading of space history. “That is Senator Ed White, a real American hero.”

    Immediately she realized she’d spoken louder than she’d intended, winced in anticipation of the scolding. Before their chaperones could speak, the senior Senator from Texas smiled. “Thank you, ma’am.”

    As Lily watched him walk on, she considered the narrow, even miraculous escape of the Apollo I crew. This timeline would be surrounded by far more in which they perished in the inferno. And each was a real world too.

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