Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Stalagmites

rio camuy 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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12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Stalagmites”

  1. The floor of the cave pushed upwards, fingers of rock entering my stomach, probing between the unseen loops of my bowels. I continued to bleed, fading slowly. I would have little time to discuss mortality with my rescuers when they came.

    Another age passed. The sun was gone now. There was only a lighter darkness where it had been, an irregular shape marking the limits of the hole. I was conscious but the pain had returned, spasms pushing against the stone that had become a part of me, my body immobile and numb. There were sounds in my head, noises like kaleidoscopes in motion. They shifted when I breathed then waited again, aligned to the gases seeping out from my lungs. I scented holidays and the corruption of death. If I’d had a watch, I would have broken it, smashed the glass covering its hands then probed blindly at its face. I was alone and out of time here alone. If only I’d have had company I might not be here now. There was little sense in recriminations; my fate had been my own. I would have forever to luxuriate in regret.

    Light again. And then dark. I hear them coming, canvas-clad and bright-voiced, their movements hesitant and sure. I see the beam of a torch, bright against the sheen of the wall, the stone collecting its light and their noise. If I had a voice I’d shout out, raise a hullabaloo.

    If I had breath, I’d still be alive.

  2. Lake Shasta Caverns is a rite of passage for fourth graders at Fair Haven Elementary. Ava can still remember her neat, flat rectangular red box-wrapped in a neat crimson, velvet bow-she had received from her fourth grade teacher long ago. She had loved the way the rose quartz reminded her of pink and sweet rock candy. During their class Christmas party, everyone received a red box full of all types of rocks they had been studying. This stayed high on a shelf in her room, her own guarded treasure.

    A wave of red flashed her body at the sight of her daughter’s own red treasure; Ava was magically back in fourth grade. Ms. Hilie’s class was on their way to the Caverns to see creamy, wet stalactites and stalagmites. Over and over in her head during the hour long bus ride, she thought about their differences. Stalagmites are on the ground where mice “mite” play, stalactites drip “tite” iced tiles from the ceiling; she knew no other way to remember. Ava had waited so long for this, ever since her older brother bragged on his trip. He always safeguarded his rock collection, but now she had her own. He could keep his box all to himself.

    Soon the class was spirited away in a patio barge across the mammoth lake. Ava took in her surroundings as they skimmed across the water like a thrown rock. Overcome and frozen with a paralyzing fear, she stood in front of the looming edifice.

  3. Stalag Mite

    Beeker was never quite sure what led him astray. Whatever it was, in 1972 he started a four-year stretch in the BC Penitentiary for bank robbery.
    We talked when time permitted.
    Don’t get me wrong, in prison you always have time.
    I mean, it’s not your time.
    It’s no one’s time.
    It’s lost time.
    It just disappears. So, one day in the yard, we hooked up. I was older, and this was my second tour of duty. I have to say he looked lost. Couldn’t have been more then twenty. I had a couple of years on him so maybe I thought I’d take him under my wing. You gain a certain expertise, right?
    Somewhere along my trail of destruction, I’d taken to calling the Pen, the Stalag.
    From an old Bill Holden film.
    About a German Concentration Camp.
    I’d even given myself a prison nom de guerre. Stalag Tite.
    Told him about it the third time we talked.
    “How come?” he asked.
    “Well,” I said, “that’s what it feels like sometimes. Hanging from the ceiling, waiting to drop, trying to stay sharp but always expecting to drop on your head…” and I laughed as I usually did when I rambled on about it, a sick sort of laugh, like nothing was really funny.
    “Huh,” he said. “Maybe I need one of those numb…?”
    “NOM,” I clarified. “nom de guerre. Nickname.”
    So, I suggested Stalag Mite, said, “They grow skyward.”
    “More hopeful sounding?”
    “You got it, kid!”

  4. Title: Real Value

    Background –

    My claim to fame is that I am still on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. I have to admit that the last vehicle I drove was the Wells Fargo Armored Car, which was the target in the ’83 Hartford Connecticut robbery.

    My share was just a million dollars, which wasn’t bad for just a few miles of driving. The last I knew, the FBI assumed I was hiding out in Cuba. A very nice place with lots of classic cars, but there is too much chance of being captured.

    No, I like my living accommodations, here in the Camoy Caverns. Every now and again, a tourist comes a little too close to where I’m staying, but they never spot me. I used to be called “Green Vic” but now they call me “RH” for Robin Hood. I use my share of the loot to pay the locals for my food, and other needs. There’s not a chance they would turn me in, as I am a very BIG tipper.

    My only real excitement is appearing in the background when tourists take pictures of the main cavern. If they only looked really closely, they would see me hanging from the wall.

    Interview –

    “What was my biggest problem? Trying to keep my money from being washed away when the big hurricane hit.”

    Summary –

    “Like I said, I don’t need any money for this interview, but you did bring the Indies Unlimited Anthology editions, right?”

  5. Stalagmites

    Johnathan’s front door suddenly burst open and in stumbled Dr. Grayson. He was disheveled and fell to the floor.

    Johnathan rushed to the doctor’s side. “Doctor, what happened?”

    “Something terrible, my boy. Something terrible.”

    “What?” the young man pleaded.

    “I… I was exploring a hitherto unknown cavern. Then I came upon a most astonishing discovery.”

    “What did you find, doctor?”

    “Deep beneath the surface I found a vast network of underground chambers. One large chamber contained a great pyramid. But it wasn’t a pyramid in the traditional sense. Rather, it was a giant computer and it was issuing commands.”

    “Commands? I don’t understand.”

    “It was issuing commands to thousands of stalagmites that inhabited the chamber.”

    “For what purpose?”

    “Amazingly, the stalagmites slowly transformed before my eyes into human-like creatures, like us. They were then given orders to infiltrate the highest levels of government, the military and the media. It appears they intend to take control of the country.”

    Johnathan was shocked and expressed his skepticism. “Doctor, you must be joking.”

    “I’m dead serious. I am talking about a conspiracy so vast in its execution and so diabolical in its concept that few people will comprehend it, let alone believe it.”

    “Doctor, you’re tired. You new rest. Perhaps after some sleep you’ll feel—”

    “No!” Dr. Grayson broke free from his young friend and ran outside. “I must warn people,” he yelled. “I must warn them before it’s too late. Stalagmites are people!”

  6. Stalagfright

    Trodan, the lead troglodyte, stood confidently on the ledge holding the much smaller man aloft in his mighty arms. The wide eyes of the eager onlookers, glinting in the glare from the ceremonial fire, shone from various parts of the shadow laden cave, looking firstly to their leader and then to the darkened chasm before him.

    The Master of Shadows, the wizened old man who was the main communicator to the gods that inhabited the rock formations around them, stepped forward brandishing the sacred cup, hollowed out of a piece of limestone. He dipped his finger into the viscous liquid that the cup held and began muttering a prayer in strange tongues that only the rock gods could understand. He flicked the bats blood from his fingers over the quivering body of the man held aloft. The man’s body erupted in a fit of thrusts and spasms as he fought against the rough hands holding him firm, screams and wails emitting from his contorted mouth.

    Trodan inched closer to the edge of the ledge and threw the man into the pit below. The onlookers exploded in a cacophony of cheers, howls and ululations of delight, hoping and praying that the solidified stone arms of the rock gods, with their petrified fingers pointing skywards craving blood, would have had their fill and be satisfied, willing to keep surface dwellers at bay until once again the next blood moon could be seen shining brightly through the cave mouth.

  7. “Human nature.” Ron panted and pulled himself forward. “People don’t look up.”

    Worming through a crevasse so narrow and twisted we had to crawl sideways, we certainly didn’t. Grunting, I inched forward, pulled on jagged rock that sliced my fingers, winced at the rough wall scraping my back.

    “You’ll see,” he promised. “It’s brilliant.”

    After five minutes of torture, every muscle screamed for rest. After ten, I dreaded entombment in the passage. After fifteen…

    “Ah!” Ron vanished into darkness. Then a light flicked on, revealing him upright. I struggled to freedom, hauled myself to my feet, and was dumbstruck by what his LED flashlight revealed: a sea of gray spires, some inches high, some tall as us, an impenetrable mass of jagged teeth sparkling with moisture.

    Ron laughed. “See? Even you don’t look up!”

    I looked and saw nothing anyway. Had the gems we stole slept up there for ten years until the law lost interest?

    An uneven series of natural steps ascended the wall. Ron climbed them giddy as a kid attacking a Christmas present. His hand scouted the shadows for the goods. Suddenly, he gaped into the stalagmites below. “No!” he moaned. He returned clenching something which he shoved at me. A tattered gray cloth bag. “Rotted!”

    We stared at the impenetrable landscape that had swallowed our loot. An old mnemonic came to mind. “Hang tight stalactite, or you might become stalagmite.”

    Ron slugged me in the stomach. I returned the favor. We both deserved it.

  8. Lieutenant Adam Parker didn’t know why, but this newest planet on their exploratory survey made his neck hairs bristle. Now, two of their top geologists have gone missing.

    Adam halts his patrol at the mouth of a cave. “Their tracking signals end here,” he says.

    He assigns two soldiers to stand guard. Then he leads the other two into the dark cavern. They adjust their night visors and stare at the array of enormous stalagmites.

    “Never saw anything like these back on earth,” comments one soldier. The second soldier adds, “They’re huge, and the weirdest shapes.”

    None of the stalagmites appears pointed, like terrestrial ones. Many stand over six feet tall. Others look small and rounded, like sleeping puppies. Nor are there any stalactites hanging from the ceiling.

    Adam inspects a nearby formation that seems almost translucent. He brushes dirt off the upper section and shines his headlamp at it. He leaps backward from the death stare of his missing geologist and screams, “Run. Get out.”

    He tries to turn and run, also. But his feet remain glued to the ground. A gray fluid is creeping up his legs and hardening. He sees the other two are unable to move, either.

    The guards rush to the cave’s entrance. With the last of his strength, Adam shouts, “Stay out. Seal this cave.”

    As the guards back away, three new stalagmites adorn the cave’s floor.

  9. Col was the Stalactite; I, Greg the stalagmite. We were opposites brought together by our love of spelunking. Our classmates joked that one day, we would join together and form a column. They were hinting at our sexual orientation, but we were really in love with stalagmites and stalactites. Col was so passionate about these formations, that when his voluptuous girl friend touched one, he raged at her for corrupting history and destroying its integrity. Col was the hot head, the daring one hanging dangerously from the ceiling, while I was calm with two feet on the ground.
    Clambering to the newly discovered cave, Col was like an overly excited child going on holiday with pockets full of sweets. After a three mile hike, we arrived in a grey dripping cave covered in stalagmites, but oddly devoid of any “icicles”. The stalagmites resembled cyprus knees. Very distinctive, mysterious and mystical. Looking at the stalagmites was like a religious experience for me. The cave was so unearthly still. We were surrounded by greyish ‘inverted stalactites’ resembling soldiers at attention or misshapen aliens. It was ethereal. Even though I had seen magnificent speleothems globally from the lofty impressive “Witch’s Finger” in New Mexico to the largest stalactite in Jeita Grotto, Lebanon, this was the climax of my life.
    “Magnificent” escaped my lips.
    Col’s voice echoed angrily through the cave, “Fool! I did not bring you here for the damn stalagmites. Look! The cave is full of gold. We are billionaires!”

  10. Marlon read the information appearing inside his space helmet. No breathable atmosphere. Zero lifeforms. Various mineral deposits — Nothing of value. He looks around the lifeless rock he stands upon thinking, “Nothing of value — how true”.

    “Marlon!” a voice squawks in his helmet.

    He looks up to a gravel dune where a spacesuit is waving.

    “I’m busy, Jamie,” Marlon responds.

    “You gotta check out this cave.”

    “We’ve seen plenty of caves.”

    “This one’s different.”

    After trudging up the dune and catching his breath, Marlon had to agree the cave was different. Inside were creepy stalagmites and stalactites, illuminated by a pulsating glow.

    Jamie rushes down the dune shouting, “Let’s take a look!”

    Marlon follows with caution.

    Entering the cave Marlon begins scanning. There is moisture, enough to create stalactites, stalagmites, and milky-colored pools of liquid. Phosphorescent bugs fly around, feeding on pools, creating the glow.

    The scanner beeps.

    Marlon reads the analysis, “Scans say the milky substance has the same composition as saliva.”

    Jamie pulls a hammer from his utility belt, “We should take a sample.”

    Swinging it hard, he breaks off the tip of a stalagmite, revealing an ivory spike beneath.

    “What’s this?” Jamie asks.

    Marlon scans.


    “It’s made of pulp, dentin, enamel, and cementum…. They’re teeth.”

    “Teeth? That means we’re standing right in the middle of —”


    The cave slams shut. Humongous eyes within the asteroid’s surface open, revealing a hidden beast. Giant jaws begin chewing the tiny morsels of food.

  11. “Watchja doing?” asked the small boy in the red stripped t-shirt and blue shorts wearing his beanie cap with the propeller. He was standing, his hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels. Besides his propeller, the boy wore a small headlamp to illuminate the cave.

    The old man, skinny as a skeleton, stopped the swing of his sledgehammer in mid-air and turned around to look at the young lad with the bright blue eyes.

    “Going to knock down these bumps,” he said, gesturing to the pointy growths on the cave floor. “They’re ugly and messy. Got to go.”

    The boy took a hand out of his pocket and scratched his chin. “Those are stalagmites,” he said. “They’re formed by the water dripping from the ceiling. Calcium carbonate, along with any lava, mud, or sand, starts to grow towards the ceiling. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.”

    With a wild look in his eyes, the old man shook his heavy sledgehammer at the boy. “I’m not asking you,” he said. “I don’t like them. I used to be a plumber and my job was to fix leaks. I’m gonna fix this leak by knocking down these whatcha-ma-call-ems.”

    “Could you wait just a few minutes,” said the boy, backing away from the old man. “You start pounding away with that sledgehammer, why the whole cave could collapse. That’s a fact.”

    “Tough titty,” said the old man as he turned back to the stalagmites. “I’m ready.”

  12. It was strictly forbidden to explore the openings in the back of the cavern which housed our town. After all, this was a strange world and we didn’t know all its dangers. The ones on the surface, like the madwinds that scrambled the human nervous system, or the toxins in the flesh of native animals and plants, yes. What dangers might lie deeper within the body of this world of refuge, no.

    We were all teenagers, right at the age when kids think they’re bulletproof. So of course we just had to go poking around.

    We carried lamps – we weren’t completely stupid. But illuminating a tunnel was one thing. Emerging into a vast, dark chamber was quite another. We swept the light across the echoing space before us, straining for the far side.

    Instead, we saw spikes of twisted stone, like flames stretching as far as the eye could see. What could have raised them from a floor that otherwise sloped gently from the tunnel entrance?

    The longer we looked at them, the more they seemed to move in the pale light. Much as we wanted to take a closer look, we were all getting uneasy. Something was not right about this place.

    I don’t know who did try to touch one of them, just heard a scream of anguish. All of us went scrambling back through that tunnel. Several of us had blisters on our hands, but all of us were alive to get in trouble.

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