Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Edge

Grand Canyon writing prompt Oct 2016 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: The Edge”

  1. Precipussy or Bust

    Passionate pinks and piquant purples are layering the hills beyond. Veins of yellow splash easily on to the rock formation opposite.

    Moments ago, our collective breathing was heavy, labored and limited. We huddle on the promontory and struggle to form a plan.

    ‘A bit late,’ I mutter to myself. ‘Shouda listened to the Ranger. And before that, to Jeanne.’

    “It’s not like a day hike in the Catskills, lover” she’d said. “And you’re no spring chicken…”

    I loved Jeanne but maybe not as much as when we first hooked up. She’d run out of creative phrases. These days, her conversations were clichéd, akin to an Archie Bunker rerun marathon.

    I had rebutted with, ‘it’s a guided trail experience. The Grand Canyon with a dozen others. Safe as money in the bank.” Immediately, Jeanne laughed and then shook her head. I smirked as well. Her linguistic laziness was clearly rubbing off on me.

    We’d left it at that. I had hopped in the car for the thousand-mile drive to the Canyon Covid Constitutional group rendezvous staging area. Ten days free of the Coronavirus. All members of the group had to have been vaccinated.

    There was one concerning caveat. Rumours that Pumas were running in a pack.

    “Nonsense,” Hank Clegg, our guide effused. “Never happened. Never will.”

    There are four of us left.

    Clegg’s become kibbles.

    Manx, the Chicago accountant, is on the ledge ahead of me.

    Ready to jump.

    I turn.

    There are five of them.


  2. The Edge

    Cli led a precarious existence living right on the edge. The edge of a knife blade that was. She barely existed on the far side of the law. That is if you believed the alien Zeds were the law. Trouble was the Zeds regarded all “unadjusted” humans as subspecies. Basically, all “adjusted” humans were the Zed’s slavelike clones.

    So Cli was adept at stealing, lying, hiding and mind control.

    To steady her nerves from her strange dangerous existence, Cli recapped her brief history. Her parents had come to Planet Zellion to start a new colony after earth had been drained of all its resources, overly exploited and left a hostile polluted wasteland. Admittedly, humans were not always heroes! But her parents and the colonists had learnt from their stupid mistakes on earth and were determined to be honourable farmers, protecting and respecting the land. It was a gentle existence. The colonists revelled in the natural beauty of the lakes, rivers, mountains and rich land which surreally reflected earth. Their mantra was, “Protect, Preserve, Plant.” Then the Zeds arrived, mind altering humans to mine a special mineral. The mineral was necessary to replenish their own planet’s reserves.

    Lying behind a rock outface, Cli planned to mind control some Zeds to self-destruct. She was dumbstruck when they boarded their alien spaceship and zoomed off. Gone! Zeds like earthlings, had over-exploited. Mineral reserves had been depleted. Cli contemplated the stupidity of living perilously on a knife edge.

  3. The edge of the world beckoned. I had visited it three times this week, each time venturing a little closer to where the land’s solidity ended; the warmth of the gritty, red soil replaced by gravity, air and my imminent destruction. There were always birds there, circling above. Many of them were predators, their eyes missing nothing, watching for fools such as me, animals that had decided life was too long and cruel to be tolerated any more. There were always fresh bones below to be stripped of their flesh, broken animals that were too weak to resist. I wondered which birds I would feed when I fell.

    Today would be a good day to die. The weather had been hot and dry for months, baking the moisture from the soil. A determined man could reach twenty miles an hour upon a track; although the path to the edge of the cliff was potholed, it had the advantage of a downwards slope. With the wind in the right direction, I could probably better thirty miles an hour if I tried. And after that, it would get easier when the effects of gravity played their part. A hundred and twenty miles an hour could be possible, the scientists said.

    And then I’d be free: as free as one of those condors that were watching, willing me to leap. I wonder if it would dive as I fell, stooping alongside me, winking as I surrendered myself to my fate.

    Maybe it would.

  4. “Stop!” Jake screams to Steve and Andy who are about to jump. The river is low due to the summer drought out west. The edge is in plain sight , its jagged rocks protruding over the slow moving waters below. Andy freezes. Steve ignores Jake’s command and jumps with excitement , until a blood curdling howl is followed by a thump. Panic sets in immediately.

    Andy pleaded, “Jake, hurry we need to get to him quick!”

    They make their way down an obstacle of rocks.

    “I warned you both, now we have to deal with this ,” Jake is spewing his words until he loses his balance and skids off a slippery rock. Andy’s contorted facial expression reveals shock and horror! As Andy regained his wit, he slowly makes his way to the waters edge. There’s no sign of his friends.

    “Cut,” shouts the director. “Guys, it’s a wrap, great stunt work !”

  5. Life’s Edge

    I could see other people standing very near the edge.

    In my heart, I knew they were not close to the edge for the same reason I was.

    As I stood there, much too close to the edge, I could feel the breeze rising from the canyon floor.

    My heels confirmed solid rock, but my toes felt nothing.

    I thought I heard someone crying amongst many others yelling and laughing.

    Despite the cold, I smelled my sweaty black t-shirt.

    I wanted to spit the bile taste in my mouth, but was afraid.

    Would she miss me, and regret her decision, or wish she had done it months ago?

    Her photo had resisted falling and floated like a glider, making me think it wasn’t over.

    She was everything I wanted in life, and yesterday, she discarded me like her cigarette butt.

    I came here looking for a sign, but the loneliness is very telling.

    I didn’t want to see anyone else here, and closed my eyes.

    I wondered if the breeze was strong enough to help me land softly.

    The person crying reminded me that nobody will cry for me.

    The foul smell of my t-shirt was replaced with the sweet scent of flowers.

    Those were the words I wrote that crazy day, and now ten years later, the angel who intervened is now the mother of our three children.

    I told her I wanted to return today to thank God.

    She urged me not to kneel.

  6. Claire could hear muffled sounds of voices around her, but her mind was fully focused on what she was about to do and what brought her here.

    She recalls falling off her bike as a child. Her dad rushes over and scoops her up to the safety of his arms. .

    Ten years later, the boy she dreamed of dating asked her to prom, but her anxiety took over. She told him she already had a date.

    In college, she was offered a study abroad opportunity that would have had her working with the best and brightest in her field. She turned in down claiming she had to help with her father’s worsening health.

    Next, the moment her husband told her he was leaving her for another woman came to her mind. It didn’t really even bother her. She knew she only married Dan because it seemed like that was what she was supposed to do, but there was really no magic there.

    Finally, she recalls being called to the conference room at her work. With the economy in decline, the company was cutting back. Claire was just a casualty of corporate bean counting.

    She realized that she never really lived. She only existed inside the path of least resistance. Today, that would change. What could make anyone feel more alive than facing death.

    This is it. She looks out over the edge, grabs her pilotchute, and takes the leap – leaving safety and her past behind her.

  7. From the Past to the Future

    The mountainous terrain rolled like broken saw teeth against the sky, as Markus ascended up a steep trail that crisscrossed the slope in a series of switchbacks.

    The trail was difficult and it was hard on his body.

    He still suffered from wounds he had received in combat. After being released from hospital, he fell into a dark hole, where he found a bottle and the streets for a time…

    Still, he was determined to climb this terrain again. It was a promise he had made to himself thirty years ago.

    After a few hours of hiking, he came to a solitary tree. It had almost no leaves and the bark was peeling off, but it stood serene.

    Many years before, as a young man full of vigour and confidence, he had stood on this very spot. He had even written a note to his future self and placed it in an opening in the tree.

    That was a million years ago…

    After standing silent for a moment, he dropped his walking stick and frantically searched the tree for the note.

    After a few minutes his fingers found a small opening, and they touched paper. Excited, he gripped it between two shaking fingers and pulled it out.

    After all these years, it was still there. A bit tattered, but intact.

    He opened the note and, with trembling hands, read the words:

    Markus, no matter what happens in life, we’ll always be friends.

  8. Whenever a mission took Peter Caudell to a settlement near mountains, it always made him think of home. Of course lunar mountains looked nothing like the Colorado Rockies: far different geological processes had formed these mountains and reshaped them over the aeons. Yet looking at these mighty rims of craters so vast that only a planetary geologist could draw their outlines, Peter’s mind would flash back to his childhood, to the Front Range illuminated by the rising sun through the early morning mist.

    If someone had asked, he would’ve denied that he felt any homesickness. He was a Navy officer and an astronaut. He’d put away such sentimentality when he’d headed off to college and ROTC training.

    But when he looked up at the blue marble of Earth in the starless black sky overhead, he knew such things were said to be heard. He did regret the circumstances which had made it impossible for him to return, the policy decisions that had banished so many like himself from the mother world, to make a life for themselves on the High Frontier or die trying. He just didn’t have time to brood on it.

  9. Glen was not happy at the Grand Canyon, not with his wife on edge and both of them worried sick about Larry, their sixteen year old. For the last two months, Larry had become a stranger and neither of his parents could figure out what to do.

    So they came here for a vacation? What were they thinking? Desperately afraid of heights, and the Grand Canyon nothing but high cliffs overhanging the Colorado River below, Glen was paralyzed with fear, fear of heights, fear over his wife’s agitation, and fear for his son.

    “Come back, Jean,” he called to his wife who was tiptoeing towards the end of the cliff where their son was standing. “Don’t go near the edge.”

    “Be quiet,” said Jean. “Larry’s just standing there. I’m scared.”

    “So am I,” said Glen. “But there’s nothing we can do.”

    “There’s got to be,” said Jean sharply. “He’s our son, for God’s sake.”

    Glen took his eyes off Jean as his son began to wave his arms, flapping them like a bird. Jean stopped in her tracks and looked back at Glen, her mouth round in terror but not a sound coming forth. Finally she whispered, “Save him, Glen.”

    Larry bent his knees as his arms moved faster and faster in some musical rhythm nobody but he could follow. Glen choked down his paralyzing fear and passed his teary wife.

    “Oh, God, please help me,” he cried as he dashed towards his distraught son.

  10. We are drawn to them like moths to the back porch light. Heights and vistas. Long views give us a sense of mastery over all that we see below. We remember our first views from the observation tower at the Empire State Building or a late afternoon tea at Windows on the World in the first World Trade Center. The Eiffel Tower, the Sears Tower, the London Eye, and the many other man-made multi-storied monoliths in the Middle East and the Far East that have called us to “come and see”. And we do, seeking to be above it all and see for ourselves.

    But in these man-made towers, we are encapsulated by bulletproof, wind-proof glass that holds us in, affording our magnificent views of other people and their stuff below. We may still get vertigo or a deep-gut feeling of weakness that starts in our lower tract and tingles to our toes weakening our stance but trust and logic tells us that we are safe.

    It is only when we are drawn to the edge of a natural precipice that we realize the power, the draw of the abyss. We stand on the edge of the Canyon and no matter how many times we have done this before, we are called to be closer. To press ourselves ever so slowly to the end of the outcrop to see.

    To see what? We’ve seen the river and landscape before.

    What are we looking for?

    Perhaps to see ourselves.

  11. Harry prepared to test his worthiness to join the fraternity Kappa Iota Delta. The pledging test should be painless: go out with a few top brothers to Jordan’s Ledge and stand there, alone, for two minutes, less than six inches from the edge.
    After hiking the rugged Grand Canyon trails, just standing on a ledge shouldn’t be too difficult. Right?

    It was Harry, Freddie, Lance, and Phil. Lance was recording it. He walked up to the ledge and Freddie started the timer.

    Don’t look down, Harry told himself. The haze gave the vista a mystical splendor he had never seen before.

    Why was a bee flying around his head? He tried to shoo it away, glancing down for one terrifying instant. He stumbled, as the rocky promontory crumbled beneath him. He felt himself fall, prepared for the worst, the end of his young life, at the tender age of eighteen.

    There was a collective gasp. Lance dropped his timer.

    Harry hit the ground faster than he expected to. Where was he? Alive?

    He landed on a second outcropping below him, inches from falling into the abyss beneath. His ankle was twisted. His glasses were gone.
    Freddie called for help.

    He heard Phil yelling, “Don’t do that! They’ll shut us down!”

    Freddie shouted, “He needs help, you idiot!”

    Harry was airlifted to safety. When the dust settled, the fraternity was censured for the dangerous initiation ritual, but Harry recovered and was admitted into Kappa Iota Delta–no questions asked.

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