Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Gate 6

Gate 6 at Spokane International Airport flash fiction writing prompt
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.

Author: Administrators

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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Gate 6”

  1. Flight of Fancy

    One arrives at the airport with no fanfare. Restrictions have been lifted. The world awaits the traveler. The skies are safe. The air within the planes is virus-free. All passengers and flight crew are immunized.
    When you land, wherever you land, advance parties of government health officials have ensured that you are safe from disease.
    Crime has been eradicated. The pandemic has brought forth an international ethic of social and health awareness, of equity of resources, incomes, shelter for they have learned that to survive, we must be as one.
    “It goes on like that Sam. Two thousand words espousing a changed world. It’ll be in the Gazette tomorrow. And it punches home with this: ‘Yeah, in a pig’s eye,’ said the vegetarian to the carnivore.”
    “Ten of you serious thinkers speculating on how the Virus has changed the world for better…or not. Who’s the vegetarian, Charlie? I sure ain’t.”
    “Oh, Sammy, I know you are a supremely enthusiastic carnivore. For your sake, I’ll be the vegetarian. My point, and maybe it is too metaphorical for the likes of you, is that some people are fantasizing that this pox has changed human nature.”
    “You’re suggesting nothing will be changed? After all of this?”
    “Human Nature, my friend. You can always count on it to let you down. There’ll be flights of fancy, government types and their wishful thinking. Fact is, we’ll be back to the same ol’ same ol’ quicker than you say…”
    “Say what?”

  2. Behind the Shadow

    He sensed someone was following him.

    It wasn’t an unusual feeling, considering the business he was in.

    Still, he couldn’t avoid the sensation and looked behind him.

    He saw only an empty terminal. But a light nearby revealed the shadow of someone standing just out of view.

    He lit a cigarette and scrutinized the shadowy form.

    From the outline, he could tell it was a woman. She was tall and slim, with flowing hair. And she was dressed in a waist-length coat. Her tight-fitting pencil skirt hugged her body all the way down to her calves, and ended in a pair of slick high heels.

    She was quiet and avoided any movement, as though she was listening… or waiting…

    For what?

    He was trained to avoid strangers, especially females. They could be a set-up, potential honey pots. They lured you in, entangled you in a relationship, and then tricked you into revealing information. Important information. The kind of stuff governments and other organizations were willing to pay a lot of money for, or kill to acquire.

    He drew deeply on his cigarette, and as the smoke drifted into the air, he glanced at his watch. He was supposed to meet his contact at Gate 6. Where was he?

    Then he looked at the shadowy female again.

    What was she waiting for?

    Was she following him?

    Or… was she there to kill him?

  3. Gate 6
    He shivered with pleasure at Gate 6 knowing in a few hours he would see Sue, his guiding angel. Sitting at Gate 6, he reminisced about her and her angel wings. For him, her delicate and ethereal wings shimmered a rainbow palette of changing colours.

    In elementary, high-pitched voices taunted him for his inability to speak English. Sue thundered like a deranged bowling ball scattering the tormentors to the east and west. His angel.

    The highschool jocks threw him in the dumpster. He stayed there trembling until Sue’s hands reached in to pull him out and dust him off.

    After his father’s death, he broke into a million pieces of confetti drifting off every way. Sue tethered him to the ground, finding him a job and goal in life.

    Alone at university, he wandered the corridors, attended lectures, ate and studied. Sue, his angel cheeringly phoned, “ I mailed your favourite biscuits. They are guaranteed to beat the gloomies. Love you!”

    As she said her goodbyes, he heard the faintest rustle of feathered wings.

    After boarding at Gate 6, he flew to Sue. Finally, recognizing her, he was shocked. Her wings were tattered, frail, unhealthy.

    Then he understood; she had given and given of herself. Selfishly, he had taken.

    Now, it was his turn to nurture her. While she recuperated, he fed her soup, paid her bills, read to her, and returned her care.

    Later, Sue, in white, exchanged rings with him. Her wing tips playfully stroked his cheek.

  4. Gate 6

    “This rain is pounding the pavement and my head,” Patrice angrily yells to her husband, Tom. Tom has lost his patience and yells back, “ just get in the car, and stop your melodramatics !”

    Patrice can’t settle down from their earlier spat. She nervously smooths her dress and turns her head towards Tom, as he carelessly merges into traffic almost hitting a car, he is also avoiding her grimacing face. Patrice can’t silence herself any longer, “I’m not coming back after the funeral!” “My sister needs me and I need her!” “You find someone else to mistreat,” she hissed.

    They get to the airport and park in the garage. Tom backs into a concrete pillar, once again, blames his wife for his mistakes and shortcomings. Patrice flings her door open in a rage, while hitting the car parked next to them. She grabs her carry on suitcase, moving swiftly, until she reaches gate 6.

    Waiting to board, Patrice sits alone, finally relaxing, closing her eyes until Tom startles her by squeezing her hand tightly. “I’m sorry Patrice, but you’ll be even sorrier if you don’t return with me,” he whispers into her ear.

    Just a few more hours until her brother- in -law Nick takes care of him. The funeral, after all, will be for Tom.

  5. Gate 6
    “Just five letters, Daddy?”
    “Yes, Son, only five letters.”
    “What did the word do?”
    “It turned the airport into a deserted place.”
    “No way! We flew to Dallas to see Grandma the Thanksgiving before last. There were millions of people flying. Just one word emptied the airport?”
    “That’s right. And that word is also the reason why we only talk to Grandma on the computer now.”
    “Are people afraid to fly because of the word?”
    “Well, people are starting to fly again, but our airport is small. Only gate 6 is open and only on Fridays.”
    “Will we fly again?”
    “Maybe we will take an airplane flight and see Grandma next year. It depends on the word.”
    “And the word starts with a ‘C’?”
    “It’s the word that was in the newspaper that you showed me?”
    “That’s the word.”
    “Well, ‘crash’ is sure a scary word. I will be careful how I use it.”
    “That is good thinking, Son.”

  6. “You gonna move,” the stone-faced man suggested, pushing the floor buffer at Cain’s feet. “Only I got a job to do. And you ain’t helping.”

    Cain shuffled aside, hauling his luggage across the hallway. Its wheels had stubbornly jammed, flipping the case onto its side.

    The woman in the tunic said nothing. She was busy making notes, studying everything.

    “Can you give me a minute?” Cain asked, levering his Samsonite back onto its wheels. “It’s never done this before. I don’t know what’s happened to it.”

    A pop interrupted him as the Tannoy awoke, the voice that followed shifting between languages, none of them familiar. He thought he heard it mention Acheron and Lethe, but other than that, it was unintelligible, noises without meaning.

    The stone-faced man sighed. He was wearing a luminous yellow tabard; his name tag indicating his name was Kevin.

    “I gotta go anyway,” said Cain. “That was my connection they just announced.”

    The woman looked up from her clipboard, her eyes dark holes in her face. “If that was your flight, you need to be at gate thirty-nine. You’ll need to run; it’s on the other side of the terminal.” She pointed up at the noticeboard above. It said, ‘Gate 6’, although even that didn’t seem certain; its letters rippling as though seen through a haze.

    “I’m not going to be able to get there in time,” Cain declared, as his case promptly fell over again. “This is all just Hell; H. E. double hockey sticks.”

  7. I’m here.

    Where’s everybody?
    Did I miss the memo?

    Why Gate 6?
    Why not Gate 1?

    Where have I been?
    What day is it?

    Does anyone care?
    NOBODY cares anymore!

    Were they here and left?
    Did they leave me behind?

    Why leave me?
    I’d leave me!

    Am I late?
    Am I early?

    Why not Gate 1?
    Why not poor four?

    Why make Gate 6 the winner?
    Right, other gates are closer!

    Which seat should I sit in?
    Do I need to sit?

    Should I wait for somebody?
    Am I expecting someone?

    If I pull the fire alarm, will someone come?
    Will that be the man of my dreams?

    No, I’ve had too many nightmares recently!
    Why nightmares?

    Who the hell am I?
    Check license…where’s my purse?

    Where the HELL am I going?
    Where have I come from?

    Am I running away?
    Did I get a love letter to meet him?

    Does it have to be a HIM?

    I can’t remember what I look like…
    Double check – Lady!

    Nobody’s here, why not check the Men’s room?
    Urinal obsession?

    Will I need a quarter for the stall there?
    “Where’s my GD pocketbook?”

    {Lightning followed by thunder shaking the floor}

    At least someone is listening to me!
    Nobody recently!

    Could this be Heaven’s gate?
    YES, that explains why it’s so empty!

    Why the HELL am I at this gate then?
    So many sins…should I start confessing?

    Should I check the marquee?
    [GATE…#6 HELL – Departed!]

    Story of my life…

  8. “Gate Six”

    Though Mark was well aware of why he was being sent to Florida prematurely, he asked anyway.
    “I was supposed to go with you in the car next month. Why now? You know what happens when I fly.”

    His mother stared at him. She smiled and reached for the handkerchief she always had tucked up her sleeve. Empty moments followed with no explanation as her spit infused handkerchief sought out and destroyed any grunge that dared to soil her son’s face. Mark squirmed, but stayed quiet.

    “You’ll be fine Mark. ……. Now, I really have to go. I still have many tasks to finish before I can join you and your father in Tampa. You understand, don’t you?” She stroked his cheek and attempted an awkward hug. “Dad will be there to pick you up or I’ll kill him.”

    She handed him a couple of barf bags, smoothed the hastily composed ID tag pinned to his suit lapel and rose to leave.

    Mark was not convinced. His father was dependably unpredictable when it came to him. In that moment he wanted to rip that nametag off and run away as far as he could. He had twenty dollars. He could go far on twenty dollars.

    Instead Mark sighed and resigned himself to his fate. He settled on the benches overlooking the tarmac. He still had an hour before the flight. He would watch all the busy airport workers and make up stories about them until it was time to board.

  9. The old man pulled a scrap of paper from his baggy yellow shorts, looked at it pensively, and stood at the deserted airline gate wondering what was going on. Aluminum counters shined dully. There wasn’t an attendant anywhere in the yellowish glow of the concourse.

    Could she have given him the wrong arrival time, flight number? Or had he flubbed up by not hearing her clearly over the phone?

    The clock said 2:15 in the morning, which was an odd time to be arriving from Phoenix.

    He paced about, waiting, wondering, getting nervous. He worried about her going to her sister’s alone. After all, planes crashed all the time.

    In the blink of an eye, though, lights brightened, the newsstand opened, passengers emerged from every gate. Someone knocked his straw hat off and he bent down quickly to retrieve it. He didn’t want to miss her among the grumbling, sleepy passengers.

    It was her crazy hat that gave her away. A wide-brimmed straw hat with a bunch of fake fruit. It was just like her to wear such an outlandish hat. But he would never have spotted her without it.

    He ran over and grabbed her, holding her tight, saying, “I love you. I love you.”

    She hugged him back and together they held each other, so tight, slow dancing in a circle of love among the passengers. The crowd stopped to watch and marvel. They grew silent as the old man and his wife held onto each other forever.

  10. Customs

    The O’Rileys stood on line at the security gate at JFK Airport, en route to Ireland. With six children aged three to sixteen, the family took 20 minutes to get through screening.

    A line of complaining passengers stood behind them, while they dealt with all of their carry-ons, and carrying on, wrestled shoes off the younger children and jostling them into x-ray and chemical detector booths.

    When Jan and Mick O’Riley finally got to Gate 6, they were met by a TSA officer. “Hello, I’m Officer Todd Bowen. Come with me, Mr. O’Riley.”

    Officer Bowen led Mick into an office, where his daughter Tara’s suitcase was visible. “Mr. O’Riley, why does your smallest child have the heaviest suitcase?”

    “She’s got her girly dresses in there, plus washin’ supplies for the folks.”

    “They don’t have washing supplies in Ireland?”

    “No, Sir,” answered Mick, “What with the pandemic, they’ve no bleach.”

    “You’re not making weapons, are you?”

    “I’ll bring up me Bible app, and swear on me Android, Sir!”

    Officer Bowen lifted the lid on the suitcase, revealing eight gallons of Clorox, festooned with miniature garments in various pastels.

    Officer Bowen opened a bottle and sniffed. “Yep, it’s bleach,” he said to another agent, standing guard.

    “I could have you detained, Mr. O’Riley, but your explanation is plausible. However, such chemicals present a risk, and are prohibited. You’ll have to travel more lightly.”

    Mick was relieved. “Thank you, Sir.”

    “Mr. O’Riley, you’re free to go. Have a safe flight.”

  11. Peter Caudell studied the arrivals and departures board. The news was only getting worse with every passing minute. Delayed flights were becoming canceled flights, one after another. At this rate, O’Hare would shut down altogether long before his flight left the gate.

    He was supposed to be back in Houston tomorrow for an important meeting. The program managers and flight directors would be looking out at a sunny day outside their windows. Even if they heard the weather reports from Chicago, they’d all wonder why he couldn’t get back in time. His last phone call had left him with a clear message on how they viewed the matter.

    Which meant it was his responsibility to find a way back. Why was this mess feeling like that old Steve Martin movie, the one with John Candy? Planes, trains and something or other. He’d watched it with the kids years ago.

    Memory led to the realization he had his answer. Amtrak still ran a train down to New Orleans, and would still run when airlines were grounded. Catch a ride to the station and he’d be on his way. Once he got to the Big Easy, it wouldn’t be that hard to find his way to Houston. Rent a car if he had to.

    And thus he began a trip that would be the beginning of his cover version of “The City of New Orleans.”

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