Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Stir

IMG_4104 Flash fiction writing prompt copyright KS Brooks
Image 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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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Stir”

  1. hypostrophe edit…
    The Stirred Pot

    I was down on my heels when I strolled by the old man with the pot. People were pointing him out, snickering, offering the sort of rude comments you often hear on the street. You know the sort.
    “Crazy old man.”
    “What a goof!”
    That sort.
    Anyways, I stopped, smiled, something I do to hide my confusion, leave a good impression in case someone is of mind to fly off the handle and get in my face.
    In a minute or so, he looked up and said,” You doing anything?”
    Well, besides using up shoe leather job hunting, I wasn’t heavily committed to much.
    “Taking my daily constitutional,” I replied, using the term my old man loved in his later years when he was retired and needed a daily boost of movement. “That’s about it. Why?”
    “Well, son, you see this here pot?”
    I said I did.
    “Well, I have been stirring this here baby for two hours and my arms are getting tired.”
    “That’s a lot of stirring,” I said. “What’s in the pot?”
    “Have a look,” he offered, so I did.
    Inside was a tangle of papers, coins, a watch, fast-food wrappers, a sock, and a couple of unrecognizable items.
    “What’s the point?”
    “Art, son. Art. I ask people to toss away what they don’t need. They don’t give up much. Anyways, I need a rest. Mind stirring for a while?”
    I took pity of course.
    It’s been three hours.
    Where the hell is he?

  2. Ain’t it the truth? You just never know. An innocent-looking old man, stirring a kettle of something that smells delicious. Better than anything you have ever eaten in your whole life. You gotta have some. The old man tells you the first one is free! What could be better?

    What could be better is you walk right on by. Pay no attention to the old man, to the delicious smells coming from the kettle he stirs so carefully. Those wonderful delicious smells that draw you closer until before you know it you are slurping down a good helping of – something. Who knows what? Who cares? It’s the best thing you have ever tasted.

    You want more. And you will have more. But not today. Come back tomorrow. Bring your friends. Bring your family.

    The next day crowds push and shove around the old man and his kettle. The police are called for crowd control. They are offered a sampling of the kettle’s contents. They accept, and crowd control is forgotten.

    This scene is replayed in thousands of towns and cities across the country, around the world. Thousands of old men, faces covered, nothing showing but their left hands, dish out a seemingly endless supply of their miracle substance to the happy crowds.

    By nightfall, all are peacefully sleeping on lawns, in stairwells, everywhere. By morning they will all be dead. And not a single bullet was fired or a single bomb dropped. You just never know.

  3. As the first attendants of the barbecued food festival trickled in, the man in the booth stirred the steaming vat.

    He knew the stands would be open for business in less than an hour. The major players like ribs and chicken and the less prominent but just as tasty treats from oysters to asparagus would soon pour out of the the booths.

    The man mixed in his secret seasoning powder. Something handed down from generations past. It took weeks to hunt down the wild herbs and days to grind and combine into the right consistency.

    As the powder merged with the bubbling beans; tiny puffs of multicolored steam swirled above the cauldron.

    The man inhaled through his nostrils. Tingling sensations raced and corkscrewed into his brain. Once a year, at the summer solstice, the oman stirred the big vat of beans. With each inhale of the herbal powder time seem to slow down until nothing moved. People on the grounds froze in place. Clouds drifting by got pinned to the sky.

    The man continued stirring until the scene around him began to fade. Shadows went first, mid tones dissolved next, and the highlights were last to go. A tube of blackness enveloped the man now but he kept on stirring.

    Darkness faded. Sunlight illuminated stone pillars. Hundreds of people encircled the temple then locked arms and danced. The man’s face shield became a long beard. Blue coveralls became white robes. The druid chanted, invoking the summer solstice festival once again.

  4. The radio was playing Jimmy Buffet’s “I Will Play for Gumbo.” Jen Redmond had always enjoyed listening to it while she worked. Songs about food and cooking always helped remind her why she’d gone into this line of work, especially when things were going badly.

    Already she’d had to deal with three separate disasters one of which involved a call down to Engineering to get a tech up here for repairs. All three had resulted in ruined food that would have to be sent down to Agriculture for composting.

    With the Expulsions increasing Shepardsport’s population so rapidly that the lunar settlement’s life support systems were straining to keep everyone breathing, such waste would have consequences. Although Jen doubted that anyone would be going hungry as a result of this mishap, short rations would be in the offing if she couldn’t resolve the issues so they didn’t happen again.

    Right now she would’ve loved to have nothing more to fret about than turning the culinary arts into performance art. However, she’d chosen this burden when she hitched her fortunes to those of a NASA engineer, and there was no laying it down. Like so many before her, there was nothing to do but soldier on as best she could


    “Getting an early start, aren’t you, Jeb? The Shanksville 2001 Chili Festival doesn’t get started until Saturday morning, the 15th.”
    “Yeah, yeah, I know. But I came that close to taking First Prize last year . . . that close,” the grizzled old southerner replied, holding up his right hand with the thumb and forefinger held a fraction of an inch apart. “And this year, I wanted to set up early in the week, throw in some new ingredients, and see if I couldn’t stir something up that would make the judges hearts sing if not melt their taste buds.”
    He chuckled, but the expression on his face had a sinister look to it.
    “As I recall, the judges last year liked your chili; they said the Finish Aji Fantasy peppers you used added a sweet, flavorful taste and gave the dish a mild heat level. So, what’s wrong with that?”
    “What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with that?!” He stared at me as if I understood nothing about cooking up a good pot of chili. “I’ve come to the conclusion good chili needs to set your pants on fire. Last year I went overboard on the flavor-side of things. This year, ‘Katy bar the door’! I’m experimenting today with Barrackapore and Primo peppers.
    “It may only be early Tuesday morning, September 11th, but by the time I’m through, after the judges sample my chili, they won’t have any taste buds left to judge the others.”

  6. Stir

    “Oh yeah, you know who I’m talking about, “ Delaney chimes to Maryann, her so called friend. “Thanks to you, I’m in hot water with the group!” Pausing with great restraint, words stay put, in the back of her throat.

    “Whatever are you talking about, my delusional, sensitive friend? I am going on second hand information, so it has to be correct!”

    “Stirring the pot, is your mantra. Why can’t you try stirring a pot with a home made, effort filled and labor intense meal for once?” All you do is start trouble, shooting off your mouth, Maryann!” Delaney has had it up to here , her hands rising upward in a quick swift jerk.

    Maryann, delves into the cheeseboard, meant for the group’s wine tasting this evening. She knows to arrive early, to gobble up everything in sight. Smirking, knowing this will also set off Delaney.

    “Quietly asking, almost unheard between smacking her chops, “Delaney, hmm wait,” as she scarfs another slice of salami, “if I make you dinner tomorrow, will you then hush your mouth?”

  7. Stir

    I was already running towards the carnival, brimful of excitement when the aromas hit me like another burst of adrenaline. There was the sickly sweet smell of popcorn like sugar stars assaulting my nose. Heavy meaty aromas next blanketed my senses, a jumble of hot dogs, burgers and gyros. Subtle perfumes drifted hither and thither on the air telling of exotic gypsies reading cards and palms. Their parents really hailed from Birmingham in the Midlands! Toxic man made smells of paint declared that the Carnival had come to Coventry. A tang of sweat would probably belong to the World’s strongest man. Or perhaps the sweaty human was the carnival owner’s. Was he wondering if he would make money, lose a bundle, be rained out, have carnies drumming on his caravan door demanding more pay. Would the wooden carousel go off its rails now he had been financially forced to drop the insurance? Would the public leave a mess of litter?

    A carnie was busy stirring the appetising kettle corn. Had he always stood in front of a kettle with an oversized paddle stirring the delicious corn? Head down with a cap hiding his features, he stirred keeping a family recipe secret from the public.

    I sat down in front of the kettle corn looking hopeful. An optimistic smile spread across as my tail wagged in anticipation.

  8. The Iron Cauldron

    Everyone stopped in their tracks…

    It was the sinister laugh that caught their attention.

    Bent over, hands tightly grasped around a long pole, a male apparition stirred a pot with a determination born of mysterious nature. He groaned occasionally, and even moved his head from side to side, all the while maintaining a grin that hid a curious intent.

    Occasionally, he looked up, laughed, and then returned to stirring the pot…

    Stirring… stirring…

    And as he stirred, he spoke words into the boiling mixture; mysterious words, unknown words; words that travelled through a dark unknown; words that silently echoed through crystal time.

    As he continued to stir, the hungry flames beneath grew in intensity and greedily licked at the sides of the iron cauldron. From time to time he stopped stirring and seasoned the mixture with a pinch of mistrust, a taste of deception, and a hint of division. After the addition of each unique flavouring, he returned once again to stirring its contents.

    Occasionally he laughed. And even looked around. For he loved how the pot of suffering bubbled because of the growing heat of calamity.

    Then, as the iron cauldron was about to boil over a solitary voice cried out; a faint voice, obscured by the sound of nearby chimes…

    But no one understood what they saw or heard.

    And the apparition laughed because of this lack of understanding. For he knew he could now sew chaos wherever he went.

  9. “That’ll do for a while,” the man said. “He’ll enjoy that.” He gave the gumbo a turn and peered deep into its depths. Then he scraped the mound of onions from the chopping board and added a generous fistful of paprika.

    “He’ll be up again soon,” he went on, scattering a shredded tarragon leaf to the mix. “The capsicum in the spice irritates his eyes. It makes him need to come up to clear them.”

    As he spoke, a small face appeared, blinking when it emerged. The creature trod water for a few moments, then sank slowly out of sight again.

    “I call him Gulliver. He’s probably a year old. I had a female before him, but she drowned. Either that or I was careless with the heat.” He picked up a ladle, then trawled it through the liquor, collecting a messy melange of sausages and shrimps. They all looked very well done, with everything tender and softly blurred.

    “But isn’t it inhumane,” I protested. “You’re broiling the poor creature alive – surely that’s against the law.”

    The man sighed. He seemed agitated now. Peevish.

    “My friend,” he said, meaning anything but that. “My frog can swim. He can eat what he likes. Where’s your problem with that?”

    I shook my head, bit my lip, then said nothing. I would never make him understand. I was just glad I wasn’t feeling hungry. I could walk away and try to forget what I’d seen.

    But I’ll never eat tapioca pudding again.

  10. Kidnapped

    It was a company picnic with hot dogs and burgers on the grill, a big vat of fries and a huge barrel of punch being stirred continually, by a lady in an apron. The Kingston family attended, with their four children, ranging in age from twelve-year-old Fred, down to two-year-old Bella.

    For awhile, all the children were off, playing games; then the mood grew somber when Jenny and Kevin Kingston noticed that their little Bella was missing. Worse yet, pieces of her clothing were turning up in the delicious fruit punch: socks, buttons and bows. People stopped drinking it, of course, and the distraught punch lady took a break.

    Moreover, the two middle children, Brenda and Hilda, seemed to be missing, too.

    All eyes turned to her older brother, Fred, who had a history of bed-wetting, starting fires and hurting small animals. The police came and questioned him.

    Fred started crying, “I didn’t do anything!” His parents wanted to believe him, but were frantic about finding their missing girls.

    A search of the area soon revealed young Brenda and Hilda in the woods, taking care of a perfectly happy little Bella, dressed in different clothes, munching on potato chips and drinking fruit punch from a bottle.

    Ten-year-old Brenda explained to the police, “We’re afraid of Fred. We thought maybe you would think he had taken Bella, and hurt her. Maybe you would send him away.”

    The Kingston family will need Social Services, and a whole team of specialists.

  11. The soft sound of the wooden pole circling the old tin pot hypnotized Bud. He’d need to keep the pole circulating, around and around to prevent the stuff from coagulating. The muted gliding sound, now loud, now softer as the pole moved away to the far side, made the boring task sufferable. The muscles of his neck and shoulders had begun to ache five minutes ago, yet he knew it was important he be steady and unrelenting.
    Bud felt like a mule tied to a grindstone, endlessly circling; a slave’s task. He could be counted on to do the job right. He felt a sense of pride in that. As mind-numbingly dull as were most jobs that fell his way, he had a mulish capacity to keep on past the point smarter men would have struck off and gone for a beer.
    There would be no reward when the job was finished. He’d get a bowlful of whatever was in the vat (he never asked, didn’t need to know), a dollar or two and maybe a warm beer from the trunk of somebody’s car. When the sun set, he’d follow the abandoned railway tracks to where the cattails grew thick and high and curl up with that warm beer. Tomorrow was years away.
    A five-year-old boy watched him, fascinated. Damned if he didn’t look like Junior at that age. Best not to reminisce. The fire, the screams. Now just cattails, train tracks, warm beer, the blessed forgetfulness and stirring, stirring.

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