Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Ocean

halibut point 2008 flashfiction writing prompt cc 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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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Ocean”

  1. Ocean’s End

    We came to take a final look. That was still permitted. It was hard to police as well. So many systems had broken down.

    The virus had decimated the health system.

    Armies of rebels, rebelling against a range of impositions they felt impeded their liberty, roamed the land protesting, laying waste.

    There were some from inland who went to extraordinary measures to journey to the edge of the land to see what was still enjoyable to see. Most had never imagined that the ocean would disappear within their lifetime.

    This barrage of traffic did pose additional environmental issues of course but the authorities accepted how little control they had.

    And, perhaps, people were beyond caring.

    Hope was a lost cause.



    An almost innocuous name.

    Mountains of synthetic garbage and so much more of humanity’s leavings had been polluting, poisoning the ocean for decades. Natural disasters, escalating events of nature, angry, intensifying storm swirls, vicious funnels of destruction foaming up in the dark distant and cascading towards our fragile poorly placed settlements, has catapulted them, whole towns, and regions, into the raging and vengeful, the voracious sea.

    As the sea swallowed the land, and the plastic piles poisoned the sea, as our social systems and networks frayed under the weight of societies disintegration, all we could do was pilgrimage to its edge, its diminishing brink, stare out, and lament how we had failed.



    “Thanks for bringing me back here, Pam. I’m always amazed how the one thing that I can count on, doesn’t change.” Settling in their sand chairs, side by side, Donna wishes deeply, this ought to be heaven, if not, it should be. She closes her eyes while the sun beats down on her ravaged body. The warmth of the sunlight, coupled with the light breezes, salt sprays tickling her senses, is more than she could have hoped for.

    Pam, burying her feet in the sand, one hand scooping the fine particles, only to slip through her fingers, while the other touches her life long friends shoulder. “Why has it taken us 53 years to return here, Donna?” Trying to suppress her sadness, fully knowing that Donna can’t answer. “What happened, why was it ok to say, yes, let’s try to see each other next year, over and over?” Time caught up with us. It’s cruel. Trying to sound upbeat, “Come on now, let’s enjoy the bubbly I brought,“ Pam manages to pop the cork straight out. An instant later, two plastic flutes sparkle brilliantly, awaiting us. “Here’s to us, my little sis. My longest childhood friend!”

    “Yes, to us, my dear older sis!” Donna struggles to raise her glass in for a sip, dropping the champagne. Her face relaxes, smiling, as the last salt spray kisses her face.

  3. Silent Home

    He stopped walking and closed his eyes. Then he extended his arms. As he slowly opened his eyes again he noticed his fingers were pointing towards a photograph, partially covered by dust.

    He stepped forward and picked up the picture. Although tattered and worn, it was still viewable, having been preserved by the dry climate. He looked at it knowingly and slowly moved a finger over the image.

    The photo contained two adults and a small dog; images and memories from a past that’s almost been forgotten. The adults were standing at the edge of a vast ocean: dark, wet, tantalizing. The water caressed the rocks and stretched into the distance to touch the sky; a great expansive sky filled with dreams and tears.

    He looked longingly at the picture. The people seemed happy. And the ocean looked wild and beautiful.

    Long ago times. Long ago memories.

    He put the picture down and looked at the sparse, empty terrain that stretched before him. It was filled with dust and emptiness and the skeletal remains of abandoned buildings.

    There were few humans now. They began to disappear when the virus struck.

    And as humans disappeared, so did the water. It quickly became a luxury.

    Now machines walked the earth. They don’t need water… or companionship.

    And he was a machine. A lost machine:

    Lost forever,
    to forever roam,
    a scarred, empty,
    silent home.

  4. Blue water stretched to the horizon. Two men stood on the rocky shore, staring at the waves. The small dog at their side growled then barked once as it pointed to a tall black fin slicing across the surface.

    The shorter man set his pack down and assembled a short rifle. He then jammed a two foot harpoon into the muzzle. Sighting down the barrel, the marksman followed the pointer’s snout tracing the path of the fin.

    The harpoon struck the tiger shark as it was about to roll on a small seal climbing the crest of a breaker. An explosive head severed the oceanic predator’s lateral line. Two seconds off tail thrashing later, the pelagic killing machine was dead.

    The hunters got to work. They attached the line to a winch mounted the front of their pickup truck. A set of 12 volt batteries hauled the shark to the shoreline. The tall man cut through the rough hide with a chainsaw then extracted the massive liver.

    Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic seven years ago, a myriad of remedies and cures have come to light and been fueled by social media. Everything from boiled insect larvae enemas to nasal sprays derived from the nostrils of Egyptian fruit bats.

    The livers of large predators—bears in the forests and sharks in the ocean—are fetching up to three hundred dollars per gram on the dark web.

    There is no scientific proof eating raw liver will prevent or cure covid.

  5. It has been two years since Karen’s best friend Laney jumped off the boat into the ocean. Her body was never found. There was a debate on wether Laney fell or jumped. Laney had told Karen her deepest secret so she had no doubt her friend jumped. Karen stood and look out into the ocean. The waves crashing and salt in the air. Karen had never understood the peace her friend talked about. The thought of being trapped in the ocean and drowning terrified Karen. She could only hope her friend found true peace. Karen had gone to the beach today to honor her friend and make sense of it all. Questions Laney had asked her but she had shrugged off weighed heavily on her. If only she had paid more attention to Laney, addressed her questions. Maybe just maybe she could have stopped her Ascent into the ocean. Out of all the ways Laney could go why chose drowning in the ocean. What siren song did it hold for her friend. She just couldn’t grip what called to her friend. So she stood on the beach, staring out into the ocean, searching. Karen really didn’t know what she was looking for, what she was supposed to find here? She didn’t know. As she watched she saw a whale jump in the water. She may never know what brought her friend to this.

  6. Jerry and Richard stood on the outcropping as the wind tossed waves onto the beach, splashing the rocks they were standing on. Skipper, their dad’s dog, ran around barking at the splashes. Thankfully Richard, who thought of everything, thought to bring Skipper’s leash.

    Jerry, younger than Richard by four years, was a tall gangly twenty-seven-year-old still trying to get himself together. Richard, his shirt tucked in and his hair short and neat, was settled, though he had revealed little about his job at the law firm. Jerry suspected he was a glorified go-fer, but he didn’t say that out loud. Not today.

    Today they were to throw their dad’s ashes into the sea. How he loved the ocean. Richard had even brought their dad’s fishing pole, for what reason Jerry couldn’t fathom. He was lugging the surprisingly heavy container of ashes.

    “I can’t get used to these ashes being all that’s left of dad,” he said.

    Richard smiled and quickly wiped away a tear. “He’d think its’s a joke.” He couldn’t trust himself to say more. “Toss the ashes,” he finally mumbled. “Dad will love it.”

    Jerry unscrewed the lid, took two steps back, two forward, and let the ashes fly. A gust of wind flung the ashes right back at the two sons, covering their clothes and faces with the gritty remains of their father.

    Now not entirely fatherless, Jerry and Richard looked at one another and then doubled over with laughter as Skipper barked at the wind.

  7. A typhoon in the Pacific had awakened a sleeping giant and it was angry. For three days, waves played with the giant aircraft carrier as if it were a toy boat in a bathtub. In its protest, the ocean rose thirteen feet above the flight deck of a ship that stood over fifty feet out of the water in calm seas. On the fourth day, as if tiring of the game, the sea withdrew its wrath and the normal shipboard routine returned. But the ocean was not to be trusted. By day, no line marked the division between sky and sea. The trackless water claimed three aircraft. By night, the ocean became a rolling mass of obsidian sludge. Black water claimed two aircraft. Day and night, the sea mocked the miraculous absurdity of human existence and our vain attempt to bring it to heel. Those who tempted the ocean and survived its displeasure would be forever wary. Those whom it claimed–those who were found–were once again committed to the sea. And those left behind sang “Eternal father, strong to save; whose arm doth bind the restless wave….” The monster hissed as the ship sliced through the water and the ones sacrificed to Neptune slipped silently beneath the flag, into a capricious mass that can sustain life or take it away.

  8. “Isn’t this fantastic! This is the greatest thing ever!” said Sylvia.

    “Oh, I don’t know about that. The ocean off Morro Bay is pretty spectacular too,” Bill replied.

    “I’m not talking about the ocean. I mean the surroundings. This place. The way everything looks.” Sylvia spread her arms wide. “You and me, for instance. I barely come up to your shoulder. How come now I can look right over your head?”

    “An illusion. The angles of the rocks, probably.”

    “And look at Bitsy over there. She’s the size of a mountain goat!”

    “Okay, Wonder Woman, how about carrying this backpack for awhile then? Us little guys get tired easily.”

    Sylvia laughed and took the pack. While they walked, Bill told her of some similar places along the forest roads that had “mystery houses” and “haunted spots” that seemed to defy the laws of gravity and space. He provided a logical explanation for each. How you could feel you were walking downhill, but if you dropped a ball on the ground it would apparently roll uphill. His explanations made sense and because she trusted him and loved him, Sylvia believed him. But a tiny part of her mind would always doubt.



    Two men and a terrier stood beside the ocean as salt spray and waves dampened them. The men saw the ocean as beauty, an untamable powerful woman. One who toyed with man’s hearts by beckoning fishermen and sailors then tossing their boats recklessly. She had the power to enrich through bountiful fish harvests and retrieving lost treasures. A mysterious woman who sent waves to lovingly make music in the 230 long Sea Organ in the Adriatic Sea. She helped the ocean SeaRAY, a yellow platform harness her power and convert it into electricity. However, the ocean was both a destroyer and creator. It shipwrecked men, sent them crazy with thirst, swirled ships around for amusement, and made others play a terrible game of navigate-the-iceberg. Obviously, the stakes were too high for the Titanic and the luxurious liner went to the bottom of the Atlantic. The Ocean must have thought it very ironic that the ship, celebrated as unsinkable, actually sank shortly after striking an iceberg.

    For the men, snorkeling in the Red Sea meant swimming over intriguing dead carcasses of ships resembling the ribs of whales. The coral reefs had intense colours amongst which delightfully painted exotic fish darted in and out in playful abandon. The hues were as strong as any Disney film set in the ocean.

  10. A friend was Ethan, yes. One of the true friends. One of the life friends. A friend that would always be, yes.
    Almost fifty years a friend, yes. We had shared many of our joys and much of our sufferings, yes… celebrated our wives and daughters and sons becoming and mourned our loss in their death.

    We lived thousands of miles distant and we talked often and easily, yet I became aware that Ethan was no longer the Ethan I knew, no… his hands shook and his body wracked.

    I travelled.

    He greeted me as a friend would, yet in his eyes there was a vicious wilderness… a savage terror… in the eyes, yes. A burning pillaging horror that floated to the surface to scream out in silence only to, by force of will, recede. In a shared tequila haze he unburdened his fear of the foul twofold diseases that ravaged his body and gutted his thinking and the ultimate enduring dread of his life onward. We wept and we talked and we wept more and again more. And we planned, yes.

    We journeyed.

    Close above the ocean we perched on the cliffs we had explored in such deep happiness years ago. Sharing a bottle of wine, Ethan took the pill. As he drifted off he looked at me, and I saw the peace he sought in his gaze.

    “Thank you.”

    I gently nudged the sleeping my friend into the dark waters, yes.

  11. Tittle – Therapy Dog?

    We’ve been dealing with her health issues for weeks, and have come to the realization it might be time to say goodbye to our dear family member, Izzy.

    Being new to this area, we had to find a Vet.

    He asked us what her symptoms were, and we told him she doesn’t play with her toys at all, basically lays around all day. In addition, she doesn’t walk anymore, and has to be carried outside to do her duty.

    He checked all of her vital signs and said he couldn’t find a thing wrong with her.

    He gave us a referral to a therapist. At the first session, she held Izzy in her arms and asked us what had changed in her life. When we indicated we had recently moved from New England to Arizona, she said Izzy is missing the old environment.

    Today we carried her to the car and set out for the California coast. About an hour into the ride, she stood and became active in the back. After the mountain pass, we put both windows down, much to her delight. The ocean soon came into view and Izzy started squeaking and even jumping on the back of our seats.

    When we reached the scenic overlook, Izzy was leading the way. Our only concern at that point was whether she was going to jump into the raging surf.

    Maybe we will have to put in a pool at the new house.

    Zack squinted beneath his brown cap and pointed his walking stick at the spot where thundering whitecaps softened into shallow water. “See ’em?”
    “What?” Andrew kept his voice neutral.
    “Them grey-brown fins.”
    “California White Sharks.”
    “Won’t find no flesh on Jessie now.”
    “Forensics can work with bones. Our detective talk to you yet?”
    “Yup…and fussed ’round here puttin’ stuff in baggies and takin’ pictures.” Zack hissed. “Crazy Woman, she was always walkin’ too close to the edge.”
    Andrew spread his legs. Handcuffs on his belt jangled. “My sister told you she was going to file for divorce, didn’t she?”
    “Jessie was manic. Sometimes she’d say that, sometimes not.”
    “So tell me what happened.”
    “I was puttin’ our picnic stuff back in my rucksack. When I saw ‘er tottering, I ran over.”
    “And?” Andrew’s hands stood open at his sides.
    “She slipped and fell in.”
    “You couldn’t grab her?”
    “I tried but she started swimmin’ and then the rip tide swept her out and I couldn’t see her no more.”
    Andrew picked up a loose rock. “Forensics found blood spatter.”
    The white mutt’s ears twitched at Andrew’s voice tone. They twitched that way the night Jessie buried her bruised face in his fur wet with tears and whispered Zack threatened to kill her if she left him.
    The dog growled and moved closer. Zack turned to run. The dog bit into his ankle and held tight.
    Andrew cuffed Zack. “You’re under arrest. I think you beat her to death.”

  13. Growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, Reggie Waite had become intimately familiar with the Atlantic Ocean, her moods and tides and currents. As a Naval aviator flying off carriers in the Energy Wars, he’d come to know the Med and made a decent acquaintance with the Indian Ocean. The Gulf of Mexico had become his latest conquest, now that he’d joined NASA’s astronaut corps and moved to Houston.

    However, these rocky shores were utterly unlike the sandy beaches of his childhood, or the sandbars and bayous of his latest haunts. Those big rollers spoke of a far greater fetch than anything he’d experienced before. Maybe it was just as well he hadn’t been able to bring his sailboard with him. He would never have backed down from a challenge, even nothing more than the knowledge those two people over there were watching him.

    No, it wouldn’t go well for him if he went out there and got in over his head. NASA had sent him out here to do the usual school-visit tour, not to go riding the wild waves. With his first spaceflight rapidly approaching, he was not going to do anything to risk being pulled from it.

    However, he was definitely going to make time to master the Pacific Ocean’s ways. When he returned to this beach, he was going to be ready, with no fear.

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