Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Ruined

IMG_6723 ruined flash fiction 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: Ruined”

  1. The two brothers stared at the graffiti-covered walls of the century-old building that lay abandoned on the city’s industrial South Side. Outside, the walls were covered in vines that, here and there, made their way through the shattered windows of the ruined concrete structure.
    “Difficult to imagine what this place musta looked like during the height of World War II,” murmured the eldest as they made their way gingerly across a floor covered with broken glass and trash that had accumulated over the last several decades.
    His younger sibling shook his head. “Based on what Dad told us when we were kids, it must’ve been a sight to see when they were up and running. All those big cranes on the ceiling, moving the huge castings from one metalworking station to another. He may have been too old to go to war—”
    “Don’t forget he also had two kids!” injected his brother.
    “Yeah, but even in his 40s, he still worked more than 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, in this, his uncle’s manufacturing plant, to support the war effort. No wonder we almost never saw him.”
    “Still, we had some pretty good times. At least he got Christmas off.”
    The youngest brother laughed. “Yeah, as I recall, Mom said they were married on Christmas in 1935 because that was the only day his uncle would give him off.
    “Some things never change.”

  2. “Listen to the voices,” she said. “They’ll connect you.”

    I stood with the others, waiting for a revelation. The walls were painted blockwork, unresponsive, absorbing as much as they gave. I heard our individual feet: rocking atop the heaps of broken rubble we stood on. I could hear the rasping of our mutual breaths, thirteen in all, each of us waiting for a meaning that would make sense of this. We listened and we waited.

    We waited and we listened.

    I may have heard it first. It’s difficult to know for sure.

    I felt a thrumming through my feet, a connection with an energy that hadn’t been there before. I felt a chill in the air; a sense I was being drained; the heat of my body being wicked away to charge an unseen capacitor, the vitality I possessed being stolen from me. I heard an assault of wings echoing back from the walls.

    I opened my eyes.

    Mathilda stood apart from us, her hands raised. She stood before the window, outlined in green; her face eclipsed by the sour light driving in through the broken panes, their glass teeth shining as they gaped; a forest that hadn’t been there before pushing against the walls outside.
    The earth shivered and the light began to ebb away.

    Mathilda appeared before me, taking my hands. She nodded to a rhythm only she could hear, her eyes obsidian. She dug her fingernails in deep, red crescents rising.

    “You hear it too,” she said.

  3. Ruined

    We are the Children of the Apocalypse. We are all that exists on broken earth. An earth ravaged by pollution, raped of resources and scarred by man’s ignorance. In its last days, ravaging fire consumed earth. All life above ground was instantly incinerated – the jumbo rocket taking the last passenger cargo to Earth 2 and the ground crew.

    As Children we were kept below ground where the radiation from the sun was obviously weakest. Masked so as to breathe chemically cleansed oxygen, we waited and waited for the final boarding. It never came. A quiet rumble followed by a terrific bang -the rocket exploding-shook the weakened earth. Some tunnels collapsed blocking our exit to the surface. Being severed, probably saved us because we were cut off from noxious fiery fumes.

    After panicking and aimlessly looking for adults, we settled oddly enough into a well organized community. It was a complete reversal of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.” Unlike the children in the classic, we became organized, thoughtful, considerate and respectful of each other. After a week we dug a way to the surface wearing hazmat suits and oxygen generated masks. We found the ruins of an ancient building, a church I think, although we were all hazy about what a church actually was. Some pretty coloured windows, a crosier made of a narwhal’s tusk- the metal label said-and an open view.

    Mouths agape, we stared speechless. An Eden of lush fruits and vegetables.

  4. Mouse Utopia

    Dizzy saw the dilapidated building. For a small mouse like him, it loomed large and imposing, even giant-like, rising as it did from the surrounding woodlands.

    He had never seen a building like this before, because no mouse was permitted to leave the mouse colony of Utopia. This was done for the purpose of keeping all mice safe. And Utopia was safe. No mouse fought or quarrelled or questioned or thought.

    Despite the colony’s pressure on him to conform, Dizzy somehow maintained a curious and questioning attitude.

    He soon entered the building through a small hole and was amazed at its size. Who could have built such an imposing structure? he wondered. He was taught that such things didn’t exist.

    After spending several hours wandering through the building he saw a large object lying on the ground.

    He scampered over to it and sniffed at its edges. It smelled musty and old. He noticed it was open at the top and climbed up to see.

    He stood on something that was yellowed and torn. And in one section of it there was some form of writing. Having never been taught writing, he had no idea what it said. Probably wasn’t important, he thought.

    As the shadows lengthened, he realized he had to get back home as curfew was about to begin.

    As he scurried off home, a light breeze played with the yellowed paper he had stood on, and upon which was written: All men are born free.

  5. Ruin-Nation

    With the expected storms that rapidly use up all of the letters of the alphabet, the unexpected rise in previously unknown underground volcanoes that no one really wanted to name, the erupting earth and the squalling skies pillage ninety percent of our homes and structures.

    We watch humanity crash.

    Our inclination is to stay put, enjoy the remnants of the familiar, the paths and trails of our youth, if we can still remember, or the haunts of our decadent days as adults, if any worth remembering.

    Layers of poisoned air clog the sky. Unbearable heat frazzles the earth.

    Startling drops in temperature, arctic-like weather assaults where once there had been dry desert space.

    A wayward and vengeful environment cares nothing for us, as we had cared nothing, or very little for it.

    Swarms of unsettled humanity take to the road. It is like the thirties, the painful pulsating dirty thirties, but the trains aren’t running, fuel is for the rich, there are no church basements with hot soup and grainy bread, no welcoming communities, no communities at all.

    The entire world is on the road except for the private Islands where the much less than one percent hold court and pray their paid security didn’t turn on them.

    My soul is in ruins.

    As I roll into a ditch outside of Omaha, beaten to a pulp by three companions I once called brethren, I see the world in flames and I great: MY SOUL IS IN RUINS.

  6. “Mom, It just needs a fresh coat of paint, a good sweep, couple hiking chairs, and we can hang out here.” The short hike here, was all we could manage. Brook looks at her aging mother with pride, imagining this encounter with her mom.

    “ It looks ruined, but is it really? What you’re looking at, are expressions from those of how their feeling in the moment, maybe frustration, perhaps the opposite.” Natasha’s voice is heard by her loving daughter.

    Brook, feels the comfort of her mom. “Viewing the wilderness through these glass panes, with roof intact, will keep us dry, when needed on future visits.” Stepping back outside with her mom, they both deeply inhale a breathe of fresh air, intermingling with wafts of earthiness , as the wind embraces them in a loving hug!

    What could be perceived as ruined for some, can be a miracle for others. You might think, a downpour at an outdoor wedding , set high up on a bluff, overlooking the hills of west Texas , could be something, no one would wish to happen . Guess again. It was the most beautiful natural occurrence, experienced, rarely, in a lifetime! The dramatic sky, the streams of light, kept this lovely couple and their wedding party in perfect view! Oh, the rainbows and sunshine that emerged soon after.
    Mom and dad, I’m happy you were nearby.

  7. Blueprint

    It was an impromptu visit. I hardly recognized the place.

    An industrial park, now abandoned. My first job. I’d not been back twenty years. Funny how something once so alive could fall into such decay. That’s what old people must feel.

    Ducts crisscrossed the ceiling. They funneled ammonia fumes from the blueprint machines. The machines, long dismantled, their imprints in the peeling linoleum marked my old station. Tethered to a two-ton blueprint-making console fed by a tank of ammonia, I stood my eight-hour shift; lived on coffee, cigarettes and ammonia fumes.

    Even in its decay, I still see yesterday in memory. At the long print-folding table, Millbank, the Vietnam vet. He’s hunched over his newspaper horoscope, the only thing he still believed in that the war hadn’t obliterated. Fuoli, the greaser from Otisville who taught me how to replace a shock-absorber on my ’65 Rambler. That long-haired kid with the prison tattoos who chain-smoked Winstons. Our boss, Joe Simpiletti, a man who never missed an opportunity to put at least four f-words into every sentence. What did it get me? Nothing.

    I guess I came hoping for some epiphany, but only dredged up memories that didn’t deserve the name. Outside, the Rambler’s horn blew; my wife letting me know she’d indulged me enough. Her name, Florence, inked on my forearm. I lit a Winston, shouted “I f’in’ heard you the first time”. Strange, my horoscope today said something about old friends. I still don’t know what it meant.

  8. LETTER

    Dear Covid,

    I see you were here − your virus’s red spike proteins latching onto healthy human cells, causing fever, cough and shortness of breath until faces turned blue like your tag on the wall.

    You won this sprint.

    But please don’t rest on your laurels.

    Humans are a wily match. They’ve come up with jabs, potions, even a pill to stop you, just like they did with pandemic viruses before you. I know your virus mutates well, producing even more contagious variants. Inside these walls and others with clusters of humans and still air, you will continue to win the sprints. But rest assured, humans will keep working on it and someday you’ll be gone, or at most nothing more than seasonal flu.

    Did you look out the windows? Those trees once alive are dead, no longer able to absorb carbon dioxide. Beyond them, global forests are disappearing; rivers, lakes and oceans are rising, and the air growing warmer. As they did with you, humans are trying to stop it. They turn from fossil fuels and harness the power of sun and wind. But it is too little too late. Outside it is I who can raise waters, drowning cities and towns, and fill the air with fire and heat. It is I who can make sure humanity will draw its last breath.

    It is I who will go the distance and win the race to ruin.

    Respectfully Your Competitor,

    Climate Change

  9. “Please! I have a family!” He screamed into the empty space and listened as it echoed throughout the empty room. “Perfection,” he chuckled softly to himself. For years he had been looking for his piece of paradise. A place where he could come to collect his thoughts without fear that someone would find him.

    “Ahhh!” He screamed just one more time and marvelled at the glorious echo of the chamber. Soon he’d bring his first guest to his new domain.

    He pondered how he would paint the room. “Maybe crimson, the colour of dried blood,” he thought, but didn’t matter anyway; it was like putting lipstick on a pig. It was the acoustics that thrilled him.

    He turned for one last look into the room. “Yes,” he thought, “it’s perfect.” He smiled for a moment and walked away imagining the screams of terror that would soon reverberate off the walls, “simply perfect.”

  10. Lydia, blood spatter discoloring her clothes, hung limply in his arms, so Richard ran faster and held her tighter. Help waited ahead in the old church, the last building left standing after the never-ending battle. As he approached what was left of the structure, he could see that there would be no help, no relief, for him or Lydia.

    Dodging across the pine-covered hillside, Richard at last entered the shell of their hope.

    “We made it,” he whispered to Lydia as he laid her down on the floor of what had been the choir loft, now blown from its height and smashed on the granite floor. “Help is on the way,” he lied to this girl he had known forever but come to love only recently.

    Richard knew Lydia only had minutes left before her spirit would exit. Without warning, she pushed herself up onto her elbows and looked about the bare white walls, ruined beyond repair by the hammers of war.

    “How wonderful the choir sings,” said Lydia, looking around the deserted church, the music stands blown to disarray around her. “Do you remember, Richard, when we first met here. We practiced this very hymn. How young we were. We should join the singing now. It can only help. It may be the only help.”

    Richard woke from his dream, the pain from his bullet-riddled body un-endurable in the cold church. Lydia pressed herself against her dying hero and sang that hymn to send him on.

  11. It wasn’t my idea to go LARPing in the old gas plant. In fact, I told the rest of our gaming group I didn’t think it was a good idea.

    But there was no dissuading them, and there was no way I was going to miss gaming this week, just because they wanted to play in a real location instead of pencil on paper. So off we headed for the decaying industrial complex down by the river. Steve had scouted the place, so we knew the best ways in and out – we were engineering students, so we did plan ahead.

    We were about halfway through the maze of pipes and grime-encrusted coking ovens when we came to a building we didn’t expect. All of us stopped and took a look around. Steve pulled out his compass – this was back in the days before GPS – and soon determined that no, we hadn’t gotten turned around and ended up at the back end of the administrative building.

    Curious, we opened the door and walked in. The interior didn’t look that different from any of the other structures here – until we realized they looked out onto a forest, like the place had been abandoned for centuries, not less than a decade.

    We looked at each other, then beat feet out of there. Only later did we wonder if we’d made a mistake not exploring that unknown vista, but by then the city was demolishing the old gas plant.

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