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.
11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Lion”
“Jeez! What a grouch!”
With an effort, the lion brought his attention away from the far horizon and his mind from its pleasant thoughts. It was a beautiful day. The sunshine had warmed the overnight dew from his back, and the rain the day before had washed an annoying bit of moss from the tiny crack in his left haunch.
He focused on the tourist who stood, staring up at him.
The man’s wife gave her husband a questioning glance.
“I mean, looka that face. Lips turned down, brow scrunched up.” The man rasped out a humourless laugh. “I bet his mother told him not to scowl or he’d look like that for the resta his life. Looks like it worked.”
The lion regarded the pair. The man was pleased with himself after this pronouncement. His wife just looked tired.
“I don’t know. He’s sort of noble. Beautiful eyes. They look…sad somehow.”
“Huh! You’d be sad too, if you had to sit out here in the weather for a coupla hundred years.”
“But maybe he’s doing what he was meant to do. Maybe he’s proud of himself.”
“Oh, sure. Proud of layin’ around doin’ nothin’ for a coupla centuries.” He grabbed her arm. “C’mon. There’s nuthin’ to see here. Dead stone.”
The woman allowed herself to be pulled away, running a soft finger down the lion’s paw as she went.
The lion sighed. “They certainly haven’t changed much in three hundred years.” He returned his stare to the line of trees on the horizon.
“Jeez, what a grouch.”
Lion…Through His Teeth
I would’ve been happy to stay back at the hotel. The mini bar was stocked, and I love those little jugs of elixir. But no, Gretchen needed to see the ancient temples, crumbling statues, and the like. She loves statues of ancient Greeks, Romans, whoever they are, men, their smooth marble bodies.
Mine’s still smooth here and there…like a balloon half full of air.
Anyways she drags me out, I’m huffing and puffing, and she says, “Old man, set your butt right there next to Clarence. I’ll be back when I’m good and ready.”
This works for me, so I set myself down in the warm and persistent sun and just think about all the decisions I made as a young man and one in particular that continues to haunt me if you get my drift.
Suddenly I hear this voice. It’s kind of crackling, so it’s somewhat hard to hear. I do have a hearing problem, not that I would tell Gretchen that. Anyways, the voice says, “At least you got your teeth.”
I look up and darned if it ain’t the lion, the marble one, speaking. Well, I know it sounds crazy.
“You heard me, tourist. Gums. All I got is gums.”
So, I take a gander. “Yup. Gums,” I agree. “But you’re made of stone. You don’t eat.”
“Maybe,” he says, “But we lions have our pride.”
I commiserate of course. They should’ve given him teeth.
Makes you think!
The cathedral’s gargoyles had formed a pack. They’d clambered from their carved perches and had spread out across the courtyard, eyes glowing dimly in the gloom. Their language was a mix of coughs and low growls, punctuated with the occasional word that suggested they were sentient.
It had been a mistake coming back to the city.
Hannigan checked his shoulder bag. It had three stripes on it, its stylised logo suggesting it had been used by sports fans in the latter days, in the times before the demonic rose from the dark. There’d been no restrictions then on where you could go and when it wasn’t wise to venture out alone.
Simpler times, before the fall of humankind.
Today, Hannigan used the bag to carry food, sheets of paper and anything that could be used to leave permanent marks behind. He’d found his way today by following the tags of earlier explorers, the daubs of paint they’d left promising there’d be food at the end of their trail. There’d been nothing here today – the store had been empty – but he’d left marks of his own showing it was exhausted now.
If the gods were merciful, there’d be others who’d follow him. It would be kinder to direct them away, send them somewhere where they’d find success.
The din of the gargoyles faded; their eyes suddenly fixed on the corner behind him. Hannigan turned to see a dark shape rearing, its jaws stained with gore.
Hannigan’s trail ended abruptly.
For Editors’ Choice Only
“It’s a travesty they let this building deteriorate,” the young architecture student whispered to his female companion as they hurried across the deserted university common.
She acknowledged his condemnation of the government’s neglect and how it had allowed this neoclassical structure, which included statues of lions on either side at its entrance, to fall into total disrepair.
The building, with its dramatic columns, was the last of its kind at the university. All of the other, newer building designs on campus, which had been erected in the style reflecting the political ideology of fascism that had swept over the country in the years following World War I, were based on the variations of Rationalism by Benito Mussolini. These focused on symmetry and simplicity. To the two students’ minds, they totally lacked aesthetics.
As a graduate student in architecture, he was particularly put off by being forced to promulgate this new style. Adding insult to injury, it wasn’t a week earlier that an undergraduate student reported him for having called the campus’s newer structures “sterile.” That he also had criticized the Stripped Classicism style set forth by Adolf Hitler, another form being used to impose absolute rule over every aspect of people’s minds and lives, didn’t enhance his position within il Dipartimento di Architettura.
While the two students understood the new styles were meant to convey strength and pride, secretly they pledged their dedication to the total and utter destruction of il Duce’s regime.
The Journey to Somewhere
Sara walked for sometime until she came upon a statute of a lion positioned beside several stone pillars.
To her surprise, the lion became animated, shook its great mane, and stated proudly, “I am Felix, the Lion of the Gateway.”
“The Gateway?” she asked, timidly. “What’s that?”
“It’s a Gateway to Somewhere.”
“What is ‘Somewhere’?”
“Somewhere is where you want to be,” the great lion answered.
Puzzled, Sara said, “But I don’t know where it is.”
“It’s in the direction you want to go.”
“Which way is that?”
“You can go this way or that way.”
”Which way is best?”
“Which ever direction you choose.”
”If both ways are correct, then why do I have to choose?”
“Choice is always good, whether it’s useful or not.”
Sara frowned. “It’s not useful at all.”
The lion yawned. “People are never happy until they find something to be unhappy about; then, they are overjoyed.”
She shook her head. “I’m confused.”
“It’s only incomprehensible because you don’t understand it. And understanding is half the battle.”
Sara decided to rephrase the question. “If I go right, will I reach ‘Somewhere’?”
“Sometimes the best action is to do the opposite.”
“So I should go left instead.”
“People often build roads they will never use.”
This is hopeless, thought Sara. “Thanks anyway,” she said to the lion, and turned left, in the direction of Somewhere.
Felix watched her go, smiled, and then re-positioned itself as a stone statute.
I stared into its cold, stony eyes. A shiver of dread ran down my spine. That was its purpose, to scare people from venturing inside the tomb, to protect the valuables buried within. In ancient times, the lion was a guardian meant to protect the rulers of old as if they were descended from the gods themselves. This tomb was no different, with a stone lion perched outside, forever guarding its master.
I personally don’t believe in superstitions, which is why I agreed to take this job. A simple enough task: quietly enter the tomb, open the grave, and retrieve the jewels buried within. So that’s what I did. There was no trouble accomplishing my goal, no trouble at all. It made me wonder why no one had ever stolen the jewels before. It was not long before my silent question was answered.
As I exited the tomb in the dead of night, I noticed something different about the exterior. The perch upon which the stone lion sat was empty. My eyes scanned the area before me, but found no trace of the stone carving. All I could see in the moonlight were deep paw prints in the soft ground. A trail of them leading to the tomb.
As my eyes followed the trail, I heard an ominous guttural sound behind me. Slowly my trembling body turned in time to see the last sight of my life, the stony fangs of a large mouth engulfing my face.
Lions had always featured in his life. A circus lion had roared at his birth, his father was a lion tamer and his playmates had been lions. Seeing them as majestic beasts, he could not follow his father and take a whip to them. Instead he became a vet for exotic beasts, which was why he once more was living in a circus environment.
When Leo was not practising his veterinary skills, he was sent hither and thither, a servant of the exotic creatures. Bringing water for the elephants, throwing slabs of meat to the tigers, cleaning out the wild horses’ stables. Sweating, looking like a beast and smelling of manure, he caught a glimpse. The glimpse was momentary, but put an immense jolt of happiness into his life. The next time was a flash of heaven in the skies. She flashed through the sky shot from a cannon. Leo in his mind slowed the shot down. She had a great mane of yellow hair that flowed freely behind her and seemed to subdue her glittery bright costume.
After that, he seemed only to live for another look at this beautiful creature’s sweeping blonde hair, cat eyes, legs that went on into tomorrow.
He bumped into her and it was like bumping into air. He chased her down but she disappeared. Then he knew that she had disappeared into the lion statue marking the entrance to the circus. She was no more than his fantasy.
I ground out the cigarette I bummed from my roommate on the old stone Lion outside the faculty building. It tasted like crap. They’re not my brand. Benner, the maintenance man who usually supplies me with smokes, was let go last week.
I could have spoken up, in his defense, I suppose, but that would have implicated me in the situation. To his credit, he didn’t snitch on me. Mother always says the lower classes live by a sort of unspoken criminal code and snitching is a no-no. Anyway, nobody, I mean nobody, is going to take the word of a maintenance man over a student.
The principal has called me to a meeting to discuss my future. A waste of time. My grades aren’t great but, my family endows. Anyway, no way I’m in the frame. I mean, Jenkins knew the risks, took the dare. Is it my fault that the crenellation of the tower was in such a dilapidated state? Whose job is it to maintain it? Not mine. Maybe not even Benner’s but still, more his than mine. I didn’t know it would crumble like that.
How long is he going to make me wait?
They must make these chairs uncomfortable on purpose. The principal’s secretary doesn’t like me. She’s giving me the evil eye. Get the door for me? It’s your job.
Two visitors already in there? I hope this won’t take long. Thanksgiving is the end of the week and Mother is sending the car.
The stone lion stares at me with downturned lips. Above, a fake evergreen holiday bough decks out the top of the classic Greek building with its Ionic columns.
I stare. My head spins. I am on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street, under the watchful eye of Patience, the marble lion who, with her sibling Perseverance, guards the entrance to the New York City Public Library.
By now Patience has donned her oversized fresh pine holiday wreath with the giant multi-colored balls and sparkling red bow.
My forehead sweats in the hot, dry heat of this Greek island. I long for the brisk winter nip of New York City.
I open my iPhone and scroll through my holiday selfie album – Papa and me – astride Patience; arm and arm strolling up Fifth Avenue; all smiles skating under the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
I plop down on the steps, drop my head in my hands and cry. How I miss Papa. I cannot leave him alone on yet another Christmas as I roam the globe with my backpack.
I sling the pack up on my shoulders and slog my way to the dusty bus stop where I pile in with laughing families and their chickens and goats and bounce my way back to the city. I check flights and book a ticket. I’ll be home in forty-eight hours.
Then I text: “Missing you, Papa. Coming home for Christmas. Arriving at JFK Saturday at 10 AM. Can we visit Patience? “
“This building housed one of the world’s greatest libraries, before it was destroyed in the Turmoils.” Our guide looked up at the stone lion that had survived the destruction which had left the building behind it an empty shell.
The other kids were all busy taking notes, so I’d better look like I was absorbing new information too. Although we all learned the basics of that period by the middle grades, the details were generally regarded as too grim for such young minds. In fact, most people didn’t get to hear the full story of the famines and massacres, the purges and counter-purges, until they were approaching voting age. Which means twenty-one, in most jurisdictions these days.
However, my insatiable curiosity had been matched only by my talents with infosystems. I’d hacked my way into the records by the time I was in fourth grade, and soon realized I’d better keep mum about the stuff I’d read and watched, unless I wanted my computer access restricted.
As I looked up from my tablet, I realized the guide was giving me a fishy look. She didn’t say anything, not to me, and not to any of the teachers or chaperones. But I could tell that I’d slipped, whether by reaction or failure to react, and she had realized I possessed knowledge my age cohort wasn’t supposed to have.
Now I could only wait to find out how bad of trouble I might be in.
My job is to protect this building from harmful spirits and people. I’ve done my job well, and I can honestly say, nothing or nobody has ever damaged this structure. I’m proud of my performance.
I used to be beautiful, and many a gorgeous woman had her picture taken beside me. I loved the competition, but mostly I loved the company.
Now, nobody gets close to me and photographs are taken from a distance.
Some children even laugh at me now.
I’ve heard them say that I look like gramma when she takes out her teeth.
My only wish is that they recognize what a powerful beast I am supposed to depict.
Everyone thinks I’m just a carved hunk of granite without any feelings.
I can’t tell them anything different, but it hurts.
I remember when one little girl told her mother that I looked sad. She was right. Her mother said don’t be silly and that I was just a hunk of stone.
If they only knew the real story.
Maybe someday they will have a device that can reach inside structures like me and tell them what we have heard and how we feel.
It’s a shame the artist who carved me, didn’t include the most important detail. Maybe he or she didn’t anticipate that structures like me do indeed have feelings.
A simple tear drop would have raised some questions. It might have stopped the hurtful words.
Oh look, here comes a child with a big smile.
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