Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Tranquility

teepees along the shore by a cliff photo by 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 Friday. On Sunday, 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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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Tranquility”

  1. It was the Red Irish Setter that first caught Quil’s attention, as it looked like his own pup. The two dogs did their get acquainted routine and were soon jumping against one another and running around like fools.

    Quil’s father had wanted him to learn about his ancestors, and he was thrilled Quil had mastered the bow and arrow.

    Quil’s thoughts were brought back to the two dogs now walking side by side like old friends. “I think they like each other.” A soft voice behind him broke his attention. “Hi, my name is Tran, what’s yours?”

    “My friends call me Quil, which is short for Quillian. It’s a no brainer to have to shorten that handle.” The sun was shining off her hair which made it look almost on fire. “What is your dog’s name?”

    “Ruby, and yours?”

    “Sunset. Are you staying in one of the teepees?”

    “Yes, just for the weekend. My ancestors were originally from this area, and my folks wanted me to experience some of that life.”

    For the next hour they walked along the shore watching the dogs playing and having fun.


    Quil believed what his father kept preaching, ‘Things happen the way they are supposed to.’ They both remember the day they first met six years ago and now they were enjoying watching their dog’s puppies, and their son ‘Ity.’

    Quil’s father wanted them to enjoy the significance of the campground, and as they sat around the campfire, he suddenly laughed – “Tran-Quil-ity!”

  2. To the Ends of the World

    After a day spent playing in the woods, under the tranquil gaze of an ancient mountain, Jason snuggled in bed and listened to his mother read stories about heroes.

    “Are those tales true?” the six year old asked.

    “Of course,” smiled his mother. “Hercules and Achilles were brave men who lived lives full of adventure.” She caressed her son’s hair. “That’s enough for now, Jason. It’s time to sleep.”

    Alone in his room, Jason couldn’t sleep. His head was filled with tales of mighty men and mighty deeds. They stoked his mind with vivid images and whispered to his imagination…

    As the years passed, Jason grew to became a strong and intelligent young man. Whenever he gazed upon the sea, sparkling as it did beneath a pale and patient moon, he recalled those childhood tales and pledged that one day he too would have a great adventure…

    Then one day he received funding to build a ship and a crew of hearty souls to man it.

    While it was under construction, they drank and laughed and dreamed of one day setting sail on the open sea. The creak of wood and wind, and the smell of salty air, called to their adventurous natures.

    Soon, the ship was finished, and it was time to board it.

    Jason and his crew—the Argonauts—then set sail on a great adventure…

    An adventure in search of the Golden Fleece…

    An adventure that would take them to the ends of the world…

  3. Tranquility

    This is how we lived ages ago, before we lost our way or left our path to oppose those who coveted our land. Absolutes rarely exist in nature. Yet the tranquility of a settlement, nestled in a copse of trees along the mountain foothills, comes close.

    Great Spirit existed in every facet of our oneness with nature. We planted crops in a partnership with Mother Earth, and she blessed our endeavors. Hunting parties culled the vast herds of buffalo, deer, and elk, taking only what our people needed, never more, and we wasted nothing. When we moved our encampment, the land was no worse for wear than when we first came.

    Where did it all go wrong?

    Who was the more arrogant, those of us who existed in oneness with nature, and believed there was no such thing as change? We moved from place to place, never leaving a trace.

    Or was it those who brought change and opposed the natural way? The newcomers carved the land to their liking for permanent dwellings instead of fitting into the embrace of the natural environment.

    Who cares now is all this ignorant ghost can say? Those who could do anything are dead and gone. My soul adores the new generation, embracing our old ways.

    Look at the peaceful settlement.

    My brothers and sister are gone and cannot see this. I will watch a little longer and move on, too.

    We were wanderers. Our spirits still roam this land.

  4. Tranquillity

    This I know with clarity, the heart needs the head to guide it but if you ignore the heart and rely solely on your brain, there will be hell to pay.

    Or at least, a giant headache.

    But one can wallow in heartache too. This is part of life in the city. The steamingly hot streets, the airless apartments, the ones who are prisoners in their own truncated lives.

    I seek to relieve them of their sorrow. Of course, I am taking on a huge responsibility. And no one has asked me to perform these tasks. I bear the weight of those decisions myself. I am an anonymous volunteer. I remove their earthly burden.

    They cannot see beyond their own four walls. I appreciate that. When you are a prisoner of your own limited life, your eyes are covered. You are blind to the possibilities of eternal liberation.

    I did not come to their rescue from isolation and limitations easily. I resisted the call. The call was strong. One only had to walk the city streets at night to hear their cries. They may not have been directly asking for a reprieve from the agony but if one is attuned to the wails of the dispossessed, the aging, the weary, the lost ones, the path is clear.

    In one city, hundreds died alone. Most passed from the heat.

    The sun will only get brighter.

    The heat will only get hotter.

    I will do what I can to release them.

  5. For Editors’ Choice Only

    “Senator Hawkins, Senator Hawkins!”
    U. S. Senator Benjamin Hawkins, who had been appointed by Congress to negotiate treaties with the Creek and Cherokee Indians in 1785, swung around to see a mounted U.S. Army messenger galloping toward where he stood at the edge of an Indian encampment.
    “Sir, you called to me?”
    The year was 1792. Hawkins had already worked with the Creeks for 7 years. He not only had learned their language and been adopted by them, but also, had married a Creek woman.
    The scene could not have been more tranquil. It was Hawkins who had helped to formalize the treated with the Creek tribes in 1790 by persuading George Washington to get involved in the negotiations. This is what eventually would win him the position of Principal Temporary Agent for Indian Affairs South of the Ohio River. Among other things, he worked to introduce European farming techniques on Native Indian lands. Still, American settler incursion, depredations, and the slights the tribes incurred were beginning to make themselves felt in the form of discontent among the Creeks and other tribes.
    The messenger dismounted, approached Hawkins, and handing him a dispatch, which Hawkins opened with trepidation. It read: “You are hereby ordered to return to Philadelphia to meet with the president.”
    Hawkins knew the trek would be long and arduous.
    “Is there a response?” asked the messenger.
    “Only this,” responded the man; please tell the president I’ll be there, God willing and the Creek don’t rise.”

  6. Camp Tranquillity

    As I’d predicted, the yurt was too small, and the three of us had to take turns on the bed. Phoenix was only 5’ 3’’ and 75 pounds in her winter clothing, and Alex had looked like a crane trying to balance on a matchbox when he gave it a try. We’d only been here ninety-five minutes, and everyone’s tempers were rising. And we had another thirty-eight hours to endure before we could leave.

    “I’d be enjoying this if I was alone,” Phoenix declared from her spot at the open flap. It was still raining, and the forecast was that it’d continue for another two days. “I’d be getting a buzz on, just watching the weather. Thinking little or nothing: simply getting chilled and calm.”

    “Little chance of that,” Alex muttered, his head up in the upper reaches of the canvas. “Besides, we all know you’d arranged to go with Hugh.”

    Hugh was the reason we were all here today. Mother had had a fit when she’d learned of their plans for the weekend, and Alex and I were immediately assigned to act as chaperones.

    And then Hugh had developed malaria.

    Luckily for him.

    The bed had begun to sag, the leg on one corner sinking into the mud seeping up through the hole in the groundsheet. The patch of slime that had been a foot around had risen into Alex’s domain, triggering his asthma, making him wheeze like a kettle.

    “God bless us all,” I said. “Everyone.”

  7. The tourist carts, hooked together front to back, shuttled along the gravel path in the early summer morning. Six teepees, bright white in the sun, loomed over a quiet encampment as the carts bounced along.

    “Pay attention,” said Donovan, his voice booming through the scratchy megaphone. “We are lucky to have this piece of history before us, preserved right here at Soap Lake.”

    The tourists, mostly young families with noisy youngsters, pointed at the gleaming teepees off to the left. From two of them, smoke snaked up into the windless sky.

    “These Indians—pardon me—indigenous people are just waking up,” boomed Donovan. “Morning fires are lit and the ladies of the house will soon serve breakfast to their warriors.”

    The caravan followed the curve around the top of the hill and down the east side where the sun shined brightly. “I’ll answer a question I get on every tour: No, these savages can’t escape. Fees and donations keep them safe here so they don’t become extinct. Thank you.”

    Donovan smiled smugly but noticed an old man on the hilltop, his black hair pulled back, his face painted garishly. Surprised at the paint, Donovan pointed him out to the tourists.

    That’s when the first arrow hit him. Donovan’s eyes widened in surprise. As he toppled to the floor, more arrows showered down on the screaming tourists. The painted warrior stood watching the carnage, a satisfied smile creasing his face. Soon it would be time for breakfast.

  8. I’ve always loved the Ozarks. Sure, they can’t compare to the Rockies for sheer raw natural beauty, but the Rockies are just so big they’re overwhelming. The Ozarks are mountains on a human scale, with green valleys and lakes where you can feel at home.

    However, I never expected to find them a refuge. Of course I never expected my country to turn into a dictatorship either. But it did, thanks to the people who find it easier to blame and stigmatize the victims than condemn the people who actually authorized those criminal human genetic experiments back in the Cold War.

    So here I sit, hiding in a safe house not a dozen miles from one of my favorite childhood vacation spots. Nothing to do but wait for word that all’s clear for me to head back to base.

    It’s not easy looking out at the natural beauty just beyond the curtained windows of a metal tepee that looks just like all the other ones at this old roadside motel. Much as I long to join the genuine tourists in their diversions, I know I can’t afford to be seen.

    It would be so much easier if I had something else to do while I wait until the time is right to continue on my journey.

  9. What we did at Mr. Conrad’s “History of the American Injuns” field trip

    To help our studies of our actual real history about us against the Injuns, Mr. Conrad took our class on a field trip to:

    Wacky Wigwam Campground
    Gift Shop-Snack Shop-Bowling

    I wrote in my diary some of the fun history things we did:

    All of us stayed in two Genuine Injun wigwams. They were huge and made of concrete. We could tell were learning our authentic history ‘cause the boys were called “braves” and stayed in one teepee and the girls were called “squaws” had their own.

    Went paddling in the lake in a bonafide fiberglass birchbark canoe.

    (From way out in the lake, the teepees looked like a bunch of broken teeth.)

    In craft class, we made authentic Injun headdresses out of construction paper and pipe cleaners.

    Saturday night, we went “Big Brave Bowling”. It was real cool. They had black lights and everything. I didn’t know Injuns liked indoor sports so much.

    For show and tell, I bought a genuine rubber tomahawk at the gift shop.

    The last day there was the big “Paleface Picnic”.

    I didn’t go.

    I wasn’t invited.

    Jason Greywolf – 5th Grade – PS 142 – Naples, FL



    Gorging on delectable foods, savouring exquisite flavours and partying like rock stars, we gave no attention to stirring our super yacht. We were just so grateful to forget about the apocalypse. Bang. The yacht lurched and with horror we realised that we had run aground.

    Piling up on the deck we were not met by bedlam, but a magnificent sight. It was like a painting from centuries ago. Majestic tepees in glorious colours stood proud along the shoreline. In the background were smoky purple mountains against ethereal clouds. Tranquillity. Serenity. Harmony. All was perfect with the world at that exact moment.

    Midnight, my coyote with a great leap of pleasure jumped into the water and leading his siblings swam for the tepees. With wild abandon, we followed suit, knowing that we were grounded until the tide turned. The tepees were obviously part of some educational museum, but held some treasures for us. None of us wanted to think about deserting the mega yacht, but this would be necessary to explore inland. The bows and arrows would help with hunting animals for sustenance. Other weapons were found in slingshots. The catapults brought back some childhood memories of tormenting the neighbourhood cats, but at least I knew that my aim was true.

    We pushed our soggy coyote pups back aboard before the tide took the yacht further downstream. With longing we looked back at the scene of tranquillity, not knowing what we would find in the destroyed world.

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