Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Mountain

Mount Rainier with the sun setting behind it flash fiction writing prompt
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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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Mountain”

  1. Our Wandering Boy
    “He went hiking?”
    “That’s what he said. “
    “Where?”
    “Didn’t say.”
    “And you didn’t think to ask?”
    “He’s like that. You know he’s like that…always saying he’s gonna do something…but he never does…”
    “I do know that. But I don’t recall him ever wanting to go hiking…”
    “A couple of times, lately. In fact, he said something like that yesterday…about loving the mountains, I think he said the ‘the cool gray hills of home…’ “
    “It’s not in his chart. Did you make a note of what he said yesterday, or even the mention of hiking today?”
    “You get busy. WE get busy. It’s a busy job. You can’t always find time to note every blessed thing they say. They motor mouth all the time.”
    “Look, part of your job in noting down things said. When did you last see him?”
    “Don’t know. An hour ago…”
    “Where?”
    “Heading outside…had a book. I figured…going outside to read…”
    “But he said he was going hiking?”
    “Yeah, but he was in his robe…wearing slippers . No one hikes in slippers.”
    “No one in full possession of their faculties…look, start searching the grounds. Quickly. If you can’t find him in five minutes, I’ll notify the authorities…it’s too darn hot to be wandering off…”
    FIVE MINUTES LATER
    “He’s not here.”
    “Okay, I’ll make the call. And notify the family.”
    “I don’t get it. We aren’t near any mountains.”
    “It’s a memory. The cool grey hills of home, right? A sweet memory.”

  2. The Mountain Wall

    Since the olden days, the wall had always existed.

    At least, that’s what everyone thought.

    No one knew when it was built, by whom, or why.

    Everyone took it for granted, like the rising sun.

    It just was.

    And it was built to resemble a mountain.

    No one knew what existed on the other side of this mountain wall. It was too high to climb over and too long to walk around. Curiously, no one ever wanted to look on the other side, let alone question what was there. Everyone just assumed their side of the wall contained the known world and the other side contained “nothing”.

    The mountain wall became part of the “unknowable”; that realm of existence called “the great unknown”.

    The news never mentioned it, the schools never taught it, and it was never a topic of conversation.

    People lived, worked, slept, and had families, never knowing anything about the great structure that loomed over their lives.

    It was a blissful existence.

    Until one day it happened…

    A precocious young girl, named Sally, had the nerve to question the wall.

    People were aghast…

    The scientific community was out-raged.

    There were demonstrations and rioting…

    Sally was shunned and ridiculed…

    There were even calls to have her expelled from the community…

    Her crime?

    She had asked, “What if the wall was a prison and we were all locked inside of it?”

  3. Pretty Picture

    Ralph wondered if this was just a waste of his time. As a National Park Ranger he had the authority to ask her to move from her location. For five days, she had positioned herself in what she probably believed to be the best position to photograph Mt. Rainier.

    It wasn’t the tent, although it was most likely in the way of other tourists, and it wasn’t the five, no make that seven tripods stationed along the trail every five feet or so. It was all the questions from hikers about what she was doing.

    He had answered their questions, but now he was wondering if there wasn’t something more involved.

    Kat noticed the ranger gawking at her every day. It was getting hard to focus on the mountain. Despite her hope that her smile would have him talking with her, he spent his time talking with hikers. She wondered if she should change her approach…he was now, more interesting than the mountain.

    When she was growing up, she had considered the potential of being a park ranger. Life changed that, and she developed a love of photography.
    That’s it, she knew what she would do.

    *.*.*

    She was having a tough time falling asleep. Her mind was constantly considering her plan for the next morning.

    *.*.*

    The cold morning almost spoiled her plan. She jumped out of the tent – “Smile!”

    “Miss, you can’t be out of your tent undressed.”

    *.*.*

    Now, they take pictures together.

  4. “How long has it been?”
    “Sad to say, more than 42 years. John came out here in late March, 1980 . . . said he was heading to the mountain to begin collecting rock samples for his PhD thesis on extrusive magma after diagenesis and compaction. If all went well, he told me, he would complete his doctorate in geology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in June, 1984.”
    “And that’s the last you heard from him?”
    “Well, no. We talked from time to time on the phone when he was in Castle Rock, especially when he needed something. I remember him calling me several times in April, asking me to ship him more sample bags and, on one occasion, another rock pick. The handle on the one he had been using broke. He said he had managed to kludge something together but still needed me to air mail him a new hammer as quickly as possible. It took more than a week to get it in his hands. This area isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, you know!”
    “Gotcha. So, he didn’t have a clue.”
    “I wouldn’t say that. On occasion, in late April and early May, he mentioned seeing steam-blast eruptions from the peak. But he didn’t seem concerned.
    “Sadly, we never heard from him again following the eruption on the morning of May 18th. Never found his body, either.”

  5. The Mountain

    Zigzagging up from the foothills was easy enough, the cooler breeze this morning was a relief from what was to come later. The mountain was beckoning me to continue up, “ climb on”, it whispered through the wind.

    Silly of me to think I could grace this majestic beauty with my presence! Surely it needed me to stay awhile? The tiny cabin hidden in the trees, was spotted by our group last weekend. Everything I needed was on my back. I had enough supplies to last a few weeks. Seeds to plant, would develop into a flourishing vegetable garden. Later, chickens would be added.

    Over time, my needs will be met to start anew. This mountain will be my home. I shall nurture it as it has onto my mere existence. After loosing my way in life, this lovely mass of nature will meet and surpass all expectations of living clean. I am welcomed here.

  6. “Say again,” said the radio voice. “I didn’t catch what you said.”

    Elizabeth recomposed herself, not wanting to deviate from her first reply. She was being flooded with information and struggling to process everything quickly enough.

    “I said, ‘I can see the mountain. It’s to the left of my window. Its peak is below us, and we’re maintaining our course and altitude.’”

    “Roger that,” said the controller. “We have you on our screens now. Can you confirm your airspeed? Your trace is inconsistent, and we can’t get a lock onto you.”

    “It’s three hundred and eighty-five knots. But we’re dropping again; we’re below twenty thousand feet now. The other dial you said I should watch is falling too – we’ve less than a thousand pounds of fuel on both sides.”

    “Roger that,” said the controller. There were other voices in the background: several men, some of them arguing, another one cheering and another, away from the microphone, singing a lewd song about a duck that wouldn’t do what it ought to do. Elizabeth snatched the throttle control levers backwards and let the aeroplane’s airspeed drop, triggering its stall warnings.

    “What are you doing?” The original controller was back, his vowels clipped and abrupt. “You’re endangering two hundred and thirty people’s lives by doing that. You’ve a plane you need to land to pass your final assessment.”

    “Screw that,” said Elizabeth, crashing the simulation. “Are you sure a cleaner has to know how to do this to work on your airline?”

  7. Peak

    “Now just look at the purple mountain majesties,” George told his companions. He made a sweeping gesture supporting his colorful description of the vista before them.

    “Our promised land lies beyond them,” Tamsen declared. “Thank the good Lord. Someone should write a poem or song about them, and maybe even a story about us conquering them.”

    “You got us here, George. That’s why you’re our leader,” Ethan told him. “Now we just need to get over or around them.”

    “We go through them, Ethan. No one did before us. Yet the Indians do. We’ll be the first and I’ll name the pass after me, so wagons forward, ho!”

    That refrain echoed down the line as the teams moved forward in a staggered formation. It was tough going, breaking a new trail over the rough foothill woodlands. The teamsters followed the lead wagon behind the trailblazers up the rugged and unforgiving terrain. The entire party cheered as word passed down the line. Their indomitable leader found a pass between two peaks.

    “We made it through the light snow. This sheltered pass and lake is a fine spot to hunker down. Our scouts report deepening snow ahead and we have everything we need to survive.” The pioneers built crude log cabins and weeks later ate a victory meal together.

    George Donner announced, “I call this place Donner’s Pass and Lake, a safe place for us and future travelers. Now let’s enjoy our meal and pray for an early spring.”

  8. The ancient shaman gazed placidly into the eyes of each crew member, then settled on those of the foreman. He spoke quietly yet firmly.

    “From the mountain came the land, from the land the people were born. The mountain is our Mother… we care for our Mother and the Mother protects us.”

    The foreman smirked.

    ”Look Tonto… or whatever the frick yer name is, I don’t give a rat’s ass what you call that mountain. There’s stuff we want in it and we’re gonna get it. We’re jus’ lookin’ right now so’s we gotta do some test blastin’. Like I tol’ ya a thousand times, we got the permits n’ we’re gonna blast no matter what you guys say.”

    He hacked and spit a the shaman’s feet as his hand drifted down and rested lightly on the revolver holstered on his hip.

    “So why don’ you and yer “braves” jes’ get outta the way. That way no one get hurt.”

    The ancient shaman peered quizzically at the huge heavily bearded man.

    “I am named T’aun’ta… and these are my people. We are not your cowboy-indians. You mus…”

    The slap hit the old man square on the side of his face… driving him to the ground. With all gentleness, the tribe helped the elder to his feet and together they melted into the forest.

    On the mountain, the miners set their charges in a shallow cave. The explosion was deafening. Literally.

    They never heard the rockfall that buried them.

  9. “Why am I feeling so let down? I mean, we won. The Sharp Wars are over. I should be feeling on top of the world right now.”

    “You’ve just been through a peak experience, and there’s always a certain desire to make it last forever. But it ends, and we have to come back down off the mountain and return to the ordinary business of living.”

    “I guess you’re right. Even if our grandparents would’ve thought living on the Moon was super sci-fi cool, spending your days sorting out malfunctioning equipment isn’t exactly an exciting task. Demanding, sure, but not like taking down a dictatorship and restoring the Constitution.”

    “And that last is exactly why we need to return home to our ordinary lives and work.”

  10. The Mountain

    Midnight, my coyote had the strangest habit of staring, unnerving others when she glowered at them. One comic said he was not really that interesting. This evening, while I dawdled on the yacht deck, Midnight was mesmerised by the distant mountain. She stared directly at the hazy purple nobility with a complete understanding of nature. On either side it was framed by the black silhouettes of trees as though by a picture frame. The mountain seemed too beautiful to be real.

    Me? I could never look at a mountain without wondering what was on the other side. Musings possessed me. Had the apocalypse threatened the other side of the mountain or was it intact? Were the residents still just going about their normal day without a care in the world? If we were to land on their doorstep blathering about the end of the world, spewing fire, gigantic fissures in the earth swallowing rows of houses for a snack, would they believe us? Would they think us insane?

    Ridiculous! I could neither see through the mountain or know what was happening on the other side. What to do?

    The other survivors were in raptures over the mountain’s beauty. Like me they wanted to believe that as the mountain had withstood the apocalypse, then it must follow that other things- buildings, people, things had too.

    Although we had agreed to search the nearest large city, talk turned to where we should head. I answered, “The mountain is calling us!”

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