Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Look

1960s batman
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!

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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Look”

  1. Batty Man

    He had the look of a fellow firm in his views, eyes forward, looking slightly down at the rest of mankind. Maybe I was reading too much into his look.

    I tend to do that.

    I, of course, thought I recognized him. His persona at any rate.

    It was hard to miss.

    It was early October, so Halloween was somewhat on the horizon.

    But this wasn’t a party.

    It was the Mall.

    Most of us were shopping.

    A few of us were wearing masks, the Covid-you-are-still-in-our-face masks.

    Most weren’t.

    His mask, his person’s mask, while iconic, perhaps, did little to offer protection from the air-born nature of the viral beast.

    Perhaps he didn’t care.

    I should have walked on by, but I just had to ask: “Nice mask.”

    I supposed he was glaring at me. But he stopped as I hailed him, and responded with, “ Yup.”

    “Crime fighting?” I took a shot.

    “BANG the scum, slowly,” he said, and I admit I was momentarily confused until I remembered the movie that he was likely riffing off.

    “So that’s a yes to my crime-fighting query?”

    “SLAM the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” he announced and left me in the dust.

    It’s possible, I thought that The Torpedoes were a local gang, not unlike the Jets and the Sharks.

    Mostly though, I suspected that Batty Man had spent too much time on his lonesome during Covid and this was his way of re-entering what some might call the real world.

  2. That Famous Look

    There’s not that much we have in common –

    He’s tall and I’m short.

    He has his many toys, and I have many bills to pay.

    He has the build, but I was last in that line.

    He’s clean shaven and I have a beard.

    He’s handsome, but I had enough to get his mother’s attention.

    I can see with glasses and he can see what people are thinking.

    He’s composed and I’m always looking over my shoulder.

    I know he still has hair but my head requires a hat or sunscreen.

    He can breathe through his nose and I, unfortunately, have asthma.

    Maybe we both have big ears, as he hides his.

    He’s still my son, and I love him.

    We do have one thing in common – I own the property he leases.

    After I told him his rent is now three months overdue, he has that famous look.

  3. Where all the Secrets are Kept

    He casually slipped between the shadows and stood at the edge of darkness…

    And… looked out… with unassuming eyes…

    Yet, there was something about them…

    They gave him… a certain look.

    It wasn’t the look of conceit or indifference…

    It was the look of knowing…

    Knowing that all the characters, the plots, the twists… all of them… had happened before…

    In other times… in darker days…

    And he knew what it all meant.

    It was all fake: just flashing images across a tinsel landscape.

    Like real life. Puffed-up words on TV screens. Made-up words about made-up worries, comic book stories, something to titillate, to gossip about…

    None of it was real. There were always script writers ready to deliver plots, always directors ready to push an agenda, always people ready to assume a character.

    Gotta keep people guessing. Maybe add a surprise ending…

    Yes, he knew…

    And that knowing was reflected in his look…

    That look that stared from the edge of darkness…

    Where all the secrets are kept…

  4. “What do you think of the ‘look’?”
    Writer Bob Kane thrust his sketch of a character he called Bat-Man in front of his artist friend, Bill Finger. The sketch, one of many crude ones he had made, showed a character wearing a small domino mask similar to the one Robin later wore.
    Finger liked Kane’s ideas, but he had a few suggestions. “You need to make him look more like a bat. For example, put a hood on him. And take the eyeballs out. If he has only slits for eyes, he’ll look more mysterious!”
    At this point, thinking red and black made for a striking combination of colors, Kane had drawn Bat-Man wearing a red union suit with black wings, trunks, and mask.
    Finger thought the costume was too bright. “Color it dark grey to make it look more ominous,” he suggested. “And ditch the stiff bat wings attached to his arms. They’re cumbersome! How the hell can he go into action with those?”
    “Okay, let’s change the wings into a cape made to look like bat wings when he is fighting or swinging down on a rope,” said Kane “And he needs gloves so that he won’t leave fingerprints. Though now, I’m a little concerned: don’t you think he looks a bit too avant-garde?”
    “Are you kidding me?” Finger replied. “This is 1939, after all!”

  5. The Look
    Contemplating how to continue existing as an apocalypse survivor, I constantly questioned. How would our group remain healthy? Was the water contaminated? Was there enough food? How should we remain positive? Worry and stress must be kept away. But how? Melancholy crept over the group slowly like a disease. Certainly, I was giving up.

    Oddly, I thought about comic books. The comic books of my youth exploded with energy, vibrant colours, cunning villains and brilliant superheroes. My favourite was always Batman. Suddenly, there he was in his blue satin cape and black mask. The Batman logo stretched tightly over his muscular chest.

    Nostalgist feelings for my youth, comics and my childhood hero, flooded over me. The Gotham Crusader was still my hero. At 6 feet 2 inches, he was an imposing figure of muscles, intelligence and ingenuity. Yet… something was different. It was his expression. Batman, who I worshipped and admired in my youth, looked at me with pure distain.

    The disdain said, “Really? If I your superhero can fight crime, surely I have inspired you. I have wealth, you have wealth of knowledge. My physical strength is reflected in your sinewy muscles. My intelligence is seen in you being able to work through problems. I am passionate about fighting crime, and you are passionate about surviving.”

    The Cape Crusader slowly disappeared leaving me energized to survive.

  6. “So what… he thinks he’s a super hero now? What… Batman? Hah! He don’t even know my frickin’ name anymore”, slurred Anita as she downed another few ounces if vodka.

    Glaring at her younger sister, Sharon gently removed the cowled mask from their grandfather, who was lost in dementia, and tenderly smoothed the strands of wispy white hair into place.

    “Usually he’s Superman, but they’re in the wash, so today he’s Batman. Y’know how he always loved to dress up at Halloween? Well the costumes seem to make him happy.”

    “Oh I’m sure he likes being a super hero jus’ fine, flying abound and using super strength and stuff. How come he don’t use his super duper powers to feed himself? I bet he doesn’t even know you’re here… or even that he’s here.”

    Sharon stopped fussing with their grandfather and stared at her sister.

    ”Look… when I was about five or six and you were just a baby, my friend Tommy had been playing with some little parachutes he had made from his mom’s handkerchiefs, a rock, and some string. He bet me that if I used dad’s umbrella, I could jump off the garage roof and float down to the driveway. It took a while, but I climbed up and I jumped.”

    “Jeez, that was really dumb. How bad were you hurt?”

    “I wasn’t. Somehow Grandpa came out of nowhere and caught me!”

    “So…?” Anita sneered.

    “Grandpa doesn’t think he’s a super hero…”

    “I do.”

  7. The look on their faces said it all. The uproarious crowd that’d gathered and cheered their hero on was brought to silence.
    Fourteen years crescendo’d to the moment where instead of a reveal and baring truth, the faithful were informed, “You’re part of my experiment. Nothing that I told you was ever true. You can read the details in the paper that I’ve published.”
    Mouths gaped. The fabled caped crusader that had prepared to fell forsaken enemies, turned eyes – disgusted – against the one who’d promised their deliverance.
    Gasps rose – louder cries then followed: The bat-bedecked had charged the stage – he dove for the visionary man they’d followed.
    “What the,” was the sentiment was shared by everyone that saw. The planned assault, the tackle launched found – nothing: The cape-shorn one sailed through the vision and landed with a flump upon the surface.
    He quickly stood – considered the projection. What was verbalized was the same conclusion that all present and otherwise contrived: “An imposter.” The superhero warned the many gathered, “We’ve been duped. Our guy’s been compromised – it’s a trap.”
    The stampede that followed left several injured, but none of it was serious. Despite belief they’d been corralled for apprehension, everyone was allowed to walk away.
    Weeks later, in a prison cell beneath a mountain, a journal would land beside a man in shackles. It landed, open to an article entitled, “Cult of personality and population control.”
    The feeble words, “You’ll never get away with this,” returned, “We did.”

  8. I still remember when the whole notion of cosplay seemed weird. Sure, you had costumers at conventions, but outside of the formal masquerade, where you put on a little skit for the audience, it was understood as dressing up. If you were doing a hall costume, you still interacted with the other members of the convention as your regular self, not whatever character you were dressed as.

    So going to an anime convention was a weird experience. I told myself these were kids, so it was unsurprising they’d be playing make-believe, even if they were quite a bit older than my generation outgrew such things.

    Comic cons were a little more unnerving, because I sometimes wondered if some of these people were getting just a little too into their roles. Especially the ones playing supervillains rather than superheroes. Did they actually admire the Joker or the Green Goblin and want to be like them?

    And then came the day I was downtown when one of the biggest gaming conventions in the world came to town. I didn’t even realize there was trouble until this guy cosplaying Batman got this really intent look, then walks over to an uncomfortable-looking young woman and asks her a few questions.

    About ten minutes later the whole area was swarming with cops. That one interaction led to the bust of a huge international human trafficking ring.

    Some days a cosplayer turns out to be a real superhero.

  9. So the two of them walked down the busy street, the tall one in a Batman costume leading the way. “It’s my eyes, my stare,” he said to his compatriot who was lagging behind. “ I give the bankers my look and we’re home free.”

    The short, round, and bandy-legged partner struggled to keep up with the long-legged crusader marching as if he had somewhere to go. “Boss,” he said, “Let’s think this through.” Without further ado, he slammed into the backside of his caped friend who had stopped so he could catch up.

    “It’s a simple matter of physics, my burning eyes, and my magnetic personality. We walk into the bank, eye the clerk, and then we load up on cash. You’ve got the bag?”

    “I do,” said his partner, huffing from the exertion, “but I don’t have a costume. I go in that bank and everybody sees me. You take off that costume and you’re a regular guy.”

    The caped costumer laughed ruefully. “Oh, you of little faith. Just follow along. My stare will blind them all. We’ll be home free, cash full, and safely on our way.”

    When the tall guy ordered the bank clerk to hand over the money, the clerk raised an eyebrow. A cop blew his whistle and three guards converged, handcuffing the would-be robbers.

    “I don’t get it,” said the constumed one. “I stared the guy down.”

    “He didn’t see your eyes,” said the stubby guy. “Your mask covers them up.”

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