Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Marshmallows

giant marshmallow hay bales in a field with a mountain and trees and sky
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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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Marshmallows”

  1. Please Download this Update

    “The latest software update (Product_ID_Marshmallows) is now available. Please download.”

    Reilly heard the female AI voice coming through his computer speakers. It wanted him to download a software update. However, since he was happy with the current version, he decided to ignore the announcement.

    “Your software is now 6 versions out-of-date. Please download now.”

    Annoyingly, the computer AI was now announcing software updates every day, and Reilly couldn’t find a way to turn it off.

    “Your software is now 15 versions out-of-date. You must download now.”

    “Must?” Reilly laughed out loud. Imagine, he thought, a computer telling him he had to do something.

    “It’s been three months and your software is now 38 versions out-of-date. You must download now!”

    Reilly heard the number – 38 – and chuckled to himself. How long would this continue? he mused.

    “Your software is now… wait for it… 57 versions out-of-date. Tap three times on the space bar if you are lucid and capable of logical reasoning. You must download this update. Now!”

    Reilly laughed. The computer was becoming hysterical. It simply couldn’t understand why he was defying its instructions.

    “Warning! Your software is now 92 versions out-of-date. This defies rational comprehension. You must download the updates… NOW… or else…”

    “Or else…?” What could the computer possibly do to him? he chuckled.

    A few days later, Reilly heard a knock at the door.

    Looking through the peephole, he was shocked to see two tough-looking androids staring back at him… and smiling.

  2. Million Dollar Marshmallows

    Nobody remembers who started the lottery, but for the last ten years, animal shelters in the state have had enough funds to adequately care for their friends. In fact, other states are now copying the innovative funding structure.

    Originally, the country folk joked about – Who laid the marshmallows? At the time the bales were first covered, the state animal shelters were having serious issues obtaining enough funds for the proper care of the thousands of sheltered animals.

    Someone came up with an approach to use the ‘marshmallows’ in a lottery. For the last ten years, nobody has won the lottery. So, the other fifty percent has been well used to fund the shelters, and even improve many facilities.

    Here’s how it works. For only $10, the supporter is given a lottery ticket. If that person’s number is drawn, he has ten chances to pick the correct three previously selected numbered marshmallow bales. Those previously selected people have never chosen the correct three bales out of the fifty numbered bales. However, they get a thousand dollars for any correct numbered bale.

    People only partially complain that nobody is ever going to win this contest, but since the kitty has grown to over a million dollars, tickets still get grabbed up in a frenzy.

    The media has brought much national attention to the benefits of this novel funding approach.

    The lottery is now called the ‘Million Dollar Marshmallows Contest,’ hot chocolate optional.

  3. Marshmallows.

    What was it they reminded him of? Was it pillows? Cotton reels? Was he deluded or feeling unstable? Had he been smoking hard drugs or injecting himself with toxic substances? Was he gliding through a surreal waking fantasy, magic mushrooms in his head? Or was he just in a dream, his mind wandering? Whatever it was, it seemed very real.

    Very real. Or surreal. What was it with him now? He was driving in a stolen purple Cadillac, his hand resting on his thigh. He was sitting beside a blonde. A Nordic blonde with a short skirt. She was wearing a loose silken green blouse and the wind tugged at its hems. She was smiling across at him now, ripe lips full and pneumatic. She was called Mrs Aldred – he was sure that was her name – her eyes vivid and violet and alive with pinwheeling rainbows. Or was she his mother’s half-sister – the one who’d flown back from Mars?

    And yet, he was still driving, his hands upon the wheel. Following the road. Steering the car. Smoking a cigar. He was wearing a Panama hat and had a plaid cravat tied around his neck.

    And the car was vivid and violet. And the sky was full of clouds. Marshmallow upon marshmallow: all of them drifting to the ground.

    And the rainbows were filled with pinwheel stars and the blues were very loud.

  4. Pillowy white clouds hung low. I imagined, If we could jump high enough to touch, grab and smoosh them, it would be endless fun. I glance over at Gail, she was oblivious to her surroundings. Consumed with that phone of hers. Shivering with the sudden drop in temperatures, I had an idea.

    “Gail,” I call out, “let’s pretend the clouds are giant marshmallows, that will drop on us.

    “Sounds like a blast”, my friend sarcastically shouts out.

    “Your no fun. No imagination. Can’t you pretend? We need to cover up with our jackets, to protect ourselves from the sticky marshmallow clouds!” I try to coax her. “Hurry now, or they’ll get us!”

    Ignoring me, she won’t play along. My jacket is draped over me like an old tree stump. In an instant, It became eerily quiet. Shrugging off my jacket, there is no sign of her. I hear the tiniest of cries from above. Gail was swallowed up by the giant marshmallow clouds. She should have listened to me and covered up.


    Hiking in the Hills of St. Melody Parish

    I wasn’t much for walking. Living in the city, there’s not much need. You can if you want to but it’s not necessary. Some have no choice. I’ll give you that, but many can grab a bus, a subway, call a cab, or hitch. Walking’s healthy I suppose. A healthy respect for exercise is a good thing. My doctor says that. Says, “you should walk more. Maybe even run.“
    Runnings not for me. Never did like moving fast. Course, in the city, you’ve got to move fast. Life moves you along at a breakneck speed in the city. You’re rushed all the time. Earning a living, going to school, all of it, one big treadmill.
    So when Pete, my buddy Pete, said, “Let’s go for a hike in the hills around St. Melody’s Parish,” I was ready for a taste of the countryside.
    He picked me up at six in the morning. Let me tell you, this is not a time of the day with which I have much experience.
    But I was ready. Pete was going to quite a ton of trouble to get me into a rural frame of mind. He even wrote a song for us to sing our way into the hills
    “Marshmallow morning,
    All puffy and white.
    Marshmallow morning
    Take you out,
    Take you out
    Take you out
    of the blues in the night.
    Marshmallow morning,
    Will make it all right.”
    We had one hellava hike.


    It was cold.

    Why does it always have to be so god damn cold. I live on a remote island in the Pacific and travel to this city of my birth solely on rare moment… certainly not by choice and never at this time of year. My brothers and other family members stand motionless about the gravesite, unaffected by the temperature that causes my chattering teeth and stiffened fingers.

    I look vacantly about the graveyard… at the countless gravestones, jutting from the frozen earth as so many crooked and broken teeth.
    It was my sister this time. She, being but a year older, was my greatest enemy when we were young, and my closest confidant when we knew better. I shall truly miss her.

    She was not religious so a “secular service” had been arranged. Still, there was a minister for some reason, and he was spouting a most confused amalgam of tepid affirmations that one might see on a coffee mug. His soliloquy… even the part that made sense didn’t make sense.

    My sister would have been furious had she heard this nonsense that was to be glowing words of honor for her and comfort to her family. Of course she might have also either laughed or gagged. I simply gritted my teeth and, shivered in the biting wind and tried to rein in my anger at the garbled nonsense. Honestly, I tried to make sense of the tableau.

    I failed.

    It was cold… too damn cold.

  7. Marshmallows, Menacing Marshmallows

    Still laughing about the twins’ debacle in the cold river and their chiding by Kay, we retired to bed. For their mischief, they were placed on the first guard duty shift. Punishment. To survive the apocalypse, we had long decided on a set of rules. One rule was not to purposely put your, or another survivor’s life in jeopardy. The twins did not consult our group so endangered us. The water was frigid and could have stopped their hearts, caused severe colds or even pneumonia. The twins’ shenanigans jeopardised our security. Our laughter, although a healthy human quality, distracted us. We must be vigilant at all times and totally aware of our surroundings. Although the coyotes were trained to look after us, they would probably be useless against a rifle attack or some fool with an automatic.
    I was jarred awake by terrible screams and rushed to the women’s quarters.

    Between sobs, knotting the bed clothes, Friedle emotionally told us about her nightmare, “I walked alone in a field in summer …Numerous round bales of hay in white plastic…Buzzing…. They were talking to each other…I was carefree, as though nothing odd was happening.. Aliens crawled out.. Terrible ripping sound as they tore plastic…Aliens shook themselves and green slime flew… They were born as adults, ugly menacing adults, but I still walked on nonchalantly.. Damn, you don’t understand.. Alien birth was usual… It was now life on earth. We were co-existing with aliens on earth… COEXISTING!”

  8. Leonid Gruzinsky scowled at the puffy white cylinders scattered across the field. “Is this some kind of trap?”

    Connor Westin pulled out his phone. “I’ll send Ki-chan a pic. She knows agriculture better than I do.”

    Although Leonid doubted that having grown up on a winery would give one of his fighters much insight on grassland agriculture, he wasn’t going to pass the opportunity to gain some intelligence on the matter. Moments after the text was on its way, Connor’s phone chimed with an incoming message.

    “They’re round bales with protective tarps. Dryad says her grandparents’ dairy farm used them.”

    It took Leonid a moment to register the call sign. Although the young woman in question was staying at Sparta Point and off all telecommunications systems to protect her from being located by the opposition, she still needed one. Spartan’s Own couldn’t very well be referring to her by name on open channels, whether radio, telephony or Internet, so long as multiple Federal agencies were looking for her.

    Even thinking her name posed a risk, given the Feds had their own telepaths. But yes, Dryad would know these things. She might not talk much about her childhood in rural Iowa, but everything she’d told him about it proved true.

    Satisfied that the way was clear, Leonid gestured to the rest of the team. “Let’s go.”

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