Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Missed Call

antique phone covered in dust flash fiction writing prompt 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 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.

Author: Administrators

All Indies Unlimited staff members, including the admins, are volunteers who work for free. If you enjoy what you read here - all for free - please share with your friends, like us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you don't know how to thank us for all this great, free content - feel free to make a donation! Thanks for being here.

8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Missed Call”

  1. Title: Missed Objective

    “That’s right, I said call him back, we need another day or two.”
    “Sir, we can’t do that.”
    “WE…we can do anything.”
    “Sir, this is out of the question.”
    “Are you disobeying a direct order?”
    “I guess I am.”
    “Guard, relieve this general of his duties.”
    “YES, Sir.”
    “Colonel, I want you to call that man back and tell him we need two days minimum.”
    “Sir, with all due respect, YOU will have to make that phone call, as it is above my rank.”
    “Fine, can you at least dial the number for me?”
    “I’m sorry, sir, he didn’t leave his number.”
    “This is a ridiculous way to fight a war. The batteries on the missiles are not fully charged. Is there any way to speed up the charging?”
    “I’m sorry, Sir, but the instructions are written in Chinese.”
    “Great…get me, Private Pei Wang, on the double.”
    “YES, Sir!”

  2. “Hello? Is that Detroit 442? Can you return this call if you’re listening? Mister Kingdom would like to speak with you about some money you’re owed. But it’s a time-limited opportunity, and it’s really urgent.”

    It’s a winner: every which way you play it. It’s a basic human instinct; getting something you don’t deserve. And the limited timescale offer overrides their caution.

    Greed. It’s a fundamental driver. People like to play the odds, thinking they can benefit from the game. And the smaller the stake, the more they’re willing to gamble.

    Of course, you’re thinking that that’s a paradox. A zero-sum bet. Where’s the risk for any ignorant schmuck following up on that?

    And that’s always the hook that draws them in.

    I’m a simple soul. I have the self-same basic needs as any man. I need to keep my head dry when it rains. I have a passion for bacon, cheese and Italian dough. A hankering for liquor and affection and no ties. And as such, I’m strictly low-budget. I eat, therefore I am.

    I have nothing I don’t need in my life.

    But other people? They have ambition. They have a feeling they should have done better. And that the only thing stopping them from succeeding is their dumb luck.

    And dumb is where it is every time.

    And that’s why I keep ringing. A hundred and twenty calls an hour. It only takes one call, and I’m a winner.

    And every Thursday, I’m a prince. From Nigeria.


    That November 1976 Phone Call
    “I’ll keep trying,” I told her as she paced the floor like a prowling puma.
    “Thanks,” she said. “It’s worrisome.”
    I knew she was anxious. Sheds worn out her finger punching Celia’s number for over an hour. I was busy with my crossword, didn’t want to be interrupted but finally decided to lend her a hand.
    “Sure, I’ll give it a shot,“ I said, regretting it but happy to be less of a jerk than usual.
    After about fifteen minutes of dialing, I covered the receiver, said, somewhat unnecessarily, “You know, she could have gone out. People do.”
    She winged her exasperated look at me, “It’s after ten. She’s always in bed by nine.”
    “Deep sleeper?” I mused.
    “No. You know better. It’s been years since she has had a good night’s sleep.”
    I did know better. There was a lingering grief swarming around Celia. Eight years earlier, her son, Aaron, eighteen at the time, packed his bags and hit the road. There was a note, an I’m-off-to-see-the-world-so-don’t-look-for-me missive. It was good of him to leave a message, but it revealed little.
    Since his departure, not a single letter, call, nothing to give even a hint that he was still alive.
    And Celia had become more…fragile.
    I hated to admit it but there was cause for worry.
    Finally, we had to drive over there.
    An unlocked house. Car still in the driveway.
    No sign of Celia.
    Forty-six years later.
    Mother and son.
    Lost forever.


    Sara dialed the phone with panic in her heart. Fear gripped her. She closed her eyes and prayed for someone to answer, for anyone to answer. Her heart pounded in her chest. She needed someone to answer, anyone. Her very life depended upon it. Why wouldn’t anyone answer their phone. I mean what good were cell phones when no one would answer. Her palms began to sweat, it felt like a brick was in her stomach. Her eyes darted all around her looking for some way to escape. But she saw no way for her to escape this situation she found herself in.
    Sara began to wonder why she had answered her phone in the first place. Why hadn’t she let it ring like everyone she knew was doing. If only she had let that call go to voicemail. Who knew that answering a phone call would put her life in danger. “Well?” the man asked. “I’m trying!” she cried. “Your time is almost up.” “I’ll get someone to answer, I swear I will.” Sara nervously dials another number. The phone rings and rings. She looks up at the man with terror filled eyes. “Please.” she begs. “One more try. I can get someone to answer.” The man sighed “I take no pleasure in this. I simply made the mistake of answering my phone. The man took a step towards Sara. “I’m sorry you’ve lost……

  5. Missed Telephone Call

    The Twins were gremlins, but sometimes they made a startling discovery.

    Abruptly, I fell asleep in my hidden sanctuary and abruptly was woken. Initially, the Twins talked a lot of argle-bargle, but then they mentioned their great discovery and started to read, “The place was really hopping. Saturday night and a Little Richard contest. Between baking, serving and taking payments, I was the big scary bouncer. My husband usually worked security but he was away.” Then I realised that the original writer was Kay and the Twins were probably reading her private diary.

    I tried to intervene, but the Twin continued, “The evening and frenzy deepened. Shouting to be heard in the middle of a fight, a Little Richard rendition and high-pitched screamed orders, I barely registered the phone ringing. Shamefully, instead of telling them all to go to hell and taking the phone call, I decided to miss the phone call.

    “By missing the phone call, I unravelled. Later, I discovered it was the hospital urging my presence because my husband had had a fatal accident. By the time I finally received the message, I only had time to say goodbye. Attending too much to the Restaurant, I denied myself precious last moments with my husband! Yet in my mind, he is still alive!”

    “Still alive” echoed through my mind; Kay knew her husband was dead long before the Apocalypse. Yet she told us he disappeared after the Apocalypse. Which was true? We all thought he had perished.

  6. Nine… only nine. That’s how many of us remain of those who made it to the bunker after the sirens. Eleven levels deep, the shelter was built to house about 45,000 souls for five years, at least that’s what the government claimed. We made it to the lowest level before the missiles started to land. Way down here, we couldn’t hear them explode, but we could feel them… especially the last one.

    We really felt that one.

    The last explosion damaged our access doors…. all the way down here. Must have been a direct hit… so we ain’t getting out.

    We sealed ourselves in to escape whatever crap seeped into the upper levels. So far so good.

    We got enough food and supplies, lord knows. We figure there’s enough here for the next forty years or so, although we don’t expect to be here that long. Actually, we’ll probably be here, but we most likely won’t need any of that stuff. Y’know, we all oughta be in heaven… ’cause we’re already spending time in hell. That’s gotta count for something.

    Things here wouldn’t be all that bad except for that damn phone. Somewhere in one of the levels above us, it’s ringing. We don’t know how long we’ve been down here since the clock went out, but that damn phone… been ringing off and on for about two years now.

  7. Missed Call

    It was her first day on the job. She wanted to appear confident, sitting up straight, smiling, all the while pulling hangnails from her fingers under the desk.

    The phone rang, “Good morning, this is Teresa, how can I direct your call?”

    “I’m looking for Mr. Jones,” the caller stated.

    “Yes sir, I’ll ring that extension for you.” And so, it went for the rest of the day, one call after the other, except for the one missed call when she stepped away from her desk to take mail to the mailroom.

    On her return, the voicemail was clear and familiar, ‘Teresa, I wanted to speak to you one last time. Wanted to just hear your voice. I’m glad you have the job now. It will be good for you, especially in the coming weeks. There is plenty of money in the checking account to hold you over until your first paycheck. You will be okay. I love you.’

  8. Dust covered the old telephones that lay scattered under the desk. I could hear the ringing, but every phone I picked up was dead. Not even a dial tone — and the ringing continued.

    This is a test, the interviewer had told me when he directed me to report to this room. However, he’d said nothing about the requirements or objectives of that test.

    And I needed this job so badly. Some people can just say they’re looking for a job and offers start rolling in. For me, job hunting means dozens or even hundreds of applications just to get a nibble.

    And the phone’s still ringing. I swear I’ve checked every one of them and they’re all dead.

    What kind of employer uses a test like this? Do I really want to make the cut?

    But I need a job.

Comments are closed.