Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Last Drive-in

a drive-in theatre with cars parked in front of the screen
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: The Last Drive-in”

  1. As Mary looked up at the huge white screen sadness enveloped her. That screen represented her childhood. Memories of her and her brother in the back of the family’s station wagon. She had been too young to understand the concept of the drive in theater. Most of the time she fell asleep in the back while her parents watched the movie. As she got older she came to not only appreciate but love the drive in. She didn’t know why but the drive-in food was the best she ever tasted. It was strange because she bought the same brand the drive in used but it wasn’t as good.
    As Mary got older her parents were replaced with friends and even a boy friend or two. Mary was reluctant to admit she still fell asleep every once in a while. Sometimes she didn’t even care what the movie was playing. It was just so she could feel safe and content as she had when she was younger. This was her last chance to feel those feelings at a drive in. To taste food that magically tasted better just for the fact it was served at a drive in. The sadness engulfed her knowing that one of her favorite things would be no more. This was the last drive in. It saddened her that drive-ins would soon be a by-gone era. It made her feel so old. She would miss her favorite pastime.

  2. The Cassidy

    We were coming back from down Island last week, a day trip to Victoria. Hadn’t been there since before Covid. A no-agenda day, shopping, a fancy-assed lunch as a small Thai bistro and the long drive home.
    South of my hometown, I pointed out where the Cassidy once stood.

    “Not many of them left,” Hennessy said.

    “Nah. Hardly any.”

    “Frequent it much?”

    “Back in the day,” I replied, regretting the triteness. Everything of value was pretty much back in the day.

    The good things, the darker things.

    I didn’t really want to dredge up one particular memory but there it was. Maybe it was always there, niggling away like a burr in my memory saddle. Ugliness and stupidity have a way of lingering.

    It was a night of oaters. Two lesser westerns. Six of us in Jameson’s old Dodge. Wesley drew the short straw and jumped in the trunk. We’d thought of squeezing someone else in to keep him company but didn’t want to get too greedy. I suppose we could’ve plunked him in closer to the Drive-In but for some mindless reason, he was in there for the full twenty-five-minute drive.

    Then there was the line-up.

    I was in the backseat with Morgan and Tate, and we were swigging a bunch of brews, yakking it up.

    Maybe we heard him yelling.

    Maybe I did.

    Once we got there, we had to wait till it was dark.

    Maybe I’d even smelled the gas leak.

    Too late by then.

  3. “I still don’t know why we’re doing this,” Barry said, retuning the radio. “It’s completely bogus. I’d rather we were at home enjoying Netflix and Chill. That way we could be watching something we wanted, not some old lame movie. And who was it chose this one anyway?”

    The projector’s beam lanced out, and everyone cheered; one of the hockey team’s knuckleheads using it to cast a lewd gesture onto the screen for a few seconds until he got pulled away.

    “It’s heritage: isn’t it? And besides, it’s for the community. Your folks are in the car behind us. It’s something we can all do. One last time, all of us together.”

    Barry groaned. He’d been trying to forget that. Gillian’s parents were in the car immediately to their left, their eyes spending as much time looking to the right as they did at the screen. He hoped they’d both get distracted as soon as it got darker, concentrating on the feature instead of the main event.

    The classic image appeared: Michael Rennie and the Robot, the alien’s saucer ship filling the screen to the rear. A chorus of catcalls and ring pulls punctuated the soundtrack, fed through the car’s FM receiver, the college’s track squad toasting the hero every time the camera angle changed. Many of them were already drunk, the main attraction being that, after tonight, there’d be no consequences. No morning after; no worries about hangovers or nausea.

    One mutual last hurrah on the world’s final day.

  4. Unforgettable Movie Night

    The drive-in movie theatre in the small town of Cringewood was a staple for those seeking a nostalgic movie experience.

    On this particular night, the feature presentation was a classic horror movie, perfect for the spooky season. As the sun set, the cars rolled in and parked facing the giant screen.

    As the movie began, the sound began to fade. Some audience members couldn’t hear the screams of the frightened actors and others complained that the sound was too muffled.

    The owner of the drive-in, a slightly eccentric man named Charlie, ran frantically across the lot, climbed up the ladder, and started fiddling with the sound system.

    As he leaned over to inspect the wires, his pants ripped, exposing his brightly coloured striped boxers. The crowd erupted in laughter.

    Just as the movie started up again, someone’s car alarm went off, causing a widespread rumour that a serial killer was on the loose. Panicking, people honked their horns and flashed their headlights, creating a chaotic scene.

    As the movie horror scenes played onscreen, people in their cars started to scream, creating a jarring mix of sound effects from both the movie and the crowd.

    During the commotion, someone had called the local sheriff, and soon police, ambulance and fire truck sirens and flashing lights filled the drive-in parking lot.

    It was a scene of absolute chaos…

    Meanwhile, Charlie was hiding in the office; he was too embarrassed to come out.

  5. Growing up, it was never about what was playing at the drive-in.
    When I was a youngster, it was about the many free rides with other kids before the movie started.
    Sometimes, if my dad was in a good mood, he would park the station wagon with the back end toward the screen. We would sit on the mattress and brace ourselves against the front seats.
    Later, when I had my driver’s license and my car, it was about being close to that special person in my life.
    Our Wammasett drive-in got wise to teenagers and started charging by the car instead of by heads.
    It was a special time in my life. It was a time to take responsibility for my actions.
    Many times, we had to start the car to defog the windows, or not.
    I’m sure our parents knew what was really happening, never asking how the movie was.
    I can remember the test pattern counting down to when the previews were going to start after intermission.
    The food was the most expensive part of going to the drive-in. However, it just gave us energy, and many times was more memorable than what was playing.
    We even had multiple screen drive-ins. Why didn’t they understand, it wasn’t about the movies for many attendees.
    It’s a shame that the many drive-ins have closed and have taken away the special memories of thousands of adolescents.
    Now they just have to watch the ‘submarine races.’

  6. The line of cars stretched out ahead and behind as far as Yuri and Lara could see. Everyone was polite, car horns silent, as if this was special, spiritual.

    “So this is the last drive-in? Forever?” asked Lara.

    “So I’m told,” said Yuri, leaning back in the restored 1965 Ford Falcon. “This drive-in is closing for good. No more watching movies from our cars.”

    “Why?” asked Lara.

    “Population control,” said Ben, smirking. “Don’t you watch the news? Overpopulation. They had to do something.”

    “Shut down a drive-in theater?”

    “Think about it,” said Yuri, looking over at Lara. “I was conceived at this very theater when Dr. Zhivago first came out. My parents were kids out having a good time. Nine months later, I arrived. Guess who they named me after? Where were you conceived?”

    Lara blushed, flustered. “Same thing. Not this drive-in but the same movie. My parents lived up in Michigan.”

    “There you go,” said Yuri. “Different theater, same movie. And who you’re named after?” Lara squirmed in the front seat of the Ford. “Just another tyke taking up space and eating someone else’s food. Shut down the drive-ins and you cut off a nice pack of future rugrats.”

    “Then why are we going?” asked Lara. “We could’ve done something else.”

    “But they’re showing Dr. Zhivago,” said Yuri. “My folks said it’s a romantic flick. We should see it. Have fun. Steam up the windows. See what happens in nine months.”

  7. The Last Drive-in

    “My life was a mosaic. Orderly, patterned and beautiful. It blossomed with vibrant colours, variegated experiences and tangible happiness. Perfect. Then the Apocalypse violently usurped the mosaicist role, shaking my life into disorder. Beauty and logic were irrevocably lost!

    “It was a tiresome ride to the outrageously overpriced drive-in theatre. The first and last time I went to a drive-in, the cars were all parked in order. Nothing was asymmetric, but there was regulation, motif, structure. But then the film started and chaos followed. The words were whisper weak or hell loud, the film itself sputtered too fast, was blurred or out of focus. The screen seemed to be acres away and too small. My friends hooted and hollered as if they were having a wondrous time. Brainless fools!

    “My friends had heralded drive-in food as unbelievably delightful; a burst of heaven on your tastebuds. It was not. For being dry, tasteless, unattractive looking it was remarkably expensive. The drinks were liquid lies too. Watered down, discoloured, mostly ice, but costing a king’s ransom.

    “I wished it was the last drive-in because it was such a painful experience ranging from frustration to anger. Well, sadly I got my wish. A very wasted wish.” The storyteller finished with a heavy sigh.

    Other stories followed comparing lives before and after the Apocalypse. All of them demonstrated that before this tragic event, life was both ordered, ablaze and happy. After the Armageddon there was too much uncertainty.

  8. When I first saw the movie Twister, I was completely bewildered by the drive-in movie scene. I had no idea what was going on, because I had never seen a drive-in.

    I was curious enough to ask around, and got the story about the glory days of the drive-in. How you could watch theater releases from the privacy of your car, where you could crunch your popcorn or share spoilers without getting nasty looks from the old lady two rows down. And the fun the teenagers could get up to in the back seat of a darkened car.

    But it had its downsides. There was this little speaker you clipped to your driver’s side window to listen to the soundtrack, but half the time it was tinny and distorted. In later years, you were apt to find the speaker vandalized or missing altogether. And with your window open, in came all the bugs, attracted by the bright lights and sweet smells of the concession stand.

    By the 1980’s a constellation of factors was working against drive-ins: the rise of mall culture, the skyrocketing price of land, the VCR. The final blow was the cheap flat-panel TV, which allowed everyone to have a home theater experience.

    The few remaining drive-ins are nostalgia pieces. Tonight I’m going to one, to imagine what it was like when everyone headed to the drive-in.

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