Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Apocalyptic

burned out historic building. photo copyright k.s. 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: Apocalyptic”

  1. Apocalyptic Morning

    I awoke from my sleep and yawned.

    Then I slipped out of bed, walked to the window, and pulled back the drapes:

    The sky was black, silhouetting charred buildings and overturned vehicles below, while smoke billowed from fires, poisoning the air with an intense smell.

    I was confused and disoriented.

    What was going on?

    I stepped outside and carefully made my way through the streets, keeping to the shadows, watching for any signs of danger.

    I passed rundown houses with boarded up windows, deserted factories and crushed cars in intersections. Everywhere, there was an aura of menace, at every turn, my heart beat faster.

    It felt like this terrible place was waiting for me to make a mistake, waiting to crush me under its weight, waiting to take away everything I cared about.

    Then, in the distance I heard a static-filled radio transmission: it was reporting on riots breaking out; of people fighting each other for food and water…

    I stopped and took a deep breath.

    How did I come to be in this dark and terrible place?


    Morning dawned and I opened my eyes.

    I quickly sat up in bed and realized it was just a bad dream.

    Relieved, I slipped out of bed and walked to the window. I pulled back the drapes and looked out:

    The sky was black, charred buildings and debris littered the streets below, and smoke billowed from fires, poisoning the air with an intense smell…

  2. The End of the World as He Knew It

    Occasionally, Gronsky got depressed about, well, pretty much everything, but mostly two things.

    Less often, it was the terribly irreversible descent of aging.

    He’d never tried to stay young, wear the mantle of the older man who acted youthful. He’d never desired a little red sports car. Or a sweet young thing hanging on his arm.

    Except, in the odd dream that he wasn’t really in control of.

    So even though he understood that each year of life was one less year he had to live, and that it was as natural as the tides, he fretted about it.


    And there was that other thing that raided his life, plundered both his dreams, technically his nightmares, and his everyday life, especially his penchant for watching the news.


    He would occasionally talk to Miriam about his nightmares about Armageddon, the end of the world by fire, by flood, by war, by everything imaginable.

    Except asteroids smashing into earth.

    That didn’t bother him all that much.

    He decided she didn’t need to be burdened by his lesser horror-dream, the occasional sweet young things he manufactured who accompanied him to beaches, his dream beaches.

    Miriam had suggested that he limit his news intake. “My God, Gronsky, you watch the tube 24/7. And not useful shows like cooking and travel. It’s always news with you. No wonder you aren’t sleeping well.”

    But the truth was, he needed to know.


    He hated surprises.

  3. Agent Jones dived into the hoarding, bursting through it with his bullet head. ‘No political or religious commentary,’ it had demanded; a relic of the old days: the days before the riots.

    Before The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster rose to power.

    It had begun simply. The Chief Pastor of the cult had been nominated for office. A joke at the time, most people had voted for him rather than spoiling their ballots. And some of his ideas had merit. Lasagne for the over-70s – free soft food for every citizen with no teeth. That had been a vote catcher.

    And crocheted spaghetti boxer shorts for all.

    The world had been looking for a change. A U-turn toward the imaginary. Policies never tried before – fresh thinking that hadn’t already failed.

    Then there’d been the campaigns. The media anchors all loved it, bringing the ‘and finally’ news themes to the forefront. Dancing ducks draped in tagliatelle, grizzled veterans firing off their ammunition at midnight. There hadn’t been a soul without a smile.

    A landslide victory in every state.

    But when the cannoli began to crumble, people began to realize the enormity of what they’d done.

    The roving squads of extremist re-educators – the Super Al Dente – visiting kitchens everywhere. Sweeping across the land, demolishing bakeries and any other outlet selling forbidden carbohydrate-based foodstuffs. No more waffles, no more pancakes – no more Crêpes up in the north in Canada.

    Jones couldn’t not rail against that.

    He was gluten-intolerant.

  4. Title: Living Beyond Their Demise

    It was an eyesore to the townspeople, but I had a different vision.

    Yes, it was a crying shame the building was lost in the fire, but things have a way of living beyond their demise.

    My wife was upset with me when I mentioned my plan. It wasn’t a wild assed endeavor; it was something that came in a dream. Trying to explain to her why I had to do this didn’t help at all.

    My grandfather loved this and a few other buildings in town. He was the architect who designed this three-story structure and laid many bricks himself. If he hadn’t already passed away, the sight of this rubble would have given him a heart attack.

    The town requested bids to deal with the remaining mess. I offered – to take care of it for free in exchange for the lot.

    Yes, I knew it was going to take some time and money to deal with the rubble, but I had what I considered a feasible plan.

    I am now standing in an office constructed with some of the bricks from that building. Behind me is a picture of my grandfather, and next to it, is my grandfather’s photograph of the ‘Lakeside’ building in its glory.

    In the back, there are stacks of antique bricks still for sale.

    They were in high demand for home remodeling, as well as keepsakes.

    I wonder if my grandfather architected that dream.



    “Apocalyptic!” Kay bit this word venomously.

    My skin spidered with horror as my mind rushed back to when the world imploded. Buildings half toppled with blown out windows, caved in roofs, smashed walls. They stood in an horrific graveyard of bricks. All around were screams, shrieks and screeching. Life was standing on its head and squawking in protest. Bewildered at what had happened, I turned around. Smashed buildings, cars on fire and filthy smoke everywhere. Ghastly craters emphasised emptiness and that homes were gone. It was as though a giant’s child had a mighty tantrum -a rampage of destruction. He had punched, pummelled, poked and perforated.

    Kay’s eyes were wild with pain, her hair stood out electrified. Anger pulsed through her veins from her enraged face to her clenched fists. Opening and closing her fists in confusion. She was not talking about the end of the world, she was referring to what she saw as the destruction of her husband’s shrine. She believed it had been defiled by The Twins. Contaminated, condemned and cursed.

    I hoped that what Kay saw as desecration was not enough to send her toppling into insanity. I tried not to think of Kay falling, falling through the rabbit hole into craziness. Yet, my mind wandered to the spoiled giant’s brat biting down on cars and twisting them into distorted shapes. I envisaged him slamming into buildings, kicking in doors and smashing windows like a berserker.

    Kay needed time to heal as we all did.

  6. The sunlight playfully bounced across her face and gently woke her up. Giving an audible hmm and stretching while wiping the grime from her eyes. Frozen while the events played before her eyes. Screams echoed through her head and sulfur permeated through her nostrils. The air raid siren was still screeching through the hazy air. Awake now and glancing around she saw the damage the strike had done. A hole in the wall, a broken window, and the sink was spraying water.
    Carefully getting up and mentally checking for cuts and scrapes she tentatively walked towards the window. Glancing outside the street was in ruins. People were aimlessly wandering and somewhere a dog was barking. The beep, beep, beep of the phone made her pick it up and replace it in the receiver. Everything was a blur and yet she knew what had happened. There had only been a split second between the scream of the air raid and the blast that had sent her tumbling backward while her last thoughts had been to call her mother.
    A rumble and a screech caught her attention and she looked down the street. It slowly came around the corner. Screams and people running and then a quick flash before a loud bang and the building shook.

  7. Coming back into town meant going right past the World War II memorial. The shattered hulk of a once-beautiful building was a sharp reminder that Great-Grandpa’s experiences as a Marine on Guadalcanal, terrible as they’d been, paled beside what the Ukrainian people had gone through during the all-consuming conflagration they called the Great Patriotic War.

    He was halfway aware of Zaza crossing himself, murmuring some Orthodox prayer so unlike his own Presbyterian upbringing. The air was shimmering, the way it did rising off blacktop on a hot day.

    Ruin and wreckage stretched before him, as far as the eye could see. His nose twitched at the sickly-sweet odor of death, just like the moment his telepathy first awakened, when he went into rapport with Great-Grandpa and relived for a moment the hellish jungle battle–

    As quickly as it had come, it was gone, leaving him blinking in the sunlight so unlike the smoke-shrouded landscape he’d seen only moments before. The same world he’d seen while inspecting the sunflower fields, or another world wracked by battle where this one enjoyed at least an uneasy peace? Much more of this, and he was going to go over the edge – which wouldn’t do him or anyone else any good.

    Where had he put that contact information for the Institute’s chapter in the area? He wasn’t the only Expulsee with telepath genemods to be deposited here in the Ukrainian Autonomous Guberniya, thanks to His Majesty’s oh-so-generous invitation.

    Time to take action.


    “As you can see, the neighborhood is ripe for gentrification!”

    It was my first meeting with Celeste Barrington… real estate agent with Barnes-Whitmore Realty. As I was well known for my penchant for refurbishing properties, she had contacted me with a “hot prospect” that “had just been listed” and she “wanted to give me first shot at it”.

    Lucky me.

    Rather than give me an address, she insisted we meet on south Ashland so that I might “tour the environs” and “revel in the atmosphere”.

    Yeah… so lucky.

    She was a standard issue real estate agent… overly corporate outfit, not entirely sensible shoes, an excess of fragrance, overdone hair, too much makeup, the required scarf, and of course the ubiquitous stack of binders clasped so tightly to her chest it appeared she was trying to squeeze all the liquid from a soggy pillow.

    “What can you tell me about the building, Ms. Barrington?”

    “Please, call me Gina.”

    I thought your name was Celeste.”

    “It is… but some days I like to be called Gina.”

    Oh boy.

    As we passed a potpourri of boarded up storefronts, rooms-by the-hour hotels, and innumerable bars of plainly questionable pedigree:

    “Where is the umm… property?”

    “Right around the next corner!”

    And there it was… or perhaps, there it wasn’t.

    It was most of a single brick wall, standing amidst the rubble that used to be an actual building.

    “It’s the latest thing… all the rage… architecture… deconstructed!”

Comments are closed.