Week 12 Flash Fiction Contest: Nowhere

Photo by K.S. Brooks

The middle of nowhere. It’s 112° and your character has been on foot for hours already. Not one other vehicle has passed.

No food.

No water.

No shade.

What happened and what will happen?

In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Mountain Standard Time on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted.

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Photograph by K.S. Brooks, used here with the photographer’s permission. Copying or reproduction of any kind without express consent is prohibited. All rights reserved.

For a more detailed explanation of the contest & its workings, please see the post called “Writing Exercises Return with a Twist” from 12/24/11.

By participating in this exercise the contestants agree to the rules of the contest and waive any and all further considerations or permissions otherwise required for any winning entries to be published by Indies Unlimited as an e-book, showcasing all the photos and with the winning expositions credited appropriately and accordingly.


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14 thoughts on “Week 12 Flash Fiction Contest: Nowhere”

  1. I knew I shouldn’t have answered that ad on Match.com: “40ish college professor, George Clooney lookalike, seeks brilliant, interesting, charming older female companion. Looks not important.” What was I thinking? There’s not a man on earth who doesn’t think looks are important. Well, if looks aren’t important something else is, and in this case it was money. He wanted a woman with lots of it. I was a cliché, a lonely widow whose husband had left her his fortune. His plan was to get me to put him on a joint investment account. Yes, I signed. I was a sucker, I admit it. He really did look like Clooney, with a sexual technique to match.

    Then he took me to Tucson, for a spa vacation. We stayed at a luxurious resort, on my dime of course, but I was so besotted I didn’t mind. Until I saw him take off with a busty blonde. How predictable can you get? I followed them to her room, looked through the window and saw them going at it. They hadn’t even bothered to close the blinds or lock the door, it was as if they wanted me to find them. I burst in and he came at me with a shovel.

    They buried me in the desert, but I didn’t stay dead for long. I’ve been on the road for hours now, in 112 degree heat without food, water or shade. But I don’t need those things. I’m a zombie with a mission

  2. Lynn trudged on; sweat pouring off the nape of her neck where her long curly hair was pinned up off of her exposed, dark tanned, lightly chiseled back. No amount of heat, exhaustion, thirst or sleep deprivation was going to keep her from making it to the other side of those mountains. She has been away from her family for so very long and not because she wanted to be away, but she loved the adventure of going to new places and seeing new landscapes and seascapes. Having been homesick for ever so long, Lynn was going to surprise her family with her homecoming but she has been having nothing but bad luck since she started out to get back home.

    First she had problems with her passport papers, which have been fine for years now, seemed to be illegitimate to the local authorities in India, where she has spent the last year of her life. Once that was cleared up, her flights, each and every one of them was delayed, hours each time, added to her many layover hours she already had. She landed about 100 miles away in Williams where her car was resting peacefully with a longtime friend. Although, Betsy, her favorite car ever, is now in the possession of some irate, rude and ill-mannered teenagers who car jacked her car and took her pocketbook, which included her cell phone, wallet, passport, all forms of ID and her recently bought bottled water.

  3. I don’t know which would be better–to die slowly out here from dehydration and heat exhaustion or…

    No shade, not a puddle to snatch a mouthful of water from. No food. No time for that in my desperation to escape. He looks everywhere. I see him from my hiding place. If I can just make a dash for it while he searches the backyard.

    Finally, my moment comes. I shoot up in the driver’s seat, turn the key in the ignition. The car rockets onto the road seconds before he arrives at the front walk. I imagine the look of horror in his eyes. Through town, onto the highway. I don’t know where I am. No time to check gas. Just drive. Heart pounding. Sweat pouring into my eyes. Nothing around but scrub-land, rocky bluffs ahead and empty highway leading straight before me. No other vehicle has passed. Temperature registers 112' on my dash.

    Suddenly the car slows, makes a choking sound and stops. Empty! That was hours ago. I’ve been walking, limping, stumbling along ever since. The yellow line wavers in the heat. The pavement blurs before my eyes. Should I have stayed? I’m falling.

    Without the car he can’t get rid of the body. What’s that I hear approaching, groaning, dying? A door slams, I hear him shout. As I breathe my final breath, he moans. Too late for revenge. Too late to run. The stolen car’s dead. It’s over. For both of us.

  4. Why the hell would anyone get so mad they would just drop a person out here in the middle of nowhere? Seems like half a day I’ve been walking down this highway and not one stupid vehicle has appeared from either direction. I honestly didn’t think what I said was so out of line, but she just wouldn’t listen and was so adamant about her biggy points she wouldn’t even let me explain.

    Crap, when she pulled that gun out from under her seat and forced me to stop the car, what choice did I have? Would you believe it, forcing me out of the car was one thing but shooting me in my kneecap was over the top. I finally got the bleeding stopped now but I’m sure not making much progress. Its so dam hot I’m not going to last long anyway, especially when I don’t see where I’m going to find anything to drink.

    Wait a minute, is that a car coming over that hill from down there near those bluffs, or are my eyes playing tricks on me? I may be seeing things ‘cause my vision does seem a bit blurred. I do think I’ll get closer to the edge of the highway even though the heat is radiating right off of it.

    I can’t believe it, it’s her, and at that speed she’ll reach me any second! She wasn’t happy just crippling me, she’s heading right for me and really intends on running me down………


    I’m out. Four-thousand years of pushing that dammed rock, but I knew they couldn’t hold me. Up up up then down it would roll, for what? Letting it slip that Zeus and his fopsy were off cavorting. So high and mighty, who was he to judge me slaughtering a few beggars or ramming that girl, sister’s daughter or no. Kingship has its privileges! He married his own sister, and if he cared so blessed much, why’d he let the harvest fail and people starve in the first place?

    Gods, the mortal realm has gotten hot. Who would make a road such as this? It has to lead someplace; people must live in those hills ahead. At least there should be shade there. Have to keep walking. I’m free of the rock, you hear that Ironic-us. Yes I named you, rock! I remember the way the flecks of quarts in your surface would catch the light. It looked pretty, and the flowers that grew on the hillside; I’d stare at them when no one was looking. I mean really, what did it matter? I knew I’d never get that stone to the top of the hill. Hades would never let me escape Tartarus.

    Everything here is so dry and shrivelled. I miss my flowers.

    It doesn’t matter. I’m free; I only have to keep walking. I’m so thirsty. I feel like Tantalus. Come on Sisyphus keep moving, this road must go somewhere.


    “Blasted water pump…and out here in Death Valley!” Scott Banks, hat on, shirt off, car hood up, sprawled on the back seat, doors open seeking a breeze, now recalling his 1940s’ family trip, waiting for some mystical help on four wheels, combination of heat exhaustion and euphoria—perhaps a sign of impending death—how Mother saw things on the desert floor and called them ‘petrified grapefruit.’ The rest of us saw only gnarled Joshua trees and other common vegetation. Over the years, we kidded her mercilessly…

    Reaching our destination in Stove Pipe Wells, a trendy Inn and the name escapes me; probably another sign…Father went inside only to find the Banks were not in their book. We ended up in a little motel, and the four of us— parents and younger sister—lay half-clad on twin-sized beds in one room trying to sleep…

    Finally, when the heat and boredom became unbearable, we went out to the highway, crossed it, walked awhile in total darkness, and then lay down on the sandy desert floor. There was only the rhythmical sound of the cicadas. Looking up, I remember holding my breath seeing the most incredible starry sky, a gentle coverlet to conclude the day’s journey into the heat of Death Valley. Nothing mattered any more except the fact that we were together, but of course—as a child—I could not have found those words, nor could I have written them. “Memory, then death.”

  7. I turned briefly in the direction I'd just walked, toward where my little air-conditioned home sat quietly in this intolerable heat, perhaps twenty miles back now. I willed my raw and bleeding feet to march on, sweat rolling down my body.

    Years I suffered in that home. Every day I walked on eggshells, not knowing if I'd be rewarded for being an obedient wife, or if I would end up huddled in a corner, trying to contain my panic, hoping he wouldn't kill me this time. Too many days spent that way.

    I recalled last night… 

    From across the room I could smell the alcohol. Effortlessly he covered the distance between us. I could feel his hot whiskey breath on the side of my neck while he spoke into my ear, hand gripping my throat.

    “I know you've been with another man…” His grip on my throat tightened as my heart raced.

    He was escalating. I was pushed up against the counter. Trapped. My fingers closed around the handle of a cast iron pan. 

    Could I do this?

    His drunken, jealous ramblings grew louder as I swung my arm quickly and hoped my aim was good.

    He dropped like a stone and lay in a growing pool of blood at my feet.

    My senses returned in a rush and my thinking shrunk to a pinpoint. I had to get out. Now. Running to the door, I stepped out into the hot, airless night.

  8. Here's my entry to Week twelve's picture and scenario.

    End of the Road

    I knew I should have paid attention to that “Road Closed” sign. Not only is my prized possession gone, but they took my clothes. I’ll miss that ’58 Impala.

    Things could be worse…they could have taken my shoes too.

    I’ve never been one to take my clothes off in the open like this, but those girls who took my; clothes, money and car, thought I made a pretty picture. If I had met them at night they would have been even more threatening. However, they were scary enough dressed in Goth with pierced everything waving very ugly knives. One of them said they should drag me behind one of the cars to revenge something done to one of them last night. I’m glad they only took my; clothes, my picture and my pride.

    It was twenty miles back to that gas station and who knows how far down this deserted road.

    I closed my eyes and decided to say a prayer. God doesn’t even know who I am, and we’re definitely not on speaking terms…but I said it anyway. Shortly, I could feel a hand on my shoulder pushing me.

    “Honey, wake up…you’re having a nightmare.”

  9. “One, two three, four. I won’t do it anymore.” I’m cracking up again. So what? Like anyone’s here to notice?

    “Five, six, seven, eight. This is really freaking great.” It’s corny, but the cadence is soothing. I’m sure I filled the tank. Those are, in fact, gasoline stains on my grey suede pumps. I see them as clearly as the heat waves dancing in the lonely distance.

    “Just one more gig, babe,” he said. Right. And now I’m walking through hell on a sunny afternoon. They’ll never find me. What possessed me to wear suede in Arizona?

    Rico. I should’ve known he was bad news from the word go. Suave he wasn’t. Not really. But why would he ask – no, beg me to do this one last job for him? And why out here? I told him I’m done. I met a nice man who wants to marry me. For real.

    “Oh they all say that, honey,” Rico said. Rico said. Rico said a lot crap to get me to do things for him that Momma didn’t raise me to do. Icky things that made my skin crawl. Things I eventually grew to enjoy. I don’t know what’s more disgusting.

    I’m so damn thirsty. I’m so…damned. I looked right at the water bottle and left it. I kept my heels on. And now I’m walking the wrong way. Why? Because Rico’s right. They all say that. And now I’m done. “You’ll get nowhere fast,” Momma said. And here I am.

  10. Tired and sunburnt, as Sam continued to stare at the vengeful horizon, he began to hallucinate, and experienced an epiphany during which he met God, something he thought didn't happen to sinners like him. Comfortably, peacefully in a soothing trance, he dropped to the ground and happily fell into a mind numbing sleep, until a blaring car horn woke him out of an insensible dream about bottomless blue water. Feet sore, head throbbing, was he ever grateful to climb into that SUV and escape the desert heat, continuing to snore comfortably on the back seat all the way to Las Vegas. There a group of his appointed buddies were annoyedly waiting for him at their suite at the hotel, since he was supposed to be bankrolling them in their biggest event of the year.

  11. ‘They say’ that time doesn’t stand still. ‘They say’ that motion always gets you somewhere. Who are the ‘they’ anyway and what do they know about anything? What would ‘they’ do on this road, in this heat? Sure for the first twenty minutes the scenery was great! Look at those immaculate guardians to civilisation! If I can just get there, at least I can find shade and surely water. But either my depth perception is out of kilter or I’ve died from dehydration because those kindly looking walls aren’t getting any closer. Motion is not getting me anywhere. My legs move automatically, just. The same kink in the white line, the same smooth pebbles straddling the yellow lines. Now that’s a good question: am I dead? Am I unconscious? I can’t pinch myself, it’s too much effort to even think of closing two fingers.

    The dog barked. The doorbell rang. I stopped, and immediately fell to my knees and bumped off the end of the machine. Life is a treadmill. Will I ever get beyond those mountains?

  12. I must say this wasn't my most brilliant idea. Following my parent’s rules suddenly didn't seem so bad. I wished I could take back those words I said before I bolted out the door. "I hate you." Why did I have to say that? I sighed and wiped the sweat from my forehead. I looked back and saw nothing but a stretch of empty highway. The view echoed in every direction. All I wanted was to go back home and tell them I was wrong. I didn't know it all at seventeen.

    I sat down on the side of the road. How I wished for water. How I wished for yesterday. I closed my eyes, but all I saw was the heart-broken look on my mother's face. I knew she loved me. I did. I too often let words escape my mouth without thinking. A tear fell down my cheek.

    My mind was going crazy. I thought I heard the sound of a car coming my way. I couldn’t open my eyes and disappoint myself. I sat there letting the tears stream down my face. I wish I could hear her voice just one more time.

    “Erica!” a voice yelled. No, it couldn’t be her. I closed my eyes tighter, afraid of the disappointment.

    “Erica!” The voice grew louder. Could it be? The tears streamed faster. I stood and ran into her arms.

    “Mom, I love you!” I yelled. I needed her to hear those words repeatedly. “I love you!”

  13. Always Think Ahead

    "Do we have to search both sides? It's still a long way to those mountains."

    "We search until we find it."

    "It's hot and my waters gone."

    Quit your bitchen', walk, keep your eyes open. A rifles not small, we'll find it, keep looking."

    "What if it aint here?"

    "It's here? Keep looking."

    "But what if she didn't toss it."

    "She tossed it.

    "Are those mountains getting farther away? I'm thirsty."

    "Stop yapping, You won't be thirsty."

    "Did you know the perp was a Marine."

    "Yeah, I know."

    "A sniper?"

    "Yeah, I knew."

    "I was Army, you never was in the Service?"

    "Nope, never was."

    "Know much about snipers?"

    "Nope, keep walking; keep focused, find the rifle."

    "That mountains getting real close."

    "Yeah, we'll be in the shade soon."

    "You know how far a sniper can shoot true?"

    "Nope, don't care. Keep looking?"

    "I thought I saw something."


    "In the foothills."

    "Dammit, I told you to focus, find the damn gun."

    "I think I know where it is."

    The first shot took him in the chest, the second got his buddy.

    The moral; Always respect other folks expertise.

  14. Jackie squinted at the distant red cliffs through dry sun-strained eyes trying not to think about the blisters that already covered her skin. There was no place to hide from the blazing heat and no signs of life. The animals knew better. Jackie wished she could find a rock to burrow under, but that wasn’t her mission.

    If only she could remember what that mission was. She’d been trudging for hours and could barely think with her pounding head. Every beat echoed in her ears like a drum. Clouds of dust swirled around her and Jackie sank to her knees, choking on dust. Unbearable heat, no shade, no water, and now a sandstorm?

    “Stop it!” she said, barely getting a sound past her parched lips.

    Abruptly the wind and stinging cloud of sand stopped. Jackie blinked in surprise.

    “I’m looking for water!” she said, finally remembering her task.

    A trickle of water bubbled up from the ground at her feet and Jackie eagerly reached for a handful…and got hit by a torrent that knocked her down in a rapidly growing pool.

    “Crap. None of this is real,” she said, and opened her eyes. Jackie scowled at the man sitting next to her.

    “Even a dream can be deadly,” he said. “Check out the news.”

    Jackie looked at the newscaster who stood next to a small lake.

    “We bring you a special report from southern Nevada. A previously unknown natural spring surfaced today flooding out a section of route 50…”

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