Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Chute

basin NH flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks
Photo 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. There will be no written prompt.


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 2016.

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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Chute”

  1. Something was wrong. Señor Alcaino’s face went ashen. Stalling the cartel’s foot soldiers had been meant as a distraction . . . to give his men in a trailing limousine time to come to the pier and provide backup for the meeting, just in case a little persuasion was needed to force the cartel to accept his counteroffer. But Alcaino knew that if there was just one slipup, that even if the tiniest of things went wrong, he was a dead man.

    Dammit! Where are they? He did not need to be reminded of what had happened in Huasco years earlier.

    For more than three years, the Izurieta brothers had run a relatively small gambling, drug, and prostitution ring—part of a nationwide cartel—in the port city of Huasco. During that time, the brothers had been taking less than one-half of one percent off the top of their all-cash operation and using it for their personal expenses. This would have been almost impossible for the cartel to detect. However, one of cartel’s accountants, while visiting the local bank in Huasco, was told that the Izurieta brothers had a reputation for throwing money around town.

    Within a week, their corpses, from which the hands had been severed, washed up on the banks of the Huasco River, just below the chute at Huasco Bajo. The cartel’s enforcers easily could have dumped the bodies in the ocean. But they wanted to send a message: “If you touch our money, you die.”

  2. SHOOT !!

    “It’s a chute, old timer!”

    “That’s what I said, whipper-snapper — it’s a shoot! Gol-durn it, you Easterners don’t speak English too good!”

    “Now look…you’ve been out here for years. Prospecting. You and that stupid mule.”

    “Hey, she ain’t stupid. Nadine an’ me goes back a long way. Dare say she’s smarter than some people I knowed. You included.”

    “Well, you asked for my help. I was doin’ jus’ fine at the assay office in town.”

    “Yeah, scrubbin’ out stalls at the livery stable when youse couldn’t pay yer rent !!”

    “Now listen…do you want my help or what?”

    “Sure, long as it don’t cost me nothin’ more than your blanket and beans. A gee-whiz-ologist. Fancy name ain’t it?”

    “Listen old man. We study rocks. And rocks are where you find gold. Get it?”

    “Yeah, I git it. Rocks and gold. I’ll take the gold.”

    (Jeesus). “Now look. See that running water? Running down the mountain? And guess what…it’s a natural sluice box, washing the gold down from the mountain. There’s been plenty o’ rain this season, so’s there’s bound to be gold in that pool at the bottom of the chute.”

    “If’n you’re so sure, why don’t YOU pan the gravel, eh”?

    “OK, I’ll show you how it’s done!”

    Later that day, Jeremia turned to the college boy:”I gotta admit, this pouch of gold dust has earned you your new name: ‘Goldilocks’, boy.”

    “Nadine, give this man a ride.”

  3. Wymare’s Notebook Entries

    By Annette Rey

    The year 1312
    6 November – Ensconced beside her chamber. These spiders be damned!

    7 November – Hiding well today, guards afoot, no news. I’ll be killed if caught.

    8 November – Hah! I overheard her talking about things I may never repeat. Alas, what I have come for could happen any day now. Can’t come soon enough. I am cramped and hungry.

    9 November – Moving carefully about the castle, stealing food. She is abed now. She is safe there.

    10 November – I’ve had a time to think and, against my will, I admire her. Wed at twelve, her husband gave her wedding jewels to another man. She has suffered other indignities and I have pity on her.

    11 November – She is sick.

    12 November – Soon.

    13 November – It has happened. It’s a boy. He will be called Edward III! I escape the castle now, through a secret passageway, a chute to the outside. Will I chronicle what I have learned? I will let future events decide that answer.

  4. We, my friend and I, slid faster and faster down that sandstone water chute, smooth as porcelain. Those thieves were close behind us. We couldn’t see them but heard their yells at the chaos of the chute. There were no gunshots. Maybe they were out of ammo or waterlogged. The best I could do was focus on whatever was ahead.”

    Grandpa sat up in his ancient armchair sounding like an old steam engine.

    “What was ahead, you may ask? As we shot around a bend, sliding up the side, I caught the sight of a pool of water ahead. It was dark and wide and hopefully deep enough for a nice soft landing because we were going so fast.”

    “From behind there was a bang, a shot, and stone dust exploded from the rock face just over our heads. I glanced back and saw the thieves closing.”

    “Over a little dip we fell and picked up speed finally shooting out into the water hole below. At that last moment there was another bang and more stone flying just over our heads. But, we made it to the water. The thieves would be in the water soon too but their guns would be useless. We’d just have to swim away.”

    Grandpa relaxed back into his chair and us kids sighed with relief.

    “Just then my best friend, as we were swimming away, stopped and said, ‘Hey, Abe! Did you feel that on your foot?’ ”

  5. Anthony’s heart pounded in his chest as he raced towards the water chute at the edge of the property. The cold morning air painfully sliced through his lungs.

    He’d gotten up to eat before their dad woke, but found Mikey’s note instead. He cursed himself for forgetting how impressionable his younger brother was. In hindsight, Anthony should have stayed quiet while their dad called him a chicken. But he’d yelled back, “You know that forbidden chute, the infamous example of bravery you brag about, I did it!” The reaction was a callous scoff.

    He panicked when Mikey appeared to be bobbing lifelessly underneath the cascading current. Anthony dove in, fighting through the weight of the icy water that engulfed him. He grabbed for Mikey’s collar, except he swam out of reach like this was a game. Initial relief was overtaken by anger. “Out, now!”

    They sat on a rock, legs dangling over the edge. Mikey said, “I want to be like you.”

    “I lied about going down the chute.”

    Mikey laughed through chattering teeth, “I didn’t go down. I got scared at the top. I was getting wet so it would look like I did it.”

    Anthony ignored how cold he felt and slung his arm around his shivering brother. “Don’t listen to dad’s drunken blustering.”

    “You shouldn’t either.”

    “I know.”

    They watched the sunrise bleed brilliantly across the sky and listened to the rhythmic sound of splashing water. For a little while, they could pretend home wasn’t so bad.

  6. Raymon took off like a bat out of hell. For he had seen her. Was it really her? This he did not know. The flowing red locks and curvaceous body, it had to be her. He sped through the woods careful as not to trip or stumble. If this was truly her why would she run from him? Turn after turn he could not catch up, ‘how could she be so fast?’ Raymon questioned. The further he ran it all started to look familiar. The path through the woods had been the one he had taken her down the last time he saw her. The last time he knew she was alive.

    As he came out of the clearing there it was. The last spot they had been together. The waterfall cascading down the stones into the river below. Raymon looked around. She was nowhere to be seen. Was his heart and mind playing tricks on him.

    There upon the large stone Elaine had danced for him six months ago. She had lost her footing and fell. Striking her head as she plummeted into the river. Raymon had jumped in trying to rescue her, to no avail. He never found her body.

    Raymon walked up to the river’s edge. “Why? Why is this happening?” He cried out. Stepping forward he peered into the water, there lying at the bottom was his answer.

    Elaine’s red hair drifted with the water currents as she lies motionless at the bottom of the river.

  7. Rapid Dan, the world-famous kayaker arrived at Victoria Falls, from the edge of the cliff, he screamed, “I want aerial shots, from beginning to end, of my heroic trip over the falls. This will be my most awesome publicity stunt ever! You there, make sure the kayak safety line is secure!”

    Dan screamed, “Come on, move it everyone! This isn’t like our arctic shoot with a month of daylight! Now Move It, before we lose the light! Laura get out of that make-up tent and get over here!”

    Dan’s wife Laura rushed out of the make-up tent, still fixing her bra strap. Then while buttoning her blouse, she called to Dan, “I’m all set.”

    Will someone get her a hair brush? We don’t have all day! ”

    Louie, the hairdresser rushed out of the make-up tent with hair brush and scissors in hand. Laura called to him, “Louie, over here! Thank you, your such a sweetheart.”

    Dan recited his monologue about how great a kayaker he is, then climbed into his lime green kayak, “See! No falls are to dangerous for Rapid Dan.”

    He pushed off from shore into the rapids, ” Ok cut! Now pull me back in, and get the dummy for the falls! ”

    As the crew pulled him out of the rapids, the safety rope snapped, and Dan went over the falls, never to be seen again.

    While Louie comforted Laura at the edge of the rapids, no one noticed them drop the scissors into the rapids.

  8. I thought I recognized him as he sat there sketching the beauty and warmth of the Etruscan Baths, also known, I remembered, as the Popes’ Baths. Their comforts were a favorite destination of many pontiffs dating as far back as Pope Gregory IX in 1235.

    It was Michelangelo, engrossed with his choice of views of the sulfurous waters cascading down the little white hill. My heart was pounding. Me, an art student, near Him!

    “Buongiorno, signor Buonarroti,” I bravely called.

    “And, good morning to you,” he answered, smiling, and smudging his charcoal wedge.

    Some of the bathers, relaxing up to their necks in the naturally heated steam of the pool, turned and nodded.

    “Someday,” Michelangelo sighed, “this lovely spot will be overgrown by profit seekers, I’m afraid. Enjoy it while you can.” He rolled his art into a canvas sack and started to leave.

    “Oh. Must you go?”

    “Sorry, yes. Got a bit of work to finish on the ceiling. Drop by and take a look.” He hurried down the hillside, waving goodbye over his shoulder. “Hope you like it.”

    Stunned, I couldn’t believe my ears. An invitation from Michelangelo, himself. For a flash of a second, I visualized myself in Florence as his magnificent David, standing seventeen feet tall, waiting to fling my sling at Goliath.

    I turned and took a loving glance at the scene, etched it into my memory, and raced home to my studio garret to plan my pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Basilica.

  9. “Chute and shoot – two good English words. Both have five letters, and both sound the same. But their meanings are different. One is an item and one is an action. Isn’t that interesting?” She smiled and fluttered her eyelashes. “So – tell me again — why did you bring me here?”

    “I wanted to shoot you the show…I mean show you the chute.” Dang. This wasn’t working out the way he wanted. The location was perfect. Remote, isolated. But she wasn’t cooperating. If only she would shut up for a minute and let him think.

    “English is so fascinating, don’t you think? For example, take the words, rough, though, and through. They end in the same letters, but each has a different sound. Uff, oh, oooo. ” She giggled. “Uff, oh, oooo.”

    He managed a sickly smile. Just once he’d like to have a real conversation with her. Ten years they’d been together. A conversation was never going to happen. He’d had enough. Poetic justice, that’s what it would be, her drowning in a chute. There would never be a better time.

    He stepped down, reached for her hand. And missed. His foot slipped. Instead of regaining his balance, he fell backwards. To her horror, his head hit the rocks.

    “Uff!” she said.

    His feet hit the water.

    “Oh!” she said.

    As he sank, unconscious, water gurgling down his throat sounded so much like the “Oooo!” sound in through that she had to laugh.

  10. EROSION

    Rock, paper, scissors. In the simple schoolyard game, children understand these objects as being both potentially triumphant or defeated. I understand this as an adult.

    I had made her gasp with expensive rocks signifying our engagement and wedding, but then it was my stone that was thrown first in our proverbial glass house, the emotional shards twinkling like the diamonds on her finger.

    It was paper from our church that bound us both secularly and in the eyes of God, then another piece a year later informing me of her changed plans. That note written on stationary she had purchased for “Thank You” notes, though my note was not in an envelop with “Thank You” embossed on it.

    The night we wed the two of us giggled, grasping the cake knife with both our hands and slicing through our wedding cake while gathered loved ones cheered with champagne glasses held high. Then last week she, alone, held a pair of scissors, cutting our photographs down the middle, separating us irreparably. Rock, paper, scissors. Triumph and defeat.

    Missing from the game are “Water” and “Time.” Water brings life, but can erode anything. Time heals wounds but also lets people grow apart. I sit here watching this river and realize the power of water and time. Boulders are sliced and shaped by years of moving water.

    “Cry me a river,” someone once said. I can’t imagine my new life without tears. Tears and time. I will carve the Grand Canyon.

  11. Call it Val’s fault. She’d led Tom on, she’d made Arthur want, until both knew she’d never leave, and neither could stand it. They’d often hiked these mountains together as friends, but today as something else, each sure the other didn’t know it.

    Or maybe call it the sunlight’s fault. It filtered through the forest canopy, played games on the rushing stream, played tricks in Tom and Arthur’s eyes until each grew bold enough to settle the score.

    Whatever. Arthur saw it first. “Look there. That little waterfall cutting through the rock. Isn’t that strange!”

    Tom saw nothing. “Just water. So what?”

    “In the water. A face. Just there.” Arthur pointed, leaned forward, peered into the froth. “Not a human face. Some kind of alien, or monster.”

    Tom leaned, too, and caught an unearthly glimmer. “Huh. So it is. Must be a reflection.” They both looked up, down, around, behind, but nothing like the reflection existed.

    “Wait a minute.” Arthur saw something more now, something frightening. “The monster has a weapon. He’s in a battle. Look! Lasers slicing the water!”

    “I see! But look, he’s under attack. There are two of them, battling to the death.”

    The young men scanned the forest with puzzled eyes, but certainly no monsters, no lasers, no battles inhabited this land. Only trees, flowers, the water, the wind.

    And them.

    Their eyes drank in the water once more and knew the aliens.

    The battle was joined.

  12. The prospector adjusted his hat and his sack, looking for just the right place.

    Everyone had heard the rumors—about the mother lode, a deep vein, or water so clear you can just pick up the nuggets with your fingers. Everyone knew those rumors and had all chased them. But he had this nugget of information from a reliable source: Look for the chute of water made of rock. Turn south. Walk 10 paces. Vein of silver.

    He had walked along the river bank the better part of yesterday
    and started before dawn today. Every rustle of leaves made him think he had found the “chute.” He was hungry and frustrated and exhausted. He didn’t dare wander much farther. The river was opening onto a delta leading to the ocean. He needed to turn back but spied a fallen log. Why not try looking from the other side?

    This change of direction gave him a different perspective. He saw things he hadn’t seen from the other side of the river. Some
    sights were so beautiful they took his breath away, others were just oddities of nature. The way a tree fell and new life began to spring up or the different rock formations creating small caves. He noticed one cave that seemed to have a curtain of water blocking an entry to an enclosure. The edge of a rock curled around, forcing the water into a chute. Eureka! Now, turn south.

  13. The diamonds on the silver band glittered in the sunlight as the engagement ring plummeted through the air into the deep pool below. All Mason and Lucia could do was watch aghast as the ring hit the water and sank below the surface.

    Within moments, Lucia had thrown off her shirt and was removing her pants; Mason remained frozen in shock, not believing his proposal had gone so wrong. She carefully climbed down the side of the time-worn rocks they stood on and found her footing on the edge of the nearby water chute. Rushing water battered her legs, but she fought against it long enough to manage a dive into the pool.

    The light penetrating the water became scarcer the deeper she went. Luckily, by the time she had reached the bottom, there was still just enough light to make out the ring. It sparkled innocently on the rock bed. She retrieved it quickly and fought her way back to the surface. Bursting out of the water, she immediately took a gulp of air.

    Lucia scanned the surrounding area and saw a bank a little ways down where she could meet Mason. She clutched the ring as she swam. Minutes later, she was standing on damp dirt and pressing the ring into Mason’s hand. Before he could speak, Lucia pulled Mason into a kiss.

    After a few seconds, Mason moved back, gently slipping the ring onto her finger. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

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