Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Solitary

flash fiction writing prompt copyright ks brooks celebrity deck
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 2017.

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17 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Solitary”

  1. The Bird

    By Annette Rey

    Man has finally done it! He has erased life from the face of the Earth with his wanton devastation of land and beast.

    One sad, lonely bird exists, awaiting his death, as death comes to all eventually – even to man – the seed of all destruction.

    Man’s machines continue to grind beneath the watching bird who sits listlessly on the edge of a vinyl gutter on a dilapidated house. Once the bird had bright eyes and a hyperactive turn of his head. He was eager to spy the next insect, to catch a seed from a brilliantly-colored flower, to drink fresh water from a stream, to congregate with his own kind.

    But those things are no more to be found.

    Soon the defeated bird will keel over and lay on the barren soil, unnoticed and unlamented.

    And man still grinds his machines against the Earth, looking to create his utopia – all the while he has destroyed a utopia he never recognized.

    The simple bird once reveled in his untouched world.

    Why is it man cannot?

  2. It seemed so surreal, so out of place at the time, this dejected girl of perhaps five sitting alone among the instruments of war. Certainly, a parent—I would guess, her father—must be nearby. Troops were mustering for the Second Battle of the Aisne, so it was only a matter of time before she would have to say goodbye. But to whom? And where were they?

    “Where is your father?” I asked in French, hoping to elicit a response. There was no answer. Again, I asked: “Is your father nearby?”

    “He is with my mother at the café,” she responded in the tiniest of voices, almost as if it were a secret.

    I nodded my understanding.

    “You know,” she volunteered, “he’s not going to come home from the war.”

    I was taken aback, not only by what she said but by how matter-of-factly she said it, without the hint of emotion. To her, it was a settled fact, something of which she was sure and about which there would be no debate.

    “Of course he’ll return,” I said reflexively. “He will be fine.”

    “My doll, Mademoiselle Babette, said my grandfather, Papa Jacques, would die in the war, and he never returned.”

    “But these things happen,” I protested. “I’m sure your father will be fine.”

    “And Mademoiselle Babette also told me my brother, Marius, would die fighting the Germans, and he never returned.”

    I didn’t know what to say.

    “No,” she said, “Papa is not coming home from the war.”

  3. Aboard the luxury star liner Nova Max, Miss Bangalore Dinglebot very slowly made her way back to her first class state-room, number eighteen.  Bangalora held on to the hand railing the best she could in the zero gravity. 

    The zero gravity only added to her alcoholic disorientation, as a result, she didn’t realize that she was floating upside down in the corridor. No matter how hard she searched, she had no luck finding her state-room number eighteen. However, being upside down she floated right past it thinking it was room number eighty-one. All she wanted to do was to get back into her room eighteen and crash in her padded sleep cell bed.

    Still upside down, she finally located room eighteen, thankful that she left it unlocked, she went straight to bed. 

    Soon something nudged her, poked and tickled her half awake, “Excuse me miss, but are you the live fish sandwich, I ordered from room service?” She opened one eye and saw a giant Torguntulian’s green eye inches away from her face. Then she noticed it’s three knives and forks in its tentacles. 

    Instantly, sober, she screamed, “No! I’m not your live fish sandwich!”  And hastily escaped from room eighty-one. 

    As She raced through the corridor she could be heard swearing, ” I’m never drinking triple Martian Sunrises, again! ” 

    Needless to say, the Torguntulian had a similar thought, but about not ordering live fish from room service again.

  4. Melody stood in front of the canvas partially covered with splotches of magenta, chartreuse, and yellow ochre. She debated what color to use next. Several abstract paintings adorned the walls, giving an otherwise stark bedroom a swirl of vibrancy.

    Nurse Anne entered, placing a vase of pink daisies on the nightstand.

    Melody had been told she was an artist recovering from a head injury she sustained in a car accident that killed her family; she had no recollection of the incident or how to properly paint.

    She was detained in her room in a state of solitary confinement for long periods. Time had slipped by, and she had no sense of how long she’d been there.

    Fuzzy flashbacks plagued her. She was sure she’d been a reporter, but couldn’t remember what story she’d been chasing. Alien invasions?

    Something wasn’t right.

    After the nurse left, Melody plucked a flower from the vase and ran her finger along the smooth petals. She sifted through her paint tubes until she located titanium white and cadmium red.

    ***

    The following day, Nurse Anne returned to clean out Melody’s room. She glanced at the juvenilely painted picture of a daisy hanging on the wall with the word “FREE” below it before taking all the paintings down.

    Freedom’s an elusive concept, she thought wistfully, although perhaps Melody’s free now.

    Earlier, Nurse Anne had been informed that Melody’s attempted escape ended with the volatile guard beasts consuming her.

    The sovereign ruler’s quest to conquer Earth still unobstructed.

  5. SOLITAIRE

    Jason was accustomed to being alone. As a young boy, he’d had few friends…never really cared.

    So, alone in this room for fifteen years, well, it wasn’t so bad. He’d personalized it quite a bit — decorated with purloined pictures from library magazines (National Geographic was his favorite). And he’d installed a bookshelf with his favorite tomes: Homer’s The Odessy was showing signs of wear since he read it so often. In his mind he could identify with Ulysses and the Argonauts, traveling their known world by sea in ancient times. It comforted him.

    The room itself wasn’t very large but the view out his window was pretty good. And it was warm in the winter, air-conditioned in the summer. Food was pretty good too, although after all this time it could get repetitive, but Jason never complained. It was good enough.

    He knew that someday he would die here in this very room that had been his home for so long. And be buried sometime, somewhere. His vast inheritance would outlive him. Somehow it just didn’t matter.

    He’d seen countless others come and go: the famous, the infamous and the unremarkable. They would continue to do so after he was long gone.

    Jason sat at the writing table, retrieved a deck of cards, and dealt himself another hand…of solitaire.

    Thus, Jason’s around -the -world cruise continued for the sixteenth, and possibly last, time.

  6. I woke up the deck was deserted, it was very quiet apart from the noise of the engines and the ocean. It was crowded when I’d gone to sleep in the sun. I looked at both ends of the deck, there was nothing – absolutely nothing – no sky, no ocean just nothing. I walked to both ends of the deck, I couldn’t even see the rest of the ship, and none of the doors would open!

    I started to feel very cold and lonely, but not scared for some reason. I attempted to approach the problem logically, but could find not even a hint of a rational explanation. Though it was obviously not a dream, as it was far too real.

    Then I remember discussing something (I couldn’t recall what) with my wife, she had been very angry. The more I attempted to apply logic in a calm manner, the more annoyed she became. This had been happening more and more recently.

    I remember running after her, but I don’t remember going to sleep – and why would I try and sleep on a hard wooden deck?

    Perhaps I should listen more to my wife, and encourage her to speak more about how she feels – and not reason with her so logically?

    My head began to ache, and I began to feel very tired, the deck appeared inviting despite being hard…

    I woke up with my wife cradling my head in her lap and looking very concerned!

  7. I finally made it to the finish. All I needed to do now was pick the right window out of six. A one in six chance to win the grand prize!

    What hid behind the curtains? Which window would I choose? I had three minutes to decide. I walked down the row of windows, looking for clues. At one, the curtain fluttered and I saw what looked like the outline of a car. No, too obvious. It could be anything. At the next window, a large square shadow. Stacks of money? Or stacks of old newspapers. Hard to decide. Next, a box on a table. Or an ordinary brick. At the fourth window, another box on a table. At the next two windows the light was better. They also held boxes on tables.

    One of those boxes contained diamonds. I knew it. I have studied how their minds work, the producers of this show. They disguise something valuable to make it look like nothing, and they leave clever clues.

    Which one was it? I could barely make out a few letters on Box 5. I saw a large pink S. S for sugar? Diamonds could be considered a sweetener. At two minutes and 47 seconds, to the cheers of the audience, I made my choice. Box 5.

    The S stood for Saccharin. Fake sugar, fake diamonds. Bits of broken glass. My reasoning was good. Too good. The winner was Box 1, the car.

  8. I wander alone through the abandoned studio. Rubbing my hand along the barre reminds me of my abbreviated career. For several years, I danced, sang, and acted. I never did make it to Broadway, though. My husband, on the other hand, pursued his dream of genetics research.

    We were, all of us, so immersed in our lives and careers that we didn’t pay close enough attention to our changing world. We saw the pendulum swing right, but believed that it would return to center as it always had. However, the fanatics slowly infiltrated all levels of government from school boards to congress.

    Over the years, my troupe performed to smaller and smaller audiences. My husband’s research funding gradually dried up. Our children’s art and science classes were stripped from the schools, replaced by bible and morality studies.

    By the time we realized that things weren’t going to return to normal, liberal arts and engineering universities had closed their doors. The military shuttered all research labs, except the ones devoted to war. They boarded up the theaters and concert halls.

    Friends and colleagues began to disappear from our lives. They took our children away to “boarding schools.” Then, last night they came for my husband. This morning I broke into this old building. And now I stand alone amid the ghosts.

    Suddenly, I hear a loud battering at the door. Booted feet clatter on the stairs. Soldiers rush at me from all directions.

    I raise the gun to my head.

  9. The Marie Celeste came to mind. The setting sun painted the dark walls and doors and windows of the ship’s cabins blood red while the air hung soundless but for the low throb of engines and of waves washing against the hull. He felt so alone that he himself might not have existed.

    His feet sounded on the deck like hammers as he wandered the ship. He peered in windows, tugged at doors. Empty. No sharp suits or low-backed evening gowns within, no socks or shoes, no magazines or books. Nothing. Nobody. What did he expect? He’d chartered the ship himself and ordered it to sea with no destination in mind.

    No, not quite. His destination was escape. From her. From the real her, the her he hadn’t known until too late. Thug. Drug lord. Murderer. How could he have been so blind?

    Now he’d become a bit of her, a thief, absconding with enough to start over. But where? She’d find him in Europe, in South America, in Asia. Australia? Maybe. Her grasp hadn’t yet reached there.

    Resolved, he marched to the bridge, feet hammering, to give the captain new orders. Strangely, he discovered it as empty as the cabins, as untouched as if the ship had never been launched, except for a sticky note on the panel. He peeled it up, stared at the dainty flower drawn on it and the single word written in a hand he knew as well as his own.

    “Gotcha.”

  10. Thinking that a change of scene would raise my despondent feeling, I took my little dog, Sugar, and went to the train station to take a short ride through the beautiful mountains.
    Sugar, usually very quiet and reserved, wasn’t happy. She barked at people who walked over to speak to her. I was embarrassed . The movement of the train did not suit her, and she whined from her little carry bag. Usually content in my lap, I took her out and cuddled her loosely. She jumped down and ran around the car, barking and jumping on the passengers. I immediately jumped from my chair and picked her up and apologizing to the travelers. Happy when the excursion was over, I grabbed my normally sweet dog, exited the car, and vowed never to take her on a train ride again.

  11. Willard Jenkins relaxes comfortably on a deck chair overlooking the vast and majestic ocean beyond the ship. The man bound and gagged next to Willard is riveted by his every word.

    “It was quite by accident when we came across it you see, but a damn good thing we did. Imagine what would happen if we hadn’t. . . It would be utter chaos,” Willard says in all earnest to his captive audience.

    Willard helps the man to his feet. They walk to the side of the ship overlooking the ocean.

    “Take this event for instance. Looking into its history you discover the origins are man made. Why? Because it has to happen. Without it mankind’s future would cease to exist. We came to the conclusion certain events have to happen. . . So when I said this is nothing personal I truly meant it,” Willard says with genuine sympathy to the bound and gagged man.

    And with that Willard pushes the man overboard, watching him sink beneath the waves to his ultimate end.

    With a sigh of slight regret Willard raises his wrist communicator to his mouth, “Mission complete. Bring me home.” The wristband flashes and beeps. Moments later Willard vanishes into thin air, transported home to wherever and whenever he came from.

    Two days later on December 5th, 1872, off the coast of the Azores Islands, the Mary Celeste was discovered adrift and deserted. To this day what happened to its crew still remains a mystery.

  12. Fluffy, her tongue hanging out and flopping all around, galloped down the hall, stopped, and waited for her pup to catch up. He bumped into her and squatted, panting.

    “Okay, love, time to learn some facts that’ll help get you through life..” She nudged him with her nose and cuddled beside him.

    “Our family goes back to Great Britain in the 1200’s. Humans have tried changing our name to things like New Yorkies, St. Francis Terriers and others. We’ve won many awards, were in the movies with The Little Rascals, on RCA record labels, Buster Brown shoe boxes and World War 1 posters.”

    Fluffy poked her pup awake. “You must listen,” she scolded.

    “When you’re all grown up some people may be afraid of you. Unfortunately, some pups are trained to be mean. But, if your human friend showers you with love and proper training, you’ll have a happy companion to enjoy life with.” She licked dust off the top of his head.

    The pup yawned, stretched his little legs, rolled over and pressed closer to the warmth of her body. Fluffy drooped her sleepy head onto her pup. “Oh! I forgot. We’re part of the ‘pit bull’ family whose true nature is friendly, warm and loyal. We’re from one of the breeds called American Staffordshire terriers.” She sighed and joined her pup in sleep.

    Two animal control hunters, responding to a panicky cat lover’s phone call, crept up to the sleeping bundle of love and swung their nets.

  13. “This is our place. You remembered–”

    He took a step toward me to take me into his arms, but, against my feelings’ wishes, I put up my hand.

    “I’m here to tell you we can’t see each other anymore.”

    His face fell. I kept going to keep y courage up.

    “We both have other people. We love those people.”

    “I love you.”

    “I–” I couldn’t say I didn’t love him. My resolve was slipping. I had to gain control again. “And we have responsblities.”

    “Look, we have something I know you don’t have with him. I’ve seen you two together. There hasn’t been anything in a long time, and I think you know that. You’re just scared of going out on your own.”

    I felt my face scrunch as I looked at him. “What are you talking about? Have you been–?”

    “I’ve been everywhere. But that’s not the important part and we both know it. Isn’t passion important? Passion that you know you don’t have in your life without me?”

    “I can’t believe this. And what about what happened to Eric? Are you telling me that was you, too?”

    “You little–!” Before his hand could snatch my hair, the two police officers in janitor’s clothes had him down and cuffed.

    “He was going to tell your husband, then what?,” he screamed, “Then your perfect little world goes to hell anyway.”

    They dragged him off. All loose ends tied, I was off to freedom, non-extradition style, one way only.

  14. After 40 years of marriage, Mike had promised his wife, Barbara, they would take a cruise. She could choose the destination. But having recently retired from his job, Mike was out of sorts and angry at everyone, which slowly built in the weeks between his retirement and the cruise.

    So after a late-night fight with his wife, Mike stormed out of their stateroom to the deck to spend the rest of the night on a chaise lounge. As daylight broke and passengers headed to breakfast before their shore excursions that day, Mike was still in a foul mood and decided to head up the metal stairs to an upper deck to avoid everyone.

    While Mike didn’t want to be bothered with people, he didn’t want to be alone. As a businessman, he was always the life of the crowd, surrounded by admirers. He didn’t know how to be alone, and alone without someone slapping him on the back in a fond greeting.

    The day was turning as gray as his mood. He couldn’t go face his wife because deep down he knew he was to blame for the fight but he didn’t want to be in the wrong. He slowly paced along the outer deck, covered by the floor above. Passengers had their drapes pulled to keep peeping Toms from looking into their cabins. Mike was all alone with his thoughts.

    He didn’t like it.

    He was in prison, solitary, confined by his thoughts and his conscious.

  15. “It is a beautiful evening:” I thought, as I was boarding the train to Florida. It is going to be a long ride but I have a sleeper compartment. I will be well rested when I arrive at my destination.

    I found my compartment and put my bag inside. As I was leaving for the dinning car I pulled back the curtain to see we were just pulling out of the station.

    The dinning car had a very relaxing atmosphere. People were very friendly and sociable. “So far so good” I was thinking. I had been looking forward to this trip. Needed relaxation.

    On way back to my compartment I could see a man fumbling with his compartment door key, He was mumbling unhappy.

    In my compartment I decided to read but soon got sleepy. It did not take me long to go soundly asleep.

    I was suddenly awaken by noises outside the compartment. People running up and down between cars and compartments. Someone was missing!
    Did he fall off the train? He was last seen in the dinning car. Hours ago!

    Then a shout of joy! He was found in a supposed, unoccupied compartment, sound asleep. To many spirits at dinner! I remembered the man who was having a hard time with his key. He must have jarred the door open to wrong compartment,

    Oh well; maybe return trip I will get more sleep.

  16. Soulless

    I pause at the railing of my mega-billion dollar pleasure yacht and gaze out at the sea. There is no sea of course, there is only grey. Always grey. No sound, no smell, no taste. Only grey. Behind me on the drab featureless bulkheads are the curtained windows, curtained to mask the emptiness within. The passageway leads to the owner’s suite. Also empty. That’s how the designer meant it to be.

    I was stunned at first when I entered my yacht. Then I was pissed. I didn’t care about the money, but this didn’t make any sense. Eric, the world’s foremost pleasure yacht designer, had insisted on spending a week with me to discover, as he put it, my “essence”. That “essence” was crucial and he would imbue it into every facet of the yacht’s design.

    Sure.

    I had my people track Eric down and fly him to the ship.

    “Explain yourself”, I had said, not showing how angry I was.

    “In your essence, you are soulless”, was all he said, and he was gone.

    Why this affected me so deeply I don’t know but it was a hammer blow. I spent the next few days sprawled on the floor in the owner’s suite.

    “I had a soul… or did I? I must, mustn’t I”?

    Only one way to find out. I dumped out my bag and fumbled for the pills.

    Hah… joke’s on you Eric!

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