Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Hotel

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!

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16 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Hotel”

  1. “I didn’t think you’d make it to the Nevada this year, Dakota,”
    “Whaddya talkin’ about?! I done told ya on the phone: I got me a score to settle with that Richardson fella after what happened here in Ely last year.”
    “Oh, come on, man, he didn’t mean no harm. He just had one too many drinks in him. All that spoutin’ off and stuff—”
    “Don’t matter none to me whether he was sober as a judge or stinkin’ drunk—which he was. There’s no excuse for him talkin’ to my Emmylou like he did.”
    “Well, I’ll give you that. But she certainly didn’t take his insults ’bout that beer-soaked t-shirt she was wearin’ lyin’ down.”
    Dakota stopped, put his right hand over his mouth, and appeared to be in deep thought for several seconds. “Well, there’s somethin’ to what you say. I gotta admit, I laughed when she broke that beer bottle over his head and then kneed him in the groin when he was bent over. Personally, I thought that was a nice touch.”
    “I’ll say. Don’t mess with Emmylou, huh?! So, why not just back off and enjoy the night?”
    “Ya know, you’re right. Me and the boys was gonna give Richardson a real ‘haircut’ when he came down to the bar tonight. Perhaps we’ll just give him a ‘light trim.’ ”

  2. Coming to Ely


    “Yup. Ely.”

    “Like…what was her name? Laura Nyro? She had that song…Eli’s Comin’. Loved that song.”

    “Different spelling. ELY. Ely, Nevada.”

    “Never heard of it. What’s wrong with Las Vegas? Or Reno? Or…all the other places?”

    “ELY. It’s got history. Heck, Pat Nixon was born there.”

    “That’s a draw. Wow!”

    “Yeah, well, she left right after being born.”

    “A ringing endorsement.”

    “Look. It’s a small town. AND…not only does it ooze times gone by, its got the Nevada Hotel for instance. Why, it used to be the tallest building in Nevada.”

    “Used to be? Seriously?”

    “Yeah. Until 1931. Six stories. A lot safer than those huge towers in Vegas.”

    “Harry. I want to gamble. I want the lights, the noise, the vibe. Why do you want to take me to a museum?”

    “Sweetie. You know I do my research. Ely and the Hotel Nevada have tons of stuff going for them. We’ve been to Vegas and Reno so many times. I know you love the bright lights and all, but I want to gamble in peace…”

    “Gambling is WAR, Harry. Peace…I’ll have plenty of peace in the grave. What are you on about, anyways?”

    “Okay. Here it is, when I was checking it out, I saw…well, you know I was always a fan of Hoot Gibson. Tragic guy. Deserved a whole lot better. Anyways. He slept at the Nevada Hotel.”

    “And that’s where you want to snuggle?”

    “Yup. Where Hoot slept.”

    “Fine. Hoot’s bed it is.”

  3. Roxy was a retired Marine sergeant and really loved her new job, helping her people on their tribal lands in their new Hotel-Casino. The Ely enjoyed the same range of pleasure, pain and peril of any Nevada Hotel but without all the cowboy kitsch. Enhanced, so she reckoned by the opacity of Tribal Law which made her job so much easier.
    Tonight she was about to serve one of the Casino’s clients with her special services, performed only rarely. She identified her mark as the skinny young guy hunched over the whiskey bar. But first she needed guidance from Chance. She found comfort in securing the wisdom of that elusive spirit. At the roulette table nearest the bar she placed a chip on the Red. She awaited the spin.
    “Forty-two Red.” She picked up her chips and approached the man at the bar.
    “OK, Ray. It’s time to pay”
    “You the collector?”
    “Accounts Receivable. Follow me.”
    With that, Ray bolted for the kitchen door. “Why do they always go through the kitchen?” she mused.
    Roxy had had the latch of the exit door in the kitchen re-worked so it only worked upward not downward. It was a dead end for a scared runner.
    She whacked Ray about the head with a filthy skillet, then bent close and whispered,
    “The tribe will send a brave to your house with a finance agreement. Sign it, and never miss a payment. Check in here again and you will never check out!”

  4. Constance stepped off the bus in front of the Hotel Nevada. She never imagined she would make it this far. After leaving the small town in southwest Arkansas, the bright lights and 24-hour open establishments were a shock to her country state of mind.

    The bright neon colors were a beacon to the young woman who had never ventured more than 25 miles away from her home. She knew her decision to leave the rural life to find herself in the city was risky. As the pink neon lights cast a spell on her, the only thing she could do was answer its invitation to come inside.

    Motorcycles lined the parking lot directly in front of the building. This should’ve been her first clue not to enter the business, however, Constance was in a trance state. Her senses were overpowered by her surroundings. Sweet earthy aromas teased her nose. The collage of bright colors and dated signs forced her acquiescence as she became visual stimulated. She was eager to know more about the job she accepted, and couldn’t wait for her first work day to become acquainted with the place.

    As she walked towards the entrance, the drumming beats coming from inside, tickled her ears and made her feel the urge to move her feet. The warm Nevada breeze lightly brushed her skin. With every step, she was determined to go inside and experience something bigger than anything she had ever experienced before.

    She was ready for an adventure.

  5. Eugene was not happy. He could have sworn he rode in last night on his Harley, with Betty Jo perched on the back, that long red scarf tied around her hair and streaming out behind them. Tommy’d got a picture of that one time, and he’d put it on the cover of Cycle News.

    But where was his Harley now? And the dozen other Harleys his buddies rode? All of them, gone. And Betty Jo, too. True, he’d probably been pretty sloshed last night, but even so… A dozen Harleys did not just suddenly disappear. Betty Jo, maybe, but not a dozen Harleys.

    A bus pulled up. A large air-conditioned tour bus. A crowd of old people piled into the bus with Eugene caught in the middle. He tried to work his way out, but a smiling old lady pulled him into a seat. She looked like Betty Jo, pretty, but older. Maybe her mother…

    He swallowed the tiny paper cup of pills someone handed him.

    Someone else handed him a Bingo card, and soon the Harleys were forgotten. Eugene was caught up in the excitement of the game.

    All he needed to win was B4.

  6. Mr. Tweetlebox, as manager of the hotel, was astonished when an alien from another world unexpectedly walked into the front lobby.

    “What’s the meaning of this?” Mr. Tweetlebox exclaimed as he walked up to face the intruder.

    The alien raised his hand. “Please do not be afraid,” he said. “My name is Blaa and I come in peace.”

    “What do you want?” asked Mr. Tweetlebox.

    “We want peace.”


    “I am here with other inhabitants from my planet,” Blaa answered.

    As Blaa was speaking, Mr. Tweetlebox glanced out the window and saw aliens remove people from their vehicles. “What are your crew members doing outside?”

    “Don’t worry,” said Blaa. “It’s nothing. We come in peace.”

    Mr. Tweetlebox then saw aliens escort a number of hotel guests through the lobby and take them outside. “What are you doing with the hotel guests?” he shouted.

    Blaa looked at him and casually said, “Don’t worry.”

    Mr. Tweetlebox then watched as the aliens rounded up and removed every member of his staff. “Where are you taking my employees?” he pleaded.

    “Don’t be alarmed.”

    As Blaa was talking several aliens entered the lobby and bound Mr. Tweetlebox hand and foot. “Why are you doing this?” he asked Blaa.

    “Do not be concerned. We come in peace.”

    As the aliens carried him out of the hotel lobby Mr. Tweetlebox had a growing suspicion that Blaa’s intentions were anything but peaceful.

  7. Harleys to the left of me and Harleys to the right of me as I parked my bike in the middle of the pack. I unzipped my leather jacket, and cooly dismounted my bike.

    I strolled up to the Hotel Nevada bar door. As I pulled open the glass door, two burly bikers came out. They flew past me; both airborne crash-landed on the hot Nevada sidewalk behind me. I looked the bouncer in the eye, ” Joe, you didn’t have to throw me a welcoming party just because I showed up on time.”

    Joe grinned from ear to ear, “Lou, you old dog! If I knew you were coming here tonight, I’d of cleared out the bar for you, but then the bartender would not appreciate getting no tips tonight.”

    We both laughed and headed inside, and joined the celebration. The drinks flowed freely for me as my biker buddies bought me one beer after another. When closing time arrived, I zipped up my leather jacket and staggered toward the door. Joe grabbed me by the shoulder, “Not so fast Lou, I ain’t going to let you drive home drunk again, the last time you got picked up for drunk driving.”

    Joe led me outside and helped me into the back of his pickup, and then set my ten-speed racing bike in next to me, “Lou, I bet tomorrow you will sure be glad to get your license back so you can ride with the pack again.”

  8. “Who’s there?” Alan said. “Simon,” came a muffled voice. Opening the door, “Thanks for coming. Any trouble finding me?” “Nah. From the street, there’s only one room with a light on. Had to be yours. Everyone else is in the casino and you don’t gamble.” said Simon.

    “True. Not before tonight anyway.” Alan said. Simon raised an eye brow. “Alan, what are talking about?”

    “Simon, you’ve been my friend for twenty years. I don’t take risks, right?” Simon nodded. “Well, tonight, I’m gonna gamble for the first and last time and it’ll be big!

    “What?” Simon cried. “Are you nuts? What’s going on, Alan?”

    “Simon, I thought I was doing it right, good schools, good money, all of that. But the truth?—My life is empty. When I die, only you will notice.” Privately, Simon knew Alan was right.

    Alan continued. “Tonight’s different. I cashed in my 401K—almost a million bucks. I’m going to the roulette table and put it all on 36 red. One spin of the wheel—Either rich or broke. Either way, you’re my witness to tell everyone “I saw Alan finally start to live!”

    Simon followed Alan to the casino. He wondered if he had the nerve to do what his boring, predictable friend was doing. As the bet was placed and the dealer spun the wheel, Simon turned and walked out of the casino. In moments, a tumultuous roar erupted from the casino floor.

    “Good one, Alan!” he thought, grinning.


    “I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.”

    Toothless Wildcat, of Los Desperados M.C. peered out the front window of the Hotel Nevada through a film of grime, a haze of whisky and weed. “Somebody’s sittin’ on your bike, J.C.”

    Junior Camacho had just racked up another game on the ripped felt. He set his cue down and patted his back pocket for his brass knuckles before exiting to the street to teach a lesson. Nobody messes with a man’s ride.

    J.C.’s blood was up. The Desperados had just ridden in all the way from Boulder. He was dusty, tired and in the mood for a little violence. He would put this joker in the hospital—or worse.

    The little boy wearing teddy bear pajamas sat on the massive Harley, working the throttle saying “Vroom, vroom.”

    Behind him in the Hotel doorway, the gang of Desperados watched, laughing.

    “What are you supposed to be?” J.C. demanded of the five year old.

    “An outlaw,” replied the tyke.

    He plucked the little boy off the bike and set his tiny feet on the ground.

    “You got a mom and dad?” asked the burly biker. The little boy, eyes wide, nodded a solemn ‘yes’ pointing to a window above the Cafe.

    “You best get on home,” said the biker, giving him a nudge adding, ‘before I kick your ass”, just to put the fear of God into the kid and save face with the Desperados.

  10. Friday the 13th

    “C’mon Jason. Get a move on, there’s toilets to be cleaned!”

    It wasn’t much of a job. Manny wasn’t much of a boss…and this wasn’t much of a hotel.
    But the cheap rooms, backroom gambling and watered-down liquor were popular with the bikers and the place was always busy.

    When you’re broke and homeless, a job is a job. Any job. That Masters degree in classical studies hadn’t proved remunerative.

    “Took ya long enough. Now get busy sweeping up the bar!”

    Amidst the clutter of cigarette butts and gross brass spittoons he found it: a $100 chip.

    “Never believed in triskadekaphobia,” he thought. “Just another Friday. Oh well, easy come, easy go.”

    He wormed his way through the crowd at the roulette table and put the chip on red #7. Thirty-five to one for a winner.

    The wheel spun, the ball tracked the rim…and a 7 — winner!

    Jason thought for a minute. “Let it ride, he instructed the croupier.”

    Another 7 !! One hundred dollars times thirty-five times thirty-five. Incredible.

    Jason moved all of his winnings to green 00. And won yet again. Huge number.

    Jason bought the hotel, ensconced himself in a top floor suite where he lived out a comfortable life.

    Years later, when asked about his good fortune he would say: “Luck is just a four-letter word.”

  11. The closer Elliott got to the hotel entrance, the worse he felt. It just didn’t feel right escorting the young lady not his wife. In fact, it wasn’t right.

    Nevertheless, here he was, nervous on this “business trip.” Louise, his wife, was back home with their two kids. What in God’s name was he doing? Some stupid adventure to break up the monotony of his life? He wondered if Louise had an inkling of what he was up to. She seemed out of sorts all week. She didn’t even argue when he said he’d drive himself to the airport.

    As he and his new friend climbed the stairs to the hotel lobby, Elliot grew more uncomfortable. What a cheesy adventure he had chosen. Nothing high class about this hotel, although his friend seemed excited. Elliot looked at the row of motorcycles along the street, acting like guards of the hotel, and saw shoddiness and despair.

    There was no way he could go through with this. Yet, the young thing at his side was nothing if not desirable. Maybe he was just suffering buyer’s remorse or first-time jitters.

    Once inside the hotel, Elliot spied his wife standing in the center of the lobby, her hands covering her mouth, her eyes wide in pain. For a moment, she looked like the pretty girl he fell in love with fifteen years ago.

    But as Louise screamed, filling the lobby with heartbreak, Elliott knew his life had changed forever.


    Max and Donna checked into the hotel for the Spitfire Convention. Burly bikers and their girlfriends booked more than two floors of rooms.

    The two kicked off their boots and threw themselves down on the big, fluffy bed. Cuddling there, Donna said, “I have a surprise for you.”

    Max lifted his eyebrows, smiling.

    “I’m expecting.”

    “What?! That’s amazing! I’m gonna be a father? You’re amazing!”

    He picked her up and gently twirled her around; then set her down. They kissed. She looked at her watch. “The show must go on.”

    Donna started yelling at Max. “I’m done with you! Had enough watchin’ brawling, bullying and pissing contests. I’m leaving!”

    “I don’t care if you do!” he shouted, “There’s plenty more where you come from!”

    Donna shouted a string of obscenities and opened the door. Two muscular bikers stood there, arms folded, serving as internal security. The other doors were open, heads popping out.

    Donna huffed out the door and down the stairs. She took a bus home, where movers arrived in the morning.

    Max pretended to get very drunk with the Spitfires. Later he called Donna. “All set,” he said, “We’re bustin’ loose. We got a weddin’ to plan.”

    “My parents can hardly wait. You ready to drive a tractor instead of a Harley? Feed a hog instead of ridin’ one?”

    “See you in Sacramento, Love.”

    Max got up and slammed the door, hollering, “I’m gonna find that woman!”

    The Spitfires never saw them again.

  13. Reggie could barely keep his eyes open by the time he pulled into the hotel’s lot. Stella had been fast asleep in the passenger seat for hours, and her soft snores weren’t helping.

    Reggie gently nudged her. “Baby, we’re here.”

    Her eyelids seemed to only open halfway in protest, but she stretched and got out, trailing behind Reggie as he grabbed their luggage and headed into the lobby.

    Once they’d checked in, however, she was wide awake and practically bouncing on the bed. “Let’s go explore the neighborhood.”

    “It’s—” Reggie checked his watch “—nearly one in the morning. Can’t we do it tomorrow?”

    All it took was one little pout and before he knew it, they were back down in the hotel lobby.

    “There isn’t really much to do at this time of night,” the desk clerk told them.

    “I hear music,” Stella said. “Is there a club nearby?”

    “There is a bar next door.” The clerk studied them, obviously trying to choose his words carefully. Reggie knew what he saw: two black twenty-somethings who looked more at home on The Cosby Show than out in the clubs, especially in small-town America. “But I—”

    “Thanks!” Stella cut him off, grabbed Reggie by the hand, and pulled him from the lobby.

    Motorcycles covered the sidewalk outside the bar more thickly than flies. Reggie swallowed his apprehension and pushed open the door.

    “If it ain’t Theo Huxtable, right here in Ely! C’mon in and have a drink, on me!”

  14. Lucky Night?

    Rocky crammed his belongings into the stained duffel bag and left his furnished room. He strapped the bag onto his classic Triumph Bonneville cycle. The night wind whipped through his unhelmeted black hair as he zoomed to the casino. Time to pick up his dealer’s pay check and have some fun, he thought. Haven’t had a lucky night the past couple of months. I’ll just quit and move on.

    He noticed the string of leaning motorcycles in front of the hotel and wondered if the busty blond with the biker’s t-shirt would still be there playing 21. He picked up his check, and exchanged it for chips at the cashier’s cage. There she was at his old table. He sat beside her and stacked his chips. Maybe it’ll be my lucky night both ways, he hoped.

    She patted his thigh, and smiled. “Nice seeing you again.”

    Rocky suddenly felt a rush of good luck and began doubling down on his bets. “You must be my good luck piece,” he growled. “Let’s get out of here.” He scooped up his winning chips.

    “Wow,” the cashier cooed. “Lucky night. Thirty-five hundred smackeroos.”

    Rocky stuffed the wad into his pocket. They sauntered out to the bikes. “Which one’s yours,” he asked?

    She pointed to the black beauty with two bikers standing beside it. “Let’s take yours,” she teased.

    He woke up lying on the side of the road. His bike, money, and blond, were gone.

    “Lucky night? Yeah, right,” he moaned.

  15. We were on holiday In Laughlin, Nevada, eating well and having fun. After a good night’s sleep, we woke up and as usual I turned on the TV news while husband Joe was taking a shower.

    I called in to him, “Joe, is this real? I just saw a plane go into a tower in New York.”

    He came out to see what I was fussing about. By that time we realized I had just watched the first tower get hit by a plane… we didn’t leave the hotel room for the next hour as we sat horrified.

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