Last night, I attended a meeting that included a presentation about writing Flash Fiction. For reference, Flash Fiction is a story with 200-1500 words. In the end, everyone was asked to write a story within twenty minutes using six prompts. The idea of having limited time and using prompts is to react and explore ideas that don’t always naturally go together. My biggest issue was that when I write, I sequester myself and need absolute silence. So in a room full of people, clacking away at their keyboards, it was a challenge.
Here are the prompts:
2) Protagonist-an inanimate object
3) Plot Arc-person meets person/object meets an object
4) Tone-Grim and Gritty
5) Setting-Real Outer space.
And here’s what I came up with. Keep in mind that there isn’t time to edit as you go, so it’s rough and not tweaked in any way. However, I enjoyed the exercise immensely!
“The Last One Left”
There are three people to my left and two to my right. No one has eaten his or her insta-pork chops and mashed potatoes. Outside the windows are black with distant stars denting the atmospheric fabric.
“I don’t want to do this,” the woman with long silver hair says. She’s older than me, but just by a little.
“You don’t have a choice, Gloria,” the man next to her says. He touches the top of her hand.
“Sinkholes. Why does it have to be sinkholes?” the younger man with blue eyes asks no one in particular. I heard he had incurable cancer of some kind. “Did anyone know sinkholes were in Outer space?”
“They aren’t literal sinkholes,” I say, “anyway, we weren’t told about any of this.” My five table companions turn and look at me. “We wouldn’t have agreed if they had.”
Gloria starts to cry. “It’s like the people in India—sending out their old to be eaten by tigers.”
“It’s okay, Gloria,” the man next to her says. “If your name comes up, I’ll go in your place.”
“That’s not fair!” the lady with short green hair pounds her fist. The water glasses jump. “Not all of us have stand-ins!”
“He’s not my stand-in,” Gloria says, “He’s my husband, Tom.”
I like how she says his name. Tom. It’s as if in the lilt of her voice I can see their entire life together; picnics on a grassy hill. Their first kiss. Skinny dipping in some perfectly calm lake, surrounded by trees and night. The only sound is laughter skipping across the water’s surface—and probably crickets. I miss the sound of crickets. They used to make me feel lonely and deserted, now they remind me of home.
A clock starts up. The ticking begins. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6…
The high-pitched squeal of the vacuum seal releases. Tom and Gloria grasp hands. Clicks and groans of gears shift. A whoosh. Tom drops from the table. Gloria screams as his hand slips out of hers. He’s gone—somewhere in Outer space.
He was the first. We wait to see who’s next.
(word count: 358)