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Amber Alert - a Flash Fiction Challenge

Shauna's preferred genre is fiction. She particularly enjoys rising to a challenge posed by fellow artists. Picture prompts spark her muse.

This story is my first attempt at flash fiction, based on a challenge DzyMsLizzy posted in a forum. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story in which the following sentence must appear somewhere: "Analisa sat alone on the park bench, the scowl on her face as dark as the gathering thunderclouds."

I love writing fiction, but have never tried my hand at flash fiction. Here it is. Let me know what you think!

Crane's Roost

Crane's Roost

Amber Alert - Flash Fiction

The stench was overwhelming.

Analisa sat alone on the park bench, the scowl on her face as dark as the gathering thunderclouds.

No one was to be seen as she peered across what is normally a busy street, when she felt the need to take a breather and get some air. She hadn’t been on the bench for more than a minute. Or had she?

Earlier this morning, during the team meeting, it was business as usual: going over each ongoing project, what documents were needed from subcontractors, when new jobs were scheduled to begin, etc.

Same shit, different day and she was over it.

Oppressive office

Oppressive office

Change of Venue

Analisa wasn’t sure what propelled her from the conference room to the park a mile away that had always been a relief from the oppressive world of business. Here she often sought solitude within the natural setting. Live Oaks decorated with Spanish moss, Sandhill Cranes, White Ibis’ walking freely amongst the humans, turtles dancing about in the pond. Crane’s Roost provided comfort for the humans who appreciate nature.

It was upon one of the many benches along the flora- bejeweled walkway, that Analisa found herself, not remembering how she got there.

Sitting area at Crane's Roost

Sitting area at Crane's Roost

It was noon and the sky was dark. No signs of rain. Life had halted. The thunderclouds enveloped the atmosphere and descended, smothering all life below it.

I can’t breathe!

Analisa fought to catch her breath as she watched all wildlife become still and decay before her eyes. The stench enveloped her and she felt her skin crawl.

Within minutes, life – including hers – ceased to exist.

Her cell phone beeped with an Amber Alert, but she never heard it.

Trees being turned to embers by the sun

Trees being turned to embers by the sun

© 2019 Shauna L Bowling

Comments

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on August 19, 2020:

Thank you, Riffat!

Riffat Junaid on August 18, 2020:

Scary but interesting story. Good article Shauna.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on August 18, 2020:

You, too, Ann. Let's not pay too much attention to my over-active imagination!

Ann Carr from SW England on August 18, 2020:

Oooh, that's scary! I never thought of that. Let's hope not, eh?

Keep safe and well, Shauna!

Ann

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on August 18, 2020:

Thanks for your awesome comment, Ann. No, I didn't have a premonition of COVID. Or did I????

After I wrote this story (I never know how my stories will end until they do), I thought of the Apocalypse. COVID could very well be the beginning of the process, though, couldn't it?

Ann Carr from SW England on August 18, 2020:

This is a great first attempt at flash fiction - and multitasking too! Don't think I could write and cook at the same time. Good job I don't do much cooking!

I felt the threat in the air and then 'bouff' they were gone! Did you have a premonition of Covid, I wonder? It was certainly a sneaky, unseen enemy.

Sorry I didn't see this before. Well done!

Ann

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on March 15, 2020:

Meg, I think the highest compliment a fiction writer can receive is that the ending was a surprise. To be honest, it was a surprise to me, too!

Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. You've started my Sunday out on a positive note!

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on March 15, 2020:

That was a surprise ending. I didn't foresee that at all. Very quick, probably the best way.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on March 15, 2020:

Wow, she must have sensed something coming. If everything is going to stop suddenly, there would be no better place to be but I didn't anticipate that ending, thought it was going to be a ghost or a timeslip, so very surprising!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on January 05, 2020:

Thank you, Mark!

Mark Tulin from Ventura, California on January 05, 2020:

Wonderfully done, Shauna.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on December 10, 2019:

Nell, that's an apt description and the reaction any author could hope for. Thanks for checking this one out!

Nell Rose from England on December 10, 2019:

Wow, just got into it and, wham! I love flash fiction. It takes you by the throat and makes you jump! lol!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on December 09, 2019:

Audrey, if I can do it, so can you! Thank you so much for the compliment. I wasn't sure I could pull it off, but thought I'd give it a shot. Something about the mandatory sentence awakened my muse!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on December 08, 2019:

Oh, Sha, I'm not usually attracted to flash fiction but after reading your story I'm becoming a fan! You're good! I want more. I haven't tried my hand at flash fiction, but heck, maybe I'll give it a go.

Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on November 25, 2019:

Really, Shauna? I do commend you of what you have at the back of your mind. Thanks for sharing.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 25, 2019:

Luis, I had Armageddon in the back of my mind as I wrote this.

Thanks for stopping by!

Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on November 24, 2019:

Although this is a work of fiction, however, I am reading a true story. Thanks for sharing.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 10, 2019:

Chris, coming from the master of flash fiction, your comment just made my day! It's not easy to throwing a whammy to an accomplished short short storyteller such as yourself.

Thanks for the boost. I'll be beaming all day long!

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 09, 2019:

Well, that was a jolt at the end. I had settled in for nice peaceful day in the park, and wham, she's dead, and all the animals too. The prompt was neutral and you took it to the dark side...just like I would have haha. Good job. Welcome to the world of short short fiction.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 29, 2019:

Thanks, Manatita. I found the required sentence to be quite motivating.

manatita44 from london on October 29, 2019:

Great first attempt, dear. You really were given a great start. Sharp ending. Great!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 29, 2019:

Shannon, I agree with you regarding flash fiction. To me it's a let down to be left hanging in a story. Flash fiction doesn't have subsequent chapters, so answers to questions simply aren't available.

Thanks for the comment. I'm heading to your profile page to see if I can find your flash fiction piece.

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 29, 2019:

Oh, that was chilling! I've gotta tell you, I'm generally not a fan of flash fiction because it's so abrupt and often leaves more questions than answers. But you've done an incredible job with your story here. Just perfect for the season, too.

I've only ever written one flash fiction piece and it turned out to be really dark, too, and was in response to a challenge here on HP. So we have that in common. LOL.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 29, 2019:

Paula, you're one of my greatest cheerleaders. I thank you for the positive encouragement. Yep, you never know unless you try, right?

Love ya, girlfriend!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 29, 2019:

Liz, you sparked my muse out of her slumber. Thanks for the challenge! Stephen King? That's huge compliment!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 29, 2019:

Thank you, Tiyasha. I really appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 29, 2019:

MizB, thank you for your awesome comment. I'm not sure I'll continue with flash fiction (it seems a bit more difficult than longer stories), but I appreciate your encouragement.

Suzie from Carson City on October 29, 2019:

Sha......Your first try is amazing, girlfriend! BRAVO! Looks like you can go full-speed ahead with confidence for future Flash Fiction tales.

Once again, we learn what we're capable of, by taking that first leap.....You GO, girl. Great job! Love ya........P

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 29, 2019:

WOW! Powerful stuff, and shades of Stephen King! ;)

This could go on to be a book! ;-)

Thanks for playing the challenge.

Tiyasha Maitra from Gurgaon on October 28, 2019:

This is a wonderful piece. Nice anticlimactic move with such few words. I loved it.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 28, 2019:

That was great flash fiction, Shauna, very imaginative. I could just feel, and smell, the distress. I love writing flash fiction nearly as much as I do reading it. Keep it up so we can all enjoy yours.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

Thank you so much, Genna. It's been a while since I've taken on a writing challenge. Normally, picture prompts are what bring my muse out of hiding. But something about Liz's must-include sentence had my muse come out screaming!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

Thank you so much, Genna. It's been a while since I've taken on a writing challenge. Normally, picture prompts are what bring my muse out of hiding. But something about Liz's must-include sentence had my muse come out screaming!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on October 28, 2019:

Wow -- you did a wonderful job with this challenge, Shauna. And to think this was your first try with Flash Fiction that you wrote in ten minutes.... Kudos! So very well done!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

Linda, I love writing fiction, just not the abbreviated version. I've posted many fiction stories here on HP. Bill used to challenge us with picture prompts a few years back. Those always got my imagination off and running.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

Bill, first of all, thank you for your praise. It means the world to me.

There was something about Liz's required sentence that had my muse burping out a first line as I was making dinner. And you know how that goes... once that first line is formed, the rest starts to roll.

I'd love to see you give flash fiction a shot, Bill. I probably won't stick to the flash end of fiction, but it was fun meeting the challenge.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 28, 2019:

Wow, that was dark! First attempt? You done good sis. What's next?

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 28, 2019:

For a first attempt I would say that was a complete success. Well done, you! I've never tried a flash fiction, and now that you raised the bar so high, perhaps I'll just pass on every trying one. :)

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

Thanks for reading, Flourish. I'm also glad Analisa didn't suffer.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

John, I appreciate your comment. I always enjoy your flash fiction stories. I found it difficult to extend the word count. I guess you can call this one flash-flash fiction!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

Thanks, Mar. I wrote it in about ten minutes while I was cooking dinner!

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 27, 2019:

Poor thing. At least it was sudden and she didn’t suffer.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on October 27, 2019:

In a flash, Analisa went from stress to distress!

You rose to the challenge, Sha. Love, mar

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 27, 2019:

My comment was meant for you I just wrote the wrong name.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 27, 2019:

Sorry Shauna, I had just read and commented on Shyron's hub before this one. I had a feeling I made that mistake and came back to check.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 27, 2019:

Ruby, I'll go back to the forum to see your post. I do subscribe to you, so I hope you posted your article. I'll get notification in my email.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 27, 2019:

Wow, this is a flash fiction gem. I was spellbound while all the chilling events took place. I took up the challenge, but I posted it in the forums. The Amber alert was perfect for this piece.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 27, 2019:

John, did you mean to post this comment on Shyron's article? :_(

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 27, 2019:

Well Shyron, great to see you trying your hand at flash fiction. Nicely written, and what a sudden and surprising ending. I certainly was not prepared for that.