Flash Fiction Challenge: The Stock Photo What-The-Palooza

Last week’s challenge: Must Contain This Sentence.

At Buzzfeed (yeah, I know):

50 Completely Unexplainable Stock Photos No One Will Ever Use.

Except, we’re gonna use ’em.


You’re going to pick one of these photos.

And you’re going to write 1000 words of flash fiction using that photo as inspiration.

Tell us which photo (by number) you’re using when you link to your story below.

Due by May 30th, Friday, noon EST.

Go forth and get weird.

139 responses to “Flash Fiction Challenge: The Stock Photo What-The-Palooza”

  1. Oh! some fun ones here… 😀 After being out today, I’m looking forward to working on this; seeing it’s just begun to rain. 😀

    • Got it.

      I picked #16, the woman with the gun and the watermelon. What can I say, it called to me. Maybe something about smuggling watermelons since my wife is super pregnant.

      I also riffed off a challenge from several weeks back: SomethingPunk, for which I wrote the story “Borrowed Time”. This one’s more fun, less depressing: FruitPunk.

      “Seeds of Insurgence” (I apologize) is here: http://pavorisms.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/seeds-of-insurgence/

      • I love how you build this strange, fruit-forbidding world in so few words. While I find myself wondering why the world has gone so mad, I simultaneously *don’t* question that its for some very good (or very bad, as the case may be) reason. Excellent job here, my friend!

      • WHOA. I knew that worlds of weird had to be lurking behind that picture, but no fish nibbled on my line. Apparently that’s cause they were all mobbing your muse-bait. Wonderfully weird and hilariously dystopic, if that’s even possible.

    • Oh! I love it! Very ‘The Coneheads’ … no matter how much it tries to mix in, it doesn’t and even when it does, it can’t. 😛

        • Oh yes! Dan Achroyd is just hilarious in it! And the guy who plays Dixon from King of Queens is in it too! 😀 My folks hadn’t seen the movie not until this year and they thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen! 😀

          And one of our charities use the Coneheads picture to promote the Life Line Bookfest… with the logo: ‘Don’t be a Conehead, go to the Life Line Bookfest!’ 😛

          And it works! 😀

    • There are so many little gems in such a short piece. My favourite: “Except for these things stuck to my chest which are attracting more attention than I expected but I’ve given up trying to understand humans. If they’re for feeding your young, why is it that the people who stare at them are full-grown?” Marvellous!

    • I could not breathe. By this I mean that it was a damned good idea to read this after dinner, or my writing-and-dining partner would have had to deploy her Mad Heimlich Skillz. All of the abdominals involved in maniacal-but-suppressed hilarity are very sore now, and I cannot tell you which the funny bits were, because, hey, the text is available above and there’s no point in my retyping the whole dang thing.

      THAT GOOD.

  2. 31. A Businesswomen enjoying a boxing glove massage.

    Just… What?!

    Some of these (read: most of these) are seriously disturbing. I’m dying to know the context behind “Hey, I think this would make a great photo!”

      • Thank you! Beth came totally out of nowhere and now just will not stop punching me in the face. In a good way. Except I really don’t have time right now to give her the 80,000 words she’s asking for. It is hard to say no to someone who can drop you off of a mountain any time she feels like it.

        • No no no, don’t encourage her! She’s already like, Hey, you’re almost done drafting that novella. Probably you’ll need a break from the whole sword and sorcery and ghosts thing after that. Freshen up a bit! C’mon, it’ll be fun. Have I mentioned that the book starts with me practically up in space because … oh, you don’t want to know, right? Because you have “other things” to do first. Nevermind….

          And I’m like, Beth, stop itttttttttt

          And then she punches me in the face again. Ow.

          (But seriously, thank you!)

    • Methinks this is what the younguns mean when they talk about ‘body horror’ but the escalation (Richter scale of fuckedupedness) got me laughing. Profound, skin-crawlingly kinesthetic sensation of WRONG WRONG WRONG and laughing just makes the knife go in deeper.

    • Nasty nasty people and a nasty place … well kind of goes with the photograph. But you gave it a sensory kick that made it lodge firmly in my memory. ARGH … er, well played.

    • “You are not allowed to edit this item.”

      I’m afraid it didn’t even ask me for a password. Maybe you need to link directly to the story URL, rather than your admin portal editing page?

    • In which we have a story shaped like a Klein bottle with fish inside… twists, yeah, some of them not in three dimensions. Good job. Love me some weird.

    • I love it! I can’t pick a single ad which is my favourite, but I liked “Because fruit should nourish you, not the other way around.” (Bwahaha!) and “If you’ve lost an arm, and want to replace it with a factory farmed rainbow trout, we can help you.” (oh, the inanity!)

      Brilliant idea, and expertly executed.

      *Catches the cyber corn*

      • Thanks. I know I stole a bit of the Hitker joke from Mr. Show, but that’s what occurred to me as soon as I saw the photo. Someone with one too many cloned Hitkers. So if you’re going to “borrow”. borrow from the best.

    • I read parts of this aloud to my partner and could not stop cracking up. Cake pillows. Because you deserve it. Oh yeah, and all the others. This is a freaking masterpiece of bizarro humor (my very favorite flavor. mmm catnip *rolls around*)

  3. […] I don’t know why, but I’ve always found it hard to write based off of a picture for inspiration. Weird writing prompts I can go with all day, but show me a picture and tell me to write about it, and for some reason, I always freeze up. I don’t know why that is, but I found it to stay true with this week’s writing challenge from the terrible mind of Chuck Wendig. […]

    • I WANT MORE! You have tickled my narrative kink for lower-midde-class and working-class wizards. I would read an entire novel in this universe.

      (And I used to live in Toledo, so I know the locale… YES. Extra points for seldom-written locations for fantasy.)

  4. […] This week’s challenge was an interesting one. We had to choose a photo, from a selection of bizarre stock photos, and write a story inspired by it. The photo I chose from 50 Completely Unexplainable Stock Photos No One Will Ever Use was #29, a strange one of a woman wearing a gas mask giving a child, also wearing a gas mask, a sugar cookie. So with that, here’s my story. […]

    • This one sits on the boundary between folk tale, horror, and urban legend. Lots of tension getting there, too, and a not-entirely-unsympathetic narrator in spite of his bad habits.

    • Excellent prose and powerful imagery, though I’ve come to expect no less from thee. The thought of countless messiahs, countless would be saviors cut down before uttering a word is a powerful one. The thought of their bones being used to tally souls by a one eyed priest of greed, chilling. Another amazing work. I’d love to see the footnotes.

    • Your site says I’m not allowed to post comments on it (which I think is totally alienist) so here’s roughly what I’ve tried to post twice!

      “Your poetry-prose paints a picture both beautiful and eerie. At one point I literally had a chill running across my flesh. So many dead Messiahs… it makes me wonder if perhaps there’s a little Messiah in all of us, waiting for the right circumstances, to bloom or be extinguished.”

      • Thank you! Hats off to our genial host, for such a weird and wonderfully generative prompt.

        On the site issue – I am a little weirded out by this as we are both on WordPress and I am following you. If spambots have had their say (however temporary), it should have no objection to intelligent life.

        • Damn those spambots *shakes fist*

          I’ll try commenting again on the next flash fiction you enter, and if it still doesn’t work, I shall write somebody a Strongly Worded Letter.

    • Story stands on its own, no problem; actually, now that I think about it, so do all the stories except for the three-liner. Skin-crawling last line. I confess a bit of envy as I had absolutely no ideas looking at that picture.

      The post-game analysis is really helpful, because I went through a similar process in writing mine; I sorted through various notions and decided to go with the kind of idea that is my kind of idea. What arrived had a life of its own, as yours does.

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