Flashathon Hour 5 Prompt: from Leah Petersen

This hour we’ve got guest inspiration from Leah Petersen, the mind behind 5 Minute Fiction, a flash fiction writing challenge that directly inspired me to create Flashathon.  She has graciously provided not only a prompt, but a few words of inspiration.

She quotes physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988), “Physics is like sex: sure it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.”  To which she adds, “I love that not just for how applicable it is to my main character (a physicist) but how well it works if you replace ‘physics’ with ‘writing.’  Why are you doing it, anyway?”

I’m sure at this point in the flashathon some of you may be asking “why am I doing this, anyway?” but I don’t think quite in the way Leah meant.  So let’s press on with our next hour in this crazy mixed-up event with a new prompt:

“Take your pick: a cloudless blue sky or the last three seconds on the bomb timer; either way, there’s not much difference.”

Leah Petersen lives and writes in North Carolina somewhere between the day job and the wife-and-mother gig. Rather than waste her time getting fresh air and sunshine, hanging out with friends, or pursuing an actual career, she reads books, writes, knits, and games. Sometimes all at the same time.  Her first novel, Fighting Gravity, is coming in 2012 from Dragon Moon Press.  Every Tuesday at 12:30pm Eastern time, Leah Petersen runs a 5MinuteFiction contest. It’s fast and it’s furious and there’s a slight chance of injury. But it’s fun. Join us!


  1. avatar

    #1 by Leah Petersen on October 22, 2011 - 4:08 pm


    It’s over in a second, a blinding flash of light and regrets.
    There was something I meant to say, or do. Something profound or someone precious.

    Guess I should have gotten around to it.

  2. avatar

    #2 by DLThurston on October 22, 2011 - 4:15 pm




    The screaming stopped. The pounding in his chest stopped. The pain in his lungs stopped. The clock stopped.

    Smith looked around. The billowing smoke froze, the ash hanging motionless in the air. He stood up from the bomb, and crossed the room, pushing the panic away, stepping around the other police who were scrambling to get the last few survivors out of the building. It was a frenzy of activity, with the bomb at the center and everything else radiating out from it.

    He batted at the smoke. It felt like a solid thing. He could shape it. Mold it.

    Wasn’t his life supposed to flash before his eyes?

    This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end.
    He went back to the bomb. There was no stopping it at this point. In the movies, it was always red wires and blue wires. The real things never looked like that. They were horrible things, if for no reason than being put together not by prop departments but by people with pure malice in their hearts.

    He carried the bomb outside. He didn’t know how far he’d be able to take it. How long this odd idyllic zen would last.

    He made it past the perimeter, angling away from the biggest of the crowd, from the highest of the buildings. He dodged birds in midflight, batted motionless insects. Over his shoulder was the panic, caused by the first bomb. Ahead was a world that the news hadn’t yet spread to.

    He didn’t have far to go. He just needed to get to the river.


    Time resumed. He ran, but knew he couldn’t get far.


    He looked up at the sky. Clear blue.


    At least it was a nice day.

  3. avatar

    #3 by Jennifer Brinn on October 22, 2011 - 4:18 pm

    Well, I got an idea from the prompt, though that is not going to be a flash piece. A cloudless sky as a bad omen. I count this as a success, but still isn’t actually….good. Yet. It will be.

  4. avatar

    #4 by Day Al-Mohamed on October 22, 2011 - 4:42 pm

    Story removed per author’s request.

    (I’m feeling particularly proud of this one.)

  5. avatar

    #5 by N.R. Brown on October 22, 2011 - 4:48 pm

    Story removed per author’s request.

  6. avatar

    #6 by Dana Gunn on October 22, 2011 - 5:00 pm

    Story removed per author’s request.

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