Welcome to Thursday 360!
Are you a Christian writer? Think you can write a mind-blowing short story in 360 words or less? Let’s see what you’ve got!
Here’s How it Works
New posts will publish here on Thursdays. Write a 360-word (or less) flash fiction story based on the photo prompt and post it in the comments section below. The results will be posted the following Thursday along with the new prompt. Winner will get the opportunity to display the Champion’s Badge on their website.
Rules and What-not
The rules are pretty simple. All entries must be posted by midnight EST the following Monday. They must be original, unpublished stories inspired by the photo prompt and they must have no more than 360 words (title doesn’t count). Stories don’t have to be Christian in subject matter, but cannot contain foul language, erotic, anti-Christian content, etc… (Let’s try to keep it G-rated, folks.) By posting, you attest that your entry conforms to these rules; I am in no way liable if it doesn’t. I reserve the right to reject/delete anything that does not follow the rules.
All entries remain the property of their authors.
So, minus further proverbial ado…here’s this week’s prompt.
Happy Short Story-ing!
Remember to become a follower so you can get email notifications of results and new posts.
Check out Christian Flash Weekly after you’re done for another great contest to help you hone your short fiction skills.
12 thoughts on “Thursday 360 Challenge”
The fire was alive. Flames giggled and danced, orange, yellow and red, flowing in and around each other fluidly. Some were angry, others calm, but each a piece of a puzzle much larger than a single tongue of the blaze that lit the night as a beacon of warmth and protection. Josiah let the heat wash over him. In it, he felt his connection to everything- the molecules of wood, once solid, turning to ash before his eyes, the warmth, dissipating just a few meters beyond the core of the inferno, leaving the rest of the deserted beach cold and dark and the stars’ pinpricks of light shining down from the black velvet of the sky. The fire was life, the cycle of what was, transformed by stress and heat and finally, reduced to nothing more than a heap of gray on the ground. Josiah was wise enough to recognize, however, that the fire lived a good and full life, giving all that it had for the comfort of others, bestowing light, peace and rest during the night for the weary traveler. In the end, what mattered was how the fire spent the energy so cleverly crafted by the Creator, the same energy that caused the leaves of the newly sprouted bean plant to unfurl towards the sun and caused his own very human heart to beat the steady staccato of thunk-thu-thunk every second of every day. Looking around at the slumbering members of his group of rebels, Josiah saw with the eyes of a born leader how each unique personality fit with all of the others, just like the fire which needed fuel, oxygen and combustion force; without all the elements, each material stood alone, unable to complete its greater purpose, whether that be to cook food and warm the body or topple centuries of tyranny for the benefit of humanity. With that feeling of connection and worries eased by knowing his place was in the hands of a mighty God, Josiah rolled himself tightly in his blankets, casting off all thoughts and let the snap and pop of the dancing flames lull him to sleep.
Awesome story, Anna! Welcome to Thursday 360!
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The photographs scattered like blackbirds frightened from their forest coverture by a hunter’s gun. The flames reached up their greedy hands and clutched at the images, drawing them down into the fire where they curled and charred around the edges, turning black, catching fire and dying upon the blazing logs. Nina watched them burn until there was nothing left except for ashes. She glanced up at the night sky, watched gray clouds pass over the moon, inhaled a deep breath of the cool night air tinged with smoke. The smoke of her past. If only the memories could burn up and die as easily as the photographs. The pain was tangible as the images flashed through her mind. She could see it all, feel it all. The stench of liquor. His fists crashing into her face. The pain. The hot tears that rolled down her cheeks at night and wet the fabric of her pillowcase. The scars on her body had healed, but the scars inside still burned like open wounds, suffocating her at times. She could still hear his hateful words reverberate through her head. Worthless. Piece of trash. Vile epithets that seared her soul like a branding iron. The years had etched them in her brain and she’d begun to believe them. The crack and sizzle of the fire hissed in her ears. The clouds passed by the moon. The liquid silver light washed over her.
Lord, give me peace. Take it away. Restore the years the locusts have eaten. Help me, save me. Lord, I surrender, I surrender it all to you.
She stretched her arms out to heaven and she felt the peace and beauty of new life washing away the charred remains of her past.
She took a deep breath and a voice spoke to her in the silence.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
A tear trickled down her face as the truth soaked into her being.
The old pain, the old life had passed away. Her life had been made new. God had restored her hope.
Word Count: 360
(Host entry—not eligible to win)
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Love Can’t Let Go by Mary C. Findley
Toby stood bathed in the red-gold glow of the brushfire. Our rail fence wanted to shield him but it blackened and smoldered.
“Toby!” I tried to pull him away, the heat searing my face didn’t seem to bother him.
“I’m going to Hell anyway.” He pushed me away. “Daddy said God cursed me and demons dance on my soul. He said he’d come back to mama when her devil-child was gone. You’d have a daddy again, Runt, and mama’d have a man. I’d set everybody free, especially me, from the curse.”
“Look. They’re over there calling me. They say I’ll be free. That one’s reaching out to me. I could just climb the fence and shake his hand.”
Toby hurt from the inside out, all the time. Nobody understood his nightmares, the pills he had quit taking because they turned his brain into marsh mist mush. People called him crazy. They turned their backs on him. Just like I had.
No more. I lifted up the blanket I held, threw it over him, and rolled him on the ground to put out the sparks setting his shirt on fire.
“I won’t let you go,” I said into his ear as he screamed curses at me. He fought me, kicked me, but I practically mummy-wrapped him in the blanket and pulled as hard as I could. But I was only ten, and Toby was fifteen, almost twice my size.
“Please, Toby, don’t.” I dug in my heels. He tried to drag us both under the fence.
“Then let go!”
“I can’t. I love you. Love can’t let go!”
The preacher-man had said it on Sunday. This fellow didn’t go in our ten-years’-empty church where the dust motes flashed through stained-glass sun rays. He stood on a stump and said, “Love can’t let go.” I heard him.
We’d been fighting the brush fire for a week after three months of drought. Now it was going to eat up what was left of our farm and my brother. Or maybe it wasn’t.
“Love can’t let go,” I sobbed.
Toby stopped struggling. “Okay,” he whispered.
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Hey, Mary, welcome to Thursday 360. What a great story! What a great message! Thanks for sharing.
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A harsh wind whipped the bonfire into a frenzy, tongues of flame leaping from branch to branch, burning so hot that the woodsmoke barely had time to coalesce before being rudely thrust skyward.
But all that was beyond Derek’s notice. He could see nothing beyond the yellow-red of the flame and the black of the night that it threw back. He could feel nothing beyond the sting of heat on his cheek and the cool of the breeze through his hair. He could hear nothing but the crackle of the wood and the roar of air, rushing into the fire, and just as quickly rushing out. He was enthralled, the scent of burning hickory filling his nose, his lungs, his soul.
“Derek, would you sit down already?” came a voice from far away. Derek ignored it, as the moon ignored the gnat that flew under its light. But there was no moon, no gnat. There was only the flame, thundering with yet untapped pow—
“C’mon, Slick, we’re hungry!”
Frustration thumped in Derek’s temples, and his jew clenched in harmony. He was tempted to continue to revel in silence, but he pushed the thought aside. They’d never let him be. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes and turned.
“About durn time, Slick,” Trav said, shouldering out of his letterman’s jacket while awkwardly fisting a coathanger that had been straightened into forks, a hotdog adorning each tine. “Graduation’s tomorrow, and college is just on the other side of summer. This is our last hurrah, man! Are you gonna waste it just standing there, staring into the fire all night?
“No kidding,” Marcus chimed in, twisting his own coathanger into a usable shape, his cross necklace getting in the way more often than not. “Moody’s in the middle of Chicago, bro. When’s the next time I’m even gonna see a campfire, let alone roast dogs over it?”
Derek allowed himself a smirk, and relented, joining his friends beside a blaze which somehow seemed a lot smaller…
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Sorry, forgot the title and name…
Childhood’s End, by Jeremy Bullard
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Hey, Jeremy, welcome to Thursday 360! Thanks for sharing. The description you have here is awesome.
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Results are in! https://whitneylschwartz.com/2015/01/29/thursday-360-challenge-2/
New challenge is on and a special bonus badge is up for grabs this week. Come check it out. https://whitneylschwartz.com/2015/03/12/thursday-360-challenge-8/