November 12: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 13, 2014

Photo bombs crack me up. How can you not giggle at the absurdity of a earnest photograph interrupted by the unexpected? While the term is modern and popularized by everyone having digital cameras these days, photo bombs have been with us as long as there have been cameras.

Just the other day, my sister-in-law posted a cute photo of her one-year-old granddaughter. She was so delighted to finally capture this busy Little Miss long enough to get a crystal-clear shot of her smiling, cute as a kitten. Yet, in the background an innocuous spider-plant spread its long pointy leaves in such a way that Little Miss looked crowned in a bad hair day. Photo bombed by a house plant.

Several years ago, my niece primly posed for a series of graduation photos. Her family had two dogs she wanted to pose with, and the young one kept eye-balling the older one instead of looking at the camera. In one shot the younger dog lunged in front of my niece looking like a wild-eyed hoodlum while the other dog disappeared from the frame. My niece continued to pose prettily and it was my favorite grad picture. Photo bombed by a dog.

When it comes to photo bombs, my middle daughter, the Rock Climber, is the bomb. She can manage to interrupt her own photographs. She blames, or claims, this special talent on one of the cameras she sometimes uses for outdoor photo shoots because it goes off on without her knowing. When she took photos of scientists measuring the melt at Glacier National Park, she photo bombed several. Same with rock climbing. Here’s a few Rock Climber photo bombs:

The Hand of Rock Climber

The Hand of Rock Climber

Rock Climber Climbing

Rock Climber Climbing

Rock Climber Almighty

Rock Climber Almighty

Now that our muses have warmed us up, let’s try to write a photo bomb! The formula is thus: serious scene interrupted by something ridiculous. You are free to creatively interpret one of the photos of Rock Climber or a prized photo bomb from your own collection.

November 12, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a photo bomb (serious scene interrupted by something absurd or unexpected). You may also use a photo bomb (one of the three above or one from your own photos) to tell a ridiculous story. You don’t have to be funny–you can be wildly imaginative. Shake up the writing brain a bit and see what falls onto the page.

Respond by November 18 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. In case this prompt seems daft, I’ve written two examples. Have fun!


Be Nice to Mother Nature by Charli Mills (based on Rock Climber Almighty)

Mother Nature peeked in on Glacier National Park.

“The park’s biggest glacier is retreating,” said a Park Ranger.

Tourists huddled to look. Bessie crunched on Skittles and mouthed, “Boring.”

“One day, Glacier Park will have no more glaciers at all.”

“Big deal,” said Bessie, shrugging. A Park Ranger cleared his throat and asked the tourists to line up for a photograph in front of the melting ice. Bessie rolled her eyes and squeezed in.

No one saw the fingers of Mother Nature flick Bessie into the glacial lake, but everyone laughed at the photograph that caught Bessie’s surprised face.


The New Cameraman by Charli Mills

“Is my collar straight, Bob?” Cynthia of the Morning Show stared coolly at the set manager. Bob grimaced and gave her a thumb’s up.

“Bob, is that light skewed?” Bob climbed the catwalk and gave Cynthia thumbs up.

“Good morning, Cynthia! I love your show. I’m…”

Cynthia cut off gushing with a guillotine stare. Bob looked at the new cameraman and shook his head, no. Cynthia smiled like a coyote with a dead rabbit. “No talking to me on set.”

Cameras rolled and the new man grinned. He could see the spinach in her perfect teeth. But no talking.



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  1. Sarah Brentyn

    Hahaha! Love The New Cameraman! This is going to be a challenge…photobombing my own writing. Fun. 😈

    • Charli Mills

      Hope it’s not too crazy of a stretch! I’m excited to see what you all come up with. 😀

  2. TanGental

    I love the cameraman. Bomb the Bitch! Wonderful. Coyote with a dead rabbit. Great line. It has officially been purloined.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! 🙂

  3. Annecdotist

    Fabulous prompt, great duff photos and I love the spinach. I have done mine but waiting to see if a blog post grows around it. I’ll be back!

    • Charli Mills

      It took me two flashes to find the right groove I was going for! Could be an interesting blog post!

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Love this! Was cracking up reading…

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for the return laugh! Flash fiction’s friends think you’re swell! Glad the dating working out!

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    This is right out there Charli. Stretching us possibly past the realms of possibility. Huge cracks may open as we photobomb our very existence. Should be fun. Poor old Bessie and Cynthia. Both photobombed well and truly.

  5. paulamoyer

    Offertory Giggle-Bomb

    By Paula Moyer

    That Sunday morning, Jean was thrilled to meet Sally. Her boyfriend Teddy was excited. His older sister was home for the summer.

    Jean was nervous. She and Teddy sat behind Sally and her friends. Sally was gorgeous, with black, curly hair and doll-like features. And she was a college girl. Jean was barely fourteen.

    Then came the offertory. When the maple offering basket came down their aisle, it was full of the usual coins, bills, and offering envelopes. On top, inexplicably, lay a tortoise-shell barrette.

    Jean saw the barrette and giggled. Thought about it and giggled. She couldn’t stop.

    • Charli Mills

      The title alone is great, Paula! I’ve experienced getting giggles at the most inappropriate times and it’s painful when you can’t stop! This is a great flash photo bomb!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a stretch, but if you wrote one, you managed it! =^-^=

    • Charli Mills

      And I’m so excited–you have a Flash Fiction page! Congratulations!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Mine’s more of a twist than a photobomb, I think. Oh, well. It was fun.

        Thank you so much! I’ve been putting off the compilation of flash on that page since June :/ so another thing off my “to do” list.

      • Charli Mills

        It took me two writings to get it! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a stretch to write, let alone tie into a blog post! I’m off to look…

  6. ruchira

    This is so so funny!

    I have to participate in this…will be back soon 🙂

  7. Pete

    An order of valor to go…

    We’d just come out of the bathroom, ready to hit the road. I had my phone recording because Chris had never been in Virginia when the two girls in pajamas entered. There was some arguing, something about breakfast hours having passed. Then the heavier one tossed the chair and it clanged against the window.

    Grandma didn’t even flinch. She looked the girls over calmly and said, “Someone loves you.” The heavyset one froze mid-heave. Glaring, tears bloomed from her worried eyes. Then she slammed the chair down and ran right out of the store.

    I hoped Grandma was right.

    • Charli Mills

      Photo bombed in real life by Grandma. What you capture in this flash is how close rage is to sorrow and Grandma’s words changed it from one to the other. I hope she was right, too!

  8. Sherri

    Love it!!!! Especially ‘smiled like a coyote with a dead rabbit’ Just brilliant 😀 Thanks for this challenge Charli, so many possibilities, so much fun… 😮

    • Charli Mills

      I’ve seen that smile before (and once on a coyote)! 🙂 This one is supposed to be fun, although go with what it inspires!

      • Sherri


  9. rllafg

    Busted by Larry LaForge

    A local news photographer positioned himself to get a great shot. The legendary groundhog would emerge any second.

    Would actions of the simple groundhog signal more winter weather or the advent of spring?

    The photographer took a picture just as the cage opened and the famous marmot appeared.

    As the crowd cheered, the photographer checked the pic on his camera’s screen. He noticed something strange in the bottom right corner. He zoomed in, squinting his eyes.


    He zoomed in further and was shocked at what he saw hidden in groundhog’s cage:

    Mini weather satellite and meteorological communications receiver.

    The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.

    • TanGental

      very good, Larry but I’ll never watch Groundhog Day with the same enjoyment…

      • rllafg

        Sorry about that Geoff! (You probably don’t want to hear my Santa Claus story.)

      • TanGental


    • Charli Mills

      And in other news, Ground Hog caught cheating! Great photo bomb!

    • ruchira

      Good one, Larry.

      I composed on a similar note 🙂

  10. TanGental

    I have accidentally photobombed myself and lived a photobombed life mixing in the absurd with the serious so this is a bit of a romp. Hope you enjoy but to cut through the dross go to the end for the flash.

    • Charli Mills

      The dross is always the best part! 🙂 Sounds like you and Rock Climber might share a similar knack.

      • TanGental

        A fellow klutz. Good to know.


    Not Merlin this week, instead here’s a slightly re-worked excerpt involving Vanda, my heroine, and her mentor and old college tutor from Scene Five of Earth Magic. I’m just impressed that I’ve got it all done on time for yet another week. Haven’t done anything else, mind you. Merlin’s still stuck on the Ostian Way awaiting the fullest hour of the moon and trying to take on board some stunning historical stuff that I’m having to research properly before he can get moving.

    Lots of Bright Blessings to all,
    Tally 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Tally it sounds like you are playing a game of chess with your characters! Love it! Thanks!

  12. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    Sorry I haven’t been around to read much over the past few days. We’ve had no internet service. Fortunately it’s back on at the moment, just in time for me to add to the bombs in this post. I went off at a tangent, as usual, so my attempt may not meet your criteria. I enjoyed the learning process anyway. I hope to catch up on some reading soon. 🙂 I love your rock climber’s photo bombs and the glacier story – serves Bessie right! Not to mention the news anchor – how positively mortifying! Great reads. Here’s my offering. thanks for stimulating some learning.

    • Charli Mills

      Internet is not a sure thing! 🙂 Glad you are back in time to bomb with us! Funny, I never think of you going off tangent, but wrangling the prompt to fit your education mission. You’re so creative!

      • Norah

        Thanks for your support Charli. I don’t feel confident about meeting any of the criteria on this one. Learned a lot though, so I’m happy with that. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Think of the criteria as the nudge to get something created. And we learned from you, too! 🙂

      • Norah

        It was a nudge indeed! 🙂

  13. Sherri

    Hi Charli! I’m posting my flash here in your comments today, although I would like to make a post out of it. But today got the better of me, including internet, email and other laptop problems which I’m still trying to resolve. Anyway, just in time as always, here is my entry. With Christmas on the way, this is what came to mind – I’m sure you can guess why! Love the fun theme, thanks again and will try to catch up with you asap 🙂

    Rabbit Ears

    Carrie was losing patience as fast as her head pounded. Grabbing Mikey’s hand while simultaneously jostling his baby sister out of her stroller, she warned him to stay by her side.

    “I’m bored…!” Mikey protested.

    “Stay here!” hissed Carrie, “Look, we’re up next…!”

    “Well, hi there kids! All ready for your photo?” beamed the cameraman.

    An hour later, Carrie sighed as she selected the best of the shoot: the baby smiled as red, sticky juice dribbled off her chin and Mikey grimaced while making rabbit ears behind his sister’s head.

    It would have to do – the perfect Christmas photo.

    • Charli Mills

      Rabbit ears! Every sibling’s first intentional photo bomb! The Hub’s mom had a cure for rabbit ears and grimacing faces. She always took two photos–the good manners shot followed by encouraged goofy photo bombing. Your flash sounds like many Christmas photos I’ve seen over the years, including my own children!

      • Sherri

        Haha…yes, as I’m sure you can tell Charli, I modeled this on my own experiences 😉 Have a lovely photo of my kids all red cheeked and flustered from having to wait so long, daughter with a shiny, sticky chin while holding the lollypop the photographer gave her to help keep her amused (and she never wanted to smile for strangers). Love your m-i-l’s idea…very canny! Why didn’t I think of that? o_O

      • Charli Mills

        I think she practice with 4 kids and lots of grandkids! 🙂

  14. susanzutautas

    LOL Spinach ….. Good one Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Some characters deserve spinach in the teeth! 🙂


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