A picture tells a thousand words

... but may be enhanced with a few succinct words or  a short verse:

I spy with my little eye,
A kestrel hovering in the sky.
I may be wrong but have a hunch,
It’s planning to have me for lunch.

A story can also be told using a sequence of pictures and not many words - the comic strip and ultimately the graphic novel.

Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is the briefest form of story without pictures. This one uses less than 250 words. A picture has been added  but is not necessary


It was a perfect morning for photography. The blizzard had passed and the Cairngorms were covered in a pristine mantle of fresh snow. A mile from Derry Lodge, a dead sheep lay on the track, buried under the snow.

Out of morbid curiosity, I scraped back the snow with my foot. It was not a sheep. It was a young woman, lying stiff in the foetal position. I tried to close her eyes but the lids were frozen to the eyeballs.

She was well equipped: boots, snow gaiters and warm winter-walking trousers but with only a light windproof top. Where was the quilted anorak essential for survival in these conditions? A GPS was locked solid in her right hand, its battery dead. That explained how she had followed a track hidden beneath the snow. Its battery was flat but it must have been working when hypothermia took its toll.

In the waterproof map cover tied to her waist was scrawled a note: Four teenagers. Snow hole. Map reference 988946. One broken leg. Need urgent rescue.' I marked the spot with her walking poles and headed back to Braemar to raise the alarm. As the map reference was exact, the Braemar Mountain Rescue Team found the girls quickly. They were still alive but suffering from advanced hypothermia. Their teacher, they said, had gone out into the blizzard to fetch help. The girl with the broken leg was wrapped in her teacher's quilted anorak. 



Donald the Alligator was the biggest and fattest alligator in the whole swamp and

owned the biggest sandbank. He had inherited it from his late father who had left the

swamp to make ladies handbags in some big city.

    Donald was big and fat because there were lots of fish in the swamp and when he

felt hungry, he simply waddled down the steep slope of his sandbank, slithered

through the mud and opened his massive mouth when he reached the water. Fish then

swam in for shelter because they thought his mouth would be a safe hiding place from

the flamingos. All Donald had to do then was close his jaws and swallow. When his

belly was full of fish, he would slither back through the mud, waddle up the steep

slope of the sandbank to his favourite resting place at the top, which he called his


    Life could not have been better for Donald. He even had a harem of young lady

alligators who lay beside him in return for being allowed to beach on his sandbank.

Donald should have been happy but was not. He was angry, very, very angry. Why?

Because the smell from the swamp got up his snout and made him feel sick. The

swamp stank. It was, he said, like having built a palace in the middle of a cesspit.

    One very hot day, when the swamp was stinking more than usual, Donald had a

brainwave - more a ripple than a wave as alligators have very small brains. He sent a

message to all the other alligators to come immediately to his sandbank for a rally.

    'We must drain the swamp,' he announced, when all the other alligators had

arrived. 'We must get rid of the smell and make our swamp great again!'

    All the other alligators cheered and chanted, 'Make the Swamp Great Again.'

    'All we need to do,' he continued, 'is to dig out all the black mud at the far end of

the swamp which is damming it up.'

    So, led by Donald, all the alligators waddled and slithered to the far end of the

swamp and began to lash at the black mud with their powerful tails. It was the biggest

and greatest mud bath the world had ever seen. Soon, they had formed a canal through

the black mud and the water from the swamp came rushing out, bringing all the fish

with it.

    Donald, thoroughly satisfied with his days work, returned to his tower and watched

with a smile as the water in the swamp slowly disappeared. At long last, he felt happy.

'This was the greatest idea that any alligator has ever had,' he said to Melanigator, his

favourite lady alligator. Then he fell into a deep and contented sleep.

    The following morning, he was awakened by the cacophony of noise from a flock

of tweeting flamingos.

    'I drained the swamp,' he roared at them in contempt, as if trying to drown out their


    Then he felt the pangs of hunger. He had moved a lot of black mud the day before.

It's time for breakfast, he thought.

    He raised himself on his short legs, waddled down the steep slope of his sandbank

and tried to slither through the mud but the mud had dried and was going hard. So he

had to waddle over its caked surface, which was very hard work as his stumpy little

legs kept breaking through the crust under his great weight. It was like trying to wade

through thigh high snow, not that he had ever seen snow.

    When he reached where the water had been, it was no longer there and without the

water there was no fish. Donald was incandescent with rage. 'This is a fraud!' he

roared at all the other alligators who were flapping about in the semi-solid mud. 'The

flamingos have stolen our fish!'

    The other alligators all agreed. This had been daylight robbery. 'Put back the fish!'

they began to chant and vowed to deny the flamingos access to the swamp.

As the days passed and the fish did not return, all the other alligators began to

waddle off to find some other swamp where there would mud and water and fish.

Even Melanigator moved on but Donald remained resolute. He refused to leave his

sandbank and became more and more angry. This was not his fault. 'The flamingos

have stolen my fish,' he kept repeating over and over again as the pangs of hunger cut

deeper and deeper.

    After two weeks all alone on his tower with the swamp now dry as a bone and hard

as a rock, he heard a loud rumbling sound and felt vibrations in the sand. He opened

his eyes and in the distance saw a cloud of dust rising and beneath it, a great mass of

large, grey-skinned animals approaching the swamp in some sort of celebration. It

was the hippopotami. They were coming to take over his swamp.

With his remaining strength, Donald flicked his tail and scratched a message in

capital letters on the steep slope of his sandbank. It read: I DRAINED THE SWAMP.



    With that, Donald closed his eyes for the last time but he could still hear for a little

bit longer. He heard a strange sound. It was the noise of birds but not the tweeting of

thieving flamingos. This was the screeching of vultures. That and the heavy plodding

footsteps of the hippopotami were the last sounds Donald heard.