The Assignment


© J. Hardy Carroll

“I’ve got to write a hundred words about that?” The creative writing student balked when his instructor placed the ornate clock on his desk, which was to be used as a writing prompt.

“That’s the assignment, Mike. What’s the problem?”

“It’s hideous.”

“It’s an antique.”

“It’s repulsive.”

“Then you should be able to write a piece of flash fiction about something hideous and repulsive.”

“Do you remember the scene from ‘Office Space’ where Peter, Michael, and Samir take the office printer out and smash it to pieces? I can write about that.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 92.

Yes, that was more or less my reaction to seeing the prompt. Not all prompts are created equal and this one rubbed me the wrong way, so that’s what I wrote.

Oh, for those of you who haven’t seen the excellent 1999 film Office Space, here is a YouTube video (unedited, so language) of the infamous destruction scene of the office’s constantly malfunctioning printer.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit