The Boulevard of Empty Shoes (A Flash Fiction Story)

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Inspiration for this Story

Last year there was a forum post by Christy Kirwan advising of an outside short fiction competition/social experiment based on a photo prompt. The only guidelines were that the story be based on the photo provided and under 100 words in length. Unfortunately I can't find the link to that particular forum and can't use the original photograph. It was a picture of a lone figure standing at the entrance to a street filled entirely of shoes.

This is the story I submitted but expanded to around 350 words. I hope you enjoy "The Boulevard of Empty Shoes".

Cropped and enhanced version of original photo
Cropped and enhanced version of original photo | Source

The Boulevard of Empty Shoes

I woke up with a start. Not knowing what aroused me I stared at the alarm clock. It was 7.00 am; time for me to get up for work, but the alarm hadn't gone off. I showered, dressed, downed a quick cup of instant coffee, slipped on my shoes, and walked out the door.

I only lived three blocks from my office building so rarely drove; besides walking was healthier and you could enjoy the sights. Today, though, something seemed a little odd. Normally at this time of day, there were scores of people commuting to work, driving, cycling, and walking. But today... the streets were deserted. No cars, buses, nothing. What the f… was going on?

I turned the corner into Birkenstock Boulevard and was momentarily stopped in my tracks. The street was literally covered in shoes and boots. It was as though there had been a sudden storm that had rained down foot-ware. But there wasn’t a soul in sight.

Where were the people the shoes belonged to?

I bent down and picked up a few shoes. They were all types and sizes, from size 12 steel capped work boots down to tiny baby booties, and everything in between. I am no detective, but even if my name was Sherlock Holmes or Charlie Chan was I doubt I would be able to solve this mystery.

Tentatively I made my way along the boulevard of empty shoes and turned into Agapanthus Avenue. I stared aghast! There were a few parked vehicles in the distance, but not a sign of life, human life at least, on the busy street … just flowers, thousands of flowers.

Cropped from original by J. Hansen
Cropped from original by J. Hansen | Source

The alarm woke me. 7.00 am, right on schedule. I pushed the snooze button and rubbed my eyes. Wow! That had been one hell of a dream.

After laying there semi-awake for another 10 minutes, I showered, dressed, downed a quick cup of instant coffee…and went to slip my shoes on … but they weren’t there. I couldn’t find them anywhere. In fact, all my shoes were missing.

Looking out the window didn't ease my discomfort. My flower garden was also empty.

5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of this story

© 2016 John Hansen

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Comments 78 comments

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 8 months ago from london

Yes, bro. Awesome! You've mastered it. Even the ending which not all can do. That bit of magic! That unexpected twist!

So sorry that you can't find this challenge. I believe I read something of it, but this was a long time ago. Well done!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Manatita, an "awesome" from you means a lot. Glad you thought the ending worked too. You are right that is not easy to get right. Cheers bro.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Wonderful. Makes me just pause and wonder.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Eric, hmm I guess it does. Just keep an eye on those lovely roses of yours.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 8 months ago from Southern Illinois

This is so strange. I wrote a story on this picture of shoes. I don't remember the name of the contest, I didn't win but received an honorable mention. I think it was connected to Hub Pages somehow. It was a long time ago. Anyhow, I liked your story and the surprise ending.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 8 months ago from southern USA

Oh, cool one, John. I do remember some sort of challenge here on HubPages, as Ruby does, involving shoes. I know he wet his pants after looking out that window! Peace and blessings


Buildreps profile image

Buildreps 8 months ago from Europe

Great story and so brilliantly short! I guess we are all very curious what actually happened. To be continued maybe...? :)


swalia profile image

swalia 8 months ago

Beautifully written with a very intriguing end!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

You had me with the title...from there on it was all dessert, and very tasty dessert at that. Great ending!


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 8 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Amazing story! It seems you actually experienced that dream and put into words. But, the ending is even more stupendous. What a great crafting of the story! Enjoyed a lot. Thanks for the treat.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 8 months ago from The Beautiful South

You said so much in 350 words...I cannot even imagine it being done in 100 or less!

How is your site going? Looks like you got plenty of volunteers. Popular guy I would say.

May it all go like magic!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 8 months ago from Southern Illinois

What site have you got going? I missed seeing it...


Carolyn M Fields profile image

Carolyn M Fields 8 months ago from the USA

Very thought-provoking for such a quick read. Thank you. I will be looking at my shoes in a different light . . .


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 8 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Very creative Jodah. Just the way some dreams appear to be crazy with no meaning, yet, there is a meaning behind it.


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 8 months ago from Cape Cod

As always John, well done. I love everything from the title to the prose and especially the enigmatic ending. This one brought back memories of a friend of mine who wrote a series of radio commercials about shoes. His shoes talked and were named "Left Shoe" and "Right Shoe". I don't remember the dialogue but I recall that it was funny and did generate a goodly number of shoe sales.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Ruby. I went through all the forums for the last two years and couldn't find reference to it. I got an honourable mention too if I remember rightly. Glad you liked the ending.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Haha Faith. I think he may have done just that.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Buildreps, than you for the great comment. Sometimes a writer just has to leave the readers wondering. Who knows, maybe further down the track I may add a further ending.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you so much Swalia.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Bill, I hope you enjoyed your dessert :) I thought the title sounded catchy..glad it worked.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good to see you Venkat. Thank you for such a generous comment. Glad you enjoyed both the story and ending.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Jackie, the original 100 word story sure was a challenge and left even more questions than this one. Thanks for reading. The idea of the new site seems to be a popular one I'd say.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Mary, in a forum I suggested creative writers and poets start their own niche site, as those genres are not in the immediate plans for HubPages new niches. Well the idea has taken off with a lot of people wanting to join. At the moment we have set up a Facebook group "The Creative Exiles" to plan it. If you have a Facebook profile you can apply to join the group. If not just state your interest and your application will be considered by the selection committee for when the new web site is launched.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Carolyn. Don't forget to check your garden too :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

So true Dana, dreams do often appear random and unconnected to anything, but a deeper meaning can usually be found. Not sure what that meaning is in this story though.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Bill, as always. Glad this brought back memories of your friend's radio commercials. They obviously worked well if they increased shoe sales.


YouGet1Shot profile image

YouGet1Shot 8 months ago from USA

Well...maybe it's just me, but I thought your story was hilarious. Not sure if that's what you were going for though. =)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I'll take any compliment I can get..scary, funny...hilarious is good. Thanks YouGet1Shot. Much appreciated.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 8 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello John. I also remember this challenge. You addressed it well here in this flash fiction fury.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Mike. I found it an interesting challenge.


shprd74 profile image

shprd74 8 months ago from Bangalore

Reading stories about dreams are always very intriguing, they usually have some suspense. Your story has a very great twist of reality connected to the dream you have dreamt. (Though Fictional) :-)

- hari


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Hari. In the original shorter version I wasn't able to add the twist at the end successfully. Glad it worked well with this longer version.


Linda Robinson60 profile image

Linda Robinson60 8 months ago from Cicero, New York

Good morning Jodah wow what an awe-inspiring hub, this was fantastic. So heart-felt and stirred so many different emotions as you read it. Terrific, absolutely loved it. Take care Jodah.


Dehan 8 months ago

Beautifully written


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 8 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Well done, John!

I may have to take a shot at this one myself.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Linda, thank you for reading and leaving such a lovely comment. I am glad you enjoyed this weird little tale. Have a great day.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Dehan.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Will, much appreciated. Sure, why don't you have a shot at this one. As I said I don't have the original pic but you can use my main photo as a prompt.


DDE profile image

DDE 8 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Hi Jodah you so interestingly approached Flash Fiction here always a good hub from you. Best Wishes!


Luna Blue profile image

Luna Blue 8 months ago

I love the choice in song to accompany this piece Jodah :) I enjoyed the read, as always :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for always reading my hubs Devika. I always appreciate your comments too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you, Luna Blue. Glad you enjoyed the read, and Green Day is one of my favourite bands so I thought this song appropriate.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 8 months ago from The Caribbean

You tied it up expertly. But then again, I have always thought that you do an expert job on every type of writing I have read from you. Real good!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Compliments like that could go to one's head MsDora :) but thank you anyway.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 8 months ago from Florida

Na na na na na na na na...You unlock this door with a key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension; a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You are moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You just crossed into the...Twilight Zone!!

Great story, John, as you can tell, it reminded me of The Twilight Zone episodes. lol. This story would have made an interesting episode on that show. :)


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 8 months ago from Florida

do do do do, or na na na na? I couldn't remember what the beginning of that show sounded like the most. lol. Anyway, again, I loved this story, and I am a fan of Green Day. The song you posted is one of my favorite songs of theirs! :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 8 months ago from Shelton

I enjoyed this little flash.. but really thought the ending was right on... :) I don't remember the challenge, but I bet you nailed it with this little piece :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

The Twighlight Zone and the lesser known The Outer Limits were two of my favourite shows as a kid, Missy, so if anything I write is considered to have been suitabeofan episode it is quite a compliment. I can hear the music opening of Twighlight Zone In my head up don't know how to write it down :) glad you like the Green Day song too. Cheers.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Frank. The ending was something I added in the revamp.I wasn't happy with the ending only 100 words allowed me.this worked much better. I think the original challenge was part of a psychological experiment by a college...not 100% sure


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 8 months ago

John,

Your shoes were walking out on you

Taking all your flowers too

Where were they taking all the flowers

While you just slept for hours

Maybe you could go back to sleep

If that is not hard

You just might find them on the Boulevard

*

*

Blessings my friend

You could add the Youtube video of "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You" that would be a nice touch.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Shyron, thanks for adding that funny little verse. Yes, the video of that song would be a good addition. Blessings.


Eric Flynn profile image

Eric Flynn 8 months ago from Providence, Rhode Island

Great job Jodah, left me with a bewildered feeling, but not all things need answers.

EWF


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Eric, I did leave he readers with more questions than answers with this one but sometimes that is what makes it all the more interesting. It allows the imagination to get a little exercise. Thanks for reading as always.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 8 months ago from New Delhi, India

Great response to the challenge!

This sounds so mysterious and keeps the reader engaged till the end. Reading stories about dreams is always very intriguing and I like the suspense and the twist towards the end.

Thanks for an interesting read!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Chitrangada, I am glad this short story kept you interested and intrigued right to the twist at the end. In my original story it wasn't a dream, but I thought that would add a little extra to the tale.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 8 months ago from Georgia

This was great fun to read. Easy to step into your character's shoes and imagine myself looking at a street filled with nothing but shoes. To take it a step further, I imagine what fun it might be to look for size six designer shoes. Any Chanel, Farragamo...? LOL.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Haha Cyndi10, I am sure if you went through them all you would find at least the perfect pair of one of those brands. Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed the story.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 8 months ago from San Diego California

Mysterious. Leaves a lot of room for speculation on the part of the reader. I wish I had the patience for flash fiction, because I think it actually requires a great deal more discipline than the longer, more rambling type, an ability to reign in the running roughshod imagination for a quick burst. Great work!


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 8 months ago from Stillwater, OK

This is a fabulous story. Truth can be stranger than fiction, yet you were given a small glimpse into the future. A great piece, for sure. Keep it up.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Mel, much appreciated. I do admit I was always reluctant to try my hand at Flash Fiction. You can either pull it off, or it just falls flat. It sure takes some practice, but it seems to get easier and is satisfying when it works, especially the ending. Now I am off to read your hub about watching sci-fi movies. Cheers.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Deb. Truth certainly can be stranger than fiction. This was a little weird. But glad you enjoyed it.


rcorcutt 8 months ago

Nice work. It has been a long time since I have read your work and I can see the growth.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you very much, rcorcutt. I really appreciate that comment. It is hat all writers love to hear.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 8 months ago from Dubai

Great story, brilliant write. I can imagine so many things that could have happened.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Vellur. I wanted to leave it up to the reader to try to imagine the cause and outcome of the story.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 8 months ago from England

Whoo spooky! lol! I love these kind of stories, you wake up, its weird, then you wake and its still, well, weirder! great write!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

thank you for reading this rather weird little story, Nell. Glad you enjoyed it.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

I enjoyed reading this story and loved the mysterious ending! This is the type of flash fiction that I like to read. Thanks for sharing the tale, Jodah.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

It was my pleasure to share this Alicia and thank you for reading. I am glad you enjoy this type of flash fiction tale.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

What a cool title; and the pic was so intriguing, John. You met the challenge well; this story had me from the very start and I didn't expect that twist, shocker ending that still has me thinking and wondering.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Genna. Good to see you. From your comment, I assume this little flash fiction story..worked? Thanks for reading. Have a great week.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 7 months ago from Central Florida

Funky story, John. The guy have freaked out to find his dream wasn't really a dream at all.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes, I would freak out if it was me, Shauna. Thanks.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 7 months ago from Central Florida

I meant the guy must have freaked out to find his dream wasn't really a dream at all, but you figured out what I was trying to say anyway. That's what happens when someone's talking to me while I'm trying to type....


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 7 months ago from Oklahoma

Wonderfully entertaining.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 7 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Larry, glad you enjoyed this piece of flash fiction.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

A bewildering mystery that makes me wonder what did happen? Well written and enjoyed.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you, Flourish. Maybe one day I will continue the story and help solve the mystery.

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