Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Horizon

lighthouse at ferry pei 1996 flash fiction writing prompt
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below. There will be no written prompt.

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture at left.  The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms. Please note the rule changes for 2016.

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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Horizon”

  1. Highlighting the relatively barren coastline there stood a lighthouse, small and dainty as it could be.

    One day, Mother Nature decided she would turn her darker side on and to have a little storm at sea.

    Regretfully it was also the day Robert finally capitulated to his wife continuously asking him to take her fishing.

    It appeared that his wife, Zoe, had unfortunately never been on any ocean going boat; she always thought it would be the same as the river or lake sightseeing trips they took on their vacations.

    Zoe felt relatively fine on the calm ocean until the late afternoon when Mother Nature decided it was time to cause a little excitement by causing the waves to get rough and the sky to darken.

    On board their boat, The Lucky Star, Robert had to do everything he could to make Zoe feel comfortable, while at the same time trying to get them back safely to their boat’s slip at the marina. And if it wasn’t for that small lighthouse on the HORIZON guiding their way back, Robert and Zoe might have never returned.

    Now back to where they had started their fateful trip, Robert told Zoe, “You see why I never wanted to take you.” The only way she could respond was to say she does and promise that she’ll never ask him again.

  2. Here we were at the edge of the earth getting ready to sail into the deep blue unknown in search of the final piece. It has taken a series of teams, working in secret, fifty years to decipher the symbols from the current tablet, cross referencing it against a vast library of tablets that stretch back to the dawn of mankind.

    I was recruited into this secret society ten years ago. A society that has been tracking down these tablets troughout human history. The finding of each tablet preceded all significant advancements for humans throughout time. The secret of fire during the Paleolithic era, the enlightenment of the Renaissance, powered flight in the early part of the 20th century. You name it, there was a tablet for it.

    When I finally broke the code for the coordinates of the next tablet I also discovered it would be the final one. According to the GPS, the tablet would be found at the bottom of a deep sea trench. I am convinced that some outside force laid down a path for us, guiding human development.

    The cool ocean breezes and the gentle swaying of the ship bring me back to the here and now. I look towards the horizon with trepidation. Where are we being taken as a species? What will be revealed on this tablet? What will this final piece mean for mankind?

  3. Tim sat alongside his grandfather, next to the lighthouse on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

    It had become routine. Every morning they’d bestride themselves on the rocky promontory and survey the horizon looking for a rare passing ship.

    Grandpa was a crusty old mariner, gruff at times, long-retired from his sea-going days. But he was good company for his grandson and told many a captivating tale.

    This day was akin to many others, except a thick blanket of fog had rolled in clouding the horizon. The onshore wind produced an impenetrable shroud…with a rare, momentary gap in the otherwise dense obscuration.

    “Look grandpa, it’s a SHIP!” Tim exclaimed.

    “No boy. It’s probably just a sailboat out for an early morning run.”

    “NO grandpa. It’s a ship. A tall ship, three-masted and carrying full sail!”

    “Nonsense boy. There’s nothing there.” Grandpa scanned the veiled horizon. “Nothing at all.”

    “But grandpa, I SAW it!” A full thirty minutes went by. Suddenly another break in the fog revealed itself.

    “Grandpa LOOK!”

    “Give me those binoculars, boy.”

    Grandpa scanned the horizon and caught a brief glance of the vessel’s stern as it retreated into the low-lying cloud.

    “By thunder! I can see the name on the stern!”

    Marie Celeste it read.

    Reported lost and abandoned in 1872, it had become the object of speculation and legend.

    Marie Celeste. “‘Tis a ghost ship,” grandpa muttered as the ship retreated into legend…and history.

  4. For the people of Cozy Cove it was becoming a matter of urgency to ascertain the truth behind the phenomenon of Sudden Albatross Sighting Syndrome. Historically speaking, each time one of these fantastical birds appeared the happy hamlet would suffer a social spasm.

    What size Ye say The Bird be Today?

    Ominous words, emblazoned on the monolith in the town square in weathered script of tarnished gold. Folks still prepared to speak on the matter, did so.
    “No bigger than a generous turkey.”
    To which the people sighed in relief; many embraced.
    “Akin to a dodo but with the wings of an elephant.”
    “Ears,” the people shouted, some even daring to laugh.
    “Albatross-sized, but closer than usual,” insisted the Spinster sisters with a few abstract hand gestures, garnering a vomitous silence.
    “To the lighthouse,” the Elders roared and the people shuffled, as one, to the end of Cape Comfort where the man-made promontory bravely proffered Lonely Lighthouse to the ocean on massive popsicle-stick buttressing.
    “The stones have grown,” the children chattered.
    “The cliffs seem grander,” the geriatrics grumbled.
    “Silence,” Minnie Spinster roared. “Grease up my sister and send her to the horizon so that we all can once again know our stature among things.”
    They smeared the Spinster Pixie with turtle butter and cheered her into the surf.
    Unspoken aloud, yet thoroughly agreed amongst the people, was the fact that while Pixie had gained a few pounds around the waist the waves had definitely gotten bigger too.

  5. “Careful, Vic.”

    His words drifted by, careless as the wind. Feeling had abandoned his voice, not at once but like summer slipping into autumn fading into winter.

    Her white cane tapped the ground. “Why?”

    “Do you know where we are?”

    The air smelled of sea and old stone. “Really, Ron. Mission point.” And she remembered.

    Two years ago. The old lighthouse. The tour. She tripped, he caught her, and they laughed their way up centuries-old stone steps and around the catwalk while the sea washed the promontory. They loved and married and traveled and lived. But no longer. What had changed?

    “Why now?”

    He cleared his throat and shuffled his feet. “To remember. To be happy.”

    She heard no happiness.

    He led her forward, shells crunching beneath their feet. “Can you smell the sea?”

    She inhaled. “Oh my yes!”

    Not money. She had freely shared her wealth. Another woman whose eyes could look back?

    Ron gently slipped the cane from her hand. His palm pressed on her back, guiding her forward. “I so, so want you to be happy.”

    She heard sadness, smelled fear, felt unrelenting pressure on her spine. Her toes touched the edge of the world.

    “Must you, Ron?”

    She heard tears tracking down his cheeks, smelled salt upon his skin.

    She snatched the cane back and twisted about, and the whole world spun as sounded a sickening crack and a cry of surprise, and then nothing, nothing but the sea surging and washing clean the rocks below.

  6. It’s been hundreds of years since they first lit my lamp. So much has happened since then. But, unforgettable memories will always nestle in my heart.

    The day I saw Chris on the prow of the three masted Santa Maria, proud as a peacock, with glory in his eyes. I tried to send my blessings by winking twice, to no avail.

    The fateful day hundreds of ghostly steel monsters silently approached, with no help from me, through mysterious fog, on their way to the white-chalk cliffs of Normandy and salvation,.

    Amelia Earhart, bless her heart, tilting her glorious wings in greetings as she began her descent to history.

    Churchill, at my side, painting another watercolor. Such a true artist.

    So much more. So many things. And, now, progress.

    If only they all knew how they enriched my lonely life.

    It was with endless sorrow I overheard the pitiful news. Within six months the entire area will have changed. I will be no more. How I wish I could let the world know of my unimaginable life and add some of the thousands of personal perceptions to history books. But, no! Soon, standing where I am now rooted, there will be a merchant of walls. WALLS?

    Oh, woe! Here comes one of the demolition trucks to extinguish me, my memories and the beauty of this place. The sign on it’s side reads, “Coming Soon. Seaside Walmart.”

    I don’t understand! I just don’t understand!

  7. Joanie tied off her skiff to the pier and headed up to their lighthouse with the week’s groceries. When she arrived she noticed the door was smashed in and half ripped off the hinges. Frightened, she called out for her husband,” Oh Captain! My Captain! Where are you?”

    But only the sound of the surf on the rocks far below responded. Joanie put the groceries down and searched the interior of the lighthouse for her husband. She raced up to the lamp room and the widow ‘s walk atop the lighthouse.

    Joanie looked down at the rocks and surf where she spotted something in the surf. When she finally got down there, she was horrified to see her husband’s severed arm beckoning her into the sea with every wave crashing on the rocks. In a horror-stricken panic she raced back up to the widow ‘s walk to try to get cellphone reception to call for help.

    On the widow’s walk with her back to the wind and facing the lighthouse lamp, try as she might, all she got was dead air on her cellphone. At sunset the lighthouse lamp automatically came on and briefly blinded her. She turned away from the brilliance of the lamp just in time to see her reflection.

    All the Coast Guard ever found of them was her cellphone at the base of the lighthouse with a Selfie taken of her reflection in a giant green eye.

  8. They had moved to the midwest, far from the ocean, when Eva was young. But she clearly remembered Maine, their tumble-down fisherman’s shack, the lighthouse where her father was the lightkeeper, and the vastness of the ocean. She missed them, but she had had a good life. Marriage, children, grandchildren… But when her health began to decline, she thought more and more of the lighthouse on the coast. Her daughter put her in a nursing home, although that was not what Eva wanted. She wanted to go home, to the lighthouse, to the coast of Maine.

    Claire patted her hand. “I know, Mama,” she said. “I know.” It broke her heart, but Maine was two thousand miles away, and her mother was not fit to travel. Her vision was going; her hearing was going; her whole body was shutting down.

    Claire still had the salt shaker she had found in an antiques store, a salt shaker shaped like the lighthouse Eva had described so many times. She had meant to give it to her mother but never had. It seemed so inadequate. Maybe now was the time. Eva’s eyes were closed. Her daughter set the salt shaker on a book with a cover the color of weather-worn boards and set it in front of a picture of the ocean.

    Eva opened her weary eyes and saw. “Oh, oh!” she whispered. “Home!” And she cried. Her daughter joined her in tears.

  9. I sail upon the sea, where sky and water blur.

    It beckons me in my weakness. I bend to its lure.

    With easterly winds, the sails I must tend.

    My heart of hearts no letter to send.

    Sun will set upon a western sky.

    I solemnly bid my heart goodbye.

    Days tick by without change.

    The light on the rock long from range

    I lay upon the captain’s wheel, broken.

    Gripping a lock of hair as token.

    I turn the wheel and face the wind

    I must return to land and kin.

    Her name I call, for it holds hope.

    The horizon reveals her fine white coat.

    I gaze upon her crimson crown.

    A joyful smile will replace my frown.

    The pillars embrace her, though worn and weathered.

    She welcomes me home, my heart forever tethered.

  10. Chandra and Divakar, two ancient Indian princes, became disciples of an enlightened sage. They started living in his hermitage near a sea.

    One day in the beach
    — See Divakar, there is a line binding the sea to sky?
    — I noticed. That’s the separation line between sea and sky.
    — Separation? Not binding? Are you sure?
    — Ask the master?
    — Better. Let’s.

    The sage listened to both.
    — Boys, do a thought experiment; meditate. Close your eyes and see… we are droplets of sea water… floating, waving near the sea surface…
    — Then?
    — Sunlight is heating us and we are getting lighter… diffusing… more and more… and more… see we are passing into the sky…

    Pin-drop silence for a minute.

    — Open your eyes, boys, did you see any line between the sea and the sky?
    — No such line, master.
    — Right. A water droplet in the sea gradually rises into the sky. Boundary is mere illusion.
    — So, we quarrelled uselessly…
    — Children, quarrels are products of imaginary lines, which some see as bonds, others see as separations. Beyond every boundary, we are one.


    ‘O Mr. Writer, finish the story. Come on, we have to visit the lighthouse today’
    Girlfriend is calling.
    Well, relation too is like that horizon— depends on how we see it. Okay. Take care. Bye.

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