Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Lights

xmas house 1990s copyright KS Brooks
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, 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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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Lights”

  1. He was on the front steps when I came home from work, waiting like the stray black Lab I occasionally found sitting at the front door. Gabe, with his handsome beard, strong hazel eyes, and sexy lips. I hadn’t seen him in seven years, not since we were a “number” in high school, he the football team’s quarterback and I, the leader of the team’s cheerleaders. Did I mention we also were the homecoming king and queen in our senior year?
    “May I come in?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “Really? You’re going to leave me standing here on Christmas Eve, under these beautiful lights?”
    “Listen, Gabe, I don’t owe you anything after all this time. Not a phone call, not a letter. One day we’re a couple and everything’s lovey-dovey, and then, you disappear from my life . . . hell, you disappeared from the face of the Earth! So, where do you get off suddenly reappearing as if nothing’s happened, thinking we can pick up where we left off?”
    He remained silent for several seconds, his lips pursed. Finally, resigned to his fate, he spoke.
    “Just listen for a minute, Ashley. First, I’ve done some terrible things. They amounted to meting out justice—at least in my mind. An eye for an eye.
    “Anyway, I paid my debt to society, and now, I want to make peace with you and with myself. It would be wonderful to start over again from where we were.
    “So, may I come in? Please?”

  2. “There it is! Wow. It’s like a castle.”

    The inner city school bus stopped at the end of the drive where a sign welcomed them in. The children piled out and followed their teacher in.

    “Look at that tree.”

    “I never seen so much gold.”

    “Is it real?”

    “What’s that on the table?”

    The interpreter smiled, gesturing at the cordoned off table groaning under the weight of delights the children had never seen, even in pictures. “Those are our cookies, pies, turkey, all the things we eat here.”

    The aroma wafted over the group, making little mouths water in anticipation.

    Pete tugged on their teacher’s sleeve as he followed her out to the next grand room. “They’ll give us some when we come back, won’t they?”

    Before he could get an answer the glitter and lights in the next room brought oohs and aaahs. It felt like a fairy tale. But it was real.

    At the end of the great room stood a tree that reached right to the twenty foot ceiling. The needles could barely be seen through all the lights and decorations. Underneath, spilling well beyond its perimeter, sat wrapped gifts of all sizes, shapes and colours.

    “Time’s up.” The interpreter led them back past the laden table, ignoring the murmurs of disappointed children.

    Once they had gathered outside, facing the door, the owner appeared, a cynical, glittering smile on his face. “This is mine, losers. You will never have any. Merry Hunger.” An evil cackle followed.

  3. Future Space

    By Annette Rey

    Beep-beep, boop, sweeee-oop.

    “Those dratted sounds, Quozo! Between them and the colored flashes, and this never-darkness, I can’t get any sleep. Can’t you stop them or turn them down?”

    “No, Darling. You know the pre-sets. We have no control over them.”

    “Just the same. I think if we put our heads together, we can override the system.”

    “Sssh! We are never alone. You must be careful.”

    “I’m sick of it! I can’t stand it anymore!”

    “Darling, please!”


    “Now what’s wrong with it?”

    “Nothing. The panel reads ‘Well done.’ Come on, Garmer. Your Paté-Steak is ready.”

    “I’m not hungry, Q-Z.”

    “You must eat, Garmer. I’ve sprinkled some Calm-Zee on it for you.”

    Gaseous star-streams flashed by the transparent-viewing, gold-lined shields. Except for passing objects in the view finders, motion was not observable inside the ship. It had been so for the past 20 months. Passengers experienced various levels of stress and travel sickness. Most were eager for the monotonous journey to end. Most were also dubious about the new settlement on Psi-2X.

    OOO! OOO! Passengers! Stabilize. Stabilize. Landing is imminent!

    “Garmer! Garmer! The time has come. Let us be hopeful.”

    “Q-Z, you poor thing. You don’t know I have to leave you behind. You have been a faithful companion. You’ve shown me more mercy and love – yes, love – than any robotic I have ever owned.”

    “Garmer, I am winding down. I don’t know what is happening…”

    “I will miss you, my sweet Q-Z.”

  4. I bang on the gate but I am no longer allowed entry. Why do they keep it lit? I think I am the only person who still comes here. Why? I delude myself. I believe those few of us who remain hope to serve some purpose. If that were true more would be here at the gate. But I am alone.

    I never see anyone else now, not while I’m here; and I am here often. Others, in the past, did come seeking something; maybe comfort, the illusion of normal. I don’t come looking for answers. That time’s passed. Just to be acknowledged, to have your existence acknowledged. Maybe that’s why I come.

    I used to come every week when there was work. Long back that was. I don’t know why I keep coming. It draws me, like a magnet. Maybe it’s just to look at the lights. They turned off the music long back too.

    I’m hungry. They used to feed you when they gave you an assignment. I was good. I could observe and report faithfully. I didn’t feel like a spy or a Judas. I didn’t think my work was slowly killing us. Now I do feel I was used. There’s nobody left to apologize to.

    It’s August and I don’t at all feel that Holiday Spirit. Yet they keep it lit year round. When the last of us are gone will they shut it off?

    I don’t think the machines wish each other a Merry Christmas.

  5. Bah, Humbug !!

    Jason had done well..very, very well: a successful brokerage, a beautiful wife, two kids in private schools and a house — a gorgeous house, bordering on a mansion.

    “This year it’ll be even better than ever, honey.”

    Marilyn gave him a puzzled look: “Darling, you don’t have to PROVE anything to anyone. For the last five years, our house has been praised for the decorations — the lights. Well…everything !!”

    “Marilyn…if you’re not getting ahead, you’re falling behind! Right?”

    “Yes dear.” Marilyn turned and walked away.

    Jason looked at the awards & commendations that adorned the dining room wall:

    “Best lighting” “Most innovative decorations” “Featured neighborhood home”

    “I’ll win again this year. And soon it’ll be a New Year & I’ll win again then. Winning is what I do.”

    A nine-foot-tall Douglas fir graced the foyer, festooned with ornaments & tinsel. Below it was a pile, a virtual mountain, of gifts. Jason believed that Christmas was a time to spare no expense. And he hadn’t. Again.

    Special agent Carter was accompanied by a uniformed officer. He rang the doorbell & and waited while Jason opened the door.

    “WTH,” Jason thought, “It’s Christmas Eve. Who can that be?”

    The warrant read: “Mail fraud, security fraud & embezzlement”.

    After three years of surveillance, Agent Carter was in a very good mood, indeed.

    As Marilyn, Tim and Rebecca watched Jason being led away, Carter said:

    “Ho Ho Ho, my good man. Merry Christmas.”

  6. The old man stopped at the most decorated house on Indian Creek Island Road. What in the world, he thought, are they doing there at this time of night? It’s the richest street in the country. It’s two
    A. M. Everyone on this island should be asleep by now, and…..

    Someone shouts “LIGHTS. CAMERA. ACTION.”
    “No! No! No! That’s all wrong. You’ve muddled up the whole scene in front of my house again,” the fat man in the Vicuna coat yelled through his megaphone. “Everybody take ten.” He reached for the offered cup of hot coffee, spiked it with some cognac, and wrapped his hands around it for warmth. “When this film is done, I’m going to fire every one of these miserable ingrates,” he muttered to no one in particular. “Okay, everybody, let’ get back to work. Screw up one more time and that’s it for tonight. We’ll have to start off bright and early tomorrow. And don’t complain to me if we have to work the whole day to finish this last scene. You’re the ones who bungled it up.” Can’t wait to fire all of them tomorrow, he sneered. What the heck is this, he wondered, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a lump of black coal.

    …..”We’d better get on our way. Got a lot to do.” No one noticed as they swung around and began heading for their next stop. It started to snow. “On Prancer, on Dancer,” the old man bellowed.

  7. Alright light bulb, I’m talking to you, yeah you. I need you right now. Without you I’m nothing.
    Please, I need an idea. Five minutes left and I can’t think of anything.
    Light bulb, save me!
    Doctor Badguy tied me to an helicopter. That’s dire, light bulb, real dire. He’s laughing like a maniac. Years. He’s been waiting years for this.
    Oh man, you see that? Those are sharks. Of all the many places in the Pacific, the biggest ocean of them all, Doctor Badguy had to drop me amidst the killer fish. They’re dancing in circles, waiting to rip me to tiny digestible pieces.
    Doctor Badguy’s staring at my pathetic dangling self hanging from the helicopter. “Any last words, Superguy?”
    “You suck.”
    The villain smiles and starts cutting the rope with a knife. That weak little weasel’s struggling, but eventually to rope’s gonna snap.
    Think. Think. Think. Pray to the Gods. Worship the Holy Light Bulb on top of my head. Please, I need help right now. You gave me a great idea this morning when I realized I could just eat my cereals while driving to get things done faster. And leaving my oven open to heat my house for winter? Brilliant!
    The rope snapped. My oven’s still open back home. I gotta do something. What’s my superpower?
    I don’t have one. Yet, my name is Superguy. I’m the Superguy ‘cause I’m smart.
    But Doctor Badguy’s ain’t laughing anymore.
    Even HE can see the light bulb.

  8. For a naked little savage who had no schooling at all, the boy was very clever. He solved problems that had long puzzled the adults in his community. It was he who developed a poison for the insects that were destroying their crops. It was he who saved lives by teaching himself to purify their water. So the people naturally turned to him when a serious problem arose.

    Some thought his abilities were supernatural, and so they seemed as he performed more and more benefits for the community. But he was still a child. He did not understand that his wish to be supreme could not survive without the people who had begun to almost worship him.

    His last impressive act had been to light the old mansion on the hill with every light he could find, stringing them on the trees and all around the building. He sat in front of the building and drank in the magnificent sight. But there was no one to share his delight. The adults had grown old and passed on, and he was alone. He sometimes regretted his second to the last impressive act, which made it impossible for any more children to be born to compete with him.

  9. Dereck and Mina were looking forward to their first Christmas in their new house.

    “I thought there would be more decorations on display around the neighborhood,” Mina said, sipping her breakfast tea.

    “Using the term ‘more’ is being generous.” He flipped to the sports section. “I have seen zero decorations.”

    “Let’s light this place up with Christmas spirit. Others will surely follow.”

    By nightfall, their house was aglow with white lights. Dereck and Mina stood out front admiring it when a neighbor approached. Mina expected compliments.

    “You need to take this down.”

    “What?” Mina was stunned.

    “In the association by-laws there are rules against all front yard decorations.” He gestured to their display, “Intended to avoid this. Check the fine print.”

    “We’ll deal with this tomorrow,” Derek grumbled.

    During the night, they heard a loud clattering. They looked outside and saw several neighbors had swarmed their house and had begun yanking down the lights. Dereck raced outside, “Stop! By-laws or not, you can’t vandalize my property! I have security cameras. I’m calling the police.”

    As three neighbors rushed towards him, Dereck stumbled dropping his phone with a crash.

    A child’s voice squealed, “Mommy!”

    Everything fell silent.

    The child’s voice echoed from the open window across the street, “Look at all the beautiful lights. Santa will love them!” Then the little girl focused her attention on one of the men holding a string of lights, “What is daddy doing? Helping?”

    The man quickly dropped the strand, “Let them keep the lights.”

  10. Alfie the elf sat in the back of Santa’s flying sleigh, sulking.

    Noticing his mood Santa asks, “What’s bothering you Alfie?”

    Reluctantly Alfie replies, “All the other elves have fun rewarding jobs like making toys, baking cookies, and wrapping gifts. All I do is fix broken Christmas lights.”

    “I see,” Santa replies. “I tell you what. You finish your job this Christmas and we’ll find you a more rewarding one when we get home. Okay?”

    “Deal!” Alfie replies with excitement.

    The sleigh lands on top of a brightly lit house decorated to the nines with Christmas decorations.

    Santa quickly disappears down the chimney as Alfie starts checking lights.

    In the front yard he finds a Santa’s Village scene all lit up except for the figure of Frosty the Snowman.

    Alfie fixes the problem with ease making Frosty glow brightly.

    Suddenly he hears a tiny voice from behind say, “Thank you.”

    Turning, Alfie sees little six-year-old Ann Marie in her Christmas pajamas holding a teddy bear.

    Before Alfie can respond she rushes up and hugs him!

    Kissing Alfie on the cheek she says, “Merry Christmas,” then scampers back inside.

    Returning to the sleigh Alfie finds Santa waiting.

    “Any problems Alfie?” Santa asks.

    “No. . . none at all,” he responds, blushing.

    “Don’t worry, we’ll find you a more rewarding job once we get home.”

    “Oh. . . there’s no rush. . . I don’t mind waiting a bit longer.”

    “If you say so Alfie,” Santa says with a knowing grin.

  11. “Warm enough?” daddy asks, tugging on my mittened hand, pulling me closer.

    I try my best not to shiver as we crunch across the snowy sidewalk. “Yes, daddy.”

    He smiles down at me, but his eyes are a little sad. He unwinds the blue scarf from his neck and wraps it around mine. The comforting heat makes me smile back at him.

    His shoulders squeeze in against the stinging wind. “Braaaah!” he whinnies as his body convulses, and I laugh because I know he wants me to.

    “This one’s nice, huh?” he says, nodding toward the next house.

    We slow down to take it in. Fat Christmas bulbs wind around the tree in the front yard, and a snowman stands beside it, stick arm positioned like its waving. “Look! He has a blue scarf, too!”

    “Is it a dad snowman?”

    “Yeah!” It must be.

    “Here comes the one I wanted to show you,” daddy says. “You can already see the glow!”

    My eyes widen as the building comes fully into view. It must be a castle all in gold lights.

    “Isn’t that something,” daddy murmurs. “Huh.”

    He’s got that sad look again. I tug on his hand. “I’m cold, now.”

    He lifts me up, and I hang on as he jogs back down the street.

    I wave at the snowman with the blue scarf. “That’s my favorite house,” I say and bury my face into daddy’s coat.

    “It is, huh?” He squeezes me tightly, chuckling warm breath past my ear.

  12. Guarding the castle was a daunting job and it was difficult for the soldiers, especially at Christmas time. It is hard to be festive when you can’t decorate for the holidays. But they could dress up!

    The yeoman of the guard, who loved to dress up as Santa with a long white beard, had the main post, front and center of the fortress. Other of the soldiers had their own little shanty along the roof.

    Word came about a week before Christmas that a truce had been reached and blackout restrictions were being relaxed. It was now safe to have lights shining from windows! It was safe to have an outdoor light blazing at the home’s entrance!

    It was now safe to have a lighted Christmas tree on display!

    The yeoman received word that the castle would be the site of the largest holiday party in recent memory. He was to order his men to make the outdoor areas visible so the strangers would know where to go.

    The guards received the news with great and enthusiastic huzzahs and set about decorating. They had four Christmases of blackout conditions to make up for and they wasted no time.

    Every conceivable surface and edge was trimmed in lights. Each individual guard tower was also outlined. The soldiers hadn’t been this happy in ages.

    There was no mistaking the site of the party. Rudolph’s nose paled in comparison to the brightness of the festive castle.

  13. Clinking noises roused Irradiata from sleep and she felt herself being jostled against her family members. Voices murmured in the chilly blackness, and her filament buzzed with anticipation.

    “Illumination Festival.” She sang her joy.

    “Nothing to get worked up about,” Uncle Glaring said.

    Irradiata giggled, drowning out his grumbles. He couldn’t squash her excitement.

    Cold air rushed inside the container when the lid was removed. She, along with the other light bulbs, was lifted and untangled. In moments she would do what she was made to do—shine. Her brilliance would join the others to brighten the northern ledge of the grand house.

    Power coursed through her. She beamed at the other bulbs until she realized several of the lights weren’t shining. Grandpa Glowing had expired earlier this year, along with Aunt Sparkle, but Irradiata hadn’t expected more dark spots along the strand.

    “This string is shot. Don’t know what happened, but we need to pitch it.” She recognized the booming voice from previous years.

    “Unscrew the bulbs that work. Keep ‘em for spares.”

    Relief flooded her coils. She would be saved.

    Wait. Why was she lying in the dry brown grass while everyone else rested in a clear plastic tub? Despair claimed her. She had been misplaced, perhaps never to shine again.

    “Hey Mike, is this the bulb you needed for the front spire?”

    Confusion coursed through her as she was lifted high and perched where she never imagined she’d be, alight, on top of the world.

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