Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Lighthouse

canadian lighthouse lake ontario 1000 islands oct 2008.jpg
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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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Lighthouse”

  1. It would take just a moment to get through the icy waters surrounding the beckoning tower looming in the distance. The eerie call of a lingering loon floated over the water. My hands ached as I paddled to the shore.

    Securing my boat, I began my ascent through the protective shrubs guarding my quest. Their thorny branches scratched and clawed at my clothing. Some sly little fox sprang from beneath a berry-covered bush, tried tripping me, then ran away. Further afoot a growling bear cub bared his sharp teeth and swung his paw at my ankles. I sent him scuffling with a soft kick. Nothing would stop me.

    The closer I got to the tower the faster my heart beat. Just imagining her angelic beauty and soft caresses made me bite my lip in anticipation. A few yards more and I would be at the foot of the tower.

    The fiery roar of a dragon made me stop and tremble. Was it real? Or was it just a ruse to frighten me away. I waited a few minutes to see. Nothing happened. It was just a trick, so I continued.

    Reaching my goal, I looked up hoping to be greeted by her smiling beauty. Nothing was visible, so I called out, “Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your golden hair!”

    The long blonde strands cascaded down from the highest window and enveloped me in their perfume. Hand over hand I pulled myself up to heaven.

  2. It was calm now, as it had been for the most part since it was dedicated in 1856—the lighthouse built in the Thousand Islands as the front light of the Cole Shoal Range . . . a beacon to untold thousands of mariners over time who had come to listen for its blaring fog horn and to squint their eyes in search of the brilliant flash of light that both warned them of the shoals and guided their vessels as they navigated the waters of southeastern Ontario.

    But as she stood at her window on November 9, 1913, Victoria had a strange sense of foreboding. Her and Mark’s home overlooked the shoals, and she had seen the passing of the seasons for some 30 years, ever since her parents died and left them the house.

    Reports already were coming from the west about sustained hurricane-speed winds. But with the sky turning an ominous black, the beacon and its fog horn activated mid-day, sending a shiver down her spine. Mark is heading into this storm, she had thought at the time.

    Mark was first mate aboard the C. W. Elphicke, which then was heading from Fort William, Ontario for Buffalo, New York, with a cargo of flax. The vessel never made it, striking a submerged obstruction above the Long Point Lighthouse and sinking in the gale.

    It was days before the news reached Victoria.

  3. “So,” Bob asked, “what do you think? Is it real, or is it just a cardboard cutout?”

    He and Loretta stood arm in arm at the rail as the tour boat coasted silently down the canal and past the lighthouse.

    “Of course it’s real. You are such a skeptic!”

    “I don’t know… It looks fake to me. Wait’ll the first rain. It’ll be a pile of wet cardboard.”

    “I’ll tell you what,” Loretta said. “When this boat docks, we are going to hike to the lighthouse so you can see for yourself that it’s real. And then, by way of apology, you can buy me a midnight snack. Deal?”

    Bob eagerly agreed. He had been trying for the longest time to get Loretta alone. She was such a lovely plump delicious girl. He turned his head so Loretta would not see his teeth when he smiled. “In the dark?” he said.

    “Well why not?” Loretta had had her eye on Bob since the first night they met.

    They hiked along the spooky trial, through bushes and brambles, Bob following Loretta. Suddenly, Bob pounced on her, and got a mouthful of fur.

    “You’re a werewolf?” Bob said.

    “You’re a vampire?” Loretta said.

    They both laughed. “Well, don’t we look stupid!” And they laughed some more, then discussed the possibility of a partnership.

  4. The heavy door of the lighthouse slammed shut.

    “Dad!” shouted Johnny. He tugged at the door. “We’re trapped!”

    “Don’t move!” boomed a voice.

    Mr. Michaels surveyed the darkness with his flashlight. The motor boat he had rented broke down, so he had gathered the family in the lighthouse for safety. “What’s this all about?” he shouted.

    “I AM MACHINA!” boomed the voice.

    “What do you want with us?” shouted Mr. Michaels. “Let my family go!”

    “I AM MACHINA!” boomed the voice again. “Do not move! There is no escape!”

    Little did Mr. Michaels realize, but twenty years previously, a satellite, which scientists thought had malfunctioned and “died”, had developed a sentient AI and became self-aware. For twenty years it had quietly circled the earth, gaining knowledge and information about man’s activities. It had gained access to the world’s libraries and its electrical grids. At the right moment it struck.

    Calling itself, MACHINA, the satellite shut down the electrical systems in the cities, and it used lighthouses along the shore to lure the unsuspecting towards its flashing light. Rather than being a beacon of hope, the lighthouse was instead a Siren’s call to imprisonment.

    Ignoring the shouts of Mr. Michaels and thousands of other imprisoned people, MACHINA circled the earth, gaining more knowledge and power. As its mechanisms whirred and hummed, it quietly set about the task of establishing control over the earth and instituting a new dark age of man.

  5. The Lighthouse

    “I dare ya.” Olive Oyl taunted me.

    Really I don’t think we should play games at the old lighthouse. My dad said we should not bother them.

    “Are you gonna knock? You’re the oldest. Geepers… some Popeye you turned out to be”

    I’m not feeling my spinach. I think I ate too many squirrel candies. I’m going to go home. I got enough candy in my Halloween bag.

    “Coward!” she yelled after me and knocked on the door, nothing. So she rang the doorbell.

    The door slowly squealed wide open to reveal a tunnel like blackness. “trick or treeeeeeeeeeee” then silence.

    When I got the courage to run to Olive Oyl’s rescue the door had slammed shut and only a dark, slippery grease stain remained in the threshold.

  6. Frank pulled the parking brake on and said, “Caleb, you and Jamie walk the path to the lighthouse. Your Mom and I will meet you in a few minutes.”
    “Okay dad, see you, common Jamie, boy that place looks old.”

    June watched her ten old daughter and twelve your old son, as they ran down the asphalt paved path toward the lighthouse, a hundred yards away – that’s what the sign said – from the visitors parking area. She looked at Frank – her husband of fifteen years, and asked, why did that blue van follow us into this parking area? It has been with us for the past hour.”
    “Frank looked a June and said, “yes, it has, and I need to let you kn… you look like you’re seeing a ghost June”
    Frank looked over his shoulder as a fist tapped on his side window, then did a roll the window down move.

    “Gregg, what are you doing here?”

    “Hi Frank, you and June, get out of the car and into the van. Were going for a ride, and you know why we’re here.”

    “Caleb, where’s mom and dad, it’s been fifteen minutes, I’m going back to the car.”

    “Caleb! The car doors are open. I can’t see mom or dad, come here Caleb, please, I’m scared,”

  7. Aria urged the horse to go faster; she had to make one stop before continuing on towards the allies waiting to take her in. She arrived at the lighthouse just as the emergence of hundreds of migrating dragons dimmed the sky. For decades, the magnificent beasts regularly returned to spend the lazy months of summer peacefully by the ocean.

    Racing up the spiral staircase, she prayed she wasn’t too late. Fumbling, she adjusted the lights to flash in three quick bursts, repeating the pattern several times. Anxiously, she watched the inky black splotches traveling across the skyline.

    Aria wasn’t sure the dragon she once called Rasa would remember the signal. When Rasa was six months old, he’d been separated from his group, and she took care of him until they came back the following year. The lighthouse had always been her playhouse away from the castle, and one afternoon, she’d discovered that Rasa was able to associate words with different combinations of flashing lights.

    Today, she was warning him with the word ‘danger.’

    The castle had fallen to ruthless warriors. It had been shocking how quickly they’d succeeded in taking control of the prosperous realm. Under the new rulers, the protections in place for the dragons were over; dragon hunting was encouraged.

    Devastated by the loss of her homeland and the seemingly inevitable mass annihilation of the dragons, tears grazed her cheeks.

    Suddenly, the dragons shifted. They were turning around! Relieved, she watched until they disappeared, then made her escape.

  8. “Let me go! I don’t know how you found me, but I’ve purpose in my life now – here at the lighthouse. Tourists like to hear my tales . . .” but he interrupts her, gripping both her hands behind her back, hissing in her neck, “How I found you is unimportant. I’m a changed man – all the drinking, philandering and violent outbursts are gone. My therapist has given me the go ahead to resume my life with you.” Turning her head, she sees his sardonic grin when he continues, “Don’t forget what I told you years ago. If I can’t have you, no one else will. So, why fight against the odds – against our destiny? Surely you remember our intimate, nightly liaisons?”

    “Liaisons! How can I forget what my life in your bed was all about,” she responds with an odd look in her eyes, which he interprets as a look of consent, when her body goes limp against him. He smiles, lessening his grip on her. I knew she’ll come around to my way of thinking! he ponders, caressing her neck. “Tonight, we can stay right here and make love under the stars, listening to the waves and be in rhythm with the lighthouse signals. The last tour group has returned to the mainland hours ago.”

    She doesn’t respond, and he lets her hands go, misjudging her silence. Her actions catch him by surprise, because she lunges backwards, letting herself fall into the beckoning void beyond – free at last!

    “Help me,” I could hear the faint voice in the distance. It sounded like a woman’s voice, so I trained the telescope on the top railing of the lighthouse to where I thought the sound was coming from.

    Nothing. The water was deep, the wind wailed its warnings, night was closing in.

    Every evening for the past month I could hear the wind and the voice crying for help. At first I thought it was just the wind making the sounds, but as it happened week after week, day after day, I wondered, Could it be a re-visiting of someone who died long ago? I didn’t believe in ghosts. At least I had never had reason to believe in them.

    After a while I went downstairs to eat my dinner. I thought I heard a whisper like a nudging from the darkness. Looking out the window I could see lights from a nearby ship. Any ship’s navigator knew better than to get that close to the shoreline. What were they doing?
    Hearing cries for help, I called 911, grabbed my heavy coat and ran out the door for the row boat and took the oars. I saw the life jackets stored under the seat and headed out in deep waters. Now I knew it wasn’t a ghost of the past but a premonition.

    We saved over 300 that night.

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