Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Night

2S8A9289 valley of fire state park flash fiction prompt 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.

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!

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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Night”

  1. “Mommy, I’m cold. Why is it still dark? You said it was morning.”

    “Yes, sweetie. It is morning.”

    “Then why is it still dark?”

    I struggled to find a way to explain volcanic winter to my four-year-old. “Remember that TV show we watched about volcanoes?”

    “Sort of. But there’s no volcano here.”

    “No, but the darkness we see is from one that was far away. A big one. It erupted yesterday.”
    She turned a wrinkled, puzzled nose at me. “But why is it cold?”

    “Because the ash from the volcano is not letting the sunshine through.”

    “Oh.” She paused before declaring, “I’m hungry.”

    “I know. I am, too.” The ash had clogged something in our car leaving us stranded in this dark desert. Miles of dry scrub with little hope of rescue. The nearest rest stop was miles away. I hefted the bottle at my side. Almost empty, so no water and no food.

    “I’m tired.”

    “We can’t stop, honey. We have to find a place with food and water.” We trudged on.

    “Where is it? Why aren’t we there yet?”

    I pushed the panic down. “Soon, we’ll be there soon.” Even if we made it to a gas station I knew the respite would be temporary. Starvation loomed. Would we transcend; would it bring out the best in us? Or would we descend into chaos and violence?

    A yellow light approached through the dust. Reprieve – for now.

  2. We had come so far. Days and days of walking had taken their toll. Our blisters had stopped complaining. The searing hunger pains had normalized into rhythmic beats. Each of us was in their own mind, preoccupied with whatever solace they could trick themselves into believing.
    Papa was pale and blotted with moisture. Laboring to breathe, I saw him gasp and stumble to the ground. I rushed to his side and offered up my last sips of water. He had drank it before I realized he’d snatched the canteen. The border agents would be upon us soon, but considering his condition I couldn’t hurry him.
    Through wheezing puffs, he stammered, “H-Help me up. We g-gotta keep mov-moving.” His withered finger pointed at a tiny girl carrying her younger sister. Barely seven years old, her determined grimace shamed our weaknesses. Papa dotted the rag to his forehead and shuffled on.

  3. `Doc` Smallbone slid from the horse and tethered him to the nearest rock. Picking a water bottle from the saddlebag he let the tepid liquid wash away the taste of the gritty brown earth.
    He knew this was only a momentary reprieve. Soon they would be closing in on him, the Sheriff and his hastily-recruited deputies thirsting for blood. He slumped onto the nearest rock and surveyed the arid landscape. The horizon, a jumble of jagged peaks, was bathed in the blood-red glow of the setting sun. Soon he would be enveloped in impenetrable blackness, the only sound the monotonous chirrup of crickets.
    He hadn`t meant to kill the guy. He`d sold dozens of bottles of his `magic elixir` to the gullible of umpteen tumble-weed towns. This guy was no different, someone looking to fix his aching back and hacking cough. How was he to know that within a minute of him swallowing the blueberry-dyed water he would be writhing on the ground, foam bubbling from his mouth like some broken old horse.
    They had blamed him of course, pitchforks and spades threatening to decapitate him where he stood. He had only escaped by leaping on a nearby horse and galloping out of town.
    He watched the sun dip behind the peaks, eerie shadows like probing fingers reaching out to try and grab him in their iron grip. He downed the last of his water, the earth beneath him beginning to rumble to the sound of a hundred pounding hooves…

  4. There had been a time that I relished the light. A time that the warmth of the sun brought comfort and peace. A time I knew right from wrong or rather people’s perception of such. Then I ran a fowl of a creature who quit frankly isn’t suppose to exist. I became one of those fabled creatures that humans say doesn’t exist to make themselves feel safer. Now it is the night that brings me comfort and peace. Right or wrong became blurred into obscurity. A whole new world open up to me. I use to fear the night and the things that go bump in it. Now I’m one of the things that go bump in the night. I realize how beautiful the night really is and what I have been missed all these years. Now it is the day that I avoid like the plague. The day brings me unbearable pain. Do I miss it? I have to say a part of me misses the ignorant bliss but the night has opened up so many possibilities for me. As for right or wrong it wasn’t as black and white as I once believed, it is all relevant to who you are. I mean do you think a cow thinks it is right for a human to eat it? Because folks as much as one wants to believe in right and wrong it comes down to ones survival and want one is willing to do to insure it.

  5. I have no regrets. I have done what I could. Not always, but mostly.

    The night closes in. It is beautiful, and so is the day. But day is gone, night is here, and I am ready. All of the ones I knew have gone on before me. I remember them well. Their laughter, their love of life, their generous natures. I don’t know where they are now or if I will join them. Maybe they are somewhere, maybe not. But for now I will sit here alone on the mesa and watch the darkening colors of night closing in ready to take me away on the ultimate journey.

    I have no regrets. I have done what I could. I am ready.

  6. The rust-red stone tumbled down the slope in slow motion and came to rest in the arms of a creosote bush. “Ten points,” Clara announced, pumping her fists in the air.

    “Eight,” Piotr objected. “Wasn’t dead center.” When she raised an eyebrow, he added, “But a good kick.” The sky had darkened to indigo. He adjusted his clear bubble helmet and tugged at his wafer-thin coveralls. “Better call it there.”

    “When you’re ahead by two? Figures.”

    “Temperature’s dropping, Commander.”

    He loved his excuses. “We should have been genetically modified, like them.” Clara waved at the clumps of gray-green-brown clinging like fungus to the rusty soil. “Nothing’s gone right, and here we are, two points down and the game’s been called.”

    They began the long trudge up the slope to base, the only warm, fully oxygenated spot on Mars. “They’ll get us back,” Piotr said with faux confidence.

    Rock crunched under Clara’s boots. The recirculated air inside her suit smelled of rubber. What she wouldn’t give to smell roses or lilacs again. “Nobody’s interested. Terraforming didn’t happen with a snap of the fingers, so it’s been dumped in the trash, like everything else humans do. And us with it.”

    Darkness pulled its blanket over the eastern sky. A few stars peeked through. Piotr said nothing.

    “Table tennis,” Clara suggested. “A bag of those awful plastic cookies to the winner.”

    Piotr kicked a rock to the side. “You’ll lose,” he predicted. “By two.”

  7. Nicole and Matthew have been arguing all day – about which road to take, where to spend the night, how to conserve their tiny sum of money. Now he sits on a rock, staring at the setting sun.

    Nicole yanks the diamond ring off her finger. “That’s it!” she shouts. She flings the ring as far as she can into the darkening desert.

    Matthew jumps to his feet. “What the hell?” He scrambles into the desert as she stomps back toward their Jeep. Then she realizes Matt has the only car key. She slumps to the ground, leans against the wheel, and lets her tears flow.

    She is nearly asleep by the time Matt returns, his flashlight penetrating the darkness. He touches her shoulder.

    “Did you find it?” she asks. He shakes his head and whispers, “Do you want to call off the wedding?”

    “I don’t know,” Nicole answers. “I don’t want to spend another damn night ‘under the stars’. I want a hot shower and a soft bed.”

    As Matthew drives in search of a motel, she leans her head on his shoulder.

    It’s not until 50 years later, after their golden anniversary party, that Matt reveals the truth. As he unclasps the new diamond necklace from around her neck, he says, “Remember that night you threw your engagement ring into the desert? Well… the ring was cubic zirconia. I couldn’t afford a diamond back then.”

    Nicole lays her gray head against her husband’s chest and says, “I know.”

  8. This desert battle wasn’t anything like what Jeffrey had imagined in his wildest, scariest nightmares. Darkness was falling but the squad, like a herd of cows, slogged together towards the top of the hill, pushed by a lieutenant who was too young to push them kindly. Still, they moved sluggishly upwards, no place to hide except for bushes that would not stop even the lowest caliber shot. Jeffrey and his friends knew the enemy was watching their approach. He feared those combatants would be gone or dead before Jeffrey’s squad breached their defenses to wreck vengeance for the hell raining down on them like blood from an open artery of pain.

    Hugging the ground, the soldiers advanced through penetrating enemy fire. Nobody aimed return fire. Rather, they fired blindly where the enemy should be. Too many of Jeffrey’s buddies stayed on the ground unmoving. Others inched their way forward, avoiding enemy fire somehow. All he knew was that there was no secret knowledge or skill to escape disaster, only luck and terror to escort the fear. Those that could advance did so, reloading fire-hot rifles while crawling on their knees, never stopping no matter how earnestly they yearned for rest and peace and home.

    Finally, they hauled themselves to the top and wriggled over and around the blood-soaked bodies of the enemy young. Silence fell like night as the victors force-fed dank air into tattered lungs or vomited sour despair when they spied the next unforgiving hill ahead.

  9. The vague envelope of the evening crowded in around them as they stood, backs to his truck as they gazed out across the sand.
    This was the last night they would have together, and so much would be left unsaid, but nothing needed to be said. After all, they’ve had years, and full days of nothing special, and it was always enough. He reached out and tenderly took her hand. She accepted it, even gave a little squeeze, but no other motion. Not from them. Not from even the air.
    He was going, it was his dream, and it was why she loved him in the first place. There needn’t be any other reason, and it didn’t matter why. Not even from inside her, where a new life lived. The night was a frenzied accident, a great accident, and that was all it had to be.
    When it came time to go, they got in the truck and drove away. “One of These Nights” came on the radio, Don Henley (Henley was one of his heroes. It was fitting.) telling the story that might well have been theirs. It would always bring that memory back.
    Of one of those nights that founded everything worth living for. Dreams don’t always come true, but there’s always lasting power in home and sweet chance.
    She turned out to be the woman who was a little of both.
    Which is why it didn’t turn out to be the last night after all.

  10. Big Brain and His Little Minions

    “I intend to eliminate day throughout the Universe,” said Big Brain. “In its stead, there will be only night.” Big Brain was Lord of the Minions on Planet Dank.

    “Wonderful,” said his assistant.

    “I will accomplish this task by means of an anti-matter device. How is work progressing?”

    “Slow. The minions can’t understand the instructions.”

    “Replace them at once! Work must be completed.”

    “Yes, Master.”

    “And order flashlights,” said Big Brain. “We will need them when darkness strikes the Universe.”

    The minion scrawled the instructions in a notepad.

    “Lots of flashlights.”

    “As you command.”

    Big Brain raised his hands above his head. “By eliminating daylight and having only night, I will thwart Rufus’ plans for the Universe. Darkness will be his end—and my beginning.”

    “I bask in the glow of your brilliance, Master.”

    “Yes, yes. Of course.” Big Brain pointed a finger at the minion, indicating for him to leave.

    The time soon arrived for the big event. Big Brain stood up, uttered a few long and complicated words, and signalled for the anti-matter device to be activated.

    Within minutes, day disappeared and night came into existence.

    But darkness fell only on Planet Dank. The rest of Universe was unaffected.

    Gripped in total darkness, Planet Dank fell into chaos. Not only did this ruin Big Brain’s megalomaniacal plans, but his minions had neglected to order batteries for the flashlights.

  11. The lengthening shadows over the Della Chiesa Mountains cast the landscape in blues and purples. Augustine Korlis had planned to be back home by now–

    No, Kinwani was not home. Although a year had passed since he’d taken possession of his cathedral there, he still longed for New Rome.

    Until he had business there, he could not return. A bishop must live within his diocese: cannon law had established that principle back on Lost Earth long before humanity fled here through the Worldgates.

    He’d tried his best to decline the honor, but the Congregation for Bishops had heard his objections as pro forma humility. This desert land brought back too many painful memories.

    Once he would’ve enjoyed camping out here. His parents had been archeologists, and they’d brought him along on digs. Bright and precocious, he’d worked beside them like an actual student.

    The accident changed everything. Sometimes he wondered where he might be if things had gone differently. How he longed to be out on a dig again.

    He paused, looked closer at the sheltering stone where he’d pitched his tent. Yes, it looked like a built thing, not a natural outcropping. And from the construction, something that might well date back to the Benedictine Wars.

    Why not do a dig here? He’d do it right, write it up for the journals, perfectly professional so the Pontifical Commission on Antiquities couldn’t complain.

    For the first time in ages, a burden lifted from his shoulders.

  12. As daylight dimmed I could see the Frankenstein Castle silhouetted atop the highest range of the Odenwald mountains. Behind me, the house lights of Darmstadt began to welcome the night. The terrorized residents paid me well and prayed for my success. I shouldered my rifle, patted the knapsack holding the sharpened wood stakes, and began my ascent.

    Halfway there, I stopped to enjoy a cigarette and thought about last night’s meeting with the stranger. Uninvited, he sat at my table in the beer garden and whispered, “My name is Larry.” Without explanation, he told me of the upcoming meeting of Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and friend. The helpless residents needed someone to destroy the ghoulish miscreations once and for all. He asked, “Could you help them? I can take you there, but it might be fatal to you.”

    Stubbing my cigarette, I continued onward, but sensed I was being followed.

    Finally reaching the castle, I leaped over the moat and peered in through a window. They seemed to be enjoying an after dinner sherry before a warming fireplace. Suddenly, pointing at me, the monster roared, “He fell for it!” Dracula hurled his glass through the window causing me to crash to the ground.

    I turned to see Larry crouch and crawl towards me. He slowly began shape-shifting into a growling wolfman and in one leap tore open my throat. Their scheme to stop me succeeded.

    As I lay dying, haunting howls echoed through the mountains. The villagers trembled.

  13. I took a deep breath, but that didn’t help my racing heart, or the acid taste in my mouth.
    When the explosion went off, I ducked. Jeremy must have heard it too, but where the hell did he disappear to? Spinning in place, all I could see in every direction were the same red rocks. He said he had to take care of nature, but that must have been an hour ago.
    I stayed where we parted, but when he didn’t return, I decided to head in the direction he took. My throat is parched from yelling his name. The only other thing I have heard is the echo of my voice.
    I felt like running, but to where? Nothing but hills and rocks everywhere. He said he knew a great place up in the mountains to do our exercise as we both needed to lose weight before getting married in two months. I needed to sit down to catch my breath. I remember just before the explosion, there was a bright light that lit up everything around me, now those same rocks were turning black.
    I’m going to head back to the where Jeremy parked my car. I’m thirsty, but he had the water with him. I stood up and looked for the trail, but couldn’t spot anything familiar.
    It was only yesterday that I willingly gave him all the money I had for the caterer deposit. S**t, how could I have been so stupid.


    My mother said my first word was “star.” Each night she took me outdoors and we looked at the dark of the sky and the millions of stars up there twinkling. She would say star and point to them.

    When I was nine months old, she held me up and pointed. She said I pointed and said, “Star.”

    Then when I took Latin in high school, we had to memorize Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in Latin. I never forgot it and when I had my own four children that I would quote Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in English and then in Latin as I pushed them in swings.

    “Mica, mica parva stella
    Miror quaenam sistam bella
    Splendens aminus in illo
    Abba velut gama caelo.”

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