Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Sky

sunset flash fiction writing 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: Sky”

  1. Eye in the Sky

    It was a mid- summer Saturday night at Hannigan’s Brew Box.

    The NHL was finally back. Sort of.

    Nothing’s the same anymore, is it? Used to be a man could drink indoors, not see or be seen, not have snoopy old dog walkers gawking at him, or hear the stupid traffic, or bear unholy witness to all the beggars and homeless who swarm like flies on rotting meat. Used to be a man could drink his cold beer and just watch the game in bloody indoor peace and comfort.

    Then COVID scrambled all that, didn’t it?

    Whaddatheycallit…the social order.

    Turned on its bloody bald head.

    So, okay, Hannigan was trying his best to be a good Publican. He’d placed his big screen outside so we newbie sidewalk drinkers could imbibe and spectate to our hearts content. And hell, I gotta admit it was a warm sweet evening. Yeah, there were tragic stories huddled down the street and the towns teenagers were still rocketing by like escapees from America Graffiti.

    But all that aside, it was serene. And that sinking sun. Like it had been out on a millennium toot, all red-eyed and bright and heavy from heat.

    Jimmy and I were six feet apart. He noticed it first.

    “That damn sun’s awfully close, doncha think?”

    I cranked my neck. Gave it a look.

    “Mebbe. Who cares?” I said.

    “It comes crashing down, you might, buddy.”

    “You read too much Sci-fi.”


  2. Title: Red Sky

    One day wasn’t long enough for me to forget the deafening roar of the forest fire.

    We were lucky, thanks to the thousands of firefighters from many different areas and states. How those young men and women do what they do is beyond me. I know I couldn’t do it.

    Our house wasn’t one of the ones destroyed, but several of our neighbors weren’t as lucky.

    The kids were scared and crying, but the firemen told us we were safer where we were rather than trying to outrun the fire. Two families stayed with us last night, and we tried our best to help them deal with the tragedy. They were alive and they could rebuild.

    The kids finally managed to fall asleep, and I hope they won’t have nightmares for years to come.

    My dad and his dad built this house to get away from the city and it is amazing that it has survived many close calls.

    ‘Red Sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red Sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.’ Something like that. What if it is red sky in the morning and at night? The air was heavy with the stench of smoke.

    I watched the sun set, giving thanks that we were safe and hadn’t lost everything we owned.

    When I turned around to look at the house, both Ellie and Ryder were hugging the teddy bears the firemen had given them.

    My eyes started to water from the smoke – thank you God!

  3. “Are you looking at the sky to the west,” asked Reggie from his wheelchair. He was sitting on the veranda of his and his partner’s home in southwestern Kenya, close to the Tanzanian border. This being mid-August, the great wildebeest migration had finally arrived in the Sand River.

    “It is a magnificent sight, Philip,” replied his companion of 30 years as he observed thousands of animals through his binoculars as they were crossing on their way into the Mara Reserve, which is located within the Masai Mara National Reserve. “Just as you always remembered it.” Tears flowed from his eyes.

    “And the Sun, Reggie, where is the Sun?!” insisted Philip, raising himself from the chair as if he might catch a glimpse of the golden orb. The man lost his eyesight 15 years earlier in a hunting accident when the cartridge in his bolt-action elephant rifle exploded in the chamber. It required more than 20 surgeries to restore the features of his face and upper body. While surgeons were able to save his speech and a modicum of hearing, they were unable to save his sight.

    “On the horizon, Philip. Sitting right on the horizon, old boy.”

    “Ah, yes,” said Reggie, settling back into his wheelchair. “I remember what John Steinbeck wrote: ‘A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone.’ I shall never forget that sight.”

  4. Davis looked up at the sun.
    “I miss the Earth’s sun,” he said to Delilah.
    “I do, too,” Delilah said.
    Davis smiled and kissed her, deeply and firmly. She put her hand into his hand. They looked at the alien forest and the huge ocean in front of them and smiled.
    “I just think, what if we were back there?” Davis asked. “We would have a big family. I might have made it as a writer, with local support.”
    “Who cares about that?” Delilah asked. “You made it as a husband, a worker, a person. I don’t need you to sell millions of copies, hon.”
    They looked up and saw them: aliens, beings made of energy, who flew into the sun because they lived there. They looked like bright energy creatures, with wild designs as they saw fit – that was art, the art of looking the most bright and unique and interesting. One of them, Sanshowe, flew to Davis’s ship and began to stay there, refueling ships moving from this system to the next one along to the headquarters of the galactic government.
    Davis looked at her and smiled. “I know,” he said. “I’m a proud husband and father.”
    One of the light beings went down to the surface and smiled at Davis.
    “I love you, Dad,” she said.
    He smiled. “I love you, too, honey,” he said.

  5. The night sky was always kind to his anxious spirit. He looked forward to quiet summer evenings after a week of commercial torture when he could sit on his veranda staring at the sunset.

    The southern pines and the dense, moist atmosphere of the Carolina Low Country yielded spectacular sunsets that seemed to last unnaturally long in summer. The no-see-ums took their leave after dinner and the skeeters wouldn’t be too bothersome till after sunset. So, he sat in his rocker and sipped his julep, pondering the weight of the day with little interference save the chirping of retiring mockingbirds and the peepers in the pond.

    The world might be afire with fraught conflict and misery, but he had this oasis of safety and contentment. Generations of his kind had forged this refuge with the simple power of English words and law, albeit on the backs of others for whom there was little safety or comfort in their forced peonage. With deeds and indentures, petty laws, and bills of sale, his people transformed a wilderness into castles of wealth like his.

    Without the nagging wife that left him years ago and surrounded by the evidence of his family’s material achievements, he drained the last of his cocktail with deep satisfaction. Like his father’s father before him, he looked out upon the setting sun and its expanse of the southern sky with a singular pride of ownership.

    This piece of sky was his alone, a privileged inheritance like no other.

  6. The moon was full, and so was his stomach. He finished the wine in his glass and stepped out into the night. The abbey, silhouetted against the dark sky, seemed to beckon him. At the edge of the forest, he snuffled the lingering air, raised his head, and howled mournfully.
    The gathering villagers trembled.

    A light filled the window at the front door of the abbey.

    As he loped through the woods, he felt the fur begin to cover his hands, inch up his arms and prickle his entire body. The door to the abbey swung open as he sank to his knees in exhaustion.

    Reaching down, the Abbot helped him stand. “Come,” he offered, and took him to a concealed cell in the lowest hall of the sanctuary. He chained him to the wall and tightly muzzled his mouth with a cloth. “They’ll never find you down here,” he whispered, and kissed his forehead.

    One of the searching villagers, gathered on the steps of the abbey, cried out, “Have you seen him?”

    “I know not of whom you speak,” the Abbot growled, waved them away, and watched the grumbling group vanish into the woods.

    Fingering his prayer beads in thanks, he entered the cell and knelt before the quivering creature.

    “I’ll set you free in the morning.” he murmured. “Remember, my identical twin brother, as our mother lay dying, we promised her we would always protect each other.” He stood, sniffed behind his brother’s ear, then licked his face.

  7. Soothing Nature
    Made myself sit down at the desk and wanted to start working on the next project assigned to me, 12:15 p.m. on the clock it showed. Last night was sleepless, just like many. Shuffling, Reshuffling through the papers just to get a reason to start it off but no motivation came in the way, I was restless. The work was needed to get done by the next day night and still, a major portion was incomplete, somehow I got a pen in my hand and started the work, just then the I heard the sound of a horn.
    “BEEP, BEEP”, I looked out of the window and saw my best friend in the car. “Hey! Hurry up, Come down, let’s go to the forest to relax” he shouted.
    “I can’t, Stuck with the project”, I asserted. I opposed him although I wanted to get out of the house badly.
    “Hey, just come out, we will work on it together later.” He said with a pleasing tone.
    “Uh! Coming, But you gotta help me in real”
    I came and sat in the car, we reached after 50 minutes. As soon as we reached there I realized this break amidst nature was the thing needed by me. Looked at the sky, the sun was about to set, the scenery was fully red, everything was glowing in the dim light and I wanted to witness this scene till eternity because it was so soothing.

  8. No, I’m not superstitious. Still, look at the sky. Red. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. It’s off-putting. At least it was for me as my wife pushed me out the door. Yes, I walk at 5:30 every morning, no matter what. Rain, sleet, snow, heat. None of it matters. I walk. But, a red sky and my dear wife telling me to go? She almost said get out. We’ve been married forever so I know what she wants to say. Even if she doesn’t say it. Why does she want me gone? I can’t stand on the porch forever talking about it. Yes, I talk to myself. Keeps me sane. Scientific fact. So, I’m walking around the lake. Not a live human anywhere. That’s amazing for the most popular park in the city. No one but me. And it’s a nice summer morning. Shimmering waters. No breeze. Green foliage. And red sky! But I keep going. When I hear the splash in the water, I’m guessing it’s one of those huge carp that spawn in the shallows. Makes all kinds of noise. I’ll admit I was startled. Then that raccoon darted out. I don’t like raccoons. He ran across the trail. But he was after a squawking duck. There used to be alligators (well, caimans) in the lake. Dangerous for sure. I hurried on. Okay, I was a bit scared. Nervous. Red sky at morning. But I got home. Faster than usual. Surprised my wife.

  9. Layers

    Sneaking up to my parents’ room I would sit and stare, studying a special jar my mom possessed. Sitting center of her dresser it was shaped liked a vase but thicker, curvier, like an old glamour Hollywood starlet. Never, ever would I touch it, afraid of breaking it and losing all its magic. Oh I relished how those thousands and thousands of itty, bitty pieces all came together trying to keep my eyes focused; masquerading, trying not to see my glassy eyes staring back at me in that glass of dreams. Within this glass jar held the sand, surf, sun and even salty waters I so desperately missed.

    My missed sand was in there (well not the exact sand but I could pretend) and such amazing colors to emulate that of my mind. Layers of sandy brown, puffy white, tangerine orange, buttery yellow, sky blue, teal blue and passion pink all swirled together to make an amazing soft picture. Sand of setting sun over the blue and white, frothy ocean waters as well as the smooth and crumbly beaches. How did they get the setting sun to shine on sand waters like that? It made me long for my real sunshine, palm trees, suntan home. I knew it was stupid but I just thought if I stared at it long and hard enough maybe, just maybe, life would go back to how it use to be.

  10. Another day, another fire. Jenkins sat on the bumper of his truck, solemnly studying the smoke-entrenched sun as it lowered in the sky.

    For two weeks he’d been chasing the arsonist who had been setting the mountainsides on fire, burning so hot it was nearly impossible to find the point of origin. Jenkins had been doing this a very long time, and this was eluding him.

    “I have a thought,” Chief Davis blurted as he limped over, scratching at his hillbilly beard. “There was this kid – he failed the physical testing a few months ago – he showed up today to volunteer.”

    Jenkins snapped out of his funk and forcefully patted Davis on the shoulder. “You think good, my friend. Where is he?”

    “Not sure. We turned him away, again. But here’s his info.” Davis handed it over.

    Without a word, Jenkins got in his truck, started the engine, and got on his radio. He sped down the mountain until he drove into a wall of smoke. A stocky, baseball-cap-wearing silhouette carrying a gas can hurried through the smoke and into a vehicle. Jenkins nearly growled and stepped on it, smashing into the vehicle and pinning it against the trees.

    He drew his weapon and grabbed his radio. “Get some guys to the base camp! We’ve got another fire!”

    Bullets penetrated his windshield, whisking by Jenkins. He dodged to the left and returned fire. Then, silence. “I was an Army sniper, you bastard. You won’t be setting any more fires.”

  11. “Red sky at morning,
    Sailors take warning.
    Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.”

    Sure. But what about when the sky is red all the live long day? When the people of Earth found out that our sun was changing for the worse, the various governments coupled with the prominent heads of industry and produced a plan to construct a fleet of huge spaceships that would move humanity to another planet in another solar system. It was a bold and audacious undertaking. One that would require the efforts and labor of everyone on Earth as well as almost the total material resources of the planet.

    Believe it or not, they did it.

    And on that fateful day, The Day of Inspection, around the world members of the numerous governments as well as the families and friends, along with the aforementioned industry magnates along with their families and acquaintances, toured the massive ships their countries had produced.

    Then, when all had boarded for their tours, the ships launched.

    So yeah, we’re stuck here and there’s not a thing we can do. But we do know this now:

    Red sky at morning,
    Sailors take warning.

    Red sky at night,
    Sailors’ delight.

    Red sky all day,
    Run away, run away.

    I retreated to my family’s old summer house to get away from it all—the antiseptic aura of the hospital, the odor of failing human internal engines, the whirr and click of machinery delaying the inevitable. Up here, the daytime sky is carved in amber; the night sky sculpted from obsidian. It is the place of my childhood, before the pages in my daily diary were yellow sticky notes everywhere—“don’t forget meds at 8 a.m./ 11 p.m.; “3 tbsps of protein powder in every glass of milk;” “log sleep hours for doc.” From a nail beside the screen door I grab an old sun hat—slap it on over the absence of hair. I visualize the distance from the back porch to the lake edge. Harnessing my energy, I sit for a moment on the top step. Suddenly it comes to me on the wind through the pines— the remembered voice of my father singing long ago from our overnight camp on the other side of the lake: “The sky is the only roof I have over my head–and when I’m weary, mother nature makes me a bed. I’m just goin’ along as I please—breezin’ along with the breeze.” I stand, stretch, and take the mountain air in gulps. Renewal begins now. Today I will make it all the way.

  13. Duty
    Zina’s footsteps fell hard on the marble stairs. The balcony doors were open. Long white linen curtains billowed in the breeze framing the orange rays of the sunset. Her hand rested on the sacred stone passed down to Protectors for generations.

    Her hand squeezed the gem, and a shock rang through her body. Images of the last guardians flooded her mind, their sorrow and hopes mirrored her own.

    The floorboards creaked, turning toward the noise she saw the crooked figure of the Watcher. The old wizard shadowed her like the great cedar trees in the garden.

    “The time has come to relieve you of your burden.”

    Unclasping the chain, she gathered the treasure in her hands, gently dropping it into a silky blood-red bag inside a weathered wooden box.

    “May I come back to visit?”

    “No, there can only be one guardian.”

    His dark eyes held her gaze as he cradled her head in his gnarled hands, gripping her ears, with a quick motion shattering her bones.

    “Watcher, are you read to anoint the new Protector?”

    “One moment.” He shoved Zina’s lifeless body into a black bag and straightened his robe, opening the door to reveal a small girl.

    Holding her left arm, she glanced at the large sack, dragging her feet until she stood before the menacing man. She released her arm, with her blood-stained fingers she mumbled as she drew on the floor. Dark spirits erupted from the weathered box tearing apart the Watcher and breaking the cycle.

  14. The clouds burn with the reflected light of distant fires. Already the sun had become a pale ghost seen through the haze of smoke that had risen into the stratosphere.

    They say it was a meteorite: not as big as the dinosaur-killer, but big enough to destroy a civilization. We’d be lucky if we managed to harvest this year’s crops before the temperature dropped too far. After that, it might be five or ten years before we could hope to grow anything again.

    There was enough stored food to keep a saving remnant alive, but not the vast, interconnected technological civilization upon which we depended. If we were lucky, they might be able to salvage something to build upon. If they don’t slaughter all the cattle and horses and trap themselves in hoe agriculture in perpetuity. If they don’t burn the libraries to keep themselves warm in the long winter and forget all the knowledge of generations of scientists and engineers. If they don’t blame science and condemn it as witchcraft while turning faith into superstition.

    Perhaps after a few thousand years our descendants will rebuild enough to go back to the Moon and find the equipment from the Apollo missions. If they remember the Time Before, perhaps they’ll wonder what humanity might have achieved if we hadn’t turned back after a mere six missions.

    Then let us establish an order, like the monasteries that preserved Classical learning through the Dark Ages, and protect what we can.

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