Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Lighthouse

boston harbor sunset flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks
Image 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!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms. Please note the rule changes for 2018.

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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Lighthouse”

  1. Light The Way House

    There was something about the Lucas Shambler mansion. It stood for over one hundred years, had been the home for one wealthy family for six decades, had fallen on hard times in the mid-1970s, the price of spoiled progeny going astray, been close to being pulled down by developers and land-hungry opportunists, survived the blandness of the recession ’80s and then, finally, been resurrected by a visionary non-profit in the 1990s and transformed into a beacon for the lost, the homeless.

    The irony of a former mansion for the elite becoming a refuge for the dispossessed wasn’t lost on the townsfolk.

    “Seems fittin’,” one wag said.

    “Coulda predicted it,” another opined. “Walt Shambler was pretty thin between the ears. Never did understand why they let him run the family mine. No gumption for risk-taking. You need that in business. Walt just sat back, let time rollover him…”

    Of course, grand palaces and small-town mansions all have a history. And every town has amateur historians, tale tellers contributing to their flimsy bits of truth piled higher and deeper down the years.

    In the case of the Lucas Shambler mansion, fiction makers did not stand much of a chance. The Light the Way Society bought the house, refurbished it, made it a home for hundreds of lost souls over the years.

    Its work, the recovered lives, the way the old mansion lit the way for so many, that was the only story that mattered.

  2. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning; red sky at night, sailors delight. Liam Björn knew the old saying well. He’d seen enough weather at sea over the last 40 years to know there was some truth to it. Captain of the ocean-going freighter Duchess of Montrose out of Liverpool and a deeply religious man who, every Sunday morning, held services in the ship’s mess for the entire crew, he also was well aware of Matthew XVI: 2-3, in which Jesus said: “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”

    Now, looking east from the ship’s wheel house past the lighthouse at the entrance to Porto Grande Bay—Baja do Porto Grande—the natural harbor at the main city of São Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands, he was concerned. Weather reports from West Africa warned of the formation of a major low-pressure system with the potential to become the first major storm to move through Cape Verde since 1892.

    Chomping on his unlit cigar, Björn kept one eye on the ship’s compass and the other on the barometer to his right; the latter already was at 980 millibars and falling. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, he thought. Can’t anchor in Porto Grande Bay, and the chances of surviving at sea are 50:50.

    May God have mercy on our souls.

  3. Title: Wicked Smaaht

    “They told me you were wicked smaaht, and I the fool, believed em.”

    “Ya shud make ur own mind based on your observashuns, not what the brewahry guys tell ya.”

    “Red sky, Thomas…sailor take wahning! Boston light is even givin’ us a sign to reconsidah our plan. What the hell are we doin, goin out Tunah fishin in a 21-foot boat?”

    “I told ya, I need the money for the twins’ birthday. Christmas took all the funds I had. I have a good feelin’ about this trip. When we catch the tunah, we’ll strap her to the boat and make for shoah. We’ll have the wind at our stern and make good time. Now Billy, don’t flake out on me, I need your help.”

    “Well, it’s not like I can take the bus back ta shoah. I should be committed for having agreed to this.”


    “Billy, throw those three beer kegs in, one at a time, but don’t let your ankle get wrapped by the connectin’ rope.”


    “Thomas, there’s watah coming up ovah the floah boards.”

    “Wow, we have a hit…the first keg is already undah and the second is about to be pulled undah. We’ll worry about that watah tamorrah.”


    “Billy, QUICK, cut the ropes to the Bluefin, and I’ll contact the Coast Guard. We’ll nevah make it with that watah and the extra 500 pounds.”

    “Let’s take our chances, that fish is worth eight thousand dollahs!”

    “Bail hardah then! We’re wicked stupid!”

  4. The Tower of Light

    Jitters, the one-eyed blue monkey, stood on a small hill and pointed in the distance. “The lighthouse!” it exclaimed. “We found it.” It chuckled and did a little dance.

    After Anna and Stanley joined the diademed monkey on the hilltop, Stanley pulled out his binoculars and scanned the horizon. The lighthouse, covered in shadows, hid beneath a grey sky of muted red and white pastels. The tower, constructed with unique-cut stones, and once thought to have been destroyed, had been built long ago during the reign of Qorus, the Keeper of Records.

    According to legend, a certain Doctor Jessup Knoes, a member in long standing in a certain secret society, had found an ancient manuscript written in an unknown language. Having pain-painstakingly deciphered the writing, Dr. Knoes concluded that the manuscript described a tower that resembled a lighthouse. But, it was not an ordinary one. Instead, it utilized an unknown method to light the surrounding area. Furthermore, the manuscript described a vast treasure hidden inside the building. It appeared the light in the tower was a beacon, a siren call, intent on luring the adventurous and the curious, to its hidden secrets.

    Stanley put away his binoculars and looked at Anna. “Ready?” he asked.

    “Yes,” she replied with excitement in her voice. She was on the biggest adventure of her life.

    As they headed towards the lighthouse, the blue monkey looked up at Stanley. “Be careful,” it whispered. “Shiny objects often have deadly consequences.”

  5. The lighthouse was dark. In other times it would have been a beacon, warning travellers of the shallows that had plagued the harbour’s approach. Today, it was merely architecture; it stood tall during the day and disappeared at night.

    There had been other changes too. The harbour was quieter now, the only vessels using it powered by men, their paddles replacing propellers and the keen-eyed taking the place of radar and the other sophisticated navigational aids their sailing fleets had grown accustomed to. Their societies had grown more compact, cities becoming a memory of a time long before. People lived on the margins now. Sufficient had become less, abundance now being the confidence you’d eat again tomorrow and maybe the next day.

    Coates’ kayak skimmed across the waves, driven by his strong shoulders and drawn along by the knowledge there’d be an enthusiastic welcome waiting for him. He was alone, but he brought more than all the others had before him.

    He was a messenger, a link, a bridge between the settlements. He had medicine and seed stock from the village to the south, the people there prosperous and generous in ways that had surprised him. They’d been glad to see him too, pressing cases of vials and packages of the grain harvested from their fields into his hands. Their smiles overcame all the doubts he’d had.

    Three weeks later, everyone Coates had known was dead. They would never become rivals to the community in the next bay.

  6. Across the bay sat the lighthouse. Lonely sentinel of the wayward ships, and I came looking for a guardian myself.
    He sat, cross-legged, on the sand and regarded the setting sun, did not sir at my approach, but did talk to me.
    “Your message sounded bleak. What’s troubling you so much?”
    “I think you know, you knew even before I told you.”
    He just nodded, still not turning his head.
    “You’ve learned well, I’ll give you that,” he said. “We’ve gotten closer in this little bit of time together. And yet you trust me so little.”
    “Then you taught me well,” I replied. “It means I’m a lot more aware of the world around me now. For instance, I’m aware that you’re avoiding looking at me. So the question is: Is it a set-up or is it guilt because of the set-up?”
    “Like much of life, it’s all about the gray areas we all live in.”
    A weapon of some sort pushed into my back and I raised my hands.
    “This was a gray area I hoped wouldn’t disappoint me, sir,” I said, “but you turned out to be typical after all. So, does it happen here? Or are you taking me somewhere?”
    “I am taking you nowhere. But she is.”
    Another prod and a whispered command, and we were off.
    Now’s the time to find out if the gray area was him and his conscience, or me with this tracker and someone hopefully ready to be my guardian now.

  7. The setting sun painted the clouds red. Against them, the abandoned tower on the shoreline appeared to be carved from obsidian, rather than the mysterious pearlescent material the ancients had used to construct it, long before the first human migrations found their way to this world.

    One of the middies squinted at it. “Is it true that it’s haunted?”

    The lieutenant glowered at him. “Watch your tongue, youngster. Sailors are a superstitious lot, and it won’t do to give them ideas.”

    The middie bowed his head in apology and returned his attention to the charts before him. The shoals around Cape James were notoriously treacherous, and every passing nor’easter rearranged them. That made it imperative for officers of His Majesty’s Navy to master the reading of the waters as well as the charts, since the latter were often out of date.

    The lieutenant looked back at the fading light illuminating the tower, then glanced over to the captain. “Someone ought to turn that old place into a lighthouse. It’s tall enough to shine over the whole area and warn shipping away from the shoals–”

    “And give aid to all the smugglers slipping past His Majesty’s customs inspectors to bring their goods into the capital?” The captain shook his head, making the thick curls of his wig tremble. “The Yankees have never forgiven us for installing a King rather than restoring their Republic. Let us not further their obstinacy.”

  8. Yoli was busy taking care of his lighthouse. His father, Jafar, had passed away five months earlier, but had already planned Yoli’s wedding to his betrothed sweetheart, Roseline. There was a knock on the door.

    “Hello, handsome,” said a voluptuous woman in a sultry voice. “Would you like to learn some lessons about love?” She wore a clingy, silk dress.

    “Who, who are you?” stammered Yoli.
    “My name is Drusilla. Your father sent me!”

    “Th-that’s not possible.”

    “It was his dying wish.”

    “You may come in, but only briefly. Would you like some coffee and a roll?”

    Yoli served her the refreshments, and watched her eat. The weather outside grew stormy, and he didn’t feel right, sending her away.

    “You may stay here by the fireplace, on the sofa, but please, I don’t want anything from you,” said Yoli.

    There was another knock on the door. Yoli opened to his Uncle Soren, who had a cake, and said, “Happy Birthday, nephew!”

    When he saw Drusilla, his eyes grew wide. “It’s you! Leave at once, you old witch!”
    Then Drusilla morphed into the oldest woman Yoli had ever seen.

    “Haven’t you destroyed enough families?” cried Soren, “Must you destroy my nephew’s, before it even begins? Get out!”

    Drusilla regained her composure, and younger appearance. “Alright, Soren, I know when I’m not wanted.”

    She left with the wind.

    Yoli glanced at the table, and the coffee and roll were still sitting there, untouched.

    “May Jesus protect you,” said Uncle Soren.

  9. Lighthouse

    Like demons, we ran. Filling my lungs, I looked longingly at the sunset’s ethereal shades of red.

    “Beautiful!” my boyfriend agreed, but he was not admiring the lovely sunset. “With sundown, they won’t track us because this area is treacherous. We will foil them by hiding in the lighthouse.”

    Grasping my hand too tightly, he tugged me urgently. Gasping with pain, I asked myself, “Was he trustworthy?”

    About a month ago, we met. A whirling romance. This morning we robbed a museum of priceless diamonds. Then we were on the run. He was handsome and sleek. His smoothness now worried me. Why was he so familiar with the lighthouse? Why did he keep disappearing?

    On his last disappearance, I followed. Aghast, I realized he was using the lantern to signal a ship.

    Then he became aggressively insistent that I should rest. Then I knew for sure that he meant to double cross me. Thinking fast, I disappeared.

    I returned to my parents’ home, after doing three things. I trapped the idiot in an interior room then locked the lighthouse up well. A secretive tip off to the police secured the idiot behind bars. The diamonds were never found.

    When I am older and oh so much wiser, I will return to the lighthouse and retrieve the diamonds. For now they help keep sailors off the treacherous rocks. It comforts me to know that my diamonds shine heroically bright.

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