Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Noctilucent

Noctilucent clouds at sunrise next to mountains over a small town. photo by 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.

Author: Administrators

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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Noctilucent”

  1. The Tragedy of the Good King

    “Darkness has fallen,” said the King. “Yet the night shines.” He slowly paced in the candle-lit throne room as shadows danced on the walls. “The dark shades haunt me.”

    “Nay. It is they who tremble,” whispered his advisor.

    The King looked at Silvertongue. “You’ve been my advisor for many years. And a trusted friend.” Pausing, he confided, “I’m distressed this night.”

    “The great must bear heavy burdens, my lord.” Silvertongue touched his own lips with a pale, slender finger.

    “I tried to do what was right,” insisted the King. “But not everything turned out as I had planned.” For there had been wars and taxation and protests, and people had been punished.

    Silvertongue nodded. “A good king must sometimes do bad things.”

    The King shook his head and walked to the window.

    While the King was occupied, Silvertongue poured the wine and, from a secret compartment in his right index finger ring, added a few drops of poison to the King’s goblet.

    “Here you are, sire,” he whispered soothingly, and handed the goblet to the King.

    The King was troubled and drank the wine quickly.

    Silvertongue smiled. He liked the King. But he was naive, and he didn’t understand how to play the royal game of intrigue. Besides, his Highness had made powerful enemies, enemies who bore grudges, enemies who were willing to reward him, Silvertongue, for rendering this service.

    For the King had to be replaced… with another king, a good king, whom he could advise.

  2. “The ocean breeze is chilly on my butt,” Butch announced rolling over on the blanket.

    “Keep your voice down, you know we’re not supposed to be on this private stretch of beach, with or without suits,” Gloria whispered, pushing him off the blanket.

    “Hey, what did you do that for?’ He stood up, brushing his bottom off, and looked at the clouds.

    “Get back down, someone’s going to see you…noctilucent.”

    “There you go again calling me names. If you weren’t so damn beautiful, I would call an end to our love affair.”

    “I didn’t call you a name…please sit down on the blanket, you’re making me nervous.”
    “Wow, the breeze feels cooool.”

    “I, and everyone else can tell.”

    “So, what did you call me?”

    “Forget it. Right now, you could be mistaken for a weather vane.”

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about…first you call me a knocktoloucent and now I’m a weather vane.” No sooner had he said the words, she reached and pulled him back down on the blanket.

    “That hurt! Getting frisky for round two, are we?”

    “Stop, PLEASE stop. Listen, and I will tell you what I said. You’re impossible, stop it. That’s better. What I said is noctilucent. I wasn’t calling you names, that’s the name of those clouds, basically they are lucent, like they were lit from inside.”

    “YOU light my fire.”

    “Cripes, I thought a bloodhound had a one-track mind.”

    “Keep calling me names, it’s exciting.”

    “No kidding! No more skinny dipping.”

  3. “Is this real? Or am I inside one of your dreams?”

    Jeffrey shook his head. He reached out and pinched the flesh on the back of her hand, giving it a twist.

    “Would a dream feel like this? Would you be able to smell the fragrance of the bougainvillaea if this was a construct?”

    “I don’t know,” she said. “Can I trust anything my senses are telling me?”

    She tried to swallow. Her mouth was dry, too dry for that to succeed. She drew her tongue across her lips, tracing the broken skin, the open wound of her mouth. She needed a drink – anything to slake the thirst that dominated her attention. If this wasn’t real, there was no way she could tell it from the truth, if that had ever existed. Her memories might not be her own. The Corporation was insidious, able to worm itself into everything it could reach, perverting every truth and replacing it with its replicas.

    The noctilucent clouds blazed above, neon against the blackness of space. The stars began to appear, freckles on the face of God, a maker’s signature.

    Jeffrey phased out and phased back again, blocking out the clouds. His grizzled face was almost as familiar as her own, his touch a constant that ended every day she remembered.

    Was she truly aware? Or was she an algorithm, written by a nameless creator?

    How could she ever discover if this was the truth?

    And did she want to know the answer?

  4. Sightline

    Down in the grey, the buckling asphalt, the chipped sidewalks, the sorrow, and the gory, why wouldn’t I seek something…magical?
    Some relief.
    Escape was amazingly close. Had been forever. Still, I hadn’t found the time to access it. I knew what I wasn’t doing but that all got lost in what consumed me.
    Work stuff.
    I gave Lacey a call at dusk. We’ve known each other for a couple of years. She’s a freelance writer, travels two weeks out of every month, tolerates my OCD, my staidness, and we have become…friendly companions.
    Nothing overtly romantic, you understand.
    Just buds.
    For a while, she had been encouraging me to spread my wings, look at the world through less jaundiced eyes. I run a small non-profit that provides housing for the homeless, meals, guideposts and support.
    We have a dozen staff.
    We are small.
    I like small.
    Especially in the city.
    However…the world I’m in wearies me.
    “So you ‘ve finally decided to fly…” she says when I call.
    “I’ve got the night free,” I tell her.
    “You’re thinking…a redeye to Paris, maybe?”
    I shake my head.
    She can hear the brain cells rattle.
    “So where then?” she asks.
    “Up on the ridge,” I reply.
    “You mean….Lovers Leap?”
    “No loving and no leaping. I hear it has a magnificent view.”
    “It does. Been there often. I’ll pick you up.”
    On the way up, she has me close my eyes.
    “Breathtaking,” I say.
    “Yup,” she answers.
    I am momentarily reprieved.

  5. Noctilucent?

    “Noctilucent, are you kidding me?” Irma squawked. “Was that on Jeopardy last night? It wasn’t on Wordle, and it’s a far cry from puzzles on the Wheel.”

    “No, dear,” Barry replied with a drawn out stretch to his pronunciation. “Those illuminated streaks are called night shining clouds, an ethereal, upper atmosphere phenomena.”

    “Don’t try to impress me with big words, mister. We both know each other too well, as long as we’ve been married. That’s something impressive in this day and age.”

    “Yes, dear,” Barry answered with that same stretched sound to each word. “We know each other only too well and it is a wonder in these modern times.”

    “Hey, guys, I’m your new neighbor. What a great night. I see you walk by almost every evening.” They exchanged introductions before he asked how long they were married.

    “We’ve been happily married for five years,” Barry replied. “Hitched for over thirty-five, but happily married for five.” The guy didn’t know how to respond at first when the couple both chuckled.

    “So, was it the first five or these last five years?”

    “Neither,” Irma smirked, “A happy day here or there, and we figure it totals about five years out of the entire sentence. That’s our standard joke. We’re big kidders, so as the new neighbor, you’ll hear more.” Barry told Irma to say goodnight, Gracie in homage to the iconic George Burns and Gracie Allen comedy duo.

    “Goodnight, Gracie,” she promptly replied with a perfect deadpan delivery.

  6. Noctilucent

    Lounging on the yacht deck, my coyote pup, Midnight and I savoured the evening scenery. Midnight’s ebony fur was playfully rippled by desirable breezes. Foolishly, she opened her muzzle in hopes of devouring a breeze, then she was off chasing one like a demented being. Midnight snapped, lunged and ran helter-skelter. Nonchalantly, she trotted back to sit beside me, as if to say she was a well behaved dog. Yet, her eyes glimmered with pleasure and an abundance of mischief.

    The sun was at the horizon blackening the almighty mountains. It painted the sky a rusty peach highlighting the beauty. Suddenly electrified clouds.

    Midnight made a warning growl. Actually, I thought we were alone until the silence was interrupted. Perhaps it was the voice of the meteorologist who reeled off, “Those are magnificent noctilucent clouds. Noctilucent means visible or glowing at night. Yes, noctilucent clouds are spectacular in their colours and luminous qualities. They are approximately fifty miles high making them the highest clouds. They rest in the mesospheric atmosphere hence the name polar mesospheric clouds. Would you believe they are made of meteors? Curiously, they are created when water vapour gathers around motes of meteor dust. From below, the sun illuminates these clouds. Amazing electric blue-white light!….”

    His monologue droned on as though he read aloud from a science textbook.

    Forget the clouds’ beauty! Like an abstract military tattoo, my heart pounded. Fear gripped me. My pressing question was, “Did the noctilucent clouds herald another apocalypse?”

  7. After so many weeks living behind the Redwood Curtain, Mikhael Yehuda found the lights on the horizon unsettling. They brought back memories of that terrible morning when the predawn horizon lit up with a light too bright to look at. The day his hometown burned in nuclear fire, while he sat in the safety of a desert retreat house. The day his old life ended and his new one began.

    You have PTSD, he reminded himself. Light on the horizon will always bring back those memories, but you can master them rather than letting them control you.

    It was not easy to make the intellectual knowledge override the response of the more primitive parts of the brain. But he focused on knowing that he was looking at the lights of Las Vegas shining just beyond those mountains, reflecting on the clouds and the dust in the air. As soon as he got over the range, he’d see the City that Sam Built in all its glory, stretching like a garden of shining flowers in the desert.

    And then get used to dealing with crowds again, after having gone so long seeing no one but Spartan and his fighters.

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