Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Search Lights

3L0A9967p Farmjam friday searchlights writing prompt
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: Search Lights”

  1. Strange Lights

    It was a mystical night.

    Strange lights shimmered across the sky, while passing clouds played with the shadows on the ground.

    And the shadows hid those who moved in the dark.

    Among them, was a mysterious man dressed in black. He moved in silence beneath the mystical sky, sliding between darkness and shadows. He was quiet, rarely discussing his business, and when he did talk, he spoke in whispers.

    His eyes shone in the darkness, carefully scanning his surroundings. It was his business to watch the city and everyone in it.

    The streets were empty because people were afraid of the eyes in the dark. No one was permitted outside without a pass. So they hid inside their homes, in virtual reality.

    He continued to watch, sharing Control’s concern about a disturbance in the Zone.

    Someone, somewhere, who was clearly antithetical to the system, had broken with the collective mindset. They had taken it upon themselves not to abide by the law; they were thinking and acting outside of the prescribed limits of action.

    This could not be tolerated.

    So it was his job to locate the errant, to remove the disturbance, and to calm the collective mind.

  2. Searchlights lanced through the dark. They swept through the sky, seeking out targets. There was a battery of howitzers waiting, gunnery officers anxious to begin their attack.

    It hadn’t always been this way. This country had prided itself on its charitability, extending a welcoming hand to the needy from all countries, finding employment for everyone with the will to contribute. Every man, woman or child would be welcomed. We were a benevolent nation, a modern utopia.

    And then the times changed, prosperous barons exerting their power.

    There was a dark shape off the coast, a ship running without lights. It was the first one of the night, the fifteenth one of the week, the one-hundred and eighty-ninth boatload of the month. Thirty families were represented on board, people who were desperate, who needed a new home.

    “I can see one now. Sitting low in the water. The man at the wheel is dressed in camouflage, his face painted in blues and blacks.”

    Six sets of barrels swivelled on their mountings, gunnery officers calculating firing solutions. Image intensifiers hungrily captured every photon, changing midnight to noon, lighting up the dark ocean.

    The officer raised his hand to his ear. He was wearing a set of headphones, its long wire attached to Whitehall. An undersecretary was on the other end, watching television, his attention divided between that and his Instagram account.

    “Fire a warning shot first,” he said. “Then another below the waterline. We’ve already passed our quota of immigrants this month.”

  3. Just Dreams

    It couldn’t be!

    There in the beam of the searchlight I saw them.

    What chance was there of ever seeing them after they had passed?

    The only images I had of Suzy were in my dreams, or when I happened to look at an old photo album. Mr. Pish wasn’t part of my family, but he still made a difference in my life. His caregiver is a friend, so you might say Mr. Pish brought us together. That meeting was meant to be.

    Please look closely and you might see what I see. There in the left side of the beam in the darker area, is a head that looks like Mr. Pish. To the right, in the bright area just before it transitions to the slightly darker area, is the head of my family member who passed – Suzy.

    We don’t know what we don’t know, but I will take this as a sign.

    Looking at this week’s prompt and seeing her image is beyond my understanding. However, it was seven years ago around this time that she passed away from cancer. I lost her companion shortly after that – I can’t prove it, but I think Oscar died of a broken heart.

    Like I said, we don’t know what we don’t know!

    I’m going to say hello, and if she hears my words – thanks for the memories!

    Love does last a lifetime…maybe even longer.

  4. The Foggy Foggy Doodad Romance

    “Come pick me up,” she said.

    I had promised. One of those good neighbour with a secret twist promises you never expect to come back and bite you on your exposed good intentions.

    “Where are you?” I asked, being calm, reasonable, and in a somewhat unusual fact-finding mood. It was a crappy night, a bit of a storm had blown in and my nemesis, the killer fog that once strangled London, was floating in like an overloaded diaper on the prowl.

    “Craver Lake…I was swimming, first time all summer…my car won’t start…stupid car…no one else here…” she said.

    “Don’t you have…an automobile club membership?” I was reaching.

    “It lapsed…seemed unnecessary during Covid…” she lamented.

    “Look Sal, how about I call a cab to go out and get you?”

    “I tried calling them myself…they’re all tied up, and wouldn’t you know, they have a shortage of drivers , anyways…Look, you said…”

    “I remember what I said…three years ago, at your barbecue, months before Brad left you…I know I said I would always be there for you…still mean it…but…damn it, the fog…I hate fog.”

    We were both silent. I could see her, dripping wet in her bikini, me hanging on my phone, wondering why I had started an affair with a lonely neighbour, dumped by her hubby, three kids who’d all moved away.

    I could see me driving out to Craver Lake, picking her up, taking her home, starting it up again.

    “Fine…be there in an hour.”

  5. Search lights
    The lights shown brightly, actually blinding us in our search for her at first light of day. The young woman we knew as a local hero, has gone missing. It’s day 2. Our small community formed a line, which seemed endless. Slow steps, straight ahead through this terrain. It was grassy, but not smooth and flat. The rocks and uneven ground with brush, trees and hidden ditches, kept us in a uniform slow pace. Our small town and ways, kept us connected.

    As my eyes dart around, I’m reminded of how her life was parallel to mine. Small ways of course. I wasn’t a hero in any fashion, but I do care. I do help others, before myself. With all that she has done for others, voted volunteer of the year, selfless! Maybe, just maybe, she’s drained and doesn’t want to be found.

  6. (scritch)

    “The brilliant beam from the lighthouse stabbed into the dense fog that rolled toward the … “

    “Hey man, y’know… that don’ make no sense. Light beams don’ stab. They glow or illuminate or somethin’ like that but they don’… y’know, like ‘stab’.”

    “Wha’ chu talkin’ about?”

    “Light don’ “stab”, man. Way too violent.”
“C’mon man… gimme a beak. I’m tryna write some class stuff here.”

    “Well man… words are like important y’know? They mean stuff. You gotta be like, precise. Y’know… accurate-like.”

    “Look man, can we lay off the dictionary corner stuff here. I’m just tryin’ ta write somethin’.”

    “I could’a guess that man, seein’ as yer sittin’ at a desk with a pen n’ paper.”

    “Good. Why don’ ya shut up and lemme get on with it.”

    “Okayyy Hemingwayyy… don’t lose yer head.”

    (scritch, scritch, scritch…)


    (scritch, scritch…)

    “I’m jes’ saying’, light beams don’…”

    “Man, would you jes’ shut the hell up n’ let me write? Jus’ forget about the light beams n’ stabbin’ n’ stuff, okay?”


    “Jus’ sayin’ “…



    (scritch, scritch, scritch…)

    “Y’know… fog don’ roll…”

    “Arghh!… (sigh).”

  7. Beams of actinic light pierced the smokescreen that poured forth to shroud the ridge ahead. Greg Horn narrowed his eyes and willed himself to see clearly, to resolve the obscured figures into recognizable individuals and get a definite identification. What had been planned as an encirclement had just turned into a route.

    Spartan would have to pull this sort of trick. It wouldn’t be hard to get smoke bombs from some Hollywood special effects supplier, especially if one of his people could pose as representatives of an obscure indie prodco. In theory there were restrictions to prevent such devices from getting in the hands of criminals and terrorists, but the days when everyone in the business knew each other were long gone. Computer technology made it possible to make pro-grade films anywhere. To further complicate matters, anyone could print up letterhead that looked official, and Spartan’s Own had the necessary resources and connections to back it with the necessary bona fides.

    Much as Greg wanted to just plunge right into that murk and start taking the rebels down, he restrained the foolhardy urge to action for the sake of being seen to do something. Far too easy to shoot his own forces, or be shot by them. No use doing Spartan’s work for him.

    Greg hated seeing Spartan get away. But knowing the man behind the callsign, Greg felt confident that they’d be meeting again soon enough.

  8. Searchers

    “Well, tonight’s warm. That’s the good news, but the bad news still overshadows it. Yellowstone is no place for a five-year-old to wander off from a campsite. Why didn’t the parents watch their boy closer?”

    “Hey, remember how fast our kids could disappear? You’re just upset. You remember when Karla vanished for three hours in our neighborhood. She thought it was a game when people were calling her name.”

    “Yeah, this touches close to home after all these years. Karla answered when she got hungry, so maybe that may happen here.”

    Their off-road vehicle skirted the meadow through the scrub pines, with its high beams piercing the dark like searchlights. Goldie scanned into the tree line with a powerful handheld torch and shuddered.

    “Oh, there’s just way too much eye shine. I can’t tell which ones are predators and which are prey. It’s not a good sign.”

    A gray she-wolf emerged from the woods, followed by her three pups right after that comment. The apex predator paused in the light of her flashlight, looked over her shoulder, and then loped off with her little ones. Movement in the scrub brush followed by a tiny voice drew their attention.

    “Come back, doggie. Don’t leave me alone.”

    Her light illuminated the lost child stumbling after the wolves and he shielded his eyes before waving. The pair rescued the boy and asked where he had been. His innocent response was he played with his friends, the nice doggie and puppies.

  9. Searchlights

    Walking while looking for apocalypse survivors, I had abundant time to think. It was a frightening time realising that I was the leader of the people with me. I was responsible for them. Then we rounded a corner and were in shadow until two powerful searchlights spotted us. Strange how they were even on as all electricity had been cut. Someone whispered that they were energised by solar power. This made me think and doodle in my mind. Could we rig up some machinery to harness solar energy to create electricity? We could have light after dark, boil water, have heat, cook and harness so many comforts. Perhaps we could even communicate through radio waves to check for other survivors.

    Would the other survivors welcome us? Would they be sane? We were clueless how the apocalypse had affected others. No wonder some of our party could not sleep at night and were always on tenterhooks. Their nerves were fraying about the present. For them the future looked lusterless. Looking around me, I saw that the more nervous ones looked petrified caught in the searchlight’s strong beams.

    Suddenly, Midnight swiftly led her siblings barking up a storm and the shivery moment was over. Everyone talked at once as though to shoo their fears away. It was good to have a protective group of coyotes around us. They provided security, warmth and a sense of well-being. Everyone seemed happy and relaxed again. Perhaps they were also thinking of using solar energy.

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