Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

Writing Prompt “The Lighthouse”

Theme: The lighthouse

On a dark and stormy night a visitor arrives at the lighthouse.

Required Elements:

  • Crashing Waves (actual or sound of)
  • Light beam (reflected from the lighthouse lens)

Word Count: 1,200

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121 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “The Lighthouse”

  • Carrie Zylka

    Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked here within 24 hours after your posted it, please let us know as we may have missed the comment.)

  • Roy York
    Just checking in and sending out a signal for ‘the lighthouse’.
  • Adrienne Riggs
    Checking in for comments
  • I like this prompt better than the last one. Sorry to the person who chose it. This allows one to flex those writing muscles.
    • Carrie Zylka

      I knew you’d like this one, you and I have always leaned towards the spooky darkness anyhow!

  • robtemmett
    Spooky? Spooky isn’t mentioned in the prompt, is it?
    • Roy York
      Nah, Robt. Those two are afraid of the dark, I bet. I was able to control being afraid of the dark in my early 40’s.
      • robtemmett
        I have always been afraid of them. As a little child, I hated to have to go to bed at night. With fear and trepidation I would enter my dark bedroom, glance at my bed I knew they were under there. I would strip off my clothes and slip into my blue, footed jammies, with the poop-chute flap in the back, never taking my eyes off the dark under my bed. I would climb up the foot of my bed, rather than entering my nighttime sanctuary the way normal people did. They were under the bed.

        When I over-nighted at my grandparents large brownstone home, they followed me. As I dozed on the couch in the dimly lit living room they, were there. The streetlight outside the bay window, shining through the leafless maple tree, cast images of their boney fingers, fingers poking me if I dozed off. But I did and they would – poke me – all night long.

        In my first year at college, I realized the finger poking was the result their spastic action as I slept with my arms wrapped around me. What to do about my fears of them under my bed though? Every night, bedtime was a fear-filled experience. At the beginning of the winter quarter I made an appointment with the head of the Psychology Department. Surely, he could help me overcome my worries about them. We met and he agreed to help me. We would meet twice a week, and he assured me, by the end of the spring quarter, my fear of them, and going to bed would be resolved. It would cost me ten dollars a time. Twenty dollars a week, for twenty-five weeks. Five hundred dollars, totally beyond my budget.

        Near the end of the spring quarter, the head of the Psychology Department stopped me in the hallway and asked why I had not returned for counseling. I explained; rather than talk to him, I had spent half of what money I had had, drank beer and discussed my problem about them with the bartender. For the price of seven, ten-cent glasses of beer and a thirty-cent tip, he solved my problem with them. All for a buck.

        The professor inquired what the bartender had told me. Smiling, I said he told me to cut the legs off my bed.

        • Roy York
          Great answer, and a great story (?). I remember as a child, about 7, or so, I could see an Indian in our kitchen standing behind the door. I could see the quiver on his back and the bow he carried nearby. I remember crying and asking my father to come and help me. He was pissed, but he finally got up and looked at what I was telling him. He actually looked startled, then laughed and turned on the light.

          He was an avid archer and bowhunter, (world class in fact) and had hung his jacket and quiver on the bathroom door which was open on the edge of the door, and had placed his bow leaning up against it. As moonlight filled the room early in the morning, and our eyes were adjusted to the dark, it really did look like someone (I was dead sure it was an Indian) standing there. He moved everything, and assured me I was going to live through the night without being scalped. I still wasn’t sure, so I laid there awake until the sun came up. It is still a very vivid memory.

      • Carrie Zylka

        Pfft afraid of the dark????
        Not me, I generally too well armed hahahaha (especially on the way to the tree stand, although the creepiest thing in the world is a 4am trek through dense North Wisconsin woods and you suddenly hear a chuffing sound…)

        • Roy York
          Do you know what made the chuffing sound?

          I remember hunting with bow and arrow in Wisconsin and Michigan, and once in Michigan, I heard some early morning sounds that were as you say, something you didn’t want to hear. A few minutes later, when all was calm, and there was a bit more light, I came across a young sapling that was bent over and broken with scratch marks. I was with my father and said what do you think caused that? He said “A bear, and not too long ago.” I still think about that almost encounter.

          • Carrie Zylka

            The only thing in Wisconsin that makes a chuffing sound like I heard that morning is a bear.
            I have no doubt it was a sleepy bear letting me know I had startled him! It was early bow season and probably a black bear.
            I’ve heard that noise a few times before, and come across silent wolves, cougars, one buffalo, a skunk, an elk that screamed about 12 yards from me (I jumped about 30 ft in the air that morning) and a crazy ton of coyotes, on my early morning walks to the stand!

            It’s always an adventure!!!!!

            • Roy York
              Ah, yes. The thrill of the hunt. Not necessarily the kill. Those are the best moments. I was hunting pheasants once, and as I crossed a creek, a thick fog rolled through the early morning light, and I felt imported back in time to a period of perhaps the Jurassic era and half expected to see a dinosaur stick its head up. I can still capture that moment in my mind.
  • Phil Town

    (785 words)

    A single knock at the door.

    Now, this wouldn’t be so strange. People knock at doors. The people inside open up, or ignore the knocks if they know the people knocking are unwanted relatives or neighbours. But this knock froze the blood of Harry Potts. Why? Because Harry was a lighthouse-keeper, and his lighthouse was on a tiny Island, half a mile off the shore of western Scotland. And the island was basically a mound of rocks – hazardous to dock at at the best of times, let alone during a storm. And the storm raging outsider was the worst Harry had known in his 32 years tending the lighthouse.

    He put down his mug of tea and cocked his head towards the heavy metal door, waiting for a second knock to confirm the presence of someone outside. Or perhaps it was a trick of sound – perhaps the wind had buffeted the door so roughly that it ceded a little in its frame, creating the sonic illusion of a knock. Harry strained to hear, trying to filter out the crashing of the waves on the rocks outside and the howling of the relentless northerly wind. Inwardly he breathed a sigh of relief as each passing moment brought no second knock. He relaxed his tense muscles and brought the mug of tea back to his lips.

    Then the second knock, this time a rat-a-tat of something hard on metal. Harry sprayed tea over the yellow-tinged pages of the book he was reading for the hundredth time and leapt from his seat, dropping the mug to the floor where it smashed into little pieces. But Harry was not concerned about the mess. He was focussed now only on one thing: the door and who was on the other side of it.

    He crossed the room and pressed his ear against the door. The metal amplified the cacophony of waves and wind, making it impossible for Harry to discern any other sounds.

    The third knock was like a cannon-blast, sending Harry three steps back. He stood there gazing at the dull green metal, as if by concentrating on it hard enough he might be able to see through the two solid inches.

    He couldn’t pretend that he wasn’t there, although that’s what he most wanted whoever was outside to think. The light at the top of the tower had been spraying its warning out over the ocean since the middle of the afternoon – it was dark by three o’clock at this time of the year – and how would it have been switched on if no one was there. But he could simply not open the door. That might work. There was no way anyone could get through the door without the key. What if he just stayed put? Dawn wasn’t so far away. He could wait until the thin light of day, and then he’d feel safer opening up.

    A fourth knock, this time more like a thump, and then six more, spaced out. Something clicked inside Harry: a kernel cracking open, releasing righteous courage. This was his domain. Why should he be cowering here in the cramped round room that had been his home for more than three decades? He took a step forwards and a deep breath, so that what he said wouldn’t waver and show him to be afraid. He exhaled and drew air into his lungs again before he finally spoke.

    “Who goes there?”

    This time it was Harry who was made to wait. The seconds clicked by in an even more leaden manner than when he was waiting for the knocks. He cocked his ear again, afraid now that he might miss the response in the confusion of sounds outside. He waited for what seemed like an eternity, then tried again:

    “Who goes–“

    “IT IS I.”

    The voice boomed through the metal as if the door did not exist. It was a deep, resonant, foghorn of a voice, a voice that brooked no resistance, that was as implacable as it was timeless.

    And all at once Harry knew. He knew that his time had come. But he also felt a strange calm come over him, a calm that shut out the ferocity of the wind and waves. Harry looked around his small room and a sad smile passed across his lips. He hadn’t done much with his life, if the truth be told, but it had been a useful life. And he would go content.

    And so, on a dark and stormy night, in a lighthouse on a small rocky island off the western coast of Scotland, Harry Potts opened the door of his lighthouse and said goodbye to the world.


    • Roy York
      Well, old Harry had a 50-50 chance it was either Death or the second coming of Jesus … wait … umm … no, actually he didn’t. I guess when the lighthouse is rockin’. Death comes knockin’. Poor Harry didn’t have a chance at all. Nice story, Phil. I always feel awkward critiquing something you’ve written, but I honestly felt the second sentence needed another qualifier, such as I think something like – Now, normally, this wouldn’t be so strange. – normally being the qualifier for the incomplete phrase I see. Or – Now, this wouldn’t be so strange if … and so on. Otherwise, I think everything is great. I just tripped over that sentence is all. Nice, as always, and probably in contention. Good job, Phil.

      BTW, can you put in a good word for me with Alice, the editor on SFB? I’m thinking of trying to get back in the fold if they’ll have me. I’d appreciate it.

      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Roy – I can see what you mean about that sentence.

        (Done re SFB.)

        • Roy York
          Thank you, Phil. Appreciate it. And, still a good story.
        • What is SFB? Am I being too curious now?
          • Also a well written story Phil but I am going to be picky about the ending. It did not satisfy me for some reason. Like having nice smoked salmon bagel without the cream cheese, just a few bits of salad. 🙁
          • Roy York
            Not at all, Ilana. A few years ago, when I was not working full time, I was writing for SFB, which stands for Short Fiction Break, and it published stories online. I could take our flash fiction from here and expand it from our then minimum of 800 words into a much longer story. I introduced Phil to them as I was leaving because I could no longer continue on with the minimum requirements needed to stay on as a contributing writer. Phil is still with them I found out.
      • Alice Nelson

        Very nice Phil, loved the way you set the mood of the story, I could just imagine old Harry Potts with his cup of tea, sitting in the old lighthouse. Well told, reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. Great job.

    • Dear Philip,

      Ahhhhh—HAH! Caught you! Finally, after four and a half years of perfect writing, hundreds of wonderful stories, tens of thousands of brilliant sentences, a litany of kind words, a canon of wonderful advice… I finally caught you making a mistake.

      Oh how I lived (pardon me), Oh how I’ve lived for this day. I have a bottle of Chartreuse Chardonnay 2014, (and some non-alcoholic champagne), that I’ve been saving for just this occasion. I feel like dancing (and singing, but that wouldn’t be wise.) I may even twirl. (Yes, twirl.)

      So,,,,,,,, do you have anything to say for yourself? Would you care to explain your fallibility? Your blatant imperfectiveness? Your hopelessly hapless humanity? Do you want me to tell you where the mistake is? Ep-ep-ep-ep-ep-ep-ep-ep-ep-ep-ep… Don’t try to tell me you did it on purpose. Don’t try to spoil it. Don’t even try it, Philip.

      Ahhhh. This is so gratifying. I hope you don’t mind if I take a few seconds to savor the moment. (Ooooo, who knew that savoring involved so much drooling?)

      Okay, I’m done. I’ve had my fun.
      It’s the fifth word in the last sentence of the first paragraph. ‘outsider’

      You’re welcome Philip. And I should add, and I mean this with the utmost affection. Thank you. Thank you so much.

      BTW, the story’s great, Philip. As usual.
      (But not perfect.)

      • Roy York
        Can’t believe I didn’t catch that, and then had to sit back and watch you pounce on ‘outsider’ instead of ‘outside’. Unlike me, who values everything that Phil puts on paper, you seem to get extraordinary joy from finding out he’s only human. Like the rest of us. You are, aren’t you, Phil?
        • Phil Town
          Yes. I. Am. Human. Honest.

          (Don’t encourage Ken, Roy.)

      • Phil Town
        “Don’t try to tell me you did it on purpose. Don’t try to spoil it. Don’t even try it, Philip.”

        I did it on purpose.

        (Thanks for your nice comments on my story, Kenneth.)

  • robtemmett
    Stoney Point Lighthouse
    by Robt. Emmett ©2018

    Dad often sent me to the corner store for a pack of smokes. Tony, the owner, knew I was too young to buy cigarettes, but he sold them to me anyway. Chester Creek trickled down the hillside for nearly two miles and then it went underground on the north side of 4th street. Tony’s Market was on the south side. Tony’s place was no-man’s land; not on the ‘Better’ side of the creek, nor was it on the ‘Other’ side. It straddled the creek.

    I noticed her leaning on the railing, looking down into the creek, so I stopped in the middle of the street to look at her. She was one of the school’s cheerleaders, Elena DuBois was French, had pale blue eyes and strawberry blond hair. A car tooted at me to get out of the way. She turned and caught me staring at her. She smiled. We were in the same grade and the same school but had never spoken. She lived on the ‘Better’ side of Chester Creek; I did not. Her friends called her Ely and pronounced it E-lee, but I called her Elena. I commented on her small gold heart-shaped locket. We chatted as we watched the water rush into the culvert in the concrete wall below us. We talked the morning into the afternoon. She asked me to call her Ely. I had crossed the divide and asked her out on a date.

    We went to a movie in the West End section of town. I knew she would not want her friends to see us together. After the bus ride home, I walked her to her door and we nearly kissed. I had almost reached Chester Creek when three of them caught me, some guys from the ‘Better’ side. At my house, in the mirror, I saw my souvenir of the evening for crossing the divide … a black eye.

    We never dated again. After graduation, I left town and became a clerk. I’d spend my night’s writing. I was luckless at first and then, slowly, I started to make a little money with my words. It was not enough to quit working, but I was encouraged to continue.

    The day arrived when my publisher offered me the deal of a lifetime. I resigned from my day job, signed on the dotted line, went back to my hometown, and purchased my first new car. My agent hosted a small party to celebrate. Financially, I was set for life. I had crossed a huge divide. I left the party. Twilight insisted on lingering a few more moments. I drove around and noticed the children in their trick or treat costumes roaming the streets.

    On a whim, I drove to Stoney Point. Dad had taken me to see the Stoney Point Lighthouse many times as a kid. I had a fascination with the place. The first time, Dad insisted I come with him to the very edge of the escarpment to view the waves crashing against the rocks a hundred-thirty foot below. I was scared and squeezed his hand as we walked to the wrought iron fence. Once there, I held on to it so tight my knuckles turned white. Soon enough, I loved the place and wasn’t afraid. Driving past the lighthouse, curiosity overcame me and I stopped. As I got out of my car, the old oak front door opened. I blinked in surprise. We instantly recognized each other and she invited me in.

    We sat, talked, and reminisced about old times. In high school, she’d wear the latest fashions that she’d made herself. Later on, she worked as a seamstress. On the side, she collected and repaired old style clothes. She rented a small storefront on the lower side of Michigan Street and sold vintage clothing. Her business grew. She bought a building on Superior Street and opened the Vintage Boutique. Her sewing and entrepreneurial skills brought her fame; she became known from coast to coast. Television and movie companies sought her out. She sold out, retired, and with the money from the sale of her business, she purchased the lighthouse and a few acres of land.

    We talked late into the evening. She fixed a light supper. We had a little wine.

    I awoke as brilliant sunlight streamed into the room. My back was stiff from sleeping on the leather couch in the living room. I threw off the wool three-point trade blanket. Suddenly, I realized it was All Saints day. I’d nearly over-slept and missed an important early morning appointment with my agent. I had one last, very significant, document to sign. I couldn’t afford to miss the appointment.

    She wasn’t in the house. I assumed she was outside, but I didn’t have the time to search for her. I left a note explaining I would be back in a week or ten days at the most. Yes, I would be back and together we would cross another divide.

    As I drove to the meeting, I knew in my soul that I wanted her. Not for a few moments, but rather we would have a lifetime together. Ely was what I had been longing for all these years. I would make up for all that lost time. She would make me the complete person I longed to be. We would be together for eternity.

    My attempt to complete my business had rapidly turned into an utter failure. My agent and my publisher nearly came to blows. The delay was frustrating. I wanted to get back to Ely. I missed her. Finally, late in the afternoon of November 10, they started talking and a new deal concerning my novel was hashed out. We all signed and I beat feet out the door.

    The rain slashed against my car’s windows as I drove. At the lighthouse, the wind nearly ripped the door out of my hand as got out of the car. The sound of the waves crashing into the rocks sounded as if they were climbing up and over the hundred-foot wall of rock. Lightening lit the night into day as I reached the old oak door. I stopped. Her small gold heart-shaped locket lay on the threshold. Thunder reverberated off the brick wall of the lighthouse as I picked it up. Another brilliant flash; It was the light from the second-order Fresnel lens as it strobbed the darkness and reflected off the wisps of scruddy clouds hurrying into the night. I reached to press the doorbell. The door opened; the person wasn’t Ely.

    The Ranger asked what I wanted.

    I asked him what he was doing here.

    “The lighthouse is a designated National Historic Landmark.” He said.

    “So,” I said, “That doesn’t explain you being at my friend’s home.”

    “The Park Service lights the light every November 10 in memory of the Edmund Fitzgerald which sank on this date in 1975.” His hands on his hips, “Again, what do you want?”

    “I want to see the lady of the house.”

    “Do you mean the woman who used to own this place, Miss DuBois?”

    I nodded my head.

    “Miss DuBois died … three years ago.”
    — Ԙ —

    • Roy York
      May be one of the best stories you’ve ever written, from my POV, Robt. I enjoyed it immensely. I noticed afew things, one of which is this sentence: The sound of the waves crashing into the rocks sounded as if they were climbing up and over the hundred-foot wall of rock. You can eliminate the three words ‘sound of the’ before the word waves. And it reads, The waves crashing into the rocks sounded as if… and you eliminate that redundancy. I would also put a semi-colon in front of Elena DuBois in the second paragraph, instead of a comma as a half stop, giving it a little more continuity.

      Otherwise, I was reading along hanging on every word, and even though it’s a well used plot, you gave it new life. Well done. By the way, I can’t remember her first name, but my very first crush was a young lady (I was 14, she was at least that, if not older) whose last name was DuBois. And, our first encounter was a movie theater. It was all the rage in those days, I guess. Especially with the DuBois girls.

      • robtemmett
        Thanks Roy for the review and corrections.
        How could you possibly forget What’s-her-name?
        The lighthouse was built on Stoney Point, but was named after a nearby creek.
        I changed one other thing besides the name.
        The lantern was to feature a second order lens, but when construction went over budget, there was only enough funding remaining for the smaller third order lens which is a bi-valve type Fresnel lens manufactured by Barbier, Bernard and Turenne Company in Paris, France. The lens floats on a bearing surface of liquid mercury which allows near frictionless operation.
        • Roy York
          It was a quick fling that lasted not much longer than the movie. And, I never saw her again because I think she moved away shortly after. I remember getting teased by some friends for chasing her off. For whatever reason, the name DuBois stuck with me all these years. Must have thought it was exotic. These days I’m lucky if I can remember the names of half my old girlfriends except for a couple of long lasting ones.
    • Ilana L
      Actually agree with Roy that this is one of your best stories Rob. Great build up even though I kind of expected her to be a ghost. Well crafted and I have nothing to add but praise for this story. Well done.
    • Alice Nelson

      I really liked this Robert, the way you wrote the back story of you and Ely, then life away from your home town, and back again , you thought, to the woman of your dreams. It’s hard to say so much with so few words, but you did a really good job. I would say that the beginning felt a little rushed, at first I didn’t realize Chester Creek was your home town, the transition from buying cigarettes for your dad, to mentioning Chester Creek was a bit abrupt.

      Maybe you don’t need the mention of dad at all, you can just begin with, “Chester Creek was my home town…” then give a short description of the ‘right side’ and the ‘wrong side.” This way you can give more time to Elena and your feelings for her.

      After that beginning the story flows so nicely, I kept hoping for a love connection, but deep down knew it was too good to be true. Nice story!

  • Eli Small
    The Lighthouse
    Word Count (477)
    By Eli Small ©2018
    He had known the storm was brewing long before the first drops of rain splashed against the window, and, as the night wore on he knew it would be a long and brutal nor’easter.
    The waves hammered against the rocky shore as the sky turned black. The sound of slashing rain was punctuated by the roar of thunder as the sky lit up a deadly shade of blue.
    He watched as he always did, hoping that the beam off the Maine coast could warn the incoming 1500 foot tanker these were dangerous waters. As he looked across the rocky shore one final time he noticed, movement.
    The thunder resounded as the lightning died and he desperately tried to see the what had caused the disturbance that had caught his eye. Then came the knock. The brass knocker resounded against the heavy hewn door. Impossible, he thought. Then louder.
    There was it again, three knocks but this time there was no hesitation. It came, again and again, louder and louder. Then for a second, there was silence. The thunder rolled and then the sound of splintering wood ground against his nerves.
    He bolted, heading for the only place left to him, the beam. Scrambling up the stairs he threw anything that he touched down the stairs to the awful smell that preceded it. He heard stories, but those were just that, stories. Regardless, it was following him and his only hope was the ladder going down the back.
    “Who are you?” The question was desperate and the response did nothing to help the mood.
    As it’s growl rolled up the staircase he reached for the first rung of the ladder and clambered up the to the hatch. He threw it closed and bolted it looking for the window that would open to his freedom. He could hear it’s labored breathing as it reached the bolted hatch.
    The lightning lit up his face weary face and the thunder was again matched with the splintering of oak. The paw, as that was the only word that could describe this unholy weapon, was covered in a black hair and the six-inch claws that reached skyward had a dull glint along their razor edge.
    The beam turned and he followed it around the cone to the single pane that held his life in its frame. Throwing it open the wind ripped across his skin, then it stopped. The light died down and he could see It pull its paw out of the light, glass raining from Its claws.
    Turning back he lifted one leg over the sill than the other, the ladder was slick and he almost slipped as he lowered himself down to the first rung. Through the window, It began to emerge. First the deformed head and then after that its shoulder’s. It reached down dragging its nails down the glass and into my arm.
    The pain flowered through his shoulder benumbing his brain to the anarchy that had been the last five minutes. Giddily he looked into the red hate-filled eyes and let go.
    • Ilana L
      Good story, but it needed to be longer and it was creepy enough too.It raises a lot of questions though. How did this monster get on the island or on the place where the lighthouse is? Is it a monster of the storm or the deep deep ocean?
    • Eli,
      Great horror. One little error. In the third sentence from the end you change the POV to first person. (‘…my arm.’) In my opinion, I’m not sure that ‘Giddily’ works as well as some other word would. Considering where you’ve used it. (The very last sentence.)
      • Yeah, I had proofread it and i had a friend proofread as well, and it slipped by us both. Just out of curiosity what would you recommend in place of giddily?
        • Eli @ napster,

          Well…. you know, it’s horror and the ending is pretty final. I looked up a bunch of synonyms for giddy. (There was no ‘giddily.’ Webster’s, pah, what do they know?) If you really want my advice, I’d go with… You know? I’m not sure. When I look at that last sentence, I just know it isn’t giddily. But I think you should pick it. You’ll have to change the sentence though, to accommodate whatever word you pick. It IS the last sentence, so, it deserves some thought.

          Okay, let me try again.
          When I look into those ‘red, hate-filled eyes…’ just as I’m about to let go. I think I’d feel faint, or dizzy, or strangely unemotional, or fatalistic. (A calm (and utter) futility was all he felt, as he looked into those red, hate-filled eyes…and let go.)


          (Also: before I forget. I would change the phrase, ‘benumbing his brain to the anarchy that had been the last five minutes.’ to: ‘the anarchy of the last five minutes.’ Or, ‘…to the anarchy that had turned the last five minutes into a virtual eternity.’ To use a football analogy, ‘either run it up the middle–or go for the long bomb.’

          You’ve got a great, short, powerful horror story. Plenty of words to work with on the finish. And I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that it’s a lot easier for me to change your words than it is for you. (Because I don’t care. It’s not my baby.)

          If there’s anything you should take away from my advice, it would be to 1. Don’t get in the car with strangers. 2. Don’t leave your drink unattended in public. 3. Don’t take writing advice from people with long last names. (Unless it’s me.) and 4. Never, I mean never, voluntarily walk into a cage of tigers wearing Calvin Klein cologne.

          I hope that helps you, Eli.

          (I was told recently, by a very good friend, that people either love me or hate me. Nobody comes away feeling wishy-washy. At first, this sounded like a compliment, but after further consideration, I realize it was just an observation by a very good friend.)

      • Roy York
        Ken, I don’t see the tense change. Can you elucidate me, please? Maybe that’s why I’m always getting gigged for tense changes? I don’t recognize one when I see one?
        • Roy,
          Not a change in tense, but in point of view. Eli’s story is in Third Person ‘He? Him?’ But right at the end the main character’s arm is not ‘his arm,’ but ‘my arm.’ I do this all the goddamned time myself. I get so into the story I forget that I’m not the main character. (That’s why, whenever I can, I just go ahead and tell it in first person POV. What can I say? I’m goofy that way.)
          • Roy York
            Yep, your’e right, and I totally missed it. That’s why I probably get into trouble, too.
    • Roy York
      Well, Eli, short and sweet, but I think it should start with The light keeper instead of ‘he’ so we know why who he is and why he is there. And why would he say ‘impossible’ because someone uses the door knocker? Unless, the storm is so very bad, but it would have to be one hell of a storm to prevent someone from using it. If it’s because the lighthouse is so isolated, then why have a door knocker for visitors to use? I lay awake at night thinking about stuff like this.

      The story itself, I think, needs to be a little longer, to drag out the drama, allowing you to add some more wonderfully worded phrases like, “The pain flowered through his shoulder” although, I’m not sure anarchy (disorder due to missing authority) is the correct term to use, but for whatever odd reason, I’m not going to be that picky about it as I get your drift. Mayhem, perhaps. And, lastly, I have to agree with Ken regarding giddily, yet again, it seems crazy enough to fit. But, a couple of other replacements could be, fearfully, terrified, horrified, or my favorite, dis-heartened.

      I read an explanation of the differences between fear, terror and horror. Fear is when you THINK you see an axe murderer on your patio … Terror is when you DO SEE an axe murderer on your patio … Terror is when the Axe murderer is no longer on your patio, but close enough to swing his axe at your head. My thanks to author Orson Scott Card for that.

      • Roy York
        That last one was supposed to be Horror is when the Axe Murderer is no longer….and so on, not Terror again. Sorry for the confusion.
        • The Lighthouse
          The keeper had known the storm was brewing long before the first drops of rain splashed against his window, and as the night wore on, he knew it would be a long and brutal nor’easter.
          The waves hammered against the rocky shore as the sky turned black. The sound of slashing rain was punctuated by the roar of thunder as the sky lit up a deadly shade of blue.
          He watched as he always did, hoping that the beam off the Maine coast could warn the incoming 1500 foot tanker these were dangerous waters. As he looked across the rocky shore one final time he noticed movement.
          The thunder resounded as the lightning died. He desperately tried to see what had caused the disturbance that previously caught his eye. Then came the knock. The brass knocker thudded against the heavy hewn door. Impossible, he thought. Then louder.
          No one ever came around anymore, at least not since the incident, but there it was again; three knocks. No hesitation the heavy thuds rolled through the house, again and again, louder and louder. Then, for a second, there was silence. The thunder rolled as the sound of splintering wood ground against his nerves.
          He bolted, heading for the only place left to hide, the beam. Scrambling up the stairs, he threw anything he touched down the stairs to the awful smell that preceded it. He heard stories, but those were just that, stories. Regardless, It was following him and his only hope was the ladder going down the back.
          “Who are you?” The question was desperate and the response did nothing to help allay his fears.
          It’s growl rolled up the staircase as he reached for the first rung of the ladder and clambered up to the hatch. He threw it closed and bolted it, looking for the window that would lead to his freedom. He could hear It’s labored breathing as It reached the bolted hatch.
          The lightning lit up his weary face and the thunder was again matched by the splintering of oak. The paw, as that was the only word that could describe this unholy weapon, was covered in black hair. The six-inch claws that reached skyward had a dull glint along their razor edge.
          The beam turned, and he followed it around the corner to the single pane that held his life in its frame. Throwing it open, the wind ripped across his skin, then It stopped. The light died down and he could see it pull It’s paw out of the light, glass raining from Its claws.
          Turning back, he lifted one leg over the sill and then the other. The ladder was slick and he almost slipped as he lowered himself down to the first rung. Through the window, It began to emerge. First the deformed head and then, after that, Its shoulders. It reached down, dragging its nails down the glass and into his arm.
          The pain flowed through his shoulder, benumbing his brain to the anarchy that had been the last five minutes, it coursed through his veins. I’m so tired, and it doesn’t matter how I get down, down is safe. He sighed, face slackening in a look of resignation, he looked into the red, hate-filled eyes and felt, tired. The fear evaporated as he looked. Slowly his hands unclenched and he smiled as he slipped away into the dark foam of the ocean.
          Thank you all for the advice, heres the revised edition.
    • Alice Nelson

      Ooh Eli, I love spooky stories, and this one is creepy. I love how this thing just attacks, no warning, no explanation, just a quick mention that the MC heard about “these stories.” That kind of vagueness, makes it even creepier. Love the tone you set and that fateful ending.

      A few teeny mistakes:

      “There was it again…” – “There it was again.”

      “…he desperately tried to see the what had caused the disturbance that had caught his eye.” – He desperately tried to see “the” what.

      “…clambered up the to the hatch.” – Clambered up the hatch

      “The lightning lit up his face weary face…” The lightning lit up his weary face

      That’s it, just a few typos that were easy to miss. Great story, I loved it!

  • Blank Face


    Amalia, from German, started her visit to the United States from Florida because it was the first place visited by Christopher Columbus, European. She landed at Miami airport. It was getting dark. The first thing she observed on the way to her hotel is the beam of light coming from the Cape Florida Light. The lighthouse was emitting light at a certain frequency of time. Next morning she first went to visit the same lighthouse. Many people were waiting for the opening at 10:00 am. A woman guide came on time and started to explain about the lighthouse. It was constructed in 2021 that time oil lamp was used for lighting. In 1992 it was renovated and electronic lighting system was put which blinks alternately in 5 seconds. Amalia could visualize the lighting system when the guide explained. After the explanation, the Lighthouse opened for observation. One time only 20 people could go in and climb up. There were about 50 visitors.
    Amelia started to take photographs from various angles highlighting eight of lighthouse and backgrounds. She observed a woman with an attractive face and remarkable dress sitting in a chair and looking around. She looked like an idol in the first appearance. She moved her eyes around and observed that many people were also looking at here, occasionally. It was like a lighthouse limiting unseen light at the base of the real lighthouse on the day. People were attracted to her but unable to see continuously because she was also looking around and vision would crash often.
    Amalia pointed a man in the corner on the other side of track under the shade of the trees and sitting on a log of tree. There was a writing pad in his hand and look like making some sketch. The man was looking at lighthouse tower from time to time. Amalia went around and reached behind the artist. Attractive women were on the side in between tower and artist. Artist was absorbed in his artwork. He was looking at lighthouse and background he is covering in his sketch. Amalia looked at artwork, sketch on art paper (A4 size) with a pencil. Artist applied pencil, rubbed eraser when he needs to erase or show white color within the black one. He rubbed with a cotton bud for blending. In the sketch, there was a tower, tress on the base as it appeared and that Idol woman. He ignored other people waiting for the next round. Amalia noted that the position of the woman was the same with hairstyle and dressing but the face was blank. She guessed that face would be completed at last. Hence, she went around and came back on the back of the artist after some time but the face was still blank and he was doing detailing in another area. At the right corner, there was a signature, “Ambar”. Amalia wanted to take a photograph covering artist his artwork, and the real scene he covered in his art. After moving here and there she found a position and angle. Sunlight was striking to the right face of the artist, but a shade on woman but face was still visible and the tower was on light.
    The first round of visitors came back and the gate opened for the next group. That typical woman moved but Ambar remained with his artwork. Hence, Amalia decided to go up in next turn and observe artwork. Women could not enter because there were already 20 people ahead of her. Ambar never filled up face and joined last round of visit to the tower. Amalia wanted to talk to women while they were looking around from the top of the tower. She came closer and said, ” Hello”. Women said, “Hi”
    “I am Amalia from German? ”
    ” I am Fen from China”
    She also wanted to talk to Amber but she did not notice when he went down. On the ground, she did not see Amber around.
    Amber listens to the conversation between Amalia and Fen on the tower. He looked around and down to see water. Tower was located at the bank of sea. Water in the sea was crystal clear and sand bed visible beneath the water. The wave of water was sprinkling sunlight. Water little away from the bank was blue. Amber recalled his science class when his teacher was teaching about light. Water absorbs red light and reflects blue as a result water looks blue. Water little away was green indicating sediments in the water that reflects green spectrum also. He came down and went to a house near the tower where others were also going. It was guardhouse that time. Now, this has been developed as a museum and all the things used for lighting that time has been preserved here. Ambar talked to an old man in the museum. He was one involved in the construction of the house and now working as a volunteer. Amber listens to the whole story. His name was David. Elders become happy and excited if there is somebody to listen to them. Amber was aware of the facts. David dropped tears while saying the story. Amber noticed that there is another person behind him listening to David. As he looked back he noticed that she was Fen listing from behind. His eyes stroked with her. Wave from both of them crashed and head reflected back.
    In the evening Amalia posted a most beautiful photograph with that triangular scene in an online site meant for artists and photographers. Coincidentally Amber also posted the photo of his artwork.
    Next day evening Amalia was looking at others post on the site. She became surprised to see the same artwork of Amber. However, there were some changes. The face was filled up now but it was not the face of Fen. In place, it was the face of herself. She looked her own eyes, nose, and mouth on the body of Fen. On the caption, it was written, “Cover the bright, unhide the hide.” So many questions evolved in her mind, radiated around, and searched for Amber.

    • Roy York
      I’m going to overlook the numerous errors in this story, save a few. There are some tense changes in the same sentences, but the most grevious was misspelling one of your main characters name from Ambar to Amber in many instances. As I said, looking aside all that, I found this to be a wonderful use of your imagination and probably the best story you’ve ever submitted. I could go though and show you some of the errors of your ways, but unless you want that, and I don’t think you do, I will just say, “Well done.” Good plot that needs a bit of tightening, but I really like what you’ve done. And, I think what your caption was meant to say was, “Cover the bright, unhide the hidden,” or “Cover the bright, reveal the hidden.” Hide has more than one meaning: one of which is ‘the skin of an animal’; another is to ‘place something out of sight’.
      • Thank you Roy for your wonderful comments. I know there are some errors. Some coming from by capacity some by negligence (that you also indicated) and some lack of seriousness on my side. I have realization and trying to improve and learn from the group. Little appreciation for anything good and more comments for improvements works for me. Your comments was more balanced and thanks for that. I would be happy if you show more errors.
      • Alice Nelson

        Nam Raj, I’d have to agree with Roy. This is a very imaginative story and shows you have a wonderful mind for telling stories. With some help with phrasing, and grammar, this could be a fantastic story. As it is, it still sets a certain tone, with characters that are very interesting. Love, love how you work so hard in this group, and I love your imagination.

  • Gail, the Brave heart:
    Ron was panting as he neared the 35 feet marble structure atop the cliff. He stood wonderstruck before the massive structure for a while. He hurried to the Lighthouse and knocked on the gate. It was nearly six in the evening and darkness blanketed the whole area with gusts of wind whistling across the vast expanse of the sea. He could hear the waves crashing against the shore eerily.
    Ron knocked on the wooden door again. There was a sound of something being pulled aside from inside. The next moment the door creaked open showing a glimpse of a circular interior in the dim lantern light.
    “I’m Ronald. I’ve come all the way from the city with some bad news. The power cut is going to be extended by an hour or two. That means the flashlight can’t use the beams for navigation. It isn’t going to be of any use. The Survivor will be here sometime soon. Take me to the keeper immediately.”
    The man who stood by the door was a jerk. There was nothing to distinguish him from the blackness prevailing inside. He raised the one-eyed lantern towards the staircase leading upstair. No sooner Ron had stepped inside than the door was slammed shut. Ron stepped aside towards the left to make way for the man. He was led to a stony, bare room on the first floor. The man went out leaving the lantern on the round, marble desk in front without uttering a word. Ron ran his tongue over his lips. He could barely see his hands in the darkness. He could also feel the tumultuous waves far below and the non-stop whistling of the wind against the walls of the Lighthouse.
    After a while he could hear the hurried footsteps on the corridor outside. He sat up straight on the chair. The man who entered the room was in casuals, of heavy build. He must have been around fifty five, add or subtract a few years. He was nearly six feet with his back as straight as the sunbeam. He stretched forward his hand across the table and said:”Gail here, the caretaker. I’s told that you’ve brought some important news.”
    Ron took his outstretched hand in his while standing up. ”Glad to meet you, Gail. I’ve heard a lot about you. The Survivor will be here anytime soon. I received a radio communiqué this afternoon informing me about the hurricane and the precautionary power cut. How do we warn them of the submerged rock?”
    Gail took his seat on the chair opposite. He looked at Ron. A mere lad. What did he know of the effects of a hurricane out in the sea? For a brief second the image of The Voyage flashed through his mind. It was a stormy night exactly a decade ago to this day. The lighthouse tried to make a fire of wood at the top to warn the ship heading in this direction. Unfortunately, a gust of wind blew it out as soon as it was made. Gail had taken off his shirt at the last moment and lifting one of the logs lying near by, he pushed it through the shirt sleeve and started frantically moving it from right to left and to right again. The sight of the he majestic ship hurtling past the lighthouse and hitting the rock some hundred meters away; the panicky, shrieking passengers and the ship going down in slow motion, is something that would remain etched in his memory as long as he had life left in him.
    “I can only think of one thing, Ron. There’s a pole up on the roof. If one of us can climb up to the top of the pole and start waving the lantern, The Survivor can’t miss it.”
    “Great idea. But who will mount the pole on a night like this? Forget about climbing a pole, I’ve never climbed up a five-feet tree in my life.” The way Ron said it made Gail break into a chuckle.
    “Okay. Leave that to me. Climbing up to treetops and rooftops is what I’ve done all my life.”
    “You? At your age? Will that be a good idea?” Ron asked him incredulously.
    “If we go on talking like this, the ship will be wrecked for sure. Follow me..” And Gail was out of the room in a flash. Ron took a while to feel his way up to the top of the lighthouse through the narrow steps. The dumb gatekeeper he had met earlier, was standing near the pole while Gail was trying to lift his right foot on an iron hook around the pole attached to a raised platform in the extreme corner. Ron raised his eyes from the hook to the top of the twelve feet pole. He considered himself lucky not being the one to have to climb the pole. The wind had become fiercer by then on the rooftop and was blowing at a ferocious speed. In the vastness of the dark, black sea that surrounded them all around, Ron put his trembly hands on the wall around the roof to keep had himself from looking down at the wild sea. When he looked at the pole next, Gail was three to four feet up with the pole shaking ominously under his weight. It was around the same time that they could see the tiny, faint flashlight of what was undoubtedly an approaching ship. Gail must have seen it too for he was climbing the pole with an unbelievable agility. The pole, due to the wild wind, was trying to break free of the hooks fixed to the raised platform. They could also hear what sounded like the blowing of a whistle as The Survivor slowly emerged in the distance swaying.
    By then, Gail had reached near the top of the pole, holding the lantern still between his clenched teeth. He put his right arm up to catch hold of the cross atop the pole. Then keeping his balance by placing both his feet on a hook, he got hold of the lantern with his left hand in a spectacular act of jugglery. To aid him in his effort to gain the attention of the approaching ship, even the gusty wind stopped being menacing for a while.
    All three of them had hardly let out a cry of joy and jubilation when the wind picked up again. The Survivor had slowed down considerably by then. Then in a maddening act of revenge, the wind caught Gail off guard and before he could regain his balance, he was hurled away from the post, down the cliff into the fathomless sea. To this day the lighthouse is known to mariners as Gail, the Brave heart.
    The End
    • Ilana L
      I got another invalid security token. Goodness knows, it may not even let me post comments now.
      • Ilana I got that same error but I had html code in my comment.
        If you are copying/pasting from word or another application, try “pasting a plain text”.

        Hoping that helps.
        Also, if you are logged in with WordPress, try logging out and commenting by filling in the name and email box manually.

    • Niiice. It’s got a few mistakes but it’s dark, exciting and spooky with a great ending. Oddly enough, my story has some similarities to yours. This is pure coincidence as I wrote my story before reading yours. More proof that great minds think alike. (Hope you like it.)
      • Thanks, Ken. Means a lot to me. I read your story once last night. Wanna read it once more before I dare to comment on anything coming from the one and only, KEN CARTISANO.
  • Ilana L
    I tried to post a comment on Nam Raj’s story and got the invalid security token. It was about ten lines. Maybe that is my limit??? G-d this is so depressing.
    • Roy York
      One of your better stories, Rathin. However, I am especially pissed off at you for killing off Gail (nice pun, by the way, naming your character Gail, as ‘Gale’ in english means high winds – whether intentional or not) after he saves everyone’s life. All kidding aside, a pretty good story. I guess a lot of people are going to meet their doom at the lighthouse this week. You’ll have to read mine to find out if any do in my submission. Should be up shortly. Like I did in Ram’s story, there are several things I could point out, but I’ll be brief. The use of “I’s” is not a contraction of the improper phrase “I is”, and should be “I’ve been” and things like “The lighthouse tried to make a fire” is simply incorrect, as inanimate objects cannot possibly do that. And, I think you know that. Still, I enjoyed what you did.
      • Dear Roy,
        Sorry for the delay in responding to your comments. I’ve been busy with the Trial for Standard-XII. Some 150 papers to be corrected and marked.
        To come back to my story and the contraction, I couldn’t have used ‘I’s’ for ‘I is’. I must have meant ‘I was’, Roy. Sorry, I can’t get back to my story right now and see what exactly you have in mind.
        The other thing I did deliberately was to personify the Lighthouse. After all, we all are writing about this inanimate object, aren’t we, Roy? And the one, amongst us, who can bring this inanimate mate object to life, gets to keep the cake and eat it too. (Don’t bother if I ain’t making sense. I just couldn’t help using the idiom!)
        I am eagerly looking forward to reading your story. Let me also tell you something personal in this connection, Roy. I find myself reluctant to read more than five stories these days. I don’t have the time. I know that what I’ve been doing is not fair. But I assume that all the other contributors are going through all the stories earnestly before selecting the top five. So, my votes for the top-five won’t make much difference.
        Take care and keep a little space in your heart for this incorrigible man. Love you. Regards.
  • sandra woolf
    Suzanne hadn’t realized just how far her troubled thoughts had carried her along the headland. The wind hadn’t seemed so turbulent when she had set off from her cottage at Star Point. She had been determined not sit around and mope but get off her ass and walk the paths, described in the cottage rental brochure. Breathtaking scenery, rare birds and flowers, even the occasional school of dolphins had been promised. They had not lied. She was mesmerized by the scenery at her front door. But now with a look at her watch she realized that a couple of hours had passed and the weather was changing dramatically.

    Her fingers smoothed back her hair from her face as a gust of wind hit her. Troubled thoughts still rattled around in her head and had made her unaware of her surroundings. Maybe she would figure things out before she had to go back to Canada.

    Another burst of wind blew in off the ocean and splayed her jacket and pants against her skin. It was beginning to get hard to breath as the wind blew back into her lungs as fast as she could breath out. Trying to make up her mind to either turn back or go on, it was decided for her as another gust of wind brought torrents of rain. She wrapped her anorak closer and pulled the hood over her long brown hair. The rain was now becoming stinging sleet, she could taste the brine on her lips. There was no sign of life anywhere, not even an old building she could use as shelter. Nothing but high cliffs, spectacular waves and diving grey gulls. This part of the English coast was wild and entirely barren. The expanse of grey stretched far in front and behind, like an ocean of rock. She had to find shelter soon as the day got darker and the storm wilder. The roar and thunder of the ocean blended with the shrieking of the wind was making her deaf to anything but the storm.

    Suddenly between black clouds and blacker ocean she could see a lighthouse’s brilliant white light. The grey rocky beach lay below the cliff face she was standing on and she could just make out a narrow path that lead down to a promontory, where the lighthouse stood. The crashing of the waves had grown stronger, the sound bouncing off the cliff walls and back out to sea. She looked again at the lighthouse knowing it was the only chance she had for shelter. The beacon shone down on her, welcoming her with outstretched arms and with a shake of her head she stumbled down the path toward it.

    There was a large metal door on the lee side of the lighthouse and she hammered on it hoping someone was there. She had been told a large number of older lighthouse in the area were now unmanned. Please don’t let this be one she prayed silently.
    “Okay, okay, I’m coming.” said a muffled voice from the other side. Just as the door started to open another huge gust of wind blew her in and she fell into the arms of a stranger.
    “Oh, sorry about that,” she said, as she was hauled to her feet by a pair of strong hands. “I got caught out in the storm, really glad you were here.”
    She looked up into the face of a tall lanky man of about forty. His black hair was long and caught back in an untidy ponytail. He wore sweats and a heavy Aran sweater that obviously had seen better days.
    “No problem, always happy to rescue a maiden in distress. Come on up stairs and we’ll get you a towel to help dry off.”
    “Thanks, really appreciate that, I’m Suzanne, Suzanne Sinclair”
    “Bob Andrews, I’m the keeper here, for now anyway.”

    His voice was disappearing as he climbed up the circular stairs ahead of her. The steps were damp from the constant moisture laden air and Suzanne held on tight to the rail as she followed him up. Each footfall let out a metallic clang that echoed as they climbed to the top of the lighthouse. They passed one level that he pointed out was the kitchen and bathroom.
    “But come on up to the top, that’s where the heater is.”

    She climbed the last few steps and walked into a round room encircled with floor to ceiling windows. She hurried across to a welcoming heater that stood in the middle of the floor. A few old chairs, an even older grungy looking couch was about all the small room could hold. The most amazing thing was the piles of book, taking up every available space.
    “As you can see I have a lot of time to read.” he said, as he handed her a small towel.
    “Finding the lighthouse was a real lifesaver.” Suzanne said, as she rubbed her hair dry. “I had walked further than I realized and that storm came up so fast. I was not expecting it at all.”
    “Are you a visitor here?”
    “Yes, I’m renting a cottage at Star Point for a few months.”
    “You must be from Canada, I can tell by your accent.”
    “Toronto, she said. “And you? Where are you from?”
    “I’m from London, volunteered to man the lighthouse for a year, hoping to get some time to finish my book. Free room and lots of scenery, can’t go wrong can you?” he said with a chuckle. “How about a cup of tea?”
    “That would be great thanks, milk and two sugar please.”
    “No problem, just take a load off and I’ll go down and put the kettle on.”
    He went down the stairs, talking as he went. “It’s been a few weeks since I had any company. I manage to go into the village for supplies every week or so, but not many people come to visit.”

    Suzanne walked over to the bank of windows and could feel the fury of the storm that howled outside. She felt lucky that she had found the lighthouse, A kettle started to whistle below her and she heard the rattle of dishes as he made her tea. A few minutes later he came up the stairs carrying a tray of mugs.
    “Your in luck,” he said, “there was even a few biscuits left in the tin. Please sit, make yourself at home, just chuck the books on the floor.”
    “How long do you think the storm will last?”
    “Oh this is a real nor’easter, will go on for a few days, but don’t worry your safe here. I have a cell phone and can call the village police station, they’ll send someone out to pick you up in a few hours. People, especially tourists, get stranded all the time around here. Some even disappear forever.

    • Roy York
      Your last line takes an ‘up to the ending, more or less ordinary story’ and adds a delightful chill that elevates it to a contender. Nice job, Sandra Woolf. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that count. Good beginning, nice middle and a very good ending. Good read and well written.
      • sandra woolf
        Thanks Roy. This story really spoke to me and I have realized I can go on with it. Will it be a mystery or a murder novel? Not sure yet, but am plotting out characters and situations that have me really excited. Your kind words meant a lot to me.
        S. Woolf
    • Fabulous writing Sandra. Really, really good writing. Nice ending too. This is the kind of prompt that (practically) requires us to describe inclement conditions and it’s hard to know how far to go with the description. I think you hit it perfectly. (The Goldilocks Zone.) The last line adds a sinister zing that really makes me wonder. This is some really high quality writing and I think it would make a great first chapter to a much longer short story.
      • sandra woolf
        Ken, thanks so much for the great words of encouragement. Just when I’m ready to give up, a story like this seems to flow out of me without much stress or worry. I must say when I finished this I realized I was not finished at all. I now have mapped out the next 2 chapters with no difficulty. Go figure lol.
        thanks again.
        ps. loved your story too.
    • Lovely story, Sandra. I have to thank Ken and his inimitable words for arousing my interest in your story. When I came to know about the prompt, I pondered over the possibility of writing a love story. But my story turned out differently at the end. When Suzanne, in yours, fell into Andrew’s hands, my heart leapt up thinking that finally I’s going to get something of a love-story based on the prompt. But the superb ending made me realize that there is more to your story than meets the eyes. Just one clarification. I find you using ‘your’ instead of ‘you are’ at some places. Is that done deliberately?
      Good job done. Keep up the good work. All the best wishes.
      • sandra woolf
        I love story? a mystery? I am in the middle of trying to decide which way to go. Thanks for catching the “you’re”, I have a problem with that word all the time. thanks again for your kind words.
    • Ilana L
      Good story Sandra. You really leave the reader hanging in anticipation. Well done and it is a nice seamless story.
      • sandra woolf
        Thank you Llana, appreciate that you enjoyed the story. I am hoping to expand into a short story and am bursting with ideas in the direction it will go. Strange how one subject can fire you up. These flash fiction exercises have been the best thing I could have ever done for myself. All the great reviews and comments have been inspirational.
        Thanks again.
  • Nice one, Ken. When the exterminator nearly got terminated. If his services were not hired for killing the vindictive wife, another unseen but implied character had to be up there. You craftily left it to the reader, built up the suspense and maintained it quite well till the end. The gold coin minted in 1702 added the much needed touch of realism to the otherwise surreal setting of the story. I really enjoyed it. Please keep writing oftener.
  • Mistaken Identity. (Electric Ladyland.)
    by Ken Cartisano
    WC 1177

    It happened when I was a young man.

    It was already dark, cold and miserable when the phone rang. “Bob’s Exterminators,” I said. The name was painted on the side of my truck.

    The connection was bad and the voice was hollow. It sounded like he said ‘executioner.’ I corrected him politely. “If you mean exterminator, yes I am.”

    He desperately needed my services and swore he would pay me triple my bill if I could make it that evening. Business was slow and money was scarce, so I asked where my services were needed with such urgency.

    “The lighthouse on the point,” he said.

    “I’ll be there,” I promised, but I was new in town and thought that the lighthouse was abandoned. Before I could question him, the line went inexplicably dead.

    Clouds obscured the moon as gale-force winds dashed everything with sheets of water that sounded like millions of tiny needles. As I rode along the cliffs, the sea roared and foamed like liquid fury. The wind howled as it buffeted my carriage, rocking it on its rudimentary springs. Sea spray, flung into the air by massive waves, slashed horizontally across the muddy, overgrown track. I could taste the salt.

    I followed the lighthouse beacon.

    I pulled my carriage to the lee side of a crumbling stone house and tied my frightened horse to a ring in the wall. In heavy weather gear I fought my way to the old wooden door at the base of the lighthouse proper. Before I could pound my fist on its waterlogged surface, the door opened inward. A man holding a lantern pulled me inside and slammed the door closed behind me. The cessation of sound was a welcome change from the maelstrom outside.

    A whistling of wind could be heard in the tower above us as he raised the lantern and looked me over. Where’s your gear?” He asked. “You don’t even have any rope.”

    “What kind of gear do I need?” I asked. I was standing in two inches of water and rivulets ran down the spiral stairway that led to the top of the lighthouse.

    The man turned away, sloshed through the water and removed an axe from the opposite wall. I reached for my dagger and had my hand on the hilt when he returned holding it by the neck, offering it to me.

    As I took the axe I said, “Exactly what, sir, is the problem here?”

    He turned his haunted face toward the stairs. As if that wasn’t clear enough, he pointed a bony hand up toward the light and said, “It’s up there.”

    I was hoping he’d show me but he handed me the lantern and gestured for me to go first. With lantern in one hand and axe in the other, I started up the stairs. On the first turn around I expected to see him waiting at the foot of the stairs, but the old man was nowhere in sight.

    As I paused and marveled at the water running down the stairs, a glimmering coin caught my attention a few steps further up. I continued to climb to reach the coin and plucked it up without hesitation. I examined it briefly in the flickering light and it looked to be genuine gold.

    I felt a chill on my spine as I pocketed the coin and continued to climb, round and round, higher and higher, as the staircase grew tighter and steeper. More than half-way to the top I approached a landing where a window had been stove in. Wind whistled furiously, pieces of glass and wood lay on the landing and water poured in through the gap by the bucketful.

    In the light of the lamp I caught a glimpse of a strange looking creature with yellow eyes, huddled against the wall. Around its head glowed a halo of green, like a ship’s rigging cursed with St. Elmo’s fire. It had full black lips and a hand like a claw, which it used in a vain attempt to untangle the long, black hair on its hideous scalp. It’s appearance was more than a little disturbing, even when it seemed to smile.

    A bolt of lightning struck so close that I lost my grip on the lantern. When it crashed to the floor it seemed to break a spell and I could still see the glow of the strange creature’s aura.

    I raised the axe and stepped closer to the gruesome beast, preparing to dispatch it with one mortal blow, when I heard a shriek behind me and turned in time to see the old man lunging at me from below. With a grip on my jacket he tried to pull me down and I nearly lost my balance. I pried his hands free of my garment, but he had the time to grasp the head of the axe instead. His look of anger turned to surprise as I released my grip on the handle. He fell backward and tumbled down the stairs until he collided against the iron rail which knocked it from its fittings. But I distinctly heard him cry as he fell away, “Not her, you fool, that’s my wife!”

    As I watched his body slide down the inundated stairs I was slapped in the face by a hand that was slimy and wet. The creature had drawn herself close and towered above me, her face, though strangely enticing, was livid with rage and revenge. She let out a horrific shriek that rivaled the howling wind and then threw herself off the stairs and plummeted to the stone floor below.

    I descended the stairs in near total darkness. When I reached the bottom the water was knee deep and rising. I struggled to pull the door open but my efforts were futile against the weight of all that water. I fumbled and cursed until I found the axe and used it to batter the door. The freezing water had reached my waist by the time the door began to splinter and was as high as my chest by the time I was able to pry enough of it free to climb through the gap and escape.

    I fell to my knees in exhaustion, but glad to be alive no matter the circumstances. Fearing my horse had fled, I staggered to my feet and took my bearings. There was no horse nor carriage, just an old truck with a strange sign on the side, so I jumped in the cab, started her up and raced down the muddy trail back to town.

    No one believed my story of course, not one word of it, as the lighthouse has been closed for years. But neither can they explain the coin I possess, a pure gold doubloon, in perfect condition, minted in 1702.

    I’m a wealthy man now, getting on in years, but every now and then I have nightmares and wake up in a cold sweat, wondering — what in God’s name really happened that night?

    • sandra woolf
      You had me a bit puzzled at first. You mention a truck and then a carriage. But it kept me reading until I realized why. Great story, made me want to keep reading. Your descriptions were wonderful, really put me right in the frame. Read it to my mom, she said its always interesting to see how someone else’s mind works. Life just keeps surprising us!
      • Thanks for your comments, and compliments, Sandra. I really wrestled with the idea of changing the truck to a carriage, and back again. (I added a horse too.) It was in the first version, then I removed it as I thought it was confusing (and unnecessary) and would take a lot of readers out of the story. My girlfriend liked it better with the time changing element in it, so I put it back in, I kept rewriting it trying to find a way to present that information in a way that didn’t jar the reader. (Trying to make it clear that it wasn’t a mistake, I guess.) All that vacillating over the time element caused me to re-write it at least eight times. (I’m not exaggerating. I’m not sure it was the right decision, either.)

        I’m glad to hear that you’re going to continue your story, and hope you’ll continue tackling prompts with the group as I really like your writing.

    • To day I was determined to read your story with full understanding to the end. By chance it was not very difficult and interesting too. I the beginning it went as real. As you reached to light house I thought it will be ultimately presented as ghost or dream or something unusual. I remembered that church and could guess you can think in that line also. Till end it moved in a funny way. Any way I reed every para with interest. This kind of story will not allow reader to take decision till the end and even after end.
    • Roy York
      Sometimes, your stories make me think too hard. This is one of them. Bob’s exterminators on the phone and a truck parked outside, yet, he took a carriage to the functional lighthouse, and after battering the door open with an axe, (at waist level, no mean feat) couldn’t find his carriage, only a truck with a strange symbol. And nobody believes his story because the lighthouse has been closed for years. Now, my head really hurts. I know you quit smoking , but did you pick up on the scotch to make up for it, and when you woke up this morning, this story was on your desk? I’ve got more questions, probably, than you have answers, but I’m not even going to go there.

      All in all, after the second read, it begins to make more sense, but that only worries me that it is making sense. Loved the line that causes the guy to stop him, “Not her, you fool, that’s my wife,” I mean, I imagine it gets really, really lonely in a lighthouse and a skirt’s a skirt. Although I can’t imagine cuddling with the wife you described. Did we ever determine what it was that he wanted your character to exterminate? Ii’d go back and read it a third time, but, I’m out of scotch and I will need more to go through that again.

      Just kidding, old buddy. Got no problems with your story, just wanted to shake your chain a little. Keep ’em coming. Mine will be up soon, but I’m struggling with it. Got a couple of gaps I need to tighten up, and it may just be undoable. Maybe I’ll need to start over.

      • Roy,

        Thanks for helping me get that damn kink out of my chain. Now that you mention it, the only thing my story doesn’t have is a bottle of Scotch and a kitchen sink. Or a coherent plot. (Nobody’s perfect.) Give it another week and we’ll probably both hate it. (Actually, my story is really a cleverly disguised I.Q. test.) Which, unfortunately, I failed.

  • Alice Nelson

    By Alice Nelson ©2018

    Year: 2000

    Waves crashed against the shoreline below the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, as Dudley Scarborough led a small group on a tour of the San Diego landmark.

    “Was opened in 1855 and closed in 1891,” he said, “And that wadn’t no surprise, ‘cause the Fog was as thick as pea soup, and ships had trouble seein’ the light from the tower. Then it wadn’t used for much more ‘n storage after that, until it were renovated in 1963.”

    Dudley worked at the lighthouse since 1975, he started as a handyman, but a few years back, hung up his tool belt to lead tours for the thousands of vacationers who visited the area each year.

    “Well that’s it folks, thanks for comin’.”

    The group stood in the small hallway that led to an old padlocked storage room. Laura, age 8, asked, “What’s this?”

    “Was once the second bedroom,” Dudley said, “But now it’s just fer storage.”

    “Can we see inside?” Laura asked.

    “Naw little lady, employees only.”

    Dudley didn’t say more, but if you asked him after his shift, and plied him with a few glasses of his favorite scotch, he just might tell you the real reason why that room was padlocked.

    “It wadn’t the fog that caused the lighthouse to close,” he’d say, enjoying the warmth of the scotch as it went down, “The real reason it closed is inside that old storage room.”


    The day was overcast, but the sky lit up as a bright flash of lightning streaked across the gray sky, the bolt struck a large branch on the huge cedar in back of the house. It fell, then ricocheted off the old lighthouse, banging against the storage room.

    Ancient items that hadn’t been used in decades, were tossed about the room, tumbling to the floor. A doll, with the name ‘Rose’ stitched on the bib of her soiled blue satin dress, was pinned beneath an old faded red Victorian settee. Her eyes were closed the way they were designed to be if she were placed on her back, which made it look as if she were killed by the sofa.

    But if you had the misfortune of being in that musty storage room just then, and if you also had the misfortune of seeing Rose’s face in the dim light from the window, you just might have had the distinct displeasure of seeing her closed eyes, open up all on their own.


    Year: 1890

    Lettie Daniels stood and watched the waves crash against the shoreline just below the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. These days, she rarely left her daughter Rose’s room, it had become her only place of solace since the 8 year old died two weeks before.

    “You should eat something dear,” her husband Edwin said from the doorway.

    “I’m fine Edwin…I’m fine.”

    Then Edwin saw the catalog in Lettie’s hands, he tried not to be angry with her, but couldn’t help himself. He marched in and snatched it from her, “You will not do this, I won’t allow this thing in my house.”

    Lettie stiffened.

    Edwin realized he was being too harsh, and softened his voice, “I miss her too, Lettie, so very much.”

    Lettie stood up, glared at her husband, and left the room without uttering a word.


    Parent’s burying their young children was all too common in the late 19th century, and some, more unscrupulous entrepreneurs, found a way to capitalize on that grief. One such company was The Westover Doll Mercantile company, who for the exorbitant fee of $10 would make a doll that looked exactly like your deceased child.

    Edwin was against getting one, but Lettie would not be deterred, and purchased the doll against her husband’s wishes.

    The package came almost a year to the date of Rose’s death. Lettie opened it, and held it up for Edwin to see. He tried not to wince, but the look of it sickened him.

    “Don’t do that,” Lettie said, “She’ll think you don’t want her here.”

    “It’s a doll Lettie,” he said.

    “It is no such thing,” Lettie shrieked, “This is our Rose.”


    Edwin woke late one night to his wife’s cries.

    “No!” Lettie said, “Don’t ask me to do that.” She was in Rose’s old room screaming at the doll.

    “Lettie what in god’s name are you doing?”

    “Nothing, leave us alone,” she said, grabbing the doll and running up the narrow stairway that led to the lighthouse tower.

    Edwin ran up after her, breathing heavily as he reached the top.

    “Don’t come near me Edwin, this is what I have to do.”

    “Do what?” Edwin asked.

    Lettie was on the metal walkway that wrapped around the tower, Edwin often stood there with his eyeglass, looking for ships scheduled to come into port.

    “I told her not to come up here,” Lettie said quietly, “But Rose never listened to me. The height scared her and she was afraid to come back down on her own. She asked me for help, but I wanted to teach her a lesson. The last thing she said to me was, ‘Mama, I’m scared,’” then there was nothing.”

    “Oh Lettie,” Edwin said, “It was an accident.”

    “One I could’ve prevented,” Lettie screamed. “Rose is right, I have to pay for what I’ve done.”

    She turned, closed her eyes and leaned over the railing, but Edwin grabbed her before she fell to her death.

    He held her, “I love you Lettie, Rose loved you too, and she would never want you to hurt yourself.”

    Edwin took Lettie’s hand and she dropped the doll as they made their way down the steep stairwell.

    When Edwin did speak about this night, and he didn’t very often, he would say, “It all happened so fast, one minute the doll was behind us, the next it was on top of Lettie. She lost her balance and fell over the railing before I could do anything.”

    Edwin Daniels died later that year in a similar fall.

    8 year old Laura wandered off from the group, who were outside with Dudley surveying the damage from the fallen branch.

    She was sitting in front of the storage room door playing with her My Little Ponies, when she heard a voice from inside.

    “Can you help me?” the voice said.

    “Mr. Dudley said no one’s supposed to be in there. I’ll get him so he can open the door for you.”

    But the door creaked open, and what 8 year old could resist seeing what was in a room they were forbidden to go into.

    “Oh hello,” Laura said, and walked inside.


    Laura was never found. Police thought she wandered down to the shoreline and was carried away by a large swell. No one thought to look in the storage room because…well, because it was still padlocked shut.

    To this day, there is usually someone on the tour who swears they can hear two little girls laughing behind the closed storage room door.

    • Roy York
      Alice, my dear,

      I wish we had more than 1200 words, because I feel this story really needs them. I’ll bet you do, too. So, speaking of ‘too’; I was taught that when ‘too’ is used as ‘also’, it is always accompanied by a comma. This sentence of yours that reads – “I miss her too Lettie, so very much.” – should read -“I miss her too, Lettie, so very much.” Not very often I can point out something in your wonderfully crafted stories, but this is an instance.

      In your next to the last paragraph, I would also put a comma between well, and cause.

      This isn’t a real problem, but I think it would be smoother if the last sentence reads in present tense. To this day, there is usually someone on the tour who swears they can hear two little girls laughing behind the closed storage room door. Only because its opening words – To this day – lend it to present tense.

      That’s all I got in the complaint department.

      All in all, I liked it very much, I just wish you had more words to make it truly, truly creepy. Like when Edwin falls down the stairs. And a little more detail on exactly how Lettie comes to have an American Doll Mercantile doll pushing her down the stairs. Like a description of an American Doll who suddenly looks like Chucky.

      By the way, I’m sure you are aware there is an American Doll Company currently that makes duplicate dolls of little girls, but not exact copies. Just brown hair, brown eyes, correct skin color, etc., etc. When my granddaughter got hers it was freakin creepy. Just sayin’. I know you added Mercantile, but …

      • Alice Nelson

        Roy my friend, thank you very much. I don’t disagree with any of your critiques. I had that last part in present tense, don’t know what I was thinking when I changed it. Also, the real life doll company is called The American GIRL Doll company, but this one is probably too close, so I changed it.

        Thank you for your keen eye, my dear.

    • robtemmett
      I collect relaxed pronunciation words. Thanks Alice, for this new one.
      • Alice Nelson

        Hahaha Robert, you’re welcome, my friend 🙂

  • Roy York
    Nice, quick subtle change. It was American Girl Doll company, and I even looked it up as American Doll company, and it listed several venues, but it was really American Girl, but your probably did the right thing to avoid confusion by changing it to Westover. No sense getting some underpaid staff writer all worked up and on the phone to an attorney, right? By the way, Westover Doll Company is out of Connecticut … just kidding, just kidding. Not really, Westover only makes doll clothes.
    • Alice Nelson

      Hahahaha, you’re a funny guy Roy 🙂

  • Sarig Levin
    One Must Look with the Heart
    By: Sarig Levin

    Fighting the tears, the boy pressed his back against the rough fabric of the tent, his shivering body tossed this way and that by a world gone berserk all of a sudden. Outside, the uprising sand was blocking out a tyrannical sun that had been ruling supreme over the sky but moments before, while the blustery wind was threatening to rip the tent apart. Across the desert, sand dunes were surging and falling, like a caravan of camels desperate to outrun the storm.

    Tears started running down the boy’s face. Tears of fear at first, of the devastation raging outside and for his mother who had gone to fetch water shortly before the storm broke out and had not yet returned, followed by tears of shame. For, though he was still a boy, soon he was to become a man. Then, he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, firmly guiding him away from the jolting canvas and toward the center of the tent, and as he looked up into his grandfather’s calm blue eyes, he already felt braver than he did a moment before.

    “When I was a little boy,” the old man softly spoke, running his hand through the boy’s raven black hair, “I lived in an old house in a land far, far away, and legend told us that a treasure was buried there. To be sure, no one had ever known how to find it; perhaps no one had ever even looked for it. But it cast an enchantment over that house. My home was hiding a secret in the depths of its heart…”

    “What’s a house, papy?” asked the boy, his voice still trembling.

    “A house is a home made of wood and stone,” replied the old man with a smile while his hands were busying themselves fixing kindling wood, “both of which can easily be found anywhere in the land of my youth. But I digress…”

    Though the tent was dancing violently to the howling of the wind, the house the boy had already constructed in his mind from wood and stone stood firm against the fury of the storm.

    “When I was about your age,” continued his grandfather, “my family moved to Bretagne, where my father got a job as a lighthouse keeper. Its previous keeper was called up to fight the neighboring… tribesmen,” he said while piling the kindling, “and someone had to keep up the light, so as to guide lost travelers to safety.”

    “Plenty a night I spent in that lighthouse, keeping my father company, but there was this one night in particular I shan’t forget for as long as I live. A storm had been brewing all throughout the day,” the old man’s sky-blue eyes clouded up as his mind drifted down the river Lethe, “and still, when that storm finally broke, I found myself paralyzed with fear. I never imagined such apocalyptic fury could exist in the world, my boy; thunder that shook the very foundations of the earth and lightning that seemed to incinerate the heavens…”

    And while his grandfather proceeded in describing the tempestuous ocean on that stormy night, the boy closed his eyes and listened to the uproar of the storm raging outside his tent, his mind’s eye perceiving monstrous waves of sand swelling up toward the heavens, then crashing back down upon the surface of the desert.

    “Then, my father and I heard an eerie sound soaring above the uproar of the storm; like a gush of wind sailing along the bottom of a ravine, and as that sound steadily grew into a deafening shriek, the lighthouse shook all of a sudden, as if struck by lightning,” continued the old man, his hands nursing a newborn flame that threw long-fingered shadows across the otherwise pitch-black tent.

    In the silence that ensued, the boy could hear two hearts beating like war-drums in the heat of battle; a grown man and a boy his age inside a home of light and wood and stone, both as petrified as he himself had been but moments before. “Suddenly, the door flew open,” continued his grandfather, though in his mind’s eye the boy saw a flap flinging open, followed by a strange man being hurled into the lighthouse by the assailing tempest.

    “The man turned out to be a war pilot who had just crash-landed onto our coast, and it was his airplane that hit the lighthouse on its way down. He was a short man,” added his grandfather, “covered in mud and bruises. His eyes, however, projected a warm glow of joie de vivre, like beacons of hope in those dark times. ‘I lost my way in the storm,’ he later explained, drying his drenched flight suit by the fire and sousing his courage with the brandy my father had offered him. ‘When my engine failed on me in the middle of this God awful storm, I thought for sure I was a goner. But then I saw the light, beaming from a great distance, and made my way back onto dry land riding the Devil’s tail.’”

    Outside, the sandstorm had engulfed the world in total darkness. Inside, however, the lively fire had become a pillar of courage for the boy, and the smoke escaping the loosely woven tent a pillar of hope for the safe return of his mother.
    “Ever since that day, I’ve always dreamt of becoming an airplane pilot myself,” his grandfather kept on feeding the flame, “and years later, when we again were forced to fight that same neighboring tribe, I finally became one.”

    It was at that point that the boy first realized that this story his grandfather had been telling him might have been the very first time the old man, whom he had always known to be a foreigner among their people, ever spoke about his origin.
    “And so it came to be that my own war-plane was shot down over this desert many, many years ago,” concluded the old man. “I was not as lucky as the other pilot, though, and had it not been for your grandmother’s tribe chancing upon the wreck that remained of my airplane none of us would be here today.”

    The old man fell silent, his hand running absentmindedly through his grandson’s dark hair. The boy wanted so to wrap his arms around his grandfather’s broad shoulders, hide his face in the safety of his musky scent, but he was almost a man now and had to behave as one.

    His heart then gave a leap as the tent flap suddenly flung open in a rampant gush of wind. A leap of fear of the assailing storm at first, immediately followed by one of joy as his mother hurled herself into the tent. She was covered in sand from head to toe, her face wrapped in a hijab and the flame was dancing in her tearful, blue eyes.

    And as she tore her hijab off and clasped the boy to her bosom, her long, ebony hair concealing her son’s tears, she beamed in gratitude at her father, and the light of the flame that guided her way back home to them.

    • sandra woolf
      WOW, Sarig, just a great big WOW! What a wonderful story, I was enraptured from the very first sentence. Great work.
      • Sarig Levin
        Thanks a lot, Sandra. I’m glad you liked it.
    • Nice one, Levin. If was a delight going through your story. Due to the time constraint, I can’t comment anything more than writing that I really enjoyed going through yours.
      Keep writing and good luck.
    • RM York
      Sarig, nice story, nice touch, good use of the them, yet taking us to the desert for the finale. Well done. I got a couple of things anyway that hopefully will help the flow. This first line, IMHO, (in my humble opinion for future use): Fighting the tears, the boy pressed his back against the rough fabric of the tent, his shivering body tossed this way and that by a world gone berserk all of a sudden – would read much more smoothly if the last part reads – tossed this way and that by a world suddenly gone berserk. It’s jerky the way it’s written and made me go back and re-read it. Again, that’s IMHO. Your descriptions are delicious (for example – the flame was dancing in her tearful, blue eyes) and the story is very well done. Its one of my top contenders. Although, I had to sorta suspend belief the mother could see the fire (inside the tent) from any distance during a blinding sandstorm.
  • Yes Sarig,
    A wonderful story and fabulous writing. EXTREMELY fabulous writing. Once you hooked me, I was totally engrossed. I loved the story too. The plot, the message, the way you delivered it, how it all tied together. I loved it.

    I only have one critical suggestion because this one word confused me and made me stop and read the first paragraph THREE times. You wrote: ‘…a tyrannical sun that had been ruling supreme over the sky but moments before, while the blustery wind was threatening to rip the tent apart.’ (I kept thinking, ‘Where is the end of this sentence? And then I figured it out.)

    I suggest that you change the word ‘but’ to ‘only’ or ‘just.’ Or even ‘mere.’ You’re using it as an adverb, which is cool, but I kept reading it as a conjunction. It’s very early in the story, it’s only one word, but it really confused me, and I’m asking very nicely. (You don’t have to do it right now, Sarig. I just mean, you know, before you show it to somebody important.)

    • Sarig Levin
      I appreciate the advice, Ken. Glad you liked the story.
  • Ilana L
    The Lighthouse Keeper
    “Taj, Taj, TAJ! Open the door!” Peter knocked again. “Come on. I know you’re home. Open the bloody door.” He banged again with both fists shaking the heavy door until he rattled its hinges. He put his head close to the door and listened intently for some sound behind it. He thought he could hear something or somebody moving, but he wasn’t sure.
    “Maggie can you come here?” he called to a girl of twenty something sitting in the battered old Holden sedan in the overgrown driveway of the house. She unrolled her body lazily from the front driver seat and sauntered over.
    “Fuck this. Can we go? He’s not answering, is he?” She was dripping perspiration in the muggy heat of the late summer evening. Troubled dark clouds had gathered across the skyline and were closing in. Despite the daylight savings time – it was already getting dark despite the vivid flaming colours reflected on the clouds from the low setting sun.
    “We need him. He’s got the key.”
    At this, Maggie rolled her eyes.
    “We can break a window and get in that way, can’t we? Do we really need a key?”
    “I’d rather not leave evidence of our search. Anyway, it’s a lighthouse. There aren’t any windows until around 20 metres.” Peter turned to face her. “Even you can’t pull a Spiderman stunt and shinny up to that height…?”
    “Well, we wear gloves. Throw a bloody rock at the window. I’ll use a grappling hook and rappel up the side. We need to get in tonight. If your mate here isn’t answering his door, and he’s chickening out, we need to go without him. We don’t need a key. Ok.” She tossed her dark mane of hair back and strode back to the car. She got in and started the engine.
    “Ok, I’m going. You coming or NOT?” She revved the engine for emphasis.
    Cursing, Peter followed her. Getting in the car he glanced back over at the house. He was not certain, but he thought that he saw the edge of a curtain flutter, as they drove off. Taj’s father had been the lighthouse keeper, and his grandfather before him. Taj and his five siblings were born in the lighthouse on the remote island off the Tasmanian coast. When Taj’s parents had disappeared forty years previously, Taj as the eldest child had taken the key. He was fifteen years old. No one knew what had happened to them. The children had been sleeping in the lighthouse keeper’s accommodation. They awoke that morning the beam of light from big lamp still flashing. That was unusual. At dawn with the lightening of the sky and ocean, the lamp would die down. The children rose and breakfasted. Their parents did not return. As Taj once told Peter, “I was worried when they didn’t return after we’d started our correspondence lessons. Mum was always there to call the correspondence school and start us off. I walked over to the lighthouse to check on them. The door was unlocked. That was unusual. They always locked the door at night. It was ajar and there were pools of water on the floor. Sort of like watery footsteps. I called out. No answer. Called again and went up to the lamp station. It was empty. No one there. Just me and my brothers and sisters alone on the island. I called the school and told them. They told the police. We never saw them again. The authorities decided the lighthouse must be closed. It was too dangerous. My parents’ disappearance spooked everyone.”
    Peter had been intrigued. He had found the report of the disappearance a couple of years previous when he was completing his journalism degree. He tracked down Taj. What made it even more interesting was that four of Taj’s siblings had also disappeared over the years. Now there was only Taj and his brother who was two years younger than him left of the family. Taj had agreed reluctantly to an interview and to take him out to the light house that night. Now it was all falling apart.
    Back at the cabin they had rented for the weekend, Peter and Maggie completed their preparations for the excursion across to the lighthouse. Peter put sleeping bags in a waterproof overnight bag.
    “I don’t know why you are going to all this trouble?”
    “Maggie, it’s real life drama. And who knows? Could be good idea for a film script, nuh?”
    They walked down to the pier where the motor boat was bobbing on the heaving seas. The grey clouds hung heavy and ominous over the ocean and a light drizzle of rain had started to obscure their view of the lighthouse on the distant island.
    They were halfway across then the beam of the lighthouse illuminated the dusk closing in around them.
    “I thought they had closed the lighthouse?”
    “It’s probably on a time or light sensitive! Hi tech Peter. Don’t fret.”
    “Shit, what was that?” Peter was trying to keep control of the boat as it bounced over increasingly higher waves.
    “What was what?” Maggie was struggling to bail water from the boat over burgeoning waves threatening to engulf the frail craft.
    “That noise, LISTEN!” He cupped one hand to his ear, but hastily placed in back on the steering wheel when it threatened to wrench control and swung around crazily.
    “Can’t hear anything. You’re imagining.”
    Suddenly there was a grinding crash. Both Maggie and Peter were flung from the boat into the surf waves pounding on a rocky shore.
    “Peter, HELP. I’M STUCK!”
    Peter meanwhile was trying to keep his balance in the rough seas, tried to answer her but swallowed mouthfuls of sea water in the attempt.
    “My rappelling gear. It’s stuck on a ROCK!
    The wind picked up. Spray stung their eyes, but finally after several attempts, they freed Maggie’s gear and stumbled up the path to the lighthouse where the light was blinking a regular pattern of flashes over the storm tossed waters.
    “They must have it on auto. Light sensitive probably. When it’s dark, it starts to work.”
    Maggie pulled up short 10 metres from the lighthouse.
    “We don’t need a key. Look. The door’s ajar.”
    “Weird. It’s meant to be locked.”
    “Yeah. There is a light on inside too. Com’on. Let’s get outa this weather.”
    Peter pushed past Maggie and struggled towards the door. He had an uneasy feeling deep in the pit of his guts. A figure was standing at the entrance.
    Taj. Mate, what the hell are you doing here? “
    Taj didn’t speak just beckoned them both inside. Then, he embraced Peter who stepped inside first. Seconds later, Maggie started to scream as Peter’s skin was split open and the creature that they had thought was Taj ripped Peter’s neck open and started to suction out his bodily fluids with tentacles that emerged from Taj’s grinning mouth.
    Maggie turned to flee but was caught in the arms of similar nightmarish creature.
    The bodies shrank and shrivelled away to nothing as the creatures suctioned and crunched. Finally there was silence and the lighthouse was again plunged into darkness.
    • ‘Gruesome’, ‘grotesque’ are the words I’d like to use to describe your story, Ilana. I ought to have read it once more before commenting. Unfortunately, there is no time left.
      Good luck with your story.
    • RM York
      I mean, Jeez, what did poor Peter and Maggie do to Taj? I mean they were good mates, weren’t they? I guess Monsters gotta eat, and Taj was running out of family, so a good mate must have seemed like a nice meal. Interesting plot, but you always seem to be in a bit of a rush lately. So much for you to do and so little time. Writing is just a small part of your busy life, I guess, but I’d like to see what you do when you have unlimited time to check, polish, and if needed, rewrite your almost always imaginative and well thought out stories.
    • Ilana,
      Great Halloween story. Jesus, when you decide to wrap up a story, you don’t screw around. (You know, I always thought there was something a little strange about that Taj kid. The way he licked his lips every time I shook his hand? It all makes sense now.)
  • Ilana L
    Well what do you know? It’s working again. I can post. TRA LA LA LA I CAN POST AGAIN. OH JOY.
    • Ilana L
      And yes, I know, I missed some of my parentheses or quotation marks. Sloppy woman sloppy.
  • Roy York
    Sea Life

    The lighthouse sat on the highest point on the peninsula, a beacon signaling safe harbor for any watercraft within it’s revolving gaze. The luminous beam oscillated though the darkness beckoning sailors to follow its glow to safety.

    * * *

    The Traveling Lady pitched forward through the foamy waves, slapping down through the troughs with fury, casting spray over the decks above and drenching the courageous seamen who fought to keep her in line.

    Jamie McDougal slapped his First Mate, Mr. Moser, across the shoulders as he spotted the beacon in the distance. “There she be, laddie, the Tennyson Light. She’ll guide us past these treacherous shores and take us straight to Capstone Harbor. Then you and I will share a pint or two afore we take those long waited steps towards home.”

    “I see it Cap’n, and a fine sight she is. It’ll be a pleasure to be home seeing my family. It’s been ten long months and I’m ready to see my kids. And,” Moser turned his head as if embarrassed, “well, you know, to be seeing Daisy, too.”

    “After this long at sea, I’d think she’d be the first one you’d be grabbing for a quick squeeze and maybe a bit of a taking of her prize.”

    “Oh, I will be Cap’n, first thing; and then I’ll set down my seabag and we’ll do it again.” They both laughed heartily at the scene Lionel Moser had just painted.

    “The storm quieted just in time, laddie. The Lady almost took us down to meet Davy Jones himself. Heave ho, then, Mr. Moser, and swing her around. There’ll be a need for full sails tonight with the storm, so let’s get her home before it hits again. Guide us directly toward that beautiful beam, and we’ll be dancing on the bar at Jensen’s till first light.”

    “A’ye, Cap’n.”

    * * *

    Emily Moser pulled the scarf tighter around her shoulders as she left the small home and her nine children. Not one of whom belonged to Lionel who was unaware he was sterile. Emily knew.

    There were two sets of twins, all girls, and the other five were all boys. Uneducated and barely fed, the children were living on the streets only to come home when night fell for a place to sleep.

    When Lionel was home it was a different story. As long as their father was there the children thrived. There was food on the table, meals were held at proper times and the children would gaily pitch in and help so they could spend their evenings with their father. Then, when the day came he would be packing his seabag for another long voyage, the children would fall into despair, knowing their mother would soon spend money on cheap rum, and her nights in a bed other than her own.

    Emily told her children she was going to the bakery for more bread. She also told them she might be late. “Whatever you do,” she said. “do not eat the remaining bread I’ve set on the table,” knowing full well the gnawing hunger of their empty bellies would cause the children to ignore their mother’s last order. She had taken her time lacing the bread with the rat poison, sure it was enough. ‘They’ll eat it for sure,’ she thought.

    As soon as she was out of sight of the house, she turned at the corner and walked directly to the path that led to the lighthouse.

    She walked with determination; her gaunt body leaning forward along the ragged path through the sandy, windswept shoreline; the sea grasses brushing against her skirt as she buoyed herself against the howling wind. She wondered how Eldon was going to take her news. The wail of the sea echoed as the mighty waves slammed over the rocky shoals spraying its salty brine against the lighthouse.

    Reaching the lighthouse, she banged the knocker loudly as she waited for Eldon to answer. She tried the latch and opened the door. Eldon could not be found. After several minutes she decided he must be trimming the wick on the light, or doing something with the supply of kerosene that fueled the light in the dark hours. She smiled with that thought.

    She made her way up the stairs and found him bending over the valve that supplied fuel to the Doty’s Lamp. The lamp, wrapped in a Fresnel Lens, supplied the light for the beacon. He looked up, surprised when she called his name. He had been so intent he hadn’t heard her footfalls on the steps. “What are you doing here? Especially on a night like this. Don’t you know there’s a major storm raging?”

    “I couldn’t wait any longer. Lionel’s ship is due in port and we need to talk.”

    “About what? We’ve nothing to discuss. You made certain of that running back down to the village to look after those brats and leaving me high and dry. You could’ve left them with your sister, Daisy, and came to me, but you wouldn’t do that, would you?”

    “They’re still my children, but we need to talk about the brat in my belly. The one that cannot possibly be Lionel’s; the one that belongs to you.”

    “Ah, go on with ya. The slut you are, it could belong to any man in the village.”

    “I thought you might say that.” With those words she ran to the door leading out to the catwalk surrounding the top of the lighthouse. Not quick enough to stop her, he followed her outside.

    “What are you going to do? Jump? Taking the baby with you to teach me a lesson? Go on, Jump.”

    “Not that at all. I won’t give you the satisfaction.” She ran back in before he could stop her and pushed the kerosene tank over on it’s side, breaking the connection. She then ran to the outside railing on the opposite side.

    He whirled and looked at the damage. The light was already beginning to sputter and die. “You miserable witch. Without a light, you’ve doomed every man on that ship at horizon’s edge. With the storm raging, they won’t be able to avoid the shoals.” His rage blossomed. Running toward her, he leaped to grab her. She sidestepped him and pushed him over the edge as he hit the railing, lost his balance and toppled over the side of the lighthouse.

    She watched him plummet to his death, calmly. ’They may never find him,’ she thought. ‘If they do, it will simply be an accident.’ “Nighty night, Lady Traveler,” she said.

    * * *

    Lionel Moser was aghast. His shout could be heard over the raging storm. “The Light, Cap’n. The Tennyson Light. It’s gone.”

    “Then so are we, laddie, so are we. Say your prayers, Mr. Moser; we’re about to meet Davy Jones.”

    * * *

    After making sure the light was completely extinguished, Emily made her way from the lighthouse along the path leading back to town. Oblivious of the storm raging around her, she hugged her stomach and sang an old seaman’s ballad softly to her unborn child. “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest. Yo, ho ho and a bottle of rum.”

    • I went through whole story with tension. Story creates tension when it does not flow in the direction i mean character does not behave in our line. So many thing crashed but i did not see the direct expression what actually crashed.
      • RM York
        Well, Emily Moser wiped out her lover, her husband and the rest of the crew on his ship, and all nine of her children in the space of a single evening, yet walks away unscathed. That’s some pretty serious tension and a lot of crashing.

        I didn’t think this story, which was difficult to write, and changed forms many times would generate much traction. Her mother was the first to die because she ate her husbands poisoned food before he left for his last voyage, but I had to erase all that mayhem because I didn’t have enough words to fit it in. Something had to give.

    • @ Roy,
      Hah. Quite the villainous old scow, ‘wadn’t she?’ The dialogue was great and sounded quite authentic. Nice description of the elements and the workings of a lighthouse, as well as its lifesaving importance to sailors of that era. As for Emily, the antagonist in your story, I dare say, even in those days, it wouldn’t take a genius to tie all of those threads together to make a fine noose to slip around her serpentine neck. Pretty outstanding writing, Roy, and a nice bit of irony all the way around.
      • RM York
        Coming from you, Ken, I appreciate your kind and thoughtful comments. She is a bit of a loose woman, now, isn’t she? And, her good hearted husband knew all those kids weren’t his, and was still managing to keep his wick wet in the old neighborhood. (A little lighthouse humor there.) I kinda really loved the ship thing. Maybe we should do an old sailing ship story with pirates, scum, scalywags and full bosomed women whose bodices need ripped in a prompt coming up.
    • I don’t know where my comments are going to end up finally. In case you get to see it, let me tell you, Roy, that this is one of your best stories that I have read. Suspense, romance, love, betrayal, revenge – you name it and the story has it all. For the second time consecutively, you will be among my top three.
      A special word of appreciation for your language. SCINTILLATING. I will have a tough time choosing between the Mosers, not to say anything about the fabulous ending. Keep it up, buddy.
      • RM York
        Thanks, Rathin. didn’t expect the story to be that well received. I still think it needs a little work, although, while I hate her character for what she did, she was bit of work, now, wasn’t she?
  • Ilana L
    Gee Roy she was a hard piece. I guess there are women like that in the world, but crikey. Killing her kids, her lover and her poor husband along with all the men on his ship is downright beastly – monstrous woman.
    It’s like she has absolutely no love for anyone in in her heart. Scary. It’s a wonder she didn’t catch syphillis. Many sailors in those days caught it from women on the docks who used to bestow favours on all and sundry.
    Well written story, but I had absolutely no sympathy for her as a human being. She was so cold it was awkward
    • RM York
      Dang it, I coulda put that in there, about the syphilis, I mean. Now, you mention it. Where were you when I needed you? Yeah, I wanted people to hate her. I guess I succeeded. Hope things are going well for you. I’ve heard you’ve embarked on a new adventure? BTW, I never did get that story. Did you get my message on FB?
      • Ilana L
        No I have two fb accounts. Ilya Sid is the only one I can receive messages on. 😢☺️
    • Alice Nelson

      Look below Napster, and you will see the link to the voting page.

  • Adrienne Riggs (Adi)
    Alice, can I still post my story? Not for the contest, just for fun. I haven’t been able to write for fun in a long time and I threw this story together in a couple of hours, but just wanted to participate in the group again. I hope my friends will be gentle with the feedback. LOL
    • Carrie Zylka

      You sure can!!

    • Alice Nelson


  • Adrienne Riggs
    Flying Away
    Adrienne Riggs
    Word count: 1,169
    The beam from the lighthouse pierced the darkness as Mandy walked toward the towering structure. It was a stormy night and gusts of wind tugged at her cloak and buffeted her body as she made her way to the door. Heavy clouds threatened above and lightning danced across the sky illuminating her pale skin. The salt spray from the waves on the rocks below kissed her face with moisture and mingled with her tears.
    She searched for the key hidden in the crevice next to the door frame. Finding it, she unlocked the heavy door just as torrents of rain fell, soaking her to the skin, and pushed her way inside. The silence and darkness of the lighthouse was a stark contrast to the storm raging outside. She leaned against the door to catch her breath, the dripping of water from her clothes made soft splashes against the stone floor. She held a wooden box to her chest.
    The lighthouse had always been a favorite of hers. She’d spent many hours playing around the base of it as a child and climbed the worn steps many times to watch the ships at sea. She had fallen in love with the light keeper’s son and he proposed to her at the top of the lighthouse under a yellow harvest moon. Geoffrey was a hard-working man and romantic at heart. They had celebrated every momentous event in their lives at the lighthouse. When their twin daughters were born, each was carried to the top so that their first views of the world would be of the uniting of land and sea and the light that brought hope and safety to sailors.
    Mandy looked at the steps in front of her, spiraling upwards. Two hundred and nineteen steps; how many times had they laughingly counted them on their treks to the top? Memories of the girls filled her mind and she could see and feel them once again. She could see herself holding their chubby baby bodies and balancing a picnic basket for lunch with Geoffrey as he worked on the lens of the lamp. She remembered holding tightly to tiny hands as they stubbornly tried to climb the steps for themselves after they learned to walk; knowing that by the 50th step they would be tired and would want to be carried. Hope had more stamina than Faith and would race to beat her sister in climbing.
    Caught up in her memories and visions of the past, Mandy drifted toward the steps, unseeing. She began climbing, seeing her beloved daughters running past her, their strong legs carrying them upward. She heard their eager young voices, raised with excitement echoing off the stone walls, their footsteps growing fainter as they ascended to the top.
    “Mommy, come on!” Hope called impatiently. “How many ships will we see today?”
    “Mother, can we feed the seagulls?” This was from quiet Faith, who always made sure to carry crackers in the pockets of her pinafore for the noisy, greedy birds.
    “I can see more birds that you can!”
    “Well, I see more ships than you!”
    “Faith, what type of ship is that to the west?” She heard Geoffrey’s warm voice, always teaching the girls new things. “Hope, how many masts does a schooner have?”
    Mandy continued to climb, lost in her thoughts. As she passed a window, the wind hissed around the glass but Mandy heard a different sound now.
    “Mother, I … can’t … breathe” Faith wheezed, her asthma constricting her lungs. Mandy held her thin body with her face to the fresh sea breeze.
    “Yes, you can, Faith! You must. Breathe slowly and it will be well.” Mandy felt panic in her chest as she tried to calm Faith’s.
    Faith had battled with asthma often. Hope was the sturdier of the two even though they were identical. Memories of the girls played on in Mandy’s mind; crawling, walking, running, losing teeth, climbing trees and playing in the lighthouse. The girls loved to stand on the observation deck with the breezes blowing their long, golden hair back and holding out their arms, they pretended to fly with the birds. When Geoffrey slipped at the top of the steps and fell to his death after attempting to fix the lamp during a rain storm, Mandy told the girls that he was now an angel and he had flown to heaven. On sunny days, she took their daughters to the observation deck so they could feel closer to him in Heaven. This seemed to ease some of their grief.
    It was just a few months later that a savage fever overtook the residents of the little town where they lived. Faith was the first to get sick, her asthma making the respiratory symptoms worse. Hope soon followed and Mandy worked diligently to care for her girls. They were 8 years old now but still shared a bed, enjoying their twin bond. Mandy sat at their bedside, bathing their brows with cool cloths and praying for their healing. They were curled up together like they had done as infants and Mandy had smiled at the memory. The noise of their labored breathing was the only sound in the room saving for the crackle of the logs in the fireplace at the other end of the room. Mandy had dozed next to them, waking to silence and the girls lying motionless together. The paleness of their skin reminded her of porcelain dolls as she accepted the fact that they had entered the world together and left it the same way.
    Mandy shook her head to dispel the sad memory. Looking upward, she realized that she was nearing the top of the steps and the door to the observation deck. The lamp was shining its beam across the frothy waves whipped up by the storm.
    “Mommy, come on! We are waiting for you, we are ready to fly!” the girls called.
    She smiled. “I’m almost there my Darlings.”
    Clutching the box, she stepped out into the rain and wind. She walked to the railing and looked across the water, the light shining behind her.
    Taking the lid from the box, she called, “Are you ready?”
    “Yes, Mommy!” There was eagerness in their voices. “Do it now!”
    Mandy held the box out in front of her, revealing gray ashes, and she allowed the wind to carry them into the sky. As she watched, they swirled and transformed into her daughters who were laughing with their arms held out to her.
    “We are flying Mommy! Come join us!”
    “I will my Darlings!”
    Smiling brightly, Mandy dropped the box, stood on the rail with her arms outstretched and she leapt into the wind to meet her girls. The last thing she felt was the feel of their hands in hers.
    The lighthouse shone its beam on the rocks where her body had landed before the waves surged over it, claiming her and carrying her into its depths.
    • Alice Nelson

      Good to have you back Adi, hope this becomes a regular occurrence. I’ll read it tonight, have some Halloween celebrating to do.

      • Adrienne Riggs
        Thanks Alice! I miss the group and I’m so happy to see Roy back as well! I’m afraid this story is rough and I didn’t have time to proofread it or correct errors. I just had the story in me and wanted to get it out. I hope to participate more in the coming weeks.


    • RM York
      Missed you here Adrienne, although I keep up with the saga of As Adrienne’s World Turns on FB. Here’s one of the reasons I missed you: lines like this ,,, The salt spray from the waves on the rocks below kissed her face with moisture and mingled with her tears. And then you follow it with an awesome story. Well done, Adi, well done.

      My only criticism, and it’s mild, is I wish you had the time or words to give Geoffrey a better death than the throwaway line: When Geoffrey slipped at the top of the steps and fell to his death after attempting to fix the lamp during a rain storm … A little more drama, perhaps? Something leading up to the fall … such as knowing there’s a ship out there for sure and the crew will perish if Geoffrey doesn’t try to keep the lamp burning.

      Even so, change it or not, great story and hope to see more of you on this site. Even though it is already cluttered up with excellent writers.

      • Adrienne Riggs
        Thanks Roy! I’m happy I haven’t lost my touch. I hated not giving Geoffrey a more noble death but was running out of time and words (for the count). I will be going back and editing the story more. Thanks for the feedback!!
  • Ilana L
    Loved your story Adi. Glad you are back. We are like a beautiful family of friends that share a passion for the written word. Our mother / womb.
  • Alice Nelson

    Just waiting on Ken C and Sandra’s votes, then I can post the winners.

  • Sorry folks. I was on vacation again. I still have two stories to read then I’ll vote. Shouldn’t take long.
    • RM York
      You seem to spend more time on vacation than our president. What’s up with that?
  • Alice Nelson

    Just waiting for Sandra, I’ll give her until 2pm MST.

  • In order to stay one step ahead of Nam Raj Khatre, who’s trying to usurp my position as official comedian for the site, I’m posting yet another edition of my zany, (guy who has given up on having any friends) re-naming of all you’ziz stories. Your stories. Since I invested no more than a few minutes on these names, and even fewer brain cells, they’re free. There is no charge or additional fee for reading these alternate names. But you can still give me your credit card number, if you want to. I promise I will not give that information out to anyone else.

    Phil Town – A Visitor Comes Knocking. (The Reports Of My Death Are Actually True.)

    Robt. Emmit – Stony Point Light House – (Pointy Stone House Light.)

    Eli Small – The Lighthouse. – (Futility? You Can’t Handle Futility.)

    Nam Raj Khatre – Blank Face. – (A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Lighthouse.)

    R.N. Bhattacharjee – Gail, the Brave Heart. (I Warn You. No Snickering At The Funeral.)

    Sandra Woolf – Untitled. (Fifty Shady Books To Read.)

    Ken Cartisano – Mistaken Identity. (Meshugenah Mermaid Mashup.)

    Alice Nelson. – Rose. (Any Other Name Wouldn’t Matter Either.)

    Sarig Levin – One Must Look With The Heart. (The Earl Of Sandwich Von Desert.)

    Ilana Leeds. The Lighthouse Keeper. (Ex Delicious Machina.)

    Roy York – Sea Life. (She Shags Shailors By The She-shore.)

    Adrienne Riggs. – Flying Away. (Sorry. Not making fun of yours. I could, but I’m not gonna.)

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