Lights and Sounds: A Short Fiction Challenge

Staircase used as a prompt for short fiction challenge

This was originally published on the Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC (CSWCLLC) blog page on 13 December 2018 as part of a writing challenge.

My new friend, Jim Webster, suggested that maybe I could come up with something for Esther Chilton’s challenge. This week’s “I Challenge You” picture is this staircase. Below is where my imagination took me. I hope you enjoy it.

Lights and Sounds 
©Lynn Hallbrooks
​13 December 2018

I was awakened by a sound. As I threw on my robe and slippers, I saw a flash of light coming through the door. I peaked out and saw my children rubbing their eyes. Before I could reach them, they were going up the stairs.

I followed them. Tommy was in his one-piece bunny suit. He loves that comfy gray-brown thing…he’s five and almost grown out of it. I’m allowing him these last few days of childhood before he has to go to school.

Ahead of him was Alice. She recently turned seven. She loves school. Science is her favorite subject. She’s wearing her Wonder Woman pajamas. Her soft sole slippers barely make a sound as they climb. She peeked over the round staircase and put a finger to her lips. Tommy got closer keeping as quiet as he can.

I’m only a few steps behind. At a foot taller than Alice, I see the lights. Some purples, golds and reds all blending together. They were above the roof shining through the window. As they got brighter, we shielded our eyes.

“Mom,” Tommy whispered. “What is it?”

“It could be a helicopter. Maybe the police are looking for someone.” I whispered back. “Let me in front, Alice. Hold the rails and follow me as quiet as a mouse.”

“Okay, Mother.” I could almost feel the eye roll. Somehow my seven-year-old daughter had turned into a teenager the last few days.

We go to the next level. The kids were a step a piece behind me. I look up. The lights strobe. There were four flashes then it changed pattern again. Definitely not a helicopter or the police. I hear a deep bass hum.

It reminded me that Thomas, my husband, was deployed overseas with his Marine unit. His parents were kind enough to take us in to their beautiful home but they were away on a cruise. The hum got closer. I felt the stairs quiver. I’ve dealt with many things in my time as a military wife, however, this is beyond my experience. My heart raced but I knew I had to appear calm for the children’s sake. We crept up one more level.

“A space craft,” whispered Alice.

Before I could respond, the top of the stairs seemed to shimmer. I saw beings coming towards us. They emitted some kind of high-pitched sound. I covered my ears and looked back. The kids were doing the same. When I turned around. The beings were close. They grabbed me. I struggled. They had the children. I pushed them away. Nothing happened. They don’t move. Not even a centimeter. I felt dizzy.
I’m lying on a table. It’s cold and dark. No that’s not right. I see a faint light. I turn. The kids are on their own table…no, a gurney of some kind. We are in a hallway. More gurneys. Now I hear voices. There are people with clipboards. They have on bunny suits. Not like Tommy’s though. Theirs are blue and they have visors on them. Maybe we are in a hospital. That can’t be right, can it?

I looked down. Restraints across my legs and stomach. Not tight though.

The voices were getting louder and closer. “These people can wait a little longer. Let’s check the others.”

They are nearer. They are checking people. One of them is close to my children.

“Hey, leave them alone. They’re just kids. They haven’t done anything.” At least that’s what I tried to say. It came out garbled.

“She’s awake. I think the effects of the gas are wearing off but her speech is slurred.” A female voice. “Don’t worry ma’am. We’re not going to hurt you. Some kind of gas leak was in your neighborhood. Your children are still sleeping. Their vital signs are stable. You rest here. We have many other patients to check on. Don’t move…rest…someone will be back to check on you.”

Gas? What about those lights? Something isn’t right? Dizzy again.
I felt a tug on my hand. I opened my eyes a little at a time. The light was bright but tolerable. I looked at my hand. Tommy was holding it.

“Mom, are you, all right?”

“I feel like I have cotton in my mouth. Did your bunny rabbit come and visit me?”

Tommy cocked his head to the side. Looking at me from different angles. “I don’t see any cotton in your mouth, Mom.”

I chuckled. “I meant my mouth is dry. Is there any water?”

Alice handed me a small plastic cup. “Here. The doctor said you could have a small amount when you woke up.” I took it and sipped some. “They seem to think it was a gas leak. The colored lights that we saw were the helicopter lights being reflected off the gas. I’m not so sure.”

I looked around. We weren’t in the hallway anymore. I’m in a bed. I try to sit up. Alice pushed a button that lifted my upper body closer to a sitting position. I’m not as dizzy as I was. “Thanks, Sweetheart. What’s your theory?”

“I think we were visited by aliens from outer space. They used their lights as they were landing. They had us for a short time and returned us before we could be missed. They had some kind of problem lifting back up and they had gasses coming out of their ship. That’s what the neighbors saw and was what had everyone feeling bad. I think they may have tried to correct their mistake but it was too late. They didn’t want to be seen so they left before the firefighters and ambulances got to us.”

“I suppose you could be right. Did these space aliens leave any clues?”

“Blue’s clues?” Tommy hopped up and down.

Alice looked at her brother as if he belonged on another planet. “No, I think they were smart enough not to leave anything behind.”

I smiled. “The important thing is we’re alive.”

Thanks for the interesting writing challenge, Ms. Esther.

Happy Holidays to all,

Lynn Hallbrooks
Author/founder of Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC

Join SPN to comment or share videos and photos with other members in the social media feed or groups. List your business in the free local business directory too!

Related Articles


  1. Gave me goosebumps. I am certainly open to us not being the only creatures in the universe. I am not usually a fan of science fiction, but this had a ring of truth in the middle of the tale. It was very good.