Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Dung

2014 May Day 3 Armstrong Redwood Sign Flash Fiction Prompt copyright K S Brooks
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below. There will be no written prompt.

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture at left. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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17 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Dung”

  1. Kungle, Ho!

    The joyful dung beetle was not so happy today. Recent heavy rains diluted his crop and swamped his neighborhood with treacherous lakes several feet wide. Unlike his relatives, he was not an adept swimmer, but would have to learn if he wanted to collect enough dung to attract a mate.

    “What, oh, what will I do?” fretted Kungle, as he lumbered along, trying to find a route around the lakes and through the traffic.

    Piles of worms had tunneled above ground so as not to drown in the water-soaked soil. Squirming mounds of them caused traffic jams for Jungle and, worse, they were drawing a common enemy – birds. Spring also brought breeding toads, more fodder to the feast for birds. And he couldn’t hitch a ride on a bumpy toad because they aren’t good swimmers. Now if he could find a frog…

    Clamp! “Waiiiitttt!” Kungle was snatched, high into the air he was carried. His fear disappeared as the panoramic view of the world from above mesmerized him.

    “If only I could fly! Look at all I have been missing!”

    Gone were his thoughts for a female, a desire to swim, the clumsy life of being land-bound. He wanted to soar and feel the wind across his antenna.

    Suddenly, the bird lost his grip on Kungle.

    “Aaahhh!” free-falling, Kungle stretched his body, wings popped out from beneath his shell covered back.

    What a day of discovery for Kungle.

    He could fly!

  2. Accident
    By JPMarentay

    So I got the call late at night. “There’s been an accident.” There’s never a good time to get a call like that, but they always seem to come at night. “She fell. It’s bad. Ambulance is taking her to the hospital.” My wife. Out of town and really, out of touch. Travelling for work, seeing the international set. Leaving me behind.

    We had that talk before she left. She told me I was stifling her. Killing her. She said she had taken lovers. That I was the past and she lived in the present and we had no future. She wanted me gone before she got home.

    Hospital called me the day after, said they needed to operate or she was going to die. I had to give my consent. I let them know I would be there the next day.

    The company was nice. Took care of everything. Flew me out there, put me in a nice hotel, fed me. Took care of the hospital. They were overcompensating. Scared I was going to sue, I think.

    Saw her as she came out of surgery. Drain placed in the back of her head. Some brain damage, but no way to assess the total until after she wakes up.

    She wakes up a toddler. Has to wear diapers. The hospital teaches me how to wipe her ass.

    Guess we do have a future after all.

  3. It’s not as bad as it sounds, he says as he eats fried chicken right out of the bucket, his fingers covered in grease and grime.

    Dude, you’re cleaning horse stalls, I say, knowing I can be straight up because nothing offends Jace.

    Yeah, but horse dung isn’t as smelly as you think. And, it doesn’t spread disease like dog crap does. Dude, your dog is way nastier than those horses. And those stalls? Cleaner than this car. He looks over his shoulder at my back seat.

    Whatever, I say and shake my head. I just hope you’re paid well to shovel horse manure all day.

    Pay’s okay, he says, licking his fingers, and throws the empty bucket into my back seat. I’m not like you, he says.

    Me? What about me?

    Too proud to work, he says bluntly, and smiles at me. There’s fried chicken caught in his teeth.

    I curse him up and down. Then, I hand him the joint.

    He smiles. Like I say, nothing offends him.

  4. I live on a farm and every time I go out to the road, I get upset because of the amount of horse dung on the road.
    I came up with a great idea. I got an old broom and shovel. I dug a hole for the dung, so I could cover it with dirt. I also, put up a sign that reads; please place horse manure here. Thought manure sounded better than dung.
    After a month, my idea was working and people responded in a positive manner. No more dung on the road.

  5. “PLEASE DISPOSE OF HORSE MANURE HERE,” the sign read. He hung a ratty old broom and beat-up shovel behind the sign and stood back to inspect his work. Perfect! He chuckled.

    His neighbors had objected when he painted his mailbox bright red. When he dyed the rocks around his little garden in gaudy colors, the Association made him remove them. Only gray-beige-brown uniformity was acceptable. Even the draperies in his front window were the wrong color. Well, he had had enough. He had paid good money for his condo, like everyone else, and felt he could do what he wanted with it. If he wanted to paint it purple with silver trim, he would. But right now that wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted to aggravate the neighbors the way they had aggrieved him, and he felt the horse manure sign was the way to do it. The sign, and the post it was fastened to, and the shovel, and the broom were all the right colors. So what was there to object to? He chuckled again, went inside, and drew his bright orange draperies.

    Later he heard what sounded like a truck. That was odd. Ordinarily, the Association did not allow trucks on their private roads. He stepped outside and saw a loaded dump truck with “Hillcrest Ranch – Horses Boarded” painted on the door.

    “No! No!” he shouted. Too late. The truck dumped its substantial load, as directed by his sign.

  6. When Lord Hanson saw Detective Milo Graves holding a paper bag, he knew Milo solved the case, “I’m ever so relieved to see you here at last! Who stole it?”

    “It was Jerry, your jockey, he thought that he deserved more than the purse for winning the Steeplechase. So he pinched the necklace right off your wife as he rode by her, on his way to the winner circle.”

    The Lord further questioned Milo, “But you searched him and he did not have it on him, where did you ever find it?”

    Milo grinned, “Let’s just say I had a lot of digging to do, to finally uncover it.”

    The Lord looked at him, “What ever do you mean?”

    “Jerry thought he outsmarted everyone by depositing it in the perfect hiding place. Fortunately, I realized, in a day or two he would have to return to the stables to retrieve it. Sure enough, he lead me straight to the horse stall where the necklace would end up.”

    “But we searched all the stalls and came up empty handed.”

    Milo’s grin widened, “That’s because it wasn’t deposited there before we searched, but afterward.”

    Confused, Lord Hanson, muttered, “He didn’t have it, but he stole it; then he hid it, but he didn’t hide it where you found it. I got it, he had an accomplice, the horse.”

    Milo lifted the brown stained diamond necklace out of the bag, “I think it needs a good cleaning, sir.”

  7. “Who took my parking spot?” the Park Ranger thought. He peered closer at the sign “PLEASE DISPOSE OF HORSE MANURE HERE”.

    Horse manure? Who carries horse manure around with them? And there are never any horses in this park—the trails are for pedestrian traffic only.

    The ranger sighed as he parked in his usual spot. It’s April Fool’s Day and someone is playing a joke on him. That had to be it. The shovel and the broom were a nice touch, he had to admit. He walked into his office to prepare for the park’s big festivities today—a concert, featuring one of those Beatles tribute bands.

    The band was bringing everything, including the stage and seating for the audience. His only job was keeping the parking lot cleared. He heard the beep … beep … beep of a large vehicle backing up and assumed it was the band. He could hear the truck engine idling and a sudden knock at the door startled him.

    “Is that your car?” the truck driver asked is a gruff voice. “You’re gonna have to move it so’s I can set up the concert stage.”

    “Of all the spaces in the lot, why do you need that particular one? That is my usual spot.”

    “Didn’t ya read the sign–Deposit Horse Manure here?”

    “Yeeeessss,” the ranger replied, not fully comprehending.

    “Right—I’m here to deliver the stage.”

    “The stage is horse manure?”

    “What else do you expect the Dung Beetles to perform on?”

  8. “It’s just like I remember”, Jim said. The sign, still perfectly legible, politely advised the reader where they could dispose of their horse manure. A shovel and broom, stored behind the sign, were provided to aid in the task.

    Angela took a deep breath and smiled. “Hasn’t been used in years but it still has the same smell I remember when we came out here as kids.”

    She looked down at the ornate urn she had been cradling during the long car trip. “Do you think he was serious about this?”

    Jim shrugged. “Grandpa always had a good sense of humor.”

    “It was in his will.” She paused, remembering the words delivered to them by the estate lawyer.

    “And it is the wishes of the deceased that his remains be cremated, then scattered over the manure pile behind the barn on a warm spring day.”

    It was indeed a lovely day, one of the first days of spring when the sun actually felt warm. Sunlight filtered through the thick canopy of the maple tree and Angela turned her head upwards to feel the warmth on her face. She nodded. “Can’t argue with the law. It makes sense for him anyways.”

    Angela removed the top of the urn, then turned towards her brother. “Would you like to say something?”

    Jim thought for a moment. “Thanks Grandpa.”

    Angela nodded. “Me too,” she said quietly as she tipped the urn upside down, releasing the contents of fine ash into the earth.

  9. Robert Josiah Wellman had enjoyed his sinecure in the state senate for twenty-four years.
    Up for re-election again, he anticipated an easy victory. After all, he had pork-barreled his way through the finance committee for decades — numerous eponymous structures dotted the landscape in his honor.

    He briefly reviewed his prepared script — rife with grandiosity, self-congratulation and extravagant promises for the future of his constituency.

    But, as Bob Dylan once sang: “The times they are a-changin’..”. Wellman never noticed.

    Predictably he delivered his address in stentorian tones complete with dramatic pauses and an unflagging conviction in the rectitude of his convictions. Strangely, the anticipated applause was subdued…virtually nonexistent.

    “Hmmm,” he thought, “The only thing that matters is their vote. Come election day they’ll come around.

    As he left the podium he discarded his notes in a convenient waste receptacle, not noticing the sign posted alongside it: DEPOSIT HORSE MANURE HERE.

    Now FORMER Senator Wellman lost in an historic landslide. Times had, indeed, changed.

  10. “The signal stopped.”


    “One o’clock. There’s a clearing.”

    “When we catch this bastard, I’m going to put a bullet in his head.” Trevor aimed his gun towards the clearing. He and Kent walked slowly through the trees, emerging near a small field.

    They kept close to the tree line, surveying the area. There was a stable nearby and a small farmhouse in the distance…no people.

    “Why do we spend so much time chasing these freaks.” Kent mumbled as he tapped buttons on the handheld receiver.

    “They are more than just freaks. They are killers. This guy wiped out three squads alone.”

    “I thought the tracker suppressed their abilities?”

    “Apparently, something went wrong.”

    Kent stared at the receiver, “If this thing is correct our guy is hiding over there.”

    The men moved from the trees to the fence around the pasture.

    Kent paused, “That can’t be right.”


    “He should be right there.” He pointed to a pile of hay and dirt beneath a small sign with a broom and shovel.

    They walked closer to the pile. The lights on the receiver blinked faster.

    Trevor frowned. “He’s 6’4…there is no way he’s hiding in that pile of crap.”

    “Maybe he removed the tracker.”


    They turned their backs to the pasture taking their binoculars and slowly scanning the property. They were so focused that neither realized the pile of manure had grown into a large brown hay-filled wave. They were engulfed before either had time to scream.

  11. The Transitive Nature of Pony Poop
    by JPMarentay

    Sweat ran down my brow as I bent forward, straining to lift one more shovel. I hate it. Cleaning this nasty, smelly, awful paddock once again. You see, keeping a pony is a lot of work. Feeding it. Exercising it. Brushing it. Cleaning up it’s poop. Especially cleaning it’s poop. Seems like there’s more poop than feed, which seems impossible to me, but well, there ya go.

    Me? I hate animals. Katie was the one who wanted it. Pleaded for it. “Please, Daddy, I’ll do everything. Please. Can I just have one small pony?” She just kept asking me over and over until I finally broke down. Truth to tell, she didn’t have to beg all that much. Everyone knew how wrapped around her finger I was.

    For the first little while, she was as good as her word. Always out there working. Smiling. Laughing. She loved this stupid thing. Brushed it every day. Named it Snowball. Heck, it’s not even a white one. Once she got her mind on something though, it was just how it was. She’d whistle as she shoveled. Weirdest thing, you could smell the manure in the air as she whistled and worked. Every day. I was proud as a peacock of her.

    Then came the accident. Now all I have left is this.

    Goddamn pony.

  12. Oh Poo!

    The baby was crying. “It’s your turn to check on the baby Norm,” said Rachel.

    “Oh come on.” He got up. Picking the baby up he could smell a soiled diaper. “If I didn’t know any better I’d have bought a broom and a shovel; you crap more than a horse on laxative,” said the lucky father to the infant. It was 2am and he was having to change the baby’s diaper a second time that night. “Rach! Just what have you been feeding him?”

    “Norm, if I had known changing diapers was going to be a problem for you I would have put competent dad on my wedding registry! And don’t you know where to put these diapers?” She picked some up off the floor. “You’re stinking the house up.”

    “Who? Me?”

    “Yeah, you.”

    “Listen, I’ve got to be up in four hours to get to work.”

    “Well so do I Norm, so do I.” He finished changing the baby but left the dirty diaper behind. “Um, Norm?”


    “You did it again.”

    “Did what again?”

    “Left the diaper there! What do I have to do to get you to understand? You know what?” She pulled some paper out of a drawer and wrote: Please dispose of baby poop here…THIS MEANS YOU NORM!! She taped it to the diaper genie.

    Just then the baby had another bowel movement. Norman scoffed, uttered an expletive, – a synonym for dung, – kissed Rachel and said: “It’s your turn honey, love you.”

  13. He had been shoveling out the stalls for hours when he overheard his dad and stepmother, June, arguing.

    “Enough is enough,” his dad said.

    “His cousin just needs a few more chores done,” replied June. “That huge flock of birds is stripping the fruit trees. And the apples will need harvested soon.”

    “I think he’s done more than enough for your lazy nephew. He killed the mountain lion that ate Ed’s stupid dog. He hunted down the wild pigs that were tearing up the yard. He even slaughtered a deer to feed Ed’s family over the winter.” His dad sounded frustrated. “Can’t we give the kid a break?”

    He heard the anger in his stepmom’s shrill voice. “He still needs to learn his lesson. He’s an arrogant hothead, fighting all the time, mistreating his wife, thinking he’s better than everyone.”

    He set aside the shovel as an idea hit him. Pulling out his cell phone, he texted his buddy Jason, chief of the local volunteer fire department. Soon he had a high pressure hose connected to the nearby fire hydrant. Within a few minutes every one of the stalls was immaculate.

    Walking back toward the house, he grinned at his scowling stepmother. “Bring it on,” he said to her. “I can handle whatever you dream up or my name’s not Hercules.”

  14. The Edge of Field and Forest
    By D. Douglas Mains

    The shade of the maple tree consoles me at the edge of field and forest where I stand toe-to-toe with a sign that reads “PLEASE DISPOSE OF HORSE MANURE HERE”.

    The surrounding land reminds me of my Aunt’s old farm. I’d hear her boast to the family, “such a nice boy”, over the cringing and slamming of the screen door behind me. Past the peeling house and rickety barn; beyond the horses and corn crops, springing from the flat land, was a lively and enchanted forest. Chiseled live oaks and wise old pines guarded it faithfully.

    Adults rambled bored in the farmhouse while I cleared the brush, peering into the woodland as if drawing a curtain to survey my audience. I abandoned the field and all-knowing hot sun as a quiet, shy, and nice boy. I entered as Robin Hood, encouraged by the kind clapping of the river on the banks. And dazzled branches stirred enthusiastically. There I shined in the spotlights that pierced the canopy.

    I’d forgotten the memory until now.

    I inhale but the breath is spoiled by dung. The stench lunges to the back of my throat, demanding my attention to the sour task at hand with a hacking cough. I stand at the edge of field and forest but I cannot draw the curtain.

    This will have to do.

    I bury what I came to bury along with that distant memory beneath the sickening mound of manure, bidding the curtain forevermore shut.

  15. A plain sign was the secret behind my garden; the envy of gardens among the plots of city gardeners. Horse dung was considered “hot” as a natural fertilizer but with composting and ageing like many things it was a winner.

    The garden is in an urban area with ample parking. And many like me have the desire but not the space to garden. If you drove you’d never see the sign. The city collects the mounds once they get a certain size.

    One fall day I decided to walk the half mile or so from my house for the exercise. You’re allowed to have a compost bin all year for your plot. About half the gardeners do this and it’s best to start in the off season. Seeing an opportunity I literally took a little red wagon, bagged the manure and started composting. I learned a lot about composting and manure that year. After mixing with other waste in no time the smell was barely noticeable.

    The results surprised me and I relearned the lesson that small details make the difference. My wife has sworn to keep my secret but I’m not sure how long that will last. Eventually I’ll tell and get a laugh from the other regulars. But in the meantime I’m having fun. Plus by then I’ll have more knowledge about gardening that will keep me a little ahead of our core group. Who knew that gardening was a competitive sport?

  16. In an ancient Indian village there lived a farming labour. He was highly neglected, but was determined to make his child an educated, respectable person in society. When the boy turned eight, he took him to a prestigious school. It was two days journey to a distant town. Midway was a jungle.

    On a great deal of insisting school enrolled the boy. The homesick child saw a new way of life. Adjusting with townish etiquette proved tough.
    Within three months, most teachers declared the boy unsuitable for their school’s repute. Some commented that his brain was too dungy to train. The innocent was expelled with due scolding.

    Before the school could summon guardian, the hurt lad escaped for home. He ran fast till the forest. But then realized, he was unsure about the way ahead. Still, jungle seemed safer than the school. He continued to run. Hours passed. Area got denser. Sunlight and his confidence became low. He lost way. Running toward anywhere seemed useless.
    Like a magic, he discovered an old man standing before him. Tangled rough hair, thick moustache and beard, but calm affectionate eyes— strange, but trustable.

    — ‘Tell me what troubled you?’
    — ‘Teachers called me dungy, useless!’
    — ‘Dungy, useless? Come to my garden’

    ‘See these fruits and vegetables? I grew. Want to know what I manured this with?’
    — ‘What?’
    — ‘Cow-dung’
    — ‘Really?’
    — ‘Yes. From now you’re my disciple. I’ll make you a true teacher’
    — ‘Yay!’

  17. Scoop, the shovel, couldn’t believe his eyes. After months of waiting for another broom at the stables, it finally happened. Two disheveled scooper-uppers waded through the horses’ hardened straw balls, shoveled them into the idling dump truck, then drove away.
    A broom shivered in the slot next to his. Did the cleaners leave it behind?
    The pungent aroma from the moistened ground permeated the night air. It suddenly seemed less offensive to Scoop. Humming his favorite tune, he leaned closer to the yellow-headed beauty. The casualness of her presence captivated him. The moon seemed to glow brighter, giving more dazzle to dozens of stars blinking above. His square jaw trembled.
    “Gonna be here long Snookums,” he whispered.
    “Get lost, creep,” she screeched.
    Shocked, he shivered to the far side of his slot. The repugnant odor became offensive again.
    “Oh, I’m sorry, fella,” she cried. “I was propelled here by a wicked witch.”
    Scoop cautiously asked, “Why?”
    “The miserable wretch got astride and wrapped her splotchy hands around my shaft. ‘Tally ho! Faster! Faster,’ she cackled. I shouted, Why don’t you ride side-saddle, like a lady, instead of mounting like a warlock.
    “Furious, she jumped off and swirled me here to punish me for being insolent.
    “I don’t know how long I’ll be here. She may whisk me back to her bottom any secon…..” she began, and suddenly vanished.
    Scoop leaned back in his slot, dejected, softly crooning his favorite, “…..bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I……..”.
    The stars stopped blinking.

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