Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Ash

Boyds Firefighters flash fiction prompt 08252018 3L0A0673
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, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

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

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms. Please note the rule changes for 2018.

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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Ash”

  1. Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed. Like this morning. I was snug as a bug in my tent when some jerk thought it would be a good idea to try and drop a bomb on it. Lucky for me it hit three tents over. Even so we packed up and are moving to another location.

    So, this is what it’s like to be homeless. Every time you settle in into a nice spot, somebody always comes along and starts pushing you out. Got to admit it though. At least they get to go when and where they want to. I have to go where I’m told. At least for now.

    My wife, who is as cold as this mornings ground, just sent me a “Dear John Letter”. Seems my Best Friend and her have hooked up and are doing the toe curling boo-gey. I got news for him. If he takes her off my hands, he would truly be my BEST FRIEND.

    As if life wasn’t tough enough. This guy in front of me got a bad can of rations and has been puking and farting all morning and I got to stay in line because of land mines.

    Bummer. All this wood and can’t build a fire because it might give our position away.

    We’re heading to the front. Going to see hell up close and personal. So, being pissed off is probably a good thing. Just might make it out alive.

  2. “Wipe that smile off your face, Rookie,” the chief engineer barked. “This is serious business.”

    “I know, I know. I’ve got no business being happy. But look at it this way, Chief, we’ve had weeks of nothing but minor medical calls. That always lead to trips to the hospital. That always lead to happy endings. It gets boring after awhile. Same old thing, over and over. I like helping people, but I am a firefighter, not a doctor.”

    “Yeah, you’re right. I agree. But still, you can’t look overjoyed after a fire. The people want to see firefighters with soot and frowns on their faces.”

    “I can’t help it. I love the rush. The danger. I live for that.”

    “You’ll get over it.”

    The rookie was still smiling.

    “Okay, maybe you won’t get over it. Look, whatever you do, do not smile when the news photographers take our picture. You smile or look the least little bit happy, and I swear I will make your life a living hell… No, you would probably like that, with the fire and all.”

    The two men laughed. Just then a news photographer took their picture. Luckily, both firefighters had their backs to the camera.

  3. Hey Bob. Watch out for that widow maker. Looks like it could fall any time. You know I told you I’ve been getting a lot of my free reading material over at Indie. Because of all the great books they supply for free. Some prices people charge for books just burn me up.

    Hold that line. It looks like it could flare up. Lately I’ve been looking at their contest entries in something called flash fiction writing. It’s about people looking at a picture Indie shows them and they are supposed to write a 250 word or less story about what they can create from the picture. Watch out your about to step into a smoldering hole.

    You know I have wanted to try that myself just to see if I might be a writer. It’s always been a dream of mine. Fire-fighting gets you out of the house but not into the mind. Picks and shovels only get you so far. Man, this smoke is a killer today. Sure, glad I kissed the Wife and Kids today. This one could get real nasty. Don’t worry brother, I got your back.

    I saw a resent entry that blew me away. The guy didn’t know the difference between fire-fighters and the military. When is that plane with supplies supposed to drop here? Did you give the right coordinates? He wrote a story about solders when he should have written about us. Imagine him thinking we were warriors.

  4. The Invasion of the Dream Snatchers

    The two uniformed inspectors walked slowly through the ash. It covered the ground like a fine, grey dust.

    “What do you think?” asked Harry, as he carefully made his way through the ash.

    “It looks like the Dream Snatchers have struck again,” replied Jim. He surveyed the scene with a discerning eye.

    “Dream Snatchers?”

    “Yes,” Jim answered, with concern in his voice. “Some believe the Dream Snatchers come at night, while you sleep. They creep into your room, peer into your mind, and snatch up your dreams before you awaken. Others believe they come during the day, while you’re busy, and steal your dreams while you’re distracted. After they make their appearance, the Dream Snatchers leave behind a grey, odourless ash. Some say this ash is what remains of peoples’ dreams after they are stolen and destroyed.”

    “What happens to the people who have had their dreams stolen?”

    “I hear they become broken people, shadows of their former selves.”

    Harry stopped walking and faced his partner. “You don’t believe this nonsense, do you?”

    Jim rubbed his chin. “Doesn’t matter what I believe—”

    Just then, they heard a cry for help.

    The two inspectors rushed to the side of an elderly man, laying in the ash. He reached up to them with an outstretched arm. “You must stop them,” he whispered.

    “Stop who?” asked Harry.

    “The Dream Snatchers,” the old man replied. “Don’t let them steal your dreams.”

  5. The newspaper editors were in their afternoon budget meeting. “We have some great art of the forest fire in California,” Andy the photo editor said, projecting images on the wall.

    The night editor looked confused. “It’s snowing there? I thought they were in a drought.”

    “Snow?” Andy replied? “Where are you seeing snow?”

    The publisher Miles agreed. “It does look like snow. Where in California are they?”

    Diane, the resident know-it-all, said, “They are in a drought. This is in the central valley. A lot of agriculture is there—“

    “That’s not snow,” Andy said, finally seeing what the others did. “That’s the ash from the fire covering the ground. The smoke kind of makes it look like it’s winter, but they are definitely in a heat wave.”

    “OK,” John the night editor said. “Does this go on a color page or a black-and-white page?”

    Miles spoke first. “Oh, definitely color. I don’t think it would look right in black and white. If we’re having this much trouble distinguishing the smoke and ash from snow and fog, what will the readers think?”

    There were several deep sighs and a few mumbles. “They probably would just turn on CNN or the Weather Channel to see what is going on. Nobody reads the paper any more,” John said.

  6. Walking this area of forest sorting through the rubble and ash to determine cause can’t compare to the fire that gutted the family home when I was eight. As chief arson investigator, I ensure I leave no stone unturned.

    But as the eldest, shaken awake shortly past midnight to witness what was forever etched in my consciousness, the angst remains. Mom was eight months pregnant with my baby brother then. Dad and the older five rounded out the team. The blaze started from the government-run crazy house next door. The memory of the subsequent chaos ensures I keep alert while walking through any fire ravaged scene today.

    “Looks like a makeshift campsite caused the cabin’s demise judging from the charred remnants, Chief. Homeowners have not been here in years but were quick to file a claim.”

    The firefighters never made it in time. Even after, as my parents sorted through the burnt piles, questions persisted on how our home was hit. No investigator gave us answers therefore insurance limbo followed. No payout. Yet we picked up and moved on. Mom gave birth to Eugene two weeks later; adding two additional brothers after that. Dad rebuilt over the lot a much larger dwelling which sold quickly when values swelled as the nest emptied.

    “Chief, take a look at this. The damage is contained to just the cabin but the surrounding forest remains intact.”

    “Seems like arson. File the report, Deputy; notify the agent. Homeowners are expecting otherwise but recommend no payout.”


    Harry hated being a firefighter because he’d known the world before. Bob loved it because he hadn’t. Harry’s profession, among other things, had changed drastically the day giant reptiles appeared and started raining fire from the heavens. Harry missed his old life of charging into infernos to save others. The danger before was exhilarating, now it was just terrifying. He was glad that his daughter, Meredith, was underground, safe from the charred surface. The men searched through the trees and ashes for survivors, glancing skyward occasionally.
    Bob walked past Harry and stooped, picking something up from a smoldering pile. Harry couldn’t see it, but he heard Bob chuckling through his face mask.
    “The hell’s so funny?” Harry asked, pulling his foggy respirator off.
    “All of it.” Bob turned, removing his.
    “You sound crazy, Bob. How’s searching through an ash-covered graveyard even remotely funny?”
    “Before we lost our spot at the top of the food chain, all we did was fight and kill each other, anyways. We were killing each other way before they started recording history. Multiplying, using each other, destroying the land. Then we patted ourselves on the back for our grand accomplishments.” Bob finished.
    “So fire-breathing pterodactyls are a good thing, then?” Harry asked.
    “They’ve unified humankind against them, at least. Plus, I heard global temperatures are down due to casualties.” Bob tossed Harry the trinket. He caught it and looked down to see a sooty, stuffed dragon toy. “Give it to Meredith, best she familiarizes herself early.”

  8. ASH

    1942 to 1944

    World War II was going strong, and my Dad was able to get a job in Stockton, California, at the defense plant there. So we moved to Stockton.

    We moved into a two-story home but were able to use only the downstairs. The upstairs was completely locked off to us. The family was Japanese and had been moved to a Concentration Camp. My five-year-old brother was exploring and found one of their household statues in a cupboard. My Mother and Dad were upset and put it away somewhere for the Japanese family when they would get out of the Camp after the War.

    After we moved to Chowchilla to be near my mother’s parents, another rental family moved into the house we had rented from the Japanese family, and some time later there was a fire. A neighbor wrote to my Mother telling her about it. The neighbor said shortwave radios and other equipment were stored in the rooms upstairs and in the attic. We never learned what that meant, but there was a lot of investigation the neighbor told her.

  9. The Clark fire left the Watts’ home in ashes. There was almost nothing left, except for some of the plumbing, kitchenware and some keepsakes. Even some of the pipes actually melted in the intense heat.

    The Watts were able to retrieve their fine silverware, three stone sculptures to restore, two brass bookends that were wedding presents, an iron skillet and some gold and silver jewelry. It was amazing that the items hadn’t been stolen.

    Stan and Laura Watts slept side by side on adjacent shelter cots, with their three children very close. Their dog was in a pen, nearby.

    “I’m sure glad we escaped!” said Stan Jr., age 12, “Mommy almost didn’t make it home in time to leave with us.”

    “I wonder where she went? Why would she come home instead of running away from wherever she was?” asked 11-year-old Suzie.

    “To make sure we got out, silly,” answered Stan Jr.

    “But where did Mommy go?” asked five-year-old Charlie, “She was gone a long time that day.”

    “Remember how she went to divorce court to meet Dad?” said Stan Jr., “She was crying. She didn’t want to go. I wonder why she had all our picture albums already in the car.”

    “Maybe she thought she might not come back,” said Suzie.

    “They came back together because of this fire!” concluded Charlie.

    “I wonder who started it,” said Stan Jr.

    “Hush, children,” said Mrs. Watts, “People are sleeping.”


    He watched her, through binoculars, drink her morning coffee. He hated leaving her three years ago, but a small town was no place for a coward.
    Carol, Bobby’s former fiance, still missed him. 4th generation hot shot, Bobby had perished in a fire, after staying behind to radio in for help.

    The Hot Shots being boosted today are six teams of 2. They were to clean up a garbage load of little fires.


    Carol sipped her coffee. “Let’s get to it so we can get picked up.”

    “Okay, I’ll call it in,” Phil said

    After only an hour of work, Carol noticed thunderclouds.

    “Uh,oh Phil…we got to get out of here now!”

    Then, lightning struck: igniting everything!

    “Give me the radio; they got to get us out of here!” Carol yelled.

    When they had an opening, Carrol said, ” Run!”; But she tripped and fell, knocking herself unconscious.

    Phil wouldn’t leave her.

    Bobby arrived in the truck, to check on Carol. He could hear Phil yell, “…over here!”

    With old equipment, Bobby went into the fire to rescue them.

    Bobby and Phil carried Carol out of the fire.

    “Why did you leave? Phil asked on the way to the hospital.

    When I was trapped, I took the first opening to get out of the fire; my partner perished.

    No one died in the fire; except you!”

    “People don’t think I’m a coward?”Billy asked.

    “No, you saved the whole team by calling in the extraction team early.
    Now, Carols’ life….”

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