Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Devil’s Horns

inch fire flash fiction writing prompt copyright KS 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.

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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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Devil’s Horns”

  1. The Devil You Say

    There I was, out for a COVID-19 escape stroll. Just downtown. My town. Looking for a sandwich, coffee, maybe some fries and conversation with whoever might be sitting at the next outdoor table.

    Our town’s pretty small. Fifty thousand souls. Know quite a few of them. Good people all. Excepting maybe a couple I could name if I was a mind to.

    Which I’m not.

    Anyways, I was doing one of them…whaddatheycallit? Staycations. Yeah. That’s what it was. Not that I travel much at all anymore. Even before the pandemic, my travelling days were done. “Been there, done that,” I say pretty much all the time. About everything. To anyone who’d listened.

    The way I figure, we owe it to the world to stay put. Or the world’ll go kaput.

    Made that up.

    It’s got a nice sad ring to it.

    Anyways, there I was, out for a stroll, and suddenly I swear I could smell smoke. Looked around to see if there was a structure fire somewhere.

    Couldn’t see anything.

    Then I smelled the air again, serious-like, the way you put your nose to a flower to get a whiff of a bouquet.

    And then I saw the flames.

    Coming over the rise.

    Forks of fire.

    The horizon was smacked with fiery horns of the devil’s breath.

    Then the Air Raid siren let loose; a god-awful piercing sound that liked to shatter my spine.

    Knew right then, no coffee or polite conversation on this day.

  2. My family wanted to come up to the cabin for a vacation. My wife wants family time, the kids want to fish, swim, and roast marshmallows. I’m fine with all that . . . I just wish would could have gone someplace else.

    I hate this cabin, always have. It was grandpa’s, and grandpa liked to hunt. Grandpa also liked having his trophies stuffed, most of which populate this cabin today. But what I hate most are the horns. Grandpa didn’t keep the heads of all his kills — nope — he just kept the horns. All over the walls among his stuffed trophies and a standing bear — yes, grandpa had a bear — were horns.

    What scared me most as a child — still does today — is when the standing bear combines with a particular set of horns and forms an eerie shadow on the wall that follows you everywhere. It looks like a demon from hell is trying to walk out of the wall and get me.

    It’s time to turn in for the night, our first big day tomorrow, the kids want to do everything. I’m just finishing up here and then it’s off to bed . . . but part of me doesn’t want to go. Part of me is afraid to turn out the light because that shadow is there, watching, waiting . . . waiting for the darkness to free it. It’s all in my mind, just a childhood fantasy, I know. . . . Time for bed . . . Wait . . . Did that shadow just move?

  3. “Bella! Quick! Over here! What are those?!”

    Bella turned and walked back to the trailside where her younger sister stood pointing at short black spikes poking through the forest floor. At first glance, they looked deadly. Bella had no idea what they were, but that had never stopped her before.

    “Those black things?” asked Bella, buying time for a ‘reasonable’ explanation.

    “W-what else?” answered Madelyn with timid frustration, hoping she hadn’t missed something even more scary.

    “Oh, those,” shrugged Bella. “Baby demons,” she stated definitively.

    “WHA?!” squealed Madelyn, eyes wide open.

    Bella smothered her grin, and nonchalantly turned to stroll away.

    “Wait! Stop! Shouldn’t we do something?!” cried Madelyn.

    “Leave them be,” advised Bella. “They’re babies. Probably sleeping.”

    “But they’re bad!” shouted Madelyn after her sister.

    “Nothing’s all bad or good,” called back Bella, merrily. “Even demons gotta live somewhere.”

    “Stop!” yelled Madelyn, as she broke into a run to catch up back up. “I’m good!”

    “Yeah, usually,” acknowledged Bella, “and sometimes you’re bad. Demons just work the other way.”

    “I don’t get it,” puffed Madelyn, dropping back in step.

    “You will when you get older,” said Bella, coming to a point she didn’t know she thought. “Sometimes the stuff you think is bad ends up good. Same with the good stuff.”

    Madelyn let Bella’s idea sink in a little. A little was all it sunk.

    The forest sang to them as the sisters continued their hike in silence. And under the forest floor, the baby demons slept blissfully.

  4. The children huddled around the campfire waiting for their camp leader to tell them another ghost story. Some hugged their neighbor, while others happily munched on S’mores. The sweet smell of chocolate melting over hot marshmallows floated through the almost midnight night.

    He wrapped himself in his black cloak and crept up to the waiting group. “Good evening, my little pumpkins,” he cackled.

    Startled, they turned, but couldn’t see his face, shadowed by the hood of his cape. It didn’t sound like their leader. But, could it be? Maybe he was just trying to spook us into another scary mood, they thought.

    “Let me tell you the tale of the Devil’s horn,” he moaned. His ominous tone made the children scrunch closer together. “It started on an All Hallows’ Eve hundreds of years ago. The Devils, there are more than one you know, decided to bring a bunch of children together. After entertaining them, we – er, they – would swoop down and carry two away to you-know-where, never to be seen again. Those left behind cannot remember what happened. We erase their memory of the ritual. A Devil’s horn is left behind as a reminder. If you think Santa’s lump of coal is punishment,” he grinned, “wait’ll you get a load of us.” He leaped up, wrapped his cloak around two shrieking boys, and dragged them down into Earth’s fiery depth.

    Bewildered, the remaining children hurried home to safety under their beds, as the village clock struck twelve, welcoming Halloween.

  5. Title: Someone’s Listening

    Forty-four men in my crew, but I estimated I needed five times that many to save the town.

    This was unlike any fire we had fought before. The wind was blowing at almost hurricane force, with gusts exceeding seventy miles an hour. The fire was originally moving southwest toward the town, but embers had caused the fire to spread.

    The night sky glowed red, and it was almost impossible to breathe. Thick smoke was blowing in our direction. Standing on this mountain peak we could see our dilemma; flames were all around us, and escape would now be impossible.

    I radioed our situation to base camp and they said to head towards the old mining camp about a quarter of a mile down the other side of the mountain.

    I gathered all the men and screamed my instructions above the roar of the approaching fire.


    Forty minutes later we were all gathered in the old mine, looking back at the opening, which looked like a potbellied stove all aglow. Some men started praying, others were obviously dealing with their sins.


    It was a miracle that we survived. The next morning, we discovered the pine forest was completely obliterated.

    The smoke-filled sunrise shed some light on burned tree remnants, which gave the impression of Devil’s horns.

    We later learned that almost a hundred fire-fighters perished, but for some reason we were saved.

    “I hope that answered your question as to why I became a preacher.”

  6. Martha held George’s hand almost too tightly as they trudged up the devastated hillside. Halfway up, their lungs hungering for relief from the ash-filled air, they stopped to catch their breath and looked back down at the remnants of their still-smoking house.

    “Fire number two,” said George, his throat constricting from ashes or grief or both.

    The hillside, which they had planted with trees over the past three years after the first fire, was covered in a layer of ashes. Blackened trunks of the small trees, which had finally begun to take hold, poked up through the gray ashes. The acrid smell gave them no relief from the pain of what was before them.

    The old couple had evacuated when ordered. Now that they saw what remained of their home and the homes of their neighbors, they weren’t sure that’d made the right decision.

    “We didn’t have enough water,” sighed Martha, her white hair tangled and unwashed. “If we had stayed, we would’ve died.”

    “I feel like I died,” said George, sitting on a burned stump still warm from the fire. “Look all around us. What do we have left?”

    “The kids are safe,” said Martha.

    “Only because they don’t live here,” said George. “I’m not sure we’re part of them now.”

    “Look,” said Martha, pointing down the hill to the road. A caravan of cars slowly made its way through the burned out neighborhood.

    “They’ve come home, George,” said Martha. “The kids have come to help.”

  7. “I’m telling you Barbara there’s nothing we can do about it. Ugly as this yard is, we’re stuck with it.”

    Barbara thought for a moment. “Unless you want to try something different? I’ve got an idea that just might work. It won’t cost anything, and it might be fun.”

    “Like what?”

    “How about attitude? Instead of thinking of our yard as the ugliest looking pile of junk you ever saw, we talk it up at functions and parties like it is the most exciting design in a century. Word will get around. Before you know it, everybody will want to see it, then everyone will want one. It will speak of being the keeper of one’s domain, the master of one’s soul. It will be totally unlike any other yard — except the ones designed to replicate it of course. Magazines will do full color spreads. There will be serious discussions on public TV on the implications of the murky color scheme.”

    “I don’t know…..”

    “Oh, come on. It’ll be fun. If we act like we’re really onto something, pretty soon people will start to see something in it. Then, before you know it, they’ll be entranced. Seeing the nuances, the depth. The whole philosophy embedded in it.”

    “Well…. You may have something there.”

    “Darn right I do!” Barbara was already dusting off her sketchbook. She would be needing it.

  8. Smoke tickled at Roger’s nostrils, a sensation that that tugged at ancient neurochemical pathways in the brain. After so long living entirely in the machine world, a biological body took some getting used to once again. Try as he might to program a digital avatar for full sensory response, there was always the problem that the storyscape in which he moved would forever remain his own work.

    He looked over his shoulder at the admiral, who was standing at the edge of the ash zone, looking down at the spike-like remnants of burned trees. Were those same memories going through his mind? Of course he had not perished in that disaster, so his memories would be of escape rather than the horror of realizing one’s own doom. Not to mention that memories in a biological brain faded, unlike a post-biological person’s.

    Even as he considered the very different path his dimensional twin’s life had taken, he realized the object of the admiral’s interest. A tiny sprout of green peeked out amidst the wasteland of wood ash. Already the forest was renewing itself, as lodgepole pines had since time immemorial.

    A reminder that death only appears final. Toni had hypothesized that consciousness was indeed conserved in the quantum hologram, but only when she had awakened him within her LAN had she proved it.

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