Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Radio

3L0A0308 firefighter on radio 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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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Radio”

  1. ↯Engine 41, what is your status?↯
    ↯Engine 41, we have a single-family dwelling fully engulfed in fire.↯
    ↯Roger, Engine 41. Engine 97, are you on scene?↯
    ↯Engine 97, Truck 23, roger. Running a line now.↯
    ↯Rescue 41 from IC, are you standing by for medical?”↯
    ↯Rescue 41, roger. Have medical crew.↯
    ↯Engine 97, are all of the occupants out of the residence?↯
    ↯Engine 97, roger.↯
    ↯Rescue 97, I am attaching you to Engine 97.↯
    ↯Rescue 97, roger.↯
    ↯Engine 41. Urgent traffic, urgent traffic! We’ve had a roof collapse on the interior. We’ve had a roof collapse. ↯
    ↯Roger. You’ve had a roof collapse. Is anyone trapped?↯
    ↯Engine 41. Emergency traffic, emergency traffic! Firefighters down! Firefighters down! We have three firefighters down.↯
    ↯Roger, Engine 41. Be advised we are sending Light Force 61 to the scene together with three more rescue units.↯
    ↯Engine 41, roger.”↯
    ↯Engine 41, What is your location inside the structure?↯
    ↯Engine 41, I’m not inside the structure. I’m outside the structure.↯
    [Radio silence]
    ↯Engine 41. Two firefighters rescued. Third severely injured firefighter being extricated now.↯
    ↯Engine 41, is your captain with you?”↯
    ↯Engine 41, yes. He requests a chaplain. Stat.↯
    [Radio silence]
    ↯Engine 41, a chaplain?↯
    ↯Engine 41, yes, a chaplain. I’m afraid John Benson didn’t make it.↯

  2. Radio
    My brother and I were adventurers. We were communicating by two-way radio, which went dead, then after a lot of static we heard, “Fire… Andersons’ place.” Biking towards the old ramshackle farm, we were Indiana Jones, Sir Lancelot, Saint George and Batman in one glorious hero. We encouraged each other to bike faster on this real life adventure. We wanted to save lives, property and livestock. A desperate situation as the farm was off the beaten track and far from the firestation.

    My motives were slightly ulterior, because I was smitten by the youngest Anderson daughter. A rare jewel amongst nettles. I must have gone all moony faced because my brother shouted at me. Taking the shortcut, we swam a swollen river. Being soaking wet turned out to be fortuitous. We tore through a field then onto the property.

    Widow Anderson was in hysterics because her youngest daughter was trapped in the upper story. While my brother hosed down the fire, I raced upstairs like a deranged maniac hefting an axe. Smoke burnt my throat, and fire singed my clothes but I broke down the door. No idea how I carried her downstairs. I awoke in the hospital with no eyebrows .

    “That was how you rescued Grandma. Your memoire lacks drama. I prefer the version where you had to fight huge tarantulas, swim through alligator infested waters, hack your way through an evilly enchanted forest and battle orcs to fight the fire demons in order to rescue your true love!”

  3. Scorched Earth

    “Nothing to save, Walt. Structures a total loss. We smelled gasoline so likely an accelerant was used. I’ll keep you posted but you best get Fran out here to investigate.”

    I turned the radio off and focussed on the flames.

    There aren’t that many fires I have been to in my twenty-five years as a firefighter in Woolsey County where I knew the building intimately. This one though I knew well. Karl and Pat Hofstead built their house here on the edge of town back in the late fifties. A lovely couple they were. They had no kids, but Pat was a teacher and Karl the town vet. In my teens I got to know Pat, Mrs. Hofstead, I should say, in her Grade 10 English Class. She took a shine to me and when Karl needed a helper at his Animal Hospital, she suggested I’d be a good fit. And I was.

    They became a second family to me over the years, though after they retired and life got more complicated for me with job and marriage and all the things that add up to make a fuller life, I saw them less and less.

    At some point, Karl’s health took a nosedive and he and Pat became quite reclusive.

    Then for some reason, they both got Covid.

    And went quickly.

    And then the rumour started that their lovely empty home was a plague house.

    Nonsense, of course.

    Try telling that to some fearful conspiracy-minded vigilante arsonist.

  4. “Do I sound UPSET to you? I’ll show you upset when I find the fool who purchased these cheap batteries. Over.”

    “Chief, did I hear you correctly, that you wanted to call off the training exercise? Over.”

    “YES, it’s too late. By the time the recruits arrive, the place will be ashes. Over.”

    “What happened? Over.”

    “After I set the place on fire, I couldn’t get the damn radio to work. By the time I figured it was the batteries, the place was too far gone to save. Over.”

    “Anything you want me to do on this end? Over.”

    “Yes, let lieutenant Ramsey know to talk to the trainees about going over the checklist, not just once, but several times. Somebody missed doing that on this exercise. Oh, and I want you to check the file to see what IDIOT purchased the latest batteries. Over.”

    After a very long pause, “Chief, please repeat…your radio was breaking up. Over.” He wondered if his voice sounded like he had been running. He had emptied the shredder basket into the outside dumpster.

  5. The emergency services had already left, so he was alone with the house, watching the flames eat everything else that remained. The upper floors and the ceilings had fallen in, so it was now only a single storey property, with only a few charred mounds where furniture had been. The roof and the walls had been the first to collapse, the wooden beams standing erect to the last. It just showed how poorly built these houses were.

    It was the fifth of them to go in a week, the other four less than a few minutes’ drive away.

    His radio vibrated in his pocket. He took it out and pressed the button to talk.

    “It’s as you said,” he said, squinting into what was left. “The authorities just took off, after making sure it was contained.”

    “Are you sure they found nothing that looked suspicious?” His chief’s voice was tight and angular, his consonants hard and flat. He was a man who spoke with a scowl instead of a smile.

    “It’s unlikely. There was no time to salvage anything. The residents were away, and it caught alight. By the time the fire appliances arrived there was nothing that could be done. But I suppose they’ll come back again when it cools.”

    He let the radio fall, letting it swing from its lanyard. He was a busy man, with other places to go. He had a list in his pocket and another six cans of gasoline left to be used tonight.

  6. No one could outsell Samantha Fox, she smugly thought while strolling into her latest dud.
    The floors creaked as she walked inside.
    “Welcoming,” she jotted in her notebook.
    Cobwebs brushed her hair as she ducked into the front room. “Cozy,” Fox noted.
    An ear-splitting noise roared as a 747 landed just behind the house. “Conveniently located,” she penciled in before crossing it out. “Dynamic views.”
    Fox gagged at the floral wallpaper covering the walls. “Artistic,” she murmured to herself.
    “This could be my best cover up yet,” she smirked to herself as she read her final assessment.
    “Charming. Quaint. Homey. Lovely.” She laughed devilishly to herself as she ticked off the buzz words with her long red fingernails. What a con. She would get a million for this.
    The house shook slightly.
    Samantha didn’t care that the previous owner had never replaced the roof. They’d never checked the electrical. In fifty years of ownership, the grumpy man who lived there, who left the lawn “natural” and “untouched,” never removed the toxic asbestos or lead that leached into the ground.
    “You have to see this one,” Fox preened to a young couple with money but not much sense.
    She pulled her fancy car into the driveway to show this piece with the lie that there were already two other offers.
    But, as she pulled up, she smelled acrid smoke. The sky flamed red and orange.
    “Liar, liar, house on fire!” the warm house shouted as the flames licked the sky.

  7. There it goes up in flames , the cabin my two siblings and I purchased last summer. It was to be a refuge too where we could unwind and unplug from the world. Crackling flames spitting out hot embers amongst the woods. Thought it was a good idea to get here day earlier than the family. Settling in for the night it was me, my bottle and candle adding a glow to this cozy abode.

    This weekend was to be a cleansing of old wounds that have been buried in each of us. Time to get it all on the table. Hurt feelings and blame for too many past arguments.

    Drunkenness consumes me. I stumble into my room, accidentally knocking the candle onto the floor. Passing out is my routine. Easier this way, then thinking about my obsessive worries.

    Heat radiates, smoke penetrates my lungs as to jolt me back to the now. There are uniformed people here , each doing their job to put this blaze out. Stumbling outside, I collapse.

    As I drift in and out , am I dead, am I alive? I hear a voice that is soft but firm. He tells me to stay with him.

    Too late as I begin to ascend into darkness.

  8. The Radio, the Fire, and the Agents

    An important building was destroyed by fire. As per protocol, the fire chief radioed the agency, which sent out two agents to investigate the matter.

    Agents Thomas and Roscoe questioned all of the people at the scene and then compared their findings.

    Roscoe opened his notebook. “According to the witness I questioned, the fire started at 8 am.”

    “Odd,” replied Thomas. “My witness claimed it started at noon.”

    “Three witnesses I spoke to said the fire was accidental,” added Roscoe.

    Thomas looked at his partner. “The three witnesses I spoke to believed it was arson.”

    Roscoe frowned and scribbled in his notebook: There’s a 50% chance the fire was accidental. And there’s a 20% chance this is an error.

    Thomas asked, “Did the witnesses hear anything?”

    “One witness said he heard a dog barking. Another witness said she heard screaming. Other witnesses said they heard gunshots and tires screeching. Other than that nothing out of the ordinary happened.”

    “Any possible suspects?”

    “One witness claimed she saw someone outside the building at the time of the fire. According to her the person was a short, middle-aged female. On the other hand, another witness I spoke to said the person was a tall, young male.”

    The two agents stared at each other in silence.

    “Sharpen your pencil. Looks like we’re going to have to question everyone again,” said Roscoe, dejectedly.

    “In the absence of any other information,” replied Thomas. “I would say, you’re observation is correct.”

  9. Frank stared at the burning house and shook his head in frustration. Since his team was first called out, five more structures had shaken with explosions and burst into flames. The whole neighborhood was ablaze.

    Frank’s crew had barely enough members to rescue the families and pets from their homes. There was hardly anyone left to operate the pumps and hoses, and actually fight the fires.

    He had been radioing for back-up all morning. He’d also been calling the gas company to shut down their lines. He was convinced that a leaking main was the culprit. But every time he keyed the transmitter, he heard only crackling and buzzing in response. There was no way he could get this situation under control without the help of the other stations.

    As Frank shouted directions to his firefighters, he lifted the radio to try again. Before he could call, a police siren shrieked. The cruiser raced toward him and stopped. The officer leaped from his car and ran toward Frank.

    “Drop the radio,” he yelled.

    Before Frank knew what was happening, the policeman had knocked his radio to the ground.

    “What the hell?” Frank demanded.

    The officer wiped sweat from his forehead and answered. “Fires are all over town. City departments are coming.”

    The officer sucked in a breath and continued. “Someone planted bombs that detonate every time a fire department radio is keyed.”

    He kicked Frank’s radio across the road. “Don’t use it again.”

  10. The radio static grabbed the incoming call. Grady adjusted the dials to amplify the signal as the fire dispatch repeated the request for all available units to help with a four-alarm fire. Not believing his ears, he grabbed his cell phone and dialed his Mother’s number. Grady let the phone ring waiting for her to travel the distance between her room and the only phone in her old house.

    The house had been in the family since the 1940s. The old wires bent and exposed, unable to withstand the voltage coursing through the walls. With a silent prayer, he turned on the lights in his Crown Victoria. He sped down the dirt road dodging massive potholes kicking up a dust cloud behind him, a dark omen for the scene before him—his childhood home ablaze. He searched the clearing for his Mother and her service dog.
    Choking back tears, he approached Captain Tucker. The Captain turned away from him, covering his mouth as he spoke into his radio. Grady cursed himself for not insisting she live with him. Captain Tucker turned to Grady and hesitated, carefully crafting his words, trying not to cause more pain than necessary.
    “Grady, you shouldn’t be here.”
    As Grady opened his mouth to respond, the bus for the Senior Center rolled up. His Mother hobbled down the stairs with her dog sniffing the air. Petting the golden retriever’s head, she laughed, “got that spider. Guess I’m moving in with you, kid.”

  11. Our job was to burn the house down. We devised a plan—a grease fire in the kitchen. The fire would catch on the curtains and spread to the cabinet tops, where there were years of dust and grease build-up. Within minutes we had planned on a flashover to spread to the rest of the house. We also made sure there were flammables in the attached garage for added combustion.

    “We’re all set in here. Over.”

    “Let it burn. Over.”

    I turned on the gas stove. Sloshed grease over the rim of the pan and watched as the fire started. I turned and made my way out of the back door, making sure to close it tight. I made my way to the property line and watched as smoke started to fill the house, the dancing flames filled the window over the sink, and I smiled at a job well done. I let out a laugh when the flashover occurred, and the fire started to rage.

    We stood around and watched as the house burn. I waited for the garage to explode and laughed in enjoyment.

    “Ok, time to hose it down. Sop it, let’s give those fire investigators some work.”

    “Got it, chief!”

  12. Heat from the inferno bounced off Rory’s face. He watched the flames hungrily consume his home and his wife and kids. The radio he held to his ear screeched painfully but he kept it steady to show his supposed grief and shock to any fellow firefighters who might be watching.

    It was an effort but he suppressed the smile that promised to light up his face.

    Earlier that morning when everyone was resting from fighting the forest fire that threatened the development, he had raced home to lock the doors for good. The fire was an opportunity, one he couldn’t pass up, to erase his mistake and start over. With the heat of the day, the dry underbrush, and the ferocity of the fire, any pain Sheila and the kids might suffer would be short lived. They would all be free of the misery that had become their lives together.

    And he could start over, with Cindy, and get it right. A person didn’t get that kind of opportunity very often, so he had to jump on it.

    As he dropped his arm in false sorrow, someone from behind grabbed his arms and cuffed them. Rory looked up, surprised. He spotted his wife and children across the street, holding themselves together, tears coursing down Sheila’s face.

    “You stupid jerk,” said the sheriff as he pushed Rory ahead. “If you’re going to burn down your own house, turn off the security camera first.”

  13. The flames crackled and hissed like a living thing. Even from this distance, Cather could tell the house would be a total loss. At least the EMS call had just been a firefighter with heat exhaustion, who was now recovering quite nicely with his turnout gear off and some Gatorade in him.

    This is the third vacant house that’s gone up in flames this month. Cather knew the reason why, even if he couldn’t talk about it. No one wanted to admit there was a problem with squatters breaking into empty houses, let alone the role of public policy in creating the situation.

    Which meant that the people who started this fire would never be caught. They would’ve fled as soon as their fire got out of control, and there would be no real investigation. Unless something attracted the attention of the insurance company’s fraud department, no one would be interested in identifying or apprehending the culprits.

    Next week he’d probably be doing the same thing somewhere else. And that time the fire department might not be so lucky with the injuries.


    Sheriff Masters look down at the radio held in his hand ,and realized how much he loved his radio. In his job communication by radio or cell phone was crucial. It had saved his neck so many times. But he certainly didn’t want a radio or a cell phone to be the death of him.

    Sheriff Masters was in charge of a 20-person deputy training program for LA county. The deputies were all very dedicated individuals about law enforcement. They used their radios often. They were taught to rely on the radio.

    But in a bomb situation the whole strategy was different. You couldn’t use a radio or cell phone in case the radio frequency detonated the explosive device.

    One day sheriff Masters had a hostage/bomb situation;he assessed his deputies and decided there was only one deputy he was worried about taking to the bomb hostage situation. Charlie was a very gung-ho law enforcement deputy, but he had a small problem with attention to details. When the sheriff arrived he found Charlie in position and waving his radio in his hand.

    The sheriff shuddered. He was afraid that either Charlie was going to detonate the bomb or the perpetrator.

    The sheriff immediately went into action, and told his men to get the victim out,..”Now !”

    As they pretended to negotiate with the perpetrator, his men extracted the victim.

    A teenager on a bike came down the street wearing headphones and ignoring the large police presence. Their cell phone detonated the bomb!

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