Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Missing

K9 Search & Rescue team flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks
Photo copyright K.S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.
Photo content: Stevens County K9 SAR Team Havoc

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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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Missing”



    The writer sits in his cell, his prison of thoughts, his cauldron of creativity, his slippery-sloped metaphorical minefield, and ponders the prompt. It is a timely prompt, yet he senses his own resistance, his own moral and ethical pushback.

    A search and rescue dog and handler on a clump of soil, soil disturbed, and an image that might be, for some, also disturbing; this is the prompt; it leaves him conflicted.

    At this moment in time, North America in particular is consumed with searching and if possible, rescuing.

    In Canada, the grounds of numerous former residential schools are slowly, methodically revealing an unknown number of unmarked and formerly marked gravesites. Two, thus far, have been revealed. Though still undisturbed, processed, considered, and here the writer struggles mightily to find the precise words to speak to the revelation and the state of care being offered, close to a thousand souls have been counted. Though not identified, for that task is far beyond the search and, in one Florida situation, rescue, possible rescue, against much hope rescue, that will be the challenge.

    The writer wonders (and even wonders if he is, indeed, wondering, or merely wandering) about the search for past horrors and the real time search in Florida. Though vastly different events, the deaths, and disappearances of generations of indigenous peoples, children mostly, and this horrendous collapse of a relatively modern high-rise in Surfside Florida, the writer watches in real time, can only search for truth but not rescue it.

  2. Kat Brooks, reporter for the Arizona Republic, continued her interview of the Search and Rescue dog trainer. “Let me see if I have this correct. You were conducting your dog training exercise on this deserted piece of land here in downtown Phoenix.”

    “Right.” Wilbur responded.

    “However, Sadie the dog being trained, failed to find the items you had buried, and instead found bones of two missing children. What was on this site previously?”

    “They told me it was a ten-story apartment building, which was taken over by Eminent Domain for a planned city-wide improvement, but stalled due to funding issues.”

    Kat resumed, “So, what exactly did the dog do, and how did you react?”

    Wilbur laughing, “No matter what I tried to do to get Sadie over to the buried articles, she persisted at the mound over THERE. In fact, she kept pulling me back to the mound and even growled at me. She had never done that before.”

    “Do you usually train one dog, or several?”

    “When we are doing training, we only use one. We want the dog to develop their own skills, and not follow the lead of another.”

    “Were you the one to call the police?”

    “I finally let Sadie do her thing, and she dug at the dirt pile until she exposed bones. That’s when I called the police.”

    “Tell me again what forensics found?”

    “These two kids were missing for years, and they now re-label it a murder investigation.”

    “Amazing story, thank you.”

  3. Missing

    Unfortunately, Julian never made it to the Canadian border. He thought his plan was perfectly thought through. It eased his anxiety, knowing the hit was executed by a professional. Julian had a big mouth, though. He was always in desperate need of attention and validation. Talked the good talk, which proved to be a big mistake last Friday night. Drinking with his local buddies, and too many beers consumed, a hair raising confession flew off his tongue.

    “I’ll be visiting my cousin Ned, Sunday. He needs my help finishing off the barn,” slurred Julian. His passport, bag packed and his checking account emptied out this morning. Lowering his head and voice, “I messed up, I couldn’t take it no more, she double crossed me!” Julian almost in tears, his voice becoming horse and slightly remorseful, “ I got someone to kill Samantha.” Her body’s location was slowly revealed.

    Louie and the others were appalled. This didn’t sit well with them. Samatha was the owner of the only pawn shop in town. She was tough, but fair in negotiating with the customers. Louie, desperate to seek revenge at Julian, quickly devised a plan.

    The search for Samantha’s body came to an end, when the search and rescuer’s
    cadaver dog, found not only Samantha, but Julian’s body as well. It was assumed a double suicide. After Julian’s pockets were emptied, the detective on scene couldn’t understand why he had a holographic animated playing card there?

  4. Overheated Thinking

    Doctor Anomaly rushed into the computer room. “BIG THINK, we have a problem.”

    “We?” the computer asked, dryly. “I’m perfectly fine.”

    “No. I meant humanity.”

    “Organic life forms can be so dramatic.”

    “People have been disappearing from the countryside.”

    “More room for the rest of you. Think positive.”

    “You don’t understand,” the doctor said. “The authorities have been getting reports of people simply vanishing. Rescue crews and search dogs have been finding empty dirt mounds where people once stood.”

    BIG THINK shook. “Hmm. This is a strange phenomenon. Let me think…”

    Several minutes passed.

    “Well…?” asked the doctor.

    “Don’t rush me. My circuits are sweaty and delicate.”

    “We don’t have much time. People are vanishing as we speak.”

    “Time, time, time. Who asks me if I have time to do things, especially to figure out complex issues like this one?”

    “Sorry,” replied the doctor, wiping his forehead.

    BIG THINK shook again as lights flashed across its panel. “I found the answer to the missing people.”

    “What is it?”

    “People have been disappearing because of the heat. They’re being vaporized.”


    “Officially, the earth is 93 million miles away from the sun. But according to my calculations, it moved 2 million miles closer this year…”

    “That’s impossible—”

    “There you go, whining again. You try doing a billion calculations a second. My best is never good enough. Oh, no…” BIG THINK paused. And my all-seeing eye is sweating. Do you even have the air conditioner turned on?”


    “Don’t you dare address me like that,” Ms Colangelo glowered, shooting me a glare that could reverse global warming throughout the state. “I’ve the authority to approve more than twenty times the amount you’ve won. Just because I’m blonde and take a little pride in how I look…”

    “He meant nothing. He’s still a little tired.” Cole was obviously used to managing the cashier’s spiky nature. “Just try to cut him a little slack if you can. He’s an extra-special guy, whatever you think of his tone of his voice.” He pulled out a chair for me, directly facing her across the desk, then returned to his place by the door. “Go on,” he said, now addressing me. “I promise you she’s perfectly competent at her job.”

    “I’m sorry, Ms Colangelo, Harmony,” I said, trying to recover a little ground. “I’m not used to meeting financial professionals so early in the day – I’ve not even had my breakfast yet. Your colleague said it was urgent and that we had to meet. Something about a proposition you wished to make.”

    Ms Colangelo blinked and then nodded at me. “How about we start again?” She dismissed Cole, waiting until the security officer was gone before she began again.

    “The Casino hates to give away its investors’ money,” she said. “So how about we make you a special deal? We’ve a property we’re financing we’d like you to go see. It’s an undeveloped plot of land just a few miles from town…”


    If found, call 123-456-7890 for a reward.

    Description: Has brown collar with name ‘Sandy’, along with owner’s phone number. White fur, with brown eyes, and a brown spot on right ear. Very playful and friendly. Does not bite.

    Would Sandy ever come back?

  7. Missing
    Motionless on the dizzying height of a high rise, Clay’s lips twitched warding off a smile. At this fine hour he must not betray himself. Yet, he smugly believed in his own brilliance. Way below a Search and Rescue team was intent on locating a person or cadaver. Sniffing at a mound of earth, the GSD was one with his duty. His olfactory nerves were tensed alert and working overtime while his very muscles twitched with concentration.

    Hiccups of chuckles erupted from deep within Clay. A tsunami of a laugh washed over him. Hiding his face in the sun curtains high above the scene, he tried to contain himself. Stuffing his hand in his mouth, his mind wound back to his success like a film playing backwards on high speed. Drooling, he recalled the delicious moment he double tricked his fellow criminals. His heart sang with self-satisfied joy as he hopscotched around Europe hiding the funds. Meticulously he plotted his own “death” employing hard core details, infallible witnesses and unquestionable “truths”.

    He had buried his own ‘remains’ in the mound to fool the dog, and his conniving partners. They all had to believe he was missing -as in dead.

    Exiting the building, Clay arrogantly strolled past the SAR scene. Head down, the SAR dog’s concentration was tangible. Suddenly he stopped, sat down and stared Clay in the eye!

    Clay swore the canine winked knowingly at him and grimaced, as Clay’s innards turned to watery bile.

  8. “Did you find something, boy?”

    Samson was agitated. He kept his nose pressed to the ground while he bared his teeth and growled.

    The responder’s radio squawked and chirped, signaling him to call in. “This is Riley, I think I may have found something.”

    “I’m sending back up. Say put while we get a fix on your position.”

    “Roger.” Riley heeled Samson and waited while the sun beat down.

    Riley wondered if this could be the shallow grave of the missing person reported in the area. Samson let his nose do the wondering. The smell of death vibrated his nostrils like a wire brush. There was something under that dirt.

    By now, Riley knelt next to Samson. “Easy, boy.” He repeated in a soothing voice.

    On the ground, a troop of army ants staggered in the dirt around the perimeter of the mound. General Santa Anta, the commander, rounded the troops up: “Our queen is still in what’s left of the mound. We must mount a mission to get her out.”

    “We are soldiers. Our mandibles are made for fighting, not working.”

    “I understand, I have a plan,” the general said.

    “If we excavate some of the tunnels that are still intact, we can locate some workers that are still alive and put them to work clearing the rubble.”

    The soldiers settled down and fell into battle formation.

    The rescue mission turned out to be a joint effort between the San Antonio Police Department and the Warriors of the Mound.

  9. The air had the gritty feel that always brought back the old memories. Cinda had been one of the first telepaths to volunteer for search and rescue duty in the wake of the disaster the media had dubbed Skyfall.

    The Chinese space station had been failing for months, but Beijing had ignored the pleas of the international community for a controlled deorbit. In the end the people of Phoenix paid the price of the Chinese Communist Party’s obsession with not losing face. In the days and weeks that followed, Cinda had helped locate survivors in the wreckage of buildings that had collapsed, then went into hospitals to identify people found unconscious and without identification.

    It had been exhausting work, opening one’s mind to the miasma of anguish in hope of finding one more survivor, reuniting one more John Doe with family. Even to this day Cinda still had nightmares, but here she was to help search the site of an industrial explosion. Sometimes she wondered why she kept doing it.

    It wasn’t about the medals or the speeches afterward. No, it was knowing that everyone was someone’s son or daughter, and every family deserved to know what had become of their loved one, even if it was just a pine box to bury in the family plot.

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