Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Tools

fireman with tools flash fiction writing prompt
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.

Author: Administrators

All Indies Unlimited staff members, including the admins, are volunteers who work for free. If you enjoy what you read here - all for free - please share with your friends, like us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you don't know how to thank us for all this great, free content - feel free to make a donation! Thanks for being here.

7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Tools”

  1. Tools

    We are on alert, of course. Every year it seems to hit us earlier. This year the heat came like a storm of furnaces. Blazing heat melting the day, and that hot dead air you can barely breathe long into the night, creeping over your skin as if you are doused in gasoline and someone had lit a match.
    We just aren’t ready.
    Most of the town is out past midnight, hosing down the dusty soil, our homes, ourselves, cooling the earth, trying to.
    When the woods burn at night, the smoke settles on your soul. The flames menace in every direction and the urge to cut and run is painful and ever-present.
    “I’m afraid,” she says over and over.
    Our two kids cannot sleep, haven’t been able to for days, for nights, except in fits and starts so here we are at 2:00 am, hosing down our lives, our children sitting in the plastic pool that’s just not deep enough trying to lower the burning prickles of heat that cause them to squirm and shiver all at the same time.
    We have already lost a neighboring town this year. Gone in a fiery flash. Just the concrete bones left., the scorched metal hulks of cars.
    Firefighters from around the world are winging their way here.
    I’m afraid it is all for naught.
    We may have the will, but we don’t have the tools.
    The earth has become our monster.
    And we are our own Dr. Frankenstein.

  2. Problems

    Doctor Anomaly walked into the computer room and began moving items on his desk.

    “What are you looking for?” asked BIG THINK. It’s all-seeing eye casually followed the doctor around the room.

    “I’m looking for a tool, a screwdriver.”

    “Screwdriver?” asked the computer. “What for?”

    “Gotta fix the lawnmower.”

    BIG THINK had just spent several hours trying to re-structure and compute complex differential equations. “Sounds boring.”

    “I know, but I’ve got to mow the lawn.”

    “Ah, mowing the lawn. That mighty endeavour.” BIG THINK rolled its eye and glanced at the doctor. “The ancient Sumerians built ziggurats without machines.”

    “I’m not in ancient Sumeria.”

    “The Mayans built stepped pyramids at Tikal without machines.”

    “I don’t want to build stepped pyramids, I want to mow the lawn.”

    BIG THINK’s eye narrowed. “The ancient Egyptians moved the Colossi of Memnon without—”

    Frustrated, the doctor looked at the computer. “I don’t want to re-invent the wheel or construct a pyramid. I just want to fix the lawnmower and cut the grass.”

    Aren’t we touchy,” said the computer, rolling its eye towards the ceiling.

    “Sorry, BIG THINK. It’s been one of those days.”

    BIG THINK’s all-seeing eye looked sleepily at the doctor. “Tell me about it. I’ve been trying to calculate one million differential equations in under a minute, but so far I’ve only been able to calculate 999,990 equations.”

    Exasperated and sweaty, the doctor glanced at BIG THINK. “Well, we’ve all got our problems.”


    A strong presence came towards me out of the thick unyielding smoke. The heavy determined tread filled me with hope. A shadowy figure was still shimmering behind the impenetrable grey. A rugged scuffed boot appeared, then lower leg. Another boot trod purposefully out. Steadily like a film on slow setting, piece by piece the smoke jumper appeared. Like a circus’s strong man, he seemed pushed beyond endurance, yet still held himself steadfastly erect carrying a load of tools and neatly wrapped fire hoses. Not only did he possess superhuman strength and endurance, but meticulous tidiness.

    Despite a heavy helmet, he dipped his head, as though to say, “Evening, I have set the world in order again.”

    Eagerly, I watched as he passed by me, hoping he would return. He walked on to fulfill his duty by saving forests and mankind.

    I hurried after him. My legs stumbled through thick porridge. He was now barely in my sight. Turning the corner, he was nowhere in sight. Panic filled me!

    Smudged with ashes and sweat, I stood lost while my lungs burned. My feet left a trail of dejected dragged marks, my memories fell dead to the ground, and my shoulders sagged. Eyes following a dirty trickle of water, I bumped off a solid figure in a careworn fire suit. He scooped me up, stroked my fur, noted my broken back leg and took me to safety.

  4. For Editor’s Choice Award Only

    “And that’s the last photo you got of him? A shot with his newly issued tools to fight the Tamarack fire?”
    Celia couldn’t even bring herself to speak, responding only by nodding her head as tears cascaded down her checks from eyes already inflamed.
    “I told him it was too dangerous,” she blurted out, chocking on her words. “I told him not to go, that he had a wife and a little one this time.”
    She was beside herself. “I said he needed to put them first. But oh no, family be damned, he felt he had a duty to work the fire, and now, while everyone is arguing why this or that wasn’t done to stop it back on the Fourth of July, we haven’t even heard from him or the people he’s supposed to be working with. What is wrong with everybody?!”
    She collapsed to her knees as her daughter-in-law, Sarah, rushed to her side.
    Celia’s son Gregg had earlier joined the Cal Fire crew rushing to suppress the Tamarack fire from crossing Highway 88 in Alpine County, California, just west of Woodfords. But even as we tried to calm Celia, word came the fire had crossed the state line and moved into Douglas County, Nevada.
    My cell phone rang and as I listened, all I could do is shake my head. Sarah knew immediately what had happened. It would only be a matter of a minute or so before we would have to tell Celia.

  5. Tools

    Alfred Waring goes to work, with everything under the sun including his second box of tools. He prides himself on completing his workmanship in a timely manner and even giving a fair price to his returning customers. He often wonders if it’s the right time to retire from this skillful craft he so enjoys. Alfred is single, but has 2 nephews that he’s fond of. He’s been thinking of turning the business over to them.

    He rings up the oldest boy, “Hey there Charlie, it’s uncle Al, please call me back soon, thanks”.

    Alfred decides it’s time to reach out to Leo, Charlie’s younger brother. “Leo, it’s uncle Al, need to speak with you, please get with me this weekend , ok”?

    Alfred goes on about his day. He lugs his tools to the renovating kitchen at Mrs. Davis’s home. Plastic is draped throughout the kitchen, keeping the dust and dirt contained. The foreman waves Alfred on to the family room, where Leo and Charlie are anxiously waiting for their uncle Alfred, along with his tools. Oh, what a fun day this will be! Alfred loves his Saturday playtime with his nephews and getting to go to work with his dad.

  6. It had seemed like an easy job when I agreed to take it on. Having grown upon a farm, I had plenty of experience with manual labor, including plenty of digging. So when I discovered midway through a cross-country trip that my savings weren’t stretching as far as I’d expected, I figured I could pick up some casual labor to refill my depleted funds before I had to cut my journey short and head back home.

    Except they neglected to tell me that their little garden plot just happened to be atop a cliff halfway up the mountainside. Having to rappel down a sheer rock face just to get to my job site was not exactly my idea of casual labor.

    Worse, they failed to mention that the soil up here was so dry it was like a rock. Three days of banging away with a mattock, and I was barely making any visible headway. I couldn’t just quit because they were charging me room and board. To settle up would take what little cash I had left, and I had no doubt they would hunt me down as a thief if I just up and ran in the night.

    Nothing to do but press on and hope I could finish before my debt became larger than my wages.


    Title: Smokejumper

    “So, you want to be a smokejumper,” Desmond bellowed in her face.

    “You’re in my way. Please move mister,” Kristin exclaims with a nod of her head.

    “That’s quite a load you’re carrying. Do you think you could haul my butt out of the woods?”

    “If you don’t move your BUTT, I’m going to knock you over,” She responded; with the breath she had left.

    “What’s your name young lady?”

    “Kristin, Kristin Scott.” She dropped her load of hoses and immediately rushed the big instructor, knocking him down.

    Dusting himself off, “That was a pretty impressive greeting. Your application indicates you were a ‘hotshot’ and the only woman who passed our physical entrance exam. Why in the hell do you want to be a smokejumper?”

    Hands on her hips and taking a deep breath, “My father was a smokejumper, his father was a smokejumper, my two uncles were smokejumpers and my two cousins are fire fighters. I want to follow in my father’s footsteps. He wanted a son, but he got ME. He was upset with the cards he was given, but I’ve earned his respect as a hotshot.” She started to kneel to pick up the axe and fire hoses.

    The instructor knelt on the ground and handed her the dropped axe. He smiled, picking up the first discarded hose, placing it where she had it. “You know Miss Scott, I have no doubt you could carry me to safety, if I shut my mouth.”

Comments are closed.