Derrick was down in the gulch below Twenty-Mile when he saw it, a wall of flames cresting the draw. He cursed the lack of a radio, but they never worked that well up here anyway.

The wind roared up the gorge, the inferno drawing air like a well-built fireplace. No way to fight it now that it was crowning.

He looked at the fireline he’d been digging all morning. It looked pathetically small. A Pulaski was a good enough tool, but no match for a blaze like this one.

He wiped the sweat from his face and made his decision.


Friday Fictioneers


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    • J Hardy Carroll

      I was reading Norman Maclean’s Young Men and Fire about a group of firefighters who died in Montana fighting a huge blaze. There was another story about one of the airborne lanterns that caused a huge brush fire. The two together make for a tense moment.

  1. michael1148humphris

    It seems that floating lanterns should stay in China, you told so well, how they can bring terror and destruction

  2. Lynn Love

    I like the way you went with this Josh – very tense and dramatic writing. Of course, I want to know what his decision was – keep digging? Desert his home? A very strong piece of writing

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Well, he’s a firefighter. Down is never a good idea, but up is impossible. They tell you to dig in and cover yourself with the fire shield, which is a foil blanket they usually carry in their pack. Whatever it is, it’s dangerous.

      • Lynn Love

        Sounds absolutely terrifying, sitting there under foil as the flames lap over you. How brave these men are and how much we all need them. Well written Josh

    • J Hardy Carroll

      My friend Derrick was a Forest Service smoke eater for a few years. Imagine the hardest hiking that you can imagine while lugging seventy pounds of gear (rubber water tank, Pulaski (which is a spade-axe), McLeod (which is a rake-hoe), helmet, fire blanket and provisions. Then when you get to where you’re going, ten or so hours of back-breaking manual labor. And all the while, it’s so easy to get trapped by a fire that can move forty miles an hour through the treetops. Not a job for the faint-hearts!

  3. Jan Morrill

    A terrifying take on the prompt. I have, in the past, released such lanterns into the air. Larger on my mind than the beauty of the moment was the possible consequences. I won’t release such lanterns again. Well done, Josh.

  4. pennygadd51

    Wow, great story, Josh! The technical detail gives a great feeling of authenticity, and you use it very effectively to draw the picture for us. And what a terrifying picture it is. Derrick’s options look pretty limited…excellent cliffhanger!

Don't just stand there.