Fires are Burning

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

December 2, 2016

firesWe didn’t start the fire…no, wait, yes we did. We fired up the imagination and penned stories from around the campfire ring. Or about stories that ring us with fire. It’s a fired up subject for flash fiction.

Writers found ways to express stories through flame.

The following flash fiction are based on the November 17, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is told around a campfire.


Flameout by Bill Engelson

The next morning, Aggie paused on the outskirts of Union City.

The funeral pyre was still smoldering, pumping out rings of foul smoke, smelling of dead flesh and the horror of divine providence.

“We’ll bury Dobbs, Mrs. Runacre,” Hank Taylor had promised, “but for the others, even the flames won’t remove their stain.”

Astride General Grant, bidding farewell, bundled and provisioned for her long ride back to the mountains, she was almost tempted to cry.

“No, Mr. Dobbs. Clancy. I will not weep for you. You allowed me to see a good man do a noble deed. Farewell, friend.”


Kindling? by Jules Paige

Driftwood, perfect for a campfire on the shore. Make sure the
tide is going out. Build close to the dunes. Won’t even be able
to hear flames crackle or the guitar player due to the loud surf.
Pass the Graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.

Wear a sweater. After the sun sets it gets a tad chilly. Bring
some blankets to sit or lay upon so you can gaze up to the
stars. Maybe see the Milky Way. Be careful of the sand flies
and crabs.

Tagalong siblings look away from the couples. Who make
a different kind of heat.


Around the Campfire by Norah Colvin

“Smile,” they said. “It could be worse.”

Than what: a compulsory “adventure”? navigating scrub lugging a loaded rucksack? avoiding plant and animal nasties? digging a toilet? erecting a recalcitrant tent? enduring inane chatter and laughter roaring as insanely as the campfire flames?

“You’ll learn something,” they’d said.

Fat chance.

Darkness hung low like her spirits.

Along with the dying flames, the mood quietened and, one by one, each told a story of horrors beyond her imaginings: of fleeing famine, war, abuse, hate …

Along with the sky, her heart softened with the light of a new day, and gratitude.


Carrot Ranch Flash by Joe Owens

“The last dry log,” Perkins declared, placing the piece of wood on the dimming fire.

“There is no more?” Alice questioned.

“None,” Perkins confirmed.

The six remaining survivors of Flight 169 shivered in the ever increasing snowstorm. Thin airline blankets were no match for single degree temperatures on Mount Raymond.

“We’re going to die,” Mandy said.

“Don’t say that!” Eric said pulling her closer.

“Why don’t they come for us?” Jerry asked.

“They don’t know where we are!” Kelly answered.

The wind howled as the conversation stopped while everyone watched the fire begin to consume the last dry log.


Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

He said he was going to take her away for the weekend, saying it was a surprise and she’d love it.
She envisioned romantic candlelit dinners in a suite in a fancy hotel, soft music, and perhaps, just perhaps, he was going to propose.

The joke was on her though.

She had candlelight all right, but that was only because the batteries died in the torch.

Dinner had to be caught, gutted and cooked on an open fire.

Her suite was a sleeping bag in a battered tent.

As for the proposal….. she didn’t hang around to find out.


Crossing over upon The Looming Wherewithal by Elliott Lyngreen

In that sordid celerity you get but all connected via that fantastic crystal lattice, that similarity; feedback-diffusing-static; I answer this invite and go camping with mi primo. Never been… Turns out he needed my Cherokee. So, smooshed in a small group, counselors against the hatch; including two foreign types – empirically referred to as ‘Mike from Denmark’ and of course, “I am Frank,” drops the bulk of his arm to a surface, “the Anaconda.” – my first time; our first fire, right…? produces this gliding, smoothing, just coasting star slid so slow and so low tracing close the looming wherewithal…


Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

The encampment swelled. Tents and tarps lined the sidewalk, shedding socks and gloves, wads of napkins along the curbs.

Pockets of comradery formed. The grass gave way to mud. Occasional laughter from figures huddled over glowing fires, shivering in the shadow of capitalism that seized the sun and cast a fluorescent chill over the lot. Some slept. Other discussed strategy.

At dawn, the fires smoldered. Knuckles cracked and smiles vanished as the mood grew tense. Morning inched over the lot. Commotion as the blue uniforms unlocked the doors.

“Attention Black Friday shoppers. Best Buy will open in five minutes.”


Memories Belonged to the Breeze by Ellen Best

Around the fire after an emotional day. The five of us together, Mum and us Sisters. We were at the river burning dad’s unwanted hoardings, his scraps and receipts from fifty five, long before any of his girls were alive. There were cards, from Fathers day’s past, faded barely distinguishable now. We read the ones we could, they were his hidden memories that belonged to the breeze. One from me to my dad, a picture of a cat we never had, a name, a smudge of a kiss greasy where my lips pressed that day long before he passed.


Looming Giants (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“And then that German pinned me, my face to his backside. Without much thought, I bit through his pants and clenched until he cried for mercy! And that boys, is how I beat the German Giant from Kansas.” Cobb tipped his bitters bottle and the bonfire gathering cheered.

Sarah listened from the porch. The more Cobb drank, the louder he told stories. She wondered at these men, many converts from the British Isles, headed to Mormon Zion with handcarts and talk of multiple wives. The women sat in the shadows, exhausted, on guard to fighting giants of their own.


The Gem by Allison Maruska

I gaze over the flames, at the young faces offering their attention. “You see, the treasure the boys found wasn’t just valuable. It was enchanted.”

“Enchanted?” My granddaughter scowls. “How?”

“Well,” I lean forward, “anyone who held a piece of it experienced something strange – they could absorb someone else’s life force. Their youth.”

“Heh.” Jackson huffs. “Nice story, Grandpa.”

The teen stands and heads for the tent, followed by his sisters.

I reach into my pocket, running my fingers over the ancient gem. Then, I touch my weathered face.

It won’t be weathered much longer. I’ve waited long enough.


Transformation by Kerry E.B. Black

Fire’s magic transforms all it touches. Its gold infuses elegance into humble surroundings, and its heat warms human souls.

It dances across logs, graceful as a sprite. Its tongues send messages to heaven, wrapped in clouds of billowing gray smoke.

I squeeze my eyes shut. Blue-bright flames lit by hatred to creep up my skirts. Hair sizzles. skin bubbles. Pain sears as fragrant flesh pops from bone until all that remains is unrecognizable char.

My spirit clings to the spot of my assassination, but instead of damning my persecutors, I admire the flame’s artistry. Fire transforms all it touches.


Come on Baby, Light My Fire by Geoff Le Pard

Mary stoked the bonfire, sending smoke everywhere.

Penny wrinkled her face. ‘Yuk, mum. That stinks.’

‘Fusspot. I loved bonfires. We cooked potatoes and bananas and all sorts.’

‘I bet they tasted disgusting.’

‘Ok, I’ll show you.’

Thirty minutes later, they sat together with silver foil tubes balanced in their gloved hands. ‘Be careful. Just unroll it carefully.’

Penny did as she was instructed; the chocolate and butter melted with the brown sugar creating a sticky sauce for the hot banana. Penny tried a tentative spoonful.

‘Do you like it?’

‘Wow! This is sick.’

‘I’ll take that as a yes.’


Ring of Fire by Sherri Matthews

“What’s that?” whispered Sam, turning towards the bushes behind him.

Flames licked up into the darkness, a warming glow for the campers. Apart from the spits and crackles of the firewood, Mona didn’t hear anything.

“Nothing…sit down and poke the fire before it goes out!”

Another loud snap and Sam shot back on his feet. “That’s it, I’m going to take a look. Hand me the torch, quick.”

“A little jumpy aren’t you?” sniggered Mona.

Mona heard a howl and smiled up at the full moon, dreaming only of the Caribbean retreat Sam’s life insurance would soon pay for.


Home Fire by Sarah Brentyn

Fingertips touching, never leaving, they dance.

Round the circle ringed with stones, embers glowing, wind blowing, they move.

Hair whipping, voices crackling, they sing.

Calling for the flames to grow, fire curling, stars fading, they twirl.

Towering bonfire casting shadows…shifting…

Faces alight, flickering rust and gold…features rearranging…

They are ancient. Forgotten. Lifeless.

They are born. Pulsing. Alive.

On the damp beach, atop the cliff, in the forest, the desert, the mountains, marshes, plains, valleys…

They are everywhere and nowhere. They are here.


To this place. Our home.


Fingertips touching. Dancing on our bones. Frolicking through the ruins.


Campfire Mule by Ann Edall-Robson

“He’s a mule. Don’t tell me he understood people?”

“I tell ya, it’s true,my grandpa was there!”

“Old Jake mule thought he was human. He’d sidle in to where everyone was sitting yacking around the campfire. Stick his head in-between the people talking. One guy would talk. Jake would look at him. When the guy beside him talked, Jake looked at him. The nights it rained, Jake’d stick his head through the fly on the tent so he could keep just his head dry.”

“Ya right.”

“It’s true. Grandpa talks about that old mule all the time.”


Reading Miracles (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Campfire wasn’t light enough to read by. Danni shined her flashlight across the inky scrawl of penmanship no one today would have. She read aloud,

“The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden.”
“Sounds biblical,” said Ike.

“It’s from the letters Max found in a cigar box. He said his father’s Mormon grandparents left Zion for a miracle in Idaho.”

“A miracle!”

“Oh, Ike. It’s just a story. It can reveal facts about pioneer migrations.”

By firelight, Ike grinned. Danni refused his miracles. Facts mattered.


Make a Wish (Jane Doe Flash Fiction and a Bit About Rocks) by Deborah Lee

Off to her left, a low bonfire, in the homeless camp near the stadium. Jane edges forward as her mind travels back.

Back, to childhood fires in stone rings and fireplaces. Her grandfather always let her set the first match. Sometimes he had magic powder she could cast, turning the flames azure, emerald, amethyst.

“Look with soft eyes, see without seeing,” he would say. “See them, in the flames? Fire faeries. See them dancing?” She on his lap, they’d watch together.

She edges closer now, afraid of these strangers but aching for fire faeries, to make a special wish.


Flash Fiction by Michael

It had been an exhausting day, a lot of trekking, we were tired and thankfully the tour leader organised dinner. We sat and ate in stupefied silence as the night settled round us. My three other trekkers wanted to sleep. Seemed a reasonable request until we heard a roar like none we’d heard before. It was just off to our left. We huddled unconsciously closer together. The next roar seemed just beyond the circle of light from the fire. No one spoke. We looked into the dark. Thoughts of rest slipped from our minds. There was a collective gulp.


Long Drop Toilet by Anne Goodwin

Nature, she’d always thought, was best observed from the window of a passing vehicle. But she couldn’t bear to disappoint the kids. And really, it wasn’t anything like as gruesome as she’d expected. The tents were roomy and the long drop toilet even had a seat.

It was cosy in the evening sitting around the campfire, picking out constellations in the sky. But she was puzzled. Why, with all that wood around the campsite, were they using gas?

“Haven’t you heard of biogas, Mother? Why chop down trees when our bodies can make fuel for free?”


A Campfire Yarn by Irene Waters

They sang kookaburra sits in the old gum tree followed by  Kumbaya then waited, the flickering flames illuminating their fresh, expectant faces.  ‘Bunyips’ll be out tonight’ Hank said. ‘I saw it crawl out of the swamp. Part emu and crocodile with a platypus bill which ended with a thing like a chainsaw. Huge claws. It picked Veronica, sat next to her. We relaxed whilst the bunyip hugged the breath from her.’ As if on cue a blood curdling scream came from the bush, drowned out by the children’s screams. “Mythical am I?’ The Bunyip slithered toward them.


My Alien is Hard to Describe by Lady Lee Manila

He comes and goes when he pleases
And he keeps on changing faces
He can be from one of the tribes
My alien is hard to describe

Long chin, prominent teeth, curved lips
Comes with his broken spaceship
Creative as Shakespearean jibe
My alien is hard to describe

He speaks of words with no vowels
It darkened his face, his scowl
And he doesn’t need any bribe
My alien is hard to describe

When he’s crossed, some sparkles come out
Out of his mouth, tea in spout
Some cynics in the planet gibe
My alien is hard to describe*

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  1. Henrietta Watson

    Very good stories. Thanks for sharing!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Michael

    Wow Charli what a great response…wonderful stories too…

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Michael! And for your contribution to the wonderful stories!

      • Michael

        My pleasure Charli..

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing and including your wonderful tale!

  3. Tena Carr

    Some Great stories

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reading and sharing, Tena!

  4. Tena Carr

    Reblogged this on Taini's Writings and commented:
    Some awesome stories in response to the Prompt.

  5. A. E. Robson

    Who knew a campfire could create such stories. Enjoyed them all.

    • Charli Mills

      Me, too! I got a kick out of yours!

  6. Sarah Brentyn

    Fab turnout of writers this week with such varied stories. Brilliant! ????

    • Charli Mills

      I thought so, too! Thanks for adding to the flames!

  7. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Always amazes as to how one prompt can create so many varied responses. Great roundup.

    • Charli Mills

      It always impresses upon me the value of diverse outlooks. Thanks for adding your perspective to the fire!


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