The Race

3 Feb

Below is my 100 word story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers challenge. We’re given a photo prompt by Madison Woods that can be found here ( ) Comment on Madison’s story here (  ) and leave a link to your submission. Check everyone’s story out and meet new and interesting authors. Creativity and imagination on the march. Gotta love it. Aloha, D. 


The Race

“Blowup on South Ridge!” Diana’s radio crackled urgently. “Team Six abandon NOW!”

Below her the wind had shifted upslope, spawning an all consuming crowning fire that raced with blazing speed through the treetops. She stood stock-still, awestruck. Then, above the mesmerizing roar of the approaching wall of flame a ghostly chorus of savaged voices cried out.

“Mann Gulch!”

“Storm King Mountain!”

Names that smolder in the subconscious of each Smoke Jumper who battles in the long shadows cast by twenty-seven men and women killed in those legendary fires. Her tools fell unnoticed to the ground.

Diana bolted for the ridge top and life.

54 Responses to “The Race”

  1. Hareem February 3, 2012 at 11:55 am #


    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Thanks Hareem! Welcome aboard.



  2. loustar02 February 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    King of the Action! It was all go in your piece today. I love the line: “Her tools fell unnoticed to the ground” – it says it all.

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      Thank you, Sir.

      My tools would have fallen unnoticed as well. I hope she made it.



  3. Jan Morrill February 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    This is a powerful piece, with prose that put me right there in the middle of that fire with Diana. I especially liked: “Then, above the mesmerizing roar of the approaching wall of flame a ghostly chorus of savaged voices cried out.” I could hear it . . . feel it. I’m glad she “bolted for life.”

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

      Dear Jan,

      Thanks for saying so. Our stories were kind of opposites, don’t you think? One who ‘will not be afraid’ and another who uses fear to give her wings.



  4. Craig Towsley February 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Jeez Doug,

    Every week you come in and write something and make me feel like a schmuck scribbling with crayons. Hahahaha.

    I’m kidding, but only a little bit.

    Fantastic vivid piece of writing. This “all consuming crowning fire” is a mouthful and I think it really manages to convey the sense of bewilderment and panic.

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

      Dear Craig,

      I just got inside from a two hour shift watching the skies. It’s cold out there. i mention this only to explain why I haven’t gotten to your story yet.

      I write with crayons all the time; fills up the page faster. Can’t wait to get on over to your page.

      But seriously, Craig, thank you for your kind words. Does this old brain good.



  5. Carlos Repuesto de la Tabla February 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    I’m with Craig’s comment, but you know that, I hope. I took it as a forest fire too, in fact, that’s what I titled it, but a different view. This was an action piece and had one of your best endings, the upside of fear.
    Out of interest, where was this? I used to live near a Mann Gulch, the general area where my reminiscence is set.

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

      Norman McLean’s best book was not A River Runs Through It. It was his lesser known but far more powerful examination of the Mann Gulch fire in Idaho. The fire was in 1946 and Mr. McLean’s book came out forty years later or so. Storm King Mountain, Colorado, 1994 was written about by Sebastian Junger. Both worth checking out.

      Thanks for your kind comments. For what it’s worth, the first novel I can ever remember reading, or starting, at the very least, was one about a forest fire. Don’t remember the title or author but the opening paragraph about a lightning strike and subsequent smoldering roots and tragedy waiting to happen was compelling fo rthis little kid.

      Did you live near Mann Gulch, Idaho on the Missouri River or therabouts?



      • Carlos Repuesto de la Tabla February 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

        I lived in the mountains of northern Trinity County, California. Halfway between Mt Shasta and the ocean. I spent every summer there as a child, then moved there with my wife and daughter in 1983 and stayed for 11 years. About a half mile from our cabin there was a scary footbridge that went across the Trinity River to the abandoned Mann house in Mann Gulch. when I returned in ’83, the house had burned down and the bridge had been taken down. The people had changed too; they had gone from Hank Williams to Hank Williams Jr.
        Have you read Kem Nunn? He wrote surfing novels, eventually growing out of that, but an early surfing book was Dogs of Winter, set on the Northern California coast, a remarkably accurate description of those people. A very good writer. The terrific TV program, John From Cincinnatti, came from him as well.

      • dmmacilroy February 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

        Hi Carlos,

        No I haven’t read him but will add to the list. Interesting how most place names get repaeated over the course of several years/states. Scopes are closing, I have to go. I’ll finish this reply soonest.



  6. susielindau February 3, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    I love the imagery of this. It is hard to believe that out my picture window, Boulder will fight similar fires when the snow is being blown into drifts!
    Great post!

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      Dear Susie,

      I was thinking about you as i wrote this. Snow coming your way, right? Or is it there now, blanketing your world?

      Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting.

      I’m headed your way now, as Madison says;)



      • susielindau February 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

        We got dumped on last night. About 15-16 inches and it is still snowing!

      • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

        Yikes! All we have is leftovers from 6 weeks ago. Oh well, better you than me! Alohya, D.

  7. bridgesareforburning February 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    My first and strongest reaction to the photo was that it was a forest fire and I considered that as an option, but wasn’t sure I could pull it off. You, however, not only pulled it off, you worked in some real facts to give it authenticity. Hope she made it to the top of that ridge.
    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      Thank you, Sir,

      As I mentioned in an earlier comment, forest fires and I go way back, so it was easy to channel what I knew into Diana’s world. Check out Norman McLean’s Young Men and Fire if you get a chance. Well worth the time.



  8. Judee February 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Wonderful sense of the heroism it takes to do such a job. And how suddenly the wind can change things. Great job.

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Dear Judee,

      I don’t know how Smoke Jumpers, men or women, can walk, no less fight forest fires with the size of their brass balls. You are so right about their heroism…and the winds of fate.



  9. elmowrites February 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Hi Doug! I must admit this story didn’t mean anything to me the first time – no forests in England to have forest fires and smoke jumpers in, so I was a bit confused about what was happening. But having read the comments and gone back to it, I understand much better.
    And what remains either way, is the great sense of urgency and action you’ve packed into this tiny story. Your pacing is excellent, right down to the tiny pause the reader gets with her tools falling to the ground.

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      Hi Elmo!

      Thaks for stopping by. Do yourself a big favor and read Young Men and Fire by Norman McLean. And Google the Mann Gulch fire and Storm King Mountain fire. Terrible and awe inspiring and majestic and don’t get caught in the wrong place when the wind shifts.

      Thanks for your kind compliments re pacing and pauses and action. Does a body good to hear they’ve come close to the mark.



      • Jake Kale February 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

        As a fellow Brit, I was also thrown by the Smoke Jumpers term. Now that I’m a little wiser, all’s I can say is they put those extreme sports/skydiving show-offs in their place!

        I might be way off here, but I thought I sensed a supernatural tinge to this story. Perhaps it’s just me. I’m not sure how much scarier that would make Diana’s predicament, given that she already has a gigantic fire bearing down on her! Oh wait – ghosts on fire. Yeah that would be pretty terrifying.

        I’m rapidly becoming convinced that I have grasped the wrong end of the stick here, so I’ll join Diana in beating a hasty retreat. But not before leaving a little linkage:

  10. unspywriter February 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Nice story–and tribute. I was thinking I’d go the smokejumper route, but I wasn’t comfortable with my knowledge. Now I’m glad I didn’t because yours deserves to stand alone. Great job.

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      Thanks Maggie,

      I’d have loved to read any other Smoke Jumper pieces. i bet yours would have been wonderful. As it was, your story was super.



  11. John Hardy Bell February 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Sounding like a broken record here! Another week, another brilliantly written story! You inspire!

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

      Hi John,
      Fresh off the mountain after a five night run, Thanks for your praise. I WILL get to your story, but first I have to sleeeeeeeeeeep.

      Seriously, though, thank you very much.



  12. Caely February 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    Dear D,

    Your muses are kind to you, and the story delivers both depth and mystery – j’adore.
    The words that especially captured my attention were “unnoticed” and “bolted”, somehow they managed to send a strong chill down my spine. Well written work, my friend.

    Cae (

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

      Dear Cae,

      Please forgive me. I must say thanks and go right to sleep. Just off the mountain and though it is daytime, for me, it is time to crash.



      • Caely February 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

        Dear D,

        There is nothing to forgive, sleep is important 🙂


  13. Siobhan Muir February 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Wow, powerfully done, Doug. Brings back memories of the movies they’ve made about the Smoke Jumpers, but your story pulls it into focus. My husband worked on the fires in CA back in 2008 and I’m just grateful he wasn’t on the front lines.

    Well done.


    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      Dear Siobhan,

      Thank you so much for your generous compliments. I will get to your story soon as I catch forty winks. To try and be coherent now would be challenging and the result an injustice to your story.



  14. eliserae February 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    You always catch me by surprise. This is a good mystery.

    Hope all is well in your corner of the world!

    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      Hi Elise,

      You always treat me so well in your comments. i appreciate it. have to get a few hours sleep. Will wake up this evening and read all the stories I could not get to, yours tops on the list.



  15. Madison Woods February 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Piano wire tension in this one Doug. I could feel the heat, smell the smoke – I was there. Great story!

    • Madison Woods February 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      Oh, and I have no idea if pianos have wire or if they are tight, but it just popped into my head.

      • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

        Dear Madison,

        Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them very much. For the record, piano wire is the choice of assassins everywhere for use in garrotes of various sorts. In pianos the wire is tensioned by tensioning screw pins so your choice of it as a method of depicting tension was apt.

        Now I’m going to bed. Been up way too long. Will hit the reading trail again in a few hours. Thanks for putting this rodeo on.



  16. Lindaura Glamoura February 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    And now for a change of pace from Doug! Wow, that was very stirring. Very cleverly composed to inspire us with awe and wonder devolving into terror – ahhh, but combined with hope. You are a clever doug.

    • dmmacilroy February 3, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      A clever Doug…I love it.

      Thanks Lindaura. I’m hitting the wall now and the wall is falling down on me. Going to bed. Will wake coherent in a few hours at which time I will get to the last of the stories I missed.



  17. Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) February 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    I’m still not sure how you packed so much thrill and adrenalyn into so few words. You had me at, “Blowup on South Ridge!”

    ~Susan (And, here’s mine:

  18. Sonia Lal February 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Whoa. You packed a lot into 100 words.

  19. Cara Michaels February 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Very intense, Doug. Loved that frozen moment broken by the will to survive. Well done.

  20. writingbothsides February 3, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    Tightly written, great pace, and a good endline. I held my breath.

    Here’s mine:

  21. Mike February 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Another great story Doug.
    I was hit by your use of words like ‘awestruck’ and ‘mesmerising’ and could well imagine someone just standing in awe of the flames. Fires have that magic of drawing us in by their beauty, lulling us into a false sense of security.

    Here’s mine – albeit a day late!

  22. Robin Hawke February 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Plunged immediately into this story. Great choice of first word. Love the pacing, still panting, Robin

  23. LupusAnthropos February 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    Indeed, there is a time when escape is the true heroism. Heroes may be valiant, but they aren’t foolish. Good story!

    Here’s mine:

  24. parul February 5, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    You are the emperor of this 100 word game that we play every week. You leave me amazed every time I come here, and this time is no exception!

    • dmmacilroy February 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

      Big smile on my face, Parul! Thanks for your praise. Means a lot and will keep me fired up.



  25. Quill Shiv February 6, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    What a wonderful work! The action was fast paced, yet so finely detailed and well-wrought. Great job!

    I’m so sorry it took me so long to make it to your blog this week! I know you’ve all ready made it over to my site, but I’m just going to leave these links here in case anyone else want to visit.

    • dmmacilroy February 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      Dear Quill Shiv,

      I don’t know how anyone keeps up with anything anymore. World is full to the brim with things to do. I’m glad you made it and grateful for the comments. See you Friday? Hope so.



  26. The Lime February 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    So. I had a busy weekend that prevented me from getting around to the stories as soon as I would have liked, but I really love the sense of history embedded in this piece. This idea that she realizes she could become a part of that history. Lovely work, Doug!

    • dmmacilroy February 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      Hi Lime,

      Anytime you show up here is fine by me, just show. Thanks for the good thoughts. See you next Friday. Safe travels.



  27. Quill Shiv February 8, 2012 at 3:08 am #

    Doug, I didn’t know how to get in contact with you, but I want to make sure everything was okay in your part of Hawaii. I’d heard about the high winds and fires. Be well. -Rinn

  28. rochellewisoff April 5, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    Had to take in another of your stellar stories, learn something and enjoy the Friday Fictioneers before me. It’s humbling in a way. You were the king long before I was the queen. My muse, my friend.

    Kia Ora, Shalom, Aroha,

    Rochelle SD

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