Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

#FridayFictioneers – 8/3/13 – The Sappers

with 32 comments

Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to stimulate and inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

Every Friday (or before) the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word stories. Visit Rochelle’s site for the rules on how to join in and check out the other stories by clicking on the blue guy.

copyright - Jennifer Pendergast

copyright – Jennifer Pendergast


The Sappers (100 words) – Historical Fiction

‘Nearly there.’

‘You said that half hour ago.’

‘I can see light.’

‘At the end of the tunnel?’

‘That’ll do with your quips, Private.’


The blast had taken their light and Jimmy’s legs. They felt fine, but had no feeling; were useless in helping the sarge pull him out.

How far had they burrowed in? It felt as if the tunnel had lengthened four fold.

Black, damp, clammy.

Dull thuds on the surface reverberated through earth; brought down showers of stones. Rats scratched and scampered.

Jimmy had never been claustrophobic, had revelled in the safety of underground. Until now.


Written by Sarah Ann

March 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm

32 Responses

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  1. Very good. I like the set up… looks like a good start to a larger story and makes me want to read on both sides of this scene.


    March 7, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    • I hadn’t thought of it as the start to anything larger, but you’re right – thanks for pointing it out.

      Sarah Ann

      March 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm

  2. That’s some climb. Nice take on the photo prompt.


    March 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm

  3. My favourite part is the dialogue.


    March 8, 2013 at 2:23 am

    • Mine too. I didn’t think I could tell the whole story in dialogue within 100 words, but I’m going to try now ….

      Sarah Ann

      March 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm

  4. I’ve always thought that had to be a thankless, dreadful job and you just reinforced that idea. And you can get one more word since “fourfold” is one word. Hurrah!! Where to use it?? 🙂



    March 8, 2013 at 3:50 am

    • Thanks, Janet. Okay, where to use my extra word?…
      I can’t imagine working underground, having to crawl in and out to do your job. I’ll stay in the fresh air.
      (Still thinking where to add/ change….)

      Sarah Ann

      March 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      • 🙂 You don’t have to use it, you know. But an extra word to use is like having a pearl, isn’t it?




        March 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm

  5. A different take on the prompt – well done.


    March 8, 2013 at 8:52 am

  6. I like how you altered the angle and place, to create a unique take on the picture – nicely done.


    March 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    • Thank you. The light at the top of the stairs caught me, which gave me ‘at the end of the tunnel’ and it developed from there.

      Sarah Ann

      March 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm

  7. Great take on the prompt!


    March 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm

  8. I enjoyed this – I could really feel the claustrophobia – and the rats. Ugh!


    March 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

    • Oh good. I mean I’m glad the words worked, not that you felt claustrophobic. I think the rats need to scurry rather than scamper to make them a bit more menacing.

      Sarah Ann

      March 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm

  9. A job I would not want to do. You made it seem real, Sarah, in a few words. I liked Jimmy trying to make light of the situation.


    March 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    • Me neither. Thanks, Ted. I don’t think his sergeant was amused. But making light is probably better than a screaming fit. I don’t want to imagine the state I’d been in.

      Sarah Ann

      March 11, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  10. Dear Sarah,
    While others went upward you burrowed beneath the earth. You set the tone and the atmosphere well. Good job.


    March 10, 2013 at 2:04 am

    • Thanks, Rochelle. I’m not sure why I dug down this week. I think I needed to read Jennifer’s post about where the photo was taken first, and then I might have been able to come up with something above ground. But I’m better off not reading anyone else’s stories before I know what I’m going to write, otherwise I’ll steal other people’s ideas. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Sarah Ann

      March 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

  11. Dear Sarah Ann,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your story. You were able to drag us along with you, most willing, some unwilling, into the darkness. Were I asked I would counsel the removal of the word ‘in’ after ‘burrowed’, but that’s is a tiny thing in an otherwise marvelous story.



    Douglas MacIlroy

    March 10, 2013 at 6:41 am

    • Hi Doug,
      Thank you for your lovely comments. And please feel free to pick me up and make suggestions. I did remove the ‘in’ at one stage, but wasn’t sure whether the fourfold increase on the way out was clear enough with just ‘burrowed’. If I removed ‘in’ and collapse fourfold, I get two additional words to play with. Oh dear, I’ll have to put my thinking cap on again.

      Sarah Ann

      March 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

  12. I’m intrigued about why they were there, which war they are fighting and what happened to take his legs out – there is a rich opportunity here for a much longer story I think 🙂

    Linda Parkinson-Hardman

    March 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    • In my head they were under the Western Front (WW1). The blast that took Jimmy’s legs was from a badly laid charge. Jimmy and the sergeant are two survivors of a bigger party. Thinking about it since I wrote it, I was probably influenced by a scene in Sebastian Faulk’s Birdsong – the BBC version that is, as I still haven’t managed to read the book. And, I agree, there could be much more, especially what each of them is thinking. Thanks for your comments and suggestions. 🙂

      Sarah Ann

      March 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm

  13. Great start for something bigger. I liked the final twist.

  14. I like how you’ve gone in a completely different direction from everyone else this week, Sarah. You take us right into that tunnel with the men, and it’s not a nice place to be. One tiny thing, I struggled with “they felt fine but had no feeling” – which seems to me to be contradictory.


    March 11, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    • Hi Jen. I’m glad I was able to get you in the tunnel. And thanks for picking up that line, as I did worry whether or not it worked. Jimmy’s legs feel fine under his hands (no wounds/ bleeding he can find) but have no feeling, in that they can’t feel the ground underneath or his hands touching them. Any suggestions on how to make it clearer much appreciated!

      Sarah Ann

      March 12, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      • Hmmm… I see what you’re getting at. And it’s dark, so they can’t “look fine”, which would be the obvious solution. But maybe “seemed uninjured”? One to think about, that one!


        March 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      • I started with ‘looked fine’ before I remembered it was dark. And then I added that the blast had put out their light so the reader knew they couldn’t see either. ‘Seemed uninjured’ would work – thanks for the suggestion and going further than my brain would allow.

        Sarah Ann

        March 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm

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