Friday Fictioneers: Canary In A Coal Mine

We’re back from vacation, and sadly, my dear computer, was indeed dead. Fried logic board was the COD. Thanks for all the good advice and help last week! I’m still figuring out my new Mac, but glad to be plugged in again. Friday Fictioneers is a weekly Flash Fiction challenge, orchestrated by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt comes from Luther Siler. If you’d like to join Friday Fictioneers, or would like to check out the many other wonderful stories, please stop by Rochelle’s blog Addicted To Purple, for more details. As always, I welcome honest, constructive feedback. I try to do the same.


© Luther Siler

Canary In A Coal Mine

The darkness was something they were used to, but the strange smell made Jeb’s skin crawl.
“Somethin’ aint right here.” He nudged his buddy Clem. “We need to wire headquarters.”
The other men stopped working and listened. Jeb had been working the mine longer than any of them; his instincts were solid.
Jeb held his light aloft, made his way back to the tunnel intersection, and reached for the small cage. The light illuminated two delicate yellow bodies.
“Men, there aint no time to waste; the birds are dead!”
As they ran for the exits, a loud explosion shook them.

(word count: 100)

*     *     *

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About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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43 Responses to Friday Fictioneers: Canary In A Coal Mine

  1. My parents were both from northeastern Pa so I’ve always heard those mines were scary. This really presents a concrete picture of how dangerous things are down there. I’ve always thought the canaries were real though


    • Larry, welcome to Tales From the Motherland! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment; it’s much appreciated. The canaries were real, and when I saw this strange photo, that’s the first thing I thought of.


  2. Mike Lince says:

    The picture made me laugh. I was further entertained by your title and where you went with the story. And best of all, you chose the perfect name for your main character. Who else but Jeb could save the miners!

    I love your story, even if it were meant to be more dramatic than humorous. After all, a coal mine disaster is not that funny. I guess what allowed me to chuckle a bit was me perceiving the tone of a graphic novel. I am sorry if I missed your intent. (Maybe I watch too much television.) – Mike


  3. Joy Pixley says:

    Oo, I like your take on the photo prompt! Although for being such an experienced miner, Jeb dropped the ball by not watching those birds more carefully. I hope they all got out okay! (Yes, I worry about fictional characters in flash fiction stories…)


    • Welcome to Tales From the Motherland, Joy and thanks for your feedback; it’s much appreciated! I thought about that detail, but wasn’t sure how to rectify it. Nice catch! Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts.


  4. Amy Reese says:

    Great, suspenseful take! I like where you took this one. Your beginning set it up really well.


  5. Amy Reese says:

    And now…I’m singing that Police song! Haha

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Friday Fictioneers: Canary In A Coal Mine | ugiridharaprasad

  7. This was very intense, poor little birds. We use and abuse everything and I know that many times it saves our lives, but it istill a hard pill to swallow.


  8. A miner’s life is hard and dangerous. I’d heard of birds being used to detect gas in a mine. This was a realistic and well-written story, Dawn. — Suzanne


  9. hafong says:

    Yes, I hope the story has a happy ending! It’s interesting to see each of us interpret the photo prompt. I’m always intrigued by the comments also.



  10. Run!!!
    I like how nothing more needed to be said than, “The birds are dead.” Probably the worst four words a miner can hear. Kudos.


  11. plaridel says:

    oh my, hopefully, they were able to get out on time.


  12. Tells an interesting tale about a world I know little about besides the song “Canary in a Coal Mine.” There’s a tense foreboding feeling throughout.


  13. Dear Dawn,

    Brilliant use of the story. You took a nice broad step out of the box and landed on your feet. Great set up and explosive ending.




  14. rgayer55 says:

    Excellent writing, Dawn. I could just see the fear in their blackened faces upon finding the dead birds. Hope they made it out alive.


  15. I really like where you took the prompt.. I expected it already from the title, the dead canary is something that have given me nightmares in the past… I could probably never be a miner.


  16. Clean, tight writing. Good job! (You missed a period after “here” in the second paragraph). 😉


  17. I was just reading a book that talked about this very thing. We complain about bureaucracy but the little man has a lot to be thankful for from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. subroto says:

    I wonder how many lives those birds actually saved? Great take on the prompt.


  19. That was a dramatic and vividly narrated tale! Great story!



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