“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Never-ending scene Blogfest - Dancing upon the mountains like black rain

Thank you Brenda Drake for hosting this blogfest. My entry in the cliffhanger blogfest is an extract from a short story I wrote after the horrendous Victorian bushfires over twelve months ago. Many people who’d had a tree change move to the serene wooded hill towns outside Melbourne perished as fire swept through, virtually unstoppable, destroying all in its path.

I begin my short extract when the MC, Jilly, had just spoken to the fire authority and alerted them to a fire in her area. One of the problems with the Victorian fires was the lack of responsiveness/resources of the fire-fighting authorities. Many perished because of this. Read on…

Dancing upon the Mountains like Black Rain

Her Fire Plan? 

Jilly slammed the phone down. Oh, God! She was horrified to see the smoke on the ridge had grown from a wisp to a red twister. The red-orange-black flames were skittering along the ground gobbling the brown grasses and spitting out black stubble. A stiff breeze whipped the flames higher and higher. It was heading right for her.The gigantic wall of flame was growing before her eyes like a giant genie free from its bottle. She felt an icy creepiness throughout her body even though the temperature was at boiling point.

Where are the fire trucks?

Her knowledge of fires wouldn’t fill a water glass. She’d only just arrived from the city seeking peace and serenity. But even the rawest city slicker knew that water meant salvation. Thankfully the dam just down the hill was still half full from the previous season’s rains, the pump was primed, ready. C’mon. She dashed to the dam and checked the possibilities—did she have enough hose to saturate the house and fill the gutters? Running back up the hill, she clipped a hose to the back outdoor tap and tested it with a few squirts. Fine.

Okay, I have water.

Where…are…the fire trucks?

Running to the front of the house, she was mesmerised by smoke whirling up the hill in her direction. Oh my Lord! The wind had changed, the fire was coming. A wall of flame was heading her way, galloping across the paddocks like a terrified pack of brumbies. Eucalyptus trees exploding. Animals screaming. Fireballs searing the sky. She was in Dante’s Inferno.

How could fire change so quickly?

She knew she was supposed to go or stay, but she hadn’t thought the fire was going to threaten her. There’d been no warnings. But now it was heading straight for her. The power lines were on fire, the wires swinging. Flying cinders whirling through the sky. It was too late to make a choice—the fire had made it for her. The ferocious blaze was already leap-frogging the valley road and licking its way up the final hill. Escape was impossible.

I’m a survivor. A fire can’t beat me.

Fear got her adrenaline pumping. She ran to the hose. She had to wet everything before the fire reached the dam and wrecked the pump. It was nearly there.

She wet a towel and wrapped it around her face. The water pressure was low, but Jilly managed to coax enough out to do the job. The flames continued their destructive path uphill, well-fuelled by the dry summer grasses, dead trees and undergrowth. As she hosed, she looked around in panic. Everything looked surreal through a blue-grey mist.

Where could she go? Where could she hide? All she could hear was the cracking of exploding trees and the loud whoosh of the flames as they shattered everything in their path. She heard a terrifying sound like a runaway train before she saw it, a gigantic wall of flame, cinders scattering through the sky, falling on her like black rain.


Go here to read other entries...

©Denise Covey, 2010


  1. Oh, this is great! You are a terrific writer. I really did enjoy the award for best liar!


  2. Jane, thank you for the compliment..:)

  3. Wow, that is scary! And well-written, because I could imagine I was right there!

  4. Good Rachel, you're meant to be scared..:)

  5. Ooo. . .that gave me goosebumps. It worked perfectly. You are very talented!

  6. Having lived in Africa - bush fires - you story brought all this vividly alive again! Excellent!

  7. Great read. I definitely want to read more.

  8. Have you experienced a bush fire before? cos u made it sound so real I was flexing my toes in anticipation!

  9. Great post, L'Aussie! Quite a cliffhanger!

  10. Hey!

    That first paragraph knocked me down descriptively. Really, well done on opening so strong, especially the phrase, "from a wisp to a red twister." Not only is the image strong, but I really like the similar sounding phrases.

    Thanks for the sharing this!


    J.W. Parente
    In My Write Mind

  11. Very interesting and descriptive! And I LOVED the last line. This flows really well and I want a page to turn!

    Good luck!

  12. Nice scene! Very intense. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Ellie: Thanks so much..:)

    Carole Anne: I imagine the fires in Africa would be much like this..:)

    Cheree: Thanks..:)

    Joanna: Only little ones, nothing like this, but there were lots of stories of survival or not after the fires..:)

    Gabriella: Thanks..:)

    Justin: Thanks. You've picked up on a little poetic language. Glad you liked it..:)

    Bree: Thanks..:)

    Shallee: Thanks..:)

    Marieke: Thanks..:)

  14. Great tension building. Fire with no water to put it out! Very nice details. It really put me in the story.

  15. Thanks for participating! We've judged your entry. o/\o *high five*

  16. Hi,

    Hee hee, read this before, but even second-time it's a good read and gets the adrenalin flowing! ;)


  17. JEFritz: Thanks for your comment..:)

    Brenda: Thanks for that..:)

    Francine: Well I figure I've got a lot of new readers now and it fit the bill, hee hee..:)

  18. Very nicely done. Palpable tension and threat. Does she survive?

  19. Oh I remember how sad I was seeing this on the news. What you convey is the fear that overtakes anyone in the face of such destruction. Your description is so accurate & the reader really grasps just how dangerous this inferno is.

  20. Christopher: 'Cause she does, or does she?

    notesfromnadir: Thanks for dropping by!

  21. Well done. It has quite the excitement of the fire along with the panic of the main character. We really get pulled into the moment of the story.

  22. Really enjoyed this. Your phrasing is great - loved "Her knowledge of fires wouldn't fill a water glass" - fantastic! Thanks also for following Scrubby Bush - I've added you to the front page so readers can see your posts. Looking forward to NaNoWriMo!

  23. Dawn: Oooh..:)

    Cheryl, that's lovely!

  24. I'd just like to add to the praise here - this was brilliantly tense! Lots of well observed details too. Well done.

  25. This was really good and nerve-wracking! Super cliffhanger!

  26. Hey Denise, great tension. You've captured the fires really well.


  27. Great imagery. Love the description. I felt as if I was there! Great flow, I wanted to know more.

    Michael D.

    Thanks for the nice comment.

  28. Great excerpt! The tension is dripping throughout it. :o)

    Thanks for sharing, L'Aussie!

  29. Rachel, thank you..:)

    Michael, thank you in return for the nice comment..:)

  30. WHERE are those fire trucks!?! I was beginning to panic with her. Fire is one of my biggest fears. You had me right there with her, willing those darn trucks to show up already. GREAT build-up and cliffhanger!

  31. WEll done! You have some great images and I really want to know why the firetrucks haven't come! One sentence struck out at me diminishing the flow of the rest of the paragraph: "She felt an icy creepiness throughout her body even though the temperature was at boiling point." I would suggest rewording it better for clarity- the "icy creepiness" didn't sound right.

  32. I recall you posting an excerpt on fire in a previous blogfest as well. No less terrifying reading this a second time! Great job! I can always hear the crackling flames!

  33. That question at every change of action "where are the fire trucks" keeps a steady run of tension through this. Very appropriate to leave the cliff hanger there too.

    This was a masterpiece the first time posted, and it still is a gripping story. I liked especially the line about too late to make a decision, the fire had made it for her. So often in a crisis this is how it goes; indecision until the crisis itself leaves almost no options.

    Well done Denise.


  34. Summer: Thanks for the constructive comments. Always appreciated and I think you are right..:)

    Samantha: Thanks..:)

    J C Martin: Yeah, second time around but I thought it fit the bill and I have made some changes. Lots of new audience too..:)

    Raquel: Thanks..:)

    Donna: Yeah, as I said to JCM I thought it fit the bill. Glad you liked the link..:)

  35. How frightening.

    And you have such a way with language:

    "...from a wisp to a red twister. The red-orange-black flames were skittering along the ground gobbling the brown grasses and spitting out black stubble."


  36. Wow the fire sounds horrific! Great job :)

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