Doom Town

A friend of mine challenged me to write some flash.

The constraints were:

  1. Themed on this image:
  1. Feature either a fugitive or a dollmaker(!).
  2. Come in at less than 200 words. No lower limit.

“Hey”, thought Barrett, his enormous biceps glistening with sweat, “this ain’t bad”. He’d known his hunch was good.

He’d already slipped that dumbass escorting him back to LA, and as he stumbled over the brow of the hill, it was a bonus to see this spotless, unexpected town in the Nevada desert. But something was not right. That guy mowing the lawn, why no sound? Barrett hid himself, as he crept closer.

“What the…that’s why the fucker was still”, he thought, “he’s a fucking mannequin. What sort of place is this?” Becoming more confident of his solitude, Barrett approached the nearest house. Testing the door, it opened with no effort. He listened. Nothing. He crept into the simply-decorated lounge, stopping every few steps. Still nothing. A door off the lounge, the kitchen, and Barratt was aghast. A family, two adults, two children, all mannequins. “Fuck!” Taking in the sight, Barratt snarled, as he realised they weren’t unlike those four nosey motherfuckers he’d shot in LA, that got him into this in the first place.

That unkind thought was Barrett’s last. At that moment, the brightest of lights exploded through the window. A split second later, and Barrett was vapour.

199 words

I’m glad my explanation doesn’t eat into my word count. I based my story on the so-called Doom Towns constructed by the US Army in the Fifties, at the time of nuclear testing. These entirely fake towns, which even contained mannequins, were mocked up in order to assess how badly a bomb would damage urban areas. I found a fascinating article on them here.


  1. Just another example of a waste of money in support of war. I enjoyed this read. Great job with the word count… 😉 Rules are made to be broken, right? I get chills just imagining walking though these fake towns. So creepy. Great ending too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah those places must be really spooky. There’s few villages not far from me (though I’ve never been) where they basically turfed all the inhabitants out prior to D-Day. They’re decaying now of course but fundamentally preserved. And in recent years the military here have been selling off old Cold War assets such as bunkers. Most of which are underground and pokey. Ugh.


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