Second Writing Challenge Prompt & Writing Challenge Story #4: The Journey

I received a new story at the beginning of the week, but due to being busy with my Etsy shop, running a horse club, and working through Finals week in college, I have only recently put this one up. The 2nd Writing Challenge prompt is after the story. This story is called The Journey by Teresa H.

Chapter 1. 

Mama handed the cable man our passports, he slowly flipped them over, examining every inch on them. 

“That way, ” he muttered, pointing to a line of people who were getting on the cable cars. Mama and I walked over to the line. Brother tried to follow, but the guards grabbed him, holding him back. The cable man shook his head at him, the oily braids which he pulled his hair back into slapping back and forth. Mama stepped forward, her usually steady blue eyes snapping as she yelled, 

“What are you doing? Let him over here!” 

One of the guards shook his head heavily, darting his eyes to ovoid mama’s. The guard found a sudden interest in his boots.  The cable man laughed, snarling, “These tickets aren’t valid. I’m afraid he’ll have to stay behind, and enjoy the bitter cold!” He didn’t sound sorry at all. I clutched my stomach, sickened by the absolute heartlessness. I almost screamed, but thought better of it. I might vomit, this man was so disgusting. 

We were one of the last families of a dying race, and that horrid ‘cable man’ just laughs and says Háno can’t come? Cable men are supposed to be nice! Mama trembled with rage, but before she could say anything we were jostled on to the car. The door shut and it began to move. I clutched at Mama’s sleeve and whispered, “What’s going to happen to Háno?”

I loved Háno like nothing else, I couldn’t lose him. Mama just cried. I grabbed the nearest man and repeated my question. He stared at me with tear filled eyes then said rather flatly, “He’ll probably freeze with my wife. It gets way below freezing on the mountain side.”

I felt tears bubbling up and hastily wiped my eyes. “No,” I said crossly, “He can’t die. That’s not okay.”

The man shrugged and pulled away from me to stare out the window again. Not helpful. I glanced out the window at the fog, the ground was barely visible. Then it struck me. I could get out, after all. The window opened from the inside. I glanced guiltily around then leaning forward and pried open the window a crack, nobody looked my way. I sighed in relief and set about the task of getting the window open enough to slip through. By the time it was open wide enough for a four foot two inch girl, I was getting quite a few looks and some, “Shut the window, you’re letting the cold air in,” and “What are you doing little girl? Shut that!”

I just flipped my golden braids at these remarks and said, rolling my bright blue eyes, “Saving siblings is worth a slight cold.” I then went about the business of finding someone with rope. A bright spirited young man offered me his two jump ropes, one red, and one green. I thanked him greatly and went back to the window. I found a seat to tie the first jump rope about and set to tying a figure eight knot. After that was done, I tied the next jump rope to the first using the same knot, then I dropped the rope out the window. As I climbed on the edge of the window, Mama looked up and saw me. 

“What are you doing Lessie?!” she gasped, 

“Saving Háno.” Was my only reply, then I dropped out the window. I faintly heard Mama scream, then the wind whipped away any other sound. And I was falling, the snow bit my cheeks and stuck to my lashes. Then the rope jerked and I screamed with pain. The rope left my hands and the last thing I knew was the jarring shock of hitting the ground.

Chapter 2.

I rolled over and moaned. My arm hurt. My head hurt. In fact, my entire body hurt. Slowly, moaning and groaning the entire way, I pushed myself to my feet. Looking down, I noticed the green jump rope and a red jump rope handle lying there. I shook my head to clear it, then stood up fully, straightening my back. I shivered, pulling my coat closer. A cold, snowy breeze whipped down the mountain side. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure that this was a good idea, but there was no going back now. No way to go back, I would just have to push on ahead. 

Turning to face the way back up the mountain to the station I realized the wind was coming down the mountain, meaning a lot of trouble climbing up as I would be fighting the wind the entire way. 

“I wish it wasn’t snowing.” I muttered through half-frozen lips. The snow that stuck to my lashes was so thick I could hardly see. Raising my right hand, I rubbed my eyes hard, only making it worse. I searched the sky for the sun, needing to know how long I had lain there unconscious. But the clouds were too much and the snow too thick to see the sun. I could only hope I had been there for just a little while. I stopped in my tracks, thinking I should go back for the jump rope. It might come in handy later, and besides that, I had lost my hat in the fall. It was a bad plan to go without head protection in this place. I returned to the place of my fall, wincing at the sharp pain that tingled through my legs. But the jump rope was gone. It was just snow. In fact, I couldn’t be certain this was where I had fallen. The snow was coming too fast. It covered my tracks in a matter of seconds. I would never find my hat and the rope; there was no point in trying. I turned and ran, moving slowly because of the wind. As I pushed my way, slowly and painfully, up the slope, I thought I heard light, airy laughter. Parting my lips a crack I tried to say, ‘who’s there?’ but it came out as no more than a meow. The laughter came again, more distinct this time. It seemed to be coming from the air, strangely enough. A sudden gust of wind threw me off my balance and I stumbled backwards and fell, tumbling down the mountain side. Laying face first in the snow I tried to breathe, but I was too tired to breathe. I lay there for a few seconds. Then I realized that if I didn’t move I was as good as dead, but I was so tired and the laughter was harder than ever. It seemed that the mysterious person was laughing at me. I forced myself to take a deep breath, then another. And another. Driving my hands deep into the snow I pushed myself off the ground. I was so tired and my head hurt so much, I wished someone else was there, to encourage me. To make me move. I forced my mouth open and yelled, “Help! Someone!” But my words were whipped away as I spoke them. Laughter again. I clenched my fists and managed to yell, “Who are you?”

My words whipped away again, but the laughter was closer, almost in my ear. The wind ruffled my hair and suddenly I understood. I was hearing the wind. The wind flashed around me, pushing me down again. It was still laughing, and now I was sure the laughter was directed at me! 

“Go away.” I whispered, my words faint and unheard. My hands were numb with cold and now were slowly beginning to feel warmish. That was a bad sign. And I wasn’t even half-way up the mountain. I gulped and pushed myself off the ground again. The wind tried to push me down but I was determined not to fall. Raising my hands to protect my face I noticed how red they were, I needed to reach the top! Protecting my face with my hands I threw all my strength into fighting the wind. Moving so slowly I could count the seconds in between each step, I began to move upwards. It got colder as I traveled. I had never felt this cold nor been stuck in this kind of weather before. I peeked through my fingers at the way up. The top was invisible. The snow and wind swept down on me, blocking my vision and stinging my cheeks and forehead every time I lowered my hands. I raised my hands again and kept moving. The snow got deeper and I began to walk in snow up to my waist. At least it held me up so the wind couldn’t blow me back down again. I walked two more feet and ran into a wall. Brushing one hand against it I craned my neck to look for the top of it. It was made of cold, rough stone and dead moss. Then I remembered there was a slight drop at the end of the station. I was almost there, I just had to scale this cliff first. 

Chapter 3.

Slouching against the cliffside I felt something other than the snow and wind stinging my eyes. I blinked to clear my eyes and felt tears sliding down my face, bringing my knees up. I hugged them, staring blankly out at the snow swirling past. I sat there for ages, just watching the snow pile up and be blown about. Another tear dripped off my chin. I couldn’t do this. The tears were coming fast now and my heart ached as if someone was crushing it between their fingers. A tear whipped off my face and vanished into the storm. 

‘Get up little girl.’

I blinked, wiping the tears off my face, 

“Wh-” my throat hurt too much to talk, though I longed to call out for whoever I heard. My cheeks were stiff and achy. I brought up one frozen hand to feel them. The tears I hadn’t wiped away were ice drops on my face. I lowered my golden lashes, which were now white with snow, to block out the sight of the snow. I couldn’t bear it any longer. Opening my eyes and stretching out my stiff legs I lay down, my eyes drifted closed and I dropped off into sleep, vaguely knowing in the back of my mind that I was giving up. I would die if I slept now. But I did anyway.

Chapter 4. (The Wind)

I fluffed more snow into the air, trying to hit the little girl. Unfortunately, she had positioned herself against the cliff and it was well nigh impossible. Perhaps I could get her attention some other way. If she didn’t move soon then she would die and I would have failed. If only she wasn’t all the way up the slope. It was easy for me to push her down, making her fight, which kept her going. Suddenly I had a thought. Spinning away, I launched into the sky and returned to the top of the cliff. Just as I thought! The little girl’s little friend was there, crouched next to a thin little twig of a woman. He had given the little women his coatish thing and I noted the purple tinge to his arms,

“Come on.” he whispered to her, “You have to get up.” She shook her head, her raven black braids shaking ever so slightly, then returning to their limp state of defeat. He stood up and I spun around him, making him shiver and say in a low voice,

“Come on. If you stay here, this wind will blow you straight off the cliff.” Just to prove his point I poked her, making her shift and her feet went off the cliff. She grab wildly at the little boy.

“Help!” she screamed, her voice was hoarse with cold and I winced sympathetically. I was always cold, trapped in this endless field of cold. I would give anything to see what I heard people on this station talk about. Something called a sunny beach. Up here they were always talking about going there and getting out of the cold. The little woman screamed again and the little boy pulled her under a little stand with rails. I fluttered around it, but found the rails and roof did a good job keeping me out. Sighing deeply, I turned and swept back down the cliff to where the little girl lay. Freezing. She wouldn’t survive much longer. I had to wake her up! Then something occurred to me, I could wake her up by talking. Hopefully. 

‘Wake up!!!!’ 

She didn’t move. I tried again, vainly hoping. This was all I could do.

‘Little girl!! Wake up!’ 

She stirred and I yelled louder.

‘WAKE UP!” 

Chapter 5. 

‘WAKE UP!’

A voice yelled out in the dark. I tried to open my eyes. They wouldn’t open. I felt dizzy and weak. Then I realized, I wasn’t breathing. My lungs didn’t draw in air when I told them to. My entire body felt weirdly numb. I was dying! 

‘LITTLE GIRL! WAKE UP!’ 

The voice came again, sharper than ever. I tried again and again to force my lungs to work. 

‘PLEASE’ 

The voice sounded desperate now, crying, pain filling it.

‘Don’t die. Háno needs you.’

That did it. Air filled my lungs and I mentally winced, hearing my ragged, gasping breath. 

‘Yes. Get up.’ 

The voice was so hopeful I couldn’t deny it. I cracked my eyes open and forced my cold body to a sitting position. ‘Where are you?’ I mentally asked, because I couldn’t say it aloud and I didn’t see anybody. 

‘I’m the Northern Wind’ 

The voice said this without a moment’s pause or hesitation. I gasped again. ‘You can hear my thoughts?’ I thought

‘Oh yes.’

Now the voice was laughing. The same laugh I had heard before. Slowly, putting my arms out to support myself, I got to my feet, and stood up. It was so dark, I judged that it must be nighttime by now. What if Háno hadn’t survived? He isn’t that strong! I gulped, tears trying to force their way out of me. 

‘Go left. About ten feet. You should find a ladder made of metal rungs. Climb those, and go to the station.’

‘Thanks’ I thought, and turning left I took a step. My legs buckled and I tumbled over. ‘I don’t think my legs will support me.’ 

‘You can do it.’ 

The voice said encouragingly. I smiled slightly, my lips were too cold for something larger. ‘Yes’ I thought ‘you are right. I can do this.’ Once more I got to my feet and took another step. Then another. ‘Only seven more,’ I thought cheerily taking another five steps. Then another. And the last step. Turning to face the wall, I felt for the ladder. At last my hands fell on a cold metal rung. I could have screamed for joy. At last, I would reach the top. Slowly I grabbed hold of it I pulled myself upwards, placing my feet on a lower rung I had discovered. I pulled and pushed. It was hard at first but eventually the pain and hardness faded to nothing but a throbbing in me as I climbed in that never ending dull pattern. Pull, push. Pull, push. Putting out my hand, I expected to find another metal rung. Nothing but air met my hand; I had reached the top. Pulling myself over I climbed slowly to my feet. The clouds were clearing and the sun was just coming over a hill. The snow glinted in light, looking beautiful. But I was not fooled. I knew what a monster it really was. I looked, but didn’t see Háno. ‘No!’ This time the words made it out of my mouth,

“No!” There was a moment of dead silence, then, “A ‘chiad?” Háno’s voice was quiet but determined as he spoke my name. I gasped with relief and sank to my knees. Háno appeared in the doorway of the cableman stand. 

“You came back!” he cried, I could hear the tears in his voice, then the worry, “Where’s Mama?” I smiled, laughing lightly, “She’s okay.” He sighed with relief and ran over to me, then jerked back, remembering something,

“Just a second, A ‘chiad.” Turning, he bolted back to the stand and went in.

Coming back out, he led a young women to me. “Lilathia, meet my sister, A ‘chiad. A ‘chiad, meet Lilathia. She was left behind without her husband.”

Suddenly I remembered the sad man’s words, “He’ll probably freeze with my wife. It gets way below freezing on the mountain side.” I gasped, “I met you husband. He wants you.”

Lilathia smiled in relief, “Thank you, A ‘chiad. I needed that.” Her voice was quiet and soft. 

“How are we going to get to the cars?” Háno asked, looking around, “They don’t appear to be here.” I looked at the sky, thinking, ‘You idiot! You should have thought about getting back before you left.’

What I said was, “I’ll think of something.”

‘What about me? I could take you back’ 

I had almost forgotten Northern Wind. Háno and Lilathia both looked around nervously, saying at the same time, “What was that?”

I shrugged. “Nothing,” I said. What I thought was, ‘Sure, give us lift.’ And just like that, the wind struck us with unexpected hardness and we were pushed backwards, off the cliff. Everyone screamed. We were blown up, up, up. 

‘Which car?’

Northern Wind asked, I tried not to panic and thought, ‘The third to last car’

‘Thanks’

Through my squinted eyes I saw the cars coming up. We blew over the first, then the second. And then the wind let us go. We fell, smashing right through the ceiling of the cart. I moaned, ‘That seriously hurt.’ Then I saw the familiar face of Mama leaning over us.

“A ‘chiad?” Then with a slight sob, “Háno?”

I nodded, my cold lips breaking into a full blown smile, “Yes Mama,” I said. I couldn’t explain the excitement that bubbled through me, so instead I repeated, “Yes Mama.”

Suddenly, I heard a familiar man’s voice. “Lilathia? Lilathia!” and I knew that husband and wife had been reunited. Smiling even harder I said, “I love you Mama.” 

Thanks for reading the story everyone. With it comes our new challenge. This time we will be working off of a sentence prompt. Inspired by my own absent-minded dreaming, and introduced by my sisters, the prompting sentence you must include is, “Honey, where did I put the baby?”

Writing Challenge Story 3: The Mountain Man

Here is the third addition to our list of stories! The Mountain Man was written by Patrick M. This one, I must admit, is my favorite out of the three. Let me know in the comments below which one you like best!

I awoke from my doze and wearily looked out of the small window, expecting to see
nothing but clouds of mist, yet I was pleasantly surprised to find the mist clearing and the sun coming out. In a few minutes, the sun had banished the misty clouds completely and had exposed to me a magnificent painting. For there before me were the mountains standing in a long range like sentinels keeping watch over their valleys, their white capped peaks stood out jaggedly against the crisp winter sky, and they seemed to be wearing soft green cloaks made from pine trees. I stood gazing at this miraculous portrait of nature and looked forward to my snow shoeing expedition all the more.


Eventually my gondola reached the top, and grabbing my equipment stepped out upon
the mountainside. Without halting I made my way along a snow packed trail to a
snowshoeing/skiing lodge and after registration went straight into my room and opened my book. I was not a man to seek the company of other men, but rather tried to avoid them; for I much preferred the pleasures of being alone. I only left my room for a brief time to get dinner, but even then, I immediately came back to light my pipe and mediate until I went to sleep.

Early next morning I was ready for a long hike in the mountains. Nothing was wanting
except food in my belly, which I promptly filled. I then grabbed my pack and opening the door crossed the threshold into the great outdoors.


It was cold, it was freezing cold, but that did not stop me. While hiking, I released all my
tension from being around so many people and immediately felt better and at home.


I continued my hike with a smile on my face and began admiring my surroundings. I
walked far that day and noticed many things, but what I did not notice was the wind. All along my hike it had gradually been getting stronger. Finally, it blew gusts at me so hard I could not help but notice it.


It was a mighty strong wind, but nothing I had not dealt with before, so I just continued
my way against it, following the trail. But now the wind, as if detecting rebellion, pushed
against me harder and beseeched the grey sky for aid. The sky obliged and hard snow was added to the wind’s ranks. My face was pierced by the joint might of wind and snow, but I fought back and put my scarf over my mouth and nose. The wind and sky saw my trick and together called upon their last ally: air. But not just air in general, this was freezing air, air that could freeze a man solid within minutes. So now in the midst of a huge winter blizzard, I realized that I was defeated, and turning my back to the wind I strained to find shelter, but wind’s last ally had drained much strength from my limbs so that they shivered and quaked. With one final rush of air, wind and his allies knocked me down into the white snow. I attempted to raise myself, but my shivering arms would not support my body and I fell again, face first into the powdery snow.

As I lay there surrounded by thick white walls, I knew my life was over. Yet before I
could die, I suddenly felt a queer warmness spread throughout my body. My limbs no longer shook and the snow upon my face no longer stung. In the back of my mind I understood that this only meant I was at Death’s door, but I embraced the deadly warmness anyway. One last time, however my eyes opened as if still trying to battle and saw afar off a strange orange glow. At the time I thought I was only hallucinating, but it seemed so real that I kept my gaze on it a little longer before finally my eyes closed, and I knew no more.


Somehow against all my understanding I regained consciousness. I did not open my
eyes, but instead observed my surroundings first by feel and touch, then by smell, and lastly by my hearing. I felt I was lying in a bed, a most comfortable bed in fact, that had fur lined blankets covering me. The smell of the place was pleasant enough with an odd mixture of smoke and pine needles. Now as regard for hearing, I heard nothing, absolutely nothing. I then opened my fourth sense. My eyes confirmed what I had felt and smelled, for I was lying in a bed made out of thick animal furs spread over freshly cut pine boughs and looking over my feet I saw the warm orange light that can only be emitted from a campfire.


I got out of the bed and by doing so found my pack and coat underneath my feet. I put
on my coat, for it was very cold getting out of those cozy furs, and looking around about me more, observed that I was in big tent of rough canvas with the exit on the opposite side of where I stood. I slowly crept forward expressing caution with every step. I was now on the side of the tent opening and began gradually to peep out my head.


I did not see anything but a circle of tree trunks surrounding a big campfire and some
giant fluffy snowflakes falling ever so lightly upon the forest floor. I was emboldened by my discover of nothing living and ventured out to see what else I could find.


But I had taken no more than three steps out of the tent when I felt a large meaty hand
slap down upon my shoulder. It was the worse fright I have ever had in my entire life and I swear I jumped at least six feet off the ground in my surprise.


With my jump I had turned about and what I saw scared me even more. There in front
of me was a man. A seven-foot-tall man, whose breadth was that of at least two men. He was a giant, but it was not the man’s size that frightened me half so much as his face. His two bushy eyebrows were kit together in a deadly frown. His dark brown eyes glared directly into mine and by them my whole body turned to stone. I could not see his mouth for it was covered in the wildest and thickest beard I have every lay eye on. Like I said before, I was turned into stone and the giant didn’t’ move either, so we stood there, he looking down upon me as if about to eat me and I staring up at him in stone faced panic and dread.


But wonder of wonders the giant man’s expression suddenly changed to one of
harshness to a countenance shining with mirth. He boomed a jolly laugh that made me stagger back with surprise, for if anything I was expecting him to roar like an angry bear. I believe I must have had the strangest face at this point for the giant man laughed again and leading me by the arm said, “Come Little Brother, let us sit by the fire.” I followed him, for in his voice there was something oddly compelling and inviting, like a warm campfire on a cold winter’s night.


As I sat by him, curiosity took the place of fear and I decided to find out who or what
this giant man was. I asked him, “Sir where am I and who are you?”
He looked at me smiling and said with a laugh, “Why Little Brother you are here with
me! And as for who I am, I am many things. I am he who raised the mountains! Who wrestles with bears! Who roams the pine covered mountains of the world! But what do they call you Little Brother and if I may, how came you to be in my mountains?”


By now my fear had subsided, for the man’s voice was peculiarly reassuring, so I told
him my name and how I was snowshoeing when I was ambushed by a blizzard. As I told my story, it dawned upon me that this man, if he was a man, saved my life. I immediately began to shower my thanks upon him, saying that if there was anything I could do for him…but he just as quickly waved his hand to brush them away and said, “Ahh Little Brother, none of that, none of that! I did what I ought to have done, nothing more. In fact, if anything, I should be the one apologizing. For it was my son, Calkis who sent that blizzard against you. He doesn’t like all you little folk crawling all over him and skiing down his back.”


Once again, this man surprised me and I said to him, “But Sir, how can Calkis be your
son? Is not Mount Calkis the mountain which we’re standing on right now?”


“To be sure Little Brother, he is a mountain, but he is also my son, as are….” Then the
man began naming all sorts of names, some of which I knew were mountains in other
countries.


I was looking at him in amazement, and started to think I was dreaming, but he jerked
me back with a sudden shout of “But where are my manners! Your throat must be parched! Here take one.”


Although I never saw where it came from, he handed me a mug. I looked around to see
if there was a pot on the fire and as I saw none, thought the beverage must be inside and the man would go get it. Yet, the man did not rise, but quick enough so that his hand was a blur, he thrust it into the fire and closing his fist literally tore out a chunk from the flames! I jumped from the trunk and with a yell fell backward over it. I quickly got up and looking at the fire, saw for a second, a hole amid the flames that was quickly filled with new ones. I gazed at the man in wonder as he closed the flames between his red glowing fists and started to squeeze his hands together.


“Here hurry, let me see your mug.”, he said chuckling at my shocked face. I put my mug
in front of his fists and slowly he let the bottom of his fist go so that a golden liquor flowed into my cup. He filled another mug for himself and making gestures to me, we clinked our mugs, and both drank of the strange concoction.


Nothing I had ever tasted or will taste can ever compare to that draught of golden
flames. It was like food and drink at the same time, it filled one’s veins with a coziness not unlike a warm blanket, and it tasted like…like…well like you’d imagine a tongue of flame would taste like, fiery, except until one tries it, one can never truly know.


Needless to say, I downed the whole mug and I was extremely grateful when the man
offered me more of that wonderful brew. We drank again and again, and after each sip, my tongue began to loosen, and I talked to the man as if we had known each other all our lives. I told him of my life in the city and how I absolutely hated it but even more absolutely loved the mountains. In turn he told me the oddest and yet funniest stories of his friends Brother Bear, Cousin Wolf, and Uncle Moose. He also gave me accounts of his journeys across the earth to each of his children. They were wonderful tales, but sadly they only come to me now in dreams. As we talked of this and that, we also laughed a great deal. Really, sometimes we didn’t talk at all but laughed as we drank our fiery beverages.


I have no idea how long we sat around the flickering flames. It could’ve been minutes,
hours, days, or even years, but alas, no matter how merry the party, every gathering must come to an end.


“Little Brother, I have most enjoyed your company, but I think it time for you to go
home. We have talked many a talk and laughed many a laugh, but all things must come to an end.”


At these words, I felt a deep sadness swell within my heart; for I had finally found a
friend whose company I delighted in, and yet I must leave him. My friend must have seen my sadness for he said, “Ahhh Little Brother, don’t be sad, for though you know it not, every time you go into a mountain, I am with you. I am with all those see the mountains as their children. And yet before you go, I have a gift for you.”


At this he went into the tent and came back with my pack and a closed fist. He handed
me the pack and opening his huge fist, presented to me a necklace. I graciously picked it up and observed that it was a simple flat stone with a picture of a mountain engraved in it.


“This necklace may seem crude at first Little Brother with its leather thong and rough
engraving, but whenever you are in a mountain and are either attacked by animals or elements, just hold up this stone and say ‘Peace! A friend of the Mountain Man walks among you’. Then whatever was attacking you will leave you in peace, for everything of the mountains knows who I am.”


I thanked him for this most wondrous gift and also for his great hospitality to me. At my
words he only smiled and with his merry eyes twinkling in the firelight, he sent me off on a trail that would lead me to the lodge. Walking back, I could only think of my new friend and how I would sorely miss him, but eventually my day dreaming came to an end when the lodge appeared. As soon as I crossed the threshold, I was smothered with men asking where I had been for the past week. Of course, I expressed my surprise to them saying that I was only gone a couple of days, but they proved to me that I had in fact been gone 7 days. After I had recovered from another surprise, I told them my story of meeting the Mountain Man, but they didn’t believe me and called me mad. At their disbelief, I once again went back to my old understanding that the company of men was not worth seeking after, but the company of oneself and of the mountains is what gave me joy.


I had to go back to the city, but as soon as I got there, I sold my house and bought
another house right on the doorstep of Mount Calkis. I lived in that house with the view of Mount Calkis in my window for many a year and still do now. And even though I got older, every year I rode up the gondola up the mountainside to go snowshoeing along those wild mountain trails, always with the hope of renewing my acquaintance with my one true friend:
The Mountain Man.

Writing Challenge Story 2: Disaster On Pollock Mountain

This story was written by Grace H. It actually has short chapters!

Chapter 1

Mist rolled in from the top of the mountain as the new, modern ski-lift whirred with minimal noise up the steep grade. Inside one of the cars sat 19-year old Carrie Mullins, a young college sophomore from the United States’ biggest and most bustling city, New York. As the lift progressed on its long journey to the peak of the huge mass of tumbled rock, the slim blonde wondered what it would be like on the way down. Carrie had been skiing only since she was 15, but she loved it. It seemed that she had been born with a special talent for it, and she could rival even Norway’s skilled skiers who were the same age.

This, however, was her biggest challenge yet. Very few skiers attempted the deadly cliffs of Pollock Mountain. The greatest danger, however, was the altitude. At over 4,500 metres, Pollock Mountain was one of the world’s tallest, biggest ski mountains, and by far the most dangerous. One of Iceland’s tallest mountains, It was a real killer.

Carrie shivered, even under all her warm clothes. She had no idea whether she would be alone on the mountain, or whether anyone else was on the ski lift with her. Suddenly she was overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the place, and she found that she was shrinking backwards into her seat, as if afraid of some mighty, intangible presence that could crush her with a mere breath. Was it, could it be, that the mountain was alive, and laughing at her?  Collecting her thoughts once again, she scorned her fears and drove them away into thin air once again. 

As all this passed through her mind, she heard a sudden scream of protest from the huge cables above her head. She jumped, her nerves taut, but as the scream came again, she realized it was only the rising wind, tearing at the cable fiercely.

Or was it?

As the force of the gusts continued to grow, the steady whirring gave way to a creaking, grinding sound. And with the last giant gust before the building storm hit with full fury, the cable snapped. Carrie’s last thought as she hurtled through the air, ejected from the tiny box which was the only thing that could provide her some safety, was God have mercy on my soul! and then she crashed through the forest to the earth. There was a blinding flash, and then all was plunged in blackness.

Chapter 2

When Carrie woke up hours later, it was horrible, as she had excruciating pains in her head and leg. Looking around her, she found that she was blanketed by snow. She found that she was still in the mountain wilderness. She could see nothing but white, and beside her the branch of a pine tree was bent under a load of solid ice. She was numb with cold, and the shock of the crash had shattered her. She had no idea how badly she was injured. And the blizzard roared through the forest, ice-cold winds cutting through her body. She was sure that she would die of hypothermia if she did not get to some sheltered spot. First, since she was not a person prone to panic, she assessed her situation. 

She was dressed for bad weather, but this was more than anyone had bargained for. There had been a small snowstorm on the weatherman’s radar, but this had obviously been a grave error. What had really happened was that the weather office had failed to take into account the fact that a massive cold front was moving towards the mountain at the same time, and when they combined a storm with all the force of a hurricane was lashed at Pollock Mountain. And this was the situation that little Caroline Mullins found herself in. 

By some miracle, her leg was uninjured save for a badly sprained ankle, and the injury to her head, though bad, was not life-threatening. Carrie did not believe that she was suffering from any internal injuries, but on the other hand, she was too numb to tell. Apart from some minor cuts and bruises, and one nasty, bloody cut from a piece of the damaged seat, she seemed to be alright. Some of her clothes were torn, and her helmet was broken. She could not see her skis anywhere; they had popped off during the parting of the cable when she was thrown from the car. She had no poles either, as she had dropped them during the failure of the lift.

She crawled along slowly, persevering despite the pain in her head that drove her nearly crazy. She knew that otherwise she would die. And then, wonder of wonders, she found her skis, just a few feet apart, and unbroken. Suddenly she found hope in that white wilderness of despair.

Chapter 3

Carrie began to make her plans. If she could sum up the courage and energy to ski down the mountain in the blizzard despite her injuries, and without poles and a helmet, then she could get to a hospital. If she still had her compass, she could navigate her way out of here. If not… She felt in her pocket.

It was gone.

As suddenly as she was plunged into despair, her resolution to live grew once again. If she could get down the mountain, she would most likely be safe. On the other hand, she could end up in the very middle of the mountain range, with the deadly Mount Pollock between her and the nearest point of civilization. Trying to recall the direction of the ski lift in her muddled, fuzzy brain, it became clear to her that she must get out or die from the head injuries or from freezing to death. As she slid her feet into the skis, she offered a silent prayer to her guardian angel. Mustering up her courage, she started sliding slowly and carefully down the steep slope on her skis. The wind cut into her bones still, but now that she was moving she did not feel its bite so keenly. Her mind began to clear, and if it were possible, she even began to enjoy the ride through the dark forest. 

She found a kind of trail, where she did not have to dodge trees every second. She realized that this must be the trail that came from the top of the destroyed lift, where she would have gotten off but for the deadly storm that had assailed the powerful mountain top. It was by a very lucky chance that she had found it. Suddenly she saw a figure in the snow. It seemed to be moving. In horror, she saw that it was a human.

Leaning over, she studied the prone figure, now still. It was that of a man in his forties or fifties. He was conscious, but was not in good condition. Carrie dropped to her knees beside him, ignoring the pain that shot up her ankle, and forgetting all about her splitting headache that prevented her from thinking straight. 

“Are you alright?” She asked.

The man groaned. “I think…” He gritted his teeth in pain. “I think my leg – is broken. And – my head and side – hurt.” 

Conversing with the man more, she found out that he was a ski instructor. He, too, had been thrown out of the wrecked lift, but he had remained conscious and crawled through the forest until he could go no further. He had collapsed where Carrie found him, and although he was hopeful at first when he saw Carrie, when she explained their predicament he despaired of ever being rescued.

Carrie’s determination grew to help both herself and the ski instructor, Mr. Thomas Greltham of Greenwich. She was lucky that he spoke the same language, for he could have come from Germany, or France, or Sweden, or for that matter, anywhere except England. Looking around her, Carrie found materials to make a sled on which to place Mr. Greltham and a harness by which she could drag it. Fortunately, she had found that each cage on the lift was equipped with a long ball of light, strong cord which she had taken from hers, and which remained in her pack with a few other necessities. The thought never occurred to her that she might not be able to get both herself and Mr. Greltham down the mountain during the intense blizzard. She made a sled big enough to hold the man with the rope, and then with much trouble, got him onto it, and harnessing herself to it, made her slow way down the mountain.

Chapter 4

After about four hours they had made but little progress down the mountain. Mr. Greltham was unconscious, and Carrie was visibly weakening. She felt disoriented. Suddenly, through the forest, she saw a light in the stinging, blinding whiteness. Crawling slowly towards it, still dragging the heavy sled, she finally reached the fireside. She had just enough energy left to look around and find that it was a woodcutter’s hut. She guessed that it was inhabited, but she wondered why. 

She made her way slowly, very slowly, to the heavy wooden door. She knocked.

There was no reply.

What had happened was that the woodcutters had gone to search for any survivors of the ski lift failure. They knew the forest intimately, and were not afraid of the blizzard. They had left a fire going steadily so that in case they did get lost, which was very unlikely, they would be able to find their way back. They were smart in this way. They knew the ways of the mountain. Little did they know that Carrie was there desperately waiting for them to return, so that she and Mr. Greltham could be taken down the mountain to a hospital in Reykjavik, where they could then fly home. Carrie laid down near the fire and pulled Mr. Greltham close, and went to sleep, so that her whirling thoughts and aching head could finally sink into oblivion.

When she awoke she felt very refreshed, but still had a throbbing headache. She was instantly alert when she heard a twig snap in the forest, thinking that it might be the foresters returning. She stood up and went towards it. Suddenly she heard a low snarling, and retreated quickly. A ghostly white figure stepped out of the forest. 

It was a polar bear.

The animal was thin and underfed. Scraggly fur drooped from its ribs. It was lost in the mainland of the Icelandic wilderness. And it was hungry. Giving Carrie little time to think, it charged. 

Carrie did the only thing she could have done. Snatching a flaming brand from the fire, she warded it off time and again, while she grew steadily more exhausted. Finally, she threw the burning stick at it, and a spark landed in its fur, which instantly ignited. Roaring with pain and rage, the huge bear rolled over and over until the fire was extinguished. Again, it charged.

The girl thought, this is the end, and prepared herself accordingly with what little time she had.

But just as the powerful beast was upon her, she heard the crack of a rifle and the great figure rolled over dead before her feet. She heard shouts from the forest, and the two woodsmen emerged. Hot relief flooded through her as she collapsed to the ground, at last reaching the limits of her energy.

 The foresters instantly took her to the hospital despite the terrible weather conditions. Mr. Greltham, too, was safe.

After a few week’s recovering, Carrie went to England with Mr. Greltham, where she was tearfully thanked by his wife and family. And upon returning to the United States, she found her family and friends gathered together to give a rousing welcome.

Little Carrie Mullins had become a hero!!!

Writing Challenge Story 1: A Tumble

“A Tumble” was written and submitted by Mary H. The images she used are copyright and royalty free. Please take care that all images submitted are copyright and royalty free. This blog does not take any responsibility for any images in these stories that may contain copyright, and that may cause a copyright suit.

I pulled my head into the truck as we drove higher up onto the cold mountain. My name is Sam, and I am a dog. My master is John, and we were about to get to the ski resort. John put on his snow pants and we hopped out of the truck so John could purchase our tickets. It was my first time “skiing.” 

My master was a very experienced skier and had been here many times. Usually, he left me with our neighbors, but they were on vacation this time. We reached the ski lift and John hoisted me up onto it. With a creak, it started to move. Suddenly I was pushed to the back of the chair and my eyes were as wide as saucers. The ski lift had gotten out of control and it started moving like an arrow uphill! All I could hear was people shouting like idiots. One person who was screaming extremely loud was a little girl with curly golden hair. My only thoughts were “Stop shouting! Quit going so fast! Cut it out!” Suddenly it stopped short, and my face met the plexiglass of the covered ski lift. It began moving normally. Everyone was looking at everyone, and John and I stared at each other with saucer eyes.

“Did you feel that, Sam!?” asked John. I made a sharp bark in reply, then we both just sat back in our seats and tried to relax. When we reached the top of the mountain, we jumped off the ski lift onto the platform. John didn’t realize how hard it was to hold a dog while skiing. So… I decided to try to ski. I jumped right through John’s arms and dashed down the ski slope. Everyone around me was laughing. Even the nice little girl that was screaming, was laughing at me! 

“Look at the little doggy, Daddy!” cried the little girl.

“He is very cute, Catherine,” he answered.

I instantly loved that cheery little girl! 

“I jumped right through John’s arms and dashed down the ski slope.”

I stopped to watch everyone ski down the slope. I enjoyed watching the many experienced skiers. John slowly skied towards me, but as soon as John had gotten to where he could almost reach me, I darted down the hill, causing half of the people to trip. Many of them couldn’t see because they were laughing so hard. I stopped at the brink of a short cliff. John continued to ski after me, and caught me. I was forced to let him carry me back up the space we had traveled to get to the ski lift again. 

“Don’t you know you’ve ruined my whole day!” he whispered.

 I didn’t pay any attention. I was aware of something terrible hurtling towards us, and I heard the deep rumbling noise of a hurricane. It was an avalanche. I wriggled from John’s arms and hurried down to the cliff.  I jumped off into the soft snow that was below. John came running after me. The snow poured down on us and everyone was screaming. We were now covered with snow.

Mountain, Avalanche, Snow, Mont Blanc, France
“It was an avalanche.”

Then, it was silent. No screaming, and no running, We had no choice but to go down. For a moment, we looked at each other in amazement. The few moments of precious time lost was deadly. A mountain blizzard had been rolling in and now it reached us. Going down was no longer an option, so we had to hunker down where we were. 

We had no idea if there was anyone else that was alive. All we knew was that we were mostly exposed to the elements, only protected by the cliff face. When morning came we were both still recovering from the previous  day. We had to keep going but first John checked for his backpack. He found it buried in the snow only a few feet away from us. To our relief, it contained jerky, peanut butter, and trail mix. We ate half of the snacks, packed up the remainder, and we started on our journey. We came down a little way and then I stopped. I noticed a pair of small skis lying in the snow. One sniff told me they were Catherine’s. I ran down the slope and climbed up onto a little knob. I then had a relief as I saw Catherine groping her way down the slope. 

That was one of the happiest moments of my life. Even if it was my own master I couldn’t have  been happier. I scurried towards her and she looked at me with the largest smile I had ever seen. She acted very happy to see me, and when John saw that at least someone was alive he had a great big smile too. John told her that we were trying to find an easy way down, and assisted her to her feet. 

We started down once more. As we were going lower we were finding many of the other skiers making their way down the slopes. Catherine’s father was one of these. Fortunately, the slopes had not been crowded, and we soon found that every man, woman, and child was accounted for.

We were soon in a cheery mood. Before we got to the bottom of the mountain we had some more snacks and then we raced towards the bottom. A group of search and rescue workers met us on the way down. When we were found, we were all driven down to the Lodge where we were bombed by reporters. Everyone wanted to hear the story I decided to tell you all. After that, every Sunday evening from that day on, John and I go to see my best friend, Catherine.

Writing Challenge

While we are all stuck at home with the COVID-19 on rampage, it could be we are going a little stir crazy. Those of us who don’t write have nothing to do, and those of us who do write might be feeling uninspired. With this in mind I issue a challenge. I am going to post one image and I challenge you to make up a short story about it. Once you’re done with it, you can send it to duriorpublishing@gmail.com to get it posted on this blog. I will only share the first name and the last initial.

There are only a few rules:

  1. No language
  2. No black magic or horror (i.e. Harry Potter style. Magic such as the Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia is fine. In other words, powers that your character naturally has, like the elves.)
  3. No or minimal romance

There you go. Three rules.

Now for a picture. Hmmmm….

Cable Car, Gondola, Alps, Alpine, Fog, Nowhere

Here you go! Get creative! Once you finish it, send you can send it to me and, if it follows the rules, you will see it appear on this blog!

The One Good Thing About COVID-19…

…is that I am stuck inside with nothing to do, so I am forced to write. I have actually started progressing on my sequel to Crimson Beauty. I hope that link works…

Anyway, my college has extended Spring Break and moved everything online, so I have plenty of time to do nothing. Because of this, my book has progressed waaaay farther than it would have in any other case. For a while there I wondering of the word ‘progress’ even existed in the dictionary. You wanna know what? (stage whisper everybody) IT DOES! :O

(picture to keep everyone from getting bored…)

Book, Old, Clouds, Tree, Birds, Bank, Rush, Landscape

TaDa! Back to writing the post.

I am actually CHAPTERS into my sequel now! I mean, two or three counts as chapters, right? The funny thing is, I started it, got a chapter into it, and then went back and mutilated the chapter until it was almost completely different than how it was before. It is definitely better now. That is one thing I hate about re-reading my stories. They end up getting severely mutilated in the process of improvement. Oh, they end up better in the end, but I practically have to rush to the Emergency Room at the hospital to get the poor thing repaired.

This is why I am going to let my sequel set for two months before I publish it. If I ever get it done of course. If I let it set, I can cut and paste and rearrange and add before it’s actually somewhere where someone else can read it in all of its unimproved glory.

Well, I have to go eat breakfast and get ready for a morning of writing. Meanwhile, stay safe, healthy, and inside, and enjoy your empty time by reading your favorite blogs! (Including this one :D).

What A Writer Really Does All Day Long

Or at least, what I do, as a hobbyist writer, all day long.

First, since it is Spring Break, I sleep in! Get up, brush hair and teeth, and then I might possibly consider making my bed.

After that, I eat breakfast and check in on the chicks.

One little gal has to keep by herself because she has weak legs and needs physical therapy. Also, she would be picked on by her siblings.

I clean up the other chicks, and I also take care of this little guy, making sure that she gets her PT. I make sure that she and her siblings are all clean. These things almost need as much work as a baby! Okay, well not quite.

After that I start to consider what I want to do. I could paint eggs which will be given out as Easter presents.

Or I could play the guitar.

I might even consider doing some writing!

Although designing a cover is much more fun…

Don’t you think?

After that, I do homework and then eat lunch. Today I went and had my hair cut, so that took some time, and then I came home to do more PT.

We need to have her putting a little weight on those little legs! She has a problem called “splayed legs” which is why she has the hobbles. It trains her legs to stay under her.

PT is tiring!

After that, I write a blog post, maybe do more homework, play with my younger siblings, help with dinner, eat dinner, clean up from dinner, say my Rosary, and then just crash for the rest of the night!

Well, that is what I do all day (during Spring Break). What do you do?

Not So Progressive

I like to think that writing is totally my thing and that I am super creative when it comes to books. I really wish it were true because I might have added a little more than a few sentences to my Crimson Beauty sequel since my last post.

Target, Arrive, Reach, Set Target, Realize, Successful

My problem is that I rarely feel inspired.

Cute, Animal, Pet, Tired, Yawn, Sleep, Kratzbaum

When I do feel inspired, I want to jump from one interesting scene to the next. Forget the in-between stuff! Let’s just go from excitement to excitement and just have enough in-between to know how we got there.

The Eruption, The War, The Military, Defense

And then, of course, I run out of exciting ideas and end up repeating myself. From there, I like to jump from genre to genre. (Anybody interested in a book with knights, Indians, cowboys, aliens, and talking fantastical animals?) I like exciting things from different books. Let’s just smash them all together and we have a great book… or not.

Pieces Of The Puzzle, Puzzle, Patience, Mesh

And this is why I am not so progressive. It is simply because the fact I have about a dozen different books started (all of them from a different genre) and none of them are more than a chapter or two long. Aaaaarrggghhh!!! How hard can it be?!

Impossible.

Am I the only one with this frustration? I have friends that write one hundred pages in a week! Oh, well. I am more of a painter than a writer anyway. Plus writing is just a hobby so it is no big deal.

Do you have this problem? Let me know in the comments!

To Sequel or Not to Sequel?

Books, Reading, Series, Narnia, C S Lewis, Novel, Read

After I finished my book Crimson Beauty, the question has come up as to whether I would write a sequel or not?

I still ask myself that question even though the sequel is a chapter in. What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? My mom said to me, which she heard from someone on YouTube, that your second book sells your first book. I hope that’s true.

There is a lot of work that goes into writing a book. Grammar and proper spelling are not the least of these. Then there is the formatting, cover design, typos, and everything else.

Is a sequel worth all the trouble? Especially when I am already ready to go back and rewrite my first book. I can’t say.

I have decided to write a sequel and set some goals. I want to make the book longer. I want to put a little more detail into it, something that I struggle with. Last, but not least, I would like the book to be a success. Even if it is a success to the few people who read it, that is good enough for me… as long as they leave a good review on Amazon of course… 😉

So yes, I will write a sequel. Whether it will take a month or a year I don’t know and I don’t care. As long as the book is something I enjoy to write, that is all that matters to me.

So, here is the sneak peak: “We arrived at the train station and a large black engine rolled into the train station. It was one of the most fascinating things I had seen in my life. It was as though it acted as a magnet and I found myself wanting towards it, my nose outstretched and seeking. Suddenly, “Whooooooooooeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!” went the whistle on the train and I jumped back, tripping over Charlie as I went. Down I went in a heap with Charlie on top, feeling very undignified, and even more so when Lady Roxanne’s groom arrived to load me onto the train. Several willing hands reached out to help me and my master to my feet. I scrambled and scuffled. The lead rope was wrapped around my legs and I was having a hard time getting up. “

Art For Fun: Going Beyond Illustrating

As a major in Art at my local college, one would think I spend all of my time doing art for particular assignments. Also, illustrating should be something I am practicing, right> And being careful I do it to satisfy the audience! While this may be relatively true, I still do scribbles and fun stuff. In fact, I suggest doing stuff for the fun of it, as well as doing your own thing even when it comes to illustrating. It is putting your own stamp on things that makes you, you!

As an example, I place before you a few sketches I did a few years ago for some friends, and for myself. We took a personality test to see which Lord of the Rings characters we came out as.

I came out as Boromir, while my three friends came out as Arwen, Frodo, and Eowyn.

The characteristics in faces and hair type are similar, but not exact.

While none of these pictures are perfect, they were fun to draw. So remember, when illustrating a story, don’t forget to put your own stamp on it and have fun while you are at it!

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