Another Fun Fantabulous Flash Fiction Photo-Prompt Challenge, brought to us by the talented, generous, & lovely Nicole Pyles of The World of My Imagination.

The rules are simple:

1) Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story.

2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.

Houston Skyline, from Old MKT Railroad Trestle over White Oak Bayou, near Studemont & I-10, Houston, Texas 0330090947BW

The Words: Pocket Watch, Cosmic, Ghost, Vegetable, & Train

Something about this week’s picture really pulled at my passion.  Outstanding choice, truly!  Soul-o-plenty up in there.   A strange occurrence happened while I was writing this too (that I will keep as my secret for now) that really delivered the final bit needed for this piece.  I had lots of fun.  I wanted to keep going.  I was at 707 words when I wrapped up the first incarnation.  Behold!  A slimmer, trimmer piece now is before you.  Enjoy!


Journey to Huge Stone

The young man’s left thumb, the third most sensitive area of his anatomy, made a pass over the ornate gold hands, and flesh, if it did touch metal, did so in measurements molecular.

It’s 5:14, his thumb informed, as it closed the top on his ancient pocket watch.

In the a.m., his shivers specified.

The days were shorter.  The mathematics of Earth’s elliptical orbit in the cosmic phenomenon called a solar system could not be altered.  But his pace could.  Though weary, he had to reach Huge Stone before Winter.


He touched the metal track with his stick, moved his right foot two crossbeams ahead, and then his left followed stepping four.

Normal stride was three beams long.  His full stride was four, and from here on is all he’d use.  Winter was a hungry hag, and he was not going to be a meal for her.

Through the predawn dark he traveled, like the ghost of a long extinct android, his efficient, mechanical gait always four beams long.  His walking stick sliding along the metal, keeping him centered between the train tracks.

Though the crossbeams made the effort greater, the tracks destination was Huge Stone.  Remain between them, and he would find the fabled city, and maybe even a ship.  No trees or cliffs confound one’s westerly navigation when on the tracks as well, and the steady pace of even stride was easily measured.

The sun was high before he heard the first growl of hunger.

One thousand more strides, then I can stop.

His belly rumbled louder.


He walked as he nibbled the day’s cuisine; salted venison.  Same as yesterday, and every day since he’d left Mymammy.  He’d eaten his last vegetable weeks ago.  That’s why his stamina was failing.

Dusk brought a strong wind, clouds, and the cold of dark an hour early.  That night was too frigid to camp; he would burn as much energy shivering as walking.

Colder it became, so, on he walked, day after day, feeling Winter’s boney fingers reaching around his neck.  He could not keep his four-beam stride, so, cursing his weakness, slowed to three.

His mind was weary too, and he fumbled with his calculations.  Where was he now?  How far?

Finally a warmer dawn came, and he could feel the change all about him.  He wanted to shout for joy, but dared not.

He patted himself all over, congratulating his body for its supreme efforts.

He had made it.  He could sense it all around.  Though a great city be dead, it is a city still, not the wilderness.  It has its own distinct energy; scent, wind, wildlife … all different, and the soul too.

Though his eyes were blind, and he knew not of hues and colors, he still could “see” it ahead … tall jutting structures as high as mountains, like Giants challenging the sky.

He smiled and quoted the old words given him to say on his arrival…

“Huge Stone, the Eagle has landed!”


Word count: 500



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  1. I agree with everyone. This felt like a much longer piece with all the detail you massaged into it. I am so happy you found our weekly challenge. 🙂 Though I (sorry) get behind in my reading, I love coming back to your stories.

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 11, 2013

      Thank you, Carrie. It has been great fun to exercise the writing mind within the confines of the challenge. I was supposed to continue Journey to Huge Stone with the following week, but had forgot that I had set that challenge for myself. I am glad I did. The piece that came of it I am really happy with and am currently expanding it to about 5,000 words.
      Thanks again for your comments!

  2. Christopher, this is outstanding. Your imagery is so detailed that I felt like I was walking the journey too. What’s fascinating about this is the imagery is written through senses other than sight; it’s remarkable to me! And, one would never know these words were “mandatory” by the way you threaded them into the fabric of the story so well.

    Seriously, amazing job! Love having you as part of the blog hop. 🙂

  3. Very detailed. Thank you.

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 1, 2013

      Thanks for the comment. I read your piece for this week—very good, my friend. The main body of my primary works, generally speaking, is much darker than yours, but it is great that in such I craft one can enjoy the writing for the writing’s sake. Ahhh…how we love words.

  4. Loved every word of this. Great job!!

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 1, 2013

      Thank you very much. I had a fantastic time writing it.


  5. Chris–I love the way you weave words. I get lost in them and I’m amazed when your posts only have 500 words…they seem to contain more. I too loved the picture–a great muse.

    “Normal stride was three beams long. His full stride was four, and from here on is all he’d use. Winter was a hungry hag, and he was not going to be a meal for her.

    Through the predawn dark he traveled, like the ghost of a long extinct android, his efficient, mechanical gait always four beams long. His walking stick sliding along the metal, keeping him centered between the train tracks.”

    Great stuff! And if you do end up hosting a flash fiction challenge, please let me know! I want in! I look forward to your next installment.

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 1, 2013

      Scott, I will be hosting an FF challenge once a month to start beginning this month. I am going to try to devise some unique parameters, that will be fun and challenging in a positive way for practicing the craft. I’m am very happy you would like to come on board. 750-1000 word pieces, with 3 weeks to write is what I’m thinking. I will keep you updated.

  6. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2013

    I really love this story.the way you describe the travels of someone lacking the gift of sight, and the the way his other senses are so heightened – along with the fact that it still holds your attention with only a solitary character is just amazing. Very interesting and love the surreal feeling. Love it, great work!

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  February 23, 2013

      My momma, taught me never to talk to strangers, but you write like a friend of mine so I guess it’s okay.
      Thanks for reading my work, and big thanks for taking the time to comment. It is really surprising how few readers with do so. I for one, do not take it for granted. I love to write, and I love to read, but I write for readers. Your comments are my only reward and way of knowing if what I’m shoveling is burning well in you furnace and keeping you warm or not.. In depth comments like yours here are Gold. It is one thing to know a reader enjoyed the work, but to know how & why they were able to have such an experience is vital. My appreciation for the few moments you’ve taken is immense. Do you have a blog of any kind, or are you a traveler/reader?
      Thanks again!!!


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