Updated date:

Short Story: Descent to The Past; a Response to Billybuc's Second Photo Challenge/Prompt


Ann loves to write stories and poems and is always eager to meet challenges issued by other writers or herself, to exceed her comfort zone.


The Alphabet is all you Need!

The Alphabet is all you Need!

Responding to a Challenge

Well, I’m arriving late at Bill’s second photo prompt challenge. I enjoyed the first so am keen to get going with this one. Thanks again, bill, for providing such great photos and setting our imaginations going.

Here are the stipulations:

• Use the photos in the order you see them

• Use all five photos in your story

• Your story should be a minimum of 1,000 words

• Publish your story on HP

• Email your story to me so I can be dazzled

Each of the above was qualified with ‘or don’t/not’! I chose to stick to the parameters as I need structure and guidance. You need confidence to wing it!

Descent to The Past


Solid against the elements, hugging the wide base of ground, the old tiled barn sheltered in the lee of the hillside and surveyed its expansive panorama, a heady swoop to the valley waters far below.

The thermals entertained eagles whose eyes probed the depths for a sizeable fish dinner. The winds, though kind today, could drift the snow, juggle the waves and throw the trees into a frenzy. Hunkered down in a barn was a safe option in those conditions. That's exactly what Joe had done.


From his hidden perch in the upper storey, Joe surveyed the blue glass of the upper lake. Only birds could be seen drifting on the surface, leaving a patterned trail which betrayed their position if they dived below. Serene waters, where mountains shimmered and floated, met his eye.

Joe was less serene. His senses tingled, stretched to receive the slightest disturbance of the air, any small movement on the landscape, or tiny twitch in the bushes. On high alert, he summoned all his training to keep him safe.

Soon, he would have to leave this hide-out. He had to descend to the river, then he would make plans for the next stage.

That night, Joe made his preparations. He’d rationed his food to have enough for the following day and then his stomach would start growling. Back-pack bulging with tools, supplies and essential clothes, he snatched a few hours of sleep, rose just before dawn and slipped down the mountainside.

Keeping within cover of shrubbery and trees, he made good progress. As far as he knew, no one had sussed out his whereabouts. Not a soul was about in this wilderness.


Lower down now, his view through the forest showed him the lazy meanderings of the river. Despite his fast-beating pulse, the calm vista consoled him a little, but he couldn’t afford to match its pace. There was a job to do. His worry was that he wouldn’t arrive in time. Too many were relying on him, and him alone.

As night stole his visibility, Joe searched for shelter. Thick bushes hugged the lower banks, close to the water’s edge. He found a hollow, made a hasty cold sandwich and drank some of his water ration before cushioning his head for sleep. A green thermal blanket preserved his body heat.


Several hours later, he woke. All his senses tingled. Part-whispers and soft footfall alerted him to activity along the bank. Joe saw two pairs of feet through the foliage, too close for comfort, but they kept walking and did not return. He woke again at dawn, collected all evidence of his visit and left, all with studied silence.

Luck was with him that morning. A small boat was moored further downstream. A calculated guess told him it hadn’t been used for a long while so he’d be safe to ‘borrow’ it. He’d leave it down-river in full view in case it was missed. Kind of someone to leave a fishing rod under the seat; he couldn’t hide but he could assume a fishing pose, making sure his face was shielded. So, keeping to the outer reeds and banks, Joe let the craft drift, now and then guiding it downstream.

The most dangerous part of his journey loomed. Gone were the hiding places in the snow and the forest. Open water, albeit veiled by dense shrubbery, was a gamble. At least when his job was done, he could eat in broad daylight in another port a million miles away. No-one would bother him then. For the moment he concentrated on recognising his destination. Wouldn’t be long now.


His little boat slid happily behind larger ones moored to the jetties as he entered the marina. This was safety in numbers. Difficult to find him amongst pleasure boats, yachts, dinghies and other rowing boats. But he couldn’t afford complacency.

Would the others be there? Would they be on time? Would they have survived their journey?

A shout! Figures running down the ramp to the jetty. A woman and boy, yells and gesticulation from two hooded, dark-clothed pursuers wielding rifles useless amongst the crowds. Another figure captured the woman, threw her and the boy onto a motor-boat, and followed, pushing them into the lower cabin.

Joe was already on the free-floating motor-boat. Full throttle, it lurched from the jetty, the froth from its wake showering those who, frustrated, stood and watched. Taken by surprise by the speed of escape, they realised even the rifles were redundant.

Joe, his wife and his son embraced in the small cabin, while Joe’s brother took over the wheel. They had risked two years of immense danger to be reunited and nothing was going to separate them again.


How Did This Challenge Work?

In the end I ignored the minimum of 1000 words. Sorry, Bill, I thought I’d just about got there but I see no reason to contrive another 200 words just for the hell of it!

Once again, I had no idea how this story was going to pan out. I just followed the photos and took up the flow (no apologies for the pun!). It never ceases to amaze me how the imagination can do that. Prompts are such fun because they inspire and then totally surprise me! Such fantastic photos furnish plenty of ideas.

I know there are more challenge instalments to go but I’m taking my time otherwise I won’t have enough to do for the rest of my 12 weeks’ isolation. There are only so many things I can clean, sew or cook and I don’t enjoy any of those things much!

As always, in these troubled times I wish you and yours, and everyone reading this, safe passage and good health wherever you may be.

Stay at home if you can, keep safe, keep well.

Challenges: what do they do for you?

© 2020 Ann Carr


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 28, 2020:

I'm thrilled with your comment. Just what I wanted to create but I wasn't sure if I'd done so. They say 'less is more' don't they?!

I appreciate your support, Denise.

Keep safe and well.


Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 27, 2020:

I love how you created suspense without giving a lot of detail. I never see where you are going until you are there. It was thrilling.



Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 10, 2020:

Thank you Lawrence. Glad you like it. I'm not sure whether it's a beginning or an ending to a story! Might do more with it, we'll see. I appreciate your visit.


Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on May 09, 2020:


Thoroughly enjoyed this story,it had me wanting more.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 27, 2020:

Thank you, DreamerMeg, for your second visit to my hubs and for your kind words. I enjoyed writing this one and the ending was a surprise to me too!


DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on April 27, 2020:

Great ending. I thought at first it was all over, then realised, they did it! The story was really tense, the hiding, the travelling and the ending was a surprise.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 15, 2020:

Mel, thank you for your lovely comments. Anglophile is a great word! I've never heard of 'bouncy' descriptions before but I like the phrase! You've made me smile. Thank you again.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 15, 2020:

Thank you, Flourish. The more comments I have about the rest of the story, the more I'm trying to think about expanding!

Thanks for reading and for your generous comment.


Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on April 15, 2020:

I really love your bouncy descriptions, and the way you use expressions like "sussed out" that are lovely, but I can't use for fear of being accused of being an anglophile, which I secretly am, of course.

Beautiful words as usual.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 15, 2020:

Your writing is crisp and detailed. I wondered why they were separated and the story made me want to know more.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2020:

I'm not sure, Peggy, whether this is the beginning or the end of a story! The wife and son were captured abroad somewhere when Joe was serving in the army. They've spent the last two years apart, the wife and son finally escaping and all of them being reunited. The brother is a serving officer too.

I realised there were a few unanswered questions but decided to let the readers fill in the missing pieces, as they wished. Lazy, aren't I?!

It does give me a chance to follow it up though, doesn't it?

Thank you, Peggy, for reading and for leaving your kind words.


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 14, 2020:

This was riveting to read. From what or whom was Joe and his family escaping? At least they made it onto the water and were reunited. Will there be a sequel? This is like the beginning of a good story.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2020:

Thank you, Dora. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading.


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 14, 2020:

The suspense controlled me--not knowing why Joe was hiding or where he was going. Good story telling with a happy ending. Thanks for a good read.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2020:

Hello Lorna! I'm delighted that you enjoyed this and thank you very much for the compliments. Praise from you is a great boost as you have such a wonderful way with words yourself.

It took a while for me to get the story formed but the photos provided such a great background and made it easier to describe.

I hope you are keeping well, Lorna.


Lorna Lamon on April 14, 2020:

A wonderful descriptive story Ann that had me captivated right up to the end. I enjoyed following Joe into the wilderness and you are so good at creating atmosphere through the clever use of words. Great writing and a very enjoyable read.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2020:

Hi again, Rinita! No, I haven't published any books, although I have some plans to put together some compilations, one fiction and one about words. Not quite sure how to put it together yet!

Thank you for asking and I'm thrilled that you are a potential customer. You've boosted my morale no end!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 14, 2020:

Hello, Pamela. Glad you enjoyed this and thank you for your kind words.

Keep safe and well.


Rinita Sen on April 14, 2020:

By the way, do you have any published book? If yes, I'd like to buy.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 13, 2020:

Ann, This is a very good, well-written story. I like the descriptions and the characters. I really enjoyed the story.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2020:

Thank you, Devika, for your generous comment. I'm glad you enjoyed this.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2020:

Hello Shauna! I'm quite curious too - I think he was separated from his family in a far-off country when they were attacked. I was thinking that someone might ask why he was in that barn in the first place - I have no idea but the reader has to make up his/her mind! You've caught me out - that's fun!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2020:

Well, thank you, Ruby, for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed reading. I enjoyed writing this, though I was as surprised at the ending as anyone! Strange how that happens when you let the muse take control.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 13, 2020:

Ann, this story is so very well-written! I was with Joe through each move he made, although I had no idea what the destination was or why.

You ended it brilliantly. However, I am curious as to why the family had been separated for two years.

Devika Primic on April 13, 2020:

Hi Ann I am impressed you show your talent in all of this story. You enlightened this challenge and brought on a wonderful finish.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 13, 2020:

Ann, this was an exciting read, and the climax was unexpected. You have a way with words. You set up the scenes with a flair of words that makes the reader visualize the surroundings. I enjoyed reading your story very much.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2020:

Thank you, Rinita, for such a lovely comment. I'm so pleased my words had such an effect on you. Glad the suspense worked, as I'd hoped!

Pleased to see you and I hope you're keeping safe and well.


Rinita Sen on April 13, 2020:

Your writing is spellbinding as are the pictures. I was amazed by the descriptions and the words you chose. It felt like I was there, in the story. That's the power of brilliant work. There was a good build up of suspense, too, and I'm glad it ended well.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2020:

Thank you, bill. I like 'romp through the wilderness'! You're too kind.

I've been looking through old hubs and some of them seem much better than I'm doing now, so a question for your mailbag (and I've just left one for you already); How do you keep up the standard of writing? Do you go through phases when it flows, then hiccup a bit? Or do you just plough on regardless?! Keep it for another week if you like or just choose one of the two I've thrown at you!

Great to see you today, as always.


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 13, 2020:

A wonderful romp through the wilderness. The action was propelled by your wonderful use of wording and pacing. Well done, my friend, but that is no surprise to me. You are a semi-hidden gem of HugPages.

Hoping this finds you well and healthy. Take care and have a splendid week.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2020:

Good to see you, Jo! Thank you.

Hope you and yours are safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 13, 2020:

Thank you Eric! Keep safe and well.


Jo Miller from Tennessee on April 12, 2020:

Good job, Ann. I've never done a challenge on HubPages.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 12, 2020:

Wow, this is exciting.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 12, 2020:

The story was supposed to be at least 1000 but I only managed just over 800. Never mind, Bill did say we could ignore the rules!

Thank you for your kind comments. I'm thrilled that you find it 'atmospheric' and 'thrilling' and so pleased that you enjoyed it.

I appreciate your support.

Hope you've had a wonderful Easter day.


Liz Westwood from UK on April 12, 2020:

This kept me gripped to the end. You have done a great job weaving an atmospheric and thrilling plot around the prompts. You might have overshot the word count, but every word is used to good effect.

Related Articles