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Train to Nowhere: Flash Fiction and Poem Response to Billybuc's Challenge (4)


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.


Flash Fiction: Max 250 Words

Following three previous challenges, each based on a series of five photos, we were asked to come up with some flash fiction based around just one photo. It could be 500 words or 250 words. Actually, it could be whatever we wanted as the idea was to inspire our muses, to get the writing juices flowing.

I decided to try for a maximum of 250 words and then add a poem just for fun. Here goes!

Train to Nowhere

I used to love playing with my train set.

Now, I’m waiting. Where are the passengers? Haven’t seen anyone in days. We have a head of steam, piles of coal, a train polished inside and out until it reflects the frustration, a journey to die for, but no takers.

Yesterday, I saw one figure in the distance. I ran, shouted,

“Come and ride our train! It’s fantastic! It’s scenic! I beg you, come, join us! I won’t come anywhere near you. I’ve been practising social distancing for weeks.”

He ran away. I couldn’t even coax him with a free ride.

My hair’s gone grey overnight. My bucket’s hanging there, redundant. Can you hear the train creaking with impatience? The wheels will seize, the track will rust, I will go crazy.

Hang on! Someone’s coming. A bloke with a briefcase. He stands several yards away and yells,

“You have to stay at home! You can’t stay here! I’ve got forms for you to claim 80% pay while this situation remains.” He waves some papers at me.

I tell him,

“You go stay at home! I am home. With my wife over there. Who do you think you are? I don’t want your forms. I want to do my job. Leave your forms on the ground and disappear!”

He disappears. My wife disappears. The papers drift away on the wind, like my existence. Everyone is disappearing. Will I be the only one left? Is anyone out there….. anyone at all?

The Future?

Overgrown, Out of Use

Overgrown, Out of Use


Train on track, following its route.

Man’s feet wandering, wondering how to be of use.

Where will his future be when people come back?

Will he still ride this train, off down this track?

Through the dark forests, by gorges and rocks,

waterfalls tossing their silver-froth locks,

riverbed ribbons cut shingle and moss,

but how, oh how,

shall we cope

with all



Scenic Ride



You’ve probably realised by now that I went for the melancholy. I’ve remained fairly upbeat whilst this pandemic has been flooding the world but the figure in the photo looked so lost and forlorn that ‘upbeat’ didn’t seem to fit.

Strangely, my other inclination was to go for humour. I wonder why opposite emotions bounce off each other like that, like the ying and yang of response. Do you find that sometimes?

I hope I haven’t depressed you too much but I had to spare a thought for those not so fortunate as myself. I wonder how some people are going to manage and I hope they have friends and family who help them get through all this. My heart goes out to them. Let’s hope the world will retain that sense of helping our neighbours that seems to have grown, the rise in caring for others, the mood of being thankful for what we have and for the wonder in the world.


For we do have the wonders of nature, of caring people, of neighbours and friends and family. Many of us have the wonders of a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs. We have the wonder of being able to walk along the streets, greet people we don’t even know (at a distance, of course) and see them smile back. After this, we will have the added wonder of more acquaintances than we had before, more conversations and opportunities to reach out. There is a togetherness which has come from these circumstances.

We talk about the recognised Wonders of the World but we have our own better wonders, within us, around us, and those which are waiting just around the corner.


Have a go at responding to this challenge, if you haven’t already, or to any of the others which exist on this site. It’s fun and your muse is waiting. Push the boundaries and see where they take you!


© 2020 Ann Carr


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

DreamerMeg: Thank you for your kind comments. We are lucky too as we have a garden and live by the sea so can easily go for a walk along the prom. People seem to be taking social distancing fairly seriously here, unlike a few other places!

I think it is hard for many. I miss being able to visit my children and grandchildren but at least I can see them on FaceTime. The youngest (19 months) doesn't understand why he can't give Grandma a cuddle though and that makes me sad.

I appreciate your visit.


DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on April 27, 2020:

Great comments on the current lockdown. Some people are really frightened, while others find the lockdown more intolerable. We are lucky with a garden and able to walk beside the sea, it must be VERY hard for some other people. My sister in law does not understand (early dementia). She thinks it's only a couple of weeks since she last went to the hairdresser and if hers doesn't open soon, she will "just go elsewhere"!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 24, 2020:

Thank you Glenis. Lovely to hear from you and I'm glad you're keeping well. We also self-isolated for 12 weeks, due to my partner's age and medication and also to the fact that I'd been travelling the week before. We're well, thank you, and doing lots of jobs outside!

I've done the midnight vigil for slots! Quite a relief when you find one, isn't it? Home deliveries have been good so far and we have another in 2 weeks.

I like writing poetry about trains because they already have a rhythm to dictate the pace of the words. Glad you like it.

Keep safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 24, 2020:

Thank you, Nell. I'm glad you enjoyed this.

I'm a fairly upbeat person but even I have had moments of feeling anxious and depressed in all this - not for long and I'm far better off than many so I can't complain.

Yes, humour helps so much. A laugh can cure many things!

Good to see you today. Off to enjoy more of this sunshine in the garden!

Keep safe and well.


Glen Rix from UK on April 23, 2020:

Hello, Ann! Hope you are well and coping with the situation. It’s the middle of the night and I have,finally, managed to get a Waitrose slot- for collection (a son who shares my home and is furloughed will pick up).Now I can’t sleep and got around to reading some of the hubs by people who I follow.

I enjoyed reading your story. I found it quite spine-chilling and started to think about the voice. Was he having a breakdown? Was he, perhaps, a ghost.

The poem has great imagery in the first stanza and I particularly liked the rhythm of the second.

I imagine the U.K. will be in lockdown for some weeks or months and am so sorry for the many people less fortunate in these dreadful times. Those who are very old, sick, isolated, worried about money, without a garden to occupy themselves. It’s frustrating to be unable to offer practical help, being one of the oldies asked to stay at home for 12 weeks. ( I am now in week 6, as I started to self-isolate before the instruction was issued). I Communicate with groups of family and friends via WhatsApp and have just been introduced to Zoom by the leader of my reading group.

When, I wonder, will I be able to make the train journey to Scotland. Missing my grandchildren - but I get to read bedtime to them on the Caribu app. Thank goodness for the internet.

Stay safe, keep smiling, stay positive. I look forward to reading more of your excellent creative writing.

Nell Rose from England on April 23, 2020:

I loved your story, and the poem was so poignant. It's such a strange time, and I am sure we all get maudlin and scared sometimes. But after watching Big night in, at least we still have our humour. Keep safe Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 23, 2020:

Thank you again, Jo! Yes that's a thought. I am getting a bit more writing done so fingers crossed!

I appreciate your support.


Jo Miller from Tennessee on April 23, 2020:

Great job!!

Here's a positive thought: There are going to be many, many good stories and other works of art to come out of this pandemic.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 20, 2020:

Hi Devika! If you contact me via hubpages, then when I reply you will automatically have my email address. Looking forward to hearing from you.


Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 20, 2020:

Hello Ann please can you forward me your email address thanks

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 20, 2020:

Rinita: Thank you, you're very kind. Glad you enjoyed this.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 20, 2020:

Hi Shauna! Thank you for that lovely comment. Pleased you picked up on the disappearing angle.

I didn't want to leave it on a low note, so decided to find some of my more upbeat photos too!

I've been so late getting round to Bill's challenges that I haven't seen everyone else's yet so I'll be popping over to have a look.


Rinita Sen on April 20, 2020:

The poem is outstanding, especially the waterfalls tossing their locks. Brilliant line. Loved the prose as well.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 20, 2020:

Ann, this is so appropriate for the state our world is in right now. People disappearing in your flash fiction story hit a chord.

I love the peaceful photos you posted at the end. They're beautiful images to leave your readers with as they leave the page.

I've actually responded to all the photo prompt challenges Bill posed this year. It's always interesting to see what my muse (and others') comes up with.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Thank you Peggy. I agree that the vaccine is really the only way we will be free of this and also that staying positive is the key. Glad you liked the photos.


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 19, 2020:

You did a great job with this challenge of Bill's with this Train to Nowhere. Someday, hopefully, things will return to normal. I believe that a new vaccine will make the difference. Concentrating on the good things in life is important, such as the photos at the bottom you shared with us. They are lovely!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Thank you, Eric, for your visit this evening. Nothing wrong with enjoying melancholy! Yes, we are powerless to do much, especially when we are not supposed to go out.

Thank you for your kind words, Eric. 'Nailed it' is good!


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 19, 2020:

Ann, I for one enjoy a good sad melancholy. I know joy and sad don't go together in the norm. But I have even found out I can enjoy the melancholy, go figure.

You nailed it here.

I feel so bad for those truly suffering. But basically prayers are all I can give.

You drive that home very well.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Thank you, Liz. That's exactly what I was trying to do so I appreciate your comment regarding the balance. Difficult times indeed.

Good to see you here. Keep safe and well.


Liz Westwood from UK on April 19, 2020:

I like the way that you have crafted prose and poetry around the challenge, but also set it in our present pandemic time. It's a good idea to focus minds on those who have lost their livelihoods at this time and are struggling. There's a balance in this article as you rightly point out how fortunate many of us are.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Hello Jamie! Good to see you. Thank you for your encouraging words and I'm glad you liked this. Take care.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Thank you, bill. I thought I'd better try to cheer people up as well, hence the last bits, but yes there is much sadness around.

Like you, we've had no negative effects. I'm even feeling a bit guilty about that.

Thanks. You have a great Sunday too!


Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on April 19, 2020:

Ann, I live how you brought the reader into melancholy and then led us out of it with hope. Beautiful writing thank you for a bit of joy this morning. Jamie

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2020:

Timely melancholy it is, but it's probably necessary for all writers to have a go at melancholy from time to time, and this is certainly an appropriate time.

I really have not suffered any negative effects from this lockdown, and it is easy to be lighthearted when adversity has not visited me, but this is a real pain for millions of people, and the uncertainly of the future is enough to unsettle me from time to time.

Well done,Ann! I think you captured the collective mood quite well.

Have a superb Sunday, my friend.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Thank you, Rosina. I appreciate your kind comment. I hope you remain safe and well too.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Thank you, Flourish. Yes, it's such an arbitrary evil isn't it?

Good to see you today. Keep safe and well.


Rosina S Khan on April 19, 2020:

Great fiction and beautiful poem. I loved them both. Stay safe and well.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 19, 2020:

I liked your melancholy but realistic take. There are some people who will have nothing to come back to, others who will have to completely change course just to survive.

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