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The Ghost Mountain Adventure (a short story)

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

the-ghost-mountain-adventure-a-short-story

Bill Holland's Challenge

Our good friend and fellow writer Bill Holland (billybuc) recently issued a writing challenge. The guidelines were as follows:

"1) The title of the short story must have the word “mountain” in it, and the subject matter of the short story must be, in some way, related to the mountain in the photo.

2) There are three other photos included in this short article. Your story must, in some way, include and mention those three photos.

3) Short story….flash fiction….I don’t care. There is no word limit in this challenge, but you are limited to only one Hub article…

4) Post your entry on HubPages by September 10th.

5) You choose the genre."

As I can never pass up a challenge, or dare, I had to come up with something, and the following story is the result.

Contest picture #1

Contest picture #1

The Ghost Mountain Adventure

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Kurt stuffed his backpack with everything he’d need in case of an emergency, not that he was expecting one. Half a dozen muesli bars, water, compass, thermal blanket, and solar charger for his cell phone went in.

Just as he was packing the last item away, the 4x4 Hyundai pulled up outside and honked the horn. He was excited to say the least as he raced outside, yelling goodbye to his parents but not waiting for an answer.

This would be Kurt’s first ever unguided skiing adventure. Just he, his friends, and the snowy wilderness called Ghost Mountain. It was called "Ghost Mountain" because, in the right weather conditions, the snow-capped peak resembled your stereotypical Halloween ghost i.e. like a flowing white sheet suspended in mid-air. The mist and cloud cover tended to hide the base of the mountain.

Sure he had been to the ski school at the resort with his parents where he had learnt to be a competent skier, but he had always been under the watchful eye of an instructor.

His parents were apprehensive about this trip but Kurt convinced them that he was a big boy now and could look after himself. At 17, he knew he was old enough to go off alone. He was almost an adult for God’s sake and even old enough to drive.

Contest picture #3

Contest picture #3

His two friends, Nick and Eric, called for him to hurry, “We want to get up the mountain before spring and all the snow starts to melt!” Nick joked.

Being cousins, the two had skied down Ghost Mountain once, about a year before, accompanied by their fathers (brothers). They were confident they were now experienced enough and had the common sense to do it on their own.

The boys had never driven this route to the mountain by themselves before and though they had a GPS they weren’t sure they had taken the right road. But as they passed through rich farming country Eric pointed and yelled, “There’re the old barns with the grain silos I remember from last time. Now I know we’re on the right track.”

From the base, Ghost Mountain looked foreboding, but apart from a group of three skiers who disappeared almost 25 years ago, and which still remained a mystery, the boys had never heard of any other incidents. As far as testing skiing venues, it was considered challenging but not in the "most dangerous" range.

An accessible road led to the base on the western side so they drove the 4x4 as far as they could and parked in an area that had once been a railway holding yard. There were still a number of old weathered and ghostly carriages standing silently on the long disused tracks. The boys then donned their packs; skis attached and set off to climb up the rocky face of the mountain.

Contest picture #2

Contest picture #2

They threaded their way between clumps of fir trees

They threaded their way between clumps of fir trees

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It was hard going but thankfully the snow wasn’t thick on this side and they managed to make the summit around midday. The 360-degree views were spectacular and the three teenagers marvelled at the surrounding landscape before taking a brief rest from the climb and having a bite to eat to restore some energy that would be needed for their steep skiing descent.

Hunger satisfied, and energy returned, the boys waxed, then donned their skis, and set off in single file down the mountain. Eric led the way, followed closely by Nick, and Kurt bringing up the rear.

Downhill skiing is an exhilarating experience and the three friends were high on adrenalin as they raced down Ghost Mountain. They threaded their way between clumps of fir trees at the top of the mountain until they were in the clear and on the bare white slopes.

Suddenly, as though out of nowhere, a goshawk swooped on some small prey its pinpoint vision had spied from a perch high in the trees. Unfortunately, its path was directly in front of Kurt, and startled he swerved sharply to avoid colliding with the bird.

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the-ghost-mountain-adventure-a-short-story

Losing his composure and balance he was thrown totally off-course and rushed out of control, catapulting up and over a sharp rise in the snow. His friends, now far in front, were oblivious to Kurt’s dilemma and continued their downhill rush to the bottom.

Kurt landed in a heap, half buried by snow, one ski snapped, and the other flew off his foot landing who knows where. The thick carpet of snow had cushioned his fall, and luckily he wasn’t hurt except for his pride.

He sat up, dusting snow from his head and shoulders, and looked around until he found the missing ski. “What will I do now?” he thought to himself but stayed calm. “I can’t go anywhere with just one good ski!” Just as he remembered his cell phone and began to remove his backpack to retrieve it, Kurt turned to look at the hidden rocky outcrop he had flown over and landed in front of. There was something sticking up through the snow at the base of the rock.

Kurt crawled over and started digging the snow away from around the object. What he found made him jump backwards and gasp!

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The police snow rescue team had been quick to respond to Kurt’s 911 call and it was just before dark when the reached the spot on Ghost Mountain where he was stranded. They retrieved the skull that Kurt had inadvertently uncovered, and the team soon excavated the remainder of an intact human skeleton, and two others, buried in the snow.

Eric and Nick had freaked-out when they realised Kurt was no longer behind them, and had also phoned emergency services. They had feared the worst so were very relieved to be reunited with their friend. This had been one adventure none of the boys would ever forget, especially Kurt.

Later forensic tests revealed that the remains did, in fact belong to local men Dale Whitby, James McLeod and Leo Sharpe who went missing while skiing on Ghost Mountain in 1991. The mysterious disappearance had finally been solved, though the cause of all three deaths could not be determined. A sudden avalanche which trapped the unfortunate skiers was a possibility but unable to be proven.

The remains were buried at the base of the mountain they loved and marked by simple but identical gravestones as a memorial and a warning to future skiers and climbers of the dangers of Ghost Mountain.

Contest picture #4

Contest picture #4

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the-ghost-mountain-adventure-a-short-story

Bill's Challenge Hub

Ghost Mountain (the poem)

Rising up above the mist

Ghost Mountain's snow-capped peak,

Attracting avid skiers,

And those who adventure seek.


Some say the mountain gained its name

Because of skiers lost,

Whose souls still haunt the ragged peaks

Within the ghostly frost.


Others feel it's just a tale

To frighten and deter.

They climb Ghost Mountain without fear

That ill-fate may occur.


But history is a funny thing,

Often fact and fable blend,

And people who ignore the past

May meet a gruesome end.

© 2016 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 22, 2020:

Thank you Fam. I am glad you enjoyed this story, and your comment is greatly appreciated.

Fam on March 22, 2020:

Your challenge writing gone great, with the skiing adventure done and the mystery of the lost boys resolved.

I enjoyed reading it.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on April 10, 2017:

Thanks John. I greatly appreciate that kind comment

johnmariow on April 10, 2017:

Excellent story. I enjoyed reading it. You are indeed a very talented writer.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 02, 2016:

Peg, thank you for reading this and for your generous comment. There was certainly a wonderful range of responses to the challenge. I feel they really bring out the best in a writer. Glad you enjoyed this one.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 02, 2016:

Incredible the variety of responses that a writing challenge can inspire. You have met and exceeded the standards and requirements for this one, John. I loved the back story, the adventure, the discovery and the resulting warning at the base of the mountain. The photos added so much to the visual impact and you wove them in perfectly. Well done. Enjoyable reading.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 24, 2016:

Thanks Mate.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 24, 2016:

John

It was a great story 'as is' and allowed us to write our own 'backstories' in our heads. That's great storytelling!

Lawrence

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 24, 2016:

Thanks Lawrence, I agree. I should have developed the backstory about the missing skiers but I didn't want to make the story too long.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 23, 2016:

John

Great little story here, I tend to agree with Austinstar about the ending, but the possibilities are pretty much endless.

Lawrence

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 17, 2016:

Welcome back, Sarah. I have missed your high class writing. I am also honoured that you chose to read one of my hubs first on return, and thank you for the generous comment. There are some amazing responses to this challenge.

Sara Sarwar Riaz from Michigan, USA on September 17, 2016:

Hello Jodah, it is indeed a pleasure to read another one of your wonderful hubs as I rediscover my way through hubpages. I have been gone for over a year so I believe there is s lot to catch up on, but thought you'd page would be a good place to start :)

Very interesting and captivating response. Hope to read others that I have missed.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 13, 2016:

Tell me about life challenges, Kim. I could write a series of hubs about it at the moment. I can't believe what the last two months have thrown at me. Hope everything is on the up and up with yours.

ocfireflies from North Carolina on September 13, 2016:

Has not been about finding time. Has been about access to Internet and life challenges. Glad to be back. Hoping I can keep the momentum going. Smiles.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 13, 2016:

Thank you for finding the time to read this hub, dear Kim, and leave such a generous comment. There have been some wonderful stories written in this challenge. Great to see you back on HubPages. Cheers.

ocfireflies from North Carolina on September 13, 2016:

Awesome response and definitely meeting the challenge and then some. Exhilaration one minute, chill bumps the next. Nicely presented my friend.

Kim

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 13, 2016:

Thank you, Larry.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on September 12, 2016:

Great response!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 10, 2016:

I know you enjoy my short fiction, Surabhi. Glad you found this one and thank you for the wonderful comment. I am having a good weekend and hope you are also.

Surabhi Kaura on September 10, 2016:

This was truly a delight to read, Jodah. Superb! Have a great weekend.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 06, 2016:

Thanks, Deb. You are right. I'll fix that.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on September 06, 2016:

“I can’t go anywhere with just one broken ski!”

I think you need to change the above sentence to reflect a usable ski.

This is well done and even though it was done with certain confines, it is a good story.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 05, 2016:

Thanks for reading, Faith. May God bless you too.

Faith-Hope-Love on September 04, 2016:

I enjoyed this short story. Many Kudos to you. Well done. Look forward to reading more. Keep it up. May God be with you. John W

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 04, 2016:

Yes, De Greek, you'd be right there. Now everything is safety oriented unless you really go out of your way to do things on your own and more extreme. Thanks for reading.

De Greek from UK on September 04, 2016:

This has reminded me of the old days of skiing. A sport where no one can be blamed for errors but the skier himself. ;-)

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 04, 2016:

Thanks for the generous comment, Ann. All the responses are great and a number so very unique that Bill will certainly have a hard choice.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 04, 2016:

Very true, John - never ignore the past!

Great story; you had me worried for him until I realised he'd dialled for help and you set the clue way back (which I didn't remember until a few seconds after the discovery of the skull!).

There are certainly some super responses to Bill's challenge and you've set a standard here. Well done, John!

Ann

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 02, 2016:

Thank you, Frank. Any positive comment by you on a short fiction story is greatly valued. Thanks for reading and I am glad you enjoyed this tale.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on September 02, 2016:

Jodah, I enjoyed the action, and adventure and also how you played it out.. a sign of a good story-teller.. you met the challenge and then some

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on September 01, 2016:

Thank you for the great comment, Venkatachari. I am glad you enjoyed the presentation and found the story thrilling. I hope you also had a good break and have returned feeling refreshed.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on September 01, 2016:

Wow, John! This is extremely thrilling and perfect response to the challenge. I enjoyed it very much and admire the presentation of it and the poem also. Your stuff is always entertaining and interesting.

I have been late around here after a long break.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 30, 2016:

Thank you, Emese. Your comment is so generous and much appreciated. I am glad I was ale to make Kurt sound 'real'. You are right that it isn't easy to develop a character in a short story. It is always good to see a comment from you so I hope you get the opportunity to spend more time at HubPages.

Emese Fromm from The Desert on August 30, 2016:

Great story, John! Then again, everything I ever read from you is. Your characters seem so real, especially Kurt, which I know is hard to do within such a short story. I need to return to HubPages more often, at least to read, all of the entries I've started reading are so impressive, I feel humbled to be among you guys.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 29, 2016:

What a generous comment, Audrey. I am so glad this has inspired you and I eagerly look forward to your response to the challenge.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on August 29, 2016:

John, you never cease to amaze me. The story you've created with these prompts is a fascinating one. I particularly like the ending you came up with. Maybe I'll give this challenge a try...you've inspired me.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 29, 2016:

Yes, Randy..is that a sign that a hub is good?

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on August 28, 2016:

Gee John, this tale seems to be spam worthy!! LOL!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 27, 2016:

Yes, Dianna there certainly are some great reads among these challenge entries. Sorry about the skull but I guess it had the desired impact.

Dianna Mendez on August 27, 2016:

I jumped backwards when I read the part about discovering the skull! What a story! Great job on taking on Bill's challenge. I am loving these creative tales.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 27, 2016:

I appreciate you taking the time to read this and for your generous comment. This was an inspiring challenge.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 27, 2016:

Your interpretation is thoroughly creative and well-scribed, dear Jodah.

Excellent writing!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 27, 2016:

Hi Shanmarie. Thanks for the kind comment. It was good I could came up with a surprise ending.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 27, 2016:

Thanks for the heads up, Shauna. Glad to know I met the challenge guidelines. Have a great weekend.

Shannon Henry from Texas on August 27, 2016:

Didn't see the ending coming. It's a tiny graveyard at the base of the mountain. Quite an adventure.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 27, 2016:

John, you did a fantastic job of incorporating the photo prompts into the story. Touche, my friend!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 27, 2016:

I did my best, Mel. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 27, 2016:

You incorporated all of Bill's pictures in a single story. Great work!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 27, 2016:

Thanks, Dave. Yes, that was part of the reasoning behind the name. Glad you enjoyed the read.

David Edward Lynch from Port Elizabeth, South Africa on August 27, 2016:

An enjoyable read John, I always enjoy adventure stories. 'Ghost Mountain' is an appropriate name for a place where skiers had gone missing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 26, 2016:

Incorporating all four pics was the hardest part, Linda. I did my best as did all the others who joined the challenge. Thanks for reading.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 26, 2016:

You've brought the four photos into the story very naturally and successfully, Jodah. I think that would be quite a challenge!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 26, 2016:

Yes the diversity of writers is great, Suzette. I loved yours, and a number of others. Glad you enjoyed this one though.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 26, 2016:

I Am glad you enjoyed this story, Thelma, and that you found it different from the others. I always like what I write to be somewhat unique if I can. Have a good weekend.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 26, 2016:

Thank you Missy. I am glad you enjoyed this story. The other stories in the challenge are very diverse and well written. It is great to be a part of this. Some have written poetry in response so I am sure you could do that if you aren't confident enough to write a fiction story.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on August 26, 2016:

Really interesting story, John. I enjoyed reading this.f But, then you never disappoint. It is interesting to see how different each story is using the same elements.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on August 26, 2016:

Very creative and actual situation nowadays. It is a very different story from the others that I have read in this challenge. It is a great story and the mystery of the skulls found in the mountain was solved. Well done!

Missy Smith from Florida on August 26, 2016:

Very Cool!! I liked this, John. I thought you told your story well. Very realistic details. I've read a few so far that has taken Bill's challenge and all have done an outstanding job of incorporating what he asked. I, myself, am not confident enough that I could do that, so I will have to pass on the challenge. lol. Great Story! :)

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 26, 2016:

Thank you Mactavers. Yes, I would have liked to have developed more of a backstory but I didn't want to make the story too long as it is part of a challenge and readers would find it time consuming to read them all. Glad you enjoyed it.

mactavers on August 26, 2016:

Good for your acceptance of a challenge, and good development of the story. Short stories and flash fiction present the problem of telling a story in a compact form. Enjoyed your Hub.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 26, 2016:

Hi, Chitrangada. I am so glad you enjoyed my story and you are too kind in your comment. But this type of feedback is what drives us to keep writing and striving to be even better. Thank you.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 26, 2016:

Sharon, I am truly humbled by your comment. Yes, I remember the Sonny Bono incident but preferred to go with a less gruesome ending. Glad you enjoyed the story.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 25, 2016:

I was expecting some excellent response from you (with respect to the challenge) and this is just that or may I say more than that. I appreciate your imagination and the way you kept the interest alive throughout the story. Not only that you have included some amazing pictures to associate with the story and they too appear to be part of the story.

Very nicely done indeed! Thank you!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on August 25, 2016:

John, wow! You raised the bar another notch. When Kurt was thrown off course, I was thinking about Sonny Bono, and I am glad your story had a happy ending. You are a good writer John, but I think you know that.

Blessings my friend

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

I agree with what you say Theresa about Bill having a hard decision. All thru entries so far are very high quality. I would certainly encourage you to modify your previous mountain story to suit this challenge. Peace and blessings.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 25, 2016:

Hi John,

This is a wonderful addition to add to Bill's challenge! That is interesting about not so many fiction stories written about skiing. As you've stated, I love reading all of the entries to the challenge for there is such diversity and creative thinking put into each one using the same photos, but with totally different stories.

I'm glad so many are participating. I have had a story in my head since the last challenge Bill issued involving a mountain, but I felt I was too late to contribute on that one, so I may give it a whirl this round.

Bill is going to have a tough job choosing a winner ...maybe he will decide to choose at least three top best ones being so many have already participated.

Peace and blessings

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Yes, Lori. This was a terrific challenge to be involved with. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Yes, Dana, I agree that everything happens for a reason. Yes, Kurt's misfortune led to closure for the families of the missing skiers.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

John, thanks for that encouraging comment. Glad you enjoyed the read.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Paula, happy for the already living, and at least the skeletons were put to rest. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Thanks for reading this Joyceme, and for the kind comment.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Glad you enjoyed it Glennis. Yes, it may have been better in first person which is my preferred mode..but of well, maybe next time.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Thanks for the generous comment, Ruby. Everyone who has written a story in this challenge so far has really stepped up.

Lori Colbo from United States on August 25, 2016:

Awesome story John. The skull brought some mystery to the story. Love this writing challenge.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on August 25, 2016:

I always say everything happens for a reason. The fact that Kurt conveniently got lost in the snow turned out to be a blessing for the loved ones of those three skiers who were missing for a long time. A happy ending all around.

johnmariow on August 25, 2016:

I enjoyed reading this story. It is a well written story with a happy ending. Kurt's accident was scary. Thanks for sharing.

Suzie from Carson City on August 25, 2016:

Good thinking Jodah! I'm not up to anything heavy or dreary today. I appreciate your happy ending!!

I suppose the 3 skeletons aren't so happy!!! LOL

joyceme on August 25, 2016:

Great story, I am not that good a story teller, but this is a good work.

Glen Rix from UK on August 25, 2016:

I enjoyed it! I think that if it were mine I might see how it works in the first person, from Kurt'S p.o.v

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 25, 2016:

John, this is a great story, full of excitement and adventure. The way you weaved the photos in the story is outstanding writing. I loved the happy ending, it could have been tragic. You are such an excellent writer. Bravo!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Yes, Randy. One or two photos aren't a problem but when I read that we had to use all four it made things more difficult. I did my best. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on August 25, 2016:

Interesting tale, John. You did a good job weaving the photos into the story. Sometime photo prompts can be a b**ch.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Thank you, Bill. I am blown away by the standard and diversity of the entries/stories so far. That being said how can I be surprised by what the amazing writers from among us can produce. Even those who don't consider themselves short fiction writers. I look forward to stories still to come.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 25, 2016:

This is maybe the fifth challenge I've issued, John, and I'm still amazed at the quality of writing that is generated by the challenges. You and others do so well when the gauntlet is tossed down. This is just exquisite work, my friend. Thank you so much for taking part.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Thank you, Paula. I wasn't sure if I developed the mystery or the twist enough, so your comment is appreciated. Glad you thought the photos fit the story ok too. I do prefer a happy ending so didn't want the boys commg to harm.

Suzie from Carson City on August 25, 2016:

Jodah.....What a great story! You very skillfully brought the photos into focus, weaving a perfect scenario. You had me a bit concerned that one of the boys would be injured or worse. Quite sneaky of you to have a mystery unfold! You successfully blindsided me! Bravo!

manatita44 from london on August 25, 2016:

Yes, nice idea from Bill, or perhaps another kick-start from where he was before. Either way, a nice idea for improving writing skills. Much Love.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Hey manatita, thank you for the generous comment. It was just a bit of fun to partake in the challenge.

manatita44 from london on August 25, 2016:

Not bad at all, Jodah. A noble effort indeed! Some 'cool' pics.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

:) :) :)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 25, 2016:

No way - I may ski better than you, but you sure write better than me ;-)

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Hey, Eric. You should have written this story then. I have never even been in snow. Cheers.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 25, 2016:

Very cool. Been there and done that ;-)

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 25, 2016:

Thank you, Nell. I can't wait to read yours.

Nell Rose from England on August 25, 2016:

Great story Jodah! and I haven't even started yet on mine, now I have to keep up the standard! lol!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 24, 2016:

Thank you, Flourish. Appreciated.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 24, 2016:

Thank you Norma, I have never been near snow. It would be a great experience.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 24, 2016:

Thank you whonu, but you are far from mediocre. Cheers.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on August 24, 2016:

What I love about these challenges, Mike, is the different take everyone has on the same prompts. Imagination is a wonderful thing. I look forward to reading them all.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 24, 2016:

I like that the three graves serve as safety omens to those who come after.