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The Woman on the Mountaintop (My Response to Bill's Challenge)

Updated on July 20, 2017
shanmarie profile image

Shannon loves to bring the goings-on in her imagination to life for others. Sometimes one simple thought or prompt sparks an entire story!


The Challenge

Recently our friend Bill (billybuc) issued a writing challenge, which was to write something based off of one particular photo. Something about "The Woman on the Mountaintop." I don't usually participate in writing challenges. In fact, I often feel like I don't have enough time to write at all. Then there are times when I must write whenever the inspiration strikes or else risk losing either the words, the idea, or both. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how I look at it) for me, this moment is usually after I am ready for bed and want nothing else but to sleep. Lucky for me, this was not exactly one of those times, though I did jot a few things down about my concept before going to bed. Still, I had to think about this idea a bit further.

You see, I read a few hubs that responded to Bill's challenge and it piqued my curiosity. Could I too come up with something unique and interesting based on that photo?

Then I read Bill's hub in which the challenge was not only issued but he also provides his words for what the image inspires in him. It is a very touching tribute to his wife, someone that seems to make the world around her a better place. Someone I found myself relating to, at least as I looked at the picture. I thought of my own love of hills and mountain views, despite my fear of the edge of heights. There is just a sort of freedom up there that cannot be explained, yet it courses through the veins and is felt in every heartbeat. At such moments, all seems right with the world and the beauty of life is crystal clear in all its delicacy.

But I digress because I didn't want to take up a challenge like this only to write something expected like the words I just said. Believe me, those that know me well would definitely expect me to speak of my love of hills and such. It is a challenge, after all, though, so here's my attempt at a short story or flash fiction, whatever category it falls under. I hope it is most definitely not the exexpected.

The Woman On the Mountaintop

She stood upon the edge of the mountain lookout, alone and undisturbed, much like the nature around her in these quiet moments before sunset. However, the solitude was a comfort. She was alone with her thoughts and one with nature. To her, there was no better time or place for calming her spirit and getting her wayward thoughts under control.

She watched as the lights of the homes in the distant city turned on one by one. The fog slowly creeping in made the lights flicker and sway like candles in the wind. The colors on the horizon matched the city sprawled out just beyond the banks of the winding river. The view could not get any better, she thought, despite the fact that it looked rather eerie.

She came up to the mountain to escape that very city for a few days. She currently held nothing but contempt for it because it was there where her life started to fall apart. It was there that she learned only recently that she was adopted. Adopted because her birth father is a serial killer in prison awaiting his death and her mother, his last victim, had no other family to take her in.

At least now she better understood the ominous black cloud she always felt hanging overhead. It hung so low it seemed tangible at times, not unlike the murkiness of the fog obscuring the city below. Dark now, the stars danced in and out of the rolling clouds above, merrily oblivious to her inner turmoil.

A lone wolf howled somewhere in the distance. A mouse simultaneously ran by her feet, startling her as it rustled the small pile of leaves it ran through. Suddenly, with all senses on high alert, she sensed someone watching her. Was that the sound of footsteps or the mouse again? Alone no more, she felt the chill of the wind run down her spine as she heard a deathly whisper.

"His. You're hisss."

Instinct told her to stay and listen some more. Panic and adrenaline told her to run. So she ran. The rhythmic drumbeat of her heart kept up her pace. Thump, thump. Bang, bang. Thump, thump. Bang, bang. Already banging so hard she feared it might leap from her chest, it beat faster. She ran faster. Thump, thump. Bang, bang. Thump, thump. Bang, bang. Thump, thump. Bang, bang.

From out of nowhere, a crooked tree root sprung out of the fallen leaves and grabbed her foot. She felt herself tumbling head over heels. On and on she rolled for what seemed like endless minutes until she landed at the river bank; broken, bloodied, bruised, and dying.

The wolf in the distance howled again. Somewhere an owl cried out into the night. And as she took her last breath, she heard the bone-chilling wind whisper again.

"You're hisssss."


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    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      13 months ago from Texas

      Thanks Shauna. I don't even know where this creepy idea came from. Everyone else wrote such bright and happy answers to that particular challenge. LOL

      I do miss those challenges. I might try the one you did ...and look for more answers. That line seems to call for Halloween spooky.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      13 months ago from Central Florida

      Wow, Shannon this story is full of suspense, anticipation, fear, dread, and uncertainty. I can't imagine being the offspring of a serial killer who killed my mother. I wonder if a part of her was actually relieved once she knew she was rolling to her death. Hmmm. Guess we'll never know!

      Nice job of taking Bill up on his challenge. I actually did as well. Once upon a time ago Bill challenged us with frequency. I always tried to take him up on it. He's such a supportive and inspirational writer/friend.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Thanks, Robert. I surprised myself with this one. LOL. It definitely wasn't the typical response for this challenge.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 years ago

      This short story goes very dark very quickly. Nicely done.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Thanks. Ghost stories as a kid were the best. LOL. Thanks for stopping by. This was particular story was a surprise to me too. I usually don't write the spooky stuff. But the idea popped into my head and it was different than I figured most would be so I ran with it.

    • Besarien profile image


      3 years ago from South Florida

      This reminds me of telling ghost stories around a campfire in girl scouts- when somebody shrieks, then everybody shrieks, and combined sound of it scares everyone even more. Kudos on a wonderfully spooky answer to Bill's challenge.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      5 years ago from Texas

      I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Harishprasad! Thank you.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      5 years ago from New Delhi , India

      What a great effort and how wonderful effects produced involving hills and jungles ! The climax was unexpected and that is the beauty of story telling. I was grossly absorbed in the story and enjoyed it throughout. You have taken on Bill's challenge with all élan.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Oh my gosh, Alicia, what do I say to that? I am so pleased that you like it and that you didn't see the twist coming. It makes me feel like I succeeded at not only completing the challenge Bill issued, but also at one I had for myself to do something unique and interesting outside of my normal parameters.

      Furthermore, the fact that you see paranormal elements is exciting to me, because I was aiming for more psychological. Perhaps they go hand in hand, though, but, regardless, various interpretations are awesome. It means it wasn't flat. Thanks again!

    • AliciaAH profile image

      Alicia Alarco-Hernandez 

      6 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      I really liked how first you described a woman trying to escape from real life problem but then encounters a bigger uncontrollable, paranormal problem. A place where Jason or the Blair Witch might come and get you which explains why so many don't go hiking or camping. I didn't expect the twist I really enjoyed reading it.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Oh my, Suhail! Be careful that it isn't just yhe wind.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Hi Chitrangada! Thanks so much! So glad you enjoyed it.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      6 years ago from Mississauga, ON


      I could relate to the woman on the mountaintop in your story. Although I want to be fully connected with nature during my hiking adventures, sometimes I do get scared at unfathomable natural phenomena.

      This story could easily make it to Halloween movie scene.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is indeed a wonderful response to billybuc's challenge.

      Nice short fiction which kept me curious from start till the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      Thanks for sharing and thanks for the follow as well!

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks, MsDora!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      The ending of your story is as abrupt as the woman's life. I cannot think of a more fitting climax. Well done!

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks, Maria! Edgy, huh? Never thought of myself as edgy. LOL

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Haunting and edgy...loved this version of the challenge, shanmarie!

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks! The hard part is trying to keep attention throughout.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      You grabbed my attention right away with this nice piece of flash fiction. Very well written Shan.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Wow, Ruby, thanks!! Coming from someone who writes flash fiction so well herself, that is a fantastic compliment.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Glad you liked mine and that you are satisfied with yours! I look forward to reading it.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Wow! This was a gripping tale, written beautifully. One of the best I've read.Thank you...

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      6 years ago from Central Virginia

      This is a great response to Bill's challenge. It had all the elements that draw me in to a piece of writing. I was hesitant about responding to Bill's challenge too but could not resist. Something about it just spoke to me. I don't think it is my best work but I am satisfied with it. You should be proud of yours. I loved it!

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks, Jodah. I haven't read all of the challeng responses yet, but I plan to try. I certainly hope mine is unique.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Well you certainly gave the challenge a unique edge Shan...very scary stull....and well written. Voted up.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thank you, Jackie! I was hoping it had the desired effect.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Glad you like it, Eric!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from the beautiful south

      Well that kept me on the edge of my chair! You took a great twist for an exciting read! ^+

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      An unexpected treat. A true thriller!

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks, Bill! Yes, it is definitely not like me to tell a horror story. I don't even know where that idea came from! Just wanted to do something different than I normally do.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shanmarie, you may not think short stories aren't your forte, but I think you just proved yourself wrong....and that's a good thing. :)

      Thank you so much for making an exception and taking on this challenge. This is a wonderful story, perfect for Halloween night...a fright night....very well done my friend.

    • shanmarie profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon Henry 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks, Theresa! Short stories are not my forte, or so I thought.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Shan, this a fantastic contribution to Bill's challenge! I love flash fiction and you have lived up to the challenge with this heart-pumping piece here.

      Up and more and away

      Blessings always


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