This story today is written for a writing challenge hosted by Adam Ickes. Welcome to Storybook Corner, a monthly flash fiction prompt held on the 21st of each and every month.
The challenge, for those of us who choose to accept it, is to write a story based on the prompt provide below. The goal is to end up with a story with a beginning, middle, and end that falls anywhere between 300 and 500 words in length. Make every word count, but don’t fret too much if you can’t hit the word count. Sometimes stories refuse to be constrained. Sometimes those are the only stories worth telling.
Try to read as many of the other stories as you can in the time you have available. We all work hard on our stories and like to share our work with as many readers as possible.
I enjoy writing multi-part stories, so my story continues this month. Last month, in Part 1 of The Hike Through Time we met Joe and Kelsey, a married couple that like to hike. On their current hike, they traveled further than they had before and began having odd experiences that they were unable to explain. Our hikers have somehow entered a time warp and our couple settled down for the night in the hopes that maybe things will be clear in the morning. And now, Part 2 of The Hike Through Time.
This month’s prompt is the following image:
Joe heard a voice tell him to wake up but he couldn’t see anyone. When he looked around the castle; the sunlight streaming in through the narrow openings only revealed his wife sleeping next to him.
“Over here near the entrance.”
Still not seeing anyone, Joe approached.
“Watch it. You nearly crushed me.”
Joe looked down to see a toad looking up at him. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and looked again.
“You’re not crazy. I am a talking toad. I think you know that things are different in this place,” croaked the toad.
“Whom are you talking to, Joe?” asked Kelsey as she stretched and yawned.
“I didn’t catch his name,” answered Joe.
Kelsey approached but didn’t see anyone. “Where did he go?”
Joe pointed down and Kelsey heard the toad say, “Good morning.”
“Mr. Toad, I am Joe and this is my wife, Kelsey.”
“You can call me Pierre. That is what I was called before.”
“Before?” asked Kelsey.
“It is a long story and I think it is best if I start at my beginning. Let’s go out into the gardens.”
Outside, the couple sat on a low wall and Pierre settled next to them.
“Before we hear your story, can you help us know what we can eat and drink in this place?” asked Joe.
“There is a well along the garden path and the berries on those bushes near the wall are edible.”
Kelsey gathered berries while Joe investigated the well. After the couple satisfied their hunger and their thirst, they returned to Pierre to hear his story.
“It has been many years since I became a toad in this place. It started on a scout camping trip in the mid-western United States. I was a troublesome kid and my father decided to try the scouts before conceding to military school. Even in the scouts I had no friends. Hiding out by myself, I decided to play a game with the toads that were abundant near our campsite. I tossed pebbles at them to see how fast they could hop out of the way. When I went in search of more pebbles, I wandered into an area overgrown with brush. There was a flash of light and I was knocked to the ground unconscious. When I awoke, I was seeing everything very low to the ground. When I looked into a puddle of water, I saw the reflection of a toad looking back at me. You are the first people I’ve seen in all my time in this place.”
“Except for the cruelty to toads, the same experience brought us here,” said Joe.
“I’ve learned how to accept all nature’s creatures and maybe that is why you have been brought to me. Maybe we can work together to get out of this place.”
Joe put Pierre on his shoulder and declared, “If there are answers, we must find them soon.” The threesome set out to explore this magical world.
Come back next month, to see how the story unfolds.