X is for X-Factor

Day 24 of the challenge!

My theme is NIFTY NUGGETS. Little nuggets of writing based on a photo, a phrase and an object, which is designed to encourage lean, tight writing. I’m aiming for a word count of under 300 words.

Thank you to L.Diane Wolfe for providing the beautiful photo prompts.  You can visit her blog to check out more pictures.



PHRASE – an urban legend

OBJECT – fancy bow

It happened more than 20 years ago…

To this day, the folk agree on one thing, the weather was sure strange on that particular day. The morning started off, sunny and clear. The midday sun slipped behind the gathering clouds, peeking out every now and then, until the mist arrived. It was amazing, they said, the way in which the mist hovered, casting a surreal glow over the woods, a thin blanket covering the area, with slivers of sun cascading through…

It happened more than 20 years ago…

The people spoke about it for a long time thereafter. Women discussed it, standing in the queue at the local store; gathering around the Friday night bingo table; sitting in a circle at the monthly book club meeting. Men debated the topic over beer at the local pub. Children whispered to one another on the playground. The urban legend was re-told, over and over again…

It happened more than 20 years ago…

They say he materialised. Appeared out of nowhere. Came through the mist.

A man on his horse. No ordinary man, mind you…

A man on a mission, to repay an old debt.

Proud and defiant, he sat astride the magnificent beast, as it trotted along the dusty road, as if he had not a care in the world…

It happened more than 20 years ago…

He left, in the same manner… proud and defiant… he sat astride his horse as it trotted along the dusty road leading out of town.

Mission accomplished !

When the local sheriff opened his front door the following morning, he received the surprise of his life. The box was on his doorstep, with a colourful wrapping and fancy bow.

And to this day, folks still indulge in heated speculation as to the contents.

Some say it contained twenty bars of solid gold. Others insist that it yielded a human finger complete with a gold and diamond ring.


  1. J.L. Campbell on April 28, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Love the picture. It has a magical quality and looks like it would make a superb book cover.

    I like the use of repetition in this piece. You just know something way out of the ordinary happened more than 20 years ago!

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh on April 28, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    I’m guessing the latter!
    Cool photo.

  3. Patricia Lynne on April 28, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    I hope it wasn’t a finger. That would be a nasty shock to receive.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee’s Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    • Michelle Wallace on April 29, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Shock factor is the name of the game… isn’t it? 🙂

  4. Nadine Feldman on April 28, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Wooo, yikes! I think it’s a finger. Has to be.

  5. Rachel W. on April 28, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    What an awesome idea for a theme! And what an awesome nugget! Hahaha, we BOTH did X-factor today. XD Hmmm, I wonder what the story is between the sheriff and the stranger….! And I really love it when stories repeat a line, like your “it happened more than 20 years ago”. It gives things a surreal yet intense feeling! lol if that makes sense. X)

    • Michelle Wallace on April 29, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks for the wonderful comment.
      Yes, I get what you’re saying! 😀

  6. Nick Wilford on April 28, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Sounds like an urban myth if ever I heard one. Now I’m going to worry about that finger.

  7. L. Diane Wolfe on April 28, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    That was very haunting and chilling.

    That image is available at my website to purchase if anyone does want it as a book cover.

  8. Tyrean on April 29, 2015 at 12:22 am

    That’s an excellent flash! I loved the repetition as well – imagining the whispers/talk going around town as the tale was repeated. 🙂

  9. Robyn Campbell on April 29, 2015 at 12:39 am

    You talk about my haikus. You are the FF maestra. A FF diva. A FF Empress.
    A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! That repetition adds so much. You ROCK. And the photo is a perfect match. xoxoxo

  10. Mary Aalgaard on April 29, 2015 at 1:47 am

    I love the legend, what really happened, and they mystery of what’s in the box. And, that picture is stunning. It’s my favorite one from the series!

  11. Rosie Amber on April 29, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Loved this piece and the photo is very magical.

  12. i b arora on April 29, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    great built up , the end surely left a taste of mystery, my first visit to your blog, but i would read your earlier posts, i have to.


    • Michelle Wallace on April 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Welcome to my blog!
      Thank you for visiting.
      Feel free to roam around… 🙂

  13. Susan Gourley on April 29, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Either option would make for a good story. Small towns can make legends out of anything.

  14. Sara C. Snider on April 29, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Oooh, was it cake? It was cake, wasn’t it? What else could be in a colorful package with a fancy bow? A finger is too gross for that.

    (Definitely cake.) 😉

    • Michelle Wallace on April 29, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Wouldn’t cake be boring? Or maybe not.
      There’s always a twist… 🙂

  15. Robin Bady on April 29, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Wooooeeeee. Love urban legends, and you had me from the gitgo. Thanks for a story well told. Now I have to see what else you wrote!


    • Michelle Wallace on April 29, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Aha. Glad you were hooked.
      Welcome to my blog. 🙂

  16. Celine Jeanjean on April 30, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I love this and I love the repetition of the phrase – works really nicely with the story!

  17. Julie K Pick on May 2, 2015 at 7:20 am

    You have a wonderful way with spine-tingling endings, Michelle! I might have to sleep with the lights on tonight.

  18. Hilary on May 2, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Hi Michelle .. love the ‘it happened more than 20 years ago’ … and how that legend would go into lore … fascinating read … but water whips has got me! Cheers Hilary

  19. Debbie D. on May 6, 2015 at 4:50 am

    Love the photo and the suspenseful story. Eerie! I vote for the finger. 🙂

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