The New Dragon Saga: Wargames

pork chop hill

Painting of the 45th Infantry Division at Pork Chop Hill in 1952 – Found at Wikipedia

Chapter 2: War, except the Master didn’t call it war, he called it “the Games.” Games, but these games were deadly.

It had been weeks, no…months ago when seventeen-year-old Landon had stood in the main Arena at training camp with the other recruits, all kidnapped as he was, from all over the Earth, and from all over time. They had one purpose: to represent this realm in the Games, to fight, battle after battle, war after war, and if they won, the realm gained territory. If they lost, so did the realm, and that meant they died.

They still wore their collars, for cowardliness or defection to the other side would not be tolerated. At the first sign a soldier’s betrayal, there would be a warning pain. At the second, the collar’s charge would be fatal.

For Landon, and some of the others, the collar had a secondary effect: it cancelled the ability to perform any form of sorcery, a skill for which the teen had trained since he was a child.

Today’s game was “Flanders Field,” reminiscent of the trenches and killing grounds of Earth’s First World War, except the other side had styled their troops not only from the early 20th century, but from the first century Roman Empire, the eighteen century American Revolutionary War, and one platoon carried plasma rifles from the twenty-second century Cyborg Wars.

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Future Tension

marigolds

Photo by Surachai Piragsa – Bangkok Post – 2017

Adam had to look up the word Hemmablind to find out what his wife meant. Yeah, it described him pretty well. He just didn’t notice all of the little imperfections in and around the house. The tear in the back screen door, the weeds growing in the flowerbed, they were all the same to him, and her constant pestering about them was a pain in his pinfeathers.

Yet, as oblivious as he was to all the chores she set before him each morning, he was able to carry himself in a decorous fashion, even when she said the leaf-filled rain gutters and the clogged bathroom sink were the final straw.

Oh, he had attempted to summon up a token effort or two, but it wasn’t enough to draw her attention away from his overall pattern of inactivity. He used his bad back as a crutch, but that didn’t hold up as an excuse, and certainly did not hold their marriage together.

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It’s Not a Scarecrow

scarecrow

© Anurag Bakhshi

“You know, I don’t think the flower bed is in danger from crows, Lindsey.” Kurt stood with his six-year-old daughter admiring their handiwork.

“I know that, Daddy. I just thought the flowers could use some company when we’re not around.” She stood, hands on hips, pride written all over her face.

“Well, you sure made good use of those old clothes we were going to donate to the thrift store.”

When she didn’t answer, he looked down and saw tears in her eyes. Kneeling, he put his arms around her and Lindsey held onto him tightly. “I know you miss her.”

“Why did Grandma have to die?”

“That’s why you wanted to make this, didn’t you? So we wouldn’t give away her clothes.”

“I miss her.”

“It’s okay. I miss her, too. We’ll keep anything of hers you want. I promise.”

I wrote this for the August 19th edition of Sunday Photo Fiction. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 141. I know. I usually push the word count to the limit, but I didn’t need so many this time around.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Chernobyl Man

pripyat

© Dec 2016 – Google

The tourists have been here for quite a while, but due to the dropping radiation levels, I’m unconscious most of the time. Pretty soon, I’ll fade away altogether, though I expect that will be a blessing.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was dead or not. Of course, the Chernobyl accident killed everyone, including my maintenance team, and the citizens evacuated from Pripyat because of the danger, but what happened to me was unique. Did the radiation convert my body to this invisible plasma, or is this the nuclear representation of my soul?

As the radiation levels began to subside, so did I. It’s been a lonely existence, but somehow these tourist seem like an intrusion to me. After all, for years, I was the sole King of my domain, the only one who could live in my personal city. Now I’m just a dying artifact of another age.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image and/or location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Pripyat, Ukraine, which was a community abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster. Because of that, the city has a unique history, and due to rapidly dropping radiation levels, people can go on tours of Pripyat now.

Of course, I had to add another wrinkle.

To read other tales based on this prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Legendary

solar flare

On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The sun simmered red as it slunk towards the jagged horizon. Herman Pope and Krista Hubbard stood watching it from the parking lot at the Houston Space Center anticipating their last day on Earth.

“When will the Object reach perihelion?” The twenty-eight year old systems engineer grasped the older gentleman’s hand without taking her gaze off of the sunset.

The fifty-five year old senior operations manager looked at his watch, which had been his father’s before his. “Less than thirty minutes.”

“That’s how long we have?”

“Maybe. Are you sure you don’t want to go back inside? The Argonaut is transmitting continual status updates.”

“Round trip communications between here and Mercury’s orbit is something like 13 minutes.”

“If it happens, we won’t feel the effects for a while.”

“Yeah, but my brother in Hawaii won’t be having a good day. He’s supposed to graduate from college there next month.”

“Come on, Krista.” He gently tugged on her arm.

“No.” She pulled back harder than she had to. “I want to stay out here.”

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Death Unmasked: A Book Review

death unmasked

Cover image of the novel “Death Unmasked” by Rick Sulik

Disclosure: Almost three months ago, author Rick Sulik asked me to review his 2015 novel Death Unmasked. We had an email discussion and I agreed with the understanding that I would provide an honest review, no holds barred. I subsequently received a kindle edition of the book and finished reading it yesterday.

You should probably know two things about Rick before we get started. He’s a retired police officer, having served on both the Houston and Pasadena (Texas) police forces. He believes in reincarnation. Both of these figure prominently in this novel.

Imagine that you’re a homicide detective in Houston and nearing retirement. You’re a loner, both on the force and in your personal life, and yet there is this longing in you for connection.

Then, little by little, you begin to recall experiences from a past life, your previous name, your wife, how you died, and how she was raped and murdered.

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Time’s Up

forest and stones

© Sue Vincent

Remington had lost count of the number of times he had wandered among these stones. It had been so long that he’d forgotten which one was his. When was it? He could hardly recall. Yes, he did remember the Great Heathen Army. His grandfather had been felled by them at the Isle of Portland while serving under King Beorhtric. Remington himself was dispatched by one of their leaders called Ivar the Boneless, a thousand northern savages by his side. Was it at Wessex then?

It didn’t matter. Here he was as if he had always been here. That other life was so brief by comparison, it almost didn’t matter.

“Remington.”

“Who’s there?” He hadn’t spoken in so long, his own voice sounded strange, almost as eerie as the woman who called to him.

“It is time, Remington.”

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An Outsider’s View: Is WorldCon Going to Be Better Now?

worldcon

Screenshot of WorldCon76 main page taken 15 Aug 2018

After the recent progressive, politically correct meltdown at the upcoming WorldCon 76, I was wondering if there would be any appreciable fallout since it officially starts this afternoon.

I didn’t want to spend a huge amount of time poking around on the WorldCon site, but I did notice a page for Future WSFS Conventions. This coming Friday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Pacific time, there will be a panel to talk about the future locations of WorldCons. Next year, it will be in Dublin, but beyond that, there are multiple choices.

Now, in addition to location, I can’t help but wonder if other things will be considered, such as “inclusivity.” After all, the folks running this year’s Con had to do some major backpedaling and reorganization in just a few weeks, so I can imagine they’ll want to avoid such a social justice explosion in the future. Naturally, with a whole year (and future years) to plan for, they can consider #OwnVoice panels and such at their leisure, as well as making sure those authors nominated for Hugos represent a proper diversity of disadvantaged voices.

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For Bubbe

bakery

Daria Shevtsova pexels-photo-1070945

Faye Ballard chained her bicycle to the post and dashed inside just in time for class.

“Ah, Faye. Glad you could join us.” Their teacher Jeremiah Lamb wasn’t the most patient person, but he knew baking like Michelangelo knew painting.

“Yes, Mr. Lamb. Thank you.” She quickly put on her apron and stood with the other students waiting for today’s demonstration. This was the day she had been waiting for, the one that made her sign up for class in the first place.

“Today, students, we are going to learn how to make a classic bagel. The lox is extra of course, but I’ve plenty of fresh salmon available so we can add some flair to all of our brilliant creations. I start with one-half cup of warm water…”

Under her breath, Faye muttered, “This one’s for you, Bubbe.”

Her dearest grandmother turned 86 last week. She was in an assisted living home now, her memory not being too good. All Faye’s life, Bubbe had baked her the most wonderful bagels. She couldn’t anymore, so it was Faye’s turn to treat her. Bubbe kept saying she wished she could have a good bagel with lox and cream cheese again.

I wrote this for week 33 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. The idea is to use the image above to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

My wife is Jewish and our grandchildren call her Bubbe, which means “Grandma” in Yiddish. My Mom is 86 and does have short-term memory loss, and although she’s not Jewish, I think its important for her grandkids to give something back to her as well.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

As I write this, I’m only the second contributor to this link up, so please consider adding a story of your own. Thanks.

Death by Bic

messy desk

© Yvette Prior

“Between the booze and the coffin nails, it’s like a monument to death, right Turner?”

Detective Gerard Harrington waved his hand over the desk of the deceased while nodding at Officer Dawn Turner.

“I guess so, Sir.” She wasn’t a fan of the flamboyant homicide investigator’s style, but everyone in the department knew he was the best in the business. “So this was a murder?”

“Nah. It’ll take an autopsy, but I’m betting these leaky cigarette lighters he collected did him in. Lung disease didn’t help, but it was the butane fumes that killed him.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 95. Do you know how hard it is to write a murder mystery in less than 100 words?

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.