The Praying Man

Gurara Waterfalls

Gurara Waterfalls © Samson Rohan Google Maps – 2017

“Daddy, who’s that man by the river? He looks strange.”

“Just some of the local color, Janet. Don’t pay attention to him. They all beg.”

“George, stop being racist. We’re here at Gurara Falls for a vacation. Nigeria is his country, not yours.”

George Dukes rolled his eyes. Thousands of miles from home and she was still nagging. He looked back and saw a couple walking toward the native. Probably felt sorry for him, the saps.

Buba the Hunter continued praying to his gods in this strange place as the two outsiders approached, a man and woman. The woman was speaking to him, but used the language so oddly.

“Please, you must come with us. You don’t belong here. We can take you home.”

He looked up. For two days, he had prayed to Gura and Rara for a way back to his village. Were these people their emissaries?

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and location as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Gurara Waterfalls in Nigeria. I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered the falls were thought to have been discovered in 1745 by a Gwari hunter named Buba. The falls and river are believed to have been named after the two deities Gura and Rara.

In keeping with my recent science fiction stories The Devil from the Fire and Blood Libel, I decided to dislocate Buba in time, though not in space.

Today, the falls are a tourist attraction complete with a resort boasting a recreation center and seven-star hotel. I populated that hotel with modern “ugly American” tourists, but also with physicist Everett Carson and his companion, historian and linguist Aiyana Zheutlin (originally a character from my “Time Traders” books, written as a homage to the works of Andre Norton [the late Alice Norton]). They’ve come to take Buba to the phenomenon (out of public view in this wee tale) and back home.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

31 thoughts on “The Praying Man

  1. I like the way you’ve assembled the characters of this story, and sketched in plausible relationships. Buba must have been one confused hunter by the time he got back to his own time! Nice one, James.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Given his culture and belief systems, he no doubt would consider his experiences to be a supernatural vision, though how he would interpret its meaning might be a difficulty. Thanks, Penny.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great story, James. As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” We all must fit our impressions into what we understand. After all, if the sun actually did rotate around the earth, it would look exactly the same as it does now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Karen. Americans tend to make terrible tourists, and expect the rest of the world to offer them McDonald’s and “Disneyworld,” which actually sometimes it does. What’s the point of traveling if you expect to take home with you?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I suspected there was more to that couple than was shown in that one short story! I’m glad to hear that, unlike the rude tourists, those two recognize Buba’s situation and are able and willing to help him!


  4. I hope they can get Buba home to his own time. It would be awful to live the rest of your days separated from your time, your people. Nice take on the prompt James


    • Yes, they certainly could be. It’s like a Christian praying for help from God expecting something supernatural to happen, and then an ordinary person comes along and does something that actually answers the prayer.

      Liked by 1 person

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