Forlorn Rendezvous

goat island

Goat Island (now Yerba Buena Island) in San Francisco Bay.

“A child’s eyes light up when they see their Grandpa.” –Catherine Pulsifer

“Where is she? Are she and Leah well? Don’t just sit there man!” Isaiah was as frantic as Keisha had ever seen him during the short time they’d known each other. At the first mention of his Mom’s name, Josiah rushed over to his Dad. The teenager from another universe stood and waited.

The lighthouse keeper was rapidly writing on a pad and then put the pencil down. “She’s ceased transmitting. A moment, Isaiah.” Joachim began tapping at the telegraph key. Grandpa had taught Keisha Morse Code when she was little since one of the projects they’d worked on was building a working signaling system, but Rosenstein’s finger was moving too fast for her to understand the message. Then he stopped and listened.

“Sorry. I think she was cut off in the middle of her transmission. She’s not answering now.”

Isaiah put his arm around his son and took a deep breath. “Can you read out what you got?”

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The Last Exploit of the Escapist

re-entry

Progress spacecraft re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere in a blazing trail of plasma, as seen from the International Space Station – © NASA

The Escapist initiated the landing sequence as the ship began its rapid descent into the stratosphere, his neurochemical link to the spacecraft’s control systems making this nearly reflexive.

“Welcome to my world, Jack. Glad you could join the party.”

The voice of the Beast crackled in his audio receptors sounding as if he were a game-show host speaking offscreen; his tone exuding an untoward friendliness and familiarity.

“I have the Amaryllis with me.”

“The actual item? I’m impressed. Whole armies have been slain, eviscerated by the Negative whose sole task was to guard it unto eternity.”

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Saving the Prophet

shipwreck

The Shipwreck, a painting by JMW Turner that forms part of the Tate collection in London.

The ceiling for his craft was infinity, and its floor was an age. It provided a buffer, so that the passing of a season or a millennium was all the same. In this way, he could not only travel up and down the corridors of his own history, but diverge into many others. Once at his destination, he would descend upon that world like a single drop of rain.

The sphere shimmered half in and half out of the timespace continuum as it alighted on the shore near Muxnar Reef in ancient Malta. The unmanned probes he had sent back searched across the local decades, and discovered the exact place, date, and time of the storm and the shipwreck. They were struggling in the surf now. It would all be so easy.

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Walking to the End of My World

joplin

The late Janis Joplin

And when you walk around the world, babe,
You said you’d try to look for the end of the road,
You might find out later that the road’ll end in Detroit,
Honey, the road’ll even end in Kathmandu.
You can go all around the world
Trying to find something to do with your life, baby,
When you only gotta do one thing well,
You only gotta do one thing well to make it in this world, babe.
You got a woman waiting for you there,
All you ever gotta do is be a good man one time to one woman
And that’ll be the end of the road, babe,
I know you got more tears to share, babe,
So come on, come on, come on, come on, come on,
And cry, cry baby, cry baby, cry baby.

-from Cry Baby
written by Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy (1963)
covered by Janis Joplin (1971)

He never thought he’d fall in love again. After all, he had died who knows how long ago subjectively? He was a spark in the process of returning to the Creator, but having become disconnected from timespace, he could go anywhere, to any point in history, to other quantum realities, so he could correct what Raven called “anomalies.”

The multiverse was created by the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful being most people call God. However, God chose to make human beings both sentient and possessing free will, while maintaining His sovereignty over all existence. In other words, only people have the ability to say “no” to God.

That’s not the contradiction is seems to be, since all timelines ultimately come from the Source and return back to the Source in the end, regardless of how they “stray.”

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Keisha in Atomworld

light

Image: © Mara Eastern (Use with permission)

They always say “never go into the light,” kind of like “moths drawn to a flame,” but seventeen-year-old Keisha didn’t have a choice. Well, that wasn’t true. She did have a choice. She could choose to let the world burn, but after two astonishing adventures into another reality, she’d gotten used to saving it instead.

Whatever was shining through the kitchen door from the backyard started thirty minutes ago. That had given her enough time to put on the ridiculous costume that looked like a refuge from the first “Back to the Future” movie. When she saw her reflection in the mirror, there was a black version of “I Love Lucy” staring back.

She’d crossed the void to the other world twice before. The first time was in a steampunk-styled airship, and the second was in a deep purple 1930s sedan with the strangest radio in the world. What would she find this time when she walked into the brilliant amber glare?

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Farallon Sojourn

farallon island lighthouse

A historic photo of the lighthouse on Southeast Farallon Island, with mule – found at Wikipedia

“My grandfather was a man, when he talked about freedom, his attitude was really interesting. His view was that you had obligations or you had responsibilities, and when you fulfilled those obligations or responsibilities, that then gave you the liberty to do other things.” –Clarence Thomas

It was a communications console. That’s what Isaiah had intended to be Keisha’s “post” on board the Dakuwaqa. In spite of its ornate decorations and clockwork design, it functioned a lot like the wireless device on the Delight, which let her hear the engineer’s voice for the first time after she arrived in what the teen had started to call “Steamworld.”

“You know, when you explain it, the panels don’t seem that hard to work. I mean, radio is radio, and this section to the left also lets me run the acoustical equipment so I can hear nearby ships, whales, and stuff.”

“Exactly, Miss Davis.”

While Josiah guided the submarine past the Golden Gate and out into the Pacific Ocean, Isaiah gave Keisha a crash course in submersible operations, with a focus on radio and sound. Although, either could also be accessed from the pilot’s and engineer’s consoles, the wireless panel let her have much finer control over the inputs. If need be, she could also send messages, but she had no idea who she’d call, since they were supposed to be hiding out.

“Pa, I’d say we were at the halfway point now. You might want to take a look up topside to make sure we haven’t drifted.”

“Thank you, Josiah. I believe my navigational skills are up to snuff, but your suggestion is valid. Miss Davis, don your headgear and listen for the approach of any vessels. Though it is still night, we don’t want the optiscope lens to be seen by chance.”

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Dangerous Waters

beach

MorgueFile April file8051277901708

Merilyn and Riyn waited at the seashore. They had met over twenty years ago on this very beach, although their fates had been intertwined nearly fifteen years earlier after he had saved her from drowning when she was a child.

Now they stood hand in hand and gazed at the sea. They were the undisputed rulers of the Takahe sub-continent, and because of them, a sweeping national effort had significantly reduced the country’s legacy of polluting the Eastern Ocean.

It wasn’t enough. Making a treaty with Kea, their neighbor across the waves, was easy. The more difficult relationship to forge was with Riyn’s countrymen, the undersea people of the Two Kingdoms. If they couldn’t make a peace with the so-called “sea gods” who had exiled their King for falling in love with a woman of the surface, then the coming conflict would destroy both worlds.

“There he is!” Merilyn pointed into the surf. He was rising from it.

“Watatsumi!” Riyn was happy to see his son alive and well after being away for nearly five months.

“Mother! Father!” The young man, for that is how he now appeared, stood on shore. “King Suijin agreed. The Two Kingdoms will join us.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018 Week #20 challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

This story relates to characters from my recent tale The Elephants of Yesterday, but little six-year-old Merilyn is now about forty, married, and co-ruling her nation alongside her husband, who is an exiled monarch from an undersea kingdom.

Yes, it’s complicated. I’m using characters and themes from a short story I recently submitted for publication (I won’t find out if it’s been accepted or rejected for some time probably). The basic concept is the literal marrying of the surface and undersea worlds, and what they couldn’t accomplish separately is finally achieved through their “synthesis;” Merilyn and Riyn’s son.

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

As I’ve mentioned previously, this linkup needs some love, so please consider contributing a story. Thanks.

The Adventures of Rocket Girl

rocketeer girl

Pin by Kyle – Found at Pinterest

“I’ll burn my ass off if I use this thing.”

“Have a little faith, Keisha. The uniform is fully heat-resistant, and besides, the thrusters work in combination with the Barsoonian charge infused in the rocket pack, so the amount of energy required to lift a person is much lower than it would have to be in your world.”

“You’re a great one for faith, Isaiah, but like I said, it’s my ass on the line.”

“I see a year away from our relationship, as you have lived it, has done nothing to improve your manners or your language.”

Sixteen-year-old Keisha Davis opened her mouth and shut it again. He was right about several things. Only a year had passed since she had last seen him, but for the engineer, it had been two decades, and he was now pushing sixty.

She trusted that he was also right that the rocket pack she was supposed to strap on her back wasn’t inherently dangerous, at least not because the thrusters sat just behind her behind. In the movies, these things looked impressive, but they’d also severely burn or kill the pilot without the mother of all protective panties or a liberal application of one million sunblock.

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Reconstructing Gwen

deconstructed woman

Photo credit: Flora Borsi

Gwendolyn Anders was being deconstructed. No one else could tell the forty-five year old divorced woman was falling apart. She couldn’t afford to let anyone know. She had to keep moving, go to work each day, make sure her two kids got to and from school, did their homework, ate healthy meals, made it to soccer practice.

She did her best to adhere to the “supermom” stereotype, and as far as the rest of the world was concerned, she was successful.

Inside where no one could see, she was bleeding to death.

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Flight Girl in Dieselworld

aircraft

© 2017 – Yinglan Z.

“Do you think you can fly it, Keisha?”

“I’m not sure. I trained in a Cessna 152, not some World War Two wannabe.”

The sixteen-year-old was once again in a different universe, the one she had saved last year, only for her friend Josiah Covington, twenty years had passed. She remembered him as a shy, intelligent nine-year-old boy, but now he was nearly thirty. Unfortunately, he also had a broken arm, so escaping Tyson’s heavily guarded aerodrome was in her hands now.

“Remember how our principles of aviation are different.”

“They better not be too different, otherwise, we’ll never get out of here.”

Keisha helped Josiah into the rear seat and then hopped into the cockpit.

“I see the starter. Battery looks good. Plenty of fuel. Barsoonian charge is on standby. Ready.”

The young engineer used his good hand to close the cockpit. “Take her up. We’ll only get one chance to make it out of here. We have to stop Stanley Tyson’s mad plan to use nuclear weapons from your world to conquer Europe.”

I wrote this for the 167th FFfAW Writing Challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

This is something of a “sequel” to Return to Dieselworld and based on the character Keisha Davis, whose latest steampunk adventure you can find in Prelude to Piracy. I thought it would be fun to have Keisha experience different “sub-genres”.

Fun fact: Not far from where I live, we have something called the Warhawk Air Museum which has aircraft and other exhibits from World War One through the Vietnam War era. I’ve been there with my grandson and it’s a lot of fun.

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

Oh, and don’t worry about what a “Barsoonian charge” is. That’s being revealed in the steampunk story line.

Want to see more of Keisha in Dieselworld? Read The Adventures of Rocket Girl.