The Aulegren’s Children

kelpie

© JS Brand

It’s a tourist attraction now, but they still tell the stories, all ending with the heroic victory over a powerful enemy, perpetually frozen in their equine warrior form. But humans were the invaders, twelve colony ships, master guidance control damaged. AI was smart enough to detect the problem but not repair it, so it found an alternate world.

Unfortunately, it belonged to the Aulegren.

The colonists, being human, “discovered” the land, pretended to adapt, then multiplied like rabbits, taking over every natural resource.

The Aulegren first came as fair lasses and handsome paramours, hoping to use love to found peace.

When humans started raping them and taking what they wanted anyway, Aulegren declared war.

They might have won, but they always restricted their population, living harmoniously with the environment. Humans bred and bred, and with both superior technology, and stolen Aulegren magicks (some humans were gifted with the sight), the colonists won. That’s the official story, anyway.

A few were born of Human-Aulegren pairings and we have to stay hidden, lest we ire the pure bloods. Perhaps someday there’ll be enough of us, but to what end? Live in anxious peace with the conquerors, or begin the war anew?

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of November 11, 2018 hosted by Susan. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

A quick Google image search led me to this site and the legend of the Kelpie, shape-shifting water spirits who can appear as beautiful women.

I adapted the story to weave my own little tale of conquest and subjucation, with a hint of hope at the end.

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

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A Slight Miscalculation

grand canyon

© Google 2018

Eccentric billionaire Randolph Houston was making the adjustments on the temporal transfer device at the bottom of Arizona’s Grand Canyon as his fourth wife, 26-year-old Paulette watched.

“Why not wait for that expert, what’s his name?”

“Carlos Bradley, and he’s late.” The aging scientist continued his adjustments.

“What is he? A geologist, paleontologist, archaeologist?”

“All, which was why I hired him. By attaching the TTD to strata here in the canyon, I can travel back to the formation’s origins 2.5 billion years ago.

“How do you know what you’ll find?”

“Bradley, if he had been on time, was to tell me.”

“You’re going now?”

“The battery will only last fifteen minutes. Tempus fugit.” The 75-year-old flipped a switch and vanished.

Carlos arrived and passionately embraced Paulette.

“You’re sure he’s never coming back.”

“My dear, 2.5 billion years ago, there was almost no oxygen in the atmosphere. He would have died in seconds.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/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 Grand Canyon, Arizona, which I’ve visited many times. I looked up the history of the Grand Canyon and found that “nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock.”

I looked up what was going on about 2.5 billion years ago, and found out, among other things, that there was hardly any oxygen in the atmosphere. Too bad Randolph didn’t do his homework.

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

The Devil’s Day

calm

© Sue Vincent

Everybody calls me the Devil, and right now I wish I really was, because the only way I’m gonna save little 10-year-old Gracie Budd’s life is to stop a real Devil. Hard to believe, it being so quiet, green, and peaceful out here, but I ain’t got much time if I’m going to stop Albert Fish from killing and eating poor Gracie.

How the hell did I get myself in this mess? No, I didn’t do it. Maybe God did it. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m a 16-year-old printer’s devil named Timothy Patrick Quinn, and on April 13, 1928, I started hearing radio messages from the future.

One reason they call me “devil” is because that’s my job. I’m a printer’s devil, an apprentice in the print shop under old Shamus MacPherson at the New York Post. Been doing that since I was 12, mainly mixing tubs of ink and sorting metal type in the hellbox, putting those fit to be used again back in the job case, and melting down the broken bits.

Our foreman, Grady Owens brought a brand new All American Mohawk Lyric S50 radio right into the shop, saying it would help us boys pass the time a bit easier. Had to turn the sound way up on account of all the noise from the printers, but we got to hear berries tunes like “Cow Cow Blues,” “A Gay Caballero,” and “Sonny Boy.”

I could even hear it on the dock while having a smoke with the loaders and the colored Joes who swept up the place. Even the old truckers respected me on account of my bouts at Clancy’s Boxing Gym. I’ve always been big for my age, and ever since I was a tyke, I liked mixing it up with the guys.

I get over to Clancy’s whenever I can. He says I’ve got potential, says I fight hard enough to knock out the Devil himself, which is another reason they call me that. Turns out, though, I’d have to earn that name in a different way, even if it damn near killed me.

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The Ronnenberg Confession

 

girl in cave

Image credit – Michal Matczak

The Haunted Wordsmith proposed a challenge whereby participants would pick the book of their choice (hardcopy or digital), turn to page 62, select line 6, and use that as the basis for crafting a poem, short story, or some other creative work.

Since I just checked out Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle from the public library, I decided to use that:

“And must have all the other artifacts in stock examined by University lab.”

As Professor Sterling Piper’s senior research assistant, twenty-two year old Gabriela Wallace had a valid key card to access his private research lab in McCarthy Hall at all hours. However, she still crept like literal thief in the night, dressed all in black, including gloves, and wearing sound absorbing shoes. It was after eleven on a Friday night as she navigated the work benches and displays by dim light.

If anyone checked the logs and discovered she’d been here, she could easily say she’d been catching up on collating recent samples sent over from Scripps, which she sorely needed to do. However, her mission tonight was notably different and infinitely more critical.

The straps of her backpack were uncomfortably tight, but she couldn’t afford to have the weight on her back moving enough to make noise. She wasn’t sure why she was so nervous as beads of sweat continued to form on her toffee-colored forehead, except that if she was caught, she could be condemned as an enemy of the state and executed.

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Seven Weeks of the Devil

hell's kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen in the 1920s – This file is licensed under a free license.

I was working as a printer’s devil for old man MacPherson, me, an Irish boy of only sixteen, but it was good pay, through my hands became black as night as I sorted the cast metal type in the hellbox and put ’em back in the job case. I’d gotten used to the noise, but in order to kill the monotony, Grady Owens, the chief printer, set up a radio so we could listen to music and the news, though he had to turn the volume up pretty high.

I figured I’d do my hitch at MacPherson’s, learn my way around the trade, then move up to something more substantial. Occasionally, he’d have me move heavy reams of newsprint, but I didn’t mind. Gave me a chance to wash my hands, then have a smoke with the other boys and men on the dock before putting my back into it. Even the older Joes respected me on account of my bouts at Clancy’s on the weekends. Clancy says I’ve got potential, box like the devil, which is another reason they call me that name.

I’ve always been big for my age, which causes Ma fits because she keeps having to let the hem out of my trouser legs.

For a long while, I didn’t have a clue that what I was hearing on the radio was different than everyone else. While they were listening to “Cow Cow Blues,” “A Gay Caballero,” and “Sonny Boy,” I was hearing nothing but the news. That wouldn’t be too unusual, but I’d get all kinds of news, from different days, and weeks, and months, all in the same hour.

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Inescapable

night market

Night Market (JuanChrist) by JuanChrist (flickr) Tags: fujifilm x100t market nightmarket cambodia bavet

Bavet police inspector Borey Seng stood in the market’s bathroom as coroners continued to examine the body of the 66-year-old Malaysian man, murdered by an object that gashed across his face and eyes.

“Who would gouge out an old man’s eyes, and what was he doing in Cambodia in the first place?”

“I might have that answer to that inspector.” Officer Channary Som’s face was as round as her name suggested.

“Continue,” he muttered.

“His name was Rayyan Megat. Records indicate he entered Cambodia at the Bavet-Moc Bai border last week, but get this. His fingerprints match those of a former CIA assassin known as bóng, “shadow,” in English.

“So?”

“So bóng was noted for gouging out the eyes of his victims.”

“There is no escape from karma.”

Seng’s and Som’s voices faded from the specter’s hearing as he ascended, his spirit set free from his forty-five-year-old quest for vengeance.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/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 Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia. A quick search of Wikipedia revealed very little interesting information about this province, as did one for its largest city Bavet.

Then, a news item titled Malaysian killed in Bavet caught my attention. I preserved some of the details of the actual murder, but added fictionalized names and situations, including the 1973 assassination of some nameless victim of a CIA operative during the Vietnam War. In this case, karma or justice is blind.

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

Rainbow’s Edge

rainbow

© April Pearson

A rainbow is nothing magical, just the result of light shining through a lot of drops of rain and being dispersed into a spectrum of light in the sky. Okay, I’ll buy that as far as it goes, but why is it in the shape or a bow?

Sometimes the bow forms a semi-circle with ends that touch different parts of the earth. What would happen if you came across one of those ends.

Yesterday, I did.

I was hiking on a trail in the deep interior of the Valley of Fire. The sky was overcast. I love November. It had been raining all day, but the storm was ahead of me now. That’s when I saw it; the edge.

The base was fuzzy, indistinct as it touched the ground, and there certainly no pot of gold there. It looked more than a trick of light, especially as it illuminated the shadows, cut off from the sun’s rays.

On the 4th day in November, Madelyn April Cross touched a rainbow and became all the colors of the universe. Then she knew what to do next.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of November 4, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 185.

I can’t really tell you what made me write the story the way I did. I can tell you that the Valley of Fire is a real place that is roughly 60 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. I hiked there many times in my youth.

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

What Jara Bestows

dance

Image: Google Images Labelled for re-use.

They all came into The Obscene Khrelan’s Saloon to see Jara dance. It would have been more flattering if Khrelan’s wasn’t the only “watering hole” within a thousand kilometers of Julyen’s lone spaceport. Besides the incessant sandstorms and malevolent rock worms, the only thing Julyen had to offer was Cethuitium, an otherwise rare mineral that could be refined into a power source, with applications from rejuvenation treatments for wealthy Consortium lords to advanced jump drives.

Khrelen’s, was named for something that resembled an old Earth rhinoceros, but with a body twisted so it could pleasure itself with its own horn. The place was, as the expression goes, jumping every night of the week, crowded with drunken and horny miners and freighter pilots, and that’s where Jara came in.

No one knew or cared about the red and black strips as her lithe, supple body undulated nude in the dance cage. She was a marvel to behold and every patron all but wet themselves at the thought of possessing that astonishing body (and some even did), even for an hour.

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What the Storm Brings

stark desert

© Sue Vincent

Tom Allen lived in his Dad’s old cabin five miles west of New Mexico State Highway 107 along about twenty miles south of Magdalena. The retired astronomer stepped out behind his place and put his left hands on the branch of a dead tree. Figured he’d cut it down for firewood, though he had plenty already for the winter.

“Looks like we’ll be getting some rain from the west, ol’ girl.” He patted Sally’s head, and the golden retriever nuzzled her snout against the leg of his jeans.

He’d been born in a little town south of Albuquerque sixty-six years ago last Friday, so being dressed in his old Stetson, a plaid shirt, faded blue denim jeans and high leather boots seemed normal to him, but the old normal, since he’d spent most of his adult life in places like Pasadena’s JPL, Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, not to mention in the halls of academia. His colleagues at Stanford and MIT would never understand.

“Storm’s getting closer. We’d better head back in, especially before you see some rabbit you want to be chasing.”

Sally barked with ascent and then happily followed the old man back into the house.

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It Tolls for Thee

chess

© Jeff Arnold

Nine-year-old little Sarah had lived here all her life and never saw something so horrible. It was like Papa’s chess set. All those people were just praying and worshiping and a man with a gun came in and knocked the pieces down, just like that.

They say he’s a racist and he blamed us for hurting his people. They say guns are too easy to get. At school yesterday, some of the kids said maybe it’s because of who is President, that because he’s the first like him, that maybe he drove this person Dylann Roof crazy. Don’t think so.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing 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 100.

I’m going to state for the record that you’re not going to like this. Ever since Donald Trump became President and sent his first tweet, he’s been blamed for just about everything including the recent Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. But if it is true that all violence since November 2016 is the direct result of Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, then how can we explain all acts of violence before Trump became POTUS? I mean, it’s as if news and social media believe if Trump were silent, or if Hillary Clinton were President, everything would be unimaginably peaceful and the United States would be paradise, just as it was during President Obama’s administration (that last bit was deliberate sarcasm, but to make a point).

So I leveraged the Charleton church shooting (which occurred during Obama’s administration) in which nine African-American worshipers lost their lives at the hands of 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof, who blamed African-Americans for a plethora of ills.

This is not unlike 46-year-old Robert Bowers who blamed George Soros in particular, and the Jewish people in general for hurting “his” people (presumably non-Jewish whites) and (allegedly) murdered eleven Jewish worshipers as a result.

Both Roof and Bowers are extremists who believe a people group was responsible for their problems, and saw gun violence as the only solution. But what was the real cause?

Both incidents are very similar, such as attacking their targets in a house of worship, and openly stating that their motivation was bigoted hate. However, Barack Obama was the President when Roof committed his crime, and Donald Trump is President now. I find it difficult to believe that the sole cause of either man’s heinous acts was the President of the United States.

Could Trump’s statements be somehow inflammatory and a contributing factor in Bowers’s actions? Maybe. There’s no way to tell. There’s no way to tell if he would have done the same thing if Hillary Clinton had won the election.

That’s my point. There’s no way to tell. So don’t be so sure of your assumptions, because that’s all they are. I think a lot of people are taking their current fear and loathing of the President and applying it to any bad event that occurs, no matter what the circumstances and without examining the facts. That’s faulty logic. We need to be better than that.

The bottom line is that innocent people died in both events as the result of a very disturbed bigot. Always blame the person who pulled the trigger, and always mourn the victims and comfort their families. If we all did that, we’d be better people for it, and we’d serve those suffering communities rather than our own fears.

Oh, the title comes from John Donne’s famous poem For Whom the Bell Tolls.

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