First Flight

 

Salerno

© Pacific Press/LightRocket/LightRocket via Getty Images – The bodies of 26 young migrants arrive at the Italian port town of Salerno on Sunday (5 November 2017).

The Present – Salerno, Italy

The young Japanese woman looked as if she were just another curious spectator in the crowd watching the corpses being offloaded from the vessel sent to retrieve them from the Mediterranean Sea. Mikiko Jahn felt the tears welling up behind her eyes and almost overwhelming grief and anger like a weight in the center of her chest before the neural circuitry in her brain suppressed those feelings and replaced them with an impassive calm.

Well, it was mostly impassive. The residual emotions she experienced moments before remained, but they were well contained. How had she come to this?

Two Weeks Ago – The Project – An Unknown Location in Japan

“He’s called the ‘Shadow Man’ for the simple reason that his true identity is not known. What is known about him is that he is a British national and one of the leaders of a cartel that siphons refugees, mostly young women and children attempting to reach Europe from Libya, from sanctuary into sexual slavery. We estimate that as many as twenty to thirty percent of these victims are currently in the UK with the rest distributed in Europe, Russia, and Asia.”

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Murder at 900 North Michigan

 

900 N Michigan

© Marie Gail Stratford

Mikiko left her room at the Four Seasons reluctantly ready to kill the assassin-for-hire called Sandman. MI6 learned his condo was on the 29th floor.

Her contact arranged the Glock. She’d never met Sandman, but she knew his victim’s scent from last month’s encounter. Mikiko barely survived a nuclear accident six years ago and was now reconstructed using revolutionary techniques. Her sense of smell was that of a wolf’s.

Sandman was amusing himself with the girl. There. Mikiko could hear sounds of pain and passion just the other side of the door. “Just another murder in Chicago,” she told herself.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a story no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Once again I’m leveraging a pre-existing character and situation, in this case, my synthetic woman Mikiko Jahn whose latest published adventure can be found HERE.

When I saw the address in Chicago, I looked it up and indeed found that the “Bloomingdale’s” building contains the Four Seasons Hotel on floors 30-46 and condos on floors 21-29. It wouldn’t be much trouble for Mikiko to get from the 30th to the 29th floor to seek out her target and her synthetic body has enhanced senses including a sense of smell that can recognize a particular odor for up to about 3 kilometers. Her hearing is goes into the 80 kHz range, so listening through the door is child’s play.

Oh, 100 words is pretty limiting and if I’d had more “real estate,” I would have explained the child sex trafficking angle of the story. There’s another tale of Mikiko’s that covers her stalking these predators in much more detail. Today’s wee bit of flash fiction occurs immediately after that one (which I’m still writing).

To see some of the events that led Mikiko up to this point, read First Flight.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com. Given the number of entries already present, it seems I’m getting off to a pretty late start.

The Sculptor with a Long Memory

recycled dragons

© Enisa

“Dragons? Why?”

“A lad back at the shop makes them. Pretty good advertising, eh?”

Norstar Recyclers Director Paul Sweet was showing off the artwork to his neighbor Quentin Choi.

“I guess so, Paul. Seems bit fanciful. What else does he do?”

“Specializes in extinct beasts. Working on a Stegodon right now. Says it reminds him of home.”

“A what?”

“Extinct pygmy elephant I think.”

“Any chance I could meet him? I may want to commission him to make something for a client.”

“Dunno. He’s pretty shy.”

“Have a talk with him and see, will you?”

“Sure enough. Time to head back to the office. I’ll drop you on my way.”

Paul silently recalled the day he’d first met the strange creature while on a camping trip. He was terrified until the large reptile spoke. He’s very old and a long memory covering half a million years. The book he’s helping Paul write will revolutionize the knowledge of prehistoric Australia, though he could never tell anyone it came from a freakishly evolved Komodo dragon.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the week of 11-07-2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. 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 174.

I had a tough time with this one until I Googled “australia dragons” and came up with this bit of history. Since the Live Science article mentioned the Stegodon, I thought I’d throw that in as well. The names I used have no relation to actual personnel at Norstar Steel Recyclers.

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

The Swimmer

woman-underwater

From the story “Swimming naked in Snowdonia?” – Found at walesonline.co.uk

The Present – The Sea of Japan off the Coast of North Korea

Without actually taking on the characteristics of a sea mammal, Mikiko’s body had adapted to become the most efficient human swimming machine possible. The British Naval Submarine Wilson could only travel undetected to within eight kilometers of North Korea’s eastern coast. It was too risky to launch the agent in a raft, so she’d have to swim that distance underwater carrying all of her equipment.

Through the small port in the airlock door, she could see the boat’s Captain Wallace Davies as he gave her a “thumbs up.” As the small chamber filled with seawater, she reciprocated, though for a moment, she irrationally wanted to bow.

She was dressed in a standard civilian wetsuit (no Naval, military, or government markings of any kind) but in addition to the pack she was wearing, she was outfitted with a new carbon fiber fin made in America called the Lunocent. Wearing this device, even an unenhanced human could swim nearly 13 kilometers per hour, twice as fast as Olympic Gold Metal winner Michael Phelps.

Then as the water reached her face, like a sea-lion, Mikiko exhaled and moments later, when the chamber was completely filled, she rotated the upper hatch wheel handle and pushed. She launched herself out of the submarine and quickly put on the Lunocent fin. Mikiko figured she probably had eight to ten minutes before she had to surface for air and she wanted to put as much distance between her and the Wilson as possible before she did.

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The Search for Armageddon

 

camera

© A Mixed Bag 2013

“It’s just a camera. Where’s the special device you told me about?”

“It’s quite special Mikiko, if you’ll allow me to explain.”

Everyone called Desmond Llewelyn an “old curmudgeon,” but the Japanese agent found him endearing, sort of how she remembered Sofu. For the past year, he’d been outfitting her for missions assigned by their two governments.

“It’s a sophisticated sensor that detects specific rad levels from weapons grade uranium.”

“Then I’m going into North Korea…”

“Not precisely. During World War II, your government conducted secret operations to develop the atomic bomb. After VE Day, a U-boat transported Nazi uranium to a base in occupied North Korea. A working prototype was developed but the war ended before they could use it.”

“So you want me…”

“Intelligence says that Kim Jong-un is bluffing and has no nuclear weapons, but they are actively searching for the prototype. You have to find it first.”

Seven years ago, Mikiko Jahn had been horribly mutilated in a nuclear power plant disaster. Her “reconstruction” had been extensive and left her with a body more than human, but the frightened little girl inside didn’t know if she had the courage to face her personal atomic holocaust again.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of November 5th 2017. 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.

I leveraged two series I’ve been working on. The first is the saga of MI6 Agent Ian Dennis and his discovery that North Korea’s nuclear weapons development is a fake. The second involves Mikiko Jahn, a young Japanese technician who was horribly disabled and mutilated in a nuclear plant accident and who has been reconstructed using advanced synthetic materials and techniques to become more than human and an agent working covertly for the Japanese and British governments.

I did find out that the Japanese were working on the atomic bomb during the war, they did have a secret base in North Korea, and after Nazi Germany fell, a U-boat carrying the remaining Nazi uranium was sent to the Japanese. In real life, the U-boat was intercepted, and the confiscated uranium was used to make the first four American nuclear weapons. I thought I’d tweak history a bit.

Oh, “Desmond Llewelyn” is the name of the late actor who played “Q” in the first twenty or so James Bond, 007 films. I have a sort of affection for the character, so I thought I’d pay homage to the man behind “Q”. Also, “Sofu” in Japanese means “grandfather.”

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

To read other stories about Mikiko, visit:

  1. The Reconstructed Woman
  2. Burn Victim
  3. Woman Under Repair

The next chapter is The Swimmer.

Restoring a Lost Eden (Expanded)

eden

Early photo of the Eden Hotel, Argentina, circa 1912.

It was dark but they still had to be careful. Ever since the anti-Fascists took over the country, Germans were being rounded up, incarcerated, and brutally interrogated for information related to the Nazis.

The woman looked to be thirty to thirty-five years old and about six months pregnant which was obvious even through the overcoat she was wearing. She and a man stood by the car watching the Hotel Eden in the distance. Once it had been a sanctuary for high-ranking party members and their friends. Albert Einstein had once stayed there as did many other notables, dignitaries, and celebrities.

But those days were over.

“It’s so sad, Juan. The end of a glorious era.”

“Indeed, Senora. But those days are not gone forever. Your husband’s legacy will live on in a future generation.”

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Eden Denied Her

hotel eden

Hotel Eden, La Falda, Argentina. December 2004 – From Wikimedia Commons

“Senora, everyone else has fled. It is not safe for you here.”

“A moment longer, Juan.”

They stood by the car looking at the distant Eden Hotel. Then the ten-year-old boy emerged from the shadows.

“I got it for you. He visited here once in disguise as did Herr Goebbels,  Herr Eichmann and many others.”

“Let’s see it Adolpho.” Juan took the box and handed it to the German. “Your husband’s legacy, Senora. You are to carry on here in Argentina.”

She held the strong box like fragile porcelain smiling bitterly at the child named for her husband.

Juan ushered the pregnant woman into the car and then got behind the wheel. “You and your child will lack for nothing.”

She muttered, “It was Adolf’s last wish that I raise his unborn son to follow him. The Reich will rise again, and this time we will have the bomb too.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea it to take a Google maps location and street view and use it as the inspiration to craft a story no more than 150 words long. After a great deal of editing, my word count is down to 150.

einstein eden

Undated photo of Albert Einstein posing with a group of visitors at Argentina’s Eden Hotel

Today the Pegman takes us to Córdoba Argentina. The city itself has an incredibly rich history and I was considering a tale perhaps having to do with the Jesuits but then, given my recent interest in World War II and the old atomic weapons programs that were under development by the Axis powers, I thought about how many high-ranking Nazis used Argentina as a sanctuary at the end of the war. That’s when I discovered The Eden Hotel in La Falda, not far from the city of Córdoba but still in Córdoba Provence. I looked at another article and discovered that the hotel was owned by and sheltered Nazis before and during World War II, though shortly before the war ended, an anti-Nazi movement took over the country and seized the Hotel.

Legend states that Adolf Hitler once visited the Eden in disguise. The Hotel had a radio antenna strong enough to receive Hitler’s public radio broadcasts live, and it was later discovered that the owners had actually bankrolled the early Nazi party, funding Hitler’s rise to power.

Although it is a virtual certainty that both Adolf Hitler and his wife (they were married shortly before committing suicide) Eva Braun died in Berlin on 30 April 1945, there have always been rumors up to the level of conspiracy theories saying that Hitler, Braun, or both managed to escape to Argentina. When I was growing up in the 1960s, any number of movies, television shows, and books, leveraged these rumors to tell tales of a mythical rising of a Fourth Reich, like a phoenix from the ashes of the Third.

hitler and braun

© dpa/Corbis – Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun 1944

I leveraged all of that for my wee tale, a pregnant Eva Braun arriving in Argentina, contacting Hitler’s underground network of supporters, retrieving a metal strong box hidden in the Eden Hotel, perhaps by Hitler himself, containing the nuclear secrets of the Nazis, and with the amassed wealth of the Reich now at Braun’s disposal, she brings up Hitler’s son to follow in his bloody father’s footsteps.

I hadn’t thought about this while writing the story, but it later popped into my head that I once saw a film called The Boys From Brazil starring Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier. It was based on a 1976 novel by Ira Levin about the Nazi “Angel of Death” Dr. Josef Mengele somehow managing to create numerous clones (at the time of the novel, all aged 13 years) of Adolf Hitler with the insane idea of recreating both Hitler and the Reich.

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

I’ve written an expanded version of this story that offers a bit more than I could squeeze into 150 words.

The Deserter

bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl photo found on Wikipedia

“Son, your mother and I tried to talk you out of enlisting, remember?”

“I do, Pa.”

“Now things are a lot worse, Boy. I mean, where can you go? Just everyone hates you.”

Reid hung his head down, the features of his handsome, boyish face sagging under the weight of guilt and remorse. “I…I don’t know anymore, Pa. I mean, I don’t know how everything went so wrong.”

Ed Martin put his hand on his son’s shoulder. He could feel his body shaking, knowing inside his son was crying.

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Time is the Fire

kala

Cover for the digital music album Aporia​:​Kāla​:​Ananta by Wolvserpent

Los Alamitos, California – Friday, 3 November 2017 – 8:01 a.m.

He knew she had been terrified, desperate, but that was no excuse. Without balance the universe couldn’t exist, well except for that imbalance called entropy. The universe was moving slowly, inexorably from order to disorder, but Yama couldn’t let the breakers accelerate that process. Damn Kāla for the mess she’s created, that is if one can damn a goddess.

She is here, the breaker, he could sense her presence, her non-conformity, her being out of place and time. He would find her in this strange country with its paved roads and automobiles, this land hardly populated in the time she came from. But then from her point of view, this place was far better than the one from which she escaped.

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Woman in the Shadows

shadow woman

From an HD mobile wallpaper – Shadow Woman

“So, just exactly what are her capabilities, Professor? The information will be necessary for my report.”

Hiro Takeshi was the special liaison between the Project and the Prime Ministers of both Japan and the United Kingdom. He had already received periodic updates as to Mikiko Jahn’s progress for the past three years, but the world’s only synthetic woman was due to go operational within a week and Takeshi was nervous. He wanted everything to go well with the Project and the woman.

Even he didn’t know what the two governments would ask of Mikiko, but he was responsible for making sure she delivered, even though he had no control over anything except the purse strings.

“Well, she’s not a goddamned superhero if that’s what you’re thinking, Mr. Takeshi.”

Takeshi was bilingual and bicultural, but he’d been born and raised in the Kensington district of London and so was a citizen of the Crown. However, the British PM Theresa May had made it abundantly clear that both she and her Japanese counterpart Shinzō Abe had damn well better be pleased with their exceptionally large investment in this young woman and the Project that had produced her, and Takeshi knew his professional neck was in a noose.

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