Game Over

checkmate

Image depicting a checkmate in chess

"I've got Mzimu."

A few days after Mikiko had last seen Timothy Fleming, he had sent her a text with his (untraceable) number so she could contact him when she had evidence the Organization’s leader was dead. Colins said it probably had been easy for him to pick up her cell’s number remotely as long as he was in close proximity, even from the phone issued to her by the Agency. It had likely happened when they spoke in the church.

"You have proof of his death?"

He was using a secure text app so even though Mikiko and Fleming could exchange messages, Colins, or rather his computing and electronics expert Danae Parker, couldn’t locate him. Colins told her that should be immaterial since they’d located the farmhouse on the Romney Marsh where he was holding Sienna Thomas over a week ago.

"I have Mzimu in person. Do you want to meet?"

“He’s got to be thinking this one over hard, Mikiko. It’s the sort of trap we’d set up for him. On the other hand, he did say if possible, he’d like to meet Mzimu face-to-face and finish the job personally.”

“But it is a trap, isn’t it, Geoffrey?”

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Falling Down the Bardo

vairocana

Image of the four-headed Vairocana or the celestial Buddha who is often interpreted, in texts like the Flower Garland Sutra, as the Dharma Body of the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama).

“What happened?” Daine Ramsey found herself in a tunnel of light. She had no idea how she had gotten there or where she’d been a moment ago.

“What do you see?”

The voice was unrecognizable. It wasn’t just that Daine didn’t know who was speaking, she couldn’t even tell if it were a man or a woman. It was more like listening to music but the music made words without a voice.

“Who are you? Where is this place?”

“What do you see?”

“There’s a light.” Daine tried hard to see the other end but it was so bright. “I see a path. Will it take me out of here?”

The “voice” didn’t respond.

“Hello?”

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The Trailer to Heaven

rainbow

© @Any1Mark66

There’s lots of beautiful scenery in Utah as you drive down Interstate 15 but that one part of my trip didn’t have any. Just flat, dry desert and sagebrush. Sure, there’s the odd building or two, but nothing you’d want to stay in. Well, except maybe for that trailer sitting there just off the highway.

No pot of gold or leprechaun lives there, but all the same, everyday when the sun is shining, there’s a rainbow that ends right at the trailer, visible from any angle. What causes it? Beats me. No one goes near, though. Something happens if you try. It gets harder, like walking through water until it’s like walking through rock.

I drive to Southern Utah to visit Mom sometimes. She’s not doing so well. Dementia, you see. She’s the only one who knows why there’s a rainbow over that trailer, though.

“That’s the entrance to Heaven, Jimmy. That’s where your Dad went when he passed.”

I didn’t believe her but then I looked into her eyes. There were rainbows in them.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of January 16, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image at the top of the page to inspire you to author a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

That desert could easily be found in some parts of Utah and most parts of Nevada and I have made the trip to Mom’s more than a few times. I didn’t want to write about leprechauns or pots of gold, so I had to think of another treasure. Fortunately, the answer presented itself.

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

Killer on the Road

riders

From the YouTube video of the Doors’ performance of “Riders on the Storm.”

“I hate everybody’s guts,” he said as the Priest watched him being strapped in, “and everybody hates mine.”

“May God have mercy on your soul, Billy.”

“Even God hates me Father, so you can go screw yourself.”

Father James Buchanan looked over at the Warden who shook his head. Then he turned to the executioner whose name the Priest preferred not to know. They and the two prison guards filed out leaving William Edward “Billy” Cook Jr. alone to his fate.

Rafael Moody, the executioner, closed the hatch to San Quentin State Prison’s gas chamber.  Then he tightened the door handle making sure the seal was airtight. Father Buchanan took his place back in the gallery with the others. God had given him a mission inside these prison walls but certainly this was the most heart wrenching part of it.

Buchanan looked over at Warden Anthony Barnett who was staring impassively through the gas chamber’s windows at a still defiant Cook.

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The Switch

mlk

The Google “doodle” for Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018

Nevada Drivers Licences

Corey March
1983 Escondido Street, Apt. 2A
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Sex M, Hgt 5’11, Wgt 160
Eyes Blu, Hair Brn
DOB 02/27/1997

Eddie Brown
5549 Doolittle Avenue, Apt. 11
Las Vegas, NV 89108
Sex M, Hgt 6’1, Wgt 200
Eyes Brn, Hair Blk
DOB 06/21/1997

“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

There was a time when a person’s race might have been listed on a state driver’s license, but those days are gone. The tiny mug shot on the left side of the document tells the tale, assuming it says anything at all. However, Corey’s driver’s license photo shows a smiling white kid with the tips of his blond hair dyed purple while Eddie’s photo shows an equally cheerful looking African-American youth.

Corey woke up realizing it was Monday and hating that fact because his first class, American History, was at nine in the morning. He didn’t like mornings, especially when he’d been up past eleven drinking beer and playing “Doom” with his roommate Johnny. Oddly enough, he didn’t have a hangover and didn’t even feel all that tired, but those clues weren’t sufficient.

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Collage

Collage 38

Collage 38

“Use what talents you possess…The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sung best.” Henry Van Dyke

A misfit among misfits, that’s what they said she’d be.

Dyson never fit in anywhere in any way. In a world of singers, she was tone deaf. In a world of dancers, she had two left feet. In a world of gardeners, her green thumb was brown.

She didn’t believe in the right God, the right politics, or the right social causes. Her fashion sense was beyond appalling, and what she called music sounded like crashing cymbals and sour trumpet notes to everyone else.

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Caged

cat

Snow leopard

They think I’m inferior because I’m in their cage. I’m inferior because I look differently, act differently, have different morals and values than they do. They think they are so superior and they laugh at me, calling me names because to them I’m just an animal.

I want revenge. I want to strike back, shove their vile lying taunts down their flabby throats.

No. That didn’t work the last time when we were the superior ones and they were in our cages. It never works because one or the other always suffers.

There are only two options. The desirable one is to co-exist, to treat each other with mutual respect and dignity. But how? We are so different and we are being driven further apart by radical extremists who each say one side must win for anything to be good. But that means the other side much be crushed under the victor’s heel.

The other choice is mutual annihilation. Let God sort out the bodies and start anew. God. They hate me even for that, believing they are the ultimate moral and creative force in the universe.

They may have me in their cage but we’re all in a prison.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of January 14th 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Normally, I’m pretty literal in my interpretation of the prompts, but lately I’ve been inundated with politically and socially driven rhetoric from both sides of the fence (as if there were only two sides). That, plus the false alarm stating that Hawaii was under missile attack really set me off.

Both conservatives and liberals seem to think that their side must “win” in order to save their country or the world or something. That means, they have to marginalize, denigrate, and “cage” those who aren’t exactly like them.

Sure, there have been differing political and social opinions ever since there has been civilization, but it seems like the past eight to ten years or so in the U.S. that it’s gotten much, much worse. I sometimes feel I’m on one or more groups’ “hit list” because of my views, or just because I’m old, white, and male, but I don’t doubt that others feel the same way.

So what options are there? Like I said, there are two. The first is to make an effort to understand each other and allow the moderate position, which is currently being violently choked to death, to grow larger again. Really try to see the other person’s point of view and why they feel so concerned about whatever issues are important to them (it doesn’t mean we’ll always agree, but at least we’ll understand that we’re all human).

The other is to destroy ourselves and let God or Mother Nature or whatever force larger than humanity you believe in (unless you believe humanity is the ultimate moral force in the universe) to take over and start again.

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

Of Ice and Anna

ice monster

Found at DeviantArt.

From the previous story:

The magic lantern amulet around his neck glowed brightly as the boy stood and weaved his spell right in front of the wounded and bleeding creature. A portal opened at his feet and he fell through, just like a person would if the walked over an open manhole.

Landon spoke the magic words in the tongue of the ancient masters and the portal closed. Instantly, the world around them began to fade and shimmer.

“You did it, Landon. You broke the spell. Now the fantasy world the evil water spirit created is evaporating. I love you Landon.” She hugged him. “See you again in about twelve years or so.”

“But by then I’ll be…”

Then everything went black.

Landon woke up. He had to pee, so he got up and stumbled down a long hall to the bathroom. He turned on the light and looked in the mirror shocked. He wasn’t eight years old anymore and this wasn’t the bathroom at Grandpa’s house. It was one of the bathrooms in his dorm. He was in college and he was twenty years old.

Landon woke up. He had to pee, so he got up and stumbled down a short hall to the bathroom. He turned on the light and looked in the mirror. He was relieved to see himself just as he was when he went to sleep. He was back home at Grandpa’s house and he was eight years old like he was supposed to be. Then he used the bathroom and washed his hands.

Going back to his bedroom, he saw his now non-alive stuffed animals lying on his pillow. Some were under his blanket making “lumps” pushing up here and there. But there was something or rather someone missing. Buddy still hadn’t come home. He was overdue. Where could he be?

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Na Gauna Ni Tevoro

wayfinders

Scene from the film “Wayfinders a Pacific Odyssey Hawaii”

Father Francisco DelVega Ortiz cursed Lucifer as he was brought before the pagan Chief. He had been part of a special mission to these islands, but Captain Scarr’s foolishness caused his ship to collide with an uncharted reef. Rough seas and high winds tore the Esteban apart. The Priest was the only survivor.

“I have met Europeans before.” The savage spoke in surprisingly good Spanish. “You make fine sacrifices and will strengthen the temple’s foundation.”

Father Ortiz was held by four mountain warriors but struggled defiantly. He spat out, “There will be others after me, Talamaur. Oh, yes. I know what you are. The Holy Order of Venandi will eradicate your kind in the name of the Virgin Mary.”

“Perhaps, Priest. My people will grow strong eating your sacrificed flesh, but I reserve the blood for myself.” The heathen Chief sitting on his obsidian throne bared long fangs and hissed.

Time for another short story for What Pegman Saw. The idea is to take a Google maps location and image and use it to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today the Pegman takes us to Fiji. I was all set to write about a warm, tropical paradise when I looked up Fiji’s history and found some pretty disturbing news.

According to Wikipedia:

Over the centuries, a unique Fijian culture developed. Constant warfare and cannibalism between warring tribes were quite rampant and very much part of everyday life. During the 19th century, Ratu Udre Udre is said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement. According to Deryck Scarr, “Ceremonial occasions saw freshly killed corpses piled up for eating. ‘Eat me!’ was a proper ritual greeting from a commoner to a chief.” Scarr also reported that the posts that supported the chief’s house or the priest’s temple would have sacrificed bodies buried underneath them, with the rationale that the spirit of the ritually sacrificed person would invoke the gods to help support the structure, and “men were sacrificed whenever posts had to be renewed”. Also, when a new boat, or drua, was launched, if it was not hauled over men as rollers, crushing them to death, “it would not be expected to float long”. Fijians today regard those times as “na gauna ni tevoro” (time of the devil). The ferocity of the cannibal lifestyle deterred European sailors from going near Fijian waters, giving Fiji the name Cannibal Isles; as a result, Fiji remained unknown to the rest of the world.

warrior

A Fijian mountain warrior, photograph by Francis Herbert Dufty, 1870s.

Yikes. Doesn’t sound like paradise to me. Also, as you can see, the title for my work of historical fiction and horror translates as “Time of the Devil,” which I found appropriate.

According to the same source, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 and apparently lived to tell the tale. The first Europeans to settle in Fiji were beachcombers, missionaries, and whalers.

I’ve written eight chapters in my Sean Becker vampire series plus a number of “side tales” based on the same “universe.” I have introduced formal societies both of vampires and of vampire hunters. In the 20th and 21st century western nations, the Holy Order of vampire slayers is called “Van Helsing” after a fictional character in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.” Earlier, including in the 17th century when this story is set, I gave them the name “Holy Order of Venandi” with “Venandi” meaning “hunter” in Latin (the best I could come up with…if someone more familiar with Catholicism can create a better name for a fictional order of fanatical vampire hunters, let me know).

I’m fascinated about how widely the legend of vampire-like creatures has spread and how far back in history they can be traced. Almost every human civilization and culture knows of vampires by one name or another. Vampire-like creatures of the island chain Vanuatu were called Talamaur. They weren’t bloodsuckers in the traditional “Dracula” vein, but they were close enough so I thought I could get away with “tweaking” the folklore.

Vanuatu is about 750 miles from Fiji and there is some evidence that ancient Polynesian people were able to make long sea voyages and settle on islands very distant from their origins. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to have a Talamaur arrive on Fiji in or before the 17th century (it is believed Fiji was settled between 3500 and 1000 BCE) and become a local chief.

Oh, in case you’re interested, the weather in Suva, Fiji today predicts thunderstorms with a high in the mid-80s F and a low in the mid 70s. Pretty humid and I doubt you’d be able to work on your tan.

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

They Will Run You Down in the Dark

kaleo

Icelandic band Kaleo

Oh, father tell me, do we get what we deserve?
Oh, we get what we deserve

From the song “Way Down We Go”
Songwriters: Daníel Kristjánsson Davíð Antonsson Jökull Júlíusson Rubin Pollock
Performed by Icelandic rock band “Kaleo”

The Eighth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

It was said that Colton Boudreaux could trace his line all the way back to Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, more commonly known as Cardinal Richelieu. Of course this couldn’t be literal as the famous (or infamous) 17th century French Cardinal had no offspring, at least as history records. However, Richelieu did have those young men and women he favored (though he himself was favored by few) and he did strongly support the colonization of New France (in what is modern-day Canada).

Boudreaux more factually could claim a line to the descendants of Acadian exiles—French-speakers from L’Acadie in what are now the Maritimes of Eastern Canada. These were from the French colonists who settled in Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries, some of whom are also descended from the Indigenous peoples of the region.

He was proudly Cajun, ostensibly Catholic, and secretly the head of one of the sects of the Van Helsing religious order, vampire hunters.

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