Traitor

traitor's gate

© A Mixed Bag 2009

Traitor’s Gate. Entrance to the “last mile”. It describes the final moments of Dr. Marcus Young Smith.

The gate rose before him and his silent guards. He wore the traditional white shirt and black trousers of the condemned.

At thirty-nine, he would be neither the youngest nor the oldest person executed for high treason, but he would be the only one terminated because he was innocent of all charges.

The Governor was standing beside the steps of the gallows rather than seated in the gallery. Smith stopped at the foot of the steps.

“You maybe leave us,” Governor Drake ordered the four guards. They looked at each other puzzled.

“Go.” Drake whispered the command but it had the force of a shout. They retreated.

“Any last words, Dr. Smith?” The traditional question the Governor asks of the condemned, but this time it wasn’t heard by the public in the gallery.

“You are the traitor Drake, but to avoid civil war, I give my life.”

“A good little soldier to the end, Smith.”

Smith gave his life for his country to avert war. A generation later, revolution broke tyranny’s back and Dr. Smith’s name was venerated as a hero.

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction for May 21st. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

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

W is for Whale

w is for whale

© James Pyles

Daniel was cold, shivering, vomiting seawater, but alive on the beach at the sea’s edge. It was still raining, but he was past being bothered by the continual wetness. Slowly, the retching ceased and he was able to catch his breath. Why was he alive?

“Glad to see you’re doing better, kiddo.”

The ten year old looked in the direction of the voice.

“Name’s Achilles. No heal jokes please. I don’t have any.”

It was a whale. He was blue with a white underbelly but not like any whale Daniel had ever seen or studied.

“Glad I found you down there. Didn’t think someone as famous as you would end up in my neighborhood.”

“I was drowning. You saved me?”

Continue reading

V is for Violin

v is for violin

© James Pyles

The sound of the rain beating against the wooden planks of the pier made hearing the music almost impossible. Daniel limped closer to the couple, the male figure holding the umbrella over himself and the woman playing the violin.

What was that melody? It sounded so familiar and yet it seemed incomprehensible. The ten year old’s ears were ringing. They had been since he woke up after the attack, but he only realized it just now.

The Queen’s voice echoed in his head:

“The answer is within you. Just listen to the…”

“Listen to the what? The music?”

Continue reading

U is for Umbrella

u is for umbrella

© James Pyles

After he opened his eyes, it took Daniel long seconds to remember what had happened to him. His head hurt. He ached all over. There was sand. Some reeds. What was on top of him?

Part of the passenger car, really, just a bunch of shattered boards and upholstery, but it formed a kind of shelter around him. Good thing none of the metal parts of the car landed on him.

When his thoughts were clearer, he started moving his fingers and toes, then slowly his arms and legs making sure everything still worked. Except for general aches and pains, he didn’t feel anything that said he had broken bones.

Continue reading

T is for Train

t is for train

© James Pyles

“A train whistle.”

Daniel’s only experience hearing a train whistle, at least as far as he could remember, was from the third Back to the Future movie. Doc and Marty were trapped in 1885, and they had to steal an old steam locomotive to push the DeLorean up to eighty-eight miles per hour.

The ten year old peeked through the flock, he was near the front of it anyway and there it was.

“A real 19th century steam engine. An old fashioned train.”

It was sitting at a platform. No sign of a town or any other structures, but there were people waiting to board, if they were people at all.

Continue reading

S is for Sheep

s is for sheep

© James Pyles

Daniel’s eyes widened with terror as the enormous bird of prey descended toward them with the speed of a hawk.

“This is going to be close, Daniel.”

He could feel the grip of her pinions tighten around him, securing the boy to her body, then she suddenly changed the angle of her descent, making an almost vertical dive for a group of trees at the edge of the plains. She twisted so she presented her belly rather than her back to the roc’s talons in a desperate effort to protect the ten year old.

He felt the shudder of an impact and heard Olivia cry out, and then Gerald was ascending.

Continue reading

Three Women and a Story

diner

© Roger Bultot

I watched the three women asking Mel questions. He’s always had a soft spot for ladies with a sob story, but I knew he wouldn’t sell me out. He doesn’t know much anyway, except that he fills my take out dinner order for two, not one.

I feel a little sorry for them. Adolpho promised to marry each one. Too bad they met at Bingo last month and found out.

I think Adolpho is a rat too, but he is my nephew and blood is blood. Tonight I’ll get him across the border. After that, he’s on his own.

Written for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long based on the photo prompt above. Mine comes in at 99.

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

R is for Rabbit

r is for rabbit

© James Pyles

“The rabbits. But how?”

Daniel was staring at what looked like hundreds of rabbits, all standing on their hind legs, all with glowing red eyes and if possible, with facial expressions twisted into cruel hate.

“They have their ways in and out, Daniel. My guards use the doors only when visitors are present.”

For an instant, it seemed ridiculous to Daniel that a bunch of rabbits could threaten predators such as a lioness and an owl, but their size and sheer numbers made them a threat, and both the Queen and the owl made no move against them.

The ten year old turned to Olivia. “You knew”.

Continue reading

The Long Dark Winter

freezing

© 2013 loniangraphics

“God it’s cold out there, Simon.”

“You say that every time you go out for supplies. Of course it’s cold. How’d you do?”

“The Rogues’ shipment from down south came in early. Paying those mercenaries cost a lot, but I managed some oranges and strawberries this time. How about you?”

“Got enough fuel from Old Man Mayberry to last us a couple more weeks at least. By then, he says he can get us some more.”

Carrie set her groceries down on the counter. It’s only a one room cabin, originally built as an artist’s retreat several miles outside of town, but now Simon and Carrie Mitchell call it home. Being small, it’s easy to heat, which is important, since the overall global temperature averages 3 to 4 degrees F less than it did before the Indian-Pakistani nuclear war five years ago.

It’s a limited “nuclear winter,” not quite like all of the disaster movies of the previous decade, but it will be fifteen years at least before the climate begins to return to pre-war levels.

I wrote this in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of May 16, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 174.

When I saw the photo, after turning over a few possibilities in my mind, I settled on the topic of large scale nuclear winter. I first thought that it would be set off on purpose by a madman to counter the effects of climate change.

Then, doing a bit of research, I decided to lessen the effect and scope to show that even a “small” nuclear conflict could do long lasting damage to the environment.

I imagined that traditional government would break down, at least in certain areas, and that mercenaries would provide necessary services for an inflated price.

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

Q is for Queen

q is for queen

© James Pyles

Daniel was awoken abruptly as Olivia touched down inside the tower.

“Wha? I was asleep?”

It was then he noticed that many of the great owl’s feathers had gripped him and held him in place on her back while they were in flight. They had also kept him warm since soaring through the snowy mountain passes was quite chilly.

“We’ve arrived, Daniel. You can get down now.”

Still disoriented from just waking up, the ten year old almost fell to the floor. He looked back and saw a large, open window which obviously granted the owl entrance to the tower. He looked out the window, down at the vast castle below, and the sheer drop beyond that.

Continue reading