To Fly Again

car in woods

© Tim Livingston

Every year, Norm would take a vacation from his job as an aeronautics engineer at Hughes Aircraft to go hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Norm liked to cut his own rough trails through the forest, which was why he was so surprised when he came across the old DeSoto. 1947 or 48 by the looks of her. His Dad owned one like it when Norm was a kid.

The trunk was half open. There was something bulky inside. Norm pulled the lid free and unwrapped the heavy, oiled canvas tarp.

“Oh my God, it can’t be.”

He remembered the old newsreels and stories his Dad told him about the hero. He wore a metal helmet, and with his rocket pack, fought the Nazis in the 30s and 40s. He’d disappeared without a trace. How his equipment got here, Norm couldn’t figure, but he knew he could get the old engine working.

With the Soviet threat looming and the race to the Moon heating up, it was time for the Rocketeer to fly again.

rocketeer

The Rocketeer – created by Dave Stevens

I wrote this in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 14, 2017. The idea is to use the photo prompt at the top to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being ideal. My tale comes in at 174 words. Wish it was less, but I needed that many words to do the set up for my reveal.

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

You can tell only by inference, but I set my story in the early 1960s. My late father-in-law worked at Hughes Aircraft, founded by the famous aviator and inventor Howard Hughes. The corporation no longer exists and Hughes is long dead, but I decided to use the company because it made a nice connection to the Rocketeer’s period in history. The comic book character was created by Dave Stevens in 1982 as an homage to the Saturday matinee serial heroes of the 30s and 40s.

In the 1991 film starring Billy Campbell in the lead role, a fictionalized Howard Hughes actually invented the rocket pack, which was stolen by gangsters and hastily stashed in stunt pilot Cliff Secord’s plane.

In both the comic book and film, Secord uses the rocket pack to become the superhero the Rocketeer. The story of this retro-hero is one of my guilty pleasures. I’d love to see the Rocketeer fly again.

The Old Astronaut

spacesuit

© A Mixed Bag 2012

I finally made it. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I always wanted to see all these exhibits. I spent my childhood, my whole life really, admiring astronauts and their accomplishments. I used to spend hours pretending I was wearing a spacesuit, just like the one I’m standing in front of now.

It doesn’t look as impressive in real life, but then, it’s just an empty suit. What makes spacesuits heroic are the men and women who’ve worn them, who were blasted into space, who walked on the Moon. I was in high school when Neil Armstrong wore this suit and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I wish I could have had my shot at even sub-orbital space. I can afford a tourist’s ride on SpaceX now, but I’m too old.

My grandson’s not, though. Next month he and five other astronauts will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, and from there, they’ll board the Ares One spaceship to Mars. I’ve got my shot into space because my grandson will always be in my heart. Thank you, boy.

I’m writing this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 12th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is for authors to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. My story is exactly 200 words long.

Oh, I really did grow up with the NASA manned space missions, from Mercury, to Gemini, to Apollo, and beyond. I even got a chance to see and touch (I wasn’t supposed to touch it) one of the Apollo command modules once, although I’ve never been to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum (I wish). I’ll never go into space, but my grandchildren’s generation will. To the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

To read other tales based on the photo, go to InLinkz.com.

Robin at the Brazen Head

© Google – July 2014

“I’m tellin’ ya mate, he would come in and drink right here. This is a really famous pub, oldest in Ireland.”

The skeptical American tourist listened to his half-inebriated friend. “Sean, you’re one of my best friends, and I’m glad you’re showing me around Dublin on my visit, but you can’t be serious.”

“Michael, you believe James Joyce drank here, Jonathan Swift, even Van Morrison graced the Head with his presence. Why not him?”

“Because he’s fictional.”

“Fictional, hah! He still haunts the place and I can prove it.”

“How?”

Sean pulled Michael off his bar stool and half-dragged him to the stone outside. “See, Robin of Loxley be relievin’ himself right there.”

The archer in green finished and turned to give the two men an evil look for interrupting his privacy.

This was inspired by the What Pegman Saw photo challenge. The Google maps image comes direct from Dublin and depicts what is arguably Ireland’s oldest pub.

The idea is authors are supposed to write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words based on the photo above. My story is 132 words long.

I looked up The Brazen Head and legend has it that Robin Hood used to drink there. A story from NBC News states that Robin not only got intoxicated at the pub, but did indeed relieve himself on the old stone outside.

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

Burning the Bridge to Heaven

campfire

campfire

The night fire on the beach burned bright and hot. I stared into its warmth and chaos for hours. It held the end of everything I was, everything I thought I’d ever be. I could still feel blood dripping down my back. I cut off my wings and incinerated them.

I got the prompt for this one from Iain Kelly’s blog. He wrote a 50 word story based on the photo above in response to the Scottish Book Trust’s 50-Word Fiction Competition for March. Not sure if I should enter the contest, since I’m not particularly keen on “winning” anything. My story is exactly 50 words. Let me know what you think.

The Komodo Cure

iss

The International Space Station (ISS) | NASA

NASA took every precaution when they launched it into space. It’s destination was the International Space Station (ISS). The station’s latest life form, methicillian-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) arrived via SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on February 18, 2017.

According to the official press release:

The idea is not to weaponize space with MRSA — a bacterium that kills more Americans every year than HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, emphysema, and homicide combined — but to send its mutation rates into hyperdrive, allowing scientists to see the pathogen’s next moves well before they appear on Earth.

That was five months ago.

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The Monster Under Carrie’s Bed

monster

Poster from the film “Under the Bed” (2012)

Carrie heard the strange scratching sounds in the walls of her bedroom again.

“Mommy! Daddy!” She screamed out to her parents for the third time that night.

Daddy trudged into her bedroom. It had been an exhausting week. For the past five nights, Carrie kept swearing something was making scary noises in her walls. For the past five nights, her parents Bill and Sandy came in, but they could never hear anything.

Sandy thought there might be a mouse in the walls. Bill thought that moving to the new house a month ago was harder on their seven-year-old daughter than they thought it would be.

“Daddy, I’m so scared.” Carrie leapt out of her bed and jumped into his arms. He held and comforted his little girl.

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Tahji’s Freedom

bug

© Shaktiki Sharma

Tahji was curious. He’d never seen so many people before. He half hid behind the post to get a better look through the doorway. They were talking their people talk. Tahji could understand a little of it when one talked, but they were all speaking at once. It was so confusing. Perhaps if he got closer.

“There you are, little one.” It was Tahji’s child-friend Rohan.

“You shouldn’t wander off like this. You might have gotten lost.”

Tahji saw Rohan was carrying his ornate little home. The door was open.

“So soon?” The mantis had been enjoying his freedom.

I wrote this in response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers photo challenge. The idea is for authors to use the photo prompt above to create a piece of flash fiction no longer than 100 words long. Mine is 100 words.

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

The Lost Steinway

piano

© Mike Vore

Of all places, she found it in the first floor public men’s room in a deserted hotel in upstate New York. It was Monday, September 2, 1985, 4:35 a.m. In less than two hours, the demolition crew would be here to level the place. They would have destroyed this priceless treasure.

NaCumbea placed her hand gently on the tarp covering the old Steinway. “I know a couple who would love to take care of you, beautiful.”

She expanded the field radius of her time jump suit to include the piano and set her coordinates for the distant future in a parallel quantum reality. Wyatt Ellison and Josue Hunter were protectors of rare historical artifacts. NaCumbea knew they’d take good care of the last piano Bill Evans played before he died.

It didn’t exist in their reality, but it did in hers, so she agreed to find it for them. After all, she owed them one.

I’m probably cheating a bit since these flash fiction stories are supposed to be stand-alones, but I couldn’t help leveraging not only my Martin Fields and NaCumbea time travel stories, but also a separate series involving the characters Wyatt Ellison and Josue Hunter, who I also referenced in my recent story Unraveling.

The photo prompt is from FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 07, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the prompt above to create a story between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being the ideal target. My story is 156 words long.

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

Unraveling

explosion

Image: giantbomb.com

A Martin Fields and NaCumbea Time Travel Story

Martin thought, “If we ever get out of this mess, I’m going to have to bring NaCumbea here. This must be the ultimate time tourist’s destination.”

The Temple of Karnak. Even the sacred enclosure of Amun alone could contain ten average-sized European Cathedrals.

“So here I am. Martin Fields, Time Traveler disguised as a priest. I’m so scared, I’ve left my jump suit’s stealth mode active so I shouldn’t be noticed. I’m in Egypt somewhere around 1958 BCE, although exact measurements get a little splashy when mapping them to a 21st century CE calendar.”

It was getting close to the climax of this year’s Opet Festival, the twenty-seven day period when Egyptians believed their gods and the earth required a recharge of chaotic energy from the cosmos.

Martin headed to the storage chamber where the accessories for the god Amun were kept. The most prized of the gold and silver jewelry used to adorn the god for the climatic ceremony that’s supposed to regenerate him are kept there. The key gold encrusted ruby is missing. The priests just don’t know it yet.

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The Invisibles

alley

From the film “Red Fog” (2013)

The Thirteenth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

It was one of those rare days when Buddy was at home watching eight-year-old Landon and his 20-month-old sister Dani while everyone else was out.

Grandpa, Dad, and Dad’s cousin Nate went out for lunch and to see a movie, while the kids stayed at home in the Ambrosial Dragon’s care.

Buddy wasn’t much larger than the average collie, but although a dragon, his intelligence and maturity was equivalent to an adult human’s. In fact, given his other worldly nature, there was no estimating just exactly how intelligent Buddy was, or for that matter, how old he was.

Buddy had hopped up onto Grandpa’s “reading chair”. Landon came out of the bathroom after brushing his teeth.

“Hey, where’s Dani?” The last Landon knew, she’d been sitting in the living room looking at her books, but now only Buddy was there.

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