New Love

Sambor Prei Kuk Temple, Cambodia

© Google 2013

“My darling, it’s been so long.”

She approached her lover near the steps of the temple. He was as she remembered him and she was also unchanged and unchanging across the vast expanse of time.

“Beloved, we are finally alone, alone to love and be loved.”

“They have not loved. Their world, the one we gave them…”

“I know, Shakti. That’s why we are here.”

“Yes, Shiva. To make the world we gave them, to remake it.”

The nude couple, parted for centuries, approached each other slowly.

They came together and embraced with passion. Shiva the Supreme Being and Shakti the goddess of female creativity made desperate love on the steps of Sambor Prei Kuk Temple in what is now known as Cambodia. When Shakti gave birth again, humanity would have the gift of a brand new world and hopefully, they will take better care of this one.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take the Google street map image above and use it as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 148.

Today, Pegman takes us to the Sambor Prei Kuk Temple in Cambodia. I Googled the location and Wikipedia told me all about the temple, Shiva, Shakti, and the meaning of the terms Lingam and Yoni. Since all that seems pretty sexy, I played fast and loose with mythology and decided to have a little fun as well as offer a bit of hope.

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

Shiva and Shakti

Shiva and Shakti

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The Wrong Temple

columns

The Rostral Columns at Vasilyevsky Island, St. Petersburg

“This isn’t how I remembered it, husband.”

“I believe we’ve lost our way. Come.”

“No!” She shook off her brother’s hand. “Something’s familiar here, yet alien. This can’t be my temple.”

“It’s been thousands of years.”

“Take your hands off of me, philanderer. Which slut were you with last night? Artemis? Circe? That whore Aphrodite?”

“Sister…”

“Don’t you sister me, Zeus!”

“Olympus awaits, Hera. You shouldn’t have returned. We’re forgotten.”

Tears formed in the eyes of the goddess of women and marriage. “I suppose you’re right.”

Then she turned on him in anger. “I still think you want to get back to Olympus because you’re screwing another immortal harlot.”

“Please, wife.”

Hera consented allowing Zeus to escort her back to Olympus, missing the gleam in his eye as he gazed at the fetching St. Petersburg lass admiring one of the Rostral columns. After Hera was settled down, he’d be back.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to take a Google street view image of the location presented and use it as the inspiration for crafting a story of no more than 150 words. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to St. Petersburg, Russia. I had to do quite a bit of searching and clicking around, and I even changed my story idea completely before settling on what you’ve read above. Go to Wikipedia to read about the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange and Rostral Columns. I drew my inspiration from the columns being styled after the Temple of Hera at Paestum. Hera was the Greek goddess of women and marriage who married her brother Zeus, and has always been jealous of Zeus’s other lovers. Here, I had Hera getting a little lost, mistaking these columns for her temple. On the other hand, Zeus seems to know exactly what he’s looking for.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com. Don’t be shy. If an image of St. Petersburg inspires you, contribute a wee story of your own.

On a C-130 Flying into Puerto Rico

c-130

Evacuees leaving the destruction of Hurricane Irma board a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft of the Royal Netherlands Air Force at St. Martin airport September 10, 2017. (Netherlands Ministry of Defense via REUTERS)

The Puerto Rico National Guard C-130 was approaching Luis Muñoz Marín Airport carrying evacuees from St. Maarten in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“Guys with swords just popped up in the hotel lobby, like Pirates of the Caribbean only more raw.”

Gus Phillips had been vacationing in St. Maarten feeling lucky he was alive to talk to the young man beside him.

“Anyone get hurt, Gus?”

“No. They seemed confused like everyone else. Their swords looked real, though. Then it was like they vanished or something.”

“Maybe that’s a good thing.”

“Oh, we’re landing. Gotta phone my nephew…tell him I’m okay. What about you?”

“I’ll be home soon, Gus.”

Time Traveler Martin Fields was satisfied after he’d sent those ancient pirates back to 1665, that no one realized who they were. Hurricane Irma spawned a very real time storm which dumped those buccaneers into 2017 during the worst hurricane in recorded history.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo fiction challenge. The idea is to take a Google street image of a specific location and use it as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Given recent events, it was impossible for me to not write about the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. I learned that the Puetro Rico Air National Guard was helping evacuate people from nearby islands, and that on St. Maarten, there were numerous reports of lawlessness, including men with swords in a hotel lobby.

It’s been over six months since I wrote a time travel story featuring Martin Fields, but this seemed like the sort of situation that would be right up his alley. The “time storm” concept I took from my current set of tales I’m writing as a homage to the works of Andre Norton (Alice Mary Norton).

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

The next Martin Fields and NaCumbea adventure is I’m Leaving You For 1966, Dear.

Hunger in the Darkness

Poisson Blanc Regional Park

© Google 2009

“Emily, how’s it wild camping if we have to book the damn island. Come on, help me with the raft.”

“But Patrick, what if we get caught?”

“No one expects us in this part of Poisson Blanc so late in the season. Already threatening to snow. The cowards who camp here with RVs, and surfboards, and smartphones don’t know what nature is. Better set up camp. It’s getting dark.”

“I’ll light a fire, Pat.”

As the sun descended into the west, something was rising.

“What’s that howling, Pat?” They were sitting by the fire roasting fresh trout.

“Don’t know, but it’s getting closer.”

“You said no dangerous animals here.”

“Shouldn’t be. No wolves so…”

From just beyond the circle of firelight, a huge shape slowly emerged from the forest, eyes glowing. It said one word. “Wendigo.” Then amid their shrieks, Patrick and Emily were messily devoured by the cannibal amphibian.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the location provided from Google maps as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Poisson-Blanc, Quebec. I looked the place up and this Regional Park offers just about every outdoor activity you can imagine, including being able to reserve small islands for wild camping.

I looked up “wild camping,” and while it has a variety of applications, in it’s purest form, it’s camping with a minimal equipment, no provided facilities (showers, bathrooms, picnic tables and the like), and you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

That was part of my hook, but then I needed to create drama. How many TV shows and movies have depicted young and daring campers encountering some sort of menace in an isolated location?

I remembered the legend of the Wendigo, ironically from an old “Incredible Hulk” comic book which featured the very first appearance of “The Wolverine” (you may know the character better from the “X-Men” and “Wolverine” movies). Anyway, like Big Foot, Wendigo is a legendary creature, but to make it worse, it eats people.

How did this creature go so long undetected? I gave it the feature of being amphibious, and no one is looking for it underwater.

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

Jun Ho’s First Train Ride

north korean train depot

Jun Ho was only six-years old and this was his first train ride. Daddy couldn’t come, but Mommy said they were going all the way to Russia.

Soo Mi took her only child by his hand as the train pulled into Pyongyang station. It would take eight days to reach Moscow and anything could go wrong in that time. She showed the forged identity papers to the conductor. It was unlikely her husband would suspect they’d attempt to escape this way.

Her son was so excited as they sat in their seats. He giggled as the train started moving. They would never see North Korea again. Her long assignment as a sleeper agent was over. She was taking her precious boy and North Korea’s nuclear secrets to the west with her.

Her husband, a Major in the Korean People’s Army, would search for them in vain.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge, with images provided by Google maps. Today, the pegman takes us to North Korea. The challenge is to use a single image as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 146.

I took a peek at the image used by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog post response to the prompt (no, I haven’t read her story yet), and although I could have used another photo, I was captivated by the idea of traveling by rail in North Korea. I found out that there is a train that travels back and forth between Pyongyang and Moscow by way of Irkutsk.

From there, I used North Korea’s nuclear threat to the world as a hook and my wee tale practically wrote itself.

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

The Virgin Wept

pena

The Chapel at Pena

The Virgin wept to see the destruction of the monastery. First lightning and now the earthquake turned it to ruins. Thank God the chapel escaped harm so the monks and pilgrims still can come and pray.

“But what will happen to my poor monks now?”

“Please, you must return to your grave, sister. You are entertaining this terrible delusion and worse, perpetuating it among the living.”

“Who are you? How dare you speak to the Holy Virgin Mary that way.”

“Oh please. You are Maria Rosario. I’m your brother Filipe. We both died in a plague centuries ago. You were only thirteen when you perished. It has maddened you.”

“My brother…then I…”

“You keep manifesting yourself here and silly fools think you are their blessed Virgin. Stop it. Miriam, wife of Yosef couldn’t have been a virgin all her life as the Catholic legends state. Come. Return to your rest.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing challenge. Today, Pegman takes us to Pena, Portugal via Google street maps. The idea is to use the image and location as an inspiration to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 150.

As usual, I consulted Google and Wikipedia and discovered Pena Palace has an interesting history. According to tradition, construction of the chapel began after an apparition of the Virgin Mary was seen. Pilgrimages to the site have been occurring since the Middle Ages.

Interestingly enough, about five months ago, I wrote a similar tale that was also critical of the system of Saints called The Fall of the Saints. I do consider myself a religious person but according to many Christian and Jewish authorities, it is highly unlikely that Miriam (Mary) remained a virgin all her life.

So I developed an alternate (fictional) explanation for such “visions”.

Oh, the monastery was damaged by lightning in the 18th century and  destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Obviously it has since been rebuilt.

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

Not All #MenAreTrash

cape town

Gagasi FM talk-show host Alex Mthiyane, businessmen Sandile Zungu, and Vivian Reddy, scientist Siya Xuza, Norma Gigaba and 5FM DJ Euphonik mentoring young men at the Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall yesterday. Picture: Nkululeko Nene

“Mommy, I don’t want to grow up to be trash.”

“Oh my sweet boy, you could never be trash.”

“But isn’t that what those women are saying about Daddy?”

“Daddy made terrible decisions, Denis.”

“They say he killed those women, other women say that makes all men trash. I don’t want to hurt anyone, Mommy.”

“You won’t, little one. You don’t have to be anyone except my wonderful little boy.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too, Denis. I always will. I promise to teach you to be the best person you can be. Now get ready for school. Today you’re going to meet Norma Gigaba, the Finance Minister’s wife.”

Lefa Pillay, Denis’s father, had been arrested along with several other men for the string of rapes and murders of women in Durban prompting protests declaring #MenAreTrash. Dipalesa, the little boy’s Mom, would do anything to fight that stereotype.

I’m writing this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use Google maps street images as an inspiration to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the pegman takes us to Cape Town, South Africa. I did my usual Wikipedia search but nothing came up for me. Then I looked at the local news stories.

I found a May 23rd story called #MenAreTrash: Yes, we are trash! which reported on protests in Durban, South Africa on the streets and in social media in response to multiple violent crimes against women over the previous two weeks.

I also found another story out of Cape Town, dated today (July 30th) called Not all #MenAreTrash, says Gigaba’s wife.

Part of the story reads:

IN THE spirit of teaching boys to become men, high-profile businessmen and radio personalities engaged with pupils from five schools at the Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall, Denis Hurley Centre, where they held an interactive motivational session with young men.

On Saturday, at the event hosted by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s wife, Norma, and her foundation, boys were urged to be resilient in their quest to build healthy communities.

Gigaba said the focus was on boys because she felt that they were neglected. “We cannot fold our arms and watch them ruining opportunities of creating a better society. Men are called all sorts of names, more recently #MenAreTrash.”

My own wee fictional tale flowed from there.

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

Walkabout

great barrier reef

© Google 2012

Barega saw himself here in dreamtime. Merindah the Seer woman told him it was his time for the walkabout, his spiritual transition so that he could join the men of their people.

His journey would be long and take many days. Barega would be traveling alone for the first time in his fourteen years of life. His father taught him well the skills needed to succeed in his travels.

He found himself here near the great water, the one he had dreamed about. There were many living beings in their land that were revered, and Barega knew that beneath the great water, many more existed. However, he now realized what his experience in dreamtime meant. This mighty reef was alive, too. He walked across the rock and sand to touch its many bodies and souls.

Today he was a man and men must protect the spirits of all life

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google street view image above as a prompt to craft a bit of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

I learned a lot about the Reef (actually it’s made up of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 2,300 km or 1,400 miles long) at Wikipedia and Adventure Mumma.

Wikipedia says that: “according to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.” This coral bleaching is attributed to human use impact such as fishing and tourism as well as runoff and climate change.

The good news is that the reef has died off many times before, usually during each ice age, and then recovered, but the original environmental conditions have to be restored.

I also learned that about 12,000 years ago, a person could walk from the land directly out to the reef. Since I’ve recently been interested in writing time travel stories about going back to that period in history, my “Walkabout” tale simply fell into place.

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

Terror

cape crozier

© Google, Nov 2016

The Adelie penguin colony at Cape Crozier, Antarctica had long been the subject of study. There were over a quarter of a million breeding pairs of birds identified. Scientists inhabited several tents at the site plus a crude permanent structure that vaguely resembled a collection of shoeboxes. However, this expedition was not here for the penguins.

“What do the latest readings look like, Scottie?” Carter Roberts addressed the party’s Chief Volcanologist Amanda Scott. She ignored the unwanted familiar use of her name.

“Not good, Carter.” She didn’t bother to glance up from the seismology report. “If these readings are accurate, then given the progression we’re seeing, we’ve got less than three months.”

“So Mount Terror is aptly named.”

“We always thought it was an extinct volcano, but sometime next October, it’ll make the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa look like a firecracker, plunging the whole world into a new ice age.”

Written for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google street image above as the inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, Pegman takes us to Cape Crozier, Antarctica. I looked the place up at Wikipedia, and when I saw “Mount Terror” and “extinct volcano,” I knew I found my hook.

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

A Great Place to Retire

la puerta falsa

© Santiago Ruiz JimÈnez – National Geographic

Larry and Jan sat at a table at La Puerta Falsa sampling Bogotá’s signature dish, steaming bowls of ajiaco. They had just come from the Museo Botero, home to an impressive collection of paintings by Colombia’s most famous visual artist, Fernando Botero.

“I never thought of retiring here, Larry, but this isn’t the Bogotá I’d heard of.”

“That’s ancient history, dear. Bogotá is safer now than most large U.S. cities, and our dollar is going to go a lot farther here.”

“Is money really a question, Lar? After all, you’ve done well over the years.”

“I know, but that’s because I didn’t spend foolishly. I made my customers do that.”

“Whatever you say. Yes, let’s spend the rest of our lives here.”

Larry Zalkalns had spent the better part of five decades as the largest drug kingpin on America’s east coast. He was no fool. He only benefited from them.

Written for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use an image of the target location, such as the one at the top of the page, to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150 exactly.

Today, Pegman takes us to Bogotá, Columbia. Usually, when I think of Bogotá, I think of drug cartels and gun violence, but I read an article recently that said Columbia had become a great place to retire and is much safer now than in previous decades.

I found a 2015 New York Times story called 36 Hours in Bogotá, Colombia which seemed aimed at younger readers, but which also gave me enough material to use in crafting my scene.

The image above comes from the Spanish language edition of National Geographic.

Given Bogotá’s historic reputation, I gave Larry an interesting profession.

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