Wairua

christchurch

© Steve Withers – Google Maps

The block in downtown Christchurch was being demolished. The buildings around the public parking lot had been abandoned for a decade. Anyone who wanted, could indulge themselves with cans of spray paint. Some graffiti was elementary, other projects were expertly artistic. A shame the heavy equipment would destroy the good with the bad.

The indigenous Māori people thrived in New Zealand until the arrival of Europeans. To this day, they suffer the fate of indigenous populations all over the world.

It looked like a clown’s face, a fearsome one. Wairua or spirit was from the old Polynesian beliefs, and the art gave it a form with which to act. Wairua would turn the Māori away from Presbyterian, Mormon, and Islam faiths and back to the old ways. Wairua would teach them tapu, noa, and mana again, to preserve who they were, who they are, who they will be one day.

I wrote this in response to J. Hardy Carroll’s What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo above, taken from Google Maps, as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

I’m playing fast and loose with the history of Christchurch and of the Māori people, so don’t look too closely for reality or historic accuracy.

I considered making the spirit vengeful, but as I recall, I already wrote a story about that. Instead, I decided to incite a revival among the Māori people, a return to their original spiritual beliefs, a reunification with who they were before the Europeans arrived. So many indigenous people all over the world have had their cultures, their languages, their spiritual beliefs destroyed by colonizers. I thought it was time some of them got all that back, at least in fiction.

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

The Fairies Pond

fairies pond

© Google Maps

On most days of the year, The Fairies Pond was just a pond. It’s an isolated body of water in western Oregon with only one trail in. A serene place certainly, but not always worth the eight hour hike to get there.

But on one day of the year, what’s called “The Fairies Day,” it’s either a place to adore or fear. Those purest of heart, those who knew which day it was, came to witness the blessed event. The impure hearts who happened to be present suffered the horrible wrath.

This day was the anniversary of when the fairies created all green and living things. On that day, the pure hearts were blessed for loving the living. The impure, who hated life, were summarily damned.

Cathleen brought Charleston to the pond to hope miracles would soften his heart. Instead, he came to his doom. Was this too her blessing?

The photo prompt for this week at What Pegman Saw offered four possible images and I chose the one above. The challenge is to take an image and write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine is exactly 150 words.

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

Time’s Window

gale crater

Gale Crater – Mars

“Temporal Shift Unit is powered up, Commander Sharp.” Physicist Jamie Benjamin and her team had spent a week assembling the complex machinery in Gale Crater, which was believed to be one of Mars’ long dried up lakes.

“If this device works as well as it did in the tests on Earth, we could very well see what this crater looked like over three billion years in the past, Benjamin.”

“I suggest we all anchor ourselves to a specific spot, Commander.” She was speaking to the entire team who had been living out of their twin solar-powered rovers for the past ten days. “When the unit activates, it will seem like we’re 5,000 meters underwater.”

“Proceed.”

“Activating projector…now.”

The thin air around them rippled and twisted, and then it was as if they were at the bottom of the ocean, which was expected. The true marvel was that they weren’t alone.

“Life.”

The What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge was an unusual one this week. Normally, writers are prompted to craft a story no more than 150 words long based on some Google Maps view on Earth. Today, J. Hardy Carroll uses a virtual reality tour to take us to the planet Mars. I ended up somewhere in Gale Crater, scanning a 360 degree view provided by the Curiosity Rover.

Approximately 3.5 billion years ago, it is strongly believed the crater was a water-filled lake. I decided to manufacture a little “virtual reality” of my own to give astronauts a look at what the crater was like all those billions of years in the past. As you can see, they found something startling and wonderful.

To read other stories inspired by this prompt, go to InLinkz.com My story is 150 words long.

The Seventy Year Cycle Killer

nassau

© Google Maps – July 2016

Kal Thompson knew he was very unpopular with the passengers and crew of the cruise ship Norwegian Gem. It couldn’t be helped.

Another gorgeous Summer day in Nassau, but the yellow crime scene tape wasn’t part of the tourist attraction. It prevented the contamination of his murder investigation. The murderer had to be on board.

The victim had been a young local women. The manner of her death was particularly gruesome. She was cut in half at the waist and her body was totally drained of blood. She was found nude, posed with her hands above her head, and the corners of her mouth literally sliced ear to ear.

He had read about a case such as her’s but it couldn’t be the same killer could it? After all, the Black Dahlia had been murdered in Los Angeles in 1947. How could the killer strike again seventy years later?

I wrote this in response to J. Hardy Carroll’s What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google Maps image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine is exactly 148.

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

When I looked around the Google Maps image, I saw the yellow tape and imagined a crime scene, but I needed something unusual. I looked up famous unsolved murders, and the mystery of the Black Dahlia became my template.

Pointing Out the Road Homeward

uganda

© Google – June 2015

Thursday, April 30, 1970, Kampala, Uganda.

“Rabbi Sizomu, you have a year to get the Jews out of Kampala before Idi Amin gains power.”

“How can you be so certain of this, my friend?”

“Do you trust me?”

Both men were standing on a lonely road, untamed brush to the right, a large hothouse farm to the left.

“I have learned to trust you in the time you’ve spent among us. You know things I cannot explain.

“Trust me, Gershom. President Obote will be overthrown in a military coup. Amin will attack the Jews living in Kampala. Convince them to make Aliyah, emigrate to Israel.”

“Why are you warning us?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Then it’s a matter of faith. Very well, I will do as you say.”

Time Traveler Martin Fields watched Rabbi Gershom Sizomu walk back to Kampala before returning home to 2017, his mission accomplished.

I wrote this small tale in response to K. Rawson’s What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above, taken from Google maps, and craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine is 149, and it’s a difficult tale to tell in so few words. I once again employed my time traveler Martin Fields because it’s true. In 1971, Idi Amin took control of Uganda, deposing President Milton Obote in a military coup. Amin exiled all the Asians and viciously attacked the Jewish population of Kampala.

I couldn’t find any information about any Rabbis in Uganda in 1970, so I “borrowed” Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, who in February of last year, was elected to the Ugandan Parliament. You can read his story at Haaretz.com.

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.

The Old Neighborhood

St Louis

© Google – August 2012

I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d last seen the old neighborhood, the one my Grandpa lived in when I was a little boy. I took my grandson not realizing that everyone living there now was African-American. Seth and I stood out quite a bit. No one seemed mad, but they all stared at us, like we didn’t belong.

“Jimmy! It’s been a long time.”

I turned to the house across the street. I couldn’t believe it.

“Ronnie!” I ran up to the old man, the child I played with over fifty years ago. We hugged.

“I can’t believe you still live in the old ‘hood.”

“It’s always been my home, Jimmy. When we were kids, I was the one who stuck out. Now things have changed.

He looked down at my grandson and smiled. “Who have you brought to visit us?”

Today’s piece of flash fiction was inspired by the photo prompt at What Pegman Saw. Authors are supposed to use the photo at the top to create a short work of no more than 150 words. Mine comes in at 145.

The photo is of a neighborhood in St. Louis, but it’s not all that different from the one my Grandpa lived in back in Omaha in the early 1960s when I was a child. I’ve heard it’s changed a lot, probably like this place in St. Louis has changed over the long decades. Still, some parts of the world will always be home.

To read other stories inspired by this prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Apparition

hammerfest

© Google 2017

Nine-year-old Erik Lund quietly crept out of Hammerfest’s historic Hauen Chapel. He never knew his great-grandfather and didn’t understand why people were upset at his death. Bored with the service, he went outside to play in the snow-covered cemetary. That’s when the man in the old-fashioned uniform appeared.

“You must not be here. Go back inside.”

Erik had seen men like him in a history book. They were called Nazis. They’d been here a long time ago.

“Who are you?”

“A man who regrets many things.”

Erik was too young to understand, but captivated by the stranger.

“Go inside to your family. Go!”

Erik started to get scared, turned around, and ran. He didn’t see the apparition vanish. He didn’t see the seventy-year-old unexploded German mine the ghost had kept him from detonating.

The next summer, a groundskeeper would find it and have it safely removed.

hausen chapel

Hauen Chapel in Hammerfest – found at Wikipedia

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw weekly photo prompt based on a Google maps location. The goal is to write a piece of flash fiction no longer than 150 words. My story is 146 words long.

This week the location is in Hammerfest, Norway. After doing a bit of Wikipedia research on the town, I discovered Hammerfest had been occupied by the Nazi’s during World War II. When they left in 1945, they destroyed almost the entire town. Only the historic Hauen Chapel pictured just above this commentary, survived.

I also found out that to this day, mines and munitions left over from the war are still being found and disposed of. I decided that a long dead German soldier, regretting his role in Hammerfest, came back one last time to save a child from the consequences of this single Nazi’s actions.

For more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Their Only Playground

Urban Street, Buffalo, NY

© Google 2015

The elementary school on Urban Street had been abandoned ever since the fire gutted it. The city finally budgeted the money to tear it down. Twenty-four boys and girls lost their lives in that fire. The building’s destruction might bring some closure to their families.

Frank Hurley had retired as Fire Chief last year. He had been in charge of containing the three alarm inferno. His crew were called heroes for saving over two hundred children, but the screams of the twenty-four they couldn’t save haunted Frank every night.

He was inside the school now, but instead of silence, he heard children laughing and running. They were all still here, separated from the living, perpetually playing with the dead.

He had to stop the demolition tomorrow. He’d failed to save their lives five years ago. He wasn’t going to be a party of destroying the only home they had left.

I wrote this flash fiction story in response to a photo prompt provided by What Pegman Saw. The word count limit is 150, and my piece is exactly that.

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