Baobab

baobab

A baobab tree in northern Ghana.

Brian Fletcher was startled when the lithe, green-eyed Ghanan woman stepped out from behind the baobab tree.

“I wouldn’t pick the flowers. The gods cursed the baobab. Picking even a single white flower is bad luck.”

The hunter defiantly plucked one, then two more flowers, and then held out his arm. She took a step backward, and he laughed. “Stupid superstition.”

“You will meet your fate, Mr. Fletcher as you have sent many elephants to theirs…poacher.”

“How did you…?”

The dark woman dashed back around the tree’s large, twisted trunk.

“Wait a minute.” The muscular, middle-aged man threw the flowers to the ground and ran after, but it wasn’t a woman he found on the other side.

He only had time to notice that the lioness possessed the same green eyes before she tore him apart. The gods had again wrought terrible justice against one who would desecrate their lands.

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to Bamboi, Northern Region, Ghana. I couldn’t find anything on Bamboi in a casual Google search, since it kept trying to redirect me to “bamboo.” I did look up Northern Region (Ghana), and there I found the Baobab Tree, and more importantly, the legends and myths about it. There are numerous myths, so I chose one, leveraging information about poaching in Ghana.

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

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Human Flagpoles

resolute

Circulated between 1974 and 1979, the two-dollar bill features Joseph Idlout and his relatives preparing their kayaks for a hunt. (Bank of Canada / National Currency Collection)

“But it’s so cold up here, Grandfather.” The nine-year-old huddled with the rest of his brothers and sisters around the aged Inuit in front of the fireplace in the family hut.

“I know, George, I know it’s much colder here than in Inukjuak, but we were starving there. The white government says they will help us.”

“By moving us and seven other families to this frozen wasteland, Father?” Joseph paced back and forth in frustration. “You know why they’re doing this, don’t you?”

“Please, Joseph. For the children’s sake.”

“They might as well know the truth, Father. The Canadian government is using us as human flagpoles, sticking us in Resolute to establish a far north dominance and rattle their sabers at the Soviets.”

“They’ve lied to us many times before, put us on their reservations, but we have always survived.” The old man’s voice was resolute. “We will survive this.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a wee tale no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Resolute, NU, Canada. Naturally, I relied on Wikipedia as my “quick and dirty” information source, but I had to read no further than the Settlement section to get my ‘hook.” It’s the sad tale of the High Arctic Relocation of “seven or eight families from Inukjuak, northern Quebec (then known as Port Harrison) first transported to Grise Fiord on the southern tip of Ellesmere Island and then to Resolute on Cornwallis Island” in August 1953. Click the link to learn more.

To find out even more about this dark time in Canadian history and why I titled my story “Human Flagpoles,” read ‘Human Flagpoles’: Dark story behind Inuit scene on $2 bill (which is where I got the image for my story) and Ottawa sorry for using Inuit as ‘human flagpoles’.

Read other stories based on the prompt by visiting InLinkz.com.

The Chernobyl Man

pripyat

© Dec 2016 – Google

The tourists have been here for quite a while, but due to the dropping radiation levels, I’m unconscious most of the time. Pretty soon, I’ll fade away altogether, though I expect that will be a blessing.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was dead or not. Of course, the Chernobyl accident killed everyone, including my maintenance team, and the citizens evacuated from Pripyat because of the danger, but what happened to me was unique. Did the radiation convert my body to this invisible plasma, or is this the nuclear representation of my soul?

As the radiation levels began to subside, so did I. It’s been a lonely existence, but somehow these tourist seem like an intrusion to me. After all, for years, I was the sole King of my domain, the only one who could live in my personal city. Now I’m just a dying artifact of another age.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image and/or location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Pripyat, Ukraine, which was a community abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster. Because of that, the city has a unique history, and due to rapidly dropping radiation levels, people can go on tours of Pripyat now.

Of course, I had to add another wrinkle.

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

The Eagle of Hans Langsdorff

eagle

© EPA – Graf Spee Eagle

He watched as divers brought up the figurehead of his beloved Graf Spee from the muddy depths where it had lain for nearly seventy years. If he could have wept, bitter tears would have streamed down his face, but this was denied him as well as peace he had sought long ago. Instead, damnation has been his constant companion, and though he could take no breath, what was once his heart was crushed at this bitter reminder.

They covered the swastika displayed beneath the eagle’s nine-foot wingspan out of consideration of those still sensitive to Hitler’s bloody legacy. So be it. The Nazi dream was just as dead as Hitler, and just as dead as Captain Hans Langsdorff who committed suicide two days after scuttling the German battleship rather than have it fall into enemy hands. How fleeting and meaningless history has rendered his ship and his wandering spirit.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Montevideo, Uruguay. As usual, I looked up the location and under 20th century, I found this:

During World War II, a famous incident involving the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee took place in Punta del Este, 200 kilometers (120 mi) from Montevideo. After the Battle of the River Plate with the Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy on 13 December 1939, the Graf Spee retreated to Montevideo’s port, which was considered neutral at the time. To avoid risking the crew in what he thought would be a losing battle, Captain Hans Langsdorff scuttled the ship on 17 December. Langsdorff committed suicide two days later. The eagle figurehead of the Graf Spee was salvaged on 10 February 2006; to protect the feelings of those still sensitive to Nazi Germany, the swastika on the figurehead was covered as it was pulled from the water.

I found the story verifying this at BBC News and the rest, as they say, is history.

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

Oh, the location seemed familiar, and earlier this year, I wrote a tale for the same location.

Wilderness Artifact

rawson lake

© Google 2014

Toby and Elaine got out of their car at the trailhead at Upper Kananaskis Lake. Bill Davis, their guide, was waiting by his truck.

“You folks ready?”

Toby and his wife strapped on their backpacks. “Doesn’t seem that remote.”

“It will be.” The Cree winked at them both.

Elaine marvelled at the snow-capped mountains. “It’s really beautiful.”

“This part’s for tourists. We’d better get going. It’s a 300 meter climb to Rawson.”

“You really know where it is?” The young woman took her husband’s hand.

“I’ve lived here all my life. We know the rumor’s really a fact, and it’s only because it’s your Granddaddy’s plane you’re looking for that I said I’d help.”

“That and the reward,” added Toby.

“I know exactly where the B-24 crashed back in ’44. That spaceman tech inside’s been there for over 70 years. It’ll keep, but I don’t want to still be hoofing it come nightfall.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo challenge. The idea is to us a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Rawson Lake, Alberta, Canada. I leveraged information I found at the Hiking with Barry – Wilderness Adventure blog to set the scene, but a crashed B-24 Liberator containing alien technology is (as far as I know) totally fictional.

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

The Street Children’s Mother

kinshasa

© Google 2014 – Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mamadou, Karla, and Bonte were trapped in the alley by the policeman.

“I’ll give you little street rats what you deserve,” he said, unzipping his trousers.

Mamadou was nine, the oldest, and Bonte was eight. The boys got in front of five-year-old Karla, for though man would abuse them all, he would start with her.

“We’re just trying to get some food.”

“I’ve got what you need right here.” He exposed his genitals, which was a common and hated sight to them.

Then a huge shadow blocked the light from the street.

“What is…?” He stopped talking and gazed up at the dragon in terror. A swat of her tail, and he lay broken on the ground.

“I will not hurt you, children.” Her voice was a mother’s kindness. “I will take you home with me.”

Three pairs of eyes were wide with wonder as they entered a different world.

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. I found my hook when I read about the estimated 20,000 children living on the street, almost a quarter of them beggars, and how they are frequently abused by the police. I leveraged my “Davidson Children” story (I finally finished the first draft of my novel), since the dragons’ city in exile is a haven for abandoned and dying children from all around the world and across human history.

I figured these children could use a mother.

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

The Long Wait for Retribution

naddaf

PHOTO: Mohamed Naddaf has been jailed for at least eight years. (AAP: David Crosling)

I know why Norman Sharp was convicted of the murder of his wife Inbar Rahal in Melbourne. His story was that he found her in their car, beaten, stabbed, and bound. Sharp took her inside and treated her wounds, not calling for help because DHHS had already threatened to take their three children because of filthy home conditions.

Authorities found him hugging her corpse five days later.

He went to prison and the children to foster care.

To this day, Sharp continues to declare his innocence, and denies any knowledge of how Inbar had come to be so mistreated.

As for the Jinn who had possessed him, I’ve only been hunting him for twenty years, but his grievance with Inbar spanned centuries. One of Inbar’s ancestors had murdered his own daughter, whom the Jinn had possessed because he loved her. The Jinn had his revenge and someday, I’ll have mine.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Melbourne, Australia. Naturally, I looked the place up, but there was way too much information for me to quickly decide on a topic, and I need to get the yard work done before it gets too hot.

I looked up their local news and found the ABC news story Death of woman ‘slow, miserable and avoidable,’ judge tells husband. I used the basic facts of the case as the basis of my story, changing some of the details and, of course, the names.

I also researched Exorcism in Islam and found a Jinn might possess someone because they are dangerous to the Jinn, they are in love with the person, or just because the Jinn is evil.

I created my “Jinn hunter” because I needed a narrator.

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

The Future King

peabody

© Google, 2017 – Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University

Twelve-year-old David Cohen experienced a rare moment of awe standing in the George Peabody Library. He’d been accepted in the Cantate, a part of the Peabody Children’s Chorus, certainly a tremendous honor, but a secondary achievement.

He had started reading at age two, mastered algebra at four, spoke five languages by six, and written his first symphony by eight.

His goal now was to devour the contents of this library in under six months, just as he had already consumed most data sources accessible online.

His mother used her influence as the President of the National Academy of Sciences to conceal David’s “talents.” If the government found out his IQ was rated somewhere between 300 and 450, they’d turn him into a lab rat when his ambition was to cure the ills of the world.

But even he had no idea that one day, he would be called King and Messiah.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Of course, I looked it up, but it wasn’t until I paid more attention to the image above and imagined myself standing in the middle of that library that I got my “hook, or rather part of it.”

Of course, the information about the Peabody Children’s Chorus figured into my tale, as did the ScienceTrends.com article Here Is The Highest Possible IQ And The People Who Hold The World Record.

But there was still one piece missing. What sort of goals should David have? I’d picked his last name at random, but then I realized that if one were to become the long-awaited Messiah, one would certainly have to train for it.

Unlike Christianity, in Judaism, the Messiah isn’t a supernatural being, but rather a wholly human Jewish male of the line of David and the tribe of Judah, who would grow to become both a great military leader, and a person of remarkable wisdom and piety.

150 words didn’t give me enough “space” to describe his religious training and accomplishments, so they’ll have to be assumed.

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

The Exiles

faroe islands

The Faroe Islands – Found at the Hand Luggage Only website – no photo credits available

“Have you ever wondered if we left anyone behind, husband?”

The man and woman stood at the edge of a magnificent rock formation, their backs to the lake behind them, and facing the open ocean a thousand feet below.

“Like us you mean, Tori? If we have, then we’ve visited a terrible curse upon the Earth. It is why we’ve retreated to these remote islands so long ago.”

“Look Bran. A ship.”

“It will not approach. Their leader will be known as Saint Brendan.”

“The mid-sixth century? Then our ending is mere decades away.”

“Yes, beloved. The alien virus which infected our wee village in Scotland centuries ago made us long-lived but not immortal. Our consciousness is aware of all human history, but we dare not share our infection with humanity.”

“I am content to be with you here in our exile, my love.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps image/location and use it as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 145.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark. Of course I did some research, and found that historians believe this remote group of islands located halfway between Norway and Iceland may have been inhabited in two periods before the arrival of the Norse, the first between 300 and 600 CE, and the second between 600 and 800 CE.

I also learned that Saint Brendan of Clonfert (484-577 CE) includes a description of insulae (islands) resembling the Faroe Islands in the chronicles of his journeys.

Since we know almost nothing of the pre-nordic inhabitants of the Faroe Islands, I decided to make up something fantastic. What if people in a remote northern village in Scotland were infected with a strange virus by alien visitors, giving them lifespans of centuries and the ability to know all of human history? Further, what if they’re infectious? Maybe they’d isolate themselves to prevent the rest of humanity from contracting their blessing and curse.

The distance between Scotland and the Faroe’s is roughly 620.73 km or 385.70 miles.

To read other (probably more grounded) tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Fall of Iran

iran riots

Iran Experiences Power Outages Amidst Protests – Found at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem website. No photo credit given.

“Our star is falling from the sky, President Rouhani. These power outages are simply the latest sign.”

“So it’s not merely increased energy consumption and this cursed heat wave, Reza. Does SAVAK have any indication this is the work of the Mossad or CIA?”

“Nothing conclusive. It is true that the US and Israel have always plagued us, but this time, the people are rioting without outside provocation.”

“Damned that buffoon American President. This would never have happened if Obama were still in power or that woman Clinton had won their election.”

“What should we do?”

“Tell the Ayatollahs nothing. Let them believe they can win another holy war. Meanwhile, quietly gather the other ministers. We’ll follow the Shah’s example and transfer as much of the treasury to off shore accounts as we can manage. Exile to the west is far more preferable than another revolution.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and/or location as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 146.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Tehran, Iran. The story almost wrote itself. My main information source was the Newsweek story Iran Faces Blackouts as Protests Rock Capital.

I decided to use the 1979 Iranian Revolution as a template. In that revolution, over 2,500 years of continuous Persian rule was overthrown by the Islamists, installing Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini into power. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was supported by the United States, had to flee the country with, I suspect, as much money as he could lay his hands on.

My tale of a conversation between Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian and President Hassan Rouhani is totally fictitious of course, and I have no idea if the CIA and/or the Mossad have their fingers in these latest events in Iran. Oh, SAVAK is the Iranian secret police.

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