Forlorn Rendezvous

goat island

Goat Island (now Yerba Buena Island) in San Francisco Bay.

“A child’s eyes light up when they see their Grandpa.” –Catherine Pulsifer

“Where is she? Are she and Leah well? Don’t just sit there man!” Isaiah was as frantic as Keisha had ever seen him during the short time they’d known each other. At the first mention of his Mom’s name, Josiah rushed over to his Dad. The teenager from another universe stood and waited.

The lighthouse keeper was rapidly writing on a pad and then put the pencil down. “She’s ceased transmitting. A moment, Isaiah.” Joachim began tapping at the telegraph key. Grandpa had taught Keisha Morse Code when she was little since one of the projects they’d worked on was building a working signaling system, but Rosenstein’s finger was moving too fast for her to understand the message. Then he stopped and listened.

“Sorry. I think she was cut off in the middle of her transmission. She’s not answering now.”

Isaiah put his arm around his son and took a deep breath. “Can you read out what you got?”

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The Adventures of Rocket Girl

rocketeer girl

Pin by Kyle – Found at Pinterest

“I’ll burn my ass off if I use this thing.”

“Have a little faith, Keisha. The uniform is fully heat-resistant, and besides, the thrusters work in combination with the Barsoonian charge infused in the rocket pack, so the amount of energy required to lift a person is much lower than it would have to be in your world.”

“You’re a great one for faith, Isaiah, but like I said, it’s my ass on the line.”

“I see a year away from our relationship, as you have lived it, has done nothing to improve your manners or your language.”

Sixteen-year-old Keisha Davis opened her mouth and shut it again. He was right about several things. Only a year had passed since she had last seen him, but for the engineer, it had been two decades, and he was now pushing sixty.

She trusted that he was also right that the rocket pack she was supposed to strap on her back wasn’t inherently dangerous, at least not because the thrusters sat just behind her behind. In the movies, these things looked impressive, but they’d also severely burn or kill the pilot without the mother of all protective panties or a liberal application of one million sunblock.

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Below the Waves

shark

Photo: Discovery Channel

A grandpa is someone you never outgrow your need for… –Anonymous

Isaiah Covington stared death in the face, and her eyes were cold, glass buttons peering out of two tons of a nearly mindless eating machine. Sweat beaded on his face as she drew closer, her gaping mouth revealing grim rows of pointed, serrated teeth designed to tear and rend flesh.

He thought of the torch on his belt, but the heavy clumsiness of his undersea suit’s gloves made it uncertain if he could bring it to bear and ignite it in time to use as a weapon.

He looked into death’s eyes while muttering a prayer to the God of Daniel, Peter, and Paul, and death stared back.

With less than two meters between them, the Great White Shark suddenly veered off to her left and vanished into the murky waters of the Bay.

“Keep praying, children. She may come back.”

“Pa?”

Isaiah thought his son’s voice sounded meek and uncertain in his ears, but Lord knows he had good reason for it.

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Menace in the Dark

shark

Found at WickedHorror.com

“More and more, when I single out the person who inspired me most, I go back to my grandfather.” –James Earl Jones

At first, Keisha thought she was blind, but then she remembered the lights went out. She was alive, but she wasn’t sure Isaiah or Josiah were. “Hello?”

“Shhh.”

It was definitely Isaiah. He didn’t want her to make any noise. They had been depth charged. Whoever was on the surface of the Bay wanted them dead. She remembered the sound of the propellers of their ships coming through the speakers. It probably went both ways. What if someone were searching for them by listening? That’s why she couldn’t talk.

She listened more carefully and could hear both Isaiah and Josiah breathing. It was amazing how much your ears could pick up when there wasn’t a lot of noise to get in the way. The spray of the damaged pipes was gone, but she could hear dripping from above. Then she realized she was wet. Actually, her shirt was soaked. It was the first pipe that had started leaking. What happened to the others?

Her head hurt, like she’d hit it against something. Had she been unconscious? It would explain a lot. The last thing she remembered was it felt like the sub hit something, but they had still been traveling at full speed. Now they weren’t moving at all.

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Submersible Disaster

nautilus

Modeling of the submarine “Nautilus” from the 1954 film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” –Abraham Lincoln

“Ma’am, move!”

Nine-year-old Josiah Covington pushed hard against Keisha’s stomach as she was trying to shield him from a barrage of bullets. Her back was to the door and she expected to be dead in the next few seconds, but before she felt the anticipated pain of being shot, the boy’s other hand yanked hard on the elevator’s control lever, moving it from “Ground” to “Bottom.”

Then something hit her from behind, a staggering, off-balance Isaiah Covington, throwing her forward into the boy and causing all three to fall to the floor, as a staccato of pings and bangs hit the closing elevator doors.

Three of the glowing energy bullets pierced the car’s doors and hit the back wall just over their heads as they began their rapid descent.

“Hold on!” Isaiah’s warning was well-advised but ill-timed as none of them were in a position to grab onto the retraining bars above them. All they could do was flounder about on the floor, coughing in the fog of steam and aerosol lubricant released by the elevator’s rapid operation. Then an abrupt deceleration, which Keisha remembered from the last time she’d ridden in this death trap, and a sudden, jarring stop at the bottom of the shaft.

“No time to lose.” The elder Covington was up and off of the irritated, embarrassed fifteen-year-old girl, and out the door.

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Police Pursuit

steampunk city

Steampunk wallpaper – Found at 1zoom.me

Some people don’t believe in heroes, but they haven’t met my Grandpa. –Anonymous

Keisha sat frozen in the pilot’s seat of the airship Graceful Delight as the image of her Grandpa, forty years younger than the day he died, stood like a living apparition just ten feet in front of her.

“Did you hear me? Let me take the controls, quickly!”

“Oh, yeah.” She stood up just as the Delight pitched to port and she sailed to the floor.

“Grab the netting and hang on.” Isaiah Covington immediately took the chair she had just vacated and began to work the controls. “I apologize for my lack of chivalry and social grace, but I’m afraid saving our lives must take precedence.”

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The Adventure Begins!

warehouse

Image found at ny.curbed.com – no photo credit available

“Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.” –Lewis Mumford

Fifteen-year-old Keisha Davis sat on the concrete steps of the dilapidated warehouse with tears streaking her face. Her Grandpa’s journal was resting in her lap as she read the same paragraph over and over.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw Keisha. She was perfect. My little grandbaby was only a few hours old and had just finished suckling at her Mama’s breast. Her Papa handed her to me and everyone except for the baby was grinning. I held her as gently as I could as I placed her over my shoulder. Holding this most precious life in my arms, I realized I had never known such a peace before.”

Isaiah Maximilian Covington had died in his bed at the age of seventy-six, his brilliant mind and robust physique both destroyed by murderous cancer. He’d refused chemotherapy, saying it killed a person quicker than the disease it was supposed to cure, and when he passed, Keisha’s Papa grudgingly consented to the old man’s wishes and had him cremated.

Keisha and her older brother Josiah scattered his ashes at Pepperwood Lake, his favorite “fishin’ hole.” The journal, key ring, and hatpin were delivered to her by messenger a week later.

Papa thought he’d had them sent to her as remembrances. If he’d read the note from Grandpa tucked behind the front cover, he’d have taken everything away from her and burned them to ashes, just like the author.

She wiped the tears from her face and turned the page.

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Keisha Takes Off

metal hanger

© Yarnspinnerr

Minutes ago, fifteen-year-old Keisha Davis had entered her Grandpa’s workshop, which was actually an old, dilapidated warehouse on the edge of town. The only thing Grandpa built that looked like it would work was the strange airship he christened “Graceful Delight.” Following the directions in the journal she had received by messenger days after he’d died, she donned the old leather flight jacket, with the matching helmet and goggles.

She inserted the hatpin in the keyhole, and then pressed the big red button in the console’s center while yelling “Contact!”

But instead of motors whirring and engines humming, she heard a loud, metallic “BANG!” and the Delight shuddered and trembled like a dog shaking off water.

Staring out the windscreen, Keisha saw she wasn’t inside the workshop anymore. It was a huge aircraft hangar, all steel beams, and corrugated metal. The Delight’s propellers were spinning up. She was lifting off. A large aperture was opening just ahead, as the girl used the old ship’s steering wheel to guide herself into a new future.

I wrote this for the FFfAW 165th Writing Challenge of May 1, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

A little over a week ago, I wrote a small tale called Keisha’s Grand Adventure about a fifteen-year-old African-American girl who, following the instructions in her recently deceased Grandpa’s journal, entered his run down workshop to discover the only thing he ever built that actually worked, a strange, anachronistic airship from early in the last century.

Today, it transports her into another world and the beginning of her “grand adventure to find an “alternate” version of her Grandpa, and then together, to save both planets.

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

Find an expanded version of Keisha’s first two stories at The Adventure Begins!

Kiesha’s Grand Adventure

airship

From the 1986 animated film “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”.

Grandpa’s rathole, or what he called his “lab,” was full of devices in a state of desuetude. But the journal that arrived by messenger just five days after the old man’s body had been delivered to the crematorium told Kiesha an entirely different story.

The stench she had anticipated wasn’t so bad as she steered her way through the haphazard arrangements of arcane machinery. They were all in a state of becoming, but only one had been completed and was ready for use.

Her Dad told her never to visit here, and that the old man was involved in debauchery, his insipid character being capable of nothing else. A month ago, she would have listened.

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The Troublesome Princess

princess in a tree

Created by Warwick Goble (1862-1943)

“I will not marry you, Prince Abo. Go away.”

“You cannot stay in your tree forever, Princess Yasuko. You are of age now and our parents betrothed us to each other in our seventh year.”

“I don’t care. You are a pig. I will stay in the Empress Tree until I die if you don’t go away.”

“Oh my dear Yasuko. I have called the wood-cutter. Look, he approaches.”

It was true. Tradition required that once they were bonded by the arrangement of both their parents, Yasuko must marry Abo upon reaching her eighteenth year. She had been dreading this day since her Mother the Queen gave her the news eleven years ago.

She had grown up with Abo and knew him all too well. He was pampered and spoiled, demanded that his every whim be catered to immediately. Worse, he was cruel to animals, catching birds only to deprive them of their feathers and then freeing them in the courtyard as helpless prey for the cats.

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