The Last Exploit of the Escapist

re-entry

Progress spacecraft re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere in a blazing trail of plasma, as seen from the International Space Station – © NASA

The Escapist initiated the landing sequence as the ship began its rapid descent into the stratosphere, his neurochemical link to the spacecraft’s control systems making this nearly reflexive.

“Welcome to my world, Jack. Glad you could join the party.”

The voice of the Beast crackled in his audio receptors sounding as if he were a game-show host speaking offscreen; his tone exuding an untoward friendliness and familiarity.

“I have the Amaryllis with me.”

“The actual item? I’m impressed. Whole armies have been slain, eviscerated by the Negative whose sole task was to guard it unto eternity.”

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Saving the Prophet

shipwreck

The Shipwreck, a painting by JMW Turner that forms part of the Tate collection in London.

The ceiling for his craft was infinity, and its floor was an age. It provided a buffer, so that the passing of a season or a millennium was all the same. In this way, he could not only travel up and down the corridors of his own history, but diverge into many others. Once at his destination, he would descend upon that world like a single drop of rain.

The sphere shimmered half in and half out of the timespace continuum as it alighted on the shore near Muxnar Reef in ancient Malta. The unmanned probes he had sent back searched across the local decades, and discovered the exact place, date, and time of the storm and the shipwreck. They were struggling in the surf now. It would all be so easy.

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Farallon Sojourn

farallon island lighthouse

A historic photo of the lighthouse on Southeast Farallon Island, with mule – found at Wikipedia

“My grandfather was a man, when he talked about freedom, his attitude was really interesting. His view was that you had obligations or you had responsibilities, and when you fulfilled those obligations or responsibilities, that then gave you the liberty to do other things.” –Clarence Thomas

It was a communications console. That’s what Isaiah had intended to be Keisha’s “post” on board the Dakuwaqa. In spite of its ornate decorations and clockwork design, it functioned a lot like the wireless device on the Delight, which let her hear the engineer’s voice for the first time after she arrived in what the teen had started to call “Steamworld.”

“You know, when you explain it, the panels don’t seem that hard to work. I mean, radio is radio, and this section to the left also lets me run the acoustical equipment so I can hear nearby ships, whales, and stuff.”

“Exactly, Miss Davis.”

While Josiah guided the submarine past the Golden Gate and out into the Pacific Ocean, Isaiah gave Keisha a crash course in submersible operations, with a focus on radio and sound. Although, either could also be accessed from the pilot’s and engineer’s consoles, the wireless panel let her have much finer control over the inputs. If need be, she could also send messages, but she had no idea who she’d call, since they were supposed to be hiding out.

“Pa, I’d say we were at the halfway point now. You might want to take a look up topside to make sure we haven’t drifted.”

“Thank you, Josiah. I believe my navigational skills are up to snuff, but your suggestion is valid. Miss Davis, don your headgear and listen for the approach of any vessels. Though it is still night, we don’t want the optiscope lens to be seen by chance.”

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Dangerous Waters

beach

MorgueFile April file8051277901708

Merilyn and Riyn waited at the seashore. They had met over twenty years ago on this very beach, although their fates had been intertwined nearly fifteen years earlier after he had saved her from drowning when she was a child.

Now they stood hand in hand and gazed at the sea. They were the undisputed rulers of the Takahe sub-continent, and because of them, a sweeping national effort had significantly reduced the country’s legacy of polluting the Eastern Ocean.

It wasn’t enough. Making a treaty with Kea, their neighbor across the waves, was easy. The more difficult relationship to forge was with Riyn’s countrymen, the undersea people of the Two Kingdoms. If they couldn’t make a peace with the so-called “sea gods” who had exiled their King for falling in love with a woman of the surface, then the coming conflict would destroy both worlds.

“There he is!” Merilyn pointed into the surf. He was rising from it.

“Watatsumi!” Riyn was happy to see his son alive and well after being away for nearly five months.

“Mother! Father!” The young man, for that is how he now appeared, stood on shore. “King Suijin agreed. The Two Kingdoms will join us.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018 Week #20 challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

This story relates to characters from my recent tale The Elephants of Yesterday, but little six-year-old Merilyn is now about forty, married, and co-ruling her nation alongside her husband, who is an exiled monarch from an undersea kingdom.

Yes, it’s complicated. I’m using characters and themes from a short story I recently submitted for publication (I won’t find out if it’s been accepted or rejected for some time probably). The basic concept is the literal marrying of the surface and undersea worlds, and what they couldn’t accomplish separately is finally achieved through their “synthesis;” Merilyn and Riyn’s son.

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

As I’ve mentioned previously, this linkup needs some love, so please consider contributing a story. Thanks.

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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The Highjump Mystery

U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5

A U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner in flight – Public Domain

December 30, 1946 – Antarctica

“George 1 calling Little America base, come in Little America, over.”

The radio receiver aboard the US Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner flying somewhere near Thurston Island emitted harsh static but no message of hope.

“Nothing doing, Lieutenant.” Radioman James Robbins turned to Bill Kearns, the aircraft’s co-pilot. I can’t raise anyone. It’s like there’s no one out there.”

“And I can’t see anything through this blizzard. Can you figure out our heading, Skipper?” The expression on Kearns’ face was one of bewilderment.

“Magnetic and radio compasses are useless.” Captain Ted Burns gripped the aircraft’s yoke as if some force were trying to tear it out of his hands. “There’s some sort of interference, but we’re not close enough to the magnetic pole for that to be the cause.”

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The Elephants of Yesterday

elephant

© C.E. Ayr

“Which end is the face?”

The class started giggling at Dao’s remark, and Gima laughed so loud that their teacher Mr. Ji scowled at her.

“That’s her tail, but you’re right, it could be her trunk.”

“What are they called again?” Merilyn looked down at the small sign next to the reconstructions. “Elephant. That’s a funny name.”

The twenty six-year-olds were milling about the “mother and child” exhibit. It was their class’s annual field trip, and this year, Mr. Ji had chosen the Mother Planet Museum in the capital city of Colima.

“All of their names will sound strange because we aren’t familiar with them, just like the appearance of these animals seems so odd.”

The excitable redheaded Merilyn circled the “elephants” again and again, trying to imagine what they’d be like if they were alive.

“Do they still exist?”

“It’s difficult to say. They were an endangered species when our colony ship was launched three-hundred years ago, but we can’t communicate with Earth over so many light years.”

Their teacher started guiding the class toward another exhibit, but Merilyn stayed behind, looking into the eyes of the smaller representation. “I hope you made it, elephant.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for May 13, 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I just finished submitting a nearly 10,000 word science fiction short story for potential publication in an anthology, and part of it included Mr. Ji’s first grade class (in a flashback). Since I have Merilyn and her classmates on my mind, I thought I’d include them in a museum tour on their colony world, trying to learn more about their “mother planet” Earth.

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

Return to Dieselworld

ford sedan

MorgueFile April 1408991814e81x2

It looked like a 1938 Ford Sedan, but the lavender paint on the body shone in its own light, and the headlights were black.

The radio message from Josiah Covington said her ticket back to his world would be in the poppy field south of town. He’d been definite that she shouldn’t use the dirigible this time.

Keisha Davis expected the car to be rusty and full of holes, but the door swung open easily, and everything looked brand new. She’d gotten her license just after her sixteenth birthday, but she didn’t think it covered this dieselpunk contraption.

She turned on the radio. It emitted an eerie glow as she adjusted the tuning dial. Seconds later, she heard him calling. “Josiah Covington to Keisha Davis. Transmitting at 1450 hours as arranged. Come in, Miss Davis.”

Keying the mic, she grinned at hearing her old friend’s now adult voice. “After all we’ve been through, you can call me Keisha.”

“What are you waiting for? Hurry!”

He was right. Her friends were in desperate trouble, and she was the only person in two worlds who could help. Turning the keys in the ignition, Keisha mashed down on the starter and then vanished!

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge for May 9th. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200 words.

Hopefully, you all have been following the steampunk adventures of fifteen-year-old Keisha Davis in this series. Seeing the prompt, I decided to tip my hand a bit, since I’m actually envisioning the character appearing in a trilogy. While the current storyline occurs in a steampunk universe, I want the sequel to feature to be somewhat in the alternate reality’s future, depicting a dieselpunk environment.

This would be the beginning of that second saga.

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

Oh, Roger’s linkup still needs lots of love, so it would be great if you jumped in and contributed a story. Thanks.

Cut Off

communication

© Nicolas Bruno

“I think we’re going to make it, Peter. Both our pods are headed toward Sanctuary.”

“It seems that way, Elsa, but it’s a big planet, and we have no manual guidance control. Each of our onboard computers will handle the descent, but for all we know, we’ll land thousands of kilometers apart.”

The Colony Ship Frazier had done its job admirably. 3,268 colonists made it 99.9999 percent of the way from Earth to the new planet code-named Sanctuary. Then, on orbital approach, the Langstrom-Edwards fusion drive experienced a catastrophic malfunction, resulting in the destruction of the majority of the crew and passenger sections. Only 512 people made it into their one-person lifepods and safely evacuated the Frazier, but as far as Peter and Elsa knew, they were the only two headed for the new planet. The rest of the ship’s complement were most likely lost in space.

“Keep talking, Peter. I feel so alone in this metal bubble.”

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The Serendipitous Time Bandit

time piece

© Enisa

Samuel Joseph Grant gazed down from his hotel room at the side street below in 1894 Leeds. He wouldn’t be born for a few months, but the strange device he’d found at that bombed out château near Amiens was a remarkable gift. It was immediately obvious that it was a timepiece meant to be worn on the arm, but what he hadn’t realized at first was that the term “timepiece” had more than one meaning.

Sadly, he discovered its former owner with half his head missing, most likely the unfortunate result of a slight miscalculation. Had he materialized a few seconds later, he would have not been victimized by the German cannon bombardment. However, his anonymous benefactor’s ill-luck became Grant’s good fortune. That day had marked the end of his career as a corporeal in the British Army, and the beginning of his adventures as a time bandit.

With all of history to choose from which to derive wealth, where, when, and what should he sample first? Extending his arm, he prepared to set the controls.

I wrote this for the 166th FFfAW Writing Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. As always, the idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

The photo struck me as combining both the new and the old, so that could only mean time travel. Not a lot of research went into this one. I pretty much went with my gut.

If you were so inclined, where and when in history would you choose to rob?

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