Return to Cowra

billinudgel hotel bar

Billinudgel Hotel, Billinudgel, NSW, Australia, © Cube Online Services Google Maps

Hands trembling slightly, the middle-aged Japanese man walked into the bar at the Billinudgel Hotel.

“What’ll it be, Sir?”

“A beer. Whatever you have on tap.”

She selected a glass and filled it with liquid amber topped with a healthy froth. “There you go. Name’s Marge. You’re not the usual guest we get around here.”

He shook her hand, suppressing the urge to bow, this being Australia. “Haruto Nakajima. Pleased to meet you.” He took a sip of his beverage.

“What brings you here?”

“I’m trying to put some demons to rest.”

“How’s that?”

“Ever heard of the breakout at the Cowra prisoner of war camp?”

“Toward the end of the war wasn’t it?”

“Twenty years ago tomorrow. I’m a survivor. Chose not to commit suicide. I need to go back to learn how to live with myself.”

Nearly 950 km to Cowra.”

“Well, I’m still working up my nerve.”

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Billinudgel Hotel, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Naturally, I looked the place up. Not much about Billnudgel on Wikipedia, but the hotel has a Facebook page as well as a detailed history at posted at BrunswickValley.com.au.

However, none of that seemed terribly dramatic, so I looked up the history of New South Wales itself, and discovered the Cowra Breakout. During World War Two, the town of Cowra was the site of a prisoner of war camp interning over 1,100 Japanese prisoners. On 4 August 1944, the prisoners led a mass escape which ultimately cost the lives of four Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese POWs. Some were killed during the escape attempt, but many committed suicide rather than be recaptured. All living prisoners were recaptured within ten days of the escape.

I was dismayed to find that Cowra is approximately 947 km (almost 590 miles) from Billinudgel, but made the best of it. My story is set in the summer of 1964, twenty years after the escape.

In 1929, Margaret Alice Ring (Ma Ring) of New Zealand took over running the Billinudgel Hotel, and in 1946, her niece Marge came to Australia to work the bar. Marge remained at the hotel until her retirement in 1984, so I had her present to greet Haruto.

I wondered how the survivors of the escape, the last of whom were repatriated in 1947, dealt with the aftermath, so I decided to use this story to explore it a bit.

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

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The Sculptor with a Long Memory

recycled dragons

© Enisa

“Dragons? Why?”

“A lad back at the shop makes them. Pretty good advertising, eh?”

Norstar Recyclers Director Paul Sweet was showing off the artwork to his neighbor Quentin Choi.

“I guess so, Paul. Seems bit fanciful. What else does he do?”

“Specializes in extinct beasts. Working on a Stegodon right now. Says it reminds him of home.”

“A what?”

“Extinct pygmy elephant I think.”

“Any chance I could meet him? I may want to commission him to make something for a client.”

“Dunno. He’s pretty shy.”

“Have a talk with him and see, will you?”

“Sure enough. Time to head back to the office. I’ll drop you on my way.”

Paul silently recalled the day he’d first met the strange creature while on a camping trip. He was terrified until the large reptile spoke. He’s very old and a long memory covering half a million years. The book he’s helping Paul write will revolutionize the knowledge of prehistoric Australia, though he could never tell anyone it came from a freakishly evolved Komodo dragon.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the week of 11-07-2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. 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 174.

I had a tough time with this one until I Googled “australia dragons” and came up with this bit of history. Since the Live Science article mentioned the Stegodon, I thought I’d throw that in as well. The names I used have no relation to actual personnel at Norstar Steel Recyclers.

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.