The Algerian Exchange


© Sue Vincent

Twenty-five year old Eileen Kateb could only hear the sound of her own breathing and her soft footfalls as she slowly made her way between the columns of the Cathedral de Sacre Coeur, which had recently been converted to a library. Her grandparents had quietly immigrated to England during the heyday of French rule over Algeria, so she could have blended in among the millions of Muslim women in the coastal city of Oran who looked just like her. However, she chose to dress as a European instead of clothing herself in a hijab, because, after all, Houari Boumédiène and his thugs knew she was here. That was the point.

“You can stop right there, Miss.” The man stepped out from behind one of the pillars to her left about ten meters ahead. He was average height, medium complexion, dark hair slicked back with Brylcreem, neatly trimmed mustache, pressed tan suit. He looked like an Arabic Peter Sellers. “I’m surprised the Americans didn’t send a male representative.”

“Actually, I’m British, and James Bond was too busy killing SPECTRE agents and seducing women in the Bahamas to accept this assignment, or perhaps you haven’t seen that movie.”

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Human Flagpoles


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

Tenzin Gyatso’s Great Mistake


© Dorothy

It wasn’t easy for Tenzin Gyatso to have private moments, however he sometimes could appear in public as a typical Buddhist monk.

He was not a young man and he had lived a very full life. His life was still very full and rewarding, but there were times he envied ordinary men. He had never been ordinary, even as a child.

Today, Gyatso and his disguise were not without purpose. He was in Bangalore to visit Jamadagni Kapil, student of the late Nobel Prize winning physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. In private correspondence, Dr. Kapil claimed to have harnessed solar gravitational forces that allowed for the outlandish notion of time travel.

Almost six decades ago, Gyatso had made the mistake of trusting the American CIA, believing they supported Tibetan independence. Their involvement has cost the lives of thousands of resistance fighters. If Kapil could prove his theories were reality, then the fourteenth Dalai Lama would take a message to his younger self saying to refuse the American money. There was a better way.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge of the Week of October 24, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 171.

I have only a passing knowledge of Buddhism, and of course I’ve heard of the Dalai Lama. I did a bit of Googling to discover, among other things, his given name (Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Thondup, and shortened to Tenzen Gyatso). Apparently even as a young child, he lived an unusual and highly spiritual life. Also since childhood, he has had an intense interest in science.

The Dalai Lama was exiled to India in 1959, and in the 1960s, his administration received $1.7 million a year from the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), supposedly to support Tibet regaining its independence from China. However, he later discovered that the U.S. Government was not concerned with Tibet, but only provided the funds as a tactic to challenge the Chinese during in the Cold War era. The Dalai Lama was later very critical of the CIA’s involvement.

I have no idea if the Dalai Lama ever goes out dressed as an ordinary monk, I doubt that he does, but the photo and my research led me to create this short and strange tale.

I also discovered that in 1983 Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar won the Nobel Prize for Physics with William A. Fowler for the “theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars.” That has little or nothing to do with time travel and the character of Jamadagni Kapil is completely fictional. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar died in 1995 at the age of 84, but I thought his fictional student might adapt some of his work to offer the Dalai Lama a way to go back and change at least one thing about his past he most likely regrets.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

The Defector


Foggy Town © Olgierd Rudak/Flickr

“Remember, stay in the compartment under the truck’s bed until you’re past the last checkpoint and Franciszek gives you the signal. If the truck is stopped, do not make a sound or the soldiers will shoot you both.”

Dominik Zheutlin was peering up at the member of the Fighting Solidarity movement. Normally, they didn’t take these kinds of risks, but getting him out of Poland was a vital.

“Dzieki*. You don’t know what this means to me.”

” I know in the West you’ll find a way to free the world, Dr. Zheutlin. Good luck.”

The final board was placed over the defector. A nod to Franciszek told him it was time to depart for the German border. The resistance movement was counting on Zheutlin developing something that would finally defeat the Communists by changing history. Zheutlin was the only man in the world who could build a time machine.


I’m writing this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. Today, Pegman takes us to Wroclaw, Poland. The idea is to use Google maps images of the location as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 149.

I’m leveraging some information from a story series I’m writing as an homage to the works of science fiction writer Andre Norton (Actually her name was Alice Mary Norton). One of my characters is a historian and linguist named Aiyana Zheutlin. In 2017, she’s in her early 30s and works for Project Retrograde, an American time travel operation attempting to find and correct the historical causes of climate change (the most recent story as of this writing is Nereid).

Her father was Polish and her mother was English. In her original timeline, the Soviet Union still existed in 2017 and her father defected from Poland a few years before 1985. He didn’t invent time travel in my actual storyline, that was another defector, but I had fun merging those two histories.

When I looked up Wroclaw, I found out an anti-Communist movement called “Fighting Solidarity” was founded there in 1982. They primarily fought the communists through disseminating information, but in this case, I gave them the opportunity to occasionally help defectors escape from behind the Iron Curtain.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to

Prologue: The Defiant Agents

time travel

Image: BBC News

“So you want to know why I saved your life in the Ice Age, Murdock? It started out so simply. My men were engaged with the invading Forerunners. Months ago, one of our technicians accidentally activated some sort of transmission device on the spaceship. Apparently it emitted a signal that can travel faster than light, assuming the Forerunners who arrived came from outside our solar system.

“The invasion force hit without warning, repelling down through the opening above the spaceship’s chamber. I was the only one to get out in time. I planned to use you as a bargaining chip. I knew that our scientists had developed the time gate by studying portions of the alien technology we had recovered years ago from the first site in Siberia. I knew the Forerunners might follow us into the Bronze Age.

“I planned to defect. I was going to use you to negotiate with your people, secure safe passage on your submarine back to your base, and then return with you back to the present. I know where other spaceships are in the past, Murdock. I know of at least one in the Americas. I would have helped you find it, even before the Forerunners linked us telepathically.

“Why did you hit me and run? We could have escaped together. Didn’t you sense my thoughts, understand my intent? You understood the alien. Why didn’t you understand me? Why didn’t you save me like I tried to save you?”

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europa detail

An enhanced color view from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft shows an intricate pattern of linear fractures on the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa.

The four time travelers who had become reluctant astronauts aboard an alien spacecraft now sat at their stations in that ship awaiting takeoff.

Ross Murdock activated the manual control panel in front of him and opened the large hatch that had been covering the landing bay exposing the ship to space. The tube connecting their Forerunner ship to the interior of the Ceres Forerunner base had been retracted and, as a flight director at NASA might put it, “all systems were go” for their launch and mission to Europa.

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Space Flight


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Travis Fox stood with a security team as he witnessed the wonderful and horrible miracle of the Forerunner spaceship launching from the surface of the Earth.

While Ashe and Murdock were in the past supervising the preparations for the ship’s time jump, Travis reluctantly agreed to remain in the present. He couldn’t stay away from home too long without his wife Cassie, his uncle Wendell, and even his three small children wondering what he was really up to.

The project managed to find an alternate source of water to keep Wendell from having the ranch hands at the Double A drive the herd to the Canyon of the Moon and discovering Folsom Base. Travis had even gone home for a week to show everyone he was fine and to reinforce his cover story that he was helping an old teacher of his with an archaeological dig.

Fox managed to convince his family that he needed to return to the dig, but in fact, for the past two days, he was at this end of the large time gate waiting for the culmination of the mission; bringing an alien spacecraft forward in time 10,000 years.

When the ship materialized in the field, he almost expected Major Kelgarries and his troops to break out champagne but they were all business. There were cheers when the ship appeared and the temporal field was extinguished, but they were short-lived.

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The Mission


A Mixed Bag 2009

The tall man with white hair wearing a conservative business suit opened the door of the amusement park ride and stepped into what looked like a spaceship. The park was deserted which is exactly what he expected. Under the seat was a tape recorder and an envelope. He opened the envelope and turned on the tape.

“Good morning Mr. Phelps. What you see is a schematic for the craft you are sitting in. Although it’s disguised as a carnaval ride, it is really of alien origin. If you accept this mission we want you to determine who built it and what it’s purpose is.

As always if you or any of your team are caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow your actions. This tape will self-destruct in ten seconds. Good luck, Jim.

Jim Phelps set the tape recorder on the floor, and as the tape smoked and burned, his brilliant mind began to create a plan.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – July 23rd 2017 (which by the way is my birthday). The idea is to use the photo prompt above as inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 157.

For some reason, just seeing the image reminded me of those odd location where Jim Phelps would have to go to get his next Mission: Impossible assignment. Because the image looks both like an amusement park ride and a spaceship, I thought I’d have a little fun.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

The Second Ship


Credit: Detlev van Ravenswaay/Science Photo

The quintet descended slowly into the small valley containing the second alien spacecraft. There was more vegetation here than in the previous depression and it partially obscured the vessel.

“Only two stories tall. Maybe a scout craft. Similar construction to the two others but there seems to be some coloring and maybe ornamental differences.”

“Ornamental, Ross?”

“Hard to say, Gordon. I don’t know if the shapes and colors on the hull are functional or not. After all, we put markings on the outside of our aircraft and spaceships to indicate the type of vessel and its nationality.”

“Are you saying there are different alien nations or even extraterrestrials from different planets visiting Earth?”

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Canyon of the Moon


Found at the Orogold Store Locator website

Travis Fox rode his horse down the arroyo at the edge of his Father’s land, except he was dead so it was his land now. Try convincing his Uncle Wendell of that, though. He thought he was running the ranch. Travis tried not to fight with Wendell. He wanted peace in the household for the sake of Cassie and the children.

He’d never thought of himself as a rancher. Always fought his father’s ways until it was too late. Cancer took him, his father, strong, brave, Apache. In the end, he was just a wasted, tired old man. Not like his grandfather Chano. Chano remembered the old ways. Yes, he was born in the 20th century, but Chano’s grandfather told him the stories of the blue coats, of the treaties that were always broken, of being herded like animals into reservations.

Fox’s two sons and one daughter were children of the 21st century, but Travis longed to preserve the heritage of Chano and his ancestors. Chano died strong, fearless, still seeing past what had been done to him and his people, still disdaining those among them who had surrendered to alcohol and despair.

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