Diminished

grasshopper

© @any1mark66

Everyone told me shrinking an object or a person while maintaining that object’s original properties is impossible and they’re right. Planck’s constant prevents it. That means no Ant-Man, Atom, and no little subs like in Fantastic Voyage.

Surprise. I’m only six-inches tall. This grasshopper doesn’t know I’m standing in front of it because I’m not. I’m a hologram. My perceptions have been projected into a half-foot tall holographic matrix.

Fascinating, except for one thing. I can’t disengage from the matrix. I’m stuck inside the projection of myself in my backyard.

“Hello, tiny.”

“Helen?” What…how can you see me?”

“I arranged your little accident.”

“What? But why?”

“When I come back from my business trip in three weeks, I’ll discover you were killed in a home lab accident. Tragic for the widow, but I’ll inherit your fortune and your hunky lab assistant, Harold.”

“Helen, why? I thought we loved each other.”

“You’ve always loved your gadgets more than me. You never even noticed me screwing Harold practically under your nose. Go hop around with your friend.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of November 28, 2017. 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.

I think I’ve written a few stories prompted by photos of insects lately, so how could I make this one different? Well, when I was a kid, I really did read the old 1960s comic books about Ant-Man and The Atom and was fascinated by the idea of being able to shrink way down in size. Also, one of my favorite science fiction movies to this day is the 1966 film “Fantastic Voyage.”

However, as I very briefly explained, Planck’s constant prevents real-life shrinking (learn more at PhysicsForums.com and this BoingBoing.net article).

However, if you could create a holographic matrix of the correct proportions and then project your perceptions into the construct, you would experience being small without actually being small (at least as far as my fake science goes).

Just don’t let your two-timing wife know. Otherwise, you’ll end up like our hapless and nameless scientist.

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

Now read Diminished: The Expanded Story.

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Counter Invasion

wight

© Google, March 2016 – The Needles Headland and Tennyson Down – Isle of Wight

“Do you think you and your commandos can pull it off, Nick?”

The Army Sergeant chewed on his cigar filling the air with what he thought of as a “sweet-smelling aroma,” and his C.O. and good friend Captain Sam Sawyer didn’t mind the breach of protocol in his office at Allied Command.

“Why the hell not. It’s what we joined this man’s Army for, ain’t it?

germans in guernsey

Germans in Guernsey – Found at the “On the Wight” blog

“Great. You and your men will board the sub for the Isle of Wight at 23:30 hours.”

“You’re sure he’ll be there, Sam.”

“Our best intel says he’s personally inspecting the Nazi installation at Carisbrooke Castle. Your mission is to invade the castle and assassinate Adolf Hitler.”

“Just one more thing, Sam. We’ll need the Captain.”

“Me? I’m not…”

“No, not you. I mean the Captain.”

“He’ll be there with your commandos, Nick. Don’t think he’d miss this one for the world.”

fury commandos cap

Sgt. Nick Fury and His Howling Commandos with Captain America

I wrote this story for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and location as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 148.

Today the Pegman takes us to the Isle of Wight and specifically to Carisbrooke Castle.

Yesterday, I wrote an alternate history story about the origin of Captain America after reading something suggesting that actor Will Smith was initially considered to play the title role in the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

Last night, with that still on my mind, I re-watched the 2014 movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The previous film depicted a version of Fury’s “Howling Commandos” but without Nick of course, and the sequel mentioned them in a display at the Smithsonian.

This morning when I saw the Pegman’s location, I did what I always do, open up a couple of Wikipedia pages. I was curious about the involvement of the Isle of Wight during World War Two and I found something interesting.

There initially had been plans for the Germans to invade and occupy the Isle of Wight and use it as a staging ground for the air blitz of London and southern England. However fears of Britain’s sea superiority resulted in Hitler rejecting the plot.

Then I read the article called How the Isle of Wight could have helped Hitler win the war: Nazi leader was talked out of his plans to invade the tiny island and, having recently written a few “alternate history” tales, decided to craft my wee story around the premise of the Nazis successfully invading and holding the Isle of Wight.

Throwing caution to the winds, I included Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos or at least Nick and his C.O. Captain “Happy Sam” Sawyer with an “honorable mention” of Cap himself. How would the war in Europe been different if Fury’s team were successful and they killed Adolf Hitler sometime in 1941?

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

The True Origin of Captain America

will smith captain america

Actor Will Smith depicted as Captain America

“You must be the puniest nigger I’ve ever seen, boy. What’s your name again?”

“Johnson, Samuel G., Private, Sir.”

Sam Johnson was the most unlikely soldier in his unit, but then again, he would have been an unlikely soldier in any army in the world. He’d suffered from a number of ailments in childhood including rheumatic fever. His family was poor. Papa died when he was only a baby and Mama had to work three jobs just to keep him fed. They had no money for doctors and his old Aunt Bessie said it was only Mama’s love that kept him alive.

He grew up but not very much. He was tall, but thin, his clothes fitting him like loose blankets. Because of his ill-health, he wasn’t fit for much hard work, but what he lacked in muscle, he made up for in heart and determination.

Like most colored folk, he expected the white folk to call him “nigger,” “coon,” and the like, and he took more than his fair share of beatings, not just because he was a colored man, but because he fought back. To say he fought back meant that he had the will, but he could no more throw a solid punch than Josephine Baker could win the Miss America Pagent.

Continue reading

The New Knight

skate park

© Grant-Sud

Terry stood overlooking the skate park. He spent too much time here and not enough in school, at least that’s what his Dad used to tell him. Should he take the old man’s offer? Sure, the old man needed Terry but did Terry need him?

He needed something. Dad was murdered. Terry had the evidence. He found it hidden at Dad’s after he died, but he’d need help using it to put Dad’s killers away. The old man had been doing this for decades, putting murderers behind bars with his fists and his brains. Terry could fight, but he wasn’t trained. Plus there was a reason the old man was called the world’s greatest detective.

Terry McGinnis looked out over the vast expanse of Gotham City. Wayne was too old to protect it anymore. He needed help. He asked the seventeen-year-old if he wanted to make a difference, a real difference.

“I’ll do it. I’ll tell Wayne ‘yes’. I’ll become the new Batman.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of July 11, 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 to 175 words long, with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 162.

My tale is very loosely based on the WB animated TV series Batman Beyond (1999-2001). Bruce Wayne is now elderly and has retired from being The Batman, but crime in Gotham is worse than ever. A chance encounter with a teenager named Terry McGinnis and the subsequent murder of Terry’s father by a corrupt businessman leads to Wayne training Terry to be the new Batman.

When I saw the photo prompt, the first thing I thought of was that the young man in the foreground was staring out over the city trying to make the biggest decision of his life. The rest followed.

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

If I Had a Time Machine

time machine

Bizarro comic strip for Sunday, March 28, 2017

I doubt that buying one comic book will change history all that much, except maybe that one kid who would have read it before won’t be able to now.

“That’ll be 13 cents with tax.”

I’d made sure all of the coins in my pocket were minted before 1965, so I casually reached in and pulled out a quarter.

“Here you go, pal.”

“Thanks.” He bags my purchase, puts in the receipt, and hands it over along with my change. It’s been a long time since I saw anyone calculate change in their head, or for that matter, use a mechanical cash register. God it’s good to be back.

I take the bag and walk out of Walgreens into the bright Las Vegas afternoon. I’d better get back before they come. Not sure what time Grandpa and my ten-year-old self will show up, but I probably shouldn’t meet them.

Yeah, it’s stupid. I get my hands on a time machine and all I do is travel back to the mid 1960s to buy comic books. This one is special though. Space Family Robinson issue 14. My Grandpa bought it for me. He died when I was 16 and over the years, my comic book collection was foolishly sold. The missus thought they were a waste of space but now I realize they weren’t.

spf14

The comic book my Grandpa bought me.

I get my hands on a time machine and travel back, not just for the comic books, but for the memories. It’s been decades since I’ve seen my Grandpa. Maybe hanging around for a little peek wouldn’t hurt anything.

Here they come now.

I saw the comic strip at the top of the page and I started wondering. If you weren’t a scientist, a historian, or some power hungry person bent on changing history for your own gain, what would you do with a time machine? I mean, if you had access to this thing as an ordinary person, what would you use it for?

I gave it a little thought and came up with recapturing memories.

My Dad died a little over a month ago and I saw how devastated my children were at the loss of their Grandpa. Being a Grandpa myself, I understand the unique relationship I have with my grandchildren. It makes me think of how special my Grandpa was to me.

If you had a time machine, what would you use it for? If you want, write a little story based on the concept and post your link to it in the comments here.

To Fly Again

car in woods

© Tim Livingston

Every year, Norm would take a vacation from his job as an aeronautics engineer at Hughes Aircraft to go hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Norm liked to cut his own rough trails through the forest, which was why he was so surprised when he came across the old DeSoto. 1947 or 48 by the looks of her. His Dad owned one like it when Norm was a kid.

The trunk was half open. There was something bulky inside. Norm pulled the lid free and unwrapped the heavy, oiled canvas tarp.

“Oh my God, it can’t be.”

He remembered the old newsreels and stories his Dad told him about the hero. He wore a metal helmet, and with his rocket pack, fought the Nazis in the 30s and 40s. He’d disappeared without a trace. How his equipment got here, Norm couldn’t figure, but he knew he could get the old engine working.

With the Soviet threat looming and the race to the Moon heating up, it was time for the Rocketeer to fly again.

rocketeer

The Rocketeer – created by Dave Stevens

I wrote this in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 14, 2017. The idea is to use the photo prompt at the top to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being ideal. My tale comes in at 174 words. Wish it was less, but I needed that many words to do the set up for my reveal.

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

You can tell only by inference, but I set my story in the early 1960s. My late father-in-law worked at Hughes Aircraft, founded by the famous aviator and inventor Howard Hughes. The corporation no longer exists and Hughes is long dead, but I decided to use the company because it made a nice connection to the Rocketeer’s period in history. The comic book character was created by Dave Stevens in 1982 as an homage to the Saturday matinee serial heroes of the 30s and 40s.

In the 1991 film starring Billy Campbell in the lead role, a fictionalized Howard Hughes actually invented the rocket pack, which was stolen by gangsters and hastily stashed in stunt pilot Cliff Secord’s plane.

In both the comic book and film, Secord uses the rocket pack to become the superhero the Rocketeer. The story of this retro-hero is one of my guilty pleasures. I’d love to see the Rocketeer fly again.

The Demon’s Cup

demon's cup

Buck was a strange old man, but he had the best collection of vintage science fiction and horror paperbacks and comics in Las Vegas. Every Saturday, I ride my Schwinn Sting-Ray to “The Fantasy Express” looking for rare or out-of-print books. I’m only twelve, so my budget is small, but one of the things about Buck is that he gives big discounts if he likes you.

“I see you’re staring at the Demon’s Cup. Interested?” Buck jerks his thumb up at the object of my interest on a shelf behind him. He takes it down and puts it on the counter.

“What is it?”

“Legends say it’s made from a pigmy skull sacrificed to demons.”

“How much?” I picked it up. It was really metal and maybe bone and it was heavy.

“Ninety-nine cents.”

One of Buck’s special bargains. I had the money, but how would my folks react?

“Not today, Buck.”

“Your loss. Someone else will buy it soon.” He picked up the skull goblet and put it back on its shelf.

I finished shopping and felt relief as I walked out.

Buck had a week to sell the artifact before the curse of the Demon’s Cup claimed him.

This flash fiction story was inspired by a photo prompt at Sunday Photo Fictioner. You can read other submissions to this writing challenge at InLinkz.com.

When I was twelve years old, I really did ride my bike to a used comic book and paperback store in North Las Vegas every Saturday. I don’t remember the name of the place or the owner, but in retrospect, he wasn’t that old, maybe in his early 50s. He talked a lot about serving in the Navy during World War 2.

He didn’t sell cursed artifacts, which is lucky for me, but my comic book and paperback collections swelled thanks to my shopping there.

When I saw the photo, imagination collided with memory, and here we are. I just hope Buck makes it okay, but I feel sorry for the person who buys the cup. And to think my friend tried to foist it off on me.

The word count limit for this challenge is 200, and I just barely made it.