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