Massacre

avenue

© Sue Vincent

“It’s Shay! She’s trapped! We’ve got to save her!”

Seven-year-old Jake woke up panicked and hyperventilating in the shadow of a dragon’s grave.

“Jake. Take it easy. It’s okay.” His sister Mandy had him by the shoulders. His eyes looked glazed, like he was still asleep. She hugged him close to her. “It’s okay. We’re all here with you.”

He started to calm down but was still trembling. “Mandy, you’ve got to believe me. I saw Shay. She’s been captured, I don’t know how long ago. We’ve got to find her. They’ll kill her if we don’t.”

Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. “You said you saw Shay in a dream?” It was Dani, the dragonrider. Her voice was calm, but her own experiences told her that dreams carried great and terrible messages.

The little boy pulled away from his sister and looked back. “Yes. She was in some dark place, a forest or a cave maybe. They had her tied up in chains. She looked awful, all cut up, bruised, and bleeding.”

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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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Darfur Misspelled

Bashir

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, president of Sudan, sits in the Plenary Hall of the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the 12th African Union Summit Feb. 2, 2009. The assembly endorsed the communique, issued by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, to defer the process initiated by the International Criminal Court to indict Bashir.

Ali Garang Salah stared into the black mirror and saw his past.

He was only five years old the first time he was raped. They murdered his Father right before his eyes, then raped and murdered his Mother and three sisters. The Sudanese soldier took a liking to little Ali, or so he said, and spared his life.

The little boy “served” the soldier, who he was ordered to call “Master,” until he was seven and old enough to use his rapist’s own knife to slit his throat.

He was found by foreign aid workers when he was nine and working as a prostitute in the back alleys of Juba. They put him in an orphanage, but he ran away. He was put back again after a hospital reported him. The beating he’d taken from one of his “customers” was worse than usual. A broken arm this time.

An American woman, a physician from something called “Doctors without Borders,” took pity on him and convinced her husband they should adopt him. It was a miracle that only a year passed before his survival instincts told him it was better to pretend to adapt to life in suburban home in San Diego.

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Scourge of the South China Sea

Ching Shih

YouTube/Wikimedia Commons/ATI Composite – Ching Shih

Sixteen-year-old Robin Burgess approached the waves on the shore a private island off Macau, the beach more pristine than even those of the big island of Hawaii. She moved with an exaggerated swagger, rather than a sensual movement to her hips. Her lithe cocoa skin was barely attired in her cream-colored bikini, though no man or boy was present to witness. On this summer vacation, she meant to conquer the sea, not merely swim in it, as she clutched her fins in one hand, and her mask and snorkel in the other.

Upon donning her undersea accessories, she plunged into the surf, finally achieving propinquity with shell and finned fish alike. One of her companions was a small Tiger Shark, but it seemed more curious than threatening.

Off shore some minutes later, she surfaced to investigate the appearance of a Chinese Junk, the name Nene emblazoned on her bow accompanied by a painting of a gray-brown goose.

“The legends are true and she’s here right on time.”

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Desperate Attack

steampunk cosplay

Alexander Schlesier – steampunker.de – This work is free and may be used by anyone for any purpose.

“A child needs a grandparent, anybody’s grandparent, to grow a little more securely into an unfamiliar world.” –Charles and Ann Morse

The elevator was rocketing downward so fast, Keisha thought she was going into free fall and grabbed the ornate wood and ivory safety bars that were attached halfway up the walls. Forcing panic and bile back down, she looked for a control panel, but all she saw was a handle attached to a semi-circular brass plate, with the words “Top” at the right side, “Ground” at the mid-point, and “Bottom” at the left. The handle was locked straight up at “Ground.”

Just before she thought she was going to die, the elevator quickly decelerated, slamming the girl on her bottom next to the duffel. Landing with an “Oof,” she decided she wasn’t going to escape this experience until she was covered with bruises.

The whining sounds of spinning gears slowed and the doors opened with a hiss, letting the thin clouds of steam and machine oil escape. A figure stepped through the mist. A woman’s hand emerged and beckoned, and Keisha quipped, “Go with you if I want to live?”

“Are you Keisha? Where’s my husband?”

“If you’re Isaiah’s wife, he said to hide me from the police.”

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Police Pursuit

steampunk city

Steampunk wallpaper – Found at 1zoom.me

Some people don’t believe in heroes, but they haven’t met my Grandpa. –Anonymous

Keisha sat frozen in the pilot’s seat of the airship Graceful Delight as the image of her Grandpa, forty years younger than the day he died, stood like a living apparition just ten feet in front of her.

“Did you hear me? Let me take the controls, quickly!”

“Oh, yeah.” She stood up just as the Delight pitched to port and she sailed to the floor.

“Grab the netting and hang on.” Isaiah Covington immediately took the chair she had just vacated and began to work the controls. “I apologize for my lack of chivalry and social grace, but I’m afraid saving our lives must take precedence.”

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The Forest

spiral staircase

© Sue Vincent

The Beginning of the Saga of the Davidson Children

Five children abruptly found themselves at night in a dark forest being drenched during a thunderstorm. “Mandy! What happened? Where’s Mom and Dad?” Thirteen-year-old Amanda Davidson felt panic rise her chest. Where were her brothers and sisters? What happened to their parents? How did they get here?

“I don’t know Paris. Stick with Taylor. Can you see Jake and Zooey?”

“Zooey’s here with me, Mandy.” Paris was holding her younger sister’s hand.

“Jake’s right next to me.” Taylor pulled his brother closer to him.

Mandy was trembling from the cold and terror at suddenly being alone with her brothers and sisters and lost in the dark.

“Everyone stay close to me. Paris, get right behind me. Jake and Zooey, get behind Paris. Taylor, you get behind Zooey and make sure everyone sticks together.”

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Aerial Encounter

airship

© Vadim Voitekhovitch – Found at Deviant Art

“Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” –Alex Haley

Keisha guided, or so she thought, the ornately decorated airship “Graceful Delight” out of the gigantic hanger set upon a massive floating derrick just off of Alameda. However she was about to discover there’s a difference between reading and memorizing instructions, and real practical experience. She had never driven a car before, let alone piloted a fifteen-meter-long gondola suspended under a sixty-meter dirigible. When the propellers begin to drive the ship forward, they had spun up to a preset speed, dictating the Delight’s velocity, and whatever gas was inside the thin, metallic envelope above her head, was providing buoyancy and lift.

The Delight was accelerating upward and Keisha didn’t know how to stop it.

Frantically, she racked her memory for how to control the ship.

“Let’s see, these levers control engine speed, but how do I keep from going up?”

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The Dragon’s Head

dragon's head

Photo credit: Jeff Chep – Found at the Amusing Planet blog

Their campaign against Peking was succeeding, but General Hiroki Sato had to land his troops at Shanhai Pass, then march to the city to relieve the siege.

“Is this bombardment necessary? There are likely few Chinese troops present.”

Admiral Ako Yamamoto could barely hear above the cannon fire.

“Better this than an ambush.” He returned to his binoculars and gasped.

“What?” Sato took the binoculars from the terrified Yamamoto and beheld a sight he thought only possible in myth.

This end of the Great Wall of China, regaled in fable as the “dragon’s head,” was proving that its name was not merely symbolic. Stone, brick, tamped earth, and wood was miraculously transforming into an enormous serpent, the legendary defender of China.

A thousand men met their fate in the sea that morning in July of 1900, and then the dragon rose to destroy the rest of the invaders investing her land.

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Great Wall of China. As you might imagine, the wall has a long and fascinating history, which makes crafting a wee tale about it difficult.

I decided to focus on its western edge, which is at Lop Nur or “Lop Lake.” I discovered that in July 1900 (or 1904 depending on the source), the Japanese landed troops at Shanhai Pass where the wall dips into the sea, to re-enforce a siege against Peking. You can click the link to Amusing Planet to learn more, but that part of the wall is called “the dragon’s head” because it looks like a dragon dipping down to have a drink from the ocean.

Now imagine that the wall isn’t really a wall, and you’ve got a fantastic tale on your hands.

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

The Difference Between a Goal and a Dream is a Deadline

scifi

Science Fiction wallpaper found at imgur

Earlier today, I wrote and published the short story A Black Matter for the King just for myself, but later, I adapted it slightly so it could be a response to the First Line Friday writing challenge hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.

Although it’s gotten several “likes,” no one has ventured to comment. That happens sometimes, and I suppose it doesn’t have to mean anything, but this story does have an overtly Christian character. He has volunteered to fight in the Vietnam War, both because he’s already had friends drafted into the service who have been sent over and died, and because he believes that as a Marine, he has to fight in our wars to keep the people back home, especially his family, safe, and so our nation can remain free.

Now those are all ideas that have fallen out of favor lately (or not so lately). I did have another character in the tale comment on how the Vietnam War did nothing to protect our nation’s people or their freedom. However, it wasn’t so much the purpose of the war that’s at issue, but rather my male protagonist having a certain set of values and a code of honor to uphold.

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