What the Gull Saw

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Photo Credit: MorgueFile April 62433e902

The news from Florence said, “After a three-year-long restoration, Renaissance master Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection can once again be admired in its original glory.”

Yes, it had taken that long for the painting to be restored, but at the same time, it was also being copied. What was being admired at the civic museum in Sansepolcro, the little Tuscan down where the artist was born in the early 15th century, was a fake.

A private collector had paid a fortune, though not what the actual painting would be worth on the open market, to have the restorer make the switch. For him, it was worth every penny.

Now, the actual painting of the resurrection of Christ was on its way to the collector’s hidden vault on his island in the Caribbean. The only witness to the crime was a lone gull who had watched the true article being loaded into a moving van. Of course, the little bird brain would never talk.

I wrote this for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018: Week #21. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 162.

The town reminded me of Florence, Italy, so I looked up some local English language news articles and came across Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection restored published last March in the Florence Daily News. It seemed like a good setting for an art theft.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz. This link up still needs a lot of love, so please consider writing your own response to the prompt.

Thanks.

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Dangerous Waters

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Merilyn and Riyn waited at the seashore. They had met over twenty years ago on this very beach, although their fates had been intertwined nearly fifteen years earlier after he had saved her from drowning when she was a child.

Now they stood hand in hand and gazed at the sea. They were the undisputed rulers of the Takahe sub-continent, and because of them, a sweeping national effort had significantly reduced the country’s legacy of polluting the Eastern Ocean.

It wasn’t enough. Making a treaty with Kea, their neighbor across the waves, was easy. The more difficult relationship to forge was with Riyn’s countrymen, the undersea people of the Two Kingdoms. If they couldn’t make a peace with the so-called “sea gods” who had exiled their King for falling in love with a woman of the surface, then the coming conflict would destroy both worlds.

“There he is!” Merilyn pointed into the surf. He was rising from it.

“Watatsumi!” Riyn was happy to see his son alive and well after being away for nearly five months.

“Mother! Father!” The young man, for that is how he now appeared, stood on shore. “King Suijin agreed. The Two Kingdoms will join us.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018 Week #20 challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

This story relates to characters from my recent tale The Elephants of Yesterday, but little six-year-old Merilyn is now about forty, married, and co-ruling her nation alongside her husband, who is an exiled monarch from an undersea kingdom.

Yes, it’s complicated. I’m using characters and themes from a short story I recently submitted for publication (I won’t find out if it’s been accepted or rejected for some time probably). The basic concept is the literal marrying of the surface and undersea worlds, and what they couldn’t accomplish separately is finally achieved through their “synthesis;” Merilyn and Riyn’s son.

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

As I’ve mentioned previously, this linkup needs some love, so please consider contributing a story. Thanks.

Return to Dieselworld

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It looked like a 1938 Ford Sedan, but the lavender paint on the body shone in its own light, and the headlights were black.

The radio message from Josiah Covington said her ticket back to his world would be in the poppy field south of town. He’d been definite that she shouldn’t use the dirigible this time.

Keisha Davis expected the car to be rusty and full of holes, but the door swung open easily, and everything looked brand new. She’d gotten her license just after her sixteenth birthday, but she didn’t think it covered this dieselpunk contraption.

She turned on the radio. It emitted an eerie glow as she adjusted the tuning dial. Seconds later, she heard him calling. “Josiah Covington to Keisha Davis. Transmitting at 1450 hours as arranged. Come in, Miss Davis.”

Keying the mic, she grinned at hearing her old friend’s now adult voice. “After all we’ve been through, you can call me Keisha.”

“What are you waiting for? Hurry!”

He was right. Her friends were in desperate trouble, and she was the only person in two worlds who could help. Turning the keys in the ignition, Keisha mashed down on the starter and then vanished!

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge for May 9th. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200 words.

Hopefully, you all have been following the steampunk adventures of fifteen-year-old Keisha Davis in this series. Seeing the prompt, I decided to tip my hand a bit, since I’m actually envisioning the character appearing in a trilogy. While the current storyline occurs in a steampunk universe, I want the sequel to feature to be somewhat in the alternate reality’s future, depicting a dieselpunk environment.

This would be the beginning of that second saga.

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

Oh, Roger’s linkup still needs lots of love, so it would be great if you jumped in and contributed a story. Thanks.

The Family I Never Knew Before

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Found at the “Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner” blog. No photo credit given.

“What’s that, Grandpa?”

“Just stuff for the tourists, Jimmy. Come along.”

Above his Dad’s wishes, eleven-year-old Jimmy’s first meeting with his Grandpa included a visit to the Rez at Pine Ridge. Dad left home when he was sixteen, joined the Air Force, got married, had a son, and never looked back. But eventually it was time to tell his own son about the people he came from.

The boys and girls looked just like Jimmy did. Even though he felt like an alien here, it was also the first time he felt like he fit in.

“Why are the girls giggling at me?”

“Oh, them? They’re your cousins. They probably think you’re cute.”

“Cousins.”

The old man laughed. You have a lot of them. Here’s the sweat lodge.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a very spiritual place, Jimmy. It’s where we purify ourselves. Here’s let’s step over here and change. Get’s pretty warm inside.”

“What’s going to happen?”

“I want you to learn something about the Lakota. Your Dad walked away from us almost twenty years ago and I’ve only gotten a few letters from him since. I’m glad he brought you back to us. Come inside. You are with family today.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

The only time I met my Dad’s Dad was when I was eleven years old. We were driving across country, and stopped at my Grandpa’s farm in Oklahoma.

The only thing we know about my Grandpa was that he was an orphan out of Missouri.

Every once in a blue moon, an indigenous person will ask if I’m a native, too. Apparently I look like one. So did my Dad. Decades ago, I asked him about it, and he got so mad at me, I never brought it up again.

Who knows? Anyway, today’s prompt brought all of that to mind again, so I decided to create a fictional scenario around it.

My research included the Sweat Lodge, Lakota people and the Pine Ridge Reservation. Oh, I belong to a Facebook closed group for indigenous people (long story), and there’s sort of a running joke that if you meet a cute girl on the Rez, you pray she’s not your cousin.

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

Castaway on Piller Island

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© MorgueFile 1416928925r3kcx

Nelson Lawrence Simon had been living the dream, sailing around the world in his 36 foot sloop until his rudder chain broke during a storm. The spare, which he thought he’d packed so carefully, had been exposed to four months of salt and moisture and had rusted.

Current washed him up on the north shore of an island, Piller, according to his charts. There was some sort of electrical interference that was jamming his radio, but he saw structures in the distance, so maybe someone lived here.

Simon was halfway up what looked to be an abandoned trail when he spotted the nest. He brought provisions with him, but it had been a long time since he had fresh eggs.

“Damn. Too late.” He watched as the first of the eggs broke open, but wasn’t prepared for the emergence of the occupant.

“What? I thought alligators laid eggs closer to water.”

As a shadow fell over him from behind, he realized it wasn’t an alligator. He turned and had just enough time to recognize a velociraptor from those “Jurassic” movies before he was messily devoured, well mostly. The rest of him would feed her hungry brood.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 195.

I saw the eggs and was crestfallen, because I didn’t want to write about bird eggs. Then I decided to leverage my series of stories based on The Kaala Experiment, a time travel device that’s gone wrong and brought a whole bunch of dinosaurs forward to the present on an island in the South Pacific. Nelson Lawrence Simon never had a chance.

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

Roger’s link up still needs a lot of love, so please consider contributing a story. Thanks.

The Ancient Sentinel

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It was a beautiful morning in early April, and from his position at the old fort, he had a wonderful view of the town below. Although it was overcast, everything seemed so fresh, the trees lush with greenery, the people driving and walking along the streets and byways. It was so peaceful.

He looked at the bell suspended just below and to his left. It had been ages since it rang the alarm. No longer did the people have to fear air raids, and the threat of an invasion was a distant memory that children now studied in their history texts.

There was no reason for him to remain at his station or so it seemed. He had discharged his duty and died at his post decades ago.

But the world was not safe just because the dangers were not obvious. Children were dying in Syria from chemical attacks, and although firearms were largely outlawed there, terrorists had turned to murdering with knives in London.

There was nowhere in the world truly safe, which was why the old sentinel remained on guard. When they came for his people, he would sound the alarm again to save them.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge of week #15. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

The platform on the left reminded me of the ruins of an old fort, and the town could be in an unspecified area of Europe, perhaps Scandinavia. So my old soldier is a ghost who died during World War Two, and yet who continues to do his due and guard his people. As I’ve suggested in the body of my story, the world is never truly at peace.

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

P.S. This photo challenge doesn’t have many participants, so if you have the urge to write, please consider contributing a wee tale. Thanks.

The Next Treasure Dive

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Photo credit: MorgueFile 2a4054c7afcb25f354a6cf9709d9b8a5

She was waiting for them when the two men pulled into the sports center’s parking lot in Pitt’s 1948 Model 135 Delahaye. It was a cool, cloudy Sunday in early April and Arvada’s annual kite festival was on the verge of being rained out.

“You sure know how to travel in style, Mr. Pitt.”

The rough-looking man with the salt-and-pepper hair stepped out of the antique car, his companion remaining inside. “You’ve got what we paid for?” He held out his right hand impatiently.

“Of course.” She proffered the aged, yellowed envelope.

The man took it, gently opened the flap, and briefly read the contents. “Yes, this is it. Just a few miles from here.” The adventurer looked up, but the lady in black was already walking away. They had both honored the agreement and now it was time to move on.

“Where to, Dirk?”

Pitt started the engine and backed out of his parking spot.

“You won’t believe it, Al. The Byzantium is hidden at the bottom of Standley Lake.”

“You’re kidding. Westminster is just a few miles from here. The lake’s less than 100 feet deep.”

“Easy retrieval job and America’s missile defense technology advances fifty years. Let’s go.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

Given the image, I looked up “kite festivals” on Google and came up with the Arvada Kite Festival to be held in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, this coming Sunday, April 8th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Unfortunately, the weather for Arvada this Sunday is predicted to have a 70% chance of rain, so not good flying weather.

I looked up Arvada and found out that among other things, it’s the home of the Cussler Museum of Antique Cars, created by author Clive Cussler.

I read a lot of Cussler’s books back in the day, including Raise the Titanic featuring his primary hero Dirk Pitt, who I assume is Cussler’s alter ego (they share a love of antique car collecting among other things).

Along with his partner Al Giordino, the NUMA Marine Engineer has had many adventures, usually involving sunken ships, lost treasure, high-tech and high adventure.

I thought the kite festival might be a good place for a clandestine meeting between Pitt and a courier, so I set it there. The “Lady in Black” is totally made up for convenience.

The nearest body of water of any size is Standley Lake which is in nearby Westminster and has a maximum depth of 96 feet. There is some Gold Rush history associated with Arvada, and loosely merged with the history behind the lake, I decided that sometime over a century ago, one of the men associated with creating the original reservoir buried what he thought was a fortune of illegally gotten gold there, but died before he could retrieve it (fortunately recording its location in his diary).

Turns out, it was really the element Byzantium (I pulled that from the plot of “Raise the Titanic”) which can be used to develop a defense system that shoots enemy missiles down using sound waves.

Yeah, that’s a lot of research for 200 words, but I had fun.

To read other stories (or to submit your own) based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com (this writing challenge needs some love, so please consider writing a wee tale of your own and submitting it).

Reluctant Partners

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Photo Credit: MorgueFile MX146-460-Cheat

“Come on. You’ll have to be my partner because everyone else has one, Steph.”

“It’s not my fault I was out with the flu when Mr. Hanson was handing out assignments, Jeff. Everyone knows you’re useless. That’s why no one picked you.”

“Ms. Henshaw. Mr. Flynn is right.” It wasn’t the voice of God, but their science teacher was a close second. “He is the only available classmate left. I suggest you two make the best of the project.”

Stephanie stopped herself from rolling her eyes at the imposing instructor just in time. She’d never been to detention before, but dissing “The Hanson” was a good way to get there.

“Fine,” she hissed at the sixteen-year-old. What’s our assignment?

“A report on colonizing Venus.”

“Are you nuts? Do you know what the environment there is like?”

“I’ve already done the preliminary research on the HAVOC Project.”

“Let’s see.”

“Not until Friday. We’ll go out for a bite, I’m thinking Chinese, then back to your place to study.”

“This better not be a date.”

“Who, me?”

At his desk, Mr. Hanson smiled to himself. By next spring, they’d be going steady.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018: Week #13 challenge. The idea is to use the photo above to inspire crafting a wee tale no more than 200 words long. My word count is 190.

Instead of cheating, which the photo suggests, I thought of the boy trying to convince the girl to be his partner on a class project. We’ve all had those experiences when one person does most of the work on a group project but all the kids get equal credit, which is what Stephanie is afraid of.

I read a “Calvin and Hobbes” story arc where Calvin was partnered with Susie to do a report on the planet Mercury. It didn’t end well which again, is what Steph imagines.

But as it turns out, Jeff is smart but needs motivation, and Mr. Hanson played “matchmaker” to give the boy something to shoot for, namely dating the pretty, blond girl seated next to him.

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

This challenge needs some love, so consider contributing a story of your own.

Oh, NASA’s HAVOC Project is a real concept.

The Woman from Ogygia

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Photo credit: MorgueFile 14228002011gx95

Gilberto Curry wandered into Gleneagles Bar, probably one of the more famous landmarks on Gozo, and sat at the nearest vacant table. He’d become bored with nearby Malta the minute he entered the airport gift shop and saw endless replicas of the cinema’s “Maltese Falcon.”

Sipping on his second beer of the day, he was surprised when a very beautiful and very drunk young woman sat in the chair opposite him.

“I hate every single one of you men.”

“Then why are you sitting with me?” No doubt her husband cheated on her or her boyfriend just came out as gay.

“You’re always running off, even when captured, the gods make you let them go back to their wives…uh wife. He only had one.”

“Well, if he was married…”

“I had twins by him. Think he ever came to visit, pay child support? Oh no. Bleeping Zeus wouldn’t have it.”

“Zeus? Who was your intended?” Gilberto was still sober enough to be curious.

“Odysseus. Seven years together and he never came back.”

“Lady, you must be really drunk if you think…”

“Calypso. I’m Calypso. Want to see my island? Maybe you could stay a year or two.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018: Week #12 challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

I was able to make out the name Gleneagles Bar in the photo and found out it’s located on the island of Gozo which is the second largest island in the Malta archipelago (the first largest being Malta).

Gozo is associated with the island of Ogygia, home to the mythological nymph Calypso. She is said to have kidnapped the Greek hero Odysseus as recorded in Homer’s “Odyssey” and then held him against his will for seven years (some sources say five) because of her love of him. They eventually had sex and there are other legends stating she had either one or two children by him.

Eventually, Zeus made Calypso let Odysseus go so he could return to his wife, and the whole tale sounded worthy of the most schmaltzy country and western song. So I imaged an inconsolable Calypso still pining for her lost love (who she’s never seen or heard from ever since), drowning her sorrows in a bar on the 21st century version of her island while trying to pick up any man who will listen to her tale of woe.

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

Buster’s Mystery

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Buster slipped his head out of the partly open library doors when he heard the front door open. Maybe the Man had finally come home. The automations regularly refilled his food and water bowls and cleaned the litter box, but he missed the Man’s warm lap, his soft words, and the touch of his hands on the cat’s fur.

“Buster.”

It called his name but it wasn’t the Man. In fact it wasn’t a man at all. It was one of the Man’s machines but this one walked on legs like the Man.

“Ah, there you are.” Buster cowered and then hissed. The man-machine squatted down and its almost man voice sounded kind. “I won’t hurt you. I’ve come to take care of you.”

Before Buster could run, the man-machine moved faster than even he could and scooped him up. The cat loudly protested until the fingers of the man-machine found the spot on his tummy where he loved to be rubbed.

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Model NS4 robot from the 2004 film “I, Robot.”

“There, there, Buster. It will be okay. I’m sorry Dr. Lanning won’t be coming home anymore but we’ve got a mystery to solve. You, me, and Detective Baley must find out who murdered Alfred Lanning.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner for 2018: Week #11. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire the authoring of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

A cat? You want me to write a story about a cat? I don’t do cute cat videos.

Okay, I’ll make this work.

Unfortunately, the first thing that popped into my head was the 2004 film I, Robot starring Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, and James Cromwell as Dr. Alfred Lanning.

In one scene, Detective Del Spooner (Smith) goes to Lanning’s house looking for clues as to Lanning’s death and in the process, he finds Lanning’s cat.

So I adapted the scene to this challenge using elements of the film and Isaac Asimov’s first “robots” detective novel The Caves of Steel. Technically, the events in that novel occurred well after Lanning’s death in the Asimov stories, but this is fiction after all.

The human detective in “Steel” is Elijah Baley and his humanoid robot partner is R. Daneel Olivaw (The “R” in his name indicates he’s a robot). In my story, I imagined Olivaw to appear completely robotic, something like the NS4 models in the 2004 movie (see above).

To read other stories based on the prompt or to post your own (please), go to InLinkz.com.