The Return of Flight A-10

RAF Ascension

RAF Ascension Island – January 2002 – licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

“There it is again. Let me put it on speaker, Richard.” Thirty-eight-year-old Kristen Hines was on assignment for the NSA at the RAF Ascension Space Communications facility on the mid-Atlantic island. Richard Porter was the fifty-five-year-old civilian division chief.

As the static switched from Kristen’s headset to the speakers in the secure communications room crewed by a dozen specialists, the regular pinging became a fragmented voice.

"Surrender...Nazi...A-10...spacecraft...aliens...releasing us..."

“Mr. Porter, Sir. Got something on radar.” Roger Bennett’s gaze didn’t deviate from his screen. “It’s entering Earth’s atmosphere.” Hines reached for the secure line to Washington as Porter muttered. “So the bloody Nazis did manage it.”

“What?” Kristen’s hand paused.

“Granddad was only one of six intelligence agents to discover that before the fall of the Reich, the Nazis had launched a manned rocket into space.”

“How could they have survived all these years.”

“They’re on re-entry. Guess we’ll find out.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps image/location and use it as a prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha in the middle of the South Atlantic.

I did my homework and discovered that RAF Ascension, also known as Wideawake Airfield or Ascension Island Auxiliary Field, “serves as a space-based communications, signals intelligence, and navigation nexus and hub (Ground station). One of only four GPS satellite ground antennas is located there.”

I also discovered that during World War Two, the island was used by the Allies “to base patrolling anti-surface-commerce-raider and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) forces against the Axis powers’ naval units.”

When I was looking up signals intelligence, I found an online copy of the last German message intercepted by the British during the war signaling Germany’s unconditional surrender.

Putting that all together, I wondered if there were any “conspiracy theories” based on a Nazi Manned Space Program, and lo and behold, I found the answer at Astronotes which used information about Nazi Germany’s Aggregat Rocket Program.

It was a lot of fun to write, but 150 words doesn’t do it justice.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com (link fixed).

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From Up in the Sky

quarry

© Russell Gayer

“What the hell?” Sixty-two year old millionaire Warren Hollister stared down the long gully carved in his quarry terminating at an unconscious man being put on a wheeled gurney by ambulance attendants.

“It’s like I was saying. Thought he was dead, but when I checked, he was breathing,” gasped Jake Fischer, the Foreman.

“Not a scratch on him.” Hollister shook his head in wonder.

“No clothes either.”

“What are you suggesting?.”

“Who knows what happened? Last year the Russkies sent up Sputnik, and today, a man falls from the sky.”

“A superman, Jake, and right now, he’s mine.”

I authored this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 98.

This is actually part of a story that’s been floating around my head for years, the idea that a mysterious man can fall from the sky and into the hands of what could be a ruthless millionaire. Since Jake mentions that Sputnik was put in orbit the previous year, that puts my story in 1958, just over 60 years ago.

I got the scene for my rock quarry from this news story and very loosely based it on the 1953 “Adventures of Superman” television show episode Panic in the Sky (video).

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

A Hero in Harare

movies

Sterkinekor Lusaka Arcades Centre in Lusaka, Zambia – found at afrotourism.com

“I want to meet this Miles Morales,” twelve-year-old Miriro murmured spontaneously as he and his eleven-year-old sister Anesu did their maths homework at the kitchen table, warm afternoon sunlight streaming in the western window.

“What are you talking about,” she replied in irritation. “He doesn’t even exist. He’s a cartoon.”

“Uncle Tongai took me and my mates to see Spider-Verse over the weekend. The movie said anyone could wear the mask and be Spider-Man.” He was grinning, his mind completely diverted from his textbook.

“You’re daft. This isn’t Brooklyn, America. It’s Harare, Zimbabwe. Just because black Americans look like us doesn’t mean we’re all the same. Our lives are different.”

“Anybody can be a hero, Anesu.”

“Be a hero and finish your studies before Mama comes back from the market and we both get in trouble.”

But it was too late. Miriro was already thinking about his new costume.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location/image as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Harare, Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, I saw the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) with my son and my nine-year-old grandson. I subsequently published my review online and obviously still have the movie on my mind.

One of the things I’ve been considering, both with this movie, and especially with the Marvel Studios film Black Panther (2018) is that in the African nations, culturally, black people have widely varying cultures compared to African-American audiences, so the differing populations may not have as much in common with each other as people in the U.S. might imagine.

Having said that, the central message of “Spider-Verse” is that anybody can wear the mask. It was meant as a commentary about how historically, superheroes have been white, but it doesn’t automatically have to be that way. Any kid, no matter who they are, can be a hero.

I decided to put a spin on the message and say that any kid anywhere in the world also can aspire to be more than who they are, mask or no mask, even a twelve-year-old boy living in Harare.

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

The Goats and Graves Reparation

goats and graves

&copy Randy Mazie

“On Wednesday, January 2, 2019, President Donald Trump sent the 101st Airborne to maintain order at the American-Mexican border near Nogales. That was fifteen years ago.” Professor Pauline Vasquez periodically pressed her thumb on the remote, advancing the slideshow in her classroom.

“500,000 migrants, desperate to gain sanctuary, were being turned away by Army soldiers, supported by the National Guard. No one knew who fired the first shot, but it turned into a bloodbath. Three-fourths of the refuges were either killed or wounded while the rest fled.”

One student raised his hand, “Do you know when the genocide reparation hearings are scheduled for?”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I Googled “Goats and Graves” since that’s part of the photo’s filename, and I came up with a scholarly paper titled, “Goats and Graves: Reparations In Rwanda’s Community Courts. So in this case, I’m using the image symbolically, when normally, I would have taken a more literal perspective.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed of nearly 500,000 Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from their base in Uganda, initiating the Rwandan Civil War. The group condemned the Hutu-dominated government for failing to democratize and confront the problems facing these refugees. Neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage in the war, but by 1992 it had weakened Habyarimana’s authority; mass demonstrations forced him into a coalition with the domestic opposition and eventually to sign the 1993 Arusha Accords with the RPF. The cease-fire ended on 6 April 1994 when Habyarimana’s plane was shot down near Kigali Airport, killing him. The shooting down of the plane served as the catalyst for the Rwandan genocide, which began within a few hours. Over the course of approximately 100 days, around 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were killed in well-planned attacks on the orders of the interim government. Many Twa were also killed, despite not being directly targeted.

Since the Rwandan genocide was triggered by half a million refuges, I made that the jumping off point for my own, wee tale. Of course in the case of Rwanda, the relevant events took place over several months and not in a single day. As I was writing, I was also reminded of the Kent State shootings of 1970.

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

The Hidden Immortal

Kraków-Płaszów

Kraków-Płaszów in 1942 – This photograph is in the public domain

Norbert Salomon, though today he went by a different name, had survived the Kraków Ghetto, he had survived the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, he had survived the Polish persecution of Jews after the war, eventually emigrated to a newly born Israel, survived acts of war and terrorism by the so-called “Palestinian” Arabs, and he would survive this.

“I thought America would be a safe haven.” The twenty-five year old Ashkenazi Jew (for centuries, he always appeared to be between twenty-five and forty-five, changing identities when anyone suspected), sat in a darkened room, his youthful face and dark hair illuminated by his laptop screen, nimble fingers rapidly tapping keys. “But with the synagogue shootings, and now Muslim antisemites elected to Congress, something has to be done. Ah, I’ve cracked her d-base. Now to dump all her dirty little secrets on the internet. With any luck, she’ll be deposed even before inauguration.”

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to Krakow, Poland.

In Googling “Krakow,” the autocomplete came up with “Krakow Ghetto,” so I rolled with it, particularly since my wife and children are Jewish. Not only did I find information on Kraków Ghetto but also the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp.

I wanted to do something about a death camp survivor and landed on the idea of a Jewish man who had lived long before Hitler’s Holocaust and who would continue to live long afterward. A Jew who had seen so much persecution across the long centuries might either hide out or choose to fight back, not with guns and bombs, but this being the 21st century, with information.

I know some will disagree with my interpretation of recent political events and figures, but from Salomon’s point of view, it makes sense to publicly expose threats to the Jewish people at every turn as a matter of continued self-preservation.

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

Reminder

boots

© Adam Ickes

“Todd, why is there a pair of boots out front?” Kim stood at the window looking at what her husband placed outside.

“They were Erica’s boots. There should be a public reminder.” The thirty-year-old electrician stared wistfully into the fireplace as logs were peacefully consumed.

“Oh.” She sat on the sofa next to Todd. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright to say she committed suicide.” He took her hand.

“You want to go through with the lawsuit, right?”

“I know it won’t make any difference to my sister, but a person who cyberbullied her shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Yesterday, the rather colorful and expressive New York State Senator from Brooklyn, Kevin S. Parker, responded to a criticism from Republican Candice Giove that he had improperly used his parking placard to block a bike lane on a busy street by tweeting “Kill Yourself!” It’s all over the news including The New York Times and USA Today. After receiving a great deal of public criticism from fellow Senators, journalists, and the general public, he apologized, and then kept attacking Ms. Giove.

No, I seriously doubt Ms. Giove will commit suicide as a result of Senator Parker’s insensitive and impulsive tweet, but it did put me to mind of cyberbullying which occasionally does result in children and adults committing suicide. In my story, Todd put his sister’s hiking boots on a low wall in front of his house as a memorial. As a society, we need to do better.

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

The Ghost Before Christmas

christmas

Photo credit: Akshata Ram

Raymond walked into his bedroom with a fresh cup of coffee for a relaxing Sunday morning and found the Christmas decorations laid out on the bed next to his newspaper. “You never give up, do you, Mom?” Setting his cup down on the end table, the 45-year-old divorced engineer sat at the foot of the bed and picked up the dollar store Santa. “I miss you too, Mom, especially this time of year.” He knew his ex had her place elaborately decorated for the season, and that his three sons delighted in trying to guess what was inside all of the brightly wrapped packages, but he’d given up on Christmas and everything it was supposed to stand for when his Mom died a month after his divorce was final. Taking a deep breath, he picked up his cell and punched in a number.

“Hi, Sherry. Is it okay if I come over for a while? I’ve got some presents for the boys.” He listened and smiled. Of course, he’d have to go shopping first.

I wrote this for the 196th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174. This is pretty much a “stream of consciousness” thing. I just wrote the first thing that popped into my head.

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

An Ending in Fire

town

Photo credit: Anurag Bakhshi

Kurt stood on the cliff overlooking the tiny Southern California. It was 30 miles west of Santa Barbara and it was all his.

“It looks so peaceful from up here,” he said just to hear something besides the wind. Even the gulls and squirrels were gone, having deserted this doomed land if they could or otherwise having died, just like all the people.

He rubbed his left hand over his short-cropped gray and white hair. “Well, guess I’d better get to it while I still have daylight.”

He knew the National Guard had sealed off everything between Santa Maria and Ventura north and south, and Bakersfield to the east. No one would imagine anyone would want to stay in the danger zone with them, but Kurt did. His family was down there, what was left of them, and now that he’d wired the whole place to blow, he’d exterminate the last of the infected. He wasn’t planning to escape. His wife, kids, grandkids were turned into something like zombies or vampires by the mutant virus. Only he was immune. Standing in town with his back to the ocean, he pressed the remote and the next California wildfire began.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge hosted by Susan. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

I chose this theme for no particular reason other than it was what popped into my head. Although the limited word count didn’t allow for it, I set my tale in the small southern California town of Gaviota. I’m sure it doesn’t look like the image above, but I needed a location that was small and isolated.

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

Survivalist

garnet mountain fire lookout

© Google 2017

Forty-five year old Faith had been hiding from the Qu’Tufot for over six months, ever since she’d escaped the work camp near Logan. There’d originally been four of them. Jodi and Kurt got shot by the Guard, what the humans collaborators with the aliens called themselves, and Ernie had a heart attack during the climb up Garnet Mountain. He showed her how the alien field generator they’d stolen worked. As long as she wore it, her energy signature was invisible to orbiting and ground sensors.

Hunting near the Fire Lookout was good. Pa had taught her to be a survivalist. The battery on the softball-sized generator would last another year, which would also keep her warm and reclaim water from the air for drinking.

It was just dumb luck that this was a storage cache for the local Resistance. Now all she had to do was wait until they returned.

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout, Big Sky, Montana. I looked up the site at Recreation.gov and consulted a map of the general area for several hundred miles around.

The name of the aliens and the general situation is taken from a story I’ve submitted and that is still under consideration for an anthology about the fourth world war (yes, you read that right). The location and characters are different, but there are plenty of stories to tell under these circumstances.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. Oh, I’m late today because we had our three-year-old granddaughter sleep over last night, and she’s been up since about seven this morning. I’ve got a bit of a window to write now that she’s taking her nap.

The Return of Uncle Martin

laptop and globe

© Douglas M. MacIlroy

“Chris, what’s going on?” Susan O’Hara stood at the storage shed watching her husband tap at the laptop keyboard, attached to a rough, plaster globe wrapped in wire.

“Tracking his spacecraft. Dad said he’d come back. Found the diagrams and the frequency in his papers.”

“Your Dad was crazy. He thought his uncle was a Martian.”

The forty-four year old engineer kept focused on the screen with occasional glances at a blip of light appearing on the makeshift sphere. “I’m getting something.”

He toggled the volume up and a voice came through. “Tim. Help. The robots are taking over Mars.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction only 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Some of you may already have picked up references to the 1960s TV sitcom My Favorite Martian which starred Ray Walston and Bill Bixby. Walston played a martian stranded on Earth who is helped by a young newspaper reporter named Tim O’Hara (Bixby). O’Hara explained the martian to his landlady as his “Uncle Martin.” The show ran from 1963 to 1966 and I remember watching it as a kid.

Both Walston and Bixby are no longer with us, and I used the birth date of Bixby’s deceased son Christopher (he tragically died at age six) as the basis for creating the probable age of Tim O’Hara’s son, who has inherited the legacy of knowing there is life on Mars. Since we keep sending robots to the Red Planet, I thought I’d make that the source of “Martin’s” angst.

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