The Pay Phone Puzzle

pay phone

© J Hardy Carroll

“What kind of phone is it, Grandpa?”

“An old pay phone. You used to put a quarter in to make a call.”

“Why not use a cell?”

“Well, little one, because they hadn’t been invented when people used these. This one is so low so that people in wheelchairs could reach it.”

“Who uses it now?”

“I don’t know. We’re in the Refugee Center so…”

“Ahem.”

Denise and Grandpa turned to see a refugee from the planet Gorlick behind them. He was green and only about a meter tall.

“Spare some change? Got to make a call.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo prompt writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as an inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 97.

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

Julio the Explorer

boat

© The Storyteller’s Abode

Stranded on a sandbar, Julio pointed to the rocks ahead of him and loudly declared, “I claim this land in the name of Philip the First, King of Portugal.”

Some said he was drunk. Some said he was mad. The children pointed at him and laughed, making up silly and insulting rhymes about Crazy Julio.

“I don’t care what you think. I claim this land. It is mine. King Philip will honor me.”

“King Philip has been dead for over four-hundred years.”

“To you maybe little one, but he lives for me.”

Julio jumped from his boat with a small Portuguese flag in his hand. “I shall plant this here in honor of Philip and Portugal.”

The children laughed and ran away. They’d like to have come back later to steal the flag, but it really was his estate. His family had owned the land in California for generations. Julio was neither drunk nor mad. He just liked to have fun and to entertain the children.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for Week of July 25, 2017. The idea is to use the photo above to prompt the writing of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long with 150 words being the ideal. My word count is 166.

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

The Mission

mission

A Mixed Bag 2009

The tall man with white hair wearing a conservative business suit opened the door of the amusement park ride and stepped into what looked like a spaceship. The park was deserted which is exactly what he expected. Under the seat was a tape recorder and an envelope. He opened the envelope and turned on the tape.

“Good morning Mr. Phelps. What you see is a schematic for the craft you are sitting in. Although it’s disguised as a carnaval ride, it is really of alien origin. If you accept this mission we want you to determine who built it and what it’s purpose is.

As always if you or any of your team are caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow your actions. This tape will self-destruct in ten seconds. Good luck, Jim.

Jim Phelps set the tape recorder on the floor, and as the tape smoked and burned, his brilliant mind began to create a plan.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – July 23rd 2017 (which by the way is my birthday). The idea is to use the photo prompt above as inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 157.

For some reason, just seeing the image reminded me of those odd location where Jim Phelps would have to go to get his next Mission: Impossible assignment. Because the image looks both like an amusement park ride and a spaceship, I thought I’d have a little fun.

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

Walkabout

great barrier reef

© Google 2012

Barega saw himself here in dreamtime. Merindah the Seer woman told him it was his time for the walkabout, his spiritual transition so that he could join the men of their people.

His journey would be long and take many days. Barega would be traveling alone for the first time in his fourteen years of life. His father taught him well the skills needed to succeed in his travels.

He found himself here near the great water, the one he had dreamed about. There were many living beings in their land that were revered, and Barega knew that beneath the great water, many more existed. However, he now realized what his experience in dreamtime meant. This mighty reef was alive, too. He walked across the rock and sand to touch its many bodies and souls.

Today he was a man and men must protect the spirits of all life

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google street view image above as a prompt to craft a bit of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

I learned a lot about the Reef (actually it’s made up of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 2,300 km or 1,400 miles long) at Wikipedia and Adventure Mumma.

Wikipedia says that: “according to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.” This coral bleaching is attributed to human use impact such as fishing and tourism as well as runoff and climate change.

The good news is that the reef has died off many times before, usually during each ice age, and then recovered, but the original environmental conditions have to be restored.

I also learned that about 12,000 years ago, a person could walk from the land directly out to the reef. Since I’ve recently been interested in writing time travel stories about going back to that period in history, my “Walkabout” tale simply fell into place.

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

Not Kansas

vw in israel

© Kent Bonham

“You’re not in Kansas anymore.”

“Avi, you can’t believe how many times I’ve heard that since making aliyah.” Morris sounded annoyed but admired how well the native Israeli spoke English. Half the time he struggled to find the right Hebrew words in a conversation.

“Hey, what do you think of that girl over there? Maybe she wants a ride.”

Avi knew Morris was married, but loved to tease the shy American. Neither noticed as she reached inside her shoulder bag. They were both killed in the explosion along with seven schoolchildren who had stopped to admire the car.

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

When I saw the image was titled “VW in Israel” and the Kansas license plate in the back window, I started writing without a clear end in mind. The story just formed itself.

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

Where Did Daddy Come From?

path

© J.S. Brand

The sign post was all but unreadable as she stood staring at it from the foot of the path. Left pointed to the way she came and right to the Ranger station. The one pointing behind her was to the camp grounds. She couldn’t read the one pointing up the hill, but she’d heard stories.

No one walked up those steps anymore. People went up and never came down. The secret, at least Alise thought she knew it, came from her mother’s diary. Mommy went up and then came down three months pregnant. She never told Alise who her Daddy was. Now on her sixteenth birthday, she was going to find out.

She climbed the steps. Fog rolled in as she reached the top. It was longer than it looked from the bottom, like another world.

“Hello, Alise.”

“Daddy? But, you look so young, hardly older than me.”

“An incubus never ages, my dear. Here, let me show you my secrets.

When Alise descended the steps, her unborn baby was forming inside of her.

I wrote my wee tale for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of July 18, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as an inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long, with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 174.

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

Terror

cape crozier

© Google, Nov 2016

The Adelie penguin colony at Cape Crozier, Antarctica had long been the subject of study. There were over a quarter of a million breeding pairs of birds identified. Scientists inhabited several tents at the site plus a crude permanent structure that vaguely resembled a collection of shoeboxes. However, this expedition was not here for the penguins.

“What do the latest readings look like, Scottie?” Carter Roberts addressed the party’s Chief Volcanologist Amanda Scott. She ignored the unwanted familiar use of her name.

“Not good, Carter.” She didn’t bother to glance up from the seismology report. “If these readings are accurate, then given the progression we’re seeing, we’ve got less than three months.”

“So Mount Terror is aptly named.”

“We always thought it was an extinct volcano, but sometime next October, it’ll make the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa look like a firecracker, plunging the whole world into a new ice age.”

Written for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google street image above as the inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, Pegman takes us to Cape Crozier, Antarctica. I looked the place up at Wikipedia, and when I saw “Mount Terror” and “extinct volcano,” I knew I found my hook.

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

Her Loveliness

janet webb

© Janet Webb

The Sun would be setting soon. The stage was set. The candle and amulet were in place, herbs were mixed and sealed in the urn. Most importantly the painting was there. It was unusual and very rare, the only one not cataloged as part of great-grandfather’s works. Maria had been great-grandfather’s lover for five decades. Enzo fell in love with her through reading his journals. The young man studied years to perfect the art. Tonight, on the eve of her death, Enzo would bring her to life out of the painting and in all her loveliness, she would become his.

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Lewis’ Friday Fictioneers writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo above to inspire a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

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

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.

The Artifact

the white horse pub

© A Mixed Bag 2014

Ross Murdock sat in Dover’s White Horse Pub sipping ale, silently cursing Gordon Ashe for staying behind. Ashe was the archaeologist. Murdock, a former thief, was Ashe’s student and did what he was told to avoid prison.

“Is this seat taken?” The tall man, dark hair, full beard, spoke heavily accented English.

“Pull up a chair.”

“Merci.” The Frenchman sat, putting his glass on the table. “I’m Alex Besnard. You were expecting me.”

“Ross Murdock.” Neither man attempted shaking hands.

“Actually, you were expecting this.” Besnard reached into his pocket and pulled out something wrapped in cloth. Murdock took it and unwrapped the “prize.”

The stoic cynic’s eyes widened. It really was a Forerunner artifact.

“Dated to 2,000 BCE, give or take. Found a few kilometers from here.”

Murdock put the object into his pocket and then used his mobile to send the payment.

Besnard checked his cell. “Merci beaucoup.” The smuggler stood and walked away.

Concrete evidence the extraterrestrial Forerunners visited Earth over 4,000 years ago. Ashe would be able to date the artifact more accurately so the time portal could be set. It was now a race with the Soviets as to which one would reach the Forerunner technology first.

NOTE: To read the next story in this series, go to The Traders.

The first story in this series is The Recruit followed by Escape.

I was able to identify the location in the photo above as Dover after magnifying the image and reading the sign in front of the White Horse Pub. Archaeological finds have determined that Dover has been inhabited since the Stone Age, which gave me my hook.

When I was in Junior High (many decades ago), I discovered a book in the school library called The Time Traders. It was the first of a series of science fiction novels written by Andre Norton (pseudonym for the late Alice Mary Norton). The first novel was published in 1958 with the premise that a race of advanced alien beings, later identified as “the Forerunners” had visited Earth sometime in the last ice age.

Thief Ross Murdock is recruited by the government for a team, along with archaeologist Gordon Ashe, to travel back to Britain’s Bronze Age posing as traders in order to gather information and maybe direct access to a Forerunner ship. The problem is the Soviets also have time travel technology and know about the Forerunners, so it’s a race against time (literally) as to which side will acquire advanced alien technology first.

I updated this cold war thriller to suit my purposes. I still have copies of “The Time Trader” and its immediate sequel Galactic Derelict. I did manage to read one of the more modern “Forerunner” novels some years back, but there was such a gap between the late 1950s stories and the one I found at my public library that it was more frustrating than satisfying to read.

I wrote this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – July 9th 2017 challenge. The idea is to take the image above and use it as an inspiration to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is exactly 200, cut down from about 306.

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