The Aulegren’s Children

kelpie

© JS Brand

It’s a tourist attraction now, but they still tell the stories, all ending with the heroic victory over a powerful enemy, perpetually frozen in their equine warrior form. But humans were the invaders, twelve colony ships, master guidance control damaged. AI was smart enough to detect the problem but not repair it, so it found an alternate world.

Unfortunately, it belonged to the Aulegren.

The colonists, being human, “discovered” the land, pretended to adapt, then multiplied like rabbits, taking over every natural resource.

The Aulegren first came as fair lasses and handsome paramours, hoping to use love to found peace.

When humans started raping them and taking what they wanted anyway, Aulegren declared war.

They might have won, but they always restricted their population, living harmoniously with the environment. Humans bred and bred, and with both superior technology, and stolen Aulegren magicks (some humans were gifted with the sight), the colonists won. That’s the official story, anyway.

A few were born of Human-Aulegren pairings and we have to stay hidden, lest we ire the pure bloods. Perhaps someday there’ll be enough of us, but to what end? Live in anxious peace with the conquerors, or begin the war anew?

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of November 11, 2018 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 199.

A quick Google image search led me to this site and the legend of the Kelpie, shape-shifting water spirits who can appear as beautiful women.

I adapted the story to weave my own little tale of conquest and subjucation, with a hint of hope at the end.

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

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One Honest Man

totem

© J.S. Brand

“A totem pole? I’ve known you for forty years, and you never told me you were native.” Leon Bell stood, looking incredulously at the creation of his friend and neighbor Marshall Griffin.

“I’m not, but why can’t I have my own monument to the symbols that I consider important?”

“But this is a public park. You can’t just deface a tree…”

Marshall scowled up at his friend from his blue lawn chair. “What do you mean deface? This is art.”

“I guess I don’t know what art is,” Leon growled back.

Marshall smiled. “You’re the only honest person I know.”

I wrote this for 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.

I wasn’t sure what to make of the image. It vaguely resembles a totem pole, but the symbols weren’t what I’d consider traditionally first nations, so I pondered “cultural appropriation” and how to play that out. That’s when I came up with Leon and Marshall, two old friends who no longer have time for false politeness or illusions of propriety.

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

Inescapable

night market

Night Market (JuanChrist) by JuanChrist (flickr) Tags: fujifilm x100t market nightmarket cambodia bavet

Bavet police inspector Borey Seng stood in the market’s bathroom as coroners continued to examine the body of the 66-year-old Malaysian man, murdered by an object that gashed across his face and eyes.

“Who would gouge out an old man’s eyes, and what was he doing in Cambodia in the first place?”

“I might have that answer to that inspector.” Officer Channary Som’s face was as round as her name suggested.

“Continue,” he muttered.

“His name was Rayyan Megat. Records indicate he entered Cambodia at the Bavet-Moc Bai border last week, but get this. His fingerprints match those of a former CIA assassin known as bóng, “shadow,” in English.

“So?”

“So bóng was noted for gouging out the eyes of his victims.”

“There is no escape from karma.”

Seng’s and Som’s voices faded from the specter’s hearing as he ascended, his spirit set free from his forty-five-year-old quest for vengeance.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/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 Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia. A quick search of Wikipedia revealed very little interesting information about this province, as did one for its largest city Bavet.

Then, a news item titled Malaysian killed in Bavet caught my attention. I preserved some of the details of the actual murder, but added fictionalized names and situations, including the 1973 assassination of some nameless victim of a CIA operative during the Vietnam War. In this case, karma or justice is blind.

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

It Tolls for Thee

chess

© Jeff Arnold

Nine-year-old little Sarah had lived here all her life and never saw something so horrible. It was like Papa’s chess set. All those people were just praying and worshiping and a man with a gun came in and knocked the pieces down, just like that.

They say he’s a racist and he blamed us for hurting his people. They say guns are too easy to get. At school yesterday, some of the kids said maybe it’s because of who is President, that because he’s the first like him, that maybe he drove this person Dylann Roof crazy. Don’t think so.

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’m going to state for the record that you’re not going to like this. Ever since Donald Trump became President and sent his first tweet, he’s been blamed for just about everything including the recent Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. But if it is true that all violence since November 2016 is the direct result of Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, then how can we explain all acts of violence before Trump became POTUS? I mean, it’s as if news and social media believe if Trump were silent, or if Hillary Clinton were President, everything would be unimaginably peaceful and the United States would be paradise, just as it was during President Obama’s administration (that last bit was deliberate sarcasm, but to make a point).

So I leveraged the Charleton church shooting (which occurred during Obama’s administration) in which nine African-American worshipers lost their lives at the hands of 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof, who blamed African-Americans for a plethora of ills.

This is not unlike 46-year-old Robert Bowers who blamed George Soros in particular, and the Jewish people in general for hurting “his” people (presumably non-Jewish whites) and (allegedly) murdered eleven Jewish worshipers as a result.

Both Roof and Bowers are extremists who believe a people group was responsible for their problems, and saw gun violence as the only solution. But what was the real cause?

Both incidents are very similar, such as attacking their targets in a house of worship, and openly stating that their motivation was bigoted hate. However, Barack Obama was the President when Roof committed his crime, and Donald Trump is President now. I find it difficult to believe that the sole cause of either man’s heinous acts was the President of the United States.

Could Trump’s statements be somehow inflammatory and a contributing factor in Bowers’s actions? Maybe. There’s no way to tell. There’s no way to tell if he would have done the same thing if Hillary Clinton had won the election.

That’s my point. There’s no way to tell. So don’t be so sure of your assumptions, because that’s all they are. I think a lot of people are taking their current fear and loathing of the President and applying it to any bad event that occurs, no matter what the circumstances and without examining the facts. That’s faulty logic. We need to be better than that.

The bottom line is that innocent people died in both events as the result of a very disturbed bigot. Always blame the person who pulled the trigger, and always mourn the victims and comfort their families. If we all did that, we’d be better people for it, and we’d serve those suffering communities rather than our own fears.

Oh, the title comes from John Donne’s famous poem For Whom the Bell Tolls.

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

Familiar

girl and cat

– PrettyScary @ Deviantart

Christina rubbed her soft, feline fur against Gwendolyn’s face as the ten-year-old girl looked into the distance at nothing and everything.

“Yes, I can see it now, too, dearest.” The child was entranced at the interplay between energies from four of the ten dimensions.

“Silly little one, Christina chided. I detected the intermix ages ago.” In mid-sentence, the white cat’s tone changed from one of annoyance to affection, for she dearly loved the girl, and she always would.

“That’s because you are wise.” To anyone looking at the scene, the fifth grader was lying on her bed on a lazy Wednesday afternoon after school, contemplating gray clouds which threatened rain later in the evening. Yet gazing into her eyes, it would have been easy to tell that they might as well have been blind, at least to anything in the so-called “real world.”

“It’s best not to get too lost in the vision, my sweet, lest you lose your way and be forever swept into other spaces.”

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The Castle’s Secrets

bran castle

Found at bran-castle.com – Image credit not given

“Mommy, why are we staying up so late?” twelve-year-old Ileana sat anxiously on the edge of her mother’s bed while Queen Marie of Romania patted her hand.

“I want you to meet someone, but he only comes late at night.” She made her smile look comforting, but she too was nervous, and in her case, with good reason.

The door to the Queen’s grand bedroom in her Bran Castle retreat slowly creaked open. The servants were forbidden to come unbidden at this hour, so it could only be one man.

“You are welcome to enter, Vlad.”

He was dressed in black, though the white of his shirt showed through the cloak’s dark collar.

“Thank you, my Queen. Is this the little Princess?”

Ileana stood and bowed. “It is good sir. How may I address you?”

A moment of uncharacteristic compassion glimmered in the Impaler’s eyes as he whispered, “Father.”

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 148.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Bran Castle, Romania. I looked it up and found it has a tangential association to the Dracula legend, although it’s doubtful author Bram Stoker knew of its existence when he penned his famous novel.

That said, I dipped into the histories of Princess Ileana of Romania and her mother Queen Marie, who indeed used the castle as her personal retreat.

Ileana was born in 1909, and although it was alleged that she was really the child of Marie’s lover Prince Barbu Stirbey, Marie’s husband, King Ferdinand I claimed paternity. Here, I’m suggesting another father entirely.

Can a vampire, a member of the undead, impregnate a living woman? Probably not if you think of a vampire as an animated corpse with no living biology (in spite of the Twilight movie series), but I recall when Marvel Comics ran their Dracula title in the 1970s, in one issue, they did have Dracula on a throne seated beside his living Queen, who was enormously pregnant, so some have suggested the possibility.

And I suppose if a demonic Incubus can have “relations” with a woman, so can a vampire.

Anyway, it makes good Halloween fodder.

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

The Eye

glass ceiling

© Roger Bultot

I ran into the building to get away from the angry mob of protestors outside.

What is this place? The middle of the room is contained in a sort of marble circle. Who is that by those torches?

“Oh good, you’re here.”

He’s African-American, bald, and I’ve never seen him before in my life.

“Hurry. There isn’t much time.”

“Time for what?”

“For you to go through the eye and restore the balance. The world is terribly divided, and only you can manipulate reality.”

“Who am I?” Then I felt myself lifted up toward the glass oval in the ceiling.

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’d love to have figured out where this photo was taken, but that would have required a lot of work, and I’m short on time lately. The oval-shaped window in the ceiling reminds me of the large window in comic book character Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. Last night, I read a story about a man with amnesia who turned out to be an alien, and I have a tendency to write a lot of stories featuring a Messiah-like figure. Put all that together, and you have the tale I just wrote.

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

I May Not Know Art But I Know What I Like

art

Image credit: Fandango

“So, what’s with the crap?” Tammy waved her arm at the unlikely collection of two beat up rocking chairs and a dead tree.

“It’s art, I guess.” Her companion Ryan scratched his head in puzzlement.

“We had to pay to get in and see this? And look at the price. Who’d pay $800.00 for this?”

“Come on, hun. Jay’s a nice guy, and we said we’d support his debut here at the art museum.” Then he grabbed her arm. “Hush. Here he comes.”

“Ryan! Tammy!” The young man dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and a tan sports jacket approached holding out his hand. “I’m glad you could make it.”

They each shook hands with the broadly grinning artist.

“What do you think?” He waited expectantly.

“Well, it’s interesting,” Ryan said, trying to look contemplative.

“Yes, that’s what it is. Interesting.” Tammy hoped she could bluff her way through the conversation.

“Oh, come now. You know it’s just a bunch of junk thrown together, but it’s what the public likes.”

The couple both stared at their neighbor like he’d suddenly turned green.

“Excuse me, Mr. Fellows?” One of the exhibit managers approached Jay. “A gentlemen says he wishes to purchase your work.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of October 21, 2018. 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 200.

I didn’t want to write about an art exhibit, but the surroundings clearly indicate that’s what this is. Hopefully, I managed to put a sufficient spin on the topic.

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

The Queen of New Orleans

new orleans french quarter

Image credit: GonzoVeritas – found at reddit

It was after two in the morning and a light rain fell on New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Sean Becker walked into a small jazz club. He was almost the only white person here, but his bond with those around him went deeper than race.

“You da one wantin’ to see Mama Marie.” She could have been about fifteen, coal-dark skin and hair, but her eyes burned emerald.

“Yes.”

“Come.”

They walked through curtains and then down a dark hallway, terminating at a door. “She’s expectin’ you.” The child who could have been centuries old left as Sean opened the door and entered.

“What you got to offer?”

The voodoo queen whose mausoleum was just a mile away lived up to the legend.

“Release my mother and I’ll tell you where you can find Lilith.”

“The vampire queen. If you give her to me, your mother lives. Marie Laveau swears it.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/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 New Orleans, Louisiana. There is so much that could be written by this iconic city, but is also figures into my unfinished first draft of a horror novel featuring the vampire Sean Becker. You can read about him in such stories as Approaching Advent and The Beginning of the Fall.

My wee tale was actually to be part of the climax of my novel, with Sean facing the ancient voodoo queen Marie Laveau who is now the matriarch of a clan of vampires. I did a bit more research and came up with How to Experience New Orleans’ Voodoo Culture. I even looked up the weather, and yes, it’s raining in the Big Easy today.

Oh, and although Lilith is often characterized as the mother of all the succubus, in my tale, she’s the worldwide queen of all vampires.

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

A New Home for Diablo

chicks

August MorgueFIle 139596857318u1t

“Bubbe! Baby chickies!” The enthusiastic three-year-old girl let go of her grandmother’s hand and ran over to the heated glass enclosure. She pressed her palms and nose against it and then pulled back. “It’s hot, Bubbe.”

“It’s okay to look, but don’t scare them, Dani.” The sixty-year-old bent over and put her hand gently on the child’s shoulder.

“Look, a kitty-cat.” The toddler spun to her left when she spied the black feline out of the corner of her eye. Surprisingly, when she zipped over to the edge of the counter to pet it, the cat didn’t even flinch.

“Your cat is amazingly calm,” the grandparent said to the young cashier.

“Yes, and he needs a new home, unfortunately. The former owners had to move and couldn’t take Diablo with them.” The woman’s raven hair was as dark as the cat’s fur.

“Diablo?” The older woman quickly pulled her phone from her purse as her granddaughter continued to pet the cat. “Jim. It’s me. How would you like to give an abandoned cat a new home?”

I wrote this for week #42 of Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. 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 176.

I admit that the photo didn’t immediately inspire a pulse-pounding, dynamic tale of action and adventure, but I remembered my wife telling me that she took our granddaughter to a local gardening and feed store the other day, and they did have a cat there needing a new home. On a separate occasion, I’ve visited another branch of the same store and saw chicks in a heated case, so I put the two events together.

And no, we didn’t adopt the cat. I made that part up.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. As of this writing, I’m the first to contribute, so please consider adding your own wee tale.

Thanks.