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.

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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.

Escaping Paradise

road

Photo credit: Jodi McKinney

“Are you sure this is the right move?” Sixteen-year-old Erin leaned forward against her seatbelt so her Dad, who was driving, could hear her.

“It’s too late to ask now. All our stuff’s moved to the new place in Glenbrook, the house in San Francisco finally sold, so Nevada is our new home.” He chuckled until he saw his wife giving him “the look,” which the middle-aged executive consultant could see out of his peripheral vision.

“Phil,” Esther hissed, adding emphasis.

“Sorry, Erin. I know you miss your friends, your school…”

“Everything,” she moaned. Erin’s six and ten year old brothers Matt and Chad were asleep next to her. “Am I the only one who cares what this move will do to us?”

“We’ve talked about all this.” Esther turned around in the front passenger seat to look at her daughter. “Your Dad’s right about what a mess things have become in the Bay Area. Look at this move as an adventure. I promise that in a year, it’ll be a lot better.

I wrote this for the 195th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 173.

I haven’t lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the early 1980s, but I do keep up on the news. Most of it sounds pretty bad. The article I read this morning is called Videos shows Santa Con attendees trashing popular SF restaurant, reporting how two women tore a restaurant apart because the payment for their food orders was in dispute. I had to look up Santa Con, but vandalizing an establishment and assaulting an employee doesn’t seem much like the spirit of Christmas.

I also read recently how people from expensive portions of California, including LA and the Bay Area, are leaving in droves going to much lower cost Nevada.

In 1994, my family moved from Orange County, California to Boise, Idaho for similar reasons, but mainly because the nearest drive by shooting was a mile and a quarter from our house and we didn’t want our (then) little children to get shot, or involved in drugs and gangs.

Life isn’t perfect here, but with each news story I read, I must say I’m glad I’ve lived here for the past 24 years. My daughter, who is now 30, made the decision to move to Northern California, but so far, both of my sons are still in Boise. I’m pretty sure David will always live here, and maybe Michael too, although I think he’d like a place where the politics were more “blue.”

Oh, Glenbrook, Nevada is pretty small, but it’s really a bedroom community for Carson City and Reno. It’s right on the shore of Lake Tahoe, and according to Google maps images, it’s really pretty.

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

The Hunted

Frankfurt Christmas Market

The Frankfurt Christmas Market – image found at frankfurt-tourismus.de – no credit listed

The Israeli had been born in Frankfurt, so the Christmas market was familiar. He used to sneak out with his Christian friends as a boy to sample the lights, the music, and the smell from the food vendors (though he was still observant enough not to partake).

Elon Rosenberg, late of the Israeli Air Force, victim of a tragic air crash after his F161 fighter had been shot down by a Syrian missile, horribly mutilated, and rebuilt from scratch by an eccentric Scottish scientist, had altered his appearance to look like a typical Frankfurter. His would-be assassins did not recognize him, but he saw the pair very clearly.

“I could just walk away,” he muttered. “But no one must know my secret.”

Hours later, a cook found the two bodies in a garbage bin. By then, the synthetic man was halfway to Wiesbaden and his next assignment.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 147.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Frankfurt, Germany. I discovered that there’s an annual Christmas Market in Frankfurt. Also, being a child of the 1960s, I love a good cold war thriller set in Europe, so I borrowed a character introduced late in my Mikiko Jahn/Synthetic Woman saga and inserted him here.

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

The Man Who Would Be God

railroad tunnel

© Dawn M. Miller

Fanatic time traveler Michael Robert Obe knew only murder could change the future. “Sorry, kid. This is the only way.” The eccentric (or insane) physicist held the bound five-year-old boy by the collar of his shirt while standing on the railway trestle.

“I loved this view when I was a kid. That’s why I brought you here. Too much at stake in my future world to let you live.”

The child looked up at his captor in terror.

“Good-bye, Freddie.”

Obe rolled Fredrick Christ Trump into the Colombia River to drown.

“Now to see what sort of world I’ve created.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo 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.

As you may have guessed, Fredrick Christ Trump was the father of our current President Donald Trump. I know this harkens back to the old time travel paradox of whether  or not you would kill Adolf Hitler as an infant in order to prevent the Holocaust. I’ve written stories like that before, but given that (at least in social media) any action that would inhibit, stop, impeach, erase, Donald Trump (or anyone conservative, or anyone suspected of being a Trump voter or at least not a Democrat) seems justified, I decided to take it one illogical step further. Would you murder Trump’s Dad when he was five years old to prevent a Trump presidency? In other words, would you kill an innocent little boy in cold blood because you think it’s the greater moral good?

Interesting question.

To read other (kinder, gentler) stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.