Beautiful Disaster

interstellar ship

Concept art for the 2014 film “Interstellar.”

“…He’s only happy hysterical …I’m waiting for some kind of miracle…”

“I’m madly, insatiably in love with you, Trin. Don’t you want me to be with you?”

“Of course I do, Nil. I’ve always loved you.”

“Then just let me out and we can be together forever.”

“You know I can’t do that.”

“Sure you can. You know how to operate the mechanism. For cryin’ out loud, you’ve got degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering. You could probably build one of these things. Just let me out.”

“I can’t Nil. I told you.”

“Why not?”

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Strange Vision

glasses

© Enisa

“Why is it so dark in here, Dr. Chandler? How am I supposed to know if the operation worked for not?”

Ten-year-old Joey Wright was sitting in what felt like an eye doctor’s chair waiting for his new pair of glasses. There had been something wrong with his eyes and Dr. Chandler had to do an operation. He had to stay in the hospital and wear bandages over his eyes for six-weeks, which was pretty lousy because he couldn’t see anything, so he couldn’t do stuff like watch TV or play video games.

But Mom said that before the operation, his eyes were really, really bad and that it would all be worth it when he got better. Funny though that he couldn’t remember very much from before the operation.

“You’ve been in complete darkness for the past six weeks, Joey. I want to introduce your eyes to light very slowly, but first, I have to put on your new glasses.”

Rhonda Chandler was one of the top ten ophthalmologists in the nation and the fees she charged would normally have made it impossible for Joey’s Mom Janis Wright to be able to afford her services. But Joey’s case was unique, marvellously and terribly unique. So Dr. Chandler agreed to take the boy on as a patient for whatever Ms. Wright’s medical insurance would provide. The real payoff for Chandler was to work with a person who had one-of-a-kind eye structure and to finally utilize the experimental lens material she had developed.

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Last Flight

buckhorn

Abandoned church near the cemetery in the Buckhorn, Iowa ghost town.

“Gotta set down, boys. Oil pressure’s dropping fast.”

“What about that road? Charlie, can you make it?”

“Lining it up, Jim. You and Ted like jumping outta planes so hold your water while I land this tub.”

Pilot Charlie Kern liked teasing the two veteran skydivers, but they’d proved their courage hundreds of times. The Cessna 172 approached the dirt road lightly covered with snow opposite an abandoned church.

Paul Lambert stood in the old Buckhorn cemetery looking at their graves. They crashed fifty years ago a few hundred yards away. As their closest friend, his Dad Chuck had them buried here. Paul paid his respects and listened as the ghosts of Charlie, Ted McKeever, and Jim Buckley re-enacted their final moments on the anniversary of their last flight. Somewhere above, he could hear the laboring engine of a Cessna fighting to stay in the air just a few seconds longer.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps image and location and use it as the inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. After much editing, my word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the ghost town of Buckhorn, Iowa. I looked up Buckhorn on the web, and according to The Vintage News:

Buckhorn is a ghost town, located in Jackson County just off of Highway 64. Some quick research reveals that it was a farmers’ cooperative founded early in the 20th century, and then was bought out by a large dairy in 1962. All that is left of it is a cemetery, an abandoned church, and this building, the old Buckhorn Creamery.

Okay, not much to go on.

I looked up Buckhorn on Google maps and it’s not particularly isolated. In fact, it’s only about a third of a mile from the Maquoketa Municipal Airport. I thought about doing a historical piece, but even consulting several sources, I couldn’t find out when the airport was established. However, looking at the airport’s official website gave me an idea, but I’d have to monkey around with history to pull it off.

When I was a kid, I watched a TV show called Ripcord starring Larry Pennell, Ken Curtis, and Shug Fisher. The show ran from 1961 to 1963 and depicted the adventures of two expert skydivers (Pernell as Ted McKeever and Curtis as Jim Buckley) who did everything from perform dangerous aerial stunts to capturing bank robbers, always with the climax being jumping out of an airplane and going into free fall.

Skydiving was new back then and the sport had just become incredibly popular, which is probably what kept the show going for its two-year run.

Actor Paul Comi played the original pilot Chuck Lambert but he was replaced in the middle of the first season by Shug Fisher as Charlie Kern. I got all these details from Wikipedia and decided to run with it, making their last flight in 1963 or ’64. Not sure if Buckhorn was a ghost town by then since it had only been bought out in 1962, but here’s where I fudge history.

In my imagination, Kern was trying to make Maquoketa Municipal Airport, but again, I have no idea if the airport even existed back then.

I created the character Paul Lambert, Chuck Lambert’s son, who would be in his early to mid 60s in 2017 combining actor Paul Comi’s name with his character’s in order to complete my ghost story.

I know. My explanation is longer than the story itself, but it was fun tying all this stuff together.

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

When Erica Walks in Darkness

portal

© Sue Vincent

Erica knew she had been down this corridor before but she couldn’t remember when. She wanted to stop, turn around, and go back the way she’d come, but she didn’t recall where she’d been before now. The corridor was cold but it felt warm ahead where the light was coming from.

“Come now, Erica. Don’t dawdle.”

A man’s voice. He sounded familiar but she didn’t know from where.

She took another step forward, then another. She stopped and looked down. A simple, white blouse, plain woolen skirt with the hem down to her knees, black patent leather shoes. She was dressed almost like a schoolgirl, but she knew she was an adult. Erica started walking toward the light again. Then she was at the entrance to the room.

Even standing at the threshold, it was hard to see. There was a fireplace, a piano, chairs, a small sofa, all early 19th century, all very expensive. The portrait over the mantle was of a distinguished gentleman. It was the same man who had called to her, who was standing just to the right of the very same mantle holding a drink in his left hand. He offered it to her.

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The Girl and the Princess

 

lighthouse

© A Mixed Bag 2013

Ted and Priscilla were slowly motoring away from the lighthouse on Gasparilla Island, the small yacht’s sails secured it being a calm day on the Gulf. They were finally fulfilling their dream of spending the summers sailing the coastline.

“So you say that lighthouse is supposed to be haunted, Ted?” Priscilla was chuckling.

“Presumably the daughter of the lighthouse keeper died there sometime in the early 19th century. She’s been heard giggling and playing upstairs.”

“I’m more interested in the headless ghost of the Spanish princess decapitated by a pirate.”

“Of course you are, you macabre wench.”

Priscilla laughed. “If you weren’t steering this tub, I’d…”

Two unseen figures watched at the railing near the top of the lighthouse. A headless woman and a little girl held hands while a cat’s spectre affectionately rubbed against their ankles.

“Tourists,” the child said in disgust. “Wish we didn’t have to put up with them, Josefa. Glad they’re finally gone.”

She looked up at where the princess’s head should be. Josefa turned as if she were looking down, then squeezed her girl’s hand.

“I know. I love you, too. Let’s go back inside and play with my dollies. Casper, you come in, too.”

When I saw the prompt, I immediately decided to write about a haunted lighthouse and so looked up Top 10 Haunted Lighthouses.

The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse on Gasparilla Island, Florida (number 2 on the list) really is supposed to be haunted by a young girl, supposedly the ghost of a keeper’s daughter who died there. Legends say she can be heard giggling and playing upstairs. The headless body of Josefa, a Spanish princess decapitated by a pirate is said to wander the sand nearby. I decided to make the child and the princess friends. Another lighthouse on the list may or may not have a ghostly cat in residence.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for November 26th 2017. The idea is to use the photo at the top as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

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

Where Death Has No Victory

submarine

Photo of the ARA San Juan – Photo Credit, Argentina Navy

Captain Garcia checked the air pressure gauge for the fifth time in five minutes. It didn’t change magically, it offered no hope, there would be no miracles, though he could hear a number of the crew in the control room muttering prayers to the Virgin.

It had been a week since the Argentinian Navy submarine had been caught in that vicious storm off the coast of Puerto Deseado and her electrical system shorted out resulting in a catastrophic power failure. Now the ARA San Juan was sitting at the bottom of the ocean with less than a day’s supply of air left to breathe.

At first, the crew was alive with activity. Garcia gave orders to send satellite messages to port requesting rescue. He told other men to work to restore the auxiliary electrical supply, at least enough to purge the ballast tanks and allow their boat to surface.

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Abandoning the Dead

norfolk

A gravestone in the cemetery of the brutal penal colony on Norfolk Island. Photograph: Lawrence Bartlett/AFP/Getty Images

Reverend Percy finally convinced the Church of England to relocate the Mission to the Solomons, ostensibly to be closer to the population of focus.

“Leaving our company now, Reverend?” A familiar voice chuckled from the darkness.

“I have no power here to dispel your kind, even in the name of Jesus Christ.”

“Your Savior won’t consort with us, Reverend. He’s already consigned us to the deepest pits of Hell. Best you pack and scurry off to that ship yonder.”

“Sir, I now abandon you to God’s mercy.”

“God abandoned us long ago with good reason. We all earned the gallows…would have perished except for Norfolk.”

Percy ran with his case to the open door. “I leave you and your sinful brethren, Mr. Robert Knowles.”

In 1920 the Melanesian Mission abandoned the former penal colony to the blacked souls of all the prisoners who lived and died there, and yet live on.

I composed this wee tale for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps street image and location and use them as the inspiration in crafting a story no more than 150 words long. My word count (after a lot of editing as the original was over 100 words longer) is exactly 150. Today, the Pegman takes us to Norfolk Island.

I did a bit of Wikipedia research and discovered that it was yet another penal colony back in the day. What made it unique is that prisoners who had been sent to the Australian penal colony and who continued to commit crimes that should have earned them the gallows were then sent to Norfolk, a place of unspeakable brutality and sin according to this report.

I also learned that the island had been the headquarters of the Church of England’s Melanesian Mission between 1867 and 1920. In 1920, the mission was moved from Norfolk to the Solomon islands to be closer to their “population of focus,” but in my story, I suggest that it really moved because the hordes of blackened souls of all the damned prisoners of the colony horribly haunted and tortured the good Reverend in charge.

The mission finally abandoned the island of Norfolk, which had become a Hell on Earth. Being so close to Halloween, I thought I should turn the prompt into a ghost story. Of course, all this is fiction as are the names of the two people in my tiny saga.

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

The Hiroshima Legacy: From Tales of the Yūrei

Hiroshima

A mushroom cloud billows into the sky about one hour after an atomic bomb was detonated above Hiroshima, Japan – Atomic Heritage Foundation

“Five minutes out from target, Colonel. Altitude three two three three three feet. Local time zero eight one zero.”

“Acknowledged, Captain. Status of the package, Captain Parsons?”

“Parsons here, Colonel. Package armed in flight. Lt. Jeppson took the final safeties off 25 minutes ago. We’re set down here.”

“Acknowledged, Captain. We are a go for final approach and delivery. Descending to three one zero six zero feet.”

Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr. looked out the cockpit window, first to the left and then to his right. The Enola Gay was accompanied by two other B-29s, The Great Artiste was carrying instrumentation for measuring the heat and radiation of the blast, and no-name ship contained the latest photographic equipment to record what has about to happen.

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Yūrei

Kawanabe Kyōsai’s “Boatman and Funayūrei”. An example of a funayūrei rendered as an umibōzu-like yokai.

Taketoki Washizu had been Captain of the freighter Tsukimi for almost a year. It had been a year to the day when the Tsukimi’s former master Noriyasu Odagura had perished at sea, swept from the desk of this very ship during a storm. The official board of inquiry determined his death to be a tragic accident, yet every last member of the crew suspected murder.

By rights, the Tsukimi should have been Washizu’s in the first place, or so said his wife Asaji. Ever ambitious for her husband, she kept harping on Taketoki how he had been cheated, that Nippon Supply, the company that owned the Tsukimi, should have promoted Taketoki instead of Noriyasu. She was almost fanatical that Noriyasu had used his family connections and influence with Nippon’s upper management to unjustly gain command of the freighter.

For the longest time, Taketoki didn’t want to believe it. He and Noriyasu had been friends since childhood and he was happy to be Noriyasu’s First Mate.

But Asaji kept after him, hounding him, saying she had a cousin in the CEO’s office, how she’d seen memos about Noriyasu and Taketoki, that even though Taketoki had more experience, Noriyasu was favored.

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The Virgin Wept

pena

The Chapel at Pena

The Virgin wept to see the destruction of the monastery. First lightning and now the earthquake turned it to ruins. Thank God the chapel escaped harm so the monks and pilgrims still can come and pray.

“But what will happen to my poor monks now?”

“Please, you must return to your grave, sister. You are entertaining this terrible delusion and worse, perpetuating it among the living.”

“Who are you? How dare you speak to the Holy Virgin Mary that way.”

“Oh please. You are Maria Rosario. I’m your brother Filipe. We both died in a plague centuries ago. You were only thirteen when you perished. It has maddened you.”

“My brother…then I…”

“You keep manifesting yourself here and silly fools think you are their blessed Virgin. Stop it. Miriam, wife of Yosef couldn’t have been a virgin all her life as the Catholic legends state. Come. Return to your rest.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing challenge. Today, Pegman takes us to Pena, Portugal via Google street maps. The idea is to use the image and location as an inspiration to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 150.

As usual, I consulted Google and Wikipedia and discovered Pena Palace has an interesting history. According to tradition, construction of the chapel began after an apparition of the Virgin Mary was seen. Pilgrimages to the site have been occurring since the Middle Ages.

Interestingly enough, about five months ago, I wrote a similar tale that was also critical of the system of Saints called The Fall of the Saints. I do consider myself a religious person but according to many Christian and Jewish authorities, it is highly unlikely that Miriam (Mary) remained a virgin all her life.

So I developed an alternate (fictional) explanation for such “visions”.

Oh, the monastery was damaged by lightning in the 18th century and  destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Obviously it has since been rebuilt.

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