The Grayland

spectral

© Sue Vincent

At first Alise Egan thought she had been trapped in a cursed painting of herself facing an ocean wave, but then she realized it was an interdimensional gateway to another reality. In the painting, the twenty-two year old MIT graduate looked much as she appeared in real life, tall, what her billionaire benefactor, the painting’s owner Keyne Harlan and men of his generation would call “curvy,” long, blond hair streaming behind her along with her extravagant crimson gown, a ostentatious gift from said-benefactor, the man who adopted her after her parents died.

But once across the chaotic field of alabaster and sapphire, she entered the realm of the dead. Well, that’s what they had wanted her to believe, all of the non-corporeal entities who inhabited that realm. Two of them had initially passed themselves off as her dead parents, but then she saw them for what they truly were, invaders intent on using her as a bridge from their world to hers for reasons unknown and undesired.

But one of them said, “Physical laws don’t apply here. There’s no difference between science and magic.” That’s when she realized she could do anything, and so she did. Alise pushed back, at first driving a few away from the threshold, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally all that there were, millions and tens of millions.

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The Eagle of Hans Langsdorff

eagle

© EPA – Graf Spee Eagle

He watched as divers brought up the figurehead of his beloved Graf Spee from the muddy depths where it had lain for nearly seventy years. If he could have wept, bitter tears would have streamed down his face, but this was denied him as well as peace he had sought long ago. Instead, damnation has been his constant companion, and though he could take no breath, what was once his heart was crushed at this bitter reminder.

They covered the swastika displayed beneath the eagle’s nine-foot wingspan out of consideration of those still sensitive to Hitler’s bloody legacy. So be it. The Nazi dream was just as dead as Hitler, and just as dead as Captain Hans Langsdorff who committed suicide two days after scuttling the German battleship rather than have it fall into enemy hands. How fleeting and meaningless history has rendered his ship and his wandering spirit.

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 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Montevideo, Uruguay. As usual, I looked up the location and under 20th century, I found this:

During World War II, a famous incident involving the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee took place in Punta del Este, 200 kilometers (120 mi) from Montevideo. After the Battle of the River Plate with the Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy on 13 December 1939, the Graf Spee retreated to Montevideo’s port, which was considered neutral at the time. To avoid risking the crew in what he thought would be a losing battle, Captain Hans Langsdorff scuttled the ship on 17 December. Langsdorff committed suicide two days later. The eagle figurehead of the Graf Spee was salvaged on 10 February 2006; to protect the feelings of those still sensitive to Nazi Germany, the swastika on the figurehead was covered as it was pulled from the water.

I found the story verifying this at BBC News and the rest, as they say, is history.

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

Oh, the location seemed familiar, and earlier this year, I wrote a tale for the same location.

Dark Carnival

carnival

Image credit Grace Ho via Unsplash

“Oneida, I wish you wouldn’t torture yourself this way. Come back with me.” Del held out long, skeletal fingers toward the diaphanous waif that he loved with all his heart, that is, if he still had one.

“Just a few more minutes. I like to hear their laughter.”

“We have laughter, too. It just takes a bit of adjustment.”

“I know.” She continued to stare wistfully at the people being whisked about on the rides. “You’ve told me before.” She turned towards him, a quizzical look on what was once her face. “How long has it been?”

“Since you arrived? Barely a decade, my love.”

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The Lady in Black

woman in pool

Image credit Mari Lezhava via Unsplash

The lady in black, as the tabloids dubbed her, had drowned in Victor Fountain’s swimming pool five years ago and now she was back. Marcela Saenz was twenty-eight when she died. Mr. Fountain, CEO and President of one of the top software engineering companies in the world, was on holiday with his family at the time and had no knowledge about how the personal assistant for his company’s Marketing director had gotten onto his property.

The coroner declared the case death by misadventure. Based on the contusion on the back of Ms. Saenz’s head, and the amount of water in her lungs, he determined that she must have fallen into the pool, struck her head against the side, rendering her unconscious, and subsequently drowned.

Her body was found by Johnny Morales, an employee of a pool cleaning service, some forty-eight hours after she died. The nineteen-year-old quit his job the next day.

Marcela Saenz drowned in Victor Fountain’s swimming pool five years ago today. The pool had temporarily been drained to repair a cracked drainage pipe.

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The Haunted Detective

san francisco 1947

San Francisco Chronicle Archives – From the back of the photo: “F Car goes through – The two months long blockade of the Fourth and Market intersection ended completely yesterday morning as F cars moved from Fourth Street across Market into Stockton. While police officers experimented with the new traffic pattern at the complex five-way intersection, workmen rolled down the last of the fill in the project. City officials hope the revised schedule will end one or more downtown bottlenecks.” September 9, 1947.

“I keep telling you this, Marguerite, but you never listen. You are just as breakable as the next person, maybe more so given your line of work.”

Private Investigator Margurite Carter was getting sick and tired of Cohen’s lectures. “Do I tell you how to stitch a cut, Sawbones? Just do your job. I haven’t got all night for you to fix up my broken wing. And what’s that crack about me being more breakable? I’m as tough as any guy in the business.”

“Tell that to your broken arm. It’s a good thing you’re left-handed. From the way you described the thug who jumped you, he must have had a hundred pounds on you. By the way, the name’s Dr. Cohen or Joel, not Sawbones.” The fatherly doctor tightened the binding a little too much on his thirty-year-old mouthy patient just to make his point.

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Where the Ghosts Come From

ghost

Pedro Fogueras pexels-photo-626164 shadow

“Let me out, do you hear? Let me out!”

Olsen Hoyt pressed his intangible form against a non-existent boundary between the neither-world and the real one.

“Why did you do this to me? I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Pressing his non-face against the nothing holding him, he wept nullified tears.

Their plan was to leave Hoyt, and everyone like him, alone in the dark for all eternity, but inventor Dennis Tyson couldn’t resist adding more payback. He walked into the Qualdonitron control systems matrix and selected his former supervisor’s virtual cell, one of over a billion. Then he whispered across the void, “You deserve it.”

“Who’s there? Why do I deserve this?”

“Your kind has been in control long enough. It’s time for the rest of us to take charge. Monsters don’t deserve existence, but death isn’t punishment enough. Now thanks to the invention of the Qualdonitron, the privilege of dominance is ours.”

“Privilege?”

“Your people have caused millennium of suffering. Now it’s our turn to create the pain.”

It took all those like Hoyt countless years, but eventually, they learned how to come back to the world as ghosts. Now their presence would be forever haunting.

I wrote this for the Week #26 Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. 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 very loosely based my story on some of the lyrics from Gordon Lightfoot’s 1971 classic song If You Could Read My Mind and specifically:

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see.

Of course, there are other themes involved, but I’ll leave it to the reader to discover who Hoyt and Tyson could possibly represent.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. As I’ve said in previous weeks, this link up still needs a lot of love, so please consider contributing a story. Thanks.

Spirits of the Canyon

palo duro night

Found at the Stars of Texas – milkyway timelapse project YouTube channel

“The stars are very beautiful Travis, but I still don’t understand what you expect us to see out here. I mean camping in Palo Duro Canyon under the Milky Way is a very romantic honeymoon, but…”

“Cassie, our ancestors lived here for thousands of years before being displaced, first by the Comanche and Kiowa, and then by the Army. This had been Apache land for ten, maybe fifteen thousand years.”

“I’m not an idiot and you didn’t bring me here to give me a first nations lecture.”

“No, I didn’t. My grandfather Chano says that you can still see them here on quiet nights. If we sit peacefully by the water, they’ll appear to us just as they were.”

“Who?”

“Our ancestors. You can kill our bodies, but the Great Spirit will always preserve us.”

“Look, Travis. You’re right.” Her brown eyes grew wide with wonder.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps location and/or street view as the inspiration for crafting a tale no more than 150 words long. My word count is 146.

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Big Cave, Palo Duro State Park in Texas. Palo Duro Canyon is breathtakingly beautiful and has a rich history which, apart from the appearance of spirits, I have faithfully represented in my wee story. Click the link I just provided to read more about it.

Oh, I borrowed the names of Travis and Cassie Fox from my homage to Andre Norton’s (Alice Norton’s) science fiction novel Galactic Derelict, but besides the names, this story has nothing to do with time or space travel.

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

Scourge of the South China Sea

Ching Shih

YouTube/Wikimedia Commons/ATI Composite – Ching Shih

Sixteen-year-old Robin Burgess approached the waves on the shore a private island off Macau, the beach more pristine than even those of the big island of Hawaii. She moved with an exaggerated swagger, rather than a sensual movement to her hips. Her lithe cocoa skin was barely attired in her cream-colored bikini, though no man or boy was present to witness. On this summer vacation, she meant to conquer the sea, not merely swim in it, as she clutched her fins in one hand, and her mask and snorkel in the other.

Upon donning her undersea accessories, she plunged into the surf, finally achieving propinquity with shell and finned fish alike. One of her companions was a small Tiger Shark, but it seemed more curious than threatening.

Off shore some minutes later, she surfaced to investigate the appearance of a Chinese Junk, the name Nene emblazoned on her bow accompanied by a painting of a gray-brown goose.

“The legends are true and she’s here right on time.”

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The Ancient Sentinel

view town

MorgueFile 4892a52c8a86992fa06093c9776be99d

It was a beautiful morning in early April, and from his position at the old fort, he had a wonderful view of the town below. Although it was overcast, everything seemed so fresh, the trees lush with greenery, the people driving and walking along the streets and byways. It was so peaceful.

He looked at the bell suspended just below and to his left. It had been ages since it rang the alarm. No longer did the people have to fear air raids, and the threat of an invasion was a distant memory that children now studied in their history texts.

There was no reason for him to remain at his station or so it seemed. He had discharged his duty and died at his post decades ago.

But the world was not safe just because the dangers were not obvious. Children were dying in Syria from chemical attacks, and although firearms were largely outlawed there, terrorists had turned to murdering with knives in London.

There was nowhere in the world truly safe, which was why the old sentinel remained on guard. When they came for his people, he would sound the alarm again to save them.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge of week #15. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

The platform on the left reminded me of the ruins of an old fort, and the town could be in an unspecified area of Europe, perhaps Scandinavia. So my old soldier is a ghost who died during World War Two, and yet who continues to do his due and guard his people. As I’ve suggested in the body of my story, the world is never truly at peace.

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

P.S. This photo challenge doesn’t have many participants, so if you have the urge to write, please consider contributing a wee tale. Thanks.

The Ghost of the Montreal Symphony House

symphony

© Dale Rogerson

The Montreal Symphony House had been built less than a decade before, but something much older was there. It caused the ornate lighting to sway and cell coverage was always spotty.

His name used to be Erik, and his spirit was first manifest in Paris over a century ago. After departing from there, he has appeared wherever opera or symphonic music was played.

Once he died for love, and now beyond death’s power, he lives for the music of the night. He has been called the Angel of Music, the Opera Ghost, but more commonly, he is the Phantom.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.

I saw that the photo is credited to Dale Rogerson and doing a bit of online sleuthing, I discovered she may (not sure about this) live near Montreal.

Since the photo’s file name is “dales-symphony-2,” it seemed reasonable to conclude that this was a photograph of the interior of the Montreal Symphony House at Place des Arts. The scene now being set, I just had to think of a hook.

Although this is a symphony house, I thought that the spirit of The Phantom of the Opera (Wikipedia page for the novel) might be attracted to it, a wandering soul seeking to sojourn anywhere that plays the “music of the night,” to borrow from Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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