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.

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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.

Returning to Life

ferry

Photo credit: Dorothy

They seemed just two more Asian tourists sitting on a bench watching the ferry at Angel Island.

“When did you die here?” During her lifetime, she would never have asked such as direct question of a man, but death is very liberating.

“1899.” He was staring at the ferry and the multinational conglomeration of visitors, all happily chattering and oblivious to the history they were walking upon. “I had been a dock worker and got the plague. They sent me here for quarantine, but I was also sent here to die. You?”

“1922 when the island was an immigration station. I was suspected of having a disease, but I actually got a parasite from another Chinese immigrant. I suffered on the island eighteen months before I died.”

“How many others like us do you think are here?” He turned toward her finally, noticing that like him, she was dressed in modern clothing.

“Too many, but most won’t let go of the past.”

“If you’re ready, we can rejoin the living.”

They stood and held hands. “Yes, let’s.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge Week of April 3, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I was stuck about where the photo was actually taken, so I made something up.

When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I visited Angel Island many times. It’s accessible by ferry and you can take bicycles and ride around the entire island. It has a very interesting history, some of it very grim.

You can read the details of both when the island was used as a Quarantine Station and later as an Immigration Station (people could be held on the island for anywhere between two weeks and two years) for the context of my two characters.

In this case, I’ve given my couple a second chance at life, though I’ve kept the mechanism of how deliberately vague. If you can learn to let go of the pain of the past, you might find your way back to a new life and the rest of your future.

Guilty confession. I read this story before crafting my own and yes, it influenced me. My bad.

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

The Last Ride

christine

Scene from the 1983 film “Christine.”

Lance and Karl Ellis and their girlfriends Brandi and Jennie had been disappointed after visiting Cross Castle near Clinton Road. No Satan worshipers, goat’s heads, or dead cats. Now they were racing north as the Jiles black pickup roared after them.

Jennie screamed hearing another shotgun blast but Lance turned the curve just in time and it missed.

“We never should have come out here, Karl.” In the backseat, Brandi hit his shoulder.

“Wait. Can’t see his headlights in the mirror. He’s gone.”

They’d sought one terror and a different one nearly killed them. Now they were safe. Then the restored 1958 Plymouth Fury lunged forward.

“Slow down. We’re okay.” Jennie put her hand on Lance’s shoulder.

“It’s not me. The car’s doing it by itself.”

“Knock if off.” Karl was laughing nervously.

Then the radio came on and the analog tuner cycled across the dial picking out different stations, “Hello…kidz…I…am…Christine.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps image and location and use them as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Clinton Road, West Milford, New Jersey which according to the description, has a “strange reputation.” I started with Wikipedia but decided not to use it since there is so much else on the web about this stretch of highway.

There’s a ton of info at Weird NJ about the Ghost Boy and Cross Castle, but I also found an interesting article about the Jiles Jones Phantom pick-up truck. I used the latter two legends in my wee tale.

Then, just for fun, I added a small element from Stephen King’s 1983 novel Christine.

Rather than me writing lengthy descriptions of all of this, click the links I’ve provided to learn more.

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

No More Tears in Heaven

tears in heaven

Promotional art for Eric Clapton’s 1991 chart, “Tears in Heaven.”

“I don’t care what you do with it, I just want it gone,” Alex said, pointing at the dollhouse.

Beth was on her knees, her arms around Nicole’s favorite plaything. “Oh please, Alex. We gave it to her for her seventh birthday. She loved it more than anything else. Don’t make me throw it away.”

He stood defiantly at the threshold to Nicole’s bedroom. “Then give it away, a children’s hospital, the Goodwill, whatever, but I need it gone. I’m going to work now. When I get home, the dollhouse better not be here.” Then he spun and almost ran down the hall. He seemed so furious but Beth knew he was terrified. She should have been too, but she missed Nicole so much, she’d take her back anyway she came, even as a ghost.

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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.