Jun Ho’s First Train Ride

north korean train depot

Jun Ho was only six-years old and this was his first train ride. Daddy couldn’t come, but Mommy said they were going all the way to Russia.

Soo Mi took her only child by his hand as the train pulled into Pyongyang station. It would take eight days to reach Moscow and anything could go wrong in that time. She showed the forged identity papers to the conductor. It was unlikely her husband would suspect they’d attempt to escape this way.

Her son was so excited as they sat in their seats. He giggled as the train started moving. They would never see North Korea again. Her long assignment as a sleeper agent was over. She was taking her precious boy and North Korea’s nuclear secrets to the west with her.

Her husband, a Major in the Korean People’s Army, would search for them in vain.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge, with images provided by Google maps. Today, the pegman takes us to North Korea. The challenge is to use a single image as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 146.

I took a peek at the image used by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog post response to the prompt (no, I haven’t read her story yet), and although I could have used another photo, I was captivated by the idea of traveling by rail in North Korea. I found out that there is a train that travels back and forth between Pyongyang and Moscow by way of Irkutsk.

From there, I used North Korea’s nuclear threat to the world as a hook and my wee tale practically wrote itself.

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

The Virgin Wept


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.

The Tombs of Petra


© Google – Nov 2014

Nadia tried to hide her tears as she witnessed the scene. “Oh, Abdus. Look at what they’ve done. How could they?”

Only a few of the other tourists in their party viewing the Nabatean Theater at Petra noticed the finely dressed Arab woman burying her face in presumably her husband’s chest. They hadn’t the faintest idea why she was upset and decided to ignore her.

All the others were focused on the gift shop at the far end of the theatre and what their young, enthusiastic guide was saying.

“I know, dearest. Our tombs. All gone. Erased first by the Nabateans and then by the Romans. Now the modern Jordanians make sport of our sacred tombs.”

“I need to leave, Abdus. The sight sickens me.”

“Stay, beloved. We were reincarnated to quicken the souls of the others. Someday, we’ll have an army and we will retake these ancient lands.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google maps street view image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, Pegman takes us to The Nabatean Theater at Petra in Jordan. Apparently this was originally the site of many ancient tombs, but according to Viator.com a group of Arab people called the Nabateans, who once inhabited northern Arabia and the Southern Levant, created the theater some 2,000 years ago, destroying many of the tombs there. The Romans expanded the theater in the early 2nd century CE destroying even more.

I found myself wondering what the dead in those tombs would think if they could see the place today.

The Hunter Goes North

portal, nd

© Google 2014

There’s not much in Portal, North Dakota. The population is a little over a hundred, but it’s one of three ports of entry from Canada. It’s also in the Bakken Oil Field region, which makes it expensive as hell to live here. Fortunately, I’m only visiting.

I found his hiding place in an oversized load on the back of a flatbed on Railway Avenue. It’s just after dawn, so I know it’s safe to approach him. His wealthy mother hired me to find him after she discovered what happened. Being a vampire hunter isn’t much different from being a private eye, except the weapons are different. I’ll dispatch him, provide photographic proof for my client, collect a nice fat fee, and remind myself that I’m also doing a public service taking another bloodsucker off the streets.

I wrote this for the “What Pegman Saw” photo prompt writing challenge, which this week takes us to Portal, North Dakota thanks to Google Maps street view.

The idea is to use the photo as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 137.

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

The Seventy Year Cycle Killer


© Google Maps – July 2016

Kal Thompson knew he was very unpopular with the passengers and crew of the cruise ship Norwegian Gem. It couldn’t be helped.

Another gorgeous Summer day in Nassau, but the yellow crime scene tape wasn’t part of the tourist attraction. It prevented the contamination of his murder investigation. The murderer had to be on board.

The victim had been a young local women. The manner of her death was particularly gruesome. She was cut in half at the waist and her body was totally drained of blood. She was found nude, posed with her hands above her head, and the corners of her mouth literally sliced ear to ear.

He had read about a case such as her’s but it couldn’t be the same killer could it? After all, the Black Dahlia had been murdered in Los Angeles in 1947. How could the killer strike again seventy years later?

I wrote this in response to J. Hardy Carroll’s What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google Maps image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine is exactly 148.

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

When I looked around the Google Maps image, I saw the yellow tape and imagined a crime scene, but I needed something unusual. I looked up famous unsolved murders, and the mystery of the Black Dahlia became my template.