The Sins of Our Fathers

San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia

Near San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia – © Google 2018

The vintage Beechcraft AT-11 landed eight souls on a little dirt airstrip near San Ignacio de Velasco in Bolivia. Intelligence said he’d be making a stopover in this tiny hamlet to visit an old friend, another German expat.

He’d just founded Transmaritima, Bolivia’s first ocean shipping company and was anxious to brag about it, especially to other war criminals who were still cowering in fear.

The aircraft halted and the pilot killed the engines. “We’ll be returning to La Paz as soon as we refuel. We won’t be coming back unless we get your signal.”

Five of the passengers had already disembarked with their equipment. The sixth approached the cockpit. “If we don’t succeed, there will be no reason to come back.”

“You’ll succeed.”

“We plan to. The sons of Nazi butchers must wipe the blood from our hands. In less than twenty-four hours, Klaus Barbie will be dead.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take the Google maps image and location presented and use it to inspire crafting a flash fiction piece no longer than 150 words. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia. According to Wikipedia, there isn’t much information available about the town or José Miguel de Velasco Province. However, both articles mention the area possessing a small population of the descendants of post-World War II German immigrants.

That was the hook.

Looking at this morning’s email notification from Bookbub, I’d seen a title by Tania Crasnianski (translated by Molly Grogan) called Children of Nazis which includes interviews with the children of Himmler, Göring, Höss, Mengele and others.

I also found a 1982 New York Times article about Klaus Barbie, who was the SS commander in Lyons, France between 1942 and 1944. He had fled to Bolivia after the war and unfortunately, did quite well for himself.

In the 1960’s, Barbie really did found Transmaritima, Bolivia’s first ocean shipping company, in a joint venture with the navy. I decided to put all of that together and formed an elite team of assassins, the sons of Nazi war criminals, who had taken on the mission of wiping their bloody legacy from the face of the Earth.

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

Oh, among other fun facts, San Ignacio de Velasco in the present day does have a dirt strip for an “airport.” Figured they could have one in the 1960s as well. Keep in mind this is fiction, and Barbie was not assassinated. He was eventually captured, tried, convicted, and died in prison in Lyon, France in 1991 at the age of 77.

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The Highjump Mystery

U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5

A U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner in flight – Public Domain

December 30, 1946 – Antarctica

“George 1 calling Little America base, come in Little America, over.”

The radio receiver aboard the US Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner flying somewhere near Thurston Island emitted harsh static but no message of hope.

“Nothing doing, Lieutenant.” Radioman James Robbins turned to Bill Kearns, the aircraft’s co-pilot. I can’t raise anyone. It’s like there’s no one out there.”

“And I can’t see anything through this blizzard. Can you figure out our heading, Skipper?” The expression on Kearns’ face was one of bewilderment.

“Magnetic and radio compasses are useless.” Captain Ted Burns gripped the aircraft’s yoke as if some force were trying to tear it out of his hands. “There’s some sort of interference, but we’re not close enough to the magnetic pole for that to be the cause.”

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The Pirate Anne Bonny

Anne Bonny

Artist’s depiction of the pirate Anne Bonny

The crash of wave and snap of sail sung to her, and Anne Bonny was never more alive than when she was at sea. Now that she and Calico Jack Rackham were wedded, aboard the stolen and former Royal Navy frigate “William,” she, Rackham, and her closest companion Mary Read had recruited a new crew and were far from Governor Rogers and his Nassau boot lickers.

“Wanted pirates. That’s what they’ll call us, isn’t that true Annie?”

“Aye and it is, Mary. It is true, and we’ll plunder the continent from Boston to the Carolinas. We’ll be rich, and as respected as much as any man.”

“But Calico Jack still be the Captain.”

Anne turned the wheel to bring the mainsail into the wind. Jack was inspecting the repairs on the foredeck, and there was no member of the crew close enough to hear them over the roar of the sea.

“That’s true as well, Mary, but all things be temporary.”

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The President’s Ill-Fated Proposal

tulum

Photo Credit: Popo le Chien – 13 Sept 2016 – Tulum’s Templo del Dios Viento (Temple of Wind God, left) and Castillo (castle, right)

President Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Henry Seward stood at what was called the Temple of the God of Wind at Tulum gazing northeast over the waters toward the island of Corzumel. Mexican President Benito Juarez summarily dismissed Lincoln’s proposal for American freed slaves to be relocated to that small bit of land off the Yucatan peninsula, but Seward had to see it for himself.

Lincoln was the President, and Seward did what he was told, but his conscience as a man and a Christian told him that if a man were truly free and a citizen of the United States, then his former status as slave should be wiped clean, rather than him becoming a societal pariah. If only he could convince the President of this.

The breeze in his face, Seward became a prophet. “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

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

Of course, I looked up Tulum, but consulting Google maps, I found it was fairly close to the island of Cozumel. It was a small bit of history of that island from 1861 that caught my attention, since the proposal I write about above did actually occur.

I have no idea about how the real Seward felt about it, so I made something up. Also, it seems that Lincoln did succeed briefly, in 1862, in establishing a short-lived colony of ex-slaves on Île à Vache off the coast of Haiti.

The quote I put in Seward’s mouth is attributed to author George Orwell, which would indeed have made the Secretary of State a “prophet,” since Orwell wouldn’t be born until 1903.

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

The Dragon’s Head

dragon's head

Photo credit: Jeff Chep – Found at the Amusing Planet blog

Their campaign against Peking was succeeding, but General Hiroki Sato had to land his troops at Shanhai Pass, then march to the city to relieve the siege.

“Is this bombardment necessary? There are likely few Chinese troops present.”

Admiral Ako Yamamoto could barely hear above the cannon fire.

“Better this than an ambush.” He returned to his binoculars and gasped.

“What?” Sato took the binoculars from the terrified Yamamoto and beheld a sight he thought only possible in myth.

This end of the Great Wall of China, regaled in fable as the “dragon’s head,” was proving that its name was not merely symbolic. Stone, brick, tamped earth, and wood was miraculously transforming into an enormous serpent, the legendary defender of China.

A thousand men met their fate in the sea that morning in July of 1900, and then the dragon rose to destroy the rest of the invaders investing her land.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps street image and location 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 The Great Wall of China. As you might imagine, the wall has a long and fascinating history, which makes crafting a wee tale about it difficult.

I decided to focus on its western edge, which is at Lop Nur or “Lop Lake.” I discovered that in July 1900 (or 1904 depending on the source), the Japanese landed troops at Shanhai Pass where the wall dips into the sea, to re-enforce a siege against Peking. You can click the link to Amusing Planet to learn more, but that part of the wall is called “the dragon’s head” because it looks like a dragon dipping down to have a drink from the ocean.

Now imagine that the wall isn’t really a wall, and you’ve got a fantastic tale on your hands.

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

The Too Close Encounter

alien ship

Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie blog – No photo credit given

Captain Isaiah Morrison, for such had he once been called, late of the Confederate States Army, having found himself without a home or family, thanks to that damned Yankee Major General William Sherman and his “Scorched Earth policy,” had spent these past ten years in the Territories of the untamed West prospecting for gold (among other activities). His living was meager but sufficient, and now approaching middle-age, a time when men add distinction to the beginnings of waning vigor, he was riding his paint toward town in the hour before dawn to resupply and spend some few short hours in the bed of a hired woman.

The stars were brilliant above him and he stopped momentarily to appreciate the grandeur of God’s great masterpiece, spread before him in all its splendor, ancient, spinning fires contrast against the utter blackness of the infinite void.

Sentient indigenous experiment number 47 commencing. Approaching two mammalian life forms, sentient biped atop non-sentient, non-intelligent quadriped [query: could this be a mating practice].

Morrison was captivated by one star which did not match the pattern of the others. For one thing, it was moving against the flow of the constellations, for the second, it was growing larger, and finally, it was approaching his position.

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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 Beggarman Goes Hunting

Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves. (Credit: Public Domain)

Indian Territory – Oklahoma – 1880

The fact that he was a former slave was obvious because he was a black man of a certain age, but his clothes and his manner also marked him for a beggar and a thief on the run from the law, or at least that’s what it seemed.

Most folks thought they were safe from the law in Indian Territory. The region that would one day be known as Oklahoma was ruled by five tribes, the Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw, all forced from their ancestral homelands because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The tribes governed through their own courts but only had authority over themselves. That meant anyone not of the tribes, from a scalawag to a murderer, could only be pursued by Federal officers and not local law enforcement once they crossed into Indian Territory.

The beggarman had walked twenty some miles that day and he had another ten to go. He ate some of the hardtack and jerky he carried in a ratty looking burlap sack while he watched the small fire burn in front of him. He’d brought a blanket to guard against the cold as he slept on the grasslands of the high plains, but that was all the belongings a man could see. None of that bothered him including being approached silently from behind.

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Notzrim

jerusalem

David Roberts’ The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70

The group of men entering the synagogue at Terni caused murmuring among the Jewish men and not a few of the women. Everyone’s hearts sagged with news of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Holy Temple of Hashem by the Romans. These men had been there. They were refuges forced into the diaspora. How long had it been since any of the Terni Jews made the journey to the Holy City to offer Korban to Hashem?

After the reading of the Torah and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”

Yochanan stood and said, “Men of Yisrael, and you who fear Hashem, listen. Hashem has brought to Yisrael a Savior, Yeshua Ben Yosef, after Yochanan had proclaimed before his coming a mikvah of teshuvah to all our people and even the Goyim.”

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to Terni, Italy. Like most places in Europe, Terni has a rich history going back to ancient times. Wikipedia says Terni was founded around the 7th Century BCE and was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd Century BCE. I have no idea if in the late First Century CE there was a Jewish population and a synagogue present, but I pretended there was.

After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in 70 CE, there would doubtless have been countless Israeli refuges who were forced into the diaspora (exile among the nations). The Jews who had long lived in the cities and nations in the Roman empire would have journeyed to the Holy City only rarely because of the distance and difficulty in traveling in those days, so seeing a group of their Hebrew brothers arriving from the recently destroyed Jewish capital would have caused quite a stir, but there’s more than that.

It is a common belief in Christianity, Judaism, and even among other religions and in atheism that Jesus and then the Apostle Paul created a new religion called “Christianity” and converted many Jews and many more Gentiles to it. It is often thought that the Law (Torah) and all of the Jewish customs and traditions mandated by God were “nailed to the cross with Jesus.” My studies have convinced me that nothing could be further from the truth for the Jewish people.

The group of men from Jerusalem in my story are devout Jewish followers and disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) the foretold Maschiach (Messiah) and many witnessed him after the resurrection and then they told many others.

I borrowed a bit of Acts 13, specifically verses 15, 16, and 23 to put words in the mouth of my fictional Yochanan (John). Although Jewish devotion to Yeshua eventually fell away, we are unsure of just how many years or centuries such Jewish faith in him continued, perhaps even into the 3rd Century CE and beyond. No one knows for sure. However, that devotion would be a wholly Jewish extension of Pharisaic belief, not something that had no resemblance to its root source. That’s what I tried to communicate in 150 words.

For the sake of my narrative, I used a classic painting of the siege of Jerusalem above rather than an image associated with Terni, Italy.

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

Fugitive

wheelbarrow

© Dawn M. Miller

Even when he was a kid, he had always wanted a place in the country away from people. Sure, he had to put a lot of work into it over the years, but he was still in pretty good shape. He’d just cleared that dead tree which he’d turn into firewood tomorrow.

“Leave the freaking wheelbarrow for later, too.” He wiped the sweat from his brow with an old rag and then took a moment to look back down the dirt drive. It was almost a mile to the road, and that was just some little, rural ribbon of crumbling asphalt. He drove into town every other week or so to buy supplies augmenting what he grew in his field out back and the two hothouses.

He never had internet put in or used satellite for TV. Power came from solar and wind, used a septic tank since he was too far out for sewage, he was as self-sufficient as he could manage.

Conceivably they could still find him. He was as about off the grid as you can get, but they were relentless. When you pull off the world’s first skyjacking, you’ll never fall off their radar.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of February 4th 2018. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about the man authorities know as D.B. Cooper who, on 24 November 1971, hijacked a Boeing 727 extorting $200,000 (a lot of money in 1971) and then bailing out of the aircraft somewhere between Oregon and Washington. His true identity and whereabouts, assuming he survived the parachute jump, have never been established.

I read a news story yesterday where someone claimed to have broken the code Cooper left behind in his note of demands. Supposedly, Cooper is really Robert Rackshaw, a former member of Army intelligence, and the code he employed was one recognized as used by his unit.

Rackshaw is still alive and residing in the San Diego area but the FBI issued a statement saying they have no evidence to solve the case.

I had “Cooper” on my mind, so I thought I’d write about him.

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