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.

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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.

Stepping Back

swanage pier

© Sandra Crook

“It’s not real.”

The building and pier are quite real, Jonathan.”

“But the scene inside the cafe looks like a painting, Raven.”

“Simply step through the door as you did previously.”

Jonathan Cypher walked toward the painting on the building in the English coastal town. Then there was an actual door and everything changed.

“It is now 1927. The men inside are members of the Communist party. A Soviet agent has recruited them to assassinate the King of England. You must stop them.”

The man without a past stepped back in time ninety years on his mission to rewrite history.

I authored this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge for 26 January 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I did a Google image search and discovered the Pier Head Cafe is located at Swanage Pier in Southern England. The Bizarro comic strip for 24 January 2018 depicted a one-panel joke set in 1927 so I had the year stuck in my head. I looked up 1927 at Wikipedia and discovered the following items:

  • January 19 – Great Britain sends troops to China to protect foreign nationals from spreading anti-foreign riots in Central China.
  • March 24 – Nanking Incident: After six foreigners have been killed in Nanking and it appears that Kuomintang and Communist Party of China forces would overrun the foreign consulates, warships of the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy fire shells and shot to disperse the crowds.
  • November 12 – Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin with undisputed control of the Soviet Union.

So I hatched a plot of the Communist party of China to assassinate King George V of England. The man who is passing himself off as a Soviet agent is really working for the Chinese (I edited this paragraph to be more historically accurate as per my conversation with Neil below). The word limit prevented me from explaining things in more detail.

I once again am using the characters Jonathan Cypher and Raven last seen in The Kepler Tomb. Of course there was no real plot to assassinate the King of England in 1927, but I needed to make up something.

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

Primordial

primordial soup

© Gyaban

The last place Christopher Sanderson expected to wake up was in a comfortable bed in a richly furnished and adorned room, though he was surprised to be waking up at all. Bright sunlight from the large open window on his right momentarily blinded him, but he welcomed the warm breeze, the rustling of tree branches, and what sounded like friendly bird cries which were so different from the cries of dying men.

Then it all came back to him and his beating heart began to race.

He heard two quick knocks on the door which then immediately opened. A very large Japanese man entered carrying a tray. Christopher sat up in bed and noticed for the first time he had been dressed in silk pajamas. Last he recalled, he had been draped in rags soaked in sea water and blood.

“Do I have you to thank for my rescue?”

Without replying, the fearsome looking man set the tray down on a side table, stepped back, and then bowed.

Not knowing what to do, Christopher nodded back. “If this is a Japanese prison camp, the accommodations are certainly a great deal better than I would have expected.

The large man finished his bow and though the gesture seemed polite and genteel, his facial expression was one of hostility and even malevolence. Without a word, he then turned and left closing the door behind him. Christopher was directing his attention to the tray when he distinctly heard the sound of a lock being engaged. Perhaps he was a prisoner after all.

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Killer on the Road

riders

From the YouTube video of the Doors’ performance of “Riders on the Storm.”

“I hate everybody’s guts,” he said as the Priest watched him being strapped in, “and everybody hates mine.”

“May God have mercy on your soul, Billy.”

“Even God hates me Father, so you can go screw yourself.”

Father James Buchanan looked over at the Warden who shook his head. Then he turned to the executioner whose name the Priest preferred not to know. They and the two prison guards filed out leaving William Edward “Billy” Cook Jr. alone to his fate.

Rafael Moody, the executioner, closed the hatch to San Quentin State Prison’s gas chamber.  Then he tightened the door handle making sure the seal was airtight. Father Buchanan took his place back in the gallery with the others. God had given him a mission inside these prison walls but certainly this was the most heart wrenching part of it.

Buchanan looked over at Warden Anthony Barnett who was staring impassively through the gas chamber’s windows at a still defiant Cook.

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Na Gauna Ni Tevoro

wayfinders

Scene from the film “Wayfinders a Pacific Odyssey Hawaii”

Father Francisco DelVega Ortiz cursed Lucifer as he was brought before the pagan Chief. He had been part of a special mission to these islands, but Captain Scarr’s foolishness caused his ship to collide with an uncharted reef. Rough seas and high winds tore the Esteban apart. The Priest was the only survivor.

“I have met Europeans before.” The savage spoke in surprisingly good Spanish. “You make fine sacrifices and will strengthen the temple’s foundation.”

Father Ortiz was held by four mountain warriors but struggled defiantly. He spat out, “There will be others after me, Talamaur. Oh, yes. I know what you are. The Holy Order of Venandi will eradicate your kind in the name of the Virgin Mary.”

“Perhaps, Priest. My people will grow strong eating your sacrificed flesh, but I reserve the blood for myself.” The heathen Chief sitting on his obsidian throne bared long fangs and hissed.

Time for another short story for What Pegman Saw. The idea is to take a Google maps location and image and use it to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today the Pegman takes us to Fiji. I was all set to write about a warm, tropical paradise when I looked up Fiji’s history and found some pretty disturbing news.

According to Wikipedia:

Over the centuries, a unique Fijian culture developed. Constant warfare and cannibalism between warring tribes were quite rampant and very much part of everyday life. During the 19th century, Ratu Udre Udre is said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement. According to Deryck Scarr, “Ceremonial occasions saw freshly killed corpses piled up for eating. ‘Eat me!’ was a proper ritual greeting from a commoner to a chief.” Scarr also reported that the posts that supported the chief’s house or the priest’s temple would have sacrificed bodies buried underneath them, with the rationale that the spirit of the ritually sacrificed person would invoke the gods to help support the structure, and “men were sacrificed whenever posts had to be renewed”. Also, when a new boat, or drua, was launched, if it was not hauled over men as rollers, crushing them to death, “it would not be expected to float long”. Fijians today regard those times as “na gauna ni tevoro” (time of the devil). The ferocity of the cannibal lifestyle deterred European sailors from going near Fijian waters, giving Fiji the name Cannibal Isles; as a result, Fiji remained unknown to the rest of the world.

warrior

A Fijian mountain warrior, photograph by Francis Herbert Dufty, 1870s.

Yikes. Doesn’t sound like paradise to me. Also, as you can see, the title for my work of historical fiction and horror translates as “Time of the Devil,” which I found appropriate.

According to the same source, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 and apparently lived to tell the tale. The first Europeans to settle in Fiji were beachcombers, missionaries, and whalers.

I’ve written eight chapters in my Sean Becker vampire series plus a number of “side tales” based on the same “universe.” I have introduced formal societies both of vampires and of vampire hunters. In the 20th and 21st century western nations, the Holy Order of vampire slayers is called “Van Helsing” after a fictional character in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.” Earlier, including in the 17th century when this story is set, I gave them the name “Holy Order of Venandi” with “Venandi” meaning “hunter” in Latin (the best I could come up with…if someone more familiar with Catholicism can create a better name for a fictional order of fanatical vampire hunters, let me know).

I’m fascinated about how widely the legend of vampire-like creatures has spread and how far back in history they can be traced. Almost every human civilization and culture knows of vampires by one name or another. Vampire-like creatures of the island chain Vanuatu were called Talamaur. They weren’t bloodsuckers in the traditional “Dracula” vein, but they were close enough so I thought I could get away with “tweaking” the folklore.

Vanuatu is about 750 miles from Fiji and there is some evidence that ancient Polynesian people were able to make long sea voyages and settle on islands very distant from their origins. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to have a Talamaur arrive on Fiji in or before the 17th century (it is believed Fiji was settled between 3500 and 1000 BCE) and become a local chief.

Oh, in case you’re interested, the weather in Suva, Fiji today predicts thunderstorms with a high in the mid-80s F and a low in the mid 70s. Pretty humid and I doubt you’d be able to work on your tan.

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

The Woman in Blue

blue light

© Sue Vincent

Obe was tending the fire on the shore by the bay. The sun had set to his right hours ago and most of the clan slept. Their tiny settlement was young and night predators hunted nearby so he kept watch, though the fire and the scent of the men should keep them away.

The moon shone blue through the clouds illuminating the water before him and the island beyond. Other clans of their tribe occupied the land across the bay to the south and east, but Nakuma’s people hoped to make the northlands their home.

Like most young men, waiting alone bored him and with the passing minutes, he became drowsy. He wrapped his blanket, woven by his sisters, tighter around him and with the fire, he felt warm. If his father found him sleeping, he would be struck and shamed in front of the other hunters, so he forced his eyes open. He heard her before he actually could see her.

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Let the Trees Be Burning Bright

christmas

© Roger Shipp

“I’m sorry but we’ll be needin’ this tree too, younguns.”

“But Pa!”

“Please don’t take it, Pa!”

Jeffrey and Constance wailed at their Father as he and three other large, rough men in heavy coats and workmen’s boots tramped into their one room sod house and took the first Christmas tree they’d ever had in their young lives. Ornaments of paper and tin, woven grass and dried corn shook free and fell to the dirt floor.

Their Ma held them back as the nine-year-old boy and his seven-year-old sister struggled. There were no presents for they were too poor, so their gayly decorated pine fir was their only symbol of hope and magic.

As the men retreated, their wives brought their children in either wailing or mute with terror. The women and their young huddled around the stove, burning hot with buffalo chips.

There were only a few such trees brought in from the mountains leagues afar, but burning them until dawn was the only way they knew to keep the werefolk at bay. Too late had the plains settlers discovered they’d homesteaded on lands cursed by the Heathen gods when the first white men landed in the new world.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2017 Week #51 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction up to 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I seem to remember posting stories for this particular challenge in the past, but somehow have failed to do so for several months. I just saw a blog post by someone else which reminded me and also was sorry to see that only one other person responded, even though it first went online on the 20th.

Since we’re just a few days away from Christmas, I have been inundated with Christmas related prompts and it’s getting harder to respond to them creatively. I’ve been writing a lot of vampire-related short stories recently, so I decided to keep with the horror theme though not specifically addressing the undead.

In this piece, I’ve chosen something menacing plains settlers of the 18th or 19th centuries and made up the remedy of burning fir trees, uncommon on the grassy plains, in response to an attack of cursed were-creatures. The joy and glad tidings that Christmas trees symbolize for some had to give way to the practicality of defending against supernatural killers.

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

A Son of Kristallnacht

kristallnacht

Found at the Yad Vashem website.

Moshe Katz was trudging home late from his clock repair shop. It was so hard to believe this could happen in Dortmund. Just weeks ago, all the Jews who the Germans believed came from Poland were expelled in a single night. His good friend and neighbor Gersz Blass, his wife Else and their three little ones were just…gone. There was talk that the synagogue might be dismantled soon.

Katz thought of himself as a German first and a Jew second, and yet it was as if the pogroms and inquisitions of the past had returned. His Papa tried to warm him before he died. Zeyde used to speak of the horrors of being a Jew in Russia. How…

A hand grabbed him from behind by the collar and pulled him into an alley, almost making him drop his lunch box. The meager receipts from today’s lackluster business were in there, pathetic, but it was all he had to feed his family.

“Please, please, don’t rob me. I’m poor. My family…”

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Death Visits Mexico

San José el Huayate, Chiapas

© Google 2017

“Seems your U-boat made the wrong turn.”

Figured German was the only language he and I had in common. Hate in his eyes confirmed it though he was also looking down the barrel of my Colt .38.

Heard about the Nazi sub sinking off Mexico’s west coast. He’d made it to San José el Huayate to board a tramp steamer headed for Chile, then get to Argentina.

Six years ago, Algimantas Dailide was a Lithuanian police officer who arrested 12 Jews. Gave them to the Nazis to execute. One was an old, kindly Rabbi who’d never hurt anyone. I’d caught Dailide hiding in this tacky shack. Bet he never thought he’d die here.

I pulled the trigger three times and he dropped like a sack of onions.

“That’s for you, Zayde.”

Los Angeles Private Detective Noah Katz replaced the Colt in his shoulder holster and walked back outside to face the dawn.

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to San José el Huayate, Chiapas, Mexico.

I sometimes wake up with strange ideas. I don’t know if this was part of a dream or just my sleepy imagination at work, but I had an idea for a Jewish Private Detective named Noah Katz. He operates in Los Angeles in 1947 and is a typical “hard-boiled private eye” except that he’s Jewish and has to deal with a whole bunch of post-war anti-semitism.

Just about all of his clients are Jewish, of course. Most non-Jews who need a shamus go elsewhere. I pictured a scene where a voluptuous, cleavage revealing, (very non-Jewish) very curvy blonde enters his office to hire him, sending his hormones into overdrive as well as his suspicions.

That’s as far as I got because I finally woke up enough to get out of bed.

I looked up the Google maps location on the web and interestingly enough, the Wikipedia page came up in Swedish. Translating it into English didn’t yield much interesting. Images depicted a sleepy, rundown looking bunch of buildings near a beach.

I looked up Chiapas state with the idea of somehow inserting Katz and 1947 into a period piece set in Mexico. Still not much so I winged it.

Since it’s 1947 and Katz is Jewish and this is in Mexico, I decided he was after a Nazi war criminal on the run. I looked up 10 Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals hoping for one who had never been found but no such luck. The only one on the list who fit that profile was Adolf Hitler and I’d already covered that angle a few weeks back.

So I settled on Algimantas Dailide who, in real life, made it to the U.S. after the war and in the 1990s was a real estate agent in Florida. He was eventually deported and settled down to a quiet life in western Germany. Here’s the paragraph on him I got off of History.com:

As an officer in the Lithuanian Security Police, sponsored by the Nazis, Dailide allegedly arrested 12 Jews who were attempting to escape Vilna, a Jewish ghetto in the city of Vilnius, in the early 1940s. He is believed to have handed them over to the Nazis, who presumably executed them. Dailide immigrated to the United States after the war, and was working as a real estate agent in Florida by the 1990s, when the U.S. government discovered his Nazi past and stripped him of his citizenship. After being deported, he and his wife settled in the small town of Kirchberg, in western Germany. Though a Vilnius court convicted him of war crimes, the Lithuanian government made only half-hearted attempts to bring him home to stand trial, and in 2008 a high court in Lithuania ruled Dailide’s health was too poor for him to serve time in prison. Meanwhile, he sits at No. 4 on the SWC “most wanted” list.

I decided to re-write history so that Dailide hitched a ride on one of the last U-boats out of Europe only to have it become disabled and sink off the west coast of Mexico, far from his destination in Argentina.

Katz has an informant who passes along these details (this part would need a lot of work for an expansion of this tale) and the Detective tracks Dailide down in Mexico to settle a personal score.

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