The Defector


Foggy Town © Olgierd Rudak/Flickr

“Remember, stay in the compartment under the truck’s bed until you’re past the last checkpoint and Franciszek gives you the signal. If the truck is stopped, do not make a sound or the soldiers will shoot you both.”

Dominik Zheutlin was peering up at the member of the Fighting Solidarity movement. Normally, they didn’t take these kinds of risks, but getting him out of Poland was a vital.

“Dzieki*. You don’t know what this means to me.”

” I know in the West you’ll find a way to free the world, Dr. Zheutlin. Good luck.”

The final board was placed over the defector. A nod to Franciszek told him it was time to depart for the German border. The resistance movement was counting on Zheutlin developing something that would finally defeat the Communists by changing history. Zheutlin was the only man in the world who could build a time machine.


I’m writing this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. Today, Pegman takes us to Wroclaw, Poland. The idea is to use Google maps images of the location as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 149.

I’m leveraging some information from a story series I’m writing as an homage to the works of science fiction writer Andre Norton (Actually her name was Alice Mary Norton). One of my characters is a historian and linguist named Aiyana Zheutlin. In 2017, she’s in her early 30s and works for Project Retrograde, an American time travel operation attempting to find and correct the historical causes of climate change (the most recent story as of this writing is Nereid).

Her father was Polish and her mother was English. In her original timeline, the Soviet Union still existed in 2017 and her father defected from Poland a few years before 1985. He didn’t invent time travel in my actual storyline, that was another defector, but I had fun merging those two histories.

When I looked up Wroclaw, I found out an anti-Communist movement called “Fighting Solidarity” was founded there in 1982. They primarily fought the communists through disseminating information, but in this case, I gave them the opportunity to occasionally help defectors escape from behind the Iron Curtain.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to

The Landing

5 red square

Image: Google Maps

“I made it.” 18-year-old Mathias Rust had just landed his Cessna 172 on Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge by St. Basil’s Cathedral near Red Square. He’d flown through some of the most heavily guarded airspace in the world and wasn’t shot down by Soviet Interceptors.

Mathias got out of his aircraft and was nervously greeted by passersby.

Older couple Valentin Popov and his wife Anna approached the pilot. They were astonished the Air Force had allowed this landing. “Where are you from, young man?”

“Germany.” They assumed he meant East Germany.

He knew he would be arrested soon by the KGB, but it didn’t matter. His flight from the Helsinki-Malmi Airport, over the Baltic, and into Russian airspace proved that a small aircraft could only be tracked intermittently.

Once they let him out of prison, he’d report his findings to the West German military. Their stealth planes would do a much better job.

My story is based on an actual event. On May 28, 1987, 18-year-old Mathias Rust, a German aviator with only about 50 hours of flight experience, flew a rented Cessna 172 from Helsinki, Finland to Moscow.

The link I provided above is to his Wikipedia page, which chronicles all of the details.

I changed the outcome and his intent quite a bit, turning him into a West German spy. At the time, Rust said “he wanted to create an ‘imaginary bridge’ to the East, and he has said that his flight was intended to reduce tension and suspicion between the two Cold War sides.”

I wrote this as a very minor “cold war thriller.”

This was written in response to the What Pegman Saw weekly photo prompt using a Google Maps view. Based on the prompt, you must write a short story/flash fiction of no more than 150 words.

For more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit

My word count is exactly 150.