© Susan Spaulding
Lee Guzman had been operating his small, hot air balloon business for five years, but he always got the same question.
“You sure this thing is safe?”
“You bet, Craig. As easy as riding a bicycle.”
The latest pair to grace his gondola were Craig and Shawn Tucker, brothers who ran a parcel delivery service in nearby Macon.
They’d been steadily climbing under partly cloudy skies, but now the balloon was ascending into a gray mist that hadn’t been there a minute ago.
“What the hell?” They all grabbed the rigging as the five-mile-an-hour breeze from the northwest suddenly turned into a hurricane.
“Beats me, but hang on!” It was all Lee could say. This wasn’t just unpredictable weather, it was crazy impossible. Amazingly, the balloon held together, that is, until they all heard the rip.
“We’re going down!”
The wind quit abruptly, and they descended below the mist.
“Hey, ain’t that the Golden Gate Bridge?
It was, but nowhere near their San Francisco. Steamships were crossing from the City to Marin County, and the air was full of dirigibles and biplanes. It wasn’t the past, it was something else, like another world, and a new adventure had just begun.
I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction for May 6, 2018 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.
Since I’ve had steampunk on my mind lately, and since the prompt is an image of a hot air balloon, I decided to send these three guys on a little trip.
In the 1961 film adaptation to Jules Verne’s novel “Mysterious Island,” escapees from a Confederate prisoner of war camp in 1865 steal an observation balloon in a storm, and are taken over the Pacific Ocean, eventually to be deposited on a “mysterious island.”
I used that basic premise, setting the initial scene near the former Andersonville Prison (later known as Camp Sumter) near modern day Andersonville, Georgia, and then had the “strange gray cloud” be a gateway, not to a mysterious island or the past, but an alternate “steampunk” universe, like the one I’ve been crafting in this series.
To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.