Traitor

traitor's gate

© A Mixed Bag 2009

Traitor’s Gate. Entrance to the “last mile”. It describes the final moments of Dr. Marcus Young Smith.

The gate rose before him and his silent guards. He wore the traditional white shirt and black trousers of the condemned.

At thirty-nine, he would be neither the youngest nor the oldest person executed for high treason, but he would be the only one terminated because he was innocent of all charges.

The Governor was standing beside the steps of the gallows rather than seated in the gallery. Smith stopped at the foot of the steps.

“You maybe leave us,” Governor Drake ordered the four guards. They looked at each other puzzled.

“Go.” Drake whispered the command but it had the force of a shout. They retreated.

“Any last words, Dr. Smith?” The traditional question the Governor asks of the condemned, but this time it wasn’t heard by the public in the gallery.

“You are the traitor Drake, but to avoid civil war, I give my life.”

“A good little soldier to the end, Smith.”

Smith gave his life for his country to avert war. A generation later, revolution broke tyranny’s back and Dr. Smith’s name was venerated as a hero.

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction for May 21st. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

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

The Long Memory

piazza navona

© Sally-Ann Hodgekiss

“This is the man I saw when I was in Piazza Navona, Officer. The one who vandalized the Fontana del Moro.”

“Thank you, Mr. Russo. We have your statement and the court will contact you about his trial.”

Giovanni Russo left the police station and two police officers escorted the vandal to an interrogation room.

“Sir, you have no identification. Who are you? Why did you decapitate the figures on the Fontana with a rock?”

“Stop questioning him, Romano. He should have a lawyer.”

“He isn’t asking for one, is he, Bianchi?”

Both officers looked at the mysterious man. They’d never understand the thoughts transpiring behind those ancient, haunted eyes.

Piazza Navona had been built on the site of the 1st century Stadium of Domitian where the Romans went to watch the games. That was where he’d died for the first time. Since then, an endless stream of reincarnations brought the horror back with each lifetime. Now in 2011, his current incarnation was quite insane.

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – May 14th 2017 writing challenge. 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 164.

On September 3, 2011, the Fontana del Moro was really damaged by a vandal, though he was photographed by security cameras rather than seen by a live witness.

Also, the Piazza Navona really was built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian. I used these two bits of history to craft my wee tale this morning.

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

The Secret Device

cell phone

© A Mixed Bag 2012

Remember, Z’kin. You’re holding one of the most sophisticated computing devices ever conceived. It has multiple scanners to gather data on their entire environment, communications circuits allowing you to contact our ship in orbit, and a voice interactive interface which can instantly answer any question.

“Not, Z’kin, Commander. My code name is Gary Evans.”

“Right. Of course. We’ve landed in a wooded area just outside of one of their communities. It’s just before dawn, so after you leave the shuttle, we should be able to launch undetected.

“Thanks, Commander. I’ll contact you daily during my scouting mission.”

“Good luck Z…uh, Mr. Evans.”

His alien form altered to look human, “Gary Evans” exited the shuttle and walked the five miles to the city. By the time he got downtown, the streets were bustling with people going to and fro.

The alien reached into his pocket secure in the knowledge that his secret device gave him mastery over his mission.

Then he saw them. They all had one. Every person he saw was looking down at their screens, rapidly tapping out messages or talking to “Siri”. His secret device was all too common here.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction writing challenge. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words based on the photo prompt above. My word count is 192.

When I saw the photo prompt, I thought of how the hand-held communicators in the 1960s TV show “Star Trek” seemed so advanced, but now, today’s cell phones are so much more sophisticated. Imagine an alien race who wants to scout Earth thinking some of their technology is so superior only to discover we have the same thing.

To read other stories inspired by the photo prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming

garden

© John Brand

I used to hate gardening, but that was before. Now I find it gives me a sense of peace. I remember that he liked gardening. He found it relaxing, even in the heat of the day, which used to drive me crazy.

I wear his old gardening hat. The brim shields my face and removes the glare from my eyes.

It’s springtime, the season of life. The cherry blossoms are in bloom. I have to clean them up of course, but now instead of just being work, it’s a duty and a privilege. I use his old wheelbarrow, the one that reminds me of the difference between belief and faith.

I hadn’t realized how deep his faith ran, while all I had to fall back on was belief and an intellectual’s arguments to defend it.

His death shook me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It’s tremors disturbed my beliefs and threw me into the deep waters of faith. I drowned in that faith, and rose again like my Dad will someday in the resurrection, just like trees bloom again in the spring.

I wrote this as part of the Sunday Photo Fictioner challenge. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 183.

As some of you may know, my Dad died suddenly last Wednesday afternoon. My brother and I have been going through Dad’s things and our Dad never seemed to have thrown away anything. It’s been quite a chore.

But it has let us know our Dad in a way we never really did before. We discovered his passions, his habits, and how he saw his life. Unlike the story above, he wasn’t quite the avid gardener I’ve painted, but in viewing the green and growing things in my parent’s house, and now it’s my Mom’s house, I find hope for the future, a transition from belief to faith.

Oh, in the body of the story, I included a link to an essay I wrote based on a parable of a man who pushed a wheelbarrow across a tight rope. I think it is quite illuminating.

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

The Demon’s Cup

demon's cup

Buck was a strange old man, but he had the best collection of vintage science fiction and horror paperbacks and comics in Las Vegas. Every Saturday, I ride my Schwinn Sting-Ray to “The Fantasy Express” looking for rare or out-of-print books. I’m only twelve, so my budget is small, but one of the things about Buck is that he gives big discounts if he likes you.

“I see you’re staring at the Demon’s Cup. Interested?” Buck jerks his thumb up at the object of my interest on a shelf behind him. He takes it down and puts it on the counter.

“What is it?”

“Legends say it’s made from a pigmy skull sacrificed to demons.”

“How much?” I picked it up. It was really metal and maybe bone and it was heavy.

“Ninety-nine cents.”

One of Buck’s special bargains. I had the money, but how would my folks react?

“Not today, Buck.”

“Your loss. Someone else will buy it soon.” He picked up the skull goblet and put it back on its shelf.

I finished shopping and felt relief as I walked out.

Buck had a week to sell the artifact before the curse of the Demon’s Cup claimed him.

This flash fiction story was inspired by a photo prompt at Sunday Photo Fictioner. You can read other submissions to this writing challenge at InLinkz.com.

When I was twelve years old, I really did ride my bike to a used comic book and paperback store in North Las Vegas every Saturday. I don’t remember the name of the place or the owner, but in retrospect, he wasn’t that old, maybe in his early 50s. He talked a lot about serving in the Navy during World War 2.

He didn’t sell cursed artifacts, which is lucky for me, but my comic book and paperback collections swelled thanks to my shopping there.

When I saw the photo, imagination collided with memory, and here we are. I just hope Buck makes it okay, but I feel sorry for the person who buys the cup. And to think my friend tried to foist it off on me.

The word count limit for this challenge is 200, and I just barely made it.