Last Flight

buckhorn

Abandoned church near the cemetery in the Buckhorn, Iowa ghost town.

“Gotta set down, boys. Oil pressure’s dropping fast.”

“What about that road? Charlie, can you make it?”

“Lining it up, Jim. You and Ted like jumping outta planes so hold your water while I land this tub.”

Pilot Charlie Kern liked teasing the two veteran skydivers, but they’d proved their courage hundreds of times. The Cessna 172 approached the dirt road lightly covered with snow opposite an abandoned church.

Paul Lambert stood in the old Buckhorn cemetery looking at their graves. They crashed fifty years ago a few hundred yards away. As their closest friend, his Dad Chuck had them buried here. Paul paid his respects and listened as the ghosts of Charlie, Ted McKeever, and Jim Buckley re-enacted their final moments on the anniversary of their last flight. Somewhere above, he could hear the laboring engine of a Cessna fighting to stay in the air just a few seconds longer.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps image and location and use it as the inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. After much editing, my word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the ghost town of Buckhorn, Iowa. I looked up Buckhorn on the web, and according to The Vintage News:

Buckhorn is a ghost town, located in Jackson County just off of Highway 64. Some quick research reveals that it was a farmers’ cooperative founded early in the 20th century, and then was bought out by a large dairy in 1962. All that is left of it is a cemetery, an abandoned church, and this building, the old Buckhorn Creamery.

Okay, not much to go on.

I looked up Buckhorn on Google maps and it’s not particularly isolated. In fact, it’s only about a third of a mile from the Maquoketa Municipal Airport. I thought about doing a historical piece, but even consulting several sources, I couldn’t find out when the airport was established. However, looking at the airport’s official website gave me an idea, but I’d have to monkey around with history to pull it off.

When I was a kid, I watched a TV show called Ripcord starring Larry Pennell, Ken Curtis, and Shug Fisher. The show ran from 1961 to 1963 and depicted the adventures of two expert skydivers (Pernell as Ted McKeever and Curtis as Jim Buckley) who did everything from perform dangerous aerial stunts to capturing bank robbers, always with the climax being jumping out of an airplane and going into free fall.

Skydiving was new back then and the sport had just become incredibly popular, which is probably what kept the show going for its two-year run.

Actor Paul Comi played the original pilot Chuck Lambert but he was replaced in the middle of the first season by Shug Fisher as Charlie Kern. I got all these details from Wikipedia and decided to run with it, making their last flight in 1963 or ’64. Not sure if Buckhorn was a ghost town by then since it had only been bought out in 1962, but here’s where I fudge history.

In my imagination, Kern was trying to make Maquoketa Municipal Airport, but again, I have no idea if the airport even existed back then.

I created the character Paul Lambert, Chuck Lambert’s son, who would be in his early to mid 60s in 2017 combining actor Paul Comi’s name with his character’s in order to complete my ghost story.

I know. My explanation is longer than the story itself, but it was fun tying all this stuff together.

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

The Visitors

spaceship

From “The Invaders” television program (1967-68)

The strange irony was not lost on David Vincent when his car’s GPS device failed to lead him to the all-night diner off the old state highway and instead revealed a horrifying discovery.

“Damn it.” The young architect, driving through a remote area of Arizona after meeting a developer at the proposed site of a new data center, wanted to grab a cup of coffee before continuing his drive back to Los Angeles. It was after midnight and he was exhausted. Instead of a hot coffee and maybe a pastry, he found a restaurant closed for over a year. No town, not even a gas station within miles.

“I can’t make it. Got to get some rest.”

He pulled his Audi R8 off to the side of the building and after stepping out to relieve himself on a dying shrub, returned to the car’s interior and prepared for an uncomfortable nap in the front seat.

At first he thought he was dreaming. There was a shrill sound getting louder, fluctuating in tone. David opened his eyes and looked out the windshield. Off to his left, around the corner of the building. Bright, multicolored lights. He got out and hiding in the shadow of the old diner, peered around the side.

It was big, about the size of a two-story house. A short cylinder flaring out at the bottom. Three…no, four landing struts. It was setting down. There were windows in the top part of the cylinder. He could see figures moving inside. Then a light shone down one of the landing struts. Stairs. Figures were coming out. People. No, they couldn’t be.

“It began with a closed, deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy…Now, David Vincent knows that the invaders are here. That they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.”

The Invaders was an American television show that ran on ABC in 1967-68 and starred Roy Thinnes as David Vincent, a man who had witnessed the landing of an alien spacecraft and learned that their intention was to invade and take over the Earth.

The last bit of narrative above in italics is taken from the opening title sequence and was dramatic as heck to me when I was thirteen years old.

I was reminded of the show when I read a piece of fan fiction earlier this morning, so I decided to recreate that opening for 2017. Below is a YouTube video of the show’s opening sequence. To find out what happens to my version of David Vincent next, read The Hidden.

The Pilot Episode of “Supergirl” : A Retro Review

supergirlNow that the television series Supergirl has moved to the CW from CBS, giving it a second chance at life and a second season, I thought I’d dust off my review of the series pilot, which I wrote last year for another blog.

I hadn’t originally intended on watching the pilot episode of Supergirl starring Melissa Benoist in the title role, but it was online, it was free, so I figured, what the heck. I didn’t expect to like it all that much, but I was curious how CBS was going to adapt decades of Superman and Supergirl canon. My reaction is mixed.

I’ve read a few of the other reviews of the pilot, both before and after I saw the episode, and they range from “good but not perfect” to “triumph for everyone wanting a strong female hero for a change”. You can see examples at Yahoo News, IGN, The Mary Sue, and The Los Angeles Times.

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