The Ancient Sentinel

view town

MorgueFile 4892a52c8a86992fa06093c9776be99d

It was a beautiful morning in early April, and from his position at the old fort, he had a wonderful view of the town below. Although it was overcast, everything seemed so fresh, the trees lush with greenery, the people driving and walking along the streets and byways. It was so peaceful.

He looked at the bell suspended just below and to his left. It had been ages since it rang the alarm. No longer did the people have to fear air raids, and the threat of an invasion was a distant memory that children now studied in their history texts.

There was no reason for him to remain at his station or so it seemed. He had discharged his duty and died at his post decades ago.

But the world was not safe just because the dangers were not obvious. Children were dying in Syria from chemical attacks, and although firearms were largely outlawed there, terrorists had turned to murdering with knives in London.

There was nowhere in the world truly safe, which was why the old sentinel remained on guard. When they came for his people, he would sound the alarm again to save them.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge of week #15. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

The platform on the left reminded me of the ruins of an old fort, and the town could be in an unspecified area of Europe, perhaps Scandinavia. So my old soldier is a ghost who died during World War Two, and yet who continues to do his due and guard his people. As I’ve suggested in the body of my story, the world is never truly at peace.

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

P.S. This photo challenge doesn’t have many participants, so if you have the urge to write, please consider contributing a wee tale. Thanks.

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Our Honored Dead

war memorial

© Sandra Crook

“You consider this site to be a war memorial, Jonathan?”

“It’s foolish to see it otherwise, Raven. In fourteen years, an American President will give Iran nearly two billion dollars in cash ostensibly to inhibit their nuclear weapons development, but the hideous result was to fund a whole new era in world terrorism. How many more World Trade Centers is the future facing?”

“Our holographic presence allows us this view of the destruction, but how do you propose to heal such a pervasive characteristic in humanity?”

“I can’t fix it all, but I’ve got to start somewhere.”

wtc

Aerial view of the World Trade Center site taken September 23, 2001

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to take the image above and use it to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 97.

The monument in the photo contains the words “A Nos Morts” which I’ve learned refers to a vast number of war memorials commemorating those who died during World War One. That made me think of the site of the World Trade Center formerly known as “Ground Zero” which led me to consider the state of world terrorism.

Getting political, I also recalled that terrorism takes money and Iran is the principal source of finances for middle eastern terrorism and its effects all around the world. Giving Iran $1.7 billion in 2015 probably didn’t stop their nuclear weapons program and it certainly gave terrorism a big, big boost.

My character Jonathan Cypher, who just yesterday discovered his purpose is now looking at how best to begin “fixing the world.” Can his dreams change reality so radically as to eliminate all forms of terrorism or will he only be able to alter specific expressions of it?

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

The Last Festival

desert crossing

Found at a travel blog

“…I’m trying to erase you from my mind …you’re my religion and my belief…”

This wasn’t Yunin Obia’s first pilgrimage to the Holy City for the Festival of Qet but it would be her last. Every devotee of the God Slaz was required to travel to the great city of Shilarbor once every year for the Qet when Barkon’s orbit brought the planet closest to its sun. Motorized ground or air transport was allowed but it was considered a greater act of piety to make the journey on foot.

Yunin was healthy and relatively young and so encased in her skinsuit with the required possessions for the festival strapped across her back, she trudged across the soft sand from dusk until several hours after dawn each day stopping when it became too hot to go on. Then she slept in her insulated body tent until the desert permitted her once again move forward.

Occasionally, she would see another pilgrim in the distance. Sometimes they travelled in groups of three or four, but again, the greatly pious made the trip on foot and alone. Yunin had chosen an approach that was distant from aircraft flight paths and vehicle roads to accentuate her solitude. It also made it possible to hear the God Slaz’s voice a little sooner. She wanted to see if He knew what she was planning.

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Waiting in Ancienne Medina

casablanca

© Google – July 2016

He was waiting on a side street in Ancienne Medina. He wanted to go to Rick’s Café but she had other ideas. Even Daniel had to admit that visiting the only Jewish Cemetery in the Arab world was a novelty. She wasn’t looking for novelty, though. She was looking for their older brother.

Joel had been killed in a string of suicide bombings here almost ten years ago. Leah went to visit his grave. He wanted to be buried here rather than at home. Daniel couldn’t bring himself to go. He wanted to visit Rick’s. First though, he was waiting for the only surviving member of the bomber’s family to come out of the door up ahead. Daniel had been planning to kill him but terrorism had enough victims. “Let it end with me.”

Abdul ignored the young Jew loitering in the alley as he left for work.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google street maps image of a specific location and use it to inspire a short story no more than 150 words long. My word count is 147.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Casablanca, Morocco.

Yes, there were a string of suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2007 (the Google image was photographed in July 2016 so that’s when I set this story) and there is a Jewish Museum as well as a Jewish Cemetery there. There really is a Rick’s Cafe in the city styled to resemble the establishment featured in the 1942 film Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid.

Casablanca has such a colorful history that it was hard to decide which sort of story to write, but I focused on the Jewish history of the area and its possible consequences today. No, the fact that today is Yom Kippur hasn’t escaped my notice.

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

Not Kansas

vw in israel

© Kent Bonham

“You’re not in Kansas anymore.”

“Avi, you can’t believe how many times I’ve heard that since making aliyah.” Morris sounded annoyed but admired how well the native Israeli spoke English. Half the time he struggled to find the right Hebrew words in a conversation.

“Hey, what do you think of that girl over there? Maybe she wants a ride.”

Avi knew Morris was married, but loved to tease the shy American. Neither noticed as she reached inside her shoulder bag. They were both killed in the explosion along with seven schoolchildren who had stopped to admire the car.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 98.

When I saw the image was titled “VW in Israel” and the Kansas license plate in the back window, I started writing without a clear end in mind. The story just formed itself.

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

Orlando

florida

© Dale Rogerson

Ramon didn’t want to leave the memorial. Every second there was a tribute to his pain. Even at four in the morning, it was hot and muggy. Loneliness was an oppressive blanket. Tonight he especially missed Hector, his laugh, his twisted sense of humor.

“The Pulse” had once been a haven for them and for hundreds of others. Hector was one of the 49 who died. Ramon still limped from the wounds in his leg.

On June 12th of last year, terrorist Omar Mateen took everything from Ramon, everything except his spirit to survive in spite of it all.

On June 12, 2016, terrorist Omar Mateen entered The Pulse nightclub, a popular entertainment venue for the LGBTQ community in Orlando, Florida, killed 49 people and injured 68. The anniversary was just a few days ago.

The haunting image found at Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog reminded me of it. The idea is to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 98.

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

We’re Either Stopping Genocide Or Starting It

space

Image: JPL NASA

From the Flight Log of Freighter Pilot Camdon Rod

Not only am I a moron, I think I’m going out of my mind.

For the record, my name is Camdon Rod and I’m the owner/operator of the jump freighter Ginger’s Regret. Ginger, the woman the freighter is named for, is here too. Well, sort of. Over fifty years ago, a hyperjump accident destroyed her flesh and blood body, but the rest of her stayed here. She’s the ship’s personality. Sometimes, she can become a woman for a while. Convenient since we’re in love with each other.

Sometime ago, I accepted a deal to work for a group of hyperspace beings, illegally hauling cargo for them. I had no choice. They could kill Ginger if I didn’t.

After that, I had to agree to work for the terrorist organization Spire for the same reasons.

I can’t believe I was stupid enough not to see the connection right away. Either Spire is run by these beings, or behind the scenes, they’re manipulating the people who do run Spire.

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We Are All Israelis

Israeli flagI just read an article called Remembering 911: Five Important Lessons. It was written by Rabbi Benjamin Blech for a Jewish educational website. The first lesson is “We Are All Israelis”. Here’s the relevant quote:

Immediately after 9/11, the phrase “we are all Israelis” appeared in some reports. But it was soon forgotten or hijacked by other groups and different causes. Yet it captured a profound truth. The enemies of Israel turned out to be the same enemies intent on destroying the Western world and civilized society as we know it.

For years the United States as well as other democracies watched the terrorism and the intifada and the butchering and the sadistic slayings of innocents from afar and thought it had nothing to do with them. Suddenly came the recognition that there is no longer a concept of distance for terror. 9/11 made clear that an ocean can no longer keep Americans safe from attack and that the battle against jihad isn’t restricted to Jerusalem.

It’s not desirable or convenient to certain social and political groups in America to closely identify with Israel, especially with such a potentially inflammatory phrase as “We Are All Israelis”. But here on the commemoration of the terrorist attacks against our nation and our citizens on September 11, 2001, I have come to see that we aren’t “Israeli” enough.

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Living in the Dystopia

orlando

Chaos at the scene of a mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando early Sunday. (UNIVISION FLORIDA CENTRAL / HAN/EPA)

Once upon a time, a story like this would be dystopian fiction. In fact, it’s so graphic, that a science fiction story with this content probably wouldn’t be published until the 1970s or later. Once upon a time, this story would have seemed so unreal.

I’m talking about the Orlando Gay Nightclub Shootings where, according to the CNN report, 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded, all by one man, 29-year-old Omar Mateen. Although mainstream news media has been downplaying the suggestion that Mateen’s being a Muslim might have had something to do with his choice of victims, he telephoned 911 from the scene of the shootings to claim allegiance to ISIS.

What’s more, ISIS claims the nightclub massacre as well, although it’s pretty unlikely that Mateen was directly associated with the terrorist group.

Added to this, the self-professed gay defense organization Pink Pistols has issued a press release condemning the shooter but not firearms, unlike most progressives.

On top of all that, the restaurant chain Chick-Fil-A, which has been criticized in the past because its owners are fundamentalist Christians and oppose same-sex marriage on theological grounds, opened their Orlando location on Sunday (which they never do because of their belief that Sunday is the “sabbath”) and donated free food and drinks to the One Blood donation center to everyone donating blood for the Orlando nightclub victims.

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