A Slight Miscalculation

grand canyon

© Google 2018

Eccentric billionaire Randolph Houston was making the adjustments on the temporal transfer device at the bottom of Arizona’s Grand Canyon as his fourth wife, 26-year-old Paulette watched.

“Why not wait for that expert, what’s his name?”

“Carlos Bradley, and he’s late.” The aging scientist continued his adjustments.

“What is he? A geologist, paleontologist, archaeologist?”

“All, which was why I hired him. By attaching the TTD to strata here in the canyon, I can travel back to the formation’s origins 2.5 billion years ago.

“How do you know what you’ll find?”

“Bradley, if he had been on time, was to tell me.”

“You’re going now?”

“The battery will only last fifteen minutes. Tempus fugit.” The 75-year-old flipped a switch and vanished.

Carlos arrived and passionately embraced Paulette.

“You’re sure he’s never coming back.”

“My dear, 2.5 billion years ago, there was almost no oxygen in the atmosphere. He would have died in seconds.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Grand Canyon, Arizona, which I’ve visited many times. I looked up the history of the Grand Canyon and found that “nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock.”

I looked up what was going on about 2.5 billion years ago, and found out, among other things, that there was hardly any oxygen in the atmosphere. Too bad Randolph didn’t do his homework.

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

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The New Dragon Saga: Dark Quest

dark woods

Found at wallpapertag.com

Chapter 7: He was seven years old, alone in the dark, and he could hear breathing.

“Who’s there?” His voice quavered and he was shivering with cold and fright. “Daddy, is that you?” He felt like he were in a large room somewhere, but when he breathed out, he could see frigid mist as if he were in a gigantic freezer.

“Grandpa?” How did he get here? The last thing he remembered was…then he realized that he shouldn’t be seven anymore.

“This has got to be a dream. I need to wake up. Wake up.”

Then there was more than one something breathing in the darkness, a lot more somethings, and they were all around him.

“No. Get away from me. I won’t let you hurt me.” He tried to think of a spell, any spell that might get him out of here. The light spell. It was the first one he’d learned a long time ago when he was…seven. How could he be seven again?

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The New Dragon Saga: Reversal

time stone

Image of the time stone in the amulet of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) from the 2018 film “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Chapter 5: Estaban’s finger poised over the trigger as he pointed the handgun at the little boy and his baby sister. His back was to the paralyzed Landon and Steve, but the wizards could imagine the wicked grin on the villain’s face as he was just seconds away from killing the teenage sorcerer’s childhood self.

“Landon?” It was Grandpa’s voice coming from inside the house. He was about to open the screen door to see what his grandchildren were up to.

Then Estaban wheeled around, pointed the pistol at Steve and fired. In that instant, the temporal field holding the older Landon in place vanished and he tumbled to his left. He could see the bullet crossing the space between the two twins, the expression on Estaban’s face was one of sorrow, not evil.

His blind right eye couldn’t see the shield collapse around Steve just an instant before the bullet was to strike, nor the rage twisting his face. He barely had time to raise an elemental air shield between the combatants and his family. As the .45 caliber projectile struck Steve, he suddenly wasn’t there anymore.

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The Shoals of Time

water

© Sue Vincent

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NASB)

They say time is like water with currents, eddies, backwashes, yet it flows inevitably in one direction, from the past into the future. I’m standing on a narrow shoal looking out over a shallow sea. The clouds are particularly lovely at dawn, the subtle blues intermixed with hints of pink and white.

Of course, it’s all an illusion. No, that’s not fair. It’s better to say it’s all a metaphor. Even though I’m dead, my human senses and cognitive processing won’t allow me to perceive time as it truly is.

I’ve heard it said that there’s no such thing as time, it’s just human perception as we have to organize and make sense of our moment by moment existence. I’m living, well, not in a corporeal sense, proof that’s untrue.

I used to be a man, a living human being, just like other living human beings. I woke up, went to the bathroom, ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, got dressed, checked my email, and went to work just like everybody else.

And then I died, just like everybody else.

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Time’s Answer

leaves

© Tsukushi – Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

foggy fence

Photo credit 14946675160vn34 AugustMorgue File – found at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Fifteen-year-old Olivia Caie shook her scarlet mane in frustration. Broden and Nicol had never shown up, tricking her into building the Magika alone. It was sunset on All Hallows Eve. She’d never make it home in time.

Had the haunts already arrived or was it only an owl’s call? “Wait. The Magika can protect me, but I’ll have to stand inside til dawn.” The ancient design was her only hope.

###

Sean Watson walked along the fence in the fog wondering if he’d made it. A girl’s voice from the trees ahead sent him running through dry leaves toward her. He saw the shivering teen dressed in a full length gingham dress, huddled on the ground, arms wrapped around herself, muttering.

Seeing him, she gasped. “Sir, have the haunts gone?”

“I won’t hurt you. What were you saying before?”

She stood and giggled in embarrassment. “A poem. ‘Katy’s Answer’ by Allan Ramsay. I recite poems when I’m afright.”

“Allan Ramsay, but…” After a temporal accident in the 21st century, Sean found himself in 6th century England, that is until he discovered a way to manipulate the gateway. He didn’t quite make it home. Ramsay’s poetry was popular in 18th century Scotland.

I wrote this for two photo challenges, Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Photo Challenge #231 and Week 39 of Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The former asks that participants use the presented photo as the inspiration for crafting a poem, short story, or other creative work of any length and you can click the link above to read all story entries. The latter asks the same but using no more than 200 words, and normally has a separate link to read submitted stories but today it’s missing (It’s fixed). My word count is 200.

This tale is actually a sequel to a short story I wrote called The Blacksmith’s Well, which I tried to summarize at this end of this story. Time travel is a fickle thing.

Magika is a 2010 film, but at a source I can no longer find, it also references the occult in ancient Persia, at least I think it does. I needed an exotic name for the circle of leaves.

And yes, Allan Ramsay is a real person.

The Blacksmith’s Well

time vortex

Time vortex as it appears on the television show “Doctor Who.”

Sever the Smith hardly ever thought of himself as Sean Watson anymore, unless he was staring down into the bottomless abyss left behind by the Tesseract Effect. Far in the future, he had been experimenting with exotic matter using a particle accelerator in his small, private lab outside of Leeds. Yes, he could still remember. Was it five…no, it was six years ago subjective time.

There was a reaction of some kind. Reality went berserk. Billows of strange energy shot from the accelerator’s ring engulfing the chamber and the labs beyond, and the scientific breakthrough the physicist and entrepreneur had anticipated, became his unending nightmare. Had everyone else been translated to another time or just been killed? He would probably never know.

“Say, ísensmiþ, mi friþhengest…” The voice came from the entrance of his shop. Sever quickly closed the lid over the well and stepped into the main work area, shutting the door of the antechamber behind him.

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The New Dragon Saga: Steve

handgun

Handgun image from freeart

Chapter 4: “We’re ready.” Steve was another member of the resistance, and like Landon, not only was his control collar inoperable, but he could use elemental magic. Steve looked human, a lot of the other soldiers didn’t, not quite, but the seventeen-year-old had never been aware of him back on Earth. Landon had been able to sense a lot of magic users by the time he was sixteen, but somehow, Steve had managed to elude him.

“When do we strike?” They were walking on the parade grounds. Landon’s limp was almost gone and Dr. Swanson, also a member of the rebellion, would have to declare him fit for duty in another few days. It was the same with Steve whose arm had been broken in a medieval combat simulation. He was slightly taller than Landon and a few years older, dark hair and eyes, medium complexion. He said his Mom was from Mexico and his Dad was from “someplace else,” which probably meant another dimension.

“Tomorrow at dawn. All of the magic users have been alerted. We’ll be the first wave, taking out the Master and the top echelon. Once we disable the control mechanisms, the rest will be easy. We must outnumber them a hundred to one.”

“Dawn.” Landon and Steve stopped at the flagpole and saluted. On the flag was a representation of the ancient Roman god Janus, the two-faced god who represented beginnings, gates, transitions, passages, and time. It was a curious symbol for a group of extra-dimensional players, who used intelligent life forms as pieces in their bloody war games. “What about the people in play? There will still be thousands in the different simulations.”

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I Hold With Those Who Favor Fire

burning cabin

Found at ComicVine.com

Spider silk clung at the doors, over the windows, across everything she had left behind. It was the one place she had allowed to remain, had not purged with fire, the first home she had ever known with Mommy and Daddy.

But that was over twenty years ago. She and Daddy had abandoned their small mountain retreat after Mommy died of cancer. It, along with everything else Daddy owned, had passed down to her in trust when he died. She had only been five at the time, and Daddy’s boss, billionaire Keyne Harlan, took care of everything for her, adopted her, provided her with the finest of everything, home, clothes, education, everything a little girl needed to grow up. Everything except love.

“I wish I didn’t have to do this.” Twenty-five year old inventor and heiress Alise Egan was standing on the front porch of the new dilapidated cottage in the High Sierras, thirty miles from Yosemite National Park. Keyne and his usual entourage used to rent several suites at the Yosemite Valley Lodge twice a year as she was growing up, Spring and Autumn, taking her to the park for their biannual bicycle and music festival, but it was the closest she ever got to the Egan’s vacation home up until now.

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The Grayland

spectral

© Sue Vincent

At first Alise Egan thought she had been trapped in a cursed painting of herself facing an ocean wave, but then she realized it was an interdimensional gateway to another reality. In the painting, the twenty-two year old MIT graduate looked much as she appeared in real life, tall, what her billionaire benefactor, the painting’s owner Keyne Harlan and men of his generation would call “curvy,” long, blond hair streaming behind her along with her extravagant crimson gown, a ostentatious gift from said-benefactor, the man who adopted her after her parents died.

But once across the chaotic field of alabaster and sapphire, she entered the realm of the dead. Well, that’s what they had wanted her to believe, all of the non-corporeal entities who inhabited that realm. Two of them had initially passed themselves off as her dead parents, but then she saw them for what they truly were, invaders intent on using her as a bridge from their world to hers for reasons unknown and undesired.

But one of them said, “Physical laws don’t apply here. There’s no difference between science and magic.” That’s when she realized she could do anything, and so she did. Alise pushed back, at first driving a few away from the threshold, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally all that there were, millions and tens of millions.

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Blowing Bubbles

bubble

MorgueFile May 2018 file1831341080767

Kent Ingram had been chasing the hyperfold for decades. The first time he encountered it was in 1916 during the Battle of Jutland. The HMS Indefatigable exploded, German shells having penetrated her ammunition magazine, but instead of being thrown over the railing, he fell into what looked like a large, misshapen bubble…and found himself in Springfield, Missouri in the U.S. The year was 1894.

Since then, it had appeared randomly in his life, sending him from one place, one time to the next. The last time was Los Angeles, California in 1980. After five years, he got tired of waiting, and, with his accumulated knowledge, established a life, married, and had children. They had a home outside of Shasta, plenty of countryside for the kids.

“We’re out of bubbles.” Five-year-old Emily held up her wand in one hand and the empty soap container in the other.

Before Kent had a chance to react, his eight-year-old Todd burst out of the tool shed. “Found some more.”

“Me first,” Emily demanded as she ran toward him.

“Finders keepers,” Todd laughed and then blew a large bubble that continued to expand until it looked very familiar to Kent. But should he step through this time?

I wrote this for Week 35 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner photo challenge hosted by Roger Shipp. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

I’ve written before about time travel and mysterious portals, and the bubble in the photo seemed to fit the bill. I had to look up 10 Significant Battles of the First World War (The Battle of Jutland was number three) and do a little bit of Googling, but otherwise the story wrote itself.

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