The Future King

peabody

© Google, 2017 – Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University

Twelve-year-old David Cohen experienced a rare moment of awe standing in the George Peabody Library. He’d been accepted in the Cantate, a part of the Peabody Children’s Chorus, certainly a tremendous honor, but a secondary achievement.

He had started reading at age two, mastered algebra at four, spoke five languages by six, and written his first symphony by eight.

His goal now was to devour the contents of this library in under six months, just as he had already consumed most data sources accessible online.

His mother used her influence as the President of the National Academy of Sciences to conceal David’s “talents.” If the government found out his IQ was rated somewhere between 300 and 450, they’d turn him into a lab rat when his ambition was to cure the ills of the world.

But even he had no idea that one day, he would be called King and Messiah.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction 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 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Of course, I looked it up, but it wasn’t until I paid more attention to the image above and imagined myself standing in the middle of that library that I got my “hook, or rather part of it.”

Of course, the information about the Peabody Children’s Chorus figured into my tale, as did the ScienceTrends.com article Here Is The Highest Possible IQ And The People Who Hold The World Record.

But there was still one piece missing. What sort of goals should David have? I’d picked his last name at random, but then I realized that if one were to become the long-awaited Messiah, one would certainly have to train for it.

Unlike Christianity, in Judaism, the Messiah isn’t a supernatural being, but rather a wholly human Jewish male of the line of David and the tribe of Judah, who would grow to become both a great military leader, and a person of remarkable wisdom and piety.

150 words didn’t give me enough “space” to describe his religious training and accomplishments, so they’ll have to be assumed.

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

Advertisements

The Exiles

faroe islands

The Faroe Islands – Found at the Hand Luggage Only website – no photo credits available

“Have you ever wondered if we left anyone behind, husband?”

The man and woman stood at the edge of a magnificent rock formation, their backs to the lake behind them, and facing the open ocean a thousand feet below.

“Like us you mean, Tori? If we have, then we’ve visited a terrible curse upon the Earth. It is why we’ve retreated to these remote islands so long ago.”

“Look Bran. A ship.”

“It will not approach. Their leader will be known as Saint Brendan.”

“The mid-sixth century? Then our ending is mere decades away.”

“Yes, beloved. The alien virus which infected our wee village in Scotland centuries ago made us long-lived but not immortal. Our consciousness is aware of all human history, but we dare not share our infection with humanity.”

“I am content to be with you here in our exile, my love.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps image/location and use it as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 145.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark. Of course I did some research, and found that historians believe this remote group of islands located halfway between Norway and Iceland may have been inhabited in two periods before the arrival of the Norse, the first between 300 and 600 CE, and the second between 600 and 800 CE.

I also learned that Saint Brendan of Clonfert (484-577 CE) includes a description of insulae (islands) resembling the Faroe Islands in the chronicles of his journeys.

Since we know almost nothing of the pre-nordic inhabitants of the Faroe Islands, I decided to make up something fantastic. What if people in a remote northern village in Scotland were infected with a strange virus by alien visitors, giving them lifespans of centuries and the ability to know all of human history? Further, what if they’re infectious? Maybe they’d isolate themselves to prevent the rest of humanity from contracting their blessing and curse.

The distance between Scotland and the Faroe’s is roughly 620.73 km or 385.70 miles.

To read other (probably more grounded) tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Fall of Iran

iran riots

Iran Experiences Power Outages Amidst Protests – Found at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem website. No photo credit given.

“Our star is falling from the sky, President Rouhani. These power outages are simply the latest sign.”

“So it’s not merely increased energy consumption and this cursed heat wave, Reza. Does SAVAK have any indication this is the work of the Mossad or CIA?”

“Nothing conclusive. It is true that the US and Israel have always plagued us, but this time, the people are rioting without outside provocation.”

“Damned that buffoon American President. This would never have happened if Obama were still in power or that woman Clinton had won their election.”

“What should we do?”

“Tell the Ayatollahs nothing. Let them believe they can win another holy war. Meanwhile, quietly gather the other ministers. We’ll follow the Shah’s example and transfer as much of the treasury to off shore accounts as we can manage. Exile to the west is far more preferable than another revolution.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and/or location as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 146.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Tehran, Iran. The story almost wrote itself. My main information source was the Newsweek story Iran Faces Blackouts as Protests Rock Capital.

I decided to use the 1979 Iranian Revolution as a template. In that revolution, over 2,500 years of continuous Persian rule was overthrown by the Islamists, installing Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini into power. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was supported by the United States, had to flee the country with, I suspect, as much money as he could lay his hands on.

My tale of a conversation between Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian and President Hassan Rouhani is totally fictitious of course, and I have no idea if the CIA and/or the Mossad have their fingers in these latest events in Iran. Oh, SAVAK is the Iranian secret police.

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

Urartu

Taşlıçay

Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey © Google Maps

He came to Taşlıçay after a snowstorm and entered Mehmet’s restaurant. The last customer had left and the proprietor had let his staff go early.

“We’re closing, Sir. I have nothing left to serve you.”

“I am not here to eat, Mehmet.” He spoke heavily-accented Turkish and appeared middle-eastern.

“What do you want?”

“To save your life. Great forces desire to take it.”

“You’re insane. Taşlıçay is a boring place. Nothing happens here.”

“After the great flood, elemental spirits, both good and evil claimed the area around Urartu and lay dormant. Tonight they rise from the temple on the hill and the höyük to the south. You are the last direct descendant of the ark, the last one who could prevent them from entering your world.”

“Who are you?”

The messenger of Hashem grew large and powerful, was armored in ethereal light, and drew a sword of silver. “They come.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location and/or image 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 Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey. I looked it up and there’s not much going on in Taşlıçay either currently or historically, except for a few tiny details.

I leveraged the Facebook page for Things to do in Taslicay, which provided the restaurant setting. Going through the Google maps street images, I found the one posted above, which appealed to me since summer is approaching fast.

There’s a burial mound to the south of this rural town and both an Urartu temple and Armenian monastery on the hill above the village of Taşteker. Then I read:

Urartu, which corresponds to the biblical mountains of Ararat, is the name of a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

Ararat is the legendary resting place for Noah’s Ark after the Great Flood of the Bible, so I thought I’d attempt to wrap all of that together into some sort of mystic tale of disaster and horror, all in 150 words. How did I do?

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

Oh, and how are these locations chosen, anyway?

The Battle of Kings

masrur temples

Rock cut Hindu temples of Masrur – photo attributed to Akashdeep83 – found at Wikipedia

It is said that the enmity between the Katoch and Sikh Kings perished with them, but such fierceness does not die with flesh. The Kangra Valley holds wondrous beauty and great mystery, and future historians would never be sure why the Temples of Masrur so resembled Elephanta Caves near Mumbai, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, nor do even the modern Hindus know, though they are its supposed builders.

After a long truce on the ethereal plane, Sansar Chand Katoch and Maharaja Ranjit Singh once again chose to contend with each other, their powers ever waxing. Thus on 4 April 1905 as the humans mark the passage of time, they entered into violent confrontation in the Kangra Valley, and though the visage of supernatural beings was never witnessed by mortals, the earthquake their combat caused killed more than 20,000. Would their conflict next endanger people in Cambodia or Mumbai?

I authored this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps location and image as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the Kangra Valley in Northern India. This is a popular tourist attraction for a number of reasons including the Rock-cut Hindu Temples of Masrur, which also resemble in design those other locations I mentioned in my story.

There really was a devastating quake in the area in 1905, and I used some of the local history involving the Katoch and Sikh battles a century before, weaving in a supernatural element in an attempt to tie all that together.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if disasters and misfortune on the physical plane was caused by perpetual battle between long-dead Kings in the supernatural world?

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

Living Memories

armenian genocide

Armenian civilians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Ottoman soldiers. Kharpert, Ottoman Empire, April 1915 – Photo Credit: Anonymous German traveler – Published by the American red cross, it was first published in the United States prior to January 1, 1923.

Samvel and Samuel had a lot more in common than just their names. Sitting together at a table outside a small Parisian cafe, the former sipped his coffee, and the latter put another cube of sugar into his steaming beverage.

“I hear Israel is considering recognition of the Armenian deaths.”

“I certainly hope so. Ours is widely known, but already the world is forgetting.”

“I just wish the world would remember the 20th century’s first genocide. We both died at age five, but here we are as grown men.”

“Yes, you in your holocaust and I in mine. We have been resurrected, whether by God or some lesser but still mighty force, to be living reminders of the past.”

“We must never let the children of this century forget the children of ours, whether executed by the Ottomans or the Nazis. Now finish your coffee. We must join the others.”

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to Armenia.

Although the nation has a rich history, it’s hard not to immediately think of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and Armenian Genocide denial. I read one article that said Israel was about to recognize the Armenian Genocide and another stating that Turkey was not at all pleased by this turn of events.

Searching the web for Armenian names and finding “Samvel,” I thought having an Armenian genocide victim and a Jewish Holocaust victim together having coffee was an interesting idea. But who are they who have died so long ago and yet in our midst today? I left that rather vague, but the idea is that some “force” is causing people from the past to emerge in the present so modern people won’t forget the horrors that have occurred so many decades ago.

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

The Sins of Our Fathers

San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia

Near San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia – © Google 2018

The vintage Beechcraft AT-11 landed eight souls on a little dirt airstrip near San Ignacio de Velasco in Bolivia. Intelligence said he’d be making a stopover in this tiny hamlet to visit an old friend, another German expat.

He’d just founded Transmaritima, Bolivia’s first ocean shipping company and was anxious to brag about it, especially to other war criminals who were still cowering in fear.

The aircraft halted and the pilot killed the engines. “We’ll be returning to La Paz as soon as we refuel. We won’t be coming back unless we get your signal.”

Five of the passengers had already disembarked with their equipment. The sixth approached the cockpit. “If we don’t succeed, there will be no reason to come back.”

“You’ll succeed.”

“We plan to. The sons of Nazi butchers must wipe the blood from our hands. In less than twenty-four hours, Klaus Barbie will be dead.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take the Google maps image and location presented and use it to inspire crafting a flash fiction piece no longer than 150 words. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia. According to Wikipedia, there isn’t much information available about the town or José Miguel de Velasco Province. However, both articles mention the area possessing a small population of the descendants of post-World War II German immigrants.

That was the hook.

Looking at this morning’s email notification from Bookbub, I’d seen a title by Tania Crasnianski (translated by Molly Grogan) called Children of Nazis which includes interviews with the children of Himmler, Göring, Höss, Mengele and others.

I also found a 1982 New York Times article about Klaus Barbie, who was the SS commander in Lyons, France between 1942 and 1944. He had fled to Bolivia after the war and unfortunately, did quite well for himself.

In the 1960’s, Barbie really did found Transmaritima, Bolivia’s first ocean shipping company, in a joint venture with the navy. I decided to put all of that together and formed an elite team of assassins, the sons of Nazi war criminals, who had taken on the mission of wiping their bloody legacy from the face of the Earth.

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

Oh, among other fun facts, San Ignacio de Velasco in the present day does have a dirt strip for an “airport.” Figured they could have one in the 1960s as well. Keep in mind this is fiction, and Barbie was not assassinated. He was eventually captured, tried, convicted, and died in prison in Lyon, France in 1991 at the age of 77.

The Missing Manuscript Affair

Gwynedd

Stream near Bethesda in Gwynedd county, Wales on 23 Dec 2013 after a storm – Photo credit: BBC.com

Only about a dozen or so people knew that Olivia Lewis, the woman discovered drowned in a fast-flowing stream near Bethesda after a storm, was a retired SIS operative. She never carried a gun, for her talents were in finding the right approach to a target and then getting them to tell her anything she wanted.

Aging MI6 agent Ian Dennis took part of his training under her decades ago, which was when she had confided with him. He knew why she was murdered. She had owned the first draft of one of World War Two veteran Leslie Bonnet’s short stories, which contained a seventy-year-old secret he had learned while training pilots in China.

Now the draft was missing, and it was a race to discover the true location of lost Sichuan Temple, which legend said contained an ancient device more powerful than all the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to Gwynedd, Wales.

Of course I looked up the county of Gwynedd and discovered, among many other things, that World War Two veteran turned author made his home there after the war. Before that, he had spent some time in China in 1943 helping to create the Chinese Air Force as a service separate from their army.

I also found a 23 December 2013 BBC news story that reported a woman had drowned in a stream in Nant Ffrancon near Bethesda after a storm.

The lost temple is totally made up, though loosely based on this news article.

I created the beginning of yet another “Ian Dennis” mystery just for fun. Some of you may remember Ian from my short series The Mauritius Robbery Affair.

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

The President’s Ill-Fated Proposal

tulum

Photo Credit: Popo le Chien – 13 Sept 2016 – Tulum’s Templo del Dios Viento (Temple of Wind God, left) and Castillo (castle, right)

President Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Henry Seward stood at what was called the Temple of the God of Wind at Tulum gazing northeast over the waters toward the island of Corzumel. Mexican President Benito Juarez summarily dismissed Lincoln’s proposal for American freed slaves to be relocated to that small bit of land off the Yucatan peninsula, but Seward had to see it for himself.

Lincoln was the President, and Seward did what he was told, but his conscience as a man and a Christian told him that if a man were truly free and a citizen of the United States, then his former status as slave should be wiped clean, rather than him becoming a societal pariah. If only he could convince the President of this.

The breeze in his face, Seward became a prophet. “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

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

Of course, I looked up Tulum, but consulting Google maps, I found it was fairly close to the island of Cozumel. It was a small bit of history of that island from 1861 that caught my attention, since the proposal I write about above did actually occur.

I have no idea about how the real Seward felt about it, so I made something up. Also, it seems that Lincoln did succeed briefly, in 1862, in establishing a short-lived colony of ex-slaves on Île à Vache off the coast of Haiti.

The quote I put in Seward’s mouth is attributed to author George Orwell, which would indeed have made the Secretary of State a “prophet,” since Orwell wouldn’t be born until 1903.

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

The Dragon’s Head

dragon's head

Photo credit: Jeff Chep – Found at the Amusing Planet blog

Their campaign against Peking was succeeding, but General Hiroki Sato had to land his troops at Shanhai Pass, then march to the city to relieve the siege.

“Is this bombardment necessary? There are likely few Chinese troops present.”

Admiral Ako Yamamoto could barely hear above the cannon fire.

“Better this than an ambush.” He returned to his binoculars and gasped.

“What?” Sato took the binoculars from the terrified Yamamoto and beheld a sight he thought only possible in myth.

This end of the Great Wall of China, regaled in fable as the “dragon’s head,” was proving that its name was not merely symbolic. Stone, brick, tamped earth, and wood was miraculously transforming into an enormous serpent, the legendary defender of China.

A thousand men met their fate in the sea that morning in July of 1900, and then the dragon rose to destroy the rest of the invaders investing her land.

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

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Great Wall of China. As you might imagine, the wall has a long and fascinating history, which makes crafting a wee tale about it difficult.

I decided to focus on its western edge, which is at Lop Nur or “Lop Lake.” I discovered that in July 1900 (or 1904 depending on the source), the Japanese landed troops at Shanhai Pass where the wall dips into the sea, to re-enforce a siege against Peking. You can click the link to Amusing Planet to learn more, but that part of the wall is called “the dragon’s head” because it looks like a dragon dipping down to have a drink from the ocean.

Now imagine that the wall isn’t really a wall, and you’ve got a fantastic tale on your hands.

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