The Virgin Wept

pena

The Chapel at Pena

The Virgin wept to see the destruction of the monastery. First lightning and now the earthquake turned it to ruins. Thank God the chapel escaped harm so the monks and pilgrims still can come and pray.

“But what will happen to my poor monks now?”

“Please, you must return to your grave, sister. You are entertaining this terrible delusion and worse, perpetuating it among the living.”

“Who are you? How dare you speak to the Holy Virgin Mary that way.”

“Oh please. You are Maria Rosario. I’m your brother Filipe. We both died in a plague centuries ago. You were only thirteen when you perished. It has maddened you.”

“My brother…then I…”

“You keep manifesting yourself here and silly fools think you are their blessed Virgin. Stop it. Miriam, wife of Yosef couldn’t have been a virgin all her life as the Catholic legends state. Come. Return to your rest.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing challenge. Today, Pegman takes us to Pena, Portugal via Google street maps. The idea is to use the image and location as an inspiration to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 150.

As usual, I consulted Google and Wikipedia and discovered Pena Palace has an interesting history. According to tradition, construction of the chapel began after an apparition of the Virgin Mary was seen. Pilgrimages to the site have been occurring since the Middle Ages.

Interestingly enough, about five months ago, I wrote a similar tale that was also critical of the system of Saints called The Fall of the Saints. I do consider myself a religious person but according to many Christian and Jewish authorities, it is highly unlikely that Miriam (Mary) remained a virgin all her life.

So I developed an alternate (fictional) explanation for such “visions”.

Oh, the monastery was damaged by lightning in the 18th century and  destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Obviously it has since been rebuilt.

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

The Tombs of Petra

petra

© Google – Nov 2014

Nadia tried to hide her tears as she witnessed the scene. “Oh, Abdus. Look at what they’ve done. How could they?”

Only a few of the other tourists in their party viewing the Nabatean Theater at Petra noticed the finely dressed Arab woman burying her face in presumably her husband’s chest. They hadn’t the faintest idea why she was upset and decided to ignore her.

All the others were focused on the gift shop at the far end of the theatre and what their young, enthusiastic guide was saying.

“I know, dearest. Our tombs. All gone. Erased first by the Nabateans and then by the Romans. Now the modern Jordanians make sport of our sacred tombs.”

“I need to leave, Abdus. The sight sickens me.”

“Stay, beloved. We were reincarnated to quicken the souls of the others. Someday, we’ll have an army and we will retake these ancient lands.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google maps street view image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, Pegman takes us to The Nabatean Theater at Petra in Jordan. Apparently this was originally the site of many ancient tombs, but according to Viator.com a group of Arab people called the Nabateans, who once inhabited northern Arabia and the Southern Levant, created the theater some 2,000 years ago, destroying many of the tombs there. The Romans expanded the theater in the early 2nd century CE destroying even more.

I found myself wondering what the dead in those tombs would think if they could see the place today.

Not All #MenAreTrash

cape town

Gagasi FM talk-show host Alex Mthiyane, businessmen Sandile Zungu, and Vivian Reddy, scientist Siya Xuza, Norma Gigaba and 5FM DJ Euphonik mentoring young men at the Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall yesterday. Picture: Nkululeko Nene

“Mommy, I don’t want to grow up to be trash.”

“Oh my sweet boy, you could never be trash.”

“But isn’t that what those women are saying about Daddy?”

“Daddy made terrible decisions, Denis.”

“They say he killed those women, other women say that makes all men trash. I don’t want to hurt anyone, Mommy.”

“You won’t, little one. You don’t have to be anyone except my wonderful little boy.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too, Denis. I always will. I promise to teach you to be the best person you can be. Now get ready for school. Today you’re going to meet Norma Gigaba, the Finance Minister’s wife.”

Lefa Pillay, Denis’s father, had been arrested along with several other men for the string of rapes and murders of women in Durban prompting protests declaring #MenAreTrash. Dipalesa, the little boy’s Mom, would do anything to fight that stereotype.

I’m writing this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use Google maps street images as an inspiration to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the pegman takes us to Cape Town, South Africa. I did my usual Wikipedia search but nothing came up for me. Then I looked at the local news stories.

I found a May 23rd story called #MenAreTrash: Yes, we are trash! which reported on protests in Durban, South Africa on the streets and in social media in response to multiple violent crimes against women over the previous two weeks.

I also found another story out of Cape Town, dated today (July 30th) called Not all #MenAreTrash, says Gigaba’s wife.

Part of the story reads:

IN THE spirit of teaching boys to become men, high-profile businessmen and radio personalities engaged with pupils from five schools at the Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall, Denis Hurley Centre, where they held an interactive motivational session with young men.

On Saturday, at the event hosted by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s wife, Norma, and her foundation, boys were urged to be resilient in their quest to build healthy communities.

Gigaba said the focus was on boys because she felt that they were neglected. “We cannot fold our arms and watch them ruining opportunities of creating a better society. Men are called all sorts of names, more recently #MenAreTrash.”

My own wee fictional tale flowed from there.

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

Walkabout

great barrier reef

© Google 2012

Barega saw himself here in dreamtime. Merindah the Seer woman told him it was his time for the walkabout, his spiritual transition so that he could join the men of their people.

His journey would be long and take many days. Barega would be traveling alone for the first time in his fourteen years of life. His father taught him well the skills needed to succeed in his travels.

He found himself here near the great water, the one he had dreamed about. There were many living beings in their land that were revered, and Barega knew that beneath the great water, many more existed. However, he now realized what his experience in dreamtime meant. This mighty reef was alive, too. He walked across the rock and sand to touch its many bodies and souls.

Today he was a man and men must protect the spirits of all life

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google street view image above as a prompt to craft a bit of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

I learned a lot about the Reef (actually it’s made up of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 2,300 km or 1,400 miles long) at Wikipedia and Adventure Mumma.

Wikipedia says that: “according to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.” This coral bleaching is attributed to human use impact such as fishing and tourism as well as runoff and climate change.

The good news is that the reef has died off many times before, usually during each ice age, and then recovered, but the original environmental conditions have to be restored.

I also learned that about 12,000 years ago, a person could walk from the land directly out to the reef. Since I’ve recently been interested in writing time travel stories about going back to that period in history, my “Walkabout” tale simply fell into place.

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

Terror

cape crozier

© Google, Nov 2016

The Adelie penguin colony at Cape Crozier, Antarctica had long been the subject of study. There were over a quarter of a million breeding pairs of birds identified. Scientists inhabited several tents at the site plus a crude permanent structure that vaguely resembled a collection of shoeboxes. However, this expedition was not here for the penguins.

“What do the latest readings look like, Scottie?” Carter Roberts addressed the party’s Chief Volcanologist Amanda Scott. She ignored the unwanted familiar use of her name.

“Not good, Carter.” She didn’t bother to glance up from the seismology report. “If these readings are accurate, then given the progression we’re seeing, we’ve got less than three months.”

“So Mount Terror is aptly named.”

“We always thought it was an extinct volcano, but sometime next October, it’ll make the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa look like a firecracker, plunging the whole world into a new ice age.”

Written for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google street image above as the inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, Pegman takes us to Cape Crozier, Antarctica. I looked the place up at Wikipedia, and when I saw “Mount Terror” and “extinct volcano,” I knew I found my hook.

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

A Great Place to Retire

la puerta falsa

© Santiago Ruiz JimÈnez – National Geographic

Larry and Jan sat at a table at La Puerta Falsa sampling Bogotá’s signature dish, steaming bowls of ajiaco. They had just come from the Museo Botero, home to an impressive collection of paintings by Colombia’s most famous visual artist, Fernando Botero.

“I never thought of retiring here, Larry, but this isn’t the Bogotá I’d heard of.”

“That’s ancient history, dear. Bogotá is safer now than most large U.S. cities, and our dollar is going to go a lot farther here.”

“Is money really a question, Lar? After all, you’ve done well over the years.”

“I know, but that’s because I didn’t spend foolishly. I made my customers do that.”

“Whatever you say. Yes, let’s spend the rest of our lives here.”

Larry Zalkalns had spent the better part of five decades as the largest drug kingpin on America’s east coast. He was no fool. He only benefited from them.

Written for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use an image of the target location, such as the one at the top of the page, to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150 exactly.

Today, Pegman takes us to Bogotá, Columbia. Usually, when I think of Bogotá, I think of drug cartels and gun violence, but I read an article recently that said Columbia had become a great place to retire and is much safer now than in previous decades.

I found a 2015 New York Times story called 36 Hours in Bogotá, Colombia which seemed aimed at younger readers, but which also gave me enough material to use in crafting my scene.

The image above comes from the Spanish language edition of National Geographic.

Given Bogotá’s historic reputation, I gave Larry an interesting profession.

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

The Non-Memorial

Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Credit: Getty Images

“I don’t get it, Sheldon. What’s the big deal? It’s just a bunch of blocks.”

“Great place to party, though. It’s like a maze in there, Linda. Get a bunch of people together, bring some weed, and no one can find you.”

“We didn’t come here to party, Sheldon. We’re touring Holocaust Memorials in Europe this summer. But this one in Berlin doesn’t even vaguely mention Shoah.”

“Quit living in the past, Linda. Loosen up.”

The young girl looked down at her shoes, fighting back the tears. “I can’t”. Her Bubbe died just four months ago. Linda could still hear her voice singing her to sleep when she was little. The image of the tattoo on Bubbe’s arm, the one the Nazis gave her when she was a girl, never left her.

Linda looked up and in the distance to their right, she saw a group of young Neo-Nazis laughing.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image as an inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150. Today’s challenge takes us to the city of Berlin.

This news article at Haaretz explains the controversial history of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, so I won’t include the details here, except to say that we must never forget Shoah and we have a duty to not only remember the past but to make sure we never repeat it.

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

The Sons of Mutineers

pitcairn

© Google 2017

Daniel McCoy stood on the rocks and cast his line again into the Pacific. No matter how chaotic other parts of his life became, fishing was his refuge of peace. He knew they would be waiting for him when he got back home. He would go peacefully. After all, he deserved this. But he needed to spend one more hour in heavenly solitude before facing the consequences of his acts.

Daniel McCoy, like the other inhabitants of Pitcairn Island, was the descendant of the nine Bounty mutineers. Their reputation had been romanticized over the centuries, but not so the crimes nearly a third of the modern male population of the island would be found guilty of. From mutineers to sexual predators. Their ancestors would be ashamed.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long using the photo prompt above. My word count is 126. Today, thanks to Google maps, we are taken to the Pitcairn Islands which have a rather colorful history, both ancient and modern.

I took the name “Daniel McCoy” from one of the Second Generation of the Bounty mutineers living on Pitcairn. As for the rest, it’s all true. You can read about how the current population of Pitcairn was founded, and then the sexual assault trials of 2004.

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

Vultan’s Aerie

burj khalifa

© Google – May 2013

The two friends, veterans of many battles, stood at the foot of the glass tower upon a strangely deserted street.

“We defeated Baron Dak-Tula and the Skorpi menace Flash, but at the cost of Mongo’s biosphere. Fortunately, Earth’s biosphere survived, though sadly, your race of humans were wiped out by a Skorpi induced plague. To our benefit, Zarkov created a space going ark to bring representatives of our races to your world in safety, though barely in time.”

“Thanks to you Prince Vultan, and your race of Hawkmen, we were victorious. It’s only fitting that, on behalf of Earth, I extend every courtesy to your Hawkmen and the rest of the brave races that survived Mongo. What is your wish?”

“Actually, this Burj Khalifa tower here in Dubai would make us a fine Aerie, Flash Gordon.”

I wrote this tale for the What Pegman Saw challenge. Thanks to Google maps, this week’s destination is the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 136.

Originally, I was going to write about a group of robotic AI window washers forming a union to fight for better working conditions at their jobs cleaning Burj Khalifa, but then my wife sent me to the store and while driving, I started getting another idea.

Yes, I read the Flash Gordon comic strip every Sunday. They’re repeats and as far as I know, no new comic strips are being created for this franchise.

I had to look up the history of Flash Gordon at Wikipedia, which is where I learned that in his later history, Flash became an interstellar hero fighting the shape shifting Skorpi race. I created a situation where Mongo’s biosphere is ruined forcing a remnant of its many peoples to flee aboard a space ark built by Dr. Zarkov. They arrive on Earth, and while our world’s biosphere is intact, the Skorpi wiped out the human population with a plague. The disease has since run its course, so our planet is now the new world of the Mongoese refugees. Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Dr. Hans Zarkov are the only human beings left alive.

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

Juan’s Prayer

Plaza España

Plaza España at night, found at Wikipedia

Rosita had been sitting at the edge of Plaza España in Guatemala City for hours. It was night, but she was oblivious to the passing cars or the bright neon lights which, to everyone else, were so festive.

The earthquake caused his beloved church to collapse on Juan during his prayers, though why he would be praying at such a strange hour was a mystery.

“Oh my dear husband, what will I do without you? How can I go back to our home in San Sebastian alone?”

“You won’t have to, sister. He prayed for me to watch over you.”

Written for What Pegman Saw. Thanks to Google maps, this week we are taken to Guatemala City. The idea is to use the prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 100.

I did some “Googling” and found that there had been a severe earthquake there just a few days ago. A man had been killed in neighboring San Sebastian when a church collapsed on him at about 1:30 a.m. Since the prompt was specifically Guatemala City, I set the scene with his widow at the Plaza España (keep in mind that Rosita and Juan are fictitious) where she had been staying with relatives. I’ve implied that Juan knew he was going to die and was praying for his dear wife to be cared for. His prayer was answered.

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