Wairua

christchurch

© Steve Withers – Google Maps

The block in downtown Christchurch was being demolished. The buildings around the public parking lot had been abandoned for a decade. Anyone who wanted, could indulge themselves with cans of spray paint. Some graffiti was elementary, other projects were expertly artistic. A shame the heavy equipment would destroy the good with the bad.

The indigenous Māori people thrived in New Zealand until the arrival of Europeans. To this day, they suffer the fate of indigenous populations all over the world.

It looked like a clown’s face, a fearsome one. Wairua or spirit was from the old Polynesian beliefs, and the art gave it a form with which to act. Wairua would turn the Māori away from Presbyterian, Mormon, and Islam faiths and back to the old ways. Wairua would teach them tapu, noa, and mana again, to preserve who they were, who they are, who they will be one day.

I wrote this in response to J. Hardy Carroll’s What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo above, taken from Google Maps, as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

I’m playing fast and loose with the history of Christchurch and of the Māori people, so don’t look too closely for reality or historic accuracy.

I considered making the spirit vengeful, but as I recall, I already wrote a story about that. Instead, I decided to incite a revival among the Māori people, a return to their original spiritual beliefs, a reunification with who they were before the Europeans arrived. So many indigenous people all over the world have had their cultures, their languages, their spiritual beliefs destroyed by colonizers. I thought it was time some of them got all that back, at least in fiction.

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

Time’s Window

gale crater

Gale Crater – Mars

“Temporal Shift Unit is powered up, Commander Sharp.” Physicist Jamie Benjamin and her team had spent a week assembling the complex machinery in Gale Crater, which was believed to be one of Mars’ long dried up lakes.

“If this device works as well as it did in the tests on Earth, we could very well see what this crater looked like over three billion years in the past, Benjamin.”

“I suggest we all anchor ourselves to a specific spot, Commander.” She was speaking to the entire team who had been living out of their twin solar-powered rovers for the past ten days. “When the unit activates, it will seem like we’re 5,000 meters underwater.”

“Proceed.”

“Activating projector…now.”

The thin air around them rippled and twisted, and then it was as if they were at the bottom of the ocean, which was expected. The true marvel was that they weren’t alone.

“Life.”

The What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge was an unusual one this week. Normally, writers are prompted to craft a story no more than 150 words long based on some Google Maps view on Earth. Today, J. Hardy Carroll uses a virtual reality tour to take us to the planet Mars. I ended up somewhere in Gale Crater, scanning a 360 degree view provided by the Curiosity Rover.

Approximately 3.5 billion years ago, it is strongly believed the crater was a water-filled lake. I decided to manufacture a little “virtual reality” of my own to give astronauts a look at what the crater was like all those billions of years in the past. As you can see, they found something startling and wonderful.

To read other stories inspired by this prompt, go to InLinkz.com My story is 150 words long.

The Seventy Year Cycle Killer

nassau

© Google Maps – July 2016

Kal Thompson knew he was very unpopular with the passengers and crew of the cruise ship Norwegian Gem. It couldn’t be helped.

Another gorgeous Summer day in Nassau, but the yellow crime scene tape wasn’t part of the tourist attraction. It prevented the contamination of his murder investigation. The murderer had to be on board.

The victim had been a young local women. The manner of her death was particularly gruesome. She was cut in half at the waist and her body was totally drained of blood. She was found nude, posed with her hands above her head, and the corners of her mouth literally sliced ear to ear.

He had read about a case such as her’s but it couldn’t be the same killer could it? After all, the Black Dahlia had been murdered in Los Angeles in 1947. How could the killer strike again seventy years later?

I wrote this in response to J. Hardy Carroll’s What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google Maps image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine is exactly 148.

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

When I looked around the Google Maps image, I saw the yellow tape and imagined a crime scene, but I needed something unusual. I looked up famous unsolved murders, and the mystery of the Black Dahlia became my template.

Pointing Out the Road Homeward

uganda

© Google – June 2015

Thursday, April 30, 1970, Kampala, Uganda.

“Rabbi Sizomu, you have a year to get the Jews out of Kampala before Idi Amin gains power.”

“How can you be so certain of this, my friend?”

“Do you trust me?”

Both men were standing on a lonely road, untamed brush to the right, a large hothouse farm to the left.

“I have learned to trust you in the time you’ve spent among us. You know things I cannot explain.

“Trust me, Gershom. President Obote will be overthrown in a military coup. Amin will attack the Jews living in Kampala. Convince them to make Aliyah, emigrate to Israel.”

“Why are you warning us?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Then it’s a matter of faith. Very well, I will do as you say.”

Time Traveler Martin Fields watched Rabbi Gershom Sizomu walk back to Kampala before returning home to 2017, his mission accomplished.

I wrote this small tale in response to K. Rawson’s What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above, taken from Google maps, and craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine is 149, and it’s a difficult tale to tell in so few words. I once again employed my time traveler Martin Fields because it’s true. In 1971, Idi Amin took control of Uganda, deposing President Milton Obote in a military coup. Amin exiled all the Asians and viciously attacked the Jewish population of Kampala.

I couldn’t find any information about any Rabbis in Uganda in 1970, so I “borrowed” Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, who in February of last year, was elected to the Ugandan Parliament. You can read his story at Haaretz.com.

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

Robin at the Brazen Head

© Google – July 2014

“I’m tellin’ ya mate, he would come in and drink right here. This is a really famous pub, oldest in Ireland.”

The skeptical American tourist listened to his half-inebriated friend. “Sean, you’re one of my best friends, and I’m glad you’re showing me around Dublin on my visit, but you can’t be serious.”

“Michael, you believe James Joyce drank here, Jonathan Swift, even Van Morrison graced the Head with his presence. Why not him?”

“Because he’s fictional.”

“Fictional, hah! He still haunts the place and I can prove it.”

“How?”

Sean pulled Michael off his bar stool and half-dragged him to the stone outside. “See, Robin of Loxley be relievin’ himself right there.”

The archer in green finished and turned to give the two men an evil look for interrupting his privacy.

This was inspired by the What Pegman Saw photo challenge. The Google maps image comes direct from Dublin and depicts what is arguably Ireland’s oldest pub.

The idea is authors are supposed to write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words based on the photo above. My story is 132 words long.

I looked up The Brazen Head and legend has it that Robin Hood used to drink there. A story from NBC News states that Robin not only got intoxicated at the pub, but did indeed relieve himself on the old stone outside.

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

The Old Neighborhood

St Louis

© Google – August 2012

I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d last seen the old neighborhood, the one my Grandpa lived in when I was a little boy. I took my grandson not realizing that everyone living there now was African-American. Seth and I stood out quite a bit. No one seemed mad, but they all stared at us, like we didn’t belong.

“Jimmy! It’s been a long time.”

I turned to the house across the street. I couldn’t believe it.

“Ronnie!” I ran up to the old man, the child I played with over fifty years ago. We hugged.

“I can’t believe you still live in the old ‘hood.”

“It’s always been my home, Jimmy. When we were kids, I was the one who stuck out. Now things have changed.

He looked down at my grandson and smiled. “Who have you brought to visit us?”

Today’s piece of flash fiction was inspired by the photo prompt at What Pegman Saw. Authors are supposed to use the photo at the top to create a short work of no more than 150 words. Mine comes in at 145.

The photo is of a neighborhood in St. Louis, but it’s not all that different from the one my Grandpa lived in back in Omaha in the early 1960s when I was a child. I’ve heard it’s changed a lot, probably like this place in St. Louis has changed over the long decades. Still, some parts of the world will always be home.

To read other stories inspired by this prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Ancient Amazon Awaits

amazon

© Google 2013

The dock master at Manaus warned us against our trek up the Amazon with the clouds threatening in the west. Even Miguel, our guide, refused to accompany us. But I only had three days left to show my high school science students at least a few more of the Amazon’s wonders before our field trip to Brazil ended. Now as the strange glowing clouds descend, I feel I’ve made a terrible mistake.

“Dr. Chambers. What’s wrong with the air?” 15-year-old Billy is the youngest of my students. We’re all coughing. It’s not the cloud. That’s vanished. The entire river and surrounding jungle are suddenly unfamiliar. The river’s wider..and running backwards! I know enough paleontology to realize the impossible has happened.

There’s a ferocious roar coming from near the left bank. It’s getting closer. Sarah is the first to see it. “Look!” She’s screaming in horror.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. Based on the Google Maps image above, authors are supposed to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine’s a solid 146.

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

I did a little research on the area of the photo and on the river itself. Manaus is the capital city of the state of Amazonas situated on the Negro River in Northwestern Brazil.

The Amazon is only 11.8 million years old and achieved its present shape about 2.4 million years ago.

However, the ancient version of this water way was thought to have run backward, from east to west sometime in the mid-Cretaceous period about 130 million years ago.

Mr. Chambers and his high school science students are in a lot of trouble.

A Last Look At Home

chuo tokyo

© Google 2016

“I never thought I’d see Chūō-ku again.”

“Does it look that different, Hiro?”

“I miss the waterways. It’s different, but it’s home.”

“I’m almost sorry I brought you here, given what’s about to happen to you.”

“You said what happens to me happened over seventy years ago.”

“You’ll still have to return.”

“And die, I know. But I’m curious why your Isis had you bring me here to the ward where I was born.”

“Look there.” The Time Traveler pointed to the fish market on the corner. A family, three generations of them, were just opening up.

“Your son, his children, and their children.”

Hiro’s eyes moistened. “They survived.”

“One last look at home, Hiro.”

“Thank you, Martin. Now I can die in peace, knowing my family lives on.”

“It’s time for me to take you back to Hiroshima.”

“Back to my present, Monday, August 6, 1945. I’m ready.”

I wrote this in response to the What Pegman Saw photo challenge. The goal is to use the photo at the top of the page as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. Mine came in at 147.

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

The photo prompt is a 2016 street view of a ward of Tokyo called Chūō-ku, which literally means “Central Ward”. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and among other things, found out that after World War II, much of Chuo City was rebuilt and many of its numerous waterways filled in to make space for more buildings and roads.

I leveraged time traveler Martin Fields, who I featured in a seven-part series beginning with On Wednesday, The Time Traveler Got Wet, in order to give a Japanese man from 1945 a chance to see what had become of his family after seventy years. He gets a look at them in the 21st century before returning to his fate in Hiroshima the day the Atomic Bomb was dropped.

Why the other-worldly being known as Isis would have given this gift to a single individual is not revealed, but it’s enough that it was given.

Huastec

Av 5, Mexico City

© Google maps

Humberto waited until the rest of the workers knocked off for lunch. Then he went back to the part of the lot they were working on where he had found it. His mother was Aztec and named him Xochipilli after the god of feasting. His father forbade the ancient ways, so over the years, he met with other Aztecs in secret.

Mama taught him about their history and gods, which is how he recognized the stone figure of Huastec, the life-death idol concealed in the rubble. Who knows how many centuries it had been buried? He wrapped the figure in a small tarp and hid it in his truck. Huastec was a sign, a sign of the return of the rule of the Aztecs. Tonight, Xochipilli would meet with the others and plan. They would rise up. The first human sacrifice in centuries would take place next month.

huastec

Huastec – Brooklyn Museum / Creative Commons-BY

Written for the What Pegman Saw weekly photo writing prompt based on a view from Google Maps. The challenge is to use the image to write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. My story is 148. I did a 360 degree turn on Google maps and came up with a different view. I looked up the history of Mexico City and it has a significant Aztec presence. Then I looked up Aztec history and wrote my tale. I’m including a photo of Huastec for reference.

To read other stories inspired the what pegman saw, go to InLinkz.com.

The Apparition

hammerfest

© Google 2017

Nine-year-old Erik Lund quietly crept out of Hammerfest’s historic Hauen Chapel. He never knew his great-grandfather and didn’t understand why people were upset at his death. Bored with the service, he went outside to play in the snow-covered cemetary. That’s when the man in the old-fashioned uniform appeared.

“You must not be here. Go back inside.”

Erik had seen men like him in a history book. They were called Nazis. They’d been here a long time ago.

“Who are you?”

“A man who regrets many things.”

Erik was too young to understand, but captivated by the stranger.

“Go inside to your family. Go!”

Erik started to get scared, turned around, and ran. He didn’t see the apparition vanish. He didn’t see the seventy-year-old unexploded German mine the ghost had kept him from detonating.

The next summer, a groundskeeper would find it and have it safely removed.

hausen chapel

Hauen Chapel in Hammerfest – found at Wikipedia

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw weekly photo prompt based on a Google maps location. The goal is to write a piece of flash fiction no longer than 150 words. My story is 146 words long.

This week the location is in Hammerfest, Norway. After doing a bit of Wikipedia research on the town, I discovered Hammerfest had been occupied by the Nazi’s during World War II. When they left in 1945, they destroyed almost the entire town. Only the historic Hauen Chapel pictured just above this commentary, survived.

I also found out that to this day, mines and munitions left over from the war are still being found and disposed of. I decided that a long dead German soldier, regretting his role in Hammerfest, came back one last time to save a child from the consequences of this single Nazi’s actions.

For more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit InLinkz.com.