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.

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Flight Girl in Dieselworld

aircraft

© 2017 – Yinglan Z.

“Do you think you can fly it, Keisha?”

“I’m not sure. I trained in a Cessna 152, not some World War Two wannabe.”

The sixteen-year-old was once again in a different universe, the one she had saved last year, only for her friend Josiah Covington, twenty years had passed. She remembered him as a shy, intelligent nine-year-old boy, but now he was nearly thirty. Unfortunately, he also had a broken arm, so escaping Tyson’s heavily guarded aerodrome was in her hands now.

“Remember how our principles of aviation are different.”

“They better not be too different, otherwise, we’ll never get out of here.”

Keisha helped Josiah into the rear seat and then hopped into the cockpit.

“I see the starter. Battery looks good. Plenty of fuel. Barsoonian charge is on standby. Ready.”

The young engineer used his good hand to close the cockpit. “Take her up. We’ll only get one chance to make it out of here. We have to stop Stanley Tyson’s mad plan to use nuclear weapons from your world to conquer Europe.”

I wrote this for the 167th FFfAW Writing Challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

This is something of a “sequel” to Return to Dieselworld and based on the character Keisha Davis, whose latest steampunk adventure you can find in Prelude to Piracy. I thought it would be fun to have Keisha experience different “sub-genres”.

Fun fact: Not far from where I live, we have something called the Warhawk Air Museum which has aircraft and other exhibits from World War One through the Vietnam War era. I’ve been there with my grandson and it’s a lot of fun.

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

Oh, and don’t worry about what a “Barsoonian charge” is. That’s being revealed in the steampunk story line.

Want to see more of Keisha in Dieselworld? Read The Adventures of Rocket Girl.

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.

Starving

broken fan

© Yarnspinnerr

“Raven, where am I?

“Jonathan, there’s a terrible famine here. You must save these people.”

“With what? All I have is an old-fashioned camera.”

“The person who was supposed to photograph this tragedy is ill. By the time he recovers, the opportunity to show the world the horrors here in Bengal will be gone. You must take his place.”

Jonathan Cypher, a man out of time, turned away from the bent fan and stepped off the hotel porch. Seeing the three starving and dying children, he raised the camera to his face, focused, and pressed the shutter release.

bengal famine 1943

Victims of the Bengal famine of 1943. Copyright is or was held by The Statesman newspaper of Kolkata, India. According to that country’s Copyright Act of 1957, the image is now in the public domain (photographs are protected for 60 years from the date of publication), but it may still be under copyright in the United States.

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

To the best of my knowledge, the person who provided the photo is from India, so I wanted to start from there. The yellowish cast of the photo made me think of pollution or chemical warfare, so I decided to see about India’s history during World War Two, and if I could devise a fictional Nazi plot in 100 words. What I discovered was much worse.

You can read all about the Bengal Famine of 1943 by clicking the link, but the black and white pimage just above was part of a photo spread published in the Indian English-language newspaper “The Statesman” on 22 August 1943, and those photos, which made world headlines, spurred government action, saving many lives.

I decided to bring back Jonathan Cypher and Raven to illustrate that sometimes you just have to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills or tools in order to be a hero.

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

Return to Cowra

billinudgel hotel bar

Billinudgel Hotel, Billinudgel, NSW, Australia, © Cube Online Services Google Maps

Hands trembling slightly, the middle-aged Japanese man walked into the bar at the Billinudgel Hotel.

“What’ll it be, Sir?”

“A beer. Whatever you have on tap.”

She selected a glass and filled it with liquid amber topped with a healthy froth. “There you go. Name’s Marge. You’re not the usual guest we get around here.”

He shook her hand, suppressing the urge to bow, this being Australia. “Haruto Nakajima. Pleased to meet you.” He took a sip of his beverage.

“What brings you here?”

“I’m trying to put some demons to rest.”

“How’s that?”

“Ever heard of the breakout at the Cowra prisoner of war camp?”

“Toward the end of the war wasn’t it?”

“Twenty years ago tomorrow. I’m a survivor. Chose not to commit suicide. I need to go back to learn how to live with myself.”

Nearly 950 km to Cowra.”

“Well, I’m still working up my nerve.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and location as the inspiration 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 Billinudgel Hotel, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Naturally, I looked the place up. Not much about Billnudgel on Wikipedia, but the hotel has a Facebook page as well as a detailed history at posted at BrunswickValley.com.au.

However, none of that seemed terribly dramatic, so I looked up the history of New South Wales itself, and discovered the Cowra Breakout. During World War Two, the town of Cowra was the site of a prisoner of war camp interning over 1,100 Japanese prisoners. On 4 August 1944, the prisoners led a mass escape which ultimately cost the lives of four Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese POWs. Some were killed during the escape attempt, but many committed suicide rather than be recaptured. All living prisoners were recaptured within ten days of the escape.

I was dismayed to find that Cowra is approximately 947 km (almost 590 miles) from Billinudgel, but made the best of it. My story is set in the summer of 1964, twenty years after the escape.

In 1929, Margaret Alice Ring (Ma Ring) of New Zealand took over running the Billinudgel Hotel, and in 1946, her niece Marge came to Australia to work the bar. Marge remained at the hotel until her retirement in 1984, so I had her present to greet Haruto.

I wondered how the survivors of the escape, the last of whom were repatriated in 1947, dealt with the aftermath, so I decided to use this story to explore it a bit.

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

Flight 19

flight 19

Flight 19 Avengers, FT-28, FT-36, FT-81, FT-3, FT-117 and at the top PBM-5 Bu. Nu. 59225 (squadron number 49) – Found at Wikipedia

“We should be landing at Treasure Cay Airport in about ten minutes.”

Lori couldn’t relax knowing they were flying into weather that was nothing like the forecast.

“I’m sure the pilot is competent.” Zach chided his wife on her former career as a Navy combat pilot. She never could relax when flying commercial. “It’s just a little fog.”

“The weather was supposed to be partly cloudy. Does that look like partly cloudy to you?”

He bent over her to look, giving her a quick kiss which made her smile.

“Fog’s clearing. What are those?”

She looked again. “Flight 19.” The pilot of their chartered plane wouldn’t know what the five aircraft were holding a parallel course, but she did. ATC Marsh Harbor must be going nuts.

“An antique air show?”

“Nope. Those five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers disappeared over seventy years ago. I’ve got to talk to our pilot.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image and location to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Treasure Cay, Bahamas. Wikipedia wasn’t particularly revealing about the location, and while the larger environment of the Abaco Islands has an interesting history, I felt a bit lazy this morning and decided not to do all that much research.

The Bahamas are on the northern edge of the Bermuda Triangle, and while I don’t believe the triangle really is some sort of mystical or otherwise mysterious portal to other times or dimensions, I thought I’d give Flight 19, five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared in the triangle on 5 December 1945, a way to finally get home, albeit almost 73 years late.

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

Immortal in Ice

sami

Nordic Sami (Saami) people in Sapmi (Lapland) – Taken between 1900 and 1920 by Granbergs Nya Aktiebolag – Public Domain

William Shaw wanted to be alone, which is why he had settled in Lapland for a time. Unfortunately, history once again worked against him. The Nazis invaded as part of their offensive against the Soviets. He escaped into the icy wilderness rather be captured. No one could know his secret.

He couldn’t really die, not from starvation or exposure. Wounds healed almost instantly. However he could feel pain. His extremities were frozen. He’d walked as far into the mountains as his body would allow. If not death, then a long winter’s nap would be as welcome.

Then men came. They said nothing, looking to be hunters of reindeer. Shaw was picked up and taken to their camp. It had been long since he had come this way, hundreds, maybe thousands of years prior. He had lived among the Sami before. Perhaps he used to be one of them.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps location and image and use them as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 148.

Today, through something of a mishap, the Pegman takes us either to Northern Norway or Northern Finland. That’s a lot of territory to cover, but I picked Finland because I thought everybody else would pick Norway (the idea just popped into my head) and because it borders Russia, which could afford some interesting possibilities.

Since we’re talking northern Finland, the northern most portion is Lapland and man does it ever get cold there.

Of all the qualities this area possesses, I was drawn to the Regional Coat of Arms which depicts a traditional Wildman.

After doing a bit of reading, I found that the wildman is an iconic image associated with both northern Norway and Finland and possibly meant to depict an ancient member of the Sami people. The Sami are the only and northernmost indigenous people inhabiting areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. There are Sami who live along the coast and also the Mountain Sami who traditionally have hunted and also herded reindeer.

All of that is very interesting, but I needed a protagonist. I first considered a vampire, but then I recalled a character I created named William Shaw who I first introduced in January 2017 and reprised a few days later.

Shaw is an immortal or very-long-lived person, someone who has existed so long, he cannot remember where he came from originally or how old he really is. In my first story, I also made him a time traveler. He had met his love in early 20th century England, but then due to an argument, she left him. Unfortunately, it was to travel to America aboard the doomed RMS Titanic. Decades later, he was determined to use a time machine to go back and save her, but then there would be two identical immortals existing from April 1912 forward in time so I dropped the idea of expanding that story.

Here, we have Shaw still mourning his lost love, hiding in northern Finland. Sadly, his timing was off, because the Nazis invaded Finland including Lapland during World War Two as part of Operation Barbarossa, their plan to invade the Soviet Union.

So, not wishing to be captured and perhaps being discovered by the Nazis to be an immortal (if they tortured him, his wounds would heal almost immediately, which would certainly be noticed), he took the long trek north to meet his fate or at least to enter the next chapter of his life.

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

Primordial

primordial soup

© Gyaban

The last place Christopher Sanderson expected to wake up was in a comfortable bed in a richly furnished and adorned room, though he was surprised to be waking up at all. Bright sunlight from the large open window on his right momentarily blinded him, but he welcomed the warm breeze, the rustling of tree branches, and what sounded like friendly bird cries which were so different from the cries of dying men.

Then it all came back to him and his beating heart began to race.

He heard two quick knocks on the door which then immediately opened. A very large Japanese man entered carrying a tray. Christopher sat up in bed and noticed for the first time he had been dressed in silk pajamas. Last he recalled, he had been draped in rags soaked in sea water and blood.

“Do I have you to thank for my rescue?”

Without replying, the fearsome looking man set the tray down on a side table, stepped back, and then bowed.

Not knowing what to do, Christopher nodded back. “If this is a Japanese prison camp, the accommodations are certainly a great deal better than I would have expected.

The large man finished his bow and though the gesture seemed polite and genteel, his facial expression was one of hostility and even malevolence. Without a word, he then turned and left closing the door behind him. Christopher was directing his attention to the tray when he distinctly heard the sound of a lock being engaged. Perhaps he was a prisoner after all.

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The Kugel

kugel

Photo credit: Morguefile831314117088

“I tell you Esther Cowell’s the quintessential Kugel, Avi, laughing and flirting with the Vichy like a woman of ill repute. Just look at those clothes, how the neckline dips. Is that the dress of a modest Jewish woman?”

“Be reasonable, Moshe. There are so few of us who live on the island. Who does she have to look to as an example?”

“Who did her namesake look to? I tell you, if the German fascists had their way, she’d have had four million Jewish examples living here, exiled from Europe by that paskudnik Hitler.”

The two older Jewish men sat at a small table outside of Yoshi’s Cafe sharing a cup of Robusta in the mid-morning sun as they watched the young woman in the company of two of the Vichy entering the hotel across the street.

“Do you think they even know she’s Jewish, Avi?”

“Does she know, Moshe?”

They both chuckled unaware she could hear them. Everyone believed she was a collaborator seduced by ill-gotten wealth and attention, but the intelligence she was gathering would be invaluable to South African and British troops when they invaded and liberated Madagascar next month.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner Challenge for 2017 – Week #52. As with other similar challenges, the idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a small story no more than 200 words in length. My word count is 194.

I looked at the photo of the dish being removed from the oven and wondered what I was going to do. Hanukkah has come and gone and that didn’t look like latkes (potato pancakes). However, it could pass for Kugel. That said, what kind of story could I write about a traditional Jewish potato and egg casserole?

I read through the information at Wikipedia and discovered “Kugel” is also a South African derogatory slang term for a young Jewish woman who has forsaken “traditional Jewish dress values in favor of those of the ostentatiously wealthy, becoming overly materialistic and over groomed.”

I defaulted to World War Two and wondered about the possibility of a Jewish woman posing as a Fascist collaborator in South Africa only to discover that the country entered the war on the side of the Allies (although the history is complicated). Then I found out that (relatively) nearby Madagascar was under the control of the Vichy French at that time, and that South African troops aided by the British liberated Madagascar in 1942 preventing the Japanese from capturing it.

Traditionally, Madagascar had only a small Jewish population established in the 19th century when France colonized an island, but they didn’t form a cohesive community. Also, in 1940 the Nazis hatched The Madagascar Plan which was the idea of relocating four million European Jews to the island, but it fell through.

Oh, Paskudnik or paskudnyak is a Yiddish insult meaning “A revolting, disgusting, evil person.” Also, Robusta is a coffee found in Madagascar in modern times, though I have no idea if it existed in the 1940s.

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

The Romanian

montenegro

© Björn Rudberg

He was among the locals and tourists trapped in that little shop when Italian troops declared curfew. An unseasonable cold front lightly dusted medieval Kotor with snow. He couldn’t remain until morning but preferred to leave undetected.

He walked past quaint hats and other curios intending to escape out the rear.

“Monsieur, stay. You’re safe with us.” The Frenchman thought he was being kind.

“I have business elsewhere,” he said in accented French.

Antonie slipped into the darkness, encountering the three soldiers patrolling the alley. Later, they’d recall experiencing sudden fatigue. No one knew what happened to the Vampiritic-looking Romanian.

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

At first, I had no idea what I was looking at. I did a Google image search but it primarily came up with salami and various cloth items. Finally, I was able to figure out they were stacks of knitted hats.

I saw the photo was credited to Björn Rudberg so I went to his blog and saw the domain country extension was .me which is Montenegro. I did more Googling (the research took longer than the actual writing) and found the medieval coastal city of Kotor among other things.

I couldn’t find a news story that interested me, but noted the history of the area during World War II and how it was primarily occupied by the Italians from 1941 to 1943. That still didn’t provide me with a complete “hook,” so I leveraged the vampire character Antoine from my Sean Becker Undead Series and placed him in Kotor when the Italians first occupied the area in April 1941. Given the snow in the background of the photo, I made up an unseasonable cold snap.

I’ve read stories (okay, Marvel’s “Dracula” comic books from the 1970s) which took a modern-day vampire and sometimes set him back in history through flashbacks/memories. I thought I’d try that with Antonie who exists in 2017 but who is thought to be very old.

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