What Pegman Saw – Going Solo

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the 360 degree view of the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. Today’s location is Casablanca.

WPS - Casablanca 170930

Going solo

The cabin walls pressed in on her. In port, the cruise ship had looked huge to Darcey’s fourteen-year-old eyes, but at sea its steel superstructure imprisoned her.

Arrival in Casablanca was a relief. She slipped a note under her parents’ door.

“Gone sightseeing. Back in time for dinner.”

Her pulse quickened as she entered the Ancienne Medina. This was foreign! The streets were lined with stalls selling fabric and food, spice and souvenirs. Darcey wrinkled her nose.

A goat bleated frantically. As she watched, a man briskly drew a knife across the creature’s neck, and the blood gushed out.

Nauseated, Darcey entered a shop selling fabric. A man moved and blocked the exit.

The draped samples of cloth darkened the shop, blocking her view of the street.

“We have finer fabrics in the back?”

“Thank you – no!” gasped Darcey.

She pushed past the man, and ran for it.

Friday Fictioneers – The Deal

Because I found the prompt very stimulating this week, I’m going to be greedy, and add another story. I’m also adding it because we’ve had many dark stories this week, and many that view the factory and industry as being inevitably linked to corporate greed. Of course, there is another point of view…

FF - factory - The Dare 170927

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Genre: Historical fiction c1975

Word count: 100

“So, instead of scrapping my old steel drums, I send them to you to re-process, and then I can use them again?” Jim, boss of the local chemical plant, was sceptical.

“They’re good as new.” Don crossed his fingers. The furnace he used was dodgy; the jobs of six men hung on this deal. “Why don’t I buy you lunch?”

Over chili dogs and beer, Don explained how it would save Jim money.

“And it’s good for the environment.”

Jim nodded thoughtfully.

“It’s a deal.”

Don bought him a whisky. Now he just needed a bank loan to fix the furnace…

200 lire steel drums can be reworked by draining the contents, burning out the residues, re-forming, shot-blasting and repainting. This is slightly more cost effective than scrapping the drums, and it’s a lot better for the environment – provided the furnace is correctly designed and operated. It was also typically a small business where skilled staff were appreciated.


Friday Fictioneers – The Dare

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - factory - The Dare 170927

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

The Dare

It was dark. The dog barked furiously, straining at its chain. Robbie danced past it, staying just out of reach.

“I dare you to climb the chimney.”

Robbie looked at the vertical ladder. ‘Easy peasy,’ he thought.

Twenty metres up, he changed his mind. A rusty bolt holding ladder to brickwork crumbled, and the ladder lurched. Robbie scraped the knuckles of both hands as he clung on.

“I dare you…”

He climbed to the top and took a photograph. He could smell smoke.

Back at the bottom, “Done it!”  he gloated – just as the dog broke its chain.


Autumn Leaves – a short break

Flowers for election post 170609

Dear fellow bloggers, especially those kind folk who follow my blog,

I must apologise for taking little (if any) part in Friday Fictioneers and Pegman this week. I’ve had a cataract operation and, as I’m pretty presbyopic, although my distance vision is good, I don’t yet have any spectacles for close vision. So I can’t read the standard screen, and I am only able to type by touch. Hopefully, I shall have some adequate specs by Friday, but I can’t be sure.

So, please excuse me not reading and commenting (I shall try to write something – I can’t bear not to write!)

Thank you for your forbearance!



Wild Dogs

I wrote this story in response to the success of the far right in winning seats in the German Bundestag. It’s about 1000 words and will take about ten minutes to read.


Wild Dogs

Her way to the archaeological site was blocked by a large dog, with alsatian in its recent ancestry. Its coat was unkempt. It was restless, raising its head, occasionally snarling; the snarls were, oddly, silent.

Alice was always wary of stray dogs, particularly here in the Balkans where rabies was still endemic. She crossed the road. The dog watched her as she passed.

“Good day,” the attendant at the entrance greeted her. She smiled, and her apprehension about the animal receded.

The dog was there again the following day, this time with a companion which yapped. As she passed them, the smaller dog stood up, took a pace or two in her direction, snuffled the air as though to catch and remember her scent. Alice shivered.

Her heart sank when she came out of the site that evening, and saw the two dogs. As soon as they saw her, they rose to their feet. The larger dog growled as she went past. Still, they made no move to approach her. She told herself it was silly to be frightened. “They’re only dogs, for goodness sake!”

Nevertheless, she mentioned it to the manager of the pension where she was living. He smiled.

“Don’t worry, Professor. I will have a word with the mayor tonight. He will sort out the problem.”

“Please don’t put yourself to any trouble,” exclaimed Alice. “I’m sure I’m worrying unnecessarily.”

“It is no trouble, no trouble at all.” He spread his hands, thought a moment, and then added, “Will you do me the honour of drinking a glass of ouzo on the terrace?”

They sat in the evening sun, sipped their drinks and nibbled small savoury snacks.

“I hope you don’t mind my speaking,” began Spiros, “but I feel I need to give you a word of advice.”

Alice concealed a grin. “I shall be most grateful,” she said.

“I read your letter in the daily newspaper – you write very good Greek, such good Greek, it’s better than mine – but your message might have been misunderstood. It’s a very sensitive time.”

“You mean with Turkey making warlike noises over Cyprus again?”

“Well, yes, partly that.”

He hesitated, and Alice interrupted, “I don’t see how my letter causes offence. I don’t mention Cyprus. I’m merely saying that it is now more important than ever that opposite sides of the political debate listen and try to understand one another.”

“That is not a message that the generals want to hear. To them, if you give anything less than enthusiastic support they look on it as opposition. And you said that Greece should stay in the European Union.”

“Well, so it should! It’s madness to leave!”

“Ssh!” Spiros looked so upset that Alice fell silent.

“Well, I can see what you’re saying,” she agreed at last, and the two of them sat quietly for a few moments.

“This view is so beautiful,” said Alice. “I love Greece – and the Greeks.”

The sun setting behind the mountain turned her grey hair gold, as it had been in her youth.

Spiros gazed at her, this strange foreigner, who spoke Greek almost like a native, who was so clever, so learned and yet so naïve.

“I will walk to the site with you tomorrow, and make sure everything is okay.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that.”

Talk at the taverna that evening was all about Cyprus. Would there be war? One boy had received his call-up papers that day. His family were celebrating, proud of him. The town’s priest sat at the table near the entrance.

“Love of country is the highest virtue,” he intoned, over and over again. The townsfolk nodded.

“Greece for the Greeks,” said one. There was a cheer.

“Cyprus for the Greeks!” said another. The cheer was louder.

Alice sat with friends, eating and thinking. Perhaps she should take a break, go back to the UK for a few weeks? She’d been working on the site without a break for six months, after all. Perhaps Spiros was right; her lack of sympathy for the regime might be costly. They might send her out of the country for good.

Next day, Spiros was as good as his word. In the morning he walked the mile to the site with Alice. There were no dogs.

“The mayor worked fast! Thank you, Spiros. I’m fine now.”

Safely on the site, Alice thought no more about a holiday. The present phase of the study would be complete in five or six weeks. Time enough to think about holidays then.

She worked late that night, and the sun had set. She toyed with the idea of a taxi, but there were street lights, and she’d probably have to wait thirty minutes before the driver arrived.

She walked briskly, thinking of the work they’d done today, planning the tasks for tomorrow. The street lights were dim and widely spaced. It was only when you were close to one that its light hid the stars. Between them the sky was like velvet, decorated with a thousand sparkling points of light.

There was growl behind her. She quickened her pace.

“It’s a dog. That’s all.”

The pointed muzzle of an Alsatian emerged from a gap in the fence beside her, as the stray pushed its way into her path. It snarled; she heard the sound very clearly this time. Her breath came quickly, and her heart pounded.

“Go away!” She spoke with as much firmness as she could.

The dog squatted on its haunches and growled. Alice felt in her handbag for her mobile phone. Who should she ring? Spiros would probably be quickest – but only if he answered.

As she dialled, the dog howled. There were answering howls from behind her. Then the dog sprang, knocking the phone from her hand.

Alice barged past it, and ran, ran as she hadn’t run since she was a teenager. And when running was no longer any use, she fought…



What Pegman Saw – The Shadow of History

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the 360 degree view of the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code.

WPS - Cambodia temple 170923

“When I first saw you, I thought you were the most beautiful girl in the world,” sighed Chanvatey.

Achariya giggled, and pushed herself up from him. Her face shone in the moonlight, and her eyes were bright

“And now?” she asked.

“Now I know you’re the most beautiful.”

“When I first smelled you, you were all sweaty in the bottom of the trench.” She tickled him.

“I’m an archaeologist! That’s what we do! That’s why we can come in here at night – ow, stop! Mercy!”

“I must tell my family about our engagement tomorrow.” Achariya stopped teasing, and looked serious. Chanvatey squeezed her hand. “It’ll be okay,” he said.

But it wasn’t.

“Son Chanvatey, you said?” Her father’s expression was dark. “Son is a bad name around here, bad blood. The killing fields…” He bit his lip.

“I forbid this marriage,” he declared. “You must never see this man again.”

In the 1970s, Cambodia was ruled by the Khmer Rouge, who tried to impose an egalitarian society based solely on agriculture. They killed about two million of their own citizens in a reign of terror. Intellectuals and professional people were particularly targeted. Even wearing spectacles could have you hauled off to prison, tortured and executed. The places where people were executed became known as the killing fields.

Son Sen was a leading member of the ruling party.

The country has set up structures in educational establishments to help bring about reconciliation.

I Awaken

Jerry, The Backyard Poet, writes about daily life. He writes about laughter, tears, falling leaves, and above all the wonderful mystery of enduring human love. He writes about those everyday matters that we can so easily undervalue; those everyday matters that are, ultimately, the most important things in the world. “I awaken” is a short, lyrical poem that shows his work at its simplest and loveliest.

Jerry Brotherton

To a summer sun rising into the dawn

To warm my soul with its fiery blaze

To an autumn wind plucking jewel colored leaves

And floating them through the morning haze

To a winter’s chill that pushes you close

My arm falls across your lilting breast

To spring’s flowery scent that lifts my heart

To remind me how my life is blessed

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