“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using 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. This week’s prompt is Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.
This story refers to events and a person who may not be known to many of you. The story will make more sense if you read the notes first!
In 1968, the communist regime in Czechoslovakia was steadily liberalising. The leaders of the Soviet Union saw this as a serious threat and on 21 August 1968 200,000 troops, mostly Russian, invaded Czechoslovakia.
There was considerable non-violent resistance. On 16 January 1969 Jan Palach went to Wenceslas Square and burned himself alive in protest at the Soviet occupation. On 25 February 1969 Jan Zajic did likewise. It is believed that there were others whose deaths were concealed by the Soviet authorities.
It is likely that Jan Palach’s sacrifice was a catalyst contributing to the eventual fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989.
The Greater Good
Andrej knew everyone in the smoke-filled room. Irena, his lover, twisted her handkerchief into knots as speaker after speaker called them to fight the Russian invaders.
“Irena, dearest, I must join them.”
“Andrej! No! You mustn’t kill!”
“How can I do otherwise? I‘m not a coward.”
“Then I shall follow Jan Palach.”
“No!” His horror rapidly changed to anger. “That’s emotional blackmail!”
“I am not a coward either, Andrej.”
* * *
Andrej was packing when the doorbell rang. Irena stood, ashen-faced, on the doorstep.
“I’m carrying your child.”
“I’m pregnant. The baby’s yours. I can’t – do what I said I would.”
Andrej crossed himself, then softly took Irena’s hands.
“You will need me as he grows up. I shan’t leave you.”
“We can still protest, Andrej?”
“Yes, but without violence.”
They kissed gently, then Andrej said, beaming, “Let’s go and tell my parents!”