What Pegman Saw – The Greater Good

“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.

WPS - The greater good 180224

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.”

Andrej froze.

“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.

“What’s happened?”

“I’m carrying your child.”

Andrej reeled.


“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!”

21 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – The Greater Good

  1. Yes, the note made all the difference. We could have figured she was going to do something drastic but we would not have known what…
    So very glad they found another way to protest.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so glad Irena and Andrej had the chance of a future together and weren’t destroyed by the times they were living in. Unimaginable to be driven to the extremes Jan Palach and Jan Zajic went to. Brave, but I can’t help wondering if they might have saved themselves and lived to build a new Czech Republic. We’ll never know. Lovely story Penny


    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for reading, and your kind comments. Irena and Andrej were much better suited to life as parents than as revolutionaries, I think! I like a happy ending!
      I was too ambitious when I wrote this story, so I’m writing a longer version. I’ll probably blog it tomorrow. Sometimes I find I want to explore the theme further than the word limit allows. Do you find that?
      With very best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do know what you mean! The occasional flash fiction piece I’ve written has become a springboard for more, taking me off into back stories and future stories too. They can be inspiring stuff.


    • Dear Kelvin
      Thank you for reading and for your helpful comment. I’m glad you thought telling the story predominantly through dialogue gave a good sense of character. You’re right that things would have been very different if he hadn’t stuck with his lover. Luckily for all concerned, he was a nice lad!
      With very best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad the notes were helpful. I didn’t want to write a grim ending, so I’m glad there was still sufficient tension in the writing.


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