What Pegman Saw – A Wrong Turning

“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 Yellowstone Park.

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A Wrong Turning

Dave opened the first monitoring point, which was wreathed in acrid steam from the ground.

“See, Chuck, just put the big steel key in the slot and turn clockwise until it clicks. There! Hear it?”

Chuck nodded.

“That’s reset the gauge. We do that every day; the magma’s moving and so is the ground.”

They picked their way between hot springs and geysers to a dozen gauges.

“You can do it yourself tomorrow, if you like.”

“Cool!”

Next day Chuck had reset the first gauge before he realised he’d forgotten both map and walkie-talkie.

Oh.

Which way to the next gauge? Right – or left?

“Dave, where’s Chuck?” Dave’s boss was anxious. “It’s two o’clock.”

“Shit. I’ll send the drone out to look.”

Chuck was relieved to hear Dave’s voice from the drone’s loudspeaker.

“Follow the drone.”

Chuck followed.

“This isn’t the laboratory!”

Dave chuckled.

“You’ve still got gauges to reset!”

Mount Fuji – a Japanese icon

The coach zigzagged its way up the hill, around a seemingly endless sequence of horseshoe bends. The scenery was pleasant but not startling, mountain scenery that you can enjoy in many places, steep slopes, evergreen trees and a few inches depth of unmelted snow, the last remaining from the winter. We were focussed on the next stage of our trip, which was a ride by cable-car down to a lake.

And then, abruptly, there it was. We gave a collective gasp. It was miles distant, and yet it loomed over us, the perfect volcano, an icon of Japan, Mount Fuji. The upper slopes were thickly snow-covered, gleaming in the sun, dazzling under the almost cloudless cerulean sky. I couldn’t help but feel the power of the symbol.

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My photographs cannot begin to do justice to the sight; indeed, I hesitate to offer them at all as they fall so far short. My words are no better.

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The Japanese feel a great sense of pride in the beauty and majesty of Mount Fuji, and that is as it should be. However, national symbols come with dangers. Think of the American flag, the singing of Jerusalem at the Last Night of the Proms. Because they cause men to come together with a sense of national pride, they can be used by unscrupulous politicians to set us against each other.

Today I sat in a coach with Japanese people, and shared their awe and delight in the might of Mount Fuji. As a human being, I am one with them, they are my brothers and sisters, just as Americans are, or Australian aboriginals, or continental Europeans. I must not, I will not, allow myself ever to be distracted or led away from that profound truth.