What Pegman Saw – Scratches in Wax

“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 Bran Castle, Romania.

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Scratches in Wax

The whole village watched as old man Razvan sang into Bela’s apparatus, where a metal stylus ploughed a furrow into a wax cylinder. Razvan’s beautiful granddaughter, Mariutza, fixed her amber eyes on Bela as he monitored the cylinder intently, blowing away tiny wax flakes.

When the song ended, Bela adjusted his equipment. He smiled at Mariuza.

“Now listen,” he said, and wound the handle of the recording equipment. Razvan jumped to hear his own voice singing to him. Mariuza’s eyes sparkled with delight.

Toma scowled. Mariuza was his betrothed.

“Witchcraft,” he murmured, and then out loud, “Witchcraft!”

Bela drew out a newspaper.

“See,” he said, “my machine is advertised here. It’s not sorcery.”

The village elder scanned the sheet and nodded.

“It’s true,” he pronounced.

Bela breathed a sigh of relief. He absolutely must collect the traditional music of Romania before it was swallowed up by the twentieth century.

Notes

I’ve ventured into historical fiction this week. While there’s more fiction than history, the truth at the core of the story is that Bela Bartok (one of the greatest composers of the 20th century) was a passionate collector of folk music. He travelled extensively in Hungary and Romania in the early 20th century with a wax cylinder sound recorder. Here is a link to one of the recordings he collected.

Bartok recording

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What Pegman Saw – Payback time

“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 New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana | Save Our Cemeteris Jean Mensa Google Maps

Payback time

She was skinny, dirty, and bruised and obstructed his passage through the cemetery. Clark tried to walk past her but, without seeming to move, she still blocked his path. Clark swiped, casually, to knock her out of the way but his blow hit nothing.

He looked more closely; she seemed familiar.

“I was the first,” she murmured, so quietly that he could scarcely hear.

Another girl, perhaps fourteen years old, stepped out bringing the stench of decay. Clark gasped. He’d left this one in a garbage dumpster.

“You sold my body for sex and then you murdered me.” She whispered the words.

Fire crackled ahead of him, fierce and orange.

He bolted from it, but the flames were faster. All around him children stared, accusing; judging.

When his screams eventually stopped, his corpse lay between the tombs, contorted but unburned. The children sighed in unison – and gently turned to mist.

What Pegman Saw – Dangerous Mission

“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 Roswell, New Mexico.

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Roswell, New Mexico | © Google Maps

Dangerous mission

The two Hirluin stood quietly to honour their murdered colleague.

“Paava paid a high price, but her life was honourable,” said Taavu, placing his hand on Nim’s shoulder. Tears coursed down Nim’s face.

“I don’t mourn her life, but the pointlessness of her death. We are no threat. Why do these creatures take every chance to kill us?”

Taavu found nothing to say. He felt sick when he tried to imagine the hatred and fear these beings must experience to be able to kill so casually. He shuddered to think they would soon have interstellar travel.

Nim knelt and kissed his dead wife on the forehead. He activated the portal to return her body to Hirdl, and Paava was gone.

It was time to grieve. Tomorrow’s attempt to communicate with the lifeform of Sol III would be more urgent.

The patience of the Galactic Council was great but not infinite.

What Pegman Saw – Where the power is

“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 Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, India.

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Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, India | © Google Maps

Where the power is

It had always been there, like a mountain on the skyline. Blank windows in massive granite walls stared like dead eyes over Hyderabad. The fort was immensely strong and yet was now powerless.

Dushyant’s shirt stuck to his back in the heat. The battered leather briefcase holding his accounts weighed him down. Everything depended on the forthcoming interview. His business, his longed-for marriage to Aarushi – everything.

He glanced at the fort. If the bank didn’t back his business he’d have to go back to being a guide there, telling foreigners of the Qutb Shahis who’d ruled with the power of life and death.

The bank’s silvered windows reflected the bustle of the street.

Dushyant, heart in mouth, presented his accounts.

“They’re on paper?” sneered the Manager. “I can’t waste time on that. I need a spreadsheet. Good day.”

‘This is where the power is now,’ thought Dushyant, and slunk away.

What Pegman Saw – My enemy’s enemy

“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 Goizueta, Navarre, Spain.

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Goizueta, Navarre | © Google Maps

My enemy’s enemy

Abarran had watched as the legions tramped towards the mountain pass, the thud of their feet filling the valley. He had seen their armour, their broad-bladed swords, their spear-tips more numerous than the stars. They would massacre any army he could raise. He had moved swiftly to order his people to co-operate; to give willingly what was asked rather than fight and have everything taken with only death as their reward.

And now the legions were at the gates of his city.

His chieftains were muttering. This morning, one had gone so far as to draw blade against him. He had left his own weapons sheathed and stared the man down, but he could no longer count on unquestioning loyalty.

The gates of the city creaked open and Abarran walked out.

It was time to see whether he could persuade these foreigners to make alliance with him against the Celtiberians.

What Pegman Saw – The Poacher

“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 Bamboi, Northern Region, Ghana.

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The Poacher

Yes. It is he. The one who used his distant-death against Kmmbwla-Mera. He is alone, sitting by a fire in front of his canvas house. He’s drinking that-which-maddens from a metal flask.

I remember the day Kmmbwla-Mera fell. It was bright and the leaves on the burkea trees tasted moist and refreshing. We grazed and paid little heed to the jeep and its passengers.

Kmmbwla-Mera noticed first. A man was standing, pointing his distant-death in our direction. Kmmbwla-Mera was a great bull, a brave bull. He trumpeted an alarm and ran full-tilt at the man.

The man’s distant-death shouted. Kmmbwla-Mera stumbled. I heard his dying gasp; I felt him die.

We ran.

Later, I went back.

Kmmbwla-Mera’s corpse; they had mutilated it; they had cut out his tusks. There are no words bad enough to describe such desecration.

Tonight, your murderer will face justice my love, my husband, my Kmmbwla-Mera.

What Pegman Saw – A big ask

“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 Hanoi, Vietnam.

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Hanoi, Vietnam | © Wonov.com, Google Maps

A big ask

Nguyen Anh Dung was nervous. The table was covered with small dishes of food, spicy prawns, savoury meat, crisp vegetables, tangy fruits. He hoped the American would enjoy it. Perhaps at last his daughter would marry.

The American, Matt, was working in Hanoi despite his memories of imprisonment and torture twenty-five years earlier. He found himself liking the Vietnamese – one of them in particular. Thirty years old, not beautiful but with a quirk to her lips when she smiled that he found irresistible, Nguyen Co^ng won Matt’s heart.

Soon, she took him to her father’s apartment.

The eyes of the two men met; they froze. Then Anh Dung bowed deeply.

“I once did you great wrong,” he said. “Nothing I do now can atone for that. Can you forgive the father’s evil for the sake of his daughter?”

Slowly, Matt unclenched his teeth.

“I guess I can try,” he said.