What Pegman Saw – Happy Anniversary

“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 Silver Bay, Minnesota.

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Happy Anniversary

“Gotta stop a minute, take off this jacket.”

Dave nodded but didn’t copy. He felt chilled despite the knitted sweater under his wind-cheater.

Colin eyed him. “Sure you’re up to this?”

Dave pushed past and walked on. Colin shrugged.

The woods were full of birdsong.

“Saw a bald eagle once, hereabouts.” Dave tossed the remark over his shoulder.

“Mm-hm?”

“Don’t believe me, huh? Well, I know what I saw. A bald eagle.”

Dave stopped at the foot of a rough stone stairway.

“Catch my breath, boy,” he said.

“I’ll be right behind you, case you fall.”

Dave straightened his back, drew himself up and climbed the stairway without stopping. The waterfall roared a welcome. He looked down. The river bank below was full of holidaymakers enjoying the first sunshine of spring. Dave pointed at them.

“Seventy years ago today, from up here, I saw your Grandma for the first time.

What Pegman Saw – Desert Vigil

“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 Wadi ad-Dawasir.

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Desert Vigil

“God is great!”

I gaze up at the stars. The beauty of the night sky cuts me like a sword. I am caught up in the purity of the desert, overwhelmed by awe and gratitude. Here the division of life from death is sharp and immediate. I yearn to remain.

“God is great!”

I smell stone, dry, unblessed by water. Mercy can sometimes be harsh like stone, like sand, like the desert, a mercy that purges, that strengthens, that forces a man’s courage and endurance to grow in response to the will of God.

“God is great!”

I hear the whisper of the night air, the siffle of shifting sand, the creaking of the cooling world.

Sound in silence.

Meaning in stillness.

Tiny grains cohering into a ripple, a dune, a ridge, a desert: a community, a nation, the umma.

“God is great!”

I dedicate myself to martyrdom.

What Pegman Saw – After Eden

“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 Hadera, Israel.

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After Eden

Hannah smiled.

“I love the flowers here.”

Aaron smiled back.

“The Stream Park is a beautiful place – but not as beautiful as you are.”

Hannah’s smile faded.

“We need to talk seriously. My mother asked me straight out today if I was meeting you.”

“What did you say?”

“I said ‘Yes’, of course! I’m not a liar.” She clutched her handbag in her lap. “The thing is there’s something I must tell you. About myself. And I’m afraid I may lose you.”

“I shall never leave you!”

“Aaron.” Hannah swallowed hard. “Do you believe what they teach us in synagogue?”

“Of course. I mean there are bits I take with a pinch of salt…”

Hannah spoke across him. “You see, I don’t, Aaron. So I can never be a proper mother to the children of someone who believes.”

The couple stared at each other, a world of loss in their eyes.

What Pegman Saw – Peak Performance

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. 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 location is Vanuatu.

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Peak Performance

I woke up grumpy.

I tried not to show it, but as we finished breakfast Sarah said, “You’re bored, Michael, and it’s only the third morning of our holiday. You promised me a fortnight without moaning.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry.” Truth was, I’m not very keen on scuba diving – I mean when you’ve seen one coral reef, you’ve seen ‘em all.

Sarah laid one hand on mine.

“Why don’t you go climb Mount Tabwemasana?”

I gaped. How did she know the name of the highest peak on Vanuatu?

“Sure?”

“Sure. Go and enjoy yourself, and I’ll see you in a week.”

Enjoy myself?

I travelled by boat (I’m a poor sailor) and an old 4×4 with solid wooden seats. The vegetation cut back by the guides left a thousand scratches on my arms and legs. I had a dose of the trots.

We made the peak!

Yeah, I enjoyed myself.

What Pegman Saw – A Wish Granted

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. 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 location is Menorca, Spain

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Image by Matt Gribbon from Pixabay

A wish granted

The black horse struts downhill, groomed sleek and with scarlet ribbons plaited through his mane and tail for the festival. Marc, one of the caixers, rides him like a king, tall and stern-faced. His black hair is trimmed short like a warrior, and his eyes are dark and commanding. Every few metres he makes the horse rear and people scurry beneath to touch its heart for good luck.

I watch how Marc controls the horse, and my heart yearns for him.

The horse rises, and I step forward, reaching for the beast’s heart. I touch it! Perhaps my dream will come true!

I sprint down the street to the town square, and greet Marc when he arrives.

“Alejandro!” he says.

“May I squire for you in the jousting tomorrow?”

He frowns.

“I have my brother…” he says, and then smiles. “I’m sure we can find something for you to do!”

 

What Pegman Saw – Integrity

 “What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. 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 location is Xinhua, China

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Note

On June 4th 1989 the Chinese Army stormed the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and its environs. Official figures say hundreds were killed. Unofficial figures say thousands. The casualties were not all among protestors and bystanders; the army lost at least a dozen, dragged from their vehicles and beaten to death. Scores of military vehicles were destroyed.

Integrity

My editor at Xinhua News was sleek and plump, his office newly-painted.

“Feng, what is the directive for coverage of the riots in Tiananmen Square?” he demanded.

“They are a false ideology intended to undermine the stability of our great nation.”

He waved a piece of paper in front of me.

“Then why this?”

“Sir, I’m a journalist. I try to be truthful. Dozens of protestors have told me that this is a non-violent action. They’re looking for reform, not revolution.”

“Take it away, and write something suitable.” He rammed it into my hand. I bowed. He was a greedy political appointee, but he was my boss.

That evening I was seized by police. After weeks of interrogation I was released when I agreed to be re-educated by working on a farm for five years.

It could have been worse. I might have been in the Square on June 4th.

What Pegman Saw – The Crossing

“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 Tolchester Beach, Maryland, USA.

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The crossing

Jim drove towards the water, parked and sat in darkness. The far side of the estuary was spangled with lights.

He gulped bourbon from his flask, then stripped, folding his clothes neatly onto the seat. “See, Mom?” he slurred, not knowing whether it was a sneer or a lament.

Then he waded into the water and swam towards the far shore.

It’s five kilometres and he was not a strong swimmer. He would swim until exhausted and then quietly let himself slide under…

The water wasn’t cold, not at first anyway, not as cold as his loss. He swam steadily, his mind floating free. This wasn’t such a bad way to go.

A slap of water roused him. His limbs were shuddering, but still moving. Orange street lights! Close!

His left leg cramped.

Only one hundred yards to go.

His head was submerging.

Every stroke was agony.

He made it.

What Pegman Saw – New Blue Jeans

“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 Minsk, Belarus.

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Image by A Matskevich from Pixabay

Note

In Belarus, there are significant import duties on products from the EU, and this makes the goods expensive and you can’t always find them in the shops. A draft bilateral trade agreement has been negotiated but the EU refuses to implement it until the right to organise in trade unions is allowed.

New Blue Jeans

“Did you get anywhere with Sergei today?” Maryja took hold of Andrei’s arm and held it to her cheek. “Mmm, you feel nice,” she said.

Andrei stroked her hair and sighed, “Not really. He said privately that if it was up to him, he’d recognise the union straightaway, but HQ…” He sighed again.

“I wish they’d accept we have a right to organize. I want to buy French jeans. The ones we buy from Russia are so ugly!”

Andrei grinned, “Only you would see the advantage of a trade union in terms of fashionable denim!” He slapped her backside, hard.

Maryja pouted. “I don’t see anything wrong in wanting pretty clothes.”

“There’s nothing wrong with it, but a trade union will protect our jobs and our pay.”

His face darkened. “Sergei told me not to take part in Saturday’s demonstration. The police have my address.”

What Pegman Saw – Special Delivery

“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 Cloverdale, New Mexico.

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Animas, New Mexico | © Google Maps

Special delivery

Abe winds down the passenger window of the pick-up.

“Hell, it’s hot out there. And where’s the people? I thought Mexicans were pouring over the border?”

He spits out a tobacco chaw, and winds the window up again. The aircon labours.

We bounce on tyre tracks in the dried mud, baked hard like concrete, making our guns rattle in the rack. It hasn’t rained here for months.

Abe suddenly sits up.

“Hey, that looks like the place. Over there.”

He points.

“Those stones? You sure?”

“Yup.”

I shrug and pull over.

We need a pallet truck to shift our load. Sweat trickles down my face, down my back; hell, I’m pretty much sweaty all over. I bark my knuckles on the door frame as we manoeuvre the container into the deserted store.

As we drive away, Abe texts our contact in Mexico.

“1000 litres water delivered to Old Store, Cloverdale.”

 

 

What Pegman Saw – Informal Introduction

“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 the Aosta Valley, Italy.

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Image by Claudio Romeo from Pixabay

Informal Introduction

“Oskar, no! Out!”

The huge Alsatian barged into the gondola of the ski-lift, tail wagging happily. The door of the gondola slid shut.

I face-palmed.

Oskar licked the hand of the girl opposite. She was tall and slender, and long, dark-brown hair cascaded from under her casquette. Her amber eyes were merry and she was smiling.

“I’m sorry,” I stammered. “He’s not mine – he’s my landlady’s. He follows me everywhere!”

She laughed.

“I don’t mind,” she replied. “I like dogs.”

It took twenty minutes to take Oskar back to base and return.

To my surprise, the girl was waiting at the upper station. “Why don’t we ski down together?” she suggested.

We paused at the mountain restaurant halfway down.

“Can I buy you lunch?” I asked.

“Yes, please. This is my favourite restaurant!”

We ate. We drank. We talked. We had dinner that evening.

We’ve been married twenty years now.