Flash! Friday – Vol 2 – 37

Todays’s photo prompt:

 

Marooned, by Howard Pyle, 1909. Public Domain.

Today’s Dragon’s bidding. Include the following aspect:


Word limit: 150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt. Add your Twitter handle.

 
I’ve written a ghostly Flash Fiction today, inspired by the story of a marooned pirate, towards the end of the 18th century, on an Island off the coast of New Zealand, which is an exclusive tourist resort nowadays. Hope you like it!

 

A Good Place To Die. (160 words)

The pirate wasn’t alone. He had bread, water, and a loaded gun. He wasn’t on an island. He was on a large sand bar at low tide. He wasn’t dead. He arrogantly promised his executioners he’d never leave.

Three hundred years later, Tom accompanied the tourists to one of the most remote and unspoilt places on the planet, with golden beaches and clear, turquoise waters, exploring swimming holes, waterfalls, and following forest trails.

He told them the story of the marooned pirate who haunted the island. His gunshot is heard once a year, when the sea swallows up the island, on full blue moon tides.

Everyone shuddered when they heard the shot as they were returning to the hotel, missing one member of the group. In his vacant room, he had left a message: ‘This is s a good place to die.’

While under the submerged island, in the center of the Earth, the living dead planned their revenge.

 
There’s still time to post your story in comments or read the other entries.

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 36

This weeks’ photo prompt and Dragon’s bidding:

Cave Monastery. Vardezia, Georgia. CC photo by Ben van der Ploeg.

Three Lessons (160 words)

I looked up to the towering mountain, as water and rocks gushed out of its ruined caves.

‘Why have you brought me here, father, in this thunderstorm?’

‘Tamar, first Queen of Georgia, built this cave monastery over 900 years ago, to preserve our religion from the invading Mongols. There was a secret tunnel starting here, at the river, and leading up to our sacred place.’

‘What happened?’

‘There was an earthquake and most of it collapsed, although monks have been living there up to this day. Why did God allow the earthquake to destroy his monastery?’

‘Perhaps God didn’t like the way they worshipped, and he wanted to punish them for building this stronghold?’

‘No, my son. God wants to teach us three lessons: firstly, that the forces of nature are stronger than man; secondly, that nothing on Earth is permanent; and thirdly, that we can and must always be prepared to start again from scratch and rebuild our dreams.’

****

Have a look at today’s other entries

 

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 34. Remembering the First of August

This weeks’ photo prompt:

Today’s Dragon’s Bidding:

 

 

Rules: Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt and dragon’s bidding.

 

This is my entry for this week’s contest (160 words).

 

THE GATE TO FREEDOM

‘My father’s grandfather died in 1830. He was born in Africa, made captive, sold as a slave by his own countrymen, and brought to Surinam to work in the sugar plantations. After escaping to the rain forest, he was caught, and both his feet were cut off, so that he could not escape again. It was a slow, painful death.

Don’t ever forget you owe your freedom to that man, and make sure you bring your sons and daughters here, on the 1st of August, at least once in your life.’

‘But father, I don’t understand. You were born in London, and I was adopted in China.’

‘Son, this proud, crumbling door is all that remains of a water-mill, which belonged to a sugar refinery dating back to 1830, before the emancipation of slaves. That gate, which nature has tried unsuccessfully to bury, holds the memory of something none of us can remember, and yet we must never forget.’

 *****

 

Have a look at some of the other entries here.

 

Basic background information to the Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire.

On August 29th, 1833, a new law for the gradual abolition of slavery was passed in the British Parliament, in London.

The freedom of slaves came in two stages. The first was on the first of August 1834, which marked the emancipation of all slaves in the British Colonies.

On that day, it is said that many slaves walked up hills and climbed trees to witness the dawning of the first day of their freedom. Thousands attended ‘Divine Services’ to give thanks and praise on the Caribbean islands.

It was, however, a case of gradual freedom with conditions. The only slaves freed were those who were not yet born and those under six years of age.

All other slaves were to enter a six-year apprenticeship during which they were to continue working on the plantations, without pay, for their former masters, for 40 hours a week, in exchange for food, clothing, medical care, and provision grounds on which they could grow their own food. They could also hire themselves out to other plantations and earn more wages and buy their freedom. This apprenticeship ended in four, instead of six years, on the first of August, 1838, when the second stage of freedom started.

On this occasion, a hearse containing shackles and chains which had been used to reduce rebellious slaves was driven through the streets of Spanish Town, Jamaica, and burned.

Sugar plantations have played an important role in Surinam’s history. Today tourists can still see water mills which belonged to sugar refineries, although they are now abandoned and covered with vegetation.

We cannot change the past, but we can remind ourselves of our collective past, honour the people who struggled for a better world, and work hard to ensure that the things we are not proud of, should not happen again.

 

Flash Friday! –Vol 2 – 33

Last Friday’s 140-160 word story prompt for Flash Friday included the following picture prompt:

 

Miranda — The Tempest. Painting by John William Waterhouse, 1916. Public domain photo.

And the following word prompt:

This was my story:

Miranda

 

I sat on the stool looking away from the artist.

‘Don’t move!’ He barked. ‘I need to paint your profile.’

I wanted to tell him my neck and shoulders were stiff and aching, but I needed the shillings he was paying, and he was bad tempered if I complained.

‘Speak to me about your country and about your journey across the sea.’

So I told him while he painted.

‘Now tell me about the shipwreck.’

‘There was no shipwreck.’ I lied.

‘Imagine you saw one and tell me.’

So I told him.

Days and hours later, when my neck was so stiff I thought it might break, he gave me my freedom and cried, ‘Come and look, Miranda. It’s perfect!’

I thought it was a portrait, but he would never let me see until it was finished.

I was shocked.

‘You’ve never seen the sea!’ I blurted out.

‘I saw you and heard you, my love, and that was enough.’

 ****

 

Have a look at some of the other stories here. 

 

Shakespeare’s The Tempest

I love this picture, and I really enjoyed writing the ‘Flash Fiction’ it inspired. The Tempest is also one of my favourite plays, especially as a result of the classes I taught on Postcolonial English Literature to undergraduates.

The Tempest is considered by most scholars as Shakespeare’s last play (1610-11?), which was written as a farewell to London and the stage he so loved. Due to his failing health, he retired to Stratford (although he returned to London occasionally), where he lived with his wife, Anne Hathaway, until his death in 1616.

The Tempest contains one of his most magnificent soliloquies, by Prospero, which is the epilogue to the play, and perhaps to Shakespeare’s artistic life:

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,

Prospero tells us he no longer has the necessary charms to continue, and must retire and he finally asks for forgiveness before he bids his audience goodbye:

Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

Watch Sir John Gielgud’s rendering here  (just over a minute on YouTube)

It was not until the 20th century, and the advent of postcolonial and feminist literary criticism that The Tempest came to be considered as one of Shakespeare’s most powerful plays.

Prospero, who should have been Duke of Milan, was exiled on a remote island, where he enslaves, Caliban, a deformed monster and the only human inhabitant, teaching him his religion and his language (a theme taken up by Jonathan Swift in Robinson Crusoe, a century later). Caliban repays him with the following lines which have given Postcolonial scholars much food for thought:

You taught me language, and my profit on it is I know how to curse.

The red plague rid you for learning me your language!

These words have been used to illustrate Shakespeare’s discontent with the way colonisation was occurring, enslaving, taking advantage of indigenous populations, and undermining their culture.

This play has also attracted Feminist criticism because there is only one female character physically ‘present’ in the play, Miranda, who finally succumbs to her father’s wishes and marries the son of the King of Naples, thereby restoring his honour, although she marries for love.

A play well worth reading and rereading…

 

 

 

 

 

Flash Friday Challenge 11th July

Hamilton-Burr Duel, 11th July, 1804

Contest rules:

150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt and required element (Dragon’s Bidding). Post story here  with Twitter handle. Include word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title). Check the contest guidelines.  Deadline 11.59 ET. Winners will be posted on Sunday.

This week’s photo prompt:

“Hamilton-Burr Duel, After the Painting by J. Mund.” Illustration from Beacon Lights of History, by John Lord, 1902. Public domain image.

Dragon’s bidding, to include in the story:

My Entry for Flash Friday:  Burr’s Defeat

I begged him not to go.

‘I’m defending my honour,’ he claimed. ‘I demand satisfaction. I will not be insulted publicly, by that pompous idiot.’

I insisted that it was illegal, that it would end both their political careers.

‘No-one will see us. We will go to the cliffs below Weehawken on the Hudson River.’

I reminded him of his family, and his political future.

‘He deserves to be taught a lesson. He won’t get in my way again.’

I finally implored him to decline as a tribute to our friendship. I couldn’t watch him die.

‘Neither of us wants to die. We’ll both intentionally miss, although I’ll try and shoot the rascal’s foot off!’

I knew Hamilton wouldn’t shoot to kill, but I also knew that my brother-in-law was hungry for vengeance.

The first shot flew above Burr’s head, he smiled at me.

The second shot pierced Hamilton’s heart.

I watched Burr die that same moment.

*****

Historical Background.

I wonder if one of the six Fathers of the Nation imagined he would be shot down in a duel by one of his political adversaries?

Hamilton was a self-made man, who was born out-of-wedlock, raised in the West Indies, and orphaned at 11. He was sponsored by people from his community to go to the North American mainland for his education, where he attended King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York City.

Hamilton-Alexander

Hamilton shortly after the American Revolution.

 

 

Hamilton was an able and brave military officer, who served in the American Revolutionary War as artillery captain. He later became the senior officer and confidant to General George Washington, the American commander-in-chief.

Hamilton’s abilities were not only military, he was also a competent politician and economist. When President Washington appointed Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury, he created the government-owned Bank of the United States.

The First Bank building, which was built in 1795, is now a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia.

FirstBankofUSA

 

He resigned from office in 1795 after a extra-marital scandal, and practiced law in NY. When Burr ran for President, Hamilton supported Thomas Jefferson, because he accused Burr of being unprincipled. When Burr later ran for governor in New York State, Hamilton’s influence was strong enough to prevent Burr’s victory once more.

Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel, after taking offense at some of his comments.

Hamilton was mortally wounded and died the next day, 11th of July, 1804.

A modern reader is amazed at how two fifty-year-old men, of their intelligence and social prominence, should take part in a duel, in an attempt to kill each other, in such an absurd, and illegal manner.

Although Burr was never tried for the illegal duel, because all charges against him were eventually dropped, Hamilton’s death put an end to Burr’s political career.

 

 

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 29. The Snow Age

Word limit: 150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt below and Dragon’s required bidding: ‘patience’.

Flash Friday 27 june

Nuclear Winter Recon. CC photo by Paul Hocksenar.

 

I’m not very good at apocalyptic fiction, but I’ve given it a try, adding some fantasy elements to lighten the load. What do you think? Does it work?

 

The Snow Age. 2094.

Princess Stella was born with golden hair, and the sun in her amber eyes. In fact, the sun had shone relentlessly every 27th of June since 2064. Considering it a lucky omen, the King and Queen threw legendary parties annually for all the children, in the city square, to mark the anniversary.

At midnight all the lights were turned off for the firework display. The little girl must have fallen into the fountain, or perhaps she was pushed in by a jealous guest. Later, they discovered her body floating in the water.

The Queen yelled. The sun shut down. Within minutes, the square was covered with heavy snow, and all the children turned into ice statues. The emergency services, who had been warned of an approaching ice-age, supplied protective clothing, and weapons.

Nobody knew how long the snow age would last. When they asked, the Queen replied, ‘Patience, the snow will melt when Stella returns.’

***

Have a look at some of the other entries

Flash Friday Challenge (20th June, 2014)

Last Friday 20th June, was the anniversary of the first  day of Queen Victoria’s reign, although she was actually crowned a year later.

I wrote a post about The Birth of the Victorian Era for this occassion.

When I saw that the subject of the Flash Friday Challenge on 20th June was a cartoon including Queen Victoria, I decided to take part.

In case you don’t know about this challenge there’s a prompt and a word limit of 140 – 160 words.
This was the prompt for last weeks’ challenge: The picture below, and the royal command to include the concept of arrogance.

 

queen victoria pic

“New crowns for old ones!” –Benjamin Disraeli presents Queen Victoria the crown of India. Punch, 1876, by cartoonist John Tenniel. 

 

Have a look at this weeks’ winner

 

This was my entry:

Happy anniversary, your Majesty!

‘Happy anniversary, your Majesty!’

She yawned. ‘How kind of you to remember, Prime Minister.’

‘How could I forget, the 20th of June, 1837. A great year for Britain. The year I entered Parliament!’

She yawned.

‘Yes, a great year for the nation. Majesty, I have a very special present for you, which no other Prime Minister could give you!’

She yawned.

‘It is the Imperial Crown of India, Majesty. You will be the Empress of India.’

She yawned.

‘I am the greatest Prime Minister you have had, or will have, am I not?’

She yawned. ‘And the most arrogant.’

‘A little arrogance will help us make Britain the nation on which the sun never sets!’

‘I would give my crowns, my jewels, my castles, and the whole of India in exchange for Albert! Can you give me that?’ She screamed.

He yawned.