Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 43

Today’s photo prompt:

 

Dragon’s bidding:

 

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

 

Silent Voters

I’m a fisherman, like my father and my grandfather. I go out every night and cast my net till dawn. I get a pittance at the market for my hard work and sleepless nights.

You like fish. You pay high prices at the restaurant, while my family can hardly make ends meet. You wear designer suits, and drive a comfortable car. What can you offer us?

You say you want to spend the night with me, on my little boat. You bring warm, waterproof clothes and boots, and the reporters take our picture.

Tomorrow the news will parade your empathy with the poor. You want me to nod, and smile, while the cameras record from the shore.

Tonight you will meet the others, the nameless, countless fishermen, who lost their lives for their families, and their country. Ask them to vote for you, when you join them at the bottom of the sea.

Wave goodbye.

Your journey ends here.

 

Have a look at some of the other entries

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 38

Today’s photo prompt:


Today’s Dragon’s bidding:

What really happened.

On August 29, 1965, US spacecraft,  Gemini 5, landed back on Earth after an eight-day mission. The return crew were Astronauts Conrad and Cooper.  The crew had to use the re-entry thrusters to orient the spacecraft due to system failures. The retrofire and re-entry were conducted in darkness by the spacecraft computer. However the computer had been misprogrammed with an erroneous rotation rate of the Earth. Cooper’s efforts compensated for what he recognized as an erroneous reading and brought the capsule down closer to the ship than they would otherwise have been, and probably saved their lives.


 

My Flash Fiction inspired by the photo and Dragon’s bidding:

The Alien (158 words)

‘Officer!’

‘Yes, Captain?’

‘Are we going to tell them what we saw?’

‘Sir?’

‘What really happened?’

‘Of course, sir. The information is recorded in the log books and databases.’

‘I mean who we saw: the alien.’

‘We didn’t see anyone, sir. It was just you and me on board the spaceship for eight days and eight nights. It was a boring, routine, flight.’

‘But you saw her, too!’

‘No, sir. I saw no one.’

‘But it’s thanks to her that we’re still alive! She told me to change our course. You heard her, too!’

‘We readjusted the data on the landing device because we saw an error, sir, and we recalculated.’

‘But the alien…’

‘With all due respects, sir. We can be acclaimed as national heroes, or become the laughing-stock of the media.’

The captain reflected for an agonizing moment before replying.

‘Of course. What’s the point of telling them?’

‘No point, sir. They’d never believe us.’

****

Would you like to read some of this weeks’ other entries?

This short piece makes me think about truth and lies.

We all lie sometimes, for well-meaning reasons, such as not to hurt people, or to make a point by ‘bending’ the truth. We sometimes decide that certain information can and should be withheld, for a good cause, like to protect someone who is not ‘ready’ for the truth.

In this case of my flash fiction story, the astronauts decide to lie due to fear of the consequences. They don’t want to be laughed at. ‘They’ll think I’m soft’, or ‘They’ll think I’ve gone mad if I say that’.

If you think you won’t be believed, why tell the truth? It’s hard to convince someone of the truth, without proof, so it’s easier to retreat and lie.

People get used to lying, that is, to saying what others want to hear, until they forget the truth. They forget who they are and what they really think. They are the sad, self-destructive lies.

It takes courage to say the truth, when you know no one will believe you, or when you could become a public laughing-stock. It’s easier to say what people want to hear.

Other times there are darker reasons to lie or hold back information. Somebody may want to deceive, confuse, or manipulate. Those are the blatant, dangerous lies.

Truth or lie? Did the astronauts make the right decision?

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 – 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.