What Pegman Saw : Control


They were taken in front of us, that was the worst of it.

Not snatched in the melee of a fairground, under the sugary mist of cotton candy. Not lifted from their beds, parents too heavy with sleep to hear the creak of boards, the muffled cries.

The way they were taken was intentional – daytime, the family gathered to mourn as skinny arms reached out for Mama and Papa, the hope of rescue dying on tear-stained faces.

We control you, the gangs were saying, from the warped boards of your huts to your corn, your water, your women … your children.

Today they came again, greedy hands falling on my Bernicia’s slick of black hair, plucking at the folds of her dress, the shallow pit in her collarbone.

Strange, isn’t it, how the man who beats a dog never expects it to bite back?


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. See here to join in and to share your own story.

For reference, according to this site the name Bernicia means One who brings victory.







32 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw : Control

  1. Dear Lynn,
    What a gem!
    Such beautiful construction, deliberately withholding the fact that it’s the children being snatched until line eight of an eleven line story. The use of rhetoric – “not snatched” “not lifted”. All just building the tension. And what a killer pay-off line!
    I hope your narrator can get Berenicia out of the country in time…
    That’s just so good.
    All the best

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Penny! Sometimes stories seem to flow pretty well from the opening, don’t they? This was one of those, bar a little fiddling here and there. Yes, I think Berenicia might have to flee and her Mum too. Thank you so much for such a lovely comment πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In psychology, there’s a concept called “learned helplessness.” Beat a dog long enough and don’t allow it a place for escape and it will eventually just lay down and continue to take the beatings. Sometimes though, the dog will fight back and would rather die than be beaten again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I saw a film of the experimental model done with dogs. It was very sad. Eventually the dogs would just lie on a metal plate and let itself be continually shocked.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. In the early 1980s, I took an experimental psychology class (I just learned about various experiments, I didn’t perform any) and saw how scientist Martin Seligman conducted his work with dogs in the mid-1960s. It’s a classic experiment still cited today and yes, if you have a soft spot for animals, it’s not for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I remember as a teenager going for careers advice, trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life. There was a lengthy online questionaire and the computer collated the answers and put forward some suggestions. Among my ‘likes’ were animals so the computer suggested I become a vivisectionist – not quite what I had in mind! Seligman’s experiment – although disturbing in its method of execution – certainly produced interesting results. I wonder of anyone has tried a similar experiment with people.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I can say what your previous commenters haven’t said about this piece, but I love the way it ended, and how you’ve managed to pack so much emotion into a mere 150 words. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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