What Pegman Saw : What remained

 

‘Ever feel you’re being watched?’ said Rudy.

The path ahead was quiet except for the papery rustle of leaves, the creak and batter of crows in the dark canopy.

Dom leaned his rifle on a mossy wall, reached for his tobacco pouch. ‘Who’d you think’s watching?’ A spark, a pop of gas, a pool of light cupped in his palms.

Rudy shrugged, staring at the ground.

The kid had been quiet since illness struck the town, since the night of the pyre and the burying of what remained. Little wonder – the stink had caught in their clothes, formed a greasy coating on their skin. He’d feared it might never wash off.

‘There’s no one watching,’ he flicked the spent butt over the wall into the lake, ‘cos there ain’t no one left ‘cept you and me.’

Dom took up his rifle, cradling it close on the trudge home.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the cracking writing prompt using Google Street View as its jumping off point. Today we are at Coniston Water in the Lake District. See here to join in, to read and comment.

 

 

 

 

 

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What Pegman Saw : Take me with you

 

‘What do you remember, Casey?’ asked Donaldson.

A bluebottle tapped at the blanked-out window, tangling in the curtain. Decorating the facility like a home had been Donaldson’s idea – better for the children, she thought – but the recycled air still smelt like plastic and singed hair.

Casey smoothed her doll’s skirt, straightened the plaits of golden wool. ‘A stone path,’ she said, ‘the colour of dirty sand. It’s bendy.’ She made a shape in the air with her hand. ‘The trees are black with branches like fingers.’

Zeb’s description had been identical. And Sunny Lo’s.

‘And it smells funny,’ said the little girl frowning. ‘Of the Big River after the flood. And of the day my bunny died.’

Donaldson crouched down, took the doll from Casey’s unwilling hands. ‘Can you go back?’ she said, eyes flicking to the surveillance camera.

The girl nodded.

‘Next time, take me with you.’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we visit Texas, I’ve used a photo sphere of Wildcat Bluff Nature Centre. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : When the wind speaks

‘Mountains and mist, that’s all Father left. Mountains and mist.’ Mathys slashed out with his sword, a rope of prayer flags fluttering to the ground like wounded birds. His bitter tone crossed the valley, sending a quarrel of flycatchers into the grey.

Gaétan watched the little birds dart away, waited for the hush to resettle. Mathys had always been a restless soul, quick to anger, first to a fight where Gaétan had been happy to watch the trees grow, hear what the wind had to say.

True, their Father had bequeathed them nothing but crags and snow and fog thick as fallen cloud. But Gaétan had listened as the voices grew until every stalking wildcat, every vole shivering in its fusty burrow, every pin-eyed windhover – even the rocks themselves – spoke with one tongue.

She comes.

Over Blackheart Mountain a thunderhead gathered.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street view as it jumping off point. This week we visit Kangra Valley, India. See here to join in, share, read and comment.

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : In the arms of Crooked Woman

We left Papa under the tree the old people call Crooked Woman – wrapped in palm leaves, bound with strips of knotted cloth.

The night before I’d shifted rocks from beneath the tree, made space enough for his slight form to lie. I sang as I hefted boulders, old songs Papa taught me when we set nets in the river, as we climbed fig trees, gripping bark with knotted toes, stowing plump fruit in our bags.

I set a basket of best black figs and a comb of honey at his feet. The honey dripped into the dull water as the river rose, as waves licked the rocks and kissed the sands. His body held tight to Crooked Woman for a while, a child reluctant to take his first step.

The river took him at sunset, as the water turned gold as honey, as we sang a last goodbye.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview. See here to share, to read and comment.

 

What Pegman Saw : They come

‘They come at night.’

It is the last clear thing Hutter says. Afterwards there is only the hint of words amid the sweats and anguished mumbles.

As Frau Weber gives over her second best bed sheet for the binding, the party is solemn but nothing more – death is an unwelcome but assumed companion on such an arduous journey.

Then Oma Jansen passes, slumped over her washing stone like a bundle of her own laundry. I sense true fear after Uwe dies. A big man – strong as a bull – falling like a rotten larch. No one speaks of it but later prayers echo loud in the darkness.

It is only after my Margarethe goes that I remember Hutter’s words … at night.

The sun sinks behind the mountain for the last time. Something shifts through the fir trees, sending crows laughing skyward. Cold metal presses against my throat.

Margarethe, I come.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Streetview. This week we are in Yellowstone National Park and what a place. See here to join in, to read and comment.

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Ghost Smiles

 

‘… here we go round the mulberry bush on a cold and frosty morning …’

Francis watched his cousins: Ivy’s primrose hair tumbled from its ribbon; Johnny’s  socks were wrinkled, scuffed white from the gravel path. As the oldest, Francis would be in trouble for the grass stains, for the smudges of dirt on rosy cheeks.

‘It’s a box hedge,’ he muttered. ‘And it’s June. No frost in June.’ They didn’t hear, just kept on laughing and skipping.

He could write his name in perfect copperplate scrolls by the time he was four; had known his times tables by six. At each fresh achievement his parents had shown ghost smiles, eyes soon drawn back to the morning paper. No ghost smiles for the twins. Everyone adored them.

Almost everyone.

‘Let’s go into the maze,’ called Francis.

His pocket felt heavy and he smiled.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a writing prompt using Google Street View. This week, we visit the Palace of Versailles. Pop along here to join in and to read the other stories.

What Pegman Saw : A storm at Slaughter Bay

 

‘Hello? I don’t know if anyone can hear this broadcast – the signal’s terrible, a stormhead’s gathering, causing interference. I know you’re out there, Stephen, that you might be monitoring this wavelength –

‘I heard something … hold on.

‘I had to look, I thought I heard … The sun’s setting. I don’t have much time.

‘Stephen – anyone – if you’re listening, this is Rodney Statham, Professor Rodney Statham of the Imperial College research team. We were recording the flora and fauna of Slaughter Bay. We arrived seven days ago, a group of five research scientists, two local guides – Burnum and Daku … They were brothers, Stephen. Their poor mother –

‘There! I’m certain this time. Something outside the hut –

‘Stephen, if you hear this, if a rescue party is coming from the mainland – you must stop them!

‘God, that awful smell! Hawthorn and corpses. One’s coming under the door! Another! They’re on me, they -‘

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a prompt using Google Streetview. To join in and to read the other stories, visit here.