What Pegman Saw: Death of a swimmer

Image: Google Street View

Charles swam every morning, whether the sea was ruffled by breeze or chopped to spiky breakers, baby-bath warm or prickling with ice.

A veteran, some said, though there seemed little evidence for that aside from his upright bearing and buffed shoes.

He rarely spoke, would only nod at the post mistress and the baker, Gerard, though neither knew what they had done to deserve the honour.

During the years he lived in Roscanvel, Charles held no more than ten conversations and afterwards, no-one could agree on whether he lisped or if his false teeth clicked when he spoke.

When Simone found his body on the shingle one late-frost morning in May, she was disturbed enough to shake as she described the scene. But not enough to cry without imagining her own mother’s death.

All the residents were at a loss at to why anyone would murder Charles.

All, except one.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week, we visit Roscanvel in Brittany. See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73: What Sunny found.

CCC #73

The note led Sunny to a clearing in the woods, to a shipping container half concealed by ivy and brambles. If it wasn’t for the stencilled letters and numbers, it could be something from a fairy tale, home to a sleeping princess.

Once she’d cleared the growth from the door, sweat darkened her top and her arms were lacy with scratches, threads of blood.

She stared at the block of metal, wondering why. Why someone had sent her a note telling her to come. Why she’d obeyed it.

The sun was dropping lower, midges rising from the grass. Time.

She pulled the lever. The bars squeaked, turned slowly, rust catching on rust.

‘Come on,’ she muttered.

With one last tug the mechanism released. An animal smell – ancient and rank – hit her along with a wave of heat. She swallowed, tried to ignore the call to vomit.

‘Oh, no,’ she sighed.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73. See here to join in.

Now, why did Sunny follow those instructions – something unresolved from her past, her present? What did she find in the shipping container?

Do drop me a line telling me what you think.

What Pegman Saw: Dust and Ashes

Image: Google Earth

There were the remnants of a fire, set in a dip overlooking the canyon. Pike scuffed the blackened ironwood with his boot, kicking up dust and ashes.

‘She was here.’

Root stood silhouetted against the ripening sunset, one foot up on a rock, thumbs hooked in his trouser pockets. He raised an eyebrow.

‘Smart enough to make a fire out of nothing,’ said Pike. ‘Stupid enough not to think we’d find it.’

Root nodded, chewed a fragment of nail from his index finger, spat it into the drop below. ‘Which way?’

Pike pointed down the canyon. ‘She wouldn’t last long out here and she knows it. She’ll head for people, hope she can get a lift someplace.’

Root nodded, heading back towards the Jeep.

Pike smiled to himself. The least he could do was give her a head start.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Happy Jack, Arizona. See here to join in and have fun.

Friday Fictioneers: The Three Graces

PHOTO PROMPT © Ceayr

The women gathered at the fountain each day: Elodie – her single, long brow dipped in a frown, always a fresh hole in the same, worn smock; Ottilie – tugging her sleeves to cover the bruises; Maribel – pregnant for the seventh time despite the empty cradle at home.

Other women came and went, cooling hot cheeks in the fresh water. But these three would stand apart, heads so close their hair mingled, their voices lost below the burble of water.

One thing is true – they all vanished on the same day, leaving the water to speak alone.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the best writing prompt on WordPress. See here to join in the fun.

What Pegman Saw: Her past beyond the curtain

Image: Google Street View

Mila peered through the mesh of net curtains, frustrated by the hazy view. If she pushed them aside she might see better, but then she risked being seen and the very thought made her forehead damp with anxiety.

‘Jaap?’ she called behind her.

A pan clattered in the kitchen out back. Jaap’s way of telling her he was too busy to come running.

‘Jaap, that child’s in the street again,’ she called.

A boy of around seven or eight years of age. Dusty red and blue striped tee shirt, skinny legs poking from wide shorts, the knees sticking out like knots in lengths of string. He’d come every day for a week, stood in the middle of the dirt road for an hour before leaving.

A cupboard door slammed. ‘What do you want me to do about it?’

‘Tell me it’s not him,’ she muttered.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting off point. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

What Pegman Saw: Lost, found, stolen

Image: Google Maps

We were led along a narrow lane into the backyard of a house. A hosepipe coiled round the base of a banyan tree – emerald green and dusty – an equally dusty tortoiseshell cat coiled on a nearby garden chair.

The gallery was a wooden construction built onto the back of the house, the roof glass, letting in any dappled light that escaped the clutches of the banyan.

Sonny handed his kyats over to the elderly artist and strode in. I watched the twitch of his shoulders through his sweat-soaked shirt as he moved from one image to the next. The trip had been good for us. Time to heal, learn how to be a couple again, not a family.

‘Kim.’ An edge in his voice.

A painting. A little girl with Sonny’s charcoal eyes, my ash-blond hair. Our little girl, holding the ragged Mr Ted we buried with her.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Myanmar. See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52: The world turned on its head

CCC#52

The ground was autumn-crisp with leaves despite the heat. The oaks along the rivers’ edge black fingers, bare as winter.

‘Not right,’ muttered Clem, knocking the underbrush with his boot.

A fir cone tumbled through the dead leaves and came to rest against a fleshy crescent of Maid’s Bane fungus. Bluebell spikes shivered.

‘World’s turned on its head,’ said Clem.

The sheepdog, Tab, looked up at his master, uncertain.

Gramma Cora – all gums, mottled scalp and whiskers – had told tales when Clem was small. When winter takes summer’s hand, when spring lifts her skirts and dances autumn’s jig … He frowned how did that old rhyme end?

Tab came suddenly to heel, his flank quivering against Clem’s leg.

‘What is it, lad?’

A feather of snow fell on the back of his neck. Soon the ground was white, the air a haze.

‘The Final Winter shall fall,’ he whispered.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge. It’s a pleasure to join in this week to help Crispina celebrate a year of CCC. Do visit here to join in – it’s huge fun.

What Pegman Saw: Oversight

The hill cut the sky in half, a black shrug between the dappled water and slabs of slate grey cloud. Six pylons prickled the horizon, three groups of three, arm in arm.

Even here, the weight wouldn’t lift. The sky pressed down, hills pushed at his back, pylons watchful.

He tied another fishing fly, plucked the silken fluff from the shaft of a quail feather, twisted the cord, trapping more feathers. Once the fly was done, he added it to the others lined up on the pontoon.

They stirred in the wind, a twitch like the flex of dying muscles. He scuffed the bundles of feather and cord into the water.

“It’s time.” The aide was at his side, signalling towards the car. “They need your signature to go ahead.”

“Yes.” He watched the feathers float away.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we visit Newfoundland and Labrador. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: The sound of metal on stone

Image: Google Street View

Aidee hadn’t noticed the guy in Speedos.

He and his friends had been looking at Didier’s new Jeep, a 2 litre turbocharged Wrangler, four wheel drive. Hakim had squinted at the faultless paintwork, one dusty foot resting on the other, spat his jealousy on the kerb. Golden paced, cursed his family, his bad fortune, temporarily forgetting he was a lazy degenerado who spent his days sitting on the couch with his hand down his shorts.

The sound of metal on stone made Aidee look to the pavement. A scalpel. The guy in Speedos turned, hands spread, two bloody vees yawning on his wrists.

The man looked at Aidee, right at him.

That face would wake Aidee for weeks, return years later when he was old and lost. It was the look of a being who’s heart still beats when the man inside is dead.

Aidee never saw a Jeep again without feeling sick.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that takes us around the world, courtesy of Google Street View. This week we visit Angola. See here to join in.

Notes

Portuguese is the main language spoken in Angola, hence degenerado which is Portuguese for degenerate.

What Pegman Saw: Loxton Crook

The site was out on Karoonda Highway. On one side, the green swathe of Murray Barrandura’s vineyard, on the other a dusty khaki patchwork of Bush.

Two vehicles blocked the junction for Kingston Road – one I recognised as Murray’s faded blue ute. The other was Lachy Tuner’s Hilux.

‘Murray, Lachlan.’ I slammed the car door and came to stand beside them.

‘Rum thing,’ said Murray, scratching his thinning curls. ‘Not seen since Grandfather’s time.’

‘1930, the last one,’ said Lachy.

‘Did you see the flash?’ I said. ‘Lit up the sky like fireworks. Lucky it didn’t hit closer to town.’ The meteorite was the size of my fist, the surface like pumice flecked with chips of silica. ‘Made quite a hole.’

‘People got crook then.’ Murray sucked at his cheeks.

‘In 1930? That was flu. Meteorites don’t cause flu epidemics,’ scoffed Lachy.

Murray’s gaze drifted towards town, to the cluster of twinkling streetlights.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we are in Loxton, South Australia.

Notes

Back in 1930, a meteor shattered in the sky above Karoonda. The pieces weighed a total of 92 lbs.

Many Aboriginal cultures see meteors as harbingers, warnings of coming death or signs of evil spirits coming to suck water from the land. Read more here.

In Australian slang, crook means ill, likely to die.