What Pegman Saw : Parallel Worlds

 

 

It’s only after thirty years away, I see how idyllic my childhood home is and I have the strangest feeling of seeing two parallel worlds, as if each eye is imprinted with a different image, my brain struggling to reconcile the two.

There is the picture window gazing onto the endless ocean, a porch swing wide enough for two, a spotless white picket fence.

Blink and I see the other world …

… six years old, paint brush falling from my hand as a boot kicks me from behind. The graze on my temple from the fence  …

… shivering on the porch swing as the dark creeps in, as wild things snuffle closer, as the shouting from inside turns to screams …

… banging at the picture window as my mother walks away, never turning, never looking back …

Tugging my collar against the wind, I’m glad of its beauty.

It means it will sell quickly.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt inspired by Google Street View. This week we are on Mackinac Island, Michigan. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

 

 

 

 

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What Pegman Saw : ‘Are we close?’

 

‘Are we close?’ said Collier, tucking his chin into his furs. His eyes were barely visible, a squint between the brim of his beaver fur hat and his upturned collar.

Dunning nodded. After a moment, Collier shuffled back to the fire. They’d exchanged few words in the six days since heading out from Jackson, though Collier tried to talk over coffee each morning. Dawson had little to say to the lawman. He had little to say to anyone.

Besides, Collier would want to discuss Sol Jäger and the massacre and Dawson didn’t want to know who he was tracking, to make a judgement about the man’s guilt. The money purse in his pack – that was all he needed to know.

Dunning kept his growing unease to himself. Unease about a trail too easy too follow … about following a man whose name meant ‘hunter’.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we are in Alberta, Canada. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw : The Moses Rickson Poker Club

 

 

We’d sit out the back of the casino after our shift, packing crate as a makeshift table,  three plastic chairs Moses had rescued from a skip because he was ‘too damn old to sit on the kerb.’ We’d smoke, pass a bottle of pétrole, stagger home at dawn and sleep till it was time to do it all again.

The poker club was Moses’ idea. He thought it was funny, watching rich fools lose thousands of francs all night, then going out back by the steaming dumpsters, playing cards for matches by torchlight. We’d shiver under blankets in the dry season and in the rainy season, we’d string up a plastic sheet, listen to the drains gulp down the rats.

Tonight is the last time the poker club will meet. We’ll smoke, laugh, drink too much home brew and toast the empty chair where Moses once sat his skinny behind.

 


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

I haven’t posted for two weeks, the longest gap since I started blogging over three years ago. Work and family issues have taken up too much of my time to commit to being here, so sorry for my absence, dear blogging friends.

NB

Pétrole is the slang name for Lotoko, a home brewed moonshine commonly made in Congo from maize, plantain or cassava. It can be up to 50% proof.

What Pegman Saw : An end to Evil

 

Freya’s cottage was easy to find – black and squat as a toad with a beetling turf roof and runes painted in spidery white around the door.

As we drew near, the clean smells of lake water and freshly caught herring were swallowed by others – burnt bone; rotten meat; urine strong enough to make me squint.

Fell dropped back a step, clamping a hand to his nose. He was too young to remember that same stench in our own village, but still fear clouded his eyes.

His brother Kari – older by five years, taller by a foot – twitched but kept pace with me. He remembered.

At the door Kari nodded – as the eldest to bear a loss this was my privilege, my burden. The wood shuddered under my fist.

‘Come out, witch,’ I called. ‘It’s time.’

Soon there would be chains and rising lake water and an end to the Evil.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its source. This week we are in the Faroe Islands.

On a little wander I found this cottage and couldn’t help but be reminded of a fairy tale – a witch’s cottage, perhaps . A quick internet search and I discovered Norse witches – the vǫlur – who might travel from village to village wherever they were called upon and could control a man’s movements in battle. The vǫlur were not always beneficial and after Christianisation, practitioners could be executed.

What Pegman Saw: Ahriman snips away the world

 

 

The cafe lights bleached the night, washing colour from the hoardings, turning people to cut outs.

Ahriman imagined taking sharp scissors, snipping away plastic chairs and litter bins, sycamore trees and scraps of discarded samusa, leaving only the figures behind, their legs bent in mid step, lifting cups of black tea to puckered lips. He saw the paper people stacked like plates, shuffled like playing cards, packed away when he tired of them.

He used to love humanity, its endless capacity for greed and hatred, its skill at weaving lies, glittering webs to trap the innocent before the fatal strike.

Now he walked among these flimsy beings, sharing the fragile beat of their hearts, the flicker of pulse so easy to snuff out.

Passing the fountain, a cool mist played across his skin, damping his hair.

Life had been better when he was a god.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. Today we visit Tehran in Iran. See here to share, read and comment.

Notes

Ahriman is another name for Angra Mainyu, a destructive spirit in Zoroastrianism. Many believe Angra Mainyu will ultimately be destroyed, his power quenched. I imagined him passing into human form, becoming obsolete.

Samusa are pastries filled with spicy meat and vegetables. See here to discover more delicious Iranian food.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.