The Chief’s Command

Ethiopia OfirAsif12

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

“They are not welcome here,” the Chief decreed.

His eyes regarded the troop that was his to protect. The land was plentiful, but his soul recalled the stories of Times of Famine, when many had been reduced to skin and bone and many more had died. Legend had it that The Others had brought it on, had taken more than was their share, and angered rain from falling, seeds from growing.

He sensed Bannu’s discontent. Chiefs didn’t have to grant permission for anyone’s opinion. Life showed him, however, that good Chiefs balanced silencing with persuading.

“Bannu?” he grunted.

“What if they return with more of their kind?” The youngster’s sparse ruff bristled apprehension.

The Chief nodded. Foresight was rare. The youth had potential. It also made him someone to watch out for.

“If they challenge us,” the Chief bared teeth and growled an answer and a warning. “We fight.”

 

 

For What Pegman saw: Ethiopia

 

No Chicken, No Egg.

bridal_veil_falls_sign_in_provo_canyon

Photo: An Errant Knight @ Wikimedia Commons

 

“The sign says not to hike beyond this point.”

“Signs can’t talk,” Jerry guffawed, “and anyway, that’s just legal butt-covering.”

Robert looked at the icy terrain. It looked awfully slippery. It was getting late and they still needed to hike back. He didn’t think they should continue. He also hated being Nagging Grandma. He shrugged.

Bennett elbowed him and pushed to the lead. “Well, I’m no sissy. All the fun’s up there. Road less traveled and all that.”

Robert’s neck warmed at the insult. Bennett always had to make things a competition, including who was Jerry’s ‘real’ friend and who the fifth-wheeler.

“You coming or you chicken?” Bennett sniggered.

“Last one up’s a rotten egg!” Jerry grinned.

The two barreled ahead.

Robert trudged below them, full of dread.

Later he would wonder how to tell their parents that chicken and rotten egg were the last words they ever said.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Bridal Veil Falls, Utah

 

Bayou Bridged

City Park (New Orleans) - Wikipedia
City Park, New Orleans (Photo: en.wikipedia.org)

 

They always met in the park. There were spirits there, too, of course: The drowned. The lost. The desperate. The abandoned young. However, these tended to be the milder spirits, mellowed by moss and rain and the freedom to roam on whispery winds. House spirits were harsher, meaner, and angrier. They carried histories of rape and whippings and the smaller everyday murders that chip at a soul until there is nothing left but agony and bitterness.

It was better to meet in the park, on a bridge between this world and the other, chiseled by masons, anchored by time.

She lowered herself onto the top stair and waited. She’d hear him come, but she would not turn. He did not bear to be looked upon.

“I will take him across,” he’d said when they last met. And he had. It was a gentle death.

Now it was her mother’s time.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw

Bottomless

Bottomless lake NM Photo-New Mexico Tourism Department

Photo: New Mexico Tourism Department

 

“Which one was it?” Mark peered into the screen and jiggled the joystick for the drone.

“I don’t know,” Jake panicked. “It looks different from the ground.”

“We really should call 911,” Sherlock fretted.

“Shut up and live up to your name, will ya?” Jake snapped. Worry and guilt made him mean.

Sherlock turned beet red. In two months he’d finally be old enough to rid himself of this kick-me-name. Not that he trusted it’ll matter to those who already knew him.

Mark maneuvered the drone over the blue circle. He scanned the rocky edges. Ted was only supposed to pretend to jump in, so they could post it online for the new “Dive In” Internet challenge, but he either lost his footing or decided to show off.

A ripple in the watery surface had him zoom in closer.

The drone tilted, wobbled, splashed into the sinkhole, and disappeared. Like Ted.

 

For What Pegman Saw: Roswell, New Mexico

 

Waiting for Panav

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Hyderabad, India (Photo: Pixabay)

 

“Can you see him?” Aashi danced on the balls of her feet. “Is he here?”

Her sister slowly passed the binoculars over the crowd.

“Maha!”

Maha sighed and adjusted her sari. She had taken Aashi to the roof because the girl’s incessant buzzing got on Dādī’s nerves. Grandma was anxious enough for Uncle Panav’s arrival without her youngest granddaughter upsetting the chapati.

“He’ll be here soon,” Maha allowed. She didn’t really think she’d be able to spot him. Still she kept the binoculars trained on the market hive below.

Heat rose from the street, stirred by hawkers’ calls and drivers’ horns and the indistinct hubbub of people that had made Hyderabad home.

Aashi’s bangles jangled. Some were Maha’s till this morning.

She touched her nose ring. A gift from Uncle Panav, who will be Chaacha no more. Her chest tightened. Tomorrow, after they wed, she’ll call him Pati.

 

 

Hindi Glossary: Chaacha – uncle; chapati – unleavened Indian bread; Dādī – Grandma; Pati – husband

 

For What Pegman Saw: Hyderabad, India

 

Horse Spirit

Photo: Palaeolithic art at Foz Côa’s Archaeological Park, Portugal 

 

“Why do you hit the rock with sharpened stones?”

Golin quaked under The Elder’s frown. It was forbidden to harm The Rocks That Shelter. The big stones protected them from biting teeth and snarling maws. They stopped the wind. They held back scorching sun. They reflected heat from fires.

And let flames paint shadows, Golin thought.

“He will drive away Horse Spirit and we will starve,” Morsen scowled predictably.

“Let him answer,” The Elder said.

Morsen seethed. The old man always favored Golin.

“The Rocks That Shelter do not anger when the fire lives in them,” Golin pointed at the dancing reflection on the wall.

“He makes no sense,” Morsen pouted. A few others nodded but The Elder’s stony gaze did not leave Golin’s face.

“They draw the fire near,” Golin stressed. Couldn’t they see? “Perhaps The Rocks That Shelter will welcome Horse Spirit and call it here.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Douro, Portugal

 

Worse Off Than A Monk


Image result for Goizueta, Navarra, Spain

Photo: Mapio.net; Goizueta, Navarre

 

“I am not going!”

They cannot send him to that miserable hut where there’s no electricity, no running water, creepy crawlies, and no internet. Even monks have internet. He was going to be worse off than a monk!

His father sighed. “Aitona Antton needs help and Osaba Alesander is still recovering from his motorcycle accident.”

“So I need to lose a leg to get out of this?” Danel grumbled.

His father’s sharp inhale told him he’d gone too far.

He shrugged apology. He was in enough trouble. Ditching school, hanging out “with the wrong crowd.” It was exile or jail.

“He’s your great-grandfather,” his father sounded tired, and not just from spending nights at Uncle Alesander’s bedside. “You used to love visiting him.”

“Before Birramona died …” Danel stopped. The remote homestead was awfully quiet without his great-grandmother. How much more so for Aitona-handia?

He sighed. “At least I like goat-cheese.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw

(Basque glossaryAitona: Grandfather;  Aitona-handia: Great grandfather;  Birramona: Great grandmother;  Osaba: Uncle)

 

Home View

Bamboi

 

He huddled at the cupola and waited.

Sirens blared and klaxon warnings bleated in time with the flash of red strobe lights and a monotone woman’s voice repeating: “Evacuate! Evacuate!”

He shook his head at the cluelessness of programmers. Who chose this particular word for the code-red recordings?

Evacuate to where?

The wall behind him warped and heaved, and it was as if the very apparatus was gasping for air. He slowed his own breath and tuned out the scream of bending metal and the meaning of the accelerated frequency of the voice commands.

He glued his eyes to the view. Finally.

His finger traced the line of green against blue and traveled inland to the approximate spec that was Bamboi.

Was anyone home looking up? They’d been so proud. The first of their own at the space-station, and … for at least another moment, the last astronaut alive.

 

For the What Pegman Saw Challenge: Bamboi, Ghana

 

Coniston Choice

Image result for coniston water lake district

Photo: www.lakedistrict.gov.uk

 

She shrugged her macintosh off to use as ground cover before lowering herself gingerly. She drove two hours to get here and her hip still protested anything less cushioned than her bed, let alone damp gravel. Still, walking in the fresh air was good for her, the doctor said.

Didn’t say where she had to do that walking, and Norm was no longer around to object. He’d been terrified of flying, worried about trains, sea-sick on boats, wary around cars. Poor Norm. She couldn’t blame him. Not after what he’d gone through during the war.

Made for dreary holidays, though.

Not anymore.

She gazed at the lake, took a deep breath, and pulled the folded papers out of her pocket: The unsigned bill of sale for the house; the travel agent’s brochure for the round-the-world ticket.

 

For What Pegman Saw: Coniston Water Lake District