Category Archives: what pegman saw


Pena Castle, Portugal

The servant bowed one last time at the door, leaving the tray of pastries on the tea table. Amélie tasted the rich travesseiro and realized—it might well be her last taste of such a delicacy. Though her chef and staff might join her in London—England had not the rich-yolked eggs, nor the abundance of sun-ripened almonds for such a delight. What did they know of fine dining in there? Their king hosted decadent feasts glutted with rich food. He knew nothing of the simple delight of sun-ripened olives. His 12-course meals were sort of indulgence that would have a royal deposed in a fortnight.

As she had been.

Tomorrow she would not be Queen Consort. Tomorrow the son she had saved by her own hand would no longer be king.

One final stroll through the courtyard, one final prayer in the chapel.

It was what the people wanted.

150 words

Oh boy, now I remember why I don’t like to write historical fiction. I’m exhausted and am going to spend the rest of the afternoon just closing all these browser tabs. Kudos to the great writers who astound me from week to week with their historical fiction. This shit is hard. Plus, I have no idea if any of it is true, aside from the fact that Queen Amélie spent her last night in Portugal at the Pena castle before going to London to live out her life in exile. (Yay, Wikipedia)

Anyway, this has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, or to submit your own, click here.

The Things You Can’t Unstop

Nabatean Theater, Jordan


The American pointed. “How much for that bottle, back there?”

Abed continued shifting the clay figures on the lower shelf. Without looking up, he said. “You do not want that vessel, sir.”

The man smirked. He pointed down. “Okay then. What about those scarves? Down there?”

Abed bent for one. “Traditional Jordanian. The finest you’ll find. How many would you like?”

When the man didn’t respond, Abed turned—in time to see him snatch the bottle from the shelf.

“This is amazing,” the American said. “Is it very old?”

“I assure you, my friend, you do not want that bottle. I beg you please, return it.”

The man tipped the bottle from side to side, peering at the top. “How do you unstop it?”

“There is no unstopping it.”

The genie roared out, filling the square with his amorphous green bulk.

“Who dares awaken Hassaan? Prepare to face my wrath!”

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

Dropping Matthew Off

He’d be glad to be done with the creche. It’d shave thirty minutes from his day once Matthew started school.

He was nearly back when he heard gunfire. A late-model car cruised slowly on the right. A trio of boys dashed in front. He slammed on the brakes—then realized his mistake. Another boy on the left, eye winking down the barrel of a gun.

He just needed to go, he just needed to go—but the piercing sting. He let go the wheel, looked down. Red on his shirt—why red? Red on his crisp white shirt. So much. He started to pant.

Not here. Not now. Who would pick up Matthew? Who would tell him? How would the boy know? How would he ever know how much he loved him? How impossibly big this love was.

How it was too big to even fit into this body any more.

151 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt click here.

Sadly, inspired by true events:

As near as I can tell, a creche is a daycare, but I could have this wrong.

The Thirteenth Day

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

By the thirteenth day, the ancient face of the sea turtle seemed like a friend. She’d been following his capsized vessel for the better part of a week. She’d surface, her cloissone cheeks gleaming in this sun, her almond eyes seeming almost human. She’d blink wisely, then vanish into the depths for hours. Then, just as he’d give up all hope to see her, she’d reappear at the edge of his craft, like a cheerful neighbor bearing a gift.

When she was gone, he’d stare hard at all horizons, searching for land. Was he too far east? he wondered. Or perhaps west. Impossible to say.

Just then she appeared, her head breaking the calm. An instant later—gone, but back again further east next time. Then further still. As if she was trying to tell him something. As if she knew. He reached for his oar and began to paddle.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

It’s the Neutrinos


“I’m telling you, he’s lost it.”


“The physicist. The one with the crazy eyes and the brushfire of beard.”

“Are you talking about Keith?”

“I don’t know his name, man. I just know he’s crazy. He wants to kill every last one of us.”

“Does this have anything to do the fact you watched The Shining last night?”

“I’m telling you. He means to murder us. If you want to know why—I think it’s the neutrinos. I think they passed through his brain. Made him crazy.”

“You know neutrinos pass through all of us? Like all the time.”

“You going to do something or not?”

“Okay, well it wouldn’t be the first time a cuber went mad during winterover. What exactly did Keith say?”

“It wasn’t what he said. It’s what he thought. I heard it. It came right through my skull—like radio waves, or those…whatchamacallits.”

“Um, neutrinos?”

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

In researching this story, I learned about the cubers, those hardy souls that endure six months of sunless skies and bottomless temperatures to overwinter in one of the most remote locations in the world. To learn more about the scientists, artists and other dedicated individuals who work at the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory visit Their weekly journal is fascinating: Turns out watching The Shining is an overwinter tradition.

As always, thanks for reading!

The Love Man

Bogota, Columbia

Hombreamor pedaled on, whistling.

Mateo watched from the doorframe of the muffler shop, then turned to spit on the sidewalk. “El hombre esta loco,” he muttered as he turned back in.

Filipe looked up and caught sight of the flower seller as he vanished into the crowd. “People say that, it is true,” he said. “Why do you say it?”

Mateo’s mouth turned bitter. He tipped his head at the street. “A boy was murdered out there—just yesterday. Left in a pool of blood. And yet that man is smiling. Always smiling.”

Filipe nodded. It was said the boy picked the wrong pocket to pick. But it did not take much in Los Martires, where men were murdered, women raped, and children vanished. Such was life here. “Sufrimos. Es verdad.”

“So you agree then, the man is crazy.”

“No, my friend. He smiles, because even here—there is love.”

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

13 Lennéstraße, Berlin

‘Stratos Kitchen Showroom’ my bum. Have you ever once witnessed a single person going in or out of there? Sure there are kitchen displays on the storefront, but did you look up? Every single window clad in black. Tell me that’s not dodgy.

Google your maps and you’ll see. Place fuzzed out the way governments put Google to blurry out their air bases. Look, I know those Germans are nutters for privacy. But this is a public place—a kitchen showroom. You get me? You’d think they’d want a fellow to know the place—to be able to find it. Place is never open either. Think about it. It’s a fiver from Tempelhofer Feld—and every chap knows what that place is about. Anyway, my point is, if you’re thinking about moving to Berlin, you’ve lost the plot, man. You’re begging for those Americans to run their mind control on you.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

About this story–yes, I’ve completely lost it. I started wandering the streets of Berlin and it didn’t take long to run into one of these crazy blurred out locations (actually there is a spot of one in the photo on the prompt). But of course my Go-To when I see something unexplained is to imagine all sorts of conspiracies. Turns out the explanation is much more simple: the Germans are crazy for privacy.  It also turns out there’s a town of 300,000 people in Germany that may or may not exist, and that Angela Merkel may or may not be a lizard person. Also, rather obviously, that my British dialect is rather dodgy. Oh well, it was fun going there.

As always, thanks for reading.