Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout, Big Sky, Montana | © Matthew Kennedy, Google Maps
The ranger smirked at the sight of her store-fresh backpack and then eyed her tennis shoes. “You want me to check back mid-week?”
No distractions. That had been the point of this whole week. No kids, no husband—no interruptions. “I’ll be fine.”
She lugged the five-gallon water jug up the fire tower stairs as the ranger rumbled away on his AWD. She didn’t notice the leak until morning. By then, five days’ worth of water had spilled across plank floor.
That was four days ago. Her parched lips cracked as her mouth tightened in a grimace. How long could a person go without water, anyway?
She thought of Tilly, sticky fingers tugging at her sleeve: Tell me a story.
She thought of Robert, popping in her office for the hundredth time: Would you like a cup of tea?
What she wouldn’t give for such sweet distraction now.
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Google Street View of Burhhanpur
Eat, pray, love, my ass. I’d picked up Delhi belly in Kochi that had taken me until Mombai to shake. I’d been infested by some water-borne parasite doing sunrise puja at Surat. The handsome Brit I’d met in Ahmedabad had stolen my passport and wallet, and I’d spent eight days waiting at the embassy.
By now, there was nothing left to lose. Even my sandal had given out on the walk from the main road. Every possession I had left fit into one canvas bag that I had slung over a shoulder.
I’d been ‘looking for something’, a thought that made me laugh now. There was nothing to find in this forgotten place—just one more thing to check off a bucket list that no one followed.
I padded to the open-air window and looked out past the river, and squinted at the rising sun.
And realized, finally, what I’d found.
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No one could say what happened at the flat on Giles. Not the neighbors who heard her sobs at night. Not the postman who saw the bruise at her throat. Not the boy in the flat below who felt the ceiling shake with the blows. Not the ladies who smelled the whiskey on his breath seven days a week as he staggered past their shop. Those days a man did what he pleased with his wife. People kept quiet.
And when that day came when he stumbled up drunk to the rooftop, past the locked gate and through the bolted door, and then managed to pitch head-first over the wall nearly as tall as he, well the people kept quiet about that too.
She left Edinburgh a widow.
This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw, a flash fiction prompt inspired by Google Maps. To read more flash fiction inspired by a tour of the location prompt or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:
If you’re wondering where I got the inspiration, click on the photo prompt and look down. This was one of those crazy discoveries on Google Street view. For more, visit
80 funny, creepy, strange, disturbing Google Street View Images
I must confess I had a hard time with this one. I was ready to dispense of the thing with a five-word unpublished story, but my dear husband was having none of that.
I gotta quit killing off my characters.
PS If the inlinks code isn’t working, try copying and pasting this:
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“These farm towns always have the best restaurants,” he’d said.
It had seemed like a refreshing break from the freeway. All she’d wanted back then was an open-face sandwich like her gran used to make. But so far, they hadn’t found so much as an open gas station. The gas gauge hung an eyelash over empty.
“Maybe we should ask for directions.”
His jaw thrust out. “I’m not lost.”
“No, I know you’re not. It’s just that—hey look, an antique shop.”
“Thought you were hungry,” he said.
She was hungry to see another living soul. “Just park,” she said.
As she walked up the quiet street, under the sagging awnings, to peer in the filthy window of the vacant shop, she started to realize: there was no one to ask. She turned around and noticed the film of dust layered on all the parked cars. “Does something seem wrong to you?”
This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw, a new weekly 150-word fiction prompt based on Google Maps. To read more or to submit your own, click the froggy button: