Flash Fiction Challenge: New World

boston harbor sunset copyright ksbrooks 1997
Boston harbor sunset
copyright K.S. Brooks 1997

It was a long journey. Truly, it took much longer than Sergio Cortinez could have ever guessed. His ship, the Nuestra Senora, left Spain on May 4, 1497.

On May 4, 1997, the unscathed Nuestra Senora emerged from a squall just thirty miles away from Boston harbor…

In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: New World”

  1. I watched the plane as it took off from Logan. The sun was beginning to fill the sky with umber light as the day wound down into night. Here, out in the harbor, the city seemed so different. Lying in shadow, the age could not be seen. Sadly this would be my last view of my home. No longer would I hear the T as it roared behind my home in Southy, no more would I smell the Fenway Franks on a Saturday afternoon.

    On this last day of my old life I would watch as the city faded from view, the curve of the world taking her away from me. Why, oh why, did I agree to this? Why did I tell him I would go with him? Sail away from my home to his? Why did I not look into this handsome young man and learn who he truly was?

    There goes the sun and soon I will see my home no more. I watch till the skyline disappears, then the sky and now the ocean. Why, oh why, did I agree to become the wife to a man who sails forever more on seas that no longer exist?

  2. From the High Seas

    Namid hadn’t worn the dress uniform in decades. The green velvet still crisp, the braided aiguillette glinted in the dim light of her captain’s quarters. Today, she would formally take the helm for the first time since they’d gone tragically off course. And it would be the last.

    She wondered if anyone remembered her, perhaps a descendant who’d heard of her, of her exploits.

    Adjusting the topcoat, she steeled herself to be grateful if she could at least locate someone with the family’s sweet pemmican recipe.

    She strode onto the bridge, saluted her crew. They had borne the long voyage, pulled together when home seemed impossible.

    “You’ve been my only family for over four decades,” she said. Their eyes gleamed. “So it is with great sincerity that I tell you: if I live to be two hundred”—she paused—”I never want to see any of your ugly mugs again.”

    They guffawed, understood, then stilled again as the ship drew into the harbor. Firstmate Albano squinted at the viewport. “Is that the city?”

    “Can’t be.”

    “Those stunted things are buildings?”

    “Where are we?”

    Namid stared as a flying craft buzzed over the skyline like a mechanical dragonfly.

    A grim silence.

    She turned to Helmsman Remy. “Take us down. Water approach.” To avoid a panic from the inhabitants—who were certainly not ready to see a Sky Fleet vessel.

    “It’s home,” she insisted.

    Somewhere in that city was an ancestor who could make sweet pemmican, and Namid intended to find her.

  3. Along the dock the Bean Town hobos gawked at the relic as it prepared to dock in an open berth. The sun set in a purple tinged sky.
    On board the sailors eyed land suspiciously. The witch doctor had fed them and they’d smoked a pipe of brotherhood. The hallucinations had taken them off course. This vista held strange buildings and moving vehicles without horses. Were they over the effects of the smoke? Were the odd beings walking toward their ship real or imagined?
    “Captain, do ye think it’s safe? The first mate eyed the hulking skyscrapers.
    “Swann, this should be the New World. We will exercise caution.”
    Before they could walk ten steps an old man blocked their path.
    “Pay a small price, brothers, and live to see the morning light. Pay for your immortality.”
    The first mate growled and pushed the beggar aside.
    “We’ll have none of your threats, wretch,” he scolded. “Out of our way, or I’ll run you through.”
    “Enjoy your final night,” the panhandler warned. “Tomorrow you will be a bone too dry to tempt a starving dog.”
    They moved to the end of the dock, marveling at a silver room on wheels that cooked food they had never tasted before.
    The rowdy crew enjoyed a shore leave like no other, and returned as the first hints of dawn shot past the horizon. Later that morning the petrified skeletons of nineteen men lay scattered helter-skelter as the witch doctor smoked on the dock.

  4. “Oh God! I’m in love!”

    That’s what I said the moment I saw that gregarious, eight-week old, black and white bundle of fur. Two weeks we played and cuddled, my forelegs wrapped around her. We rested often, not that I minded, but it worried me that she tired so quickly.

    When she disappeared I thought I would die. I couldn’t eat or sleep. At night I did what my ancestors did, I bayed at the moon, “Wakatanka, Great Father, there’ll never be another. Bring her back or take me to her! Arooooooouh!”

    Bear reappeared, with nasty looking stitches across her shaved chest. “Let me sniff. Let me smell.” I jumped up on mom. “Oh my poor sweetheart, what happened?” I jumped again. Mom gave the sit, stay command. “Let me take care of her,” I whined breaking command.

    “SOLO! SIT! STAY!”

    I obeyed.

    “Bear’s okay, she had open-heart surgery,” mom said pointing to the incision, letting me sniff. “It’s up to you to take care of her. Don’t tear the stitches.”

    I was a good boy.

    Five years later I fought an intruder to its death. An undetected blood clot from that fight ended my life. Bear never left my side. I nuzzled her goodbye, “I’ll always love you,” then boarded the Rainbow Bridge Plane.

    Eight-years later Bear boarded the same plane. I Snoopy-danced as she loped across The Bridge to me.

    Some call it a New World, but to me it’s heaven.

    Oh, God, I love my Bear-Baby..

  5. “La Nuestra Señora”
    by Michael Seese
    250 words

    “El Diablo toma su tiempo.”

    “The Devil takes his time.”

    As if the mystery of La Nuestra Señora could get any stranger. What did the last entry in the captain’s log mean?

    She appeared one morning, unassumingly and absent the clap of thunder or bolt of lightning which heralds these phenomena, at least in the movies.

    She sailed serenely to dock 6 and dropped anchor. The harbor patrol boarded. She was empty.

    I was called because of my research into the disappearance of La Nuestra Señora, which set sail for the New World on May 4, 1497, never to be heard from again. Her mission? A word not yet introduced into the Spanish language.


    My interest in the ship stemmed from the fact that her captain, Sergio Cortinez, was my great-great-great…well…a distant, yet direct, ancestor.

    No sooner had I read the confounding passage when I heard the clap of thunder. I found myself surrounded by an ethereal crew. Standing before me was Captain Cortinez. He pointed to the book. To the words.

    “Yes. ‘El Diablo toma su tiempo.’ I saw that. What does it mean?”

    He placed a bony finger on what I initially assumed to be a smudge. It was, in fact, a word. Actually, a single letter.


    I said it aloud. “El Diablo toma su a tiempo.” “The Devil takes his in time.”

    He nodded as La Nuestra Señora eased away from the dock, her newest crew member impressed, apparently, to atone for a five-century-old sin.

  6. The maps, the charts, all wrong, Sergio scattered them to the floor. “What devilry is this?” he said. “I followed the charts meticulously.” A low flying plane rumbled the overhead. The captain’s cabin shook in the aftershock.

    Claudio Alvarez, the first mate, picked up the papers at his feet. “Maybe these charts are wrong,” he said. “I saw myself that the star charts do not match the constellations we should see in the sky.”

    “Estephan!” The rage blossomed in Sergio’s eyes. “These were his maps. They were links to the new world he claimed.” He leaned out the window with a telescope in hand. “We touch land on the ‘morrow.”


    Deep fog rose from the ocean and flowed over the land. Their shuttle boats remained hidden as men rowed advanced parties to shore. Sergio led a group of men and Claudio had a group of his own.

    Few people walked the docks and roadway in the early morning hours. The ones unlucky enough to be out and about were met with sword and knife. Pistols were saved as a last resort. They claimed the small port with out a fuss.
    They claimed the port but could not hold it. Helicopters dropped SWAT officers with training and modern weapons. Sergio’s men were outmatched and out maneuvered.

    A news report later that day showed Sergio in his pirate garb, still screaming one word, “ESTAPHAN!”

  7. Sergio Cortinez gripped the steering wheel of the Nuestra Senora with a white-fingered grip. He cast a nervous glance at the dark clouds behind them, wondering if the ship could handle another such storm. Around him, the crew hurried to unfurl sail with unusual silence.

    Off to the west, the sky turned crimson with the setting sun. But just as Sergio though things were settling a huge gray bird roared overhead. The gray beast flew in a straight line, not even flapping its wings. Curses erupted around the ship and even non-believers crossed themselves. Only his passenger seemed unconcerned. The strange gentleman checked his pocket watch as he leaned on the railing.

    “Kindly follow the flying machine, Captain Cortinez.”

    “That’s a machine? Where in heaven’s name did you send us?”

    “Fear not, Captain. Boston harbor is due west a few miles away.”

    “When you hired me for this voyage, you said we were going to America. You never said anything about going back in time to 1497 Spain.”

    “I needed to exchange some items for currency of that period.”

    “And how this that supposed to get us gold?”

    “Captain Cortinez, We will enter Boston in the year 1997. The money I acquired in 1497 is very valuable. I can sell it and purchase gold or other items of interest.”

    “Fine, but that machine of yours better get us back to 1895 alive.”

    “I promised you gold and adventure, Captain. I will deliver both.”

    “I hope so, Mr. Wells.”

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