Flash Fiction Friday : Long Distance

This is not the easiest task.  It’s another of Chuck Wendig‘s subgenre mash-ups and, thanks to my friend picking numbers 5 and 18, I was faced with “Paranormal Romance” and “Kaiju”.  I thought I might substitute number 17 “Alternate WWII History” but after reading that Kaiju was basically about monsters attacking Japanese cities Godzilla-style, I embarked on this one.  It ended up as a combination of the three.

I apologise to anyone whose sensibilities are offended by this tale.  It’s probably YA plus.

Long Distance

Peggy transcribed the Morse code that echoed through her headphones.  Signals to be decoded, ditting and dahing through the ether.  Most of the girls had no idea what they said, where they were coming from or going to.  Peggy kept her knowledge to herself.  It was top secret, their job, and it had been impressed upon them that it should remain so.  It was not their duty to interpret the codes, only to transcribe them.  Peggy made sure nobody knew she could understand them as easily as if they were being read to her.  She had asked to be transferred to Bletchley on a couple of occasions.  The second time she’d been given an aptitude test.  It was abstract, made no sense.  She failed.

Her most difficult task was to keep her knowledge from Dean.

~

On the flight deck of USS Acceptable, Dean was checking out his plane with the engineer.  There were only a few holes in the wing and tail fin where he’d got too close to the Zero.  Sometimes he felt it was wise to be a little vulnerable.  His extended senses made sure the holes were precisely where they could be easily patched, with no reduction in his craft’s performance.  He went down to the briefing room, then back to his cot for a lie down.

Hi, honey, he thought.

Hi yourself, fly-boy.  Is that the right phrase?  came Peggy’s English-accented thoughts.  How is it beside the sea today?

Bumpy, sweaty and noisy, as always.

I can do bumpy and sweaty, but I’ll keep the noise down if you don’t mind, she teased.

He chuckled, and ran his hand along her smooth arm.

Do you mind, I’m still in the canteen!

When can you go somewhere private?

I’m doing some extra hours tonight.  We’re got a lot of signals coming through, and some of the girls aren’t well.

I heard something odd from the other side.

Is it something we should know about?

No, that’s why I listened.  There’s a rumour of some gigantic beast attacking some city or other.

Oh.  Peggy wasn’t sure what to do.  She controlled her thoughts by thinking of Dean’s muscled chest.

You think it’s true?  Dean was surprised.

Why do you say that?

You blocked me.

Dean… I’ve signed the Official Secrets Act.

OK, honey, I understand.  National Security and all that, even though we’re on the same side.

It’s not just that.  You know I wanted to transfer so I could decode the damn things and they wouldn’t let me.  I feel so helpless.  I’m not doing all I can for the war effort, and it’s making me so unhappy.  She stroked Dean’s pecs and moved over to his biceps.

Mmm, thanks.  Shall I find out more?  He said, referring to the mystery of the beast.

Um, yes, I think so, well…  How can we get the top people to take it seriously?

Let me think about it.  What time will you be free?

About midnight, I think.

OK, I’ll talk then.  Over and out.

~

Lieutenant Aki-hito was doing his best to understand his superior officer. He always had difficulty when he was saying one thing and thinking something else.  It was plain that the threat from the beast was growing.  It appeared to be heading for Hiroshima, a city of hundreds of thousands of people, and an important manufactory for the war engine.  Yet his superior just wanted him to fly out to sea as usual.  Surely they should be working to bring the beast down, to save the city?

Aki-hito thought carefully before he contacted his teacher.  It would do him no good to imply any fault with the Japanese chain of command.  But what should be done about this monstrous beast?  After a satisfying conversation with his teacher, they formed a plan.

He thought again of the plane he had fought the day before.  How had he escaped?  Aki-hito had made sure that the aim was good.  He had directed it straight at the pilot’s cabin, and yet, he had felt the power of someone else, someone deflecting the ammunition into the safest parts of the plane.  Who was that person?  Was he an enemy?

Up in the air once again, Aki-hito headed east.  He had his mission, but he also had his own assignment, to make contact with the American flyer.

~

In the early hours of the morning, Peggy roused.

Good, a strange voice echoed in her head.

Who are you and what are you doing in my head?  It was a reasonable response, all things considered.

Let’s just say that I’m superior to the people that turned you down for Bletchley Park, he thought.  Does that give me sufficient standing for you to answer me honestly?

Maybe, Peggy responded.

The visitor chuckled. That will do. We believe that we have intelligence of a problem attacking the Japanese coast and heading in to their major cities.

Yes, you should have, Peggy conceded.

Do you know the nature of the problem?

Well, maybe.  Do you?

There are some people who refuse to believe what the decoded messages say.

They say it’s a gigantic beast.

Thank you.  That is what I thought.  I believe you are most reliable.

It sounds like millions of people are in danger, Peggy added.

Well, that is the nature of war.

It’s not… ours, is it?

No, it’s not.  But we believe there are others.  They are a threat to us all.  All mankind.

Peggy’s fear drew a sharp response from the visitor.  Don’t do that!  You must stay calm, we need you.

What do you want me to do?

Who else do you know that can talk like this?

Why?

I need to find two or three people who can fly planes.  We have a plan, but we need these people.

I know one.  Peggy’s heart sank, wondering if she should expose Dean in this way.  Let me ask him if he will let me put you in touch.  How do I contact you?

Think of Big Ben.  I will watch for that image.

From him too?

Yes.

All right then.

The visitor withdrew, leaving Peggy uneasy.  Having a stranger say hello inside your head was an invasion of privacy.  She didn’t feel like that with Dean.  She remembered the first time they’d made contact.

Peggy! Not now!

I need to talk to you.  She hadn’t meant to attract his attention, but since she had, she might as well make the most of it.

I’ll get back as soon as I can.

~

Peggy was walking from the canteen across to D Block, where she worked, when Dean arrived back.

Hi, doll, how are you doing? Is it morning yet?

Yes, I’m just going on shift.  But I need to tell you about someone who wants to talk to you.

Huh?

He’s another Thinker.  He sounds important.  He wants to talk to you about something he described as a gigantic beast.

What….  that’s weird.

Why?

Well, I was talking to someone else.  The Japs are definitely being attacked.

I’m sure this person is senior in Intelligence or the government.  At the War Department anyway.  He wants to find people like us that can fly planes.  I told him I knew one.  If you want to contact him, just imagine a picture of Big Ben – you know, the clock tower next to our Houses of Parliament.  You have seen a picture of that, haven’t you?

Er, maybe.  This?  Dean imaged a reasonable picture of Big Ben to her, and Peggy corrected the details.

That’ll do, I’m sure.

OK.  Did he say how many flyers he needs?

Two or three, I think he said. People like us who can fly planes.  I only know you.

I know one other.  Dean tried not to let her know he was a Jap.

~

The War Departments and their Propaganda Offices worked hard to keep the truth from the world.  When it was all over, Peggy was permanently assigned to special duties at MI5.  Dean and Aki-hito never returned from their missions to destroy the beasts in Buenos Aires and Bombay.  The world simply knew that the war ended soon after the Americans nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

(c) J M Pett 2013

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Friday : Long Distance

Comments are closed.