Friday, January 18, 2013

Working for Peanuts-Flash Fiction

Another Flash Fiction challenge hosted by Chuck Wendig.  This story I had the following criteria: Alien abduction, Heist gone wrong, and Carnival Folk.  It came out not as well as I hoped but I hope you enjoy it.  Love it hate it or w/e any comments would be appreciated.

About six months ago Philip and his wife went to bed in their trailer and he woke up on a space ship. After hours of poking and prodding the aliens decided that Philip could leave if he would just do them one tiny favor. They wanted him to steal the magic peanuts that the Amazing Fabio of the No Muss, No Fuss Circus fed his tightrope walking elephant. To say that it didn't go exactly as planned would be a massive understatement. First, Philip's wife left him for his best friend, Bud. She wasn't going anywhere near an elephant and no freak, who thought he had been abducted by aliens, was going to make her. Besides Bud owned his doublewide. Then his 1984 Ford Ranger's fuel pump died and he had to shell out the cash for that. That meant he couldn't afford the rent on his trailer and his mom kicked him out.

He always seemed to miss the circus by a week. When he found the circus in Portland it was to discover that Fabio and Binky, the elephant, left to follow the east coast fair route.

He, finally, caught up to them in some po-dunk town in Amish country in the middle of September. Eyeing all the fair food Philip was glad that he was almost done. He only had five dollars left and the thought of another funnel cake made him vaguely nauseous.

Wandering the stalls as he tried to figure out where someone would put a tightrope walking elephant in the middle of town he felt this insistent urge to play the game to his right. Fat Albert was a game of pure chance. You put your money on a color and Albert's owner spins a color wheel that has poor Albert in the middle. Dizzy, Albert makes a break for on of the cups at the end of the wheel. It's not a game Philip usually played. It was far better to play a game of skill where at least you had a somewhat better chance of winning something.

Placing his quarter on lime green Philip listened to the people around him. "Are you going to the Green Dragon tonight," asked some lady that looked a bit like the Amish Philip saw on TV once.

"It's Wednesday, Green Dragon aint open," this coming from some older lady that was, like him, eavesdropping.

Leaning in front of the person she originally asked Amish Girl explained, "they set up a tent and there is to be a show there tonight and tomorrow night."

"Like the circus? That's just what we need more traffic," said some old geezer to Philip's left.

"How do you get to this Green Dragon," asked Philip.

Several dirty looks and mutters later he got about 20 sets of directions that would "take ya right thar."

Trading in the purple stuffed snake, the feathered roach-clip and laser key chain for a bigger prize, Philip swore he saw Albert wink at him as the booth operator handed him a stuffed Dumbo.

He missed Oklahoma where all the streets ran north to south and east to west. Here the roads ran every which way but the direction you really want to go. Thirty minutes and twenty seemingly wrong turns later he arrived at a huge several acre gravel lot with stands and buildings to his left. Pulling into the lot he noticed the huge red and yellow tent at the far end of the lot and that was it. He was expecting a trailer for the elephant and tent and the vehicle that towed it but they were not in evidence. Philip turned around and headed for the lot on the other side of the open-air market to park his sole possession. Immediately upon leaving his vehicle Philip's foot finds a hole and his ankle is sprained. Now limping, he slowly makes his way to the tent to see if he can figure out where the peanuts are and hopefully nab them before Fabio returns.

Upon entering the empty tent he fully the futility of his mission. Turning to leave the this whole sorry mess of a heist behind he felt a cold finger run down his spine and freeze him in place. Knowing that his captors weren't going to let him go back to Hooker, Oklahoma he prepared to be taken back up to the ship to dissect him.

When Philip woke up he was definitely on a space ship just not the one he was on previously. This one was a vibrant puce color where the other ship's exam room was a horrible chartreuse that reminded him of baby shit. Philip heard the swish of the automatic door and he tried to turn his head only to discover that it was firmly strapped down.

"My name is Murray the Magnificent I will be your interrogator."

Murray looked like a colorblind magician. His yellow top-hat and powder pink pants made his neon blue mustachio all the more glaring.

"Where are they," Murray the Magnificent bellowed right before he pressed the button that shot pure agony into Philip's body. "Do not give me that garbage, I know you stole them!" Another bellow followed with another jolt. This was an unpleasant reminder that these creatures could read minds. "I know you stole the peanuts for the Dormati, so tell me where you hid them."

Philip was sure that the first set of aliens called themselves the Bartums. He tried to project that to Murray and hoped that earned him a quicker death.

Murray broke into a fit of giggles that was more fitting for a bimbat then a burly gent in tails. "The Bartums are fools and obviously they chose a fool for their task. You are free to go."

Philip woke up in a park and seeing he had no money or wife he decided to join the fair folk to their next stop.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Voice

I've read a lot of writing advice over the last few years.   Most always say you have to find your writing voice.  This quite frankly was my major hang up.  Hell, it's still my major concern.  What is my voice?  Will people like my voice?  It hit me this morning:  I have a voice and I am not going to change it.  I  quite frankly couldn't even if I really wanted to.

The reality is this.  I found my story voice several years ago.  It just took me until today to embrace it.

Our ship (USS Laboon) pulled into Philadelphia for fleet week one year.  My LPO was supposed to write an article about it for the Navy's magazine.  I remember sitting in my space telling him about what I thought should go into the article and he told me to write it.  I wrote the hell out of that article.  I was very proud of this piece and quite frankly a little perturbed that I wasn't going to get credit when it got published.  I was there when he read it and, sadly, the only thing I took away from it was that I wrote the way I talked.  I took this as a very bad thing.   I am a loud and rapid talker who tends to babble.  I know this about me.

The thing it took me years to realize was this:  he had me write the story because I can tell a story and his comment on my writing style was not necessarily a criticism. 

What made me own my voice?  That's easy.  My mom.  She read my flash fiction piece (read it below) and said that I write the way I talk.  She also said she loved it.  For the last couple days I rationalized.  My mom would like anything I wrote.  She is cool like that.  But, she would tell me if something didn't jive.

I kept playing the "you write the way you talk" and that is awful game ever since.  I woke up today and realized that its my voice and I like it.

Thank you STG1, and sorry for inadvertently making you the demon in my head.

My writing voice: loud, rapid, babbling at times, MINE.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Flash fiction:Kaiju/Limbo/Mystery box

Dying For Redemption

"Well this sucks," I mutter while assessing the situation. The only way my family and I can get to Heaven is if I don't fuck this up...again. Sitting on the '70s era love seat in my grandparents' livingroom I am profoundly grateful that I am dry. Drowning has a way of dampening everything.

When I thought of Limbo, I always pictured it as a vast span of nothingness. Penryn, Pennsylvania was not what I had in mind but fit the bill nicely. While the rest of the country was over-run with "Godzilla" and his extended family, Penryn remained unaffected. I have to give it to God, I could not have chosen a better way for me to redeem myself if I tried. How was I to know that William Penn enchanted the village when he gave this windy hill to a bunch of farmers? That shit was not covered in the anniversary book.

"I'm going to tell you a secret, this country is fucked."

Confused I look over to the doorway that leads from the livingroom into kitchen at the man who when I last saw him was emancipated and finally at rest looking like the man he was before cancer ate him body and spirit, "Dad? What the hell are you doing here?"

"I have to kill a buck in archery season before I can go up. What are you doing here?"

"I got bored and kinda destroyed Penryn and got Grandma and Pappy killed. Apparently, when Mr. Penn came to the ribbon ceremony he buried a box to protect the town from Demons. I dug it up and promptly got everyone I loved killed. As I lay dying I prayed for forgiveness and was granted a chance at redemption. I now have to get the box back from Big Ugly and his cohorts and not open it. If I can get it back and hold onto it, without opening it, I can go up to Heaven with the rest of my family. Oh and FYI I don't think being drunk in Purgatory is going to get you off the job any faster."

Brushing off the booze comment Dad said,"Jesus Christ, Jen!." Taking another swig of Pappy's homebrew he adds, "What the hell is that?"

I swing a look behind me and see Desmonda and Earl, I think. It could be Trish. They look so much alike, you know, nineteen foot tall Geico Gecko's with glandular problems. They were ripping off the roof of the pig farm looking for piggies to munch on. "That would be trouble but, on the other hand, at least we wont be smelling pig shit while we are here."

" Where did they come from and how do we kill them?"

"Cloning gone wrong and God told me that I am not allowed to kill any of them. But Grandma killed Desmonda (that's the bluish one) with rat poison and if the greenish black one is Earl he died via trip wire and a mob. They are virtually bulletproof due to their very tough skin."

"Even if they could be killed with guns there isn't even a pea shooter in this God forsaken place." seeing me wince he added, "we probably shouldn't take the Lord's name in vain seeing He is the one going to eventually spring us from this place. And what in G-- is up with the names?"

"Well you know how they name storms so people take them more seriously, same concept. They named all the creatures so that we would understand that they are a huge threat. Apparently, we are too stupid to realize that huge lizards that eat everything are a danger."

"Like I said, fucked. I'm going to head to the garage and grab another bottle and head out to my tree stand to see if I can kill that twelve pointer today."

I could use some wine myself so I follow my dad out to the two car garage. Looking around I notice that the two windows on both sides are wide open. That is when it truly hit me that I was not dreaming and this was some sort of way-station/game show. What can I say, I'm slow on the uptake.

"Jen! Look!"

Wandering around Pap's truck to where my dad is, I look out the window to see the twelve pointer that as long as I can recall has been living in the woods behind this house. My dad grabs his crossbow and takes careful aim. "Excuse me."

Years of being taught to zip it in the presents of deer is the only reason that I didn't scream like a little bitch. "Shh! If you scare it away...," dad whispered.

I look over the hood of the truck to see who was trying to get our attention and nearly screamed despite the fact that it would make Bambi's dad bolt. There before me was the loveliest eyeball I have ever seen, a huge giant lizard eye ringed with eyelashes. I give it the one moment signal and mouth the same. I hear the twang of the bow letting loose its arrow and prayed my dad got his buck at last. "Woo, got the fucker! I cant wait to tell Bruce. Uh, Jen..."

"Everyone's dead except mom. Wal-mart refused to shut down for the Apocalypse and thankfully her store is built on an Indian burial plot so it was shielded from the creatures."

Dad nodded and went to go and clean his kill.

"Now, how may I help you," I said to the eyeball.

"I want that deer."

I look back though the window in time to see my dad being taken up to Heaven to boast of his kill.

"I'll trade you the deer for the box"

"Deal. Its at the bottom of the pool . I dropped it when I tried to pull you out."

As I headed to pool I realized that I am leaving this world like I left the last. Wet.

Chuck Wendig is hosting a flash fiction challenge.  He gave us 10 sub-genres, locations, and must includes.  I used and got Kaiju (think monster B movie), Limbo and a Mystery box.  Thank you Mr Wendig for hosting this challenge.  It is honestly the most fun I've had in ages.   Please check out his blog and the other flash fiction submissions at