16 January, 2013

January Shenanigans: An Experiment in Flash Fiction Part 3

Morocco Carp 50.6 lbs - 23kg - Save a 50
Image: Morocco Carp 50.6 lbs - 23kg - Save a 50, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from radcarper's Photostream

It's another part of the Experiment for Day 3. If you're lost with this one, make sure you read Part 1 and Part 2 for it to make sense. As always, suggestions and picture prompts help guide this story along.

   Dana walked into the living room. Russell’s client sat there, watching some golf match play out with commentary bathed in a false sense of eloquence. She seemed rather calm, not what struck Dana as frightening by any means.

    Was Russell freaked out over her height, being as tall as Dana was? While he was not easily intimidated, the sight of a lanky unfamiliar could put him for a loop. Dana pondered this thought. It was the only detail that stood out and the only one that made sense. Everything else about his customer seemed normal.

    “If it weren’t for these heads,” She said. “Golf could be a form of art.”

    Dana sat down with her on the couch, “Mowing grass? There’s nothing artsy about it!”
“But when viewed from the satellite pictures, oh my gosh! It’s just riveting! Like fishing, but top-down.”

    She went on rambling about her love of fishing. Sitting on a bench, overlooking a quiet lake, mediating with pole, string, and hook was a tangent reminding Dana of those General Hospital reruns.

    “There’s someone I know who’s like that,” She said. “Some culture activist.”

    The patron chuckled, “I’m not trying to make sport art. I just like fishing.”

    She took out a small photo album from her purse. She flipped through the pages of family and friends to get to a great achievement. She stood in the picture carrying what Dana thought was a large bass. Underneath the picture read, “Melissa Jo: 1st Place”.

    “That was just recently,” She explained. “I don’t go into these things to win, but here I am. The catch of the day was a challenge though.”

    Dana was intrigued by Melissa’s fishing story, a journey all the way down to the lake in the back roads. Then, “Bam! I found this pothole. Creepy finding that in the dark!”

    The golf game was on its eighteenth hole, the fluency of the commentators went from pompous to motivational. Melissa sighed.

    “There they go,” She said, putting away the album. “Ruining my fun…”

    “Jeez,” Dana grabbed the remote, flipping through the DVR guide. “Activist and not active!”

    Melissa let out a lengthy sigh, “I’m not advocating anything. It’s just-”

    The television was now on some auto program. One of Russell’s favorite shows about cars and computers. The bearded presenter went on about how to program Unix into the satnav. Melissa leaned forward, listening to every word and admiring the diagrams.      

    Dana was baffled by all this. Russell would have a field day with a fellow auto head, talking about car anatomy for hours on end. Melissa was a different story, speaking the art of the fairway or the imagery of fishhooks.

    “Russell should be more like this,” She said. “Gruff and formal. He’d be the clean businessman in a pit of oil. That is true art!”

15 January, 2013

January Shenanigans: Just Like Us

Marching Through Edinburgh Snow
Image: Marching Through Edinburgh Snow, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Martin Burns's Photostream

Day 2's Prompt is an excerpt of sorts from the WIP I've been working on since high school. Unlike then, I have a better idea of where it's going now and I hope to work on it further when I'm less occupied by studies.

     Paul found himself looking at the tiles on the ceiling. Of simple design, he admired the aesthetics of maroon on gray, sometimes being distracted by the rotors of the nearby ceiling fan. This was a familiar scene to him since, for the past couple days, his consciousness drifted in and out of reality. Regaining his vision, his first thought was, “What a boring waiting room this is!”

    Then something new crossed his vision; a face. His nearsightedness was not much help, blurring the facial senses into one peach blob. There was a lot of dark brown surrounding the blob. He squinted trying to make out who it was, but to no avail.

    The splotch retreated then returned. Paul could not make out the face this time, as the blurred mark became larger and larger. Then instead of being devoured by a pigment, he then saw a hand retreat from his vision. Instead of being grateful for this, Paul felt chills crawl up and down.

    “Looks like I failed the entrance exam,” He said, one lengthy sigh.

    The face, partly covered in freckles and a lab coat, rolled her eyes.

    “And why would you pass it,” She replied. “That was dumb! Running through the ice like that.”

    She retreated from the bed and looked over the contents of Paul’s tote bag. Most of it was paperwork; the scribbling’s of an investigation into Jed Paul’s propaganda network. The rest was a few Douglas Adams novels and an untouched copy of Dan Gillmor’s Mediactive.  She grinned, flipping through the files.

    “You journos are all info hogs,” She said. “You’re not gonna use half of this, you know.”

    “But I will,” He retorted, lifting himself from the pillow. “It’s all a trail to the bigger picture.”

     She turned around, “So then what? Throwing that junk into the public eye’s not gonna do much.”

“There’ll be an outcry!”

“An outcry over opposition maybe!”

    Paul stopped. He slowly became pale with cold sweats overwhelming him back onto the mattress.  He passed out from reality again and the woman stood at the bedside, giggling.

    “Why are you afraid of me?” She asked.

    She looked at Paul’s left arm, dangling down from the covers. The torn glove exposed the symbol tattooed into his hand; the dreaded BDL. She gently lifted his hand onto the bed.

    “Just like us then,” She thought. “Just like us.”

13 January, 2013

January Shenanigans: Teaching Trendy

Image: 42, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from tourist_on_earth's Photostream

Day 1 of January Shenanigans begins with some early practice for a Creative Nonfiction class that I'm taking this semester. It's something I mused on about before, but this piece was fun to put together, making it short, simple, and...well creative.

    “Know thyself,” A brother once told me. “Embrace yourself.”

    Those were the hardest things that I have ever done in my life. All the teachers from high school past were all, “Be hip and cool”. This gave the impression that life is a game about selling yourself as one would with Hollister sweatshirts. All to say that I was a cool magnet, sacrificing my love of science fiction for the sake of reputation at the price of $59.50.

    I didn’t enjoy this journey. I was being pulled into high school drama that I really had nothing to do with. If that’s what it takes to play with the cool kids, then why did they want me to make the effort in the first place?

    All my family and I ever wanted was for me to get my education then climb up the mountains of higher education. Of course, I did graduate with something and now I’m treading on that rocky pathway that many call university.

    That’s not the point. It all goes back to what my comrade said.

    “If you can’t do neither,” She said. “Then you’ll do jack squat the rest of your life.”

    And that was the problem, it was all about reputation back then. But what did it actually do? Hanging out at the cool table was not worthy for any resume, much less someone’s life.

    This I learned the hard way after I looked back at the place, in the cap and gown that would liberate me from unnecessary tasks. While there were the heroes, tutors and fellow students, there were the proctors prompting trends. One guy lashed out because I said something that everybody else agreed with.

    That’s when I learned the most important lesson. Not just about knowing and embracing myself, but the fact that reality is too big for trendy to work. That’s when I sighed, telling myself what a relief it was to finally stand on my own two feet.

    And because of that, I actually have friends now, not to mention an old sweater for sale. 

11 January, 2013

Flash Fiction: Waiting Game

Dalek Snow
Image: Dalek Snow, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Jeffery_2010's Photostream

While this photo prompt partly inspired this flash fiction, it really kicked into gear after reading a Charlie Brooker article where he talks about the future of toys. With Flash Fiction Project starting up the January Shenanigans challenge in a few days, I thought I'd get some early practice in.

           Andy and Mark spent the evening watching reports on the new Mickey Mouse doll; the battery powered dance machine that was a wish come true for some. Mark was baffled by its antics, “What’s it doin’? There’s no way it can do the Gangnam Style!”

    Andy looked down at his phone. His eyes narrowed at the screen, the loading bar teasing him just by being there. Even Mark’s dismay at the toy lineup did not scare him away.

    “Wow! They really went to town on these Easy Meals,” he said. The commercial went on about their new sauce grinder and Twinkie alternatives. Andy just mumbled at his phone.

    Then some more commercials came and went; valets for your snowmobile, a pop artist’s latest album, some chocolate candy, and so on. Mark, tired of being on the soapbox of consumerism, tried to look over Andy’s shoulder. His phone was still the center of attention even if the bar’s only 46 percent full.

    Unfortunately, Mark couldn’t read anything on the screen, battling the force of Andy’s shoulder.

    “What was that for,” He asked. “I was only trying to-”

    Andy shushed him and continued to stare at his mobile, now at the 60 percent mark. A daytime show was airing, the host sitting in his easy chair while a couple argued about commitments. Mark had no intention of listening to a cheating dilemma alone. He switched channels and proceeded to inundate his eyes with Peter Cushing and the sounds of alien invasion running through his ears.

    They remained at their separate screens for a long while, neither one saying a word. That silence was broken by Andy who clenched his fist in a moment of discovery and shouted enthusiastically.

    Mark turned around and out from his trance, “You’re finished with Ocean’s 11?”

    “Even better,” Andy said. “I’ve finished downloading The Men Who Stare at Goats! Now I can finally rest knowing that I can watch a George Clooney film without having to battle my way through road crossings, public transport, and lines to get to that precious Redbox.”

    Mark pointed to a console, “But isn’t that why I got you that Apple TV?”

    Andy placed his phone down on the coffee table and sighed heavily. In that struggle he forgot about Christmas and, more importantly, Christmas shopping. He wrote a list the following day and went out armed with gift cards for various department stores.

01 January, 2013

Flash Fiction: "Where's the Sausage?"

A new year brings more opportunities to write on. Here's to another good year in writing!

This piece was inspired by +Michael Mahemoff's G+ post about sandwiches and Yelp, which reminded me of situations close to home; at least fifteen minutes away.

     So I went into the store, hungry for some meats. Asked for a sausage grinder after realizing how much bite I would get from just one link. Now this is where things go crazy, he starts pouring sauce all over my bread. Then just closes the sandwich. Yeah, let that one sink in for a second. 
     "Where's the sausage?" I ask.

     The guy just stares at me, like I was in my Mitsubishi in the middle of the night. Deers, squirrels, and even bears've got nothin' on this guy. 

     "I thought you wanted a sauce grinder" He says, handing me my ruined sandwich.

     I explain to him that I wanted a sausage grinder, but he still translates my words as sauce grinder. How can something so simple go over his head, I have no idea. One thing was clear though, he forgot the sausages.

     I was not amused by this, but the higher-ups got someone else to make my sausage cravings complete. He just went to town and the finished product was a success in my book. Let's just say, I saved your store from a one-star disaster.

Final Score: 3/5