There are a few things we here at New Times have come to expect from the yearly 55 Fiction contest:
• The world is teeming with unrequited love, bashful loving gazes from across the classroom, pissed-off lovers who stab each other while cooking dinner, or the cotton-candy archetypal tales of we-met-in-high-school-and-now-we’re-getting-married-and-everything’s-magical.
• The state of Wisconsin has one struggling Hallmark gift-card writer for every one resident.
• Michael Chambers and Mickle T. Chombers are one in the same, and both are addicted to writing short stories.
• Many stories will be less fiction and more retellings of current events or rip offs of classic tales. Others will just be rehashed jokes or TV gags.
• A gripping war scene will always turn out to be a video game. And narrators in any given tale will usually reveal themselves to be a dog or cat or other unexpected animal. • And, as I’m known to do once the judges are finished—passed out surrounded by liquor bottles, pharmaceutical sedatives, and half-written suicide notes—I enjoy stealing away some of the entries that didn’t make the cut.
We’ve become convinced that grade-school teachers have made an assignment out of our little contest for their youngins. But some of the entries are so bizarrely quirky they’re either the work of small children or evil geniuses.
Yoshi by Erika Ramos
I’m going to write about “Yoshi.” Yoshi is a cartoon dinosaur. He comes out in a lot of Mario Games (electronics). He’s funny because he wears shoes. They also have Yoshi dolls. He’s a healthy dinosaur! But he’s not just a dinosaur he’s part turtle, lizard, and dinosaur.
I’m calling adorable. This was one example of what I like to call this-is-a-thing-and-let-me-tell-you-stuff-about-this-thing stories. Here’s another:
Pizza by Emily Perez
I like to eat pizza. Pizza is made of all different kinds of stuff. It has cheese on it. This is made of cheese. It’s made by the cow’s milk then they make it into cheese. Pizza is also made of pepperonis. Pepperoni is made by pig. Also has sauce on it. It’s made out of tomato tree.
Priceless. You may want to turn to the person next to you at the coffee shop and explain why you’re spewing laughter tears all over my column.
Some of the other cast-aside entries won my heart if only because they tapped into that cynical and morbid humor center in my left cockle (that’s somewhere near the right ventricle).
Going to a Ragger
(I think he meant “Rager”), by Max Luellwitz
“Tim, where are you? We’re gonna miss the party?” Mike said yelling into his phone.
“Dude, Mike, chill out. Walk to the end of your driveway. I’m almost there.”
Tim strolled out to the front of his driveway waiting for Mike. He then saw Mike’s car speeding up, swerving, and then hit Tim.
Is there a deep moral lesson buried in these words? Probably not. But it’s definitely worth a WTF chuckle.
Keeping Promise by Baxter Clare Trautman
The first time, spooning in the trench against the cold, they both feigned half-sleep. The second, they knew the other was awake. The third, Tom said, “Please. Let me.”
After the fourth, he promised, “I’ll never let you go.”
A hill away, the sniper fired, then smiled, pleased to get two with one bullet.
That’s got it all: Gays in the military, humans connecting on a deep level in a horrific situation, and a surprise ending. Suck on that M. Night Shyamalan!
There are more in my pile of favorite runners-up, but I’m running out of room and I need to slip in some real-world shredding.
Our guy, Staff Writer Robert A. McDonald, wanted to make SLO’s Financial Sustainability Task Force more public. The group is made up of very non-public “stakeholders,” more than half of whom don’t live in the city. The city’s answer to McDonald’s request to cover every meeting: “No thanks. We want people to feel ‘open and honest.’” So this open-and-honest group can only act as such if they’re allowed to be sequestered behind big, wooden conference-room doors. I think we may have a semantic disagreement on our hands.
First Solar had some crews working out in the Carrizo Plains to set up some test arrays for their as-yet-unapproved solar project. A few locals stopped by, spotted the crews, and snapped a few photos.
One of the crew members, according to these rabble-rouser locals, approached and told them to shove off and stop taking pictures because it was “proprietary technology.” I asked the news crew here to do some follow up. From what they’ve gathered, it sounds as though First Solar was performing some sort of vegetation testing. The County Planning Department was investigating to make sure the company isn’t getting an early jump. Regardless, this guy told these locals to stop taking pictures from a public road. Well, dummies, then don’t display your proprietary technology in full public view. You don’t see the Area 51 conspirators trucking a UFO down the Las Vegas strip and telling everyone to look the other way. I guess that’s where they got the “What happens in Vegas” motto.
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