101-word flashes by CityBeat staff
Inspired by your fiction submissions, we offer up our own.CityBeat’s editorial team spent hours upon hours judging the nearly 300 submissions to our annual Fiction 101 contest. It left us exhausted. It left us frustrated with one another’s tastes. But some of us also left the session inspired to craft out own 101-word fiction flashes.
We played by the same rules: 101 words, not including the title and no cheating the word count by hyphenating. No topic was taboo, so perhaps it's revealing that several us wrote about drugs, meat and robots.
Now it’s your turn to judge us; would our submissions have made it to the final round?
He and her
She was a Fantastic Fleet, No. 7220. He was an old Worker Bee, No. 179. They met at the local robot-only club. He bought her a Greasebomb. She accepted. By date three, it was love. She had always dreamed of sharing her charging cradle with someone strong. He had always known he’d held off on settling down for a reason. The night he moved in, they broke down in despair when he laid himself down and found that, sometime after series No. 211, they had switched the negative receptors from top to bottom. Sleeping next to her would be impossible.
The Way It Oughta Be
Say you haven’t seen the ice cream van? Well you ain’t trying hard enough, then. He’s always around, playing that jingle-jangle tune of his. Doesn’t go knocking on doors, but, shit, who does?
It’s like a chase, see: He’s the cat and we’re the dogs. Dig?
Hang with me, we’ll catch him together. The others think we’re slow, but they’re wrong. We’re fast and we’ll catch him and I think you’ll like his The-Way-It-Oughta-Be bars. Those are my favorite.
That-Night-in-the-Park cones are pretty good, too—fruity, but good.
What else does he sell? Well, there’s Sleeping-in-Together pie, Second-Chances-on-a-stick, The-Great-Hug—
Wait. Hear that? Run!
You’re not the kind of woman who “causes a scene” at a party and then calls her ex-girlfriend seven times in a row from a taxi like this.
The driver clears his throat and you realize that the worst moment of your life has an audience. You want to tell him to strike that last voicemail from the record: You don’t miss that whore and YOU DON’T CARE WHO SHE KISSES AT MIDNIGHT.
You want to say that but you don’t.
Instead, you close your phone and tell him to turn the cab around. You still have twelve minutes.
I was mopping the energy-drink coolers at Dirty Dan’s Jackpot Gas Stop when Prospector Pete, our fortune-teller machine, was kidnapped. The Reno stations aired grainy CCTV footage of the getaway: With his glass case upright in the truck bed, Pete looked like the Pope. We sold a hundred “Pete was here” commemorative slushy cups at the candlelight vigil. Years later, Interpol intercepted Pete on a Balkan auction website, where he was advertised as “Amerikan Pjetr ***FATLUM ROBOT!!!!!!” He's back home, sucking his corncob pipe like nothing happened. He still tells fortunes for a dollar, just now they’re in Albanian.
Busted in 1989
For months, Duff and I had pirated cassettes to pay for meth. Then the dude distributing our bootlegs disappeared from the flea market and we became too paranoid to leave the apartment.
When the crystal ran out, we started smoking tapes. Duff named our new drug “Weird Al” because the unraveled ribbons looked like Yankovic’s Jheri curl on the cover of Even Worse. We smoked that album first.
FBI copyright enforcers kicked in the door. A heartbeat later, Narcs crashed through the window. “Busted,” Duff wheezed like a broken accordion. I would've laughed, but my lips were fused with Weird Al.
Five days before the election, polls showed Fred Snodgrass well ahead of challenger Shelly Zuniga. So well ahead, Fred’s campaign manager, Bill, knocked off early to join the Young Americans for Liberty at the corner bar. Fred sat alone in his campaign office. I don’t want this, he thought. Smiling all the time, watching his language, taking a drug test when Zuniga accused him of being “a stoner.” If only she knew. Fred leaned back in his chair, opened a jar of rubber cement and took a long whiff. Ah, he thought. Maybe this job won’t be so bad after all.
To the point
When she was 23, Stacy developed a bad habit. Whenever she got mad—at her boyfriend, parents, life—she’d drag a thumbtack down the inside of her arm. The feel of skin tearing under the pin made her problems seem less significant. But then she had to hide the mess. Winter, easy. But when the heat index hit 90, long sleeves weren’t an option. So she started to make up stories: a cat, the car door, a loose wire on her spiral notebook. When she got to “I’m taking up knife juggling as a hobby,” her friends knew she was lying.
Mogadishu in San Diego