Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds does a flash fiction challenge for every friday. I’ve attempted several, have finished few.
For those who are interested, here’s the deal this week. In 1000 words we were to pick a title (from a list of randomly generated titles) and write a story. Here’s the title I chose and where my writing took me.
The Apocalypse Ticket
by Nicole Sharp
I’ve got this. I’m going to win. I’m going to win.
The thought sing songs through my mind and I try to hold back the smile. But my insides expand and I’m pretty sure everyone who is standing near me can see it. They all make room for my expanded certainty. I don’t really care because I’m going to win.
I’ve got this.
“The winner, for the most creative usage of salvage is…”
The pause was agonizing, I looked down and soothed the gray rags over my hungry stomach and tried to hide my smile. Here it comes.
“Dana White.” The name echoed against concrete and creations and community. The wild idiots who stood in the back of the crowd tilted their heads up and began to bark and hoot and howl.
“Fuck you Dana!” I screamed into the noise.
My rage was lost in the noise of Dana’s moment so I tore into my diaphragm and raised my howl of anger and disgust once again, “FUUUCCCKKK YOOOUUUUU DANA!”
Sissy elbowed me in the ribs to shut me up but missed and the breath was kicked out of my kidneys. I bent toward her and my anger dribbled to an end in the dirt at my feet. Spittle changed the color and texture and I thought if I bent over and began to play with the dirt they might as well put me in the back with the wild idiots who ran about in the forests, living in caves and eating whatever beasties and weeds they found.
I’ll stay here where tepid showers reign. And of course what would I do without my books. And my pen. And the ink. And my precious paper and my Monty Python record. Even if it all did fit in a backpack that I could take with me anywhere, I’ll stay for the lukewarm showers.
“Fuck you sissy.” I muttered when I found the ability to stand once again.
“You were never going to win.” She hissed.
“I was definitely going to win.” I hissed back.
Somewhere along the way we’d become snakes, hissing at each other, hushing each other, cussing each other with our sounds.
“You have to work in order to even be entered. You have to create.” Sissy watched with her arms crossed as Dana took the stage. “It’s because she was sleeping with that ugly guard.”
“No, the goddess who put us all in this miserable place to begin with. Yes Dana.”
I looked at the stage, Dana had finally made her way to the steps where the ugly guard had taken her hand and was leading her to the place where the announcer was patiently waiting. Dana didn’t even look at the man, didn’t give notice to the fact that he was holding her hand. Once she was on stage and the announcer waved her forward she left the ugly guard and his hand in the background, a stepping stone to her moment of fame.
“Uck,” I shivered, “how could she even manage that smelly thing.” I wondered.
Sissy shrugged, “if you close your eyes…”
“If you close your eyes you can still smell.” I amended for Sissy whose answer to most problems was to close her eyes.
Dana pushed the announcer away and began to thank a litany of people in her high-pitched voice that cracked with awkward tweets and snorts of laughter. She thought she was as funny as she was drab. Not to mention untalented. She was not talented at all.
I was talented. If I could work, I’d be talented.
Dana won the last award, and with nothing left to win and only her crackling voice to stay for, the gathering was just a giant group of losers now who would rather not stand around and be reminded.
“I’m going to win next time.” I said.
Sissy grunted as we began to walk back to our hut.
“You have to work in order to win.”
“Nah…well…nah.” Fuck work. Where was it getting anyone really? All we did was clean up crap and try to build something from it, only problem was that no one really knew how to build. Not the structures that came before the Great War. Hell, no one knew how to build buildings that came after the Great War or after the first ending.
“Sissy, if you could go back and do it all over again,” I began.
“We can’t go back. Stop it.”
“If you could go back, wouldn’t you do something different? I mean, whose idea was it?”
Sissy walked faster in answer.
We’d been declared sisters fifteen years ago, when we all crawled out of the sewers we’d been ‘saved’ in and someone declared themselves the leader, the goddess and then declared that we were going to rebuild again and make a great world where the sins from our past would be learned from. And because we were both without families we were paired up. It was a strange pairing event that took almost a year. Single men with single women. Painters with sculptors. Writers with sketchers. Those of us who were young were paired up in a bizarre doppelgänger sort of way, who we most looked like. Thus, at the ripe age of fifteen and seventeen, Sissy and I were paired.
She fell in love once and moved out and lived happily or about six years until her husband died from a flu. Then she moved back with me because I hadn’t found a mate yet and there was a family that needed her hut.
I know it was worthless, but I still wish it could have been different. If I had been one of those assholes in charge of saving our worthless race, I would have put a few laborers in the mix. A roofer, a gardener, a plumber. Just one damn workforce from one damned Home Depot. But the Great War killed most NASA engineers and some of the great scientific minds of our generation. The first ending was another nightmare that not too many can talk about, even after all this time. Then, when the first apocalypse was inevitable, some idiot decided that artists would pave the way. Artistic minds would build a new world where war and hatred and anger would not rue the day.
Which is bullshit because fuck you, Dana.
I was an idiot child who had written a book and begged my parents to help me get it published and it was and it was great and instead of winning some stupid award my book came with a ticket to try to survive the apocalypse.
I just wish we had a handyman. I wish there was more on the horizon than mud huts and hippy carrots and lame contests that rewarded workers because the goddess was trying to lead with kindness, compassion and gold stars.
I wish there was more than a population that could conceptualize, theorize and sketch out a future of greatness.
“Com’on Sissy, the stark contrast of our art to our limitations…”