Since July 31, I have been eagerly participating in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, which is an international quest to create a short, meaningful piece of fiction within a 48-hour deadline, using an assigned genre, location, and object. The contest is broken into four individual challenges upon which participants are judged and scored to determine who remains in the competition.
For the first challenge, I was placed into Group 6 (out of 48 groups total) with 29 other writers. We had to write a historical fiction, set in an underground bunker, with a bag of coins as the needed object. My story was entitled "The Drill", and it received a decent 8 out of 15 points.
For my second challenge, still in Group 6, I had to create a comedy, set in a nature preserve, with iced coffee as the object. I titled this one "Nailed It", and to my absolute surprise, I received the top 15 out of 15 points (see my previous entry entitled "Nailed It").
At this point, the participants have been reduced from 1,440 writers to 240, and I'm happy to still be in the race! There are now only 8 groups of 30, and I've been re-assigned now to Group 7 for my third challenge which required me to write a Sci-fi, taking place in a convention center, with pumpkin pie as the object.
Now the dreaded waiting period looms before me to find out what I have scored and see if I will go on to the final challenge on November 20th, which will determine the winners (and yes, money is an incentive). NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge
So here's the product of my 3rd challenge...
In Just Days
I’m not really the stalker type, but this woman—this Patricia Ventura—has convinced me that she needs my unsolicited assistance if she’s going to survive. Since this hurricane of a woman joined our micropixel holographics team last month, it’s been nothing but tensely disharmonious. Oh sure, she’s pretty enough, despite her complexion, but her ethereal appearance has nothing to do with my quest to undo her.
Pursuing Patricia on the I-5 hoverway has already proven itself impossible as she lifts off every evening after work in her brand new, 2065 Cascade with hydrolift turbine suspension, while I’m slugging down the road in my converted, retro-classic Ford Galaxy Remix. But she’s a beauty all right—the Galaxy that is—never fails to turn a head or get an offer I must refuse because, of course, I’m a man of the New Triumvirate law. The old capitalist ways of the past are no longer a temptation for me, which is one of the primary issues I have against Ms. Ventura and her naive, but dangerous, idealism.
Last week while we were brain-pooling for the next InChip concept device, Patricia began preaching about the good old unified golden days of our great-grandparents. The days of One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for Some (emphasis mine). While we were busting braincells to figure out the best ways to obtain the scarce materials we needed, she kept insisting that we needed to tap into resources from the Northern and Southern Trifects because of their advanced extraction systems. When I insisted that our Western Trifect had more than sufficient resources, she shook her head as if she were some ancient sage. This led to yet another fruitless political debate in which Patricia refused again to admit that the New Triumvirate of 2055 was the best thing that could have happened to the archaic and dilapidated Land of the Free.
“Separation of race and lifestyle cannot be the answer,” she tried to convince me.
“But hate killing is?” I tapped my old-school pencil on the table just to agitate her.
“No.” She took my pencil from my hand and sketched a picture on my think pad. “This is the answer.”
Her drawing made no sense whatsoever, but it got my attention.
“A divided land cannot stand,” she added as she drifted out of the room.
Since that disruption last week, I’ve been pulling out my hair, trying to decode what her stupid sketch means. I even lowered myself last night to a partial hacking into her Racebook account, but all her posts were of meaningless verses and silly recipes.
Just as I was unhacking myself, she pinged into my holochip, which is alarming because I never gave her my access code. She just appeared right there in front of me…in full omni-color display. Her voice filled my room:
Hello Marco. If you’re not busy, I’d like you to meet me tomorrow night at the Terra del Oro Convention Center
for a chance to indulge in some international flavor. I’ll be there at 7:00 pm. You’ll need the entrance code,
which I obviously cannot reveal here, but you’ll find it encoded on the last infoscreen before you reach the Center.
Just flash your lumen ray at it and save it to your chip. See you there.
How pretentious is that? Assuming I’ll just show up to her cultic madness. The nerve, I think to myself as I tap over to the TPR channel for the evening debates and a good night’s sleep.
Pulling out of my bio-waste fuel port at home, I curse myself for giving in to Patricia’s invitation as I enter the hoverway. I usually pay little attention to the infoscreens as I pass by them, but tonight I am finding them more intriguing than usual. My dad calls them useless digital billboards that advertise nothing. I pass three of them before reaching the one that I’m supposed to decode. I shine my lumen across it and see the exact image that Patricia had sketched. I save it to my chip and turn in to the Terra del Oro parking carousel.
At the entrance door, I manifest my image code to the attendant and she lets me in with a friendly nod. The first thing I encounter is an ensemble of aromas encompassed by an enormous roomful of food booths. There in front of a booth with a Southern Trifect flag over it, I see Patricia. She’s glowing with enthusiasm as she extends her hand. I hesitantly extend mine, but she flings hers away from me and says, “Thought you could touch me, didn’t you?”
I wasn’t trying to touch you, but—“
“Go ahead. I dare you.”
Being a man who loves a dare, I did it. I touched her, but to my surprise, there was nothing to touch. “What are you? Some sort of—“
“I am a light shaper of the Holy Digital Trinity.”
“Here.” She manifests the image of her sketch. “Taste and see.”
Curious, I take a small bite of the morsel and feel every tastebud come to life.
“What is this?”
“Pay de Calabasa.”
“Pumpkin pie? Impossible. This tastes divine.”
“It is. We’ve blended Cajon and honey from the Southern Trifect, combined with maple flavors from the North, and pumpkin from our very own Western Terra del Oro.”
She gives me another piece and taps into my InChip device and says, “Here’s the recipe. You have to share it on your Racebook tonight…before it’s too late.”
“Too late for what?”
“In just days, the trifects are planning to destroy each other, but we’ve chosen you to regather the nation with this epicurean message that Justice cannot be created by a system of separation but must be manifested by love and appreciation for one other.
She lights up like the glow of a gas stove and dissipates into thin air.