Summer Road Trip!- a Flash Non-Fiction Contest from Christopher Gronlund

Remember those summer family road trips you took as a kid? (Or maybe you wish you could forget?) Either way, check out what author Christopher Gronlund has planned. Yep, you got that right, he’s offering you a chance to have your summer road trip tale published in the re-release of his (soon to be) cult classic Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors! So give it a shot- you might have your car-bound (mis)adventure story published in Gronlund’s book this summer. Plus one talented writer will win a Kindle!

In the odd circumstance you haven’t already read Gronlund’s road trip novel, and are unsure about potentially adding your name and talent to this project, here’s my unbiased, hard-hitting review of the tale. Now do you want to join the fun? Of course! So write to relive the good times, or write to purge the demons. But remember the twist: write your tale as non-fiction.

Keep it no more than 750 words.

Finish and send it to Gronlund at

hcwwpd@gmail.com

by May 31, 2012.

Wait- a Flash Fiction Tale

Ruby dreams of her man, her phone nested under her cheek. An empty pizza box lies on the floor, along with a half-empty 2-liter bottle of cola. Next to her on the bed is her open diary:

Saturday, Feb. 16.

Today is make or break me. I gave Blackie the ultimatum seven days ago. It broke my heart but I had to do it. Sometimes you gotta be a strong woman for your man. I know he’s been busy, but I know he won’t forget. I’m not gonna call and remind him.

I know he loves me.

I know he’ll call.

By midnight tonight.

He’ll pop the question.

Ruby’s phone buzzes, and she snaps awake. She looks at the display. B. Moore. 6:42. Sunday morning.

“Blackie?”

“Hey, Rue.”

“You remembered. I knew you’d call.”

“Huh?”

“You remembered what I said last week. About us. Our relationship.”

“Uh . . ”

“Are you drunk?”

“No. Just a little shook up. I hit a deer on the road.”

“Oh, no! Blackie, I’m sorry. Are you alright?”

“Yeah, it’s just that I hit the guardrail to miss the deer. Bent it.”

“Did you hit the deer or miss it?”

“Ah . . missed it. Barely. But the rail is all banged up.  If the cops find out I did it, they’ll send me back to jail.”

“For hittin’ a guardrail?”

“For drivin’ on a suspended license. Just like I’m doin’ now.” Blackie chuckles. “I’m finally leavin’ this shit town. Leavin’ this whole shit state! I’m on my way to Califor-ni-a.”

“So you’re tellin’ me . . what? Good-bye? After four years you can’t even say good-bye to my face?”

“No. I’m callin’ to ask you to come with me. I didn’t call you right away ‘cause I didn’t wanna wake you. And I had to leave my house because I know the cops will be lookin’ for me. But I can swing by and pick you up. We can drive to Cali, even all the way up to Oregon, like you said you wanted. Get a place, a couple dogs, just like you want. Even make it official, or whatever.”

“You mean get married?”

“Whatever. I just need you to help me out.”

“You know I’ll do anything for you. I love you.”

“Can’t pick you up at your place- too near Dunkin Donuts. Cops’ll see me. But I can circle ‘round and get you. Just wait for me at the side of the road next to the Passaic. That’s where I hit the deer. You’ll see the bent rail. Wait there.”

“So you hit the deer?”

“Yeah. I mean no. I don’t remember, I was too damn drunk! But it wasn’t my fault. The guy just jumped outta nowhere!”

“Blackie . . ”

“Look, if you wanna come with me, just wait at the rail. If you don’t wanna come, fine. But you gotta help me out, Rue. Think about this- I’m doin’ this for you. For us. Gotta go. I’ll pick you up ASAP.”

—–

Ruby slowly paces along the guardrails of the Passaic. Now and then she leans forward against the bent rail and peers through the trees and down into the river. Her swollen belly rests on top of the rail, and her jeans wipe dark residue from the front. After a few hours, the sun is hot, and she slips off her jacket. The light filters through the trees and illuminates the river bank. She squints at a white and brown shape laying half out of the water. A fly lands on her nose, and she waves it away. A couple more flies buzz her ears, and she looks back down at the bank. A buzz again, this time in the distance. Tiny black dots dance in the air above the water. After an hour, a cloud of black dots buzz and hum. Trembling, she pulls her diary out of her purse. Tears stream down her face. She vomits and faints, toppling over the rail.

Ruby dreams. She walks hand-in-hand with her man down a long corridor leading to an altar. Facing him, she brushes his hair from his eyes. “The Passaic floods every year,” Blackie whispers. “Maybe this year it’ll flood early.”

Ruby pats her belly. “Are we married now?” she whispers.

He kisses her. “Wait for the flood, Rue.”

Ruby’s water breaks. She wakes.

—–

“What’s your name?”

“Ruby Moore.”

“Your driver’s license says ‘Ruby Teller.’ ”

“ ‘Teller’s my maiden name. My married name’s ‘Moore.’ ”

The officer pulls a sheet from his folder and puts it on the table in front of Ruby.

“Do you know what this is?”

She silently reads:

Sunday, Feb. 17.

Shook up.

The cops’ll see me.

Along the side of the road next to the Passaic River.

I don’t remember.

I was too damn drunk.

But it wasn’t my fault.

The guy just jumped outta nowhere.

“It’s in my handwriting,” Ruby says. “Looks like a photocopy of a page in my diary.”

“So you wrote that?”

“I guess. I don’t remember.”

“Where were you between four and six a.m. on Saturday, February 17?”

“I was dreaming.”

“Did you fall asleep at the wheel?”

Blackie Jr. cries, and Ruby runs her hand over his peach fuzz hair. “I was waitin’ for a call. When the phone rang, I got distracted. But I thought it was a deer. Honest, officer.”

*

Thanks to Thomas Pluck of Flash Fiction Friday for this flash fiction prompt!

Aftertaste- a Flash Fiction Tale

“I’m Matthew Selles. A gentleman of cultured taste. And this is Bella Vodka. A vodka of cultured spirit.”

I’m always surprised to hear my own voice. But I think I sound convincing. And my hair looks great. But the Bella Vodka people haven’t called me in months. Maybe I should look for my next promo modeling gig. Or maybe I should give in and take EDIC Inc’s offer. Money talks louder than morals.

Time for my morning cube. And I’ll give this copy another shot.

Full-length mirror, squared shoulders, gelled hair.

“Do you want optimal nutrition, but also want to avoid dangerous GMOs? Are organic food markets too pricey and too far from home? Then join me in reaching full nutrition potential with the EDIC system.”

No. Didn’t sound convincing. Maybe if I try another cube.

“Upgrade from outdated eating habits to the modern method of optimum nutrition with Essential Daily Intake Cubes.”

Sounds like I’m selling snake oil. I can’t sell these cubes with great hair alone.

—–

“Hey Matt, it’s Freddie.”

“What’s up?”

“Just checking to see if you’re still on board.”

“Absolutely.”

“Great. I want to make sure you don’t feel any allegiance to EDIC. You know the EDIC system’s selling point is the untested appetite suppressant they put in the cubes. With you being a promo model, they probably tried to sway you with their ‘upgraded cubes’ deal. After losing an ally to Stan Moon Farms, I thought I had to ask.”

“I’m in this for the money. And to help with the cause, of course.”

“You’re a peach. People don’t realize how evil EDIC is. Their black ops work for Stan Moon, you know. They supply Moon with chemical contracts and lobby the government to abolish GMO laws. And with Moon on the government’s payroll, we need all the help we can get.”

“I love food. Real food. Count me in.”

“Sweet. By the way, what are the cubes like?”

“Eschewable.”

“That bad?”

“Yeah. Tasteless and rubbery.”

“How people can give up real food is beyond me.”

“Well, real food is hard to get these days. Unless you want to get over-charged and hassled by cops at a farmers’ market.”

—–

Baggy clothes, check. Hat, check. Sunglasses, check. Self-destruction. It’s what’s for dinner. More cops at the farmers’ market this year. And everybody looks paranoid, not just the vendors. And if I’m recognized, I’m toast.

But… it’s so sexy. Fresh, verdant, organic cilantro and parsley, scrunchy and still wet with dew. People eating pesticide-free plums and persimmons out in the open. They’re even eating non-GMO tomatoes, juice dripping off their elbows. Decadent. Overwhelming. I have to taste food.

“A beet, a fig, and a bag of carrots, please.”

“Twenty-four dollars.”

“Keep the change. Thanks.”

So weak. Can’t wait. Pretty sure no one’s looking. The beet is warm. Still has dirt from the field.

“Thank you for this, which I am about to receive.”

Skin and all. Firm and raw. Oozing purple. Sweet, crunchy, earthy prime nectar. And it’s gone.

Lips are stained. Hands are stained.

So ashamed.

—–

“Matt Selles, EDIC’s promo model, at Pensacola Farmers’ Market. I’m in awe. You sure no one recognized you?”

“Pretty sure.”

“What did you get?”

“A fig. I’m looking at it now. I have it on silver plate. I even lit a candle. Freddie, am I crazy?”

“No, man, you’re not crazy. Go on.”

“There’s a label on it. Says ‘Mission Fig.’ The label is covering a crack.”

“I heard if a fig is cracked, there might be a wasp in it. You gonna open it?”

“I’m getting a knife now. What’s that about a wasp?”

“It’s probably just a myth. Open it. Tell me what you see.”

“I peeled off the label. It’s like this fig is… too alive. Or maybe… too primal. It’s purple-black, like a bruise. Oh… I smelled it. It smells like a peach. And the knife slides right through. The inside is like a strawberry. Red with seeds. I gotta go.”

—–

Dice carrots. Put in a pot. Add water and salt. Boil. Just like mom used to make.

But the smell is not like I remember. Too intense. Carrot overload. Headache-y. Gotta eat them anyway. Nobody likes cold, mushy carrots.

—–

“Remember, this part is crucial. You sure nobody will be at the headquarters?”

“I’m sure, Freddie. Show up at two a.m., and the gate will be unlocked.”

“Thanks, man. You’re a hero.”

Damn this headache. No more pills, no more cubes. I just want food.

Carrots. The only thing in the fridge.

Pry the lid off the bowl. Unwrap the foil. Unwrap the plastic. Five carrot slices left, cold and mushy. One by one, smash with my tongue.

I taste nothing.

Tasteless, like a cube.

At least cubes have texture.

A quick blood analysis, and print. Another cube with a Bella Vodka chaser. The last of the Bella Vodka. The first of my upgraded cubes.

Sleepy.

—–

Warm. Bright. A great night’s sleep, finally. Even though I left the TV on again.

“…the terrorists were part of an organization that infiltrated farmers’ markets across the nation. The terrorists posed as vendors, and sold poisoned produce to unsuspecting customers. In related news, four terrorists were arrested in a sting outside the EDIC headquarters in Pensacola early this morning. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more about this story.”

Depressing. I’ll give channel five a shot.

Serendipity. My commercial’s on.

“…kit comes with an instructional DVD, 3-D EDIC printer, and blood-nutrient analyzer. A non-invasive blood analysis calculates your nutritional needs, and your printer prints a cube you can chew or swallow with water. Each cube is precisely formulated to meet your minimum daily nutrition and calorie requirements, based on your individual analysis, taking into account your age, gender, lifestyle, and any pre-existing health conditions.”

I’m always surprised to hear my own voice. But I think I sound convincing. And my hair looks great.

*

Just a Peek!- a Flash Fiction Tale

credit © zir.com

“Happy tenth anniversary, darling.” Angie kisses her husband. “I’m finally ready to show you the results of my last ten years of tinkering.” She leads him into the garage.

“So that’s what you’ve been doing for a decade?” Artie laughs. “Tinkering?”

“Well, yes. My time machine prototype was already up and running before I even met you. I had already sent particles into the future via quantum entanglement. But the day we married, I vowed to myself that within ten years, I would develop a time machine capable of sending a person into the future and back, and actually operate it. And now I’ve reached my goal.”

“You mean you’ve gone to the future?” Artie gasps.

“Not yet. But I will. Today. At twelve after two today, it will be exactly ten years since we were married. I checked my watch after the justice of the peace pronounced us wife and husband.”  Angie unlocks the minilab and leads Artie inside. “I’m keeping my vow. Besides, I can’t stand the suspense.” She whips the sheet off a large box.

“This is your time machine? The TARDIS from Dr. Who?”

“An uncanny resemblance, don’t you think? I disguised it as a TARDIS in case somebody accidentally got a look at it. They’d think I was a loon and not bother with it.”

“Angie, I really think you should turn this over to the lab and let them test it safely.”

“Are you kidding? If word of this leaks out, the government will swoop in so fast our heads will spin. And who knows what evil they’d use it for.”

“Then I think you should try it on an inanimate object first. Like a rock or something.”

“If I did that, how would I know whether it worked? I wouldn’t be in the machine to see it.”

“There’s no video recording system?”

“Today’s video technology is unstable at the energy frequency needed to travel into the future and back. Besides, I have no idea whether the future’s light spectrum will be compatible with my video equipment. Global dimming may have substantially lessened the photo-required albedo by then.”

“But how about trying it on a squirrel or a chipmunk first?  At least then you’d know whether this thing was . . um, lethal.”

“Artie, you know I’m against animal testing. This is my experiment, and my responsibility. Not the responsibility of a squirrel or a chipmunk.”

“Then let me go.” Artie takes Angie in his arms. “I know I can’t convince you to not use the machine, but as your husband, please let me be the first guinea pig. I trust your scientific genius, but this machine is untested. I can’t bear the thought of something-”

“No, no, no.” Angie pulls away. “My experiment, my responsibility. Trust me, this is sound science backed by decades of research. All the formulas are proven. I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t one hundred percent sure it was safe. I just want to take a five-second peek at the future. Just to see what it’s like fifty years from now. I won’t do anything to cause any paradoxes in time. I won’t even be getting out of the machine. Now help me roll it out into the carport. I don’t want any contaminants in the minilab if something from the future unexpectedly sticks to the outside of the machine.”

The couple push the box out the door.

“You’ll be teleporting yourself like on Star Trek, right?”

“Right.”

“All your molecules will be destroyed and then recreated. So will you still be you when you come back?”

“I’ll simplify this much as I can. My time machine basically works with three components- two detectors, which measure points and execute corresponding code in the space-time continuum, and a unit- the machine itself plus its cargo. A detector measures the unit and generates code describing it in the space-time continuum. Then, at a pre-determined point in the future, in the same spatial position, the other detector receives the code and executes it, thereby reconstructing the unit. So yes, it’s teleportation in time.” Angie opens the machine door and climbs in. “It’s nearly ten after two. Gotta go take my peek. Don’t worry. I’ll be back in no time.”

“Just a peek?”

“Just a peek!”

Angie shuts the door. The machine rumbles and whirs. It emits a single flash. Angie opens the door. “It works.”

“You made it! Hallelujah!” So what did you see? Hover cars?”

“No.”

“Jet packs?”

“No.”

“Flux capacitors?”

“No. Well, actually, there might have been all those things. I just couldn’t tell. It was all too jumbled.”

“Er . . jumbled?”

“It was horrible. I saw what looked like thousands of time machines- who knows, there might have been millions or billions of them. They were all appearing and disappearing over and over again. There was no interplex, just machines. They were phase-entangling with each other. My time machine technology must’ve been leaked to the public somehow.”

“How awful!” Artie takes Angie’s hand and helps her out of the machine.

“Before I fully phased into the future time, I saw what was happening and aborted the mission. I was lucky to make it back alive, and in a non-phase tangled state.”

They embrace.

“But how do you know it was your time machine that was leaked? Maybe some other scientist built a time machine and made it public.”

“No. It was my machine. They all looked like a TARDIS.”

“Can we fix this? What if we destroy the machine? Can we alter the future?”

“I’ll have to try. I may not be able to alter the future I saw, as it’s already happened- in the future it’s happened, that is. But maybe I can bend and branch this present time line into an alternate reality by altering the past. Don’t worry. I’ll be back in no time.”

“You’re getting in that thing again? You were almost killed by it a minute ago!”

“But I’ll be traveling five minutes into the past, not fifty years into the future. We already know what happened five minutes ago. There’s no danger.” Angie climbs back into the machine and shuts the door. The machine rumbles and whirs. It emits a single flash.

Future Angie opens the door from the inside as past Angie opens door from the outside.

“What the-?”

“Angie, I’m you, five minutes from now, traveling to my past- your present. You mustn’t operate the machine. Dismantle it and destroy the notes!”

Artie backs up against the wall. “Angie, why are there two of you?”

“Yes! It works!” Past Angie says.

“Yes, it works, but now you must destroy it.”

“If I destroy it, how will you- I mean me, five minutes from now- get back to the future?”

“Crap. I didn’t think of that. Artie’s waiting for me. Stay right here, you two. I’ll be right back.” Future Angie climbs back into the machine and shuts the door. The machine rumbles, whirs, and flashes. She opens the door, reaches out, and grabs present Artie. “No time to explain, come with me!”

She pulls her husband into the machine. A rumble, whir, and flash, and she opens the door. Future Angie and Artie step out.

Past Artie rubs his eyes. “I’m starting to freak out. There are now two of each of us, Angie.”

“I’ll explain later,” Future Angie says. “You three just help me destroy the machine.”

The two couples tear into the machine with axes and hammers, and when the detectors splinter, Future Angie and Artie disappear, and the machine instantaneously regenerates.

Angie opens the machine door and climbs in. “It’s nearly ten after two. Gotta go take my peek. Don’t worry. I’ll be back in no time.”

“Just a peek?”

“Just a peek!”

*

Just Another Peek! (part 2)

*

Thanks to Flannery Alden at Flash Fiction Friday for this flash fiction prompt!

Spring Green Smoothie

I’m getting way ahead of schedule here. International Green Smoothie Day is August 15. It’s only March 5. So what? I’m ahead of my time (or waaaay behind, but let’s not go there).

Info for the unfunkified: Smoothies don’t have to have bananas in them. They don’t even have to be sweet. They can even be GREEN. WOW!!

How long does it take you to eat a bunch of spinach, a bunch of parsley, a celery stick, a whole avocado, AND a whole cucumber? Too long to have all that for breakfast or lunch? Try drinking it!

Behold the Green Smoothie:

1 heaping handful baby Spinach

1 heaping handful Parsley

1 Celery stick (chopped)

1 Avocado (sans peel and pit)

1 Cucumber (peeled or unpeeled, and chopped)

1 teaspoon Lemon or Lime juice

up to 1 teaspoon Sea Salt (I like my Green Smoothie on the salty side, so you may want to use less)

enough Water to make the smoothie blender-whir-able (about 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on the volume of the other ingredients)

Put all that in a blender and whir.

Super quick, super easy, super healthful.