Sunday, April 21, 2013

This March  I was at the annual writers conference sponsored by the Associated Writers and Writing Programs (AWP Boston, 2013) and a magazine had a flash fiction contest at the bookfair. You had to write a story which met several criteria. It had to fit on one piece of paper with the guidelines printed on it. It had to be set on one of several possibilities, one of which was a space station. It had to have a plot situation, and one of them was that a device goes horribly wrong. It also had to have one of a series of types of characters, one of which was an impostor. I can't remember all the other rules, but this flash fiction, below, owes its eccentricities in part to the "rules." This did not win, but it did get some pretty good laughs. So here is:

Rescuers of Monkey Minds Search among the Water Bubbles (316 words mmxiii)

    If you say “Monkey Mind says” after everything you say in your head, it kind of deflates your ego. For example, you see a gorgeous woman float by on a space station, and you say, “Wow, what a hot woman! Monkey Mind says.”

    See, no one thinks you’re serious.

    So I was floating around a space station, the S. S. AWP, trying to wash my hands in the fully-automated “Zero-G” kitchen sink. It was made for guys who can’t even work a toaster. It was a giant clear balloon with one-way valves to let hands in and no water out. My hands went in and water flowed in—lots of water and a little soap, but it wouldn’t drain or let my hands back out. I started to panic and pulled away harder, which in Zero-G meant I was thrust face-first into the bulging balloon, and it POPPED!

    Water droplets exploded in all directions, but mostly they just floated into my face and around my head—I couldn’t breathe! And water was still flowing into the water sphere around my head.

    I pictured my ashes in an urn ejecting into space like Spock’s remains after the moving eulogy by Admiral Kirk in that Star Trek movie. I pictured that gorgeous woman coming to rescue me, wearing a Zero-G snorkel with an extra-long air tube. She wrapped her arms around me, planted her legs on the wall and shoved us out of the water bubble—I could breathe again!

    Then she took off her mask, and she had a three-day beard, and then she removed her torso body suit, and she was a skinny man in a plaid flannel shirt. “It’s not what you think,” she said. “I’m not transgender. I’m not an impostor. I’m just questioning.”

   “Wow, you really burst my bubble,” I said, and then I just felt deflated.

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