Tuesday, September 27, 2011

JUST FOR FUN: "We Do Not Have a Dinosaur"

Over at the Shock Totem forums they host a creative exercise every other Saturday.  It's called the Flash Challenge.  I guess you could call it a contest, though the only thing the winner "wins" is bragging rights.

Mostly, it's just fun.

The rules are simple:  participants are given exactly one hour to write a short story.  The story can be anywhere from one sentence to a thousand words in length.  Each story must be built upon the foundations of a prompt provided by the "Flashmaster" (the winner from the previous Flash Challenge); said prompt can be anything from a photograph to a word or phrase.  Of course, participants don't know what the prompt is gonna be until the 'Challenge begins.  You get the picture.

I gave it a shot one night.  And while I'm normally a very slowwwwww writer, agonizing over every word and turn of phrase, editing again and again and again, I obviously didn't have that luxury with the Flash Challenge.  But that's what makes the whole thing loads o' fun.  And creatively stimulating, to say the least! 

The story I turned in seemed to be a hit, among my fellow participants.  I don't think it's a tale I could ever sell, as taken out of context it doesn't make a whole lotta sense and . . . well, to be perfectly honest, it's very silly.

Still . . . I kinda dig it.  I was reading it again tonight and it made me laugh.

Maybe you'll get a chuckle out of it too.



     “Goddamn rip-off’s what it is. I fuckin’ told you, Merv. You wouldn’t listen.”

     Merv didn’t respond. He just stood there staring at the thing. His eyes were watery.

     “You gonna cry now? Did I hurt your feelin’s? You deserve it. You’re the one who led us on this wild moose chase to begin with.”

     “Goose. It’s a wild goose chase, you ignoramus.” Merv’s eyes never left the thing, his head tilted up toward it, shaking back and forth even as he corrected his brother.

     “Yeah. Right. I’m the ignoramus. Whatever. You seem to have forgot the danger we’re puttin’ ourselves in just by bein’ here.”

     “Shut up, Virgil. Please? Just shut up. You’re givin’ me a headache.”

     Two hours ago, they’d been on the road. Most Wanted Men in four counties. Six liquor-store robberies in the last four months, all along the western part of the state. All it'd take was one hero cop passing by at the wrong time, spotting their pick-up outside of this place. Straight jump to the Big House from there.

     But Merv had to have it his way. Couldn’t pass by the opportunity when he saw that sign out front.

     Virgil was really starting to worry about his brother lately. Sometimes he wondered if the guy wasn’t going crazy, slowly losing his mind just like their mama had.

     “I mean, Jesus, Merv . . . did you really think this shithole was gonna have a live Tyrannosaurus out back? You gotta be the most gullible son-of-a-bitch I ever seen.”

     They had seen the sign from the highway. It was blurry from the shimmering heat of the desert, but still legible. Legible enough, at least, to make Merv slam on the brakes when he’d seen it: REAL, LIVE T. REX . . . COME SEE IT FOR YORESELF!

     Merv had always been a sucker for shit like that. Ever since he and Virgil were little tykes, and they’d grown up viewing the world from the backseat of Daddy’s Buick as he traveled from town to town selling Bibles (this would have been before Daddy finally up and left them all for good, decided he’d make a better living in the arms of a rich widow he met on the road). They were all over the Midwest, places like this. The signs were the same, even if they advertised a different impossible wonder: THREE-HEADED CALF! REAL FROZEN CAVEMAN INSIDE! 100% GENUNIE MERMAID FROM THE AMAZON RIVER!!!

     This time, the weathered wooden sign out front of the place promised customers a living, breathing dinosaur.

     They had argued about it until they nearly came to blows but Merv had gotten his way. Merv always got his way.

     “Ten minutes,” he’d promised. “Just ten minutes, then we’ll be on our way. You know I’m a sucker for this shit.”

     “Yeah,” said Virgil, staring down at the .38 in his grip like he’d love nothing more than to use it on his brother, just put the poor bastard out of his misery. “Unfortunately, I do.”


     The thing was a friggin’ joke. Just like Virgil knew it would be.

     It was tall, sure. But nowhere near tall enough. A dozen feet, maybe. Its head didn’t even touch the battered tin ceiling of the hot-as-hell barn the old man who owned the place had ushered Merv and Virgil into (he’d said he was gonna leave them to gaze on its spectacle by themselves as he had some errands to attend to, they could just let themselves out and thanks for droppin’ by).

     But what the geezer had advertised on the sign outside wasn’t what they got.

     It sure as hell wasn’t no living, breathing Tyrannosaur. Wasn’t even close.

     “We’ve been fuckin’ lied to,” Merv said as he stared at it.

     The thing was built out of crooked lengths of PVC pipe and two-by-fours. Its plastic-and-wood skeleton was clearly visible through its green-painted paper-mache body. Its teeth appeared to be made from butcher knives, blades that glistened in the thin beams of sunlight that sneaked through the slats of the barn. Its eyes were blinking Christmas lights.

     From somewhere behind the travesty, a pathetic pre-recorded roar issued from a battered old speaker.

     Merv’s face had turned bright red, almost as red as the eyes of that bullshit “dinosaur.”

     “We’ve been fuckin’ lied to,” he said again. “It ain’t right.”

     “Yeah, well,” said Virgil, “you live and you learn, brother. Let’s just get the hell outta here.”

     “No,” said Merv. “That old dick, he owes us.”

     “Aww, come on. We need to just hit the fuckin’ road, Merv!”

     “Not until he’s been shown the error of his ways.”

     “He’s a crazy old bastard, Merv. And he reminds me of Grandpappy! Do we really have to hurt him?”

     “I didn’t say anything about layin’ a finger on him.”


     Well, he’d finally gone and done it. Merv had gone off the deep end, completely lost his fuckin’ mind.

     Virgil didn’t know what to do anymore. His brother got it in his crazy head he was gonna do something, he’d do it no matter the consequences.

     Idiot. They were lookin’ at a trip to the pokey for sure.

     If they didn’t stick out like a sore thumb before, they sure as hell did now . . . .

     Hard to remain inconspiculus (was that the right word?) speeding down the highway with a thirty-foot Godzilla strapped to your pick-up truck.


     Although, Virgil had to admit, he couldn’t help but chuckle when he thought about one thing.

     Merv was right: Sure woulda been classic to see that old fucker’s face, when he realized his “real, live dinosaur” had gone missing.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, quite silly, but still a fun read. =)

    The challenges are fun, but rarely will you produce a publishable tale. Most of mine have gone on my blog as well. =)