Fast Fiction: It Came From Above

FlyingSaucerHello again everyone,

As I mentioned in this post, I’ve decided to pre-schedule a series of blog posts based around writing exercises I’ve done over the last couple of years as part of my monthly writers’ group. This is the second that I will be sharing, and I chose it to go second both because I like it a lot, and also because it’s a stark contrast to the first one I posted. I might as well show some range as long as I am getting this idea up and running.

So, with that introduction done, I said I would start each one with a quick recitation of the rules:

Rule #1: These pieces of fast fiction were generated from a prompt chosen at random, and that prompt will appear clearly labelled before the fiction and then clearly labelled again where it appears in the prose.

Rule #2: WordPress allows me a ‘click here to read the rest of the story’ break, and that will be used before the fast fiction begins in earnest so people browsing through this blog are not overwhelmed.

Rule #3: The prose of the fast fiction shall be transcribed from my handwriting accurately: Line breaks, grammar, punctuation, spelling, what-have-you. The point of showing a 10- or 15-minute first draft is saying what you tried to do in that time, so what does editing really get me? It’s more impressive showing how few mistakes I made and what I managed to do in the time allotted rather than correcting my errors or improving my first efforts for the sake of appearances. The very rare changes I really do deem necessary shall be noted with an asterisk and an apologetic explanation at the end.

Rule #4: After the fast fiction I will include a few sentences about my first thoughts of the prompt, what I was trying to do, what I am happy with, what I am unhappy with, and some other general thoughts. These entries are less about the actual prose and more about the exercise as a whole. Post-gaming that exercise will be a big part of the end result.

Rule #5: I have all my blog posts set up to automatically go out through Twitter. If I’m going to queue up twenty or so of them into the distant future, I will schedule them to go out at 3 am. I would not want to find myself in the midst of a happy moment or a sad moment tweeting some piece of irrelevant and therefore inappropriate short prose. Hopefully a 3 am posting time will keep me clear of that concern. I also reserve the right to reschedule these posts based on other things that should take priority on this blog.

With all that said, let’s go!

Prompt:

She turned to the television screen waiting for me to finish my sentence. I didn’t because I couldn’t.


It came from above.

Isn’t that how these stories go?

Well, damn the stories. Damn every Hollywood B-Flick playing in black and white at some drive-in or grindhouse. Damn every Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode where the smartasses cackled at the pie tins on fishing wire suspended against a cloud-filled sky.

It happened.

It really happened.

It was no bargain basement so-bad-it’s-good scifi flick.

It came from above.

I saw it break through the clouds, and the clouds parted where it passed and then they dissipated out so I could see the empty star-filled sky from whence it came.

And then it hang there, and a light came out, searching the ground like a man with an impossibly bright flashlight hunting around for where he’d dropped his car keys in the dark, and then it spotted the radio tower, and the light stopped.

I tell you it stopped, and I knew it had found what it was looking for as sure as I was sure no one would believe me.

That antenna, that broadcast device, held its absolute focus, and then the thing began to pulse and hum, pulse and hum like a mechanical baby’s heartbeat in some monstrous robot hospital.

I gunned my engine, but my pickup truck was dead.

I bailed from the cab and ran the three miles home, tearing open my front door to blurt it all out in a mad rush to my wife, the woman who had kicked me out of the house –for good this time- not five minutes before.

“Helen!” I shouted. “Helen! You’ll never believe what I…”

She turned to the television screen waiting for me to finish my sentence. I didn’t because I couldn’t.

The television was saying in a calm clear voice that they came in peace, and claimed this land in the name of the God Emperor Xona*. We all needed to register for the reeducation camps at dawn. Further instructions would be transmitted soon.

Helen turned to me, curlers in her hair and tears in her eyes, and said, “I guess I forgive you. We have bigger things to worry about now.”

…That’s where I ran out of time.

Notes:

First, an explanation about the asterisk on Xona*. In my haste to get the thing done with less than a minute on the clock I originally wrote Xenu as my gibberish name, but of course Scientology already took that one. To avoid saying Xenu I have here substituted with Xona. Sorry about that.

Now as for the rest of it? I loved the challenge of the prompt. My fellow writers in the group felt the pull to make this about a fight between two people where the narrator is somehow rendered speechless because of how the fight progresses. I decided to flip that on its head and instead of not being able to speak because of the fight, I made the protagonist unable to speak because of what was on the television. I also sidestepped the fight entirely by having it happen before my fast fiction begins, and I resolve it because now there are bigger fish to fry. How big are the fish? ‘B-Flick SciFi come true’ big. ‘Fire in the Sky meets the Man From Earth meets V’ big. I rarely dabble in science fiction, but when I do I have a lot of fun with it!

Cheers, everyone.

 

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