Oz, the Great and Terrible: (NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014, Round #2)

Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

(criteria listed below)

Round #2 (Honorable Mention)
Genre: SciFi
Location: An all-you-can-eat restaurant
Object: A water gun

Number of words: 1,000 or less

Title:  Oz, the Great and Terrible (word count: 390)

You don’t go to Oz without a fully outfitted water gun.

You asked for tips and that’s the best one I can give you. If you have the coin, you’d be smart to equip that gun with a back pack reservoir connected by a sturdy, flexible hose. If you don’t, you’re either a thrill-seeker or a fool. Ask me, they’re the same thing.

Myths say a pair of ruby slippers will get you out of a bad scrape there, but I know a guy whose friend went with just the slippers. This guy said he tried to save his friend, but he couldn’t hold them off. Said his friend’s intestines were unlooping onto those slippers even as the guy tried to make them work. Now this guy, he can’t be around ticking clocks without wanting to scream. I don’t blame him.

I go to Oz’s capitol city every six months or so, but I’m in and out as fast as possible. You don’t get greedy and weigh yourself down; you only take the number of emeralds you can comfortably carry. Sometimes you’re lucky and you get a bunch with unusually good clarity. I heard about a gal who scored a batch that fueled her ship for nine months. Nine! I want to believe it, but I don’t know.

Here’s another tip: you stay out of places like this. It might seem like an all-you-can-eat restaurant is the smart choice before long space travel, but it’s not. You have to stay lean and you have to stay fast. I’m here to tell you that our greatest weakness is also our greatest strength. You stay hungry, you keep yourself small. Most of all, you learn there’s no shame in turning tail to run or finding a hidey-hole to duck into.

I see you smirking, kid. If you want to be a transport pilot longer than a year, you’ll listen and take heed. You eat light from the grain store you’re running and that’s it. And know this: that water gun you carry isn’t going to save your life; it’s only going to buy you time. You point it directly in their face, you get off a shot, and then you run. Because the most important myth you need to know about Oz is that it’s not monkeys flying around there. It’s cats.

(I didn’t get anyone to edit this one (a) because it was so short, I figured the odds of it having major errors was smaller (b) I got zero points on the first challenge which means I’d have to knock this one out of the ballpark to make it to the next round and I didn’t see that happening, so had a ‘whatever, fuck it’ attitude.

But special thanks to Kit, Patty, and the Other Amy for reading it beforehand. It was a late and last minute request for reading and you were all very nice about it. xo)

EDITED 11/17/14 with comments from the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction judges (posted below in quotations):

“WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – ……………The dialogue was really engaging and authentic. I thought it was in terms humorous, thrilling, and dramatic…….Great opening sentence!  And a great final 2 sentences!  A really clever blending of science fiction and fantasy with an authentic world-weary trusted narrator.  The story isn’t weighed down with extra exposition but is clearly and concisely written………….Some clever wordplay with Oz references…………………………………….   WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – ……………I felt like I dropped in on a section of a novel or short story – there were no parameters. That’s OK, but you have to make sure that the readers questions are answered. I wanted more information about the characters, setting, meeting etc…….Since the story is dialog, quotation marks could have been used.  Some narrative description to set time and place might have helped as well.  The story is short – just 415 words and so there is certainly space to add to it.  HONORABLE MENTION”

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