The Trifecta Writing Challenge is to write a story with no less than 33 words and no more than 333. Each story must use Webster dictionary's third definition for a word supplied by the fine editors (or gleaned from writers' Get to Know Me posts).
This week's word is clean \ˈklēn\, used as an adjective:
3 a : free from moral corruption or sinister connections of any kind
b : free from offensive treatment of sexual subjects and from the use of obscenity
c : observing the rules : fair
An apparition appears on screen. In the 45 seconds it takes for the pixels to settle, I forget to breathe. But after the past hundred disappointing logins, it’s Joel for certain. I gasp, my mind abuzz.
He’s been missing for weeks after being snatched from my side by alien beings who shuttled past in a hovercraft. We’d been holding hands when they abducted him; it hardly seemed a clean grab. But then nothing in this current conflict -- if one could call it that -- appears fair.
“Your arm looks bad.” The sound is as fuzzy as his picture but I swear he says this. His own left arm hangs uselessly from a drooping shoulder.
My right shoulder and elbow, disconnected during a tug-of-war with aliens, are in an elaborate sling. Ultimately, alien vice-like grips paired with the hydrogen-powered craft were too much for my joints; I handily lost that battle.
Based on the sound quality, I know to not regale him with my status.
My rapid fire:
“Where are you?”
“Can you talk?”
He shakes his head firmly, but mouths one word: “Workshop”.
Some years earlier, these aliens landed on earth in the hovercrafts, shunted us onto “reserves” and only allowed only a few out to aid them. Ever since they had mined our lands for our inferior fuel source, madly reworking the hovercraft engines with our help in a local workshop. They also piped up some substance from middle earth, and shipped it non-stop to their moon-moored mothership.
Furtively Joel and I had been exploring their base and workshop, but their security wasn’t as lax as we’d assumed.
“How can I find you?” I ask, desperate for clues.
“The key is in the door.”
He says the words with such deliberateness, such care.
“Key. In the Door.”
I stare blankly.
His eyes, first pleading then desperate as he fades away.
I log out.
Again and again.