March 20, 2012

Trifecta Week Nineteen - Lost, the expanded version

For those of you who were puzzled by my cryptic entry to last weekend's challenge, I present to you the same story, expanded upon on which your curious minds may chew. I think this entry lends itself nicely to revealing more of what I had in mind about crucial meaning being lost in cryptic communication. I enjoyed very much the speculation that ensued, though I also learned what "doesn't" work when restricted to so few words to tell a tale.

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


Lost

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:

“Joel?”

“Where are you?”

“You okay?”

 “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.

“What?”

His eyes, first pleading then desperate as he fades away.

The door?

I log out.

Log in.

Again and again.

Nothing.

He's gone.

28 comments:

  1. OK, I'm ready for the next installment. Saturday, perhaps? This is terrific. I love the way you expanded on this story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh oh. Now I'm really in trouble!!!

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Thanks PM. That's my kind of comment!

      Delete
  3. I've been thinking about aliens too, lately. Must be something in the water. Nice story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or in the zeitgeist? Yikes! and ... thanks!

      Delete
  4. I love reading this story, in installments. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sandra. I'm going to get into trouble with these "installment" stories. I think this one has a lot of potential for being pretty "political" and allegorical. Which, you know, could be interesting ... Now if only I wasn't thinking of opening a bakery in a few months ...

      Delete
  5. Great snippet of a post-invasion earth, and I want more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, GFAW. I'll ... think about it ...

      Delete
  6. WOW. Absolutely not where I expected it to go. I'm impressed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A ha ha ha ha! Imagine what I thought when everyone started speculating about Alzheimer's. Uh ... I loved seeing that it *could* go somewhere, but really realised the limitation in those 33 words, right?! It was fun to build around it, and I hit 333 exactly. Which was also brutally difficult. This has been really fun and a good learning curve.

      Delete
  7. I love how you included "Can you talk?" That phrase anchors your story and makes it so tangible. We use it every day -- even when we aren't battling aliens!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A ha ha! I think I'm very rooted in the day-to-day. Stuck, maybe even ... thanks!

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. Thank ya! Be by to see yours in a second ... children demanding my attention at moment. Can. You. Imagine. =)

      Delete
  9. Amazeballs, I fucking love this! More scifi please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I were going to write scifi for anybuddy, it'd be you. So ... let's see what comes up ...

      Delete
  10. I remember the key in the door from the last challenge...I like how you expanded on that same story for this challenge. Engaging read! I, too am curious to see where you take this next :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you remember. It was fun to nest it in there, also quite a challenge.

      Delete
  11. Cool, Sci-Fi. I love it. One of my favorite genres and you certainly did it justice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! Thanks. That's amazing considering I haven't read much sci-fi. =)

      Delete
  12. I have no idea how to think out of the box like this so I'm really impressed by someone who can. Great story telling. I'm assuming there will be more?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gina, not sure on this one. If it went further it would become a scathing commentary on society and the historical and current treatment of aboriginal people in North America and I'm not sure I'm up for it. =) We'll see ...

      Mostly I just wanted to express what was sitting in the recesses of my noggin when I wrote the original piece -- so different than what people expected.

      Delete
  13. Nicely done! I enjoyed both pieces and would love to see more..no pressure.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh very cool. I love the longer version, and I love the not knowing what "key in the door means" still in this one. She's going to have to get to him to find out what it means.

    ReplyDelete
  15. For someone who only a few weeks ago said that they didn't really do fiction (am I correct in recalling that?), you do it pretty darn well. I love that you revisited and expanded on this. Like the others, I think there's much more to run on this one. Thanks for linking up and sorry that my comments didn't quite make it in before the new post went up.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Um, yup. That was me. This is me. IDK who I am, maybe.

    Thanks for the comment. I don't care if it doesn't come till Tuesday, I'll always take a comment. I hope you don't mind, I read the new post before I read this comment. It may always work out that way. Shrug.

    ReplyDelete