My 101-word short story, The Sticky Drunk, was a runner up in the Monterey Weekly’s recent short fiction contest. And they used a sentence from another entry in another section, which I found pretty cool. Read all the stories here!
His finger hovered over the download button. Sweat trickled down his forehead, just a single line, but enough to make someone notice. Morris didn’t press the button. He turned his attention back to the sea of tents placed four feet apart from one another. Two people per tent, he was told. Only the tents were always empty. They’d been empty since he was stationed there five years ago.
“So this Pokemon Go thing?” he asked the sentry nearest him. “This is the one? It’s the distraction?”
His coworker shrugged. “It could be.”
“Wasn’t the primary election supposed to be the distraction?”
Another shrug. “I guess it didn’t work.”
“What about the last fad? What was that one again? I don’t remember.”
“Snapchat? Facebook? The ice bucket challenge?”
Morris sighed and stared at the empty tents. “I don’t even remember why anymore, John.”
“Why are we distracting them?”
“Um, to take their guns. But it’s not us distracting them. It’s our bosses.”
“It doesn’t appear to be working.” Morris looked at his phone and rolled his eyes. “Hell with it. I’m downloading Pokemon Go. This place is boring.”
“Put the tin foil hat on first.”
He did as John asked. Better to be safe than sorry. His coworker never took his off. John said the Wi-Fi and television signals doped him up with too many subliminal messages. The hats, perfected over the last fifty years to look like shiny knit beanies, itched the scalp, but were otherwise comfortable. As the game downloaded, Morris looked at his partner and asked if he planned to play it too.
“These internment camps have been here for over twenty years. Longer maybe. I found a TV Guide in the mess hall with Bob Hope on the cover. And why are we taking their guns away and putting them in these camps? It’s stupid. You may as well play Pokemon Go too, John.”
The sentry laughed. His tin foil beanie shifted just over his right eyebrow. “I’m a grown man. I’ve got better things to do than play kid’s games.”
“Says the Candy Crush junkie. Says the guy who puts pictures of his dinner on Instagram. Says the man who plays fantasy football and opens Tinder every two minutes.”
“We need to be ready. This could be the distraction.”
Morris started playing with his phone. “I doubt it.”
But two weeks later, when unmarked cargo trucks began to appear, when soldiers started escorting half dressed, terrified Americans into the tents two by two, Morris couldn’t believe it. He stayed put, just as he was trained, and turned the game off. He’d just caught a Hitmonlee and got a good photo of it doing a high kick in front of some of the internment tents.
John whistled, obviously excited. “This is it. It’s finally happened.”
“PoGo was the distraction. My God,” whispered Morris.
“And you’ve been playing it.” The sentry looked up, noticing a contingent of soldiers heading in their direction. “You’ve been playing it.”
Morris felt his face flush red. “Just playing it doesn’t…”
One of the soldiers yelled at them. “You two. Stay right there.”
The soldiers, who Morris noticed were all wearing tin foil hats, carried their rifles in front of them, ready to use them if necessary. They both froze in place. Morris prepared himself. His phone was in his pocket. There was no way he’d be able to delete the app. It would be futile anyway. They already knew.
But instead of grabbing him, the soldiers converged on John. The sentry fought back for the briefest of moments before he succumbed to the soldiers. Morris shook, but knew not to move. One of the soldiers stopped next to them as the others dragged his coworkers to the camp. He was close enough Morris could smell the vanilla nicotine on his skin. A vaper, he figured.
Morris, his voice shaking, asked, “Was it Pokemon Go?”
“Pokemon Go? No, that’s just a game. Your friend over there is a registered Independent.”
Citizens protecting themselves. Taxpayers at work, he thought.
He could see a huddled mass near an alley about a block away. There weren’t a lot of police on patrol that day. Not much they could do against a hail of gunfire, especially with only one or two on the force that day. Charlie didn’t see any law enforcement near the people, not even private security, only a lot of folks with bug eyes, terrified they might drop dead any second. Luckily a few of them were armed. They carried rifles slung over their shoulder, had pistols at their hips, and had no problem shooting anyone who looked like they might be bad news.
Charlie packed too. He’d gotten a pistol on pay day, two days before the last bombing and a week after the last school shooting. Before heading out he loaded his pockets with ammo. It wasn’t cheap, but it made him feel better. No one wanted to be a cop anymore. Bullets tore into the concrete wall near him. Looking over his shoulder, he realized there were a bunch of people on the rooftop across the plaza. Charlie thought about being a cop once, but the pay wasn’t great considering the danger. Another bullet took out a window a hundred feet from him.
Not a good day to be out, he thought. He made his way to the crowd and waited in line. They were shuffling inside, thankfully out of view of the people on the roof. An older woman held her right shoulder. Blood dripped from a wound there. One of the armed men watched her suspiciously. A shiny-headed bald man stood next to him, also armed. He flexed a cold stare in Charlie’s direction.
“Are you even registered to vote?” the man asked him.
He looks like a turkey vulture, Charlie thought. He’s like one of those birds that feed on the dead. They have no feathers from the neck up, only mottled, nasty flesh. It’s so they can stick their entire head inside dead animals. He’s looking at me like I’m a dead animal.
Charlie nodded. “Of course I am.”
“Let’s see your voter identification card then,” the turkey vulture replied.
“Are you with the elections office?”
The man laughed, “Are you?”
Charlie reached into his back pocket. “It’s fine. I’ll show you. I’m only here to vote.”
“He’s going for a gun!”
And then Charlie was dead.
The creature made a move. It wasn’t much of a move, but it totally counted. It’s pale, fleshy head with almond shaped eyes (if almonds were the size of watermelons) nodded in my direction. But hell if that scared me. I’m an American. So keeping my iPhone as steady as possible in my right hand, I lifted my pistol with my left hand and fired. The thing staggered backwards behind a fallen pine tree. I kept filming with my phone, hoping it wasn’t too dark for the camera to pick up the action.
I go to the range regularly and know for a fact I hit the thing, just like I killed a rabbit a few minutes earlier on the trail. But the creature, an alien for sure, kept moving even after it took a round. It dropped the rabbit I shot. Still not sure why it picked it up in the first place. When the rabbit hit the ground the damn thing scurried off. I know it was dead a minute ago, but somehow just touching the alien brought it back to life.
I may not have some fancy degree, those totally worthless pieces of paper sold by the liberal media like store bought intelligence, but I do have something better. My instincts. And those trump your un-American agenda any day. Not having a degree just means I haven’t been brainwashed.
So I kept my instincts in my back pocket and reloaded my gun.
I may live on my parents’ property in Big Sur, but I’m not a hippy. Far from it. And I’ve seen Independence Day. If I’d wanted that rabbit to be alive I wouldn’t have shot it. I popped off another round at where I thought the alien might be hiding, then snuck closer to the fallen pine tree.
“This thing wants to kill me,” I said. I talked into the camera on the iPhone, for the sake of the video. I’d quit Farmers Only if it didn’t go viral, but I knew it would. Within hours of posting it too. “Not sure what it is, but I know it’s not from here. Not from my planet.”
The alien leaned against the fallen pine tree, gasping for air. Eucalyptus bark, shredded from recent wind storms, covered the area. I could smell the trees, but also the hot blood of my enemy. I knew I’d got him. He held a long skinny hand over a bloodied wound on its shoulder, the wound I caused.
“You’re not even wearing clothes,” I said, glad for the camouflage jacket I had on. Made it harder to see me in the night. Actually I rarely ever went outside not wearing it. The alien’s other hand rested on the trunk of the tree. Flowers were popping out of the dead tree wherever the alien touched it. Unbelievable. It’s touch, just it’s touch, seemed to bring life. The flowers looked like poppies, maybe some violets too, I don’t know. It’s like it was trying to tell me it was the second coming or something. I wasn’t having any of that, so I kept the iPhone steady and shot it a few more times in the head. This time I was sure I’d ended whatever plans this monstrosity had for me and my neighbors.
“This pistol right here is my God-given right,” I told the dying alien. “You might want to think twice about invading an armed country next time. You hear what I’m saying? Think twice about coming to America!”
But it was dead. Guess it’s healing touch didn’t work on itself. After a few close-ups I stopped recording and got down next to the thing. Had to take some selfies with it. Make for a sweet profile pic.
Then I uploaded the video. I put it on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, everywhere.
I wrote, “Killed an alien tonite. Your welcome,” and waited for the likes.