NYC Flash Fiction Challenge 2015

So I finally figured out the time change so I could participate in this new challenge with NYC. Good thing too, because this contest is Flash Fiction, something I love to work with. I am attaching my submission for Round 1 of the competition. This is how it works. There are four rounds, each with a genre, a setting and an object. Each must appear in the story, and you are awarded points. The word count is 1,000. I was in group 27 and had 48 hours to write my story. My prompts were Action/Adventure, an Underwater Cave and a Dumbell. Here’s the result.

Honey Moon

(Synopsis: Kyle and Ali are honeymooning in Maui and decide to take a diving trip through the coral reefs. But while the beginning of the dive is idyllic, it quickly becomes a terrifying experience.)

“Can you believe this?” Kyle stood beside Ali and waved his arm around the cave. She pulled the regulator out of her mouth and let it fall to her side. How could he be so calm after what had just happened.
“You do realize we just saw a shark, right Kyle?”
“Babe, it’s ok. It’ll be gone when we head back. Ask Devon.” he said, pointing to the tall, deeply tanned, blonde surfer dude that was their guide for the day. Devon scratched his head as a frown briefly crossed his lips, then he straightened up and spoke to the group of four.
“Ok, I know that was a bit freaky.” he said with a smile not quiet reaching his eyes.
“Freaky? Really? It’s a little more than that, it followed us in here!” said Manny from Florida, standing with his arm around his wife Sally. They were both about 60 years old and pale as could be. Ali worried they might have heart attacks but Devon tried to calm them by downplaying the incident.
“Look, it will lose interest and leave before we get back into the water, I promise. They have super short attention spans. Why don’t we take a few minutes, look around, catch your breath?” Devon checked his watch, “It took a little longer than I wanted, so we’ll have to be quicker on the way back. No panic just gotta watch the air right?” He began walking amongst them, tapping at the face of the regulator’s meters and making sure their tanks were fastened properly.
The dark coral of the cave was covered in dripping seaweed as Ali carefully picked her way around, looking at the sea urchins clinging to the sides of the rocks in the shallow water, trying to calm down. But it was useless and she sat on the dark sand, trying to practice her mindful breathing. After a minute she gave up; she’d never been so terrified in her life! One moment they were swimming, surrounded by neon yellow and blue fish, glowing in the light. The highlight had been the huge turtles lazily gliding through the water, blocking out the sun, casting shadows over her body. One bumped into the head of Manny, pushing him away. The whole group had laughed, sending fat oxygen bubbles up to the surface of the water but while they were laughing, a large shark started circling them. Devon motioned they dive down, leading them through an underwater tunnel and under the arch of a sea cave. Then, he’d helped each of them up onto its shore where they watched the shark thrash behind them, then slip slowly back underwater.
Now, Ali could see Manny and Sally standing off to the side, looking at the ground. She walked over and stood behind them,
“Did you find something interesting?” she asked, looking over Sally’s shoulder. Manny bent over and tugged on something shiny, then stood up. In his hand was a metal dumbbell.
“How the hell do you think this got down here?” he asked, shaking his head and laughing.
“You never know what you’ll find at the bottom of the ocean but that takes the cake. Anyone need to pump up before we get going?” Devon shouted.
Ali could feel everyone relax a little at Devon’s joke until a splash near the entrance of the cave silenced them again. It was Ruth and her group who joined them on the beach and Ali began to sweat as the cave became crowded and humid.
“Hey Ruth,” Devon said, “you guys ok? That was quiet the brush.”
Ruth cocked her head and looked at Devon. She was small, deeply tanned, and muscular in a capable way. Ali had noticed her checking over the diving equipment at the start of the day and had been mesmerized by her white, shoulder length hair. Devon had informed them that Ruth was the best diver in Hawaii. Now, she could see Ruth had the greenest eyes she’d ever seen; she reminded Ali of the mermaids she used to read about as a child.
“We didn’t see him” she said “Maybe we’ll sit here with you guys, give him plenty of time to move on.” Devon nodded and the two of them retreated to a corner. Ali hoped it wasn’t a strategy session about the shark, she didn’t think her heart could take another encounter.
“Alright, everybody listen up.” Ruth shouted.
She waited as the four couples settled down.
“We’re gonna head back to the main beach.” Everyone began to murmur and she lifted her hands toward them, “Okay, okay, I know. You’re nervous. Just follow each other, stay close and breath real slow. Remember, we have to pass through that tunnel before we hit the open sea. Once we’re through, head straight up as fast as you can. Like Devon said before, it took a little longer for his group to get here and some of you are low on air.”
Again, everyone started talking but Ruth raised her voice.
“It’s gonna be fine, I promise. Stay close, keep calm, breath real slow, and head straight up when you’re out of the tunnel. Ok? Now let’s go.”
As Ali entered the tunnel, she kept her focus on the group and Kyle beside her but the more she concentrated on keeping calm, the more she felt fear bubbling up from her stomach. Her breathing was too shallow and quick as the panic attack slammed home, catching her off guard. Her mind kept screaming “Slow breathing, slow breathing, slow…” but the blood was rushing into her ears and her eyes felt full, as if she were standing on her head. As her vision tunneled her body went limp and she no longer felt fear. The open water caressed her and her vision narrowed further. Suddenly, a mermaid with silvery hair floated into her vision and she once again gazed into the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. Then the sea went black.

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Writer in Residence – The Gathering Place at Leigh Square, Port Coquitlam

Writer in Residence – The Gathering Place at Leigh Square, Port Coquitlam.

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Push The Button

I was recently riding the sky train to my writing class. I had my iphone firmly plugged into my ears and I was enjoying my favorite band, U2, when I noticed a man sitting diagonally from me. He had a walker in front of him and you could tell that he had some issues with mobility. Unfortunately, he was also wearing a slightly dirty red raincoat and an old baseball cap. You could say that he almost looked homeless. Anyway, as the train slid from station to station, I realized that he was becoming agitated and was speaking loudly to some people standing by the doors. I loosened one of my ear buds discreetly. I heard him loudly saying to these people “Push the button” but everyone was pretending to not hear him. He was getting louder and finally one guy asked him “What do you need it pushed for?”  “I need help” was the reply. Some of the folks standing around all looked at each other, as if they were the deciding group. “What help do you need?” “I just need help” the gentleman kept saying. “If you tell us what you need, then we will push the button” The man with the walker was getting more and more agitated and just kept getting louder with his request to “Push the button.” Eventually, as each stop passed by he started to change his request to “Push the godamn button, assholes.” Now the group that he had been asking told him “You don’t have to be rude.” I was becoming more upset myself, what was the big deal in pushing the button? Why were they deciding when the button could be pushed? The entire small crowd that were refusing to help him had turned slightly so they couldn’t see him. I couldn’t believe it, here was a group of strangers, deciding not to push some tiny button for someone. What were they afraid of, disrupting their busy day? I still had two stops before my own, so I took out my earbuds, put my purse on my shoulder and pushed through the small crowd. As I approached the doors I stopped by the emergency button. I reached out and pushed. Everyone stood staring at me with looks of horror on their faces. The speaker crackled and a voice asked “Sky train emergency, how can we help?” I leaned toward the speaker and said clearly “There’s a gentleman on my train car that needs some assistance, could someone meet us at the next station please?” “Sure” was the reply. As the train slowed I could see security guards walking along the platform. When the doors slid open, I pushed through the crowd, and motioned to them. As they entered the car I pointed to the gentleman with the walker, wearing the red rain coat. “This is the man who needs some help.” and I exited the train.

I think I may have pushed a few buttons that day.

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Unsolicited Advice #1

I was standing in line the other day at my local Starbucks, waiting to order. There was an older lady in front of me and ahead of her was a young girl. You could say that this young girl was of a plus size but I would never of really paid attention if it hadn’t been for the older womans comments to me. Now, within my family there is a long standing joke of how my Dad and I somehow manage to have random people strike up conversations with us. For example, my Dad once had a half hour conversation with a man who decided to tell my Dad all about his life. The man said that he was from West Virginia and he makes chop sticks for a living. He was here in Vancouver to check out wood for his factory. They then continued to chat about the best wood, with my Dad chiming in on different wood types in the area. My mom and I were sitting at a table waiting for Dad to join us with his coffee. We could not figure out what they could possibly be chatting about and we were hysterical when he told us. So it’s well known that we are stranger magnets. But back to my story. As the young girl placed her order for a tall hot chocolate with extra whip, the older lady turned to me and loudly said “That young girl could do without that extra whip!” I froze. Many things went through my mind (run, look at my feet, run) but I chose to just stare, hoping she was just a little senile. But then she launched into a story about something she’d heard on CBC radio and obesity in children. Ah, now we were getting to the heart of the matter. This lonely woman had been sitting at home, listening to CBC alone, and now she was out and about trying to strike up some conversation about something current. I felt conflicted. On the one hand, I felt that she was being extremely rude but on the other hand she was trying to have some human interaction. So I guess that you’re wondering what I did in the situation? Well, I considered pretending I didn’t hear her but I figured that by now, everyone thought that we were together. And the young girl had left and had never heard our conversation so I simply replied “I think that everyone deserves a little hot chocolate with extra whip once in a while.”

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Why Do Some Folks Think That It’s Okay to Use the World As A Toilet?

I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed this lately but alot of folks seem to think that it’s socially acceptable to use the streets as a place to blow their nose or spit. I personally have a HUGE problem with this. We are constantly being reminded to wash our hands and sneeze or cough into our sleeves to prevent the spread of germs and we all know that touching doorknobs or high fiving one another also spreads germs. So how is it that some people feel that it’s okay to spit and blow their noses in public spaces? As I ordered at the drive through window of our local Tim Horton’s, I watched a man (I was going to call him a gentleman like I usually do, but I have no respect for this fellow) blow his nose openly onto the sidewalk. What happens when someone walks through his germs, walks into the restuarant….you know where I am going with this. I didn’t have the guts to tell him off and perhaps my silent disgust at some peoples’ behaviour only serves to silently condone that same behaviour. Perhaps I need to become more vocal.

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Colony Farm Construction

In my neck of the woods, there is a protected area that we know as “Colony Farms”. It has been a farm for a century and is now owned by Metro Vancouver. It is an important part of the eco-system of our area, providing a nesting sight for Herons and birds alike. Lately though, with the expansion of the Port Mann Bridge, Metro Vancouver has started a “Restoration and Enhancement” program which they claim will help with Salmon spawning, provide new areas for wildlife to survive, etc. Right now though the area looks like a huge construction site, with dump trucks and diggers all over the area. They have also been working during the night with huge lights and trucks and digging, well past 2am! By-laws anyone? If I played my radio too loud my neighbors could call the by-law officers or police! I did email Metro Vancouver voicing my concerns, and of course they emailed and explained why they are working at night, blah blah.

Anyway, that feels better. I’ll try to post something a little more coherent later.

Ciao!

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I can’t believe how grumpy I can be. But moving on. I am excited about this evenings art class. I’ve needed a kick in the pants to get my creative mojo flowing. I hope a six week course will get me going again.

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