I’m a sucker for a challenge. I’ve done stories that were precisely 250 words. And precisely six words long. (One of those 6-worders had three separate scenes, action, conversation and pathos!) Heck, I’ve even written in second-person, future tense, though that one is problematic, because some readers obey.
Now comes a silly-ass dare from that meme-wallow, the Internet. GISHWHES (pompously promoting: the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen) is a charity fundraiser by Supernatural star Misha Collins. This year, one item on the list (#78) is a sci-fi story –140 words in length, or under - written specifically for the hunt. Alas, according to one source, “overwhelmed sci-fi authors aren’t too happy about it.”
That’s an exaggeration. Neil Gaiman replied to the request with an unnecessary snort, when silence would suffice. But Hugh Howey and others have given it a whirl. I put in an hour and came up with the little item that follows, below… now officially posted online for any scavenger hunter to use.
Oh, in 140 words or less you are supposed to mention Misha, the Queen of England, and an ELOPUS… a hybrid between an elephant and an octopus. (See image.) Which is doubly ironic, since in several stories I have already portrayed ELEPENTS, future-modified pachyderms, adapted for work in space, with crude gripping hands, a prehensile tail and a trunk for fine manipulation! I think my gene-mod-uplifted creatures are far more likely to come about than Elopusses! (E-lopi?)
But here we go. Misha… the (or rather “a”) queen… and a symbolic elephant-octopus. Yeesh. Despite these handicaps, I tried to pack in a lot of events, drama and back story. (Oh and I did it in exactly 140!)
NOTE: If any #GISHWHES team wants to claim this: it goes to the first to comment below.
Cephalopodic-Pachydermic Getaway…. by David Brin
Many-handed. Nosy. Never forgets. A mythical creature of control, with busybody tentacles in every pie… or body cavity… on Earth.
On every palace doorway I pass -- Elopus emblems of a tyrant queen.
Disguised, I bring supper to Prince Misha – her heir, if ever she runs out of clones.
His ocean-gray eyes widen, then he nods.
“Set it by the window, girl.”
Since televising a call for freedom, he’s now a problem for the Elopus Monarch. Rebels arranged my mission, but I, too, have motives.
Spoon-touched, the custard swells, envelops him, permeating flesh too fast for surveillance to catch. A husk continues eating, while something slithers out between its legs, plopping to the floor. His homunculus.
“You’ll grow again,” I whisper, spreading diaphanous nightwings on the balcony. He coos. Even cuter now.
We soar. Alarms wail, too late.