198. Game Show: Iron Chef Flash Fiction
Noon (Gold East) Grand Suite 3
Christopher J Garcia, Dr. Phil, Janet Freeman. Lawrence M. Schoen (M), Mur Lafferty.
And now we're into in for sure. My first panel at a WorldCon and it's a five-minute flash fiction competition. Me, who tends to write long. (grin) We all had laptops, though one guy's Mac ran out of battery and someone in the audience handed him a Windows machine. I had a brand new $199 from Best Buy Asus Eee PC 1025C, which I should've booted earlier and put to sleep. I was worried it wouldn't finish booting in time, but it finally did and I set Word 2003 for Book Antiqua 16-point. Our esteemed moderator teased that bigger didn't mean better. I told him I had to read it.
Our emcee, Lawrence M. Schoen, editor of Alembical and one of the architects of the Klingon language. (Click on photo for larger.)
My competitors -- from front to back -- Christopher J Garcia, Janet Freeman, Mur Lafferty. (Click on photo for larger.)
The Audience -- left side. (Click on photo for larger.)
Right side -- Mrs. Dr. Phil and Anne of the UCF on the far right. (Click on photo for larger.)
It was all sort of a blur. Mur won the first story. I had determined to write a fairly straight SF story at first, while I gauged the competition. Everyone else was doing funny.
FIRST ROUND SECRET INGREDIENT: Maniacal laughter
There was little to do on the bridge during the long hours of waiting in dock. As usual, the lowliest ensign was Officer of the Deck. And Jake Manson was just the man for the job.I did better on the second, a space station based version of sorts of my kid's story "Hide-Go-Seek" on my website.
"Six hours before the departure watch, sir," the duty chief reported.
"Noted," Jake said, as the automatic prompt appeared on his screen.
"And two minutes before I go on shore leave."
"That’ll be a short shore leave," Jake noted.
"Yessir. But it will be memorable."
"Then you’re relieved," Jake said.
The last that Jake heard was maniacal laugher disappearing down the corridor.
SECOND ROUND SECRET INGREDIENT: Invisibility
"Can we play hide-go-seek?"I won the third round. Mrs. Dr. Phil was sure she knew where I'd go with this from the way Lawrence intoned the secret ingredient -- she was right. (grin) And reading it was great fun, with just the right voice.
"No," Jeff said. "You always…"
He was going to say that Awer always cheated, but that wasn’t really true. The little boy from Beta Centauri Prime just was… different.
"No, really, I won’t."
"Okay, we can play. You go hide."
Jeff watched Awer run off. He covered his eyes and began to count. "One… two… three…"
The obvious place to hide was in the airlock.
"… forty-nine … fifty. Here I come, ready or not!"
Jeff started to search. Awer wasn’t in the airlock. He wasn’t in the electronics locker. He wasn’t underneath the plotting desk.
"Sorry," Awer’s disembodied voice said from less than a meter away.
"Darn it, Awer, I can’t see you!"
The alien boy shimmered into the room, hiding between two storage racks. It would’ve been a good hiding place.
"I’m really, really sorry," Awer said.
THIRD ROUND SECRET INGREDIENT: Puppies!
"That little girl is going to be the death of me!" Gelinda The Weird said, staring into her crystal ball. "I’ll have to show her what she’s up against. Before I send in the flying Kitties."Did quite well in the fourth round as well. Wait -- I have a chance to win this?
Gelinda gathered some Milkbones from the dish and crushing them, poured the dust into the scene into the crystal ball.
"This will distract that little girl. And her little dog, too.
"Puppies. Lovely, lovely puppies."
Gelinda almost laughed. And then she remembered, now she couldn’t send in the thrice-damned flying kitties. Not with a field filled with puppies, playing and romping and ready to take on an aerial assault of flying kitties…
"Curses, you little girl – and your little dog, too."
FOURTH ROUND SECRET INGREDIENT: Curiosity
"There’s no doubt about it."Each of us had won a round, so Lawrence polled the audience yet again to try to evaluate the whole oeuvre. Pretty much a tie between Hugo-nominee Mur Lafferty and myself. But on the runoff between the two of us, I came in second. Sigh.
The murder scene in front of them was probably the worst they’d seen on Mars in the past twenty years.
"Shame that Catherine had been the one to find it."
"Who knew that a nuclear reactor from the twenty-first century could cause so much havoc?"
"Yeah, but Catherine?"
"I think she didn’t want anyone on the team to die a lingering death. It would’ve taken too long for the med team to make it in."
"Yup. Clear cut case."
"Agreed. Curiosity killed Cat."
Still -- I came in SECOND! Yay!