Kyle Cassidy held a flash fiction contest over the weekend for a copy of Cherie Priest’s steampunk novel Boneshaker. Below are the rules and following that my entry to the contest. I am very happy with my story, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too.
To win this book, mailed to your door, write a short story in 350 words or less that involves Roswell (Kyle’s cat) and any mix of the following:
b) mysterious deadly fog
c) zombies (they’re called “rotters” in Cherie’s book)
d) mysterious mad masked scientists
e) tunnels under Seattle
f) gas masks
Right On Target
“I’ve done it,” exclaimed The Thinker, throwing open the solid oak door to his lab, his monocle flying off his eye. Startled, his assistant to dropped his nearly completed model dirigible to the floor.
“What have you done?” said the assistant through his gas mask. “Destroyed a month of my work?”
“Your work?” laughed The Thinker. “Let us not forget who is the assistant here. I have, in fact, solved all our problems. And take that ridiculous thing off your face.”
The assistant removed his mask and took a breath of unfiltered air. “Not bad,” he said. “What have you done?”
“Follow me,” said The Thinker, replacing his eye-piece. He walked back through the door and into the study. “There,” he said, pointing at a rectangular wooden box connected through a series of tubes to a small coal burning stove and filled with sand-like gravel.
“What’s it do?” said the assistant, bending down to get a better look.
“Isn’t it obvious?” said The Thinker, with a sneer. “The beast…”
“You mean Roswell,” interrupted the assistant.
“Apparently,” said The Thinker with a glare. “The creature, Roswell, steps inside this box, which detects its weight through the counterweight system here, causing one lump of coal to drop into the stove there. This balloon over here stores the resultant steam until the creature exits the device, causing the balloon to rise and the metal comb to siphon the waste material into this air-tight chamber.”
“I don’t understand,” said the assistant.
“You really are simple,” said The Thinker. “The cat sits, the cat does what it does, and then the cat gets up and the device seals it away. Foul odor eliminated.”
“I know what you designed it to do,” said the assistant,trying his hardest to sound humble. “I wonder, with my deepest respect, why you didn’t just buy one at Target. They’re only $19.95.”
The assistant spent the remainder of his day cleaning up the remains of his trampled dirigible and searching for a new job.