Friday, January 08, 2010

Wordzzle 94 - Slip sliding away

This is my contribution to this week's Wordzzle. Wordzzle is a game in which each week word lists, used to create stories, are given on the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Participating users post their stories on their own blogs.

This is my entry number 38, for Wordzzle week 94.

Ten Word Challenge:

space cadet,
silver lining,
turtle soup,

"Have another mug of turtle soup," she said. "Space Cadets need to keep up their strength."

"Space Cadets are also not supposed to gain weight. Our superiors get mad when we do that. It costs more to send us into space."

"You won't be able to do your best if you're as skinny as a minaret."

"I think one will do, though," he said, putting down the mug. For some reason it seemed terribly greasy. He started chewing on the ice in his drink.

"There's not much nourishment in ice. You should finish your soup."

He reluctantly took another sip from his mug. It didn't taste any better.

"Why couldn't you have gone into sales, or something like that? Then we could have had a normal life."

"I didn't feel like I needed a normal life. There are advantages to this job, you know."

"There don't seem to be many. I do like that mandala they make you wear, though. It's very pretty."

"You mean the Space Cadet emblem? It's very nice, yes, but they give us a different one later on, after we've completed our training."

"Is it better than this one?"

"Some people think so."

"That's good. Now finish off your soup. You need all you can get."

He raised the mug to his lips and finished it off, swallowing it quickly. At least now she would quit nagging him. He set the mug down and put his fists on the table top, feeling very sick now. He looked at the wood grain on the table, and wondered if it should be this close. He realized, then, that his head was leaning down. He thought he should straighten it up, but it seemed like a lot of work.

"The only real silver lining here," she said, "is the insurance policy they give you. It covers death from anything, and pays off an enormous sum. It would be sad to have to use it, though."

He tried to say something, to agree with her, but found himself sliding to the floor.

Mini Challenge:

broken bones,
slide rule,

"There's a slide rule here," he said. "If you get hurt using the slide, it's your problem."

"That's garbage. The slide attacked me. I have the broken bones to prove it. Is there no responsibility here?"

He looked at me sanguinely. "You did refer to it as being Chinese, like that was a bad thing."

"It has an American name, but it says it was made in China. That sounds deceptive to me."

"It's not deceptive at all. It was upfront about where it was made. If anyone is being deceptive it's you. You don't have any broken bones at all. I'm sure your arm was hanging that way when you came in here."

"It was not! Why, when I came in here I could do anything I wanted with it. I could swing it around my head if I wanted to."

"You could do that now if you wanted to, though you might have to help it out with your other arm."

"I'd rather not. In fact I feel faint even thinking about it. Maybe I'd better just lie down and wait for the ambulance."

"You're nothing but a troublemaker. Get out."

I moved off, grumbling to myself. There was nothing left to do now but fake a fall at the supermarket.

Mega challenge:

space cadet,
silver lining,
turtle soup,

broken bones,
slide rule,

"Sales of turtle soup are not doing well," he observed.

"Maybe it's the broken bones in them."

"Exotic dishes are supposed to be exotic. It adds to the mystery."

"They aren't even turtle bones. They're chicken."

"How can you tell?"

"Some of them have the claws still attached."

"More mystery."

"It's certainly a mystery to me."

"Maybe I should have a block of ice carved into the shape of a minaret, or even a mandala. I could even use frozen grease instead of ice, make it even more notable. Something to bring in the curious."

"It would help if the food weren't so curious."

"I'll have you know I have authentic Chinese dishes, or very nearly authentic Chinese dishes, mixed with other cuisine."

"Your chopsticks aren't even wood. They're made of plastic."

"Yes, but they're made in China."

"What about these mugs with Space Cadets movie scenes on them?"

"They're made in China too, but I can't guarantee that they're authentic."

"What kind of customer are you looking for, exactly?"

"The kind of customer who is interested in something new, who likes the strange, the exotic, who isn't held back because things are a little different." He waved his hand around at the room. "I've tried to make this place different, full of unusual things, things you don't see everywhere else. See, I've even got some ancient Chinese slide rules."

"Those just look like strips of bamboo wired together. Why do they have English numbers on them?"

"How else would you use them?"

"Look, all this stuff is just a bunch of garbage. It's alright to try to be exotic, or strange, or just different, but this is just cheap. I'd like to say there's a silver lining, but there isn't one. There's nothing here at all."

"No, no silver. I do have some nice plastic place mats with silvery designs, though."

"That's what I mean! Nothing in here is real! Everything's fake!"

"Maybe so," he said, sanguinely. "Maybe so." He stirred the turtle soup and poured himself a bowl. "However, if a person believes that they are real, then to that person they are real, and if a person believes that they are fake, then to that person they are fake. I view it, then, as a problem on that person's part, a problem that can possibly yet be corrected. If you see a movie, all kinds of things may happen in it, even fantastic things, and yet some part of you must still believe it, or at least suspend disbelief, in order to appreciate the movie. Even if the acting is bad, and even if some things could have been done better, you must still believe, otherwise it becomes meaningless. We do the same types of things when we read books and stories. If people choose to believe, or choose to want to believe, then things can become real, even if just for a while. Now, I believe I'll have some turtle soup, Would you like to join me?"

After a pause the man said, "I believe I will."

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Blogger Raven said...

Interesting trio. That Space Cadet in the first one wasn't so space cadety, was she? Loved the last paragraph of your mega. Said a mouthful. Creative as always. Hope your New Year is off to a good start.

11:49 PM, January 11, 2010  
Blogger Connie-bo-bonnie said...

I love all your stories.

6:27 AM, January 12, 2010  
Blogger Argent said...

Three very well-executed pieces as always. The one about the person faking injury to get compensation could well be based on real life, sadly.

12:35 PM, January 12, 2010  

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