Wednesday, July 15, 2015

100 Word Story: Starry Night

[100 word story] is an online literary journal featuring, unsurprisingly, 100 word stories. Every month they post a photo prompt, and encourage visitors to contribute their own 100 word story in the comments; the best story is then featured the next month on the website. I discovered the journal and the prompt last month, and wrote a 100 word story of my own.
It was pretty hard! 100 words is not very many. (In fact, there are exactly 81 words before this one.) I started out by writing a very short story (very short for me, that is, since my short stories usually tend to be anywhere from 800 to 1500 words), then took out unnecessary bits, then shortened the dialogue, then reworked things that didn’t make sense, then added a word or two, and ended up with 100. Finally, I posted my contribution in the comments for last month’s prompt, and proceeded to forget about it completely.
Today, I was scrolling through facebook (which, as any writer will tell you, is absolutely essential to the creative process), and brushed past a post that made a reference to Vincent Van Gogh. “Oh, hey,” I thought to myself, “I wonder what happened with that 100 word prompt thing I wrote.” When I went to check, I found that, unsurprisingly, someone else’s story had been featured (and for good reason; it’s awesome), but now, I have the opportunity to feature my story myself.

Photo by Kris Williams

She spun in circles, giggling. Unwilling to make myself vomit, I stood watching at a safe distance, amused. “How will this help with our Art History project?”
“Seeing the world through Van Gogh’s eyes!” she insisted, and flopped down, breathless, onto the grass. I joined her, though less dizzy. The stars shone down, stationary as always. I wondered if they had looked different that night in 1889.
After a moment, she sighed in defeat. “It’s nothing like Starry Night. We’ll have to do something else for our project.”
“I don’t know,” I replied, gazing upward. “I’m pretty sure this helped.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Elly and the Enchanter
A hotel lobby doesn’t really seem like the best place to pass your time, but on the first day of a fan convention, it is the best place.
“Pyramid Head!” Elly called, pointing at a guy lugging a huge costume across the room.
Another one?” asked Lissy. “Why is that even a popular character?”
“You’ve never played Silent Hill?” Lissy shuddered, but Elly grinned. “I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be brave,” she teased.
“Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble,” Lissy quoted. “Or that you should play horror games just because everyone else does.”
“A Browncoat!” gasped Autumn, looking up from her phone suddenly as though she had fellow-Firefly-fan radar. She looked toward a businesswoman walking across the lobby to the front door.
“You don’t know that,” Lissy protested. “That lady could just have a brown coat. She could just like the color.”
“Well, I guess we’ll see if she hangs out in any Alliance-friendly bars come U-Day,” Autumn replied sagely, returning to her texting.
Elly let out a sigh of enjoyment. “This really is the best. I’m so glad I can go back to the dorm tonight and sleep, instead of having to pack up all my stuff and haul it here, inevitably forget some of it and have to do without. If I forgot my Sonic Screwdriver, I could just go back to my room and get it.
“Pff,” Lissy interjected, “like you’d forget your Sonic Screwdriver.”
Elly tossed her a grin and reached into her back pocket, where she located the tool and waved it at her friend. “The point is, I could go home and get it. I don’t have to deal with the mess and hassle of actually staying at the hotel through all the con craziness.”
“That’s true,” Lissy agreed. “One time I was cosplaying Hermione, and I totally forgot my tie! I just wore a scarf instead, though, so everything was okay.”
“You wore a scarf? What a sacrifice!” Elly laughed, eyeing the Gryffindor colors which permanently adorned Lissy’s neck.
Lissy laughed and rolled her eyes. “Nobody noticed, but I was pretty upset for about fifteen minutes.”
“It’s definitely better being able to get out of the hotel when you need to.”
“Yeah, I totally agree,” Lissy echoed, watching a guy with long red hair (Just like Rupert Grint in Goblet of Fire, she thought) as he struggled with four large suitcases.
“What’s that Shakespeare quote with the ‘protestheth...’” Autumn chimed in, mispronouncing The Bard’s 16th century English.
“‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks’?” Elly provided, with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s not ‘pros...thetic’?” Autumn asked.
“Are you trying to say that you think we actually do want to stay at the hotel this weekend?” Lissy asked, translating for her roommate.
“I didn’t say it,” she replied, then reimmersed herself in her phone.
Elly and Lissy exchanged a look.
“I… kind of do want to,” Lissy admitted.
“Me too,” Elly agreed.
“There probably aren’t many rooms left,” Autumn remarked.
“Go up now and see,” Lissy advised. “We can split the cost, but don’t, like, get a presidential suite or anything.”
Elly laughed, already out of her seat and walking toward the front desk. “You mean you don’t want to throw the most amazing The Doctor Takes Hogwarts crossover party that this hotel has ever seen?” she called back.
“That wouldn’t be hard,” Autumn muttered.
“Do you have any cosplay planned?” Lissy asked her roommate politely. She still hadn’t quite forgiven Autumn for stranding her in a back hallway of the hotel the day before.
“Yeah,” Autumn said. “I’m going to be a plucky space cowboy on a job that has an elaborate plan... that involves me dressing like a hotel employee for most of the day.”
Lissy nodded. “That sounds nice.”

Standing in line didn’t provide the view that her previous vantage point had. Within the first five minutes, Elly was convinced that she’d missed seeing several of her geeky brethren, and in fact only managed to spot one: a girl who had painted her rolling suitcase to resemble the TARDIS. She didn’t mind the sacrifice, however, and bounced on the balls of her feet, knowing that soon she’d be able to partake of the entire CON experience, with the added bonus of being close enough to go home whenever she needed to.
When the couple in front of her moved forward to speak to the pretty concierge, Elly was first in line. She bounced faster, but she didn’t have long to wait. A person in a DragonBallZ t-shirt grabbed their bag and walked toward the elevators, and the guy behind the counter beckoned her forward.
“I know you might think I’m crazy for asking this,” she gushed out, “But are there any rooms left?”
“I think there are a few,” he replied, tapping at the computer in front of him.
“Are any of them… not the presidential suite?”
He laughed. It was a nice laugh. Elly looked at him. Before, she’d glanced at him like he were a piece of the background, like he was playing Extra #6 in the movie of her life. But when he laughed, it made her want to know what that movie would be like if he were one of the stars.
“It looks like you’re in luck; we’ve got one with two queen beds that I’m reasonably certain no president has ever stayed in.” He looked up and smiled at her. “No Secret Service, foreign dignitaries, or even the president of a neighborhood association, or anything.”
“We’ll take it,” she replied, and waved at her friends to signal her success. Lucky Lissy strikes again! she thought.
He fished out a keycard and began to get her checked her in. “Any big plans while you’re in town?” he asked.
“Oh, yeah! We’re gonna high five some people, stay up way too late every night, and probably marathon a bunch of movies! It’s gonna be awesome!”
He smiled again as he glanced up at her. “Wow, that was a real response. I do this pretend ‘small talk’ thing with pretty much everyone, but you must be the most excited guest I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to.”
“You’re welcome!”
He laughed.
“Your weekend is probably gonna be pretty awesome too, with CON stuff to keep an eye on.”
“It’ll definitely be interesting,” he agreed. “You’re here for the CON? You didn’t bring much luggage with you.”
“Uh, yeah!” Elly stepped back a little from the counter and pointed at her shirt. “Did you expect something different from the girl in the Union Jack?”
He squinted through his glasses to read her red, white, and blue top, which was emblazoned with the words: “ASK ME ABOUT MY DOCTOR WHO OBSESSION”.
“Doctor Who… that’s the guy with the scarf, right?”
Another poor soul, just waiting to be converted, Elly thought, and nodded. “Yes. For the purposes of our conversation, yes. He’s the guy with the scarf.”
“Is that what you’re going to watch all weekend?”
Elly laughed. “I wouldn’t mind, but my friends probably want something else for a change. I’m not sure what else we’ll have, but at some point we’re definitely watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
“‘There are some who call me… Tim?’”
Elly’s momentarily startled eyes swept across his face and took in his nametag, pinned to the front of his suit jacket, which read: “Timothy Gray, MANAGER”. Then she laughed. And laughed. She got a few weird looks from the other concierge and the people standing in line behind her, but she didn’t care.
“You,” she gasped out when she caught her breath, “are my favorite. You’re totally invited to our The Doctor Takes Hogwarts party. If we decide to have it.”
He looked amused as he gave her credit card back and passed her the keycards for her room. “As long as you don’t mind someone from Middle Earth showing up,” he replied. “I’m more of a Lord of the Rings fan, myself.”
Elly grinned, collecting all of her stuff. “Well, thanks for all your help, and your small talk. I guess I’ll see you around!”
“Sure,” the manager replied with a smile. “Enjoy your stay.”
“I will!” Elly turned to walk away, but felt compelled pass on a warning. On her way past the line of people, she pointed at the manager and informed them, “I wouldn’t try to mess with that guy if I were you; he’s an enchanter.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Trip, Because of the Fall

“Uh, Autumn, are you sure it’s okay for us to be back here?”
“Yeah! Felicity, I told you, it's fine, it’s cool, my boss is cool. Come on! I want to show you something!”
The two girls moved quickly down the back hallway of the hotel, dodging stacks of chairs, room service carts, and other obstacles.
“I never knew you were into this stuff,” said Lissy. “I mean, if I had, we could have, I dunno, done a movie marathon or something.”
“When?” replied the girl in the hotel uniform. “I’m always here.”
“I guess that’s true,” Lissy muttered.
“It’s fine, we know now, and maybe we can do the movie thing on my next weekend off. In, like, four months. But whatever, come here, look!” They had reached a door, which Autumn cracked open. Lissy could see a large banquet space that was slowly being transformed into booths. “Look, look!” Autumn insisted, pointing to what would soon be a booth on the end of the nearest aisle. “Know who that is?”
It looked to Lissy as though it was a rather good looking guy and a girl who hadn’t quite made up her mind the last time she sat down in front of a hair stylist. Autumn was obviously expecting her to reply, and she felt a little silly saying, “N...o, should I?”
Lissy looked at her roommate. “I like Harry Potter stuff. Neither of those people look like actors from the movies, unless you’re gonna tell me that that girl is actually Nymphadora Lupin.”
“Huh?” was Autumn’s reply.
“Yes, that!” Lissy pointed at her roommate’s face. “That’s how I feel when you ask me who those people are. I don’t know.”
Autumn sighed and nodded an apology, just like she had the time she had accidentally left a wet towel on Lissy’s bed. “Okay. Well, you can pretend to be excited with me, then.”
Lissy nodded her forgiveness, just like she had the time she had gotten yelled at by the RA because Autumn had gone to work and forgotten that her stereo was blasting the Pok√©mon Theme―on repeat―for four hours.
“It’s Kent Jackson,” Autumn said. “He draws Oblivious Girl, and the girl is Hazel Kirke, they write the comic together and she colors it. I would totally get my hair done like hers if they didn’t have a rule against it here.”
“Really?” Lissy eyed the girl’s orange and purple leopard spotted mohawk.
“Yeah, she’s awesome, right?”
Lissy was saved from having to disagree by a man’s voice calling down the hallway, “Autumn, are you down there? You’re supposed to be at the front desk!”
Autumn jumped like she’d been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. “Uh, yeah, I’ll be right there!” she yelled back. Then she turned to her roommate. “Okay, keep going down the hallway, and the second door on the left will take you out onto the sidewalk where you parked.”
“You’re leaving me here?” Lissy protested.
“It’s not a big deal, just go two doors down and you’ll be fine!”
“I thought you said it was okay for us to be back here!”
“Yeah, it is, just… well, not right now, because I’m supposed to be somewhere else. Two doors down.”
And then she disappeared back the way they had come.
Lissy stood, alone in the service hallway of the hotel, marveling at the seedy underbelly of the Chicago fan convention experience. It wasn’t terribly exciting. Or very well lit. She started down the hall in the direction her roommate had indicated, hoping she would be standing outside within sight of her car in a few minutes, but it took her almost two to reach the first door on the left, and the second one was nowhere to be seen.
She wasn’t afraid of getting lost. She was in a large hotel in one of the biggest cities in the country. If nothing else, she could just start shouting, “I’ve been abandoned in a dark hallway by an Oblivious Girl fan!” until someone found her. If that reference didn’t work, she could always resort to Star Wars: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” She smiled at the thought and pulled at the red and gold striped scarf around her neck. The hallway was so full of stuff that she had to turn sideways a couple of times to squeeze past things. “How can they work back here?” she murmured to herself. “I’m surprised I haven’t knocked anything over, or fallen―”
And that’s when it happened.
She tripped.
Great, now I’m going to die, she thought.
Instead, she heard someone yelp, and say, “What the hell?!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” she cried as a reflex.
“Whoa, calm down!”
A strong hand above her elbow helped her to her feet, and she looked into the face of her knight in shining armor. He looked like that comic artist, but Lissy was sure it couldn’t be him, since she’d just seen him in the other room. Plus, this guy’s hair was black instead of light brown.
“You’re not… who I thought,” he said. “Are you okay?”
“Are you?” she replied, as he rubbed a hand on his shins.
“I’ll be all right. Why did you trip over me?”
“It’s not like I did it on purpose! You’re the one laying on the floor with your legs across the hallway!”
“True enough.”
“What are you doing here, anyway?”
“I’m hiding from Hazel. I’ve already carried about a million boxes in for them today, and I had to sneak away to get some rest.”
“Oh.” Lissy felt slightly awkward, standing with some stranger alone in a deserted hallway. Maybe she would put one of her Gryffindor socks in with Autumn’s laundry when she got back to the dorm. “Well, I... think they rent rooms here. It’s a hotel.”
“Yeah, but…” he began, then shook his head. “Never mind. Sorry I tripped you.”
“It’s fine. I’m sorry I tripped.” She glanced along the wall on her left. “You wouldn’t by chance happen to have seen a door on this side of the hallway, would you?”
“Sure, there’s one on the other side of that rack of wine glasses. Why?”
“It’s how I make good my escape,” she informed him. She shifted the glassware, which luckily was on a rolling cart. “Wow, I never would have seen it if I hadn’t tripped over you. Pretty lucky, huh?”
“I’ve never heard of someone luckily tripping over an innocent bystander,” he said with a grin.
“That’s me,” she replied. “Lucky Lissy!”
Just then, a door on the right side of the hallway opened to reveal an irate girl with a leopard mohawk. “Jack, are you slacking off again?!”
Jack sighed. “Yes, I am,” he admitted.
“Well, get back in here, I’m too short and I need your help hanging stuff.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Jack said resignedly. He glanced at Lissy. “Good luck,” he told her.
“Same to you,” she said, and opened the door, looking back to see him following Hazel Kirke back onto the floor.
She stepped outside, and there was her car, right in front of her. She sighed. At least Autumn had been right about that. It wasn’t even the first day of the CON and already she was having adventures. This was going to be an interesting weekend.