July 10, 2019
For last week's prompt, I used a contest I'd entered on the site Furious Fiction. 500 words, in 55 hours, for a $500 prize. This month the criteria were to include a train, frozen, and three consecutive three word sentences. I sent mine in last weekend, and the results will be announced July 24. Mine was 489 words. It was initially 600 or so, then I pared it down.
Update - here's the results - winner, short list, and long list. I'm not there - oh well. I'll keep writing. They had over 1200 submissions for this one.
Richard Arlington II was not happy. This was not the brochure’s exciting adventure into Canada’s frozen North. The train was decrepit, the only wildlife a cockroach, and the locals were not quaint; they were loud and smelled of smoke and sweat.
He snapped his fingers at the passing conductor. "Finally, you’re back. My man, this is completely unsatisfactory. I demand a private compartment, away from all this riff-raff."
"I’m sorry sir, but I’m all on my own here. And coach class is all we have. As for the riff-raff, they’re the locals, my friends, returning home from jobs, or a monthly shopping trip. They’re just happy to be heading back."
Richard held out several fifties. "Whatever. They look like losers to me. Save your feeble excuses and just do your job and fix this."
The conductor paused, then pocketed the cash. "I think I have a solution to the problem sir."
He led Richard back through the connecting vestibule and unlocked a door. "We’re taking this one back to be refurbished, so it’s closed off. Just coach seats, but it’s yours."
Richard sniffed. "It will do. Bring my bags. And some Scotch."
For another two fifties the conductor scrounged together some snacks from people’s groceries, and left the bottle of Scotch. Richard sipped his drink and watched the landscape roll by in the fading daylight. Trees, snow, more trees, more snow—what a boring country. He yawned.
When he awoke it was night out, and the train was stopped. He rang the conductor. Nothing.
"I’ll have that useless idiot fired." He stormed up the aisle, wrenched open the connecting door, and stepped into space.
His face plant in the snow knocked the breath out of him. He could see in the moonlight that his car sat by itself on a siding. The only sound was a wolf, howling in the distance. He managed to climb back into his car and checked his phone. Zero bars, nothing. Bloody colonials. He could already see his breath, so he put on his parka and burrowed under some blankets. Another train would be by soon, and see him.
Four hours later, teeth chattering, he was starting to really worry when there was a sudden jolt to his car.
What the hell? He rushed to the doorway, opened it carefully, and looked down into the astonished face of a worker, coupling up a locomotive.
"Sir, this car is supposed to be empty."
"As you can see, it’s not. What happened?"
"The conductor cut it off for tomorrow’s train to bring up, but the repair shop over-ruled him and sent us down. Lucky for you."
"Well, I’m freezing. Can you at least get the heat on?"
"Yes, but you’re welcome to ride back with us in the cab. It’s a bit cramped and dirty, but the view is great. We might even see some moose. And we have coffee."
Richard paused, then nodded. "Okay, sold."
Great story, and proof positive that you should study up on the locale and locals before you take a trip to a new destination. I'm no rocket scientist, but I believe it's probably not too good of an idea to refer to the locals as riff-raff, especially to another of them. As a visitor to that area, Richard was pretty nasty about everything. Tact is definitely not his wheelhouse. He was lucky all right; he could have become a permanent part of the frozen North!
Wishing you success in the contest!
Posted by: Joyce Juzwik | July 12, 2019 at 09:46 PM