Welcome to the October Can You? Flash Fiction Challenge!
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No gentle reader, I did not attempt to come up with a scene that included a Halloween theme. (Don’t think I wasn’t tempted) Instead I’ve decided to take the high road and go with a story about the military. Who’d have guessed, right? Hey, they say that you should write what you know…
The rules are simple:
Your objective is to write our hero out of the predicament that I have written him into.
You must do so fairly. Realism is not a requirement but fairness is a must. (i.e. “Luckily, our hero sprouted wings and was able to fly away” is not fair. “Our hero turned and ran. As she was passing by a bush, she saw underneath a sawed-off shot gun and a case of shells next to the decaying body of a hunter that looked like it was mauled by a bear…” is not realistic, but it is fair.)
Write your piece of Flash Fiction in 500 words or less.
Post it with the title “Can You?” in the Flash Fiction category and I will post a comment aimed at the Lit.org membership at large asking the question, “Did He/She?” along with my opinion. If the general opinion is that you did it fairly, you will be immortalized in prose by yours truly in the next installment of Musings. If the general opinion is that you did not get our hero out of the jam that I wrote him into fairly, then we will offer our critiques in good spirits to help with revisions.
Here is October's scene:
Lance Corporal Mitchell came around slowly. He knew something was wrong but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He was supposed to be part of a night convoy between Camp Pendleton and 29 Palms California. He remembered stopping at a gas station that was roughly halfway between the two for a break, and he remember leaving after the break was over…Mitchell gave his head a shake and it banged off something hard. He also felt a lot of pressure across his chest and waist. The seatbelt!!! Now it was coming back to him. He’d bought a bottle of Mt. Dew at the gas station. After getting back on the road, he’d wedged his knee between the seat and steering wheel to free up his hands so he could open it. His knee had slipped and the HMMWV had veered into a ditch. That’s the last thing Mitchell remembered. The truck must have flipped because he was hanging upside down by the seat belt and his head was hitting the roof of the truck. Mitchell put his hands down and felt the fiberglass of the cab just in front of him. If he’d been in a canvas topped truck he’d have been toast for sure. The roof was covered in puddles of something wet and Mitchell could smell something familiar. At first, he thought that the wetness was blood from his head because his face was wet too. He brought his hand to his face to try and see it better in the dark when suddenly, the smell clicked into place. It wasn’t blood, it was diesel fuel. The fuel tank must have been punctured, and now it was draining down into the cab. It was everywhere! It had soaked the seat and Mitchell’s clothes. He was already beginning to feel light headed from the fumes.
Mitchell reached up and felt for the seat belt buckle. He pushed but nothing happened. By touch, he determined that the plastic button had been broken off and he was going to have to play with the metal on the inside to unlatch it. It might take a few minutes, but LCPL Mitchell was a mechanic. He was used to smelling diesel and working in tight spots that he couldn’t see.
“Are you alright son,” said a voice from just outside the truck. Mitchell started as a flash light shined in his eyes. The light was aimed down and Mitchell saw a California State Trooper behind it.
“Yeah,” Mitchell said, “I’m fine but the seat belt latch is broken and I’m kinda stuck. I can probably make it work, but it will take me a minute or two.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll have you outta there in no time,” the cop smiled at him. “Are you hurt?”
“I got a nasty shot to the head, but it’s not bleeding,” Mitchell replied.
“Ok, once we get some more light down here, we’ll cut you out off that belt and take a look at your head. EMT’s are on the way. Hang in there buddy,” he said.
He gave one last reassuring smile then started back up the hill. Mitchell could just see the top of the ditch. It was steeper than he remembered, but he didn’t really trust his judgment at this point. He chuckled as he saw the officer slip, catch himself with his hands, and then scramble the rest of the way up. The blue and red lights outlined him as he took something from another cop. Mitchell squinted to make it out, then he screamed. He meant to yell that there was fuel everywhere down here but only got out, “NOOOOOO!!” before the guy popped the road flare and gave it an underhanded lob toward the truck…
The scene is set and the game is on!
'But I don't want to go among mad people,' said Alice. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the cat. 'We're all mad here.'