The winner of AuthorCulture‘s Short Story Contest is (drum roll, please): Liberty Speidel!
As first place winner of the contest, Liberty’s story is posted both here and in AuthorCulture, and she wins a copy for The Fire in Fiction, by Donald Maass. Not a bad haul for an afternoon’s work, is it?
Liberty Speidel is one of the friendliest, most encouraging people I know, and I’m just plum tickled that she’s the winner of the AC Writer’s Contest!
Liberty says her mother forced Nancy Drew on her–just the first. Afterward, she became a fan and an avid reader. Writing since she was a teenager, she has a degree in journalism and now squeezes her work time into the precious few moments allowed by baby naps and outings with daddy. Although she’s not published–yet–Liberty enjoys writing mysteries, political thrillers, and science fiction adventure stories from her home in the Kansas City area. You can get a sampling of her work on her site Word Wanderings, but meantime, here’s her award-winning short story!
Word prompt from Archetype’s Plot Scene Generator: The story starts when your protagonist is forced into a car at gunpoint. Another character is someone your protagonist dated who believes s/he is from another galaxy.
“Hurry up, get in the car.” Derrick Santiago prodded me with the business end of the Colt .45 he held. “We’re gonna be late.”
“Derrick, you don’t want to do this.” I hovered near the driver’s door of my Jetta. “Kidnapping someone at gunpoint can get you ten to twenty in the big house.”
“We gotta go. You’re gonna make me late.” Something in his eyes made me think my former boyfriend wasn’t playing with a full deck today. But I couldn’t put my finger on that something.
“Late for what? If you needed a ride, you just had to say so. You don’t have to kidnap me.”
“Will you get in the car or not?” He glanced around the parking lot to my apartment complex, then back at me. “Hurry up!”
I sighed, decided to humor him for a few minutes, and got behind the wheel. Derrick refused to drive. Said driving a vehicle so slow made his nerves vibrate.
Still holding the gun on me, my ex went around the car and slid into the passenger seat. He kept the gun low as I buckled my safety belt, adjusted the mirrors since my current boyfriend, Mark, had driven my Jetta last, and turned over the diesel engine. It rumbled to life, and I took off.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Landing site. South of town. Gotta be there in twenty minutes. They’re coming for me.”
During the course of our relationship, Derrick had gotten more and more bizarre. Two weeks into dating him, Derrick told me he came from another galaxy. Though now thinking he’d completely lost his marbles, we continued dating for another five weeks. I called it quits when he insisted he’d come from another galaxy and had gotten lost on a working vacation, landing outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. His space ship promptly disintegrated when exposed to a corn field as corn was toxic to the metals of the ship. This was too much, even for me. So much for bio-fuels.
“Where south of town?” I prompted. I’d play along, but I knew that if I wasn’t at home in thirty minutes when Mark showed up, he’d track me down.
“Near Roca. There’s a landing spot there.”
Okay, this would take more than thirty minutes. “Derrick, maybe you should consider going to the hospital. I think you’ve been hitting the happy drugs too hard again. The doctors can help you.”
“Don’t need doctors. Need to get back to Bracania.” He squawked like a parrot. He’d done this before when talking of Bracania, so I had to think this was some sort of ‘word’ he’d created to try to convince me of the fact he was an alien. I just thought him bizarre. Mark was sane. Derrick really needed those men in white lab coats.
“You know there’s no such things as aliens, right? You’re delusional.” Perhaps not the smartest thing to say when dealing with someone holding a gun on you, but I honestly believed he’d forgotten he held the Colt. Probably thought it an ‘inferior’ weapon anyway.
“You’ll see. You’ll all see! I’ll go back to Bracania.” He squawked. “Then you’ll believe me.”
If he did get back to Bracania, hopefully they’d put him in a mental hospital. That’s certainly where he needed to be, human, Bracanian or whatever he was.
“Hurry up. Gonna be late. The captain doesn’t appreciate lateness.”
I sighed. “What’s the captain’s name?”
He made a noise I couldn’t explain. “There’s no translation into your language.” Naturally.
“Nice. So, if you’re really from another planet—”
“Right. So, if you’re from another galaxy, why would you want to stop here if there’s plants here that can destroy your metals?”
“We’re explorers. We did not know what this corn was or its hazardous qualities.”
“You could have picked a better place to land than Nebraska then.”
I continued to humor him. Maybe he’d put the Colt down and I could swipe it, then head back to town. “Is your captain on a tight schedule?”
Derrick nodded. “Very tight. He must make the outer rim within seven of your days.”
I blinked, unable to fathom how far that would actually be and the speed at which one would have to travel to make it that far. “That’s impossible!”
“Not for Bracanians. Our technology is far more advanced than anything you could dream of.” Derrick glanced ahead as we reached Roca Road. “Turn left. Yes, left. Landing sight is about three kilometers ahead.”
“Miles. We use miles in America.”
He didn’t seem to notice. There was an airport near there, but mostly corn fields and a few residential developments. Hoped the captain’s ship was reinforced ’cause if it wasn’t… Well, we’d have more crazy Bracanians in the mental hospital in Lincoln!
Dusk encroached as I pulled up to the airport, where Derrick indicated me to stop. He had me get out, and together, we walked towards the runway. “This is ridiculous, Derrick.”
He didn’t pay attention to me. “Captain is late. He will be here shortly.” He must be getting messages from somewhere, but I couldn’t tell where. Maybe it was the voices in his head.
A plane buzzed over, landing gear down. I ducked. “Are you insane?” I screamed as the plane touched down about fifty feet further down the runway. “You’re going to get us killed! I’m going back to Lincoln!” I stood back up and turned towards where I’d parked.
“Wait! Landing imminent. Thirty seconds!”
I rolled my eyes. “You’re insane, Derrick. I’m leaving. Find your own way back to town! I don’t want to ever see you again!”
He grabbed my arm. “Stay! You must see! I’m not insane as you think.”
“This had better be good.” I folded my arms and waited.
Ten seconds passed, then someone yelled from the small building where I figured the control tower was. “Hey, you crazy people! Get away from the runway! You’re gonna get yourself killed!”
A circular object with blue, yellow, red, and green lights flashed. It spanned at least forty feet and descended on a hiss, touching down gracefully on the asphalt. When fully down, it stood about twenty feet high. What on God’s green Earth…? It was… beautiful, in a foreign sort of way. I blinked once, twice, just to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks.
A small hatch opened on the section that faced us. A mostly human-looking figure stood at the top of a staircase extending to the ground.
“Ladre, we must go,” the figure stated. His skin looked waxier and more purple than a human’s, but other than that, he looked human.
“Yes. Coming, Captain.” Derrick/Ladre turned to me. “Thank you, Cecelia. I know you thought me insane, but you have been a kind friend. I doubt I shall see you again.” He handed me the weapon, then kissed my cheek.
All I could do was stare, mouth agape, as Ladre entered the ship, then turned and waved to me. A moment later, the hatch closed, and the craft silently lifted toward the heavens.
I stared after the ship, well after it had disappeared among the stars. When I regained my composure, I drove back to town. Mark greeted me at my apartment, curious eyes wondering where I’d been. I told him a friend needed a ride home.