I just wrote the final story for Dying for a Cause, a 100 word story anthology created to raise money for Relay for Life. I auctioned off 10 spots in a Second Life auction at Third Life Books. The winners got to die in their own 100 word story, written by me. Only 7 slots were sold (at 4500Lindens each), but I still wanted ten stories, so I asked a few other people who have been a big part in Relay for Life, or some other cause, such as Podcasting for Water.
The winners are
Delaney ButtonKat KlaybourneMike Stackpole
Chuck Heintzelman (as Wildebeast Ferengi)
Daphne AbernathyJohn WilkersonDave AviliaJT Indie
I’ll want to go over the stories one more time, and have another set of eyes look at them for errors, then I’ll turn them into a PDF and a THiNK book (A Second Life format), and everyone can read 10 horrifying deaths, all for a good cause. I plan to have a release party in Second Life, and for as many as possible, I’ll have the winners read their stories aloud as they read them for the very first time.
Greg stepped from the shower and dried off. Wiping some steam from the bathroom mirror, he couldn’t help grinning at himself. He had been waiting to see the movie since it had been announced five years ago. He followed its progress throughout the whole process, from it being optioned from the book to a screenwriter and director being chosen along with the actors. If a news article or blog post mentioned the production of the movie he had read it. He flexed in the mirror, pretty sure he could have played the protagonist himself, even if only in his imagination and not on the big screen.
He quickly put on his underwear, socks and pants. From the shirts in the drawer he chose the t-shirt in the middle. It had the main character artfully drawn across the entire front of the shirt with the catchphrase of the film written across the back. He put it on carefully, making sure it was straight.
His wallet, keys, phone sat near the door on a small cabinet. He placed the wallet and phone in his pockets and headed out the door, locking it.
He unlocked the van door and slid in, closed the door, inserted the key into the ignition, and turned it. And turned it. Nothing happened. And turned again. The van grumbled and whined, but did not start. He panicked; he had to make this show time! He turned the key … nothing nothing nothing! Greg smacked his forehead in his palms then pulled his hands down across his face in grief. He stepped out of the van and pulled the lever to open the hood. he lifted it up, putting the support in place to hold it up.
He poured over the innards of the van: the engine, the alternator. He glanced at his watch; not much time. The water level, the battery, both seemed fine. There! That belt! It hung loosely from the upper of the two wheels it connected together when it made a complete circle instead of being broken. He thought it looked easy to replace, but …
A clunk sounded from under his fan. What was that? A kid ran from across the street.
“Hey Mister, my ball went under your van. Can you help me get it?
“What? No, I’m busy.”
The kid got down and tried to reach the ball.
“I can’t reach it!”
Greg reached past some hoses to get at the belt.
“Man, I’m busy. There’s a stick in the yard, use that or something.”
The kid ran into the yard. With the tips of his fingers Greg grasped the broken belt and pulled it free. He yelped and jerked his arm away quickly, but sighed when he saw the grease stain on his sleeve. The kid came back with a stick and freed the ball, then ran back across the street. Greg check the back of his van, and just as he suspected, he had no spare belt. He looked down the road. The auto parts store stood only a few blocks away. He looked at his watch and slowly inhaled then sighed. I guess I’ll have to see the movie another day. He kicked a tire in frustration. Belt in hand, he jogged towards the auto parts store. Maybe if he was really fast, he’d make it and only miss the previews.
One block away from the parts shop, he slowed to a walk. He wiped sweat from his brow and shook it from his fingers, drying them on his pant leg. He approached the store and walked passed a man handing a couple something. Pushing the door open, he walked inside.
He walked up to the counter and found that all the employees were busy helping other customers. No one was being troublesome or slow, but there were three people ahead of him. The hands on his watch moved, each tick a tiny audible portent of the doom that he would miss his movie. Sighs were becoming a habit.
Once everyone else had been helped, Greg walked up to the counter and laid the broken belt with the serial number facing, he glanced at the employee’s name tag, Brett.
“I need a replacement for my van.”
Pertinent details received, Brett went into the stock area behind the counter. Greg tapped his fingers anxiously on the counter for some moments. Next he cycled through his cell phone list looking for a ride. None of the names looked promising. Brett came back.
Greg retrieved his wallet and a realization ate away his stomach. If he paid for this, he wouldn’t be able to pay for the movie until next week after he got paid. Reluctantly, he set the cash on the counter. As he picked up the belt, he realized that at least he hadn’t used Fandango, because then he’d have already spent the money and unable to fix the van. Back outside he saw the man who had been handing something to the couple when he had entered the parts store smile and wave.
“Excuse me, I’m from a new restaurant in town and to let everyone know about us, I’m giving out free …”
Greg ignored the man and walked past, not hearing.
Back at the van, he struggled to get the belt back in place. Grime and muck assailed him. It didn’t matter though, since he couldn’t afford the movie. He finally slipped the belt over the second wheel and stepped out from under the hood. He ducked into the van, tried the key in the ignition, and the van started up. He removed the key and backed out of the van, turned, and sat down against the van door after closing it. HE wondered what to do before work later. Shower for sure, at least. Coming up the road with a few bags in hand was a couple. Greg absently watched them walking towards him. At least the belt hadn’t broken while he was driving. The theater was a bit of a drive. Maybe the cold last night is what did the belt in. As the couple neared, he realized they were the same ones who had been outside the auto parts store. They must have done some shopping after he saw them. They walked up to the kid who was still playing with a basketball on the other side of the street. The kid waved and dribbled over to them.
“Hey mom and dad!”
The father ruffled the kids hair.
“Hey Basketballer! Guess what we are going to do later?”
His mother pulled an envelope from one of the bags.
“A man from the new restaurant in town gave us free movie tickets!”
Hearing that, Greg leaped up, got into his van, and drove back to the auto parts store. Nobody stood outside its doors.
I managed to write two more episodes of Stan Prolongo yesterday. I hope to write the other four today. Yesterday’s word count was 1500 or so.
Today appears to be pretty free, so I should have most of the day to write. I’m excited to see how the heck I’m going to solve this mystery.