(I took Piccadilly’s Complete the Story journal literally and connected each of its prompts into one continuous narrative. Here’s what happened. As in the journal itself, prompts are in bold.)
The wind whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with winter would come our inevitable victory over this inferior meat-based race and its incomprehensible voting systems.
Assuming, of course, that we survived this internship.
Brett and I both needed this internship to go well. We’d worked our way up to it through several less prestigious (if equally unpaid) internships at Dollar Tree, Chik-fil-A, and the U.S. Department of Energy. This plum position shelving knockoff Marky Mark cassettes and gently used underpants at the Salvation Army was where we could finally show that we had what it took to beat out a 48-year-old former graphic designer for that six-week temp job at the Sunglass Hut.
“Shouldn’t be we drinking our kale smoothies with brunch?” I asked as Brett stuck two straws in the kiddie cup, the largest size we could afford after blowing our meager savings on snowboarding Victoria Falls last week. “It’s what the octopus would do.”
“I told you to lay off the octopus, all right?” Brett said. “I told you, it lacks stamina.”
“Bet it wouldn’t if it had this smoothie.”
We sat and sipped our smoothie for a while in silence, occasionally making a soothing slurp sound that drew irate stares from the people that surrounded us.
“Maybe we shouldn’t have tried to drink this at a funeral,” I said nervously.
Reporters are trained to develop a sixth sense, a nose for when a story smells fishy. And something about this one wasn’t right. First of all, nobody at this funeral was wearing black. In lieu of flowers, bouquets of mushrooms and a scattering of distinctive herb covered the tables. Doritos bags crinkled underfoot. And a muffled thumping was issuing from the casket.
Also, the place was packed to the rafters with fish.
“Remember the plan?” Brett asked, pulling the lid off the smoothie cup with an audible pop. One of the fish flopped forlornly.
I racked my brain meats. “Acquire human bodies.”
“Get that temp job at the Sunglass Hut.”
“Catch the eye of a rich vampire playboy.”
“…I forget what comes after that.”
Brett rolled his eyes. “Become famous, star in a Vegas magic show, profit.”
“Were those two steps? I thought ‘become famous star in a Vegas magic show’ was one step.”
“This,” Brett replied, “is why you’re not allowed to plan the missions. Come on. I want to take out another student loan before I go to bed.”
There’s just no arguing with Brett when he’s in one of his student-loan moods. I recycled the smoothie cup and followed him.
The yellow lines on the highway sped by in a blur, and we flew through the night, and we felt free. But we weren’t, and we knew it. We were running away from something, and running away was never the path to freedom. I thought about telling John to turn back. I thought about suggesting to Brett that we consume John’s brain, stuff his empty shell in the trunk, and use John’s car to start driving for Uber ourselves. It’s not as if Uber would ever know. But we had our futures to think about.
This nonsense brought to you by coffee. Buy me one and keep the story going.