I made it far, but not far enough. I didn’t make the semi-finals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. While I sulk in disappointment, I’m staring at the ground thinking of my next move. I made the top 5% in a very competitive contest, and I should be proud. Also, that’s bragging points on a query letter.
Thanks to everyone who supported me and gave me great reviews.
I didn’t like Publisher’s Weekly to begin with, so my lividity against them was no more or less tart. I didn’t get a scathing review, but it wasn’t glowing like this one.
Win or lose, I heave forward to keep to my task. Harlan Ellison called writing a “holy chore” which is no exaggeration. It’s not as severe as kneeling on rice grains and lashing oneself with egg noodles, but it’s a daily routine of hammering lace from pig iron.
I keeping with this task, below is this week’s Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge. The challenge is to create a short-short story inspired from a random military operation title generator. Clutch your young-uns close and prepare for….
“Operation Wrathful Kitten”
Operation Wrathful Kitten
“General,” the President said, “just where in the hell do you get the names for your operations?”
General Leachy shuddered at the question. He resigned to his training. Keep your back straight. Remember there’s five stars on your lapel put there three presidents ago.
The President steepled his fingers, awaiting an answer.
“Well, Mr. President. We’ve been consulting a cutting-edge PR and advertising firm. They’re a media savvy, ingenious bunch of kids. They did that laundry detergent commercial they played during the Super Bowl.”
The President leaned back in his chair, eyes wide. “You mean the one where it’s just one minute of skinheads torturing a homeless man? What’s company called, again?”
The General recited their name. The President, the General’s assistant, Madame Secretary of State and the two Secret Service men gasped.
“Can you even legally print such expletives on a business card?” the President said.
“I know it’s provocative, but to reach Generation Y through Z you have to be. Now the Firm aren’t even outside-the-box thinkers. You can’t even say ‘box’ around them, because they don’t believe boxes exist. They put all their stuff in “cubic dream vessels.” I wish you could’ve been there during the meeting. Their office is a big treehouse. To keep the creative team on edge, they hired a violent schizophrenic to run around smeared in Marmite. To research the Hunts account, they flew their creative team to Saudi Arabia to watch an adulterers beheading.”
“Madame Secretary,” the President said. “Was I sober when I appointed this guy?” The President stood, looked out the Oval Office window to contemplate on the hedges. “General, all we are doing is a goodwill mission to the African island republic of Djar-Djar to assist the transitional government until they can organize elections. Hell, even the UN favors the mission. And you want to call it “Operation Wrathful Kitten?” Why not “Operation Enduring Liberty” or “Operation Rising Democracy?”
The General had to explain fast. After a President’s 2nd term, there’s always a round of housecleaning and he didn’t want to be put to the curb. No forced retirement to do some pussywillow motivational speaking tour about “integrity” or “perseverance” at network marketing seminars. He was a born warrior even as he faxed orders to Kabul from the poolside comfort of his Virginia manse.
“Who doesn’t like kittens? 90% of the Internet is all kittens. The team says we didn’t want to seem too aggressive, but not too tame either. And the youth today are wont to support another war. However, they like the idea of us helping the Third World. Anyway, this is just a housesitting job, with air cover.”
The President turned. “The Republicans are going to shove those Kittens down my throat. All of the sudden they’ve turned dove when it comes to military engagements, at least from me. I’m doing this for the right reasons.”
“And I’m with you, sir.”
“Can you at least go back to that firm and ask for an alternate name?”
“Can’t sir. They’ve already printed the T-Shirts, boonie hats, shot glasses and thumb drives. You should see the logo. It’s a fluffy Maine Coon wearing a beret chewing on former President-for-life Mohammed Abraham Haile Selassie Tromba’s head. I didn’t think you’d like “Operation Gnashing Cyclone” or “Operation Bowel-loosening Fire” much better.
The President sighed. “Ok, Operation Wrathful Kitten it is.”
The General breathed a sigh of “Hell, yeah.”
“Thank you Mr. President.”
“By the way, I could use some fresh ideas for the re-election. Does this firm have a card?”
“Um, no Mr. President.”
“Ok, what do they have?”
The General reached into his jacket pocket and presented the President with a mewling kitten with the Firm’s contact info on its collar.