Friday, June 5, 2009

Rejection (And so it begins)

Brain Harvest turned me down.

Here is the Rejection Letter:

Howdy pardner,

Thanks for submitting your work to Brain Harvest. Unfortunately, we've decided not to publish it. Forgive the form-letter -- we don't mean to be impersonal, but the number of submissions we receive precludes us from responding individually.

We know rejections suck; we've been rejected many times ourselves. It could be that your piece needs more polish. But honestly, it could be fine as-is. Taste in fiction is subjective, so try not to let it get you down. Keep reading Brain Harvest, and try us again with your next piece if you think we might dig it.

Keep on truckin,

The Editors

I don't get the Western theme... doesn't matter, in the end it's all the same: No $37.50 for me. This is disappointing, of course, but what can you do. My life as a Professional Writer has begun, like so many others before, with Rejection. Que sera sera. And, upon further perusal of their site, I have decided that this rejection was due to a tonal issue, one being that my definition of "badass" differs distinctly from theirs. You may judge for yourself.

And so, being that I have no current use for a 750 word short-short story, I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, cats and kittens, boys and girls, friends, readers, boob lovers... for the first time in print...

Gas Run
The rain was constant.

It fell fat and cold on a city wreathed in piss warm humidity.

Nestled like a fungal growth in the shadows beneath the tangled stack of overpasses, the ramshackle little house was dark and sagging, seemingly cast adrift in a spreading sea of rain-pattered puddles. The minivan in the drive was slowly sinking into the muck.

The duo huddled across the road, watching and waiting from within the burnt-out shell of a long dead tank, its fire-blackened armor blown open, spread like a flower’s bloom to the fall of water. The rain drummed plate steel. "I think we're good..." he ventured.

And the night lit up, sun-bright and blinding.

Turbines wailed overhead, the high keening screech trampling the distant rumble of thunder. Spotlights swept across the shattered concrete and into the corners. Easing back into the shadows, the duo slunk away from the jagged holes torn in the tank’s hide, their goggles iris-ing down to pin-points. Their stealth suits snapped in the gale as the hot jets swirled up muddy splatters. The police cruiser’s heavily-armed metal carapace lingered there, a dark silhouette hovering above the halogen glare. Red and blue strobes flashed all along its chromed length, the lights edging the duo’s hooded faces, their cheeks wet and glimmering like cold, pale marble. The supple sheen of their suits shifted in the gloom, the chameleon circuits mimicking the slow pulse of color, blending and changing and falling dark again.

One beat, two, a moment drawn out… and then the cruiser tilted suddenly and glided away. The shadows crept from the corners and the duo’s goggles flared bright green. He leaned out into the rain, cautious but anxious. He had the most to lose. Six kids with four different mothers; he owed… big time, and Social Services had zero patience when it came to late payments.

Zero.

She hung back, shaking, way too high, the bathtub adrenaline napalming her veins to powder. "I'm ready..." she tittered. “I’m so fucking ready!” Her hands clenched and unclenched.

"Come on," he said.

They were wraiths, bolting across the road and up the yard, slipping quietly into the darkness that draped the minivan. They crouched, their suits shimmering with nighttime swirls and swathes of the van’s rust spotted, baby blue paint. She lurked at the van's edge, wary and quiet, while he un-spooled the tubing and popped the gas cap’s rusty lock. He dropped the big empty bladder at his feet. Plastic slapped mud: FWAP!

They froze… watched… listened…

Shuttles rose in the distance on rumbling pillars of fire, commuters aimed for the massive orbiters above the world and the service jobs they offered. The city’s broken skyline was back-lit in flickering yellows and oranges. Police cruisers trolled the cluster of towers like monstrous metallic dragonflies floating slow and lazy amongst the reeds. Spotlights probed, stabbing out like spears, and missiles slam-banged into glass and steel. Squatters tumbled and burned in the rainy night.

He returned to his work.

Her eyes narrowed and her ears perked up, her nerves jangled, some drug addled hyper-sense knocking loosely about in her head, catching something at the edge of perception. She sensed the old man’s hesitant, stoop-backed investigation. The door creaked open and the floorboards squeaked beneath his bare feet. His nightshirt shone a brilliant ghostly white.

"The fuck you doing?" The old man had a shotgun.

Her Leap-Boots ka-chunked and hissed, catapulting her high up and over the top of the minivan. She flipped in mid-air, twirling in the falling rain, and drew her twin pistols. They cracked like thunder and spit lead lightning. The old man jittered, blasted into a red mist of flaming meat and shattered bone. He stumbled back and crashed through the door, falling hard, the floorboards cracking. From inside, someone screamed. She landed in the mud, light and easy and bent in a graceful crouch, and then stood over the old man and emptied both guns into the remains of his head. Gore sluiced down the porch's weathered slats and over the sides. A slow stain of red crept into the puddles' muddy bronze.

"You done?" he called, shouldering the mostly full bladder. His hands reeked of gas.

"Yep," she smiled in the shadows of her hood, the rain hissing off her pistols.

They ran.

"You wanna help sell this shit?" he asked.

"Can’t, I work in the morning. You keep it."

"Really? You sure?"

"Yeah, man... Happy Birthday..."

They vanished into the shimmering fall of rain.
THE END

2 comments:

Mr. Krabs said...

nice, man - the brush strokes are smoothing out, the flow is nicely melodic while distinctly dark - I want to read the rest of it, yess little Alex?
jc

Jon said...

Thanks, however this it. It was specifically written for a site that paid $0.05 a word, but only up to 750 words, so... its a 750 word shor-short story.

Maybe someday I'll re-visit it.