Below you will find my 2nd round entry for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. You will also find a perfect example of trying and failing–ha! As I explained in a post earlier this week, I received the number one genre I DID NOT WANT: political satire.
To be honest, I wouldn’t even share this story with you because it’s not representative of who I am as a writer. However, I’ve decided the true failure for this story would come from stuffing it in a drawer and forgetting it ever happened. I might as well post it and learn from my mistakes. How else will I improve if I don’t open myself up to criticism, right?
So, with that all said, here you go! As a reminder, I had 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story based on these prompts:
*Since not all of us are political gurus, I wrote out a brief explanation about my chosen topic. If you’d like to read it before or after you check out my story–click here and scroll to the bottom 🙂
by Jenna Willett
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: It’s the 21st century and time for a new, inviting strategy for the Secret Service. But Director Peterson’s plan might be too Disney for special agent Prouty.
“My, oh my, what a wonderful day!” Director Judy Peterson clapped her chubby hands and hitched her bulldog-like face into a smile. “Remember, everyone: be friendly and inviting. Understand?”
The group of black clad Secret Service agents shifted uneasily. Agent Prouty glanced at his colleagues. They wore varying expressions of alarm, amusement, and indifference. Behind them, Air Force One glimmered in the setting sun of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the “happiest place on Earth”.
“Come, come. I wanna see smiles. Lots and lots of smiles!” Director Peterson nodded her approval at each agent. “Ah, yes, there you go. Very good. Yes, yes–No, no. Prouty!” she barked. “You’re not smiling!”
He clenched his jaw and twitched his thin lips into a smile.
Fuck, this was ridiculous.
Satisfied, Director Peterson motioned across the tarmac to the VIP passengers being herded out of the airport to the final security checkpoint. “Smith, check IDs. Phillips, run the metal detector. Halloway…” As she rattled off their individual assignments, Prouty studied the approaching passengers: congressmen, media clowns, a few invited guests.
“…yes, yes, Halloway. That’s a great smile. Just like Prince Charming.” Director Peterson’s praise drew Prouty’s attention back to her. The evening breeze hardly ruffled her stiff chocolate brown hair. “Prouty, you’ll oversee the baggage scanner.”
He nodded dutifully.
“And, don’t forget, everyone,” she trilled. “I want smiles and magic–“
“Director?” Prouty blurted. “Who’s on Air Force One with the First Family?” Hell, the last thing they needed was an armed lunatic running up the plane’s stairs, barging through the door, and mowing down the President of the United States.
She waved a dismissive hand. “Eh, they’ll be safe on board. The attendants can keep an eye on them.”
Oh, dear God.
Prouty bit back his angry retort and did as he’d been trained to do: follow orders without argument.
“Now, let’s hoppity-hop to it!” Director Peterson fluttered her fingers towards the security checkpoint.
Prouty and the rest of the team obediently took up their positions. From his perch behind the baggage scanner, he watched Director Peterson stroll behind the other agents, urging them to maintain their delightful facades while greeting passengers. “Welcome to Air Force One. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If you want a cognac, you got it.”
How the hell did she get her husky voice to sound like a chipmunk?
Prouty shook his head and focused on scanning the luggage contents. The shape of a gun appeared.
“Is there a bluebird on your shoulder today, agent?”
He jumped and glared behind him. Director Peterson leaned in close. Her cotton candy perfume gave him an instant toothache. “Director, we have a serious problem.” He pointed at the screen.
Her beady eyes narrowed. “Well, that’s obviously a hairdryer, silly.” She winked and tapped him on the nose. “But, good eyes. Keep them sharp.”
“Ooh, look! A Birkin bag.” She bounced over to a busty blonde hanging on the withered arm of an ancient congressman.
Oh for shit’s sake. Prouty swallowed his outrage and continued checking bags.
A few minutes later, a hefty man plodded past holding a map of Washington D.C.
“Sir?” Prouty stood and squinted at the map. The White House was circled in red.
“It is fine, da?” the man grunted in a thick Russian accent while puffing on a cigarette.
Prouty coughed and tapped his headset. “Director, I have an issue–“
“An issue?” She skipped over to him, her jowls wobbling with each heavy jolt. “Well, well, well. Who’s this handsome man?”
“Vlad Bukavitsky,” the Russian sneered. “And I not like dis treatment by your countryman. I good man. Loyal man. See?” He flashed the Russian flag pin on his lapel.
Prouty scowled. “Sir, I need you to hand over that map–“
“Agent Prouty!” Director Peterson gasped. “Don’t discriminate against our international friend.” She smiled apologetically at Bukavitsky. “I’m so sorry, sir. We’ll make sure you get a souvenir.” She tapped on her headset. “Halloway? Yeah, I need a coffee mug…”
Prouty’s jaw dropped. “But–“
Suddenly, a man wearing a yellow construction hardhat appeared. “Hiyah, folks.”
“Hello there!” Director Peterson chirped.
“Got a call about a broken TV on the plane. Mind if I hop on real quick to fix it?”
“Of course not. Go ahead.” She waved him past the security checkpoint. “And thank you. I know how much the President wants to watch those Steelers.”
“Best damn team ever,” the construction worker agreed. He tipped his hat, and whistling, strolled off to the jet. Prouty caught him snapping a selfie on his way up the steps.
Unable to contain himself any longer, he rounded on Director Peterson. “With all due respect, this is bullshit. None of this is protocol–“
“My dear agent,” she sighed, impatience lacing her sugary tone. “How many times must I tell you? This is the 21st century. It’s time for a new attitude and a new approach to our tactics. Lowering our guard might be the best thing to raise–“
Everyone screamed and ducked.
Prouty spun around, gun in hand, ready to fire.
“Someone get to the President and his family,” he shouted.
“How dare you, Prouty!” Director Peterson cried. “I’m in charge here. Stand down, team. I repeat, stand down.”
He gaped at her. “Director, someone shot–“
“Nobody shot anything! It was just the luggage trolley backfiring.”
“Obviously.” She clucked her tongue. “Haven’t you ever heard a car backfire?”
“But six times?”
“Hush, hush.” She patted him on the arm. “And for God’s sake, smile. You’re scaring our poor passengers with your unnecessary panic.”
“Unnecessary? Are you out of your–“
“The last passenger has been processed, Director.” Halloway ran up with his Prince Charming smile.
“Well, my, oh my.” She clapped her hands. “Great job, team. Let’s get this show on the road.”
Prouty glared from them, to the President’s plane. Slowly, he exhaled and muttered, “Ah, fuck. Let it go.”
To read more stories, visit the Jen’s Pen page.