Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Beginning 969

Edward Krenshaw leaned against the pump handle and scanned the western horizon as the sun set. He looked at his wristwatch and sighed. The search party was overdue and so were the library’s audio books.

“Say there, Dad, help me pump water for supper?” Frederick walked from the back door toward the well. His crisp plaid shirt and creased khaki trousers gave the appearance of a city dweller trying to look country.

“No. I can’t because you’ve just gone beyond the pale.”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to offend but I need help. Burned my hand yesterday and it’s all bandaged up.” Frederick lifted his arm to show his father.

“Huh?--Oh, I ain’t upset.” Edward spat in the dirt. “But you walked right past the pail. It’s on the back steps.”

“Okay, I’ll fetch it. Thought I'd insulted you or something.”

Frederick put the bucket under the facet. “Think they’ll find one?”

A soft cold breeze blew Edward’s white hair against the part. “If there’s a zombie out there, they’ll find it.”

“Zombie?” Frederick looked shocked. “Thought they wanted a Zamboni for the ice rink.”

“Yeah? That makes more sense. My hearing’s gone all to hell since the explosion.”

* * *

Deke Metzler wiped the sweat from his forehead and sighed. The light was almost gone. He was about to give up and signal the search party to return home when he saw it -- little more than a dot on the horizon. But he knew instantly. A Zamboni! Maybe the hockey game could go ahead after all.

"Excuse me."

Deke turned in the direction of the voice. "Huh?" he said to the short, stocky man in a suit.

"My name is Irwin W. Marshall. I represent Frank J. Zamboni & Co., Inc., who own the trademark Zamboni, registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I must inform you that the frequent and inappropriate uses of the term Zamboni throughout this blog infringe upon my client's rights, and you must cease and desist forthwith."

And this is why you will never hear the story of the Zamboni Apocalypse.

Opening: Mister Furkles.....Continuation: anon.


Wilkins MacQueen said...

Mr. F,
I quite enjoyed the opening, I like the mixing of worlds/words. I say you did it well. Thumbs up.

Evil Editor said...

One hopes this is a short story, as this type of absurdity can be taken only in small doses.

After the pail/pale confusion, I'm not sure I should point out that faucet is spelled wrong, as it may prove to be intentional.

There seems to be a POV problem. Most of this seems to be in Edward's POV. But Edward (or an omniscient narrator) would have spelled "pale" "pail"; only Frederick thinks it's "pale."

Also, hard to believe Fred's hand has been all bandaged up since yesterday and his dad is unaware.

The library's overdue audio books can go. Or if you want that sentence to be the one that reveals the wackiness, make that one the first sentence, not the third.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations (actually, the first one wasn't unchosen; it came in right after I'd published the post):

"Then again," Frederick said, "zambonis are probably about as rare as zombies around here."

"Well, find one or not, they'd better get back here with the damn truck so I can return these audiobooks before the library closes," Edward said, pulling the CDs from his overcoat pocket.

"Dad, how many times do I have to tell you, Slayer and Anthrax aren't novels, they're thrash-metal."

"Trash is right," Edward said and spat again. "These books got no more plot than a stop sign. Maybe I'll check out Snoop Dogg this time. Can't go wrong with an animal story."


* * *

By the time Frederick and Edward pulled up outside the rink it was too late. Things had escalated quickly. Soulless, empty shells staggered and stumbled all over the parking lot. If only they'd questioned the instructions when he passed them on.

"God damn it Dad, look at this! It's carnage!"

"I'm sorry, Son. It's all my fault!"

"Damn right it's your fault, Dad. Jesus! Where are your brains? Your brains. Your Braaaains. Braaaaainssss!!!!"


Anonymous said...

Please. Lose the pale/pail joke. It's painfully forced and you're much better off without it.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I too found the silliness a bit much, but there is an audience for that kind of thing. Some people love that stuff, buy it, read it, share it gleefully w/their cohorts.

The writing is not bad, but it's slowed down a little bit by excessive description. Eg the first line cd be

Edward Krenshaw leaned against the pump handle, looked at his watch and sighed.

The dialogue seems a little formal for a father and son, leading me to expect that we'll soon find that, despite being next of kin, they've only just met.

I couldn't tell if we were in Ed's or Fred's POV.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't know what you are trying to accomplish and that opening confuses me. It makes me wan to stop reading. What finally works is the mention of a zombie. Then there's that enigmatic line about the someone's hearing and explosion and I'm back to confusion and having to figure out what I missed while reading. And I put the book down and never pick it up again. Too much work.

- Clever word by itself play doesn't hook me. Zombies do.
- A crisp, clean shirt and khaki trousers do not scream city or country to me.
- I know too many hard of hearing people and it's not funny or amusing. To tell the truth, it's a royal pain to have to scream and repeat things.

So after having kicked you around for a few lines, here are my suggestions:

First, mention the zombies in the first 2 sentences.
Second, if indeed someone's hearing is reduced because of an explosion, simply have one character ask the other to repeat something.
Third, bring up the explosion that hurt both of them.
Last, Set a normal scene before you start with the oddball humor of "the search party was overdue and so wer e the audio books"

something like this, for example:
Ed leaned against the pump unable to lift the handle with his burnt hand.
"Dad, can you help me?" He yelled twice before getting his father's attention.
"Sorry, my hearing's still bad after we blew up those zombies back to hell yesterday." He pulled held the bucket with both hands for Ed to pump.
"I'm worried." Ed spoke between the lifts. "The search party is overdue. Do you think they found more zombies?"
"Zombies," Ed yelled, making sure his father heard him.
In the year since the Higgs Boson shut down the world's electric grid, etc..."

That's my suggestion for a revision. I think it at least puts the reader into their world of hand pumps, no electric and wandering zombies. After that you can do the pail/pale/pall joke and the overdue book book joke, and the clean clothing being very unusual joke.

If I were to continue writing this story, I would have a zombie attack happen next and create some action.

PLaF said...

I had a hard time following this. It's not clear what conflict this opening is trying to set up.
Edward's worried about returning audio books but his hearing is shot to hell?
There's an instant drop in tension when you mention the audio books. I'm with EE on dropping it. A search party could be late, and dinner or last month's fling could be late as well.
And with each switch in conversation, tension is lost, not built upon.
There's a lot of zaniness, but little method to the madness.
I understand the opening is short and everything could become clear later, but I'm not sure I'm willing to take the journey.

khazar-khum said...

John's continuation is great.

Do zambonis have cup holders & stereos? They should.

Mister Furkles said...

I would like to thank all of you for your comments – and maybe I will.

First off, I am most embarrassed about the facet. Not only did I read what I was thinking rather than what I wrote but three others – two of them technical editors – also must have read my mind. (Kind of like reading P. J. Funnybunny, I guess.)

The POV problem has vexed me since I wrote this. I can’t use Fred because he leaves before the story is over. I can’t use Edward because he undergoes a transmogrification – okay, he turns into a zombie but I never get to use transmogrification. (I’d stick in adumbration if I could – and I guess I just did.)

The pail/pale was a concern for most of you and I did fret over it. If I write “you’ve just gone beyond the pail” many readers will correctly think Fred walked past a metal bucket. But if I leave it the way it is, hypersensitive literary people – like you guys – will think “Stupid stupid, you switched POV.” So a solution is to remove it all together? But the whole short story exists for contemptible puns. Maybe I can work in a pale horse.

But I’ve always been amused—okay, obsessed -- with the ancient idiom of “beyond the pale.” It’s medieval and means “walked outside of the fence.” Now it means you done a faux pas. (When will the French ever learn to spell fox paws?)

Now then, thank all of you for your comments.

Stephanie Bittner said...

I actually liked the line about the audio books, because I like quirky things, but I was put off by the wordplay around 'pail'. I also was interested in the zombie/Zamboni. Honestly, I wouldn't have minded if you had lost the whole section about pulling water and had the son simply standing there and discussing things with the father. You could have gone straight from audiobooks to zombie/Zamboni wordplay. I think the audiobook line would have been stronger that way, as well, because we wouldn't have lost as much tension by turning to water pumping.