Two men wake up at the wheel of a bus with two sets of navigational apparatus, two steering wheels, brake and accelerator pedals, and so on, but only one set works and the men can’t tell which one of them is actually driving the bus, and if the real driver takes his hands off the wheel, the bus blows up instantly. But if one of them doesn’t remove his hands before a timer set for 90 minutes expires, the bus blows up. The conundrum is how do they determine which man is actually driving the bus? It’ll never work, too easy. One of them hits the brakes while the other accelerates. The end. A two minute film. Wait. Maybe if I add a complicating factor. The men can’t see each other or communicate directly. But then how do they know about the other driver? Maybe I should get some scalding hot coffee and dump in it my lap. That’s how the Epstein brothers came up with the basic concept forCasablanca. It could be a rumor but it’s worth a try. Why am I so desperate? It isn’t good form to think in terms of desperation. Slow down, relax, don’t try so hard. Try softer. Does that work? Has anyone ever relaxed into a great screenplay? Francis Ford Coppola wroteApocalypse Now in a sauna. So I heard. Sounds relaxing. But I hate insufferable heat. I sweat a lot without being in a sauna. I have a self-diagnosed condition. Shit. Back to the bus. How do I make the premise last 90 minutes? Who else is on the bus? It can’t be just two men. There have to be passengers. Babies. Lots of babies. The audience will identify with the plight of the babies. But not too many babies. The audience won’t sit still for 90 minutes of babies bawling for their mothers. So the mothers are on board too. Good. Babies and mothers. Before the second act begins, there’s a mass breastfeeding scene. Tits and milk flying everywhere with lots of close-up jump cuts to the men licking their lips. Film it all in slow motion set to the newest pop music abortion. The kids will go gaga for it. But wait. It’ll never get a PG-13 rating with a busload of tits. Strike the tits. But I like tits. Never mind that. My personal tastes take a backseat to marketability. Maybe if I can work in a Holocaust angle, the MPAA will go soft on the tits. Didn’t stop the bastards from giving Schindler’s List an R rating. Were there tits in that? I can’t remember. Even if there were, do they count in black and white? That’s it! Film it in black and white. Grainy textured shots like Eraserhead, but no deformed babies reminiscent of E.T. That’ll earn it an NC-17 rating. Back to the men driving. They don’t have to be men. Breastfeeding Holocaust victims in Vietnam jungle attire would work just as well…
FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words). So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
I knew a man who owned 150 items. One hundred of them were books. He was extremely specific about this number. Two plates, two bowls, one pot, one pan. One squeeze bottle of liquid soap he used for the counters, the clothes, his remaining hair. One Bobby Goldsboro record, but no turntable. He said one of the songs, Honey, had always moved him.
When his dog passed away, he replaced it. A plant; why didn’t I say plant? Although it is true about his dog.
I had the idea he was spiritual and wise. He was old. His sparseness was a turn-on. And the red rug on the floor beside his bed, so pleasing. I pleased him when I knelt on it. His framed, black-inked Eye of Horus lent the place a tang of the mystic.
It lasted seven weeks. One evening, I thought I’d pitch in and empty the garbage. He was out, walking the replacement dog. The bag was surprisingly full. I clocked the contents: the detritus of fast food wolfed when I was at work, eight squishy condoms (curtsy), and much-thumbed porn mag feat…
She sat on her sofa and listened patiently right up to the point when her Dad asked her to come home. She ended the call.
To go home would be to laugh together at terrible TV and lose together against quiz-show teams. They could direct all their anger at politicians ignoring interview questions. Dad would make her a cup of tea. She could cook him something she really fancied and he would eat it all and thank her and not mind the number of pans she’d used. And even wash them up. She didn’t move from the sofa.
Dad might not have asked her back if she hadn’t told him about the doctor. But Doctor Roberts sighed too much, too loudly, and she couldn’t keep that to herself. She’d gone to see him because she felt something had slipped in her mind, tipped certainty to mistake’s side of their usual divide in her thoughts. The two were becoming interchangeable. But apparently she didn’t need a counsellor. Nor antidepressants. She just needed to relax. Did she have any hobbies? When she’d tried a…