When Interns Saved the World – A Flash Fiction

I wrote this in twenty minutes as an exercise for my writing club. We had to come up with a story based on three words: chaos, clock, and explosion. This is what I came up with.

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The command center was in chaos. It seemed to Jimmy that almost everyone was on the phone shouting in half a dozen languages, all of them frantic. The general was running around the room shouting in English, although most of that was swear words.

Jimmy didn’t know what to do. He was an intern. His job mainly consisted of filing paper work the general didn’t want to file, running the general’s errands, taking the general’s calls, and generally being the general’s personal doormat.

So Jimmy sat in the back of the room watching the clock in the far corner of the room slowly count down. He marveled at how calm he felt as he took a sip of the coffee he had made for the general. Half of the country was about to be engulfed in a fiery explosion, but honestly, he was just happy to be off his feet. He impassively watched the numbers on the big clock on the wall count down second by second.

But curiosity slowly consumed him to the point where he wanted to know what was actually going on. He wandered over to a fellow intern, who was also drinking coffee by the edge of the room.

“Jimmy,” the other intern said.

“Bob,” Jimmy replied, leaning on the wall. “Any clue what’s going on here?”

“Some sort of nuclear threat. If my Farsi, Korean, and French are correct, I’d say North Korea is about to blow us up.”

“That sucks,” Jimmy stated.

“Yeah, I’ll miss the game on Saturday.”

“But we won’t have to come in to work on Monday.”

Bob nodded and sighed wistfully. “You got any family?”

“None I care for. You?”

“Girlfriend. But I was going to dump her anyway.”

Jimmy nodded and took a drink of his coffee. The numbers on the big clock turned from green to red and an alarm sounded. Jimmy glanced over at Bob. “Do you want to die?”

Bob shrugged. “It would get General Hardbutt off my back.” He paused for a moment to consider it. “But I guess… not really.”

“Should we do something about it?” Jimmy asked.

“Like what?” Bob responded.

“You still friends with that intern in North Korea?”

“Yeah.”

“He still got that stash of poison? And a death wish?”

Bob nodded, a tired grin on his face. “Give me a sec.”

Bob pulled out his phone and made a call. He spoke quickly in Korean, and although Jimmy couldn’t tell what he was saying, Bob’s smile told him it was going well. “Okay, bye bye now,” Bob finished. He hung up and looked over to Jimmy.

“Think it worked?” Jimmy asked.

“We’ll find out in a minute.”

That minute passed torturously slowly as the interns sipped their coffees. Then, a shout of joy went up from the middle of the room. “It’s over! We’re saved. The great leader is dead! His son has stopped the launch.”

“Great job, Hendricks,” the general shouted as cheers sounded around the room.

“His name is Harrison,” Jimmy whispered.

“Jiminy!” the general shouted. “Where’s my coffee?”

Jimmy pushed himself off the wall and gave Bob a wry smile. “Was it worth it?”

Bob shrugged and yawned. “Maybe.”

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Keeping my priorities straight

Last year around this time, I was getting ready to go to Vegas to shoot in a national competition. I was practicing all I could and getting brand new arrows. When I got to the competition, I won 2nd place. It was a ton of fun.

archery back muscles

This year… I’m not going to Vegas. I found out a few days ago that I didn’t make the cut, but you know what, I really don’t care.

I’m not just saying that, by the way. Archery is a lot of fun and a great stress reliever at the end of the day. But it’s not what I want to do with my life.

I could have spent my winter break shooting 300 arrows everyday. I could have done 30 pushups and worked with a resistance band daily. But I didn’t.

Instead, I played video games and board games with The Boyfriend’s brothers and parents as I got to know them all. I started a new podcast series (listed below) and edited ones from the other series. I wrote a lot and worked on the first chapter of a novelization of a show pilot I wrote last year (also listed below).

So I didn’t win in the preliminary tournament. I went into it knowing I wouldn’t win. I didn’t get to practice a lot last semester, and quite honestly, I couldn’t justify the extra expense of bringing a bow as an extra check baggage just so I could try to practice in Michigan.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have enjoyed going back to Vegas again, but it’s not truly important to me. I would rather build my portfolio by creating podcasts and writing my fingers off.

The truth is that archery is a hobby. Writing, podcasting, and editing are not. Those are things that I can use to show future employers that I am worthwhile to hire.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep my priorities straight when there are so many things that I want to work on. But in this case, choosing to focus on my podcasts, writing, and relationships was an easy choice.

Things that I worked on instead of practicing archery:

 

Deep Hollow CoverAfter moving to a small town in Vermont, a teenage boy uses his special dragon abilities to fight supernatural evils along with a feisty Irish-American boy with similar powers and a genius girl with an eidetic memory.

Deep Hollow is a collection of short stories set in the universe of the Dragon Knights.

Prologue

Chapter 1 – Welcome to Ridgeway

Chapter 2 – Introductions

Just doing my job

I was having an interesting conversation with The Boyfriend on the way back from a friend’s wedding. We were talking about future plans and jobs, and I made the comment that I’m always surprised by employers who are so impressed by me just doing my job. He said he’d had the same experience.

I have had bosses come up to me and tell me how well I’m doing and how much they appreciate me for what I’m doing for the company. Which is odd, because, although I always do my best, I don’t often do much more than I’m told. At least, I don’t think I do.

No, most of the time, it’s not me going the extra mile. Instead, it seems that my bosses are impressed by the sheer fact that I do the job that I am assigned to, get everything done on time, and do it without complaining. It makes me wonder what kind of workers my employers are used to.

It also makes me worry for my generation. I can’t say that my employers have been surprised by my work ethic just because they don’t expect much from me as a Millennial, but I can’t say they weren’t. It does seem, anyway, that my generation does not seem to have the work ethic of the generations that came before.

Honestly, I would understand if employers didn’t expect much from Millennials. After all, I don’t. I’ve been burned too many times in group projects with my peers to trust that they won’t slack off. For instance, my freshman year I had one guy send me his part of a PowerPoint only an hour(!) before the project’s due date

I’ve learned to pick out the people at the beginning of each semester that I know I can rely on to get things done. I’m even a little hesitant to work with new people in my classes just because I don’t know if they can be trusted yet.

It’s a little odd that going to college has made me less trusting of potential co-workers than I was when before I left home. It’s a little sad, sure, but that’s the reality of my situation.

I can only hope that in the future, I can work with people who will be reliable. Maybe I’ll get praised less for just doing my job, but at least I’ll know that I can trust my co-workers. And I’ll take that any day.

Contra Mundum: Episode 12 – The Super Geeks Review the 2017 Super Hero Movies (Part 1)

Hello all. I had planned to get this out before the end of the year, but I overestimated the amount of time I would have to myself while hanging out with The Boyfriend and his five brothers over the Christmas season.

But it’s still January, and it’s close enough to 2017 that this podcast still makes sense.

In this one, I unite with my Super Geek friend Kevin McHugh to review the 2017 super hero movies. We had a lot of fun recording this episode and the next one. The next episode will be far more full of disagreement than this one, but this one is still good.

I hope you all enjoyed this episode. Next week, we return to talk about the last few super hero movies from 2017.

On a related note, I don’t know about you, but I know I’m really looking forward to 2018’s super hero movies, Especially Black Panther and Infinity War. I’m sure I’ll be doing a review of my own for both of them either here or on Letterboxd (which, if you want to follow me there, click here).

Contra Mundum – Episode 11: Traveling the World and Doing Good

Hey guys, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks between the end of classes and flying to Michigan to visit The Boyfriend’s family. But I got this episode done before hand, so now you get to watch it.

Consider it a Christmas Eve present.

In this episode, I sat down with my friend Abby Chennells to talk about traveling the world and missions work. We specifically talked a lot about her recent trip to Mexico and the people she met there.

I think you guys will really enjoy this episode.

 

I hope you all liked this episode and maybe learned something new. I know I did.

On a more serious note, I hope that all of this talk about missions and helping people will inspire you to go out and do some good this holiday season.

Our next two episodes (which will get done as soon as I have time to do some editing in The Boyfriend’s house) will feature the return of the Super Geeks. We’ll be wrapping up the year with reviews for every single super hero movie that came out in 2017!

Until then, Merry Christmas!

Am I dying, or was that an ocular migraine?

Yesterday, I had an extremely strange experience. I was waiting for some pizza to finish cooking in the oven. I sat down to hang out in my hammock (because, yes, I have a hammock in my living room) to wait and catch up on some Facebook.

But then I started to notice this little dot in the center of my vision. If you’ve ever looked through a kaleidoscope, it kind of looked like that. It was tiny at first, and I assumed that I had just sat down too hard. But then it started to grow.

By the time it was big enough to obstruct my ability to read, I started to get a little freaked out. I called my parents so that they could freak out with me.

At this point, the little dot was no longer little or a dot. It had grown into sort of a half circle of weird kaleidoscope-ness growing toward the left edge of my vision. I could read again, since the center of my vision had cleared. But I kept my eyes closed, because I was fairly certain that if I opened them for very long, I was going to get a massive headache.

My parents were a lot more worried about it than I was (we have weird brain problems in my family history, so I understand). I was a little freaked, because this is something that I’ve never experienced before. However, I had a friend a month or two ago that had the exact same thing happen to him.

My parents convinced me to call a friend to get them to take me to the hospital. I called one who was out of town. Just as I was trying to find another one, it went away. It was almost more disconcerting that it was just gone after freaking me out for half an hour. But, hey, I didn’t have to go to the hospital, so I was thrilled.

After the visual weirdness went away, I looked up ocular migraines, since I could read again and I was pretty sure that was what my problem was. I found this explanation online, which fit my symptoms perfectly:

Ocular migraines are painless, temporary visual disturbances that can affect one or both eyes. Though they can be frightening, ocular migraines typically are harmless and self-resolve without medication within 20 to 30 minutes.

I had a little bit of a headache afterward, but I went to bed early, and I feel fine now. All in all, it was really disturbing, but utterly harmless.

I wanted to write this because, I know that I would have been a lot more freaked out about what was happening to me if I hadn’t had a friend write about it before. So if you experience one of these painless disturbances, don’t immediately panic. It might just be an ocular migraine.*

Ocular-Migraine

This is the image that I found that was closest to how my ocular migraine looked.

*That said, if you have this kind of weirdness last for longer than half an hour, and you have a bad headache, you might still want to get looked at. Just to be safe. Trust me, I’ve had enough brain injuries to know that brain problems are no joke.

Can a story still be good if the protagonist is unlikable?

I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with friends and family about whether or not a movie/book/video game can still be considered good if the main character is unlikable. Mostly, these conversations have circled around the movie Gone With the Wind.

I will be the first to admit that Gone With the Wind is a technical marvel of a movie. It’s shot very well, and the actors did a great job (too great in my opinion). The crane shot over the train tracks is one of the most iconic shots in movie history and deservedly so. Not to mention it has the nostalgic benefit of coming out during the Golden Year of Cinema, 1939.

But it’s still my least favorite movie. It might even be my least favorite movie because the rest of the movie is so well done. However, as a story person, I just can’t enjoy it because I just hate the main character, Scarlet.

Scarlet stank eye

Why is Scarlet enough to kill my enjoyment of an otherwise good movie? Well, she’s whiny, entitled, arrogant, and never changes. At the end of the movie, she’s just as annoying as she ever was, but now she feels kinda bad just because she realized that maybe she kinda likes Rhett Butler, and now he doesn’t like her.

Also, Rhett doesn’t deserve her.

Rhett is bae.gif

Rhett Butler is bae.

I can’t stand this movie because of Scarlet, but my mom and many other film buffs still love it.

Maybe it’s a personal thing. Maybe it’s just me that can’t enjoy stories with unlikable protagonists. It’s not that I can’t enjoy stories where characters do bad things, even if they are the main characters. One of my all-time favorite book series, Artemis Fowl, has a protagonist who is, at least for the first few books, kinda the bad guy. But what Artemis Fowl has what Scarlet doesn’t, at least to me, is charm. And remorse. And personality.

artemis fowl

If you haven’t, you should go buy this book right now.

James Bond is another character that I probably wouldn’t like as a person (in most of his movies) in real life, but that I enjoy watching the adventures of. Bond is charming and handsome and self-aware. He’s kind of a jerk, yeah, but his good qualities outweigh his bad ones just enough for me to not cringe watching him.

Bond.gif

I don’t know of another movie or book with a main character so aggressively unlikable as Scarlet. Even boring characters I can sit through better than her. I won’t necessarily enjoy the experience if the protagonist is boring, but I also won’t be actively annoyed by their very presence the entire time I’m watching or reading.

I guess what really bothers me about Scarlet is what I mentioned above: that she never changes.

One of the best things about reading a book or watching a movie is seeing the protagonist grow. It’s not always that they become a better person. A great example of a protagonist who grows into a worse person is Michael Corleone from The Godfather. But  most protagonists change for the better. In the series that I mentioned above, Artemis changes throughout the books from someone who uses his massive brain for the wrong reasons to someone who does it for the good of others.

In Gone With the Wind, though, Scarlet is the same person she was at the beginning of the movie, just a little more weary and smart. By not seeing the protagonist change, I am robbed of one of the most fulfilling parts of a story.

For me, Gone With the Wind would be just as annoying as reading an entire book where Delores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series is the main character. Annoying, entitled, condescending. Great qualities for an antagonist, but not ones I want to have in my protagonist.

Rhett Bitch slap.gif

The greatest verbal b**** slap in cinematic history.

>>>>>

But now I’m curious. I can’t enjoy stories where the main character is unlikable, but what about you, dear reader?

And what did you think about Gone With the Wind? Do you agree with me about Scarlet? Disagree and think I’m speaking heresy? Or maybe the fact that she’s annoying doesn’t bother you.

Let me know in the comments.