This time around our Play with the Prose challenge was to write the denouement of a story, in 200 words or fewer. Well, here’s how it wrapped up:
|As the first emerged from their bunkers, they were greeted by a ruddy red glow on the northern horizon, as well as two active volcanoes towards the east. The strong gusts of wind did nothing to dispel the 120° heat of the pre-dawn air. Others tentatively climbed out into the growing throng, some scanning the landscape in shock, while others searched a sky filled with ocher, scudding clouds.
A lone figure climbed onto a large rock where he could be seen by the milling crowd, and lifted his strong voice over the howling wind. “When scientists warned us that asteroid TTS-150a was on a probable collision course, we all feared for our future, and prepared for the worst.”
Steadying himself from a short ground tremor, he scanned the faces nearest him and smiled. “Thankfully, those dire predictions were wrong! This calls for a time of celebration! Hug your younglings, and offer your gratitude to The Great Ukko!”
A light sulfuric acid rain fell on the joyous upturned scaly visages of the crowd, as the planet’s red giant sun rose higher over the clouds of volcanic ejecta, the beginnings of a beautiful — and unexpected — day on Triskelion Three.
So, do they fall for it? RESULTS
The judges’ comments:
K: I know it’s tough to do without cheating, but this one had a character come out and say what happened in the story. The concept could be fun, but I’m being hit over the head by this one. BRONZE
I admit, I fell for it. When the conditions of the post-asteroid world were being revealed, I thought “ah, we’re going to get a downer ending”. When the leader begins thanking the great Ukko, I was envisioning a ‘The Stand’ style thing. Then the reveal happened, and I felt a little silly having thought any of that. I like where it goes, though. ‘A light sulpheric acid rain’ is a wonderfully oxymoronic line that feels perfect for the world the writer created.
More medals — the streak goes on! STANDINGS
- When it comes to denouement, the king is Sherlock Holmes, and originally I thought of writing a wrap-up where Holmes begins, “The proof is in the pudding!” followed by some twisted logic, and then Watson asking, “But in order to prove that, you need the [insert item]!” whereby Holmes replies, “I told you — check in the chocolate mousse!”
- The second idea is this one that I submitted. I asked myself, what if I paint a post-apocalyptic landscape where I hide the fact that it is not Earth and not populated by humans, but is in fact a the typical environment, and lead the reader to think the worst outcome?
- I think Rod Serling had an influence on me, because many of my stories could work as Twilight Zone episodes. After thinking about it, the reveal in this story reminds me of “The Eye of the Beholder” quite a bit.
- Heh heh — I used Triskelion.
The next challenge isn’t doing anything for me so far…
And who do I write like with this story? Why, of course: