I wish I had the words to describe Joseph Courtemanche’s free Halloween themed short story, but I just don’t. There is a lot of science fiction to it with definite homage to H. G. Wells. There is also a kind of biting critique of bureaucracy that reminds me of Orwell to some extent. If this were movie, Mel Brooks would have to direct it.
All I can tell you for sure is that it is fun! Joseph takes the Fondue Writers Club back to its COVID roots with this one.
Click the Hubble Space Telescope to read “Little Ambassadors”. But I will warning you, don’t be frightened by the pistol on top of the Bible when you go to his page. Joe is one of the kindest people you could ever meet, and he moonlights as a Santa Claus.
I can’t help myself, I am a writer. There should be some sort of 12-step program for fiction writers, because sometimes we need help with our imaginations.
Mrs.Greenbean’s dog, the idiot dog named Dobby, immediately investigates the same spot at the corner of the house whenever I take him to the front yard. Every. Single. Time.
This is where the fiction writer in me takes over, and I wonder what the idiot dog is picking up on with his supercharged sniffer. My goodness, the options are limitless.
A. It could be where a body is buried. I don’t know what kind of body, but perhaps before the concrete was poured for our home, one of the workers with a nefarious past dug a shallow grave and hid the body in that spot, at the corner of the house under the concrete slab.
B. That spot is where the aliens landed. Their tiny spaceship filled with tiny, but potent invaders from another planet landed in that spot two years ago. The dog can sense the difference.
C. The government has hidden invisible equipment in that spot to spy on me. The dog can sense the odor from the G-Men who come every night to check the footage and biometrics.
D. A combination of B and C could be in play. There is invisible equipment there, but it is not tended by G-Men, it is the ‘duck blind’ of aliens studying human life so they can better understand and conquer us.
E. Once every full moon witches come to this spot, hallowed from before the time of the Comanches, in the ancient days, as a place for sacrifice. On this spot they slaughter stray house cats and rogue gerbils as they make incantations to the devil.
This is the fiction writer’s curse. Even the most mundane aspects of life erupt into plot that will never be developed. The good news is, as curses go, this is a very delightful and entertaining one to have.
I’ve already posted once this week about my reflections on Halloween, so I will spare you that again. Just know that at some point tonight I will watch Linus give the Great Pumpkin sermon.
Instead, today I want to provide a public service. Just like I did on the other frightening day, Friday the 13th, I am providing those of you who like a good story some free plot ideas, Halloween themed of course, to develop or to think about or tell as ghost stories around the campfire. When I am finished with that, I must return to work on my own monster story which I hope to release in December.
Plot 1–The ghost of Buddy Holly haunts Justin Bieber until Bieber finally publicly admits he has no talent and is a sham. Once that happens, Holly can now enter eternity at peace, having rid the world of untold pain and suffering.
Plot 2–A man is driving home from work on Halloween and he has a flat tire. While repairing the tire, he is abducted by aliens. Instead of conducting experiments on him, though, the aliens just want to know which house is giving out the best candy.
Plot 3–The local high school football team is playing their rival on Halloween night. The game is close and comes down to the final kick, but the field goal kicker misses the uprights. On the bus ride home the quarterback of the team conjures the spirit of a long dead witch who tells the boys they can go back in time and win the game if they sacrifice the kicker (the goat) on a burning pyre of dried cattle dung.
Plot 4–It is All Hallow’s Eve and Miley Cyrus accidentally comes across a Jesuit Priest (or maybe a Baptist Pastor?) who expels the demons from the entertainer and heals her soul. Afterwards, she no longer can make money for her masters so the record company sues the priest and the Roman Catholic Church (The Southern Baptist Convention?) Okay, I sort of swiped this plot from Acts 16:16-24 but you have to admit, it makes sense.
Plot 5–A group of idealists and zealots on the left and the right conspire to take over the government and force the nation into debt-fueled policies that choke liberty and muffle expression and privacy. Oh, wait, sorry, this is from my list of documentary ideas.
So my third most favorite blog of 2011 is really a tie for number one. the last three are all blogs I really like. I know that you are all terribly excited to know what my number one is, but until then, enjoy this re-posting.
ALIENS FOR BREAKFAST (original title of the blog)
Tuesday morning around 8am one of my friends calls me up and says, “What are you doing?” I replied, “Working!” He took that answer with some incredulity; as I believe he truly thinks I only work on Sundays. “Let me take you to breakfast—we haven’t hung out for a while,” he shot back at me. “Okay, but I need to get some things done first. Drop by my office around 9:30.”
After I prayed and studied a bit, shot off some emails and did quick admin work my buddy showed up and we went to the Bowling Alley here in town, which is just about the best place to get breakfast. We both ordered the special—he had wheat toast with bacon, I took rye toast with sausage. But the highlight of our meal was a very enjoyable conversation about science fiction movies.
Now you know why me and my friend are buddies. We can talk for hours about stuff like that. What we did was weed down to our top five science fiction films of all time. I list them below and they are in no particular order.
The Day the Earth Stood Still—We mean the original one, not the environmentally preachy Keanu Reeves (Whoa!) remake. I bet some of my readers have never seen this one. It is slow and plodding at times, but considering the period in which it was made and the iconic images laid out in it as well as the way it has been copied in one way or another, it must be in the top 5. The Day the Earth Stood Still is to science fiction what Casablanca is to romance; having been copied so much it sounds like cliché until you realize this is the source of the cliché!
Close Encounters of the Third Kind—Spielberg at his A game with Richard Dreyfuss making mashed potato mountains is an all-time favorite. This film has not only drama, sci-fi gusto, but also great and subtle humor. The scene where the little boy is abducted from his home—classic. Besides, I have this great pic of me in front of Devil’s Tower.
Back to the Future—I know, I know some of you say this shouldn’t be on the list but we decided to put it on. One of the reasons we put it on is that it is science fiction in the truest form—a scientific premise of invention that has great consequences. Perhaps more than any others this one is truer to the Jules Verne/H. G. Wells concepts of science fiction. There is also a great prophetic value to Back to the Future as it highlights ongoing issues in culture. We only mean, though, to include the original, first film. The other two sequels were garbage.
Alien—We had a rather spirited debate about whether to include Alien or Aliens in our list. We both agreed that Aliens is probably a tad bit more watchable because of the idea of Marines in space blowing up extra-terrestrials but the better movie has got to be Alien, even if it is possibly more of a horror-flick than a sci-fi film. Sigourney Weaver’s powerful performance in both of these films, really, helps us to forgive her for Avatar. What almost everyone agrees upon, though, is that the franchise should have stopped after Aliens—because it became very ridiculous.
Mars Attacks!—It is impossible to keep this film off the list. Not only is the idea so spectacular—that Slim Whitman saves humanity, but the cast is truly awe-inspiring. When the Martian shoots the dove in the desert is truly one of the most beautiful scenes in all of science fiction history.
Honorable Mention—Predator (1st one), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and War of the Worlds (original). My friend insisted on Predator, I do not think it was that great. Khan is spectacular, but in my thoughts it transcends the sci-fi category thereby disqualifying it. War of the Worlds is the same movie as Independence Day, and we love both and they would be in our top 10 but not the Top 5.
Intentionally Omitted—Star Wars films and 2001: A Space Odyssey. I love Star Wars but personally categorize it as science fantasy, not fiction. We believe most people would put 2001: A Space Odyssey on their list, but we refuse to do so because we find it boring and self-important (but we do like HAL).