So this weeks terribleminds.com flash fiction challenge from Penmonkey-in-Chief Chuck Wendig was:
…Crazy pulp shiznit….
…To go cuh-razy with the over-the-top pulp weirdness…
I can’t say I’ve ever tried writing anything in a crazy pulp style, but that’s one of the great things about flash fiction challenges. So, I give you:
Countdown to Meltdown
A wailing alarm screamed bursts of ear-splitting noise throughout the facility. Periodically filling the silence between alarm bursts the too-sweet feminine voice of the main computer called out the time remaining.
“This facility will self-destruct in five minutes. Please seek the nearest escape pod.”
The Professor practically flew down the hall with Sally Smith only a half-step behind. They had to dodge the lunar base’s fleeing staff while maintaining their breakneck pace but they had no time to spare.
“Professor, Luna-1 will explode in five minutes, and you’re running away from the escape pods!” she yelled.
“This station may have only five minutes but Earth has slightly less! We need to get Doctor Dolphin’s control rod,” explained The Professor
“Well then pick up the pace Prof!” Sally urged him.
Following her own advice Sally felt like she was running faster than she ever had and started pulling ahead of the very fit but somewhat older man. Just as she rounded a corner and saw the access door to Doctor Dolphin’s strategic control room the computer’s voice called out again.
“This facility will self-destruct in four minutes. Please seek the nearest escape pod.”
Spurred on by the warning Sally was about to kick open the door when she felt herself yanked backward and a hand clamped over her mouth.
“Not yet Sally,” whispered The Professor in her ear. “The automatic defence systems are still active. They should shut down at the three-minute mark,” he continued while letting go of her arm and uncovering her mouth.
“Cutting it a little close aren’t we?” she asked, gasping a little to catch her breath.
“I’m afraid it can’t be helped. Don’t worry though. Three minutes should be plenty of time to subdue the doctor, deactivate his laser satellites orbiting earth and stop the self-destruct sequence of Luna-1. We will need to be efficient, of course.”
“I don’t suppose the order of that is open to negotiation?”
“I’m afraid not. You see if we were to try to…”
“OK Prof,” said Sally, cutting him off. “Now’s not the time. Save it for Monday’s lecture.”
“Young Lady, you could use some lessons in tact.”
Sally gave him her best ‘who me?’ look and was going to say something when she found herself interrupted by the always pleasant main computer.
“This facility will self-destruct in three minutes. Please seek the nearest escape pod.”
“Now Sally!” the professor yelled. Sally was already moving though and kicked the access door open.
Inside the cavernous control room, Luna-1’s only truly large space, Doctor Dolphin was watching lights turn on at various points on the gigantic map of Earth that dominated the room. Most of them were near the arctic and antarctic but Sally saw some lights were shinning in Northwestern Canada, Argentina, Iceland and Pakistan. Doctor Dolphin whipped around at the sound of the access door crashing open.
“Too late Professor! Too late Jim! I’m afraid you and Ms. Smith are just too late. My satellites are coming online. Wide-beam lasers are targeting all the great ice deposits on Earth. Soon my children will have nearly the whole world as their domain and humankind, the scourge of the planet, will be washed away!” Doctor Dolphin cackled and made a sweeping motion with his control rod.
“Tom, Luna-1 will explode in less than three minutes. This madness has to end,” said the Professor
“I am Doctor Dolphin,” the madman screamed, “and Luna-1 may have less than three minutes but Earth has even less than that. About thirty seconds less. You’re just too late!”
“Fine Doctor, we’ll do it the hard way. I just want you to know…” Professor Jim Steel began sternly, but found himself cut-off for the second time in about as many minutes. A buzz and crackle of electricity erupted from beside him and raced out to strike Doctor Dolphin square in the chest. The madman went stiff and then, twitching slightly collapsed to the polished steel floor. Sally stepped forward, a strange gun-like device in her hand that she had evidently pulled from her bag, as the computer voice reminded them of the situation.
“This facility will self-destruct in two minutes. Please seek the nearest escape pod.”
“Sorry Prof, but you did mention efficiency, yes? The lectures really need to wait until Monday. Now please tell me you can turn off those satellites and deactivate the self-destruct sequence,” said Sally as she turned to look at the slightly startled man.
“Of course, of course,” he said as he moved to pick up the control rod. “Youth today, always in a rush. We had time for at least a half-minute of more banter. Hopefully you’ll develop a better sense of style once you’ve had a couple more years to mature.”
Sally could only shake her head and laugh as she watched the lights begin to wink out on the giant map.