Sunday, July 13, 2008

Entry #21

Riding to Extinction
by Linda Courtland


When gas prices reached $937 a gallon, Mason parked his car for the last time. His neighbors had long since converted their SUV’s into spare bedrooms, storage facilities, and entertainment centers with surround sound.

“Wanna watch a movie?” Sally called from her minivan. “There’s a third row seat still available.”

But Mason had work to do. He had spent his career manipulating international oil prices, and now he couldn’t even afford to drive. At night, petroleum poltergeists swirled through his bedroom, keeping him awake and blaming him for global warming.

Months later, Mason negotiated an unprecedented deal between domestic food and car companies. Soon, every household had a new motorcycle powered entirely by partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Mason hit the road each night. When he did stumble home, he was far too tired to think about phantom memories.

But when the country’s reserve of oily vegetables was finally exhausted, the economy collapsed. Grown men staggered down empty carpool lanes, longing for the glory days of soybeans and safflower, of corn syrup and abnormal carbon chains.

And Mason’s long-ignored ghosts seemed unforgiving. They woke him each night with I-told-you-so stories about the dangers of trans fats. One night, they terrorized him with a singing ensemble of feelings he had buried.

Mason quickly retrieved the tub of contraband margarine he’d hidden for emergencies. He slid the sticky substance into his motorcycle’s empty tank and sped off into darkness, trying to outrun ancient fossil-fueled memories that he feared could still destroy him.

24 comments:

Sarah Hina said...

This was hilarious! But oh margarine, does our future look dreary...

Such a fun riff on topical issues. And very well written, too. I hope Mason eludes those poltergeists--the trans fat ones, in particular, are unforgiving. ;)

Really enjoyed this!

J.C. Montgomery said...

Great write! You handled the subject matter, characters, and tone very well using this limited format. Nicely done.

Sheri said...

This is sooooo clever! And well written to boot! I loved it.

You know flies won't even go to margarine if left out...

Charles Gramlich said...

Hilarious. The most clever entry so far. Excellent choice.

Wannabe Writer said...

Funny... Great use of the prompt. Good piece of writing. -Rita

The Grocer said...

Very topical and amusing, well written. "grown men... longing for glory days" Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose"

flash-writer said...

This is a brilliant, very well-written piece of satire. This writer knows how to pack tons of story in so few words, which is the true essence of flash fiction, a literary form unlike all others. This is a writer to watch.

kflgilbert said...

Send this to the New Yorker. Bravo.

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

What a fresh perspective!

Very realistic too,this might exactly be what the world is heading for.

BernardL said...

LOL!

SzélsőFa said...

I think this nightmare'll come true sooner then we think.
Mason's a real character here.

Scott said...

This totally rocked! What a unique take on the theme.

HavasuSharon said...

Very clever take on the picture and so in tune with the happenings of our times. Our future? This piece makes one nervous and carries some great foreboding. Well done.

September said...

very clever. and such a perfect title!
good job.

JaneyV said...

With peak oil peaked perhaps this scenario isn't too far off in the future. Humorous and thought-provoking, this had lots of layers and was very enjoyable.

Beth said...

I'm a bit of an environmentalist, so thoroughly enjoyed this. I already left a comment, but it didn't "stick," so I wanted to be sure this one did.

Contraband margarine. Love that.

ChrisEldin said...

One of my favorites so far.
So clever and ironic. Very well-written!

Dottie said...

Social commentary that is also funny and well written. Great job.

Jax said...

Linda,
This was so fun. Loved converting SUV's into movie theaters. Great job. The best line: petroleum poltergeists.

Nice,
Jax

Linda said...

Hey everyone, Thank you so much all the comments and kind words! -- Linda

laughingwolf said...

thx for the laugh, and wakeup call...

Aerin said...

HOLY COW how did I miss reading this before? GENIUS. Fab idea, even better writing. Wonderful!

jason evans said...

Quite a sweeping story. I could see these elements expanded into a larger story. A compelling progression. Good pacing and entertainment.

Aine said...

Margarine-- the fuel of the future. I love it!! Glad it may be good for something.

This was very entertaining-- A good read!