The final week, after six months of grueling work, we finally come to the final challenge. Matt, Nibs, and myself faced off with the following challenge, based off the story Harrison Bergeron. We were asked that every character in our story completely lose their memory every 250 words (or fewer). Wowzers.
“Hit me,” he said, simultaneous tapping his fingers on the table. The dealer was showing an eight, and he a six and a four. His attention was taken away by a dashing redhead wearing a low-cut dress. Instinctually, he used his enhanced vision to undress her. She was just as gorgeous underneath, providing a pleasant distraction from his current losing streak. These days, thankfully, he no longer felt a pang of regret if he couldn’t have every beauty that passed him by.
The dealer laid the two of spades in front of him. “Of course,” he sighed. Another hit yielded a king and busted him. He watched as the suit to the left of him split his aces and landed two faces. Normally, this would have irritated him, but if things went well, tonight was going to be a good night.
“Excuse me, sir,” interjected a cocktail waitress, setting a silver jewelry case in front of him. She was a little pretty, a lot of fake. “From the woman over there,” she pointed with her eyes.
He looked across the room. He caught a woman sitting at the bar, quickly turning away from him. From this distance, he couldn’t make her out.
Opening the case revealed a chakra bracelet, inlaid with jade. Removing it from the case, he slipped it on his left hand. It fit perfectly. He looked up, searching out his new friend. She was gone. Perplexed, he absentmindedly fiddled with the bracelet.
“Sir?” the dealer beckoned.
“Hit me,” he said, simultaneously tapping his fingers on the table. His attention was on a voluptuous brunette that was hanging on the arm of a high-roller. Out of habit he undressed her with his supernatural vision. While she was a sight to see, he was okay just looking. At the age of thirty-one, he’d sown his oats long ago.
“Four makes twenty-two,” said the dealer as he gathered up the cards.
“What?” he cried. “I had a hard ten!”
The dealer showed him the queen of spades and the eight of clubs. “I thought you did, too. Sorry, man.”
He looked at them, confused. “I could have sworn…” he thought out loud.
The suit to the left of him patted his shoulder. “Gutsy play, hero. You almost had ‘em.”
“Uh huh,” he said, picking up his chips. “Good luck everyone. I’ve got a date with destiny.”
“So that’s her name?” the suit quipped. “But seriously, dude, what’s with the get-up?”
He ignored the suit and headed for the cashier. Winding through endless slot machines, he covered his mouth. The smoke was oppressive. He was tempted to use super speed, but he didn’t want to risk getting noticed. Mostly, though, he was growing tired of coasting through life. It left him wanting.
Turning the corner, he was stopped dead in his tracks. A gun jammed into his abdomen.
“Bingo,” his adversary replied.
He swung for Lex’s head with his left arm. Lex caught it.
“Hit me,” he said nonchalantly.
“Wha?” replied Lex, confused.
“Well,” he said. “It appears you have a gun, and I’m at a disadvantage.”
“Oh, right,” said Lex. “And it has kryptonite bullets. Nice knowin’ ya.”
Lex looked down to a completely mangled gun.
“Too late,” he said, pushing Lex to the casino floor.
A little shaken–more from the apparent memory loss than his encounter with Lex–he stumbled towards the elevator. He pushed 17, wanting to get to their hotel room and lie down. Lex said his gun had kryptonite bullets. Did that cause his amnesia? Maybe it was stress. Perry White had sent them here for a convention, but he had other plans. Tonight was going to be a big night.
Reaching into his pocket, he was grateful to discover he hadn’t lost his key in all the hoopla. Entering the room, he was surprised to find her back so soon. “Uh, hi Lois!”
“Hey there. Wasn’t expecting you!”
He looked at her, puzzled, until he realized. He looked down at the big S on his chest.
Lois strutted towards him. “How did you know what room I was in, Superman?” She raised her eyebrows, awaiting an answer.
“Look,” he said.. “You might as well know the truth.” He held her hands. She held back.
“Hit me,” he said.
“Sometimes I’d love to.”
He looked around, then looked at her. “When did I get here?”
“Honestly?” she replied. “I don’t know. I can’t remember, either.”
He took a sharp breath.
“But I do know why. Remove the bracelet, but don’t touch the jewel.” He did as she asked. “This,” she said, walking the bracelet over to the fireplace, “is what wiped out our memories.” She dropped it into the fire.
“How do you know?”
“Silly Superman. I’m the one who gave it to you.”
“Lex was after you. I knew even with kryptonite bullets he’d have to be on top of you to hit you. I figure if he got too close, this would wipe out his memory as well, giving you a chance to escape. You’re here, so I assume you did.”
“Superman needs Lois, eh?”
“It appears so.”
He sat down on the bed. She joined him.
“Thank you. But I have to let you know something.”
She raised her eyebrows again.
He slowly took off his cape. “Lois, my life’s been pretty amazing so far. My natural abilities have given me many advantages.” He took off his belt. “I really thought at times that it couldn’t get better. Then I met you.”
She tried not to blush. He took off his tights. She blushed.
“You really have changed my life. Being Superman is fun sometimes, but that man can’t do the thing he most wants to do. And that’s be with you.”
Finally, he put on his glasses. “Recognize this guy?”
“Oh Beau, of course I do!” she said, giving him a hug. “I’ve known for a long time.”
“I’ve just been waiting for you to take off the costume.”
He gulped. “So…in that case, I just have one question.”
“Will you marry me?”
Spooky: Huh. Well…okay. I don’t know why someone would go so meta so strongly at the end here when by now they know me, but here we are. What kills me is that the character is well-defined early on (yes, he’s an existing character, but I loved the explanation of his boredom with his abilities). I get the feeling that this Survivor based this piece around the ending, and upon writing the other stuff just to get there, stumbled upon a better idea that really should have changed the concept.
Creativity of reason for Forgettings: 3
Overall Story Effectiveness: 3
DK: This is tough. The first section is excellent – the tone and atmosphere, the characterization of this superhero who is bored with the abilities he has (and I get the sense that this initial boredom is meant to resonate more because of the way the relationship aspect comes together at the end) but the pace and effectiveness of both the plot and the characters started falling off around Lex’s entrance, and couldn’t really come back for me by the time we get to the (presumably) author’s self-insertion (although it wouldn’t be any different if this is someone else writing about Beau as if he’s Superman).
Creativity of Reason for Forgettings: 4
Overall Story Effectiveness: 3
While neither judge seemed to realize that my self insertion was entirely because this entry was a marriage proposal, I don’t disagree with their critiques of the actual writing. As it were, I took third place. Nibbish took the top prize and voted out Matt. Later this week the jury will decide who should win the tenth season of Survivor. It will be announced live on Saturday, as the judges and the players will all miraculously be in once place.
But even I take second place, I’ve still won.