Turbo Survivor II, Challenge 5: Smart Feature

In recent years, televisions have gained apps and browsers while washers and dryers can give you alerts by phone as to when they’re done.  Your story is centered around any real item that could be augmented by an unlikely but helpful new feature.
Word Limit: 300
Time Limit: 35 minutes

Connor had prayed his parents would decide to sit in the back row for once, but nope, there they were all proud and annoying in row one. “There’s our boy!” he heard Mom chime to anyone who would listen. “He made first chair this year!”
That was true. Every senior made first chair as long as they were nice to the band leader and dressed nice. Connor, however, was a junior. Juniors never made first chair. Austin Langston made that quite clear.
“The only reason she picked you is because you don’t have acne, ” Austin grumbled. “Good luck with your solo. I’d say don’t fuck it up but we know that’s impossible.”
That was also true. Ever since the school installed auto-tuners on all the instruments, everyone sounded fantastic. Heck, the keys didn’t even matter.
“I still have to blow,” said Connor.
“Yeah, that’s what your boyfriend said.”
Connor turned red. Thankfully, the director got things started. The crowd oohed and aahed through magnificent renditions of Ode to Joy and Pachelbel’s Canon. Connor use to enjoy playing these classics like a professional. But the closer it got to his solo, the angrier he got. Austin punctuated his irritation by emptying his spit valve on Connor’s shoes.
When he was called for his solo, Baker Street, Connor ripped off the auto-tuner. Determined to sabotage this concert and his reputation, he closed his eyes and played like it was his last time. A thoroughly mediocre sound echoed throughout the auditorium as Connor flubbed at least two-dozen notes.
After his final note, he opened his eyes. He could hear a pin drop. His parents look terrified. The crowd looked confused. The director glared right through him. Connor heard a squeal.
He turned around. Austin had his auto-tuner in hand.


K: I was kind of hoping that Connor would find that he was a proficient artist. This is a thoroughly cynical view of our future, but at least we had characters to latch onto and a story to invest in. Let me get tough on dialogue, because that’s what I do: let the characters be sarcastic once in a while. Austin’s line “I’d say don’t fuck it up but we know that’s impossible” would be better if he just said “Don’t fuck it up” with a bit of a smirk. When you write it all out like that, it comes off as mistrust in the reader’s comprehension.

MN – The tone might have been a bit too colloquial, but the juxtapositioning of the kid who gets it, and doesn’t want to be a part of it any more, and the kid who doesn’t get it… well, that sums up high school, doesn’t it? This was quite enjoyable. I think I would have liked a bit more interaction between the two boys too, which could have set up Austin’s absurd readiness to take over a bit better.

Yeah, this was terrible. The judges are spot on with their critiques. I still like the idea and if I had had a few hours I might have made it good. Ah well. Good news is my team finished in second place again. 18 players left and we’re sitting pretty with our whole team.

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