Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[writing] The collaborative fiction project from Orycon

At Orycon, we had a panel intended to produce a piece of collaborative fiction within the hour of programming. This involved substantial audience participation and some fairly whacky behavior. Panelists were Brenda Cooper, Jay Lake, Theresa Reed, Ken Scholes and Ray Vukcevich.

As promised at that event, here is the story posted for general approbation:

The Red Bats of Peppermint Flats

by Theresa Reed, Ray Vukcevich, Jay Lake, Brenda Cooper, Ken Scholes, C.S. Cole, Steve Cole, Jen Scholes, Lunetta, CKL, D, Kathy Oltion, Jerry Oltion, Thomas, Milday Carol, "I just laughed", Antecedent, Andrea Parrish, Uh Justin, David the Cute, man with a strong ego, Derek, famous author will who not be identified, Teri, Susie, person I can't see, insert name here, Ani, Dekker, Shawn Pack the Absent, Mary, Daniel, Onomyous Writer5, Gra Linnaea, Jennifer Linnaea, Emily Mangan, Dale Smith, Peter Honingstock the Jay Lake fanboy, Holly, Rick Lovett

When we developed the pictures of the bird feeder, they turned out to be red bats instead of humming birds. The residents of Fish Creek were startled humans who though they were robots. For example, Molly, who with her deep, deep fear of flying things was responsible for the bird feeder in order to overcome that fear of things flying at her face, at the suggestion of Dr. Who.

Molly's older sister, the seventeen year old robot sweet Caroline, was struggling with the cognitive dissonance of being a robot going thinking it was going through puberty. She was not programmed for puberty.

Molly sorted through the seeds as she looked at the photos. There were seeds of hope, love, fate and destruction. Out by the feeder they spoke of the mysterious photos.

"We need a new photographer," said Caroline, who found the rich redness strangely unsettling. The bats reminded her of menses.

Molly, who found this entire issue repulsive and stupid, "What does your tv therapist Dr. Who say about this?"

"He says they're always in a state of flux."

"Flux? What the hell is flux?"

"We're explain when you're eighteen. Or older."

"I thought it was a rash, but it was really an id."

"The bats? You got a rash from the bats? What are you, allergic?"

"Fortunately, modern technology has provided water-based as well as silicone-based unguents to help get the red out."

"So, Caroline," Molly asked, "exactly where is this rash?"

"Oh, it's on my cat. Every time I stroke it makes a strange noise, and then it sparks. That's a classic sign of a serious rash. It even caught the curtains on fire."

"I think you've been licking the bats."


Father Bob approached the girls with his usual lack of diffidence. "Yo, fruit of my loins."

Both the girls replied in unison, "Eeeeewwww...."

Molly added, "You make me sound like underwear."

Father Bob disapproved, saying, "Sometimes you are a pain the ass."

"This has Nebula written all over it," said one of the co-authors.

The red bats returned with the vengeance of a thousand burning suns, swirling around the father's head like a broken wind up toy, squeaking and wheeling and reeking of peppermint. Father Bob shouted, "Oh no, not again! You spray for bats and they just come back."

The bats themselves were on a mission. They were there to rescue the bling and render aid to Caroline's unfortunate electric cat, Sparky. The bats of St. Francis had held this hereditary purpose since the time of Charles the Fat. Or Pepin the Short. In the modern age, they were strangers, having come in through a time portal in exchange for several hundred very surprised hummingbirds.

Oddly enough, the bats were conditioned to go after prepubescent robots, of which there were not nearly enough in Medieval France. France needs robots! In truth, they were there to recruit Caroline to start the Carolingian Empire.

"That's just silly," said another one of the co-authors - the libido, who was tickled by the French-ness of the whole business.

The girls began to cheer, applauding even, while Molly whipped out her cell phone and made a You Tube video. This was the only way to gain reinforcements.

The red bats are motivated by fear - fear of disempowerment, fear of loss of control, attracted Molly's terror which they can taste upon the wind even though she is trying to hide behind her camera. For she, doubting her inner robot-hood, is afraid of serial port malfunctions. From pink bat guano.

Father Bob, meanwhile, oppressed by the weight of hundreds of swirling bats, watched Shawn Pack leave the room in disgust. Returning to the plot at hand, Father Bob began to recite the Lord's Prayer in French. This incites the bats to greater frenzy with his further fear.

Unfortunately, being a secret Satanist, he only knew it backwards in French. French liturgy recited backwards sounds unfortunately like Xhosa country music. This evoked the Father of Lies, a/k/a the patron saint of fiction, who appeared in a further swirling cloud of peppermint bats.

Somewhere down the block, a dog got run over twice by his own truck in sympathetic vibration to the country music. Flustered by the anarchy that Satan created all around his loyal minion Father Bob, the devil used a specialized wrist mounted communicator to summon an army of bionic kung fu wielding killer Elvis impersonators.

Sparky, having been missing from the plot so far, [insert Sparky earlier], decided it was time for some character in this damned story to come to the aid of Father Bob. Whereupon Sparky leapt upon the Elvis impersonators, catching their hair on fire one by one and melting their polyester. The rising pall of flaming pompadours turns out to be extremely effective peppermint bat repellent.

Molly and Caroline, horrified and dismayed by the loss of all the potential suitors in the Elvises, decided to go home and make a peanut butter and bacon sandwich. The peppermint holocaust continued out on the lawn, where Satan, still smelling like a candy factory, confronted his disloyal minion Father Bob. The Lord of Flies found this smell oddly arousing, reminding him as it does of the first time he saw the good version of the Willy Wonka movie.

"I've learned something here today," said his infernal majesty.

"I think we all have," said the libido, preparing to remove herself from co-authorship, so she could go into production on the film rights.

"Sire," asked Father Bob will all the respect a man covered in pink guano could summon [his name is actually Bob Belfry - which no one will expect]. "What have you learned, exactly?"

"A bat in the hand is worth more than a sparking kitty in the bush," replied Lucifer.

"Actually," said Father Bob, "if you wrap them up in Christmas tree lights, they run around the house and sparkle longer."

Caroline and Molly, watching from the bespattered kitchen window, across the death rows of charred killer Elvises, realized they were seeing a historic moment - the union of Church and Satan.

One last, lone, striped bat spiralled into the evening sky, anachronistically keening out the lyrics to "Incense and Peppermints."

# # #

Originally published at jlake.com.

Tags: conventions, fiction, funny, stories, writing

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