Monday, August 9, 2010

The Brave Little Pilot, A Saturday Centus


Jenny Matlock

I’m back again to participate in week 14 of the Saturday Centus, a fun and challenging writing meme hosted by that inimitable creative dynamo, Jenny Matlock, at her blog, Jenny Matlock, off on my tangent…

Yes, I know I said it was the Saturday Centus, and not the Monday Centus, but give the man a break here, okay?  I’ve been up to my eyeballs in writing a lengthy treatise for my economics class, so my mind has been occupied with formulas and charts and crap I’m undoubtedly going to forget the moment I finish the course.  I am sorry that I am a little late getting started, but the main thing is that I still got it in.

(Insert snide, wholly expected, sexually derisive comment here.)

Perhaps I should convince my professor to adopt a Centusian approach with written assignments.  Think of the time we could save by chopping our 15 to 20 page papers into easily read and absorbed 100 word essays!  Hmm…yeah, now those would be some real prompts to groan about.

I suppose I could take a mentally minimalist view of economics like that loony political pundit, Glenn Beck, on his Faux News show.  Instead of a lengthy discourse on the advantages of a free market economic system, I could just describe Beck’s anti-Semitic, conspiratorial views on how all our economic problems can be traced to a secret elite society of Jewish bankers and power brokers manipulating the economy for their own evil purposes.

Yeah, Professor Schwartzman would just love that!

This college stuff is tough.  That’s why it’s better to do when you are young and still have most of your brain cells left.  Oh well, I suppose I could always go to bartending school if this doesn’t work out.  My mom always told me I had the perfect face for radio, so maybe I could give that a try.  We’ll see I suppose.

Anyway, getting back to this meme, here is the dealio with Saturday Centus.  You are given a prompt of indeterminate length which you are then compelled to use unaltered in a creative story that you write using a maximum of 100 words, not including the prompt. 

Failure to adhere to the 100 word rule conflicts with the paradigm that is “Centus,” which could lead to a breach in the time-space continuum opening up a portal to the nine circles of Hell.  This may also coincide with massive shifts in the earth’s mantle, causing apocalyptic world destruction. 

And you know what that means.


No more Justin Bieber concerts.

(Be afraid…be very afraid.)

When you are done with your story, link it back to Jenny’s Saturday Centus meme post.  Then join the rest of the Centusians hanging out at Jenny’s, knocking back vodka with prune juice and chatting about the weather and how, according to Faux News, the current administration’s gross negligence is causing all these natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

Oh, and be sure to stop by and visit all of this week’s writers and leave them a comment!  We writers love to get feedback from our readers.  It’s like our heroin, except without the dark, sunken eyes, emaciated appearance or uncontrollable itching. So be a pal and give us a fix, man.

This week’s prompt is:

"Objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear…”

And here is my take on the prompt.  I have entitled it:

The Brave Little Pilot

“Daddy, are you sure I can do this?  I’m only seven years old.”

“That’s the perfect age for piloting a space ship, Jessie.

Now let’s go over the rules again.

Keep your helmet on and your hands inside the space ship at all times
and do whatever the technicians here on Earth tell you to do.

Oh, and remember that objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear, so watch out for meteors.

You got all of that?”

“Yes daddy.  Don’t worry, I’m not afraid.”

With that, she climbed aboard the MRI scanner.

Tears formed as I reflected on her difficult journey ahead.

Jenny Matlock

Don't be a foppotee! Join in the fun!



  1. Oh, wow! I didn't see that coming!

  2. This is a great one. Love it!

  3. Very creative take on the prompt ;-) Potentially very sad though...Peace

  4. Clever and sad at the same time!

  5. this prompt has reminded me on Meatloaf's lovely song OBJECT IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR MAY APPEAR CLOSER THAN THEY ARE,and its lovely video as well.

  6. A brilliant and bittersweet Centus. Well done! And, in case you aren't a dad, I think you'd make a great one!

  7. Wow, what an ending. This one threw me for a loop.
    I can just imagine a dad saying this to his daughter so she wouldn't be afraid. Good job with this.

  8. Oh Wow ... that really got to me. I was all ready for a little sci-fi action and instead I get weepy medical tragedy. Well done!

    And economics, schmeconomics. It never did me one bit of good. The only economic text I ever really enjoyed was reading "Freakonomics."

  9. Okay, that kicked ass and I mean lots of ass! "Keep your hands in the space ship" gave me a chuckle and made me wonder where your story was going, but I never expected to end up on this sad journey!

    Back in my days of teaching high school and college english, I wish I had thought of those 100 word essays! What a breeze to grade!

    Some of my favorite lines this week:

    "Professor Schwarzmann"

    "I still got it in"

    "Then join the rest of the Centusians hanging out at Jenny’s, knocking back vodka with prune juice and chatting about the weather and how, according to Faux News, the current administration’s gross negligence is causing all these natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906."

    Thanks for being tardy to the party and just skip class next week! Will you never learn? :)


  10. Heavy stuff. The twist worked, man.
    Keep banging at them keys, brother...

  11. Oh man, this knocked me for a loop. Expecting a fun little story, and then BAM! This was excellent Tom, you made us really feel for that father. And as always, your introduction was great. Vodka and prune juice - hmmmm.

  12. Tom, This poignant piece brought tears to my eyes. It's so gentle and caring and just plain loving.

    You're the best.


  13. Whoa! Good one. I had to read it twice just to be sure that she wasn't in a real spaceship. Dang!

    I know what you mean about the brain cells. I think I drop a few more every day. I'm afraid to vacuum.

  14. Tgo, this was excellent! What a fabulous use of the prompt. This was incredibly touching, and you really took us to a very unique place - as if you'd been there yourself. I think this is publishable (for a larger audience than your following), and definitely my favorite of all your great pieces.

  15. In any econ class a paragraph is a lengthy treatise as far as I'm concerned. Micro or Macro, it's all the same.

  16. Aww! This started off so light and funny and then you had to get all heartfelt on me. Really sad and an amazing twist.

    I really like how you told the majority of it through dialogue and still were able to say so much. Great job!

  17. I was caught off guard by the ending, it's bittersweet and sad and quite heartbreaking as this is more real than real

  18. That was brilliant - I just did not anticipate that ending!

  19. Simply put, you made this one shine.

  20. Great twist! As an expert MRI-er, I can totally empathize!

    AND... "no more Justin Beiber concerts?"

    Did you REALLY write this? Or did Reffie's evil twin get to you?

    Justin Beiber? Uggghhh!


  21. oh my, you got me and you got me good. at the end I had chills, almost tears...

  22. i can envision this as a pretend play time moment as well as being really on board too. nice!

  23. I remember sitting in the room when my son had an MRI - oh, the noise! I'd never thought to make a space adventure out of the experience!

    Well done!

  24. What a clever one this is...I definitely didn't see it coming, but when it did come, I loved it!


  25. The Centus business is slow this week for many,and I realized I hadn't "seen" you last week either.So I hunted you down and see your late post. I am glad I searched because this story is a powerhouse! You wrote a creative and emotional story...good luck on college class.

  26. Tom.

    I was at first distracted by this little line: "Insert snide, wholly expected, sexually derisive comment here."

    ...and then...

    I went on this little journey to hell with you. And you touched on almost every emotion I have and made me feel more than I thought possible with 100 words of well-crafted Tom-ness!

    I really, really need to figure out how to become a publisher. I would sign you up so fast it would make your head spin...even more than it does already.



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