Operation Disney – 2nd Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

Below you will find my 2nd round entry for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. You will also find a perfect example of trying and failing–ha! As I explained in a post earlier this week, I received the number one genre I DID NOT WANT: political satire.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even share this story with you because it’s not representative of who I am as a writer. However, I’ve decided the true failure for this story would come from stuffing it in a drawer and forgetting it ever happened. I might as well post it and learn from my mistakes. How else will I improve if I don’t open myself up to criticism, right?

So, with that all said, here you go! As a reminder, I had 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story based on these prompts:

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*Since not all of us are political gurus, I wrote out a brief explanation about my chosen topic. If you’d like to read it before or after you check out my story–click here and scroll to the bottom 🙂

“Operation Disney”

by Jenna Willett

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: It’s the 21st century and time for a new, inviting strategy for the Secret Service. But Director Peterson’s plan might be too Disney for special agent Prouty.

*

“My, oh my, what a wonderful day!” Director Judy Peterson clapped her chubby hands and hitched her bulldog-like face into a smile. “Remember, everyone: be friendly and inviting. Understand?”

The group of black clad Secret Service agents shifted uneasily. Agent Prouty glanced at his colleagues. They wore varying expressions of alarm, amusement, and indifference. Behind them, Air Force One glimmered in the setting sun of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the “happiest place on Earth”.

“Come, come. I wanna see smiles. Lots and lots of smiles!” Director Peterson nodded her approval at each agent. “Ah, yes, there you go. Very good. Yes, yes–No, no. Prouty!” she barked. “You’re not smiling!”

He clenched his jaw and twitched his thin lips into a smile.

Fuck, this was ridiculous.

Satisfied, Director Peterson motioned across the tarmac to the VIP passengers being herded out of the airport to the final security checkpoint. “Smith, check IDs. Phillips, run the metal detector. Halloway…” As she rattled off their individual assignments, Prouty studied the approaching passengers: congressmen, media clowns, a few invited guests.

“…yes, yes, Halloway. That’s a great smile. Just like Prince Charming.” Director Peterson’s praise drew Prouty’s attention back to her. The evening breeze hardly ruffled her stiff chocolate brown hair. “Prouty, you’ll oversee the baggage scanner.”

He nodded dutifully.

“And, don’t forget, everyone,” she trilled. “I want smiles and magic–“

“Director?” Prouty blurted. “Who’s on Air Force One with the First Family?” Hell, the last thing they needed was an armed lunatic running up the plane’s stairs, barging through the door, and mowing down the President of the United States.

She waved a dismissive hand. “Eh, they’ll be safe on board. The attendants can keep an eye on them.”

Oh, dear God.

Prouty bit back his angry retort and did as he’d been trained to do: follow orders without argument.

“Now, let’s hoppity-hop to it!” Director Peterson fluttered her fingers towards the security checkpoint.

Prouty and the rest of the team obediently took up their positions. From his perch behind the baggage scanner, he watched Director Peterson stroll behind the other agents, urging them to maintain their delightful facades while greeting passengers. “Welcome to Air Force One. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If you want a cognac, you got it.”

How the hell did she get her husky voice to sound like a chipmunk?

Prouty shook his head and focused on scanning the luggage contents. The shape of a gun appeared.

What the–?

“Is there a bluebird on your shoulder today, agent?”

He jumped and glared behind him. Director Peterson leaned in close. Her cotton candy perfume gave him an instant toothache. “Director, we have a serious problem.” He pointed at the screen.

Her beady eyes narrowed. “Well, that’s obviously a hairdryer, silly.” She winked and tapped him on the nose. “But, good eyes. Keep them sharp.”

“But–“

“Ooh, look! A Birkin bag.” She bounced over to a busty blonde hanging on the withered arm of an ancient congressman.

Oh for shit’s sake. Prouty swallowed his outrage and continued checking bags.

A few minutes later, a hefty man plodded past holding a map of Washington D.C.

“Sir?” Prouty stood and squinted at the map. The White House was circled in red.

Holy hell.

“It is fine, da?” the man grunted in a thick Russian accent while puffing on a cigarette.

Prouty coughed and tapped his headset. “Director, I have an issue–“

“An issue?” She skipped over to him, her jowls wobbling with each heavy jolt. “Well, well, well. Who’s this handsome man?”

“Vlad Bukavitsky,” the Russian sneered. “And I not like dis treatment by your countryman. I good man. Loyal man. See?” He flashed the Russian flag pin on his lapel.

Prouty scowled. “Sir, I need you to hand over that map–“

“Agent Prouty!” Director Peterson gasped. “Don’t discriminate against our international friend.” She smiled apologetically at Bukavitsky. “I’m so sorry, sir. We’ll make sure you get a souvenir.” She tapped on her headset. “Halloway? Yeah, I need a coffee mug…”

Prouty’s jaw dropped. “But–“

Suddenly, a man wearing a yellow construction hardhat appeared. “Hiyah, folks.”

“Hello there!” Director Peterson chirped.

“Got a call about a broken TV on the plane. Mind if I hop on real quick to fix it?”

“Of course not. Go ahead.” She waved him past the security checkpoint. “And thank you. I know how much the President wants to watch those Steelers.”

“Best damn team ever,” the construction worker agreed. He tipped his hat, and whistling, strolled off to the jet. Prouty caught him snapping a selfie on his way up the steps.

Good God!

Unable to contain himself any longer, he rounded on Director Peterson. “With all due respect, this is bullshit. None of this is protocol–“

“My dear agent,” she sighed, impatience lacing her sugary tone. “How many times must I tell you? This is the 21st century. It’s time for a new attitude and a new approach to our tactics. Lowering our guard might be the best thing to raise–“

BANG!

Everyone screamed and ducked.

BANG–BANG–BANG!

Prouty spun around, gun in hand, ready to fire.

BANG–BANG!

“Someone get to the President and his family,” he shouted.

“How dare you, Prouty!” Director Peterson cried. “I’m in charge here. Stand down, team. I repeat, stand down.”

He gaped at her. “Director, someone shot–“

“Nobody shot anything! It was just the luggage trolley backfiring.”

“Backfiring?”

“Obviously.” She clucked her tongue. “Haven’t you ever heard a car backfire?”

“But six times?”

“Hush, hush.” She patted him on the arm. “And for God’s sake, smile. You’re scaring our poor passengers with your unnecessary panic.”

Unnecessary? Are you out of your–“

“The last passenger has been processed, Director.” Halloway ran up with his Prince Charming smile.

“Well, my, oh my.” She clapped her hands. “Great job, team. Let’s get this show on the road.”

Prouty glared from them, to the President’s plane. Slowly, he exhaled and muttered, “Ah, fuck. Let it go.” 

To read more stories, visit the Jen’s Pen page.

Disaster Strikes – Round 2 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

Well, it finally happened, everyone. The worst case scenario struck this weekend. I received political satire as my genre for the 2nd round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014.

As usual, I went to bed on Friday night without looking at my assignment–the last thing I needed was to be kept up half the night with swirling ideas. Around 4:30 a.m., my nerves woke me up. Unable to stand it, I turned on my tablet to find out what my new prompts were:

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Blank.

My mind went blank.

Then it quickly screamed:
Ugh, I had so been hoping for comedy or sci-fi. Or, heck, even romance. ANYTHING but political satire, because 1) I don’t know jack about politics, and 2) I’ve never tried writing satire.

I ended up throwing myself back into bed, curling up in the fetal position, and battling between despair and anger for a solid hour. It. Was. A. Disaster! In fact, for a serious moment, I even considered throwing in the towel and giving up…

But, darn it, I’m competitive. And I wasn’t willing to just roll over and die. So I got over myself, and I went to work.

Thankfully, I happened to overhear a rant about a current event the day before, so I had a topic to use as my story’s inspiration. I pulled up Google and began educating myself on it. I spent most of Saturday morning reading articles and watching a Congress hearing on C-SPAN.

I know, it sounds borrrring, but surprisingly, everything I read and heard was fascinating. Better yet, it was mockable. There was one particular quote that inspired my story’s entire theme. Hint:

After a wicked case of Distractionitis (Facebook, Twitter, chores, etc.), I battened down the hatches and whipped out a first draft.

Now, normally I will revise a first draft at least a couple of times before I send it to my mom, AKA, Mrs. Harsh Beta Reader. This time, however, I broke tradition and asked her if she’d come over to my house to read it/help me revise it. I didn’t want to waste time revising a story I had zero confidence in.

To my complete shock, she loved the first draft. In fact, she was crying she was laughing so hard at some of my jokes. I cried with her, but I think that was more out of relief than humor 😉 We edited the story to a semi-solid draft and I sent it off to a couple of other beta readers, one of whom had way more experience in political satire than me.

Their critiques came back positive, but the one who had political satire know-how said my story was too funny. Satire is supposed to suggest, not slap the reader in the face with comedy.

So, I revised it and tried to tone things down.

Tried.

Honestly, I would’ve needed to start completely over to make my story more “satire” funny than “HAHA!” funny, and I wasn’t going to do that. It was late and I was exhausted. Plus, I liked my story–for what it was–and I figured the chances of getting any points for it in the competition were slim-to-none. So why not write a story I liked–even if it didn’t meet the traditional standards of satire?

On Sunday morning, I sent my beta readers a polished version. One of them still thought the humor needed to be toned down and a specific aspect needed to be deleted, while the other thought the story wasn’t as funny anymore and thought that specific aspect needed to be emphasized.

So, I decided to leave the story as is. HA! I ran through it once more and submitted it. Done and done!

Now, is this the best story I’ve ever written? NOOOOO! Will it get me points? NOOOOO! Am I proud I sucked it up and wrote a political satire? YES!

One of the main reasons I do this competition is to push my boundaries and experiment with various genres. And although political satire wasn’t one of the genres I wanted to experiment with, I’m glad I did. It challenged me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. Plus, I learned a lot about a current event I wouldn’t have known much about otherwise.

Hopefully people will read my story and enjoy it, even if it doesn’t fit the traditional political satire standards. I plan to post it here in a few days. For now, here is the title and synopsis:

“OPERATION DISNEY”

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: It’s the 21st century and time for a new, inviting strategy for the Secret Service. But Director Peterson’s plan might be too Disney for special agent Prouty.

***

Okay, normally, I don’t offer explanations for my stories. But since this is a political satire and not all of us are on the up-and-up of various current events, I wanted to give you one to–hopefully–improve your reading experience.

Operation Disney is based off of Julia Pierson, the recently resigned Director of the Secret Service.

APTOPIX-Secret-ServiceSince she was hired back in 2013, there have been multiple security breaches. Some of these include: An armed man hopping the White House fence, running across the lawn, and entering the property through an unlocked door. A construction worker/felon being allowed to share the same elevator as the President (and snap photos of him with his phone). And, finally, a series of gunshots echoing outside the White House that were blamed for a car backfiring (five days later, a maid found a window in the President’s private residence damaged from bullets).

On top of all of that, Pierson made this comment (and it’s this comment I based the tone of my story off of):

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.49.17 AMHopefully that explanation helps some of you enjoy Operation Disney more! Thanks in advanced for reading and providing feedback. I appreciate it.

Photo credits:

http://www.omgfacts.com/lists/7722/A-man-survived-the-Hindenburg-disaster-by-bailing-out-the-window

http://www.studentbeans.com/mag/en/campus/the-25-stages-of-writing-an-essay

http://gifsb.in/will-ferrell/

http://torimac.tumblr.com/

http://dailycaller.com/2014/10/02/julia-pierson-on-secret-service-we-need-to-be-more-like-disney-world/

http://www.i-am-bored.com/forums.asp?page_num=1&action=read&q_id=71067&ct=10

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/10/02/fired-secret-service-directors-strategy-for-the-agency-we-need-to-be-more-like-disney-world/

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2014/10/01/APress-Secret-Service-chief-Julia-Pierson-resigns-after-security-lapses/stories/201410010204