No Celery Please – NYC Edition!

I won, I won!

Posted in Uncategorized by noceleryplease on October 4, 2007

OK, so I didn’t “win”, per se.

But 2nd place out of 11 ain’t too shabby.

I entered a flash fiction contest at Blood, Blade, and Thruster Magazine. (Cool SF satire thingy)

I have reprinted the story below.

Apologies to Tiff – I was working on this when I was completely failing to write my Wordsmiths for September (I truly had planned to do both).

The prompt was… someone dies, and it’s funny… under 1000 words

The Clown Gambit
“The clowns are a problem.”

Jake peeled his face up off the papers that were scattered across his desk. Blinking blearily at Marcie he shook off the last traces of his afternoon nap and tried to get his mind around what his partner had said.


“Yes. The clowns.”

She hated his ability to fall asleep anywhere at any time and she was always peevish when she had to wake him to discuss the latest threat to the system.

He knew this, and took every opportunity to put his head down on his desk and annoy her just a little. She took things too seriously. They were fighting a losing battle and she knew it. Better just to drift off comfortably in a pile of paperwork and not wake up than to continue fighting this ridiculous battle against the virus that had invaded their program and was attacking the last safe house they had in the virtual city.

“What’s wrong with clowns?”

He was genuinely confused. The last attack had been hours ago – giant screaming vampires or something. The firewalls had weakened, almost given out, but managed to hold.

Marcie gave him a look that would have been withering if he’d been paying attention to her and not trying to figure out cryptic comments about clowns.

“The clowns are not a threat.”

“Oh, well, great.” Jake was relieved. “I’ll just go back to what I was doing, then.”

He started to lower his head gratefully back to a particularly comfortable Network Usage Report that he felt had just the right number of pages to support a good two to three hours of napping when an exasperated groan from Marcie told him that a return to napping was likely not in the cards.

He was right.

“The Clowns,” Marcie hissed, “have not been recognized as a threat. They are just milling around out there. The defense system won’t blast them. It seems to think that clowns are not scary.”

“Well, If they aren’t a threat, they aren’t a threat.” Jake always liked to look for the easiest answer. “What are clowns going to do to us anyway?”

“I don’t know. That’s what has me worried. I can’t think the virus has just given up and provided clowns for our entertainment.”

“That’s your problem Marcie… you never think that the best might happen. Heck. This could be an overture of peace.

Marcie’s look told Jake exactly what she thought of that idea.

The clowns on the view screen had stopped milling around outside the firewall and had lined up, facing the safe house.

“Hey Hey, Kids!”

The voice coming through the intercoms sounded jolly. Almost too jolly, Jake thought.

“Hey! Kids! What’s the difference between roast beef and pea soup?”

Jake and Marcie looked at each other.

“What the hell-” began Marcie.

The voice from the intercom cut her off.

“Anyone can roast beef.”

There was silence in the safehouse. Then Jake gave a little chuckle. “Pea soup. Hah!”

Again, the jolly voice called out to them.

” What do you call santa’s helpers?”

Jake thought about it. “Elves?”

“Subordinate clauses.”

This time, after a pause, both Jake and Marcie let out a little giggle.

The voice on the intercom started again.

“How do you get holy water?” This time, the voice didn’t pause for them to guess. “You boil the hell out of it.”

Jake let out a full guffaw at that point, but Marcie, realizing the danger, looked terrified.


“What?” Jake was, once again, confused. “It’s funny. Boil the hell out of it.”

“Jake. Jake. The clowns.” Marcie was shaking. “Jake. Jokes.”

“Marcie, you aren’t making sense.”

“What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? – Nacho cheese.”

Marcie giggled. Even through the fear, she could feel the clowns working.

“Jake. They’ve got us. The system doesn’t recognize the threat. It’s a sneak attack. They’re using joke grenades.”

“What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches? – A nervous wreck.”

Jake and Marcie both laughed out loud and heard a crack and groan come from the defense system. There was nothing they could do. The virus had found its way around the defenses.

The clowns were warmed up now, they started tossing the jokes in two, three at a time.

“How do crazy people go through the forest? – They take the psycho path.”

Sparks started to fly from the keyboard console of the defense system.

“What do fish say when they hit a concrete wall? – Dam!”

Smoke was pouring out of the console now and Jake and Marcie knew this was it. One more and the system would overload, the virus would have them. Still, they waited, giggling like children.

The clowns outside knew they had done their work. They moved in for the kill.

“Where do you find a dog with no legs? – Right where you left him.”

The defense system collapsed. The virus rushed in and destroyed the safe house.

Jake and Marcie winked out of existence as their firewall was decimated by the last joke grenade.

The virus, victorious in the virtual city, flashed out its message.



4 Responses to 'I won, I won!'

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  1. the only daughter said,

    Congrats!!!! Very funny and inventive. Fabulous!

  2. tiff said,

    Congratulations to you!

    You’re forgiven for not writing for WSU. I guess.

  3. rennratt said,

    The Grenades got me, too.

    …and I HATE clowns.

    (The psycho path did me in…)

  4. Al said,

    Everyone was wondering why I was snickering, then gufawing, and finally laughing. Great writing!

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