Flash Fiction Friday #4
All summer, I’ll be posting a flash story every Friday. Today I’ve chosen a contemporary, humorous piece since Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story is on sale today and tomorrow for 99c. It seemed like a good match.
(I’ve also chosen it because today is the compost pick-up day at my house.)
Spaceships Aren’t Compostable
Inspired by Jay and Dolores Southard, who suggested “compost bin, 6:47 a.m., slime green.”
Sylvester’s compost bin was beeping. This was especially unfortunate because it was the day to take the bins to the street for pickup, and he just knew his neighbors would report him. Because compostable things didn’t beep. At best, the offending item belonged in the recycling can.
It was 6:47 a.m., and Sylvester hadn’t had his coffee yet. He was already late for beating the morning traffic (having been too caught up in the speculation on his Twitter feed about the upcoming diplomatic summit with the aliens). If he didn’t have time for coffee, then he definitely couldn’t sort through his compost. Ugh.
After a deep inhale of the fresh morning air, he held his breath and lifted the green lid. He twitched aside a brown banana peel. The beeping continued. He pushed aside paper towels covered in tikka masala then the dirt-clumped weeds his gardener had thrown in. He was going to need to wash his hands and lose yet more morning commute time.
Beneath an oily pizza box, he found the source of the noise. A blue mouse perched in the center of a slime green Frisbee.
“Hello,” said the mouse. Its small voice echoed off the plastic container walls. “Can you give me a hand? I’m late for a meeting with your country’s president.”
If the mouse had been dead, it could’ve been compost, but that Frisbee was definitely recycling. It was also beeping.
Sylvester cocked his head to check out the mouse from another angle. It waved its arms at him, all four of them. Was this a hallucination brought on by lack of coffee or was there really a six-limbed blue mouse talking to him? He blew out the last of his breath and inhaled to speak. That was a mistake. A mold and decomposing-chicken-scraps kind of mistake. He coughed.
“Hello?” the mouse tried again. Then it sighed a tiny, high-pitched sigh and leapt for the jutting side of the bin meant for ease of stacking. Compost bins, however, were not intended for wall climbers, and the mouse fell back onto its Frisbee. The mouse slumped onto its slime green platform, which was probably not biodegradable.
Sylvester reached in to help it out. The bin’s lip pushed firmly at his stomach where he bent over until he could grasp the waxy disc in both hands and bring it up without tilting the poor alien mouse into the weeds and masala juice. What was changing his shirt at this point? He had to wash his hands anyway.
Freed of the organic matter, the disc’s beeping turned into a whooshing whisper.
“Thank you for your assistance,” said the mouse, almost too quietly for Sylvester to hear without the bin’s amplification. “Look me up for drinks if you find yourself on—” It made some noises here that were probably its home planet’s name, but when was Sylvester going to be on another planet? He was no astronaut.
With a two-armed wave, the mouse and Frisbee flew off. That was that, then. Sylvester went back into his house for a change of clothes and a scalding hand washing.
By the time he got to work, astoundingly late, his Twitter feed had exploded. Apparently, one of the diplomats had arrived at the summit meeting with a tale of a local United States resident who had helped it out of a tight spot. There were already lolcat memes about it. One with a banana peel-adorned kitten looking up and saying, “Move dis garbage, I haz to see teh prezdint!”
Sylvester printed out every single badly captioned image and posted them on his office walls.
Click the links below to read the previous weeks’ stories.