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Mini Sledgehammer: October 2010

We’re back at the Minis after the big event in September, and ready to roll! If you write from home, post a link, and we’ll connect to it on our social networks!

Prompts:
Character: marathon runner
Action: making a cheese plate
Setting: haunted house
Prop: business cards

Congratulations to Wendy Grant, who took home the prizes this month with a great story.

***

Jackson is a runner. He has a sweat band and expensive socks and breathable shirts. But after he ran a marathon, he took it to another level. He started wearing a heart rate monitor to work. He does data entry. He enters some data and announces his resting hear rate.

“I’m a marathoner,” he tells people he meets. He buys a vanilla latte at Starbucks, checks his heart rate monitor, and explains to the bewildered barista that he’s a marathoner.

No one knows what to say to that, except something vaguely complimentary, like, “Wow, good for you,” or something inappropriately self-deprecating like, “Oh, I can’t run at all. I’m such a loser.”

He even got business cards made. They say Jackson Lowery, Marathoner, and his e-mail address: marathonjackson@hotmail.com.

The truth is, Jackson did run in a marathon. But he didn’t run the entire thing. Oh, he wasn’t sidelined by an injury or pushed to the ground by a passing Kenyan. No. He was on his freaking iPhone during the marathon, calling people.

“What are you doing?” they asked as he panted in their ears.

“I’m running a marathon,” he said.

He called me while I was making a cheese plate. It’s really hard to get the brie—you know, the yummy, gooey, cheesy part—out of the crappy wax layer, so I was struggling to hold the phone while I wrestled with the brie, and I accidentally hung up on him. Undaunted, Jackson called me right back.

“Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing?” he asked.

“Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing” I asked.

There was a long pause: the dawning revelation.

“Oh. Yeah. What are you doing?”

“Getting an exorcism.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. My house is haunted, and now the evil spirits are all up in me. There’s nothing else I can do.”

“An exorcism! I’d really like to see that!” he panted.

“Well, come on over,” I said.

“But I’m running—”

“GOBBLEDY GOBBLEDY GOOK!” I screamed. “Sorry. Evil spirits.”

“That’s so cool! I’ll be right over.”

I returned to the brie.

*          *          *

Jackson was not soothed by the cheese plate.

© 2010 Wendy Grant

Wendy M. Grant is a writer and editor. She’s written innumerable advertisements, newsletters, and brochures, and she co-authored a book on the history of Naval Air Station Miramar. When she’s not writing and editing for the clients of her company, W-inkling, she works on her screenplay, which she plans to sell in 2011.

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3 Responses

  1. How do I submit upon completion and what is the end result of the “mini”?

    • Thanks for your interest, James and Lindy! Official competitors must be here in person, but we invite those who are writing from home or afar to post their stories on their own sites or blogs and we’ll post a link to them.

  2. Submission for the Mini-sledgehammer from someone who has never done this before and who is obviously too dense to know how this should be properly done.
    Here goes (in 36 minutes)…

    Dirt and sweat lined his face as Frank made his way through the last few miles of the Bupikiss 20 mile Marathon in the lowlands past Estacada, Oregon. He had already faced dehydration, forgetting his water bottle in the famous green Taurus wagon, and neglecting to attend to the most basic of human needs: thirst. He realized his fears of hitting his 50th birthday as an accountant who had done virtually nothing else with his life but crunch the numbers of others, were coming home to roost as his pulse quickened and his ankles ached in time to the shooting pain of shin splints, foot blisters and thump, thump, thump of his untrained, inadequate running style.

    Frank’s mind drifted back to the wild and exciting memory of the woman with the strange listless eyes at his last poop-stop, who stood beside the Honeybucket with a glint of wild abandon in her sad, aching eyes. He felt oddly aroused by her sanguine stare and the inviting smell of walnuts and waffles that seemed to saturate the air where she stood–third in line at the Honeybucket. He pictured her, warm and inviting like his Aunt Frieda who had a strange love of cheese and other milk products, sitting at his tacky folding table in the pantry, arranging cheese on his mother’s best presentation plate in honor of his latest World of Warcraft party. The same party in which Frieda was the only attendee.

    He stopped his thoughts short, because this image always made him tingle in ways one should never tingle when reminiscing about an auntie. He let his mind drift to non-sexual things like wallets, chard and business cards. He reached into his pocket and fingered the card the woman with the aching eyes had given him outside the Honeybucket and the strange tingle began again.

    He had to stop thinking of that amazing encounter. …and thoughts of cheese, olives, crackers and Aunt Frieda flowed like the smell of the Honeybucket into his heart and he wondered if anyone could actually see the result of his tingling thoughts.

    Even so, he loved Aunt Frieda for her wonderful ways with cheese and undoubtedly the very fiber of the workings of the human heart, Perhaps he yearned improperly. Once the magic emanations from plate of muenster and gouda, cheddar and swiss merged with the sensual smell of Frieda and her magnificent waffles, Frank knew, he was in for a veritable orgy of odor, unmatched in this life as far as he was concerned.

    He could feel the relentless thumping of his feet flapping the gravel road beneath him. He could smell the cut cheese as Frieda placed it in tidy lines around his mother’s favorite turkey plate. He could hear his own moans of curdled pleasure as the dark night engulfed him a fantasy of appetizers, his approaching 50th birthday and the sight of the delightful woman in line at the outdoor toilet.

    Suddenly, the night broke apart with the sounds of a woman screaming. Frank shook his head, thinking the screams had been his own. Opening his good eye, he realized he had not only lost sight of the marathon route, he was actually running down the last 1/2 mile of someone’s poorly maintained driveway.

    He slapped his own face exactly 13 times, for that was the exact number of cheese slices Frieda always used of each type of cheese. That was the middle two digits of the identifying number on the Honeybucket in which the woman with the delicious eyes had done whatever it was she did in there. Imagining her, the tingling began again.

    But rudely interrupting his midnight musings, he heard the high-pitched wail of a female scream–again. How annoying, Frank whispered into the dark night air. He became aware of the dense fog at the same time he became aware that he was actually running through water. The water was over his sneakers and soaking his socks, which made the whole thing even more intolerable.

    Down the road, and into the forest, he saw a hazy light through the night vapor and his own bodily steam. Scratching, he stopped, stared and thought about turning back. Belching and scratching, he decided against it. Why not venture forward, I’ve lost the race, like, yesterday, anyway.

    He saw what he thought was a child, jump up from the bog beside him and run into the night, laughing. “Why this could be as much fun as a haunted house he said,” venturing into the dark forest.

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