Monday’s Fiction Stew: The Earth-Born Martian Duet (new editorial feature)

So I discovered this really cool exercise called fiction stew! The idea is to cook up a story out of random elements, like how the Chopped chef contestants have to cook a dish out of wacky ingredients, like a strawberry fruit roll up and pork and ginger and truffle mushroom and doughy leftover mac ‘n cheese.

And so I’m retiring the Mindful Mondays posts (they aren’t working that well) with Monday’s Fiction Stew. Here goes…

2 characters: a unicorn and a ladybug

1 place: a Martian wasteland

2 adjectives: caffeinated, gluttonous

2 objects: a chunk of Italian cheese, a cauldron

The unicorn galloped on Martian earth, talking to himself. Ever since he’d fallen asleep in the strange, solid floating bubble and gotten stranded here on a place he heard the humans, dressed in chunky paraphernalia, call Mars, the unicorn’s personality had been caffeinated. It seemed, to the gluttonous ladybug, who with keen eyesight and hearing, camouflaged in the soil, that the unicorn had drunk ten gallons of coffee. The ladybug had been stranded too, for so long that she didn’t remember how she got here. For hours, the ladybug watched the unicorn prance around and it looked like he wouldn’t ever get tired until he died.

“I’m sure,” the ladybug heard the unicorn shout, because the unicorn’s conversations with himself were more like loud rants, “that you’ll die right here sooner or later. What the heck were you thinking when you decided to fall asleep on that weird floating solid bubble housing humans with a sense of chunky fashion? And now this is your punishment! You’ve got nothing to eat, absolutely nothing! This world is damned if it doesn’t have any good cheese in here!” And at that, drops of coffee mixed with Abuelita beverage rolled out from the unicorn’s caffeinated eyes.

“I think you do,” yelled the ladybug. “I happen to yield a small cauldron from a hole in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean down on Earth, and also a large chunk of supposedly Italian cheese. But it has a kiddie-sticker that states the cheese was made in the Philippines. You’re from Earth, aren’t you?” The unicorn turned his head and noticed the very fat ladybug. “Yeah. What exactly are you talking about?”

“And we’re here on Mars,” declared the ladybug, who seemed to take no notice of the unicorn’s reply. She said this in quite an announcement -style. “But let me show you what I mean by the supposedly Italian cheese and the cauldron.” At once, two spots appeared on the ladybug’s plain rust-red wings each, and flew out, growing into a chunk of hard Pecorino Romano cheese, wrapped in plastic with a kiddie-sticker that said “Made in the Philippines”, and a smooth gold cauldron that looked brand new, but anyone could tell that it was exactly the opposite. Plastered on it was a random sticky label with embossed letters that read “Student loans”.

The unicorn wasn’t used to hard Pecorino Romano cheese, did not know this kind of cheese is better shredded over pasta, and thought it was soft. He used the cauldron as a dish to eat, but as he put his mouth to the cheese, suddenly the cauldron filled with boiling water, and soon produced a very thick soup that tasted much better than it looked, as well as a very long magnificent staircase that built itself towards the dirty-gold Martian sky.

“Come on,” said the unicorn, after he and the ladybug had eaten their fill. He used his horn to carry the surprisingly lightweight cauldron, which was now emptied, and the ladybug sat in the cauldron. The cheese had disappeared. “I want to get out of here as soon as possible.”

“Me too,” agreed the ladybug, and the caffeinated unicorn and the gluttonous ladybug set off.


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