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Monday, June 21, 2021

Tourist Trap • 1

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This week’s Pete Wood Challenge was pretty simple. In keeping with this being the first week of summer here in the northern hemisphere, and therefore of summer vacation season, the challenge was to write a 100-word story centered around the concept of “tourist trap” without resorting to any of the ideas that have become shopworn and threadbare horror movie clichés in the past 60 years. With that as preamble, here are the first two winners, by returning contributors Jonathan Worlde and Carol Scheina

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“Have Earthlings, Will Travel” • by Jonathan Worlde

Cole parked his sleek Galaxy cruiser in his tribal unit’s crater on the far side of Planet Argonne. Vivisectors retrieved the hundred human captives from subzero storage, but the geneticists would take samples before the bodies could be turned over for nutritional consumption and fertilizer disposal.

Cole’s brother Miles asked, “How did you do it? Earthlings are getting harder and harder to catch. They’ve seen too much programming about extraterrestrials and are way too cautious nowadays.”

Cole laughed. “It’s easy. I just put up a sign by any freeway exit, Tourist Trap, and they come in by the droves.”

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Paul Grussendorf
is an attorney representing refugees, a former Immigration Judge, and a consultant to the UN Refugee Agency. His legal memoir is My Trials: Inside America’s Deportation Factories. He writes genre fiction under the byline of “Jonathan Worlde.”

Jonathan Worlde’s neo-noir mystery novel, Latex Monkey with Banana, was winner of the Hollywood Discovery Award with a prize of $1,000. Recent short fiction appears in The Raven Review, the 2020 anthology Ghost Stories of Shepherdstown, and in Cirque Journal. He is also a traditional country blues performer under the stage name Paul the Resonator, whose CD is Soul of a Man.

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“The Family Business” • by Carol Scheina

Karla didn’t think she’d ever return to the familiar scents of stale popcorn and tangy sweat, where the rides were coated with the gluey residue of well-aged soda spills.

“It’s no tourist trap; it’s our home,” Mom had always said to Karla’s skeptical face.

After the funeral, Karla wandered through the park, so empty without Mom. Tarnish and dust muted Karla’s teary reflection in the funhouse’s curved mirror. Then another face appeared.

“Mom?”

“I’m always here, Karla-kitty.”

Karla kissed the mirror, ignoring the gritty taste. She knew then she’d move deserts to keep this place running. It was their home.

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Carol Scheina
is a deaf speculative fiction author whose short stories have appeared in Escape Pod, Daily Science Fiction, The Arcanist, and other publications. You can find more of her work at carolscheina.wordpress.com.

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