This story won the Iron Writer Challenge #54 with the following elements: Ensign Chekov, A Scrapbooking Convention, Airport Security, A Watermelon. It had to be 500 words, and I had 4 days to write it, up against 3 other writers.
E. Chris Garrison
“Tenk you wery much, ma’am,” said Walter, as he signed a smiling plump woman’s massive vellum photo folio. He stood at his booth near the entrance to Hall B at the Houston Marriott. His mustard yellow Starfleet uniform stood out among the more casually dressed scrapbooking convention attendees. He remembered his actor’s craft and stayed in character. It might be all he could do to survive this disaster.
The woman hugged the ten pound leather-bound scrapbook to her ample bosom and winked at him. “Thank you so much, Ensign Chekov, I always loved you in Star Wars, with your Beatles hairdo. So cute.”
Walter ground his teeth, but forced a smile and saluted her. “At your serwice.”
“Do me one favor?”
“Anyting, ma’am,” he said.
She giggled and blushed. “Would you say, ‘nuclear wessels’ for me?”
Walter died a little more inside as he struck a pose and said, “Please take me to your Nuclear Wessels.”
The woman laughed and walked off. She was replaced by the next in line, a tanned, wiry little old man carrying a green bowling ball. The man’s oversized dentures shined in the fluorescent lights of the hall. Walter imagined placing a Seti eel in his agent’s ear and watching him slowly lose sanity in the agonizing pain of having his brain nibbled away bit by bit. He should have researched the con past the title, as “Archiver’s Trek” had nothing to do with science fiction.
He missed his fans, the ones who lived and breathed that old show. At his usual sort of conventions, he’d been treated like royalty.
The old guy plunked the ball on the table in front of Walter and said, “Hey there, you’re the Russian space guy, right? Say ‘nuclear wessels’ for me. Ha ha, that’s the best part of that whale movie.”
Something snapped inside Walter, and he stood up so fast that his folding chair toppled over behind him with a crash. He wished the plastic phaser on his belt was real. “That’s it. Show’s over. I’m not your trained monkey, sir.”
The old guy laughed. “Nope, but you’ll like what I’ve got for you. Bill said he couldn’t get it through airport security, but that you’d want it. Here, take it.”
The thing on the table rolled toward Walter, and he caught it without thinking. A watermelon, not a bowling ball, its whorls seemed familiar… almost like… the spiral arms of a galaxy.
The old guy said, “He said you’d know what to do with it.”
An idea came to Walter. “Bill said? Oh!“
Walter hurled the watermelon to the floor, where it burst, bits of pink flesh and seeds spattering the ladies standing around his table. Inside the rind sat a communicator.
He opened it and spoke. “Keptin?”
“What took you so long, Mr. Chekov?”
“I was… delayed, sir. One to beam up?”
The scrapbooking crowd watched, mouths hanging open, as Walter dematerialized. Not one got a camera out in time.
See more at: http://theironwriter.com/the-winners/challenge-54/