MIX 'N' MATCH
OIL NEAR EMPTY
By Austin Price
It was another day on the rig, starting smoothly as any day should.
"Back it up a little more."
I was busy helping a fellow rig worker back a forklift into the storage garage.
"Little more...that'll work."
Life on the rig is what you would consider a monotonous schedule, filled with nothing more than sleep, work, eat, work, and sleep again. I've called the rig home for a few years now, slowly trotting my way up the food chain. With my strong build and large stature, though, it's pretty surprising I haven't struck fear in these guys' eyes since day one. I keep guessing that its because they know my personality, I'm kind hearted, always looking for someone to help. It's a tough atmosphere here on the rig, gotta earn your way into those jocks' hearts 'cause lemme tell ya, it'll get ugly if you don't. I don't know what is with those guys, it's like aggression is their middle name. I don't worry about it too much though.
I was working in the reserve department, when I walked by a few of the crew members talking about the reserve tanks.
"What's going on with the tanks?" I ask them. Obviously not wanting to talk to me, one responded, " We checked the gauge and we are apparently dangerously low on the fuel reserve.
"What do you mean?!" I panic.
"What do you think I said, THE OIL RESERVE IS RUNNING LOW." He says again, this time much louder.
"Well we gotta let Hector know about this," I suggest.
My boss, Hector Grimes, was looking out of his office window, staring down the vast ocean and the sunset hailing down on it. If you would just happen to come across him, you'd think he's just a bitter, grumpy old man. But he is the nicest guy I know.
"Magnificent view, ain't it son?" He asks.
"Definitely," I respond, pretty amazed at it as well.
"So watcha need, young man?"
"Well sir, we've spotted a problem in the tanks. The fuel reserve is dangerously low. We have checked for leakage, but we didn't have an issue.
"Hmmm.." Mr. Hector was stumped.
"This leaves us to one possibility, sir," I continue," we have reasons to believe this oil shortage is no accident. We think it was stolen."
"This is disastrous!" Hector panics.
"How is this possible? We're surrounded with nothing but ocean for thousands of miles every direction."
"I don't know what to believe either sir." I state.
"Another thing sir." I say.
"I saw a man, an elder man, on the rig the other day. He was wearing no vest, no identification, and no badge, just sort of wandering around in his wheelchair. Mighty suspicious, I'd say."
"You got that right," he agrees," I'll put in a word with security, see if they can run a match. Thanks for the information though boy."
"No problem sir." I walk out.
I head back to my station to continue on with my shift as usual. When that ended, though, boy was I exhausted. I slid my pants off, climbed into my bunk, and lied there. That bunk isn't the softest in the bunch, but man is it relieving at the end of a hard work day. It seems to be about the only place I can think on this rig. I fall asleep almost immediately. All of the sudden, the strangest thing happened, something I've never experienced in my lifetime. It was blurry, much like staring right through a keyhole. I envisioned an elder man, much like the one I saw a few days back, staring at a pile of money in a warehouse. He was wearing a name tag, reading VICTOR BLANKE. I woke suddenly, sweat built up on my forehead. I knew I needed to tell Hector, and I knew he'd still be in his office. I slipped my pants on and ran straight for his office.
"Look up the name Victor Blanke." I shout, sort of out of breath.
"How do you k-"
"I don't know, but just trust me on this one." I cut him off before he finishes speaking.
"Ok, I'll get it done." He assures me.
"Thank you sir. Oh and sorry about barging into your office."
Hector chuckles. I head back to my bunk.
The next morning, I'm working my shift, when I hear the intercom announce," Joseph Abdul report to Hector's office."
As soon as I reached the doorway, Mr. Hector says joyfully,"We got 'em! According to his record, his name is Victor Blanke, a Walmart greeter from Kansas, told us he was looting this oil to sell on illegal black markets to pay for cancer treatment."
"Cancer, huh?" I contemplate.
"Says here he actually faced four years behind bars for looting oil from a rig a few miles from here. Guess we were next on the hit list." Hector states.
"Sounds about right," I agree," probably had the same motives, huh?"
"I guess so. And Joseph, I was wondering, how did you know it would be him?" Hector questions.
"I'm asking myself that same question. But don't worry about that sir, all that matters is that it saved the rig."
I was cleaning my thirteen year old nephew’s room this week and I found this short story he’d written for an English assignment. The way the assignment worked was that the teacher had the students draw a random card from two different stacks—one stack of cards was an assortment of cues for story settings and the other stack was an assortment of cues for story characters. My nephew drew an oil rig as a setting and a Wal-mart door greeter as a character. The objective then was to write a narrative incorporating the randomly drawn ingredients. This is an excellent exercise for fiction writing, much less for middle school English. One of the most powerful talents fiction writers should have at their disposal is the ability to take any combination of story elements and have the creative force to compose a plot with them, regardless of how odd they are. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than writing all the way up to the third or fourth act of your story arc only to discover a massive plot-hole waiting agape beyond patching. But if we can learn to keep our yarns spinning, no stopping, no matter what—come hail or high water, the story will be completed.
Obviously I can’t have fellow Gatherites draw cards from a hat, so instead I have compiled two lists, one of settings and the other of characters.
Door to door salesman/evangelist
News reporter/ Journalist
Match any ONE from the left column with any ONE from the right column.
EX. A Ninja infiltrates a space station to assassinate an astronaut.
Your short story must have a protagonist and an antagonist. Its length shout be between 500-1500 words. The character you choose from the list can be either the protagonist or antagonist, but in either case you’ll have to supplement the missing character with one of your own making (also, feel free to use a first person narrative voice should that be preferable). Ideally submissions should contain stories with the oddest possible matchups.
Hobo in a Hotel/ Lumber Jack in a Spa / Quasi celebrity in a Dump = PROVOKATIVE
Politician in a Limo/ Quasi celebrity in a Spa / Bum in a dump= WEAK/TYPICAL
I am confident you all will be able to get this done. Many writers either give up or they will not improve and remain in the same writing position they started. Writing along with sports and acting have fundamentals that are the building blocks in becoming successful in whichever activity you choose . There are essential nutrients you need in order to develop strong writing skills. Once you learn and start to master these skills you will notice more positive energy and less frustration. Confidence is something that is earned not given. Once you have confidence and skill you can finally write anything thrown at you without doubting yourself (fiinishing a story and not looking back to it with worry or regret is an AMAZING FEELING). You can constantly move forward with ease ready to start your story, essay, poem, criticism, or prose strong and finish them even stronger.
The Rules for Gather Writing :
Keep in mind, this is a monitored group and there are only a couple of rules, which are:
Make sure you put this (SATWE, 12/21/13, Mix 'n' Match) in your title.
Be sure to tag it with SATWE, Gather Writing Essential, Mix 'n' Match.
Then post to Gather Writing Essential, and if you are worried I may not be able to find your response then send a comment below with the link to the article you have written.
I ask that you try and make your submission by next Saturday.
Put this challenge statement at the beginning or end of your submission so other readers can understand the madness behind your story.
Mix‘n’ Match primary learning objecting- Exercise your creative thinking and plot development by getting through a story arc using odd story elements. It’s okay if your story turns out quirky or absurd, because completion is key here.
P.S. If this prompt feels too deliberating, feel free to submit a free written short story. Submissions of this kind will not be eligible to be featured, however I will critique them and give feed back—provided that adheres to the 500-1500 word limit.