Carry The Light 2017: The Intellecta Rhapsody and The Lutefisk Door

In the 2017 San Mateo County Fair Literary Contest, I won first prize  for my audio reading of “The Intellecta Rhapsody.” Holly gets into a big argument with her Batman-esque boyfriend’s car during her driving lesson. The background music is The Hungarian Rhapsody, a tune to which Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry, and Woody Woodpecker have all danced.

I also won third prize for my short story, “The Lutefisk Door.” My Trumpy villain Billington Stumpfinger builds a nasty wall to trap Super Holly Hansson: the old trap-Batman-and-Superman-in-a-steel-and-kryptonite-vault trick. Can Holly’s boyfriend, Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert, save her before she succumbs to the deadly rays of the green lutefisk?

You can buy the print version of “The Intellecta Rhapsody” and “The Lutefisk Wall” in the book Carry The Light 2017 at Amazon. It has plenty of great stories, essays, and poetry from local writers. But it does not have the audio version of “The Intellect Rhapsody.” You can hear a previous version on a podcast I was on, details here.

Here is the beginning of “The Intellect Rhapsody.” (The [time markers] are for me to read the story in time with the music.) Scroll down for an excerpt from “The Lutefisk Wall.”

THE SHOULDER OF HIGHWAY 101 SOUTH. THIRTY MILES NORTH OF SEASIDE CITY. A SATURDAY. 11:32 A.M.

[Start 9:30 Hungarian Rhapsody music.]

“Not again,” whined Super Holly Hansson.

KER-POW! went the ray-gun barrel poking out of the Intellecta-car’s dashboard.

“OWWWITCH!” Holly’s mighty superheroine face burned and itched and twitched… and her beloved blonde hair was smoking! So this was how Daffy Duck’s face felt if Elmer Fudd’s shotgun was from the planet Krypton! She jerked her fist out of the sparking hole she’d punched into the dashboard and growled, “You started it!”

“NEGATIVE,” the Intellecta-car monotoned, “YOU MADE IMPROPER GESTURES.” The dashboard’s morphing displays and glowing buttons coldly glared. How did her boyfriend Cal kept track of them when he drove this obnoxious car?

Holly crossed her arms and slammed back into the driver seat, no longer caring how its black, leathery kevlar deliciously caressed her thighs. “I was PANTOMIMING! How else do I drive you when you don’t have a steering wheel, or gas or brake pedals?”

“INPUT CORRECT COMMAND CODES!”
“My powers are flight, super-strength, and super-telekinesis. Not carburetor telepathy!”

From the passenger seat, Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert spoke spine-tingling grim. “Holly Hansson.”

So formal. Cal must be angry. But not half as angry as Holly was! She faced her caped and cowled boyfriend. “WHAT?!?!”

Cal tap-tap-tapped a fingertip on his black-armored temple. “You damaged my car’s telepathy circuit. Intellecta-car! Estimated self-repair time!”

“39 MINUTES, 17 SECONDS.”

Holly snapped, “How long to repair your manners?”

“MANNERS CIRCUITS UNDAMAGED. YOUR MANNERS ARE IMPERFECT.”

Cal spoke in that lofty, oh-so-patient teacher tone that Holly oh-so-hated. “You insisted on this. You wanted to drive, as you said, ‘your dark and smart Intellecta- Batmobile.”

“Stay out of this!” yelled Holly, slamming her fist down for emphasis.

All in an instant! The car roof opened! The passenger seat rocketed skyward! Cal yelled, [2:19] “HOLLEEEEeeeeeeee…” Up, up, and far away, a parachute opened.

Holly lifted her fist to reveal a big red button. “Why didn’t you warn me about the ejector seat?”

“YOU DIDN’T ASK.” The driver door slid open. “THIS DRIVING LESSON CAN SERVE NO FURTHER PURPOSE. YOUR VOCAL COMMAND ACCESS IS TERMINATED. GOODBYE.”

“I don’t like you either!” Holly jumped out, then scrunched back from wind-blasting freeway cars. Her feet tickled. The ground was shaking!

Her e-bracelet buzzed. Holly tapped it. “Hello?”

A hologram of her tall, lean, grey-haired, army general uncle jumped into her face. “Holly, get your butt off the road! The Rocky Gang stole a giant super tank! They’re on 101, headed for Seaside City! I set a road block. I sent jets, but Rocky shot them down.”

A mountainous mix of army tank and cyborg rhinoceros loomed on 101. Holly snapped to attention! “Uncle Pops, this is a job for Super Holly!”

And here is the beginning of “The Lutefisk Door.”

“I’ll save you, my love!” howled the beautiful, teary-eyed superheroine.

Super Holly Hansson flew into the RV-size steel chamber and straight at me, her red cape fluttering, her preemptive windblast slamming into my face.

I was encased from feet to upper lip in a rocky wall, else I would have shouted, No, Holly, stay out, I’ll free myself in five more seconds! The chamber blocked my telepathic link to my Intellecta-car. I cursed myself for not having people telepathy.

With one super-strength punch, Holly shattered the stone holding me without giving me, my head-to-toe black body armor, or my inky cape the slightest scratch. Pinpoint boxing accuracy.

I turned on my Intellecta-speed. I only used it in great emergencies, I could only maintain it for a few seconds, but my unsuspecting soul mate was in great need. I dashed toward the exit.

Too late. Exactly as in Superman Come Home, where Superman flew into a similar cliché of a chamber to rescue Lois Lane (I’d given it two stars), the bank-vault thick door of this twelve-by-twenty-by-ten-foot, super-steel prison slammed shut with a THOOM that put giant movie speakers to shame.

In the pitch-blackness, Holly laughed. “Iron walls do not a prison—”

The door lit with a bright green glow. And a sickening fishy odor. Green lutefisk!

“Kryp… tonite!” gasped Holly, just like in that movie. Her eyes widened. She swayed. Her legs wobbled.

I caught my limp, six-foot-one, surprisingly heavy Amazon, and gently lowered her to the floor.

A projection of a beady-eyed, orange-hued, baby-angry, puffy head crowned with a carrot-colored comb-over and badly disguised with a domino eye-mask projected from a small holographic projector. It let loose with a nauseatingly familiar bellow. “Dere! You and Super Holly are trapped in the walls dat I built!”

Holly recognized that angry pumpkin-head. She looked like she’d bitten a lemon. I began the usual banter. “Building walls. That’s your superpower this time, Billington Stumpfinger?”

He bantered back. Poorly. “Yeah it is… no I’m not!”

I shook my head. “I know your voice.”

Holly lifted her head to face him. “And your eye-mask can’t wall off your ugly.”

The face pouted. “Yes it can… HEY!”

I put dark grimness in my voice, Holly liked that. “You must have consumed at least three million dollars to gain this power. That breaks your parole.”

“No it doesn’t!”

The wall was too far away for Holly to beat her head against it. She beat it on the floor instead.

Why did I bother? Arguing with a pathological liar was a waste of intellect. Best to get the villain monologging. I pitched my voice to Adam West heroism. “Whatever your evil plan is, it won’t work!”

“Yes it will!” His hologram got bigger and louder. “You are gonna be duh one who gets arrested for killing Holly because you will be duh only one dere when she kicks duh bucket!” His cheddar cheese complexion reddened. “And I will get away wit it because my power walls off incriminating evidence!” A hologram of his hand appeared, pointing that accusing finger that Holly had recently threatened to rip off and stuff somewhere he’d find very uncomfortable. “So dere! Duh cops and duh enemy-of-duh-people media will be here in an hour and dey will see Holly totally and bigly dead! And dey will put you in jail! So goodbye! HAH!” The hologram vanished.

Holly groaned. “Even his evil laugh is phony. Why can’t he wall off his mouth?”

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