The first two rounds of the Challenge include everyone, and you accumulate points from those collective rounds. The top five writers in each group then move on to the third round. The number of writers drops to about 240 from the original 1,400 or 1,500.
I was lucky enough to tie for first place in my group, earning 26 points total! For those interested, this is my second submission. All writers get 48 hours to write the 1,000 max piece of fiction. I was given the following theme:
LOCATION: Airport baggage claim
OBJECT: A tuna sandwich
Title: Payment Upon Delivery
Synopsis: Alexa discovers that escorting her nephew safely
home proves to be more difficult than she anticipated.
Word Count: 1000
“I need to go to the bathroom.”
Phillip voiced his request in a desperate way that only
seven-year-olds can as they exited the jet bridge. Alexa
had never seen a human consume so much root beer in three
hours, let alone one only 43 inches tall. Though, if she
were honest, she didn’t spend much time with pint-sized
humans. He must have been too engrossed in his video game
during the flight from Denver to Toronto to notice his full
“Can you make it until we get to baggage claim?”
“I guess so.” He looked up at her resolutely and wide-eyed
through his dark-framed spectacles, then winced.
“We’ll hurry, buddy.” Alexa gave her nephew what she hoped
was a comforting pat on the back and tussled his blonde
It was not Alexa’s first experience with the labyrinth
known as Toronto Pearson International Airport, and she
knew from sad personal experience that a two-hour layover
was no guarantee they’d make their connection to Halifax.
She had no intention of staying overnight in Toronto again,
so she grabbed Phillip’s hand and raced through the
corridor and down the escalator to baggage claim.
As soon as they found their carousel, Phillip dumped his
backpack at her feet and sprinted gingerly to the restroom.
When Alexa agreed to escort her nephew home, her sister,
Samantha, had sweetened the deal by offering her free
airfare and a $500 “incentive.” She had no time for the
trip, but it was impossible for someone on a student budget
to resist. Jokingly, Samantha had given her $250 beforehand
and promised the rest “upon delivery.”
Alexa stood silently and stared at the empty conveyer belt
as it grinded round and round for an absurd amount of time.
She thought she might be approaching a Zen state (at least,
what passes for Zen for anyone trying to finish their
master’s thesis in the next two weeks) when her phone
“911” Phillip’s text read. In a panic, she scooped up his
backpack and sprinted to the men’s room, ignoring the
surprised looks a few gentlemen gave her as she entered.
“Phillip! Are you okay?”
“There’s no toilet paper,” a small voice answered from a
“Seriously? You just gave me a heart attack.”
“Mom always carries wipes in her purse.”
“I don’t have any wipes, kiddo, but maybe one of these
gentlemen—” she said, making the mistake of looking up,
then quickly averted her gaze again. “Maybe someone would
be nice enough to pass you some under the door?”
“Got it!” Phillip announced victoriously a moment later.
Alexa made a hasty retreat and was standing at the carousel
with their luggage in tow when Phillip reappeared.
“We’re going to have a discussion about the proper use of
911 after we get through customs,” Alexa said, giving him a
“That’s not my suitcase.”
“That’s not my suitcase. Mine has a Superman tag.”
Alexa examined the navy bag at her feet. Nope, no tag. She
sighed. Her eyes scanned the carousel, no navy bag there
“There it is!” Phillip pulled on her sleeve, pointing to a
gentleman pulling a matching navy suitcase towards customs,
and sprinted off in pursuit.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Alexa said, breathless, once she caught
up to Phillip and the businessman, “but it seems we have
picked up each other’s suitcases.”
He looked skeptical, so to expedite the process, she
pointed to the Superman tag and smiled.
“Ah yes. My apologies.”
“No harm done.” She shrugged and smiled, glancing down at
her watch. “Safe travels.”
Turning to Phillip, Alexa said, “We’ve only got an hour
before our flight, so let’s get moving. Just smile and stay
Eventually, they found themselves standing in front of a
“Good afternoon,” Alexa said in a cheery tone.
“What is the purpose of your visit?”
“Family visit.” Alexa smiled. The agent did not smile.
“How long do you intend to stay?”
“I live here,” squeaked a small seven-year-old voice.
The agent gave Alexa a reprimanding look.
“I am returning him home to his mother, my sister, in
Halifax. He is a Canadian citizen.”
“Are you bringing gifts or food with you?”
“Yes we are,” Phillip said helpfully. Alexa gave him a
questioning glare and then smiled at the agent.
“We don’t have any gifts or food that I’m aware of.”
“Granny made me lunch,” Phillip continued. “A tuna fish
sandwich and chips and apple slices and homemade chocolate
Alexa closed her eyes for a long moment. “I apologize. I
didn’t know he had packed a sack lunch.”
“I didn’t pack it. Granny did.”
“Travelers are required by law to declare all plant, animal
and food items they bring into the country. Any items you
bring across the border that you don’t declare are subject
to further inspection,” the agent scolded. “Have your bags
been in your possession at all times?”
“No they haven’t,” Phillip piped up.
“Yes they have,” Alexa countered through gritted teeth.
“A man picked up my suitcase by mistake.”
“It was just a mix-up at the baggage carousel,” Alexa
interjected, pleading with the agent. “It was resolved in a
couple of minutes.”
“Ma’am, we are going to need you both to step aside for
Resigned, Alexa watched the clock tick down the minutes
until their flight was scheduled to depart while agents
rifled through their baggage. She looked over at Phillip,
who was happily eating the tuna sandwich and chips that
customs had finally returned to him.
When Alexa agreed to escort her nephew home, it had seemed
easy enough. Now, “upon delivery” never seemed so far away.
As if he felt her stare, he looked up at her and smiled,
offering her a chocolate chip cookie. She opened her mouth
to say something, but reconsidered. Accepting the offering,
she reached an arm around him and hugged him close closer.
Delivery could wait another day.
“I need to go to the bathroom.”
Copyright by Jessica Llanes 2015.