Local headlines in Florida always give you exactly what you want:
I’m sure the underlying story gets into some scientific development of interest; I do not know for sure because I did not read it. “Monkeys known to invade Florida could have clues to a COVID-19 vaccine” gives me more than enough. From that simple headline, I can trampoline into any number of fictions, and so can you!
In fact, we can all use this headline as a creative writing prompt. Take every question this headline raises in your brain:
- If the monkeys are “known to invade,” does that mean they already invaded, or that they’re just pillaging Orlando and then retreating to someplace else?
- Do they just invade Florida for the fun of it, or are they marauders? Is there something in Florida they want that we’ll have to trade them for the vaccine?
- What clues? Do the monkeys have a treasure map or codex or thumb drive that shows you where the vaccine is hidden? If monkeys can use a thumb drive, how shocking would that be to evolutionists?
- Why only “could?” Is it possible the monkeys are tricking us??
Now create a short story of your own that answers those questions. Here, I’ll go first.
Senator Beauchamp hated getting his hands dirty, but the note left him little choice: Midnight. Petting zoo just outside Dothan. Come alone. The future depends on you, Rusty.
For some reason, he’d put on a clean suit. At the time, it seemed like the professional choice. Whoever sent this note was expecting a senator, and that’s what they should get. Now he was sweating through a jacket that smelled like goat feed and pants with a rip in one leg from heaving himself over the chain link fence at the entrance.
Rusty was the only reason he was here. Nobody’d called him that in fifty years, when he was just a boy spending summers in Destin with his great-grandmother. Whoever wrote this note knew something. What they wanted was another matter entirely.
A tall clock at the center of the petting zoo let out twelve tinny, digital roars. When it stopped, Beauchamp felt a tug at his ripped pant leg, and he wheeled in a panic.
“SKREEEEE” howled the monkey, sending the Senator stumbling onto his backside.
“What kind of sick prank is th-” he muttered, interrupted by the monkey whipping an index card at his face. Beauchamp retrieved the card and held it to the fluorescent light illuminating the walkway.
RUSTY. THE PRESIDENT IS HIDING THE VACCINE.
The Senator peered at the monkey, then gradually surveyed his surroundings. Who’d send a monkey as an intermedia-
THWAP! Another card pelted him in the neck.
JUST LIKE YOU HID THREE POINT SIX MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE.
Beauchamp held his breath. “Listen, you stupid punk. I don’t know why you’re hiding behind this animal, but all I have to do is call the Department of Justice and you’ll be staring at the b-”
The monkey pounced on the Senator’s chest, knocking the phone out of his hand. He let out a series of howls and slapped another card on the prone legislator’s forehead.
YOU ARE THE ONLY HUMAN BEING HERE TONIGHT, SENATOR. I TYPED THESE CARDS BEFORE YOU ARRIVED.
The world started to spin for the Senator. He tried to take deep breaths, but the stench of animal feces, hay, and cheap soft pretzels only made the disorientation worse. Staggering to a water fountain, he took a desperate gulp and gathered his bearings.
The monkey stood across from him, waiting with unnerving patience. Beauchamp straightened his tie and smoothed his thinning hair.
“Why did you bring me here, then?” he stammered. The monkey extended a card in response.
I PROPOSE A TRADE. I WILL GUIDE YOU TO THE VACCINE, AND YOU WILL BECOME AN AMERICAN HERO. THE PATH TO THE WHITE HOUSE WILL BE YOURS.
Senator Beauchamp paused. Take away the odd setting and the animal adversary, and this was not all that foreign to him. Negotiating built his business and his political career. How could some zoo animal, even a clever one, swindle him?
“And what do you want in return?”
The monkey’s eyes sparkled as he handed over his last card.
CONTROL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA.