A Pineapple Ride to Anywhere
by D. L. Lewellyn
Two brothers get swept into the Coral Sea by a wave to end all waves, but they have their surfboards and ride it out. Then, a giant, golden fruit bobs up on the horizon, carrying a motley crew of survivors, and promising the strangest of rides.
Carter passed the binoculars to his brother as they leaned against the railing at the top of the giant pineapple. The fiberglass fruit hadn’t started life as a houseboat, but it made a damn good one once it was swept into the sea by the tsunami that wiped out eastern Queensland. Before that, it served for decades as a popular photo op entrance to a zoo.
“Still no sign of life in any direction.” The dire report came with Flynn’s unflagging optimism, making Carter marvel and shake his head.
“Miro thinks we’re mostly drifting in circles but maybe edging closer to New Caledonia. What do you think?”
Flynn lowered the glasses. “If anyone has a clue, it’s Miro. He can read the sky. Going in circles isn’t good.”
“I know. Rations are thinning… like, to nothing, but us starving is not what worries me.”
“You still haven’t made friends with Bunji and Dainen?” Flynn chuckled and nudged his brother.
“It’s not a matter of making friends. What do you think the tigers will do when they get hungrier? Even to me, you look like a juicy steak.” Flynn laughed harder, which lifted his spirits. Nothing could shake his brother’s sense of adventure. It’s what kept them alive long enough to come across this absurd sanctuary.
The brothers were camping on Rainbow Beach when disaster struck over what turned out to be an unbelievable swath through Oceana. They survived the monster wave, the one everyone talked about but didn’t believe would come, only because they were excellent surfers. They spotted the swell on the horizon before it grew so massive it blocked out the sun, and they grabbed their boards and prayed. Thanks to Flynn nabbing his bugout bag with a flare gun and firing off a shot, they found each other again, though it took them half a day to join up and lash their boards together.
After that miracle, they’d drifted for days, as if they were the only two beings on the planet. On the night before their next miracle, the starry heavens had lulled Carter into philosophical dreams, and he’d given himself up to the big sleep when his brother’s hopeful voice penetrated his resignation.
He’d lifted his head towards the horizon and said through cracked lips, “Is that a pineapple?”
“Yes. And there are people on it, waving like mad. We’re saved, Carter, by a giant symbol of hospitality.”
The next surge rolled them close enough to paddle alongside the marvelous fruit and be pulled onto the lacquered rind where they laid on their backs and smiled into friendly faces leaning over them, blocking out the morning rays. When giant, furry heads nudged their way into the greeting, the brothers kept smiling. Why wouldn’t there be tigers on a floating pineapple?
Carter returned to the present when Miro popped out of the makeshift hatch and demonstrated his uncanny hearing. “Oi! You knocking my babies, mates?”
Bridie popped up next to him, and her freckled face split into a grin. “I thought you blokes knew better.” Thunderous growls followed, and Carter grinned back at the zookeeper who’d raised the orphaned beasts like a brother, and the teenage girl who was the first to hitch a ride with him on this giant fruit, bobbing its way to… anywhere.
Five days later, Carter was in a staring match with Bunji. Was the cat drooling? He thought by this time he and Flynn would be bones scraped clean and bleaching under the sun. They were all starving. Nothing in the way of food had made an appearance, no matter how hard they searched. Even Miro’s uncanny abilities found no success.
He laughed when purrs erupted from the massive cat as it plopped on its haunches, lifted a hefty paw, and licked it. Dainen draped himself alongside his brother to enjoy his own grooming.
Carter jolted when the cats rose in a baffling show of alertness. Then, he felt it. “Um… Miro, why is this pineapple bobbing like a fishing lure?” He was already queasy with the jerky motion.
Flynn and Bridie were sitting cross-legged on their sleeping pallets, playing poker with homemade cards. They looked at Miro when the pineapple lurched again. Then, Bridie laid down her hand, squealed, “full house!” And scrambled up the hatch to the surface.
Flynn called after her, then followed. Carter came up behind them and stood next to his brother to gape at their surroundings. Something was wrong. He looked up. The sky wasn’t right either. Even the ocean seemed different.
Miro yelled for them to get inside just as surging waves pounded them into a cliff. But that wasn’t their worst problem, because swooping at them from a massive nest above were a pair of humongous… pterodactyls? Wicked claws reached for them.
“No way!” Flynn cried, but with an edge of excitement as they dove inside.
They rode out the pummeling until everything stopped, even the surging sea. Miro ordered, “You three will stay inside, and the boys and I will investigate.” His eyes pinned them down until they relented.
After so many hours passed listening to strange noises, Bridie said, “That’s it. I’m going after him.” The brothers didn’t say a word. Just geared up with their meager belongings and followed her out of the hatch.
They climbed down, then stood in an unnatural paradise.
Flynn sniffed the air and concluded, “It smells primal.”
“I have no idea what primal smells like, but I get you,” Bridie whispered as they crept up the beach on shaky sea legs. She jerked to a halt. “Do you hear that?” Not only was the sound terrifying, but the ground vibrated.
The tops of the trees rustled.
When the tigers leapt at them, they cried out and ducked, then realized their feline heroes were pouncing on something much bigger, with scales, gnashing teeth, and a terrible roar.
Miro stepped out of the trees and beckoned them, and they ran for their lives… The tigers on their heels.
How the Contest Works at Writing Battle
Writing Battle… Winter Flash Fiction Contest… What can I say? Okay, I’ll just say it. It feels just like I went ten rounds in a boxing ring! (Since I’ve never done that, I make conjecture here for dramatic purposes.) Only it’s a month long and a knock down drag out struggle through five rounds.
First, there’s the excitement of drawing my prompts with the fabulous flipping tarot cards. Then deciding within the very narrow timeframe of creating my story whether I want to stick with my draw, or try for a redraw. (This time, I did avail myself of the one redraw allowed for the genre, so I went from Winter Survival to Lost World and it felt like a bonus gift! I stuck with my character – zookeeper, and object – pineapple, but I could have redrawn up to 7 more times)
Writing a story in a Lost world with a zookeeper and a pineapple? No problem!
Then comes the writing, rewriting, begging friends and family to read it, rewriting, rewriting, then hitting that submit button. Whew! Surviving stage one… done!
Stage two… the duels. I get to go from writer to judge. The best part? I’m treated to some very good stories (in the three other genres I’m not competing in), and it is so very hard to pick between the two stories (for five duels)! I’ve discovered that offering feedback is not only a great way to give back to my community of writers, but it’s a super good learning experience.
While we wait for stage three, we can open our story to the community and read other stories, then give and get more feedback, or just chat. There are four genres. I mentioned two, Winter Survival and Lost World. The other two were Occult and Meet Cute. One of my favorite stories I read in the post-dueling rest period was from a male author who got Meet Cute and decided to go for it. It wasn’t in his wheelhouse. It was my favorite story. He nailed it. The characters were amazing, it was funny, and the ending delivered the perfect punch and left me grinning.
But the nail biting continues folks. Once the dueling is over and we’ve chilled for about a week and enjoyed more stories, the scoring begins. It’s quite an elaborate system, but I’ll try to capture the gist. There are four rounds of elimination based on the initial seeding round and subsequent dueling results, then the fifth round goes to the professional judge. Each day, we come back for the results. Yikes! I will mention at this point, the platform is pure genius, if you aren’t picking up on that already. All the stages are well laid out with a timer, so you know exactly what will happen next and when.
My goal is to make it to round five one day. I think (if I’m figuring things out right) I made it to round three this time before getting knocked out. My story in the 2022 Autumn Short Story Contest, The Passengers (edited here based on feedback), made it to round two. But that’s okay. The competition is fierce, and no matter the results, you get feedback from your peers. Talk about learning. The story above got enough consistent feedback to tell me exactly what to work on.
I’m signed up for the 500-word Spring Micro Fiction Contest. Registration is open! Then comes the 250-word Summer Nanofiction, then Screenwriting… and back to the 2000-word short story. Did I mention yet, there are cash prizes? Very decent ones, too.
Feedback is welcome on A Pineapple Ride to Anywhere. I’d love to see how it jives with my peers at Writing Battle.
Enjoy a little computer generated imagery and thanks for visiting, and the read!
My Pineapple AI art, courtesy of Photoleap
The last photo is the real thing and inspiration for my story. A landmark in Queensland that captured my imagination before I even traveled there. How could I not use this awesomeness in a story with a pineapple prompt? 😉
Now for the big announcement!
You can meet Max and Teona, the team behind the Writing Battle platform, at my next Sunday Spotlight, March 26. Check out their intro on my Creator Spotlight page!