For a year and a half I went to a high school for the failing children of the rich and famous. My tuition was generously paid by the father of my boyfriend. The students were delinquents and misfits who couldn’t make it in ordinary private schools. At our little utopia, we attended tiny classes, were treated with warmth and concern, and most of all, got stoned on the roof during breaks.
One day I was invited to drop acid with a pair of male friends — my boyfriend was home with a flu. Too young to drive, we took the bus to Seth’s house, an enormous one-story with walls of windows and a tall, code-locked gate. Inside, there was a maid in an actual black and white maid costume. She was baking brownies and the smell permeated the place.
We went out back, put the tabs on our tongues, and before long Jesse began to move toward me. My eyes were on the undulating leaves of a viney wall behind him, the flora trying to communicate something I was on the verge of understanding, when I realized Jesse meant to seize me the way a beast might overpower a female for mating. His movements were simian, arms low and swinging, and his eyes were fixed on me. Seth moved quickly to intercept him. They pushed at each other, the vines pushed at them, and after a long, wordless, slow-motion dance of a fight, Jesse was neutralized.
I wouldn’t risk the mind-splatter of a psychedelic drug today. But I have never stopped believing that we three experienced the same thing — humans gone animal for a little while before we returned to ourselves and moved on to the next thing.
I suspect that, at least once, you have experienced an impossible event. Things that can’t happen happen, somehow. Writing shows us this. If you allow yourself to be absorbed into a story in which the fantastic occurs, it becomes real. And as with a dream, you become part of the story, a witness with a palpable presence.
This story, “The Armadillo King” by Blake Clark, was a response to the following prompt: Tell an impossible story as though it were true.
‘The Armadillo King’
By Blake Clark
It was far from the graveled road and just around midnight when 300 armadillos walked from their burrows, through the moonlight, to a meeting place in the wood.
They, being the whole of the general council, sat down before their king (some were marked by slow growing swellings, deformities or just a loss of sensation in some of their parts) while the king conferred with an armadillo who seemed to be a long talker.
In truth, the king had forgotten the gist of the talk and didn’t understand the convoluted idea of a soup being convalescent in nature and why he was listening to a description of the soup’s simpler attributes, its warmth and aroma and that the chewy and greasy strips of boiled dough slivered in the mouth.
“All I have to get is the chicken,” Graham told the king.
“How could you or any armadillo get a chicken?”
The old king turned in full armor to face the council.
“Fellow Armadillos,” he said. His voice rang in the air stately and commanding.
But no one was there.
“OK, Graham, this chronic bacterial disease thing is somewhat upriver to me, but I give you leave.”
Graham bowed and left walking backward as the old king squinted out, seeing that he had lost their attention.”
This talk of noodles and cures won’t be understood, he thought, but, it’d be fierce to catch a chicken.
The sun bore down on the plain. Glints of light shined upon Graham’s armor as he crossed the field.
“I must look gallant,” he thought. He felt sparkly and able.
He had already gotten under one fence and now came to one that ran parallel to the road and heard the crunch sound of a car on gravel.
Two armadillos, in bright sunlight were sniffing the road just below where it disappeared over the hill.
He got fearful. He pushed the fence. He shouted.
The last thing the two armadillos saw as they jumped in the air, suspended for one last moment in their lives, was white metal moving towards them.
Graham walked with saddened steps. He did not think of getting the chicken. He had to go back, to speak before the council, inform them as to why there were only 300 of them left.
Well, 298 now.
Recall an event that you think of as surreal, bizarre, unlikely. Write it as if it were completely normal. Send your response to email@example.com.
▲ Gabrielle is a former Writer-in-Residence at the Sundance Institute. She has crisscrossed the country from Los Angeles to New York more times than she can count and is proud to call Fayetteville her kinder, gentler home. firstname.lastname@example.org.