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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Expert (09/05/13)

TITLE: Never Let a Space Alien Fix Your Car
By Steven Dexheimer


Knottog let out a sigh of relief as his spacecraft landed gently in an uninhabited forest clearing. It had been a long journey from his home planet of Pertia. Correction, the weary traveler thought, his former home planet. Earth would be his new home now. Since childhood, Knottog had dreamed of traveling to another planet. Now he was here at last. The alien opened the ship’s outer hatch slowly, unsure of how his body would react to an oxygen-rich atmosphere. However, not only did he find the air breathable, it was also quite to his liking. After taking in a deep breath, Knottog ducked back inside the ship in order to change into his Earthling clothes.
Earl turned the ignition key again. The truck engine made a few feeble whirring sounds, then shuttered to a halt. With an exasperated sigh, Earl got out and poked his head under the raised hood once more. His eyes scanned the inert engine, looking for anything out of place or broken, but whatever was wrong with it seemed to be beyond his knowledge to fix. He straightened and glanced at the rundown little gas station he had pulled into ten minutes before. The sign, hung crookedly on the door, said “We’re Closed.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked it. It informed Earl that he was still out of service range. Shoving the phone back into his pocket, the luckless man considered his options. It was then that he heard a loud rustling coming from the tangle of trees across the road. From the amount of noise being made, Earl assumed that it was a deer trying to make its way out of the woods. Needless to say, he was surprised when a man burst from the tree line instead. This event wouldn’t have been overly strange to him except for the fact that the man was wearing a business suit…and his hair was green. Earl stared as the man casually brushed himself off, spotted him, smiled, and then walked across the road to join him.
“Hello,” said the stranger cheerily. “How are you today?”
“Hey,” said Earl, a little dubiously. “I’m…fine.”
“That is good to hear.”
“Uh-huh.” Earl shifted nervously.
“I was wondering,” continued the man, “if you might be able to drive me to the nearest town in your vehicle.”
“Ah no, I’m afraid I can’t. My, uh, vehicle broke down.” Earl gestured to the open hood. The strange man nodded.
“I see, and you are unable to make the necessary repairs?”
“Yeah, that’s about the size of it. I could sure use an expert right about now.”
Knottog’s face brightened. What an extraordinary coincidence! To his knowledge, no one from his former planet had ever made contact with Earth before. Yet here he was with an Earthling who had a specific need for a Pertian.
“You are in luck, sir, for I am one.” The man with the truck let out a sigh of relief.
“You’re an expert? Oh, thank goodness! Could you have a look at my engine? If you can fix it, I’ll be happy to drive you anywhere.” Knottog nodded and made his way over to the engine. He studied the machinery and frowned slightly. He knew his way around a space ship’s engine, but this looked nothing like it. Meanwhile the man had returned to the driver’s seat.
“Tell me when to turn the key!” He called out. Knottog began to fiddle with the engine; disconnecting a wire here, rerouting a belt there, and occasionally removing pieces that didn’t seem like they belonged. Finally, Knottog was satisfied. He peered around the hood and gave a wave to the man, who turned the key.
The engine exploded. When the smoke cleared, Knottog was still standing in front of the engine, thoroughly singed, and with a look of mild surprise on his blackened face.
“I didn’t expect that to happen,” he said, calmly putting out the fire that was consuming his tie.
“What did you do?!” The man with the truck was furious. He stalked over to inspect what was left of his engine. “You idiot!” He bellowed. “I thought you said you were an expert!”
“I am an Ex-Pert,” said Knottog, rather indignantly.

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This article has been read 208 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Nancy Bucca09/12/13
I loved this! It was positively hilarious, and what a creative take on the topic! This ought to win something for sure. I'll be very disappointed if it doesn't. A sure winner in my book!
Judith Gayle Smith09/13/13
Absolutely wonderful! Worthy of an EC ribbon, methinks.
Judith Gayle Smith09/13/13
Absolutely wonderful! Worthy of an EC ribbon, methinks.
Larry Whittington09/13/13
That was very "cute" read.

It flowed smoothly but you might want to separate some of the paragraphs with a blank space.

The use of the word "expert" was perfect.

Do you have any more of these up your pencil? (computer)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/18/13
This is adorable. I was eager to get to the punch line and you didn't disappoint. You gave me a great chuckle.Your characters were a delight and well developed.

I did stumble over the part in the beginning where you mention he thought. If you had put his thoughts in italics that might have helped me. I reread that part several times and it slowed the pacing. It could just be that I should be sleeping not reading. Also be careful of POV shifts. The reader can only know what the MC knows, sees, or thinks, so when you say something like shifted nervously that is a shift. Instead describe the actions like he shifted from foot to foot while licking his lips. By using the symbol ~ that is like a new chapter so it covers the shift of telling about the driver breaking down so you either needed another ~ or you could have just had the earthling be the new MC. It's really a complicated idea and you actually handled it quite well. It's a concept I still need to be aware of.

I think you did a great job of building suspense and created some vivid mental pictures. You nailed the topic in a fresh and fun way. You also had a great ending, which can be difficult to do in limited words. Overall, I think you did a great job with this piece.
Nancy Bucca09/22/13
Hurray, I see you nailed 1st place! I knew this was a winner. (Now you're no longer a beginner). Congratulations.
Jan Ackerson 09/23/13
During the break in the Weekly Challenge schedule, I’d like to invite you to the FaithWriters forums, where I’m holding a weekly free “class” in various writing strategies. Participation is strictly voluntary, but I give free and timely feedback on all contributions. I’d love to have you drop by! http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=67
Bea Edwards 09/27/13
Clever take on the topic. I enjoyed your story and hope to see more from you. Congratulations on your first place ribbon!
Steven Dexheimer09/27/13
Thanks everyone for the kind comments and helpful critiques! I'm glad you found my story enjoyable reading : )