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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Shah

August Contest Winner: Han Solo, Masked

Each month we hold a writing contest for our members, by our members. Writers are given parameters, such as a word count and/or a prompt. Entries are judged and discussed blindly.

For our inaugural contest, writers were given the beginning sentence and a 500-word count limit. Please enjoy the winning story:

Han Solo, Masked

by Cody Bok

He turned on the light, and there it was. Jason stepped out into the late dusk of the city. The package lay there, long and brown, across the porch of his little rental house. It held within it a heavy-duty cardboard cutout of Han Solo, which Jason had ordered right after the stay-at-home orders were issued. Apparently, so did everyone else. It didn’t matter. After two months of waiting, Han was finally here. Han’s cardboard frame stood at an imposing 6’1”, at least according to the seller’s description. Jason stood against Han, put his hand on top of his head, and tried to evenly pull his hand toward Han. Jason was roughly three inches shorter. That seemed about right.

Jason assembled the prop kit so Han could stand on his own. While thinking of how else he could show off Han, Jason sent his dad a picture of him standing in the living room corner. He peeked out his window and saw the balloons and signs advertising a kid’s birthday in their parents’ yard. The next afternoon, Jason set Han, with a newly affixed mask over his nose and mouth, on the porch. He also placed a sign out front (it had a bold arrow pointing toward Han) that read: “Han Shoots First if YOU Aren’t Wearing a Mask!” Han was outside in time for Thursday evening’s not-quite-the-usual-level-of-rush rush hour.

Fortified by a pile of rocks at his base, Han stood safely under the porch’s overhang. Jason passed him on his way out to the old Camry, carrying an overnight bag (really just an old backpack) for a weekend trip south of Indy to visit his parents.

Jason watched the crisp fall leaves undulate across the hills as he drove. He had planned to hike the hills with Dad, but it rained all weekend. Instead, they watched the original Star Wars trilogy— Dad in his chair, Jason on the couch. Tradition. And as usual, Dad got out the lightsaber he had gotten Jason one childhood Christmas. It was a faded and splotchy lime green; but, with diligent upkeep on battery replacement, it still made the nostalgic SWOOSH as Dad sliced through the air. Before Jason left, Dad asked if he wanted to take the lightsaber home. (He asked every visit.) Jason looked at it, smiled ruefully, and shook his head, “Nah,” as he said every visit, “you keep it.”

When Jason got home, he could see Han lying in the front yard. He bent over him and saw the bubbling rumples characteristic of wet cardboard. He rubbed his thumb over Han’s hair and felt the cardboard pill and roll into a thin cardboard burrito, leaving a brown bald spot on Han’s head. He also fingered the pen-sized puncture through Han’s forehead. There was writing on his sign, too: “I shot first, because I ain’t wearing no fucking mask.”

Jason picked up Han, carried him to the porch, and laid him down. He went in and turned off the light.

Cody Bok is a workforce analytics associate at JPMorgan and a new member of the Dublin Creative Writers Cooperative. He writes modern fantasy and is drafting his first novel. He lives with a very loud cat who does anything she can to prevent him from working on his book.

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