Prompt Prose: The Fiscal Cliff

“The fiscal cliff,” George grumped as he flipped through the channels on his 55-inch high-definition TV. “Is that all anyone is talking about these days? What about world peace, the cholera epidemic in Haiti, starvation, or the lack of sanitary toilets in India? What about the Oscar nominations? Who cares about the ‘fiscal cliff’ anyway? Just a bunch of Washington politicians playing their usual games.”

“Huh?” asked Paris, looking up from examining her new pedicure. “Fisted Clique? What’s that – some new rock group? Never heard of ’em.”

Sighing, George turned back to the TV, flipping channels as quickly as his remote control would allow. Trancelike, he watched the various talking heads flash by, the images hypnotic in their monotonous diversity.


George jumped as a harsh voice suddenly yelled in his ear. “Where am I?” he asked, “Who are you?”

“In India, of course, with the cholera expedition. Dr. Koch is waiting for you. You’ve held up the day’s schedule by half an hour. Get up. RAUS! We have work to do!”

George pried his eyes open and looked around at the tent, its six canvas cots neatly stowed, with a tidy stack of bags and baggage beside each one. Slowly, he rolled off his cot, and stumbled to his feet on the dirt floor.

“Koch?” he asked, groggily. “Who’s that?”

“Dr. Robert Koch, of course. What are you thinking? You signed on for his expedition. Koch is studying the cholera epidemic. He is trying to isolate the bacillus that he believes to be the cause of this dread disease.”

George shook his head to clear it. None of this sounded familiar. Koch? Looking for the origin of cholera? That was during the 19th century, not the 21st. Somehow, he had teleported back in time more than 150 years.

He threw open the tent flap and walked into the camp. Directly across the clearing was a large lean-to with canvas walls. He strode over and looked inside. And there they were. The superheroes of bacteriology: Koch peering into his microscope, Petri pouring small quantities of gelatinous liquid into his eponymous glass dishes, and Walther Hesse carefully smearing small bits of brown sludge over the surface of what looked like Jell-O.

“Dr. Koch, I presume?” George extended his right hand as he approached the legendary father of German bacteriology. “My name is Clooney, and I’d like to talk to you about the movie rights to your story.”

©2012 Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.

A Note of Explanation: We were asked to choose a famous person from a list of twelve names, and combine the person with a superpower selected from a separate list to form the basis for a story. I chose to combine teleportation and George Clooney, with a cameo appearance by Paris Hilton.


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