The Writer’s Chat Room always seems to bring out the silly in me. Conversations there have led me to make video commercials about trucks that run on poop and a zombie exterminator who became the beloved Neeta of the Neeta Lyffe books. Tonight, Sally Franklin Christie was talking about summoning elementals and the importance of salt circles, which led to the idea of a salt-filled hula hoop as a traveling summoning circle. That led to this story. (Sally also mentioned Doppler as a boy’s name. I’d say that’s another story, but he ended up here, too.)

Note: This is a quick story sketch I banged out in about 15 minutes. Perhaps one day, I’ll flesh it out and make more stories. I’d call them The Doppler Effect.
hula hoop

Doppler Effect: the Salt Circle

There are elementals on the loose in the city! Monster hunters (no trademark, not to be confused with MHI) Bo Swift and Doppler Franklin prepare to take on supernatural evilness.

Bo: Holy water – check. Stakes – check. Doppler, do you have the…  Dop? What’s that in your hand, Dop?

Doppler: A hula hoop?

Bo: And why are you bringing a hula hoop on a monster hunting mission?

Doppler: Because I packed it with salt?

Bo: (considers): Oh. Right, then. Let’s roll!

As they speed toward the park, they find a fire elemental merrily dancing on a bonfire of political signs, and the poor, civically minded saps who were taking down the ones belonging to their opponent. Bo hits the brakes. Their Jeep Renegade skids to a stop. Bo and Dop jump out.

Bo: Quick, Dop! Your hoop. Ring toss, Dop! Ring toss!

Dop gives a loud grunt of effort and flings the hoop. It clears the hood of the jeep and hits the grass about two feet past the bumper, missing the elemental. The elemental laughs, flips them a fiery bird, and blazes away. The two monster hunters stand, flatfooted and gaping, as the fire dies down, leaving behind the scent of burning cardboard and charred pigeon.

Bo (mouth works a few times before the words come out): What the hell was that? He was only five feet away and you couldn’t ring him?

Dop: I miscalculated. Do you have any idea how heavy all that salt is?

Bo: Shsh! Cheezits, Dop, don’t say that out loud! You want to give up our element of surprise?

Dop: Don’t you mean elemental?

Bo picks up the hula hoop and smacks Dop with it. He has to admit, it’s heavier than he expected.

Undaunted – or rather, recovered from their daunt, our intrepid heroes come up with a plan. Soon, half a dozen signs stolen from politically active citizens, plus one handwritten sign promising a successful career in real estate snagged from the intersection, were strategically placed in a pile of autumn leaves while Bo and Dop lurk behind some bushes.

Bo: Ready? OK, do the summoning.

Dop (throwing his voice toward the signs): Damn it all, who put these signs here? With this election, the whole country’s going to hell.

A cackling rings through the air and a nasty voice sneers: You don’t know the half of it!

The elemental appears in the midst of the signs. The signs burst into flames, but instead of being pleased, the elemental looks around itself and screams.

Bo and Dop jump out from the bushes. They spray the elemental with a fire extinguisher blessed by Father Erik of St. James Parish. The elemental shrieks in agony as it shrinks. Just before it disappears, it vows to return in November.

Bo double-checks the scene, then calls in the banishment. As he hangs up, he notices Dop twisting frantically, the salt filled ring twirling around his waist.

Bo: Dop, what are you doing with our elemental trap?

Dop: Playing?

Bo: Why?

Dop: Because it’s a hula hoop?

Bo: Oh. Right, then. I’m next!