The Iron Writer Challenge #121

The Iron Writer Challenge #120

The Alis Van Doorn Challenge

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Moira McArthur, Richard Russell, Christopher A. Liccardi, Steven L. Bergeron, Mamie Pound

The Elements:

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A moss draped  cemetery.

A hidden leather satchel, containing $10K cash (or pounds, forint, yen, etc).

A peculiar looking priest.

A foul mouthed parrot named Percy.

Darlene and RoyMamie Pound

Mamie Pound

“Where’d you put it, Roy?” she holds a cigarette between her lips, a gun in her hands.

“Remember what you told me, all those years ago, Darlene?”

“Goodbye?”

She takes one hand off the gun and drags hard on the Marlboro.

“Before that. You said, ‘I could never love another man, much as I love you’.” He wriggles to get a better look at her.

“That was before you turned into an adulterator, Roy,” she exhales, “before you stole my money.”

Our money,” he corrects her.

“We worked a deal, Roy!” she growls through gritted teeth.

“Darlin’,” he reaches for her with handcuffed hands.

She aims the gun at his forehead.

“After everything we done been through?”

“Robbin’ convenience stores don’t exactly make for a successful marriage,” she says.

“Look here….”

“I ain’t stupid, Roy.” She cocks the revolver.

“Don’t our vows mean nothin’ to you, girl?” He pleads.

“That ship sailed, right about the time I found you with that waitress.” She kicks him.

“Damn it, woman!” he yells.

She shakes her hair behind her shoulders.“Tell me where it is and I’ll give you this satchel and all 10,000 dollars in it.”

“Darlene,” he starts.

“It’s more than you deserve, plus, you can have your stupid, filthy-mouthed parrot back,” she waves the gun at him.

He swallows. “It’d be best if I took you there. Gonna have to make a call first.” He holds the phone with tethered hands, speaks briefly in whispers, hangs up and nods.

She throws a jacket over his wrists, leads him outside.

“Get in the truck,” she hisses, then waves at Mrs. Everly, next door watering her front lawn.

“Glorious morning!” Mrs. Everly calls.

Darlene slams his door, eyes him through the cracked windshield, makes her way to the driver’s seat.

When she opens her door, he yells, “Heeeelp, Mrs. Everly….” She leans over and kisses him, full on the lips, covers his whole mouth with hers.

Mrs. Everly shields her eyes and walks toward her back yard.

“Try that again and you won’t be able to talk to nobody.” She shoves the gun into him, backs out of the driveway.

“When’d you start wearing that perfume?”

“When I felt like it.” She rolls down her window.

They drive past corn fields for miles. The road turns to dirt and finally ends at a cemetery covered in moss.

She unlocks the cuffs. From inside an old tree, he pulls out a duct-taped bag.

“All hundred-thousand,” he says.

She tosses him the satchel, heads for the truck.

“Not so fast,” he says.“Saw that weird-lookin’ biker.”

“Preacher Johnson?”

“Yeah,” Roy checks his watch.

“So?”

“He asked about you,” he says.

“So?” she frowns.

“Says you owe him 95,000. I may’ve mentioned you’d likely be here sometime today.” He grins. His eyes settle on an approaching car, about a mile away. Her eyes follow his.

“Dammit, Roy!”

By the time the cab rolls to a stop, they are acres deep in cornfield, halfway to Greyhound Bus Station as a crow flies.

Dispatch, you sure they said the old cemetery?

“Affirmative. He was whispering, though….

St. Louis #1Christopher Liccardi

Christopher A. Liccardi

Claire nearly sprinted through Tremé. It was after dark; the last Jazz Funeral wrapped up and the tourists were in the French Quarter having dinner. What she was doing was illegal. It was also dangerous. She’d never been much for the New Orleans her Gran talked about; certainly not for the hoodoo her mama’ went on and on about but this place always seemed to scare the hell out of her. The fact that Percy’s foul-mouthed parrot voice kept saying the cemetery name over again was just another of those ’N’awlins’ coincidences she grew to distrust.

The old priest’s words echoed – “..find me dat ole leather bag. Dat one hidin’ with ten thousand possible dreams in it.” She guessed it was cash he was asking for. Ransomers almost always ask for cash.

She had family buried about an acre away from the streetlights and relative safety of Basin Street and that’s where she would start looking. Finding it now was going to be near impossible. She’d been on the tour enough times this week to know most of the Common, but there were parts of this place that were older than others; parts of it that were covered in clinging wet moss and shrouded from the light even on the brightest days.

Claire wandered around inside St. Louis #1 for hours, afraid to leave her penlight on for more than a second. The place was dead empty, but that didn’t make her feel better. She needed to find what she was looking for before that priest found her. It was her only chance.

Claire turned a corner, disoriented as much by the momentary flashes of light she allowed herself as she was the dark terror that was stealing across her heart. Time was running out. It would be daylight soon and the church would have people wandering through the place, looking for vandals and vagrants who camp out at night, away from the police. She didn’t see the man step out from the broken crypt and into her path. His hand was over her mouth before she was able to get the scream out.

“You shouldn’t a come child. It’s too late for dem… it might be too late for you,” he said, the thick creole accent dripping from each word. He smelled of old decay and long dead things. She struggled hard but this old man was too strong.

“You settle down now, I’ll let you go. Ya’understand me,” he asked? Claire stopped struggling.

“Let my people go…” she heaved out, gasping for cleaner air. She felt like she’d been running a marathon instead of standing here talking to an old man. Her mind raced. She hadn’t gotten a good look before, but now, the glare of her penlight bounced off all his shiny baubles and trinkets that were fastened to his robes. He looked like a walking junk pile. Claire fixed on several doll’s heads with blacked out eyes before looking back at his gnarled face.

“You find me what I need and I let ‘em go.” He held out the little dolls heads and laughed.

Claire screamed, then fainted.

The Smell of FreedomRichard Russell

Richard Russell

“ ….. after beaching my dingy, I hopped out and ran to the dunes. It was dark, but I couldn’t be sure I hadn’t been spotted. I checked my two pistols to be sure the powder was still dry. I had a few guineas, and a pretty good idea where to find the pub. It was a place in the town square called The Oaken Barrel. I was to go up to the bar and find someone called Percy, and give him a secret message.

The pub was crowded. How was I to discover the identity of this Percy fella? Swaggering up to the bar I elbowed my way in-between two smelly sea-dogs. ‘I’ll have a pint of bitter, Mate!’ I shouted at the bar-keep.   I slammed my coins down as I turned to the fellow on my left. ‘I’m lookin’ for a man called …’ but I was interrupted by a string of foul swearing coming from behind the bar. I turned to see a red and yellow parrot cursing up a storm. I tried to speak again, but was once more drowned out by a flood of cursing and swearing. ‘Bar Keep! Can you shut that damned bird up?’ The bar-keep shouted at the parrot, ‘Percy! Be still!’

Could it be?’ I pondered for a second, then I spoke the message out loud, ‘I’m a sinner in need of salvation.’ The parrot responded, ‘See the priest in the cemetery!’

While the men around me laughed, I decided to slip out and find me a priest. Pausing at the door, I asked about the local cemetery. ‘It’s down by the river; that way.’

There was a fog settled along the river. I could barely see but 20 feet in front of me. It was deathly quiet as I entered the old moss covered cemetery.   I spied a man in a priest gown leaning against a tree, but something was very odd about him; he was slumped over, and very still. As I approached, I realized he was dead. What to do now? Looking closer. I noticed his hand was pointing to a rotted stump, so I searched the stump. Inside, I found what I had come for; the satchel of loot Captain had sent me to fetch.

Hoisting the heavy pack to my back, I hurried back to my dingy, shoved off, and rowed back to the ship waiting just in the next cove. Covertly passing the satchel over to the captain I declared, ‘I want the freedom we bargained for.’ Taking the satchel, and feeling it’s heft, he peered inside with a smile, ‘Boy, You’re gonna make me miss you when you’re gone.’ Then he nodded in agreement, and gestured toward the dingy, ‘Go on then. Be off with ya! You’re free and clear of your obligation to me and this crew.’

There was a silent pause.

“And, you’ll be needin’ a job now, I suppose?”

“Yes Sir; and an honest one too”

“Well, you can start by cleaning the hog pen.”

Once Upon a Foul GuardianSteven Bergeron

Steven L. Bergeron

The Guardian which protected the residence of Wells Cemetery, shall remain no more. At least Pastor Kuhl presumed this, as he strolled through the dust infested pathway to the WWII monument of one Robert.E Curtiss. No sooner had he dusted off the engraved tombstone a bird nearly took off his head.

“Kuhl’s are pricks, are dirty rotten assholes.”He chirped as he swung from a moss curtain hanging from above.

“Hey are you trying to give a man of the cloth a heart attack?”

“ A man of the cloth, in these parts? How preposterous is that.”

“My name is Pastor Kuhl. I have come to show my respects to the dead and who might you be?”

“Ah Ah you are about as much as a screwball pastor as I am a holy guardian. Hah.”

“Now now watch that foul mouth! Or there shall be no crackers for you.”

“Crackers ?”The guardian laughed “I’m no Polly. The name is Percy and I’m the keeper of this monument and all its worthy possessions.”

“All right then Percy. By the look of this place you’re not much of a clean person.”

“Are you hard of hearing? I said I was a keeper not a cleaner. You say your name is Kuhl ? Oh Oh protect the loot, protect the loot! ”

“So there is loot, it’s no myth”

“You see the last Kuhl of these parts was a dirty rotten asshole. And needed a smart companion to pull off his dirty deeds”

“Is that so? Where’s his companion? I need to have a few kind words with him.”

“A kind Kuhl, that is another understatement. You’re looking at his partner here bud”

“So where did he hide the satchel?”

“I know of no satchel. But even so.What would be in it for me”

“Let’s just say if you don’t hand it over, you will make one fine lunch.”

As he finished his negotiations he aimed his revolver square at Percy’s head.

“ Shoot if you may my phony pastor. For with me gone, there will be no loot.”

“And what makes you think I can’t find it on my own?”

The guardian laughed once more.” Simply you’re a Kuhl. And like grandfather you don’t have the smarts to pull any of these dirty deeds. Look down upon these dirty soils and you will find the richest cemetery in the world.”

As the good pastor drug his feet a few times on the mossy soil a leather satchel suddenly slipped from under his feet. He picked it up, there it was the most money he ever led his eyes on.

“So how do you expect to get out of here my dear friend?”

“The same way I got in Percy. Who is going to stop me?”

“I am pastor. Thank you Percy I owe you one.”Another voice called out.

“No problem any time Sheriff. As I told you all I’m the keeper of this cemetery and all it’s crusty creatures.”

The Summer PostmanMoira McAtrthur

Moira McArthur

Father David, was not the prettiest person. Slack jawed and pale. Ancient flying jacket and jodhpurs, with pet parrot Percy perched on his hat, he cut a peculiar air to his congregation if they met while crossing the moss draped cemetery. The parrot was a noted foul mouthed curser. His strong Geordie phrases heard through the still of a night.

I say congregation, but in reality this amounted to old Mrs Gubbins, Elijah Millhill, and the postman for that summer. 

Mrs G, deaf as a post, knew the length of Fr David’s service would give enough time for a nap, before returning home to serve up lunch to Mr G. Cold roast beef and pickles. At the back, Elijah Millhill, gravedigger, sat. Laboriously chewing his way through a large bag of toffees. Quick to anger, in his youth, the net result was a mouthful of misshapen and missing teeth. 

The village being mostly cut off in winter, the council engaged a postman for the summer months only. Their contract stating to fit into village ways. This included attendance at the local church, no matter his faith. Mostly the postmen would sit and listen quietly to the sermon, before politely thanking the priest at the end.

This summer’s postman, Fred, was a different breed. A fellow with a brooding air. You had the feeling you wouldn’t want to meet him on a dark night.. Particularly if he’d been to the pub. He sat mid way to the aisle. His eyes scouring the pictures on the stained glass and rose window. Pugnacious of nature, Fred had known the inside of a cell. Last stretch, heard the rumour of this village and its hidden pirate’s hoard. Frequent trips around the village had yielded little in the way of hints. A close look around the church, showed a gravestone set into the floor. A satchel carved into the stone. The minister was quick to notice Fred’s interest and told him the story. That a leather bag with an estimated ten thousand ducats was still in the churchyard.

Through the lychgate, carefully thrown torchlight showed moss and ivy draping the walls. Fred worked his way over to furthest corner, as directed in the legend. Digging his hand in and around the earth, he was surprised to find himself grasping another hand. That, and the sound of a voice calling “Away you booger” in a strong Geordie accent, had Fred stumbling backwards. As he tried to get to his feet, he fell against a gravestone. The heavy stone gave way and they both tumbled to the ground.

Father David, first on the scene, closed the postman’s eyes, and said a quick prayer before phoning the relevant services. Looking to Elijah, he said. “Told you, sleeping off the booze in the churchyard was not a good idea. Even if you did find the pirate’s treasure under the knocked over gravestone.”

 

The Iron Writer Challenge #118 – 2015 Summer Solstice Preliminary Round

The Iron Writer Challenge #118

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge #117

Bello Oluwadamilare

The Brackets:

PD-Eastman

P. D. Eastman

The Authors:

Alis Van Doorn, Tina Biscuit, E. Chris GarrisonMathew W. Weaver

Eric Carle

Eric Carle

The Authors:

Jaclyn Wilson, Richard Russell, Danielle Lee ZwisslerDaniel J. Sanz

Margret-and-HA-Rey

H. A. Rey

The Authors:

Matthew BarronTony Jaeger,  Kara Kahnke, Dwight Wade

The Elements:

timeclock

A time clock
Ice cream
A Parachute
Told from POV of an alien on the planet Nibiru, as the Nibiru enters our solar system.

Nibiru technology is no greater or worse than Earth’s.

Stories are posted

on the bracket author’s image and name.

Just click the link and remember to vote!

The Iron Writer Challenge – Weekend Quickie 125

The Iron Writer Challenge – Weekend Quickie 125

Write a 200 word story using these elements …

53fa4d85010000ed0654ab45-large

This image

Pain

memories

The Iron Writer Challenge #120

The Iron Writer Challenge #120

The Beth Casey Challenge

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Mary Fletcher, ChristopherA. Liccardi, Eden Millard, Vance Rowe

The Elements:

old west town

A rundown business

The Old West

A Will

Anxiety

Repetition

Eden Millard

The showdown. The climax. The rising actions have built to this moment, every trope meticulously in its place. The Twitching Fingers, the Rapidly Beating Hearts, the Tense Air–it was all there. It was… it was…

A sharp crash tore me away from my notebook, startled yet irritated at the same time. Still, I stood up to help the waitress with the now shattered plate on the floor and the poor dismantled sandwich with it–one that was probably meant to be mine.

It had been a mistake to come here. Find somewhere authentic to write, they said. It would help the words flow, they said. And in the beginning, the idea had been a clever pitch, especially when I found a supposedly quaint little restaurant amidst the valley’s more rural parts. With a deadline fastly approaching along with a multitude of ideas swirling in my head, I took a chance and took the first bus out of the city.

It had been a poor idea from the start and that poorness made its presence known the minute I stepped off the bus at my destination. The cafe was not rustic, but rundown to its core. With even its coffee overpriced, one could assume that they would be able to clean off the collective rust on every inch metal, or fix the wood shambles that were practically splintered beneath my feet. Every staff member had managed to work for thirty plus years–miraculously–with rudeness as their only skill. Coupling that rudeness was the unbelievably slow service of one who desperately needed retirement. But with my bus not due back until the end of the day, I had no choice but to make the best out of the situation, regardless of how quickly my cheeks grew exasperated from the straining fake grin that was laced across my face.

As I passed the last remaining shards of glass to the waitress, I became acutely aware of just how much all of the pressure of it all was starting to build. Keyed up, all it took was one more misstep as I returned to my seat for the fragile twig that had become my psyche to split. When my elbow made its awkward just across the table, I felt my spirit endure such a shock that it momentarily retreated from my body, as if for the sake of sheer self-preservation. I watched the coffee make contact with my elbow and topple upon my manuscript in one swift and cruel motion.

The clumsy move only seemed to further my sudden attack. It was almost poetic; here I was with twitching fingers, a heart beating so fast it threatened to pop from my chest, and the sudden tense hotness I felt in my face because I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. No this wasn’t happening, this wasn’t happening…

“Will?” I was so caught up in my own little ruined world that I quite literally jumped as the waitress tapped my shoulder. How the hell had she known my name? Oh yeah, wait, the ID I had flashed for the beer…
I wanted to say I was fine, but I wasn’t fine.

The Futility ClosetMary Fletcher

Mary Fletcher

It had to work this time, he thought. It just had to. 

In October his grandfather had passed, leaving the store to Sam. The old neon outside now read

‘S.IT. .N. MO.. PE..’ instead of ‘SMITH AND MONK PETS’. From the state of the shop, the new wording was fitting. 

Smith was George Smith, his father’s father. Monk was George’s best friend Silas Monk. They had bought the space when the building was new, about sixty years ago. Although Sam didn’t know the whole story, Silas had vanished some ten years ago. 

Now there were no pets for sale, save a couple of aging goldfish. Dust and cobwebs covered what little inventory was left on the shelves. 

Sam had been the sole owner since November. That was when the will had been read. The bequest had been worded oddly, everyone thought, saying that Sam and only Sam was to ever go in the room marked ‘Utility Closet’. Sam later found that it was actually the futility closet, thanks to a big F in George’s ornate script. 

On his first visit to the old shop Sam had to take an extra pill for his anxiety. He had no idea why the old man had picked him to carry on in the store where his grandfather had spent most of his time. That made him even more nervous than usual, and usual was a lot. 

Nothing could prepare him for the shock he felt at the state of the store. It seemed that his grandfather hadn’t sold anything in years. Why bother to keep it?

And, now, here it was January and he knew the secret that the closet held. Grandpa was right to leave it to Sam. Sam was a bit of a genius where computers are concerned. 

What the futility closet held, safely hidden from the world outside, was a time portal. 

According to his grandfather’s meticulous notes there had been a power surge that had fried some of the components. He was sure that Sam could get it to work again. And so was Sam. 

And now Sam had repaired all he could find to repair. A couple of previous tests had failed but the failures had led him to what needed fixing. 

He had it set to the time and date his grandfather had recommended in his writings. Just a few more keystrokes and…

Sam took one of his anxiety pills as a shimmery portal grew just to the left of the water heater. 

It was working!

Within a few seconds he could tell that he was looking into a parlor. He swallowed hard and stepped through the haze. 

Then Silas Monk was shaking his hand and giving him a hug. 

“My dear boy! Dear Sam!” Silas exclaimed. “Welcome to the old west! Welcome to the America of 1885!

Where There’s a Will…

Vance Rowe

“Anxiety killed him, sure enough,” the doc said to Checotah, “the hailstorm we got last month killed his whole wheat crop and he was worried about meeting the mortgage payments. That wheat was his money crop and it was gone, in just one day. Very little of it was salvageable. Certainly not enough to make the mortgage payment.”

There wasn’t a lot of medicine available in the early 1870’s in the Old West. The most readily available medicine was laudanum, and the main ingredients are a mixture of opium and formaldehyde and was very habit forming. The laudanum may have helped his anxiety a little bit but it wasn’t the long run answer. The farmer left behind a wife and two children.

“Thank you, Doc. I am going to take a ride out to their farm and talk with the wife.” Checotah said.

He rode out to the farm and the farmer’s wife came to the door with a scatter gun.

“Who are you?” she asked nervously.

“It’s me Misses Anderson, Marshal Checotah Wood. I was friends with your husband during the war.”

She remembered her husband talking about him and she invited him in.

Checotah accepted a cup of coffee from the woman and they talked about her husband. Soon, Checotah got up from the table and leaned against the stone fireplace. “Misses Andrews, I would like to give you two months payment for the mortgage and maybe that will help you out for now until we can figure something else out.” When he moved, he knocked a stone loose. Curious, he removed it and found a small metal box inside the cavity.

Checotah opened it and found a will in there. The will left the farmer a business in town. Checotah showed her the will and asked, “Did you know about this?”

“No, I have no idea what it is.”

“Come on, let’s go into town and check this out.” Checotah told her.

When they arrived in town, they found the rundown building that was listed in the will. They carefully went inside and looked around. Checotah looked at the letter that accompanied the will and he read aloud, “Take a walk around and look behind yourself.”

“What does that mean?” she asked curiously.

“I’m not sure.” Checotah said as he looked around. He walked around for a bit until he walked in front of a full length mirror. He stared at it for a few minutes. It’s been along time since he has seen himself in a large mirror like this.

“You admiring yourself, Checotah?”

Suddenly, the word” yourself” hit him hard.

He tore the mirror off of the wall and there is a hole behind it. He saw a small sack in the hole and pulled it out. When he opened it, he sighed and tossed it to the farmer’s wife.

She cried when she what was in it. There was about ten thousand dollars in cash in the sack. It was enough to pay off the mortgage and a lot left over to live on for a long time.

ForeverChristopher Liccardi

Christopher A. Liccardi

Mathew entered the storefront and hung the key on the tooth of the snarling dog. The statue had been on that table since his childhood and time had seen fit to leave it. His hate for this place flared in each muscle seconds after entering the building but it was a strangely pleasant feeling. The old room looked deliberately ramshackle, but it added to the mystique; broken, “shabby chic”, people called it; rundown he called it, but it was his business now.

He knew his father had been into some really terrible things, but he never stuck around long enough to take part in the “family business”. At eighteen he’d left, never looking back. He tried to forget all of it, then the letter arrived in the mail last month addressed to the proprietor of “The Old West Wax Works”. The woman who delivered it was attractive and left her number and the scent of her perfume on the delivery receipt along with the will. They had seen each other almost every night since then. She had asked about “The Old West” a few weeks into this new romance but he never explained and she never pushed.

When he told her he needed to take care of some family business down south, she hadn’t asked to be included which was good. Maybe she was ‘the one’ and his impending bad mood was unattractive. They talked about weekend plans and she had mentioned heading down the shore for a surprise but he wasn’t listening; he’d been preoccupied with the will. The tasks he needed to complete weren’t complicated, but they were going to be messy and time consuming.

Mathew spent that first day cleaning counters and getting rid of the old dust cloths and boxes and something shifted.

He shifted.

The place didn’t need to be spotless, but it did need to be presentable when his first guest arrived. He felt the cold fingers of anxiety grabbing hold and he fought them off. This place was in his blood and always had been. He saw that now and felt – proud.

He thought about the delivery woman, Claire, as he toiled about the place, wondering if she would like it here? He genuinely liked her and hoped she would. He was looking forward to seeing her again as soon as he could.

The bell over the door jangled its discordant tune. Mathew caught the scent of a woman’s perfume. It was familiar to him.

“Cmon in, we’re open for business.” Mathew said.

He hesitated. He fought the urge to be like them, to turn into those monsters. He smiled when he saw her, then he stepped on the button that opened the trap door. The fight was over.

The sound of the heavy door slamming shut cut off the screams below. He knew she had broken both legs and cracked ribs when she fell but that was all fixable. His father’s tools were already sharpened, ready for use after so many years sitting neglected in the storage boxes.

He liked the delivery woman, Claire. He hoped she liked it here, too.