The Mercy Academy 2017 Iron Writer Challenge

The 2017 Mercy Academy

Iron Writer Challenge

The Writers:

Beth T., Kalei M., Taylor L., Riley M., Jordyn S.

Mallory K., Natasha N., Logan B., Sarah M., Kelsie M.

Julianne W., Meghan W., Shelby S., Brianna B., Maggie H.

Kara K., Abby A., Abby J., Star A.

The Elements:

A pumpkin

Bubble Wrap

A cat on a leash

Start with the sentence “And I thought you were…”

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Beth T.

“And I thought you were going to stay with me through anything Jason. When we got married you said your vows and the most important to you was working everything out whether the problem was tiny or huge. Deciding which pumpkin to buy so that we could carve it for our first Halloween to buying our first house. We were supposed to love each other forever. I never said that I didn’t want kids I just said that I didn’t think I was ready to have them yet. We’ve only been married for a year, we both have new jobs and are still making payments on all the new furniture we bought for the house. Our marriage is still bubble wrapped it’s so new, I just want more time to get settled into our new life before we bring another person. Maybe for now we could get a dog, or a cat! A cat and we could take it for walks on a leach. Lets just wait, and get a cat until we’re ready for kids. I know you want kids right now, but right now I am just not ready. I am sorry. Please do not leave me. We will get through this I promise. One day I will be ready for more than just a cat on a leach.” As soon as i get my last word out he closes the door behind him.
A few seconds pass, then he re opens the door. He looked at me with that perfect smile of his and said, “ are you coming to get this damn cat or not?” Thats when I realized exactly why I married him. I grabbed my coat and ran out the door into the car. Giggle and happy, just like I was on our wedding day.

From Cat To Mole Rat

Kalei M.

“And I thought you were going to shave Ronaldo’s paws before today.” I was scolded by my mother who walked up to me with our other Siamese cat, Maximilian, on his bejeweled leash.

“This is no time to act a fool, Ryan. You know good and well that the Prestigious Feline Association has strict guidelines on the length of fur around their paws. I can’t have a repeat of last year happening again! It’s almost judgement time! Get those scissors out and trim about a quarter inch off each side. And when I return you better be finished.”

She walked away, Maximilian in tow. Hastily I grabbed the scissors which where still in the case and opened them before facing the feline. Ronaldo was ruthless, he is the reason I have scratches covering my arms and a couple lasting scars on my face. What he hated most: grooming. I approached slowly, making sure his leash was attached to the pole.

Things started off okay, until I got too close to his face while inspecting my work. That’s when the claws came out. God, this cat was ferocious, by the time I was done with his front leg I had three bleeding scratches. Man up Ryan! Think! I wasn’t going to sit here and take this. Looking around the venue, I noticed a box filled with bubble wrap that once held the glass trophy for today’s show. “Borrowing” the bubble I devised a genius plan. All I needed now was the helmet. It was November so what better décor than to have plastic pumpkins surrounding such a classy show. Cats, corn stalks, and pumpkins, oh how beautiful! Not. Who needs pumpkins at a Siamese Cat Show? Cutting the pumpkin with the scissors I made two eye holes before making an even larger hole for my nose. Completing the look I wrapped myself in bubble wrap, looking like a burrito.

Gingerly I approached the beast, scissors on guard like I was prepared for battle: which I was. I stealthy trimmed the other legs, protected by my shield as Ronaldo swatted and popped a couple bubbles. As I completed my grooming, I stepped back and removed my helmet to examine my work. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Apparently, I didn’t make the eye holes large enough and my perception of how much a quarter inch was, was off. The cat looked like a naked mole rat from the bottom down. On the plus side, we didn’t have a repeat of last year like my mother feared, instead we did worse.

The Witching Hour

Taylor L.

“And I thought you were too busy doing your chores,” Amber said as she examined my witch costume.

“Nope,” I exclaimed, “I was able to trick my dad into thinking that I left to get more cleaning supplies. Honestly, who asks their kid to clean out the attic on Halloween?”

Markus eyed my costume skeptically as he asked “He didn’t ask why you were leaving the house with both you and your cat in costume?”

“Nope! I told him that the store was offering a discount to anyone that came in with their costume on!” I smiled at my own cleverness. Amber laughed at my antics before picking up my pet, Roxy, who was not enjoying her pumpkin costume.

Amber asked “How did you manage to put your cat on a leash?” I pulled down the sleeves on my costume to reveal a few scratches that were caused by that demon cat. I should have dressed her as a little devil instead.

“It wasn’t easy, but after a bit of catnip I was able to slip it on. I also snuck a present for you guys out of the attic!” Amber and Markus both looked confused, until I pulled bubble wrap out from the  pillowcase I brought to collect candy in. Amber gasped and hugged me tightly in her embrace.

“Thank you Kathy!” I hugged her back and looked up to see Markus’s reaction, only to find his usual neutral expression.

“Thank you Kathy,” He said in his normal monotone voice. It fit well with his grim reaper costume. Amber pulled away from the hug and snatched the bubble wrap fro my grasp.

She shouted “Mine,” before proceeding to pop every bubble on the plastic wrap. Her bouncy and loud personality also went well with her clown costume. She probably dressed like that to freak out Markus since he hates clowns. I smiled before linking my arms with theirs.

“Let’s make this night the best Halloween ever!” I proclaimed before marching down the sidewalk with my friends, and cat,  in tow.

Remember Me

Riley M.

“And I thought you were going to visit your mom today?” I questioned. Jeremy visited his mother at St. Jude’s HealthCare Center every Wednesday and Sunday. Melinda was always extremely nice to me, she had never been the type of mother-in-law you would come to despise. We moved her into the nursing home five years ago when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Melinda didn’t remember her son Jeremy, her grandchild Ethan, or me. Although, she did remember her deceased husband Mark. I never knew Mark because he passed away when Jeremy was only seventeen years old. Jeremy and I met when we were nineteen. Jeremy always told me stories about how Melinda and Mark would send each other small, random trinkets by mail because they went to different colleges and that’s how they decided to express their love. It was a miracle that she remembered Mark, but it was only because she believed Jeremy to be him. Every time we visited her she called him Mark. I know it broke Jeremy’s heart for her not to know it was him, but I think he was also happy that she still had some piece of her life left.

One day I had just come home from work and I went out to get the mail. There was a tiny box in there that was from Melinda. When I opened the box a card sat on top and read, “To my lovely Mark. Another token of my love!”. Inside the box, wrapped in bubble wrap, was aceramic pumpkin. That was the day we realized she thought Jeremy was Mark. Another day she sent a stuffed animal cat on a leash, which Ethan loved. He walked it every morning, while we went to get the paper. Each time she sent a trinket, it was addressed to Mark. I eventually had to start hiding them from Jeremy, it got to be too hard for him to bear. It was enough for him to be thought of as his mom’s husband by his own mom, but to receive love notes as well, it was just too much for him.

Melinda is gone now and every Wednesday and Sunday Ethan and I go visit his father at St. Jude’s HealthCare Center bearing gifts because unfortunately for my husband, he has the Alzheimer gene.

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Jordyn S.

And I thought you were the one. All of the times I saw you working at the Pet Shop and you would smile at me and asked if I needed any help. I thought you were the one when I saw you packaging up things in boxes wrapping them with bubble wrap and you would laugh as one of the bubbles popped. I thought you were the one when I watched you pick up Pringles and a Reds Apple Ale at the gas station because those are my favorite chips and my favorite beer. I thought you were the one when I saw you watching Stranger Things through your window because that’s my favorite show.  I thought you were the one when you were running outside with your kids and laughing as you all were trying to catch lightning bugs through the night. I thought you were the one when I saw you trying to walk your cat on a leash in the snow because that’s the kind of odd thing I would do. I thought you were the one when you went to Hewbers to pick out a pumpkin for Halloween because I use to go there as a child. I thought you were the one when I saw you driving and singing your favorite song out loud like you were performing a concert. I thought you were the one but you have another man in your life. But I will always wait for you and watch you until you become the one.

Is She Dead?

Mallory K.

“And I thought you were a nice person. But I guess not!” cried Angela. “Angie, it’s nothing. And I’m sure Ms. Essie is fine.”  Elle defended. “Doubt it!” Michael said sarcastically. The three teens stood in front of a ransacked house on the end of the street. “And on Halloween, it’s like an actual horror movie!” Angela sniffed. “I’m sure it’s just a haunted house or something. It’s probably just a set up.” Elle said, leading the other two away from the house. The front door had been left ajar and the lights had all been turned off. “Do you really think Ms. Essie would have a haunted house? She’s like a hundred. I think an actual crime happened here!” Michael screamed. “Keep it down, Michael! We’re gonna walk away and act like none of this happened!” Elle said, still trying to usher the other two off the front porch. “What if she needs our help? What if she’s dead?” Angela gasped. “Oh for the love of God, Angie, she’s not dead! If we walked in right now, she’d probably still be sitting in there knitting for her cats! But just in case she isn’t, we should just leave!” Elle snapped, shoving at Michael and Angela, who were still fixated on the porch. “You were the one who told us it would be more fun trick or treating at midnight! Now look what we’ve found!” Michael snapped back. “Okay, okay! It’s all my fault! Can we get off this porch for someone sees us?” Elle nervously said. “I didn’t even see her walk her cats tonight on those leashes. She always walks them. Can’t we just go in and make sure she’s okay? Every light in the house is off and Essie never goes anywhere.” Angela pleaded with the tense looking Elle. “Fine, you two can do whatever you want! I’m going home!” Elle stomped off the porch in frustration and walked down the driveway. She called back at them in sarcasm “Well, are you little babies gonna go in?” “We’re working on it!” Michael sassed back. Elle mumbles to herself in anger as she walks down the street. As she about to turn around and make fun of them again, she notices that they are no longer on the porch. “Guys?” She called. She slowly walked back to the house. “Okay really funny guys! Real mature.” She went up to the front porch and peered through the open door into the hallway of Ms Essie’s house. “Ang, Michael! You guys in here?!” She nervously called. “Elle! Come here! Hurry!” Angela wailed.  Elle found Angela and Michael in the living room huddled around a body wrapped in bubble wrap. “She’s dead!” Cried Angela. Essie suddenly sprung up and cackled “Stay out, you brats!” The teens screamed and ran out the house. Elle tripped over a pumpkin on the front porch as the teens ran away, never to return again.

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Natasha N.

“And I thought you were the sun,” Avariella admitted to Nemo. “No one else saw you like I did. You were overlooked by everyone like the smallest pumpkin in a pumpkin patch, but I saw you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. You consumed my every thought without me even realizing it. When I fell in love with you, I had no idea it was love. I didn’t think I was capable of comprehending what love was. It just happened. Before you, I had a bubble wrapped heart. I did everything I could to keep from having feelings for anyone because I was afraid of getting hurt, but that all changed. Whenever I thought of the moments we had together, my stomach clenched with this overwhelming excitement. Whenever I would think of you too much, I would become so anxious that my breath was taken away from me. Every single time I thought of you, or whenever anyone mentioned you, my heart rate would speed up. All I had to hear was your name, and my mood was ten times better. My most favorite times were when we talked. Spending all hours of the night speaking to you about who knows what… I’’ll never forget those conversations. That was when we bonded the most. You were so easy to talk to, and you made me laugh so effortlessly. You could make a joke, but you could also have a serious conversation if you wanted to. You were nosy, but it was cute. I think what pulled me towards you the most was the way you always had me chasing after you. We’d have this long, sentimental conversation one day, and the next day you wouldn’t text me back. You would act like you liked me one second, and then you’d ignore me the next. It confused me so much, yet it kept me on my toes. The one thing I was truly afraid of was annoying you to the point that you wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore. Sometimes I felt as if you were like a cat on a leash, and I was at the end of that leash trying to tug you back towards me. You were the one guy I liked that didn’t seem to show me enough attention. There were other guys who showed interest in me, but I didn’t care about them because they weren’t you. Nemo, it was you. It has always been you.”

Pumpkin, the Pup

Logan B.

“And I thought you were a cat!” Annie, my owner yells at me as she walks past the left over pieces of my torn up bedding. I am not typically described as a cat to my friends, we consider ourselves alpha coyotes. Ever since I was a little kitten, I have felt my calling as a wolf-dog. Being a cat never tickled my pickle. Annie doesn’t understand me. Even when I bark at her to let me outside, or stare at her when she’s eating dinner, hoping for some leftovers, she doesn’t understand.

Annie huffs as she starts to clean up the mess I made. I decide it’s a good time to evacuate the premises. I walk out of the apartment and jump from the balcony to the ground beneath me, landing on my feet, the most cat-like thing I will ever be able to do. I stroll past old takeout boxes, bubble wrap from packages, and garbage bags in the alley. I spot my fellow canine friends on the corner getting ready for their afternoon walk from Derrick, the dog walker.

“Hey, Pupkin.” He greets me as he puts on my leash. Derrick is a great companion because, unlike Annie, he respects my decision as being a canine. To show my regards for the free walk, I run up to my friends without holding the pack back.

“Hey Roscoe!” I greet my German Shepard friend.

“Hey, Pupkin.” He replies.

“Why is your fur matted, Pupkin?” Candy, a Pomeranian, asks me.

“I tore up my bedding and Annie is really mad.” Derrick stops and ties our leashes to a pole for a hot dog pit stop.

“Your owner is mad at you and you aren’t at home taking the punishment?” Roscoe asks sternly.

“ She doesn’t care about me anyways.”

“Pupkin, Annie loves you, she’s just mad that you’re acting this way. Help her understand what you want.” Candy says.

Annie really is an amazing owner. She buys me tuna that gets my cat feels all tingly. She scratches my head late at night when she’s watching the Netflix show of the month. And when she comes home from lunch she gives me her extra grilled chicken. You can’t beat that.

“You guys are right, I’m going home.” I tell them.

“Good luck, pup.” Roscoe tells me as he takes off my leash with his teeth.

I make it home just in time, as Annie walks through the door with grocery bags. I run up to her and rub my head against her legs.

“Hey, Pumpkin. Get into anything while I was out?” She bends down to my level,

“I got you something,” She smiled as she put a big bone in front of me. My very own dog bone! I bark in response to express my gratitude. Rubbing my head, she responds, “Good boy, Pumpkin.”

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Sarah M.

“And I thought you were finished packing already!” My sister exclaimed. “We are leaving to go to Florida tomorrow and you still have stuff in your attic! You haven’t even opened the box of bubble wrap I gave you last week!” She climbs the ladder into my attic and nearly falls over from the sight of everything in there. I don’t blame her, I can’t recall the last time that I ever cleaned out my attic.

“What do you see up there?” I call out. “Anything we can sell?” For about a month, my sister and I have been saving up money so that we could both move to Florida to be closer to our family. We did save up enough already, it’s just that having some extra cash wouldn’t hurt anyone.

“Unless you want to try to sell a rotting pumpkin, then yeah, we can totally sell something.” She replies sarcastically as she begins to toss things down to me to pack away. From the looks of the things that I’m getting though, it might be better to just put them in the trash pile which has grown in size since we started to clear my house out. “Why on earth do you have a framed picture of a cat on a leash up here? Who do you know that puts their cat on a leash? And why would you take a picture?” She questions.

“You just have to learn how to live a little, take a leap out of your comfort zone and put a cat on leash sometimes.” I answer with ease. She steps down the latter with a heavy box in her arms and gives me a weird look that seems to say, “How am I even related to you?” She hands me the box and I take it out to her car, readying myself for whatever comes next.

The next day, the two of us shove the last box into her car and slam the trunk door down. I take a final look at my house, where I lived for a good five years of my life. Lots of strange stories have been made and told inside those rooms, but I suppose it’s time to start a new chapter in my life.

“Are you ready to go?” My sister asks me. I simply nod, ready to see what happens next.

Almost Insane Agatha

Kelsie M.

“And I thought you were stalking me!” I exclaimed with a sigh of relief.

“Oh heavens no! I was merely following you from a distance,” giggled my crazy neighbor Agatha. All week I had noticed her popping up at the same places as me, following me into stores, and keeping an extremely uncomfortable gaze on me from her porch. It all started when I was walking out of an antique shop carrying the newest piece for my glass menagerie. As I turned the corner, Agatha bumped into me knocking me and my precious glass pumpkin to the ground.

“Oh my, someone sure is eager to finish their walk,” Agatha remarked as she dragged her cat on a leash across the sidewalk. My newest prized possession had been destroyed and the only thing she was worried about was a cat on a leash!

Agatha was the neighbor that we all tried to avoid. A real crazy cat lady type person. Everyday she would groom, dress, and walk her cat, Romeo Maccabee III. Talk about a sight for sore eyes. The duo appeared everyday with matching sweaters. Romeo even wore booties on his feet because Agatha was worried about his “sensitive paws.” Meanwhile, the only thing I was worried about was keeping Agatha away from me.

At first I tried being nice. I would smile and wave whenever I saw her. I would engage in small talk. I did all of the polite things I could think of hoping she would leave me alone, but it wasn’t working. She was everywhere. When I went to the grocery store. BOOM, Agatha. When I went to get my mail. BOOM, Agatha. Everywhere I turned there was Agatha. It was maddening. The next time I saw her she was following me around Target. I quickly hastened my pace and weaved in and out of the aisles. I was determined to lose her. With Agatha out of my sight I headed to the bathroom to take care of some business. Sitting in the bathroom stall I finally felt at peace, that is until I noticed Agatha’s cat-decorated Sketchers in the stall next to me.

“Agatha, are you kidding me!” I exclaimed as I quickly hurried out of the stall. “This is outrageous. You can’t follow someone into the bathroom!” Agatha slowly opened the bathroom stall and walked out with a bashful look on her face.

“I’m sorry, I really am. It’s just that I felt so bad for breaking your glass pumpkin that I bought you a new one. I just wanted to give it to you at a good time and make sure you didn’t buy another one,” she said as she pulled out a box and handed it to me. Inside the box was a new glass pumpkin carefully encased in bubble wrap. I guess Agatha wasn’t that bad of a neighbor after all.

Ms. Grunfield

Julianne W.

“And I thought you were dead,” I thought, watching the old woman emerge from her house. The blackened house emitted a gloom like no other. The shingles were hardened by the weather and had been decomposing for years. Leaves collected in the gutter, while poisonous ivies thrived upon the walls. The door creaked open as she peaked her head outside. The wind caught her grey hair as it blew over and around her face, hindering me from looking at her face. Come to think of it, I don’t recall that anyone has ever seen her face.

She hadn’t been outside of her house in weeks. I wondered what went on behind those closed doors. All I saw was loneliness. Here she was again, walking Nixon. I was unsure of his real name, but that was what we called him. The black cat was plastered to her side at all times. She cared more for Nixon than anything on Earth—including herself. She placed Nixon down, handling the leash.

“Ms. Grunfield!” I pushed open the gate, running across her lawn. She ignored me. I shook her shoulder. She whirled around, looking stunned. “I apologize I didn’t mean to scare you” I assured. No answer. Then I realized, she was deaf and mute. I took pity on her.

She nodded opening the crimson door. Into the mysterious house I walked. I could hear the door shutting…and locking? She was holding Nixon again. She reached for the glass cloche, which sat upon a table, revealing magnificent looking pastries. She grabbed the appealing sweet, placing it within my hand.

“What’s this?” I asked. She grabbed a notepad and pen.

“It’s an apple streusel muffin” she wrote.

“It sounds lovely” I told her. I broke a piece off, tasting the sweetness of the apple. Then I tasted the familiar, sweet-savory spice. Looking towards where I had bitten, I could see the orange flesh. Pumpkin. I could feel myself becoming hot. I grabbed my throat. I couldn’t breathe. My lips began to swell. I fell onto the floor, slowly crawling away. I had no more strength to move forward. I could see Nixon out of the corner of my eye. He stood still, almost too still. He never flinched nor breathed. His eyes remained open. My eyes looked toward the old woman. Her head was perched on top of her hand. She rested it there while she watched me. I exhaled my last breath, looking into those cold blue eyes.

*****

The old woman taxidermized me. She would drag me around the house wherever she went. She enclosed me in bubble wrap so I wouldn’t break. I would sit at the table with her while she would eat. She would entertain me, pretending to water her dead plants. She would brush my hair when she became bored. And when the night came, she would fixate my arm around Nixon, keeping his cold, hard body company. Company. Ms. Grunfield didn’t need company. She had Nixon and me.

No Leash For Me

Meghan W.

“And I thought you were going to like the pillow idea,” Miss. Waylon said to her orange haired cat, Pumpkin. For almost a week she has been trying to walk her cat, but every time she takes him outside he starts to flip around and hurt himself. To avoid injuries, she keeps putting different costumes and items on Pumpkin, but none have worked. Most recently she attached small pillows to him, but when they went outside, he still continued to jump and flop around. It was time for his afternoon walk and when she went to grab the leash, he made a dash for the back room, but she caught him before he got away.

“Not so fast little man. You’re going to love today’s protection idea,” she said cheerfully as she pulls it out from behind her back. “It’s a bubble wrap costume! I made it myself, it has little holes to put your little paws and cute face through!”

She struggled to put it on his twisting body, but she finally got it on him and headed for the door. Before they even reached outside, he began squirm about in attempt to get out of his collar and the bubble wrap.

“Come on Pumpkin, just give it a chance,” she pled as she picked him up and walked out the door. “See, it’s not so bad.”

Once she set him down, he froze for a slight moment while he frantically looked straight ahead. He seemed calm until a small lizard made it’s way across the cat’s path, causing him to flip around like a fish out of water. He managed to scramble his way out of his collar and made a dash for the door, going as fast as the wrap would allow him. His face collided with the closed glass door, causing Miss. Waylon to cry out in worry.

“Pumpkin!” She shrieked as she ran over to pick up her cat before walking inside. “No worries, momma’s got you.”

Once she took off the collar and the bubble wrap, he ran to back room, the farthest place away from the door. When she walked back to get him, she found him watching squirrels through the window.

“You’re always staring out that window, but whenever I try to take you out there, you freak out. It’s like right when I put on your leash…” she stopped talking as a thought popped into her head. She picked up Pumpkin and without any protection gear or a leash, she opened the back door. Pumpkin was hesitant at first, but then began to run around and chase small creatures.

“Run Pumpkin,” she said watching him, “Run.”

The City

Shelby S.

And I thought you were never going to show up, but you proved me wrong. Let’s hurry before I miss the flight. It’s finally time to see the world, I’m ready, New York City here I come. The flight wasn’t so bad for it being my first time flying, I thought I was going to have to wrap myself in bubble wrap to keep myself from being so scared of crashing or brushed up when turbulence would hit. For some reason coffee in the sky is much better then on the ground, More of the coffee landed on my writing book then it did in my mouth. I wander what it is like to be a flight attendant, getting to travel while being paid sounds exciting. As I looked out my window I could see New York City miles ahead.

I couldn’t wait to step foot in to the city that never sleeps. As I waited impatiently for my bag in the airport I couldn’t stop thinking of every bit of fun I am going to have. I grabbed my bag got into my first taxi and headed to my hotel. I found myself in Central Park, It was bigger than I had imaged. I never knew it was so big I always thought you could stand at one end and see all the way to the other end, but nope. The craziest thing happened to me in Central Park, I saw a girl walking a cat on a leash. Who does that, I guess the people in this city do. I walked for miles as I saw things I never though I could see in this life time.

The Statue of Liberty is humongous, I never knew it was so big. I always assumed it was big enough for people to go to the top but I never knew it was that massive. As I dreaded the day I would have to leave the moment I arrived, I took every bit of sight in that I could. From the crazy New Yorkers running around without a care in the world to the people that would hand you their mixtape on the side of the street, once you grabbed it they would pull you in and say oh that will be 6 bucks, then why the heck are you acting like you are handing them out for free. To add on to random people passing out things there was always a  bunch of people handing out flyers for the New York City pumpkin patch Festival, that was about the only thing that I was handed and I actually attended. It was quite a thrill, sadly my time with this big city will come to an end in the morning, but not to worry I will see it soon again.

The Life of Andy

Brianna B.

“’And I thought you were crazy.’ Those were some of the first words Andy ever said to me. I mean, I was wearing a top hat and carrying a pumpkin around just a few days before Christmas. But it was a dare that my friends gave me. I was supposed to go into Dallies Market and see if I could get someone to take the pumpkin. Random, I know. Anyways, I was walking around the market when all of a sudden I spot this beautiful girl and all I thought was ‘you have to go up to her and ask her.’ First impressions are everything, right? So I went up to her and she actually accepted the pumpkin and walked around the store with it in her hands. I waited a little until I went up to her again, explained the dare, and slyly asked for her number. That was when I heard her voice and her words telling me she thought I was crazy. Everything about her blew me away.

That was almost three years ago. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I decided I was going to take her away from her little white room and go on an adventure. At that point, time was precious to us both. I was somehow able to sneak her out. How, you may ask? Well according to Andy, it was my magnificent ninja skills and I guess she was right. Let me tell you, she looked beautiful that day. She had on a new shirt from her favorite band “Cat on a Leash.” Who names their band that? She loved them though so I didn’t say anything. They did sing our song so I guess I could let it pass. She also had on these worn out jeans and converse. Her scarf matched her shoes.

We went to the pier and spent the day riding the small coasters and playing the arcade games there. That night, I took her to the beach and we had dinner. Right before we left, I went to my car and grabbed a box that was wrapped in bubble wrap. Can you guess what was in that box? Yes, it was a ring. I wanted to promise her my love before she went. Although we didn’t get married, I believe that this ring was enough for her. I wanted her to know that I was there for her before she was diagnosed with cancer, all during it, and even after she passed away. And now that she has, I cannot thank God enough for the time I was able to spend with her. Andy was such a beautiful soul and even though she is gone, she still shows herself through the little things in my life and our love for each other is still here. Thank you all for being apart of her life in some way and coming to her funeral. I know she’s up there smiling down at us.”

Happy Pills

Maggie H.

“And I thought you were Muffins,” the boy said to the pumpkin. The pumpkin smiled at him and the cat meowed, trying to get the leash from around its neck.

“Oh it’s okay, Clouds. I’ll try to get it off soon,” he said to the cat. The cat meowed contentedly and curled up on the floor. Under it’s body, the bubble wrap popped and the boy and his pumpkin smiled at the sound. They’d come to love the sound of bubble wrap being popped.

“I wish I had some candy, Muffins. They only give me some every now and then,” he said. Muffins didn’t reply, but only smiled. Clouds purred at the sound of his voice.

The boy absentmindedly reached down to get more bubble wrap and pop it. He giggled and kept popping. Eventually, he grabbed a small roll of it and began wrapping it around Muffins, who smiled more at the new wrap.

“You look lovely, Muffins,” he said. Muffins modeled her new dress, spinning around.

“As for you, Clouds, I’ll get that leash off for you. I know you hate it,” the boy said. He grabbed Clouds and began to try to remove the leash, but to no avail. Clouds pouted and ran off with her own leash. She curled back up into her previous place, popping more bubble wrap under her.

“I’m sorry, Clouds. I thought today would be the day I could get it,” he said. He frowned and played with more bubble wrap to try to distract himself.

He closed his eyes and put his head on a small wad of bubble wrap. “I wonder when they’ll bring my happy pills back. I don’t feel happy,” he said. His fingers tapped over the bubble wrap. The bubble pops no longer gave him the twinge of happiness it had a few minutes ago. He just stared at it, watching the plastic crunch under his fingers.

Outside the door, the nurses stood. One was just coming in to train, and she had a lot of questions about the patients since her trainer would be leaving in a week.

“So, as I was saying, every four hours you’ll have to give him his medicine. He’ll be really excited about you being there and he’ll ask you to stay. The pumpkin is named Muffins and the cat is Clouds,” the trainer said. She smiled at the boy, who couldn’t see either of them. He loved the inanimate objects.

“Do I go in this time or will you? Or do we go together?” The new nurse asked.

“I’ll have you watch me this time. I don’t know how he’ll respond to others,” she said. She opened the door and went in, and the new nurse watched as the boy sprang up and his face lit up with excitement. He took the pills happily and hugged the nurse, offering her to join him and his two friends.

Untitled

Kara K.

“And I thought you were getting better, mom.” Mary sighed, hopelessly.

“I have no idea what you mean.”

“You’re walking our cat on a leash!” Mary exclaimed.

“He likes it, don’t you Boris?” The mother cooed.

Boris emitted a low growl from the back of his throat as he lay flat on the ground, refusing to move. The mother kneeled down on the concrete, stroking Boris.  A smile danced on her lips as the old cat began to hiss and scratch at her face.

“Mom, stop it!” Mary screamed, horrified at the droplets of blood sprouting from the cuts on her mother’s fair skin.

The mother stood up suddenly, a piercing, dangerous look glimmering in her eyes.

“You will never speak to me in that tone!” She yelled, stepping closer to Mary.

“Oh no, not again.  Mom, you have to find yourself.  This is not who you are!”

The mother kicked an unsuspecting Boris, sending him flying through the air.  Boris landed roughly on the cold, unforgiving pavement.  The cat sent an annoyed scowl towards the mother and began to stalk away.

“Mom, stop it, please!” Mary gasped, picking up the discarded leash from the ground.

“Stop what, honey?” The mother asked.

Mary’s mind boggled at the sudden shift in her mother’s mood, but decided not to waste her breath trying to question it.  She looked back at her mother, noticing her tender fingers touch the dried blood coating her cheeks.

“Oh, that silly cat!” Her mother laughed.  “I’m going to put bubble wrap on so the wounds will heal quicker.  Do be a dear and go fetch Boris for me, we don’t want him to get hurt, right?”

“But mom-” Mary started, but realized her mother had already left.

She quickly located Boris hiding underneath a small shrub in the backyard.  Opening the back door to their house, she picked up the bag of cat food and proceeded back outside.  Enticing Boris with the shaking of the cat food, Mary quickly shut the old cat back inside.  Mary gave an annoyed sigh and walked down the hall to talk to her mother.

“Mom! Where are you?” Mary called out to the silent home.

Suddenly, she heard the sound of a blade coming into contact with a cutting board.  Confused, Mary walked into the kitchen to see her mother hovering over the counter.

“Mom? What are you doing?” Mary asked.

“I’m making a sandwich.”

“Ok, but why is there a pumpkin?”

“You know I like sliced pumpkin, Mary.”

“Mom, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Can it wait, honey?”

“No, it can’t.  This has gone on for too long, mom, you need help.  I’ve tried my best to care for you, but your condition has gotten worse and I can’t be here all the time.”

Untitled

Abby A.

“And I thought you were wanting to get adopted” my foster care advisor Joey asked.

“I don’t even care anymore” I added annoyed.

“Sam you’re running out of options you’re already 15” he said frantically.

”Fine they can adopt me I’m sure their better than the stupid smith’s that are watching us now” I said in a mocking tone.

“Grab you’re stuff and pack it up were leaving soon” he said angrily. He handed me two garbage bags to put our stuff in. I grabbed the six pairs of clothing I had, and packed my brother Timmy’s stuff. Which consisted of ten items of clothing and of course his stupid roll of bubble wrap. Our foster parents never gave us any toys so the only thing Timmy kept to play with was his bubble wrap. Timmy was sleeping in our bedroom we shared so I woke him up and told him we finally got adopted. Of course because Timmy is six he got all excited and started jumping up and down. “Yes! Finally I get a mommy and daddy!” He screamed, I handed him his trash-bag.

“You have my bubbles right!” Timmy asked.

“Yes of course” I said annoyed. Joey shoved us out of the foster house and into the car.

Me and Timmy both fell asleep for about an hour when Joey woke us up and told us we we’re almost there. When I looked outside I saw the most beautiful green hills each house having six acres in between them. The houses looked brand new and shined brightly in the sunlight. Timmy and I exchanged excited glances we’ve never had a Yard before. While driving through the neighborhood Timmy spotted a cat on a leash. “Joey cats wear leashes too?” Timmy asked.

“Only crazy rich people walk cats on leashes” Joey categorizes. We pulled into the driveway of the biggest house I’ve ever seen and got out of the car. “Sam and Timmy welcome to you’re new home” Joey said with a smile. As We walked up the driveway Timmy saw a pumpkin. He’s obsessed with pumpkins because his favorite color is orange. But he’s never even touched one let alone seen one carved. A woman with long blond hair with a bright smile and large muscular man with brunette hair came to greet us. “Welcome were so excited to meet you! The woman said.

“Sam, Timmy meet the Green’s.” Joey said.

“What do you guys have there?” Mrs. Green asked pointing to the garbage bags.

“It’s our stuff.” I addressed “why are you’re things in garbage bags?” Mrs. Green asked.

“It’s all the system can afford for moving transportation” Joey said disappointedly.

“Well we will have to buy suitcases for the both of you when we go on our family vacations” She said excitingly. It was that moment on that porch I now call home that I realized what it means to have a family.

Beautiful Chaos

Abby J.

And I thought you were sane. I must admit, the way you conned me into believing your facade of falsehood was a clever feat indeed. You presented yourself in such an effortless manner that I played right into your twisted hands, not once second guessing your motives. I had even considered you a friend.

Now, as I stare out into the sterile and desolate hallway of the psychiatric ward of the hospital, I can’t help but feel trapped by your insolence. It was your mimicked charm and charisma that enticed me, that took my guard down and turned it into something heedless. It also was your pretend smile and your fabricated movements that landed me in this prison cell furnished with nothing but a table and chair so carefully wrapped in bubble wrap. The best part is, nobody knows it was you.

You took my face, my name, even my mannerisms, but I still have the one aspect you lack – my mind. It is the one place that you could not fully access, and yet you still managed to fool them. It’s incredible, the way you tap your foot in the same way I do, and the way you tuck your hair behind your ear so diligently. What may be even more concerning is the way you fooled me. I wanted so desperately to believe that I was imagining your slow accumulation of who I was, but you became my mirror image. You became me.

Now I’m surrounded by nurses with concern and pity as their only accompaniment.

Therapists show me ink blots in attempt to pick at my mind, but I continually disappoint them when I tell them that all I see is a cat on a leash. This is what you’ve done to me; you’ve forced me to question my own sanity at the cost of my freedom. I’m under lock and key, while everyone else roams freely in the world beyond these walls. They enjoy supper with their families and can breathe in the fresh air of the place I once called home, but because of you I spiraled into what I now see as beautiful chaos.

It’s not the kind of insanity where you witness a carved pumpkin speaking to you, it’s the kind of insanity where you don’t even recognize yourself in your own skin. Mirrors become your worst enemy because you are terrified of what you might see, yourself or the one impersonating you. The elements of your being become obliterated by the confusion, but no longer. This place with its empty walls has served as a platform for self-realization and reevaluation of all you have taken from me. I have gradually found myself again and have noted my sense of originality that I initially lacked. I have rediscovered my light thanks to you. So, thank you. Thank you for pushing me to be me, and for helping me to find this space of such beautiful chaos.

Goodbye

Star A.

“And I thought you were coming with me!” I shouted at my boyfriend Jeremy. “Ever since I started this idea about going four-hundred miles away to college, you always said you’d be with me every step of the way. News-flash! A big and very important step is for to get in my car and come with me!” I can tell by the way he is looking at me that he isn’t going to change his mind about coming with me.

“Look, sweetie, this is where our story ends. And you can’t say I haven’t been with you every step of the way because I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t support you. I’m just cut out for the college life, I didn’t even apply to that school. I knew I wouldn’t get in, so why waste my time trying.” He looked like he was Ahmed to admit this to me, but I wasn’t letting him off the hook so easily.

“So the past two and half years, you knew you weren’t going to college and you would just let me leave you here? I distinctly remember when we had my family’s annual pumpkin carving contest you told me what you wanted to major in and how you planned to make that a career. I think becoming a sportscaster would be perfect for you.” Jeremy once told me he wanted to work for ESPN and I wanted to be a veterinarian, so I could work anywhere he was located.

“Look, babe, I had a dream last night about your vet shop. I could see all of those cats on leashes just waiting to get back there and see you. I knew then what I had to do, I had to let you go and become the best vet you can be. Here I got you this as a going away present.” He handed me a box, inside was something wrapped with lots and lots of bubble wrap. Jeremy knows how much I love to pop the bubbles. I couldn’t believe what he had gotten me, it was a picture of me and him in our very first date.

“Jeremy, this is the sweetest and most thoughtful gift I have ever gotten. You are the best boyfriend ever!” I started to tear up, Jeremy noticed and kissed me.

“I wanted you to have this picture of us, so everyone knows what a killer, hot boyfriend you have back home.” He laughed and opened my car door. I got in, started the car, and gave Jeremy our last kiss until Thanksgiving. As I drive off, I realized I couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving!

Sprinkles’ Dilemma

Melinda G.

“And I though you were normal!” The dog exclaimed, his expression showcasing both anger and disbelief, though it was difficult to tell which there was more of. His paws were balled into little fists that rested at his sides.

“I’m a human-sized cat, you moron. I’m the exact opposite of normal.” Sprinkles, or Gregory, replied, rolling his amber coloured eyes and letting out a low scoff. “And I don’t want you telling anyone about this. It needs to stay a secret. Got it?”

The Doberman Pinscher let out a huff, reluctantly agreeing in a less-than-enthusiastic manner.

“Fine. I’ll keep it a secret. But I got one condition.”

“And what is that, mutt?”

The dog growled, lips curling into a snarl, revealing sharp, white teeth.

“Make that two conditions. One, don’t you ever call me mutt. And two, you gotta keep my secret. Deal?”

Sprinkles distractedly fiddled with his red leash, lightly scratching at it with one single claw before looking up at Dinky, as if he hadn’t heard a word.

“What was that?” He asked innocently, trying to resist the urge to smirk at the infuriated dog in front of him.

“You heard me.” Dinky growled.

Sprinkles only nodded and walked away, trying to get his leash to look like a tie so he could go to work without worrying about it. His work day was uneventful, full of carefully filing paperwork and taking calls. So he was more than glad to get home, instantly heading to his bed and grabbing his pumpkin-shaped cat toy to scratch it. As Sprinkles played with it, he absentmindedly thought about the Doberman Pinscher named Dinky who threatened to reveal that he was a cat. There was no way he could let that happen. He’d lose his job and his house and everything he’d worked so hard to keep.

With a little huff, he pushed himself out of bed and made his way to the kitchen, accidentally stepping on a sheet of bubblewrap that had spilled from a package he had received days prior. Instantly, the idea of food was long forgotten, all in favour of popping the sheet of bubblewrap with his paws.

Eventually, he did regain focus and finished the day’s plans, which consisted of eating and sleeping. And when he woke up the next day and went to work, he found that Dinky the Doberman Pinscher hadn’t kept his promise, and for that, he feared the worst.

Upon arriving at his workplace, Sprinkles found that there wasn’t a soul who cared that he was a cat. In fact, most all of the staff thought it was pretty cool.

Seems that Sprinkles didn’t have a reason to worry after all.

The Iron Writer Challenge #179 – 2016 Annual Championship

The Iron Writer Challenge #179

2016 Summer Solstice Challenge Championship

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Alis Van Doorn, Mamie Pound, Dani J. Caile, Daniel J. Sanz, Tina Biscuit

The Elements:

Halloween Night

Apostrophe as an literary device

An orchard (you must state the type of orchard: apple, pear, peach, etc)

Metal doors on a school building

DuskMamie Pound

Mamie Pound

The invitation was hand written and wax sealed, slid under her door.

            “The pleasure of your company is requested.”

                               Halloween Night           

The directions led her down a twisting, wet trail, along the thick of the bayou. A late hurricane near the Keys bewitched the air, sent her hair flying all around, like one of the long-dead apparitions that appeared in the windows of the ruined hotels.

Tupelo Trees, standing knee-deep in in the brackish water, looked like skirted, gnarled, old women, sprouted from the underworld.

And the behemoth, orange moon seemed complicit.

Chills danced along her spine. A dark forboding tinged her every thought.

But just as all seemed lost, she spotted a small cabin at the edge of the water.

She knocked on its metal doors.

No one answered.

She drew her velvet cape closer and knocked again.

“Who’s there?” Said a voice, low and smokey.

Instead of answering, she shuddered, imagining the beasts swimming under the dock,

and banged again. The sound reverberated past her, into the wading trees, who swallowed it and zippered shut.

And now stood silent, watching and waiting.

The door slid open. Before her was a man with the blackest eyes she’d ever seen. Darker than the depths of the Mississippi.

“Hello.”

His accent reminded her of the dock traders and the bearded pirates that sailed into the harbor, their tongues, a music of French and Cajun.

His teeth were brilliant, white and pointy. And while his smile was wide, his eyes were solemn, arresting.

She couldn’t find her voice.

Behind him, three other men sat at a table, holding cards. A haze of blue smoke hung above their heads.

She blushed.

“Most people say ‘trick or treat’,” he said.

“I must be lost,” she stammered.

His house was dark, only a blazing fire in the hearth and candles, even at the card table.

“I must be at the wrong house. Are you…?”.

His dark beauty,…she was unable to look away.

“Leopold Lessinger.”

There was a razor nick just under his jawline, so beautifully placed, it almost seemed purposeful.

He raised a hand to cover it.

“Maybe I’ve made a mistake,” she said.

Electricity crawled across the sky, silhouetting the orchard of Spanish Moss hanging from the Cypress. Thunder rattled the glass.

“You got my invitation?” he asked.

“So it was you?” she said.

“I’ve been watching you for so long. I can’t believe you’re actually here.”

“Watching me?” She felt faint.

“I meant waiting for you…” he whispered and kissed her hand.

And she found herself unable to think of much of anything, except his beautiful mouth. She wanted to draw closer to this complete stranger. Wanted to inhale him.

Her mind raced with fear and an insatiable hunger, unknown to her before now.

“Oh, blackest night, what trickery have you played? What spell must have you allowed the moon, that I hunger for this madness, surrender to its will?”

Without any other word, he slipped his hand behind her neck.

And she did not try to stop him.

In the darkness, a Screech Owl’s desperate cry echoed across the water, disappeared into the night.

Little HyenasDaniel J. Sanz

Daniel J. Sanz

It was Monday morning and Conrad Brown’s fingers were already bleeding. He grimaced and clutched the ratty sponge in one hand and a can of mineral spirits in the other. His knees ached from the tile but the obscenity of the black marker had about scrubbed away.

He straightened under the protest of cascading crackles in his spine and wrapped a towel around his wrinkled fingers.

“Brats.”

His voice echoed between the lockers of the school hallway. He relished the graffiti free-wall while he could. Any moment these halls would be a stampede of self-entitled, ungrateful larvae and he could foresee himself scrubbing the wall again before the day’s end.

Flinging the towel into the trash, he gave the receptacle a satisfying kick before shuffling back to his custodial cart.

Pushing it past the scribblings of ghosts and jack-o-lanterns that adorned the walls, he stopped to pick up a black and orange streamer that had freed itself from its scotch-taped binding. He cracked a frown realizing today they would be dressed up as the little monsters they were, on a sugar high.

Conrad looked ahead to a giant cartoon mural sprawled across the yellow bricked wall. “Arlington Park Little Hyenas” arched overhead the titular mascot, adorned in a cowboy hat and a beaming grin.

“Oh how you mock me!”

Conrad glared at his imaginary adversary. “How you laugh at me! Judge me! Watch me waste away into this servitude!”

He used to love that hyena, years back when he bounced around these halls, but now he couldn’t stand its sight. It reminded him of a fonder time in which afternoons were spent riding bikes, playing stickball, and picking apples from Montgomery’s Orchard.

Conrad scoffed at the memory. “The only apples kids appreciate these days are made of plastic and glass.”

He leered at the hyena.

“I’ve had enough, I’m done!”

He looked down the hallway towards the exit.

“Why do I stay here? I should have quit a long time ago!”

He drew in a deep breath. All he had to do was walk through those doors and he was free.

But it was too late. They kicked open against their metal frames and the thunderous boom rolled over him chased by the hollers of the incoming hoard.

A flock of waist-high goblins, trolls, and witches flooded in, reeking of insubordination and Butterfingers. He closed his eyes and waited for them to pass. His only solace was the thought of freedom as he exited that door and ignored the sea of candy wrappers that was surely waiting for him.

Suddenly he felt a small tug on his arm. He glanced down and a little ladybug stood before him. A hyena-like smile spread across her red painted face. She held a box of mini cupcakes. Orange frosting with black sprinkles.

“Happy Halloween Mr. Brown!” She handed him one of the cakes and scrambled off.

The bell rang and the halls fell quiet. Conrad stood there, staring at the cupcake. He looked back at the mural and sighed.

“Well what’s the hurry?” he asked, crouching down to pick up a candy wrapper.

A Story of O

Tina Biscuit 

O bountiful orchard, flourishing well. We furrowed your rows, in days that have gone. We planted your seeds, and built three strong walls; the gates of the school completed the square. Now, they are rusted, remember their squeal. The burgeoning children, who poured out to play, they tended your whips, and nurtured your heart. The whips spread out branches, a new ring each year – so did the children, absorbing the light. They played in soft snow, which melted to blossom. They knocked off your buds, with frolics of summer. Soon came the autumn, you offered them fruit. Before apples fell, was Halloween time. First it was strange, you thought it was dark; faces were painted, so frightful, yet fun. Your halcyon days had barely begun. O orchard, you were so young. 

The river was filling, the reservoir full. The clouds were so black, obscuring the sky. The lightning discharged, forks tearing through gloom. Your fibrous roots trembled; the rumbling began: your trees were predicting, the deluge to come. The riverbanks burst, collapsing the church, torrential cascades tumbling through town. Houses were spilled, as though they were toys. We thought of the children, marooned in their class. Helpless we watched, and prayed for their lives: twelve children perished; twelve spirits lost. 

We buried small caskets, in your tender care. You were our last hope, which wasn’t enough. We left you as pasture, for travellers’ succour. We still come to visit, the graves of the past; we still bring you flowers, to show that we care. They brighten the spot, where nothing else thrives. Your walls are entwined, with ivy and moss. Our bodies are old; the trail is so long. 

O orchard, we miss them, on this hallowed night. We feel the dead rising, no longer with scorn. Those twelve, tiny mounds, rustling with leaves: the quilts you provided, keeping them snug. Their bones are so heavy; they struggle to run. They dreep from your branches, their cold fingers warm. Halloween songs purge water from lungs; cries become laughter, and pain becomes sun. They dance through your avenues, spreading joy as they go. Children cavorting, under canopies green, reclaiming memories, they laugh at the moon. The metal doors drum, as they bang them for fun. The teachers are gone now, and so is their school. Of course they don’t know that; we’re sure you won’t tell. Give them their night, to play in your boughs; shelter their innocence, and don’t tell a soul. 

The peduncle snaps; your last apple falls: no longer forbidden, forever unpicked.

Hell, Yeah!Dani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

Me and the gang were having a good ol’ get together for Halloween night, just like when we were young. Tom couldn’t make it, he was on duty at the Police station, tonight of all nights, but Arthur, Dave, Andy and Josh filled the living room with their noisy, rowdy behaviour. Except Josh. He’d taken a seat by the window and stared out at the night sky, looking forlorn. Thankfully, there were no plans to revisit any apple bobbing like we did back in ’99 after stealing a basketful from Mr. Wilson’s apple orchard down on Church street, but we were going Trick-or-Treating.

“Eh, Bob! I’ve got your costume here!” said Andy, throwing a Wonder Woman top into my face as I entered from the kitchen. Arthur and Dave had already chosen theirs; Batman and Robin, respectively. Andy was Superman, of course.

“Why do I get to wear the girly costume?” I asked, throwing them a few cans of beer. I attempted to pass one to Josh but he was oblivious to what was going on around him. A crumpled Spiderman outfit lay next to him on the sofa.

“Because you’re a girl!” screamed Andy, accompanied by laughter from the other two. The boys chinked their cans together and drank. Josh broke their silence.

“Oh, Moon, rise and let your cooling light douse my burning heart of pain; if you pity me, seize my desires, my hopes and smash them to the stars of the night!” whined Josh.

“What’s his problem?” I asked. Out of the five of us, Josh was the smartest, but unfortunately looked like a monkey’s arse.

“He fell in love with ‘you-know-who’,” said Dave. He wiped beer from his mouth and chest bumped Arthur.

“But she’d never go out with him,” I said. Andy dived on me and forced a long, black wig onto my head.

“Tell him that,” said Dave.

“Oh great, that’s all we need on Halloween night, a bleeding heart!” said Andy.

“Quiet, he might hear you,” I said, swapping my costume for his. Before anyone objected, I was Spidey.

“So? Are we ready to go out on the town?” screamed Andy.

“Hell Yeah!” we cheered.

*****

I counted four, including myself.

“Where’s Josh?” I asked. Something was bashing the inside of my head with a sledgehammer. “Anyone seen him?”

“Not me,” said Arthur, a hollow voice coming from the bowl of the toilet.

“I thought he was with you,” said Andy. Dave was still zonked out on the sofa with some green vegetable stuck up the back of his trousers. A mobile phone rang, it was Andy’s. After searching, we found it under a pile of empty cans in the corner.

“Yeah? Uh-huh? Oh. Right.” Andy dropped his phone in his pocket and headed for the door.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“It was Tom.”

“What does he want?” asked Arthur from the bowl.

“He wants to know why Josh is dressed up as Wonder Woman, completely drunk, moaning on about some ‘moonrise’ and chained to the metal doors of our old school building. Anyone coming with me?”

Oh, Brother!Alis Van Doorn

Alis VanDoorn

“Lily, hurry up!” called Lily’s mother, voice just this side of pleasant. Lily gave a final twirl to her hot pink troll hair point, pleased with her adorable troll dress, creatively shortened a bit, the matching tights, gave her pointed troll slipper boots a blissful smile, and her mind full of Sam’s reaction, sailed downstairs, all fetching troll glory.

“Lily! Now!” Her mother’s voice now on the other side of pleasant.

“Coming!” She troll pranced onto the front porch, stopped short. “Riley! Where’s your troll costume?”

An eight year old scary clown puffed out his chest and said “I’m too old for that. I’m a killer clown! I’ll scare everybody!”

“Well, where’s your candy pail?”

The small killer clown slapped his forehead and raced off to get it.

“Lily, I know you planned on meeting your friends after trick or treating, but you’ll need to stay with Riley afterwards, answer the door.” “Daddy’s working late, he won’t be home till about nine.”

“But why can’t you be here? It’s Halloween! It’s not fair!”

“I’ll be at the rectory, tomorrow’s All Saints. Just catch up with them after the bonfire.”

Realizing argument was futile, Lily sighed dramatically, the sigh of put upon 16 year olds everywhere.

Joining the neighborhood trick or treaters, a sixteen year old troll doll, a tiny killer clown, walked hand in hand.

Dark fell, and soon they were home, diving into candy, answering the door.

By nine thirty, still alone; Lily was getting anxious. She’d have to catch up with everyone by short-cutting through the old apple orchard to the abandoned school. Not her favorite way, spooky even on clear summer nights. If she didn’t leave now, Sam wouldn’t get to see her costume. Which was the whole point.

Lily looked at Riley, currently on a sugar high.

“Riley, I need to leave now, I’ll barely make it even cutting through the orchard. Promise you’ll stay here, not answer the door until Daddy gets home?”

Riley nodded, Lily turned off the porch lights, locked the door and took off running, never noticing the tiny killer clown following.

As Lily reached the orchard, the moonlight dimmed. “Come on, don’t be such a baby.” Lily told herself, trying to ignore an increasing dread. Lily picked up the pace, certain she heard branches moving.

Suddenly she stopped, hearing something behind her. To her left she saw a pair of glowing red eyes, shrieked, took off running.

Just then she heard a desperate little voice choke out “Lil, wait!”

Lily turned, a tiny, terrified killer clown running, sobbing into her arms. “Lil, there’s something back there, something bad. We gotta hide.”

Picking him up, Lily ran for the school, hoping to make it around the side to the open field and bonfire. But the bonfire was out, the field deserted. Frantically she looked for a hiding place. Suddenly she saw a pair of metal doors in the ground leading to the basement. Dropping Riley, Lily yanked hard to no avail. They were stuck.

“Lil.” Riley was pointing behind her, finger shaking.

Lily turned around slowly.

Something was there, impossible to see, equally impossible to miss the menace that seemed to shiver the air.

“Leave us alone! Whatever you are, you are not getting my brother or me! Now go, go back to the cemetery. I banish you in the name of all that’s holy, good and true, go now or face your due.”

Suddenly, the air was clear again, the moon came out from the clouds and Lily and Riley ran.

They took the long way.

#TIWC members, please vote here.

 

 

 

The Iron Writer Challenge #178 – 2016 Autumn Equinox Championship

bandy-chickens

The Iron Writer Challenge #178

2016 Summer Solstice Challenge Championship

Preliminary Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Tina Biscuit, Ong Sze Teng, Michael Cottle, Mamie Pound

 The Elements:

An old family recipe
A trough
An electric fence
Banty chickens

Not the Crumbs

Ong Sze Teng

The fine red head rose sleepily, confusion crossing his eyes as Depp darted into their house, flinging the paper down. “It’s us. Breaded Fried Chicken, right?”

Immediately, Baron flinched as if his son had just cursed and was awake at once.

“Digging in human books again?”

Depp rolled his eyes. “It was left at the door. I just flipped it. Why else would I learn to read?”

Baron held his gaze for a moment, then relented with a sigh.

“The crumb covered one?”

The casual tone in his father’s voice was somewhat appalling; they were talking about their kind being sliced and tossed into the very grains they used to eat, before submerged in deep boiling waters. The very thought sent ice running through him.

“You can read? You’ve seen it before?” Depp whispered.

He was answered with a reluctant shake of a head. “It’s been in use by the family since… longer than I can remember. Their favourite recipe too.”

“And everyone’s just settling for this? To imagine they’re entering the fantastical realm of ancestors instead of getting slaughtered?” Baffled, the young rooster shifted towards the walls and leaned against it.

Baron avoided meeting his gaze, but picked up the sheet of paper with a talon. The recipe curled into a roll after a few attempts, and he hopped back awkwardly to tuck it in the furthest nest, the throne of the proudest rooster.

“There. They’ll understand my statement this evening.”

That couldn’t be all, Depp thought, and that was all he could think of as a fresh surge of shame and fury rushed to his head.

“But you’ll be going elsewhere, I suppose.”

As quick as it had come, the wave subsided. “I’m definitely not hanging around to become fried.”

He was in earnest. The pen was suffocating, the other chickens were busybodies, and he never did know which was his mother, nor did he want any of them to be. Almost always had he smartly avoided their ruckus by chatting up cows or pigs in the stys and pens next to his prison. Depp met his father’s gaze as he straightened up. He would have mistaken the glint for pride if he had been more naïve.

“Then go on. This is all I’ve known. For once I don’t have to beg someone to leave because, well, you don’t even want to stay.”

Depp admitted, “I would, if the fences were not prickly.”

His father nodded. “Electricity. There’s an opening at the corner where our side of the fence meets the pigs’.”

Depp was still, surprised, but Baron strutted past him, gesturing with a wing to follow him. It was not a wide range they had and all corners were distant specks but still identifiable.

“Corner, there.”

Depp followed the tips of his feathers, nodding as he noted the spot.

“Hide in the trough while you can, and wait for my signal.”

When the caw came, he had been shaking in anticipation for what seemed like hours. The buzz of the fence was almost nonexistent, while his freedom lay just beyond the hole he was squeezing through.

Jack and The Banty Rooster

Michael Cottle 

Deviled eggs.

Granny Pate said she would make them, but Jack had to bring her six eggs from the chicken pen. Jack could offer little resistance to Granny’s deviled eggs. He couldn’t get enough of them.

But, there was a small problem in the chicken pen. It was Billy the Banty Rooster- the meanest rooster in the state and the whole dang world as far as Jack was concerned. But Jack was strong. Jack was nimble. Jack was quick, and he loved Granny’s deviled eggs. Right now, his hunger was stronger than his fear.

Jack creeped down to the chicken pen with the stealth of a ninja. And there was Billy the Banty Rooster, strutting through the feed trough like he owned the place!

“Stupid rooster”, Jack thought. He would slip over to the hen nests and grab a few eggs before Billy even saw him. “No sense in any confrontation of sorts” Jack thought strategically.

Jack was through the gate, and glanced over his shoulder to make sure Billy wasn’t looking. He noticed the crazy rooster was still kicking out feed from the trough, sifting through it like he might find something better at the bottom of it.

Jack began to check the nests and the first one was empty, but the second nest had two eggs that Jack slipped in his pail. The third nest was empty, and the fourth nest was empty as well. The fifth nest had three eggs! All he needed was one more!

Jack was in such a hurry to gather the eggs and get out, that he was looking over his left shoulder for Billy while he was checking the nest with his right hand. The rooster still hadn’t noticed Jack, but something much worse than any banty rooster had pecked Jack on his hand- a banty setting hen!

“Yow!” Jack yelled as he jumped and stumbled over backwards. It was such a commotion that Billy the Banty Rooster finally noticed and took off after him. Jack quickly scrambled to his feet about half crazy chunking eggs into the pail. The gate was blocked by Billy, so Jack made for the fence, but he forgot all about the fence being electric! Granny Pate just had recently upgraded to keep varmints out.

As you can imagine, when Jack grabbed hold to the fence the pail went flying and eggs went busting. As soon as he came loose from the fence, Billy was on him pecking and clucking like the mean old banty rooster that he was. Poor Jack spun around in a circle, and ran out of the gate just in time to leave the crazy rooster behind.

“What’s all this commotion?” Granny Pate asked walking up.

“It’s Billy” Jack said. “He’s crazy!”

Granny waltzed in the pen yet Billy did nothing. She picked up the pail, grabbed a half dozen eggs and waltzed right out of the pen.

“Billy is just fine. Let’s make some deviled eggs” Granny said.

“Well Granny, you got one thing right” Jack said. “Those eggs are the devil.”

Jumping Jack Flash

Tina Biscuit

The hard tail slammed the rear wheel deep into another pothole as Jack rounded the last bend. His watery eyes focused on the speedometer; he remembered doing this in his youth, when the Bantam was new. It still sounded like a lawnmower, but he had cherished it since he had taken delivery from the BSA factory, and was confident it could still take this corner at 70 mph. The springs in the seat tried to cushion the blows, but his hands were numb with cold, and the constant jarring threatened to shear his hands from their grips. He slowed down when he saw the track ahead of him: every puddle hid a hole, and the light was fading. He could hardly see where the tarmac ended, and the mud began.

It had changed since he had last visited his mother. Back then, his father was still alive, and the farm was still a viable concern. He pulled up the visor on his open-faced helmet, and tried to see the little path that used to be his shortcut. He could see the kitchen light was on, and would ride through the trees, towards the back garden. He would cut the engine at the wall, and try to sneak up on her, like he had done when he was a kid.

He was sure he could smell the chicken broth, filtering on the breeze; his tongue caught raindrops in anticipation. The trees had grown, but there was still a path through them. He stopped by the wall, and looked over to the house. He could see her at the window, but knew that she wouldn’t see him in the crepuscular light. She would have the soup simmering away, like it had for generations before her. Jack switched off the engine, pulled off his helmet, jammed the gauntlets inside it, hooked it over the bars, and leaned the bike against the wall.

It was almost completely dark. Without the headlight, he could barely see. He felt the copes on top of the wall, and ran his hands along them. He soon found the missing ones, reached down, and edged along; a whole section of the wall was missing. He remembered having to jump, but this was more like an awkward step – more awkward when his trailing foot caught the side of an old, rusty bathtub. He didn’t identify it, until he fell headlong into it.His mother must still keep stock, and be using this as a water trough, he thought as he pushed his hair out of his eyes. He stood up, and wiped the worst of the mud from his leathers. He balanced on one leg as he tried to step out with the little dignity that he had remaining. He stretched out a hand, fumbling for support. The thin wire of the fence was a relief, so he grasped it with the other hand, too. His pulse quickened as he leaned forward to extricate his other leg from the bath. The muddy water conducted well.

Another pulse left the battery; the electrical current followed the path of least resistance, and his numb hands shook.

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