The Iron Writer Challenge 76
Grudge Match #8
A Mason Jar
Mount St. Helen
A Wii U
Danielle Lee Zwissler
We were sitting around the campfire, mason jars in our hands filled with our favorite apple pie moonshine.
“Come on, tell us what you call it,” LaDawn laughed; she was the youngest in our group of misfits at 24. Several of us at the fire laughed, too. It was fun hanging out with friends at camp. It was an all-together different kind of relaxing atmosphere.
“Well, if you must know,” Tiny, the most outgoing of our group, flirted, “I call mine the Pink Fairy Armadillo.”
“That’s not very flattering,” Cindy replied. Cindy was around 52 years old, and a friend of my mother’s.
I laughed, too. “Wait a minute, isn’t the Pink armadillo the one that is small and can fit in the palm of your hand?”
“…And of course, Dani would have known a useless fact like that,” LaDawn replied, laughing. Everyone else joined, too.
“Yeah, it sure is,” Tiny joked. But it is also hard, and pink, and a big fan of the ladies.”
Everyone took another swig of their moonshine when the conversation went to Cliff.
“What? Hey, Tiny over there said his was tiny, but he’s still proud of it,” Pat, the only married person in our group, encouraged.
“Hey!” Tiny yelled. “You didn’t mention that it is a fan of the ladies…”
“Yeah, it’s a fan of the ladies, but are the ladies interested in it?” I taunted. Tiny looked confused, but grinned and took a drink of his moonshine anyway.
“Fine,” Cliff said. He was our 67 year old buddy. He camped a few places down from us and he could drink better than anyone. “I call mine the Mt. St. Helen.”
Pat blushed. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah….It’s big, mighty, and people should be warned….”
“But it hasn’t erupted since 82?” I quipped. Everyone looked at me once again and a gale of laughter shattered the silence. Cliff held his jar up in toast fashion.
“That’s pretty much the half of it. Or in Tiny’s case, the short.”
We all took another sip, each of us feeling the smooth liquor more as time went on.
“What do you call yours, Earl?”
“The Wii U.”
“Not just the regular Wii?”
“I’m glad you asked that, Dani. No, mine is more…GRAPHIC,” he emphasized as his eyebrows went up and down, “and it has just the right controls to play with it.”
I laughed, my head fell back and my throat burned from the moonshine. “I hear it’s more ‘user friendly.”
“Yeah, it received an ‘E’ for everyone.”
Just then, my mom came out of the camper behind ours with a jug and filled our glasses.
“What are y’all laughing about?” she asked, noticing us all blitzed.
LaDawn and Cindy laughed, Pat winced, and I had a grin from ear-to-ear. Tiny, Cliff and Earl were all seemingly proud of themselves, too.
“Just talking about what we named our first cars,” I replied.
Mom looked over at me curiously and then shook her head. “I thought for sure you were talking about what they named their penises. I haven’t seen Mt. St. Helen over there since the mid 70’s.”
Surveying the damage, even decades old, was still hard. Hank had been sent by the magazine to take pictures at Mount Saint Helen. They were doing an article on the habitats that were created and restored in the aftermath. Hank was glad he never had to take the pictures of those mushroom clouds of ash as they filled the azure sky.
Just last week, Hank was in South America taking pictures of the newly discovered Pink Fairy Armadillos. They were such an unusual creature. Unlike the other armadillos, these had such a bright color. They seemed to have been modified to be a princess toy. Something one of those super rich celebrities would put in their purse for a time, then forget about in an airport.
Hank stumbled into the world of the photographer. All he could remember was partying with his friends, playing on his Wii U, and talking about how he could do so much better at marketing these games. They just needed better pictures! Bring the game into the world using arcane, barely useful gaming system. Why would anyone buy this when they can keep their dozen other systems? But put some pictures together of people having fun? Then you might sell a million more systems. And wham-BAM! Welcome to the marketing and photography business.
Cougar was never very big, but now it was nearly gone. It was the closest thing to the destruction, and Hank was sent to see if it survived, and thrived in the ash. The skeleton of the town was there. He had seen similar in the ghost towns of Nevada and the dead mining towns of California and the Yukon. Hank walked down to the only dinner, watched the neon flash “OPEN.”
“Hiya, hon. Welcome to the dinner. Have a seat!”
Hank walked to the bar. This was straight out of the ’50s. Minus the poodle skirts. The seats were crimson; all the edges were a shiny brass or chromed. His cursory glance at the menu showed exactly what he thought: pancakes, burgers, milkshakes.
“Can I get you started on something, doll,” asked the quiet blonde behind the counter.
Hank figured she couldn’t be more than 20 or 21. She was dressed in a uniform: pale pink with a rounded apron. So retro, down to the name tag.
“Yeah. Can I get a sweet tea, Stephanie, is it?”
Stephanie nodded and blushed and turned away to get the drink. Hank finished assessing the poor little dinner. The waitress was on her way back, carrying a mason jar, filled to the lip with sweet tea.
“Stephanie, what can you tell me about this little town here? How long have you been in Cougar?”
“My parents moved back when they were told they could. I’ve been here all my life. There has never been anything I needed to leave for.”
Hank looked at this blonde. He remembered growing up in a one horse town. He wondered if he could change her mind.
Steven L Bergeron
Before calling it a night we all stood on the balcony eyeing the thirty years old smoke emitted from its crater. According to scientist prediction the famous mount St- Helen will erupt any day now. We must follow our maze and quickly to make our new virtual game of Nintendo new WIIU game system a totally awesome one
“So Matt why are we really here. When we could be making a real difference, finding a cure for the common cold or something?”
“Come on Eric where’s your sense of adventure? This used to consume your life? We all use to live and breathe the challenges that super Mario would put before us.”
“I guess I grew up.”
“Think about it one day you can tell your kids that you were responsible for creating one of Nintendo’s greatest virtual game.”
“All right one last time for old time sakes.”
That was all we had to say about the subject as we want to check on tomorrows condition up on the mountain.
I woke up the following morning by the sound of a woman crying. How can that be there is no one of the opposite sex among us. I followed the sound leading me to Gene’s room.
“What on earth is going on in here?”
“Matt we need your help, our beloved mascot is missing. I set him down on the night stand in his mason jar. When I woke up the lid was gone and so was Mario.”
“Relax Gene we all love that pink fairy armadillo. He couldn’t have gone far. Get dress while I gather the rest of our crew. We will find Mario as well as conquer the crater of Mount St- Helen.”
Two hours we were standing at the base of the mountain ready to follow our maze wherever it leads us. Either it will lead us to virtual game heaven or take our life whatever will be will be. We were half way through our quest as it were aware that someone had been here before and not just anyone. They were on my exact pass it was as if they had a copy of our maze . But then I recognized the foot prints of our dear mascot, it felt like he was trying to beat us on our quest. Then the present of a thunderous rumble had caught our attention as I flowing magma was heading in our direction. It would appear last night’s eruption prediction was off by a few days. Our quest was over as we quickly got out of there to safer grounds. Another maze was to be in the works. But not before we lay our dear mascot Mario to rest. He gave up his life to point out the flaws in our maze.
As far as Nintendo they would have to wait a wee bit longer if they dreamed of get their hands on the greatest virtual game.
Becky had been grounded again. She wasn’t allowed to use her iPhone, her iPod, her laptop, or even the Wii U until Sunday after church. She knew she’d never make it through the week, unable to keep up with her friends’ online gossip, much less all the impromptu invites to hang out under the bleachers with Kevin, her on-again, off-again football star boyfriend.
It was just another case of the Mondays. Same as last week, which was how she’d landed in hot water with her folks to begin with.
“How do they expect us to sit still and pay attention to a bunch of droning teachers when they’re blasting Mount St. Helens with dynamite, NKOTB is having a reunion tour-slash-reality show, and they pink fairy armadillo is going extinct?” she asked Kevin, as they shared a joint. They were both ditching third period math classes, although Becky was taking calculus while Kevin was stuck in the remedial college algebra class.
“I know, right? It’s like they don’t even realize the world is falling apart,” Kevin agreed. “How can any of us be expected to handle school on a day like today?”
Kevin attempted to pass the cigarette to Becky, but instead of accepting it she sat u with a sudden burst of energy.
“That’s it!” she shouted. “We’ve got to take the day off so we can save the world.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, instead of laying here smoking dope, we need to join a protest, organize a boycott, march on Washington, free some lab rats! Something big. Something that really makes a statement. They think we’re just apathetic high schoolers, but we’ll show them they’re wrong.
“You mean, like, ditch school to do something important?”
“Totally. Don’t they always say ‘everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten’? So why are we still stuck in this prison system they call public education twelve years later? We’ve gotta bust out. Are you with me?”
Kevin took one last hit, then crushed out the joint on the lid of a Mason jar.
“I’m in. So what’s the plan?”
Becky’s parents agreed that this time she’d gone too far. Not only had her grades been slipping since she’d started seeing that Kevin boy, but now she was sitting in the local sheriff’s office with a laundry list of charges on the docket – including hacking into the local nuclear plant’s mainframe, identity theft, treason, and marijuana possession.
“What would you possess you to hack into the nuclear plant?” her father roared.
“We were trying to save the world,” Becky replied, calm in the face of her father’s fury.
“You could’ve killed us all!”
“Dad, trust me: I know a lot more about computers and nuclear reactions than you do.”
“That’s not the point,” her mother interjected. “Do you realize how serious these charges are? You’l be tried as an adult and sent to prison, Becky. Don’t you care about your future?”
“The future is ALL I care about,” Becky said, tapping the Morse code on her leg that would set off the bomb.
The sky burst into flames.