The Iron Writer Challenge #21 – 2013 Summer Solstice Open Preliminary Round, Joseph Conrad Bracket

Flying Bicycle

The Iron Writer Challenge #21

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open

Preliminary Round

joseph_conrad

Joseph Conrad Bracket

The Authors:

Guy Anthony De MarcoDani J CaileA Francis RaymondGenevieve Dewey

The Elements:

An Electric Flying Bicycle

A Doppelganger

Atlantis

An obscure Black & White Television Drama/Comedy

When Humanity Becomes IrrelevantA Francis Raymond

A. Francis Raymond

“There’s more to the doppelganger program than simply creating a replica of yourself, sir. It’s a subset of the Atlantis project which is a subset of the Grand Colonization project, sir.”  Simon escorted Sir John Crantor, senior member of the council, through the laboratory. He cast a sideways glance at Crantor, “But you knew that already. Sir.”

Crantor was the last of the council to walk through Simon’s lab. The rest had their doppelgangers created sometimes six or seven times over already.

Crantor remembered they named it the “doppelganger project” for a reason. It was more palpable than simply calling it another cloning project.  As if Simon was reading Crantor’s mind he said:

“But we’re not creating a simple clone. We take the best of you and the best of your ancestors and create someone, that while bearing an uncanny resemblance to yourself, also possesses a unique mix of intelligence and creativity.”

“Something the Atlantis project has lacked,” said Crantor.

Simon smiled and motioned Crantor to a seat. He waved his hands over the table top and a hover screen appeared. Crantor looked at Simon in profile. He looked eerily familiar.

“And it doesn’t have to be an exact physical replica,” Simon continued. “Many of the other council members decided it was less disturbing if in addition, eye color, hair color and even skin color changed.”

On the screen, a video displayed several people in clunky hovering contraptions, predecessors to modern modes of travel.

“This would be the most interesting of your ancestors, sir. The inventor of the electric hover bike.”

Crantor nodded. He was familiar with his family line and knew his doppelganger would include this and the man who created an ancient black and white television show called “Run For Your Life.”

Running is what Crantor wanted to do right now. As the senior member of Project Atlantis, he didn’t think he should be any more hands on. But with failure imminent, stronger measures had to be taken.

Project Atlantis was the classified arm of the Grand Colonization. Settlers had stumbled upon ancient, human-like civilizations on several worlds that appeared to have simply disappeared, “in a single day and night of misfortune,” the original report read. Revitalizing these “colonies” to take advantage of the existing infrastructure was the only way colonization would succeed.

Doppelgangers looked human, but they were partly robotic. With twice the intellectual capability of humans, ten times the strength and endurance, they were needed for sophisticated “grunt work.” Initial objections included concern that more doppelgangers were created every month than babies. Creating a more capable version of a human being in almost no time at all seemed… unnatural.

Crantor wondered when doppelgangers would truly outnumber humans. Five or more created for every human who was duplicated over the last year added up to a lot of pseudo-humans to keep track of.

“Where’s your doppelganger?” he asked Simon.

Simon waved his hand and the viewscreen went black. “At some point, it becomes irrelevant, doesn’t it, sir?”

Old Boy NetworkDani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

“I’ve finished!”

Thomas was surprised to see an old man covered in dust and cobwebs coming through a secret door in his office’s bookshelf.

“What the…? Excuse me?”

“I’ve finished! I’ve finally sorted out those problems. Episode 5 is ready!”

The dusty old man threw a screenplay onto his desk.

“Excuse me? Episode 5? Who are you? What are you doing here?”

“Who am I? Who are you?”

“I’m Thomas Thimbleton, scheduling and programming. And you?”

“Roger Cribbins, writer, ‘The Corridor People’.”

“Who? The what?”

“Roger Cribbins, ‘The Corridor People’. I know I’m a little late with the re-write but there were a few problems I had to iron out…”

“’The Corridor People’? Is that some new ‘Office’ spin-off? Hang on a minute, I’ll check.” Thomas checked his database. “ Late, you say? You’re 47 years late.”

“Oh, really? I am a bit peckish. Mmm, I’ve lost a bit of weight, too. Do you happen to have any sandwiches, by chance?”

“I think… you’re well over your deadline on this one. But saying that, as I can see from here it was a good series. So, I’m all ears. What have you got?”

“Oh, it’s fantastic! I’ve set this episode on the mysterious and unknown island of…Atlantis!”

“Atlantis?”

“Yes, it’s a mythical island, not many people know about it in popular culture yet…”

“You’ve been locked away for too long, Roger. Back in 1966 maybe, but now…”

“Anyway, one of the characters, Kronk, discovers the mythical island and also a secret spiritual chamber where he meets his evil doppelganger whom he finally defeats in the closing scenes.”

“Well, I don’t think anything to do with Atlantis has any audience ratings potential at the moment…”

“What? It’s all the rage!”

“No, it isn’t.” Thomas picked up the screenplay. “What else is in this? Does it include any cooking?”

“Err, no.”

“Any gardening, perhaps? Or DIY?”

“DIY? What’s that? Err, no, at least I think not.”

“Any computer gadgetry?”

“Computer?”

“Technology.”

“Yes! In the final scenes there is a chase sequence on futuristic, fantastical, electric flying bicycles! That would need some incredibly difficult special effects, of course.”

“No, it doesn’t. We can do that now. Three Czech engineering firms created a working prototype quite recently. It was all over the net.”

“Really? The net?”

“This isn’t so futuristic anymore, Roger. Let’s have a look at you…well, you’re not gay. Are you a Christian?”

“Err, no, I’m with Crudential.”

“Well, I’m afraid that your screenplay doesn’t meet the present demand from our audience.”

“Oh, I see. Shame. Sorry, but what was your name again?”

“Thomas Thimbleton, Thomas Thimbleton junior.”

“I thought so! I went to Eaton with your father, old Snotnose.”

“Don’t you mean Thomas?”

“Yes, yes, of course. Thomas.”

“Why didn’t you say so earlier? I tell you what, come back next Monday. I’ll have the contracts all ready by then.”

“Super, fine by me. See you then, dear boy.”

“See you then.”

They sealed the deal with the usual secret handshake.

Land of the DobiegangerGenevieve Dewey Heaston

Genevieve Dewey

Dobie was honored when he was chosen as the first person to ride the new Czech invented electric flying bicycle outside of the testing chamber. At least, he liked to think it an honor and not just because his father was a famous inventor. But, seeing as that was the last thing he could remember before being trapped in this alternate world, it was a shady sort of honor. No one liked to think of themselves as a lab rat. Option B was the Gods had stuck him down for hubris and that was why he was in Atlantis. In fact, he preferred Option B as an explanation because it seemed mythically appropriate and was more comforting than Option C; that Dobie had just finally lost his mind. Also, he didn’t actually know if it was the same Atlantis of legend. The residents just called it Atlantis which was hardly proof that it was The Atlantis. In any case, he refused to accept being trapped in his own Land of The Lost and was determined to escape today or die trying.

“Pretty slick contraption there, Mister. What’s with the fans?”

Dobie turned at the edge of the cliff and did a double take. The man in front of him looked exactly like Bob Denver from Gilligan’s Island. A younger version, but the same man right down to the oversized ears and dopey grin. And maybe it was a trick of the light but he looked almost…grey.

“I’m Maynard. What’s your name?” Gilligan’s doppelganger asked.

“I’m Dobie,” he replied, shaking the stranger’s hand.

“Dopey?”

“No, Dobie. My dad named me after his favorite TV show growing up, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis?”

“Huh. Never heard of it,” Maynard said and scratched his head—exactly like Gilligan would have done. Dobie tried desperately not to stare.

“I’ve never actually seen it either. Black and white. Before my time,” Dobie replied faintly. “Listen…you lived here long? Why is this place called Atlantis?”

Maynard pointed at the bike.

“Can I have a go at it?” he asked as if he hadn’t heard Dobie’s questions.

“I suppose, but it doesn’t fly anymore.”

“Fly?! Bikes can’t fly, Mister. You knock your head or somethin’?”

“It’s just been invented. Took it for a test ride and somehow I ended up here. It runs on batteries. But the Lab will be wondering where I am so—”

“What kind of batteries?”

“Dunno. Probably somewhere between a bored housewife’s Hitachi and a car battery,” Dobie joked.

Maynard scrunched his brows and his mouth parted slightly.

“Nevermind,” Dobie said. “Anybody ever tell you, you look exactly like a young Bob Denver?”

Maynard mounted the bike and turned. His face had transformed with a sneer. “It’s short for The Atlantis Project. Your dad traps his favorite things like in a snow globe.”

“My—my dad?”

“So long, sucker!” Maynard shouted as the bike soared off the cliff.

On second thought, Dobie decided…Option C did have a nice ring to it.

The RescuersGuy Anthony De Marco

Guy Anthony De Marco

Breathing heavy, Joseph pumped the pedals of his aerobicycle harder to clear the trees at the top of Rocky Ridge. Virginia followed close behind on his six, staying in formation despite a large flock of crows erupting from the branches in droves.

“We have to hurry, Ginny!” said Joseph. “I can hear the train coming!”

Even though Virginia was riding a doppelganger of Joseph’s aerobicycle, she wasn’t out of breath. She weighed far less than her best friend, and it didn’t take as much energy to keep aloft. “I can hear it too,” she yelled over the props. “We only have a few minutes to derail it!”

The train popped out of the tunnel that cut through the ridge, belching a steam and coal dust cloud so dense that Joseph had to bank hard left to avoid it. Virginia flew straight through, emerging with wide black streaks on her face and clothes.

Joseph almost panicked. “Ginny! I thought you were done for! Drop your grenades in front of the train or we’ll never get your little sister back from those dastardly kidnappers!”

Virginia pedaled harder and tilted the props forward. She reached into the woven plastic basket attached to her handlebars, withdrew a soft and wormy apple, then dropped it. The apple drifted down and impacted the polished brass smokestack, making a big pulpy smoosh while the other half bounced off into the dense bushes alongside the track.

She pulled up hard and circled back to Joseph, who had just landed roughly in a small grassy clearing. Deftly dropping next to him, she pulled a fresher apple from the basket, took a big bite, and said, “Well, so much for Charlotte.”

Joseph burst out laughing so hard, even Virginia had to crack a smile. “Yeah, that’s true. You have to learn to lead more when you drop those grenades. You did better this time.”

“Yeah, but not good enough.” Virginia tossed the apple to her friend, and he took a bite right next to hers. “What evil will we be preventing tomorrow?”

Joseph chewed for a bit, and then grinned. “We’re going to the beach in the morning with my Uncle Scott. I foresee Charlotte getting kidnapped by wicked mermaids from Atlantis!”

“Wicked mermen, you mean. I’m going to be the skipper of that giant submarine from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” She began to pedal, speeding up the propellers while slowly rolling forward. “Let’s see how Atlantis likes a depth charge dropped right in the middle of their town square!”

Joseph spun up his blades, falling behind Virginia’s aerobicycle. “They have an impenetrable dome! It’ll bounce off.”

“No, they don’t! Or better yet, I’ll race you to the barn.” Virginia pushed herself hard, and Joseph fell further behind, huffing and puffing while whining about Atlantis’ pending missing defense.

“Last one there gets to kiss my fictional sister on the lips!” she hollered. “Tongue and everything!”

Virginia laughed as Joseph’s wailing “eeeew, that’s gross” caught up with her.

The Iron Writer Challenge #21 – 2013 Summer Solstice Open Preliminary Round, Virginia Woolf Bracket

Flying Bicycle

The Iron Writer Challenge #21

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open

Preliminary Round

virginia-woolf

Virginia Woolf Bracket

The Authors:

Tony JaegerJim WrightKyle B StiffA. B. Bourne

The Elements:

An Electric Flying Bicycle

A Doppelganger

Atlantis

An obscure Black & White Television Drama/Comedy

Spaceman!A B Bourne

A.B. Bourne c. 2013 all right reserved

Submitted to Iron Writer Summer Solstice 7/7/13

Three minutes.  Charles Lincoln sat on a stool next to the cash register of Carroll’s Shoppe: Antiques, Collectibles and Whimseys.  He tapped the thinning soles of his brogues on the metal legs.

Shortly, Harold Carroll, proprietor in chief, called  “You’re in charge, Charles.  Do take your nose out of that magazine, please.  Inventions and Inventors.  Try ‘initiative’.  That’s what will get you far.”  He left to post letters in the Cotswold village.  This would take 53 minutes.

Charles was decades younger than Harold Carroll, yet aware that he was not the last word in authoritative methods for getting far in life.  Charles had worked for Harold for a number of years, and would for many more.  Dust was gathering on his future like it coated the headboards lined six or seven deep along the back wall of the Shoppe.

But these 53 minutes were his.  Once Charles had sipped tea from a porcelain cup – its dangling paper ticket claimed it had been used by Admiral Horatio Nelson.  In a floor length oval mirror, Charles toasted with his left hand. He hoisted the other across his chest, a medal pinned sideways, not a stump.   The mirror added six inches to his 5’6” frame.  His cinnamon hair looked soaked by ocean spray, not pasted to his forehead from neglect.  Once he spent the entire hour undersea in a diving helmet a Cousteau had used in a search for Atlantis.   In the mirrors, his long nose showed purpose.  His chipped uneven teeth looked earned.

Charles flipped up the edge of a tablecloth, revealing a brown box.  A single brown wire reached to the wall.  Charles pointed the mirrors at the old television.  When he pressed a button, the box sprayed black and white dots.  “Men Into Space” began playing.  Charles kneeled before Ed McCauley as he went to space yet again.  Charles studied the hero’s long nose, and his flattened hair, post-landing.  When he grinned his teeth folded on each other.  Charles crouched beside the screen and faced the mirrors.  In each, the same man looked back. In some he wore black scuffed brogues, but in others, spaceboots.

The doorbell chimed.  Charles ripped the cord out of the wall.  It snapped.  His doppelganger faded into black and white spots.

Harold sighed.  “See you tomorrow, Charles.  Lots to do, lots to do.”

There never, ever was.  Charles hung his head.  He shuffled to the back of the shop where he had tucked his bicycle early that morning.  He backed it into the small courtyard and swung his leg over the seat.  He began pedaling. Then he pushed a button below the handlebars.  Six horizontal wheels began to turn.  The bike lifted into the air, Charles atop it.  He would be home to his stone cottage on the other side of the village in time for tea, and would return to the Shoppe the next morning.

Future CommoditiesKyle B Stiff

Kyle B. Stiff

Niles, majority stock owner of Honkersdotcom, sat on a park bench waiting for delivery of his animated portrait. He couldn’t wait to see what his old friend, the great artist Ishikawa, had created.

Niles thought about other animated portraits made for Ishikawa’s wealthy clients. All were simple, elegant, melancholic, and expensive beyond belief. The CEO of Peacetime Arsenal (and inventor of the militarized electric flying bicycle) owned a tasteful piece that showed him viewing a lush Martian garden. His profile, marked by a sense of contentment, slowly turned away from the viewer before looping. And the power-broker behind Obscurity Inc., makers of cutting-edge, all-new black and white dramas designed to fit seamlessly alongside “actual” older vids, owned a piece that showed her standing in a stark, artfully lit foyer, where she gracefully touched a mirror before the image looped and the viewer was left with a sense of timeless space and curiosity concerning the value of the piece. Niles desperately longed to own a serene image of himself engaged in some inscrutable activity!

Niles saw Ishikawa approach, but his excitement waned when he realized it was only Ishikawa’s doppelganger, a reduced-intellect clone created to run errands for a genetic donor. Niles himself had dozens of doppelgangers finalizing deals all around the globe.

The doppelganger handed Niles his piece, then stared at him. Shaking, Niles took the black tablet and powered it on, heart fluttering at the thought that he would soon witness something so elegant that only a fortune could acquire it.

The portrait showed Niles strapped to a table in a dark, filthy restroom. He saw masked figures adjust a hose trailing upward from his stomach and leading to a glass jar. Someone turned a crank, an engine roared, Niles wailed and strained at his bonds, then his intestines were sucked into the jar with a sickening splat. While more innards collected through the high-pressure hose, spittle flew from his blubbering lips.

Then the image looped.

“This isn’t what I ordered!” Niles shouted at the doppelganger. “There’s nothing elegant about this! It’s revolting!

The doppelganger blinked. “Every client says that. My owner told me that you wanted something that matched your preconceptions. Instead you got something unexpected. But your preconceptions are free, right? If you’re handing over money, why not expect something unexpected? Why not view the image and try to imagine the smell of your insides as they burst forth?”

Niles watched the awful image repeat once again. “Listen, clone. This won’t do. Your owner and I are friends. We used to-”

The doppelganger quickly shook his head. “My owner sold many memories from his younger days to collectors. An artist doesn’t get to live an easy life bloated with happy memories. Not like you do.”

Niles felt himself sinking because he knew he would show the piece to acquaintances and praise its daring statement. They would nod thoughtfully and his real opinion would be lost in a typhoon of stupid chatter. Like Atlantis he would sink and be forgotten. As if on cue the doppelganger smiled.

World of Wonders, Episode SixTony Jaeger

Tony Jaeger 

Ang leapt from the top of the building, cursing as he did. Unconsciously, his grip tightened on the sack holding the stolen God Machine. The world stretched below him, seeming much, much further down than ten stories. More like a hundred stories, which would still kill him, but Ang didn’t like waiting for death.

As he plummeted, he turned his body to face the river, hoping his timing was right. Otherwise, no matter how far he actually fell, the result would be the same. Wind whipped at his hair, threatening to take the Stetson from his head. The sidewalk rushed upward, seeming eager to welcome him.

Nine Atlantis-series fliers sped by beneath him, one of them flaring its fans to stop. Ang smiled. He landed squarely on the seat behind Ang Number Four. The flier whined, its engines straining to compensate for the extra weight.

The flier carrying Ang and Number Four sped forward, easily catching up with the pack. Ang Number Sixteen had retrofitted the gang’s fliers with advanced mech, powering the flying ‘cycles with electric power – an advantage over what the police, with their diesel fliers, would send after them.

Sirens blared in the middle distance, rushing closer. “Speak of the devil and he shall appear, huh, Number Four?”

“Affirmative.”

“Gods above, I can’t wait to get you plugged into the Machine.”

“Affirmative.”

Ang shook his head, smiling. “Well, we’re not home yet. Let’s get there, shall we?”

“Orders received: escape and evade. Evasion pattern Delta.”

The speeders around him tightened into a triangle formation, its point forward and low – the formation optimized the engine output, speeding up the unit. Buildings whipped by, faster and faster. Amazed people stood at windows, mouths agape, watching the formation of seventeen Ang doppelgangers – cyborgs, really – speed by, faster than any fliers they’d ever seen.

“Disperse in 3…2…1… Execute Command.” Ang Number Four said calmly.

Formation broke as the first gunshots cracked. Eight fliers dispersed, some weaving between buildings, some pulling sharply up, and others diving. Angs Three and Eleven spun out, crashed into a building and exploded. Shrapnel from Eleven’s body cut into Ang’s chest, but he only felt pain in his heart.

Bullets whizzed past Ang’s head. Number Four juked and weaved, his movements erratic but precise. Ang looked back, seeing that the police fliers had taken the bait and dispersed, following his doppelgangers. With their cybernetic brains, the other Angs would have no problem ditching them.

A bullet caught the left engine. The flier spun, losing altitude. Ang Four reached back, bracing Ang against the impact on the street. Despite Number Four’s effort, Ang was thrown from his seat and impaled through his belly on a rod from the engine casing broken free.

“Master!”

“Take the God Machine…” Ang gasped, struggled for breath. “Become. . . Human. . . Live.”

“Command Accepted,” Number Four said, and dashed away.

Ang didn’t have to wait long for death. He greeted it with a smile.

The world faded from grays to black. The voice of God said “WORLD OF WONDERS WILL BE RIGHT BACK, AFTER THESE COMMERCIAL MESSAGES.”

He’ll Have To GoJim2013-0216

Jim Wright

Fergus gazed over the coruscating expanse of the Persian Gulf. From his vantage point, high above the Atlantis, Palm Hotel in Dubai, he could take in the marvel of the palm-shaped manmade islands. His face broke into a mad grin as he experienced the exhilaration of flying. Dozens of airplane and helicopter flights paled in comparison to soaring above the glittering landscape on his nuclear powered electric flying bicycle. He knew he’d never wait in security queues or exchange boarding passes for a seat again!

A quick glance at his wrist told him it was time. After months of surreptitious watching, he knew the man’s habits as well as he knew his own. Everyone knows about doppelgangers, but Fergus was shocked when he first saw him. He’d been looking in a shop window at television sets after his died in the middle of a particularly exciting episode of Whirlybirds, an old black and white adventure series. At first he thought it was his reflection staring back at him, but then the man moved quickly out of sight.

Why had he moved so quickly? Was he trying to hide from Fergus? The malignant seed of suspicion was planted and grew as he saw the man every day. Suspicion grew into mistrust, evolving into a plan to get rid of the interloper. He didn’t belong. He had to go. With the idea firmly established he had only to plan the deed.

Fergus landed the bicycle on the roof. Time was passing quickly. He had to get to the beach before the stranger arrived. He watched the sunset every night from the same desolate stretch of rocks. This would be his last one.

 Sitting on the bench a few hundred feet away, the voice of Reason returned. “Why do you want to harm that man? He’s never done one thing to you, Fergus!”

“True, he hasn’t. But he’s up to no good I tell you. Why is he always in the same place as me, looking as much like me as I do myself, even down to the very clothes on his back? Answer me that and I’ll be off quick as a wink!”

The voice of Reason fell silent. “Sure he’s quiet; he didn’t have a leg to stand on, did he? Ah, there comes the devil now. Just let him get settled in his place and I’ll be behind him before he knows it!”

 Fergus reached around furtively and slipped the knife neatly below the rib cage and gave a quick upward thrust, just nicking the aorta. He felt an odd sympathetic pain as the blade did its work. Holding him close, he could feel the man’s life force leaving him. Why was he feeling weak, too? He dropped the limp body to the ground.

“I’ll just have a quick lie down. The heat of the day must’ve gotten to me. Just for a minute. What’s all this wetness on my shirt? I’m sure to be seen on the way home!”

The Iron Writer Challenge #21 – 2013 Summer Solstice Open Preliminary Round, Charlotte Bronte Bracket

Flying Bicycle

The Iron Writer Challenge #21

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open

Preliminary Round

charlotte-bronte

Charlotte Bronte Bracket

The Authors:

Tannis Laidlaw, Steve Harz, Kriss Morton, E. Chris Garrison

The Elements:

An Electric Flying Bicycle

A Doppelganger

Atlantis

An obscure Black & White Television Drama/Comedy

Myths for Kidstannis laidlaw

Tannis Laidlaw

I’m Meredith Harris, a backstage researcher for “Myths for Kids”. Few children in the Western world don’t know our TV series with presenter Marigold Horbay. The two of us share more than initials.

I first saw the teenaged Marigold years ago when she was the cowgirl presenter of Saturday afternoon’s “Horse Opera” featuring black and white, high-drama westerns. As a child, I was glued to our new television and I loved it when my mother said I’d look just like Marigold when I grew into my teens. I wanted to be on television, too.

Marigold eventually became a producer and I, a university professor. My first book, “The Influence of the Perseus Myth on Modern Society” enjoyed modest success. My second, “The Atlantis Myth”, brought me into contact with my childhood heroine once more. Marigold, then a mature research student in search of a project, attended my book launch.

‘My goodness, the presenter of “Horse Opera”,’ I said when she introduced herself.

‘Yikes, I’m surprised you’ve even heard of it much less remember it.’

‘My favourite programme,’ I said, ‘way back when.’

She became serious. ‘Have you thought of examining Hollywood myths from the same perspective as “The Atlantis Myth”?’

An interesting idea, and thus Marigold became my research student.

Years (and several books) later, Marigold wanted to teach critical thinking to children (how to treat evidence, the power of persuasion etc.) through a light-hearted television series about myths and myth-making. Were certain mythological ideas true? What purpose did they serve?

She asked me to be the consultant for the series providing background on all sorts of myths, ancient and modern. For instance, we’re developing several programmes about flight.

Did the Atlanteans, ancient Hindus and other lost races have working flying machines? Detailed drawings of the 5000 year-old Hindu flying Vimanas still exist.

Were those meticulous drawings of medieval cities created by someone way up in the air? It sure looks like it, but maybe a good imagination and superb mathematics provide explanations.

Were the Wright brothers really the first to fly? Or was it a clever myth used to promote their business? If you saw that episode, you’ll know we added in the news about an ET-like prototype electric flying bicycle recently developed – not a myth, but a delightfully goofy idea none-the-less that was pleasingly appropriate given the Wright brothers’ bicycle business.

One final myth I must mention, not because we used it in the series, but because we didn’t. Most children know the myth that everybody has someone just like them – a sort of twin, a doppelganger – somewhere in the universe. Maybe, just maybe, some myths everyone thinks are crazy – or merely childish – are actually genuine…and sometimes childhood dreams come true, too.

Did you see Episode 14 of “Myths for Kids”? The presenter was only on camera for a short time, but did you notice anything different? Well, folks, Marigold had the flu when we filmed that episode.  But I’d wager only the most astute observer of “Myths for Kids” could have spotted it. The presenter wasn’t Marigold. It was her doppelganger.

Me.

Moby MeChrissy Garrison

E. Chris Garrison

As the dirigiwhale soared through the dimensional rift, I knew it was now or never. The bloated sky whale carried a small gondola underneath, which I knew held my doppelganger.

Ever since the accidental tear in space-time had opened, new alternate realities had flashed by daily. Yesterday, it was another me, flying in on a rocket-assisted glider, which I shot down with a modified flare gun. The aluminum canisters on his bandolier read, “anthrax, smallpox, black death”.

The day before, a parachutist catapulted through. Too fast. His chute failed. I found the body wearing my face and an EMP bomb strapped to his chest.

Why am I evil in all the alternate worlds?

I figured this one would be even worse. I’d put together an electric flying bicycle. I thrust a sharp metal strut through my belt to use as a harpoon. Strapped in, I lifted off with a roar, lights flashing all over the machine’s tubular frame, in case my double hadn’t seen me.

The whale changed course, bellowing like a mournful Wookie, aimed straight for me. I spied the other me, leaning out of the gondola. “For Atlantis!” he cried, firing a crossbow.

CLANG!

The bolt lodged in a stabilizer fan. My bike and I leaned far to the right. I toggled off the opposite fan and fought the control stick to right myself. I kicked the throttle all the way up and my bike and I rose up and swooped in close to the dirigiwhale, putting the living gasbag between my twin and me. I could almost see through the skin; sunlight filled the beautiful monster with a warm glow.

Leaden guilt weighed my stomach as I hefted my makeshift harpoon. I couldn’t do it. Instead, I landed my bike on the whale’s back. I crept forward, edged around a blowhole the size of a manhole cover, onto the beast’s nose. Reigns attached by cruel spikes stabbed into the whale’s skin, and I could see the lines go taught as my nemesis tugged to steer it this way and that. I drew my knife and cut each cable in turn.

I slapped the creature’s nose and said, “There now, go home.” I clambered my way back up to my bike.

Now all I had to do was wait.

As though it understood me, the dirigiwhale reversed course and made for the rift.

My knife couldn’t cut the steel bands that held the gondola on, and soon my twin appeared, climbing over the edge. He struggled to gain his feet and reached for his crossbow. I held my harpoon up in threat. He held up his hands.

“Greetings, my identical cousin,” I said.

His look told me they didn’t have Patty Duke in his universe. “Why didn’t you kill me?”

“One of us has to be the good twin,” I said with a smirk.

As we passed through the rift, I set off the EMP bomb, sealing the portal forever.

And you know, Atlantis is pretty damn cool.

In The Smoke

Kriss Mortonkrissnewhair

It had been six months since the first time I had seen the face.  I had been grabbing a smoke on the deck, underneath the porch light as it cast shadows across the snow of the garbage bags that I had not yet taken to the dump.  I had already taken several drags when I first noticed what appeared to be an eye in the smoke. At first I thought it was the trick of the light but as I looked at it sideways I could see it looking off towards the trees by the road. I could make out the rest of the necessary features: nose and pursed lips.  My breath caught in my throat as I staggered backwards, as it lost cohesion and trailed upwards into the wintry air and blowing snow dust. The cigarette fell from my fingers as I turned and ran into the house, locking the door behind me. I sat and watched the door in a deep panic. My husband was watching some odd show about electric flying bicycles, somehow it soothed me to find something even more bizarre than what I had experienced in the smoky shadows. Perhaps watching re-runs of Dark Shadows on Netflix earlier was a mistake. I shook it off and sat down just in time for my husband to switch to a show about the discovery off the coast of Florida which some were claiming to be Atlantis. It would still be a month before I started sneaking a smoke again.

Grabbing a cigarette around 2 AM later that winter I saw the face again.  I had already taken a few drags when I saw my breath begin to shift as though meeting unseen resistance, and with my next full exhale I saw her. My heart started racing, she was so familiar but I could not place from where. The lines of smoke etched grooves of age into what was beginning to form something so real. The discovery of the horrifying unknown caused me to freeze between self-preservation and the most wretched parts of human curiosity. Before I could pin down where I knew her from the face faded away with the smoke, now thinning out into the barest trace of my breath.  Hesitantly I took a deep drag on my cigarette and exhaled. The smoke floating upwards as a single cloud. Her face was gone.

When she appeared the third time it was several months later. In horror, I wanted to flee, to escape the notice of such a thing. That mockery of human visage, an image stretched out over the void it actually presented.  The cigarette fell from my hand onto the snow-covered deck, amber fading out as it flickered and died. The last part of the fog of my breath joined the night sky as I stood rigidly in place in the porch light. Her face, my face, my doppelganger from the future dissipated with the last of my cigarette which lay forgotten at my feet.

Invisible ScarSteve Harz

Steve Harz

The scar on my palm is now almost unnoticeable, except to me.  At a church camp bonfire during a reading of Matthew 5:16 a blond girl in a pink hoodie had a stray smoldering ember attach itself to her hair, igniting and needing to be removed.  A flame began to build and being absent of an extinguisher I grabbed it with my right hand and now every time I write her a love letter I am reminded of how we met.

Years before I had witnessed my own kidnapping, and as with most adoptees there are questions about our arrival into this government-sponsored witness protection program.  The stork didn’t happen and although he had a parachute the landing would have hurt just the same. And delivery by electric flying bicycle or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were considered, but quickly dismissed, since we know that, in actuality, we are no more than broken boomerangs without hope of a return flight.

Childhood days are divided between neighborhood swing sets or swimming pools and the inner mind struggle of mental hide-and-seek and while friends draw sidewalk hopscotch courses and sing its magpie rhyme (one for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a wedding, four for a birth…) we take their chalk and draw outlines of who we might have been.

Evening kitchen table dinners are followed by a family halo surrounding a 1965 Sylvania black and white television tuned to ‘My Three Sons’ or ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ and not watching, but studying, each face to see if we might locate a lost brother or grandfather but all that’s ever discovered is that Chip Douglas is your doppelganger and it would be nice to have Mr. Welk as your grandfather because you’d enjoy learning the accordion.

As we get older we walk slowly, like bags of pennies, across tightropes holding poles that allow us to balance between being team players and wondering why we’re disposable.  And should we fall, as we often wish we would, our hope is that the landing spot is atop our original family tree, but more likely would be the center of Atlantis since we, like that city, are lost (and occasionally searched for).

During adolescence my own search ended with a summer camp bonfire and a girl who doesn’t care about my “don’t ask don’t tell” backstory and is the one person ever who, when told, did not ask the ubiquitous question ‘what was wrong with you?’ for she feels there is nothing wrong with being Plan B and is happy to be part of mine.

The scar has faded and as I write that girl’s daily love letter, with our baby on my lap, I think of the verse from Matthew and the long-ago spark, and that we need to put our light before others for all to see.  We must rise above.  And I do – for her – because if it hadn’t been for the light of her flame I might not be here.