The Iron Writer Challenge #133

The Iron Writer Challenge #133

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Steven L. Bergeron, Richard Russell, Vance Rowe, A. Francis Raymond, Amy Neil

Genre: Sci-Fi

The Elements:

A cabbage field

An empty bird feeder

A lesson to be learned

A letter, from a lottery winner, responding to a request for a huge amount of money

Cash for LifeSteven Bergeron

Steven L. Bergeron

California 2080

Ten million, cash for life, to be transferable upon death.

We parked the hover mobile by the decapitated barn, as we surveyed the crime scene.

Inside the barn was another matter, the grizzly scene surely not for the weak-hearted. One hanging from the rafters, while the other drowning in the water trough. All that mattered now was why.

Exiting the barn, we walked the soil looking for clues. The fields of cabbage were no more. The trees that were once filled Cardinals, now housed birdhouses looking for vacancy .

Our investigation took us to the town mercantile. Anyone into Urban farming needed to get there supplies somewhere.

“Captain Jones what a nice visit. And who might this be?”

“His name is B3250, my new partner. We believe Steve Stewart was in here the other day?”

“He surely was. We were old friends. He was planning on converting the old Stewarts place into an urban farm. We filled his order then he left.”

“ He was found murdered last night along with his wife. Is there anything more you can tell me?”

“My dear, there was that old letter for his grandfather. It’s been sitting behind this counter for over sixty years ago. He seemed to be very worried of its content.”

“If you think of anything else, let us know.”

As we left, a few shawdy customers walked in.

“Hey pop, what did the good captain want?”

“He was asking about the letter I gave Steve Stewart. What have you done now?”

“Relax old man. No loose ends can be tied to us.”

“Relax they were murdered for Christ sake. You promised me no one would get hurt”

“There was a little resistance, but no fear. We got their signature. The minute the lottery association produces the check, the ten million will be ours.”

*****

Weeks had past and our investigation was looking very dim. A peculiar call from the lottery association shed some light into our case. It would appear they received a letter from a descendant of a past cash for life winner. They were requesting the funds to be transferred over to them. The letter was from Steve Stewart, postmarked the day after their death.

We ordered them to proceed with the payment to see who would actually capitalize on it.

We conducted a steak out in the local park were a suitcase was waiting for the taking. It wasn’t long before Jacob Peters the mercantiles son passed by. He picked up the suitcase to be on his way.

“Hold it right there Jacob. Put the case down and hands behind your head?”

He slowly turned around facing me.

“Why Captain what is this all about?”

“Give it up Jacob it’s all over. By retrieving this suitcase it puts you guilty on three counts. Two counts of murdering the Stewarts and one count of defrauding the lottery association”

Life is full of lessons. Here greed and money seemed the root of all that is evil.

What Comes Around May Go AroundA Francis Raymond

A. Francis Raymond

The year was 3128, Earth. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was on the balcony of my apartment along the coast of New Nevada. The sun was setting. I was refilling empty bird feeders – my retirement hobby. More species of birds survived the Great Cabbage Clubroot Super Fungus than any other species and it was an honor to continue to see them thrive.

My ESP must have been dialed down more than I thought, because as I poured the bird seed, a delivery drone surprised me by flying up beside my shoulder. 

“Mr. Plussle?” it said. Once it confirmed my identity, it proceeded to tell me about a long lost piece of mail that had recently been found. The device couldn’t tell me why it had surfaced now, or why it wasn’t delivered to its intended recipient, but after I provided my thumbprint to acknowledge receipt, it was in my hands.

It was address to my 31st Great Grandfather. I carefully opened it the outer envelope, pulled out a piece of paper, and failed to read a single word. The ancient language was only partially related to modern day speak. Computer, I said to the ever-present listening device in my head. Translate, please.

The computer read that my 31st Great Grandfather would receive a requested sum of money. The author of the letter rambled on about looking for the right places to donate and invest his lottery winnings and believed my ancestor to be one of those right people.

Computer, explain ‘lottery.’ Oh, I thought a moment later when I understood. Ridiculous. It’s so good that the Wise Council of 2713 ruled that printed “money” was an abomination and society would no longer have need of it.

My computer translated the rest of the letter. The author wanted to make sure he received regular status on my ancestor’s progress. My ancestor was trying to get people off Earth. He had an idea to start a colony on Mars and needed money to make it happen.

So, who was this guy? That wasn’t intended to activate my computer, but it answered dutifully. I haz data on ancestor. Proceed?

Yes, show me everything.

My computer created a hovering view screen in front of where I sat.

This ancestor lived 200 years before humans were on Mars. He might have been the first if his plan succeeded. Instead, the Cabbage Super Fungus, which happened a mere seven years after the date on this letter, set society back by a hundred years. Computer, can I see a picture of him? The one my computer found showed my ancestor standing ironically in front of a cabbage field.

Well, sheesh, I sat back. Computer? Remember that communique we received the other day? That gentleman who wanted my ESP services as part of his plans for a time travel machine? Respond to him and say yes – and tell him that delivering this letter to my 31st Great Grandfather has to be the first thing he does.

Going on Empty

Amy Neil

The knock at the old screen door startled Myah enough to drop the coffee cup she was drying. It busted into at least six shards next to her feet and drove her to curse under her breath. Before she could stoop to pick up the broken pieces, the knock came again. This time it was more insistent.

“Coming!” She hurried to scoop up the pieces and tossed them into the kitchen trash on her way to the front door. She mumbled something about not having heard a vehicle drive up.

The knock came again. “I said I was coming!” She checked the monitor showing the view of the front porch and was surprised to see a delivery boy. He clutched what looked like one of those old FedEx cardboard envelopes big enough for 8.5×11 paper. Just beyond him a bike was propped against the porch railing.

He knocked a fourth time just as she opened the door. It gave way with a creak. The boy jumped and stepped back. “Sorry, ma’am. Are you Myah Davison?”

“Yes.”

“Please sign here,” said the boy, offering his banged-up tablet.

“I had no idea people sent correspondence this way anymore,” Myah said, handing the signed tablet back to the boy.

“Some do. They have to pay a pretty penny for it, though,” he said handing her the envelope. “Thank you. Have a nice day.”

“Yeah,” Myah said, looking down at the hard envelope in her hand. “You, too.” She waved at him without looking and let the door clack closed behind her.

She turned it over and over in her hand, trying to remember how a person would go about opening one of these things. Finally she spotted the little tab near the top and gave it a tug. She sat down, pulled out the papers, and began to read.

“Dear Ms. Davison,” she read out loud and chuckled. No one had called her “Miss” in decades. She continued reading. “Thank you for reaching out to me for investment opportunities. As you can imagine, my recent status as a lottery winner has garnered a lot of attention. I apologize it took so long to get back to you.” Myah’s heart quickened. Perhaps there was hope yet for her old cabbage farm.

“I really wanted to help you with your farm. I think organic farming in this age of flying cars and interplanetary travel is a lost art, but growing food the old fashioned way is downright inspiring.”

Myah wiped a tear from her eye. She knew there was a “but” coming after having read the word “wanted.” Past tense.

“I was threatened in ways you could never imagine when a certain food manufacturer learned of my intentions. I can’t help you. My advice is to leave well-enough alone. I’m sorry.”

Myah cried and looked out the big window, past the empty bird feeder, to her cabbage field. Tiny green buds were pushing through the dark soil. Without the money, however, there wouldn’t be enough water to keep them growing. Without the cabbage, though, there wouldn’t be enough to keep her going.

Perhaps it was for the best.

Just Around the CornerRichard Russell

Richard Russell

Special Delivery Agent Reginald Dewy pulled into the driveway of a decrepit house in the Old Sector and stepped out of his shiny hover-car.

“Well,” he thought as he looked with disdain around the run-down property, “Looks like nobody’s mowed this grass all year.” Closing the car door, Reggie caught a whiff of old garbage in piles stacked under the carport. He thought, “Why couldn’t they get a virtual signature on-line for this? Nobody sends snail mail anymore!” Opening the ancient screen door, Reggie winced at the grating noise of the rusty spring, but he knocked … and waited. After a minute or so, he knocked again; still no answer. As much as he just wanted to get back into his sterile hover-craft and leave, Reggie decided to step carefully around to the backyard, just in case the homeowner was there. As he let the old screen door go, an explosion reverberated inside the house. Reggie almost fell off the stoop. “What was that noise!?” he said, scrambling to regain his balance. In a near panic, he dialed 911.

Within half an hour, the place was crawling with cops and EMTs. The single, elderly male occupant had apparently committed suicide, using an old-style firearm, while Reggie was standing right there on his porch! Reggie was told to hang around for questioning. To keep out of the way, he took a stroll around the property.

The yard was littered with long-extinct relics; washing machines, rusty bicycles and a few old cars – the kind with wheels. Weeds were growing eight-feet tall up through all the junk, and Reggie was more than a little afraid of what might be lurking in or under some of this stuff. A patch of ground which might have been a garden at one time sat further back from the house. The area was now smothered in weeds, save for a patch of cabbage which looked recently tended. The leaves, however, were ruined by thousands of disgusting worms.

Walking past a long-empty, old bird-feeder, Reggie returned to the house, trying to imagine the sounds of songbirds he had never heard.

The deceased man’s ex-wife had arrived. She was standing next to the medi-copter as they loaded the body. Reggie handed her the letter, sighing, “I guess this goes to you, now. I still need a signature, though.”

The woman signed and opened the letter.

It was a response from some lottery winner to the man’s request for money.

“I am pleased to agree to your request for financial assistance …” She lowered the letter and spoke softly, “He was plain broke; lost his job ten years ago because he had an illness. It was treatable, but he didn’t have the money for the doctors.”

Reggie took the letter back and looked at it, “Wow. What a tragedy. I wonder how many people give up waiting on their miracle right as it’s knocking on their own front door?”

Just then, the fire brigade from the department of Cleansing Renewal arrived to burn the place down.

Reap What You Sow

Vance Rowe

Wehtam was about to go out to his cabbage field on Moon 3, when he heard the siren of the mail transport. He rushed out the door to get to the drop off point. A few weeks ago, Wehtam wrote a letter to someone who had won forty million zarpurs in the intergalactic lottery. Zarpurs, of course, is the currency of the Dorian galaxy. Nervously, Wehtam opened the ail capsule and pulled out three envelopes; one of which was the letter he was waiting for.

He closed up the capsule and rushed into his house to read his mail. The first one he opened was the response letter from the lottery winner. He read it through and suddenly became very excited. He requested some money to pay off the loan on the Moon 3 garden. The lottery winner was very impressed with Wehtam as he explained in the letter to he lottery winner that most of his cabbage from last season went to the homeless shelter on Querto and he didn’t make enough money to pay off his loans. Wehtam heard that the shelter was in dire straits and was not getting enough food so he sent most of last season’s cabbage harvest to them to help out, the best way he could. Then other farmers followed his lead and sent some of their harvest of fruits and vegetables to the shelter as well.

As luck would have it, the lottery winner grew up on Querto and he knew what terrible shape the planet is in. Enclosed in the letter was a check for two hundred thousand zarpurs, which was more than enough to pay off his loan and buy the moon outright. With great excitement, he put the letter with the other pieces of mail he received into the empty birdcage that is siting on the table and sat down to write a letter to the lottery winner thanking him. He then took the check to the bank and deposited it into his account. He then paid off the loans and purchased the moon outright. Now, all of his cabbage will basically be profit, save for the expense of the seeds and equipment upkeep but no expensive loans o pay out anymore.

Then he thought that there is a lesson to be learned here. He is now a definite believer in the old saying of you reap what you sow. He took a risk to help the less fortunate and it paid off in the end for him, tenfold and then some. He also wrote a check to the homeless shelter and it would insure that the shelter would be able to operate for a long time now.

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The Weekend Quickie #118

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and end with… And that’s how you do it, baby.