Stephen King Bracket

2014 Summer Solstice Open The Stephen King Bracket

Stephen King

The Authors:

Tiffany Michelle Brown, Leslie Dras, Neal Sajatovich

The Elements:

Marvel vs DC 2 minion-dave-cutout-375Wx375H

The Avengers vs The Justice League of America

A Minion

The story must be told from the point of view of Death, The Grim Reaper

A Traveling Chamber Pot Salesperson

Downward SpiralNeal Sayatovich

Neal Sayatovich

Can omnipotent beings feel sadness or remorse?

I ask myself as I look at my next victim. A man of thirty years old, might as well be sixty in his case. Living remnants of unused potential and one wrong turn after another. Each mistake leaving its mark on his now leathery flesh.

Such as the tattoo of the yellow animated minion on his left bicep. Rather than study, he drank alcohol and watched animated movies until bad ideas fused with the good ones. Then, there is the scar on his right cheek from the knife fight over a cheating woman. And the pacemaker in his tattered heart from overuse of energy drinks.

It’s kind of ironic to see his past hanging neatly behind him. While he is stoned on the couch his art tells a different story. Pictures of comic book heroes in bright colors line the wall above his dust covered art desk. His best work, the one of the Avengers battling the Justice League, is framed with his asking price of two hundred dollars still hanging from the light wood.

Everything is this way because of the white powder lines neatly forming on his coffee table. While many chalk this up to the curse of the artist, this is not one of those cases. Just a happy artist with a bad friend and within an instant everything around him turns upside down. Marijuana turns to LSD which leads to cocaine and crack.

The jobs he uses to gain money for the drugs is saddening. The talented artist is reduced to a traveling chamber pot and medieval antiques salesman by day and house burglar by night so he can secure his fix. He continues to use because, in his mind, he is a better artist high. The doodle on his table contradicts that, unless the drawing belongs to a five year old child.

I observe a woman walk inside, of course he is too high to lock the door, and start yelling at him. Apparently she is pregnant with his kid and she is yelling about him not using protection. In her rage she is oblivious to his glazed eyes, unaware nothing she says is registering in his brain. She grabs a beer from his fridge and leaves, slamming the door behind her.

Now I will stop mourning the loss of another young soul. I tighten the grip on my scythe and walk in front of the comatose body on the burnt maroon couch. I look deep into his eyes and realize he died years before I came here.

No Ice CreamTiffany Michelle Brown

Tiffany Michelle Brown

I hope this bumbling tiddletwat can carry out my directives. His beady eyes and overeager disposition worry me. They remind me of a lap dog, always wanting to please, always wanting a belly rub—but never earning it. And the irony that I’ve been granted agency through a being the color of sunshine is not lost on me. Whoever arranged to have this thing bound to me is probably laughing right now.

They’ll be next.

My underling waddles down the hospital corridor, and I fear the mission is over before it begins. He’s certainly conspicuous; each pathetic step sounds like slushy snow. Thank God for the beep of heart monitors and the thrum of medical equipment.

I gave him explicit instructions. Enter the west wing of the hospital. Find Captain America’s recovery room. Hide behind the crash cart until the nurse goes on her smoke break. Shoot the superhero in the heart with a fire arrow. Be seen by no one.

It seems simple enough to me. I promised the lap dog ice cream afterward. I never had to incent Brutus. Why did he have to retire?

The yellow thing lingers in a doorway. He takes a piece of paper out of his overalls and stares at it, then looks up at the room number. He’s arrived.

Inside lies Captain America—or at least a battered shell of the superhero anyway. He has a punctured lung, broken ribs, and a severe concussion. He wasn’t supposed to survive the idiotic battle earlier in the evening. A clash with the Justice League. The years of competition, trying to prove this or that superhero clan was superior, the compensation—culminated in a battle of egos and axes. Pathetic.

My proxy turns around and gives me a thumbs up. I roll my eyes. Get to it already.

A doctor turns the corner. My minion scurries across the hall. He hides behind the crash cart and huddles in a ball—as if this will render him invisible.

The doctor approaches the nurse’s station. The redhead there smiles, bites her lip, and then follows him down the hall. Looks like she’s replaced one addiction with another.

The minion stands and steadies himself. He produces a bow and arrow from his overalls. He loads the arrow and pulls the bowstring back, closing his eyes with the effort.

A man in a brown tweed suit rounds the corner and heads toward the nurse’s station. He’s carrying a chamber pot, a fancy one made of platinum. Under his arm is a folder of order forms. This salesman clearly doesn’t know his market. Here, the piss pots are old and plastic.

Two steps later, the salesman clutches his chest, feeling like a fire has ignited within him. Humans call it a heart attack. He crumples to the floor. The clatter of the chamber pot echoes down the hallway.

The minion gazes up at me stupidly, then pantomimes what went wrong, squeezing his eyes shut to show how much effort it took to pull the bowstring taut.

I have three words for him. “No ice cream.”

The Beginning of the EndLeslie Dras

Leslie Dras

Humans have vivid imaginations. Most believe I can see the future but that isn’t true. I do get a tingling before something big is going to go down. And the tingling came that night about dusk. The Avengers had challenged the Justice League of America to another pool tournament. They are a determined bunch but they have never won a tournament against the JLA.

The call came in about midnight. The Peacekeepers had arrived in the U.S. and started their house to house searches. Terrorizing men, women, and children, demanding they hand over guns and valuables. The few who stood up against the Elite were being slaughtered. And those who thought it best to stay quiet and go with the flow; they are being murdered alongside them. Whole families are gone in the blink of an eye. And those not murdered are being hauled off to FEMA camps. Evil prevails over good because the majorities of good men don’t speak up and act. Instead, they value a false sense of peace and comfort.

Fighting against the Peacekeepers was something the JLA and Avenger had hoped they would never have to do. But now, they had no choice. This looked like the beginning of the end, and they had to help the people. The plan for this situation had been finalized years before. The only way to win was to draw the Peacekeepers away from the people. The desert land in the west was where they would make their stand. The West is filled with missiles but Iron Man and his little minion would handle them, leaving the other superheroes free to fight closer to the ground.

Many humans perceive me as an evil spirit but I am neither good nor bad, I am neutral. I have worked mass deaths in America before. The last being when millions of Native Americans were slaughtered by greedy, ignorant hate mongers who longed for total control so they could rape the land of all her treasures. And so things never really change. History has been repeating itself since the beginning.

The war waged on throughout the night into the next day. The JLA and Avengers brought the majority of the fight west into the desert, as was the plan, leaving the U.S. citizens to fight the smaller battles. Millions of lives lost and millions are now confined in FEMA camps. The war is far from over. The peacekeepers are stifled but not gone. Evil is patient, it always regroups and strikes again. Life in America will never be the same. At best, America will revert back to the time of the traveling chamber pot salesman. Without a doubt, disease and starvation will begin taking hold soon.

I have watched this same scenario time and time again. Surely, time will end soon, but I don’t know when. I am neither good nor evil. But even I can see this constant repetition needs to end.

Challenge 71 – The 2014 Summer Solstice Open Preliminary Round

The Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open Preliminary Round

Challenge 71

The Summer Open is a quarterly challenge consisting of champions of the ten previous challenges plus six additional authors who popular vote totals merits an invitation. The sixteen writers will be bracketed. The champion of each bracket will participate in the Summer Finals on July 17, 2014

The Brackets:

Stephen King

Anne Rice

James Patterson

Dean Koontz

The Elements:

Marvel vs DC 2

minion-dave-cutout-375Wx375H

The Avengers vs The Justice League of America

A Minion

The story must be told from the point of view of Death, the Grim Reaper

A Traveling Chamber Pot Salesperson

The Authors:

Jordan Bell, Danielle Lee Zwissler, M. D. Pitman,

Tiffany Michelle Brown, Mathew W. Weaver, Lisa Reynolds,

DL Mackenzie, Leslie VanNess, Suzann Smith,

Dani Caile, Neal Sajatovich,  Jennifer Smythe

Note: Four authors withdrew

Stories are now posted in the respective brackets.

Please click on the bracket links above and vote for the story of your choice.

Thanks! 

 

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!”