The Iron Writer Challenge #151 – 2016 Winter Equinox Preliminary Round

April fool's joke

The Iron Writer Challenge #151

2016 Winter Equinox Preliminary Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Elements:

An April Fools Joke

Energy drinks

Yellow highlighter

The basement

The Brackets:

Citizen Kane Bracket

Richard Russell

Dwight Wade

Zac Moran

Vance Rowe

Steven L. Bergeron

Fahrenheit 451 Bracket

Tina Biscuit

Laura Roberts

Wesley Kirk

Harry Craft

Moby Dick Bracket

Alis VanDoorn

Dani J. Caile

Daniel J. Sanz

Danielle Lee Zwissler

To read and vote on the stories, please click on the name of the bracket.



The Iron Writer Challenge #151 – 2016 Winter Equinox Preliminary Round, Citizen Kane Bracket

April fool's joke

The Iron Writer Challenge #151

2016 Winter Equinox Preliminary Round

Citizen Kane Bracket

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Elements:

An April Fools Joke

Energy drinks

Yellow highlighter

The basement

The Authors:

Richard Russell

Dwight Wade

Zac Moran

Vance Rowe

Steven L. Bergeron

Just Foolin’  Richard Russell

Richard Russell 

Holding the monoscope to his eye, Billy complained, “I don’t see a chimp!”

Robert grabbed the scope back and laughed hysterically, “HA! Maybe not, but I see a chump!”

Billy wasn’t impressed. “You’re weird, Robert.”  

Ignoring the black, sooty ring around Billy’s eye, Rob quickly turned serious.

“Hey, Billy, did you know that if you soak the absorbent pads from yellow highlighters in buttermilk they make a kick-ass energy drink?”


“Oh yeah. I made some the other day and was awake all night! I got all KINDS of stuff done.”

Billy was fascinated. “So, how did you do that, Robert?

Knowing he had Billy hooked, Rob continued, “Well, you cut the highlighter open with a utility knife and pull out the pad. It takes about, oh, ten or fifteen pads to a quart of buttermilk. Ya just soak ’em in buttermilk for an hour or so; maybe squeeze ’em a bit.”

“Is that plain buttermilk, or low-fat?”

“Jiminy Cricket, Billy, that don’t matter!”

Rob smirked at Billy’s gullibility as he thought, “April first was made for people like him!”

He slapped Billy on the back, saying “Hey, I gotta skedaddle, Bill. See ya around.”

Later that night, Robert was out walking through the neighborhood when he spotted an ambulance outside Billy’s house. Going closer, he could hear Billy’s sister in hysterics as she roamed from room to room. Billy’s father was talking to a police officer, and his mom was standing next to a gurney weeping as two paramedics administered CPR to Billy.

Rob was shocked.

“What happened, Mrs Hanson?”

Sobbing and barely able to speak, Mrs. Hanson somehow managed to tell how she found Billy in the basement amidst several disassembled highlighters and an empty bottle of buttermilk.

Realizing he was to blame for this tragedy, Robert came unglued. “NO! This can’t be happening! I mean, highlighters are supposed to be non-toxic! How could this happen? I didn’t know! How could I have known?!” He began to weep, too.

As the paramedics pulled the cover over Billy’s dead body, Robert crumpled against the gurney and wept bitterly. After about five minutes of Rob’s heart-wrenching remorse, the paramedics pulled him away from the gurney to load it into the ambulance. Rob surged forward and pleaded, “Let me look at him one last time.” Relenting, a paramedic stepped back, allowing Robert to gently fold the sheet back from Billy’s face. There in the midst of his placid expression of infinite serenity were the scars of Robert’s cruelty; Billy’s black-ringed eye, and his yellow-stained mouth.

Robert came unglued, “Billy! Oh Billy, I’m so sorry for taking advantage of you and treating you like a fool! I didn’t mean any harm! I didn’t know this would happen. Oh, Billy, I swear I’ll never pull another practical joke on anyone ever again.”

“Really?” Billy’s voice inquired.

Rob jumped back about five feet from the gurney in surprise.

Billy sat up and smiled. “Gotcha!”

At that, everyone at the scene burst out in hysterical laughter.

Three Men and a BasementDwight Wade

Dwight Wade

Cool, dank air filled the basement. Bill was slumped in the corner, unmoving.

“Hand me the highlighter,” Jason whispered, extending his hand behind his back.

The third man slid the yellow marker into Jason’s palm. “Is he out?”

“Yeah Chuck, he’s long gone.” Jason could barely suppress a laugh as he spoke.

Bill rolled to one side, taking in an enormous, snort filled gasp of air. The other men jumped back, Chuck stumbling slightly over a box of magazines. Deep, wet, retching sounds escaped Bill’s throat, followed closely by a gush of vomit that splashed against the concrete floor.

“Maybe we should move him,” Chuck said, his voice tilting slightly into an almost question.

“Yeah, good idea.” Jason grabbed Bill’s ankles, pulled him away from the wall, away from the pool of foul liquid. “Grab that blanket.”

Chuck quickly returned with a pink and yellow afghan. It smelled of mothballs and mold. Chuck raised Bill’s head from the floor, sliding the ancient linen under the unconscious man’s head. Jason spent the next few seconds drawing something on Bill’s forehead and cheeks. As he pulled away Chuck noticed the frown on his companion’s face.

“What’s the matter Jason?”

“Yellow highlighter, can’t hardly see what I drew.”

Chuck looked down at the unconscious man’s face. From four feet away he could barely see any of what Jason had drawn.

“Oh well,” Jason shrugged. “Still gonna be funny as hell when he wakes up down here.”

Chuck smiled. “Yeah, that’s one heck of an April Fool’s joke, slipping all that extra Jager into his Red Bull.”

Jason laughed. “Yeah, that lightweight didn’t know what hit him! Let’s finish up.”

The two men spent the next several minutes cleaning up the mess Bill had made on the floor. They then arranged various items from the basement around their unconscious friend. When they were finished the menagerie of collectibles; a three foot tall stuff bunny, four porcelain dolls, multiple handfuls of Beanie Babies and other assorted items surrounded Bill, created a surreal audience for Bill’s alcohol fueled nap.

Jason and Chuck stepped back to admire their work. They pulled phones from their pockets, taking multiple pictures from multiple angles, uploading them to multiple social media sites with the requisites tags and captions.

Jason smiled and turned to Chuck. “That ought to do it. When’s his wife get home?”

“Eight o’clock or so. It’s four now so we’re clear by four hours or so.”

Jason nodded and headed for the stairs. He laughed at his handiwork as he climbed the flight. He twisted the knob at the top, or tried to.


“Yeah,” Chuck replied. I locked it when we came down in case she got home early.”

“It had a lock twist on the other side?” Jason asked.

“Yeah, turned it when I shut the door.”

“You have the key right?” Jason asked.

There was silence for several seconds more than Jason would have liked.

“There’s a key?”

I’m Not Sorry

Zac Moran

“It’s not your fault. I’m sorry,” he wrote with the fading yellow ink of a dying highlighter.

Jack stood in the middle of the entertainment room, which used to be the basement. Electronics and tabletop games were everywhere. The trashcan was overflowing with empty energy drink cans from his kids and their friends.

He left the note and his plain gold ring on the table before grabbing his car keys and heading outside. The warm sun hit his skin and a breeze floating through the air.

It wasn’t long before he pulled up to a heavily wooded park.

He wandered through the trees until he came to a weather-worn bench next to a creek. He sat down and listened to the flowing water and the small forest animals scurry amongst the trees.

“Hello there,” said someone behind jack, “mind if I join you?”

“Sure,” replied Jack.

An older man eased himself onto the bench next to Jack and sighed,

“This is my favorite spot in the whole park,” he said.

“Same here,” said Jack.

The two made small talk for a bit before silence fell between them.

“Ya know,” said the elderly man, “I think this is my favorite place because I feel closer to my wife here than anywhere else.”

“Why is that?” asked Jack.

“This is the last place she was alive. Ya know, she didn’t say goodbye? I mean, she said goodbye in the note she left behind, but that’s not the same. I always wonder if there’s anything I could’ve done.”

“I’m sure it had nothing to do with you.”

“She said it wasn’t my fault in her note, though I still can’t help but wonder. To this day, I hope she’ll pop out somewhere and say, ‘April Fools!’ She loved April Fool jokes.”

Silence fell again. After a while, Jack looked over at the other side of the bench, but the man was gone. His gaze returned to the brook for a moment before he got up and made his way back to his car.

Jack drove around the outskirts of town for a couple hours until he came to a bridge. He pulled over and walked out the bridge’s railing, gripping it so hard that his knuckles turned white. His eyes locked onto the river raging beneath him.

He reached into his coat and pulled out a small revolver. His gaze went skyward and his eyes searched the heavens.

“I miss you. So much. How can I keep doing this without you?”

His eyes clenched shut and his breath stuttered when he exhaled.

He inhaled deeply, cocked his arm back, and threw the revolver. It shot through the air and vanished beneath the white foam of the river below.

Jack slid back into his car and sat still for a moment. He filled his lungs and closed his eyes. His lip started to tremble. He slammed his fist into the passenger seat and bit his lip.

“I won’t be sorry today.”

With a shaking hand, he fit the key into the ignition and drove away.

The Joke

Vance Rowe

“You know you are drinking bull semen, right?” Tom said to his friend.

The friend suddenly spat the energy drink from his mouth and asked, “What?”

“Bull semen. You didn’t know one of the ingredients of that energy drink is bull semen?”

“No,” the young man replied as he scanned the contents of the can.

After carefully reading them, he said, “There is nothing on here about bull semen.”

“Well, it’s not going to say bull semen, it will say something like hydrogenized caribeener.”

“Hydrogenized caribeener? What the hell is that?”

“It’s nothing. Just a name I made up that reads like an ingredient.”

“There is no bull semen in here.” He replied, still reading the can.

“Keep on drinking it and then when you have an urge to make love to a cow, you call me and tell me there is no bull semen in there.”

“Come on. You can’t be serious.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I can’t be serious.”

Finally, the other friend tossed the rest of the drink into a trash can.


“Wait…what? Today isn’t April Fool’s Day. It’s a couple of days off yet.”

“True, but if I told you that on April Fool’s Day, you wouldn’t have believed me.”

“You’re a dink Tom, you know that?”

When they arrived at the “prankster’s” house, they went down into the basement to play some video games, but on the wall was a piece of paper and written in yellow highlighter:



The two friends were shocked when they read this and Tom is a little scared.

“Tom, I told you those pranks were going to be the death of you and now you have someone after you.”

“Well, I just won’t leave the house until after April Fool’s Day.”

“Tom, whomever it was, walked into your basement to write this. You don’t think the killer will do the same thing to kill you? I am outta here. I don’t want to become a casualty.”

The friend hurried from the house and when he was out of sight, he called another friend and said, “Thanks for doing that for me, Jim. Hopefully, this will teach him a lesson.”

For the next two days, Tom worried about being killed. Finally, the day arrived, and a few minutes before the day ended at midnight, Tom heard the cellar door creak open. Scared, Tom pulled a hand gun from under the couch as the masked man appeared in front of him and said, “It’s time for you to die.”

Without a word, Tom raised the pistol and fired it at the man. Tom pulled the man’s mask off to reveal his friend and with his last dying breath, the friend said, “April…Fool’s…Tom. B-Boy, …I…really…got…you…this…time. You should see the look on your face.”

“Yeah, you damned idiot, you got me.”

With a smile on his face, the friend closed his eyes and the last of breath of air escaped from his body.

With tears in his eyes, Tom said, “You really got me with this one.”

Sleep TightSteven Bergeron

Steven L Bergeron

The ground level to Herb Overkill lair was like any other basement dark and creepy. That didn’t bother Stuart Minion one bit. It gave Tim Minion the hives.

“Come on Stuart, let’s just grab Kevin and get our asses out of here?”

“Relax Tim, This is going to require a little patience and ingenuity to pull this off. Besides this is sure to make our enemy go nuts”

Stuart want ahead to extinguish his plan. Herb Overkill was never too fond of practice joke. This night was to drive him crazy. Stuart had replaced his Red bull as well as taken care of Kevin. They want to the closet to await their visitors. They finally arrived.

“Well my little green monster tomorrow shall be first day of the rest of our life. If everything goes to plan all your little friends shall be under my spell. Go fletch me a Red Bull I need all the energy I can get to full fill my evil plan to take over your miserable world.”

Stuart looked at his watch to calculate how long his Red Bull concoction would take into effect. Five minutes had passed when they heard a thunderous boom. They opened the closet door a bit only to see Herbs body lying down flat, and Kevin panicking as usual. Kevin looked in the direction of the closet door only to find a parade of Yellow highlighters stricking him on his noggin knocking himself over. Before he regained his footing he was bagged and brought to safety.

“Where on earth did you get that?”

“It’s simply another one of my many weapons. It sure did come in handy.”Stuart replied as they made their way back to their hideout.

It was now April 1 and Stuart Minion swore he could hear every little creature in their home land of Antartica laughing their heads off at the plan that Herb Overkill had fell for.


Meanwhile in Westminster Abbey the sun was so brilliant it could wake up anyone from a deep sleep. Herb Overkill woke up fresh with no recollection of what the minions had put him through. He glanced to find his little green monster was still asleep.

Herb had been up for hours now, and ready to complete his plan to make all of Kevin’s little friend part of his army. He waited patiently for Kevin’s arrival, they needed to put on end to the little minions that alluded him for the last time. His patience finally got the best of him.

“How can anyone sleep in a time like this? Kevin you get your sorry ass in here this once?” Finally after no response he decided the only way to wake him up was a good shaking. It was them that he discovered his monster was no more than a stuffed doll.

He suddenly realized it was April 1 there was only one solution to what had transpired.

“ Damn you minions all to hell! This is not over you shall all feel the wrath of an Overkill.”

#TIWC member, please vote here.

The Iron Writer Challenge #151 – 2016 Winter Equinox Preliminary Round, Fahrenheit 451 Bracket

April fool's joke

The Iron Writer Challenge #151

2016 Winter Equinox Preliminary Round

Fahrenheit 451 Bracket

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Elements:

An April Fools Joke

Energy drinks

Yellow highlighter

The basement

The Authors:

Tina Biscuit

Laura Roberts

Wesley Kirk

Harry Craft

Quite Contrary

Tina Biscuit 

Mary woke up alone in bed. Peter was never first up. She stroked a hand across the space where he would usually be, as if he might magically appear. She looked at her mobile; the alarm was switched off. Then it dawned on her: April fool’s day – Peter must have turned it off as a joke. It was Saturday, and she was exhausted; maybe he was being considerate, knowing it had been a tough week, with the court case and everything. No, he would probably have been up early, preparing an April fool’s joke to catch her out again. She shuddered at the memories. 

Mary pulled her dressing gown from the hook on the door, hesitating as the door moved. No, people didn’t really do that bucket of water thing. Entering the bathroom, she remembered the trick with the cling-film, and checked under the toilet seat – now that was a messy trick. 

Downstairs, the kitchen was deserted. Everything was laid out like a suburban Marie Celeste: toast in the rack, tea in the pot, two cups, but no Peter. The morning newspaper was open at the centre pages. As she poured the tea, she noticed some yellow marks on the type. Closer inspection revealed a highlighter pen had been used to mark certain letters. Slowly she worked it out.

‘How lame, Peter’, she said under her breath. It spelt out the words: STUCK IN BASEMENT. She dialled his mobile and got the answerphone; she left a message – ‘Nice try, Peter. How can you be, if you were up here?’ Then something struck her, and she rang again. She walked into the hall, where the ringing was coming from. The trapdoor to the basement was half open; she pulled it up, and climbed down the steps. Peter was standing at the bottom. He pointed back up to the trapdoor, and shouted, ‘get the door’. It slammed shut, and they heard the catch lock on the other side. 

‘Now we’re both stuck’, he sobbed.

‘How long have you been here, Peter?’


‘Why did you leave a note, and then come down here? It doesn’t make any sense.’

‘I thought you had left that message, and I came down looking for you.’

‘Well, that was smart, Peter. You knew I was still in bed, because you turned the alarm off on my phone.’

‘I wasn’t feeling too clever after all that Vodka and Red Bull we drank last night. And I don’t know anything about your phone.’

‘This isn’t right, Peter. You think it’s one of the kids?’

‘Wouldn’t surprise me. They have learnt from the master.’

‘Yeah, you’re some father, tormenting your kids all their lives.’

‘I’ll phone them now. That’s probably Jonathan we heard closing the trapdoor.’ 


‘It’s your dad. Let us out of the basement. Your mum’s panicking, she’s got claustrophobia.’ 

‘What did he say, Peter?’

‘Just, “Good one, dad”, then he hung up.’

‘Phone him back.’

‘No answer. I guess I’ve cried wolf too many times.’ 

‘Say the words, Peter.’

‘It’s not a joke. It would be a good one, but no, nothing to do with me.’ 

‘So – who’s upstairs?’ 

One for the AgesWes Kirk

Wesley Kirk

This year my April Fools’ prank would be a joke for the ages. Some may call it obsessive, with notebooks full of scribbles, diagrams, and yellow highlighter markings.

I called it brilliance. “Evil genius going to waste on cheap gag”? There was nothing ‘cheap’ here.

While the plan had been birthed over a weekend of too little sleep and too much mountain dew, the real planning took place in my lair. Yes, it’s the basement of my parents’. But that’s not nearly as impressive when you say it that way.

I gathered the supplies over the course of months. One here. Another there. All of which were stored in a corner of the basement that not even our fat cats would traverse.

After I was certain that everyone had gone to bed, I crept down to the kitchen and began plan “Roadrunner.”

This year April Fools’ fell on a Friday. Fridays happen to be the day my mother’s class hold parties celebrating the week’s successes. After taking a test, the students get a long break, were they partake in a variety of snacks provided by volunteers. I volunteered this week.

I spent all night making cupcakes. By time the rest of my family was waking up, I had an army of ninety-six minions arrayed in their cases.

My mother cooed over the detail I put into each one. She swore she expected them to hop out and scream, “Bananna!” any second. I helped her load the car, and waved her off before heading to the bus.

I hurried to my mom’s class after school. From the hallway I could see the kids already in full celebration. All of them had hands and faces covered in yellow frosting.

The fun hadn’t started yet.

Things escalated quickly. One kid face planted and went straight into a coma. Another kid fell down to his knees like that lieutenant from Platoon. Again, completely out. I surmised these two were my mother’s ADHD children. Stimulants react differently with them.

Energy drinks are nearly pure sugar, they also contain massive amounts of caffeine. Plus, I concentrated it into a syrup before using it to make the cupcakes.

Simultaneously, the kids started losing their minds. So did my mother.

A couple kids started running around like the flash, and I’m quite certain one of them broke the sound barrier. Another kid went feral and climbed a bookcase. Perching on top, he started hissing and swiping at my mom, like a cat, as she tried to get him down.

Beyond the swarm of bees that used to be her sweet little kindergarteners, there was another of note. This one apparently reached Nirvana.

He sat there, looking around slowly, with an open mouthed smile, as he slowly waved his hand in front of his eyes.

The kid got to relive the seventies through syruped caffeine laced cupcakes.

Now I’m sitting here in the police station, while the police flip through pages for anything they can charge me with while Nirvana kid preaches from the chief’s desk and cat boy is hissing at everyone from the top of the bookcase.

Admittedly, mistakes were made.

WorkingHarry Craft

Harry Craft

Jack woke up, head throbbing. What a night! he thought. Another out-of-control college party—too much loud music, too much booze, too much everything. Rising slowly to a sitting position on the couch, he looked around his small studio apartment. Things were a mess, but he’d seen worse. At least no one else was passed out in his room. That always sucked, especially if it was people you didn’t know.

As he rubbed his head he noticed an uncapped yellow highlighter on the coffee table. Odd. Glancing around the room, he saw why—there was a large pattern in yellow on his floor. His vision was still a bit blurry, so he couldn’t quite make it out—some kind of star? And what were those at the points? Cans? He stood up a bit unsteadily and walked over to the nearest one. It was an energy drink can, and judging from the soggy spot on the rug, it had been poured out. The hell?!

As he collected the cans to drop them in the recycle bin, he could vaguely remember his friend Sam last night doing…now what was it? It had been late, Jack had long ago lost count of his drinks, most of the party-goers had drifted out, and Sam was going on about offerings and work—no, a working. What the hell did that mean? Jack had always thought Sam was a bit weird. Certain times of year brought it out more than others, to boot. This brought a thought to the back of his mind, but he could not quite grasp it.

As Jack stumbled back to the couch, the hair on the back of his neck began to prickle. Was someone else there after all? He looked around and cautiously drifted to every corner of the studio. Since it was in the basement, the only way in was down the stairs, and the door at the base of the stairwell was closed. He walked back to the center of the room and stood by his couch. Suddenly a grisly voice that emanated from—well, from everywhere and nowhere—spoke.

“Mortal!” it boomed.

Jack actually jumped slightly. Looking to one side, he saw a shimmer begin in the air. A cold fear descended on him, but he could not uproot his feet as he stared in horrified fascination. The shimmer condensed into a loathsome being with blood-red skin, horns, and pointed teeth. A demon. Its body was fully formed now and it stepped toward him, once more speaking: “Mortal!”

Jack’s legs finally obeyed and he turned to run. He was not fast enough—the demon easily leaped nearly eight feet, landing in front of him. Mere inches away, it stared at him. Jack cringed, holding up his hands, unable to speak from the terror.

“IT IS TIME!” the demon said in a voice even louder than before.

“Time for what?” sobbed Jack.

The demon paused for a moment, then grinning, spoke a final time: “APRIL FOOL!”

Pretty Girls Make GravesLaura Roberts

Laura Roberts

Gonzo Jofreshy bopped his way down the street like he had nothing to lose, whistling tunelessly, fingers a-snappin’ like he’d just won the lottery.

In a way, he’d hit the jackpot this morning, as he’d stood in front of the judge.

“Not guilty,” she’d declared.

There had been a lot of hugging, and some crying — but not from Gonzo. His lawyer had ushered him out into a Cadillac with dark windows, quickly, before the media vultures could descend.

Now his fingertips pressed lightly on a heavy oak door, easily pushing it inward and stepping into the afternoon gloom of an Irish pub.

“What’ll ya have?” the no-nonsense bartender asked. He either didn’t recognize Gonzo, or was doing a fine job of pretending. Either way suited him fine.

“Vodka and Red Bull,” he replied.

“We don’t serve that garbage in here,” the bartender growled.

“I’ve got it, Connor,” a buxom brunette purred, slipping behind the bar toward the Grey Goose.

Connor shoved off, grumbling, as he wiped the bar with a filthy rag.

“Compliments of the house.” The brunette smiled, setting the drink before him.

He remembered the way she watched him down the short glass, later, when he came to in the basement with a yellow highlighter strapped between his teeth like a gag.

He remembered the spinning feeling in his head, and his stomach.

He remembered the way she’d winked.

What he couldn’t remember was how she’d managed to slip something into his drink. After all, a pro ought to notice these things. And he was certainly a pro at these things, by now, wasn’t he?

“So, Gonzo, we heard you got off easy,” a deep male voice behind him rumbled, like a big rig firing up for a long haul.

“We don’t like easy, do we?” a female voice queried, this one equally rough, like the pit of a limestone quarry.

“Easy like Sunday morning, maybe,” the male voice countered. “But you ain’t exactly Lionel Ritchie, are you, then?”

“What the hell do you want?” Gonzo wanted to shout into the darkness, but the yellow highlighter prevented him. Somewhere, something was dripping ice-cold water, one drop at a time, onto the back of his neck. He shuddered instead.

“We warned you,” the female voice said, sharp as a razor blade. “Did you think this was just another one of our little jokes?”

“It *is* the first of April, dearie,” the male voice said. “Just to play devil’s advocate.”

“He already had one of those at the trial,” the female voice barks. “Not guilty my backside! He won’t get away with it this time.”

Gonzo’s brain strained for an explanation, groped for the name of the woman he was hearing behind his back. Somewhere in the mushy recesses of his brain, he caught snatches of familiar faces, darker places. He remembered his hands on her throat. He remembered squeezing. He remembered her legs kicking, and the smile he wore creeping wider as he squeezed tighter.

When the bucket of ice water drenched him, he howled for mercy. And the only two people on earth that could hear him simply laughed ’til their sides ached.

#TIWC member, please vote here.