The Iron Writer Challenge #129 – 2015 Autumn Equinox Open, Homer Bracket

The Iron Writer Challenge #129

The 2015 Autumn Equinox Challenge

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Homer Bracket


The Authors:

Dani J. Caile, Moria McArthur, E. Chris Garrison, Bill Prins

The Elements:


A worldwide holiday celebrating a fictional character ( you must name the character)

Testing the first bullet-proof vest

The first mosquito of the season

Pancake batter

Miramar AwaitsBill Prins

Bill Prins

Susan recognized Cal waiting for her by the plane in the predawn darkness.

“Pleased to meet you,” said Cal. “Thanks for joining our adventure on Snoopy.”

“The pleasure’s mine,” said Susan. “This is somewhat different than the Sky Harbor I’m used to.”

“We’ll be ready to go at sunrise, in about, oh, ten minutes,” said Cal, looking at his watch.

“Can I ask you a few quest…?” Susan was checked by a look from Cal.

“There’ll be time for questions once we’re in the air,” said Cal. “Time to go aboard.”

Cal helped Susan climb the fold-down steps and through the ridiculously narrow side door. In the dark interior she stumbled onto a sleeping figure and recoiled.

“Don’t mind him,” said Cal behind her. “Through the door on the right, then sit on the right.”

In minutes they were stowed and strapped-in, the sun rising over Lake Superior. Susan realized the plane was painted a bright yellow, and the cockpit had that new car smell. Propellers turned and the plane vibrated as the engines came to life, first the left, then the right. She watched Cal turn knobs and flick switches while talking over his headset, his eyes and hands synched with the dialog.

“Thank you, tower,” said Cal. “We’re rolling.”

As the plane started Cal’s left hand went to his headset, and he turned to her, smiling.


She didn’t answer; the plane rolled faster and faster with their shadow stretched out before them; Cal pulled back the yoke and they lifted smoothly into the air.

“You can ask me a question now,” said Cal, after several minutes.

“Well,” Susan collected herself, “GA Magazine would like to know what inspired Lazarus Duke to recreate World War Two aircraft?”

“Not any aircraft,” said Cal. “The DeHavilland Mosquito was one of the most successful aircraft ever created. It served as a bomber, a fighter, a torpedo plane, and for photo-reconnaissance; it was made almost entirely of wood and glue so it was light and fast, faster than a Spitfire. And it was almost invisible to German radar: the first stealth aircraft.”

“And what about Mr. Calvin McRaven, test pilot?” asked Susan. “With your history, you’re like the guy testing bulletproof vests.”

“Not really,” said Cal. “You know they test bulletproof vests on adolescent pigs. By the time they point a gun at a guy in a vest, it’s more like a demonstration.”

“So why the name Snoopy?” asked Susan.

“Production of Mosquitos ended in 1950,” said Cal. “Snoopy was created October 4, 1950, by Charles Schwartz, which is now International Snoopy Day. Snoopy is the first Mosquito Mr. Duke built. We have two more coming out in November and early December.”

“I was hoping to meet Mr. Duke,” said Susan.

“If you’d joined us for breakfast you would have,” said Cal. “He came down to the guesthouse and cooked for us: corned beef hash patties in maple syrup, dipped in pancake batter and deep fried.”

“Will I meet him?” asked Susan.

“When we get to the Miramar Airshow, I expect,” said Cal. “Or whenever he wakes up.”

Marty McFly Must Die!Eric Garrison

E. Chris Garrison

“Here we are, Jen, October 21st, 2015 at last! International Marty McFly day!” cried Calvin, as we arrived on the scene at Hill Valley, California.

Well, there’s no real Hill Valley, but Calvin and I had worked things out using clues from the movie, which led us to Inyo County, California.

I squeezed his hand and said, “Wow, looks like we’re not the only ones who figured this out. Just look at all of the DeLoreans! Did they even make that many?”

There had to be at least a couple dozen of the retro-futuristic stainless steel gull-winged cars scattered across the field, a few giving off vapor, encrusted in frost. Dozens of Marty McFly cosplayers milled around, quoting catchphrases. There were plenty of puffy orange vests, some iridescent ball caps, ridiculous cowboy duds, and even a few leather jackets and walkie talkies.

“I think we’re underdressed,” I said, looking over our outfits. I’d attempted a genderswapped suspendered 1985 Marty, with a replica pink Mattel hoverboard for a prop. Calvin had cheaped out and wore a Mexican serape, bowler hat, and cowboy boots.

Just as we passed under the banner that welcomed us to the makeshift camp site, Doc Brown leaped in front of us and grabbed us by the shoulders. His eyes wild, his white hair singed on the tips, he said, “You kids! You’re from this timeline! Which one’s the real Marty?”

Calvin laughed. “Awesome!”

I smiled at him. “All of them?”

The Doc’s eyes squinted at me. “Aren’t you a clever girl. If you’re so smart, how can a movie character come to life?”

“Well, you just said, ‘this timeline’. Maybe this is 2015A, where Marty never existed, only movies about him.”

Calvin said, “This guy’s creepin’ me out, let’s book it.”

Doc pushed him aside and stared into my eyes. “Good, good. What if I told you one of them, the original, carries a mutant form of West Nile Virus from 2015 prime that would wipe out all of mankind if even the first mosquito of the season bit him?”

Calvin shoved back. “It’s November!”

I said, “I guess you’d have to pick the right one and do something drastic to save the future.”

“Precisely!” cried the Doc. “Now, which one?”

“This is stupid,” said Calvin as I scanned the field.

“Well, we first see Marty in the Doc’s lab in 1985, with the breakfast machine.”

Doc Brown slapped his forehead. “Of course!” He pulled a long rifle from under his lab coat. He aimed at a puffy-vested Marty, carrying a jug of instant pancake batter. The look-a-like raised his hands and screamed.

All the Martys screamed.

“That’s heavy,” said Calvin.

The Doc swung around and aimed at my boyfriend’s chest. “The machine didn’t make pancakes.” Doc Brown fired. Calvin fell down.

The time travel paradox resolved, I stood over Calvin’s body in an empty field.

He cracked an eye open. “Are they gone?”

“Yes! I guess he never saw Back to the Future III!”

Calvin threw back his serape to reveal his makeshift vintage 1885 cast iron bulletproof vest. “Who’s chicken now?”

Sighting SherlockMoira McAtrthur

Moira McArthur

The day they celebrated Sherlock Holmes, was a world wide affair. Major cities like New York, Beijing, Moscow, would have theatres and cinemas showing Sherlock Holmes plays and films. Their streets, bunting overhead, were filled with stalls selling cheap but badly made deer stalkers, curly pipes, and fake whiskers. Photo booths, where you could dress in period. From my perch on the roof, facing 221B Baker Street, most of the world, seemed to arrive en masse on such days. 

Crowds of tourists milling around, the visit to 221B, as a pilgrimage they must all make. Excited tourist chatter was the norm, most days, on that otherwise quiet street. On Sherlock Holmes Day, the chatter became a thunderous roar. It suited my purpose. All eyes on 221B Baker Street, Marylebone, London W1U 3BW. 

The year in question, the Sherlock Holmes Society had arranged that one of their own, should portray that illustrious gent. To be seen at the window, walking between the rooms. Occasionally, if the crowds died down a little, he would open the front door and reach out to tap his pipe on the wall, before rapidly retiring from the throng that threatened to rush him. So great was their joy at seeing ‘him’ in person. Back inside that ordinary but elegant door, society members clicked the locks fast. I waited. I had time enough. 

Nearing lunchtime, I knew a most delicious smell would emanate from the kitchen. Freshly squeezed lemon indicated the mixing of pancake batter. A nod to Conan Doyle’s mastery

Aficionados will recall Sherlock using a crêpe to lift a shoe print. The Society’s chap would think  more longingly of lunch. I planned to act before that meal was served. 

I pressed the trigger while looking through the telescopic sight. The chink of glass falling and a buzz at his ear, would have him turn in puzzlement.  First mosquito of the season? Another second, and he would feel the hit of a bullet on his chest. As he fell backward, the thought came to me. ‘Challenge Accomplished.’ I broke the gun, threw it in the air, then happily watched as it fell behind bushes in the gardens below. 

The sirens grew near and I settled myself for discovery. As police boots thundered up to my roof perch, my self congratulation took a hit. Through 221B’s window, I stared, as the man, with not a mark on him, was being helped to his feet by a police constable.

Heavy hands on my shoulder, I succumbed to handcuffing and being taken back downstairs. Not a bit puzzled, I climbed into the police van. 

The Evening News was full of the attempt on Sherlock Holmes. This time, no Moriarty. This time, a disgruntled writer wanting notoriety. To be forever linked with murder on a Sherlock Holmes Day. The article going on to quote the chap hit by the bullet. ‘Thank goodness I decided to try on Sherlock’s first bullet proof vest.” 

Losers United!Dani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

I opened door number twenty-three and there he was, Dave, lying in a hospital bed, bloated up like a balloon. Every part of him visible was red and inflammed, the poor sod. When he saw me, he sat up.

“Bob! Good to see you! Come on in!”

After some hesitation, I took a chair next to the bed. “Dave, you look… you look… what the hell happened, Dave?”

“I tried out my new thing, Bob, my anti-mosquito t-shirt. Look!” He pointed over to the bedside cupboard and I saw a colourful promotional flyer with Dave splashed all over it wearing some strange t-shirt. Was this his latest ’get-rich-quick’ scheme?

“What’s that on the t-shirt, Dave?”

“That? That’s my own secret concoction of chemicals designed to repel and kill all mosquitos! It’s stuck together with pancake batter, which is both an excellent base and glue. And if I mix food dye in it, I can also get different coloured t-shirts! Ingenious, huh?”

I guess I didn’t jump up and down enough, because the next thing I knew, I was watching a video on his flashy new android phone. The camera was a bit shaky but there he was, standing next to a river. “Is that the Tisza, Dave?”


People were walking by him quickly, holding their noses, basically running away.

“What are you doing?”

“Waiting for the first mosquito of the season. The Tisza’s always the first place they appear. I’ve got to start production of these t-shirts as soon as possible. I’m telling you, once they hit the shops, sales will be immense!” A baby in a pram started crying as it was pushed past briskly. “Oh, Bob, how did your thing go?”

Thing? The Winnie-the-Pooh Appreciation Society just had Pooh Day, celebrated across the world, and I was nominated as head of the county’s, yes, county’s happenings. I had the great idea of re-enacting ’The Heffalump’, seeing as Mavis the treasurer looked so good in the elephant costume. Of course, Hundred Acre Wood wasn’t available, so we had to find somewhere suitable. Getting permission didn’t work out, so we did a ’Flash Mob’ performance at the local garden centre. There wasn’t much of a turnout but it was great. And to Dave it was ‘a thing’?


“Listen!” There was a close up in the video.

“Remember this day, remember it well!” said the Dave in the video. “Wow, I feel like that guy, you know… Zepplin, testing the first bullet-proof vest.”

“Err, Dave, it was Zeglen, I think.”


Then the Dave in the video moved like he’d been hit, falling to the ground. The camera view dropped, showing only grass.

“Who… who is that woman screaming, Dave?”

“That’s me.”

“Oh.” I didn’t understand. Why was he in a good mood if it had failed? “What happened, the t-shirt didn’t work?”

“Of course it works!”

“So… what happened?”

“I got bitten by a tiny 3mm white crab spider. That’s what happened!”


The Iron Writer Challenge #129 – 2015 Autumn Equinox Open

The Iron Writer Challenge #129

The 2015 Autumn Equinox Challenge

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Brackets:



Doug Adams

Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey

(Please click on bracket image to read stories)

The Elements:


A worldwide holiday celebrating a fictional character ( you must name the character)

Testing the first bullet-proof vest

The first mosquito of the season

Pancake batter

Stories will be posted

October 1, 2015

The Iron Writer Challenge #126

The Iron Writer Challenge #126

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Vance Rowe, Annie Jensen, Mac Bartine, Bill Prins

The Elements:

The Eiffel Tower

A Prison Cafeteria

Picante Sauce

The last sentence must be: “Clear!”

ImprisonedAnnie Jensen

Annie Jensen

“Really? Picante sauce and mayonnaise? That’s disgusting.”

“No, sis it’s prison gourmet. You should have seen what we did Monday with cereal, coffee creamer and honey packets. It was off the chain.”

I taste the burrito and it’s ‘gourmet’ sauce.

“O.K.” I concede, “not awful. I was expecting worse but it’s still weird getting hot burritos from a vending machine.”

Actually everything in the visitor’s cafeteria is from a vending machine. Visiting my baby brother means picking up 3-4 rolls of quarters. $40 is a good chunk of barista tips, but it seems like nothing, I want to do more. I would have brought 10 rolls of quarters if we could spend it. $40 worth of food from the prison vending machine is already pushing the limit.

He’s been here for 2 years. Thankfully he’s no longer in maximum security with its 24-hour lock downs. He raves about his daily 45 min of fresh air, which he uses to lift. He’s becoming stereotypically huge. More than his body has changed. His hair is now long, beard and everything. Thanks to our Jewish roots he looks like Jesus. Or maybe Moses, which makes more sense considering his name: Moses Ezra, after our grandfather. He doesn’t complain. In fact he won’t tell me anything about what prison is like. He just wants to hear about what’s beyond the walls.

How’s my life? Not worth complaining to him about so I make up happy stories. But the truth is I struggle. I’m not sleeping at night – lying in my warm bed imagining him on a cot in a concrete cell. I imagine him cold, alone and afraid. Today he doesn’t look afraid, not on the outside. He looks big, strong and in control. I know better. I know he can never show it. Not if he wants to survive this.

There were twelve of them and two fake guns, a group of teenagers terrorizing our little town. They eventually made a stupid mistake and got caught. Most of the twelve’s parents have money and they lawyered up. Some even getting their kids out of the country. One boy is back at his family’s home in Paris, near the Eifel Tower. Money buys freedom and we’re broke. Two years down and four to go, he was just 17 when they got caught and will be 23 when he gets out. He’s too young for this life.

I visit every weekend. I must, even if it takes me most of the week to put myself back together. We bond over mayonnaise and picante sauce.

Times up. Guards come in and I start to cry. Moses never cries. He can’t show weakness, someone is always watching. My tears are selfish; making this harder on him. Helplessness suffocates me. Inside I am screaming at the horror of what happens next. The horror of walking out of this building and having no choice but to leave him behind.

Guards shout; “Tables clear! Room clear! Clear!”

The Newlyweds

Vance Rowe

The young couple were enjoying their honeymoon in France and were trying to enjoy their dinner at an outdoor cafe where the Eiffel Tower could be seen in the near distance. They were on a tour of some European countries and had been to places like Venice, Rome, Spain, and now France. The young couple was having a great time. 

They sat at the cafe and as they waited for their meal, they kept hearing someone yell, “CLEAR!”, every few minutes. They were enjoying a nice glass of wine and some cheese but the shouting kept bothering him. “What the hell is that?”

“Honey, don’t let that bother you. We will eat our meal and get out of here. I have something romantic set up for you back at the hotel room.”

The husband’s curiosity was piqued and asked, “Oh yeah? What is it?”

“If I told you, it would no longer be a surprise. I will tell you that it has to do with some sexy lingerie.”

“Really? That sounds good so far,” he said with a smile.

“Yep and I got some lingerie for myself too,” she replied with a smile.


The bride chuckled and sipped her wine.

The waiter brought their food out and then the “CLEAR!”, was shouted again.

“Excuse me. What is that guy yelling clear for?”

The waiter didn’t understand English very well so his wife spoke in French to the waiter.

He answered her and she thanked him.

When the waiter walked away she told her new husband that there is some kind of construction going on and the ‘clear’ is to make sure that everyone is out of the way when the wrecking ball hits the building.

As they ate their food, he grimaced because the food wasn’t very good and then the shouting really got to the husband.

“OH MY GOD! If I hear that word one more time, I will just scream. I swear to God.”

“You are just being ridiculous. Eat your food and we can get out of here.”

She was getting frustrated with her husband.

“This food is horrible. You know what it needs? Picante sauce. I wonder if I can get some.”

Mathew, this France, not Mexico. Do…not…ask…for…picante sauce. Do I make myself…”

“Don’t say it. Don’t you dare say it.”


Jones Breaks OutMac Bartine

Mac Bartine

Red sludge slid from the giant old spoon in the line server’s hand, landing with a very unappealing sschhlipp on what the sign at the front of the line informed Jones was taco salad.

The last time, he thought.

“That’s the ugliest damn picante I’ve ever seen in my life,” Stan Vangieri muttered as he moved down the line behind Jones. “Looks like the face of that sumbitch hit my girl, once I was done with him.”

Jones looked down the long line of his fellow inmates, all in the same tan jumpsuits, mustard-yellow soft plastic trays in hand. Four thousand plus men in a facility made for 600, living in a juxtaposition of supreme boredom and tightly coiled stress: ready, waiting, eager for anything different to happen.


“Yes, Stan,” Jones said loud enough for everyone to hear. “We all know that you turned the boy who hit your daughter into hamburger. You sure do like to tell stories about boys and meat; meat and boys. Boy meat. That’s all we ever hear from you.”

Rough laughter rang around them, and Jones moved down the line without looking in Vangieri’s direction.

“You better watch your mouth, Jonesy. I don’t give a damn who’s baby you are. When I was done with that punk, he had a piece of his skull stickin’ out, what looked like–”

“The Eiffel Tower. We know. And you liked that because it reminded you of a penis.”

Vangieri slammed brick mason fists on each side of his tray, sending taco hell 6 feet in the air for 5 trays in every direction. Jones steeled myself for what was to come.

“Vangieri!”, roared officer Smith from across the cafeteria. “Let go of Jones now, get your tray and take your seat!”

“It’s OK, Stan,” Jones said casually. “Go ahead and feel me up, if that’s your thing.”

Vangieri’s face purpled and his ugly, rotten teeth gritted together so hard, Jones thought they might explode out of his stupid turnip head.


Officer Smith suddenly appeared in between them, his face nearly as tomato souped as Vangieri’s.

“Jones, I know damn well you’re running that smart mouth. If I see your lips so much as twitch, I’m taking you to solitary.”

The cafeteria is deadly quiet now. Everybody smelled blood, and they savored it. Drank it in. Jones raised his voice so everyone could hear.

“No need for concern, Officer Smith. Stan was just reminding us all how much he likes little boy meat.”

Jones never even saw what happened to Smith next. He was just gone, and then heavy, hard fists brutally crashed into his face and body again and again. He dimly heard the alarm that meant all inmates should be flat on the ground with their hands over their heads.


A team of officers in riot gear swarmed into the cafeteria, weapons drawn. The closest one zapped Vangieri with a taser, and quickly looked over the room for other trouble.


Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor PerformanceBill Prins

Bill Prins

“Dammit Jon, the time’s not killing me, it’s all these nitwits on a twenty four hour basis for years on end,” said Marty for the thousandth time. “I think the guards are on average stupider than the inmates.”

“That’s only because you bring up the average, Marty; you have the curse of being an educated man in the pokey,” said Jon. “Aren’t you up for parole in fifteen or twenty years?”

“Fifteen years, when I’m seventy. And there’s no guaranty then. Christ, thirty years for embezzling a few bucks from a damn retirement home.”

“I thought you embezzled sixty million bucks from just about the largest nursing community trust.”

“Those Sunrise lawyers were preternaturally vindictive,” added Marty.

They sat finishing lunch, Marty starring into oblivion, Jon debating internally if he should let his friend in.


“How is it I’m your assistant?” asked Marty. “I know squat about electricity.”

“I put in a good word for you with Binks,” said Jon. “He’s not against you earning a few incentive points.”

They took the stairs up above the high bay kitchen, and Marty was breathing hard as they reached the top. The storeroom was used for canned goods; the heat from below kept everything from freezing.

“Do you know the biggest recurring risk to the Eiffel Tower?” asked Jon, seemingly at random.

“I don’t know,” said Marty, blinking. “High altitude winds? Lightning? Germans!”

“Nope,” said Jon. “Corrosion. Every seven years they strip it down and apply fifty tons of new paint.”

“How very interesting,” retorted Marty.

“I got my first crack at this old wiring about ten years ago,” said Jon. “It was laid in during the Taft administration. Every six months or thereabouts I’m up here restringing wire or replacing the light sconces for an hour or so. So just about six years ago I started my experiment. And here it is.”

Jon pulled some insulation out of the way and there were two sets of man bars, redundant man bars, made of what looked like high alloy steel.

“The other side of this wall is the warehouse where outside deliveries are made,” said Jon, “an unsecured area.”

“What’s this crud on the bottom of the bars?” asked Marty, grabbing one with his hand and feeling it bend outward from the bottom. “What?”

“All it took was a one twenty volt ac-dc converter, easy enough to get ahold of,” said Jon. “Attach the negative output to the bar, dab on a little high acid Picante sauce and insert the positive lead, and plug it in. Electrolytic corrosion and time, my friend. I just refresh the sauce every time I come up here.”

“When were you going for it?” asked Marty.

“Right now,” said Jon. “Are you in?”

“I’m not sure I’m in good enough shape to go running around the countryside,” said Marty.

“No worries,” said Jon. “Our conveyance awaits below. But if it came to that, my ac-dc converter makes a pretty good seventy two Joule defibrillator.”

“You would hit me with that rig?” asked Marty.

Jon smiled.