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 Bracket

The Authors:

Guy Anthony De MarcoDani J CaileA Francis RaymondGenevieve Dewey

The Elements:

An Electric Flying Bicycle

A Doppelganger


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!”


“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?”



“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.


“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

The Iron Writer Challenge #21

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open

Preliminary Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements


Charlotte Bronte Bracket

The Authors:

Tannis LaidlawSteve HarzKriss MortonEric Garrison


F. Scott Fitzgerald Bracket

The Authors:

Robbie ThomasB. R. SnowM.D. PitmanDellani Oakes


Joseph Conrad Bracket

The Authors:

Guy Anthony De MarcoDani J CaileA Francis RaymondGenevieve Dewey


Virginia Woolf Bracket

The Authors:

Tony JaegerJim WrightKyle B StiffA. B. Bourne

The Elements:

An Electric Flying Bicycle

A Doppelganger


An obscure Black & White Television Drama/Comedy


The Iron Writer Challenge #15

ThereminThe Iron Writer Challenge #15

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #15

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Annmarie MilesDani J CaileJim TumlitySimon O’Kill

The Elements:

A Theremin

A single super power

An Elegy

A Wooden Water Tower

Strength from Withinannmarie miles

Annmarie Miles

Meryl stood at Jem’s bedroom door. He was a new born the last time she felt this helpless as a mother.

She could hear the weird music. He was watching those old horror sci-fi movies again. It wasn’t a good sign. The eerie wailing had worried her when she’d heard it first, but she eventually recognised the sound of a Theremin; falsifying an atmosphere of mystery and impending doom

It didn’t need falsifying today.

It had been 3 days since she’d seen him. He hadn’t come out of his room to eat or use the bathroom, or if he did she wasn’t aware. The only reason his dad hadn’t broken the door down is that eventually, Jem would answer their pleas for response with a grunt to be left alone.

Meryl knew he was drowning in guilt; she was devastated for him and felt powerless to help him.

It wasn’t his fault.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault.
Jem & Carl often spent their time exploring old Jennings’ farm. They’d learned to fish in his river, he let them pick apples in his orchard. Every so often he’d pay them to paint or clear the yard. He was a bit of a loner but the boys never caused him any trouble and he liked them.

But it had all gone wrong when the boys did the one thing he’d asked them never to do. They couldn’t see his truck in the yard and thought he was out. So they climbed the frame of the dilapidated wooden water tower. When Jennings saw them from a distance it never occurred to him that it was Jem and Carl. He got his shotgun and started firing in their direction. He didn’t want to hit them; he just wanted to scare them to get them down.

It worked. Carl got such a fright he almost let go. Jem grabbed him and pulled him up.

“Thanks buddy, we better get outta here.”

As they went to move, the beam that Carl was leaning against gave way and Jem watched him fall to the ground.

At Carl’s funeral Jem read a goodbye letter to his best friend. It was a heart wrenching elegy of friendship, regret, anger and guilt. Jem had not spoken a word since that day.

That was 2 weeks ago and now he was locked away in his room.

Meryl was about to walk away again but a voice somewhere inside stopped her.

“Meryl, you are his mother!
You are his mother and he is your child.
If you can’t get through to him no one can.
You can save him, you can help him.
You ARE strong enough.”

She was filled with determination and strength. Power surged through her veins as she knocked at the door.

“Jem, it’s Mom. Please open this door – right now.”

Meryl stood in her new found power; the power of a broken-hearted mother

Jem heard it in her voice.
He stood up and walked to the door.


Dani J Caile

That damn theremin of his, why does he always have to bring it out every time we have guests? I’d like to shove that little talent cup trophy right down the throat of those judges who voted him ‘best act’ at the local community centre all those years ago when we first came to the area. Just like his father before him, always getting it out and doing the wavy muso bit looking so pompous and self-important! And why does he have to play those pieces which are so bleak and mournful? Always so depressing like some turgid elegy. Oh, thank God, he’s finished! Now’s my chance.

“Darling, don’t you think it’s time our guests moved onto the terrace now, have a few drinks in the cool evening air?”

“Oh but Daphne, I haven’t played my masterpiece yet, my pièce de résistance.”

No, please, not that one, I’ve heard it almost every night for the past forty-seven years! Why did I marry this man?

“Oh, Daphne, yes. Please let us listen, we’re dying to hear George’s masterpiece.”

I’ll die if I have to hear that dross one more time!

“Yes, please, Daphne. And can I have another cucumber sandwich? They’re rather delicious, I think.”

If only I had a super power or something to stop this scourge! Turn invisible and disappear, able to run away from the role of devoted and loving wife. Be able to turn back time and stop his father from buying the damn RCA in the first place. Or have super human strength and bring down that old wooden water tower at the end of the block, causing a massive deluge which would flow down the street and everyone’ll need to evacuate! Perhaps the water would even damage the thing and he wouldn’t be able to play it ever again! But no, I am the loyal and good-natured housewife, I have superhuman endurance to suffer the blows and misfortunes a husband can give, I am his most endured host and trusted love. I have the power to withstand all he can deliver. What? Is he finished? Is it finally over?

“Bravo, dear boy, that was excellent, bravissimo!”


Polite applause this time. Better get some drinks ready for the terrace.

“And now, for my finale, I will play a brand new piece, never played before!”

What! Now hang on a minute!

“Darling, don’t you think it’s time for drinks? On the terrace?”

“No, no, I must show our guests my new jewel, my new…”

“But darling…” Damn wires! They’re all over the place…whoops.


“Oh dear me!”


The ambulance came as quick as it could, considering the congestion on the main highway. One of our guests tried resuscitation after clearing his body from the equipment with a broom, but there wasn’t any real chance of saving him. I guess you shouldn’t mix semi-sparkling rosé wine with electricity. It’ll be quiet without him, though of course, the theremin will hold a central place on the mantelpiece.

No LedgeJim Tumilty

James Tumilty

Here’s a random fact for you. You ever see the movie ‘Forbidden Planet’? An old schlocky sci-fi show. It has Leslie Neilsen in it before he decided to become the head honcho of goofiness. Well, that soundtrack? Contrary to popular belief, it didn’t use a Theremin. At this point, you’re likely quirking an eyebrow and wondering what the hell this idiot is wittering on about. Said idiot being me.

Did you ever wish that you had a super power? I did, constantly. I ruined more of my parents’ bedsheets prancing around pretending to be Superman than they were really comfortable with. It turns out that the phrase ‘Be careful what you wish for’ isn’t just a plot device for teen drama. I got my wish. It just turned out to be a little more different than I would have liked. My super power is useless trivia.

I can hear you now, “That’s not a super power.” And I’d be inclined to agree with you, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve yet to get a question wrong on a quiz show. This also seems to have an interesting side effect on others, in that it is incredibly irritating. If the quiz in question happens to be in a bar, well… Let’s just say that alcohol and irritation can lead to some less-than-savoury experiences.

You see, it turns out that another phrase, “Nobody likes a smart-ass” is also very relevant. It was never intentional, honest. Thing is, when these so-called facts want to come out, they do. They are like a body dumped into one of those old wooden water towers; they float to the surface and explode in a socially-awkward jumble. That, and everyone around me thinks there is something off about it. They spill forth, the words tripping each other up as they force themselves into existence.

This brings on a crushing isolation. People just want to avoid spending time with the guy who’ll tell them that their favourite TV character is actually a rip-off of an obscure Scandanavian character. They all just walk away, leaving me more familiar with people’s backs than their faces. Honest to goodness, I can tell gender, ethnicity and age from a brief glance at someone from behind. And all this because of a wish. It turns out that your hope has power, more than you could possibly imagine. Like any power, it can be devastating.

No, I don’t know how it happened. I just woke up one morning and was able to rhyme off information. Maybe I spent too much time reading Wikipedia. All I know is that now I know too much. So long story short, this is my elegy. I’m no Coleridge, but I do what I can. This is the lament of my life. Not the physicality. Not the soul. The social.

One last thing, trivia is also Latin for ‘where three roads meet’. Bet you didn’t know that.

The Day Phantom Bigfoot Stood StillSimon O'Kill

Simon O’Kill

Phantom Bigfoot skipped across the mating glade with three of his Bigfoot Babes squealing and snorting behind him. They entered the great forest of their ancestors and trudged to Little Beaver River. There they all used the strange invigorating properties of the mating water. Phantom Bigfoot had a dream many moons ago where a tall blond pale one told him the water was special – he called it a simple super power – whatever that was. So long as it continued to get him horny, Phantom Bigfoot didn’t give a ffffff what it was called. It sure tasted good, but not as good as happy juice. Phantom Bigfoot sighed as images of all three of his Bigfoot Babes wild on happy juice pleased him so many times his thruster was red raw for three suns.

At the mating glade, heavy with the scent of honeysuckle, Phantom Bigfoot urged his Bigfoot Babes to the special place. The special place was a derelict settler’s home from so many moons past, Phantom Bigfoot decided not to waste precious mating time on it. As the sun caressed the ridge of gentle sloping foothills, its weakened rays slicing between the remnants of a stone chimney stack and a dilapidated wooden water tower now covered with ivy, Phantom Bigfoot got down to the serious business of the mating ritual.

“Wooowoooowooooo,” bleated all three Bigfoot Babes, swishing their hips to some internal rhythm of nature’s design. Well not really as Bigfoot Babes love to salsa shown to them by their friendly pale one, Doooane.

“Woooeeeeeoooooeeeeeeoooooo,” howled Phantom Bigfoot in reply to the mating call. As all three Bigfoot Babes hunkered down with hindquarters raised a most peculiar sound interrupted the proceedings. Phantom Bigfoot was most put out at this untimely interference. He let out a ferocious snarl, “Eeeeaaaaaarrrrraaaaarrrrrr!” To Phantom Bigfoot’s utter dismay, all three Bigfoot Babes stood rock still, mewling pathetically and pointing skyward.

As Phantom Bigfoot’s thruster lost its desire. He stood still looking at the source to see a strange doughnut-shaped object hovering above them. Attached underneath the silver doughnut were two shiny prongs, quivering with unearthly power. The object drifted almost to the grass level, swirling the green blades into a flattened circle. A silver footpath extended from the doughnut. A massive steel creature stomped forth. It stopped and looked all around with shining eyes. Another creature emerged, this pale one was old and bent with white hair. He walked up to a terrified Phantom Bigfoot and bowed.

The old man introduced himself in a language that Phantom Bigfoot could understand, “Do not fear Gort. I am Leon come to make music with you on Theremin.” Leon detached the device from the doughnut and ran his hands over it creating a sad elegy of electronic whines.

By now Phantom Bigfoot and his Bigfoot Babes had quite enough of this crap and ran away with hands to ears, squealing.

Leon Theremin sighed, shrugged and stepped back into his steel home, “That used to knock them dead, Gort?”