The Iron Writer Challenge #141 – 2015 Winter Solstice Open Preliminary Round

The-Isolator 1

The Iron Writer Challenge #141

2015 Winter Solstice Open Preliminary Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates Bracket

The Authors:

Mamie Pound, Christopher A. Liccardi, Mason Grant, Richard Russell

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov Bracket

The Authors:

A. Francis Raymond, Tina Biscuit, Ericka Kahler, Danielle Lee Zwissler

Anais Nin

Anais Nin Bracket

The Authors:

Jason T. Carter, Dani J. Caile, Brett Paul

The Elements:

The Isolator

Something arrogate.

A ball of yarn

An appointment to be abducted by aliens that you are anxiously waiting for.

Click on image to see the stories in each bracket.

The Iron Writer Challenge – 2016 Winter Solstice Open, Vladimir Nabokov Bracket

The-Isolator 1

The Iron Writer Challenge #141

2016 Winter Solstice Open Preliminary Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements


Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov Bracket

The Authors:

A. Francis Raymond, Tina Biscuit, Ericka KahlerDanielle Lee Zwissler

The Elements:

The Isolator

Something arrogate.

A ball of yarn

An appointment to be abducted by aliens that you are anxiously waiting for.

Now ServingA Francis Raymond

A. Francis Raymond


Martha looked up over her the rim of her glasses and sighed. She was number 48. 

The disturbance caused her to lose the rhythm of her needles and when she looked back down, the ball of purple yarn she’d been pulling from fell off her lap and rolled to the other side of the waiting room.

The ball stopped at the feet of an older gentleman who Martha noticed had been sitting here since before she came in.

“Please show up at least 15 minutes before appointment time,” the note had said.

The man picked it up and brought it over and took the empty seat next to her.

“Thank you,” she said and continued her knitting.

“Name is Harvey.”

“Martha.” This time, she didn’t lose her rhythm.

“They like to keep us waiting, don’t they?”

“Well, anyone who arrogates themselves any medical facility, let alone the most important one, is going to do that.” Martha figured she’d use her college learning on him. He could either keep up, or head back to his side of the room.

He simply chuckled. “Why are you here?”

Martha stopped her knitting and really looked at Harvey. At first, she assumed he was old enough to be her father until she regarded her own wrinkled hands and remembered that she, too, was really gosh darn old.

And they both knew damn well why they were there.  They’d won the appointment lottery to see the Overlords who would be able to do something about their impending death. Anyone over the age of 80 was allowed to apply. Rumor had it that less than one percent of one percent of those who did made it this far.

No one could confirm what happened next. Everyone believed that the Overlords stole them away to their own planet. Abduction in exchange for a new life. Most anyone 80 thought it was worth the chance.

“It wasn’t my plan,” Martha said. “My late husband left me a letter.” She didn’t want to elaborate any further.

Harvey smiled reassuringly. “I guess he passed before 80?”

Martha was a little uncomfortable. She loved her husband, but didn’t enjoy talking about his death. She couldn’t forgive the suicide.

“Yes,” she said, not wanting to seem rude. “He was a writer. But he could never get the voices out of his head. The Isolator is what finally did him in. He didn’t hook it up right and it killed him.” She left out the part with the note and that it was quite intentional.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

“What about you?” Martha figured she’d try to turn the attention off her.

“Me? Well, I want to do it all over again. You see…”

“48! Number 48!”

“Oh… well, I guess it’s my turn.” Martha gathered up her knitting utensils, stuffed in into a bag and turned to Harvey holding out her hand. “It was very nice to meet you.”

Harvey smiled again. “See you on the other side!”

Rattling China

Tina Biscuit 

Dorothy clenched her fist, tapped lightly on the door, and pushed it open. The skylight shed dusty rays into the attic study.

‘Another visitor, Hugo’, she ushered the scrawny man into the dank room.

In the dim light, he could make out two figures at the desk, one with an unwieldy, felt helmet masking his features; the other, his host, walked over to greet him, carefully picking his way across the room – piled high with electrical contraptions.

‘Nikola, so nice to see you.’ Their hands touched, their minds met.

‘Some tea please, Dorothy.’

‘For three.’

‘No, four, we are four today.’

The door closed behind her; Hugo sat down.

‘Who else is coming?’ asked Nikola Tesla.

‘You’ll see him soon enough.’

‘And who, or what, is that?’

‘It’s your old friend – Edison. He can’t hear you; he’s wearing my “isolator”. Needed to relax, poor fellow.’

‘Well, I hope you’ve got the patent for the “isolator”. He’ll arrogate it to himself – he did with most of my stuff.’

Hugo switched off the oxygen, and removed the helmet. Edison blinked, facing his old adversary. 

The rattle of porcelain broke their stares as Dorothy placed the tea tray between them. She turned towards the door, reaching for some switches, ‘Do you need some more light, Hugo?’

‘Not that one’, cried Hugo. She flicked the switch, a metal teaspoon flew across the room, followed by a pen, a pair of glasses, and finally, the metal tip of an umbrella turned and was sucked under the desk – sticking to the electro-magnet, its black material following like a wet bat. Tesla nodded in reverence to the induction coil. She switched it off, and tried the other switch; an orange glow filled the room as the incandescent bulb heated.

‘Before you say it, Thomas: No, you didn’t’, Tesla quipped.

‘The patent says I did’, Edison smiled.

‘You changed the lightbulb, Thomas, but didn’t invent it’, Tesla smiled wider. 

Hugo picked up the spectacles.


Herbert Wells emerged from his invisibility cape.

‘I thought “the invisible man” was a story’, Tesla muttered.

‘They start as stories,’ said Herbert, replacing his glasses, ‘I thought that’s why we came here – to create stories for WRNY.’

‘I brought you here’, interrupted Edison, ‘I have a problem. I have an appointment to be abducted by aliens today.’ He held out a small card, ‘I need help.’

‘No kidding’, grinned Tesla, looking at the appointment card, ‘3.30pm, we’ve only got five minutes.’

‘My time-machine isn’t ready yet’, added Herbert, somewhat ironically.

‘I think I have a solution’, Tesla proclaimed, raising a hand.

‘If you don’t mind, Hugo’, he tugged the rug from under Hugo’s feet, ‘and that ball of yarn, please.’

Hugo handed it over.

‘Lie down, Edison’, barked Herbert.

They rolled him on the floor and bound him tightly with the yarn.

They lifted him over their shoulders; he cried out: ‘What about the aliens?’

Nikola Tesla patted his chest: ‘Europe.’

HG Wells tipped his hat: ‘England.’

Hugo Gernsback put on his ‘isolator’: ‘Luxemburg.’ 

The three aliens walked out into the streets of New York, silently composing a new story for the launch of WRNY. 

On the Lam

Ericka Kahler

The proximity alarm inside my IsolatorTM helmet beeped.
“Crap. There’s a ship in this solar system,” I muttered. I twisted the display dial disguised as part of an oxygen tank. Gernsback, he did good work. He kitted out an IsolatorTM to hide my advanced tech from the locals before he left.  He never mentioned my little monitoring system to anyone, or if he did they thought it was something out of that sci-fi magazine of his. Either way I was golden.
Until now.
I fiddled with the dial to adjust the picture. Might be nothing, some yacht flying by, or it might be the “fuzz.” Earth idiom – so cute. But it wouldn’t seem cute if I got caught hiding out on a primitive world. There were laws against that sort of thing. The display snapped into clarity.
Damn, the fuzz. A whole fleet of ships, enough to mount a freaking invasion, hiding behind Jupiter. They sent an entire fleet after me because I copied a few classified files? OK, it was a brilliant hack. Must have been something more important in them than I thought.
So I had to get off this planet.
I lifted the bulbous IsolatorTM hood off and tucked it under my arm. Gernsback should be close enough to come get me before the fuzz got here. Coords, coords, how do I…
“Finished working?” Lorna sat knitting by the window with my poodle Fluffy laying across her feet.
“Just taking a break.”
“I’d need a break from that thing, too. Want some tea?”
Lorna put her knitting in a basket and got up. I tapped my fingers on the IsolatorTM’s hood. How to calculate the vector to send Gernsback a message? My eyes rested on Lorna’s knitting basket. I blinked, then grabbed the IsolatorTM and a ball of yarn and headed outdoors.
In the yard I put the IsolatorTM back on and called up an image of the night sky. I superimposed it over my goggle openings and knotted the yarn to match each star. A few calculations, then I lay down over my star map to angle the IsolatorTM. I flipped on my recorder by tapping the oxygen (not really) tank.
“Gernsback. I need a ride. There’s a fleet here to arrest me.” I tapped to send it and hoped he was awake.
The IsolatorTM beeped. “You arrogate your own worth. They did not send a fleet just to arrest you.
“No, look.” I attached the visual and sent it.
When his image appeared again, he looked scared. “I’ll be there right away. That’s not the fuzz, that’s a Corbian invasion fleet.”
Slavers, massing less than a solar system away. There wouldn’t be anyone left on Earth by the time they got through with it. I stood up, keeping the IsolatorTM on in case Gernsback messaged me again. I could barely see through the goggles, but I had to get Fluffy before he got here. I hoped Gernsback’d be willing to bring my dog.

The Force AwakensDanielle Lee Zwissler

Danielle Lee Zwissler

“Georgie, you need to pick up your toys! They’re all over the place!” George’s mom yelled.

“They’re not toys, Mom! They’re models.”

“For what? I swear, Georgie, you’re 34 years old!”

“It’s for a film, Ma.”

“Sure, sure.”

Two Hours Later

“Oh my word, what are you wearing?” George’s mother asked him as she walked into his room. She was carrying a big ball of yarn and a pair of knitting needles. George was sitting at his desk, fingers poised over the typewriter keys. He was wearing some odd looking contraption over his face which had some sort of corrugated pipe to God knows where.

George didn’t say anything.

“Georgie!” his mom yelled once again.


She knocked on the side of his helmet.

George turned, took the helmet off, and there was a slow expunged sound of air. “What in the world was that?” his mom asked.

“Oh, it’s called the isolator. It helps writers, Ma; it’s soundproof.”
“The things they come up with these days. Are you hungry?”

George shook his head. He had a huge smile on his face. “Na, can’t stop now. I have a meeting with an alien, I’m about to be abducted.”

“Come again?” His mom looked worried as usual.

“My story. It’s so good, Ma. I think this one’ll be a hit.”
“I’m sure it will, honey.”

“Well,” George said as he picked up his helmet, “have fun with your knitting.”
“And good luck with the abduction, Georgie.”

“Thanks, Ma.”

“May the force be with you,” his mom said, and she went to the door.

George’s eyes widened, he put his helmet back on, and his fingers flew away at the keys. “Ma, you’re a genius!”

In a Galaxy, far far away, there was a man. He was something arrogate, and he had an appointment with a crew of a new ship, an alien that his crewmate, Han Solo, called a wookie.

Hmm, what’s a wookie? George typed. “A wookie is a big hairy creature—tall, carries a blaster, and this particular one’s name is Chewbacca.”

George scribbled down a few notes, then got back to his outline. He looked up to the ceiling and grinned. “May the force be with you! That’s gold!”

George took a deep breath, really into his story now, and could hear the sound of his breathing. Kkkk shhhh kkkk shhhh. His eyes widened once more. George typed: Darth Vadar- Dark Lord, Sith, darkside, evil, wears a helmet like the isolator, has a funny breathing sound to it, menacing…. Luke Skywalker’s dad! “Holy crap, people will eat that up!”

George smiled at his words, and then looked to the right of his desk where his drawings and models were. He’d made a few of ships—one that wasn’t a particularly difficult design. It was a basic model in the shape of an x. “Think like an 11-year-old girl,” George said to himself with a grin. “I think I’ve accomplished that.” George looked down at his drawing of the girl with the buns in her hair and smiled. Perfect. Every little girl likes a princess.

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The Iron Writer Challenge #137

angel and child

The Iron Writer Challenge #137

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Danielle Lee Zwissler, Tina Biscuit, Vance Rowe, Dani J. Caile

Genre: Sci-Fi

The Elements:

A 2000 year old person

Last line must be:

‘When the Indians (American) captured prisoners, they always gave them to the women to kill.’

A bag full of owl feathers

An angel carrying a child

A Stitch in Time

Danielle Lee Zwissler

“I’d like to get my wings, but Carson says there’s a problem,” Joseph Whitehorse said as he looked down around the room.

“We don’t make wings anymore,” Adam said, and then flinched. “Too ironic…”


“Yeah, everyone thinks we look like that statute of the woman holding the kid, you know…the statue in the throne room. But we all know the truth.”

“But there are some…”

“Sure, some, but not all. And, it’s too…time consuming. Honestly, wings are a pain in the… well, you know.” Adam turned in a circle, showing off his cream-colored feathers. “Besides, it’s a lot easier to blend in without them. Really, you’ll be glad.”

“I doubt that.”

“Honestly, it’s hot, too. We constantly have to wear trench coats and long sweaters.” Adam shrugged. “Anyway, you need to go down there, talk to the kids, make them understand that there’s value in history. Without the tales of the past, people stand to repeat the same problems. And, let’s face it, America is having a lot of problems. Too many religious problems, hatred between the races, fear among cultures, not enough reading, and way too many electronics… Obama.”

Joseph laughed. “Yeah, they should have seen that one coming.”

“Well, it wouldn’t have helped anyway. Look what’s coming… the man they call “The Donald” is just…”


Adam shook his head. “He says whatever he wants, doesn’t think too much about consequences, talks about making people leave the country, when people like him…his own ancestors did the same to your people. Joseph, do you see the problem in not understanding history?”

Joseph nodded. “Yes.”

“Make them understand.”

“I’ll try. But they have history books for these kind of talks. ”

“But do the kids read anymore?” Adam shook his head, clearly convinced to the contrary.

“I don’t know. I haven’t been down there in a while.”

Adam nodded, then turned and grabbed a bag and handed it to Joseph. “We don’t do wings anymore, but… well, I thought you could use these.”


“Owl feathers…it’s what we used to make the angel wings with.”


“You can use them to make headdresses for the kids. Talk about the Cheyenne and why it’s important.”

“Consider it done.” 

The world hadn’t changed much since Joseph made his way down to the small town of Liera, Wisconsin. Joseph sat, surrounded by children of his own ancestry.

“Why did the people from the old world come over and kill our people?” a little boy asked.

“They thought that it was their land, that they discovered it. They wanted it for their own.”


“But… Just because you think something is yours doesn’t give you the right to inflict harm.”

“But they killed so many of us,” a little girl said. “And, then we took them.”

A little boy snorted. “Girls didn’t do anything. They just cleaned stuff, and made the men do all the hard work.”

Joseph now knew why he came down in the first place. Things weren’t being taught right, and Adam was correct, history was important.

“Actually,” Joseph said, “When the Indians captured prisoners, they always gave them to the women to kill.”

Birds of a Feather

Tina Biscuit

‘Sleep now, little one,’ I feel her head relax in the nape of my neck.

‘What about the feathers we plucked from the owls?’

‘I’ve stuck them to my wings, so they don’t look like real wings; people are scared of angels,’ I say, stroking her head.

‘What about the bag we kept them in?’

‘So many questions, little one. I soaked the bag in plaster of Paris to make your dress. We’re safe now, try to get some sleep.’ Her faint breath tells me she is already sleeping.

I have seen other people dressed like this: just standing still; people give them money. The advantages are two-fold – Where else could an angel hide in a city? And I don’t need a costume.

I push my fingernails into a crack; I lack the tools of the sculptor, but the lines still appear. I scratch with nails, instead of chisels. I tear and tease, eking out grains of sand as I have done for two thousand years. The sandstone yields slowly and noiselessly – feeling the patience and determination of my Anasazi heart, yearning to return. The detail appears, line-by-line, unseen in its languid progression. I stop as a young couple approaches.

I twitch. She startles. He comforts.

He looks up; he doesn’t see. His hand reaches for his pocket – coins drop. He puts an arm around her, protects her from the unknown; hides her from the strange. They laugh. They leave.

I scrape as the sun’s heat turns to shade. My hidden movements are imperceptible to people walking past. Progress is masked as I strike various poses. Detail emerges, the threshold appears. The hinges are stone, but I know they will open.

Now they pass quicker, returning from work. I look straight at them; none ever looks back. They know I am real, but not what I am. They see a child sleeping, a guardian angel and charge. Now she awakens, rubbing her eyes. I wrap a wing around her calcified dress; I feel her faun-like wings starting to form. I wait for a lull in the procession in passing. The door is complete. I push, holding her tight in my arms. It yields, and we flow through – a mellifluous motion, almost silent. The door swings closed as we fall to the floor.

I see her now. I too had been scared to look, but now I know. Her eyes look scared, still, like a deer: ‘Am I your prisoner?’

‘No, of course not.’

We both stand up. I take her hand.

‘So you won’t kill me.’

My body crumbles down to her size. I cuddle her again.

‘Those are just stories. The women don’t kill prisoners; they help them, and love them, as if they are kin.’

Her sacking dress is cracking, her wings unfolding.

‘That’s why we are going back to the Anasazi. They will take you into their hearts as they did me. They will show you how to work the stone,’ I free her wings, pulling off plaster, ‘and teach you to fly.’

Even in darkness, I see her smile.

An Eye for an Eye

Dani J. Caile

Xantus wiped the green blood off his hands and spat at his defeated captive.

“Not much of a fight, Swifty. Next time, suit up. If there is a next time.” He’d done his duty, put two and two together to get an eight foot green Meethan from Zenith VI. The reply ‘bag of owl feathers’ may have fooled the uniforms doing spot checks but Xantus knew who had decimated the Southside’s flock of Solaque whores, or ‘angels of love’ as locals called them. They were known halfway across the galaxy for their caring, sensitive and thoughtful side, and business was always good down at the den. But tonight, someone or something had murdered and mutilated a large number of them, escaping with their precious plumage. As Xantus tied up the infamous Meethan known to all as Swifty, he glanced over at the city park’s angel-carrying-child statue and knew exactly what to do. The punishment would fit the crime.

“And what? I’m your prisoner! Do your worst!”

“I will.” Xantus grabbed the Meethan by the neck and pulled him along the street, listening to the degenerate growl and curse. “You know, Swifty, I’ve been around. Two thousand years. I lost count at nineteen hundred, but I’m sure I’m not shy of two triple-o. Well, in all those years I’ve lived, on all the planets I’ve stalked, there was this race, this one race of men. Yes, Swifty, an ancient race of my own kind, a race called the Native American Indians of the Conquered States. They were a proud breed, a breed of warriors, dreamers, they loved their life, their home…”

“Who gives a shit about some dead humans! Shut your mouth and do what you have to do!”

“Oh no, you’re not getting away with it that easily, Swifty.” A quick headshot was the preferred punishment for this crime. Unfortunately, Meethans could fake death and nothing other than tearing them apart was fatal. Detective Inspector Xantus dragged the monster across the walkway, back into the Solaque whores’ den, back where the deranged green cretin had perpetrated his crime. These ‘angels of love’ were not only known for their capacity to care.

“What… what are you doing?” Was Swifty cottoning on?

“Well Swifty, with all their wisdom, with all their connection to nature and fellow creatures in life, there was one thing those Indians knew best, and that was how to make you hurt.”

“I can handle any pain you whip out, pig! Just get it over with!” Xantus pulled the Meethan to the edge of the pleasure pit situated in the centre of the main floor, a pit filled with clipped Solaque whores, hungry for vengeance with claws extended, teeth at the ready. “What? What are you doing? Shoot me!”

He pushed the tied Meethan over the edge, watching the grisly carnage for a few moments before leaving. You could hear Swifty’s death screams for miles.

“When the Indians captured prisoners, they always gave them to the women to kill.”

The Dream

Vance Rowe

“We’ve got to go see him,” she exclaimed, in a frantic voice


“Him. I had a very weird dream last night and he has to explain it.”

“Wait. Are you talking about the 2,000 year old man?”

“Of course, Silly. Who else would I be talking about?”

“But he is on the planet K245 and that is a long way from here.”

“Not in the ship.”

“How would the ship be any quicker than any other vehicle we have?”

“Warp speed, Dummy.”

“Warp spe…I have never used the warp speed in the ship.”

“Come on, Ben. I need to go see him.”

He thought about it for a few minutes as he looked at the pleading look on his sister’s face and replied, “Okay, Sis. We will be ready to go in about twenty minutes.”

“Perfect. Thank you, Ben,” she exclaimed and kissed him on the cheek. She then ran into the bio-dome and Ben walked to the ship and climbed inside.

Ben’s sister soon ran from the dome and climbed aboard the ship. She buckled herself into the co-pilot’s seat and checked the lights and gauges herself.

“Okay, here we go,” Ben said as he pushed to levers forward. The giant circle shaped transporter slowly began to rise off of the ground and when they were high enough, the ship took off towards the Astra-Nebula Galaxy, where the planet K245 is located. It is a very long trip for a ship with no warp speed on it. It is about two hundred light years away.

When the brother and sister made it to K245, Ben landed the ship and the two went off in search of the 2,000 year old man. Ben’s sister clutched the bag of owl feathers tightly as they walked up the long and winding staircase to the Cave of Life. As they neared the entrance, a small drone guarding the entrance, scanned them and it let them pass into the cave. Once inside, she placed the bag of owl feathers on a pedestal, as an offering o the 2,000 year old man.

He motioned for them to come closer and when they did, the brother and sister got a good look at him. His skin was leathery and wrinkled. His hair was white and his eyes barely open.

“What brings you here to me today?”

“I had a dream that I was a Native American woman and I was killing people with the other women of my tribe. Then suddenly I saw myself as a large marble statue holding a baby. What does it mean? Was I a Native American woman in a past life?” she asked the old man.

After explaining her dream, she and her brother left when the man answered, “When the American Indians captured prisoners, they always gave them to the women to kill.”

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