Challenge 55 – Grudge Match #5

Danielle Lee Zwissler

Challenge 55

Champion Button

Five Graves for Wiley ‘Coyote’ Barnes

DL Zwissler

Behind a false brick in my childhood home, I found blueprints for a time machine, a 1936 license plate and keys to a Chevy Corvette.

My grandfather was an inventor and worked for NASA. He had always talked of time warps and black holes, feeding my mind with stranger-than-fiction ideas. It wasn’t until the world started to fail that I realized how important those talks with my grandfather were to me. Like much of my life, he was a mystery, always hiding things around the house, talking of the Great Depression and then the War right after. They hid things, my grandparents, in time capsules, false bricks, a vase or oddly enough the cookie jar in the kitchen.

After two years of fending off the zombies, nearly running out of ammunition, I took a serious look at the blueprints for the time machine and decided to go for it. The instructions were precise and most of the supplies could be found in the shelter that my grandfather had built years ago. I only added one thing to the design: a snowplow that I had found in the garage. I needed something to clear the dead bodies. I often wondered if my grandfather had the gift of foresight, when he built the shelter all those years ago. I wondered if he was preparing for WWII or if he knew that the world would one day come to this.

When I heard the sound emit from the walkie talkie, I knew it was time.

“Coyote, are you in? Coyote, this is Tomcat.”

Tomcat was my best friend, Brody, from High school.

“Coyote here, what’s your 21?”

“Outside the shelter. They’re everywhere. Are you getting ready to move out?”

“Yes, I really hope this works,” I said, feeling somewhat confident. “I’ll be back when I can. I want to warn my grandfather about the walls.”

“I really hope this works. Good Luck.”

“I’ll need it. Godspeed, Tomcat.”

“Godspeed, Coyote.”

After breaking the connection, I took a deep breath and pulled out the letter that I had found in the brick where the license plate was stored. It had instructions on where to drive, how long and what to take. I thought it was a long shot, but knowing my grandfather, I figured I had better adhere to his words. I set the year to 1936 and prayed for the first time in a long while.

Two days later, I appeared outside of the same house that I had lived in for the last 36 years. My grandfather was standing in the front yard, and when he saw me, he swallowed deeply.

“Back again?”

“What, I’ve been here before?”

“Yep every day for the past five days.”

I swallowed, finally realizing why the date on the note was crossed out and rewritten so many times. I took a pencil from my pocket and crossed the last date out and wrote another, and then wrote something new and in bold letters ‘STRONGER WALLS’.

“You going to die on me, too?” he asked.

Just then, before I blacked out, I saw four graves with the same name. Wiley ‘Coyote’ Barnes.

 

Challenge 57

The Iron Writer Challenge #57

The Authors:

Christopher Johnston

DL Zwissler

Jennifer Symthe

John Ingram Walker

The Elements:

outside tire motorcycle

An Outside Tire Motorcycle

24 miniature plastic dinosaurs

Vegamite

A Sewing Machine

Subject AlphaChristopher Johnston

Christopher Johnston 

“Aardonyx, Abelisaurus, Abrictosaurus” Kody began, pointing to a series of seemingly random plastic dinosaurs spread across the floor. “Abrosaurus, Abydosaurus, Acanthopholis, Achelousaurus, Achillobator, Acristavus, Acrocanthosaurus, Acrotholus, Adamantisaurus, Adasaurus, Adeopapposaurus, Aegyptosaurus, Aeolosaurus, Aerosteon, Afrovenator, Agathaumas, Agilisaurus…”

I watched, stunned, as the five year old child continued through his list without missing a beat. Ten minutes ago I’d given him a book with a listing of over three hundred dinosaurs and their pictures. I told him to memorize them and then proceeded to place plastic miniatures of each of them randomly throughout the room. Once I was done I took the book away and asked him to list them in alphabetical order, pointing to the matching toy as he named each one.

“Zhuchengtyrannus, Zuniceratops, Zupaysaurus.” He finished with a proud grin.

I hit my stopwatch. Six minutes and forty seconds. I was speechless. In thirty years of neural psychology I’d never seen anything like it. Of course working with Kody I saw a lot of things I’d never seen before.

For one, Kody had an eiditic memory. Perfect recall. He remembered everything that he had ever seen, felt, heard, or smelled with 100% accuracy. Last week I’d given him fifteen minutes of free time on Google, he followed it up by building a monowheel motorcycle out of a broken sewing machine, the frame of an old schwinn, And the contents of the recycling bin. His ability to process information was astounding. It was also the least interesting of his many talents.

He’d been brought to me as a last resort. Not because of his miraculous memory, but because of one particular and unique problem…

Kody thought he was God. And after three months of examining him and testing his abilities, I wasn’t sure he was wrong.

The thing that made him truly amazing, the reason he’d been brought to a specialist of my caliber, had nothing to do with his memory at all. He’d been put under my constant surveillance so I could observe the effects of his imagination. The real tests came next.

“What’s your favorite dinosaur?” I asked

“The T-rex.” He said. “It’s the coolest one.”

“And what does the T-rex eat?” I asked. The book hadn’t covered this subject, so he had no way of knowing the answer.

He didn’t even hesitate.

“Vegemite.” He said confidently. Glancing at the jar on my table.

‘Here we go.’ I thought, with no small amount of fear. ‘I really wish he would have picked a nicer dinosaur.’

“Actually,” I told him. “That’s not true…”

“Ya huh!” He cut me before I could even begin. “They eat it all the time. They love it so much that they’ll destroy entire neighborhoods just to get one jar. It happened last year in Tokyo. Don’t you read the news?”

‘Probably shouldn’t have chosen dinosaurs.’ ‘I thought with a wince.

“Kody dinosaurs don’t exist anymore.” I told him. ” they’re. All extinct.”

“Wow your dumb.” He laughed. “Tell that to the one coming to get your Vegemite.”

I was able to panic for about three seconds before a gigantic scaly foot crashed through my ceiling and killed me.  

Hello, Vegamite!Danielle Lee Zwissler

Danielle Lee Zwissler

Elsa Mathers watched the man fly down the street on the odd contraption. It made a loud gurgling sound, mimicking that of a Harley and a moped. For some reason, she was intrigued.

She had never been much into bad boys, more so nerds if she were to name a group of men that tripped her trigger; so when she saw him riding on that wheeled motorcycle, she felt flush and excited at the prospect of meeting the man.

He stopped when he saw her, eyes blazing in the afternoon sun. His dark brown hair was curly as she suspected. He took his helmet off and capped it underneath his armpit and held it there by the crook of his elbow.

“Hi,” he said. His voice was gruff, gravely. Elsa bit her bottom lip and watched as he came closer.

“Hi yourself,” she replied.

“I’ve been driving by here every day this week and was hoping to catch your name.”

“I’m Elsa.  What’s yours?”

“Jason. Elsa…would you like to go on a picnic with me?”

“I sure would,” Elsa replied, swooning at the chance.

“I’d offer to take you on my…bike, but it’s only built for one.”

Elsa blushed, knowing that her original idea that he was a nerd was spot on. She nodded fast. “I’d like that. I’ll just go get my car and follow you.”

Twenty or so minutes later, Elsa pulled into Jason’s driveway.

“I have to pack a few things first, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.”

Jason’s apartment was neat.

 “What’s that?” Elsa asked.

“It’s Vegamite.”

“Come again?”

“Oh, it’s this awesome paste for sandwiches.”

“Nice,” Elsa replied, not having a clue what that was.

“It gives me energy.”

Oh.” Elsa grinned.

 There were costumes everywhere Elsa looked, and then she noticed the old Singer.

“Tell me you didn’t make these?
Jason looked a little sheepish, but he shrugged his shoulders. “My mom taught me everything I know. I’ve never been popular and I always looked up to the superheroes… Marvel guys mostly.  I go to comic cons where good looking women like you throw themselves at the Hero.

Elsa blushed. “You’re kidding?”

“No, I’d like to say I had this suave thing going on all the time, but… it usually only impresses women when I’m wearing one of these.”

He picked up a mask and put it over his eyes.

Elsa bit her lip once more. “I really think you’re hot.”

He grinned and came closer. “Really?”

“Yes. I’ve been watching you this week as well.”

“Well now…” he pulled her into his arms and moved in for a kiss.

A few moments later, they were making out on top of his couch, and a few minutes after that, Elsa felt a tiny prick of pain at her side. She groaned and he moved up quickly, denoting the plastic dinosaur figure.

“Really?”

He made a ‘sorry face’ and sat up.

“I have like 24 of these things at my house…I bought the…”

“Samson collection?” he finished for her.

She grinned. “Yes.”

“Marry me?”

“Oh,” Elsa said, feeling something else. She grinned. “Hello, Vegamite!”

RemembranceJennifer Smythe

Jennifer Symthe

“What do you think?” the realtor asked.

The house had a defeated look about it. What windows were still intact were filthy and the broken home shuddered and sighed under a particularly strong gust of wind. Stephen waited with uncertainty to see if this was the day it would give up the fight and collapse.

The sigh beside him pulled his gaze to the left.

“Why don’t you take a look around?”

He indicated they should move forward and Stephen hesitated.

“I would rather go alone.”

The realtor narrowed his eyes slightly and nodded.

The steps leading to the front door were broken in several spots. The wraparound porch was dirty and he left his imprint behind as he made his way to the door.  The smell was old.  It was eerie inside with furniture and toys left as if the last residents had simply picked up and left with only the clothes on their backs as their sole possessions. He entered the room directly to the left and found himself in the sitting room.  He counted no less than twenty-five toy dinosaurs – big, small, orange, green – scattered about haphazardly and imagined a young boy playing there.

Daisy print hung above the windows in the kitchen and golden yellow paint decorated the walls lending a welcoming look to the place.  He opened cabinets here and there finding evidence of rodents in the lower cabinets. The upper ones held miscellaneous food items including a jar of Vegemite that appeared to be mostly eaten.

The bed in the master room upstairs was still made and he noticed with surprise indents occupied the two pillows on top of the bed.  An antique sewing machine sat under the window overlooking the yard and he could see clearly the young mother working there watching her son play in the sunshine.  He noticed what looked like a strange one-wheeled motorcycle leaning against the side of the barn in the distance.

He made his way downstairs and gave a last glance around. There was something familiar about this place….

He shook his head and went out to meet the realtor.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” the realtor asked cautiously.

“This place….it’s familiar?” Stephen asked lightly.

The realtor sighed and glanced down.

“This was your home Stephen. Do you remember?” he asked hesitantly.

Stephen staggered back. Rapid images appeared in his head and he realized the boy he imagined was his own baby and the woman who watched from the window his wife. And he realized as the grief shook him and brought him to his knees that he hadn’t been able to save them from the horrible men who had sought possessions but had taken life instead. How long ago?

“Stephen?”

And he remembered the anguish had driven him to madness. Not a realtor!

“I can’t do this,” he gasped, “Please take me back doctor.”

The doctor nodded slowly and took his arm as they turned away and left the darkness behind.

The Big ThicketJohn Ingram Walker

John Ingram Walker

After he had written a book ‘bout his self, my great, great grandfather, Huckleberry Finn, was a-goin’ to skedaddle ‘cause Aunt Sally planned to adopt him and sivilize him, and he couldn’t stand it.

Just as he was about to set out, he heard people talkin’ down at the livery stable. They was braggin’ ‘bout the Texas Big Thicket and how lazy and comfortable it was down there. They said it was the least sivilized place in the whole world. When Huck heard that he didn’t lose no time getting’ there. By and by, he married a gal from Kountze. That ended any chance for getting’ sivilized, and he was mighty proud of it too.

I’m considerable happy about it myself, ‘cause if he hadn’t got married I wouldn’t have been Huck, the Third or known my cousin who writes short stories. The last time I saw my cousin, he warn’t in a good humor. He was bent into a sorrowful shape, because his wife had been feedin’ him Vegemite, a worser smellin’ and tastein’ sandwich slobber than a dead skunk’s guts.

Suddenly, without no warning at all, he up and says, “Huck, I just don’t have the heart to write this story that’s due. My wife’s cookin’ done wore me out with grief. I want you to write the story for me. You owe me. Remember twenty years ago when Bully Braggs put your finger under that sewin’ machine needle, but before he could crank it up I conked him over the head with an outside tire motorcycle. Bully Braggs’ blood gushed out all over Baby Boys’ 24 miniature plastic dinosaurs. Busted up my shoulder too, liftin’ that weird motorcycle. The only thing not busted up was your finger. Well, I’m calling in my tally.”

So that’s how I come to write this here story:

The Big Thicket, dark, dank, and mysterious like, dripping with vines and Spanish moss and crawling with water moccasin and ‘gaters and all sorts of creatures became ‘specially fearsome on Halloween night when ole’ Larry Bob Neches would gather the boys right in the middle of the mighty thicket telling stories that made your heart beat so awful fast, and turn you cold all over.

After givin’ the stories a rest, Lar’ would clear his throat and with an ever so light quiver in his voice, he’d say, ‘Just about the scariest story regards Gunner Shellachumm who thought he’d get a picture of headless fellers chasing though the thickets so he took his camera and settled in by the campfire to wait for the commotion to begin. Well, ole’ Gunner fell asleep and never heard nor seen nothin’. But when he got his camera film developed there was a picture of Gunner sound asleep by the campfire. It’s plumb creepy when you ask yourself, “Who took that picture of Gunner?” It’s ‘special creepy to Gunner. Whenever Gunner sees a camera he jumps up quicker than lightnin’, screamin’ and a runnin’.  And that’s the Ft. Knox-gold truth.


The Iron Writer Challenge 55 – Grudge Match #5

The Iron Writer Challenge #55

Grudge Match #5

The Grudgers:

Heather Johnson & M. D. Pitman

vs.

Neal Sayatovich & DL Zwissler

The Elements:

155156-1322920522

A Zombie Apocalypse

A 1936 Chevy Corvette

A Coyote

A Snow Plow

Please Vote for your favorite story. The poll is below the stories.

Thank You

Five Graves for Wiley ‘Coyote’ BarnesDanielle Lee Zwissler

DL Zwissler

Behind a false brick in my childhood home, I found blueprints for a time machine, a 1936 license plate and keys to a Chevy Corvette.

My grandfather was an inventor and worked for NASA. He had always talked of time warps and black holes, feeding my mind with stranger-than-fiction ideas. It wasn’t until the world started to fail that I realized how important those talks with my grandfather were to me. Like much of my life, he was a mystery, always hiding things around the house, talking of the Great Depression and then the War right after. They hid things, my grandparents, in time capsules, false bricks, a vase or oddly enough the cookie jar in the kitchen.

After two years of fending off the zombies, nearly running out of ammunition, I took a serious look at the blueprints for the time machine and decided to go for it. The instructions were precise and most of the supplies could be found in the shelter that my grandfather had built years ago. I only added one thing to the design: a snowplow that I had found in the garage. I needed something to clear the dead bodies. I often wondered if my grandfather had the gift of foresight, when he built the shelter all those years ago. I wondered if he was preparing for WWII or if he knew that the world would one day come to this.

When I heard the sound emit from the walkie talkie, I knew it was time.

“Coyote, are you in? Coyote, this is Tomcat.”

Tomcat was my best friend, Brody, from High school.

“Coyote here, what’s your 21?”

“Outside the shelter. They’re everywhere. Are you getting ready to move out?”

“Yes, I really hope this works,” I said, feeling somewhat confident. “I’ll be back when I can. I want to warn my grandfather about the walls.”

“I really hope this works. Good Luck.”

“I’ll need it. Godspeed, Tomcat.”

“Godspeed, Coyote.”

After breaking the connection, I took a deep breath and pulled out the letter that I had found in the brick where the license plate was stored. It had instructions on where to drive, how long and what to take. I thought it was a long shot, but knowing my grandfather, I figured I had better adhere to his words. I set the year to 1936 and prayed for the first time in a long while.

Two days later, I appeared outside of the same house that I had lived in for the last 36 years. My grandfather was standing in the front yard, and when he saw me, he swallowed deeply.

“Back again?”

“What, I’ve been here before?”

“Yep every day for the past five days.”

I swallowed, finally realizing why the date on the note was crossed out and rewritten so many times. I took a pencil from my pocket and crossed the last date out and wrote another, and then wrote something new and in bold letters ‘STRONGER WALLS’.

“You going to die on me, too?” he asked.

Just then, before I blacked out, I saw four graves with the same name. Wiley ‘Coyote’ Barnes.

Courier of HopeHeather Johnson

Heather Johnson 

When the dead returned, they feasted exclusively on live humans. After two years, their food source was nearly exhausted. Almost one hundred people, including The Genius, made camp in a suburban high school. In the beginning, he could contact his colleagues via radio. They were certain that together they could save the world, but then all communication ceased. Fewer than fifty people remained when The Genius knew how to make the stiffs stay still. “I need them and their equipment,” The Genius barked, punching a cafeteria table. “Otherwise, my solution is impossible.” The Mechanic had a car he called a ’36 Corvette, a bricolage of a dozen vehicles with a snowplow blade on the front. He felt sure it would make the journey.

A month after his departure, the stiffs kept multiplying. It was clear The Mechanic hadn’t been successful. The Genius requested volunteers for a radical scheme. Wyatt stepped forward after he was promised the last of the morphine and a chance at a peaceful death. After some discussion, The Hunter live-trapped a coyote (reasoning that a dog would not have the fortitude to eat the most available protein) and Wyatt memorized the route. Then they performed the surgery.

He awoke next to his human body. The top of its skull rested in its right palm like a bowl of borscht. Using a hind foot, he scratched at the staples across his brow. He was glad there was enough coyote inside the skull that he didn’t have to relearn to scratch himself. The Hunter secured a crossing-guard vest around his torso. On it, she had written in large letters, Hope for Humankind, Do Not Harm. He remembered that hope was not just the name of the girl who got devoured while hauling water. Hope was believing that someone out there would read his vest. “When you return, you will be The Hero,” she whispered, stroking his ear.

He scampered through the hordes, pausing only for distractions—the musky smell of a female, a crow snatching an eyeball from a moving corpse, the itch he soothed with a roll in coarse grass—to rest, and to eat. His coyote senses were magnificent. The first time he sampled a stiff, his mind filled with brilliant colors. The odor, which to his human nose had been unbearable, was sophisticated and pleasing.

After three days, he reached the post office where half of The Mechanic sprawled over the hood of the ’36 Corvette, his spine wriggling beneath a ragged sweatshirt. Knowing he was near, the coyote dashed toward his destination. Six gaunt men met his barks and whines. Inside their refuge they removed his vest and read aloud the document beneath it. They hooted and exclaimed, “I knew The Genius would come through!” and took turns scratching his belly and telling him he had done well. He fell asleep as the men talked excitedly and built a fire. “To The Hero!” they toasted several hours later, raising their bowls and picking at bits of grey fur that stuck to their lips. The rich, fortifying broth tasted like a better tomorrow.

Prologue: I am El CoyoteMichael Pitman

 M. D. Pitman

My name is Hugo Costello and I am a city worker who drives a snow plow in the winter and works in the parks during the summer. Like most people, you don’t know who I really am – yet. For those that know me as Hugo, they know be as a simple man, but I’m far from that. You may have heard of my other name, the name most people fear: El Coyote.

I will soon abandon my nice guy persona and embrace my true, masochistic self. I see myself as a businessman, and I’ve ran my “business” since high school. I ordered around thugs and hooligans that dealt drugs for me and helped with “problem elimination.” It wasn’t until after I school I added prostitution to my “business portfolio.”

Just like some other private business that started in a garage, my “business” will go public when it’s ready, though there won’t be any IPO or investment opportunities.

People now only recognize El Coyote by my ride, my “36 Corvette” – a Burgundy 1936 Buick Coupe with a 1972 454 cubic-inch, 7.4 liter Corvette engine. The paint job has been referred by some newspaper editorials as “the Zombie Apocalypse” because of the skulls that decorate the hood and side panels. With the sight and the roar of my Corvette, people cower – and that makes me feel good. That makes me feel powerful.

It’s only a matter of a few days that plan to take over the city, to form my syndicate will be primed to launch. This will be done with the help of my top two lieutenants: Tony Garrison, a childhood friend who’s not only killed for me but saved my life countless times, and Yuriko, a Japanese femme fatale. They have helped me grow from a small-time secret crook into the man – no at this point El Coyote is more of an idea – that everyone fears.

I was nine years old when I moved to Cincinnati with my parents. That’s when I met Tony. We ran our high school, though we made sure nobody actually knew that. Pot, fixed grades, and a modified version of my current “problem elimination” service were what we offered. The killing didn’t start until after college.

Tony and I went to the University of Cincinnati after high school. Partly to keep up the charade with our parents, but mostly we wanted more. That’s where we met Yuriko, who became one of my most trusted allies after we became lovers.

My parents weren’t happy when I took the job with the city after college – they said something about “throwing my education away” – but this job is strategic. I’ve learned the lay of the city and who I could and could not bribe. I’m ready for my parents to disown me.

The story you are about to hear is one of growth, personal perseverance and determination. It’s not yet a story of triumph, because triumph presumes an end and I’m just getting started.

Last WillNeal Sayatovich

Neal Satayovich

Well my luck has finally run out.

As I’m writing this letter I am slowly bleeding out from a bite in my thigh. My purpose for this note is simple, someone please find Veronica before it’s too late. I am no longer able to keep her safe in my current condition and hoping whoever reads can protect her.

Veronica and I met back when I was passing through Newark, Ohio. Ever since the infection broke out and the… zombies… started roaming around, I have been drifting from city to city in search of survival items. Newark was different than my normal scavenge and relocate routine though. While I was leaving a K-Mart I heard a woman scream and there she was, surrounded by three zombies.

I removed my pistol and dispatched the three zombies. She asked to come with me and I let her, God knows I needed the company. We bonded more and more every mile. While we were in Virginia we shot and cooked coyote on the roadside. We used to play trivia to keep ourselves busy. One question I enjoyed was when I asked her what was the first Chevy produced and she told me it was a 1936 Corvette.

Things went south while we were here in Kentucky. My little Toyota ran out of gas and we coasted into this small town, Marysville I think, looking for either gas or another vehicle. After we didn’t find anything in around us, we cut through the local graveyard. The irony was not lost on me. Then they came from everywhere, all I remember is a wall of infected people.

Veronica took off ahead of me as I fired a couple of quick shots into the group. She yelled at me that she found a vehicle with the keys still in the ignition. When I got to where she was I saw the monstrosity of a vehicle. She had found a Dodge Ram with a snow plow mounted to the front. As weird as it was, something was better than nothing.

I opened the door to the driver side and a body fell out of the cab. I thought it was just another corpse, until it bit my leg. I have never felt pain like that before. I shot the zombie, a decomposed brunette, and knew what had to be done, Veronica did too. I stepped away while she started the truck and stared at me through the window. She was crying and it hurt me knowing that I was doing this to her.

She drove off as if going back to Ohio without me getting the chance to tell her how I felt. So I’ve locked myself in this office to write this for whoever finds my body. Before I become one of them, I’m making my last bullet count.

I love you Veronica.