The Iron Writer Challenge #7

1940 Ford TractorThe Iron Writer Challenge #7

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #7

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Dawn NapierDon CorcoranMichael K. EidsonWill Millar

The Elements:

A 1940 Ford Farm Tractor

A Space Monkey

A Nursery Rhyme


The Space CowDawn Napier

Dawn Napier

Ethan clambered onto Grandpa’s old Ford tractor.  He pretended that he was Star Blaster, the space explorer.  His ship was a big rusty bucket, but it was sturdy and strong and could take him across the entire galaxy.

He called it the Space Cow.

“Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the Cow jumped over the moon!”  He swung his feet as he pretended to steer the ship.

“Nice landing, men.  Time to explore this wasteland.”

He climbed off the tractor and crawled underneath.

“Keep under cover.  There could be monsters anywhere.”

There was a chattering sound from the shadows.

Ethan scrambled out.  Mom and Dad always said to stay away from animals that didn’t act afraid.  They could have rabies.

He saw nothing, but he heard another chatter.  Ethan backed away.  But he didn’t leave.  He wanted to see what the animal was.

A furry little hand poked out from under the tractor.  It had four fingers and a thumb, just like his.  Then a furry face appeared.  Two enormous purpose eyes blinked at him, and the creature chattered again.  It was some kind of monkey.

Could monkeys have rabies?

The creature chattered, and its pearly little teeth gleamed.  It was wearing some sort of suit or jacket.

If it was a pet, then that was why it wasn’t afraid of him.  Ethan put a hand out for it to sniff.  The monkey hopped close to him and touched his fingers with both hands.  Its hands were warm and soft.

The suit was purple, like its eyes.  It was a jumpsuit that covered its body and all four limbs.  Only its hands, feet, face and tail were exposed.  Its tail was long and curled like a cat’s.

It wasn’t a real monkey, Ethan realized.  It had eight fingers on each hand.

The creature ran its tiny hands over Ethan’s fingers and wrists.  Then it tugged on his sleeve and pointed at the tractor.

“Oh, that’s just pretend,” Ethan said.  “It’s not a real ship.”

The monkey tugged harder.  Then it scampered up the tire and sat down on the seat.

“All right, I’ll show you.”  Ethan climbed up after the monkey and sat down in front of it.  “Space Cow, away!  See, it doesn’t do any—”

The huge ship blasted into the sky so fast that Ethan was thrown backwards.  He rolled across the floor and hit the back wall.

The monkey sat in the padded chair.  Its fingers raced over the console, and the ship rocked.  The window-screen showed a blue sky that slowly darkened to black.  Stars cut through the black like diamonds.

“Are we going to your planet?”

The monkey chattered.

“Is there any food?”

It chattered and pressed a button.  A tray slid out, exposing a neat row of green and white circles.

“I’ve never had sushi before.”

Then he shrugged and picked up a piece.  He would probably eat weirder things when they got wherever they were going.

The Day Before Take-OffDon Corcoran

Don Corcoran

“What was it you’re looking for?” asked Rufus.  He eyed the kid with the white shirt and fancy tie. A piece of grass clung to his bottom lip.

“An astronaut, sir.”

“Can’t say I’ve seen any around here, since,” he shouted over his shoulder, “What? Ninety-seven, Mildred?”

“’Bout right,” nodded his wife as they sauntered up to the Weatherford’s barn.

“But you said you heard something in your barn?” asked Spencer.

“Yessir.  Wasn’t no astronaut though.”

Rufus slid open the barn door, and Spencer let out a sigh.  It was packed to the gills with old car parts and farm equipment and no way to move around.  Spencer stepped in as far as he dared, craning his neck to scan the mechanical detritus.

A screech and a clang rang through the old structure.  Everyone leapt back, alarmed.

“What the?” exclaimed Rufus.

A chimp’s head poked up from the rusted machinery, and Spencer immediately started to rummage through his backpack.

“Hey mister,” the grass dropped from Rufus’s mouth.  “There’s a monkey in my barn.”

Without looking up Spencer explained, “Yes, that’s Penelope. She’s not a monkey.”

“Pardon?  That’s a monkey if I ever saw one, or the gosh ugliest farm-girl I ever laid eyes on!”

“Chimpanzee.  Penelope isn’t a monkey, rather an ape.”

“What’s she doing?”

“Probably fixing something.  It’s what she’s trained to do.”

“Fixing something?  That hasn’t run since, what?  Fifties, Mildred?”

“’Bout right.”

“1940 Ford-Fergusen.  My granddaddy tilled the south plot with her.”

There was another clatter from the tractor followed by the ring of metal on metal.  Penelope stood waving a large, red wrench over her head.

“Your monkey best not break nothing, that there’s an antique.”

“She’s not –  Oh never mind.  Hold this.” Handing Rufus a collar, Spencer pulled out a Tupperware container.  As soon as he popped the seal, the racket stopped and Penelope’s head made an appearance, her nostril’s flaring.

Spencer took the tuna roll out of its plastic coffin.  “Come on baby.  Spence has your favorite.”

A little off-key he sang, “Rock-a-bye, baby, on the treetop.”

“Now, what are you doing?”

Spencer glared at Rufus, “It calms her.  Help me out – when the wind blows the cradle will rock.”

Rufus looked at his wife and she spurred him on.  “I don’t got all day.  There’s a ham in the oven.”  In unison they joined in, “And down will come baby…”

By the third “cradle will fall,” Rufus was singing harmony and Spencer waved for the collar.  Penelope’s arm crept from behind paint cans and street signs.   Her fingers gingerly wrapped around Spencer’s wrist, her lips enveloping the food.  Spencer sighed in relief.

Rufus picked his way through the barn checking to see what damage the ape caused. Spencer and Penelope waved farewell.  Their car kicked up dust in its departure as a pop and a chug brought the old tractor to life.  Rufus took off his cap, and scratched his head, “Well, what do you know.”

A Marriage Proposal in Space

Michael K. Eidson

Having flown non-stop from Baltimore to Kansas City, Julia and I are headed south in a rental. Julia drives because she knows where we’re going.

Julia jokes a lot about getting married in space. I can’t afford that, but I had proposed at the National Air and Space Museum. I’d waited until we were alone, our only audience the preserved corpse of Able the space monkey. I’d dropped to one knee, shown Julia the expensive diamond ring and popped the question.

“No,” Julia had said. “You have to meet my family first.”

I hadn’t said anything. Just gulped. As long as they’re not all murderers, what’s the big deal, right?

After a few hours on the road we pull off at a restaurant with a gravel parking lot. A sign proclaims the eatery belongs to Mama Goose. The interior walls depict scenes from a nursery rhyme: a cat with a fiddle, a cow jumping over the moon, a dish and a spoon running away together. A little dog laughing. I know how he feels.

Our waitress is maybe sixteen years old. She rolls her eyes when I order sushi. It’s on the menu, along with fried green tomatoes. “Somebody wants sushi, Mom,” she yells.

“Sarah, please tell Mom we’re here,” Julia says.

A minute later, Mom waddles out like a gushing goose. We all visit until some old guys come in and Mom has to cook for them.

“We’re going to the house,” Julia announces.

Sarah slaps some keys in Julia’s hand. “Mom says don’t drive your car up the hill.”

We travel on a two-lane road with no shoulders but lots of double yellow lines, eventually parking outside a boxy, graying wooden building. This can’t be the house.

It’s a garage. Julia climbs into the seat of a gray tractor that belongs in a museum, beckons to me and pats the tire wall. “Ever ride on a 1940 Ford farm tractor?”

I tug at my tie. “I’m overdressed.”

“Climb up.”

The tire wall is obviously not intended as a passenger seat. I set my butt there and find places for my feet.

Somehow Julia starts the relic. We ride it uphill on a rocky road so eroded the rental would have bottomed out. Cresting the hill, I see the house, greying and wooden. Not boxy.

Two bare-chested young men run to meet us, followed by an older man with overalls, suspenders and a jaunty gait. Julia introduces me to her Dad and brothers Johnny and Sam. I’ve never been punched in the shoulder so many times in my life.

I wouldn’t have guessed Julia came from such a family, but she wouldn’t be the Julia I love if she’d grown up anywhere else. Right?

The next morning, Julia takes me for another ride on the tractor. Turning it off, she kisses me and says, “You can ask me now. If you want.”

We’re in a large field. Lots of space. Now I realize where Julia wants to get married.

It Means “Strangle-FaceWill Millar

Will Millar

The witchfire crashed near the edge of Barrett’s field, where kudzu had overtaken a 1940 Ford Tractor so completely that it was merely the suggestion of a hump buried under ravenous vegetation. I cursed under my breath and grabbed my shotgun. Ever since my neighbor experienced some unpleasantness vis a vis stepping outside one morning and finding 4 cows and a Weimaraner all burnt up amidst some kind of looney-tunes crop circles I make it a point to carry the heater. It pays to be prepared.

Two minutes later I was stumbling and cursing through the tall weeds like an idiot. At the center of a small crater was a smooth, egg-shaped pod no bigger than a Frigidaire. A hatch popped open and I made a show of racking the scattergun and hoisting it at said hatch.

“Come on out nice and slow,” I said, sounding more confident than I felt.

The voice that came back sounded like that Hawking feller – the smart guy in the wheelchair. He’s always going on about space; maybe he got it in his mind to try launching himself. People get funny ideas.

The Stephen Hawking voice wasn’t speaking any English that I knew of. “Dos vedanya,” I think he said. And: “Tovarisch.”

“Never mind all that,” I said. “Get to where I can see you.”

“Da, da…” Two furry little paws popped out, followed by a furry little face. He looked at the shotgun and came out slowly, hands high, grinning; a capuchin monkey, wearing an orange jumpsuit. Slung around his neck was some contraption like an oversized calculator.

I lowered the gun. The monkey hopped down, still grinning. He gestured at the gadget and shrugged. May I? I suppose he meant.

I nodded. He typed.

That Hawking voice chirped: “Dos vedanya, tovarisch.”

“Is that Russian?”
The monkey tipped me a salute.

“Well I’ll be. Speak any English?”

He seemed to consider this, and then tapped a few more keys. “American?”

I nodded.

He went back to typing. Hawking chirped “Three. Blind. Mice.” The monkey grinned so wide I thought the top of his head was going to slide off.

“Not bad.”

A second foo-lite exploded up the road. The monkey screeched and jumped onto my shoulder.

“Friend of yours?”

He typed. What came out sounded like “Zadushit Litso.” He was trembling.

“Should we check it out?”

He paused, and then typed again. “Da.”


Whatever it was had smashed into the trailer that used to be Ma Barrett’s Fresh Sushi and Fireworks Stand. It must have torched the fish something awful, either that or Ma was taking creative license with that whole “Fresh” angle.

“Zadushit Litso,” the monkey typed.

“I don’t know what that is.”

He typed some more. “Three blind mice.”

“That’s not helping, either.”

As we got closer, my eyes started watering. The rotten fish smell was like a punch in the face. “Ma?” I called out. “Doc?”

“Three. Blind. Mice.”

“Cool it with that.”

From the gutted trailer, I saw something emerge that hurt my head to look at. I’ll call it an octopus, but that isn’t right. It was wearing something like a fish bowl on something like a head. These aren’t the right words, just something that’ll have to do. One horrible yellow eye was fixed on me. “Zadushit Litso?” I said.

The monkey nodded, frantically stripping off his jumpsuit as this thing advanced. I drew down on that eye and pulled the trigger.


I may have forgotten something at the house.

The creature made an awful chuckle. It slithered at us with sickening speed. From the corner of my eye I saw the monkey hurl something. A split second later, a sodden diaper struck the creature, stunning it. Without thinking, I reversed the grip on the shotgun and swung it like a baseball bat.

The fishbowl exploded, showering us in space-glass, ichor, and monkey-piss. We did a little victory dance.

A dozen more foo-lights ripped across the sky.

The Iron Writer Challenge #6

vampire hunting kit 1880

The Iron Writer Challenge #6

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #6

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

B R SnowBernice AgyekwenaDon CorcoranMoira McArthur

The Elements:

An 1880 Vampire Hunting Kit

A Nudist Colony

A Cell Phone Charger

A Carp

Eyes UpBernie Snow

B R Snow

“The things I do for this show. My ass has frozen off.”

“No, it’s there. I mean…I’m not…it’s…just…there in the moonlight.”

“Eyes up. Had you pegged asexual. Now focus. We’re scouting this location for a show.”

“We’re naked.”

“We’re blending in.”

“Why would a vampire hang around a nudist colony?”

“Maybe it likes to take a good look before dining. Japanese restaurants hang pictures of their food in the window. And don’t say nudist colony. Permanent residents; it’s a community. Temporary visitors; it’s a campColony evokes overtones of servitude and oppression.”

“So what’s this place called?”

“This place? It’s a bunch of naked people on ten acres. What the fuck do I care what it’s called? I’m starving.”

“It’s late.”

“I like eating late. Check out the pond. Nice soft lighting.”

“The Koi are pretty.”

“Fancy name for carp. They’re bottom feeders that eat anything. I hate bottom feeders.”


“Eyes up. I was talking about carp.”

“A lot of people eat carp.”

“So what? A lot of people watch the Kardashians. Doesn’t make it a good idea. Damn, my nipples are like granite. So what’s your deal?”


“Eyes up. Your deal. If I’m forced to have a co-host, I need to know your deal.”

“Well, like I told your producer, I’m a vampire hunter who uses ancient techniques.”

“Uh-huh. What’s in the box?”

“It’s my great-grandfather’s 1880 vampire hunting kit. I hunt vampires the way others might use bow and arrow for game. I have a Bible, flint-lock pistol, silver bullets, mahogany spike, special serum-”


“Holy water, garlic, honey, and salt.”

“You killing vampires or making salad dressing, Freddie?”

“It’s powerful.”

“Somewhere vampires and lettuce heads are cowering in fear. You into low-tech?”

“Only for vampire hunting. I love technology. See? An Apple. Well, it’s a cellphone, but made by Apple.”

“Got it.”

“I need to call my Mom. I don’t want her to worry.”

“Living with your mother?”

“Yeah…I’m gonna get my own place soon.”


“Honest. Darn. My phone’s dead.”

“I’d lend you mine but I didn’t have any place to put it.”

“No problem. See? Battery-operated charger.”

“Wow. It’s tiny.”

“Only one inch long.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s cold.”


“Nothing…bad joke. Let me see it. The charger, not the frightened turtle. Damn. Dropped it right in the pond.”

“And swallowed by a Koi.”

“Told you they’d eat anything. Christ, I’m starving.”

“How long will we be here? She worries.”

“Not long. I’ve seen all there is to see.”

“Seen what? We’ve barely moved.”

“Japanese restaurants, Freddie.”

“What? Are those…?”

“Yes. The same ones I used on your garlic-infested, great-grandfather. Gave me wicked indigestion. Forget the box, Freddie.”




“Don’t worry. I’m 200 years in and still don’t have all the answers.”


“Look on the bright side. You’re going to die staring into the eyes of a beautiful, naked woman. Damn, I need to grow some hair. My cooter has frostbite.”


“Eyes up, Freddie.”

Trapping the Vampires at BongoBernice

Bernice Agyekwena

Sergeant Ali snorted as he sat at the wheel of the police jeep with Jacob Herman in the passenger seat. He hated waiting. Corporal Atinga, the best marks man and the only one who knew the route to where the vampires that had been preying on Bongo were hiding out was late. The vampires were said to reside 600 miles away, beyond a primitive nudist community that wanted nothing to do with modern civilization.

Vampires in the twenty- first century? They were supposed to have died out! Yet the 230 deaths that had taken place within the last three months at Bongo all bore the tell-tale marks of a vampire attack. The deaths had sent inhabitants fleeing to other parts of the country. The Police had been under pressure to track the killers, whether man, animal or spiritual being and put an end to the horrific deaths.

Atinga arrived with the excuse that his phone charger had failed to function so he had to borrow one to charge his phone. The trio took off.

Not all his training and experience tracking armed robbers, drug traffickers and ritual killers had prepared Ali for the task on his hands now. How do you hunt down something that is not human, can disappear and has supernatural powers? When it had become clear to the Police Force that the killers besieging Bongo could not be defeated by machine guns and grenades, it had sought the assistance of spiritualists, juju men, fetish priests, pastors and priests but still the mystery killers had eluded them. An intensive research on the subject had led them to a website advertising the Herman family, a famed German family with a track record for hunting and killing vampires.

At the request of the Police, Jacob had arrived at Bongo, armed with an 1880 vampire hunting kit. Now Jacob, together with Atinga and Ali were making the trip to the rugged mountains to trap and kill the vampires.  Several hours of travelling and they chanced upon a nude couple.  They had arrived at the nudist community. An hour later and the rugged mountains loomed before them. They left the vehicle and skirted around a stream to the mountain which was inundated with caves. Moving from cave to cave, they looked for the clues of the vampires with the help of the kit. The instrument showed a red flashing light in a very large cave; a vampire was close. They hid in a corner and waited. At midnight a vampire appeared and amidst a lot of struggle, they trapped and killed it. But then came a second, a third, a fourth, and suddenly dozens of vampires. They fled!  “Run for the stream”. Jacob screamed to his companions. “Vampires cannot survive in running water.” They run and jumped into the stream.  Atinga grabbed something in the water. It was a fish. Was it a vampire fish, a trophy for his adventure? He held on to it until morning and took a good look at it. It was a carp!

Picture ShowDon Corcoran

Don Corcoran

He was handsome enough.

“Hope you’re enjoying the party,” he said.

Claudia smiled, her head nodding to the monotonous bass-line.

“You don’t come to these often, do you?” he asked.

Her eyes widened and her smile grew tighter. “That obvious?”

“Nipples are a weird thing… in our society, I mean.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“Aside from not moving from that spot since you got here, I think your drink has gone untouched. Mostly because you don’t want to expose nipple.”

Claudia blushed.  Not so much because of the nudity.  She liked her body and, as thirty Illustration 101 students could attest to every week, she wasn’t shy about exposing herself to strangers.  He was right.  She felt foolish standing there without a lick of clothing while taking the obligatory stance of a woman whose breasts were getting too much attention.

“Hey, not everyone here is from the colony.  Some are friends of friends.”

“And you?”

“I let them use my backyard.”

They looked out at the dozen writhing bodies dancing to the rhythms the DJ spun.  His body caught her eye. His exhibitionism was apparent.  It was obvious he worked out, and his tattoo – two koi swimming in a circle across his left buttock – wouldn’t be seen by just anyone.

Claudia shook her head, bringing herself back to the moment, “What? This is yours?”

He nodded, trying not to be smug.

It all came together for her.  “I’ve been looking for you all night.”

He did a double-take seeing the look she gave him as if he were all she’d ever wanted, all she ever needed.  He flashed a broad grin.


Excitedly she dug into her purse and pulled out a black cord.  A hunk of lifeless glass and plastic dangled from the end.

Dubious, she smirked, “Um, do you think I could charge my phone?”

His head dropped as he chuckled, “Sure. Follow me.”

Inside was a museum: hundreds of DVDs, a massive television, and framed posters depicted vintage films. Her eyes wandered over the walls.

In an apologetic tone he confessed, “I’m a bit of a horror nut.”

“I’ve seen most of these.  My dad raised me on creature double features,” she beamed. “But I’ve never seen some of these posters.”

“They’re mostly signed imports.  Vincent Price, Peter Cushing.”

She took a closer look at the Dracula poster.  While Christopher Lee got top billing as Dracula, the poster showed Van Helsing removing a cross from a wooden suitcase filled with eldritch vials, stakes and silver bullets.

He stood closer to her.  She turned and he could feel her breath on his chest.

“Um, the outlet’s over there.” he smiled down at her.

She blushed.  “Thanks.”

They were suddenly aware of their nudity.

As he made his way back to the party, she gathered her courage to ask, “Why?”


“Why didn’t you try anything?”

“I dunno. Seemed obvious. Inappropriate.”

She brushed by him with a grin, “Well, it’ll be charged soon.”

FishingMoira McAtrthur

Moira McArthur

She looked at her dwindling stock from the 1880 Vampire Hunting Kit, withdrew the knife and stabbed him through the heart.

Monday nights. Going out with friends. A habit. Together in the local run down pub. No-one else in on a Monday. Every year they all booked a long weekend in some equally crumbling destination. Full of old folk, rubbish entertainment and free bar. A way of making money in the empty months before the Xmas trade began. All near a fishing lake.

Last outing, a small seaside town where it poured with rain the entire weekend. The hotel, separated from the town by a good mile of deep rutted puddles. Sheila, tired of hearing John and Allan going on and on about fishing carp, had stood up and announced she was going for a walk. Her husband, never a fisherman, was pointedly reading a book on his i-Phone. She noticed he’d brought his cell phone charger. The fishing talk could go on for ever. The ladies of the party, deciding it was much too cold to venture out, had brought down their knitting. Sheila said, “Bye, then” and went for her raincoat and boots.

Stomping along, she went over the other holidays they’d had. Never again, she thought. No matter what, never again.

The town had a closed appearance as if it too was giving up. Another cloudburst and Sheila stepped into a shop doorway to shelter. The door opened behind her. She turned to see an old man saying ‘Come in, come in’. Needing no second bidding, Sheila went inside.

She looked around. Shelves of curios.

The man motioned her to take a seat and went through the back. Reappearing moments later with two mugs of coffee. They sat looking out at the rain. Sheila suddenly found herself talking about the holiday and how, please, she could not think of going on another. The old man got up and went to a shelf in the corner. He brought out a small leather case. “This will help. Don’t open it now. Wait until you are back at the hotel.” Sheila reached into her purse but the man laid a hand on her arm. “Take it”, he said. “A souvenir of your holiday.”

Back at the hotel, Sheila went up to her room and opened the case. Dried garlic cloves, a small pistol, jars of unidentifiable objects. A sheet of paper, tucked in at the back, said ‘1830 Vampire Hunting Kit’.

Over the course of the year, the Vampire Hunting Kit did indeed become useful. Garlic cloves kept moles from digging in the garden. An iron cross went over the grave of her daughter’s hamster.

The time for discussing the next year’s outing came around. They all sat open mouthed at John announcing the venue, a nudist colony with an amazing fishing lake, Sheila took the only route possible then calmly sat back and waited for the police. Whatever happened next was vastly preferable to crumbly holidays and fishing talk.

The Iron Writer Challenge #5

vacuum tube

The Iron Writer Challenge #5

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #5

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Rodney WitherspoonEdison McDanielsSteve HarzRobin Harding

The Elements:

A 1935 Vacuum Tube Radio

A coconut

A wheel from a covered wagon

A Komodo Dragon

Seducing Reptilesrobin harding

Robin Harding

“I reckon Indonesia just skipped from the nineteenth century to the twenty first bypassing the twentieth entirely. These people went from storytelling around the campfire to iPhones without ever having landlines or television.” Lisa made this observation as she sat with her husband Dan in a café in Candi Dasa in Bali and watched the fishing boats cross the reef. She felt rather pleased with this insight.

Dan did not acknowledge the cleverness of the comment. He argued back. “Why shouldn’t they? It’s like you resent the idea that Indonesians didn’t invent the use of electricity and that they don’t have landfills full of 1935 vacuum tube radios and broken black and white TVs.  The fact that each house lacked its own video player and telephone is a matter of economics only. Now thanks to tourists like us, they can afford these essentials.”

“I’m not saying that every person has to figure out how to make fire and how to go from covered wagons with wheels to Bullet trains. After all I am a lecturer; I do appreciate the concept of sharing knowledge.” Lisa stirred her coconut shrimp and rice.  “I was just observing that as a nation, they seem to have skipped over several forms of technology.”

Lisa had just arrived from Rinca where by courtesy of a grant from her university in Melbourne she was analyzing Komodo dragon behaviour. After three weeks in the bush, she flew to Denpasar and taxied to the hotel to meet Dan. They were going to have a perfect week here. They were staying at the Dewa Bharata guest house and they had a sea view.

Lisa sipped her white wine. “Sometimes going through the development of inventions gives your society an understanding of how the mechanisms work, how they can be maintained and how they can be improved. You’ve seen the roads in those instantly wealthy oil rich nations lined with broken refrigerators that so many could suddenly afford but no one can repair.”

Dan shook his head, “you sound like a primary school girl bitter because someone copied your work.”

This was not going well. Lisa recalled Selima saying to her, “tidak apa apa, no what what – keep it light.” We can salvage this evening thought Lisa. “Anyway, this new technology is certainly going to help me keep in touch with the Reserve.”

“So now that it will benefit you personally, you think it might be alright for this nation to use digital devices. Very generous of you.”

“It’s good for the lizards. You seem to be deliberately missing the point.”

Dan finished his beer and signaled the waitress for another one. “You had a point?”

Would the satisfaction of murdering Dan be worth life in an Indonesian prison? Could  romance be rekindled?

Dan burped. When the waitress brought his new beer he gave her a warm smile.

“Komodo Dragons are monogamous and mate for life, you know,” Lisa shrieked and stomped out of the nearly empty restaurant.

Bounty from the SeaRodney Witherspoon

Rodney Witherspoon

Frank felt as if he’d been on the island for months, but his sailboat sank in the storm only last week.  It went down so fast that Frank was only able to grab a lighter and a crowbar before hitting the water.  He was lucky to find the island, though; the charts said it didn’t exist.  Of course, that meant no one would be looking for him here, so Frank prepared for a long wait for rescue.

As usual in the morning, Frank awoke from his bed of palm fronds under a short palm tree and walked across the island looking for food.  For the last week, he’d only found coconuts and bananas.  This morning was no exception, and, by the time he’d reached the other side of the island, he was loaded down with a bunch of green bananas and four coconuts.  He broke through the tree line and was about to return to his camp when he saw something bobbing in the shallow water.  Approaching the objects, he discovered three old and worn wooden crates resting on the sandy bottom being tossed by the waves.

Excited, Frank rushed back to his camp, dropped the fruit he collected, and grabbed the crowbar before tearing across the island to the crates.  There were no labels or any markings on them.  It was as if they had just appeared with no point of origin.  Frank shoved the crates onto the beach and drew a deep breath.  He might find food, or a tent, or something else that would be helpful in his struggle to survive.

In the first crate, he found wagon wheels that wouldn’t be out of place in the Old West on a covered wagon.

“Museum pieces,” Frank muttered to himself before moving to the second crate.  His eyes widened as he took in the device at the bottom.  It was also a museum piece, but this one had the possibility of being useful.  It was an old vacuum tube radio that looked to be in good shape.  The label on the back said that it had been built in 1935.  Excitement filled Frank before he remembered that these old radios needed an external power source.  Obviously, there wasn’t one on his little island.

With a sigh, Frank opened the last crate.  A hiss erupted from inside, and a creature jumped at him.  Frank let out a high pitched scream and pushed himself away from the crate.  Sitting on the sand on the discarded lid was an adult Komodo dragon.  Rather than fight the creature, Frank decided to run.  The dragon followed forcing Frank to climb a nearby coconut tree.  As the dragon waited patiently at the bottom, Frank pulled a coconut from the tree, aimed it, and flung it at the lizard.  The dragon was no longer a problem.

Frank returned to the last crate and carefully looked inside.  “I’m going to get off of this island,” he said staring at the hand cranked generator at the bottom.

The QueaseEdison McDaniel

Edison McDaniels

“Is it salvageable?”

He pursed his lips, blowing the dust out of the innerds of the cabinet. He squinted his eyes, missing his glasses for the hundredth time. “I dunno,” he said, then “Yeah, I think mostly the tubes are okay. A few might be cracked. I’d guess this radio is circa 1935, maybe even a little before that.”

“Thing’s a relic,” she said, adding soto voce “thank god.”

“Whole damn planet’s a relic,” the man said.

She nodded, pulling at the hair on one side of her head. She felt the queaze again, had been feeling the queaze for some days now. She looked out the window at the covered wagon and its wheels. All they owned, which wasn’t much, lay under its canvas.

The pulse, ten plus years in the past, had destroyed everything. Nobody knew what it had been, not for certain. Probably not a nuke though. A meteor maybe. Whatever, the worst of it had been the charge of static that came with it. Anything electronic had fried. Vacuum tubes had become like gold in the years since. They couldn’t be made anymore. Had to be found. The likely places had been scoured clean, which meant scavengers like them had to go farther and farther afield. Which meant…

“We can’t get back tonight,” the man said.

“No,” she said, “I don’t suppose. We’re at least a whole day out from the colony.”

The sun was falling and there was no question of traveling at night. “The dragons will be out soon.”

“This place’ll be alright,” he said, looking around. Like most buildings, its upper floors had been leveled by the pulse, but it had a good foundation. “The walls will keep ‘em out.” It had a good basement too, but they didn’t dare go there, not if they wanted to live. The dragons—the entire So Cal desert had been over run with Komodo dragons after the pulse, probably from the LA zoo but who really knew—sought the cool basements in the day and came out at night. Not especially fast, but they were numerous. Their bite, even just their touch, might be lethal.

They found a small room—four good walls and a large credenza that did for a door. Surprisingly cozy, mostly because it was clean and dry and out of the weather, which was sour and cold and wet. A perfect night for the dragons, a perfect night to curl up inside beside a fire. They burned a small library and roasted dog meat.

The queaze came and went again. She had to tell him. She had planned for it, had bought the only delicacy she could both find and afford back at the colony. He had shared a coconut the night before the pulse, a last—now legendary—moment with his mother. He spoke of it—of her—often.

She pulled the coconut from her bag.

“Where did you—”

“I’m pregnant,” she said, “thought we’d celebrate.”

“With my mom?”

“Who better?”

Steve Harz

Gas Station Road Map

Steve Harz

Your history had been

written in pencil

on bathroom walls

by inaccurate historians

bent on cruel conquest

rather than mutual capture

and while we had been told

history is written by the victor

I do not subscribe to that theory

because in actuality history

is written by those who

survive the longest and

since you are here with me

and they have disappeared

I have taken an eraser and

eliminated your past

allowing us to rediscover

the world together using

a bottom drawer broken compass

and aiming the frozen needle

anywhere we need true north

or due south to be

we do not discover with a plan

like Lewis and Clark and their

covered wagon wheel ruts

and Chinook canoe wakes

but rather meander with a purpose

taking clues from junkyard road signs and

Howard Johnson 50 state placemats

and along the way we are comforted by

mismatched borrowed rocking chairs

and the distant big band signal

coming from a friendly front porch

1935 Detrola Cathedral vacuum tube radio

with its map of the world station dial

that helps us avoid the fault line

that runs from your lips to my chest

and one twist of the radio’s dial to the right

points us towards Komodo Island and its

dragon discovered by the Dutch

and to the left the West Indies where

ancient history is broadcast on

the coconut telegraph

and each step forward is a

quicksand leap toward comfort

and we walk the extra mile

barefoot down median strips

holding hands with a posture suggesting

a mix of love for each other and

protection from the world

and when we reach our destination

we will rewrite history

yours mine and ours

with permanent ink

in the margins of a public library atlas

and will compose our future

word for word

along the rural routes of a

gas station road map