The Iron Writer Challenge #21 – 2013 Summer Solstice Open Preliminary Round, F. Scott Fitzgerald Bracket

Flying Bicycle

The Iron Writer Challenge #21

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open

Preliminary Round

F. Scott Fitzgerald Bracket


 The Authors:

B.R. SnowM.D. PitmanDellani Oakes

The Elements:

Electric Flying Bicycle
A doppelganger
An obscure Black and White Television Drama/Comedy

 On Your OwnBernie Snow

B R Snow

“Looking for what?”

“The lost city. Atlantis.

“Plato’s Atlantis?”

“No, the freshwater version.”

“Freshwater Atlantis.”


“And you think it’s here at Lake Tahoe?”

“It’s here. But not at… in. At the bottom.”

“Off your meds again?”

“Those things are useless. They cloud my thinking.”

“Who knew?”

“You, of all people, should be supportive. My twin. The only family I have left.”

“Whose fault is that?”

“Nevertheless, without each other, we’d be on our own.”

“Probably not the time to mention this, what with you off your meds, but you are on your own.”

“Funny. Every time I look in the mirror, you’re there.”

“Because I’m you…some bizarre doppelganger you conjure when you go off your meds.”

“Tomato, Tomahto. Twin, doppelganger. No difference.”

“Okay. Why don’t you put the hammer down and we’ll go to the galley and fix a cocktail?”

“Who’s got time?”

“Gee, I don’t know. A guy with a yacht who doesn’t work could probably find time for a cocktail.”

“We work all the time.”

“No, you concoct wild-assed schemes. You fill your day, but you don’t work. C’mon, it’s hot. Let’s have that drink.”

“What kind?”

“Vodka martini?”

“We prefer gin.”

“Gin it is.”

“We’re out of gin.”

“Okay. Bloody Mary?”

“No, they scare us.”

“Scare us?”

“We always spill and it reminds us of…”


“Blood. And Mom and Dad.”

“That was a long time ago.”

“No, we spilled one this morning. Remember?”

“I was talking about…forget it. Wine?”

“Red or white?”

“I’m thinking both.”



“Too foamy.”

“Whiskey sour?”

“Too green.”

“Prozac Slurpee?”




“What the hell…?”

“It’s a bicycle. An electric flying bicycle.”


“We pedal like normal, but these propellers make it fly.”

“Sounds like a lot of work.”

“Work, work, work…never stops.”

“Why not a helicopter?”

“Too noisy.”

“Sure. What’s the bike for?”

“To help us find the whirlpool.”

“Whirlpool? In the middle of Lake Tahoe?”

“Well, we can’t be sure it’s in the middle. That’s why we need the bike.”

“Of course. So what’s the deal with this whirlpool?”

“Whirlpools…drains. Duh. Once we find it, it will lead us to the plug.”


“Yes. On the bottom.”

“There’s a plug on the bottom of Lake Tahoe?”

“Yes. And we’re going to find it and pull it.”


“So we can drain the lake thereby revealing Atlantis.”

“The freshwater version.”

“Of course. Tahoe’s freshwater. It’d be stupid to look for the saltwater one here.”

“You’re a lunatic.”

“That’s what they said about Admiral Nelson-And don’t be so hard on yourself.”


“Admiral Nelson. He was the star of my favorite TV show, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”

“I don’t remember it.”

“You weren’t around much then. Good show. Especially the first season in black and white. Then it went color and got…vivid.”

“Vivid can be a real problem.”

“Are you ready?”

“For what?”

“To take the bike up and find the whirlpool.”

“I’ll sit this one out.”

“C’mon. I need you.”

“No. You’re on your own.”

Goin’ DownDellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

Wil sat on his flying electric bike, staring at the sapphire depths of the ocean. Somewhere, beneath the surface, lay their objective. Revving his engine, he prepared for the drop into the icy waters of the abyssal plain..

The rest of the platoon hovered around him, dressed in deep sea gear, multiple doppelgangers, waiting for the signal to jettison into oblivion.

It was strange to be on Old Earth. Stranger still was the Galactic Marine Corps’ interest in the place. Virtually abandoned 200 years ago, Earth had been reclaimed by nature. The few humans who remained were savages, wielders of crude weapons, hardly worthy adversaries. But something else lurked in the ocean—beings of half forgotten legends.

How they had come to the attention of the Marines, Wil didn’t know. He and his platoon were here to contain any possible threat before it could advance.

A voice crackled in his ear. “Ready, Sergeant?”

“Aye, Captain.”

“Commence drop in five – four – three. . . .”

The door opened at their feet and 32 cycles zipped down the ramp, making the 2,000 foot drop to the surface. Hovering over the waves, they were surrounded by force shields to keep the cold and pressure at bay. Still experimental, the shields were supposed to be impenetrable. Wil had his doubts.

Wil accessed the battle plans, projecting them to his platoon. The dive initiated on his command. Thirty-two cycles sliced into the water. Down they dropped, rapidly nearing their goal. Less than a hundred meters from their objective, Wil’s electrical system glitched. Instead of the detailed battle plans, he saw flickering images of an old black and white TV show. His visor was filled with a banner proclaiming “The Adventures of Superpup”. It was gone just as suddenly.

“You see that, Sarge?”

“Sure did.” Wil tapped his helmet and the battle plans filled his visor once more.

Something else caught his attention, far below and to his left. Raising a hand, he called a halt. Black as night, the water undulated around them. Wil’s raised fist was invisible, but the HALT message flashing inside their helmets, was not.

“What is that?” The same voice filled his ears.

“I’d say, that’s our goal, Corporal.”

With rapid movements, Wil and his corporal deployed the team. On his mark, they descended, surrounding an opalescent dome. As the bikes approached, a panel slid back and they were sucked in, unable to stop. They bounced around a huge tube, the suction drawing them inexorably forward.

A few minutes later, they were set down on a platform. The water drained away, leaving scattered puddles. They faced a 20 foot door, which opened slowly. A giant of a man dressed in scintillating blue robes walked out, smiling. His skin was indigo, his hair white. He held a metallic staff in one hand. The top was decorated with a single, multi-faceted diamond. He advanced to stand before Wil, bowing.

“Welcome, my friends. Welcome to Atlantis.” 

The ChoiceMichael Pitman

M.D. Pitman

Uncle Leonard was generous and kind, so after his death his adopted hometown of Atlanta, Indiana was as devastated as his family.

His eldest nephew, John, and his wife, Mary, adored the man that was the doppelganger of Alan Hale, the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island.

The day after Uncle Leonard died, they watched a marathon of old Alan Hale movies and shows. The especially enjoyed the ‘50s crime drama series Biff Baker, U.S.A.

“I’m telling you, John, there was a flying bicycle attached to an electric cord in the first episode.” Mary threw her head back and sighed.

“I’ll have to watch it again.” John shook his head. “I don’t remember it.”

“It’s in the background when Charles Bronson is first shown.”

John flashed a doubting stare.

“The road!” Mary yelled. “Eyes on the road before you hit something, or someone.”

The slick road, pitch black sky and echoing metal of rain pounding the rooftop made Mary uneasy. Even though they were just 45 minutes north of Indianapolis, the hamlet of 725 just a few more minutes away seemed isolated.

“Are we close?” Mary squinted to see an upcoming green destination sign. The headlights lit up: Atlanta 2 Miles (but someone crossed out in white spray paint Atlanta and wrote Atlantis).

“In this downpour, it might soon be Atlantis.”

Just as they passed the sign, the headlights shone on a man walking in the road. Before either could figure out what was happening, John spun the steering wheel left, then overcorrected right. The car spun on the slick road a full three times. John’s knuckles turned white. Mary’s head pressed against the window after it hit with a crack.

Before they stopped – headlights pointing south in the northbound lane – there was a THUD from the rear driver’s side fender.

John, rubbing his neck, groggily asked, “Mary, you okay.” When she didn’t answer, he asked again grimacing when he looked at her. “You okay, Hun?”

Mary’s head leaned against the window and her eyes were closed. Blood was smeared on the window and before he could yell her name she slowly moved and weakly uttered, “I think so.”

“I think we hit something, or – ” John trailed off because he knew it was likely someone.

Mary turned to John. “Was that a person we hit?”

“It may have been.”

“Do you think we … killed him?”

Mary, groggy and unaware she was bleeding, started to breathe heavily.

“We – need – to – call – 9-1-1,” she said in gasping breaths.

“Breathe, Hun. Let me check out what happened. It may have been … an animal?”

John glanced at his fender, which appeared undamaged, and slowly walked the twenty feet to a ditch where whatever he hit landed.

Rain tapped against a man’s dingy yellow raincoat. There was no blood, but the rain could have washed it away.

He walked into the muddy ditch. He placed two fingers on the man’s neck. No pulse.

He looked down at the body, then to the car and his injured wife. He finally stared into the blackness, closed his eyes and exhaled a deep breath.

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 #20

Red Banana Slug

The Iron Writer Challenge #20

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #20

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

B R SnowE N HeimHarry CraftBill Prins

The Elements:

Carbon Paper

A Red Banana Slug

Flashing Neon Lights

MR Peabody’s WABAC Machine

Slugging It OutBernie Snow

B R Snow

“Where are we?”

“Somewhere in the dark of night?”


“No problem. Did we actually time-travel?”

“No idea. Try your phone.”

“Who should I call?”


“Why? You’re standing right here.”



“Let’s find some locals. Maybe they’ve seen Jimmy.”

“Why do I think time travel for someone who believes in reincarnation isn’t a good combination?”

“Just don’t alter the space-time continuum.”

“How the hell do I manage that?”

“I don’t know. I just remember it from every time travel movie. Look, neon sign.”

“What…it’s flashing too fast.”

“Looks like, Joe’s Diner…Eat, then Leave. Nice touch.”

“I could eat.”


“Slow night, huh?”

“Just the way I like it.”

“We’re looking for our friend. Little guy, moves real slow. Sporting a major sunburn.”

“You two aren’t gonna find friends here. Gonna order or just take up space?”

“Uh, we’ll have today’s special.”

“Something to drink?”

“What do you recommend?”

“The pub down the road.”

“Two beers. What’s that?”

“What’s what?”

“The thing inside your order pad.”

“This? Never seen carbon paper before?”

“Actually, no. What’s it for?”

“For making a copy of your order. One for the cook, one for me.”


“How the hell do you make copies?”

“Copies? Who makes…sometimes I’ll scan…never mind. Say, what year is this?”

“What year? What are you? A pothead?”

“No, I don’t smoke weed.”

“Good. And if you plan making it through 1960, don’t start while you’re here.”

“Point taken. But it does raise another question.  Where exactly is here?”

“You don’t know? Narrabri. Gateway to Mount Kaputar.”


“Good guess. Fuck me. Let me get this order in so you can eat-n-go.”

“1960? Is that possible?”

“I didn’t check the parameters he used.”

“How did he build a time machine?”

“He’s a genius. That helps. Got the idea watching Rocky and Bullwinkle. Mr. Peabody’s time machine.”

“The cartoon dog and Sherman?”

“Yeah. It’s gonna be a movie.”

“I’ll watch that.”

“If we don’t get out of here, we’ll have to wait 53 years to see it.”

“Good point. But why 1960 in the middle of Australia?”

“His parents migrated here before they moved to the States. Maybe he came to see them.”


“Uh, what’s this?”

“The special.”

“Yes, but what…”

“Slug scampi.”


“Yeah. Problem?”

“Absolutely. Seasonal dish?”

“Slugs are always in season around here.”

“My dinner is moving.”

“Mine too.”

“We like our slugs raw.”

“Like sushi?”

“What’s sushi?”

“One of my slugs is eating another slug.”

“They’re Cannibal Snails. Fortunately, they’re slow eaters. But I wouldn’t wait too long.


“You going to eat?”

“Maybe. You?”

“When in Rome, right? Wow.”


“One of my slugs is bright red.”

“Really? That’s weird.”

“It’s crawling right towards me. And for a slug, he’s motoring.”

“It’s saying; Eat me first, eat me first.”

“I think I’ll do just that. I don’t like the way it’s staring at me.”

“The red slug is staring at you?”

“Yeah, but not for long.”


“Hmmm. A little chewy, but not bad. What?”

What’s Next?E N Heim

E N Heim

Sherman was bored out of his mind. He thought: Where could I go next? This life’s the pits. Gazing across the pen and staring at the others, he pondered another adventure, another place of interest. Nothing came to mind. He looked down on the planks where he was laying. He noticed a column of ants traipsing across the wooden floor. Hmm, he thought.  It caught his curiosity.

The only one noticing ants was Sherman. Everyone was paying attention to their own nonsense. He watched the queue serpentine across the floor, and vanished into nowhere. Interested, he looked down to see were the wriggling line was going. The streaming ants descended through a gap between the boards. Nothing could be seen but blackness.

He looked around to see if any of the others was watching him. Not one. He was the only one privy to the safari.

Sherman always thought of himself as special. Not like the group he presently was with. They were much like copies made by carbon-paper—dittoed in replication. They preferred playing, climbing the jungle-gym, and swinging around the yard. His interest was more in experiences. He had a juju Wi-Fied to Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine. It allowed him to go places in and out of time. He wore the juju around his neck for quick access and escaping. All he had to do was speak to the contraption, where he wanted to go, and POOF—he was experiencing a new life form and environment.

On this trip Sherman became a chimpanzee. He hand been a mammoth before. He wanted to know what it was like living during the ice-age. Being a huge elephant wasn’t so cool. He also wanted to know what it was like living in dinosaur times. He found it wasn’t much fun either. Hoping to become a Rex, instead he became a Lystrosaurus. It wasn’t fun being small. The Rexes took advantage of him. He was lucky his faculties were intact. His change was instant—POOF—he became a chimp.

He watched the queuing insects march into the gap. They were small, but that didn’t matter to him; it was their persistent attitude—their relentless coming and going. What was an ant’s world really like, streamed through his mind.

He rubbed the juju, and said, “Take me to the ants.” Flashing neon lights emitted from his device, and POOF.

Sherman couldn’t see. Everything around him was totally black. At first, he could only feel and hear. He now was in a telepathic world—no body—just thought, mind, and images flashing around him. His sight no longer came from his eyes. His world now was 360º visibility. No sense of body, form, but everything all at once. It was as if he was detached from form, and became pure awareness. By now he could see everything in the total darkness.

The vision Sherman saw were ants eating a “red banana slug”. With each bite, his mind became less aware of himself, and then—nothingness.

ConnectionsHarry Craft

Harry Craft

The flashing neon lights brought him to consciousness.  No—not lights; his eyes were closed.  He tried to open them, but nothing changed.  He noticed that he couldn’t clearly feel his body.  No sounds or sensations gave indications of his condition or location.  Am I conscious?  Dreaming?  As he attempted to concentrate, the lights subsided into a sort of sepia dimness more felt than seen.

Though he vaguely thought he should be afraid, he felt calm and curious, though he still did not know where he was or what was happening to him.  As his mind focused he entered a reverie in which events from his life flittered before him:  himself as a child, watching Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine on TV; now a lonely twenty-something surfing the Internet at three in the morning; now his first sexual encounter; now a fifty-something in the doctor’s office for a blood test; now a child running through the grass on a summer day as his parents watched.

As the review continued, he started to become confused.  A memory of seeing a red banana slug during a hike in the mountains—but no, he hadn’t done that.  He’d seen that on a nature show.  Memories of his trip to Japan—but he’d never been there.  A long conversation with friends seemed to veer back and forth between remembered reality and scenes from various dramas. There were memories that were unmistakably real—the birth of his daughter, his favorite childhood dog, scenes from college—but others seemed now genuine, now second-hand.

He became perturbed for the first time.  So much of his life lived at a remove, it seemed.  Cell phones, texts, the Internet, video conferencing, and of course the old standby TV.  Had he lived too much of his life vicariously?  Were thoughts, emotions, experiences he had thought were his merely carbon paper images confused for the originals?  How could he distinguish ersatz life from real?  Or did he have a real life?

The depression into which he was drifting with this train of thought was broken by the return of the flashing lights.  No, not flashing, and there was only one.  Distant and vague at first, it brightened and with its approach, a figure became apparent, enveloped within the light.  As it came near him, he could see it was a woman more beautiful than any he’d ever seen.  Her body, robed in light, might or might not have been naked; her face seemed a combination of every woman he’d ever loved—mother, lovers, wife, daughter.  Angel? flitted across his mind.

“Yes and no,” said a voice of liquid gold.  “Your guardian, your best self, your aspirations.  All of these, none of these, and more than these.”

“My life—a waste….”

“No.  Unfinished, but not wasted.  All is connected; you were part of things not physically experienced.  Others, unbeknownst, were part of you.  You are beyond such distinctions now.  The world you were in was the carbon copy.  Come now into the original.”

Joy surged within him as, embraced in her arms of light, he ascended with her into the Infinite.

FRSBill Prins

Bill Prins

“Yes, Professor Argyle, the body is in autopsy,” said Curator McDougal, standing by the outline on the floor in the still smoking room, the Halon system’s flashing neon lights now off. “The detective and his assistant will be back any minute.”

“Argyle, why the hell are you here?” bellowed Detective Gidney, surging into the room, followed by a diminutive female. “I’ll not be having any of your business this time.”

“The Director rang me this morning,” said Argyle, “and asked me to have a look around.”

“Well, I guess you’ll do that then,” said Gidney, cowed. “Anyway, the famous Horatio Huxley was certainly an odd cove, living here in this museum, and now murdered.”

“Detective Gidney,” said McDougal icily, “Sir Huxley was no run-of-the-kiln genius, but a true polymath, lecturer in everything from paleobotany to plasma physics, the national authority on coprolites, former President of the Royal Society, discoverer of temporal tunneling…”

“What’s the bloody thing?” asked Gidney thickly.

“Temporal tunneling, sir,” said Gidney’s assistant, “is exploiting directional time, like a quantum electro-dynamical Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine.”

“My assistant, Lieutenant Cloyd,” said Gidney. “She’s fresh out, and sometimes spews this drivel.”

“A pleasure, Lieutenant,” said Argyle, studying her Bantu features. “We will speak further, but perhaps we should return to the investigation at hand. Have you any clues?”

“It appears Huxley fended off the sods before they finally broke in and set the explosive,” said Gidney, “but the land line was cut and a cellular scrambler was used, so he couldn’t call for help. From the message left on the body it’s clear the eco-anarchists are back at it.”

“Professor Argyle, Sir Huxley was targeted as an elite scientist,” said Cloyd. “I’ve checked into recent ecotage activity and Earth First, Gamto Leopardai, the Earth Liberation Army, and the militant ELF factions have been quiet lately. We also found these on the body.”

Argyle examined the proffered plastic envelopes.

“A picture of some fat worm,” said Gidney, “and a piece of copy paper.”

“It looks like Arion rufus sir,” said Cloyd to Argyle. “European Red Slug. The picture was wrapped in the carbon paper.”

“Notice the pale tentacles,” said Argyle to Cloyd, “It resembles a red banana slug, but a red variety of Ariolimax is nondescript. One of Huxley’s late discoveries, perhaps, and with time to encrypt a message to us…”

After a moment Cloyd grabbed Argyle’s elbow. “Santa Cruz, sir!”

“Of course,” said Argyle. “Davis! Detective Gidney, I believe Gamto Leopardai, the Lithuanian ‘Nature Leopards’ are the eco-terrorists responsible for this.”

“What?” said Gidley. “How do you come by this?”

“The University of California at Santa Cruz mascot is the banana slug,” said Cloyd.

“And the most famous ‘Red’ at Santa Cruz was the 1960’s radical Angela Davis,” said Argyle, “former leader of the Communist Party USA.”

“And a Black Panther,” continued Cloyd.

“But a leopard is no Black Panther,” said Gidney.

“Indeed,” said Argyle, “because there is no such creature as a Black Panther, only melanistic leopards and jaguars.”