The Iron Writer Challenge 2015 Summer Solstice Preliminary Round, Eric Carle Bracket

The Iron Writer Challenge #118

2015 Summer Solstice Preliminary Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

Eric Carle

Eric Carle Bracket

The Authors:

Jaclyn WilsonRichard RussellDanielle Lee ZwisslerDaniel J. Sanz

The Elements:


A time clock
Ice cream
A Parachute
Told from POV of an alien on the planet Nibiru, as the Nibiru enters our solar system. 

Nibiru technology is no greater or worse than Earth’s.

The Last PlanetJaclyn Wilson

Jaclyn Wilson

The planet Nibiru began to self-destruct a couple hours after I had clocked out from work on the time-clock. It started with the Sun. Usually on Nibiru, the Sun is so far away we can’t see it. We have become accustomed to the below freezing temperatures and the layers of ice that settles on the cone shaped houses and the sparse patches of nature we seldom see. But today, the Sun slowly grew closer, so close even; it began to burn away the ice and the cold. At first we rejoiced, having never seen the sun up close, we stood there to feel the warmth on our gray skin.

Then, it happened.

Our skin began to crack and the Sun began to spread its heat to the houses and the sparse patches of nature until everything began to burn. Ku’oosh, the leader of the planet, led a throng of us to a small shuttle. We followed although we had no idea where we were going. Shielded in tents of protective garments and frantically gathering our offspring, we were led to a small opening where the shuttle sat, engines roared as the sky became a deep ember that looked as if it was on fire itself.

The heat made my head spin and my throat dry. I was by myself, with no family to tend to and no one to take with me to a destination that was unclear.

“I heard there is ice-cream where we are going!” One Nibiru inhabitant said behind me. He seemed excited. That was the last thing I remember before we reached Earth. A place I had only heard about in secret. It was a place we were never supposed to never talk about.

It is the last planet left.

I am not sure how much time passed between arriving here and now. I found myself alone in the middle of a patch of what looks like what we had on Nibiru, but more of it; green and itchy and smelling of a dish we would eat on Nibiru. There were no others with me, just a parachute beside me and a sky I had never seen before all around me.

It’s strange here. The inhabitants look odd and they have five fingers and toes instead of four. I don’t think they are friendly here. The inhabitants seem hostile and I have no idea where the rest of my own went.

I am alone under what I heard was called “a bridge” with noisy metal things above me going back and forth.

But I did see a smaller inhabitant with ice cream. Not what I thought it was at all. It was soft and creamy and unlike the hard ice treats we have on Nibiru.

I think I will stay here until I see it again.

Exis from NibiruDaniel J. Sanz

Daniel Sanz

Her ashen knuckles turned whiter as Exis clutched the steering column of her craft with sweaty hands. With her home world, Nibiru, falling into the distance behind her, she had limited time to warn the people of Earth. The rogue planet had entered the solar system and a cataclysmic collision was imminent. She pressed down on the booster pedals and leaned her body into the control panel, her ship bucking in acceleration. Just ahead of her was the large, iridescent blue marble.

Exis retrieved a small jar from her supply pack. She scooped out a handful of soft white gel and quickly lathered her face and arms. Nibiru was a cold world and exposure to Earth’s sun would certainly roast her delicate pale skin.

Taking a deep breath and tightening her grip, Exis braced herself for touchdown. The vessel rocked in protest as it careened through Earth’s atmosphere. A brilliant display of light emblazoned around her and the craft accelerated towards the surface in free fall.

Exis restrained an anxious breath as her fingers wrapped around the lever at her side. The green terrain rushed up at her, and shutting her eyes she pulled up on the lever. She exhaled in relief at the snap of the parachute deploying behind her. The ship jerked and she reaffirmed her grip on the armrests. 

The ship landed hard and the impact sent it somersaulting across the soft turf. Exis struggled to remain conscious during the cartwheels. In the flurry of stones, sod, and steel the craft’s hatch detached and Exis felt herself sail through the air and tumble across the grassy field. As she skid to a spinning stop she closed her eyes and waited for her brain and stomach to follow suit. In the distance she heard the craft plunge into the lake.

She lay there and felt the warm caressing sun embrace her. Voices surrounded her and through hazy vision a man and woman came into view. She had to warn them!

And so she told them everything, about Nibiru, and the collision, and the end of the world. They listened to her as she recanted her journey. Standing over her in silence, their jaws were agape and eyes wide. She exhaled and asked them if they had any questions. The couple exchanged concerned looks, and the woman leaned in.

“Does Mr. Brown know you took his wheelchair again?”

Exis sat upright and looked at the gardens around her. The man and woman were both adorned in white robes, and behind them others were pulling the wheelchair out of the pool, a row of sheets tied to the handles.

“Patient 4A,” said the man, “and is that ice cream all over her face?”

They helped her wobble to her feet.

“Brad, you can go ahead and clock out,” the woman instructed, “I’ll get Alexis back to her room.”

Brad nodded and watched the doctor lead Alexis away, muttering something about gravity sickness. He sighed, punched his timecard on the clock and walked off shaking his head.

“Aliens and ice cream, where do they come up with this stuff?”

Area 31

Danielle Lee Zwissler

Danielle Lee Zwissler

Arias watched the giant screen in front of her section with rapt attention. Nibiru, her home planet, was about to enter the solar system once more, and it was the first time that any of their generation would be able to come above the rocky surface. Planning had started nearly sixty years before as the scrolls from the Nibiru, nearly 500,000 years ago, had predicted the timeframe. Arias and a few others were planning an escape. 

Arias climbed through the tunnel, and made her way around to the larger observation deck. She was part of Nibiru’s Squadron Team 762. She was in charge of interplanetary weathering. What that entailed was punching a time clock each morning and taking samples of the different rock surfaces of Nibiru and to test them for signs of hydrothermal activity. 

“How fast is it heating?” Firot asked as he walked into the deck. 

Arias, looked at her microscope once again and down at the last of the samples. 

“We should be okay to go up soon. The sun isn’t close enough to us though, so we’ll need to use the heat suits.” 

Firot leaned in toward Arias and whispered into her ear. “Will the parachutes work with those suits?”

Arias took a deep breath and nodded. “They should. I’ve tested them with some flame retardant chemicals. There’s still a chance though.”

“We have to take it. I don’t want to be stuck down here any longer. It isn’t safe under the new rule.” Firot looked over his left shoulder. “I fear we don’t have enough time.”

“I know,” Arias spoke. “We mustn’t let anyone know any of this, only you, Fhian and myself.” Arias looked nervous as she picked up her last sample and handed it to Firot. “You have to take this back to Fhian. It was under observation, and I switched it with my last one.”

Firot nodded. “I’ll leave as soon as that guard on quadrant one goes to the ambassador.”

“What about you? Have you heard any new messages?” Firot worked in the communication sector. His Squadron, 792, built Satellite detectors and homing beacons. Arias tested different chemicals on them so they could survive the weather above the surface.

“The last I heard from the earthlings was some sort of music about 31 flavors.” 

“Of what?” Arias asked, intrigued.

“Something called Ice Cream.”

“Sounds dangerous,” Arias commented. “I wonder what it means.” Arias tilted her head. “It is important that we know everything that we can about them; I’m worried that we don’t have enough information. Like this Ice Cream. Do you think it could help us in any way?”

 “I don’t see how it could hurt us. I mean, look at the surface. We’ve been above a few times, and we have a lot of ice.”

“Anything from Fhian?” Arias asked.

“He’s different since hearing the latest audio. If we make it to earth, he wants to be known as Kimber, and that he won’t put up with any interference.”

“He listened to Girl in the Gears on the audio wave?” Arias asked, and Firot nodded. “Ah, good book. Lovely historical document.”

“Yes, quite.”

String TheoryRichard Russell

Richard Russell  

“Lateral stabilizers, left and right.   Check.  

Rotational vector, auto correct.  Check.  

Axis torque, thirty minus ten.” 

“Navigator, tweak the magnetic field around the southern pole 2 degrees to red phase, and pull back on all integrated flux ribbons over the equator to 500!”

“Yes, Sir.” 

With Captain Garble at the helm, the rogue Nibiru planet spun through the galaxy with astounding speed.  An expert at steering the planet, Garble had not just graduated flight school with honors; he possessed 30 years’ experience guiding Nibiru through deep space. “Thirty years!”  He thought to himself, “Maybe today I’ll finally see my replacement.”

The captain checked the prevailing wind patterns over continents A, B and C.  Satisfied everything was in order, he leaned back in his chair, awaiting his trainee’s arrival.

Private Luggie was scheduled to meet Captain Garble at four ticks before lunch. 

So proud their son was selected for the prestigious training, his parents threw a massive “send off” block party, inviting everyone in the modules to come. They served ice cream in edible cups, a rare treat for everyone living in the huge housing complex.

Luggie burst through the door of the flight deck a full 15 tocks late for his first hands-on flight lesson. He was still eating his ice cream from the party as he hurriedly punched the time clock and scrambled to attention before his instructor.

“Private Luggie reporting for training, Sir.”

“You’re LATE, private!” snapped Garble. “This ain’t no picnic, Private. Ditch the ice cream!”

“Sir, yes Sir!” snapped Luggie, and he set the ice cream cone on a shelf next to the captain’s chair.  

“Be professional, man! This is a tremendous responsibility which requires a mature, level head and nerves of steel.”

The captain reached under his chair, pulled out a yellow inflatable Personal Space Survival Suit (P.S.S.S.) and put it on.

Luggie inquired, “Captain, why are you donning your parachute?”

“Regulations, private; regulations.”

The private noticed a thread hanging from the lapel of the captain’s P.S.S.S. and picked it off.  But as he pulled it, the suit suddenly inflated… 


In an instant the captain was transformed into a round ball three measures in diameter, causing the ice cream to fall off the shelf and plop onto the flight console.  

Gasps of horror seeped into the still air as all eyes in the room locked onto the ice cream.  There was a spark, some sizzling, and smoke swirled up; then the entire console shut down.

“Oops!” the private exclaimed.

Inside the inflated PSSS suit, a muffled inquiry, barely audible, was heard “What?  What!”

A sudden, violent shift in the planet’s rotational spin threw everyone to the floor. The massive planet veered off course, heading straight into an adjacent solar system.

Everyone in the room scrambled to don their PSSS’s.

 “Phoop!”  “Phoop!”  “Phoop!”  “Phoop!”…

Private Luggie turned back to the viewer.

A large blue planet filled the entire screen.


The Iron Writer Challenge #118 – 2015 Summer Solstice Preliminary Round

The Iron Writer Challenge #118

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge #117

Bello Oluwadamilare

The Brackets:


P. D. Eastman

The Authors:

Alis Van Doorn, Tina Biscuit, E. Chris GarrisonMathew W. Weaver

Eric Carle

Eric Carle

The Authors:

Jaclyn Wilson, Richard Russell, Danielle Lee ZwisslerDaniel J. Sanz


H. A. Rey

The Authors:

Matthew BarronTony Jaeger,  Kara Kahnke, Dwight Wade

The Elements:


A time clock
Ice cream
A Parachute
Told from POV of an alien on the planet Nibiru, as the Nibiru enters our solar system.

Nibiru technology is no greater or worse than Earth’s.

Stories are posted

on the bracket author’s image and name.

Just click the link and remember to vote!

The Iron Writer Challenge #114

The Iron Writer Challenge #114

The Jordan Bell Challenge

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge #113

2015 Annual Champion

Mathew W. Weaver

The Authors:

Vance RoweJaclyn Wilson, Alis Van Doorn, Richard Russell

finger cymbals

The Elements:

2015 Miss Gypsy Universe Pageant
A pick pocket contest
Finger Cymbals
A red nose

BELTANEJaclyn Wilson

Jaclyn Wilson

Ailsa awoke with the first hint of gray light that stretched across her cheek. It was Beltane. She waited for this day that brought the first sign of spring. The winter had been harsh that year. People huddled in their crofts around the dying fires and salvaged the last of the meat and vegetables that had been scarce.

She sat up and wrapped the wool blanket around her. The chill of the morning had made for a red nose and aching fingertips, but Ailsa didn’t care. She hopped out of bed and ran outside to see the snow giving way to bright green and the heather on the hillsides broke through to stretch across the land. The village was setting up for Beltane. Maypoles dotted the distance and multi-colored ribbons and flowers were strung on the scattered crofts.

“Did you hear?” Ailsa’s brother asked.

Ailsa turned around to find Ian smiling wide, his red hair curled wildly over his forehead.

“Hear what?” Ailsa asked.

“Gypsies are coming this year! All the way from the Western Isles. They’re coming here to celebrate Beltane. I hear they’re coming in horse drawn carriages and they’re even going to have a Gypsy Universe Pageant!”

Ailsa smirked.

“No, Ailsa, I’m serious!”

In the distance, Ailsa and Ian heard music. It seemed to be coming on all sides of the hillside, and grew louder as the sun rose higher.

“Do you hear that, Ailsa? Gypsies!”

Ian was right. Ailsa narrowed her eyes and saw four, maybe five carriages coming up from the valley. The music was mingled with sounds that mimicked larks chirping and flutes singing.

Ian and Ailsa twined their hands together and ran out to the middle of the open land. The music drew them closer, and the people of the village slowly came out of their crofts, curious eyes all around, watching the Gypsies come.

When the carriages were close enough for Ailsa and Ian to reach out a hand and brush the mane of one of the horses, the carriages stopped. All eyes of the village were on them. The carriages and the Gypsies alike were dressed and decorated in brighter colors than they had ever seen and the horses were painted in reds, blues and yellows that made them look like creatures that the Goddess herself had molded with her own hands.

Ailsa kept her eyes on a Gypsy whose body jingled with chains, beads, and jewelry as if she had won a pick pocket contest. The Gypsy half-smiled at Ailsa and stepped down from the carriage straight toward her. She bent down to Ailsa and looked straight in her eyes with the half-smile still on her face.

“Here, mo-charaid,” The Gypsy said.

She covered Ailsa’s hands gently and when she let go, Ailsa stared down to see two finger cymbals in her palms.

“What are these for?” Ailsa asked.

“They’re only for those that have the heart of a Gypsy and the eyes of a seer. Keep them close, Ailsa.”

Ailsa held the cymbals to her heart and listened as the music and singing began again and rose with the commencement of spring.

Gypsy Weekend

Vance Rowe

The summer night is warm but a gentle breeze blows through once in awhile. The smell of burning wood, different kinds of incenses and aromatic candles assault the sense of smell. The flashing lights, the colorful tents, the gypsy garb all feed the sense of sight. The different kinds of food and the any different libations pleasantly feed the sense of taste. The ears are filled with a joyful cacophony of music, laughter and barkers calling people to play their games, eat their food and have their fortunes read.

This is the highly anticipated International Gypsy Festival. It happens every year around this time in July and gypsies from around the world converge on this forty acre farm on the east coast. Non gypsy people also travel here from nearby cities and states to absorb the culture for the three day festival. Of course with an event like this, crime comes with it. There are pick pockets, drunken fights, muggings, gambling, and there are even a couple of tents on the outside of the main festival that are “houses of ill-repute”. However, it is a good time had by all overall.

There are carnival-like games but most come with a twist like one called the “Drunken Mannequin”. This game is like the carnival water gun games except that beer is used in place of water, just for effect. The object of the game is to fire the beer into a mannequin’s mouth and the first one to turn his mannequin’s nose red, is deemed the winner and there is a cash prize of fifty dollars for the winner and it costs five dollars to play.

The culmination of the festival is the 2015 Gypsy Universe pageant. This year the pageant was huge because of the stars involved with it. The pageant is hosted by author Stephen King, who wrote the book, “Thinner”. It was made into a movie and three of the stars of the movie are here as judges. They are Joe Mantegna, Kari Wuhrer and Robert John Burke. Of course, the whole pageant was kicked off by pop singing icon, Cher. She sang a few songs but finished up with two of her 1970’s classics in “Dark Lady” and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.”

As part of the talent portion of the pageant, the contestants had to participate in a pick pocket contest and the winner of that is a gypsy woman named Olga Romani and she won the contest because she was able to lift a set of finger cymbals from another gypsy, who is also in the pageant. Olga Romani finally did win the pageant to become Miss Gypsy Universe and will be the Grand Marshal in the parade that will wind through much of the town where the festival was held.

On Tuesday morning, the tents came down, the lights were put away, the tapestries were rolled up and the camps were broken down. After that, the parade led the gypsies out of town with a promise that next year’s festival will be bigger and better. Everyone is looking forward to it.

Faces of FortuneAlis Van Doorn

Alis Van Doorn

Bella, Emilia, Agatha and Merevale sprawled on the river bank, mad with excitement and the giddy feelings that make girls, about to celebrate their 16th birthday, fairly unbearable.

“Do you think we’ll see him first thing in the morning?”

“Who, Mere?” asked Bella feigning puzzlement.

Aggie threw a handful of dandelions Bella’s way. “TMRN!” Emilia intoned dramatically. Before Mere could respond, Roman popped up out of nowhere, as he usually did, chirping, causing hilarity. “Look! His outfit! SO gaudy!” shrieked Emilia. Roman proudly doffed his jaunty feathered cap, sweeping into a bow, tail swirling into a curl around tiny feet. But where Roman was, was pesky Baltran, Bella’s ‘baby’ brother. ” Bal”, Bella yelled, “Get out here!”

“Who cares about the stupid prophecy, and the silly pageant tomorrow night? Or your stupid birthdays. You think this entire festival is about you.” Bal said. “There’s other stuff! Like amazing shows with never before seen acts!” Roman chirped, nodding knowingly.

“Well, smirked Bella, “let’s see…., I turn 16 , which as the last of the four of us, means the Man with The Red Nose comes; the prophesy will be fulfilled, it’s Spring Romany Festival, the festival pageant winner goes to the 2015 Miss Gypsy Universe Pageant. Clearly, it’ll be Mere or Aggie. So yep, all about us!”

“Watch this!” “Roman, come!” And whipping out a tall drum, Roman hopped up, and as Bal started with a haunting harmonica riff, Roman snapped forward, started punctuating the beat and chorus with a flourish of tiny finger cymbals. It was utterly enchanting; Bella’s heart swelled with love and pride, Emilia’s moth dropped open watching in wonder, awe. Aggie and Mere watched with jealousy and resentment. ” Not fair”, Aggie thought,” tomorrow is MY day to be celebrated.”

Mere’s heart, mind twisted. “It’s not fair, I’m so lovely, everyone says so, but MY father will ruin It with the pick pocket contest, of course he’ll win, that’s his profession.”

Bella and Emilia clapped with joy for Roman and Bal; Mere and Aggie fake clapped. Bal and Roman bowed delightedly, then Bal glanced worriedly at the dark getting sky.

“Bella, come on”, jerking his head.

“BAL, we’re ok, they’re staying with us tonight.”

“Let’s go then….Bella, (in a soft aside to his sister as they trudged up the steep hill) do you really believe that prophesy stuff?”

“Oh I don’t know, Bal” Bella teased, “if Aggie’s grandrom’s right…and she was Rom, It’s possible.”

“But, ‘On the last of the four in May birth of day, when the red nosed man is seen, so will their hearts, so shall their faces there ever after be seen.’ Huh?”

Early next morning, Bella and Bal’s Da stumbled in, breaking glass, rousing everyone. The four girls stared at him in shock; his huge red nose undeniable.

And as they looked at each other, there were 2 screams, two gasps, laughter and chirping.

The face of an angel, and one of grace stared at the face of a weasel and a peacock.

The Thread of DignityRichard Russell

Richard Russell

There was a hush over the crowd as the four contestants meandered their way through the busy New York street corner. Whichever contestant pick-pocketed the highest value of items from the crowd, without getting caught, would win this event in the Miss Gypsy Universe Pageant.

I, Gitana Colbert, wasted no time. Pulling my blouse low to show more cleavage and slipping on my shiny brass finger cymbals, I began to dance and sing through the crowd. Many people stopped to witness my antics as I sang with a heavy Romani accent. Between songs, I flirted with the men and ran my hands over them, much to their delight and misfortune! Oh, what suckers they were for cleavage and bare legs!

At the stroke of noon, all four contestants returned to the auditorium on stage and displayed the treasures they had gleaned. Myri Rudyard had done well, but even she could not surpass the bounty of my practiced skills. In just under an hour, I had pick-pocketed $1,450 in cash, seven gold watches, an insurance policy, 12 wallets, six sets of keys, a granola bar, and a yellow-and-orange pacifier.

I had won! Not only had I won the title of Miss Gypsy Universe, but the prestige this afforded would carry me very far for years in the future. I was elated. Standing on the stage, I bowed before the adoring crowds. Flowers were tossed on stage and the people were cheering my name, “Gitana, Gitana, Gitana!”

Then, as if the wind had changed, the cheering turned to taunts and jeers. The sound of my name inflicted shame upon me and the flowers turned into eggs and rotten tomatoes. I was terrified. I turned and ran off stage, but everywhere I ran people were angry with me and lashing out, crying, “You have broken mirime – our sacred code of conduct!”

I turned to face a large mirror, and gasped as I registered the image of my reflection. My legs were uncovered, and my breasts were revealed. From my waist down, I was smeared with mud, and my head was uncovered.

“What have I done?” I cried as I crumpled to the floor. My mother and father, their mothers and fathers, and their mothers and fathers would all be ashamed of me for I had disgraced the code of the gypsies.

Weeping as I lay on the floor, I awoke from this disturbing dream as my husband shook me. “Gitana, wake up. We must finish packing. The eviction notice stated we must be out of this house by midnight.”

“Where will we go, Gillie?” I asked.

“We’ll go to family up north. Pack the car. You saw this coming when our children were nudged out of this school and we started getting eggs thrown at the house. Come on, Gitina, it’s time to move on again.”

Standing up, with tears in my eyes and nose red, I began to collect our things together; relieved I had not broken Mirime.