The Iron Writer Challenge #21 – 2013 Summer Solstice Open Preliminary Round, Virginia Woolf Bracket

Flying Bicycle

The Iron Writer Challenge #21

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open

Preliminary Round

virginia-woolf

Virginia Woolf Bracket

The Authors:

Tony JaegerJim WrightKyle B StiffA. B. Bourne

The Elements:

An Electric Flying Bicycle

A Doppelganger

Atlantis

An obscure Black & White Television Drama/Comedy

Spaceman!A B Bourne

A.B. Bourne c. 2013 all right reserved

Submitted to Iron Writer Summer Solstice 7/7/13

Three minutes.  Charles Lincoln sat on a stool next to the cash register of Carroll’s Shoppe: Antiques, Collectibles and Whimseys.  He tapped the thinning soles of his brogues on the metal legs.

Shortly, Harold Carroll, proprietor in chief, called  “You’re in charge, Charles.  Do take your nose out of that magazine, please.  Inventions and Inventors.  Try ‘initiative’.  That’s what will get you far.”  He left to post letters in the Cotswold village.  This would take 53 minutes.

Charles was decades younger than Harold Carroll, yet aware that he was not the last word in authoritative methods for getting far in life.  Charles had worked for Harold for a number of years, and would for many more.  Dust was gathering on his future like it coated the headboards lined six or seven deep along the back wall of the Shoppe.

But these 53 minutes were his.  Once Charles had sipped tea from a porcelain cup – its dangling paper ticket claimed it had been used by Admiral Horatio Nelson.  In a floor length oval mirror, Charles toasted with his left hand. He hoisted the other across his chest, a medal pinned sideways, not a stump.   The mirror added six inches to his 5’6” frame.  His cinnamon hair looked soaked by ocean spray, not pasted to his forehead from neglect.  Once he spent the entire hour undersea in a diving helmet a Cousteau had used in a search for Atlantis.   In the mirrors, his long nose showed purpose.  His chipped uneven teeth looked earned.

Charles flipped up the edge of a tablecloth, revealing a brown box.  A single brown wire reached to the wall.  Charles pointed the mirrors at the old television.  When he pressed a button, the box sprayed black and white dots.  “Men Into Space” began playing.  Charles kneeled before Ed McCauley as he went to space yet again.  Charles studied the hero’s long nose, and his flattened hair, post-landing.  When he grinned his teeth folded on each other.  Charles crouched beside the screen and faced the mirrors.  In each, the same man looked back. In some he wore black scuffed brogues, but in others, spaceboots.

The doorbell chimed.  Charles ripped the cord out of the wall.  It snapped.  His doppelganger faded into black and white spots.

Harold sighed.  “See you tomorrow, Charles.  Lots to do, lots to do.”

There never, ever was.  Charles hung his head.  He shuffled to the back of the shop where he had tucked his bicycle early that morning.  He backed it into the small courtyard and swung his leg over the seat.  He began pedaling. Then he pushed a button below the handlebars.  Six horizontal wheels began to turn.  The bike lifted into the air, Charles atop it.  He would be home to his stone cottage on the other side of the village in time for tea, and would return to the Shoppe the next morning.

Future CommoditiesKyle B Stiff

Kyle B. Stiff

Niles, majority stock owner of Honkersdotcom, sat on a park bench waiting for delivery of his animated portrait. He couldn’t wait to see what his old friend, the great artist Ishikawa, had created.

Niles thought about other animated portraits made for Ishikawa’s wealthy clients. All were simple, elegant, melancholic, and expensive beyond belief. The CEO of Peacetime Arsenal (and inventor of the militarized electric flying bicycle) owned a tasteful piece that showed him viewing a lush Martian garden. His profile, marked by a sense of contentment, slowly turned away from the viewer before looping. And the power-broker behind Obscurity Inc., makers of cutting-edge, all-new black and white dramas designed to fit seamlessly alongside “actual” older vids, owned a piece that showed her standing in a stark, artfully lit foyer, where she gracefully touched a mirror before the image looped and the viewer was left with a sense of timeless space and curiosity concerning the value of the piece. Niles desperately longed to own a serene image of himself engaged in some inscrutable activity!

Niles saw Ishikawa approach, but his excitement waned when he realized it was only Ishikawa’s doppelganger, a reduced-intellect clone created to run errands for a genetic donor. Niles himself had dozens of doppelgangers finalizing deals all around the globe.

The doppelganger handed Niles his piece, then stared at him. Shaking, Niles took the black tablet and powered it on, heart fluttering at the thought that he would soon witness something so elegant that only a fortune could acquire it.

The portrait showed Niles strapped to a table in a dark, filthy restroom. He saw masked figures adjust a hose trailing upward from his stomach and leading to a glass jar. Someone turned a crank, an engine roared, Niles wailed and strained at his bonds, then his intestines were sucked into the jar with a sickening splat. While more innards collected through the high-pressure hose, spittle flew from his blubbering lips.

Then the image looped.

“This isn’t what I ordered!” Niles shouted at the doppelganger. “There’s nothing elegant about this! It’s revolting!

The doppelganger blinked. “Every client says that. My owner told me that you wanted something that matched your preconceptions. Instead you got something unexpected. But your preconceptions are free, right? If you’re handing over money, why not expect something unexpected? Why not view the image and try to imagine the smell of your insides as they burst forth?”

Niles watched the awful image repeat once again. “Listen, clone. This won’t do. Your owner and I are friends. We used to-”

The doppelganger quickly shook his head. “My owner sold many memories from his younger days to collectors. An artist doesn’t get to live an easy life bloated with happy memories. Not like you do.”

Niles felt himself sinking because he knew he would show the piece to acquaintances and praise its daring statement. They would nod thoughtfully and his real opinion would be lost in a typhoon of stupid chatter. Like Atlantis he would sink and be forgotten. As if on cue the doppelganger smiled.

World of Wonders, Episode SixTony Jaeger

Tony Jaeger 

Ang leapt from the top of the building, cursing as he did. Unconsciously, his grip tightened on the sack holding the stolen God Machine. The world stretched below him, seeming much, much further down than ten stories. More like a hundred stories, which would still kill him, but Ang didn’t like waiting for death.

As he plummeted, he turned his body to face the river, hoping his timing was right. Otherwise, no matter how far he actually fell, the result would be the same. Wind whipped at his hair, threatening to take the Stetson from his head. The sidewalk rushed upward, seeming eager to welcome him.

Nine Atlantis-series fliers sped by beneath him, one of them flaring its fans to stop. Ang smiled. He landed squarely on the seat behind Ang Number Four. The flier whined, its engines straining to compensate for the extra weight.

The flier carrying Ang and Number Four sped forward, easily catching up with the pack. Ang Number Sixteen had retrofitted the gang’s fliers with advanced mech, powering the flying ‘cycles with electric power – an advantage over what the police, with their diesel fliers, would send after them.

Sirens blared in the middle distance, rushing closer. “Speak of the devil and he shall appear, huh, Number Four?”

“Affirmative.”

“Gods above, I can’t wait to get you plugged into the Machine.”

“Affirmative.”

Ang shook his head, smiling. “Well, we’re not home yet. Let’s get there, shall we?”

“Orders received: escape and evade. Evasion pattern Delta.”

The speeders around him tightened into a triangle formation, its point forward and low – the formation optimized the engine output, speeding up the unit. Buildings whipped by, faster and faster. Amazed people stood at windows, mouths agape, watching the formation of seventeen Ang doppelgangers – cyborgs, really – speed by, faster than any fliers they’d ever seen.

“Disperse in 3…2…1… Execute Command.” Ang Number Four said calmly.

Formation broke as the first gunshots cracked. Eight fliers dispersed, some weaving between buildings, some pulling sharply up, and others diving. Angs Three and Eleven spun out, crashed into a building and exploded. Shrapnel from Eleven’s body cut into Ang’s chest, but he only felt pain in his heart.

Bullets whizzed past Ang’s head. Number Four juked and weaved, his movements erratic but precise. Ang looked back, seeing that the police fliers had taken the bait and dispersed, following his doppelgangers. With their cybernetic brains, the other Angs would have no problem ditching them.

A bullet caught the left engine. The flier spun, losing altitude. Ang Four reached back, bracing Ang against the impact on the street. Despite Number Four’s effort, Ang was thrown from his seat and impaled through his belly on a rod from the engine casing broken free.

“Master!”

“Take the God Machine…” Ang gasped, struggled for breath. “Become. . . Human. . . Live.”

“Command Accepted,” Number Four said, and dashed away.

Ang didn’t have to wait long for death. He greeted it with a smile.

The world faded from grays to black. The voice of God said “WORLD OF WONDERS WILL BE RIGHT BACK, AFTER THESE COMMERCIAL MESSAGES.”

He’ll Have To GoJim2013-0216

Jim Wright

Fergus gazed over the coruscating expanse of the Persian Gulf. From his vantage point, high above the Atlantis, Palm Hotel in Dubai, he could take in the marvel of the palm-shaped manmade islands. His face broke into a mad grin as he experienced the exhilaration of flying. Dozens of airplane and helicopter flights paled in comparison to soaring above the glittering landscape on his nuclear powered electric flying bicycle. He knew he’d never wait in security queues or exchange boarding passes for a seat again!

A quick glance at his wrist told him it was time. After months of surreptitious watching, he knew the man’s habits as well as he knew his own. Everyone knows about doppelgangers, but Fergus was shocked when he first saw him. He’d been looking in a shop window at television sets after his died in the middle of a particularly exciting episode of Whirlybirds, an old black and white adventure series. At first he thought it was his reflection staring back at him, but then the man moved quickly out of sight.

Why had he moved so quickly? Was he trying to hide from Fergus? The malignant seed of suspicion was planted and grew as he saw the man every day. Suspicion grew into mistrust, evolving into a plan to get rid of the interloper. He didn’t belong. He had to go. With the idea firmly established he had only to plan the deed.

Fergus landed the bicycle on the roof. Time was passing quickly. He had to get to the beach before the stranger arrived. He watched the sunset every night from the same desolate stretch of rocks. This would be his last one.

 Sitting on the bench a few hundred feet away, the voice of Reason returned. “Why do you want to harm that man? He’s never done one thing to you, Fergus!”

“True, he hasn’t. But he’s up to no good I tell you. Why is he always in the same place as me, looking as much like me as I do myself, even down to the very clothes on his back? Answer me that and I’ll be off quick as a wink!”

The voice of Reason fell silent. “Sure he’s quiet; he didn’t have a leg to stand on, did he? Ah, there comes the devil now. Just let him get settled in his place and I’ll be behind him before he knows it!”

 Fergus reached around furtively and slipped the knife neatly below the rib cage and gave a quick upward thrust, just nicking the aorta. He felt an odd sympathetic pain as the blade did its work. Holding him close, he could feel the man’s life force leaving him. Why was he feeling weak, too? He dropped the limp body to the ground.

“I’ll just have a quick lie down. The heat of the day must’ve gotten to me. Just for a minute. What’s all this wetness on my shirt? I’m sure to be seen on the way home!”

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

Charlotte Bronte Bracket

The Authors:

Tannis LaidlawSteve HarzKriss MortonEric Garrison

 f-scott-fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald Bracket

The Authors:

Robbie ThomasB. R. SnowM.D. PitmanDellani Oakes

joseph_conrad

Joseph Conrad Bracket

The Authors:

Guy Anthony De MarcoDani J CaileA Francis RaymondGenevieve Dewey

 virginia-woolf

Virginia Woolf Bracket

The Authors:

Tony JaegerJim WrightKyle B StiffA. B. Bourne

The Elements:

An Electric Flying Bicycle

A Doppelganger

Atlantis

An obscure Black & White Television Drama/Comedy

 

The Iron Writer Challenge #9

pregnant camel

The Iron Writer Challenge #9

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #9

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Don CorcoranLeanne HerreraKyle B StiffMaureen Larter

The Elements:

A pregnant camel

A roller coaster

A sunken ship

A loom

“Travel Around the World” The Ad SaidDon Corcoran

Don Corcoran
 
The end of his cigarette flares, illuminating the unshaven scowls of the men holding you.  Cervantes takes in a deep draw as the fag, pregnant with whatever he rerolled into his cancer sticks, burns all the way to the Camel logo.
 
“Those will kill you, Palo,” you wince through a bloody lip.
 
“I think this is the least of your concerns, amigo” Cervantes leans in close with the cigarette, “For tonight, we dance, no?”  The men chortle.
 
His meaty hand sweeps across your jaw.  You can feel how much your captors are enjoying this.  Corded muscles tightening with each blow, drawing you into his knuckles. 
 
“What makes you think…”
 
SLAP!  
 
“Don’t play games, Doctor. If you can’t save us valuable time then you can…” He waves a flashlight around the museum’s interior. Cervantes is no brain. He’s muscle trying desperately to climb up the food chain. The piracy exhibit was filled with simulated shipwrecks.  Chests of faux-doubloons are guarded by mannequins in tricornered hats bearing muskets.  During the day, Dylan’s Golden Loom played over the speakers.  The curator thought the juxtaposition ironic.
 
“You can meet the same fate as those poor sods.” The beam falls upon three pirates hanging from a yardarm.  You always thought the exhibit was a little dark.
 
“Well, Doctor? Find me the most valuable trinket here and we’ll all be on our way.”
 
You spit blood on the floor.  “Fine. You won’t be able to sell an item like that, anyway.”
 
“You just leave such details to the criminals. Now move it.”
 
Rubbing your sore shoulders, you make your way through the museum.
 
A few minutes into the winding, history-laden labyrinth, you make your move –  two quick steps around a corner and through a doorway of folded felt.  You figure ignorance of the landscape will deny your pursuers of their physical advantage. Up a set of stairs and through a set of double doors, you spill out into the mezzanine balcony overlooking the main lobby.  
 
A door opens to your left, cutting off your escape.  Cervantes proves to be more cunning than you realized.  You scan the “Christmas Around the World” exhibit below and leap across the two-story drop to the enlarged toy train that spirals around a massive tree.  One of the thugs follows and the two of you clamber over train cars.  Another thug emerges behind Cervantes and lunges toward the other end of the tracks.  A farther jump than your own, his weight and momentum prove too much for the cable moorings.  They break loose sending him to the exhibit below, showering him in drywall and sending the train careening down the pitched track.  The two of you scream like teenagers at Coney Island.
 
A styrofoam snowman breaks your fall. You leap to your feet and see the thugs, tangled in garland and groaning. Striding to the exit, you lock eyes with Cervantes once again and, with a grin that strains your swollen lip, you pull the fire alarm.
 

The Final Hoo-ahKyle B Stiff

Kyle B. Stiff

Operation: Pregnant Camel reached its finale when the battleship Amen crossed the furthest reaches of deep space and dropped its deadly payload: The Space Marines of Xe Company, bringers of death and freedom to every once-habitable world in a universe filled with sentient beings too stupid to accept the corporate hegemony of the Republic without endless orbital nukes and groundside invasions.

Commander Dahmer stood before his men at the entrance of a cavern on the dark world of Therion Prime. “Alright ladies and girls,” he said to his all-male battalion, “we’ve done a lot of awesome shit in our day and conquered every goddamn world and every shitty species we’ve come across – except this one. Now I know you dickheads have been real sore that every planet we’ve come across has been inhabited by fuckers that look exactly like us. I’ll be the first to admit that exploring space has turned out boring as fuck. We’ve all seen Star Wars and shit like that, and I know you signed up because you thought you’d meet some Ewoks. You wanted to see an Ewok and shake his hand and roast a hot dog with him, but instead we’ve had to deal with humanoid dumbasses who think they can run their affairs without the Republic. We’ve had to kill insubordinate cock-smokers all the way from Kandanaru to Eleseia. But this is it, boys! Once we conquer this shit-hole, we can retire like heroes! Can I get a HOO-AH?!”

After Commander Dahmer received his shouts of hoo-ah, he gazed heavenward and said, “I’ll never forget when I signed up. I was on that rollercoaster on Orbus … you know, the one that goes upside down and jerks you back and forth for forty-five minutes?”

“I shit myself on that one, sir!”

“So did I, son! In fact, when I stepped off that bastard I said to myself, I said, ‘There’s got to be more to life than unrequited bloodlust and a pair of ruined pants.’ So I signed on, had my weak-ass childhood memories erased, and before long I was balls-deep in medals. Well… I don’t have shit else to say except hoo-ah, so let’s move.”

The marines loaded their firearms and entered the cavern. They passed through halls of deep darkness and felt dread, the sense of drowning in a cramped, sunken steel ship. They came to a black chamber and heard creatures singing, but they could not look because their eyes were glued to a giant loom atop a grand stage. Clack rang the steel shuttle, and the Commander saw human lives written in the shining thread, alive and humming and full of light. He saw humans killing humans, their fates woven by the hand of the master weaver. His arm moved and something cold pressed against his head. He forced his eyes to look upon the one who worked the loom. He saw a face pale and frozen, and the eyes were like pits, alien and empty of conscience.

Grace at the FairLeanne Herrera

Leanne Herrera

She walked through the crowded fairgrounds and looked for anyone she might know. She wasn’t having much luck, but shrugged it off as being too early in the day for them and got in line for what she thought was The Twister. It wasn’t and she had not realized it in all the excitement until she was strapped into The Tornado rollercoaster next to a really good looking guy, who smiled at her.

She hated rollercoasters, she was terrified of heights but it was already too late to get off because they were moving up the rickety looking rails. As they climbed she began to shake and had a grip on the bar so tight that her hands were white.

She watched as the rode higher and higher into the sky and then began to plummet towards a sharp turn. That would be all she would see before she passed out and had to be shaken awake by the handsome stranger.

That was embarrassing but at least she had not broken something.  She exited with her head held high after apologizing to the man and made her way to the petting zoo area. Surely she could watch the animals and not get hurt or do something equally embarrassing. She looked around for anyone she might know and it was odd that she recognized no one in the small fairground.

She walked past the fake sunken ship that all the little kids were riding up and down in a painted blue wooden sea and stopped in front of the petting zoo and leaned against the rail. A little girl was inside the small coral feeding a little pigmy goat, when a large furry animal leaned over the fence and brushed against her.

Startled she turned to face the animal and stared into the face of a very pregnant camel.  She opened her mouth to say hello to the soft tan colored animal when it suddenly spit directly at her. Thankfully the handsome man from earlier pulled her away from the beast just in time to miss getting camel spit all over her.

He invited her to a fun house tent and she followed him warily still peering through the crowd for someone she knew. Still nothing but she reached into her small purse and took out her mace just in case she needed it. Inside was a large loom like contraption. He pointed at it and whispered, “Go ahead walk through the strings.” As I stepped through into a huge garden, I heard him say, “You don’t belong in this world.”

I turned abruptly only to see that the tent was gone, in its place was the handsome man who winked at me. “Where am I? She whispered.

“You have come to Fairy, Welcome home Grace.”  He took my hand and I took it as I looked over my shoulder more curious now than ever how exactly that large loom brought me here.

“Is this a dream?”

The HolidayMaureen Larter

Maureen Larter

Melissa screamed!

Her stomach wanted nothing more than to eject its contents.

Why she had agreed to go on the roller coaster was beyond her understanding. Being far away from home, on holiday, free from responsibility and ready to experience life, were her only excuses.

Going on the ride had seemed like a good idea at the time. Something she could boast about when she got home. Just like that awful ride on the grumpy camel in Egypt. It had bitten her as she got off. It hadn’t been a good experience for her or the pregnant camel!

The roller coaster finally stopped and Melissa stumbled out, her head spinning. She sat down on the closest seat, waiting for the world to stop moving.

When she felt better she got up and wandered past the Gun’n’Duck and the Dodgem cars. The crowd was noisy and everyone seemed to be with a boyfriend or family. Somehow the adventure of being in another country all alone began to pall.

Over to the right, past the nodding clowns and fairy floss stand she could see a glimpse of the animal pavilion.

She made her way towards the enclosure where several sheep were bleating loudly. She watched with fascination as the shearers yanked the sheep to the floor and bent over, backs glistening with sweat, as they defleeced the animals. The wool flew onto a nearby table. The demonstration followed the wool through the processes of classing then carding and spinning. Finally at the end of the shed, two ladies sat with the finished yarn. One knitting furiously, while the other sat at a loom producing a beautiful patterned material.

Melissa felt lonely, hungry and depressed. She glanced up and saw the map of the Showground not too far away.

What she needed was coffee.

She stared at the directions on the board until she found what she was looking for. She sidestepped a mother wheeling a stroller with a young child in it.

Suddenly an ice-cream landed in the middle of her new skirt. Melissa looked down at the stain as the strawberry melted into the material. The child began to cry. The mother apologized. She bit back a sob and pushed passed, not wanting to lose her temper, or let anyone see the tears that sprang to her eyes.

People bumped into her, a couple even yelled at her to watch where she was going. Finally, with relief, she saw the coffee shop ahead. She dashed in and sat down at the closest table. A waitress sauntered up.

“What’ya want?” she mumbled.

“Cappuccino, please.” Melissa answered. The coffee was boiling when the waitress tripped as she placed it on the table, and it spilled over the ice-cream stain.

Melissa had had enough. She stormed out of the coffee shop. She looked back at the sign above the dirty boards. “The Sunken Ship” was written in crooked, red letters.  She’d remember the name of that place forever.

She couldn’t wait to go home!