The Iron Writer Challenge #170, 2016 Summer Open Challenge #7

The Iron Writer Challenge #170 

2016 Summer Open Challenge #7

The Paul Arden Lidberg Challenge

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

  Authors:

Dani J. Caile, C. S. E. Greenberg, Megan Cypress, Kenneth Lawson, Katie Clark

The Elements:

A man shoveling water

A dragon

Ice cream

A cloud that looks like something.

A Place to Sit

Kenneth Lawson

All he wanted to do was find an original Eames Lounge Chair. Was that too much to ask?  Copies were plentiful. Bad copies, good copies, The better ones had the dimensions right but were off by some other details. The really bad ones had the basic shape and concept, and that was about all.  Cheap vinyl,  that stuck to you like melting ice cream on a hot summer’s day.  The really bad ones felt like sitting on a 1940’s vinyl couch.  You know, the kind that sticks to you when you try to get up.  

Finding an original Eames Lounge Chair was like looking for the elusive Dragon of old.  His search was starting to take his toll on him. He  swore he saw clouds that looked like that chair.  His quest had been compared to the man shoveling water out of the fast filling tub. He was beginning to think there were no more original Eames Lounge Chairs in existence. He knows he could go and buy a new chair identical to the ones made in the 1950’s. But he didn’t want a modern version. He wanted the original.  

After many years of searching, he had finally given up on his dream.  

One day he walked into a little shop in a town he never heard of.  He was killing time between trains and had a couple of hours to kill.  He reverted to his usual habit of cruising antique shops and thrift stores. The shop was overflowing with pieces from every period. After talking to the owner, he asked if he had any Mid Century Modern furniture.  Yes, he did have a couple of pieces he thought might be what he was looking for.   The owner pointed him to a back room.    There in a corner it sat. An Eames Lounge Chair. His heart stopped beating for a second. But was it real?  He carefully made his way through the sea of chairs and tables piled various items that had long outlived their usefulness. He got close enough to really see it. His hand went into shock at touching real leather, not plastic.   He looked it over more carefully. After a half hour’s examination, and doing research on  his phone. 

It was an original Eames Lounge chair, in brown leather, with the ottoman. 

Hiding his excitement as he returned to the owner.   He asked about  where it had come from, and, how much. It was clear he had no idea what it was.    

The price 500.00.  He knew the ottoman alone was worth far more than that. 

He made a call.  He wrote out a check and handed it to the old man.  Telling  him, His wife would be by later to pick it up.

After the man had left, the old shop owner looked at the check more carefully. It had been made out to 5,000.00 dollars. There was a note attached to it. 

He told him the chair was worth far more than the 500 he had been asking for, and he couldn’t in good conscience only give that to him. 

His quest was over.  He had his place to sit. 

Care for Lunch?Dani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

“I can’t believe they put me on this,” said Apprendice Knight Arthur Legg (Second Class), complaining to his pet chicken Tina while shovelling water from the drainage ditch out of sight of the castle. “Why don’t I ever get battlements duty or jousting or bodyguard to the princess?”

“Buk buk,” said Tina.

Arthur had been emptying the ditch for hours but it always seemed to be full… a sound of thunder filled the bright blue sky. “What’s that?” He looked up to see a small, black cloud, moving with speed towards them. “Funny, I can’t feel any wind today, and that’s going at a hell of a speed… and it’s losing height?” The cloud was getting closer. “Looks like a bird. Or is that…” It dissipated to reveal a… “Dragon!” Before he could duck for cover, it landed in the ditch, covering him, Tina and itself, with mud.

“Excuse me,” said the dragon as they all picked themselves up. “No good with landings.”

“Dragon!” screamed Arthur.

“Buk buk!” clucked Tina.

They both tried to escape from the ditch but failed miserably. Arthur saw that their green, winged intruder was crying. “Nobody loves me!” cried the dragon. “Because I’m no ‘F’ dragon, they say go away!” It took out a handkerchief and blew it’s long, freckled, smoking nose.

Arthur, against his better judgement, slowly moved over to the dragon. Tina gingerly followed. “There, there, it can’t all be that bad,” he said.

“Bad? Bad? My family said ‘go’! I no have ice cream or cake!” said the dragon.

“Ice cream?” asked Arthur. What had ice cream got to do with a dragon?

“Yes, family ask, ‘How many scoops?’ and I say…” The dragon held up two fingers.

“And?” asked Arthur. He was perilously close to the monster. And seeing as he was an Apprendice Knight (Second Class), they hadn’t given him a sword for protection.

“I’m a…” The dragon put his hands together to show a ‘T’. “…dragon. Rare, and dangerous. And dumb!” It started crying again. The ditch began to fill up with more water.

“You’re a…’T’ dragon?” asked Arthur. The dragon nodded. “What does that mean?”

“Whenever I say…” It showed a ‘T’ again. “…I make fire. I use the Hungarian word for fire. See? Túz!” Flames gushed from the dragon’s mouth and the water in the ditch evaporated around them, leaving only solid earth.

“Wow!” said Arthur.

“Yes, but I’m one in a million. Dragons make fire using ‘F’ words. Me, no. I’m dumb!” moaned the dragon.

“So what if you use ‘T’ words instead of ‘F’! Who cares?” smiled Arthur, happy that his work was done. Maybe now he could relax a little, go back to the castle, have a few beers…

“Really?” smiled the dragon. “My name’s Shagwee. Yours?” He offered his claw.

“Arthur.”

“Arfur. And the small bird?”

“Tina,” replied Arthur.

“Tina.” When the flames subsided, a lovely roast chicken rolled to a halt on the ground. “Sorry, my bad,” blushed Shagwee. “Care for lunch?”

The Mighty Dragon(fly)

Katie Clark

WHOOSH… SPLITTER-SPLATTER…CRASH

Drake the dragonfly struggled with the storm, two legs clutched to grass, two entwined with Freya’s.

With a mighty FLASH and ZWOSH the wind wrested Drake from the grass.

They were tossed asunder, until one of Freya’s slender hands slipped.

“Don’t let go!” Her wings beat fast as his heart.

“Never!” His wings matched her wings beat for beat.

But the storm snatched Freya’s other hand. Her silver face and scarlet eyes receded in the distance as she was thrown away from him. His head slammed into a swirling leaf and he lost consciousness.

“SHOVEL FASTER!”

Drake startled awake. He’d landed on top a golden water lily in a pond.

“HELP!” Drake saw a group of ants stranded on a maple-leaf boat.

“SHOVEL FASTER!” a large-mouth bass belched, but the rain refilled the boat.

“Hail, fellow storm survivors!”

“The mighty dragonfly will save us!”

“Have you seen another dragonfly?” he asked. “Her name’s Freya.”

“Only you, our savior.”

“I can’t save you; I must find Freya,” he said. “Why are you here?”

“Captain Halle at your service,” a large red ant bowed, “We’re tricked, we listened to this bass.”

“NONSENSE! I told you that the white sweet frozen treat dropped at the edge of the pond was to DIE for.“ he nudged the leaf.

“Save us!”

“I don’t understand,” said Drake.

“Alas,” said Halle, “we ate it all, and then the rain carried us away.”

“It’s our shame.”

“Come on in little ants, the water is fine!” said the bass.

“Help us!”

Drake looked out across the pond for Freya, but didn’t see her. “How can I help?”

“You can help them swim with me!” laughed the bass.

“Oh no, we can’t swim!”

“Can you push us to shore with your powerful wings?” asked Halle.

“I shall try.” Drake thrashed his wings and pushed as hard as he could.

“Look, it’s working!”

The wind pushed back.

“HA! Look at the MIGHTY dragonfly,” said the bass.

Out of breath and sore of heart, Drake stopped his fluttering. “He’s right; I couldn’t even save my love.”

“Don’t give up!”

“I just can’t”

“All is not lost!” said Helle. “The great NIDO, the storm sprite, rewards all that show strength in spite of sorrow. Try again.”

Drake breathed deeply and once more heaved against the wind. The air around them became still and the water calmed.

Drake’s reflection transformed; dark clouds extended in all directions. As his reflection changed, his strength surged.

“NIDO has come; the mighty Dragon is with us!”

“HA! I see only a fly,” mocked the bass.

Suddenly, an osprey swooped down, captured the bass, and flew away.

“We are saved!”

Drake gave one last push and the leaf struck the sandy bank.

“All hail the Dragonfly!” chanted the ants as they crawled to shore.

Drake’s wings drooped as he watched the ants wind their way through the grass jungle.

“Drake?”

“Freya!”

They flew towards each other and landed the bahiagrass.

“I shall never leave you again,” said Drake.

“You have found your Freya,” said Halle. “The great NIDO rewards those that persevere; you are indeed a MIGHTY dragonfly.”

There Must Be Something in the Water

Megan Cypress

Doug paced around his tiny efficiency apartment as he talked to his lawyer on his government-issued cell phone. “So you’re saying I need to do something to benefit the community to convince the judge not to send me to jail?”

“Yep,” Mr. Lawson replied.

“Like what? People don’t like working with thieves.”

“I’m sure you can come up with something.”

Doug looked out the window at a puddle of water that lay in a ditch. “I got just the thing.”

Doug grabbed a shovel out of his closet that he had previously stolen from the Home Depot.

He ran outside and jumped into the puddle and started shoveling. He scooped shovelful after shovelful….right back into the puddle. He worked on it for a half-hour. “Why won’t this water go down any further?” He tossed down his shovel and lay down on the muddy ground. He looked up at the clouds above him as they passed. He pointed to one. “A dragon! That’s what I need. Come here, Dragon!”

The dragon-looking cloud transformed into an actual dragon and came down to earth and blew the puddle away with a big gust of his fiery breath.

Doug gave the dragon a thumbs up. “Good job, Dragon!”

The dragon flew up to the sky and blended back in with the clouds.

Doug grinned. “I’m going to take credit for the dragon’s hard work.” He snapped a picture of the puddle with his phone. He got distracted though before he looked to see how it turned out because he heard the ice cream truck playing “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”

Doug ran to the truck, his wet jeans weighing him down, but he was determined to get ice cream for his job well done.

Doug caught up to the truck and ordered an ice cream cone and licked the soft clouds of vanilla soft serve off the cone.

When he was finished his ice cream, he looked at the picture on his phone. The puddle was full again in the picture. “I don’t get it. The dragon took care of this.”

“No, he didn’t,” a voice whispered from the sky.

Doug looked up to see the face of the dragon form in the cloud. “I’m only a figment of your imagination. If you want to shovel that puddle away, you better get to work.”

Doug shrugged. “Well, it was the thought that counted anyway.”

When Doug went back to court for his sentencing date, he told the judge all about his attempt to clear a puddle out of a ditch to protect the the neighborhood kids who might fall in it or the cars that might get stuck in it. He even showed him the picture on his phone and told the judge about his efforts. The judge was unamused and sentenced him to spend a month in jail.

When Doug entered his jail cell, he lay his head down on his pillow. “Oh, well,” he said to himself before he fell asleep, “at least I got some ice cream before serving my time.”

A Dragon’s Weakness

C. S. E. Greenberg

Dark clouds spread like ribbons across the sky. An old man looked up from his fields. The scaly black skull burst forth from behind the ribbons, the dragon tangling its gleaming black body in vapor and thunder. The dragon roared, and the old man dropped his rake and ran towards the castle.

*****

“The dragon must be stopped!”

The elder’s face reddened, his voice too loud to be addressing his lord. Sir Maron’s face contorted, and the elder blanched. “I mean, sir, we need your help!”

A stranger approached. “Sir, if you need help with a Dragon, I’d be more than willing to assist you.” The knight’s eyes brightened, and looked at the stranger. He was dressed in the style of an tinker, his pack bulging, a shovel fastened on the back.  

“How can you help?” the knight demanded.

“I can get the dragon to leave. But I’d require as much ice cream as could fill my wagon as pay.”

Sir Maron of Bluebell stiffened. “That’s a knight’s ransom in ice cream—a full week’s production from the dairy!”

The tinker shrugged. “Sir, my methods require much risk. If you’d rather handle it yourself, that’s fine. But the dragon may keep your cows off their feed, and when cows aren’t eating, they don’t make milk.” 

The elder looked towards the knight, his concern for the cows evident. The knight grumbled. “This is highway robbery!” He sighed. “The guards will get you what you need.”

*****

The tinker set up at the edge of a nearby lake, spitting a slaughtered sheep it over the fire. He took off his pack, and set aside his shovel. A slight line of black smoke crept skyward. The tinker looked towards the clouds, fluffy loaves of bread obscuring the sky,  and frowned. The dragon’s head appeared through the clouds. It descended and began feasting  on the sheep. The tinker picked the shovel from the ground, and filled it with water from the lake, then slung the water into the dragon’s face. Steam rose from the dragon’s scales as the dragon flinched. The tinker hurriedly filled his shovel again, and flung the water straight into the dragon’s eyes. The dragon hissed, then fled, spouting flames into the air as it repeatedly shook its head.

*****

As the tinker prepared to leave, his cart filled with his delicious reward, the elder came scurrying up. “Why would the dragon fear being covered in water?”

The tinker laughed. “Dragons die if their fires are extinguished.. Besides, what creature likes getting water flung into its’ eyes?”

The tinker departed, heading past the boundary of the Knight’s holdings. He turned off the road, heading toward a strange, black hill in an empty pasture. The hill blinked at the tinkerer. “Took you long enough,” the dragon mumbled to his accomplice. “And why did you have to spray me directly in the eyes?”

The tinker grimaced back at the dragon. “They wouldn’t believe it unless you made it obvious, which you wouldn’t do. I knew you’d react regularly to that.”

The dragon changed the subject. “Enough about business, let’s get down to dessert. Did they give you any Rocky Road?”

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The Iron Writer Challenge #163 – 2016 Summer Solstice Open Challenge #1

old phone booth winter

The Iron Writer Challenge #163

2016 Spring Solstice Open, Preliminary Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors: 

Malissa Greenwood, Vance Rowe, Maureen Larter, Megan Cypress, Steven L. Bergeron

The Elements:

An old phone booth

A golf club (must be specific regarding which club))

A photograph

Told from POV of someone who believes they do not belong in the family they were born in, due to an accident 25 years before they were born.

 

So Long AgoMaureen Larter

Maureen Larter

I pulled the car over to the side of the road and rested my head on my hands as they gripped the steering wheel. My heart thumped in my chest and my emotions were still raw. The argument had been brief, but violent. When James had begun to brandish the nine iron, I had turned and run.

I had never felt that I belonged to the family – they were all so clever, and I struggled with just the normal everyday tasks. Now Mum had passed away and my brother wanted her photo that was behind me on the bookcase. I had turned and grabbed it, clasping it to my chest, sobbing with suppressed grief.

“Anyway,” he had shouted, “she was my Mum, not yours! Give me the photo!” His voice had risen another decibel – “GIVE IT TO ME!” Then he had lunged towards me as tears ran down my cheeks.

When he turned and grabbed the golf club from the bag in the corner of the hall I knew I had to get out of there. How could this argument have escalated so quickly? We were adults after all.

After a few minutes, I calmed a little. James’s comment continued to wrench at my heart, but somehow I knew it struck at the truth. What had happened in the past that had led me to be part, yet not part of the family?

My mind was in a whirl of questions, and now that Mum was gone how could I find out the truth?

I wiped my eyes and looked around. Not twenty feet away, an old phone booth sat next to the road, like a message from the afterworld. What if I asked my father? Would he be able to answer me? Would he remember?

I opened the car door and stumbled over to the booth. It was out of order. Now there was no choice, I had to go and see my father.

It was an hour later that I sat opposite him in ‘Golden Grove Nursing Facility’, his eyes staring at me.

I smiled weakly.

“Do you remember me, Dad?”

He looked blankly at me.

“Can you help me?” I asked, frowning with worry. “Am I your daughter?”

It seemed silly to make small talk – I needed to find out – might as well hit him with the only question that was important to me.

He sighed.

“Hello, Helen.” he said.

I shook my head. I wasn’t Helen.

He continued.

“It was a long time ago. I thought you died in that accident.”

He began to weep. “But I found your grand-daughter – really I did. I raised her as my own daughter, even though she wasn’t. She is like you, you know – blonde, tall and – what a temper!” he stopped, bent his head, no longer coherent.

I watched the nurse take him back to his room. Stunned, I walked out to the car.

James had been right.

Out of This World

Malissa Greenwood

I don’t belong here. I’m a freak of nature, as the kids would say. Well that’s what they would say if they knew. But they don’t know; no one does, except for Uncle Jack and Auntie June. And my mother of course, before she died.  

It all started a long time ago, way before I was born. Dad was stranded here after a war. His ship was lost and eventually crashed into Earth’s atmosphere, destroying the ship and leaving him here in New York City, USA. Uncle Jack found him next to an old phone booth, the kind you see in old films. He gave him shelter and well, a new life and also managed to keep his secret all these years. He only eventually told Auntie June because he married her and felt finally, that he could trust someone. Besides, Dad didn’t age for, like, a really long time so… it would have been suspicious. Dad eventually met Mom and shortly after they married I was here and, well… she was gone. It would have been nice to know her. All I have of hers is some clothes my dad kept and a photo album. My favorite photograph is one where she was pregnant with me. She’s looking down at her round stomach like it was a gift.

But that was ages ago. I’m in school now and I’m very aware of how different I am. Not too much physically, with my dark skin and short athletic stature; only my facial features are a bit… off.

But I do have several ‘advanced skills’. I can hold my breath for a really long time, which is fun; makes for excellent times in swimming matches. I’m quite a bit stronger than everyone else my age. In my golf class I nearly bent a 5-iron in half when I was upset about landing a ball in the water. I’m also a quick healer and I will live to be significantly older than the average human being, with very slow signs of aging. I mean that’s what we’re expecting, but since my mother was a human that makes me a hybrid so I suppose it’s a crap-shoot, really.

I don’t know what it’s like to live anywhere other than Earth, of course, but I just have this feeling that there has got to be more for me out there. I look up at the stars and I can feel it. I can see more than what these humans see. I know there’s more out there, I know we’re not alone (even though Dad says he’s sure his home planet was destroyed). He says “I’ve made a happy life here Siena, so will you.” But surely there are other planets! There has to be. I mean, what are the odds of there only being two!? No… I know there’s more for me and I am going to do whatever I can to get out of here.

“Siena! Dinner’s ready!” Auntie Jackie calls from downstairs and I sigh.

Well. I will find a way. But I suppose I should eat dinner, and … maybe finish high school first.

My Mother

Vance Rowe

I was swinging a driver club from my golf bag in my parents’ bedroom when I accidentally hit their chest of drawers and a hidden compartment opened up. Inside of the compartment was an old newspaper clipping dated about twenty five years before I was born. The clipping was a story accompanied by a photograph of a car that had crashed into an old telephone booth. The clipping had stated that the adults in the car were killed but a five year old girl had survived.

The young girl who had survived was only five years old. I asked my father about it and he heaved a sigh and said, “I knew this day would come sometime.”

He explained that the photograph was of my grandparents. My real grandparents and my mother was the five year old girl. He also went on to explain that she had been raped when she was fifteen as she was bounced around from foster home to foster home, and I was the product of that rape. Since she was still a minor, I had to be given up for adoption and that is the reason I am here now.

“So, you and mom are not my real parents?”

“Well, we raised you and loved you as our own son. You were a blessing to us because your mom…my wife could not have children of her own.”

“So my real mom is still out there somewhere?”

“As far as we know she is, but we have no idea who or where she is. Or if she is still even alive.”

I didn’t know what to say. There are a million thoughts running through my head right now. I looked at the newspaper clipping again and noticed that the anniversary of the car crash is tomorrow. I demanded that my father take me to the scene tomorrow.

The next day we took a drive to the site where the accident happened. There was nothing there now but trees and bushes but I did notice a woman standing there. She looked to be in her sixties now. My father saw her too and looked like he had seen a ghost. He stopped the car and I stepped out. The elderly woman looked at me as I looked at her and then I muttered, “Mom?”

I took the newspaper clipping from my pocket and showed it to her. She wept and ran off crying into the bushes. I yelled for her but never heard anything nor did I find her. I will come back here next year though.

The Flight of the UrabansSteven Bergeron

Steven L. Bergeron

“Commander to Urabius, can anyone hear us? Miss Emily we are going down.”It was the constant dream that kept me up most nights.

Miles between mars and earth positioned our star, shaped like a putter’s wedge. As legends say it was habituated by our people the Urabans. We came from a placed called Urabus. In the cold years before world war one our planet was under attack . A young Scientist Cyrus O’Reagan tried to save our planet from destruction. It was in my before life my family history had.

Looking out the window of Nuts Acyllum were not a living soul would believe us. We remain imprisoned against our will. We are the people who’s family history seemed a little far fetched.

*****

We walked all in a row along the tar mat to our phone booth ship on our quest to save our planet.

“Well commander Emily how shall we do this.” Upon entering my ship I turned to my fellow pilots.

“My fellow Urbans our planet is under attack . As you all follow my lead we shall prevail.”

How was I to now that those final words were to be my final orders as we all gave our life to save what we all believed in.

The battlefield was tremendous bigger than anyone could have imagined. We had our ups and down the firepower illuminated the sky. Then it came to a one final confrontation myself against the ultimate pilot of our allies soon out of no were an unknown pilot made the difference . Our allies finally want their way but not before destroying our putters wedge star.  

The unknown pilot lead what remained of our species to a empty field in a planet known as earth. I myself never made it my ship was blown to smithereens. This was twenty-five years before my existence.

*****

I finally woke up from my deep sleep only to find my dear grandson Andrew sitting next to me. Of all the people in the world here was one person I would not lie to. So my family story was nothing but true to him.

“Grandma you are finally awake. Are you ready to get out of here?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m now in charge of your well being. You do not belong among these people. With my help if you will allow me we shall show everyone your story isn’t as far fetched as everyone thinks.”

With that we are out of here. Andrew was my saviour. All the years being locked up , the new world looks all new to me. In the end everyone knew my true identity.I was the last true Uraban. We now stand here were our ships had landed. In memory of all people from out of this world this land is dedicated to the first person who believed their existence. The O’Reagans research facility is now open . My dear uncle Cyrus would be proud.

LemonadeMegan Cypress

Megan Cypress

Bobby played video games in the living room, while his mother, Valerie, prepared fresh lemonade in the kitchen.

The telephone that hung on the wall in the kitchen rang. Valerie answered. “Hello?”

Bobby paused his game so he could listen. The man on the other line spoke loudly enough that Bobby could hear him. “Hey, Val. It’s Tony.”

“Tony? You coming into town for the reunion?”

“I’m in town. I’m calling from the old payphone on Route 9.”

“Well, get over here.” Valerie hung up.

Bobby asked, “Who’s Tony?”

“Just an old friend of mine and your father’s.”

“He’s not my father. He won’t play video games with me.”  

“Now what did I tell you about saying those awful things about your father?”

“Not to.”

“That’s right. Now shut off that game. Tony will be here soon.”

Bobby ignored her and kept playing anyway.

Someone knocked on the front door.

“Come in!” Valerie shouted.

Tony stepped inside. “Oh, hi. What’s your name?”

Bobby noticed that Tony had the same bushy brown hair as he. “Bobby.”

“You got the new Super Mario Brothers? Ahh, man! Let me play.”

“Bobby, I told you to turn off that game!” Valerie shouted. “Now come in here and get some lemonade.”

Bobby turned off the game and walked into the kitchen with Tony.

“So, Bobby, how old are you?” Tony asked.

“Ten.”

Tony counted on his fingers. “Ten? Why, Valerie, you must’ve had him shortly after the last time I visited.”

“Did I?” Valerie set the pitcher of lemonade and four empty glasses on the kitchen table and hollered up the stairs, “Robert, Tony’s here!”

“Tony?” Robert shouted back. “Be right down.”

Robert ran down the stairs, holding a photograph. “Guys, look what I found.”

Valerie snatched the photograph from Robert. “Is that the old Putt-Putt course on Route 9?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Oh, my gosh. How old is this photo?”

“35 years. Same year we graduated from high school. Thought it’d be nice to bring to the reunion.”

Tony scratched his head. “Has it been that long since they shut that place down?”

“Uh-huh,” Robert replied, “but I remember it like it was yesterday ’cause I always won.”

“Did you?”

“Yeah. Remember the windmill on that last hole? Your ball bounced off the wheel of it every time you putted. You never did have the right timing.”

“Oh, yeah. I remember now. Remember that time I accidentally hit you in the crotch with my putter? It was so funny. Your face turned bright red and you grabbed hold of your crotch and said, ‘thanks for taking away my ability to have kids.’”

Bobby, not detecting the sarcastic tone of Tony’s voice, shouted, “I knew it! You’re my father, aren’t you, Tony?”

Tony looked inquisitively at Bobby, while Robert’s jaw dropped to the floor.

Robert shook his head. “Tony, Valerie, how could you?”

Valerie started crying.

Bobby wished he could take back his words but knew it was too late. All he could do now was try to make the best out of a bad situation. “So, Mom, Dads, how about that lemonade?”

Valerie hugged Bobby. “Of course, Bobby. I love you.”

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The Iron Writer Challenge #161 – 2016 Spring Open Challenge #9

 The Iron Writer Challenge #161

2016 Spring Open Challenge #9

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

She Teng Ong, Paul Arden Lidberg, Megan Cypress, Malissa Greenwood

The Elements:

Fire Tornado

Field mice

Fish

Eye goggles

Her Turf

Sze Teng Ong

There’s nothing quite like the quaint country side, with the crisp air all around and the soft grass beneath your feet as gentle sunlight slides past the teasing clouds and dances across fields.

“How’s the catch this afternoon, ladies?”

Tiny snouts peeked out from their hiding places among the dandelion, squeaking their answer proudly, followed by softer high pitched murmurs.

“Is that so?”

The old man heaved himself off the chair. His fishing boat awaited him, business as usual and down to the lake he went. The city dwellers’ tents were set up near his own inn and fishing spot, despite their eagerness to get close to the great outdoors. With breakfast settled, the intruders howled their displeasure at the lack of morning activity. As the old man scuttled towards his boat along the dirt path, a screech resounded and he could sense five pairs of eyes boring into the back of his head.

The pack closed on him, and their cackling was followed by wads of cash handed over, their target the boat by the dock and the fishing equipment. With that, they set off for the lake, leaving the old man crouched on the dock. “Only a day, huh. You’d think they’d learn by now.”

Underneath the surface of the water, gleaming bodies neared. A sudden sharp blast of cold wind streaked across the side where the old man had knelt, slicing the smooth line of ripples and shocking the fish underneath. In eerie unison they swarmed towards the center of the lake, heading for the boat and its noisy occupants.

Whirling around, the old man shot for their campsite with renewed energy. The eye goggles hung loosely from the old man’s arm, above the charred spot where a fire was once lit.

“Yours, Milady!”

Murky grey clouds gathered above the pristine lake as fiercer winds emerged from surrounding mountains, howling their arrival. Merciless gales were soon wrenching trees and surrounding tents. Slowly a column of grey and brown built up on the lake side, churning in its dangerous dance. A single streak of lightning darted down towards pine trees by the dock, the tallest victim set ablaze. Its partner-in-crime had built up to a tornado, edging closer and closer to the fire. With careful maneuvering it avoided the house by the dock, and leaned towards the burning tree instead to absorb the flames, a flurry of orange and black.

As the fire tornado built up, there was no mistake in their worried yells, but the fish had surrounded the bottom of the boat, bumping it to make it go in circles no matter how it was directed. With its target locked on, the fire tornado left the lake edge and entered the water.

While the old man lowered his arm, the tiny mice gathered back at his feet, squeaking their songs of victory as the tornado blazed.

“For you, my queen!”

There’s nothing quite like the quaint country side, with the old man ruling the vast lands and mice teasing your feet as pristine lakes and vast fields set the stage for Mother Nature to test her unique creations.

The Summoning

Paul Arden Lidberg

He stood gazing at the diagram he’d scratched out of the panhandle dirt. It was the most perfect pentagram ever made! Using GPS technology and an old plow, he had meticulously carved the shapes into exquisite and precise detail. He knew how important it was to get these things correct, and he was determined that nothing would stand in his way.

Placing all the tools back in the trailer, he donned the ceremonial turban and breech cloth. His scrawny arms were caked with sweat and dust, his eyes squinting against the setting sun. It was almost time.

Very quickly he lit the candles – one at each vertex, and larger ones at the major points. The still night air kept the candles from being blown out. He was ready.

Striding to the center of the 100 foot wide diagram, he carefully sat cross-legged near the the center. Within arms reach were all the necessary items for the sacrifice that would grant him ultimate power.

First he donned the eye goggles, vision protection being something he knew would be important. Then he began to chant…

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”  Again.

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

He reached over and pulled out a barely alive perch and a trout. Holding them above his head, he chanted “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

He then lowered them to the ground before him. Using the ceremonial dagger, he gutted first one and then the other. Placing them over his hands like mittens, he waved them and continued chanting “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

Tossing the fish to either side, he reached into a cage and pulled out two drugged field mice. He chanted “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

He placed them on the ground before him, then smacked them both with ceremonial mallet. He chanted “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

“I have sacrificed of the land and of the sea” he shouted. “You will come and do my bidding!”

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”  Again.

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

Finally, a flame appeared in the center of the pentagram. It was an unearthly flame, flickering with blue and green and twisting about as it grew larger and larger. It started to spin and turn, resembling nothing so much as a tornado made of fire. And it continued to grow.

The heat from the flame was intense, and he was finally forced to back out of the diagram. After scrambling to the edge, he looked back in wonder at what he’d wrought.

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”  Again.

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

A voice issued from the flame.

“Hello? Hello?”

“Cthulhu! I summon you to do my bidding!” He stood defiantly at the edge.

“I’m sorry, they moved.”

“What?” His confidence was shaken.

“Yeah, the moved years ago. This isn’t his number no more.”

“Wait, umm…do you know where I might find him?” His eyes darted back and forth at this bizarre turn.

“Sorry sweetie, I just don’t know. Bye!”

This was definitely the last time he’d buy Demon Summoning directions off Ebay.

© Copyright 2016 Paul Arden Lidberg

Safety Goggles

Malissa Greenwood

Bobby and I are sitting in our small room reading his favorite book by candlelight when I hear the gunfire. He turns his little face up to me, eyes wide and waiting. We listen a moment longer in silence until I determine that we should move.

“Bobby, why don’t we keep telling stories in our secret room? Would that be OK?”

He nods obediently and grabs his goggles off the table, quickly slipping them over his eyes. I think most children grow up with safety blankets or favorite toys, but Bobby clings to his goggles like they are a super hero cape, putting them on whenever he needs to be brave. I used to giggle and tell him that he looks like a fish, but these days there is not much to laugh about. Instead I feel grateful that he has found a method to cope.

I walk over to the corner of the room and slide a bookcase half a meter to the left, revealing a tunnel just large enough for children to crawl through.

“Do you have your bag?”

He nods as he pulls his backpack out of his cubby, already packed with two bottles of water, packaged snacks, and some matches. Then he drops to his knees and wiggles into the tunnel ahead of me. I take a quick look around the room wondering if I should grab anything else. I remember the family photo in the back of Bobby’s book. I snatch it out and tuck it into my shirt before shimming into the tunnel feet first so that I can move the bookcase back into position.

Creeping backward through the tunnel I can hear the gunshots, growing louder and more threatening. I can also hear and feel the mice scurrying around me. Our parents had built this hidden passageway into the field knowing that there would be a time when we would need to hide from the soldiers. They hoped we would be safe, even if they weren’t around to protect us.

When I feel my foot reach a drop-off I know that I can step down onto a ladder and lower myself into the room.

Settled next to Bobby on the dirt floor I whisper to him “You want to tell me a story Bobby?” He remains quiet, clutching my sleeve. “How about the one with the fire tornado that rips through the enemy camp? You love that story.” I prompt.

He reaches up, adjusting his goggles and I know he is too afraid to talk. I understand this and I know it’s better to be quiet so I simply put my arm around him and we sit together in the small dark space, waiting… waiting for the gunshots to stop; waiting to feel safe; waiting for the war to be over.

Fluffy’s Fable

Megan Cypress

There once was a kitty named Fluffy, who loved nothing more than to chase and kill the field mice in the forest where she lived. One day, a good fairy appeared to warn Fluffy of the dangers of her propensity for violence.

“Relax,” Fluffy said. “They’re just mice.”

“And you’re just a cat.”

“I don’t need your advice.” Fluffy swiped her paw at the good fairy as the good fairy flew away and disappeared into a branch of a nearby cypress tree. Fluffy paid no attention to the good fairy’s warning and continued to chase and kill the field mice.

The good fairy came back to Fluffy and told her, “You’ve been warned once already. You need to change your evil ways before it’s too late.”

Again, Fluffy ignored the good fairy’s warning and chased an entire family of field mice to the lake by the forest. She killed every last one of them. Even the children. Their bodies lay slain across the bank of the lake.

The good fairy’s evil twin sister appeared in a cloud of smoke in front of Fluffy. “Look at all these bodies collecting. Keep up the good work.”

“But what about the good fairy? She told me not to hurt these mice.”

“Don’t listen to her. What does she know?”

Fluffy continued killing until all the mice in the forest were dead. The evil fairy re-appeared with a grin upon her face and smoke around her body.

“Did I do good?” Fluffy asked.

“Indeed you did, my child.” The evil fairy laughed maniacally and spun around in circles until she formed a tornado of fire.

“Hey, stop it!” Fluffy shouted. “I did what you said to do.”

“You’ve had your fun. Now it’s my turn.” The tornado of fire spread throughout the forest.

Fluffy heard the good fairy crying from the cypress tree.

“Help!” Fluffy pleaded to the good fairy.

“It’s too late!” the good fairy cried.

The cyclone of fire rushed toward Fluffy, who panicked and nose-dived into the lake.

Fish of every color of the rainbow swam around the bottom of the lake, in a home made out of an abandoned pair of human goggles.

The fish scattered as Fluffy swam closer. Only one bright red fish remained. “You can’t be here,” the fish said. “You’re a land dweller. Go home.”

“But my home’s on fire.”

“That’s not my problem. This isn’t your home.”

Fluffy became light-headed as she felt herself running out of oxygen. She swam to the surface and tried to catch her breath. She watched the forest burn down around her. Her parents abandoned her in that forest when she was a kitten. And now there was no forest left.

Poor Fluffy tried to swim as long as she possibly could, but soon she grew tired and could no longer stay afloat. Fluffy drowned and sunk to the bottom of the lake, landing near the goggles the rainbow fish called home. The fish feasted on the cat’s carcass. Their mouths pecked and sucked on her flesh and meat until all that was left of poor Fluffy was bones.

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