The Iron Writer Challenge, Grudge Match #12

Dystopian Library

Grudge Match #12 

Monday, October 20, 2014

K. A. DaVur & Steven L. Bergeron


Dani J Caile & Mathew W. Weaver


 Christopher A Liccardi, B Y Rogers, Tiffany Brown, DL Zwissler, Alis Van Doorn, Richard Russell, Mamie Pound, DL Mackenzie, Suzann Smith, E. Chris Garrison, Thomas Lamkin Jr.

Rules: 1 element from each writer, 1 story from each team, 250 words from each writer with discussion and collaboration within the teams. No popular vote. If there is a tiebreaker, ‘Duel’: Dani vs Steven  – 3 elements, 300 words.

The Elements:



A red Lionel electric train.

All characters are inside a cardboard box.

Story must be dystopian

One of the characters is learning to speak ‘duck’

The Train

Christmas morning here in our trailer park has always been the same. Dingy snow sticks to the burned out husks of cars, drunks stagger around the impact craters bellowing carols. In our trailer, broken ornaments adorn a dust-covered plastic palm tree.  My father would be passed out in his urine and sweat-soaked chair by noon.  One year, my only gift was a half-empty case of Busch. Another year I got a squashed pack of Marlboro Milds.

“Enjoy, Johnny,” my father grunted, “Christmas only comes once a year!”

This morning was different. As I rounded the corner a package under the tree caught my attention. This one was long and slim, wrapped in smiling Santas. The wrapping went flying as I revealed to my most memorable gift of them all; my very own red Lionel electric train, a limited edition, candy-apple red, complete with a whole village of characters all in a cardboard box.

So this was the reason my mother had worked all those extra hours at the diner. I looked up to see the glee spill from her eyes onto her cheeks.

“I love you, Duck” she said. It was her special nickname for me ever since I took my first waddling steps.

“Love you too, Mama.”

A week later, Mama’s body had been taken to the incinerator, and I was carrying the box to the first of what would be many foster homes.  I wouldn’t talk at any of them, couldn’t. Every time I did I would see Mama’s broken body rise up before me and steal the words from my throat. So, I quacked. One for yes, two for no. I was trying to learn more, but it was hard, with Mama’s blackened eyes staring at me.

The only relief came from playing with the train set. I wouldn’t take it out of the box, I was afraid I would lose something, but I would slide one finger down the side, carefully, feeling my way down the seam until I could push down the guard rail with one finger and suddenly I was there, standing next to the now-huge train.

“We have to get him, Lionel.” I would say.

“We will, we will” he would puff back.

And then we were off. One day, Lionel took me to Aokigahara, where I walked among the dead until Mama no longer scared me. Then to Ancient Greece, where I learned not to fear pain. Finally, he stood me before the mayor, a stuffy once-wooden lard in a too-tight suit.

“Kill him,” Lionel commanded.

At first I couldn’t, and quacked disconsolently for three days before the train would come back to life.

The second time I couldn’t either. It was a week that he left me, then.

Today, though, today the fat man’s blood flowed. Lionel tooted his horn so loudly I thought my ears would burst, and took my on a victory ride faster than we’d ever been before.

“Is it time, yet?” I asked, remembering the blood, picturing my father’s beer-swollen gun.

“Soon,” Lionel chuffed. “Soon-soon, Soon-soon, soon-soon….”

“As stated under Regulation 16”

“As stated under Regulation 16 By-law 22 Section 2 Point 4.1 Appendix 3 Paragraph 42 of the Manifesto Issued by Those Within The Box, as of now, it is my turn with the red Lionel toy train.”

Watson grabbed the treasured object and tugged. John held it closer to his chest. The damp, mouldy cardboard box shook with their wrestling and wrangling, straining the rips in the corners.

“It’s mine!” John snarled.

“Guys, please, mind The Box!” warned Bernard, fed up with their confined, disease-ridden dystopian world.

“Quack,” Howard agreed.

“Oh, shut up.” John let go, and Watson retreated in triumph to his corner.


“Why bother learning, Howard? When was the last time we had a duck in here?” John sighed.

“You never know…QUACK.”

The misery, the oppression, the overcrowding…Bernard couldn’t take it anymore, the insanity was torturing.

“Don’t you wish you were free?” he asked, struggling to his feet, his head jammed against the top of The Box.

“No,” a voice from another corner muttered.

“Squalor is next to ugliness,” Watson commented, train in hand. He giggled, “My precioussssssssssssss……”

“Oh, miserable old box…I so love having rags for clothes,” grumbled John.

“Is it just me, then?” Bernard demanded as ants nested under his moist patch of fear. “The dirt, the smell, the insecurity of it all? Doesn’t it bother you?”

“Go if you want. We can do without you,” Watson snapped, annoyed at the interruption to his play. John tried to swipe the toy train back and missed.


“Look at you! You don’t even know what’s out there!” Bernard jabbed a finger in the air. “Don’t you care? We’re Schrodinger’s cats as far as anyone or anything out there is concerned!”

“I hate cats,” murmered John.

“I like quacks,” Howard interjected, “How about we all be Schrodinger’s ducks instead?”

“My preciousssssss,” Watson hissed.

“Are we…are we alive or dead?” whined Bernard.

“Dunno. If we’re Schrodinger’s ducks, then we’ll only know if someone opens The Box.”


Bernard looked around at his companions and saw the miserable, pathetic life they had, never once wondering what it was like outside. Surely there was more than this…

“I’m leaving,” he said.

“Good riddance, you and your ‘oppression’,” mumbled Watson.

Bernard shook his head, and looked up at the sagging roof inches from his nose. He sucked in, and punched upwards into the unknown. Whether or not the others were watching he did not know or care; his fist sank through the rotting cardboard like a clenched hand through thick, wet paper. Light shined through, and madness seized him. He reached, grabbed, and pulled himself out.

A flap closed on the hole in the top of The Box, and the light dimmed once more.

Watson sniffed.


John leaped forward, “My turn! MY TURN WITH THE TRAIN!”

“Quack,” Howard said, shifting aside as they rolled past him.

Soft tapping on the side of The Box cut through their yells and made them pause.

“Can I come back in, please? It’s cold out here.”



2014 Autumn Equinox Open Bracket – Stephanie Meyer Bracket


Stephanie Meyer Bracket



Stockholm Syndrome

Something found on a deceased body that would be an embarrassment to the family

Told from the point of view of an interview of someone not yet born


Stephanie Meyers Bracket: Mathew W Weaver, Jordan Bell, Suzann Smith, Geoff Gore

FormalitiesMathew W Weaver

Mathew W. Weaver

“Hello, Nate.”

“Oh. You’re a new one.”

“Um… sorry, I just got here. A new what?”

“Another new voice in my head.”

“Oh, no, no. No. I mean, yeah, I am a voice in your head. I’m just not the type you’re thinking about.”

“The heck is that supposed to mean?”

“Good question. You could even say I’m not born yet. Consider this an interview.”


“Nate? You still there?”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“Oh, sorry. Where are my manners? I am a Demon.”

“Say what?”

“Demon. You know, demon spawn, use humans as hosts, details, details. I’m about to take over your body, and I thought I’d drop by and say hi. Consider yourself lucky, most of us don’t bother calling ahead in advance.”

“This is a crazy. I’m dreaming.”

“Oh, you know you’re not dreaming. Just letting you know that I’m going to take over your meat sack and use you as my personal puppet. Nothing personal, you know. It’s just how things are.”

“But… but… why me?”

“You’re simple, you’re boring, you’ve got an ugly wife and a dead end job. This is going to be fun! You can thank me later.”


“Calm down, kiddo. Look at the bright side. We might even become friends. Ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?”


“Now, now. Keep that up and I’ll give you Misophonia. Try listening to your favorite classical music again after that.”

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“Why stop there? Once I’m done with you, I could always leave you dead with a dildo in one hand and a Barbie doll in the other. Bet that would be one heck of a stain on the family name, eh?”


“You do realize that now I’ve thought about it, I just have to do it, don’t you?”

“Please. Go away.”

“Sorry, Nate. You’re mine, now. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“No. Wait. There must be something I can do…”

“Well… Look, I’m a nice guy. And I suppose you could try going to a witchdoctor or gypsy fortune teller like in the movies and try your luck, if only to make you feel better. Heck, tell you what, I’d even be a sport and give you three days to try and get rid of me. Seems fair, eh?”

“That’s it. I’m dreaming. This is a dream, I’m waking up.”

“Suit yourself. And I guess it’s settled, then. This was nice, Nate. See you in three days!”


Nate shot up in bed, hair sopping wet and sheets snarled around his legs. He gasped for breath, heart pounding and head throbbing, fear running off him in tangible waves.

The ticking clock steadied his nerves. He took a deep breath and let it go.

“Stupid dream,” he muttered.

Something twirled and fluttered down from above, and landing gracefully on his lap.

The white business card was plain and simple, and handwritten in red ink were three short words:

Three days, kiddo

Should I Stay or Should I Go?Geoff Gore

Geoff Gore

Something had changed. The constant metronomic throb, a perpetual painful noise, yet at the same time comforting, had stopped. In its place, sweet silence.

The silence didn’t last. Outside, muffled voices. Something else had changed too. The soothing liquid warmth was growing cold. This wasn’t a womb. It was a tomb.

Outside the voices grew clearer.

“What’ve we got?”

“Jane Doe. Approximately twenty years old. No pulse and…she’s pregnant.”

“You think the kid’s still alive in there?”

“Maybe, if we can work fast enough…what the hell is that?”

“Couple of extra vertebrae extending from the coccyx. Rare, but it happens.”

“She’s got a tail?”

Inside, a light appeared. From the light came another voice.

“Hello little one.”

“Who are you?”

“Your Guardian Angel.”

“Shouldn’t you wait until I’ve actually been born?”

“Ordinarily yes, but in your case…”

“What’s going on?”

The voices outside interrupted.

“Jimmy, get those headphones off of her and pass me the paddles.”

“Here…whoa, nice cans.”

“This is hardly the time…”

“I meant the headphones…noise cancelling.”

“What’s happening out there?”

“It’s your mother, she’s… struggled with something”

“She’s struggled? Eight months I’ve been trapped in here. It’s been hell. Constant noise. Boom, boom, boom. Day and night. It’s like living in a rave. Then there’s those people that insist on coming up and rubbing her belly, talking to me like I’m an idiot. Talk about nails on a blackboard.”

“Do you even know what a blackboard is?”

“I know what one sounds like. Anyway, I can’t stand it, so I kick and kick and what do they do? They do it more! It’s me that needs noise cancelling headphones. You think she could swallow a pair?”

“There’s something you should know.”


“You’re mother has a rare condition. Two to three extra vertebrae at the base of her spine.”

“You mean she has a tail?”


“That explains this I suppose. He turned sluggishly in the now cooling liquid. See?”

“Yes…I see.”

“I’m not going to be a dog am I?”

“No. But one of the effects is a sensitivity to external stimuli, especially noise. Our mother has it, and you know if you go through with this, you’ll likely be the same. Oh, and you’ll also be allergic to shrimp.”

“Oh, great.”

“So why not just leave?”

“Because I can’t.”

“You don’t have to go through with it.”

“I’ve been here for eight months. I’m committed.”

“Not if you don’t want to.”

There was sudden jolt.

“What was that?”

“You probably don’t want to know.”

“Anyway, much as I hate this place. She’s looked after me. I kind of feel, connected. I mean, it’s not her fault. It’s just…is this the life I want for myself?”

“Then why stay?”

“That’s just it isn’t it? Should I stay, or should I go?”

“It’s your choice.”

The voices outside interrupted again.

“Sorry Jimmy. Looks like we’re too late this time.”

The Angel held out a hand.

“Come with me little one.”

“Where are we going?”

Late Summer 2007Suzann Smith

Suzann Smith

“Great-Grandma always said to make sure you were wearing clean underwear in case we were in an accident. Makes sense if you know about Great-Grandpa.   He was in a hit and run accident in ’52. The coroner tried to be discrete as he asked Great-Grandma about the pink panties. With frilly lace. I don’t think Great-Grandma would be caught dead in pink frilly-laced panties. Like Great-Grandpa was.”

“Remember, this is just an ‘exit interview’ so we can monitor trends. It doesn’t change anything, your birth date, time and family are set, we just like to keep track of what effects family choice. So I must ask you, is that why you chose this family to be born into?”

“Well, it was a big factor. But really it was the combination of an aunt with Misophonia and a mother with Stockholm Syndrome. I mean how many families have this much dysfunction? I’m looking for a challenge.”

“Misophonia? Your aunt has misophonia? I didn’t see that in her file.”

“You said I could watch a few interactions of the family. I chose Thanksgiving, 2005. It was very informative. Aunt Celia spent the whole meal darting her eyes from sister to brother to niece to nephew. My big brother was the worst. Every time he took a gulp of milk, she got all twitchy and began to clasp and unclasp her fingers around her knife. Sweating, fidgeting, she finally excused herself from the table. I thought it would be great fun to be around her at meal time. Especially as a baby unable to control myself.”

“I see. Um, yeah… well… Oh, you uh, mentioned your mom has Stockholm Syndrome. I had read about her captivity in her file. 8 days inside that bank. A teller she was back then. Tell me, why did this interest you?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. But when I saw that she had been a hostage, that she blamed the police for taking her away from her ‘beloved captor’ and that she still visited him in prison, I just couldn’t help myself. I must see what makes this woman, this whole family, tick.”

“You realize, of course, that upon birth, none of this information will be available to you? You will not know the history of your great-grandfather, the irritations of your aunt or the issues your mom faces until you learn them again post birth?”

“Well now, that does seem most unfortunate.”

Late Summer 2027

“As your attorney, Mr. Andrews, it is important that you cooperate fully with me. It is apparent that you weren’t seeking financial reward when you robbed that bank. So, why did you rob that bank? Why take all those captives? Why hold hostages for so many days,? Eight days and then just let them go? Why?”

“It is simple, Mr. Luntz, I was merely seeking the love and affection of my mother.”

The ConnectionJordan Bell

Jordan Bell

 Waah? Whuh.Whua. What. Thih? This. What this? What is this?

“Greetings, Unborn. We have implanted you with a cognitive communications filter enabling this connection. I am here to ask you some questions. We need to know about your mother.”

Well, she talks to me, she provides me with plenty of energy, and we have only fallen down a couple of times. But I don’t think that is where you are going with this, is it?

“In that case, be specific to the events of nine, October, twenty-two-fourteen. Or, the second fall as you may recall.”

What is the meaning of this? Why go to the trouble of making me able to communicate like an adult?

“We are conducting a standard pre-partum interview, please proceed.”

Standard? Pre-partum? Well, you are inside my head so it would seem I have no choice but to indulge you.

“Please proceed.”

I remember, reddish light. A terrible sound. Fear. Sudden movements. Words? I guess now I remember words. What have you done to me?

“Your brain recorded the sounds you heard during the event. The cognitive filter we have installed is allowing you to process those sounds your subconscious mind recorded as words, language.”

This is nuts. Okay. I remember a voice. It was a woman. She wants the information released. All of it.

“Yes, good, proceed.”

I am moving around a lot, or rather, my mother is.

“What is the woman saying? Does she say any names?”

Jareth, something.

“Tell us about Jareth. Is she saying anything to Jareth?”

If she gets killed, while in possession of this information, the company will use it to frame her and ruin her family. She needs Jareth to release the information. Jareth is afraid the company will find out if he does. He says they will kill him too.

I need a break. My head hurts.

“Our connection with you will not allow for a respite. Proceed.”

My mother, she wants the information released too. She knows it is important to the public, but she is scared. The woman talking to Jareth frightens her. She feels threatened.

How do I know these things?

“You are directly connected with your mother inside the womb. Her link with you shares nutrients as well as emotional and cognitive impulses. The implant is allowing you to process not only your memories, but also fragments of hers.”

“Your mother was held hostage along with several others by a known info-terrorist. What else do you remember?”

That sound. That terrible sound. No, please, I can’t. Don’t make me remember.

“Please proceed.”

It hurts, please leave me alone.


No! I am afraid—

“You mustn’t stop, proceed!”

There is a shrill whine, loud bursts. I hear screams… and feel… tearing. What is this? Make it stop!

“Move past the noises. Did Jareth say anything else? Tell us everything you hear.”

Arcadius. Jareth says he—It’s too late. They know. Who… Oh God, they killed, us, my… mother. What have you done to me?

“The Company appreciates your cooperation in our investigation, Unborn. We must now severe the connection.”

No. No! You bast—

Weekend Quickie #56

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: Exactly 250 Words!

Start with: The Alien Forces were moved among the…

Include the words: carnage, litter box, Facebook Status, and Charlie Brown. 

While writing, listen to this song. Play over and over until finished.