The Iron Writer Challenge #17

grizzly-bear

The Iron Writer Challenge #17

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #17

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Hannelore MooreKate JonuskaM S LemayMaureen Larter

The Elements:

A Town Hall

A Grizzly Bear

A Root Canal

Almonds

Lava RockHannelore Moore

Hannelore Moore

Henry and Ed used to hang out all the time, hiking for hours to collect lava rock, trading music files, eating chocolate. Man, they loved their chocolate – Henry especially. It was a huge deal when the supply planes delivered more to Avugiak’s Store. But then, Ed started hurting. Holding his hand to the side of his face. Staying home sick. On the last day of seventh grade, one of the almonds in a Hershey bar, the first decent candy they’d eaten in weeks, sent him reeling.

Via Skype, the dentist decided on a root canal. Ed worried about it: the flight to Bethel, the sedation. Henry had always wanted to trade places with him, but never more than now. He would’ve suffered anything to escape the deadening monotony of the village, to distract Grandpa Panruk from trying so hard, too hard, after the judge had sent Dad to Fairbanks.

The day before the big appointment, as they wandered through the tundra, Ed, usually so self-assured, so cool, started crying, his face twisted up, his sobs dry and violent. Henry touched his shoulder but jumped back when he yelled, “Leave me alone, you fat pig!” After shuffling the long distance home, Henry to Grandpa’s trailer, Ed to his house, they never spoke again.

The summer passed. Hours of clear light allowed Henry amazing views of the old volcano. He even spotted a grizzly and stood painfully still, a thrilling panic causing colors to vibrate around him, until the bear lumbered off. He couldn’t enjoy any of these discoveries completely, though. Not alone.

For once, he was relieved to return to school. At least, until he saw Ed, who, since an uneasy July encounter at Avugiak’s, had not only grown taller but acquired an entourage.

Henry’s weekends seemed even lonelier after that. He spent most of them with Grandpa at the Town Hall, playing Bingo. He never won, always one mark away in every direction when another old vet would shout out victory in a reedy voice.

Tonight, he’d had enough of breathing in the hall’s citrusy-sweet cleanser. It made his eyes burn. He felt Grandpa watching as he stepped outside for a cigarette, a habit acquired over the summer to kill time. Not good, he knew. Dad started smoking at thirteen, too.

And then, Ed’s entourage wandered down the street. Unavoidable in this claustrophobic place, especially on a Friday night. The popular kids and their easy laughter. Henry had trouble swallowing when they got closer. He’d never look like them, never fit in. He wanted to hide in the shadows, but his bulk prevented that.

A girl whose mother and sisters were all former homecoming queens clutched onto Ed. “Is that a grizzly bear?” she asked in a squeak.

Ed started a little in recognition. “No,” he said, recovering. “Nothing nearly that exciting.”

Henry let them pass, accepting his place and his destiny. Both were inevitable, like lava cooling into the pitted rocks he used to collect with his best friend. 

The Bear BurglarKate Jonuska

Kate Jonuska

“What is this?” asked the county policewoman, holding up a disposable container with a thin blue lid. Inside sloshed what looked like white, jellied meatballs floating in egg-drop soup. “Eye of newt and toe of frog?”

The 12-year-old girl sat with her arms crossed in the flimsy chair across the table. “Something like that.” Blonde and a few pounds chubby, the hem of her black skirt was cut deliberately ragged, and the black hood of her sweatshirt hung limp down her back.

“And this is all she had on her?” asked the male officer, surveying the strewn contents of the girl’s backpack on the table. The backpack itself, which seemed held together with safety pins, lay deflated to one side. He grabbed her pliers and held them up to the fluorescent lights.

The woman gestured to the tool. “I caught her red-handed, using those to give old Boris a root canal. She’d climbed up and was straddling his shoulder, yanking on one of his teeth.”

“Why would she want the tooth of a stuffed grizzly bear?”

“An ursine canine,” the girl specified, rolling her eyes.

“Poor Boris. It’s disrespectful.” The policewoman shook her head and its tidy ponytail. “He’s lorded over town hall since 1896.”

“And you say no signs of forced entry?”

“None. That alarm system is airtight. I checked it myself when I clocked in.”

“Hrm.” He handled the girl’s belongings like they might be infected.

Cell phone. A bundle of keys. A beat-up spiral notebook. Winter gloves. Latex gloves. A turkey baster and a full canister of salt. Four candles. A white business envelope full of brown hair.

“Jesus,” he said, wrinkling his lip. He picked up a Ziploc bag containing handful of almonds from the table and held it between pinched fingers. “And you even brought a snack?”

“High in protein, almonds,” said the girl, no cracks in her facial expression.

“We still haven’t been able to reach her parents, and she hasn’t said anything useful.”

He leaned back and crossed his legs at the ankle. “I guess we should settle in then and see if she likes spending the night at the police station as much as breaking and entering. Good thing she packed us snacks.” He poured some almonds into his palm.

“Don’t—”

“Hush now, girl.”

“Really, I wouldn’t,” the girl insisted.

He tossed a nut into his mouth. A split second later, his uniform was empty, draped flat on the chair. His hat hit the linoleum with a thwack.

“What the—” The other officer’s hand flew to the butt of her gun. “Jim?”

“Here!” came a tiny squeak. The pants moved. A Barbie-sized cop climbed out of the tangle of fabric, naked.

“What did you do to him?!”

The girl sighed. “I told him not to.”

“Hey… hey!” yelped the tiny cop.

“Calm down,” said the girl. “In my experience, it wears off in, like, five minutes. Tops.” She leaned back and crossed her legs at the ankle.

Speed Dating in Montanam-s-lemay

M.S. Lemay

In a candlelit room full of batting eyes and coy smiles, one couldn’t help but notice Larry. He sat stiffly upright in his father’s 1970’s fringed-leather leisure suit, still donning his nametag from work:

“Larry Seigel

Large Mammal Endodonsist

Big Horn County”

His shifting eyes made the other Speed Daters uncomfortable. They were dull brown, thin, and wrinkled like unwanted almonds in a bag of trail mix. He yearned for his mother’s help that night, but she had been dead for four months now.

Date six of six walked across the room and plunked down in the chair across from him.

 “Hey, so you’re, uh, Larry?” she said, squinting through her purple horn-rims at his nametag.

She wore pink streaks in her hair to distract from the lazy eye. Larry found this endearing.

“Maggie Marsh, Avian Ophthalmologist for Rosebud County. I’m totally into birds- love ‘em! Have you ever looked into a birds eye? Really close? Windows to the soul, I tell ya.”

Larry’s heart swelled. His breath escaped, and it was suddenly difficult to take another one. His narrow eyes widened.

“So, you like animals?” Larry managed to squeak.

“Oh, yeah! Well, birds anyway.”

“Me, too. In fact, I recently landed a contract for Mayor Poole’s horses’ biannual dental care!” Larry said a bit louder, a bit prouder. His heart raced.

“That’s nothing! I was hired to get all those blind swans out of the town hall basement last year!”

“I didn’t hear about that,” Larry said.

“Really? It was wild! See the trick is, you have to come at a visually-impaired swan from the side, not the back!” Maggie jumped up, reenacting the scene, using Larry and his surrounding daters as the birds, shooing and squawking at them.

The other daters were horrified, mouths agape. Larry was exhilarated.

“Oh, yeah? Well, have you ever had your hand in a grizzly’s mouth?” He asked, grinning.

Maggie turned back to the table, intrigued.

“Remember that old bear found gnawing at the Johnson’s gazebo? He just had a toothache. I took care of it for him. The first documented root canal in an Ursus arctos horribilis! It was in all the papers.”

 “No way!” she gasped, leaning forward with her hands straddling the table.

“I kept him, you know. Jerry. Lives in my garage.”

“Oh. Oh wow! Could I? Do  ya… think I could meet him?” she asked.

Larry inhaled sharply. His mother always told him to jump for love when he found it, so he did.

“Let’s go.” He grabbed Maggie by her tattooed arm, and they ran out the door.

 They shared a breathless glance on the way to his car and smiled.

He imagined his mother waiting proudly at home to meet his date. It really was a shame that Jerry mauled her to death. Should he tell Maggie about that? No, that could probably wait until the third date…if she lived that long.

Vacation PainMaureen Larter

Maureen Larter

I hate dentists.
If they were the last people on earth, I’d still avoid them. And going to see one when you’re on vacation would be the furthest thing from my mind.
All I was doing was sitting watching a movie, munching on some nuts. When I bit down on that miserable almond, the pain shot up through my jaw and just wouldn’t stop.
I had to finally surrender and go and see a dentist. But in this strange town, where did I look?
The motel manager was unfriendly, the local information centre was closed, and the motley collection of buildings gave no clues.
I mumbled my query to the guy behind the cash register at the beach kiosk, as I held my face to ease the ache.
“Hey, man,” he grinned devilishly. “Find the Town Hall over there,” and he waved his arm vaguely in the direction of the only service station. “The dentist is in the white building next door.”
I stumbled away, the structures in front of me blurred by my ever-increasing pain.
When I finally got into the dentist’s room, I sat staring up into a light so bright my eyes began to water. I had my mouth open so far I thought my head would split in two.
The dentist loomed over me with a diabolical instrument clenched in his paw. He was dark, huge and menacing. He looked like a grizzly bear.
The pain in my jaw intensified and the instrument descended with electrifying force through my saliva.
Then things got even worse.
“Ah aah,” said the Grizzly Bear. “I’m afraid you’ll need a root canal.”
I told you I hated dentists!

The Iron Writer Challenge #16

surfboardThe Iron Writer Challenge #16

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #16

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Annmarie MilesDrake EdisonGuy Anthony De MarcoTony Jaeger

The Elements:

 A Surfboard

A radiator

A clothes line

A monastery

Never Judge a Monk by Its Plumber!annmarie miles

Annmarie Miles

Dougie savoured the last few drags of his cigarette. It was the only downside to his regular trip to the monastery – absolutely no smoking in or outside the building. On the upside, he’d be very well fed today; nothing fancy but well prepared meals, most of the ingredients home grown. More often than not he’d leave with armfuls of fresh produce. Dougie had been a self-employed plumber for more than twenty years. The regular answer to his wife’s enquiry about his day was, “seen one radiator you’ve seen ‘em all honey.” But the monastery was a very interesting place to work.

Today was his quarterly visit to check the heating, plumbing and do any other odd jobs required. The Brothers would make a list between visits and Dougie would spend the day fixing, mending, painting – whatever needed doing. Landing the monastery contract was a gift. Though he knew old Brother Francis, in his Aussie accent would have said “a blissing.” Brother Francis was the oldest and he thought, the nicest of all the Brothers. He was a cheerful, gracious soul. He would bring Dougie drinks, ask about his family and make sure he left with plenty of homemade jam. If Dougie mentioned someone who’d been ill or had problems, Brother Francis would always remember the details. He’d have been praying fervently for that person and would check with Dougie how things were the next time he came.

Dougie drove up the lane that connected the back of the monastery’s land to the road near his house. It was a handy shortcut that he only found by accident. As was often the case, the first sight that greeted him, apart from the monastery itself, was a washing line. Most times it was full of either bed linen or dark brown habits. It occurred to him once that he had never seen any underwear on the washing line. He mentioned it to his wife and with a dead pan expression she replied, “They must dry their smalls in private.” Dougie almost choked on his dinner, spitting potatoes and peas everywhere. He still laughed at the thought of it and hoped one day to happen upon what they’d labelled “the small private room”; but he never did.

This visit was however was to reveal something. Dougie needed to go to Brother Francis’ room to fix his chair. One of the legs was coming loose. He was working on the chair and caught his finger with the plyers. This made him jump and he knocked the books off Brother Francis’ bedside locker. Faded photographs spilled out across the floor. As he picked them up he spotted one that shocked him. It was a photo of 3 men on a beach. All toned and tanned, with long shaggy blonde hair, each holding a surfboard. Dougie was stunned to find such photograph in Brother Francis’ possession, but as he looked again he thought he recognised someone. The man it the middle; it was Brother Francis.

Talent InterviewDrake Eidson

Drake Eidson

Could you explain how the talents come to be?

No. So far as we can tell, the manifestation of the talent is both random and indiscriminant. It may pass down a family tree or only appear once in the entirety of a family’s genetic history. Race, religion, gender, age, and other demographics are equally unimportant. There are Americans, Asians, Africans, and Europeans: every race is represented. The fact that there are more Asians with the talents is purely because there are more Asians on the planet. I like to think of it as someone winning the lottery, there is no pattern.

So what happens when the talent actually manifests?

Basically, they are removed from their homes and sent to live among monks in a monastery, as pupils. There are four monasteries, one for each talent, located in the place best suited to educate their students. I would tell you where, but its kind of a secret. As soon as they arrive, their proficiency with their talent is tested. Some can perpetually spin a stone dreidel, while others can drive themselves forward on a surfboard without so much as a wave. After the little test, they are placed in one of four tiers where they will be educated until they can be elevated to the fifth tier, which is graduation. In the first tier, one must garner more control over their talent. In the second tier, one must garner mastery over their talent. In the third tier, one must garner mastery over their attribute. For the final tier, one must garner mastery over the other three attributes.

Attributes?

The monks believe that the Earth was born and then given four attributes; the earth then had children, or humans, and passed these attributes on to its children. Each talent is associated with an attribute: passionate fire, restrained earth, tranquil water, and free wind. At the core of their belief system is the idea that once someone has mastered these attributes, and can balance them evenly, then and only then, can they truly feel existence. The road to mastering these attributes is fraught with failure and anguish, but once one has reached the end, it is that much more satisfying.

How long does this mastery normally take?

It really just depends on the person. People from all ages arrive at the gates of these monasteries, you have children with minds ready to be molded and you have forty year olds who are stuck in their ways and simply can’t change.

Are they forced to stay there until enlightenment?

Yes. Until they are complete, they cannot leave.

Is there a security system in place?

The monks themselves, they would sooner clothes line a pupil than let them leave.

Isn’t that a bit inhumane, taking and keeping people against their will?

The monks are cheery enough, radiators of kindness I would say, and their sole purpose in life is educating those with the talent to bend the elements, not to abuse their gift. It’s needed.

War CrimesGuy Anthony De Marco

Guy Anthony De Marco

“All-American athlete Mick Ross, blonde-haired, blue-eyed surfing champion, thought he had it all. He was a dominator on the surfboard and a dynamo with the beach girls.” Staff Sergeant Miller switched the slide to show a handsome, grinning face. “He was no match for the Great White that ripped his arm off at Diamond Point in 1940.”
Miller changed the projected image to a horrific medical nightmare, smirking at the reaction of his audience. Generals rarely saw the damage their orders caused, and the black and white image was a stark reminder.
Brigadier General Hughes was the first to recover. “How’d he survive that wound?”
Miller cleared his face of emotion and snapped to face the grizzled Marine. “We don’t know.”
Hughes waved his hand. “Continue your report.”
Nodding, Miller changed the image to a peaceful stone structure surrounded by gardens. “We know Mick dropped out of his lifestyle within months, ending up at Aadheenam, a Hindu monastery recently set up on Kauai. He felt abandoned, and when the money dried up, he began to hate the United States.”
A muffled series of explosions made every eye turn towards the reinforced concrete wall opposite of the projector. Hughes finally broke the subsequent silence by grunting around his ever-present cigar.
“Mr. Ross smuggled in a radio set, using a metal clothesline as a signal radiator.” Miller brushed the displaced dust off of his shoulders, a futile gesture as more explosions in the distance caused another shower from the light fixtures. “He was convinced his comments about invading the west coast were reaching the Axis powers, letting the listeners know how vulnerable we were with the seventh fleet deployed to Australia.”
A larger concussion stuck the room, knocking over the crystal water glasses on the table.
“There goes Colorado Springs,” muttered the newly-minted Army one-star.
Hughes had half of his cigar in his mouth, and the other half jabbed at the Army officer. “None of that. Sit down and shut up.”
The one-star sat down and folded his hands on the table, keeping his eyes towards the ceiling.
Miller’s bladder kept reminding him how much coffee he had gulped before the meeting and just how scared he was at the moment. With his commanding officer glaring at everyone who twitched while he pulled out a fresh cigar, he knew better than to show fear.
“The area around the monastery is high in metallic compounds, so we think that’s what distorted the radiation pattern and attracted the enemy. They hit Los Angeles and San Francisco hard, using some kind of weapon that wiped everything out with a single explosion in the middle of each city.”
A mountainous mushroom cloud filled the screen. “The invaders began to land their ships all along the coast. While Mick Ross began this event, he had no idea how it would end.”
A deep, warbling thrum pulsed the atmosphere.
“We got company,” said Hughes. “We need to kick them green-skinned things off the planet. Regroup in Omaha. Dismissed!”

Brother Maximillian On HiatusTony Jaeger

Tony Jaeger

Brother Maximillian moaned. Chanted, whatever; he had never been good with official terminology. He knelt on a plank of painted, waxed wood and settled into his morning prayers. As he meditated on God, the Holy Virgin, and the angels, he dipped his feet into the water, hoping a fish would latch onto one of his toes, like in a Disney movie.

Through the calm of his meditation his ankle itched furiously, rubbed raw by the clothesline tethering him to the wooden plank. He imagined it a similar sensation to the cords digging into the ankles of someone being crucified in days long gone. All said, Brother Maximillian greatly preferred to be kneeling under a dark, starry sky, rather than on the stone floor at the monastery of Saint Bastard (patron saint of not owning a cushion), huddled around an ancient radiator for warmth during morning prayer.

He’d been going by Brother Max, feeling it more akin to the SoCal state of mind, but most just called him “Bro” (pronounced “Bruh”). Brother “Bruh” Maximillian cursed himself for not leaving the monastery (which was actually for Saint Bartholomew, not Saint Bastard) sooner. There were so many things he found that he’d been missing out on, within those hallowed halls. He’d never before seen the ocean, or been buffeted by an oncoming wave crashing on the sandy beach, nor a woman dressed as scantily as seemed the fashion. But most importantly, he had never fulfilled his childhood dream of going surfing … .

The sun broke over the horizon behind him as he finished his meditation. He shifted into a sitting position and dipped his legs into the cold, calm water. It would be a long while before the water warmed, and waves of a respectable size (the smaller ones were mocked at Wave Academy) would roll in, but he didn’t care. He untied the cord belt around his waist and let his brown hempen robe hang open to reveal a pair of red, floral-patterned swim trunks. A school of fish passed beneath him, he would have sworn he felt one brush past his calf, but swearing is frowned on by those On High.

It wasn’t long into the sun’s stroll across the sky that he was joined by others, mostly tourists and children learning to swim. There were, to his delight, other surfers. He watched them, learned from them, and built up the courage enough to stand on his board and begin riding smaller waves. He fell with embarrassing frequency, but with each successive lungful of water he felt as though he was drowning in happiness (which is much less dangerous than drowning in water).

A smile lit up his face as he decided he would never return to Saint Bastard’s, his first genuine smile in a great many years. He didn’t know what he would do, but whatever it was, Max knew he would never again be far from the ocean.

 

The Iron Writer Challenge #15

ThereminThe Iron Writer Challenge #15

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #15

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Annmarie MilesDani J CaileJim TumlitySimon O’Kill

The Elements:

A Theremin

A single super power

An Elegy

A Wooden Water Tower

Strength from Withinannmarie miles

Annmarie Miles

Meryl stood at Jem’s bedroom door. He was a new born the last time she felt this helpless as a mother.

She could hear the weird music. He was watching those old horror sci-fi movies again. It wasn’t a good sign. The eerie wailing had worried her when she’d heard it first, but she eventually recognised the sound of a Theremin; falsifying an atmosphere of mystery and impending doom

It didn’t need falsifying today.

It had been 3 days since she’d seen him. He hadn’t come out of his room to eat or use the bathroom, or if he did she wasn’t aware. The only reason his dad hadn’t broken the door down is that eventually, Jem would answer their pleas for response with a grunt to be left alone.

Meryl knew he was drowning in guilt; she was devastated for him and felt powerless to help him.

It wasn’t his fault.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault.
Jem & Carl often spent their time exploring old Jennings’ farm. They’d learned to fish in his river, he let them pick apples in his orchard. Every so often he’d pay them to paint or clear the yard. He was a bit of a loner but the boys never caused him any trouble and he liked them.

But it had all gone wrong when the boys did the one thing he’d asked them never to do. They couldn’t see his truck in the yard and thought he was out. So they climbed the frame of the dilapidated wooden water tower. When Jennings saw them from a distance it never occurred to him that it was Jem and Carl. He got his shotgun and started firing in their direction. He didn’t want to hit them; he just wanted to scare them to get them down.

It worked. Carl got such a fright he almost let go. Jem grabbed him and pulled him up.

“Thanks buddy, we better get outta here.”

As they went to move, the beam that Carl was leaning against gave way and Jem watched him fall to the ground.

At Carl’s funeral Jem read a goodbye letter to his best friend. It was a heart wrenching elegy of friendship, regret, anger and guilt. Jem had not spoken a word since that day.

That was 2 weeks ago and now he was locked away in his room.

Meryl was about to walk away again but a voice somewhere inside stopped her.

“Meryl, you are his mother!
You are his mother and he is your child.
If you can’t get through to him no one can.
You can save him, you can help him.
You ARE strong enough.”

She was filled with determination and strength. Power surged through her veins as she knocked at the door.

“Jem, it’s Mom. Please open this door – right now.”

Meryl stood in her new found power; the power of a broken-hearted mother

Jem heard it in her voice.
He stood up and walked to the door.

“Whoops”Dani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

That damn theremin of his, why does he always have to bring it out every time we have guests? I’d like to shove that little talent cup trophy right down the throat of those judges who voted him ‘best act’ at the local community centre all those years ago when we first came to the area. Just like his father before him, always getting it out and doing the wavy muso bit looking so pompous and self-important! And why does he have to play those pieces which are so bleak and mournful? Always so depressing like some turgid elegy. Oh, thank God, he’s finished! Now’s my chance.

“Darling, don’t you think it’s time our guests moved onto the terrace now, have a few drinks in the cool evening air?”

“Oh but Daphne, I haven’t played my masterpiece yet, my pièce de résistance.”

No, please, not that one, I’ve heard it almost every night for the past forty-seven years! Why did I marry this man?

“Oh, Daphne, yes. Please let us listen, we’re dying to hear George’s masterpiece.”

I’ll die if I have to hear that dross one more time!

“Yes, please, Daphne. And can I have another cucumber sandwich? They’re rather delicious, I think.”

If only I had a super power or something to stop this scourge! Turn invisible and disappear, able to run away from the role of devoted and loving wife. Be able to turn back time and stop his father from buying the damn RCA in the first place. Or have super human strength and bring down that old wooden water tower at the end of the block, causing a massive deluge which would flow down the street and everyone’ll need to evacuate! Perhaps the water would even damage the thing and he wouldn’t be able to play it ever again! But no, I am the loyal and good-natured housewife, I have superhuman endurance to suffer the blows and misfortunes a husband can give, I am his most endured host and trusted love. I have the power to withstand all he can deliver. What? Is he finished? Is it finally over?

“Bravo, dear boy, that was excellent, bravissimo!”

“Excellente!”

Polite applause this time. Better get some drinks ready for the terrace.

“And now, for my finale, I will play a brand new piece, never played before!”

What! Now hang on a minute!

“Darling, don’t you think it’s time for drinks? On the terrace?”

“No, no, I must show our guests my new jewel, my new…”

“But darling…” Damn wires! They’re all over the place…whoops.

“Oh!”

“Oh dear me!”

“I…I…darling…!”

The ambulance came as quick as it could, considering the congestion on the main highway. One of our guests tried resuscitation after clearing his body from the equipment with a broom, but there wasn’t any real chance of saving him. I guess you shouldn’t mix semi-sparkling rosé wine with electricity. It’ll be quiet without him, though of course, the theremin will hold a central place on the mantelpiece.

No LedgeJim Tumilty

James Tumilty

Here’s a random fact for you. You ever see the movie ‘Forbidden Planet’? An old schlocky sci-fi show. It has Leslie Neilsen in it before he decided to become the head honcho of goofiness. Well, that soundtrack? Contrary to popular belief, it didn’t use a Theremin. At this point, you’re likely quirking an eyebrow and wondering what the hell this idiot is wittering on about. Said idiot being me.

Did you ever wish that you had a super power? I did, constantly. I ruined more of my parents’ bedsheets prancing around pretending to be Superman than they were really comfortable with. It turns out that the phrase ‘Be careful what you wish for’ isn’t just a plot device for teen drama. I got my wish. It just turned out to be a little more different than I would have liked. My super power is useless trivia.

I can hear you now, “That’s not a super power.” And I’d be inclined to agree with you, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve yet to get a question wrong on a quiz show. This also seems to have an interesting side effect on others, in that it is incredibly irritating. If the quiz in question happens to be in a bar, well… Let’s just say that alcohol and irritation can lead to some less-than-savoury experiences.

You see, it turns out that another phrase, “Nobody likes a smart-ass” is also very relevant. It was never intentional, honest. Thing is, when these so-called facts want to come out, they do. They are like a body dumped into one of those old wooden water towers; they float to the surface and explode in a socially-awkward jumble. That, and everyone around me thinks there is something off about it. They spill forth, the words tripping each other up as they force themselves into existence.

This brings on a crushing isolation. People just want to avoid spending time with the guy who’ll tell them that their favourite TV character is actually a rip-off of an obscure Scandanavian character. They all just walk away, leaving me more familiar with people’s backs than their faces. Honest to goodness, I can tell gender, ethnicity and age from a brief glance at someone from behind. And all this because of a wish. It turns out that your hope has power, more than you could possibly imagine. Like any power, it can be devastating.

No, I don’t know how it happened. I just woke up one morning and was able to rhyme off information. Maybe I spent too much time reading Wikipedia. All I know is that now I know too much. So long story short, this is my elegy. I’m no Coleridge, but I do what I can. This is the lament of my life. Not the physicality. Not the soul. The social.

One last thing, trivia is also Latin for ‘where three roads meet’. Bet you didn’t know that.

The Day Phantom Bigfoot Stood StillSimon O'Kill

Simon O’Kill

Phantom Bigfoot skipped across the mating glade with three of his Bigfoot Babes squealing and snorting behind him. They entered the great forest of their ancestors and trudged to Little Beaver River. There they all used the strange invigorating properties of the mating water. Phantom Bigfoot had a dream many moons ago where a tall blond pale one told him the water was special – he called it a simple super power – whatever that was. So long as it continued to get him horny, Phantom Bigfoot didn’t give a ffffff what it was called. It sure tasted good, but not as good as happy juice. Phantom Bigfoot sighed as images of all three of his Bigfoot Babes wild on happy juice pleased him so many times his thruster was red raw for three suns.

At the mating glade, heavy with the scent of honeysuckle, Phantom Bigfoot urged his Bigfoot Babes to the special place. The special place was a derelict settler’s home from so many moons past, Phantom Bigfoot decided not to waste precious mating time on it. As the sun caressed the ridge of gentle sloping foothills, its weakened rays slicing between the remnants of a stone chimney stack and a dilapidated wooden water tower now covered with ivy, Phantom Bigfoot got down to the serious business of the mating ritual.

“Wooowoooowooooo,” bleated all three Bigfoot Babes, swishing their hips to some internal rhythm of nature’s design. Well not really as Bigfoot Babes love to salsa shown to them by their friendly pale one, Doooane.

“Woooeeeeeoooooeeeeeeoooooo,” howled Phantom Bigfoot in reply to the mating call. As all three Bigfoot Babes hunkered down with hindquarters raised a most peculiar sound interrupted the proceedings. Phantom Bigfoot was most put out at this untimely interference. He let out a ferocious snarl, “Eeeeaaaaaarrrrraaaaarrrrrr!” To Phantom Bigfoot’s utter dismay, all three Bigfoot Babes stood rock still, mewling pathetically and pointing skyward.

As Phantom Bigfoot’s thruster lost its desire. He stood still looking at the source to see a strange doughnut-shaped object hovering above them. Attached underneath the silver doughnut were two shiny prongs, quivering with unearthly power. The object drifted almost to the grass level, swirling the green blades into a flattened circle. A silver footpath extended from the doughnut. A massive steel creature stomped forth. It stopped and looked all around with shining eyes. Another creature emerged, this pale one was old and bent with white hair. He walked up to a terrified Phantom Bigfoot and bowed.

The old man introduced himself in a language that Phantom Bigfoot could understand, “Do not fear Gort. I am Leon come to make music with you on Theremin.” Leon detached the device from the doughnut and ran his hands over it creating a sad elegy of electronic whines.

By now Phantom Bigfoot and his Bigfoot Babes had quite enough of this crap and ran away with hands to ears, squealing.

Leon Theremin sighed, shrugged and stepped back into his steel home, “That used to knock them dead, Gort?”