The Iron Writer Challenge – 2016 Winter Solstice Open, Joyce Carol Oates Bracket

The-Isolator 1

The Iron Writer Challenge #141

2016 Winter Solstice Open Preliminary Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates Bracket

The Authors:

Mamie PoundChristopher A. Liccardi, Mason Grant, Richard Russell

The Elements:

The Isolator

Something arrogate.

A ball of yarn

An appointment to be abducted by aliens that you are anxiously waiting for.

Boldly GoMamie Pound

Mamie Pound 

The night sky was sweet with stars, twinkling and spinning, dotting the air far above him with promise.

A swing set lay at his feet like an unearthed dinosaur, poles and slide strewn across the Emerald Zoysia. Its chains were strapped across his chest, warrior style.

“They’re bad about takin’ stuff, Angie,” he said and went straight for the garage. The dog trotted behind, wagging its tail.

Steve piled boxes into his truck.

Angie got her mother and her sister on a three-way phone call in the kitchen.

“He’s wearin’ that thing again,” Angie hissed.

“What thing?” asked Donna, her sister.

“The freakin’ Isolator. Ordered it on Amazon. It’s all he does anymore. Talks about, ‘when they come for him’ and how, ‘he can’t wait’. But he’s scared they’ll take his guns, so he put them in a Yeti cooler and he’s gonna lower them to the bottom of the quarry, for when they bring him back.”

“You’re kidding,” Donna said.

Angie put the phone on speaker. “Nope. He’s gone. Wasn’t even gonna tell me.”

“You don’t know that,” her mother admonished.

“I found a hoard of beanie-weenies and beer in the garage, under his tool chest,” Angie said.

“I wonder if he’ll bring back souvenirs?” Donna teased.

“Even with the laundry and all, I’m gonna miss him,” Angie said.

“Of all people, they chose Steve…,” Donna continued.

“They need craftsmen, he saw it online.”

“Think they’ll tattoo him?” Donna asked.

“Wait, I’m getting another call.” Angie clicked over.

“Hurry, it might be Captain Kirk,” Donna cackled.

After several seconds Angie came back.

“Well, that was Steve,” she reported.

“And?” Donna said.

“He needs yarn.”

“What?” Donna howled.

“He’s gonna knit them an afghan while he waits,” Angie sniffed.

“What a dumb ass!” Donna yelled.

“Donna!” Her mother warned.

“He must be the love child of Martha Stewart and Rod Stirling,” Donna said, laughing.

“Do you have yarn, Angie, Honey?” Her mother asked.

“I bought some for that Pinterest thing I started, but I lost it,” Angie whined.

“You sure did,” Donna said.

“Shut up, Donna,” her mother hissed.

“You need to listen to how you talk to people, Donna,” Angie said.

“Your husband is knitting for aliens, Angie.” Donna persisted.

“Darlin’ don’t you dare get on that spaceship,” her mother cautioned. “Take him the yarn and just leave.”

“Okay,” Angie sighed.

“If she wants to ride the Starship Enterprise, so be it!” Donna cheered.

“At least I have a husband,” Angie jeered.

“Technically speaking…,” Donna went on.

“That wasn’t his fault!” Angie snapped.

“How does one ‘accidentally’ marry their cousin?” Donna asked.

“Shut up, Donna!” Angie yelled.

“Angie, Honey, I have a new ball of yarn, ‘sunshine yellow’…,” her mother continued.


At the quarry, he scanned the horizon for errant light, caught sight of a passing comet, and wished for the glare of metal that would mirror earth’s reflection. He lowered the air-tight cooler into the watery depths and turned back toward his truck.

The wind shifted. A cloud of bats scattered from a nearby cave.

Then a beam, brighter than magnifying-glassed sunshine, shot to earth.

And he was gone.

Hugo’s Code

Mason Grant

“I can’t make a dime’s worth of sense out of this.” Olivia said as she dropped the binder in front of her husband.

“How is this supposed to explain,” she continued gesturing at Chase’s passion within the binder, “why we are in backwoods Luxembourg, which I can barely say let alone spell? You told me that this was going to be romantic.”

Chase looked up smiling. “I finally put it all together. I got this room at this bed and breakfast because of Hugo’s code.”

Olivia was furious paced in front of the bed.

“I thought you were taking a break from your science fiction freakdom for a few days so we could reconnect. You told me that you were going to take me someplace special that only you and I would have. You kind of left out the whole ‘by the way, I’m planning to call Captain Schmirk to beam us up to the Century Falcon.’”

Chase stood and took his wife’s hands.

“Olivia,” he said. “It’s not the Century Falcon. It’s the Millenium, never mind. I pieced Hugo Gernsback’s code together while I was wearing The Isolator suit that he invented. The code was in his Amazing Stories magazines during the 1920’s. It’s remarkable because the code is pieced together with a hint in each issue over the years. Tonight is the night, and this is the spot where visitors from another planet will be coming to take us on an adventure of a lifetime!”

“Are you listening to yourself? You have completely gone off the deep end.”

A tear welled and streamed down Olivia’s cheek as she spoke.

She went on, “Whatever you think this science fiction guy said, it has nothing to do with us. I should be the most important thing in your life. Not this binder and these hugonauts or whatever it is you are waiting for to take you and abduct me. I can get more satisfaction out of a ball of yarn than I can trying to follow your insane fantasies.”

“Honey,” Chase pleaded. “Everything changes tonight.”

“You’re right. Everything changes tonight, Chase,” Olivia said as she gathered her shawl and the keys to their rental car. “Tonight is the night that you chose fantasy over me. You need help, but I am arrogating my life tonight and taking it back.”

“Olivia, please don’t go. Give me just a few more minutes, and you’ll see.”

“I’ve seen everything I need.”

Chase did not leave the cabin as the taillights of the car receded. As the lights disappeared, a new light bathed the secluded cottage from above.

Chase stepped outside and peered up to see the otherworldly craft that Hugo had promised.

“Greetings,” a disembodied voice said to Chase. “We have arrived at the appointed time and place to take whomever is present on a galactic adventure. Are you prepared?”

Chase looked down the road where the car had been just a minute before. He closed his eyes and nodded.

“I have nothing left here. I am ready.”

#3476Christopher Liccardi

Christopher A. Liccardi

“Number three thousand, four hundred seventy six, three thousand, four hundred,” her nasal voice was cut off by a strange little man who jumped in front of her window. Why do they always assume it’s okay to cut me off? And why did she always get the weird ones? She thought.

“That’s me.” Squeaked a tiny little voice. The man was just tall enough so that she could see the top of his brown bowler, level with the counter. Madge had to strain forward on her stool in order to see the round face beneath it.

“Ticket please.” She said in that dry ‘have done this a million times’ tone. Lunchtime was eleven minutes away, but she knew she would be going late.

The short man had to jump several times to get his hand, and his ticket onto the counter. Madge sat scowling at the top of his hat.

She took the ticket, looked at the numbers and tossed it toward the basket at her feet. The floor was littered with millions of those little red tickets, but cleanup was another someone else’s problem.

“Do you have the standard 43112C signed and stamped?” she asked.

The man pulled a stack of papers from his briefcase and once again began to jump repeatedly to reach the counter.

How in the hell did he drive here, Madge thought? He’d need a step stool to get to the toilet.

She sighed audibly and leaned forward again, snatching the papers before they could fall back down to the floor on his side of the counter. The wooden stool groaned under her weight. If the man heard her, he didn’t indicate that. He smiled the entire time.

Madge riffled through the papers. Everything was in order. She pulled the ancient metal stamp from its red ink pad. The CLACK sound echoed down to this man’s ears and she knew if she looked again, he’d be smiling so wide, his hat would fall off.

“Your wish?” Madge asked, it was now two minutes to lunch. She was never going to make it.

“Alien Abduction.” The man said. She heard eagerness in his voice.

“Raise your right hand and swear that this is your heart’s most secret desire.” She motioned out at the empty space in front of her window.

“I DO!” said the little man. More excited than the kids were on Christmas.

“Did you bring the required item? Madge asked, not caring really.

He reached back into his case and pulled out a ball of yarn. It was the color of no color at all.

“Do I keep this with me…” she cut him off. “Yes.”

It was one minute after lunchtime and all the other windows were empty now.

“Take a seat in Booth 13 please and put on the Isolator helmet. Do not forget to turn on the oxygen before you do.” She said, but he was nearly running now. He hadn’t listened and she knew she’d have to call for someone when he passed out, but that would be after her lunch. It was already 5 minutes after and she was starving.

Science With DaveRichard Russell

Richard Russel

Dave was a weasel. Everybody knew it. He never did any schoolwork of his own: Why should he, when he could simply steal the work done by others? He was also the worst science lab partner Billy ever got stuck with. Dave butchered five frogs before Billy took over dissection. Dave cracked ten cover-slips trying to focus the microscope before Billy stepped in. When Billy had to replant the bean seeds Dave had drowned, Billy began to despise Dave’s ineptitude. Dave was dragging him down. Billy resented Dave’s always copying his answers.

This seemed to work well for Dave until finals came around and he realized he didn’t know anything. He needed to get his hands on Billy’s science notes.

Dave saw his opportunity when he spied Billy walking home with an arm-load of cardboard tubes. “Hey, Billy, let me help you with that.” The two made their way to Billy’s house and carried the tubes back into Billy’s room.

Dave looked around Billy’s room in awe. There were consoles, radar screens, antennas, knobs, dials, and strange noises emanating from everything. “What’s all this?” Dave asked.

Billy smirked, “I’ve been searching for alien life in space, Dave.”  

Dave was incredulous, “Yer full of it!”

“No, seriously, Dave, and I’ve found some.”

Dave laughed so hard he doubled over.

“You’ve just lost it, haven’t you? You’re crazy!”

“No, Dave, really. Here, put on this helmet and I’ll prove it.”

Dave looked at the helmet and fell to the floor laughing. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  

Billy’s shoulders slumped, “Well, suit yourself. If you don’t believe me, then just go home. I’ve got an appointment to meet these aliens tonight, and they’re going to give me technology that’ll make me rich.”

Dave struggled to his feet, “You’re crazy, man. You’re a frickin’ nut-case.” With that, he walked out.

But that evening Dave was too enticed at the prospect of arrogating some priceless technology for himself.

Stooped outside Billy’s window, he overheard Billy’s conversation with … someone on a two-way radio. “Roger that, Q4 Alpha. Rendezvous at Indian Mound in 30 minutes.”

Dave leaned back. “Dang!”  

Dave’s greed kicked in: He snuck around the house, slipped in the side door and jumped Billy from behind. He tied Billy up with a nearby ball of yarn and took off for Indian Mound.

To his surprise, a flying saucer suddenly appeared overhead and Dave was abducted into the ship by a light beam. Before he knew it, he was strapped to a table. Two aliens approached. One was holding a scalpel while the other made gestures indicating he should have the scalpel. Taking a step back, the first one stumbled awkwardly and fumbled the scalpel several times before accidentally cutting himself, dropping the scalpel again. The second one turned, shook his head, and shrugged his shoulders at Dave apologetically.

Back on earth, Billy easily got loose. Opening the package the aliens had given him the night before, Billy felt the trade was more than equitable.

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The Iron Writer Challenge #119 – The 2015 Summer Solstice Finals

The Iron Writer Challenge #119

The 2015 Summer Solstice Finals

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge #118

The 2015 Summer Solstice Preliminary Champions

Kara Kahnke, Daniel J. Sanz, Mathew W. Weaver

The Elements:

A Hapi drum

A strange, odd spirit takes you to the past and the future where you meet your successful self and your failed self at the same time

A paper crown

Survivors guilt

Sweet WilliamKara Ann

Kara Kahnke

Julia sprinkled pink petals on her husband’s grave. She tried hearing echoes of his guitar strings that bound him to her rather than the sickening crunch of glass and metal that stole him. One month earlier, she insisted on eating wings at the place where they fell in love. On their way home, a drunk driver slammed into William’s side of the car. He died. She emerged unharmed, living with the guilt of life.

The flowers were called Sweet William. “I’ll always bring Sweet William to you,” William said each spring when he delivered bouquets to her. “That way, you’ll never forget me.” The flowers she carried to his grave were this spring’s last. Next year’s flowers wouldn’t be the same without him. She feared she’d begin to forget the way her harmonica blended with his guitar, or the way his sapphire blue eyes warmed her heart.

Suddenly, an old woman materialized on the grass before her. “You have such sad eyes,” the woman’s raspy voice remarked. “Take my hand.” Before Julia could reply, the woman’s gnarled fingers curled around hers.


Julia and the woman flew into the sky. They arrived at Henry’s Wings. The woman raised a crooked finger to her lips, motioning silence. Julia gasped, noticing herself with her husband four years ago. She couldn’t comprehend this sorcery, but chose not to question the gift of William’s presence. She gazed at his dimples remembering her failure. They had tried to study Chemistry together, but she studied the curve of his smile and earned a D on the midterm.


The woman squeezed Julia’s hand. They flew to the library where she watched William quiz her on molecules for their final. He never failed. That time, neither did she. They succeeded together. Now, she was supposed to go to medical school. How could she? She couldn’t protect William. She couldn’t protect anyone.


With another squeeze, they landed on the street outside Henry’s Wings. The chill in the air signified a future day. Julia noticed herself tapping a tiny steel drum and wearing the red apron of Henry’s Wings’ employees. Is this all I am without sweet William, she thought. The lonely twang of steel resounded through the night. She’d seen the Hapi drum online, and thought about ordering one. She thought the ringing notes could cure her ache for William’s guitar, but the twangs sounded like sobs.

They continued down the street, seeing a small boy with downcast eyes. “My mother’s always sad. I’m always sad,” the boy said to no one.

Julia opened her mouth, but remembered she wasn’t allowed to speak.  They flew again.


Now, the boy’s happy eyes faced her. She knew one other person possessed those blue eyes. The boy wore a paper crown. He grabbed her white doctor’s coat. “Mommy!” he squealed to her future self, “Look what we made at school! I’m a prince!

She heard herself say, “Yes, my sweet William!”

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she watched the scene. She thought, I’ll carry and protect our sweet William, darling. And I’ll never forget you. 

ChoicesMathew W Weaver

Mathew W. Weaver

I looked so young. And so, so very sad.

In one corner of the gym, I sat alone, a yellow paper crown on my head, a picture of utter misery. My friends had given up calling me to dance along with the rest of the partying animals.

I remembered. I’d barely made the cut to transfer out of that crapped up school, but Nate, who’d been dreaming of getting out all his life, hadn’t made it.

I was leaving, and he who should have been with me was still stuck back here. It wasn’t fair.

I walked up to myself and sat down, careful not to make physical contact. Like the rest of them, he couldn’t see me; and even if he had, the survivor’s guilt was so strong, I doubted he’d have noticed me, let alone recognize himself from the future.

“Hey,” I said, “Dude, it gets better. I know I thought I was a screw up back then. But I grow up, I get a job, I publish novels, man. And I fall in love. It gets so much better. You aren’t the failure you think you are. Not by a long shot.”

Time’s up, the voice chimed, The future awaits.

The eerie blue mist-creature was back, hovering just above my right shoulder. I took a last look at myself, turned back to the mist and nodded. The blue light brightened, and the world faded.

The first time it had done that, I’d vanished from my room and landed in the past. This time, I embraced the gas, the feeling of travelling at a hundred miles an hour while standing still.

Light flashed, something crackled, and then the picture came back into focus. This time, I knelt at the center of an immense, luxurious office, one side of which was nothing but glass panes, opening out to soaring skyscrapers just beyond.

Standing by the glass was a man in a rich, navy suit. Even from the back, he gleamed of success and power.


He can see you if you touch him, the voice reminded me, you can talk to him. Unlike your past self, this will not alter the time stream.

“But why?” I asked again, “Why give me this choice, of all people?”

We shall see.

The same reply it had given me the first time, before it had taken me to the past.

I walked up to myself, and marveled at the specs of gray in my beard. I… he… was staring at the sky, eyes vacant as he… I… silently contemplated something.

I’d be rich, I realized. I’d be standing in this office someday, staring out at that view. And here was my ticket to finding out how.

I reached out.

I swallowed, turned around and walked away.


“I’d rather find out on my own,” I replied.

Now, I know that the mist entity, didn’t have a face, but I’d have sworn that right then, it was smiling.

You have passed your test

“This was a test? Why?”

The picture began to fade. We were moving again.

“Where to, now?” I asked.


Whitemoon Lounge Daniel J. Sanz

Daniel J. Sanz

Explosions ripped through the Hummer as the blast lifted and spun it broadside into the dirt road.

The scene replayed in Raymond’s head as he sat in the Whitemoon Lounge. The establishment reeked of incense and was empty, save for himself and the young man playing the Hapi steel drum.

“It should have been me,” he said to Shelly, the bartender, dropping another bourbon down his gullet. “Those guys had families…yet I’m the one sitting here. If I dropped dead tomorrow no one would miss me.”

Shelly raised a suspicious brow. “That’s not something you’re planning is it?”

It was almost as if she sensed his despair and the gun under his coat. With eyes down, he nudged the glass.

“One more.”

Shelly paused, then disappeared into the back. She reemerged with a small black decanter. She tipped the strange bottle and an odd blue spirit poured into the shot glass. “House special, it’ll give you the kick you need.”

He leered at it, then shrugged. Barely getting the elixir down the stars hit him. Raymond clamped his eyes shut and gasped. The room spiraled as blood rushed into his ears.

He opened his eyes ready to ream Shelly out, but she was gone. The room took on a grey tone and he turned to the rowdy party to his left. Raymond froze at the sight. Before him was himself, five years younger celebrating the success of Army graduation. He remembered his excitement.

Young Ray returned the shocked gaze, and after a moment asked, “What happened to you…to us?”

So Raymond told him about the war, and how he thought he was fighting for something noble but realized he was just serving a financial empire ruled by false kings in their posh designer suits and paper crowns.

Young Ray thought quietly and then said, “I still intend to serve my country.”

“Even if you end up like me?” Raymond responded.

“Yes Sir. Even if we end up like him.” He nodded his head past Raymond.

Raymond turned to his right and met the old man. He was feeble with empty, faded eyes. Startled, Raymond recognized himself, many years from now. The man slid over a scribbled note.

The attempt failed.

Then he pointed to the gun under Raymond’s coat. Raymond stood horrified and watched as the man pulled out the prosthetic jaw and moaned painfully through his sagging face.

Raymond’s stomach wrenched and felt the blood pull from his brain. The room spun and he fell backwards into blackness.

“Ray! Are you alright?”

Raymond opened his eyes, the lounge had returned back to its earlier empty state. He stood and brushed away the shivers that danced at his arms.

“I… I think so.”

Shelley studied him. “You want another?”

Raymond’s hand brushed over the bulk of the gun. He paused, and then looked at her sincerely.

“No, I think I’ll be OK.”

He placed cash on the bar and made his way towards the door. Before leaving, Raymond looked over his shoulder. “I’ll see you tomorrow Shel.”

With a smirk she replied, “I’m glad to hear that Ray.”

The Iron Writer Challenge 2015 Summer Solstice Preliminary Round, H. A. Rey Bracket


H. A. Rey

The Authors:

Matthew BarronTony Jaeger,  Kara KahnkeDwight Wade

The Elements:


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

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

The ExperimentDwight Wade

Dwight Wade

The bridge was cold.  Cold even for a Zetan.  Twelve of her sixteen toes had gone numb.  She’d just begun to wonder why the other four hadn’t when the door opened behind her. 


The time clock echoed through the bridge.  She turned off the video screen.  She’d been watching Earth videos, technically frowned upon but sometimes a good way to pass the night shift.

“Morning Danank” a voice called to her.  She turned to see Glartak, his eyes haggard.

“Rough night?” she asked.

“Yeah.”  he replied.  “This cold moved in to my third and fourth lungs last night.”  He slunk into his chair next to her at the navigator’s console.

“What’s that you’re watching” he asked, a sly grin peeking from the corner of his mouth.  

Her pale green skin flushed, darkening slightly. 

“Earth videos.” She confessed.  “They’re always broadcasting all the stupid things they do. This guy got his parachute stuck on some sort of monument somewhere.  Quite silly.”

Glartak smiled.  “We ready to go today?”  He gestured toward the massive rock just outside the ship.  Nicknamed Nibiru by the scientists behind the mission, the rock was actually more of a small moon.  Two massive mechanical arms clung to Nibiru’s exterior, connecting it to their ship.

“Ready to release in ten minutes.”

Nibiru’s massive size would wreak havoc throughout this solar system once released.  Zetan scientists from their home planet did this type of thing from time to time, though the reasoning escaped Danank.  She was just a pilot.  She went where they told her to go.

“All right.  Lets go through the checklist.”

For the next eight minutes Glartak and Danank checked off the final elements of their mission.  Danank looked out at the blue planet, just coming into view, a small, blue/white disc in the center of the screen.

“You ever feel guilty about doing this kind of thing to the slow systems,” she asked her partner.

“Me?  Nah.  I mean it’s not like we don’t warn them.  All they have to do is respond and we’d pick another system.  They aren’t smart enough to reply, so what’s to feel guilty about?  I mean, we gave them twenty of their years to figure it out.  They just wrote the messengers off as crackpots.  A little bit of apocalypse should do them good.”

“Yeah, I guess so.  The advance team picked the messengers up right?”

Blartak nodded.  “Yeah.  Last week I think.  They were a bit surprised to say the least.”

Danank returned her gazed to the viewscreen.  “OK, release in three, two, one.”  She pushed the big red button.  There was an audible clank as the arms released their cargo.  

Nibiru drifted slowly away.  Drifted towards the small, blue/white disc.

Blartak stretched and turned to Danank.  “Hey, this Earth place may not have been big on intelligence, but the advance team picked up some new food on planet.  Has a terrible name, but it tastes great.  Want to go try some?”

“What’s it called?”

“Eyes Scream,” Blartak answered. “Can you believe that?  What a bunch of weirdos.”

Danank laughed. 

“Well, not for long.”

How Ice Cream Saved the WorldKara Ann

Kara Kahnke

“Silly humans,” the alien Leroy thought to himself. “They’re always getting the math wrong. They are so convinced that my planet Nibiru is going to destroy them, but they forgot to carry a one. In reality, our orbits are going to line up just long enough for me to visit Earth. My superiors have made it my responsibility to introduce a virus to destroy humanity if I believe they are worthy of destruction.  Then we can take over their puny planet.  My people believe our planets are similar, so Earth may be the perfect planet to occupy. In fact, our orbits are going to be so close, I can use this parachute to touch down. I just need to wait for the end of my shift at Tasty Burger.”

The orbits were due to line up at exactly 1:40. Leroy punched out on the Tasty Burger time clock as he slipped the parachute straps over his shoulders and jumped. 

He landed in the grass next to a small neighborhood street. Just then, he heard the most beautiful music. It sounded like tiny jingle bells, but he cowered in fright at the large rumble that followed. He watched as tiny beings followed the large truck.

“Ice cream! Ice cream!” they shouted.

Leroy decided to creep closer to investigate. Just then, one of the tiniest ones with blonde hair and freckles ran from the truck carrying something on a stick.  He saw Leroy and ran over to him. “Want a bite?” the tiny being said.

Leroy was the same size as this being, so it must have decided to befriend him. Leroy decided to take the offering for research. He took a tiny bite. The outer brown shell crunched to reveal something cool and sweet. “This is delicious!” Leroy said.

“Yes, chocolate covered vanilla ice cream is my favorite and Mommy says it’s nice to share our favorite things,” the little being said.

“Thank you,” said Leroy

Just then, Leroy noticed that the being was carrying something else. “Want to play with my pogo stick?” it said.

It hopped on some kind of stick and began bouncing up and down high in the air. It reminded Leroy of bouncing weightlessly through space. Eventually, the little one offered him a turn. Leroy bounced on the pogo stick and felt like he was bouncing to the sky. He felt an intense joy. “Surely this tiny being represents others on this planet,” thought Leroy. He knew that they didn’t deserve to be destroyed. He hugged the little one as he asked for another bite of ice cream.

God of WarTony Jaeger

Tony Jaeger

Way out west there was this guy, a guy named Clint Bradford. This Bradford guy called himself “The Old Man.” Now, the thing about the Old Man is that sometimes there’s a man just right for his time and place. That ain’t always a good thing, mind, but well, he just kind of fit in there right when people needed something done. Clint wasn’t no Timeclock Soldier either, no sir; he didn’t just do his four years and get out. There are some that claim that he was enlisted in the army as soon as he was born, others say that he wasn’t born, but was a robot created by the army. Proves there are idiots no matter what planet you’re from, but… ah, I lost my train of thought there. 

*  *  *  *  *

Two hundred paratroopers had just flung themselves out of the bomb bay of the aircraft, followed by two armored vehicles that would carry them fifty miles north to the village of Kami. It had always struck him odd how quiet the vacant belly of an aircraft flying at two hundred miles per hour with the back end opened is. It seemed to him there should be more wind. 

“Two minutes to drop point,” the pilot radioed. 

Clint reached down into the specially-installed cooler and grabbed an ice cream cone – the kind with the frozen chocolate lump at the bottom. He unwrapped it and licked the ice cream, remembering himself as child making vrooming sounds and dreaming of the day he would grow up to be an airplane. The Old Man bit the chocolate core off the cone and sighed with bitter pleasure. He stood, feeling none of the claims of his moniker. He tossed the ice cream cone out of the bomb bay doors and jumped out after it. 

As quiet as the inside of the plane had felt, falling with nothing about him but air sounded like the void. Not even the snap of the Old Man’s parachute made much noise, which was a real shame. In the village of Kami below, nobody received any warning that he was coming, they had no reason to believe that an army would grind the town into the dirt come dawn, no reason at all to believe that Clint would bathe the town in the blood of its residents before that. 

Cloaked in the dim light of the second sun Clint slipped from house to house, silently slitting throats and manually choking the life from those unfortunate enough to have wanted a glass of water or answer nature’s call. 

In the silent moments before he started lighting fires Clint stared upward at the second sun, and accepted it not as a natural phenomenon but as an omen. Destruction was coming. The Old Man then thanked his lucky stars that the residents of Kami weren’t superstitious, and set work to burning it to the ground. After all, who’s to say an army invaded a place that is no longer there?

God of DestructionMatthew Barron

Matthew Barron

I cradled my bag of food and made my way around the legs of the Earth worshipers. They ignored me, chanting at the blue orb which dominated the sky. Earth worshippers came from all walks of life, but none of them clocked into work that day. They believed the growing orb was a god of destruction, but I knew better.

The barn was a simple building and had survived the increasing earthquake activity. Captain Carter was still inside where I had left him.  He was using his parachute as a pillow and had strapped a broom handle to his broken leg to keep it straight.  Carter devoured my gifts and finished by consuming the whole carton of ice cream. I’d managed to teach him a few simple phrases, and he gave an awkward, “Thank you.” 

A real live alien, and he was all mine! 

Carter used a hoe as a crutch and hobbled out the door. I urged him to rest, but he ignored me. “Ship?” he said.  

I pointed west where his rocket had disappeared.  What could I do but follow him? Part of me hoped one of the neighbor kids would see us. They wouldn’t pick on me any more once they saw my special friend.

Carter’s craft was a pointed cone deeply embedded in the dirt.  Imagine trying to journey to a magnetic planet in a metal ship!  These Earth people were not geniuses and definitely not gods.

My alien crouched in a shallow ridge. Soldiers came and went like ants. There was no way Carter could get close without being seen, not with his broken leg.  

Carter drew symbols on the ground and pushed three of them, then pointed at his rocket and repeated the process, hitting the symbols in the same order.  

I understood and made my way for the rocket.  Small as I was, the soldiers ignored me until I got to the hatch.  They shouted as I climbed in.  It took several seconds before I found a control panel with the symbols Carter had drawn.  I clicked the symbols: 1, 2—

A soldier grabbed my hand. “Kid, you almost destroyed us all! This rocket is a bomb strong enough to blow Nabiru out of its orbit, killing us all in the process.”

“Why would anyone want to destroy Nabiru?”

“Nabiru is causing havoc for the earth people, even worse than the earthquakes here. The only way for their civilization to survive is to destroy us.”

For a moment, I felt bad for the earth people, but then I realized how Carter had used me. I’d almost destroyed my entire planet!  Carter was no better than the neighborhood bullies. I pointed to the ridge where he hid.  Carter couldn’t run and was easily captured.  I scowled as they trucked him away.  He was no longer my alien. Carter, possibly the last of his kind, belonged to all Nabiru. When our planets crossed orbits, all traces of civilization were wiped from the blue orb.  

Good riddance.

Reporters started calling for interviews. I became famous and no one ever picked on me again.