The Iron Writer Challenge #11

EdSmPapyrusPlateVandVIThe Iron Writer Challenge #11

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #11

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Curtis Lee CancinoDani J CaileEric DontigneyKaren Vaughn

The Elements:

The Edward Smith Papyrus

A manhole cover

Clogging shoes

A water buffalo

Medicinal BuffaloCurtis Lee Cancino

Curtis Lee Cancino

I was in the middle of the street as usual, playing Frisbee with a manhole cover. Closing my eyes, I spun around and tossed the metal discus in a random direction. They opened to the sound of a window shattering.

Damned it, not again! Hopefully nobody saw….

Looking around for accusers, all was calm and quite. It was mid-day. All the kids were in school, their parents hard at work.

Good. Nobody will see me sneak into the Saggy House either. I’d hate for somebody to drive into that manhole again.

The manhole cover flew, true as a sparrow, straight through the picture window of the Sagacious House. Dilapidated from disuse, it sat catty-corner from my own prim home.

Even though nobody was outside, I crept over to the Sagacious House, and peered in through its broken picture window. Its empty front room was a familiar sight, yet, it looked different.

Curious….

Breaking out the leftover shards of windowpane, I looked over the block again. It was as lonely as a cemetery night. I dove through the broken picture window, landing in the spacious front room.

Standing up and dusting myself off, I spotted the manhole cover lodged firmly in the wooden flooring.  Humph! It figures. Between its splintered beams, and the manhole cover’s smooth edges, I saw a wavering glow in the basement.

The subtle movement drew me away from the manhole cover, out of the empty front room, through a hallway of faded peeling paint, past an abandoned kitchen, and down a set of squeaky stairs. From the far wall of the basement, the efflorescent glow was emanating. It drowned out any light trying to stream in through the dirty windows.

I feared what might happen next since I wasn’t wearing a pair of clogging shoes. In a dream I had this morning, a great white water buffalo led me into a glowing basement that started flooding! The clogging shoes helped me to walk on water to escape the flood.

Wait, rewind….

At the start of my dream, I was standing in the untamed wilderness that was the middle of my street; in front of my house. As I stood there in my clogging shoes, staring at the great white water buffalo who materialized before me, it placidly stared back. Its big black watery eyes implored me to follow it. When I agreed, it turned around and shambled off, the street parting like the Red Sea before it.

The great albino beast led me between earthen walls into a glowing basement. This glowing basement, I presume.

When I escaped the flood, I awoke. Then I came outside to play manhole Frisbee.

But what should it matter now, if I’m wearing any clogging shoes or not, as this basement isn’t flooding! If anything, I found the Edward Smith Papyrus that had vanished last millennium! It was hidden here all along; in the basement of the Sagacious House, behind the glowing wall I smashed down with the non-glowing sledge hammer I tripped over. But, that’s all good, since the Papyrus’s medicinal knowledge will come in handy to help whoever just crashed into the manhole outside.

DungDani-J-Caile

Dani J Caile

Flinging his wife’s gift on the desk, Detective Brad Shaw noticed the same old folder back on the top of his mountain of paperwork.

“What’s this?” Brad caught his subordinate’s attention with a crumpled up pizza receipt across the face.

“We’ve got another spate of manhole cover thefts on the riverside.”

“Anything new?” He knew this one, a complete waste of time and manpower. What was it about that case? Something strange…that was it, cowshit.

“The same as before. Forensics say the only thing they found was some water buffalo dung.”

“Water buffalo? How..?” Not cow, water buffalo. Same difference. “Who has a water buffalo in Downtown Pittsburgh?”

“You tell me, you’re the boss.”

This was all Brad needed now, another miserable, crummy case to solve. He thought he’d shelved this one months ago, and now it was back. Great timing, what with his marriage on the rocks. More overtime.

“What’s that, boss? You getting into ancient history?” Brad’s subordinate had come over and was handling the new book.

“This?” His wife’s gift. Brad took it back.

“Yeah, didn’t know you were into Egyptian stuff.”

“I’m not. She is.” Brad turned over the book and read from the spiel on the back. “Written by James P. Allen. Among other things it’s got ‘the first color reproduction of the Edward Smith Papyrus in its entirety, accompanied by a full translation.’”

“Sounds like a winner.” His subordinate went back to his own desk.

“She loves this stuff. It might also get me out of the doghouse. Too many late nights.” Brad looked at the clock on the wall, realising the time. “Oh shit, I’m meant to be meeting her! She forgot her dance shoes this morning and her group’s doing a performance at the Irish Center at 8!”

“You better hurry. It’s getting on to half-past.”

Brad grabbed the bag with his wife’s clogging shoes, pocketed the Egyptian book and ran out of the door. Taxi or run? Run, you can’t trust the traffic at this time. Two hundred yards down the almost empty street and he stepped in something large and wet. Either this stinking mound was made by the largest dog in Pittsburgh or there was a cow lose in the streets. A cow? There was movement in the shadows two corners away, large and slow, accompanied by a slight metallic scrapping noise on the road. No, it couldn’t be. Not now. His watch said 20 minutes to the hour. Should he? He wouldn’t make it to the performance if…surely she could wear someone else’s shoes, and when he’d give the book, all would be forgiven. He gave chase and the noise of his running along the sidewalk alerted whoever it was as the scrapping noise became more frantic. Brad turned the corner to see what looked like a man with a large horned cow pulling a manhole cover on a rope.

“You! Stop! In the name of the…!” His last words were lost as he fell into the hole.

Contingency JonesEric Dontigney

Eric Dontigney

Click.

“In other news, the mysterious appearance of a water buffalo backed up traffic for two hours today on Interstate…”

Click.

“The FBI continues to be stymied in its investigation into the theft of the Edward Smith Papyrus…”

Click.

“A child survived a fall into a sewer with only bumps and bruises. City officials are still at a loss to explain the missing manhole cover…”

Click.

I put the remote down and stared at the dark TV screen, my mind moving with all the speed of a sloth in clogging shoes. Even without enough coffee to fuel coherent thought, I recognized the warning signs. Someone was trying to manipulate reality with magic and succeeding. The warped probabilities and appearance of non-domestic animals was the world working to rectify the imbalances.

It was that damned Smith Papyrus, again. These fools thought it was an Egyptian medical text. It wasn’t. I should know. I was there when they wrote it. I hadn’t understood the code at the time and I’d been banished to the temporal backwater of 21st Century America because of it. The thing was a spell to summon Apep, the personification of evil. Someone was using it and I had an idea who.

*****

I looked down at the display and then back up at the shoddy warehouse. The device in my hand insisted this was the place. I shrugged and slid the device into the pocket of my work coat. I pulled up the hood and moved toward the building. The coat wasn’t really a coat. It was a tool that let me survive the shear forces that potent magic creates. Thank you 28th century technology. I kicked open the door to warehouse and felt the coat shed off waves of dark power.

I pushed forward and pulled out a fine piece of 20th century tech: a Smith & Wesson, Model 27 revolver. Sure, it wasn’t regulation, but practicality matters. The shear forces intensified the closer I got, making it harder to walk, but the coat held up and before long, I saw him standing there, papyrus in hand. His body cloaked in a coat like mine. He heard or sensed my approach and looked up.

“Contingency Jones. So, they really did send you here,” he said.

“Endgame Smith. You’re two centuries out of your zone,” I answered, cocking the pistol and pointing it at his right eye. “Also, you’re breaking the law. Summoning of deities is strictly forbidden. You know that. ”

“Oh please, you’re not going to shoot me,” he said, looking back down at the papyrus.

“No?”

“You’ve never had the stomach for bloodshed.”

I pulled the device from my pocket and spoke into it.

“I need an extraction team.”

*****

I plucked the papyrus out of Endgame’s hand. I set the stupid thing on fire and dropped it, closing the door on my biggest failure. The firelight danced in Endgame’s pristine, left eye.

The Weirdest Dig EverKaren Vaughn

Karen Vaughn

My name is Wilhelmina Van Dyke and I am a forensic anthropologist for the Society of the ancient Bones.  You can call me Willie as everyone else does. My day started out as any other until of course I received the call to report to a site just south of London.  I am stationed here for a year to study under Professor Alwyn Rossiter. The good professor is the foremost authority on anthropology and paleontology at the institute and I feel honored to be mentored by the great man.

“Willie, he shouted into the cell phone. I need you at the site for an important discovery. You do not want to miss this one.”

“Name the place Alwyn and I am so there.”

“Go to Victoria station and get on the train. Take the tube to the end of the line and meet up with Pang-Shao.”

“Ok then what?”

“I hope to death that you’re not allergic to water-buffalo. That’s your ride to the site. Sith might bite so be nice to him.”

“Sith?”

“The water buffalo’s name is Sith. Pang is a Star wars fan.”

It’s a strange request but I have no choice. I ran around my flat looking for my rubber boots but all I could find were my great grandfathers clogging shoes. They would have to do.  I hoped the dig site won’t be muddy.  I have street shoes but I love the feel of these on my feet.

Within the hour I reached my destination and Pang-Shao was waiting with Sith. I could smell the beast from where I stood and nothing in my vocabulary could describe the stench.

After my smelly and uncomfortable ride we reached the dig site.

I approached Alwyn. He looked at my feet and shook his head.  “No weillies?”

“Long story, couldn’t find them. So why are we here? Where’s the skeleton?”

“In the hole.” The professor was holding an ancient parchment in his hand by his finger and his thumb.

“What is that? What was that in the hole with the body?”

“It is the Edward Smith Papyrus, Ancient Egyptian medical text and the oldest known surgical treatiseon trauma which dates back to 1500 BCE.  I have been looking for this for God knows how long.” Alwyn was jumping up and down in paroxysms of joy.  Anyway there is a body there that does need our attention. Let’s go down and have a look shall we.”

“Lead the way.”  Alwyn grabbed my hand and we got to work taking pictures as the anthropology students dug and sifted earth.  Some one hit something hard and the digging stopped.  The students brushed off what appeared to be an ordinary manhole cover.

Two of the students tried to lift the heavy disk but Pang-shao started to yell in indiscernible Chinese.

“What’s he saying Alwyn?” I looked at my mentor.

“It’s the third gate to hell. Leave it alone!”

The Iron Writer Challenge #10

stove top hat

The Iron Writer Challenge #10

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #10

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Dellani OakesGlenn TrustMoira McArthurSamantha Sargent

The Elements:

A Stove Top Hat

A Tse Tse Fly

A Gyroscope

A Half Dozen Eggs

WhirligigDellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

Lawrence Chatterly clapped his stovetop hat on his head with one hand as he faced the wind off the river. He set a brisk pace, his impossibly long legs gobbling the distance from his flat to his office. The wind followed him through the outer door, along with a swirl of street litter. Closing it with a bang,  he leaned against it, catching his breath.

His clerk, Perry Lyndon peered at him over his spectacles. “Late as usual, milord,” he droned.

Chatterly grinned and swept his hat off his head. He hung that and his overcoat on the rack near the door. “No worse than usual, Perry. Messages?”

His clerk gave him a handful of crumpled, ink spattered papers. He was just deciphering Perry’s cramped handwriting when the clerk tapped on his door.

“Lady to see you, sir.”

Lawrence came around the desk as she entered, beaming.

“Charlotte, darling!”

Theirs was a chaste kiss as Perry had left the door ajar. He took his role as clerk, and now chaperone, seriously.

“Hello, darling. I’m off to see Uncle’s new gyroscope at the museum. He’s invited you along.”

“I’ll grab my hat! I shall return subsequently, Perry.”

The new gyroscope hung suspended from the roof by a series of ropes and pullies. An impressive device, it glittered and gleamed as the light touched its burnished bronze surface. Nearly six feet in diameter, it filled the spacious, vaulted room. Even in its frozen state, it was a feat of mechanical genius. Lawrence could hardly wait to see it begin its movement.

Charlotte was greeted by her uncle, Boniface Pascal. The French scientist also greeted Lawrence enthusiastically. A photographer grouped Pascal and his team with the young couple, taking a formal photograph to commemorate the occasion.

Once the formalities of speeches and such were dispensed with, Pascal proceeded to the platform erected beneath the gyroscope. He pulled a tasseled cord and the gigantic pieces began to move. Faster and faster the pieces spun, humming with the buzz of thousands of tse tse flies.

The contraption shuddered, jittered and groaned. The path of the whirling hoops collided with the spinning rotor. With a disaster impending clang, the giant machine slipped free from its tresses and fell to the ground. Rolling wildly out of control, it continued spinning, the pieces clanging into one another with such force, sparks flew.

Lawrence swooped Charlotte out of the gyroscope’s erratic path. Chaos ensued as the metal monster writhed on the floor, crushing furniture and heavy equipment as easily as a child would crush a half dozen eggs.

“It could whirl indefinitely,” Lawrence gasped. “We must stop it, Sir Boniface.”

“Have you an idea, milord?”

“I have!”

With the help of a few brave souls, Lawrence surrounded the whirling gyroscope with tall bookshelves and metal cabinets. Together, they heaved the heavy objects onto the gyroscope, smashing it to smithereens.

The disaster averted, Charlotte threw herself into Lawrence’s arms. “My love, how brave you are!”

“For you, my sweet.” 

SpinningGlenn Trust

Glenn Trust

“Why do things die?

Holding the small glass bottle to his eye, he squinted through it expectantly, waiting. Flashing with strobe-like intensity, lightning lit the porch and the boy’s face. He smiled and shook the little bottle in front of his eye.

“Look! The pee pee fly!”

The wicker creaked as he shifted in his chair and looked down. “It’s a tse tse fly, Bud.”

Grinning, the boy looked up. “I know. Mom doesn’t like it when I say pee pee.” He shrugged as if that were explanation enough. “Where did you get it?”

“You know where. Dad gave it to me. He brought it back from the navy.”

“Tell me again.”

And so he did, sitting on the porch in the dark, illuminated by the flashings of the gathering storm. Bright, yellow-green light intermittently showed them each other and the world, followed by the blackness.

The story told for the thousandth time, he settled back in the wicker, waiting for the next flash.

“Papa, why do things die?”

“Damn good question, Bud.” His eyes stared into the black night. “I don’t know. Everything just does.”

“Me too? Like the fly?”

Turning his head, he smiled gently at the boy. “Not for a long time, Bud.” He looked back into the night.

“You too, Papa?”

The light flickered, dim, then brighter until it lit the towering cloud from the inside, rising in the dark like a tall, puffy stove top hat. He waited, letting the question drift away in the night.

Carefully selecting from the bowl on the porch, the boy took one of the half dozen eggs he had gathered. He held it up, squinting, waiting. The lightning flashed.

“What about this, Papa? Is it dead?”

He looked down at the boy seated cross-legged on the gray porch planks. A sad smile crossed his face.

“It was never alive, Bud. Not really, anyway.”

“Never? Doesn’t it make chickens?”

He smiled again. The boy always made him smile. “Yes, it does. It’s kind of in between I guess.”

Multiple, rapid flashes lit the boy’s puzzled face. He wanted a better answer. The old man had none.

The clouds scudded and swirled, piling up on the horizon. The storm was close. The flashes showed them racing along, churning and whirling. He was like the clouds. Living, whirling fast at first, then wobbling, losing his spin, like a toy gyroscope about to topple over.

He looked at the boy. How could he be so young? They had grown up together. They were brothers. His brow furrowed. No, not brother…grandson. What was his name again?

The spring on the screen door creaked behind them.

“Storm’s coming. You boys need to come inside now.”

Standing, the boy cradled the bowl of eggs against his chest. Rain misted across the porch, dampening their hair. Thunder rumbled nearby.

Turning in the wicker chair, a question crossed the wrinkled face. Lightning flashed. She looked familiar.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Becky. Come inside, Dad.”

Holiday RamblingMoira McAtrthur

Moria McArthur

My usual thing, first day, is to walk alone around the largest oak tree three times and hug it at every circumnavigation – why, I don’t know. It’s certainly not a local custom and I do make sure that there are no people around while I’m doing it. And then having committed what is probably a Druid act, I go quickly through the Abbey to the Lady Chapel and light a candle for whoever I think needs guidance. Sometimes I fill in a slip of paper if there is someone I want a prayer said for.

I’ve never gone to a service in the Abbey. Maybe because it is the English church and I was brought up to think that crosses and candles in churches was ‘just not quite right’.

I feel guilty and said so to my Mum one day, and she said our Calvinist upbringing had a lot to answer for. She said it in the voice that usually said “I don’t like animals.”  Which is why the only pets, my brother and I ever had was 2 goldfish and Dad was the one who brought them into the house. When they died, their replacement was won by me on brother’s behalf at a School Sports Day and Fete. Lived for ages. That’s probably why our girls had five rabbits, several goldfish and three cats. As a small protest.

Anyway, we’d normally walk down past the Abbey and past the Bell Hotel where there is a scrap of William Morris wallpaper on the wall in situ (behind glass now) and where there was an old settle that was reputed to be haunted and no-one sat on it without feeling a chill but has now been apparently turfed out by the new owners and replaced with one of those quiz machines!

Then down along the Mill Avon, where there’s a side road leading to an antique emporium filled with odd things like stovepipe hats and tse tse flies encased in amber, before stopping off at the Britannia Inn for a drink (opens around 10am) then into Somerfield’s for the shopping. Half a dozen eggs, milk and something for tea. Then its along the road to the Tudor Hotel for lunch and a wander around the town possibly stopping at JT’s tea shop for a cuppa before going back down the road and into the Berkeley Arms with its table legs all at different lengths to accommodate the Elizabethan flooring – its quite funny watching folk get up and stagger around like a gyroscope, only having had one drink because the floor slants and the roofline has to be seen to be believed. Its a bit curvy.

Anyway, because we’ve been coming down to Tewks for some number of years now, its our local and we are recognised and so we stop for another drink or possibly dinner if its a night when the kitchen’s open, and then several more drinks taking us to closing time and then, trying to remember if we’d bought any frozen or chilled items, we take our shopping back home.  Its a nice life but somebody’s got to do it. And this year, getting there a few weeks later than usual and with our colds – it wasn’t us.  But we did get to the Berkeley for drinks on one night. But mostly we went to the Bell which is easier to get a seat in and if one has a cold in the head it is sometimes nicer to walk across a floor that has been relaid since Elizabethan times and is flat.

Spinning WheelsSamantha Sargent

Samantha Sargent

Her world ended when the gyroscope stopped. Once, it had balanced on her string like an acrobat of the most delicate kind, despite its rounded shape. Only teetering when the world stopped spinning, unlike any other story she had ever heard of, and so it was her favourite toy.

She lived in the embracing warmth of the kitchen with all its windows flung open. It felt like freedom to her in her girlish ways, but there was always some figure of authority or other watching her, making sure her that her petticoats didn’t fly out of place, that her ankles never saw the blazing sun of this part of the world.

That particular day though, a man walked in from the backdoor. Emily was playing with her gyroscope and watching the cook whip half a dozen eggs into meringue for dinner. Entering from the back meant that he must have gotten lost and was not from Africa. Indeed, he was decked up like what they termed a ‘proper gentleman’, all tailcoats completed with a gleaming stove top hat. It seemed as though the world could not touch him.

Her mother was quickly called by the cook. Emily quickly stopped her gyroscope spinning as her mother entered. Her mother strode purposefully into the kitchen, skirts a swishing and regal as any queen, though she smiled when she saw the man.

“Oh Charles! You’ve come at last,” she said, looking quickly to Emily.

“I have indeed Martha, there’s business to be done, after all. Is your husband home?” he asked, then paused for a second, noticing Emily sitting at the counter. “Is this your… daughter, in the kitchen?” he interrupted himself, a note of disgust in his voice.

“Oh, erm, yes,” Emily’s mother stuttered a bit, “she’s a perfect little lady though, aren’t you Emily?”

“Yes,” Emily uttered, prim and proper as she could muster.

“Well, then,” the man in the top hat sniffed, “though, I suppose, there’s still some time.”

“Indeed,” Martha agreed, then turned to Emily, “you’re to be Charles’ bride once you come of age. You must always treat him with respect.” She looked for a nod from the girl, and Emily obliged, “Good. We’re going to the parlour now. Run along and stay out of trouble.”

The two left the room, though Emily could hear Charles muttering to her mother, “You give the child too much freedom, she should already be learning how to be a proper wife.” Emily knew her days were numbered.

Still, she set the gyroscope spinning with the string in her hands once again and balanced it on the tip of her finger. What she hadn’t noticed was that on its tip rested a tse tse fly, flown in through the window; the kind all the locals said carried disease. As it bit her she felt fatigued, but knew that as she fell off the stool and the gyroscope crashed to the floor, that it was perhaps better that princes didn’t truly wake princesses, for she could never call Charles that.

Toys were better than boys, after all.

The Iron Writer Challenge #9

pregnant camel

The Iron Writer Challenge #9

2013 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #9

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Don CorcoranLeanne HerreraKyle B StiffMaureen Larter

The Elements:

A pregnant camel

A roller coaster

A sunken ship

A loom

“Travel Around the World” The Ad SaidDon Corcoran

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

The Final Hoo-ahKyle B Stiff

Kyle B. Stiff

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

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

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

“I shit myself on that one, sir!”

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

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

Grace at the FairLeanne Herrera

Leanne Herrera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is this a dream?”

The HolidayMaureen Larter

Maureen Larter

Melissa screamed!

Her stomach wanted nothing more than to eject its contents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What she needed was coffee.

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

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

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

“What’ya want?” she mumbled.

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

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

She couldn’t wait to go home!