The Iron Writer Challenge #123

The Iron Writer Challenge #123

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Tony Jaeger, Mathew W. Weaver, E. Chris Garrison, Geoff Gore

The Elements:

Chilean Fear Volcano

A fiery path to Ark of the Covenant

The path to salvation

One of the seven deadly sins.

River Horses’ WrathEric Garrison

E. Chris Garrison

The ground shook under Carlos’ boots as he pounded down the rocky obsidian path.

His teenage daughter raced him past the first house-sized monster, her eyes wild with fear as she fled its shiny pink bulk.

He peered over his shoulder, back at the terrible golden light dawning from the ancient chest they’d found. The treasure of a lifetime. No, the treasure of legend, hidden in a secret cave, under a mountain at the bottom of the world.

Then the mountain had exploded, a shockwave of terror spreading outward at the speed of sound.

“Ashley, what did you do?” he gasped, the heat and ash in the air robbing his throat of all moisture. “What was in your mind when you gazed into the light?”

She turned to answer. Her eyes grew wide. “Look out!” Ashley pushed her father to the ground as an enormous orange mouth slammed to earth nearby. Mad, unseeing eyes glared above the minivan-sized muzzle.

“I should have known, the Ark’s power is in our vices,” he said, hauling himself to his feet, dragging Ashley after him.

“What are you talking about, Dad? Oh no! Yellow incoming! Run!”

The scent of brimstone filled the air, along with the chemical tang of fried plastic. As quick as it chomped the path ahead, the yellow maw rose again and shot toward them.

Carlos tackled his daughter this time, and rolled with her under the open mouth. Teeth surrounded them, falling, but the momentum of their roll carried them out from underneath the monster with no room to spare.

Ashley screamed, her souvenir chamanto poncho caught in its teeth.

Carlos dragged at her feet until she pulled free of the garment. Together, they hurtled down the path, surrounded on both sides by streams of oozing lava.

“That was close!” cried Ashley.

“When you opened the box, what were you thinking of?”

She shook her head. “What? I dunno! Can’t we talk after we get out of here?”

Despite the mortal danger, Carlos persisted. “It had to be the Ark’s doing, but it needed a catalyst.”

“Well,” she said, dodging a small alabaster boulder, “we skipped lunch today, and–“

“That’s it! It all makes sense now. Gluttony!”

Ashley screamed as a new horror burst from the ground in the path ahead, its shiny green bulk blocked their way to salvation. The staring headlight eyes fixed upon the two of them. The creature’s mouth rose into the air, its neck extending, overtaking them even as they backpedaled.

Yellow reared up behind them, trapping them. The air filled with the unearthly roar of the behemoths, now in all four directions.

Carlos could no longer shield his daughter, so he picked up the pearly rock and held it over his head with both hands and hurled it to one side. A ghastly crash followed as massive plastic mouths warred over the stone morsel.

“You did it, Dad! The hippos went for it! But why?”

“They’re hungry. Too hungry. It was their doom.”

SieteGeoff Gore

Geoff Gore

I walk following the American up the path toward the summit.

He stops, and reaching into his pocket pulls out another candy bar, ripping open the end of the packet with his teeth and spitting it onto the warm lava rock at the side of the path.

“This is the way she came?” He asks between huge mouthfuls. Fine flecks of spittle fly from between his teeth as he talks. “The night she…you know.”

I nod. For a moment I stand there remembering Sarah.   The way the light of the fire danced across her pale skin in the night. Her intoxicating laugh. The flirtatious way she looked across the camp fire at me after she’d had one too many drinks. I couldn’t think what she saw in him.

“I have done this six times before,” I reply, “It is the way she came.”

The American finishes his candy bar, the sixth one he’s had so far. The journey had been quicker with her. He drops the wrapper at the side of the path, desecrating the Earth beneath his feet. Gluttonous fool.

“Why do they come here?” He asks.

“Mostly they are thrill seekers,” I reply. “Some believe they are walking a fiery path to the Ark of the Covenant. They walk to the crater’s very edge and stare into the abyss.”

“Is it safe?”

I yaw my hand side to side at the American. “There have been six tourists go missing in recent months, including your girlfriend Senor. Some say its bandits, stealing their foreign money. Some in my village say we shouldn’t be encouraging the tourists, it disrespects our gods and makes the mountain angry. They fear the volcano, but for me, it is what I must do. This is my path to salvation.”

“Is that what Sarah was seeking?”

My memory returns to Sarah. Placing the necklace of wild flowers over her shoulders. The lust that shone in her eyes underneath the stars, her soft naked breasts smelling of the wild Inca Lilies.

“No”, I reply. “She sought something else.”

After several hours we each the crater’s edge. The American removes his pack and sits down. I reminisce over Sarah. The way her eyes burned as she stared into the wrath of the fire below. The memory is as intense as the smell of wildflowers against her soft skin. Those same eyes widening into dark craters themselves, burning with fear and betrayal back at me. I look down at the fading scratches on my forearm where she had tried to cling on, but hadn’t realized what was happening until too late.

The American mops his fat sweaty brow with a handkerchief. For a long time he is silent. I wonder if he is going to cry, but even now he soils her memory by reaching into his pack and pulling out another candy bar.

His seventh.

In a way mine too.

Finally he stands again, in front of me, and takes step forward to peer over the edge.

Creeds and Oaths

Mathew W Weaver

Mathew W. Weaver

We were five, now.

The flames danced, molten lava on either side of the narrow chasm. Ahead was the stairway, salvation. Behind us the floor crumbed, walls collapsed, ceilings crashing over the bodies of our fallen.

Brothers, we had been. Thirty knights in arms, ready to offer our lives for duty. Honor. Sacrifice.

Those words once had meaning.

Markus and Ahab still stood, bleeding but not broken. Alastar kept them from joining me, holding them at bay with his halberd as the precious minutes waned.

Rhyon’s broad-axe whined, chipping my shield with each shuddering impact, knocking me backwards with every swing. His eyes were no longer his; his teeth bared in a feral snarl.

“They were our BROTHERS!” I roared.

“They WERE my brothers!” he bellowed. My shield shattered, throwing me to the ground. My sword was drawn, but I would not stain it with the blood of my Order. Not even now.

“You would see God’s wrath rain down on us?” I cried, “You would have the earth erupt in fire, mankind punished for YOUR sins?”

Sparks flew as the axe blade met stone inches from my head.

“The Ark is MINE! Its riches are MY right!”

“You KILLED for it!”

“And I WILL KILL AGAIN!”

I ducked as the axe passed over my head. Markus cried out, and I saw crimson run down his side. He staggered, losing his grip on the mace as Alastar swung again.

Ahab screamed, and his voice joined with the one in my head as I watched his sister’s son fall into the abyss. A gout of flame rose to greet him, and Alastar had already begun to finish what he started.

“Hubris, Rhyon!” I cried, “You’ve fallen prey to your Greed!”

His axe met my sword, nearly wrenching it out of my grasp. I saw his mailed fist come, and I dodged, spun, and drove the hilt of my sword into the side of his head. The blow hit true, and he stumbled away.

“You will not kill me,” he snarled, “Even now, when all Creeds and Oaths have no meaning. At the cusp of immortality, at the dawn of the Final Age, you, Elethor Farstrider, dare not do what has to be done. That is why I will win.”

Ahab missed his parry, and Alastar drove the halberd into him. I watched the light leave his eyes, and Alastar released the handle, letting him fall.

Beneath the mountains of Gel Duror, thirty Knights had become three. And as I let my sword fall, as the axe took me across the chest and threw me down, I watched the sky lighten through the crater far, far above us.

“You shall not have the Ark, brother,” I whispered as he stood over me, axe dripping my blood, “You forgot how little time there was till sunrise.”

Understanding dawned, and he left me, running to the bridge even as it began to crumble, the sunlight beaming down into the cavern.

It was too late. The ground collapsed, and we fell, their screams in my ears.

I smiled, my eyes closed, my pain fading.

Duty. Honor.

Sacrifice.

 

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

Margret-and-HA-Rey

H. A. Rey

The Authors:

Matthew BarronTony Jaeger,  Kara KahnkeDwight Wade

The Elements:

timeclock

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. 

Ker-Chunk

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.

The Iron Writer Challenge #118 – 2015 Summer Solstice Preliminary Round

The Iron Writer Challenge #118

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge #117

Bello Oluwadamilare

The Brackets:

PD-Eastman

P. D. Eastman

The Authors:

Alis Van Doorn, Tina Biscuit, E. Chris GarrisonMathew W. Weaver

Eric Carle

Eric Carle

The Authors:

Jaclyn Wilson, Richard Russell, Danielle Lee ZwisslerDaniel J. Sanz

Margret-and-HA-Rey

H. A. Rey

The Authors:

Matthew BarronTony Jaeger,  Kara Kahnke, Dwight Wade

The Elements:

timeclock

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.

Stories are posted

on the bracket author’s image and name.

Just click the link and remember to vote!