Challenge 108 – 2015 Spring Equinox Open – Preliminary Round, The Kurt Vonnegut Bracket

The Iron Writer Challenge

2015 Spring Equinox Open

Preliminary Round

The Kurt Vonnegut Bracket

 

The Authors:

Steph Mineart

E. Chris Garrison

Johnna Murphy

Vance Rowe

Mamie Pound

The Elements:

Artemis

Artemis
A Dilettante
Jello Wrestling
A Moon Rock

Tangerine, TangerineMamie Pound

Mamie Pound

In the blue wash of fluorescent light, she changed out of jeans and into a gold lame’ body suit. White silk wings sprung from the back of her costume. Even in the grey din of the Chevron restroom, she looked other-worldly.

Her purse was clinched between her front teeth while she dressed. No part of her clothing touched the filthy concrete floor. It was after all, mostly white..

Meanwhile, a man waiting on a gas pump watched her emerge from the restroom. Long blonde hair swung back and forth as she used her hips and elbows to open the door.”Artemis” was stitched across her chest. Feathery wings caught the wind, fluttered. She strutted across the cracked asphalt parking lot, stacked platform heels causing her knees to bend a little, invoking the appearance of a giant bumble bee.

The man, fascinated, stepped out of his car, ran his hands through his hair and made his way toward the freaky, waspish woman, now at the back of the parking lot.

“Excuse me,” he said. She was digging for something in the front floorboard of a conversion van.

“Ma’am?” he knocked on the window.

She slid backward and stood up, dusting off her knees and thighs.

“Yeah?” she said, hands on hips.

“I’m Jack,” he said.

She crossed her arms and said, “Artemis.”

“You live in this van or something?” he asked.

Piggly Wiggly bags were seat-belted like passengers into the back seats. Tupperware, Nilla Wafer boxes and Mountain Dew bottles poked out of their tops.

She slammed the door.

“Sometimes,” she said. Mascara was smudged under her blood-shot eyes.

He nodded.“I love a good road trip, too.”

Dogs barked inside the van.

“I’m on a cross-country Jello Wrestle-a-thon,” she said. She wiped at her face with her sleeve and looked away.

“Oh, yeah?” he said.

“Yeah,” she raised her chin. Her wings flattened as she leaned back against the van.

“I’m a professional Jello Wrestler, hence the outfit,” she checked his expression.”But I’ve lost my good-luck charm.”

“Really? Wow.” He let his eyes wash over her.”Pro, huh? I would’ve definitely taken you as a dilettante.”

She smiled.

“What exactly are you looking for?” he asked, glancing into the van.

“Moon rock,” she said,”about this big.” She held up her hands, made a circle about the size of an orange.

“You lose it in there?” he thumbed toward the van, where the dogs had worked themselves into a frenzy.

She smiled.

“You volunteering to go in after it?”

“Maybe,” he said.

“Because the last guy never made it out,” she warned.

He nodded, considered the challenge.

“Is there a particular flavor?” he asked.

“Flavor?”

“You know, for the jello wrestling,” he rolled up his sleeves, prepared to go in.

“Oh.Tangerine. Sometimes there are marshmallows.”

As he crawled over the front seat, she called, “Watch out. They bite.”

He wasn’t sure if she was mad or just a world-class heart breaker.

But there was only one way to find out.

Tangerine, Tangerine

I was her love, she was my queen…

Moon Rock Dream

Vance Rowe

While watching his favorite sports show, the WCJW, World Championship Jello Wrestling, Tommy got excited because his favorite competitor won and she retained her World Jello Heavyweight title belt. Her wrestling gimmick was Artemis, Goddess of the hunt. She would enter the arena carrying her bow and arrow and had a greyhound dog by her side. She was dressed in a white toga but took that off before she stepped into the ring of jello. Underneath her toga she wore her wrestling gear which consisted of white shorts and and a white sundress, in trying to keep with the theme of a Greek goddess or what a Greek goddess would wear if she was wrestling another Greek goddess.

Coming down off of the high of his favorite jello wrestler winning her match, Tommy turned of his television set and went into his moon rock room. It was a room where he kept the moon rocks he is collecting. He has no formal knowledge of moon rocks but he is considered a dilettante on the subject.

The rocks were in glass cases setting on lush black velvet and some of the cases had a black light in them as some of the minerals in the rocks glowed under the light. He was in awe of their majestic beauty.

Tommy finally got ready for bed and drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face. His favorite jello wrestler won her match and the moon rocks also brought him joy. As he slept peacefully, Tommy was awakened suddenly and found himself floating in the air and looking down at his body on the bed.

What is going on? Have I died? I can’t die. I am too young,” he thought to himself. Then he tried to “swim” back down to his body but it was all in vain. Like a shot from a rifle, he flew upwards out of his home and up, up, up into the darkness of deep space.

Tommy was unconscious as he fell to land from space. When he awoke, he looked around and saw complete darkness and tried to figure out where he was. Suddenly there was a bright light and in the light he saw the Greek Goddess Artemis. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Tommy rubbed his eyes and she was still there. Without saying a word, Artemis pointed off to her left and slowly Tommy looked in the direction that she was pointing. Then he saw it. A large rock that glowed and was encrusted with precious gems. It was the most beautiful moon rock that he ever laid his eyes on. He then realized that the Goddess of hunting was helping him hunt moon rocks. As he approached it, it grew even more beautiful. Tommy reached down to pick it up and as he grabbed it, he suddenly woke up in his bed as the alarm clock sounded. He got his bearings and realized the whole thing was a dream and was saddened.

When Tommy drove off to work, he never saw the moon rock that was sitting under the bushes, glowing brightly.

Kara’s PuppyJohnna Murphy

Johnna Murphy

Moon rock!” Grunt held his treasure high for Kara to see. She squinted at it skeptically.

Is not, dum dum!”

Da said so!” The boy turned up his face in consternation, grunting his frustration.

Grunt thought all his rocks were something special. He could tell you which one was crystal (a piece of broken bottle), which one was granite (obviously blacktop), and now his newest treasure, the moon rock, which suspiciously looked like a hunk of broken sidewalk from the other end of the block.

He’s a liar; rocks don’t fall down from the moon!” Kara turned away angrily. She knew all about lying; she knew it too well.

She had learned about it the day she walked in to see her uncle watching jello wrestling on TV. He had told her the women had been playing nicely until one of them ruined the pool water. She had only half been paying attention. “Oh,” she replied, skipping off.

But she had accidentally walked in on him other times, too, and he always had a lie. She wished her mother had never let him come stay at her house. She didn’t like the way he looked at her or touched her, his hand resting on her shoulder in public, and other places in private. And she had never felt more alone. Only one she had to talk to was Grunt, and she didn’t think he really understood.

Not wanting to go home or be alone, Kara turned back to the neighbor boy. “Do you go to school? I never see you in class.”

Special class. Not everyone gets in.” He turned his rock over and over in his hands.

They teach you about mythology in your class? We’re learning mythology. I like Artemis.”

Moon rock!” Grunt held the hunk of cement out to Kara again, beaming from ear to ear.

Well Artemis was goddess of the moon.” Kara agreed, even though she knew Grunt would not understand. “I learned that in school. But I read other things at the library. Artemis protects girls and she protected herself. Once when she was bathing in a stream, someone tried to touch her. She turned him into a stag and he was killed by his own hunting dogs.”

Kara reached out to admire the chunk of cement, and Grunt made the noise that gave him his nickname among the neighborhood kids. He hugged the hunk of cement close to his chest. “Mine!”

Kara dropped her hands, not wanting to chase away the only person who would listen. “I like Artemis. “ she said with a mysterious smile. “I like dogs too. Momma’s going to get me a puppy, but I think he’ll grow up big. He’ll protect me, the same way Artemis was protected by dogs.”

Grunt shook his head, not understanding Kara’s words, or the strange gleam in her eye. His simple mind only interested in one thing. “Rocks!” he cried, holding up a piece of broken glass, worn smooth by time. “quartz!” he added proudly as Kara’s sly smile grew.

That’s right, Grunty, I’m going to get a dog!”

Hunter’s MoonEric Garrison

E. Chris Garrison

“You have no idea how honored I am to be your guest,” I said to the tall, beautiful woman who met me at the airport.

She nodded at me without so much as a smile and snapped her fingers. Several hairy men stepped out of the crowd in unison and flanked us as we made our way to Baggage Claim.

Diana Archer walked a step ahead of me, the click of her heels like staccato hoof beats, audible even over the terminal’s din. “I trust your flight was comfortable?”

I did my best to keep up in my flats, trying not to scurry. “Well, you know O’Hare. I’m just glad to be here in Memphis. I see why you make it your home, ma’am.”

The wolfish men took my bags from the carousel, and soon we were all in the back of Ms. Hunter’s limousine, cruising along the highway toward her fabled resort residence. The tinted windows turned daylight to twilight.

Her dark gaze pierced me. “Dr. Sutton, we have spoken in brief already, but you know my interest in the Moon. I have, in my collection, the capsule from Apollo 18. It is my wish to travel there, and you claim to have a way. Explain.”

So intent was her stare that I had to catch my breath. “Well, yes, in theory…”

“In theory? Please, don’t waste my time like those amateurs in the Artemis Project.”

“N-no, not like those guys. I mean, they mean well…”

She interrupted me. “Yes, but so is the Starfleet Command club. I’d sooner back those lunatics lobbying to make Jello Wrestling an Olympic sport. I want results.”

“Allow me to show you something,” I said, and opened my purse. I reached within and drew out a small wooden jewelry box.

She took it from me and the hinges creaked as she looked inside. Her eyes flicked from the contents to me. “Is this?”

“Yes. Regolith,” I said, struggling to keep my smile from cracking into a grin.

“If real, this sample is worth… a quarter of a million dollars, I’d say.”

“At least that,” I said. “But since you have pledged such a generous amount to our Kickstarter, you may keep it.”

She snapped her fingers again, and one of the wolfish men handed her a loupe. Its light pierced the gloom of the limo’s interior. “Very generous for a project strapped for funds. How did you get it?”

“Our prototype quantum translocation device. We sent a modified Roomba through a portal to bring this back. It will need a lot more power and equipment to send humans through. Not to mention spacesuits.”

She snapped the box shut. “A portal? So there is no rocketry involved? Pity.”

“This is far safer, ma’am.”

She waved a hand. “Never mind. A portal has other symbolism that pleases me. That and your name.”

“My name?”

“Yes, it pleases me. You have my patronage, Dionne.”

We shook hands, and I had a desire to howl with joy.

She Couldn’t Find How to Push ThroughSteph Mineart

Steph Mineart

When the ghost that lurked in her home was eaten by shadows, she began to doubt she had ever seen him at all.

The quiet old house became alien. She couldn’t make the finish on the second floor banister match and three posts had to be re-turned. She began to doubt herself; she was a dilettante. Her plaster work was uneven, and she couldn’t sand and smooth it properly. Maybe seeing him was mold-induced madness from this house. Weeks passed. In frustration she left off restoration and began cleaning out the attic. She daydreamed of a beach somewhere warm.

It was April when she saw him in the mirror above the fireplace, when the moonlight hit it from the plate glass window in the parlor. Her own reflection was missing. His pale face was pressed against the glass; his expression one of terror, body hidden behind the fireplace as though it were a wall. She touched his hand against the glass and felt it give. She could feel him for a moment, until the shadows in the room behind him came to life and dragged him away as they had that night in the kitchen. The next night the same thing happened, and every night until the moon waned. Her reflection reappeared.

In May she was ready. The jeweled pin he left behind had no reflection either. She pressed it through the wavering glass, and he took it, but he couldn’t use it to banish the shadows. They swallowed him up each night, until the moon waned.

In June she used mirrors to direct the moonlight and saw him for five days instead of three, but couldn’t save him. She found his trunk in the attic. An army uniform, a sword, a photo and papers. His name was Delias. His sword had a reflection in the mirror; he could not grasp it.

In July, she discovered a marble statue of Artemis from the attic had no twin on the other side. She placed a lunar meteorite in the parlor and the statue glowed an unearthly blue in the amplified light. She touched the huntress and fell inside her, and the statue grew and molded to her like armor. The air around her was thick, like wrestling through jello, but she forced her way to the mirror. Her face was unseeing stone. Catching up his sword, she heaved herself over the mantle and through into the mirror room beyond.

The shadows leapt forth immediately in response to her arrival. She stepped in front of him, brandishing his sword. A voice in her head said the weapon was wrong; Diana preferred a bow. But she did her best, cutting through the dark like fire. She banished the shadows back to where they belonged.

Danger past, she turned to him. “My darling!” he said, and put his hand to her face, but it passed through her skin. On this side of the mirror, she was the ghost.

“I’m afraid you’re trapped,” he said in sorrow.

The Iron Writer Challenge #107

The Iron Writer Challenge #107

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge 106 Champion

Tina Biscuit

The Authors:

Kara Kahnke, Mamie Pound, Vance Rowe, Daniel J. Sanz, Ellen Howard Attar

Judging:

Each story is scored by a panel of Iron Writers

based on three categories:

(Grammar/Spelling, Use of Elements, Story Arc/Plot)

The popular vote is the tie breaker (SO VOTE!).

The Elements:

'Challenge 107 March 19, 2015<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
First Challenge for the 2015 Summer Open</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Writers please note: As I will be on vacation when the submissions need posting, please use Facebook to send your stories to me. I suspect it will be easier than trying to access my email on the road (long story, but accessing my email on my iPad is tortuous). </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Also, please comment or like this post so I know you have received the elements and will be participating. Thanks</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Writers: @[1375160699:2048:Kara Ann], @[1619662900:2048:Mamie Willoughby Pound], @[1370498536:2048:Vance Rowe] (again? Okay by me but two in a row?), @[697063044:2048:Daniel J. Sanz] and  @[1605463911:2048:Ellen Howard Attar].</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>@[100000792336166:2048:Ian] is handling the judges henceforth.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The elements:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The Tiger Next Monastery (see image)<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
An imponderable question (such as, but not this one: Can God make a object too heavy for him to lift?)<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
A debutante<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
The person who cleans public restrooms'
The Tiger Next Monastery
An imponderable question (such as, but not this one:
Can God make a object too heavy for him to lift?)
A débutante
The person who cleans public restrooms

Go DeeperKara Ann

Kara Kahnke

Feed the mosquitoes with me,” he said.

Excuse me?” she said. “What do you mean?”

I mean I’m Buddhist. I believe even the tiniest creatures deserve love and attention, even the ones people find annoying. I don’t kill mosquitoes. I feed them.”

You’re crazy.”

What? Do you think you’re some kind of spoiled débutante parading around waiting for the world to adore her? You don’t have the time for someone or something worse off than yourself?”

Hey! That’s not fair. Yesterday, I gave a homeless guy money to buy a sandwich.”

I’m sorry. That true. I did see you do that. I’m just saying you can always go deeper with things. Buddhists believe there’s nothing too demeaning if it’s in the name of helping others. Didn’t I ever tell you that I had to take a job as a janitor to make ends meet once? Plunging a public toilet isn’t a classy job, but I did it. Come on. Go deeper with me.”

There was something intriguing about him. She had spent time watching his patient eyes in their Philosophy class, getting a mild headache trying to keep up with all of his deep thoughts. He was the type of guy who said things like, “If God were a piece of music, what would he sound like?” She didn’t even know how to begin with a question like that, but that’s why she liked him. Because he was deep. So, she agreed to go deeper.

#

It was a hot, sticky July day in Minnesota. He rented a row boat and took her to the lake at sunset. The mosquitoes descended immediately. A black cloud of hungry mouths pricked their soft, delicate skin with the precision of acupuncture needles. She put her arms around his neck to stop her natural impulse to swat them away. She paid attention to the ridge of his shoulder blades and ignored the pain.

They stayed until the last flash of sunlight faded from the clear water.

We should be getting back,” he said. It’s getting dark.”

Wait. Go deeper with me.” And she kissed him. It was just like she thought it would be. The way he kissed her made her feel like she was the most important living thing on the planet.

#

Now, he was gone. She had misheard him at first. “Tiger Next Monastery? Where’s that?”

No, Tiger Nest Monastery. It’s in Bhutan in South Asia. I’ve been studying more and more about Buddhism. I have to continue my path toward enlightenment. I want to live with the monks. I love you, but can you go deeper?

I can’t leave my family.”

I’m so sorry. I have to go.”

When will you be back?”

I have no idea.”

Please don’t leave me.”

I have to. I’m sorry.”

#

She went to the lake at sunset when she missed him. She sat in a boat without his shoulder blades to protect her, and she never swatted the mosquitoes away.

Skin of the Tiger

Ellen Howard Attar

As Gloria handed me a towel to dab my lipstick, I asked “why do you work here? These people are horrid and condescending. Don’t my parents pay you enough for cleaning their house each week to keep you from scrubbing toilets at the country club?”

“I’m doin’ a little extra, saving up money to help Jason go to medical school.”

“Gloria, you know he wants to be a writer.”

“Your dad sent that boy to Harvard because he’s brilliant. I ain’t gonna waste his money by letting him wait tables an’ write stories. “

At the table, Tommy asked “why are all the waiters black?”

Father explained, “it’s just another of life’s imponderable questions. It’s impossible to know what motivates people. Some become bankers, some wash dishes. Wouldn’t it be presumptuous for us to question such life decisions? ”

I ordered another Sazerac by simply raising my left eyebrow towards Jason, who was waiting tables.

“I’m going to the Himalayan Mountains next week”.

Mother choked on her chardonnay. “You’ve only been through three months of your debut; the season lasts all year. We’ve got hundreds of parties lined up; we’ve had all those dresses made.

“I’ve had enough conversations about fishing, hunting and football to last a life time. Sorry, mother, but I’m done. “

“We know you broke your trust three years ago. Living in New York undoubtedly decimated the last of your funds. You won’t get another cent from us until your wedding day!”

“World economics and marketplace analytics are still fascinating. After one semester, I had the sense to use my own money, and quadrupled my investment. I continue to invest and don’t foresee any financial difficulties in my lifetime.”

“As he came closer, I could hear his loud purring and the thudding of my own heart. He gently took the meat from my hand, and when finished, he lay in the warm sunlight cleaning his paws. ’Take me away’ I whispered. He looked into my eyes, asking ‘where do you want to go’. I answered ‘far, far, away, where no one can find me; where I can be free to live my own life; to think my own thoughts; to speak my mind freely’. He nudged me gently. I rubbed his head and scratched his ears. I slowly crept onto his back. He got up and stretched. I wrapped my arms around his neck. He started running. Faster and faster he went, until the trees were blurring by, the wind was roaring past my ears, water running from my eyes. I felt free, unafraid. I nestled my head into his soft fur as he leapt into the air, and we flew far away. “

Tommy rolled towards me, “where did the tiger take you Emmy?”

“A beautiful monastery perched on the side of a mountain. Soon, I will go back. When you’re older you can visit me. Don’t forget the Tiger Nest Monastery. Now go to bed, sweet darling.”

The next morning, Emmy and Jason were both gone. No one listened to Tommy as he explained that they were in the Tiger Next Monastery.

Tootsie-Roll Pops and AzaleasMamie Pound

Mamie Pound

The woman dunked the mop in a plastic bucket.

In wide swoops, she moved the suds from one corner of the bathroom to the other, stopping short of the stalls.

“Is there a wedding here today?” A woman opened the bathroom door and asked, breathless.

“Down in the Big Top,” the cleaning lady replied.

“Thanks!” The woman yelled and ran down the hall, sandals clacking.

Dirty water squeezed from the mop. She shook her head,“Who would’ve guessed, a circus in the old Monastery, and now a wedding?”

The Strong Man and the Ballerina were to be married under the Big Top. The bride rode in on an African elephant, wearing a spangled pink leotard and white tights, carrying a bouquet of Tootsie Roll Pops and watermelon-pink azaleas. An enormous plume of white Ostrich feathers crowned her crayon-yellow curls.

The groom walked the tightrope. After an impressive summersault, he landed just to her left, a red plastic boutonniere stuck in the button hole of his lapel.

He lifted a hand to the tiny, beautiful dancer. She slid off the elephant’s trunk and joined him center stage. A pair of clowns and the Shortest Man on Earth played ukulele, classical guitar and harmonica, first performing a Beatles melody, then the wedding march, then another tune by Leonard Cohen.

“Larry!” A woman’s voice yelled from outside the tent. The musicians paused mid-song.

The lion raised his fur. The bride looked at her groom and Larry shrugged his shoulders, nodded for the band to carry on.

A gunshot pinged against something metal. “I’m warning you, Larry,” the woman yelled.

Larry, who was now called Steven the Amazing, unhooked his bride’s arm from his own and held up a finger to say, “I’ll be right back.” He strode out of the tent into the late afternoon sun. His red tuxedo jacket flapped behind him, creating a wake of ruffling faux-silk and dust.

The crowd was silent.

The bride shifted her weight from one ballet slipper to the other. Her silver sequins catching the spotlight with every movement, flashing like a million tiny polaroids, welding-torch, burn-out-your-retinas bright. But the crowd could not look away.

She was after all, a star.

Loretta knew who was out there. The thought of the debutante ex-girlfriend in the parking lot, crying to her almost-husband, made her bite into one of her petal pink fingernails.

People started to whisper.

Larry was shouting now. The debutante yelled back.

The lion paced.

But Loretta wasn’t scared. She had known it was dangerous, leaving her job at the bookstore to join the circus, then stealing another woman’s man.

It hadn’t been her intention.

The circus just happened to be there. And so did Larry.

It wasn’t her fault about the flat tire, or the fact that he’d wanted to help, offered to show her the way to Arab, Alabama, to the old Monastery. He’d laughed when she’d told him she was joining the circus.

But somewhere between the flat tire and the Alabama state line, Larry fell in love.

The JudgeDaniel J. Sanz

Daniel J. Sanz

The gunshot echoed, shattering the night as the weapon discharged. Derek was upon the attacker, redirecting the firearm and shoving him back against the graffiti choked wall. Behind the obscurity of the dumpster, tucked neatly between concrete and glass giants, the struggle continued.

The man fought for control of the weapon but a crack across the jaw impeded the effort. Derek disarmed him and flung him to the pavement.

Derek looked down at the young woman, scantily clad and shaken from the ambush. So naïve. These young, upper-class girls were so preoccupied with social statuses that these “débutantes” often neglected their own safety. Walking alone in this city they were prey among predators.

Next door, bass percussion of Club Tiger Nest rattled the alley. Constructed in the likeness of a Himalayan Buddhist Monastery, laced with neon and cheesy retro motifs, this establishment was no doubt the source of the young woman’s misadventures.

The thug charged again. Derek greeted him with a knee to the manhood and cast him down again. Brushing off his black overcoat and adjusting his flat cap to keep the shadow over his eyes, Derek peered down disdainfully. Trash.

Derek spent thankless days sweeping garbage and scraping away filth in the public bathrooms down at Festival Square. However, hitting the streets after work was where he would find the real dirt.

He offered a hand to the fallen maiden but her sudden white complexion told him the thug had recovered quicker than expected. He whirled around in time to divert the barrel away from his face. In an array of sparks and thunder the bullet exploded against the dumpster. Derek delivered a boot thrust to the knee, buckling it sideways and stripping the handgun away. He brought the metal grip down upon his attacker’s exploding nose. The man collapsed with hands up, choking on blood.

Derek coldly pointed the weapon at panicked eyes. What difference could I make here? The scum was no different than the crap he chiseled every day. Getting rid of it only to have it return again.

This man is a seasoned criminal, he justified to himself. She is probably not his first victim, but I can make her his last. Derek stepped over his bulk and pressed the barrel into his forehead, prompting a futile protest of coughs and sputters.

Perhaps by killing him, I save five others? Ten?

He tightened his grasp on the weapon. Do I have a right to judge this man and condemn him in an unspeakable act? Is permanent justice worth the cost of morality?

His hand trembled and the thought became too impossible to ponder. Snapping himself from his trance he chucked the gun into the dumpster as red and blue danced down the avenue. He turned away from the defeated man. I’m not you.

Sirens wailed as they approached and Derek scaled the wall at the rear of the alley. The question burned inside him but he knew his answer. He’d do what he always did. I’ll just come back and clean it up again tomorrow.

An Imponderable Bathroom

Vance Rowe

Jim works in a large hotel as a janitor. It is usually his job to make sure that the floors are swept and mopped, carpeted areas are vacuumed and all of the public rest rooms are cleaned. Today was especially important as there is going to be a débutante ball in one of the ballrooms tonight so he was purposefully assigned to make sure the rest rooms are all kept clean before, during and after the event. Other janitors were assigned to floors details and trash details as well. Jim hated cleaning the rest rooms because they were usually nasty and filthy but it was quieter in the rest rooms and this meant that he could think. While Jim was cleaning a rest room, he thought about the débutante ball tonight and how it would be nice if he could marry a débutante because they come from “upper society” and upper society means money. If he could marry into money, then he would no longer have to clean rest rooms. During the cotillion that night, Jim was in awe of all the beautiful young ladies that were there dressed in all their finery and each one looked like a princess to him. He watched them being paraded around the ballroom and then watched them dance with potential beaus and he grew jealous. He was thinking of the grandeur of it all, as he cleaned a ladies’ rest room. Then one of the débutante’s walked in and was surprised to see him in there. They struck up a conversation and after a few minutes, Jim asked her if she would date him. She wanted nothing to do with him but gave him one chance, “If you can answer this question, then I will date you.” Jim replied, “Okay, lay it on me.” The young lady smiled and asked, “Why is a delivery by car called a shipment and a delivery by ship called cargo?” “Oh no, not an imponderable question,” he thought to himself, The young lady wrote down her phone number and handed it to him and said, “Call me when you have the answer.” Jim knew he would not easily find the answer and didn’t really know about how to find it out and then it hit him. He knew where to find the answer. The next morning, he grabbed a flight to Bhutan and then proceeded the trek up to the Tiger Nest monastery. He knew the Buddhist monks would have the answer. He was excited because he was done cleaning rest rooms now. Nothing but a life of luxury and leisure was ahead of him. Jim entered one of the temples and found a monk and asked him the question. The monk seemed puzzled and finally he told Jim to follow him. They walked to the main shrine where the head Lama resides and was told to ask him the question. When Jim asked him the question, the head Lama thought about it for a minute and left the room. Soon he returned with a mop and said, “Clean our restrooms and the answer will come to you.”

 

 

Challenge 106

 The Iron Writer Challenge 106

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge 105 Champion

TBD

The Authors:

Tina Biscuit, Vance Rowe, Maureen Larter

The Judges:

Dani J Caile, Steven L. Bergeron, Christopher Liccardi, Tony Jaeger

The Elements:

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Young Woman with a Book

If I were God

A terra cotta soldier from China

The last line must be: “Who do you think you are?”

Post your guess who will win in the comments

(and tell us why!)

 

MemoriesMaureen Larter

Maureen Larter

I wandered across the meadow, my notebook clutched in my arms. A tall piece of grass caught my attention, and I broke it off, fiddling with the stalk, not really aware of my reasons.

I walked over to the only tree beside a fence looking into the neighbor’s farm, and sat down, letting my thoughts travel as my body had travelled some 6 years before.

Xian is a magical city, in a magical country. I remember the feeling as a leant against the rail of the archeological wonder that has made Xian a tourist Mecca. There in front of me was the crowd of warriors that were dug from the ground. Neat rows, now two the same, all sheltering under the modern roof put there by the powers that be. The archeologists still worked at more excavation. However vast these discoveries were so far, there was even more to find.

We shuffled along the walkway, Chinese tourists as well as visitors from all corners of the world. I mused – If I were God, would I be game to make one of the statues come to life? Maybe then we would know the secrets of this place. Why so many soldiers? Why would an emperor commission such a colossal job? Why did he need so many men around him? Would the soldier appreciate arriving suddenly in the 21st century? Would he be manly and strong? Or would he wish to kill? Would he be someone I could respect and love?

I must have said something out aloud, because the man in front of me turned and glared, and then, in perfect English, spoke.

“This is a sacred site,” he said “Why would you want to ruin this perfect scene? Why would you want to steal the heart of a warrior?

I could do nothing but stare at him.

Now, sitting in the shade of the solitary tree, my back against its comforting bark, I opened my book. Once again I saw that terra cotta warrior that had entered my dreams. I began to scribble the memory down as the sun began to sink, and I pulled my cardigan closer around my shoulders.

I knew I would have to go home soon, as the chill of the evening air began to seep through my clothes and into my heart. As I wrote, I was back there again, and the Chinese man was near, almost threatening in his attitude.

His last words always haunted me, for when I tried to explain, he spat out a word which must have been obscene. I remember it well, because I have thought on it so many times since. How can we achieve peace and vanquish racial hatred when this is in the minds of others?

He looked me in the eye and said, with some disgust.

“You are white – you have no concept of our beliefs – Who do you think you are?”

Courage Under Fire

Vance Rowe

Annie woke up to the sound of her parents fighting…again. She grew tired of the yelling and screaming from the short twelve years she has been on this earth. Most of the fighting was about her mother who worked two jobs because her dad wouldn’t. He just drank whiskey all day.

It was the middle of the summer and as most kids were happy with this, Annie dreaded it. School was her only escape from the constant bickering and arguing.

With tear filled eyes, Annie looked up on her dresser and stared at the Chinese terra cotta soldier statue that her aunt bought for her when she went on a trip to China. The statue was made of terra cotta, and was pretty heavy. It was her only friend and she talked to it all of the time, although it never talked back, she was just glad to unload her feelings on it. She named it Zing Zang for no other reason than that name just seemed Chinese to her and was easy for her to remember.

She looked at the statue and whispered, “Please make it stop, Zing Zang. Please.”

Moments later, the arguing had stopped and she smiled at the statue, as if it had something to do with it.

Annie finally got out of bed, grabbed her journal and went downstairs into the kitchen and ate the breakfast that her mother had made for her.

The arguments soon began again when her father walked into the kitchen and ordered his wife to go to the liquor store to buy him another bottle. When she refused, he got angered and began berating her again. Annie grabbed her journal and bolted from the table and ran outside. She ran and ran until she came to her favorite place. It was a meadow surrounded by woods and she felt at peace here. She felt safe. She picked a weed from the ground and twirled it in her fingers as she walked through the peaceful meadow and began to think.

“I wish I was God,” she began to say to herself, “If I were God, I would make him go away. I would make him go away and never come back.” She then began to think of all of the things that she would do if she were God and this brought a smile to her otherwise forlorn face.

When Annie finally went back home, she saw her mother on the floor, huddled up in a corner with her father standing over her with a belt. She yelled at him to stop and ran over to him and pushed him away from her mother. The father then hit her with a big back handed slap that sent her across the room. Annie got up, ran up to her bedroom, grabbed Zing Zang and slammed it across her father’s head, knocking him down and just about out. Annie then called the police. When they arrived and handcuffed her father, he looked down at Annie and asked, “Just who do you think you are?”

Trouble in Paradise

Tina Biscuit

Helen looked down at the beach from the rocky promontory she had climbed. Cradling her diary in one hand, she teased a blade of grass through her cold fingers – too cold to write with. She thought of the entry that she couldn’t write:

‘Adam has brought me metal-detecting again. It’s his hobby, not mine. This is the last time. I thought it was interesting, it is I suppose – for him.’

She watched the head-phoned figure course the soft sand at the top of the beach. He turned and waved; she raised a numb hand.

He was lifting something, putting it on a pile next to where he was searching. He waved again, beckoning her.

She clutched the book, jumped down from the rocks, and slid down the dunes towards him, cursing her obedience.

‘I’m getting a strong signal, but all I’m finding are these pots.’

He put one on each arm.

‘Bill and Ben.’ He chirped.

‘I’m not old enough to remember them.’ Helen lied.

She tapped on one of the pots.

‘It’s terracotta.’

‘Like your cardigan.’

‘The colour yes, but I mean like a Terracotta soldier. The clay models they made in China to bury with their Emperor.’

‘To keep him company.’

‘Well, that, and to show their god how important their emperor was.’

‘If I were God, I wouldn’t be fooled by a bunch of flowerpot men.’

‘Well you’re not, are you?’

She rummaged through the pile; he put on his headphones and started swiping his beeping detector. He didn’t hear as the sand rushed from beneath her feet. He didn’t see her descend in a grainy vortex of pottery and peril. As the sinkhole opened, the beeping increased. He turned to share his discovery, to realise, too late, that he was also being sucked through the untimely hourglass.

Her blue linen dress was hitched up and crumpled; he landed next to her, closer than had been comfortable recently.

‘Wow, some ride.’

‘Really, this is all just fun for you.’

‘Kind of exciting, no.’

‘No. How are we going to get out?’

‘Get out. This might be my big find, the thing’s beeping for base metal. Could be gold.’

As their eyes grew accustomed to the dim light, they noticed an opening behind them.

‘This might be a way out, up to the cliffs.’ He squeezed through and Helen followed. Shafts of sunlight, from the rocky ceiling, polka-dotted the twelve clay figures, which now surrounded them; jeweled eye-sockets shone from each guardian. In the centre was a stone sarcophagus; a gold death-mask adorned the head.

‘Don’t you see, Adam? It’s a necropolis, a city of the dead.’

Precious eyes glared at him. Oblivious, Adam grasped his trophy. Helen turned back, just as the rumbling started.

The light changed as the figures rocked, sand closed the holes in the rocky canopy, dousing the light. Helen scrambled back through the entrance; a falling rock eclipsed Adam’s escape.

‘You have to help me.’ He pleaded.

‘You’ve made your choice. Treasure your prize, Adam, then ask yourself: Who do you think you are?’