The Iron Writer Challenge #117

The Iron Writer Challenge #117

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge #116 

Tony Jaeger

The Authors:

Saloni Singla, Vance Rowe, Bello Oluwadamilare, Mamie Pound

The Elements:

arrowhead

Stone Arrowhead

A cracked china water pitcher

A star shaped opening

Sent back in time to teach a caveman to create a wheel or to start fire because (fill in the blank).

Story Saturday

Saloni Singla

Despite Jerome’s qualms owing to the caveman theme, his twin children’s tenth birthday party had been a success. Clara and Ralph, gossiping of their friends’ costumes, were refusing to go to bed. His wife fiddled with a stone arrowhead that had come loose from its stick.

To Jerome’s horror, Ralph asked, “Dad, can we have a caveman-themed story today?”

Jerome had forgotten that it was his turn for Story Saturday. Sarah created stories out of her head, but not he.

Sarah looked up, her expression torn in sympathy and amusement. She would have gladly taken over, but the children insisted on their parents’ following turns.

Setting down the arrowhead, she said, “Well, let me help daddy with the beginning. Once upon a time, there lived a caveman who invented the first language but didn’t share it with anyone…” She hoped that it would serve as a good prompt.

“Is that true?” Ralph blurted.

Clara frowned. “No silly. We can’t know what happened in past.”

Sarah interjected, “We can, because the caveman wrote on cave’s walls.”

“So what did he write?” asked Ralph.

Sarah began to answer, but Clara intervened, “Daddy will tell.”

“Oh! Umm,” Jerome fumbled, and then in a sudden burst of inspiration exclaimed, “You see, he was surrounded by hungry beasts, and he didn’t know how to light a fire, so he wrote his dying note.”

“But then, did he die?” Clara’s inquiry erased the smug look on Jerome’s face.

After a moment, Sarah came to the rescue, “Meanwhile, in the future, the time machine was invented, and the cave inscriptions being read, the authorities decided to send one of their men to save the caveman.”

Clara protested, muttering how it was dad’s story, not mom’s. She stood and began jumping up and down, flailing her arms. 

The hem of her dress hit the china water pitcher on the table behind her. It fell and broke into pieces. The fact that it had already been cracked was a small consolation to Sarah. Clara apologized sheepishly.

Before Sarah said something, Jerome forced a smile, “So the agent from future sat in his time machine and pushed some buttons.” He scrunched up his face and made bleating and yelping sounds in a pathetic attempt. Everyone erupted in laughter.

Gaining confidence, Jerome continued, “He entered a tunnel of blinding white light.”

Ralph squinted.

“There was a round opening at its end,” Jerome said.

“I hate round,” Ralph shouted.

“Which shape do you like then?”

“I like diamonds and stars.”

“A star shaped opening then,” Jerome sighed. “He taught the caveman how to light a fire which would scare away the beasts.” He made cackling sounds in the midst of laughter. “In return, the agent asked the caveman to share his language with the world, and that’s how, the first language came to be.”

After a polite applause, the children were taken upstairs by Sarah to put them to bed.

Newton’s theory of relativity, Jerome thought to himself, the future exists, the past is not gone.

“Is the story true, mamma?” Ralph’s voice floated down.

“It could be,” was the reply.

IDADABello Oluwadamilare

Bello Oluwadamilare

The sparse leaves bristle under a spell of echoes. It is raining hard; yet the greenness fades, receding gradually to the edges, leaving a sea of deep brown and you to trudge through the engulfing oblivion. 

Everyone had gathered like a roughly drawn arc in the hot afternoon air, debating how best to save the dying fire. You listened absent-mindedly as beaks tweeted how an elf had tied the clan’s fate to a fire whose glow wanes with each passing of time.  An hush fell on the group, a massive silhouette darkened the arc’s exterior as Initshe emerged from a dark skyline flustering at first, then with a hunched gait strode to its bull’s eye. Without words, he pointed at you with an enormous totem, covering half the arc with its shadow. Wings fluttered in protests, but the powers-that-be have weighed-in and chose you. You are  to travel the continuum and defy time, but pay heed to the sprite that deceives for only him could cause your failure. He handed over to you the totems, a stone arrow head, a pitcher and another heed against weariness. Posterity records:

The little Ingonyi, its wings and quiver

would wager

against some fury,

to save the flames in bravery

or folly, only to suffer a fate both weary 

and deadly  

Your steps betray your doubts as you traipse through the void and its vastness which swirls like a whirlpool of emptiness. Why should an entire clan be tied to the fate of flames and fumes? You question as the rhythm of uncertainty gives fatigue to your wings. 

With fate of many on his shoulders,

Idada forges on in this quest

weary and wobbling like the boulder,

which lie unrest 

in torment of him and his brothers.

You seek for respite, momentarily forgetting the heed, you had to reach him at all cost and pay the price: present him the spring of Styx in a pitcher. He alone could rekindle the fire of the land. You lie for a while with the totems by your side.  The world can wait.

 It caught his eyes, a trunk

 adorned but fallen,

 from which emerges a unicorn,

through a most celestial form,

a star shaped opening.

You leap up as it glides towards you; a hand relaxes on the arrow with a fastened stone head and the other a bow. You marvel at it, lost in its admiration you do not see it turn a Leprechaun till its wand hits you in the face. The arrow head and the pitcher drop. You drop too, into a strange emptiness.

Someone rudely nudges you. You find yourself standing in a bar with an empty tray.

“You’ve been at it again, Uche! This Insomnia is really a buzz kill”. She moves away and mutters before disappearing:

“This is the fourth water pitcher you have dropped this month and you know how much Austen hates cracked China wares. He would surely fire you this time”.

I Dream of Grog

Vance Rowe

John, an anthropology student, was on his way to the university when something hit him on top of his head quite hard and knocked him out. When he came to, he saw what seemed to be a beautifully decorated antique water pitcher made of china. It was cracked. He rubbed his head and felt a knot growing where he was hit. John looked up at the tall building but had no idea where the pitcher was dropped from and was very surprised that it wasn’t broken in shards. John slowly got up to his feet and carried the pitcher with him to have it checked out at the university.

As he walked on, he heard a strange noise in the street and wondered what the heck he was looking at. Vehicles had rubber triangle shaped wheels and made thumping noises as they turned. He wondered what was going on and also wondered if he was hit on the head harder than he thought. John still thought about the tires in disbelief as he continued walking. He then heard something move in the pitcher and saw an object when he looked inside. John dumped it out into his hand and was amazed at what he saw. It was a stone arrow head of sorts and it was oddly star shaped.

John was excited by this find, more so than the pitcher find. It is something that he has never seen before.  When he got to the Anthropology building, John saw words burned into the wall. 

YOU HAVE TO HELP US! GO BACK AND SEE GROG!

“Grog? What’s a grog? Go back where?” John asked aloud.

Then a star shaped hole opened in the granite wall.  He looked in his hand and saw the arrow head. It was the same shape. Slowly, he placed it in the hole and the earth shook slightly as the wall opened up and a portal of light appeared. A beam of light pulled him in. He seemed to be in a strange land. He walked around and saw a caveman pulling a cart with stone wheels but the wheels were triangle shaped. Then it began to make sense to him. He had to go back in time to help a caveman make the wheel because he did it wrong. John saw that he was struggling with the cart so he stopped him.

Grog was startled by the strange man and the strange clothes. John looked in his cart and saw more triangle shaped wheels and his tools. He pulled a wheel out of the cart and set it down next to a large rock. He then grabbed the tools and used them to shape the wheel from triangle to round. When he finished, he rolled it and Grog was amazed. He smiled and grunted then did the same thing John did. Suddenly, the portal appeared and John was taken back to the present.

He woke up to the sound of people asking him if he was all right. He looked around and saw a shattered water pitcher on the ground and round tires on the vehicles.

Time ChangeMamie Pound

Mamie Pound

He pushed the thumb lock on the bathroom door, turned off the light and peeled back the shag rug.

A beam of star-shaped light shot to the ceiling. He lay his glasses on the sink and pressed an eye to the cold tile floor.

Through this hole he looked back 7,000 years.

They sat cross-legged, as always. A hollowed stone arrowhead pipe passed between them. 

Raucous laughter and pungent smoke filled the cave. A skinny man in an animal hide held a small fire to the pipe, while a rotund, unibrowed caveman held it to his lips. He then removed it and examined its end. No flame. The pipe was passed again. One after the other tried the pipe, with no luck. 

The boy peering across the space-time continuum, pushed himself up to his knees. He pulled open the drawer to his left, then the one above it, digging past Benadryl and Pepto Bismal, Q-tips and cotton balls, until he felt the baby blue Bic lighter. With a flick, a spear of orange flame shot up, casting odd shadows from the toothpaste, squeezed in its middle, lying on its side.

He drew back the shower curtain and set the lighter in the soap dish, kicked off his shoes, dropped his pants, shirt and underwear on the bathroom floor and jumped into the portal, sending an antique china pitcher to the floor.

“JImmy, what was that?” His mother’s voice was muffled through the door.

“The uh, flower thingy, but it’s okay,” he called back, held his breath.

 “Supper’s almost ready.” Her footsteps continued down the hall.

“Ok, Mom,” he yelled, and turned the time-travel dial into the “on” position. 

He braced himself. Ages of humanity washed over him as he sailed backward in time. Eyes closed, he felt the soap dish for the lighter. And before the water ran cold, he was there.

He grabbed an animal skin from the tree and wrapped it around himself. 

The cavemen were grumbling, scratching their head. One guy was grinding a stick into another stick between his palms.

“Guys,” he called. One by one they turned toward him, smiled.“I thought we talked about this, last time.”

They looked at each other, then at him.

“You need all-weather matches, or a lighter, a cave can be damp.” He walked to the center of the men and held up the tiny blue implement, sent up an enormous flame. A collective gasp echoed in the stone chambers. 

“Here you go,” he tossed the Bic to the big sooty guy, wearing a bone in his ear.

They all jibber-jabbered but he upheld his hands. 

“Can’t stay this time. Meatloaf and Mac n’cheese,” he said. They nodded in understanding and he waved goodbye. 

“…been in there for-ever, Jimmy!” His mom knocked again.

Lights on, rug back in place, he wiped steam from the bathroom mirror. Only a slight smell of smoke…and an imperceptible rumble beneath his feet. ”She’ll never suspect a thing,” he mumbled.

“Coming, Mom!”

And a scarcely audible cheer sounded in the distance.

The Iron Writer Challenge #114

The Iron Writer Challenge #114

The Jordan Bell Challenge

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge #113

2015 Annual Champion

Mathew W. Weaver

The Authors:

Vance RoweJaclyn Wilson, Alis Van Doorn, Richard Russell

finger cymbals

The Elements:

2015 Miss Gypsy Universe Pageant
A pick pocket contest
Finger Cymbals
A red nose

BELTANEJaclyn Wilson

Jaclyn Wilson

Ailsa awoke with the first hint of gray light that stretched across her cheek. It was Beltane. She waited for this day that brought the first sign of spring. The winter had been harsh that year. People huddled in their crofts around the dying fires and salvaged the last of the meat and vegetables that had been scarce.

She sat up and wrapped the wool blanket around her. The chill of the morning had made for a red nose and aching fingertips, but Ailsa didn’t care. She hopped out of bed and ran outside to see the snow giving way to bright green and the heather on the hillsides broke through to stretch across the land. The village was setting up for Beltane. Maypoles dotted the distance and multi-colored ribbons and flowers were strung on the scattered crofts.

“Did you hear?” Ailsa’s brother asked.

Ailsa turned around to find Ian smiling wide, his red hair curled wildly over his forehead.

“Hear what?” Ailsa asked.

“Gypsies are coming this year! All the way from the Western Isles. They’re coming here to celebrate Beltane. I hear they’re coming in horse drawn carriages and they’re even going to have a Gypsy Universe Pageant!”

Ailsa smirked.

“No, Ailsa, I’m serious!”

In the distance, Ailsa and Ian heard music. It seemed to be coming on all sides of the hillside, and grew louder as the sun rose higher.

“Do you hear that, Ailsa? Gypsies!”

Ian was right. Ailsa narrowed her eyes and saw four, maybe five carriages coming up from the valley. The music was mingled with sounds that mimicked larks chirping and flutes singing.

Ian and Ailsa twined their hands together and ran out to the middle of the open land. The music drew them closer, and the people of the village slowly came out of their crofts, curious eyes all around, watching the Gypsies come.

When the carriages were close enough for Ailsa and Ian to reach out a hand and brush the mane of one of the horses, the carriages stopped. All eyes of the village were on them. The carriages and the Gypsies alike were dressed and decorated in brighter colors than they had ever seen and the horses were painted in reds, blues and yellows that made them look like creatures that the Goddess herself had molded with her own hands.

Ailsa kept her eyes on a Gypsy whose body jingled with chains, beads, and jewelry as if she had won a pick pocket contest. The Gypsy half-smiled at Ailsa and stepped down from the carriage straight toward her. She bent down to Ailsa and looked straight in her eyes with the half-smile still on her face.

“Here, mo-charaid,” The Gypsy said.

She covered Ailsa’s hands gently and when she let go, Ailsa stared down to see two finger cymbals in her palms.

“What are these for?” Ailsa asked.

“They’re only for those that have the heart of a Gypsy and the eyes of a seer. Keep them close, Ailsa.”

Ailsa held the cymbals to her heart and listened as the music and singing began again and rose with the commencement of spring.

Gypsy Weekend

Vance Rowe

The summer night is warm but a gentle breeze blows through once in awhile. The smell of burning wood, different kinds of incenses and aromatic candles assault the sense of smell. The flashing lights, the colorful tents, the gypsy garb all feed the sense of sight. The different kinds of food and the any different libations pleasantly feed the sense of taste. The ears are filled with a joyful cacophony of music, laughter and barkers calling people to play their games, eat their food and have their fortunes read.

This is the highly anticipated International Gypsy Festival. It happens every year around this time in July and gypsies from around the world converge on this forty acre farm on the east coast. Non gypsy people also travel here from nearby cities and states to absorb the culture for the three day festival. Of course with an event like this, crime comes with it. There are pick pockets, drunken fights, muggings, gambling, and there are even a couple of tents on the outside of the main festival that are “houses of ill-repute”. However, it is a good time had by all overall.

There are carnival-like games but most come with a twist like one called the “Drunken Mannequin”. This game is like the carnival water gun games except that beer is used in place of water, just for effect. The object of the game is to fire the beer into a mannequin’s mouth and the first one to turn his mannequin’s nose red, is deemed the winner and there is a cash prize of fifty dollars for the winner and it costs five dollars to play.

The culmination of the festival is the 2015 Gypsy Universe pageant. This year the pageant was huge because of the stars involved with it. The pageant is hosted by author Stephen King, who wrote the book, “Thinner”. It was made into a movie and three of the stars of the movie are here as judges. They are Joe Mantegna, Kari Wuhrer and Robert John Burke. Of course, the whole pageant was kicked off by pop singing icon, Cher. She sang a few songs but finished up with two of her 1970’s classics in “Dark Lady” and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.”

As part of the talent portion of the pageant, the contestants had to participate in a pick pocket contest and the winner of that is a gypsy woman named Olga Romani and she won the contest because she was able to lift a set of finger cymbals from another gypsy, who is also in the pageant. Olga Romani finally did win the pageant to become Miss Gypsy Universe and will be the Grand Marshal in the parade that will wind through much of the town where the festival was held.

On Tuesday morning, the tents came down, the lights were put away, the tapestries were rolled up and the camps were broken down. After that, the parade led the gypsies out of town with a promise that next year’s festival will be bigger and better. Everyone is looking forward to it.

Faces of FortuneAlis Van Doorn

Alis Van Doorn

Bella, Emilia, Agatha and Merevale sprawled on the river bank, mad with excitement and the giddy feelings that make girls, about to celebrate their 16th birthday, fairly unbearable.

“Do you think we’ll see him first thing in the morning?”

“Who, Mere?” asked Bella feigning puzzlement.

Aggie threw a handful of dandelions Bella’s way. “TMRN!” Emilia intoned dramatically. Before Mere could respond, Roman popped up out of nowhere, as he usually did, chirping, causing hilarity. “Look! His outfit! SO gaudy!” shrieked Emilia. Roman proudly doffed his jaunty feathered cap, sweeping into a bow, tail swirling into a curl around tiny feet. But where Roman was, was pesky Baltran, Bella’s ‘baby’ brother. ” Bal”, Bella yelled, “Get out here!”

“Who cares about the stupid prophecy, and the silly pageant tomorrow night? Or your stupid birthdays. You think this entire festival is about you.” Bal said. “There’s other stuff! Like amazing shows with never before seen acts!” Roman chirped, nodding knowingly.

“Well, smirked Bella, “let’s see…., I turn 16 , which as the last of the four of us, means the Man with The Red Nose comes; the prophesy will be fulfilled, it’s Spring Romany Festival, the festival pageant winner goes to the 2015 Miss Gypsy Universe Pageant. Clearly, it’ll be Mere or Aggie. So yep, all about us!”

“Watch this!” “Roman, come!” And whipping out a tall drum, Roman hopped up, and as Bal started with a haunting harmonica riff, Roman snapped forward, started punctuating the beat and chorus with a flourish of tiny finger cymbals. It was utterly enchanting; Bella’s heart swelled with love and pride, Emilia’s moth dropped open watching in wonder, awe. Aggie and Mere watched with jealousy and resentment. ” Not fair”, Aggie thought,” tomorrow is MY day to be celebrated.”

Mere’s heart, mind twisted. “It’s not fair, I’m so lovely, everyone says so, but MY father will ruin It with the pick pocket contest, of course he’ll win, that’s his profession.”

Bella and Emilia clapped with joy for Roman and Bal; Mere and Aggie fake clapped. Bal and Roman bowed delightedly, then Bal glanced worriedly at the dark getting sky.

“Bella, come on”, jerking his head.

“BAL, we’re ok, they’re staying with us tonight.”

“Let’s go then….Bella, (in a soft aside to his sister as they trudged up the steep hill) do you really believe that prophesy stuff?”

“Oh I don’t know, Bal” Bella teased, “if Aggie’s grandrom’s right…and she was Rom, It’s possible.”

“But, ‘On the last of the four in May birth of day, when the red nosed man is seen, so will their hearts, so shall their faces there ever after be seen.’ Huh?”

Early next morning, Bella and Bal’s Da stumbled in, breaking glass, rousing everyone. The four girls stared at him in shock; his huge red nose undeniable.

And as they looked at each other, there were 2 screams, two gasps, laughter and chirping.

The face of an angel, and one of grace stared at the face of a weasel and a peacock.

The Thread of DignityRichard Russell

Richard Russell

There was a hush over the crowd as the four contestants meandered their way through the busy New York street corner. Whichever contestant pick-pocketed the highest value of items from the crowd, without getting caught, would win this event in the Miss Gypsy Universe Pageant.

I, Gitana Colbert, wasted no time. Pulling my blouse low to show more cleavage and slipping on my shiny brass finger cymbals, I began to dance and sing through the crowd. Many people stopped to witness my antics as I sang with a heavy Romani accent. Between songs, I flirted with the men and ran my hands over them, much to their delight and misfortune! Oh, what suckers they were for cleavage and bare legs!

At the stroke of noon, all four contestants returned to the auditorium on stage and displayed the treasures they had gleaned. Myri Rudyard had done well, but even she could not surpass the bounty of my practiced skills. In just under an hour, I had pick-pocketed $1,450 in cash, seven gold watches, an insurance policy, 12 wallets, six sets of keys, a granola bar, and a yellow-and-orange pacifier.

I had won! Not only had I won the title of Miss Gypsy Universe, but the prestige this afforded would carry me very far for years in the future. I was elated. Standing on the stage, I bowed before the adoring crowds. Flowers were tossed on stage and the people were cheering my name, “Gitana, Gitana, Gitana!”

Then, as if the wind had changed, the cheering turned to taunts and jeers. The sound of my name inflicted shame upon me and the flowers turned into eggs and rotten tomatoes. I was terrified. I turned and ran off stage, but everywhere I ran people were angry with me and lashing out, crying, “You have broken mirime – our sacred code of conduct!”

I turned to face a large mirror, and gasped as I registered the image of my reflection. My legs were uncovered, and my breasts were revealed. From my waist down, I was smeared with mud, and my head was uncovered.

“What have I done?” I cried as I crumpled to the floor. My mother and father, their mothers and fathers, and their mothers and fathers would all be ashamed of me for I had disgraced the code of the gypsies.

Weeping as I lay on the floor, I awoke from this disturbing dream as my husband shook me. “Gitana, wake up. We must finish packing. The eviction notice stated we must be out of this house by midnight.”

“Where will we go, Gillie?” I asked.

“We’ll go to family up north. Pack the car. You saw this coming when our children were nudged out of this school and we started getting eggs thrown at the house. Come on, Gitina, it’s time to move on again.”

Standing up, with tears in my eyes and nose red, I began to collect our things together; relieved I had not broken Mirime.

 

The Iron Writer Challenge #110

The Iron Writer Challenge #110

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements 

Challenge #109 Champion

2015 Spring Equinox Finals

Brett Paul

The Authors:

Richard Russell, Matthew Barron, James Farner, Vance Rowe

The Elements:

catcus couch

A cactus couch

A new born baby

A judge’s gavel

A bull Mastodon

Bang the GavelJames Farner

James Farner

Lawrence smashed his judge’s gavel down upon the head of the new-born baby he’d procured from the baker’s shop two streets away. Its whimpering mother was in front of him now, screaming and sobbing.

“Take her away. She has broken the rules of the Republic of Gardenelle and must be punished.”

Two guards on either side hauled her from the floor and dragged her kicking out of the other side of the courtroom. The crimson and dark grey colours of Gardenelle fluttered for a moment as the air rushed in.

Lawrence leaned back in his seat and looked to the junior judges on either side of him. He didn’t know their names. He didn’t need to. Judges never associated outside of the courtroom.

Banging his gavel down, the last case of the day arrived. Guards dragged a man covered in chains across the floor. He didn’t struggle against his bindings.

Lawrence waited until the chains had finished jangling. “Name?”

The man stayed silent.

Gesturing to the junior judge on his left, he read the document. “Nathan Crandall…Crandall. What would your father say? A respected public official bearing a son who finds himself in court. What is the charge?”

The right judge handed him another document. Below the dark grey bull mastodon of the Republic of Gardenelle, he traced the letters with his finger. “Ha, another one for the cactus couch. Impure thoughts.”

“Ready to speak yet? No? Then on we go. You are accused of harbouring impure thoughts, and we can prove it. Testimonies from fifteen witnesses have been presented to me in this booklet here. What is your defence?”

Nathan shrugged.

“Pathetic. You will be my fourteen hundredth execution. I look forward to it. Even at the higher end of our society, we must cut. The cancerous leaves will infect the rest.”

Nathan shook his head.

Lawrence raised his eyebrows. “Ah, you want the choice? Silly me, I would never think someone like you would even consider it. Nevertheless, I will hear it. Nathan Crandall, you may beg the Republic of Gardenelle for forgiveness and receive an immediate execution, or the couch will drive the sins from you over several days. Prostrate yourself before this court and receive the mercy you do not deserve.”

The guards unchained all but the ankle restraints and shoved him forward.

Nathan stumbled for a moment.

“Go on,” said Lawrence. “Beg for your life. Beg for a quick death. Beg for mercy and repent for what you have done. Impurity must be wiped out. All must conform to the will of Gardenelle.”

“I…” Nathan paused and cleared his throat. “Not bothered about Gardenelle. Impurity makes us strong. It makes us better than you.”

Lawrence snickered at him and pulled the gavel close to sentence him to the cactus couch. He was going to enjoy this.

Nathan watched the judge’s hand twitch on the polished wood and whipped his wrist forward. A small metal ball fell into his palm.

The eyes of everyone who could see it widened.

Nathan launched the homemade grenade into the judge’s lap. Judge Lawrence’s body count stuck at 1,399.

The Contest

Vance Rowe

Narina clutched her newborn baby close to her and wept when she received the news that her husband was killed by a bull mastodon while out hunting. A month later, two cavemen named Zog and Nikko attempted to court her and she had trouble deciding between the two as she knew both men would be good providers for her and her baby. However, she did like Zog a little more than Nikko, but would be happy with either man.

Both men then approached her father and presented him with gifts to try and prove which one was worthier to be with his daughter. Narina’s father talked with her about them and she couldn’t make up her mind without hurting either of their feelings, so her father had come up with an idea for a contest for both men to prove their worth. Since her husband was killed by a bull mastodon, the winner of the contest will be the first man to cross the finish line with a mastodon head. The contest is set for the following week.

The people of the village gathered on the day of the contest and wished both men good luck and they went off on their quest. It didn’t take long for each man to find a mastodon and the battle was on.

The bull mastodon charged at Zog angrily. These two have been battling for the better part of fifteen minutes but it seemed like fifteen hours. Zog felt the warm crimson liquid leak down his face from a wound on his forehead where the mastodon had struck him with one of his tusks. When it hit his mouth, he wiped it away with his big, meaty, forearm and when the mastodon was close enough, he grabbed a tusk and swung himself up onto the back of the beast’s neck. He pulled a big knife from is sheath and blood sprayed all over the giant caveman as he sunk the blade of sharpened stone down into the back of the beast’s head. The mastodon fell and sent Zog flying ass over tea kettle to the ground.

A few short hours later, a gathering of people cheered and grunted in celebration as Zog limped down the road to the village, holding the bloody head of the mastodon high into the air. The judge slammed his gavel down on the table just as soon as he made it across the finish line. Nikko, the other contestant, stumbled down the road carrying the same sort of prize and he was just as worse for wear.

Narina was happy that Zog had won but Nikko was not. His prize for his troubles was a cactus couch. Although he was unhappy, Nikko graciously accepted his loss and congratulated Zog on the victory. The couple walked off to start their new life together and Nikko just looked at the cactus couch and shook his head in disbelief.

Mastodon MartyrMatthew Barron

Matthew Barron

Judge Turner slammed the gavel, but that didn’t silence the crowd. The anti-cloners wouldn’t be so supportive if they knew my true goal.

Cranston pointed at me from the stand with his good hand. “It was him! No one else was near that freezer.”

Judge Turner banged the gavel again and finally silenced the crowd.

The prosecutor strode before me. “The evidence is clear. Your card accessed the door. Cranston saw you at the freezer. You were angry about being fired.”

“That’s not why I did it!” I blurted.

“Of course. Estimated value for an ounce of bull mastodon semen is 20 million.”

The crowd jeered.

Cranston, still on the stand, raised his mangled left arm. “You know what I went through to get that sample!”

Dr. Bates and Cranston whispered with the prosecutor, and they called my lawyer over. Cranston scowled, but Bates looked worried. He was a good man, just misguided.

They surrounded me, the lawyers, Cranston, and Dr. Bates.

Bates said, “If you return the sample intact, we’ll drop—”

“Recommend leniency,” Cranston corrected. “Not drop charges. He’s been on the run for over a year, we can’t drop charges!”

My lawyer put her hand on mine. “Take the deal. You got what you wanted, public awareness. If you’re out of jail, you can write a book and—”

I took a deep breath. “I don’t have the sample.”

Dr. Bates put his hand to his mouth. “You threw it out?”

Just then, my accomplice wheeled in a crate. She lifted the lid and gave me a large bottle of warm milk. A tiny gray trunk pulled my arm gently down. Nessie, the newborn mastodon, closed her eyes contentedly as she suckled. I couldn’t help but smile.

Dr. Bates gasped. “The Farm never maintained a natural pregnancy!”

“I tried telling you. Your mastodons aren’t happy. We gave momma plenty of room and let the herd roam.” Nessie jerked my arm, and I extricated myself to get a fresh bottle.

“May I?” Bates asked. Bates beamed as Nessie suckled. “We must drop charges.”

“We can’t!” Cranston argued.

“This is what we wanted all along!” Bates insisted. “A natural birth.”

My previous supporters murmured in confusion. This isn’t what they wanted.

Cranston’s face was red. “He stole from us, ran, and never returned the sample!”

Bates argued, “He gave us something better!”

Judge Turner banged the gavel again. “This isn’t just up to you anymore. He must be sentenced.”

Nessie fondled Bates’ glasses with her trunk. “We can’t throw him in jail or fine him for this.”

Cranston smirked. “I have a suggestion…”

***

I expected prison and for my career to be over, but I wasn’t prepared for this. Mastodons weren’t the Farm’s only creation, although I hadn’t deduced the purpose for this one. Cranston smiled as I plotted my descent onto the cactus couch. I tried to find the spot where the fewest spines would pierce me, or at least spare my most sensitive bits, but the quills were everywhere. I sat, and Cranston smiled. At least my sentence was only ten minutes.

It was a very long ten minutes.

The Game ChangerRichard Russell

Richard Russell

I met her at a party. We were both drunk, and ended up back at her place. After that, I just kinda hung around. She seemed ok with that, Eventually, I moved in, and we got married. I should have seen it before, but now that I look back, our relationship was based primarily on sex. We didn’t actually have much in common.

One of the first issues to come up was house-keeping. She had a place for everything, and everything was in its place. I was not very conscientious of order. I think it was an issue with laundry that caused our first serious argument.   If I remember, most of my laundry ended up out in the front yard that day; along with half a room-full of various other belongings of mine.

That incident was smoothed over, but ever since then she seemed different; she seemed more agitated, or hostile. She began to complain about how I did things, or didn’t do things. She didn’t like how I dressed, or how late I stayed up. The complaining turned into nagging, and then it began to get almost abusive; like she was trying to inflict pain.   Once in awhile, she would come on all nice, and considerate, and we would make love, but then she would revert back to the hostilities. Honestly, I never knew what mood she would be in from one moment to the next.   It was as if she would lure me in with one hand, and lash out at me with the other; all in the same motion. She’d pet me and say, “Come closer,” and then she’d scream, “You jerk!,” and hit me.   It got so bad that living with her was like lying together on a large bed of cacti which she was immune to; sweet and sour.

Eventually, we filed for divorce, but before a decision could be made we found out she was pregnant.     With loud finality, the judge’s gavel resounded. The divorce would not be allowed, in light of the child’s future.

So, here I am, feeling like a huge bull mastodon in a confined space; clumsy, and awkward, but trying my best to accommodate her needs, and help out. I run to the store, help with the laundry, clean the house, and fix meals. I have no idea what I’m doing, but for some strange reason, when I look at our newborn, and see how helpless and innocent she is, I feel a desire to be… responsible.

I don’t know what’s happening to me.

My wife seems to be much kinder these days, and we’ve actually talked quite a bit about … things.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I had been a selfish jerk, and had been ignoring her. She was starving for my attention, and when I never responded, she got angry about it. I just took it all as baseless criticism, and kept pulling farther away to protect myself.

She says she’s glad I’ve finally decided to grow up.