The Iron Writer Challenge #151 – 2016 Winter Equinox Preliminary Round, Fahrenheit 451 Bracket

April fool's joke

The Iron Writer Challenge #151

2016 Winter Equinox Preliminary Round

Fahrenheit 451 Bracket

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Elements:

An April Fools Joke

Energy drinks

Yellow highlighter

The basement

The Authors:

Tina Biscuit

Laura Roberts

Wesley Kirk

Harry Craft

Quite Contrary

Tina Biscuit 

Mary woke up alone in bed. Peter was never first up. She stroked a hand across the space where he would usually be, as if he might magically appear. She looked at her mobile; the alarm was switched off. Then it dawned on her: April fool’s day – Peter must have turned it off as a joke. It was Saturday, and she was exhausted; maybe he was being considerate, knowing it had been a tough week, with the court case and everything. No, he would probably have been up early, preparing an April fool’s joke to catch her out again. She shuddered at the memories. 

Mary pulled her dressing gown from the hook on the door, hesitating as the door moved. No, people didn’t really do that bucket of water thing. Entering the bathroom, she remembered the trick with the cling-film, and checked under the toilet seat – now that was a messy trick. 

Downstairs, the kitchen was deserted. Everything was laid out like a suburban Marie Celeste: toast in the rack, tea in the pot, two cups, but no Peter. The morning newspaper was open at the centre pages. As she poured the tea, she noticed some yellow marks on the type. Closer inspection revealed a highlighter pen had been used to mark certain letters. Slowly she worked it out.

‘How lame, Peter’, she said under her breath. It spelt out the words: STUCK IN BASEMENT. She dialled his mobile and got the answerphone; she left a message – ‘Nice try, Peter. How can you be, if you were up here?’ Then something struck her, and she rang again. She walked into the hall, where the ringing was coming from. The trapdoor to the basement was half open; she pulled it up, and climbed down the steps. Peter was standing at the bottom. He pointed back up to the trapdoor, and shouted, ‘get the door’. It slammed shut, and they heard the catch lock on the other side. 

‘Now we’re both stuck’, he sobbed.

‘How long have you been here, Peter?’

‘Hours.’

‘Why did you leave a note, and then come down here? It doesn’t make any sense.’

‘I thought you had left that message, and I came down looking for you.’

‘Well, that was smart, Peter. You knew I was still in bed, because you turned the alarm off on my phone.’

‘I wasn’t feeling too clever after all that Vodka and Red Bull we drank last night. And I don’t know anything about your phone.’

‘This isn’t right, Peter. You think it’s one of the kids?’

‘Wouldn’t surprise me. They have learnt from the master.’

‘Yeah, you’re some father, tormenting your kids all their lives.’

‘I’ll phone them now. That’s probably Jonathan we heard closing the trapdoor.’ 

‘Jonathan.’

‘It’s your dad. Let us out of the basement. Your mum’s panicking, she’s got claustrophobia.’ 

‘What did he say, Peter?’

‘Just, “Good one, dad”, then he hung up.’

‘Phone him back.’

‘No answer. I guess I’ve cried wolf too many times.’ 

‘Say the words, Peter.’

‘It’s not a joke. It would be a good one, but no, nothing to do with me.’ 

‘So – who’s upstairs?’ 

One for the AgesWes Kirk

Wesley Kirk

This year my April Fools’ prank would be a joke for the ages. Some may call it obsessive, with notebooks full of scribbles, diagrams, and yellow highlighter markings.

I called it brilliance. “Evil genius going to waste on cheap gag”? There was nothing ‘cheap’ here.

While the plan had been birthed over a weekend of too little sleep and too much mountain dew, the real planning took place in my lair. Yes, it’s the basement of my parents’. But that’s not nearly as impressive when you say it that way.

I gathered the supplies over the course of months. One here. Another there. All of which were stored in a corner of the basement that not even our fat cats would traverse.

After I was certain that everyone had gone to bed, I crept down to the kitchen and began plan “Roadrunner.”

This year April Fools’ fell on a Friday. Fridays happen to be the day my mother’s class hold parties celebrating the week’s successes. After taking a test, the students get a long break, were they partake in a variety of snacks provided by volunteers. I volunteered this week.

I spent all night making cupcakes. By time the rest of my family was waking up, I had an army of ninety-six minions arrayed in their cases.

My mother cooed over the detail I put into each one. She swore she expected them to hop out and scream, “Bananna!” any second. I helped her load the car, and waved her off before heading to the bus.

I hurried to my mom’s class after school. From the hallway I could see the kids already in full celebration. All of them had hands and faces covered in yellow frosting.

The fun hadn’t started yet.

Things escalated quickly. One kid face planted and went straight into a coma. Another kid fell down to his knees like that lieutenant from Platoon. Again, completely out. I surmised these two were my mother’s ADHD children. Stimulants react differently with them.

Energy drinks are nearly pure sugar, they also contain massive amounts of caffeine. Plus, I concentrated it into a syrup before using it to make the cupcakes.

Simultaneously, the kids started losing their minds. So did my mother.

A couple kids started running around like the flash, and I’m quite certain one of them broke the sound barrier. Another kid went feral and climbed a bookcase. Perching on top, he started hissing and swiping at my mom, like a cat, as she tried to get him down.

Beyond the swarm of bees that used to be her sweet little kindergarteners, there was another of note. This one apparently reached Nirvana.

He sat there, looking around slowly, with an open mouthed smile, as he slowly waved his hand in front of his eyes.

The kid got to relive the seventies through syruped caffeine laced cupcakes.

Now I’m sitting here in the police station, while the police flip through pages for anything they can charge me with while Nirvana kid preaches from the chief’s desk and cat boy is hissing at everyone from the top of the bookcase.

Admittedly, mistakes were made.

WorkingHarry Craft

Harry Craft

Jack woke up, head throbbing. What a night! he thought. Another out-of-control college party—too much loud music, too much booze, too much everything. Rising slowly to a sitting position on the couch, he looked around his small studio apartment. Things were a mess, but he’d seen worse. At least no one else was passed out in his room. That always sucked, especially if it was people you didn’t know.

As he rubbed his head he noticed an uncapped yellow highlighter on the coffee table. Odd. Glancing around the room, he saw why—there was a large pattern in yellow on his floor. His vision was still a bit blurry, so he couldn’t quite make it out—some kind of star? And what were those at the points? Cans? He stood up a bit unsteadily and walked over to the nearest one. It was an energy drink can, and judging from the soggy spot on the rug, it had been poured out. The hell?!

As he collected the cans to drop them in the recycle bin, he could vaguely remember his friend Sam last night doing…now what was it? It had been late, Jack had long ago lost count of his drinks, most of the party-goers had drifted out, and Sam was going on about offerings and work—no, a working. What the hell did that mean? Jack had always thought Sam was a bit weird. Certain times of year brought it out more than others, to boot. This brought a thought to the back of his mind, but he could not quite grasp it.

As Jack stumbled back to the couch, the hair on the back of his neck began to prickle. Was someone else there after all? He looked around and cautiously drifted to every corner of the studio. Since it was in the basement, the only way in was down the stairs, and the door at the base of the stairwell was closed. He walked back to the center of the room and stood by his couch. Suddenly a grisly voice that emanated from—well, from everywhere and nowhere—spoke.

“Mortal!” it boomed.

Jack actually jumped slightly. Looking to one side, he saw a shimmer begin in the air. A cold fear descended on him, but he could not uproot his feet as he stared in horrified fascination. The shimmer condensed into a loathsome being with blood-red skin, horns, and pointed teeth. A demon. Its body was fully formed now and it stepped toward him, once more speaking: “Mortal!”

Jack’s legs finally obeyed and he turned to run. He was not fast enough—the demon easily leaped nearly eight feet, landing in front of him. Mere inches away, it stared at him. Jack cringed, holding up his hands, unable to speak from the terror.

“IT IS TIME!” the demon said in a voice even louder than before.

“Time for what?” sobbed Jack.

The demon paused for a moment, then grinning, spoke a final time: “APRIL FOOL!”

Pretty Girls Make GravesLaura Roberts

Laura Roberts

Gonzo Jofreshy bopped his way down the street like he had nothing to lose, whistling tunelessly, fingers a-snappin’ like he’d just won the lottery.

In a way, he’d hit the jackpot this morning, as he’d stood in front of the judge.

“Not guilty,” she’d declared.

There had been a lot of hugging, and some crying — but not from Gonzo. His lawyer had ushered him out into a Cadillac with dark windows, quickly, before the media vultures could descend.

Now his fingertips pressed lightly on a heavy oak door, easily pushing it inward and stepping into the afternoon gloom of an Irish pub.

“What’ll ya have?” the no-nonsense bartender asked. He either didn’t recognize Gonzo, or was doing a fine job of pretending. Either way suited him fine.

“Vodka and Red Bull,” he replied.

“We don’t serve that garbage in here,” the bartender growled.

“I’ve got it, Connor,” a buxom brunette purred, slipping behind the bar toward the Grey Goose.

Connor shoved off, grumbling, as he wiped the bar with a filthy rag.

“Compliments of the house.” The brunette smiled, setting the drink before him.

He remembered the way she watched him down the short glass, later, when he came to in the basement with a yellow highlighter strapped between his teeth like a gag.

He remembered the spinning feeling in his head, and his stomach.

He remembered the way she’d winked.

What he couldn’t remember was how she’d managed to slip something into his drink. After all, a pro ought to notice these things. And he was certainly a pro at these things, by now, wasn’t he?

“So, Gonzo, we heard you got off easy,” a deep male voice behind him rumbled, like a big rig firing up for a long haul.

“We don’t like easy, do we?” a female voice queried, this one equally rough, like the pit of a limestone quarry.

“Easy like Sunday morning, maybe,” the male voice countered. “But you ain’t exactly Lionel Ritchie, are you, then?”

“What the hell do you want?” Gonzo wanted to shout into the darkness, but the yellow highlighter prevented him. Somewhere, something was dripping ice-cold water, one drop at a time, onto the back of his neck. He shuddered instead.

“We warned you,” the female voice said, sharp as a razor blade. “Did you think this was just another one of our little jokes?”

“It *is* the first of April, dearie,” the male voice said. “Just to play devil’s advocate.”

“He already had one of those at the trial,” the female voice barks. “Not guilty my backside! He won’t get away with it this time.”

Gonzo’s brain strained for an explanation, groped for the name of the woman he was hearing behind his back. Somewhere in the mushy recesses of his brain, he caught snatches of familiar faces, darker places. He remembered his hands on her throat. He remembered squeezing. He remembered her legs kicking, and the smile he wore creeping wider as he squeezed tighter.

When the bucket of ice water drenched him, he howled for mercy. And the only two people on earth that could hear him simply laughed ’til their sides ached.

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The Iron Writer Challenge #149

lap giraffe

The Iron Writer Challenge #149

2016 Winter Solstice Challenge #7

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Wesley Kirk, Moira McArthur, Dami Lare, Danielle Lee Zwissler

The Elements:

A magical lap giraffe

Written in the form of an obituary. So the reader is reading an obit.

A despised relative (explain why)

An original Matisse painting

Sammy HawnsMoira McAtrthur

Moira McArthur

(15th February 1950 – 12 January 2010)

Sammy Hawns was born in the little village of Glenadrookit. Descended from a long line of wool gatherers, Sammy spent his time dogging school while keeping a wary eye out for the dominie. His  school books survive to this day. Pristine, untouched and no inky fingerprints in the margin. 

Sammy left school as uneducated in formal lessons as the farm dog, but his lessons in nature, the real world, were legendary. He would guddle a fish, clear a field of seed stealing crows and make daisy chains for the lassies.

No use for politics, it was a bad day when the local conservative candidate, a distant relative and thus despised the more, chapped on his door to enquire whether he could count on Sammy’s vote. We think the whole village heard Sammy bellow, ’Politics? Its all nonsensical self grandizing bollockology’.  The candidate was last seen beating a hasty retreat.

Sammy though, could be quite poetic in words. Describing a sunset as looking like a Matisse painting, let us into his favourite pastime. Visiting an Art Gallery. He’d stand and look at the paintings then go home and try to recreate in straw and mosaic-chipped wood. Several of his works are on display in Glenadrookit’s Museum of Rural Life.

His favourite work being the painting of the miniature giraffe of Frankelstide. To convey its apparent magical powers in cuts of straw and chips of wood, was a marvel they said.
It was this, more than anything else, that brought him to the wider audience of the art world. HIs tinkering in the woodshed, was seized upon as the next best artist and magazines ran articles, newspapers tried to get an interview and tv crews waited around for a glimpse of this man, Sammy. The single track road into the village was hilly and thus provided the means of spotting a vehicle approaching, at which, the bush telegraph would spring into action, to give Sammy and his family, enough warning to grab a couple of things and hare off up the hills out of reach, until the fuss died down and the ‘visitors’  departed.

Thus it is Sammy’s sense of the ridiculousness of humankind, that is left to us. HIs phrase to the conservative candidate will ring in our ears forever. RIP Sammy Hawns.

James Weatherby, 73Bello Oluwadamilare

Dami Lare

December 19, 1933 – March 9, 2016

Odoyanta.

Being a shrewd man would save you from a few losses: one of which is having to lie still in an Italian casket carved from the finest of oak, listening, if the dead actually can, to a prosaic connivance of untruths summed up as an Obit by someone like Uncle Sam, who ordinarily wouldn’t care jack about you until you’re well past forty and receiving fat sums as pension. That was the thought of my father until I discourage him from writing his own Obituary. Who does that?

James Weatherby, shrewd, introverted, foodie and a showman passed on to glory March 9, 2013, in Ababio’s Hospital, after sustaining terrible burns in a fire he entered to save Pedifree.

James, unlike most of his forebears, who believed the more the merrier, is survived by a single wife, Yasmine, and three children Fua’d, Nasir and me, Kasim. He was a staunch supporter of monogamy, who, yet, was accommodating enough to keep a circle of polygamists and the unmarried as friends. He would always say to me, underneath a starry sky, that friends are like stars: we are bland without them.

But unlike said friends, he preferred the daring call of peace keeping missions – although at a much late time of his life – to the simple life of retirement. A selfless service to which he lost a lot too – as if he cared less about himself than others – a kidney, a limb and an eye, and somehow had the fortuity to wish he could continue the campaign. James was that crazy.

Much wouldn’t be said about my father because he really a lover of it. But he would tell you over laughs, should you be fortunate enough, about his ordeal with “The Woman with the Hat”. He would confess he was naive, and distrusting, when Fola his art agent told him the artwork was both ugly, receiving terrible condemnations upon display, and a bad investment. But being the shrewd man he was, he would purchase it and be stunned at how particularly unattractive its ugliness was, as if ugliness somehow wielded the character of being attractive. He would laugh and tap the painting with an affectionate pat, and in that moment I realised James was one whose love for things surpassed the conventional fondness for aesthetics or quality. He looked beyond those things and saw the beauty hidden within.

The day he found Pedifree, the miniature giraffe that somehow completed him; I wasn’t at all shocked, or thought him crazy because I knew he was capable of love than the rest of us. And he was right to do so, for it brought the joy thousands of dollars couldn’t. Although it might not seem that way now, I think no other cause can one die that is nobler than love.

I think James Weatherby died for a good cause, and would want us to show love to those who need it.

James “Slim Jim” JohnsonWes Kirk

Wes Kirk

December 24, 1955 – March 6, 2016

Indianapolis

James “Slim Jim” Johnson, gardener, capsaicin worshiper, and connoisseur of puns and dad jokes, died Sunday March 7, 2016.

Slim Jim was growing his own peppers and tending gardens long before “knowing where your food came from” became mainstream. He was proud of that fact, and elated when others actually began caring about the environment. Though he had many battles with the Board of Health and Zoning Commission over his massive gardens, the fruits of his labor were could never be questioned. Even if his sanity had been. Especially consider he sold his mother’s Matisse painting of fish to buy his greenhouse.

He met the love of his life, Margery (deceased), at a Marion County Fair chili cook off. He was the only one who could handle what she produced from her cauldron. They both routinely giggled about how he proposed to her on the spot, after eating half the pot, and through the spice induced coughing fits. The two shared a home on the south side of Indy to the end of their days. Their life was full of compromise, as she had domain over the house, and he was exiled to the garden, and green house (which he swore was tended to by a tiny magical giraffe), where most other humans found it hard to breathe through the pepper fumes.

Their two children, Harry and Jill, survive their parents. Surprising given Slim Jim’s love of bad puns and “dad jokes.” He delighted in making groups of people groan, or slam the palms of their hands across their faces. His crowning achievement, which he boasted about regularly, was making and entire room of his classmates groan in disbelief at one of his “dad joke level puns.” Out of courtesy, general public well-being, and in accordance with local legal action, the pun shall not be reprinted here.

His only regret in life was never being able to produce a world record contending spicy pepper. Which he always swore was because of his horrible cousin Larry constantly throwing cigarette butts over the fence.

His trademarked fashion look by designer “why-would-anyone-care-about-that-foolisness” will be missed around the local farmers markets. No longer will his worn yellow boater hat, with its collection of pepper eating trophy pins, float above the heads of visitors as he makes his way through the crowds. No more will police wonder if a Beverly Hillbilly’s relative got lost in the metro area while watching Slim Jim stand there brushing off the dust from his depression era ‘vintage’ overalls and combat boots.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to the Indiana Chapter of Future Farmers of America. He spent many years teaching youth, and evangelizing the gospel of tending a good garden, and the family would like to have his passion carry on for as long as possible.

Also, James “Slim Jim” Johnson’s final wish was for the gag order be removed from his memoirs of bad jokes, to allow them to finally be published. His family ask that you disregard the request for the betterment of mankind.

Author Writes Her Own Final Chapter

Danielle Lee ZwisslerDanielle Lee Zwissler

Author, Danielle Lee Zwissler of Mogadore, Ohio, died on March 3rd, 2016 from complications due to an over-active imagination, and large amounts of caffeine. Born in October of 1978, Danielle was the second child of the family, despised by many, including her own grandmother, whom has been dead for years now, and who, consequently, accused her of being too stuck-up and un-family-like for her taste, and an uncle that is currently serving a prison term for grand theft larceny. Danielle leaves behind her parents, her brother and his family, her husband, and two children, along with four pets, five if you count the magical lap giraffe that she always talked to at night just before putting her children to bed.

Throughout the years, Danielle has had many jobs as a teacher, tutor, a musician, a waitress, a barn rat, a nursing home worker, and she even had a paper route. Up until recently, Danielle wasn’t happy with her life. She felt sad about not sticking with her original idea of becoming a band director for a famous band, and was depressed for most of her twenties. She was also upset that she didn’t become famous overnight as many indie authors believe will happen. She figured out a tough lesson. She wasn’t special.

She leaves behind a legacy of boring romance novels, an original Matisse painting, and several love letters from her numerous teenage relationships. Calling hours will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Mogadore, Ohio, on March 10th, 2016 at 7 PM. Since Danielle’s family usually doesn’t accept birthday party invites, the ceremony will probably be less than twenty minutes long.

Also, Danielle wanted to let you all know that if you don’t show up to her funeral, she will haunt every last one of you for eternity.

to read, and a connoisseur of the arts. She owned several noteworthy works of art, notwithstanding an original of Henri Matisse. She wasn’t loved by many, but merely tolerated, had several relatives that despised her, including her own grandmother that often called her a miserable Mother … well, you get the drift. She also had an exemplary imagination. Several times she claimed to own a miniature magical giraffe, but under full disclosure, she only made those claims after getting the occasional high at the campground with her 80-year-old glaucoma suffering friends.
All in all, Danielle was creative, nuts, and couldn’t keep a job, but she leaves behind a legacy of barely opened first editions of her own novels (many of which will be used as kindling for Earl’s nightly fires) and several items that make absolutely no sense but gave her comfort from purchases at the local Goodwill.
Donations accepted in lieu of flowers as the Zwissler family can barely keep their gas and electricity turned on.
NO calling hours as Danielle preferred to be cremated, and spread around all sorts of different memorable places just in case she could split her soul in pieces, much like her favorite author’s villain, Lord Voldemort. In her own words, “I want to haunt the f*** out of people when I’m gone.”

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