The Iron Writer Challenge #110
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
A cactus couch
A new born baby
A judge’s gavel
A bull Mastodon
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?”
“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.
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.
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.
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.