The Iron Writer Challenge #113
2015 Annual Championship
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
Challenge #112 Champion
Three Stooges Happy Birthday Song
A person born with red eyes
Note: Authors names will be added after the judges have decided on the winner.
Mathew W. Weaver
22nd April, 2011
Pukwudgie – noun; creature, mythical. Known abilities: teleportation, transmutation, and (undetermined) sparse magic.
It is a creature of Native American lore (Wampanoag, precisely) that I turned my pursuits to upon this fresh endeavor. A strange being; said to measure no taller than three feet, with grossly exaggerated human features, it has a range of abilities bordering on the bizarre.
As with most specimens I have tracked, these, too, exist only as lore; nonetheless, I have yet to fail in uncovering a species. Like the Sasquatch and others before, I vowed to unearth these creatures, and as promised, I now have. To protect their habitat from man, I will not divulge this location until I can ascertain their safety.
It was after three months that I fell upon the trail I sought. Hidden in the undergrowth, I perceived a group pass within reach of where I lay. I was content to observe and record, but unfortunately, this was when my assistant Arnold’s cellular device rang.
It is to be noted that the creatures seemed quite taken with the ludicrous tone; one Arnold explained to me was, “The Three Stooges Birthday Song.”
Droll, I admit, but the incident did allow us to examine the creatures within closer proximity. The leader, a manure covered individual with prominent crimson eyes, took to the device very much; indeed, it… or dare I say ‘he’… went so far as to buff it against his genitals quite vigorously, much to Arnold’s ill-fated dismay.
It should also be noted that the Pukwudgie does not take kindly to having things grabbed from it, and will respond violently. The poor boy’s fate was his own doing, and I am afraid he paid his price.
However, by baring my hands and humbling myself before them, I have earned their trust, and am now privy to the locality of their hidden village. I now believe that my hosts are quite intelligent; even capable of conversation among themselves. It was with delight I observed the hollow rods at their belts; blow darts, tainted with the venom of the nefarious poison dart frog, rare in these parts yet lethal in their potency.
I have attempted conversation with the scarlet eyed chief, but thus far it has proven futile. I am confident, however, that a few days will be all I need to learn their ways. For now, these observations will have to suffice.
I write this as I lounge within the primitive yet spacious wooden room they constructed on my behalf. With an ingenious system of ropes, it hovers high above ground; doubtless, they are arboreal and wish to protect their guest from the dangers below. It is an impressive sentiment, given their treatment of my former assistant.
A large fire burns below, warming me against the chilling winds, and the populace dance and chant all around. I acknowledge their welcome, even though the box strains alarmingly, and the heat has grown rather oppressive.
I close with a final thought; since I have arrived, I have yet to see them feed. With trepidation, I eagerly look forward to determining their dietary habits, among all else, in the days ahead.
I heard the stories growing up, but if I believed them, I might have reached Hartford that day. I was in my Ford F-150, driving 75 miles an hour down I-91. The morning sun climbed the eastern sky, but I was already tired. I checked my eyes in the rear-view. They were red, as they have been since birth, but they were bloodshot, too.
When I looked back at the road, I was bearing down on some unfortunate blur of a creature. A porcupine? I had the vague notion of hoping it wouldn’t pop my tires. I expected to hear the impact any moment. Instead I was plunged into darkness and quiet. I rubbed my eyes and felt cold, worn stone instead of the warm, comfortable seats of my F-150.
“Wee baaaked yoooou aaaaaaaa birrrrrrrrrrthdaaaaay caaaaaaake…”
The high-pitched, sing-song voice echoed around me. I opened my eyes in time to catch motion to one side. I turned to see a little human figure with faintly glowing gray skin. He stood next to a table, on which was the small birthday cake he sang about.
“Iiiif yoooou geeeet aaaa tummmmmmmy aaaaaaache…”
The song went on in that high, childlike voice as he pushed narrow sticks into the cake. With the ring of sticks in place, he lifted the cake from the table and carried it toward me. Without even the slightest gesture, the tip of each stick sparked into candle flame.
“Aaaaaaand yoooou mooooooooooan aaaaaaaand grooooooooan innnnnnn woooooooe…”
My eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. He was close now, but only three feet tall, proportioned like a man, not a dwarf. He held the cake in front of me. The candles ringed a colorful black and yellow frog, a poisonous dart, its back glistening in the flickering candlelight.
“Dooooon’t foooorrrrrgeeeeeeeeet weeeeeeeee toooooooooold yoooou soooooooooo.”
The frog hopped away leaving a vacant, frog-butt-shaped space in the icing. The little man stared into my eyes over the burning candle sticks. As I watched, his eyes went from a menacing black to the same red color of mine, standing out against the gray of his skin.
“Maaake aaa wiiiish, deeeear, aaaand blooooow ooooout the caaaandlesssssss.”
The sibilant final word caught me up in the strange moment. I took in a deep breath to blow out the candles and was flooded with a memory from childhood. I had heard this song before! It was from an old Three Stooges routine, when television was black and white.
I released my held breath, blowing across the sticks, and everything changed. I was back in my truck. My eyes were filled with the bright light of morning; my ears heard shattering glass and crunching metal all around. The cake was suddenly my truck’s airbag exploding in my face. I was launching forward into it as my truck’s hood crumpled into the back of a tractor-trailer!
I told the State Trooper I was texting and driving, but this was one of many accidents along this stretch of highway the locals attributed to the Pukwudgie. Each year more knew of, and believed in, these dangerous tricksters. I didn’t believe before, but I do now!
A poison dart frog hopped along a well-worn forest path while a human armed with a smartphone lumbered in its wake. Enrapt in wonder as the frog changed its color every few hops, the pursuer failed to notice a dark presence in the greenery ahead.
Behind pine-scented branches, an ancient creature watched and smiled. It had almost been too easy. If Nitka was patient, this hunter would undoubtedly meet his end. Though her large fingers twitched, Nitka remained stationary, refusing to arm her bow prematurely.
She’d watched him for days, this man who approached the Wampanoag community in a dusty Jeep, claiming to be an anthropologist interested in the tribe’s history. Nitka sensed his presence the moment his Oxfords hit hallowed ground. She scampered to the village, invisible, and took in the man called Remy. He smelled of oranges, spoke with a fake Southern lilt, and his irises shone red in sunlight. That’s when Nitka knew.
Red eyes had long been a genetic trait of Hunters. Modern day predators usually wore colored contacts as a disguise. Remy did not, and he spent much of his time on the outskirts of the village, peering into the woods, a hungry quality on his lips. He needed to be extinguished. Quickly.
In studying Remy’s dreams, Nitka learned the Hunter had a passion for three things other than slaughter: booze, magic, and amphibians. Nitka could pique two of those interests to summon him to her.
When Remy awoke earlier that morning, a poison dart frog sat on his nightstand, croaking a morning hymn and secreting a luring spell. Elated by the discovery and drunk on magic, Remy nearly forgot his pants in his rush to follow the frog into the surrounding forest, his smartphone in hand to capture the displaced amphibian on film.
Now, five more steps and Remy would be at his mark. Nitka strung her bow with a poison arrow, aimed, and let it fly. The arrowhead entered Remy through his back at an upward angle, tearing through tissue and glancing his spine. The frog disappeared in a swirl of color as Remy’s body hitched forward and fell into an open grave.
Nitka took a breath through her oversized nose and detected the scent of Remy’s blood boiling, a symptom of the poison. Then a strange noise overtook the forest, a chorus of voices. Nitka frowned and approached the open grave.
Remy lay face down, blood pooling around the arrow’s entry point. His smartphone was clutched in his hand and black and white images danced on its screen beneath a logo that read YouTube. Onscreen, three men pushed a cart with a cake on it and sang an odd song: “…Don’t forget we told you so.” Nitka’s frown deepened. She’d never understand humans, regardless of their tribe.
As Nitka summoned dirt over Remy’s corpse, a boom sounded from the phone and then a deathly quiet blanketed the forest.
You can’t hunt the hunter, Nitka thought and retreated into the waiting forest brush.