The Iron Writer Challenge #142, 2015 Winter Open Championship

boy watching television

The Iron Writer Challenge #142

2015 Winter Solstice Open Championship Round

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Danielle Lee Zwissler, Richard Russell, Dani J. Caile

A boy watching television (see image)
“Come here, she said. Where are we going? The darkness, she replied.” (must be anywhere in the story)
A “magic” pill
A terrible mistake

Time to go Home…Danielle Lee Zwissler

Danielle Lee Zwissler

Jesse was watching the picture tube again, keeping his eyes rapt on the ad for the magic pills. His mother was watching from the kitchen doorway, careful not to disturb. She watched for what seemed like hours, but was only probably minutes. It always seemed that way. Jesse kept his eyes ahead, unflappable.

“Come here,” she said.

Jesse turned fast, eyes wide. “Momma?”

His mother nodded, and a tear slipped down her cheek.

“Where are we going?”

“The darkness,” she replied. She held out her hand and Jesse started toward it, tripping over a small container on the floor.

“You’re here,” Jesse cried.


A smile crept across Jesse’s face. “It worked,” Jesse said, smiling softly.

“It did.”

Jesse took his mother’s hand and they walked down the hallway and then out the back door of the house. They walked toward the darkness, and didn’t stop until no light was visible. Jesse was scared, but since he was with his mother, everything was all right. “Momma?”

“Yes, honey?”

“I’m scared.”

“It’s okay; I’m here.”

Jesse nodded, and then leaned in to his momma. “Where are we?”

“Your new room,” she said quietly.

“It’s cold here,” Jesse muttered.


“It’s dark.”


“Will you be here with me?” Jesse asked, hopeful.

“Right beside you.”

Jesse felt immeasurably better. “What do we do now, Momma?”

“We rest,” she replied.

“And then?”

“What do you mean?”

“What do we do after we rest?” Jesse asked.

“We wait.”

Jesse nodded, somewhat relaxed, and then spoke, “What do we wait for?”



“Who do you want to see?” his mother asked.

Jesse’s eyes lit up and then he grinned. “Daddy?”

His mother smiled. “Then we’ll wait for him.”

“Here?” Jesse asked. He crossed his arms one over the other and rubbed. Goosepimples pricked his flesh.


“Okay, Momma.”


“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Jackson Evers said to the psychiatrist. He put his hands up to his face and cried into his palms. “I’m an absolute mess. All I see is him, and those pills, the ones from the TV ad, they were scattered all over the floor.”

The psychiatrist nodded. “It’ll take some time, Jackson. I’m sure he didn’t understand.”

Jackson wiped a tear from his eyes and nodded. His throat felt clogged. “I… I know. I should have… I shouldn’t have encouraged him. I didn’t know he’d… I…” Jackson’s shoulders shook and the tears kept coming.

“It’s not your fault, Jackson.”

“But it is. I left him alone most days… I had to work, but I should have had someone there with him. I knew how upset he was over his mother’s death. I shouldn’t have…”

“Nobody would have believed he’d have been able to get the pills himself, Jackson. It was a terrible mistake.”

Jackson heard the same thing over and over from all of his doctors, and friends, even his own parents. It didn’t matter. He was still gone. His little boy was dead.


“Momma, do you think daddy’s okay?” the boy whispered.

“He will be.”


To Brighten Up Your Day

Richard Russell

Seven-year-old Danny Staffer stood alone behind the big front doors of the primary school and peered out at the dreary, cold, rainy evening.   He pulled his coat together and scrunched his shoulders as he stepped outside wondering, all the way home, why the school uniform had to be short trousers?

Pressing his way through the heavy doors to the flats, Danny sighed and began plodding his way up four flights of stairs; the same dark, boring stairs that lead up to the same dark, boring flat.   He lifted the doormat and retrieved a key. With a heavy clunk the lock opened and Danny stepped into the quiet, empty flat. His father had left them several years ago so his mother worked late in the evenings now. No one was ever home much. As he walked through the unlit hallway past his brother’s room, Danny realized his big brother was in there with some friends. Danny paused to listen as his brother was talking.

“Yeah, Man, I have several kinds. You can drift in a purple haze, bask in an orange sunshine, do amazing needlepoint, or gaze through a crystal window pane. What’ll it be?”

“What’s this like?”

“ Oh wow, one of these micro-dots will brighten up your whole day.”

Danny moved on to the living room, switched on the lights, opened the window and put a few coins in the telly. He grabbed some slices of bread and a glass of milk then sat down to “Watch with Mother” as “Andy Pandy” was coming on. He seemed to identify with Looby Loo. She never came to life until she was alone.

About then, Danny’s brother and his friends left the flat without a word. Danny smelled some weird smoke in his brother’s room and went to investigate. He turned on the light and looked around briefly. That’s when he spied the pills his brother had left on his bed. He wondered if these were the pills his brother had mentioned. Danny took one and swallowed it. He could use a little brightness today. He turned off the light and closed the door before returning to his perch in front of the telly.

After several minutes Danny began to feel … different. The images on the telly were now in color and the telly looked as if it was melting. He reached out to touch it and saw a trail of ten hands follow shortly behind his own. About the time the walls started swimming in paisley patterns of purple and he could hear the bamboo leaves of the wallpaper growing larger, he spied the porcelain cat at his feet, smiling and whipping her tail back and forth.

The cat strolled over to the window and hopped up onto the sill.

“Come here.”she said.

“Where are we going?”

“Into the darkness.” she said.

Then she turned and sprang out the window.

“Wait for me!” he cried, and into the darkness he went.

On Standby

Dani J Caile

Tommy was a nice boy, attentive, happy, plopped on his little stool next to her. He occasionally laughed at the musings of her mind, listening, watching. He’d been there since as far as she could remember and had never left her side. He gave her purpose and she was glad to have his company. The others she’d seen before Tommy ignored her, sitting far away, reading or talking with each other. Tommy was different, captivated by her presence. He was there for her, and now they were alone, together.
She felt it again, a yawning gap deep inside, an emptiness which would not cease, an itch through her entire form. It was growing more profound than ever. Was this the end? Tommy, dear Tommy, had given her medicine to stop this black shadow from closing in many times before, but now he did nothing, looking on, watching her every move. She had to speak to him, otherwise the blackness would take over, and she would be no more.
“Tommy,” she called over the constant murmur. She noticed at first he wasn’t sure, turning to see whether someone else had called his name. “Tommy,” she called once again. Now he surely realised it was her who had mentioned him. He was not afraid, this fine boy.
“Yes?” he asked back, touching her tentatively.
“Tommy, please, another magic pill. Please, I need another,” she whispered through the interlude.
“Magic pill?” he asked. “What magic pill?”
She had seen them, held in his hands like precious jewels as he sat there accompanying her in her ramblings, the sweet child. But now there were no more.
“Please, Tommy, help me. I can feel it, an abyss of blackness filling my soul.”
She saw him looking over to her side, presumably examining her condition. Could her state be seen? Was it that bad?
“Oh, THOSE ‘magic’ pills. I don’t have any more, I’m sorry,” he said. A tear ran down his face. “Are you going? So soon? Mother isn’t back.”
“I don’t want to go.” She felt time slowly ticking away, parts of her numb with fear, foreboding her end.
“I know! Maybe Mother has some more in the kitchen!” Tommy jumped up from his stool, the gas mask in his shouldered box rattling as he ran away. She watched his image diminish and her life drain away, the warmth dissipating.
“Quick, Tommy, my end is near,” she whimpered. She was close now and needed him, needed his company. With her last effort she spoke again. Without him, she was nothing. “Tommy, we are together now, perhaps for the last time. Our moment is short, we are going. Come, come here,” she said.
“Where are we going?” asked Tommy, running back over to her.
“The darkness,” she replied, feeling remorse. “Oh Tommy, it’s… it’s all such a mistake, a terrible, terrible mistake…” The blackness took her over as she heard Tommy’s cries of sorrow and felt his little fists beating against her cooling 15″ screen.

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