The Iron Writer Challenge #157
2016 Spring Open Challenge #5
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
Zac Moran, Jennie Richmond, Mikaela Prestowitz, Michael Cottle
A Frying Pan with a flaking nonstick finish
Peanut Buter sticking in the mouth
The Museum of Recent History
Her sister’s roller derby skates were sweaty and beat up, but they would have to do. Diane jumped once, and sure enough the hover capabilities were in full working order. With one last glance over her shoulder at the locked house, she raced off down the deserted street.
At first, Diane was able to easily navigate the inactive city. The moon, small as it was, reflected off the mirror-like finish of the road and lit the pathway ahead. But farther away from civilization, the street turned rough and unpolished. Without reflected moonlight to guide her, Diane was forced to deactivate her stolen skates and walk.
It must have been miles before she saw the building she was looking for. The door was barricaded against intruders with a standard government seal, but that was quickly remedied with a quick kick to the ancient glass.
Inside, objects on stands lined the walls, protected by cases of—plastic? It must be. She ran her finger along the top edge of a box and watched as her retina display confirmed her theory. Shaking her head with wonder, Diane moved down along the rows of artifacts and let her display lens fill her in on the details.
The rest of the displays were equally anachronistic, all relics of a time long gone. A perfectly preserved leaf. The rusting string of an acoustic guitar. An old frying pan flaking from decades of prior use. She tried to imagine how it would feel to cook with such an antique contraption, feeling the inconceivable weight in her hands. Mystified, Diane let her hands drop.
“Strange place,” she said aloud, breaking the dusty silence. Her voice sounded too alive for the ancient—
“…A classic example of…predictions…Tobor…completely revolutionized…”
At the next display over a tinny speaker unexpectedly sprang to life, accompanied by a flickering display where a poor mockery of a robot zapped its way through a classic example of the average 1950s house and—
“The MemChip!” Diane had nearly forgotten why she came. “Come on, stupid, you have to find…”
With a renewed sense of purpose, she combed the museum for the only display she had come to see. Eventually, she found it in the position of honor at the head of the hallway, lying exposed on a bed of velvet. Under the faint moonlight, Diane could barely make out the engraved plaque, but she could read enough to confirm her hopes.
The earliest surviving MemChip, containing the memories of a beta tester for the new memory-saving technology…
Her mind buzzing with possibilities, Diane excitedly scooped the chip up and slotted it in the port behind her ear.
—I absentmindedly snack as I watch the newsman report on the latest crisis’s. A water treatment plant is contaminated. A war on the other side of the sea. Riots in the streets. A determined new political party. People dying everywhere.
“Mm!” My mouth is sealed with peanut butter, and I have to try again. “Mum! Are you seeing this? I can’t believe—
Diane ejected the chip and held it reverently in front of her.
After all this time, she would finally have answers.
“Good evening Americans and welcome to this special edition of Decision 16’. I’m Tom Brokesaw, and tonight we look at a presidential candidate that is taking the nation by storm- not as a republican or democrat, but as a new independent party called The Cast Iron Party. A party that has been described as heavy and quite durable. It is my pleasure to welcome to you Mr. Tubor Hairyhiney.”
“Did you just bark at me?”
“Woof! That’s how we say absolutely on planet Yourhiney!”
“Woof! Much bigger than Uranus.”
“Mr. Hairyhiney, as a nation, we face an uncertain future. As a candidate, what can you offer Americans for these numerous problems on the horizon?”
“Tom, I am the problem solver in this election. Why just this week, I have resolved one of the most profound problems your world has ever known.”
“Really? Go on.”
“The problem of peanut butter sticking to your mouth. Peanut butter is basically peanut butter anhydrous- because it contains no water to mention. It’s quite a sticky business Tom. However, if you mix a 30% solution of peanut butter and water, then you have solution.”
“So your solution is a solution?”
Tom rubs his forehead while going over his notes. “Mr. Hairyhiney, tell us about your party- The Cast Iron Party.”
“Well Tom, I am a space monster. When I first arrived on earth, I saw an ad for non-stick cooking ware. I tried it. It was crap-the worst experience in all of my traversed galaxies. The coating contaminated my eggs. This is not the omelet that I travelled lightyears to create! Tom, cast iron was, and forever will be the ultimate cooking experience.”
“You believe this?”
“Woof! I do Tom. I am a Cast Iron cook.”
“Why should Americans vote for you rather than Trump or Hilary? What sets you apart- other than there is a fish bowl on your head? ”
“Tom, I shoot lightning from my fingertips! Can Trump do this? A Clinton? Can you Tom? How about a demo?”
“No, that won’t be…” Zap! “…umph! Why did you do that?”
“Woof! Shocking isn’t it Tom?”
“That’s certainly…” Zap! “…umph! Stop that! Really? You shocked me again?”
“Woof! I’m the only one with lightning Tom!”
“Please, don’t ever do that again.”
“Tom, you are weak.”
“What is your greatest weakness Tubor?”
“Tried roller derby one time. Those girls about killed me.”
“You are aware that as a space monster, you aren’t exactly a US Citizen?”
“Woof! I have my birthrights here. See? Says here I was born in Kansas.”
“That document says Toto. I’m not sure this will work…” Zap! “…umph! Stop that!”
“Woof! I think it says Tubor Hairyhiney! Read it again.” Tubor holds his hands up ready to spark.
Tom nervously, “Yes, I think you are right.”
“Tom, sing Soft Woofie for me?”
“Soft Woofie, warm woofie, hairy ball of fur, if you become the president, purr, purr, purr.”
“You’re okay Tom.”
“I’m Tom Brokesaw, goodnight.”
“I cannot, yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do ‘must’ and ‘cannot’ meet? Yet I must, but I cannot,” said the alien robot.
“Conthra, do you truly believe it possible to learn more about the humans by watching these archaic entertainment broadcasts?”
“The humans call these movies, Sinthra. And do you question my methods? I should remind you that I am to survey any intelligent species we come upon. I must learn their history and cultures. Those you captured have been a great aid in that, but I’m certain these movies will tell me more. They are the windows into what their societies hold dear.”
“I simply think we’ve idled long enough, brother. The movies you’ve shown me thus far have told me that they would wage war on us. They cannot stand the differences which exist amongst themselves, let alone an entirely new species from beyond their lonely planet.”
“You don’t suggest we destroy them, do you? And become what they so clearly fear?”
“I do not see the tactical advantage of that. We would meet staunch resistance to harvesting the resources on their planet. Resources which are plentiful elsewhere.” Sinthra said.
“Always eager to prove your worth in combat. In that, the humans are very similar to yourself.”
“They have other movies as well. They don’t care only for war. There are numerous others depicting a variety of stories and emotions. They’re also entertained by putting something called peanut butter in the mouths of their pets or by wearing wheeled shoes and racing around a track. They cook with these metal discs that apparently don’t stick to things. Strangely, I think these are more than simple class one beings. They have a certain…tenacity about them. Even now, one is holding a gun to your head. He must have escaped your restraints.”
Sinthra spun around to face the man who had entered the chamber.
“I know you can understand me, so you better let us go before I kill you!” shouted the man.
“Are you going to deal with this? Or shall I?” Conthra asked his brother telepathically.
Sinthra didn’t reply, but held up his hands and bowed his head.
“We meant you no harm, human. We merely needed information and our studies of you have shown that you would be…less than receptive of us,” Sinthra said.
“What? Are you trying to find our weakness? So you can invade?”
“No. Though our military would find that an easy matter, we have no need or desire to invade your planet. It holds nothing of value to us that we couldn’t obtain elsewhere at a lesser cost. We are akin to your scientists.”
“Then why don’t you let us go?”
Sinthra reached for a device wrapped around his arm.
“Hold it!” yelled the man.
“Do you wish to be returned home, or not?”
Sinthra pressed a button and the man popped out of existence.
“They’ve been returned home and won’t recall their encounter with us,” stated Sinthra.
“We should monitor this species further, I think,” mused Conthra.
Michael Weyder grinned. The game he had created, Roller Derby Robots, played on the screen in front of him. He’d spent every day for the last six months developing it, ironing out all the flaws. His boss hadn’t liked it, saying it was too much like ‘Mario Kart’ – a race between characters using powers to get ahead in the game. Bullshit. He had almost been fired for neglecting his other work, but last night they had managed to come to an agreement. One bottle of wine and everything was back on track for Michael. He looked across at his boss, in the other chair.
“See? I told you it would be good! Watch!”
He turned back to the screen and chomped down on a cracker smothered in peanut butter, the creamy mixture sticking to the roof of his mouth. He hardly noticed. In fact, he hadn’t noticed very much at all recently. He’d even neglected doing the washing up. Dirty crockery stood in a large pile by the kitchen sink, crusted with days-old food and beginning to give off a foul odour. Michael didn’t have time to wash them. Too busy, he reasoned. He was a genius, and geniuses didn’t have to follow the usual rules of society. Let the tower of plates grow. When this game was released and made him rich, he’d hire a maid. Until then, though, cleaning could wait. The crackers were being eaten over a large frying pan, the non-stick surface flaking from years of overuse. He hadn’t noticed that either. All of Michael’s waking moments were focused on his ambition, his one big dream: to design a game that would be a worldwide hit.
On the screen, a large robot shot bolts of electricity out of his hands at the droid in first place, reducing it to a blackened hulk. It would take just a few seconds to regenerate, more than enough delay for the next in line to pass. This was the chance it needed to get ahead. Michael stared at the screen intensely, unblinking, until the letters ‘TOBOR!’ flashed across the screen in bright blue, surrounded by yellow stars. Very retro.
“Yes! Tobor always was my favourite!”
Michael turned back to his boss. Shards of glass still glistened against the wound, the sleeve of his shirt stained a deep red by the tainted wine. Somehow the pallor of his skin made the dried blood adorning his head look more dramatic, far more than he had ever looked in life. Shame. Everyone had known how overdramatic he could be, especially when it came to his work. Obviously death suited him.
“So, now I’ve finished this… What do I do with you?”
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