The Iron Writer Challenge #161 – 2016 Spring Open Challenge #9

 The Iron Writer Challenge #161

2016 Spring Open Challenge #9

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

She Teng Ong, Paul Arden Lidberg, Megan Cypress, Malissa Greenwood

The Elements:

Fire Tornado

Field mice


Eye goggles

Her Turf

Sze Teng Ong

There’s nothing quite like the quaint country side, with the crisp air all around and the soft grass beneath your feet as gentle sunlight slides past the teasing clouds and dances across fields.

“How’s the catch this afternoon, ladies?”

Tiny snouts peeked out from their hiding places among the dandelion, squeaking their answer proudly, followed by softer high pitched murmurs.

“Is that so?”

The old man heaved himself off the chair. His fishing boat awaited him, business as usual and down to the lake he went. The city dwellers’ tents were set up near his own inn and fishing spot, despite their eagerness to get close to the great outdoors. With breakfast settled, the intruders howled their displeasure at the lack of morning activity. As the old man scuttled towards his boat along the dirt path, a screech resounded and he could sense five pairs of eyes boring into the back of his head.

The pack closed on him, and their cackling was followed by wads of cash handed over, their target the boat by the dock and the fishing equipment. With that, they set off for the lake, leaving the old man crouched on the dock. “Only a day, huh. You’d think they’d learn by now.”

Underneath the surface of the water, gleaming bodies neared. A sudden sharp blast of cold wind streaked across the side where the old man had knelt, slicing the smooth line of ripples and shocking the fish underneath. In eerie unison they swarmed towards the center of the lake, heading for the boat and its noisy occupants.

Whirling around, the old man shot for their campsite with renewed energy. The eye goggles hung loosely from the old man’s arm, above the charred spot where a fire was once lit.

“Yours, Milady!”

Murky grey clouds gathered above the pristine lake as fiercer winds emerged from surrounding mountains, howling their arrival. Merciless gales were soon wrenching trees and surrounding tents. Slowly a column of grey and brown built up on the lake side, churning in its dangerous dance. A single streak of lightning darted down towards pine trees by the dock, the tallest victim set ablaze. Its partner-in-crime had built up to a tornado, edging closer and closer to the fire. With careful maneuvering it avoided the house by the dock, and leaned towards the burning tree instead to absorb the flames, a flurry of orange and black.

As the fire tornado built up, there was no mistake in their worried yells, but the fish had surrounded the bottom of the boat, bumping it to make it go in circles no matter how it was directed. With its target locked on, the fire tornado left the lake edge and entered the water.

While the old man lowered his arm, the tiny mice gathered back at his feet, squeaking their songs of victory as the tornado blazed.

“For you, my queen!”

There’s nothing quite like the quaint country side, with the old man ruling the vast lands and mice teasing your feet as pristine lakes and vast fields set the stage for Mother Nature to test her unique creations.

The Summoning

Paul Arden Lidberg

He stood gazing at the diagram he’d scratched out of the panhandle dirt. It was the most perfect pentagram ever made! Using GPS technology and an old plow, he had meticulously carved the shapes into exquisite and precise detail. He knew how important it was to get these things correct, and he was determined that nothing would stand in his way.

Placing all the tools back in the trailer, he donned the ceremonial turban and breech cloth. His scrawny arms were caked with sweat and dust, his eyes squinting against the setting sun. It was almost time.

Very quickly he lit the candles – one at each vertex, and larger ones at the major points. The still night air kept the candles from being blown out. He was ready.

Striding to the center of the 100 foot wide diagram, he carefully sat cross-legged near the the center. Within arms reach were all the necessary items for the sacrifice that would grant him ultimate power.

First he donned the eye goggles, vision protection being something he knew would be important. Then he began to chant…

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”  Again.

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

He reached over and pulled out a barely alive perch and a trout. Holding them above his head, he chanted “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

He then lowered them to the ground before him. Using the ceremonial dagger, he gutted first one and then the other. Placing them over his hands like mittens, he waved them and continued chanting “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

Tossing the fish to either side, he reached into a cage and pulled out two drugged field mice. He chanted “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

He placed them on the ground before him, then smacked them both with ceremonial mallet. He chanted “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

“I have sacrificed of the land and of the sea” he shouted. “You will come and do my bidding!”

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”  Again.

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

Finally, a flame appeared in the center of the pentagram. It was an unearthly flame, flickering with blue and green and twisting about as it grew larger and larger. It started to spin and turn, resembling nothing so much as a tornado made of fire. And it continued to grow.

The heat from the flame was intense, and he was finally forced to back out of the diagram. After scrambling to the edge, he looked back in wonder at what he’d wrought.

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”  Again.

“ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

A voice issued from the flame.

“Hello? Hello?”

“Cthulhu! I summon you to do my bidding!” He stood defiantly at the edge.

“I’m sorry, they moved.”

“What?” His confidence was shaken.

“Yeah, the moved years ago. This isn’t his number no more.”

“Wait, umm…do you know where I might find him?” His eyes darted back and forth at this bizarre turn.

“Sorry sweetie, I just don’t know. Bye!”

This was definitely the last time he’d buy Demon Summoning directions off Ebay.

© Copyright 2016 Paul Arden Lidberg

Safety Goggles

Malissa Greenwood

Bobby and I are sitting in our small room reading his favorite book by candlelight when I hear the gunfire. He turns his little face up to me, eyes wide and waiting. We listen a moment longer in silence until I determine that we should move.

“Bobby, why don’t we keep telling stories in our secret room? Would that be OK?”

He nods obediently and grabs his goggles off the table, quickly slipping them over his eyes. I think most children grow up with safety blankets or favorite toys, but Bobby clings to his goggles like they are a super hero cape, putting them on whenever he needs to be brave. I used to giggle and tell him that he looks like a fish, but these days there is not much to laugh about. Instead I feel grateful that he has found a method to cope.

I walk over to the corner of the room and slide a bookcase half a meter to the left, revealing a tunnel just large enough for children to crawl through.

“Do you have your bag?”

He nods as he pulls his backpack out of his cubby, already packed with two bottles of water, packaged snacks, and some matches. Then he drops to his knees and wiggles into the tunnel ahead of me. I take a quick look around the room wondering if I should grab anything else. I remember the family photo in the back of Bobby’s book. I snatch it out and tuck it into my shirt before shimming into the tunnel feet first so that I can move the bookcase back into position.

Creeping backward through the tunnel I can hear the gunshots, growing louder and more threatening. I can also hear and feel the mice scurrying around me. Our parents had built this hidden passageway into the field knowing that there would be a time when we would need to hide from the soldiers. They hoped we would be safe, even if they weren’t around to protect us.

When I feel my foot reach a drop-off I know that I can step down onto a ladder and lower myself into the room.

Settled next to Bobby on the dirt floor I whisper to him “You want to tell me a story Bobby?” He remains quiet, clutching my sleeve. “How about the one with the fire tornado that rips through the enemy camp? You love that story.” I prompt.

He reaches up, adjusting his goggles and I know he is too afraid to talk. I understand this and I know it’s better to be quiet so I simply put my arm around him and we sit together in the small dark space, waiting… waiting for the gunshots to stop; waiting to feel safe; waiting for the war to be over.

Fluffy’s Fable

Megan Cypress

There once was a kitty named Fluffy, who loved nothing more than to chase and kill the field mice in the forest where she lived. One day, a good fairy appeared to warn Fluffy of the dangers of her propensity for violence.

“Relax,” Fluffy said. “They’re just mice.”

“And you’re just a cat.”

“I don’t need your advice.” Fluffy swiped her paw at the good fairy as the good fairy flew away and disappeared into a branch of a nearby cypress tree. Fluffy paid no attention to the good fairy’s warning and continued to chase and kill the field mice.

The good fairy came back to Fluffy and told her, “You’ve been warned once already. You need to change your evil ways before it’s too late.”

Again, Fluffy ignored the good fairy’s warning and chased an entire family of field mice to the lake by the forest. She killed every last one of them. Even the children. Their bodies lay slain across the bank of the lake.

The good fairy’s evil twin sister appeared in a cloud of smoke in front of Fluffy. “Look at all these bodies collecting. Keep up the good work.”

“But what about the good fairy? She told me not to hurt these mice.”

“Don’t listen to her. What does she know?”

Fluffy continued killing until all the mice in the forest were dead. The evil fairy re-appeared with a grin upon her face and smoke around her body.

“Did I do good?” Fluffy asked.

“Indeed you did, my child.” The evil fairy laughed maniacally and spun around in circles until she formed a tornado of fire.

“Hey, stop it!” Fluffy shouted. “I did what you said to do.”

“You’ve had your fun. Now it’s my turn.” The tornado of fire spread throughout the forest.

Fluffy heard the good fairy crying from the cypress tree.

“Help!” Fluffy pleaded to the good fairy.

“It’s too late!” the good fairy cried.

The cyclone of fire rushed toward Fluffy, who panicked and nose-dived into the lake.

Fish of every color of the rainbow swam around the bottom of the lake, in a home made out of an abandoned pair of human goggles.

The fish scattered as Fluffy swam closer. Only one bright red fish remained. “You can’t be here,” the fish said. “You’re a land dweller. Go home.”

“But my home’s on fire.”

“That’s not my problem. This isn’t your home.”

Fluffy became light-headed as she felt herself running out of oxygen. She swam to the surface and tried to catch her breath. She watched the forest burn down around her. Her parents abandoned her in that forest when she was a kitten. And now there was no forest left.

Poor Fluffy tried to swim as long as she possibly could, but soon she grew tired and could no longer stay afloat. Fluffy drowned and sunk to the bottom of the lake, landing near the goggles the rainbow fish called home. The fish feasted on the cat’s carcass. Their mouths pecked and sucked on her flesh and meat until all that was left of poor Fluffy was bones.

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