The Iron Writer Challenge #190

The Iron Writer Challenge #190

2017 Spring Equinox Challenge #11 

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

V. I. Bottic, Bethany Totten, E. Chris Garrison, Amy Kasim

The Elements:

Antigonish (restricted to the first verse only)

Another person’s dream that you are envious of

A hangman’s noose

Will you never leave me?


V.I. Bottic

They dragged me with ferocious strength up the stairs. I tried to fight harder, but I was so weak I couldn’t. At the top I met Mildred’s gaze. She wasn’t there, but I saw her nonetheless. When I spotted her I was pushed from my mind into her favorite dream. I was always jealous of her clarity, her lucidity – her depth of understanding and propensity for imagining the most beautiful things that have never existed. Before they locked me in my room I was momentarily comforted by the giant flaming lilies and golden waterfalls dancing through my mind. Then the bad dream came. Mildred. On the platform, knot tightened, her face turning red already. I stopped dreaming. I never watched this part. I know she died that day. The doctors tell me she didn’t. They show me pictures and tell me stories about the things she did before she died (or didn’t die), and ask me things I couldn’t possibly know. They make me look in the mirror while they tell me that’s what Mildred looks like today. I don’t believe them. I don’t know who I am, but I’m not her.

Alone with the Ghosts

Bethany Totten

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there!
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d stay away!

The old building was alive.  It creaked and moaned in the silence of the night as the three teenagers crept inside by the open basement window.

“Damn, it’s gross in here,” remarked Dane as he held up his flashlight military style, examining the contents of the room.

“What’d you expect?” Chad asked him as he hopped to the ground.  “The place has been closed for at least twenty years.  This place is crawling with stuff.”

The third member of the group, Ben, followed cautiously behind them.  “You sure this is a good idea?” he asked as he shined his flashlight around the room as well.

Ben wasn’t completely against the idea of exploring the abandoned mental asylum, just had a feeling that it wasn’t the safest place to be walking around.  Not to mention, there were rumors it was haunted by several former patients.

“Don’t tell me you’re wimping out now, Watson,” Chad replied.

Ben shot him a look.  He wasn’t in the mood for dealing with Chad being, well, Chad.

He really didn’t know why he was friends with a guy like Chad.  Chad was always the type to throw insults at anyone, yet somehow, he always was surrounded by friends or at least people who tolerated him like Ben and Dane.  Dane seemed to be more tolerate of Chad’s shit than Ben was; Ben, however, had no problem with calling Chad out when he royally screwed up, which happened quite often.

The trio started to climb up the stairs towards the first floor of the old building.  As Dane and Chad walked into the lobby area, Ben froze.  A man was staring at them from one of the hallways.

“The hell?” he exclaimed.

Dane and Chad looked at him like he was crazy.  “The hell is wrong with you?” Chad asked.

“That guy,” Ben said as he pointed his flashlight to what was now nothing.

“What guy?” Dane asked.

“That guy that was in the hallway,” Ben replied.

“There’s no one there, jerk,” Chad said as he shined his flashlight in Ben’s face.  “You need new glasses or what?”

“Knock it off,” Ben quipped back.

The trio continued onward, peeking into the various rooms.  They continued to the second floor when Ben saw the man again.

“The hell!” he exclaimed as he jumped back.

“What is your problem?” Chad barked at Ben.

“Do you guys seriously not see that guy?” Ben asked.

Chad and Dane shook their heads.  Ben continued to stare at the empty hallway.  This place was starting to really give him the creeps.

“Maybe we should leave,” he remarked.

“Don’t be such a wimp,” Chad said. 

“Come on, Chad,” Dane said.

Chad shined his flashlight in Dane’s face.  “Don’t tell me your wimping out too.”

“No, I’m not!” Dane retorted, as the sound of footsteps echoed throughout the hall.  The three teens exchanged nervous looks; it certainly wasn’t any of them walking around.

Suddenly a loud crash broke the silence.  Chad yelped and took off running with Dane and Ben close behind him.  They didn’t stop till they got to their car and quickly drove off.  Chad actually started to seem nicer after that.

The Man at the Top of the Stair
E. Chris Garrison
There he stands, at the top of the stair, his angry face mimicking, mocking, a parody of my own. His face full of shadow, his sharp features, his hairy body, they fill me with darkness and loathing. He matches my every move, always waiting for me as I go to bed.
During the day, I had moved through the world with beauty and grace, the man at the top of the stair invisible to anyone who should meet me. My new floral dress, my carefully coiffed hair, the click of my pumps, these all brought a smile to my face. At my office, everyone greeted me, and said my name in a way that made me preen. The unintentional slights rolled off my plumage like water off a duck.
The simplest things, away from the man at the top of the stair, were bright and wonderful; even signing correspondence warmed me inside. The friendly grocer had bagged my things, but I’d refused when he offered to help me to my car. The women at the department store beauty parlor exclaimed in envy over the clarity of my skin, little knowing the long road I’d taken to achieve it.
Each pill, each treatment, all had been one more bit of poison to the man at the top of the stair. I’d worked for a year, and then two, to make him go away, to die at long last. If only to never see his face scowling back at me ever again.
I made my dinner, I took care of my cats, I relaxed with some chamomile tea in my long, soft nightgown, and read my book until it fell from my hand, its text intermingled with wisps of a dream.
Time for bed.
My chest tightened, as I could avoid the stair no more.
Not long ago, Mom confided in me that when I’d been a child, she’d dreamed of me as I am now, like a prophecy. She said I seemed so much happier. Wish she’d told me that then. Where could I have been by now? Would there never have been
the hated man waiting for me at the top of my stair?
At the top of the stair he stood, like he did every night before bed. This time, I could take it no more, and I screamed, “I’ve done everything I can! Will you never leave me?”
My fist shattered the mirror, and a dozen or a hundred images of the man leered back at me, somehow making a laugh out of my screaming face. I crumpled to the floor, picking glass out of my fingers, wrapping my bloody hand in the skirts of my nightgown. The sharp edges of long shards of glass, more tempting and easier than any hangman’s noose, called to me, the eyes of the man beckoned to me from all over the rug.
He won’t win today, not this way.
I dialed 9-1-1.
I will survive. And I will win.

If I Can’t Have You

Amy Kasim

It was Tuesday evening; the day of the week that Dennis liked to stay late at the office. Louisa was parked across the street at exactly 7pm, patiently watching and waiting for the lights in the 8 storey building to go off floor by floor, till the last one was left; where he could be located.

Six months had passed since their wedding, exactly six months after the mysterious disappearance of her step sister Rebecca, and Dennis still would not see her. He blamed Louisa for her disappearance; he would have been married to the love of his life but for her. Phone calls were left unanswered, Dennis refused to see her at his work place, and would not even attend family gatherings if she was there; he avoided her like the plague.

Rebecca achieved her dream of being a doctor and being everyone’s favourite; something that filled Louisa with so much bitterness and jealousy. Though she had disappeared, she still seemed to be in control of everything; she was like “The man who wasn’t there”, with a tight grip on Dennis’ heart; her husband, the man she, Louisa, was supposed to possess. 

Louisa slowly alighted from her car and walked into the building, ensuring she wasn’t being followed.


Dennis was buried in paper work at his desk, not bothering to look up when his door opened and closed. “Christina I thought I asked you to leave? Put the files on the desk and go home.”

“So Christina is the reason you won’t come home?” Louisa asked with her arms folded across her chest

“What are you doing here?” Dennis firmly gripped the sides of his seat; his voice laced with fury.

“I came to see my dear husband. I miss him.”

“Do you have a death wish? Please leave before I do something I’d regret”

“I won’t”

“Would you never leave me Steph?”

“If I cannot have you, no one will” she bluntly stated

What will you do; kill me? Ha!” he scoffed, rising from seat to the window “Well, I would have you know that I rather be tied to a hangman’s noose than be with you.”

A click sounded a few feet behind Dennis. “What are you doing Steph?”

“I told you Dennis; I won’t share you with anyone.” Louisa switched hands to steady the revolver in her trembling hands. “Why do you keep blaming me for something I didn’t do? Is it my fault Jenny left?”

“You are sick Steph; you need help” he said sadly

“I am not sick!” she yelled “I do not need help! All I need is for you to love me!” she gripped her head in both hands.

Seeing she was distracted at the moment, Dennis maneuvered his way to her, grabbing her hand to twist it; she did not budge. For someone who looked frail, Louisa was stronger than he imagined. They fell onto the sofa, pushing and pulling, each person struggling for control.



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