The Iron Writer Challenge #205
2017 Summer Solstice Final
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
Richard Russell, Jennifer Worrell, Dani J. Caile, Vance Rowe, Malissa Greenwood
Under the Sun
“You’re Fired!” John screamed at his gardener. Andre’s soft gentle eyes looked to the ground in shame as John continued, “You’re just lazy; that’s what you are. Look at this! How could you miss this weed? I thought you were a professional. Obviously you fail to grasp the big picture concerning my property and the level of service I expect. Is it too much to ask …” Standing by the open car door, John’s wife, Mary, interrupted John’s tirade, “John, what are you doing? Come on. It’s time to go. John bent over and pulled the weed himself.
Climbing into the car next to Mary, John sighed, “Where is it we’re going, again, Mary?” Mary stared back blankly . She was accustomed to John’s lack of involvement in her life, but it never ceased to amaze her. “We’re going to Dover, to see the cliffs, to walk on the beach, to hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes as the sun sets warm and intimate over the gently lapping blue waves of the ocean …. John!” John rolled his eyes, looked out his window at Andre and barely voiced, “I could be remodeling the family room right now.” Mary, looking dully to the front of the car, ominously inquired, “What was that, John?” Annoyed, but silent, John started the car.
After an hour or so of conversationless driving, Mary spoke up, “Look, John, It’s Stonehenge Let’s stop and see it.” Aghast, John blurted, “We’ve already seen it. Aren’t we on a schedule?” Mary’s lips tightened and she squinted while her face turned red, “I don’t even know why I keep trying! You and your blamed schedules, and that monstrosity of a house! Tears formed and ran down her face. “You know what? Let’s just go back home.” John recoiled at the strength of her emotion, “No, no; it’s okay. Stonehenge; we can do that.”
Standing in the crowd, the two listened to the guide explain theories of how Stonehenge might have been built, “… It is estimated that the construction could have taken thousands of men over 400 years …” John’s mind traveled back in time, picturing thousands of men grunting as they physically dragged multi-ton monoliths over the countryside; maybe for their whole lives. He pondered, “To build what? All that effort and dedication, and nobody even knows what this structure was for now-days.” He sighed, “Time and tide will sweep all away.” John saw a comparison between Stonehenge and his “monstrosity of a house.” What did he think he was trying to accomplish by building a huge mansion? Looking over at Mary, John felt sorry for the way he had made her suffer his neglect. He took her by the hand; they faced each other, and John spoke earnestly, “Come on, let’s get on over to the cliffs before the sun sets. I don’t want to miss that walk with you on the beach.”
Mary looked up; from somewhere deep in her soul, a genuine smile rose to the surface, manifesting across her lips.
Stone Circuit, Black Hole
Reuniting with you was easier when I was younger. I sat within the ring of stones and waited for the planets to align just so. The energy surrounding Stonehenge transported me within seconds. Today’s ethereal essence intertwined with yesterday’s corporeal self. I could relive entire days with you, touch you, feel your voice against my skin. Could you feel me too, on the other side? Did they tell you this would be possible someday? Or was it privileged information exclusive to omniscient beings?
But what was once a vivid recreation and a gentle parting has become fragmented conversations and fleeting images, our hands clawing at the fabric of time in an attempt to cling to it forever.
Our connection fades, the sun along with it. How long have I savored each kiss, holding you closer against me than I had the first time ‘round? Have I been here for five days or five minutes? The shadows of the stones grow long over me, like a blanket pulling over my head.
Science, magic, time—all converging. The breakthroughs the Wise Ones made in such a short while…unthinkable. Something to celebrate, isn’t it? Not so long ago, once-green trees bent to the will of the wind, then snapped into brown dust with the first chill. Now leaves take years changing from green to gold; they have plenty of time.
The Wise Ones tried to convince us we were blessed. We didn’t have to squeeze a full life into a span of merely eighty years, but one hundred, more, until youth was drawn like water from a well for decades past a century. You couldn’t tell an old man from his middle-aged children. The world rejoiced—except those of us on the cusp of departure, anxious to be reunited with those who passed before us. Our limbs are still supple, our minds and senses sharp, though we ache for decline and senility. Those of us just outside the realm of New Science remain; a curse the Wise Ones insist is a gift.
I continue to hope that today they reach the peak of their knowledge and worldly understanding, and tomorrow we regress. But every evening the news reaches my ears: another revelation, another milestone, another year gained.
I have no words to express my regret. I failed you by not acting sooner, when these innovations were first becoming apparent. I’m imprisoned by my poor choices and cowardice. Now it’s too late; modern medicine will simply reverse any drastic measures I take.
My heart forever deepens as the void between us expands. I can feel you sigh as you turn away from me, your star a tarnished silver.
All things must end. All things must end. This promise I hold onto more tightly than ever.
Dani J. Caile
Half asleep driving down the A303 at night, trying to get back to London after a rainy two week holiday in Torquay, I spotted what I’d missed on the way there. The moon sat low on the horizon and shone through the standing monument of Stonehenge. I wondered about this great part of our history and whether anybody would ever find out what it was really built for… my eyes closed for a second and I shook myself awake as I felt the car swerve to the right. Shaking my head and taking deep breaths I saw something in the sky, a green tailed meteor hurtling to the ground and slamming directly into the middle of the famous landmark with a flash of light that momentarily covered the night sky. The road was empty except for myself, so I sped ahead and parked up as close as possible. With a sudden recklessness and energy, I leaped out of the car, jumped the fence encircling Stonehenge and stood over the meteor’s crater. I heard a tiny moan from deep below.
“Help…” came a whimpered reply.
I clambered into the hole and quickly found a smoldering rock about two meters in length. It broke apart to show a man, clothed in a strange outfit and quite definitely suffering from pain.
“What the…? Who are you? Are you an… alien?” I asked, not sure whether to run or stay.
“No, no, I’m not an alien. I’m from the future, a time traveler.” He cringed and his face grew an ominous white, as though death approached.
“Time travel? Is that a thing?”
“Yes, it’s a thing… help?” he asked. I grabbed him by the arms and dragged him out of the hole and onto solid ground. “Ah, Stonehenge, as I left it.”
“So, you time traveled?” I asked. “Amazing.”
“I am dying,” he said. “I have something important to say. You will find that the world has changed forever. I must warn the people of this time…”
“What has happened? What have you come to tell us?” I asked, now wide awake and ready for any news from the future.
“A terrible thing…”
“Is it… Trump? Has his narcissistic, racist, lying ways brought the world to a grinding halt?”
“No, no, not yet,” he said weakly. I thought closer to home.
“Brexit. Has Theresa May’s Brexit plans destroyed not only the United Kingdom but also Europe?”
“Well, I’m not here for that, but… no, not that,” he said, shaking his head and coughing.
“Is it her emails? It’s got to be Hillary’s emails,” I said. He looked at me sternly. “Blacks. It’s the Racism in the police force, isn’t it?”
“No, not blacks. It’s birdies,” he said.
The man coughed and blood appeared on his lips.
“I… I don’t have much time. You… you must warn them,” he said as he grasped my collar.
“What? What must I tell?” I held him as he uttered his last words.
“A Birdie Song revival… oh, the horror…”
Jacob wished he never found that damned journal and wanted his suffering to end. Laying in a pool of warm syrupy liquid, he thought back to a few days earlier when he found a metal box in a wall of a building his crew was demolishing. In the box, Jacob found a leather bound journal full of notes and mathematical equations. Never being his strong suit in school, the mathematical equations seemed so foreign to him. The notes, however, led him to believe that this book held the secret to time travel. He noticed the word ‘Stonehenge’ written in different places throughout the journal. A partial stanza of an elvish song from the Lord of the Rings was also written in the journal as the final entry. A very morose stanza.
The trees are now turning from green to gold
And the sun is now fading
I wish I could hold you closer
Jacob brought the decaying leather bound journal to a mathematician friend of his. He told Jacob to leave the journal with him for a few days and he would see what he could make of it. A couple of days later, the mathematician friend called him. Jacob remembered the fright in his friend’s voice.
“Jacob, this scientist worked for a secret scientific organization within the government and he seems to have discovered the secret to time travel. Stonehenge is the key according to him,” the friend said, almost breathlessly. “You need to come get this book and forget you ever showed it to me. I am sure the government is looking for this and will do what they have to, in order to get it back and I want no part of it.”
Jacob retrieved the journal and his friend said, “Listen to me, Jacob. I researched this scientist and found out he died from a mysterious disease a few years back. You put this journal back where you found it.”
“I can’t do that. I found it in a building we are demolishing.”
“Well, get rid of it somehow. Just don’t get caught with it. People have died holding information like this.”
Jacob took the journal, threw it in the trunk of his car and drove home.
The next morning, at work, Jacob observed some government vehicles parked there. When Jacob stepped from his car, some men in dark suits approached and questioned him. They asked Jacob if he found a notebook. The men grilled him for almost a half hour, checked his I.D. and left. Arriving home after work, he discovered his house ransacked, and his computer gone. Jacob ran back out to his car, opened the trunk and grabbed the journal. He walked to the driver side door and was about to get in when he felt a stinging pain in his chest. He looked down and saw blood pouring out. Jacob dropped to his knees and a couple of dark sedans sped up to him. A man got out of one of the cars, grabbed the journal and then left, leaving Jacob laying there in a pool of blood.
Bobbing from Time to Time
I hate boats. I never understood how people could be so comfortable with the constant motion, the relentless bobbing from side to side.
I also don’t care for spontaneous plan changes, precisely because they lead to me being at a total loss of control in unexpected scenarios.
Which is exactly the situation we’re in now; completely unexpected, uncomfortable, and entirely unprepared.
I had a relaxing vacation planned for myself and Gloria at Stonehenge. Introspective walks around the curious stones and intellectual conversation with the locals. But my bloody machine was on the fritz so here I was… suffering.
Instead of landing in 2357 BC near Amesbury, England, we were somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean circa 300 AD. On a boat.
I felt my stomach turn with each rocking motion of the rickety old beast. Perspiration dripping from my forehead, I steadied myself on the railing and urged the moment to pass.
Gloria smiled at me from her spot on the bow, no doubt finding immense humor in my misery.
“Edgar pull yourself together, mate! You’ve got to help me get this machine working or we’ll be stuck here for ages. Literal ages, I feel like we’re coming up on the bronze or something. Gold? Golden age would be rather cool, I suppose…”
I let her trail off, she was obviously amusing herself. But she did have a point – I’d better get to work soon.
I swallowed hard, hoisted myself up and used my pocket square to wipe my brow. Places to go, times to see, no sense wasting the day on a stupid boat surrounded by very a very serious crew who had yet to realize who we were.
“Keep your britches on love. I’ll be right as rain in no time!” Perhaps there was something to that old saying of ‘fake it till you make it’.
“Bloody better be. Or I reckon I’ll leave you here and travel alone.” Gloria quipped, ever the teaser.
“Do that, love, and you will find that the world has changed forever!” She leaned in and kissed my nose. Her signature move when my cockiness got the best of me.
I looked around the boat, the crew were talking amongst themselves in what appeared to be a Peruvian dialect. I returned my attention to the machine as Gloria asked, “What do we need to get it working?” I wasn’t sure, but I sensed a bit of fear in her voice.
We’ve already adjusted the calendar quotient and reconfigured the mooring module. The only other possible problem was the intergalactic excursion tank and wouldn’t you know it – it ran on salt water.
“Gloria find us a bucket, I’ll get a rope! We’re getting out of here!”
Within moments she scurried back, wide eyed and full of excitement. That’s what I loved about her – she was always resourceful, adventurous and rather helpful in times of crisis.
We loaded the tank with as much salt water as we could hoist and soon we were off. No longer bobbing on water, but instead time and space, headed to explore the wonders of ancient England and some relatively large stones.