The Iron Writer Challenge #35
Iron Writer Grudge Match #1
The Ground Rules for this Match
Each duelist will write a 500 word story. Each duelist has chosen an element. Tony and his second, K. A., have shared their elements with each other. Eric and his second, M.D. have done the same. Each pair does not know the other pair’s elements. Authors names will not be shown until after the judging is complete. The winning story will be selected using a dual voting system. First, popular voting rallied by the duelist fan base. The story with the most votes will receive four points. Second, each story will be reviewed by five judges. The judges are: Dani J Caile, Johnna Murphy, Moira McArthur, Stacey Covell, Steven L. Bergeron. Each judge will chose the story they felt used the elements the best and give that story their vote. Those vote will be added to the popular vote. The story with the most collective votes wins.
A murderous Unicorn
The Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle
A fantasy football draft must be a part of the main scene of the story
The story must be written from the POV of someone with a mental illness or developmental delay
A Moment of Calm
The silence of the Max’s bar was soothing to John, which is what he needed after his former best friend shot himself just hours earlier. It knew it was his fault.
He didn’t take his medicine that day and had not been in the so-called right state mind.
John rattled a pill bottle looking at its instructions: “Take one pill every 4 to 6 hours.” He called waitress to get a refill of Diet Coke and order a plate of dry chicken wings.
Several hours earlier John ran into his former friend, Ted, at the pharmacy around the corner. John was he was waiting for his diazepam — he forgot to call in his refill and went a day without it.
They last saw each other six months ago.
“John?” Ted seemed to not want to acknowledge him, but seemed happy too. He also was getting a prescription.
“Oh, hey, Ted.”
“I had been meaning to call you.” Ted played with his watch, looking at it. “There’s a pill bottle at the apartment. I’m on my way to a fantasy football draft – go fighting Murderous Unicorns – but I’m at the same place if you have a few minutes.”
John didn’t want to go, but it would give him a reserve stash of pills.
“How much longer?” John’s booming voice caught the pharmacist’s attention, who was overworked and by himself.
“About 20 minutes, sir.”
“I’ll be back. I just have to get something.” The pharmacist waved as he looked down at his work.
After unlocking his apartment door, Ted walked toward a sofa table, grabbed a pill bottle and tossed it. “Thanks,” John said.
He looked at the bottle and saw it was his prescription but it had Ted’s name on it. “I think you gave me…” He swallowed his sentence. Ted pointed a cocked revolver at his own temple.
“You screwed me, John.” Ted’s rapid breathing made him shake the gun. “I blew off that charity ball because of you. I lost a multimillion account and got fired. You ruined me!”
Before John could say a word, convince Ted to stop, he squeezed the trigger. His body collapsed. Blood and brain matter splattered everywhere. John gasped for breath and doubled over.
With a thrust of adrenaline he stood and ran to the sink. He popped one of Ted’s pills and leaned to drink from the faucet.
With panic pounding in his chest, John forced himself to run.
Max’s was always a refuge. But that changed when a group of men walked in. One carried a large poster board with a chart on it. He hung it on the wall. The title read: The Lunar Rover Fantasy Football League.
That group, that sign made John hyperventilate. He took several deep breaths, popped a pill and placed a $20 bill on the table before leaving. He saw an approaching bus. A rush of calmness coursed through his body as he sprinted into the street and leaped in front of the passing bus.
Schizophrenia: The Physical World
Stalingrad, the Stalwart nickered. His horn glowed a fierce red, proudly displaying the rage both he and I felt toward those gathered around us. I struggled against my bonds, and Stalingrad his hobbles, neither of us finding purchase. Every bit of me screamed to lash out, to slaughter every man at the table.
Starting with Terry.
The idea to kill Terry first seemed to come from nowhere, it didn’t make sense. He’d neither betrayed me, nor burned my house to the ground. Terry hadn’t wronged me at all. My only reason for hating him was his seeming kinship with the others. He would die first, though, so the others would fear me before they met their end.
“Who will I take down next?” Devin drawled around a cigar as he studied his infoPad. His uniform was crisp, medals gleaming beneath four stars on his lapel. The leader of the group, Devin had orchestrated my downfall.
Stalingrad trembled beneath me, his great chest heaving. He wanted Devin’s blood as much as I did. But we were being toyed with. Ignored.
“Just choose your victim, Devin, this isn’t a difficult decision.”
“Not difficult,” Devin replied calmly, as if one of his most trusted lieutenants, Gerard, hadn’t undermined the superior officer. “But far-reaching. Entire governments have fallen because of careless actions, Gerard. Yes, this is a small decision, but I cannot afford a loss this season.”
Gerard, for the moment, was mollified. Once I freed myself, he would be second. Gerard, who captured me, tortured, bound, stuffed me and Stalingrad into his antique rover, and dragged us into this smoke-filled room. It wasn’t because of anything I said or did, it was because of what they thought I knew.
Pain erupted in my head. The world faded to gray.
Where am I? Who … ah.
“Kevin Reddick,” Devin declared. Nicholas, a captain sitting to Devin’s left, smiled evilly. He had plans. Plans that not even Devin knew, from the looks of things.
Terry first, then Gerard, Nicholas third, and Devin last. Of the four, I would enjoy killing Nicholas. I wondered briefly how many other families he’d torched, and felt sorry for Kevin Reddick, whoever he was.
I struggled once more against my bonds, drawing a glance from Gerard. He appeared to have no personal grudge with me, but I wouldn’t be fooled. I watched him as his attention passed from me, to his infoPad. The reflection from his glasses showed that he was studying dossiers. Charts, graphs, for what, I could only guess.
“Todd Husak,” and like that, Gerard condemned another man to death.
I struggled against my bonds one last time, before seeing that all eyes turned to me. Expecting. Waiting. I raised my hands defensively.
I wasn’t bound.
Was I ever bound?
Stalingrad nickered … No, Stalingrad was a chair.
I didn’t understand, needed time to think, to understand. Nothing made sense.
Pain erupted in my head, I saw red. I didn’t understand, but I wanted them all dead.
I hate fantasy football. I tell Judy that it’s Dungeons and Dragons for jocks, but she tells me if I want to make progress, I’ve got to be social.
What do I know about football? Bunch of guys in shiny pants butt heads over a ball that doesn’t roll right. Judy says the guys all play on my floor, and she drags me to the common room. She’s worried about me.
Everybody’s worried about me. I rub my wrists, to remind myself.
I hate the helmets. To support Special Ross, we decorate fake football helmets. To be funny, I painted a unicorn with a bloody horn and demonic eyes as my mascot. Isn’t humor positive?
No one gets me.
Special Ross uses his sense of humor, too. He painted the Apollo 17 car on a Moonscape. When I asked him, he just giggled and giggled, but I get the joke. Everyone underestimates Ross. Lunar Rover, raving lunatic. Twisted, difficult, cerebral humor, that’s not someone expects, but he’s crazy smart.
So I line up my rows of names and figures on my fantasy sheet, my Bay City Bloody Unicorns down double digits as the Superbowl drags on. Judy congratulates all of us, and draws attention to me so I can’t just withdraw into comfortable self-loathing darkness. She recruits nurses to cheer and shake invisible pom-poms for me.
I’m mortified. I want to hide. They’re only mocking me, I can tell. The smiles never reach their eyes. They glance at the wall clock even as they clap and chant my name, and the name of #12, my quarterback. I picked him because of his name, but he’s been anything but lucky.
Ross leans over and bumps helmets with me. His innocent grin just kills me, and I smile for the first time in days.
He whispers, “Lucky break in ten. Nine. Eight,” then he points with his chin at the TV.
I look up, and #12 collides with one of the guys in purple. Purple #61 falls on #12’s leg and I swear I heard the celery crunch of bone. I look around the room as cheers erupt from the loonies who didn’t bet on my guy. Which is most of them.
Ross doesn’t deserve the nasty look I give him, but his smile stays sweet as he mouths, “Just watch,” and I turn back to the TV.
The blue guys huddle as #12 is carried away on a stretcher. The lineup changes. I check my reserves. They put #8 in as QB and the game goes on. The blue guys rally after their bad luck, mowing down the purple guys. I cheer, “home run!” as they score over and over. Only Ross and Judy laugh.
As the final buzzer sounds, I check my math twice and scream, “I WON!”
Nurses make jazz-hands and cheer. Ross headbutts me. Grumbling loonies pat me on the back.
Judy grins at me. “Was that so bad?”
And I guess it wasn’t, after all.
See this? This is a picture of my best friends. They are my best friends ever and when I’m not working, when I’m not working we always hang out and do cool stuff. Yeah. This one is Dave. On Fridays we go to Dave’s house, me and the one-two-three of them and we play Fantasy Football. I always pick Luck first. “Luck for luck,” I say and they all laugh even though Jack, that’s Jack right there, he says it’s stupid to pick a quarterback first round. But Jack doesn’t, Jack doesn’t come on Fridays anymore. He is an astronaut and he is gone on a super secret mission. He is driving a rover on the moon looking for aliens and UFO’s. Nobody knows about it, it’s a secret and so don’t tell okay?
These are my best friends and we get together on Fridays but we didn’t get together last Friday before that or the Friday before that because Joe, that’s Joe, his wife is pregnant and he doesn’t let him go out anymore. His wife is really ugly and she has this big pink mole on her head and once Joe got drunk and called her the “psychotic unicorn” and the “eater of men’s souls” but I don’t think he meant it. I mean, you can’t eat a soul, that’s like eating ghosts and if you ate a ghost you would get S-I-C-K sick. I like Joe and I miss him because I haven’t seen them in a long time, but they’re not my best friends they’re my brother’s best friends. My big brother Randy, he goes to Fantasy Football and sometimes he lets me go along and we hang out and Dave yells “Hey, you brought Kenny” and everyone cheers because they are my best friends and my brother gave me this picture to ‘member them.
Well, I mean they’re my best friends but they’re not really my best friends ‘cause I haven’t met them yet but my brother Randy tells me about them all of the time and I like the stories because they make me laugh. Randy goes over there for Fantasy Football and sometime soon he’s going to take me, too and I have my first and second and third round picks already picked out so I will be ready, and I’ve studied about the moon and the rover so that Jack will think I’m smart but Randy hasn’t taken me yet. When I ask he just ruffles my hair and says, “I’m running late, maybe next time, Buddy” even though last time I took the day off of work so that I would be ready but Randy must not have known ‘cause he didn’t come home after work he just went straight there and he didn’t give me this picture I took it out of his room.
That’s Dave and that’s Jack and that’s Joe and that’s Randy and I just made that up. My brother didn’t give me this. I don’t even have a brother. I just found it in the parking lot one day. My best friends.