The Iron Writer Challenge #60 – 2014 Iron Writer Spring Equinox Challenge #10, Grudge Match #5


The Iron Writer Challenge #60

2014 Iron Writer Spring Equinox Challenge #10

Four Authors!

Four Elements!

Four Days!

500 Words!

The Grudgers:

Heather Johnson & M. D. Pitman


Neal Sayatovich & DL Zwissler

The Elements:

A Zombie Apocalypse

A 1936 Chevy Corvette

A Coyote

A Snow Plow

Five Graves for Wiley ‘Coyote’ BarnesDanielle Lee Zwissler

DL Zwissler

Behind a false brick in my childhood home, I found blueprints for a time machine, a 1936 license plate and keys to a Chevy Corvette.

My grandfather was an inventor and worked for NASA. He had always talked of time warps and black holes, feeding my mind with stranger-than-fiction ideas. It wasn’t until the world started to fail that I realized how important those talks with my grandfather were to me. Like much of my life, he was a mystery, always hiding things around the house, talking of the Great Depression and then the War right after. They hid things, my grandparents, in time capsules, false bricks, a vase or oddly enough the cookie jar in the kitchen.

After two years of fending off the zombies, nearly running out of ammunition, I took a serious look at the blueprints for the time machine and decided to go for it. The instructions were precise and most of the supplies could be found in the shelter that my grandfather had built years ago. I only added one thing to the design: a snowplow that I had found in the garage. I needed something to clear the dead bodies. I often wondered if my grandfather had the gift of foresight, when he built the shelter all those years ago. I wondered if he was preparing for WWII or if he knew that the world would one day come to this.

When I heard the sound emit from the walkie talkie, I knew it was time.

“Coyote, are you in? Coyote, this is Tomcat.”

Tomcat was my best friend, Brody, from High school.

“Coyote here, what’s your 21?”

“Outside the shelter. They’re everywhere. Are you getting ready to move out?”

“Yes, I really hope this works,” I said, feeling somewhat confident. “I’ll be back when I can. I want to warn my grandfather about the walls.”

“I really hope this works. Good Luck.”

“I’ll need it. Godspeed, Tomcat.”

“Godspeed, Coyote.”

After breaking the connection, I took a deep breath and pulled out the letter that I had found in the brick where the license plate was stored. It had instructions on where to drive, how long and what to take. I thought it was a long shot, but knowing my grandfather, I figured I had better adhere to his words. I set the year to 1936 and prayed for the first time in a long while.

Two days later, I appeared outside of the same house that I had lived in for the last 36 years. My grandfather was standing in the front yard, and when he saw me, he swallowed deeply.

“Back again?”

“What, I’ve been here before?”

“Yep every day for the past five days.”

I swallowed, finally realizing why the date on the note was crossed out and rewritten so many times. I took a pencil from my pocket and crossed the last date out and wrote another, and then wrote something new and in bold letters ‘STRONGER WALLS’.

“You going to die on me, too?” he asked.

Just then, before I blacked out, I saw four graves with the same name. Wiley ‘Coyote’ Barnes.

Courier of HopeHeather Johnson

Heather Johnson 

When the dead returned, they feasted exclusively on live humans. After two years, their food source was nearly exhausted. Almost one hundred people, including The Genius, made camp in a suburban high school. In the beginning, he could contact his colleagues via radio. They were certain that together they could save the world, but then all communication ceased. Fewer than fifty people remained when The Genius knew how to make the stiffs stay still. “I need them and their equipment,” The Genius barked, punching a cafeteria table. “Otherwise, my solution is impossible.” The Mechanic had a car he called a ’36 Corvette, a bricolage of a dozen vehicles with a snowplow blade on the front. He felt sure it would make the journey.

A month after his departure, the stiffs kept multiplying. It was clear The Mechanic hadn’t been successful. The Genius requested volunteers for a radical scheme. Wyatt stepped forward after he was promised the last of the morphine and a chance at a peaceful death. After some discussion, The Hunter live-trapped a coyote (reasoning that a dog would not have the fortitude to eat the most available protein) and Wyatt memorized the route. Then they performed the surgery.

He awoke next to his human body. The top of its skull rested in its right palm like a bowl of borscht. Using a hind foot, he scratched at the staples across his brow. He was glad there was enough coyote inside the skull that he didn’t have to relearn to scratch himself. The Hunter secured a crossing-guard vest around his torso. On it, she had written in large letters, Hope for Humankind, Do Not Harm. He remembered that hope was not just the name of the girl who got devoured while hauling water. Hope was believing that someone out there would read his vest. “When you return, you will be The Hero,” she whispered, stroking his ear.

He scampered through the hordes, pausing only for distractions—the musky smell of a female, a crow snatching an eyeball from a moving corpse, the itch he soothed with a roll in coarse grass—to rest, and to eat. His coyote senses were magnificent. The first time he sampled a stiff, his mind filled with brilliant colors. The odor, which to his human nose had been unbearable, was sophisticated and pleasing.

After three days, he reached the post office where half of The Mechanic sprawled over the hood of the ’36 Corvette, his spine wriggling beneath a ragged sweatshirt. Knowing he was near, the coyote dashed toward his destination. Six gaunt men met his barks and whines. Inside their refuge they removed his vest and read aloud the document beneath it. They hooted and exclaimed, “I knew The Genius would come through!” and took turns scratching his belly and telling him he had done well. He fell asleep as the men talked excitedly and built a fire. “To The Hero!” they toasted several hours later, raising their bowls and picking at bits of grey fur that stuck to their lips. The rich, fortifying broth tasted like a better tomorrow.

Prologue: I am El CoyoteMichael Pitman

 M. D. Pitman

My name is Hugo Costello and I am a city worker who drives a snow plow in the winter and works in the parks during the summer. Like most people, you don’t know who I really am – yet. For those that know me as Hugo, they know be as a simple man, but I’m far from that. You may have heard of my other name, the name most people fear: El Coyote.

I will soon abandon my nice guy persona and embrace my true, masochistic self. I see myself as a businessman, and I’ve ran my “business” since high school. I ordered around thugs and hooligans that dealt drugs for me and helped with “problem elimination.” It wasn’t until after I school I added prostitution to my “business portfolio.”

Just like some other private business that started in a garage, my “business” will go public when it’s ready, though there won’t be any IPO or investment opportunities.

People now only recognize El Coyote by my ride, my “36 Corvette” – a Burgundy 1936 Buick Coupe with a 1972 454 cubic-inch, 7.4 liter Corvette engine. The paint job has been referred by some newspaper editorials as “the Zombie Apocalypse” because of the skulls that decorate the hood and side panels. With the sight and the roar of my Corvette, people cower – and that makes me feel good. That makes me feel powerful.

It’s only a matter of a few days that plan to take over the city, to form my syndicate will be primed to launch. This will be done with the help of my top two lieutenants: Tony Garrison, a childhood friend who’s not only killed for me but saved my life countless times, and Yuriko, a Japanese femme fatale. They have helped me grow from a small-time secret crook into the man – no at this point El Coyote is more of an idea – that everyone fears.

I was nine years old when I moved to Cincinnati with my parents. That’s when I met Tony. We ran our high school, though we made sure nobody actually knew that. Pot, fixed grades, and a modified version of my current “problem elimination” service were what we offered. The killing didn’t start until after college.

Tony and I went to the University of Cincinnati after high school. Partly to keep up the charade with our parents, but mostly we wanted more. That’s where we met Yuriko, who became one of my most trusted allies after we became lovers.

My parents weren’t happy when I took the job with the city after college – they said something about “throwing my education away” – but this job is strategic. I’ve learned the lay of the city and who I could and could not bribe. I’m ready for my parents to disown me.

The story you are about to hear is one of growth, personal perseverance and determination. It’s not yet a story of triumph, because triumph presumes an end and I’m just getting started.

Last WillNeal Sayatovich

Neal Satayovich

Well my luck has finally run out.

As I’m writing this letter I am slowly bleeding out from a bite in my thigh. My purpose for this note is simple, someone please find Veronica before it’s too late. I am no longer able to keep her safe in my current condition and hoping whoever reads can protect her.

Veronica and I met back when I was passing through Newark, Ohio. Ever since the infection broke out and the… zombies… started roaming around, I have been drifting from city to city in search of survival items. Newark was different than my normal scavenge and relocate routine though. While I was leaving a K-Mart I heard a woman scream and there she was, surrounded by three zombies.

I removed my pistol and dispatched the three zombies. She asked to come with me and I let her, God knows I needed the company. We bonded more and more every mile. While we were in Virginia we shot and cooked coyote on the roadside. We used to play trivia to keep ourselves busy. One question I enjoyed was when I asked her what was the first Chevy produced and she told me it was a 1936 Corvette.

Things went south while we were here in Kentucky. My little Toyota ran out of gas and we coasted into this small town, Marysville I think, looking for either gas or another vehicle. After we didn’t find anything in around us, we cut through the local graveyard. The irony was not lost on me. Then they came from everywhere, all I remember is a wall of infected people.

Veronica took off ahead of me as I fired a couple of quick shots into the group. She yelled at me that she found a vehicle with the keys still in the ignition. When I got to where she was I saw the monstrosity of a vehicle. She had found a Dodge Ram with a snow plow mounted to the front. As weird as it was, something was better than nothing.

I opened the door to the driver side and a body fell out of the cab. I thought it was just another corpse, until it bit my leg. I have never felt pain like that before. I shot the zombie, a decomposed brunette, and knew what had to be done, Veronica did too. I stepped away while she started the truck and stared at me through the window. She was crying and it hurt me knowing that I was doing this to her.

She drove off as if going back to Ohio without me getting the chance to tell her how I felt. So I’ve locked myself in this office to write this for whoever finds my body. Before I become one of them, I’m making my last bullet count.

I love you Veronica.

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