The Iron Writer Challenge #64 – 2014 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #1

Whack a Mole

The Iron Writer Challenge #64

2014 Iron Writer Summer Solstice Challenge #1

Four Authors!

Four Elements!

Four Days!

500 Words! 

The Authors:

Suzann Smith, K. A. DaVur, Jaime Sprague, Chris Bays

The Elements:

A Whack a Mole Game

A bag of Body Bags

A Theologian

An Atheist 


All Roads Lead Home

Christopher Bays

He travelled this same Texas road three years ago. That time it was raining. He tried to keep the images out of his head but they wouldn’t leave him. Even though the edges of the memories were tattered with age he could still see the overturned bus and remember showing his press I.D. to the deputy. He could remember slipping momentarily on the bag of body bags that the coroner had carelessly left by the roadside. The image that never faded was seeing his wife lying in the grass, staring up at the sky. He never did a serious news story again. 

Today was a sunny Sunday. The ‘Carnival of Oddities’ story took him away from home, leaving his six-year-old daughter with his mother, so she wouldn’t miss a day of church. Some days God was all he had left. 

The carnival was built into an old theater. Inside, the owner showed him around to his newest acquisitions from an eccentric collector who died recently. No front page, all section E.  

“Presidential whack-a-mole. Ernie hand built all the presidents. She’s got a lot of restoration work to be done. Them Democrats kinda took a beating.” The curator flipped a switch on a fortune telling machine redecorated as ‘The Atheist’, explaining it malfunctioned a lot spitting out fortunes at random. As if on cue the machine whirred and it spit one out. 

Hard work is its own reward. 

They were about to step away when it spit another one out. He grabbed it and it read it to himself.  

I’m sorry for you loss. Raising a daughter on your own requires great patience. 

His heart nearly stopped but he walked on as the curator told him about other projects that Ernie had worked on. In the distance he could hear The Atheist whir again.  

“Would it be ok if I walk around and get some pictures. I want to get a feel for the place.”  

The curator nodded and then said he’d be in the office in the back if he needed anything.  

The machine made no further noise but he made his way back to it. He picked up the fortune and read it.  

Never forget her memory but trust that there is a future. 

He could feel the tears building up behind his eyes and he fought to hold them back. The machine whirred.  

Yellow sundress. Go now. It’s time.  

He saw a flash of something yellow through the front windows and he would swear later that he heard the word ‘run’. He sprinted for the front door and threw it open, nearly toppling over the woman standing there. He looked up to apologize, her yellow sundress gleaming in the bright Texas sun. 

“It’s ok”, she smiled, “I often stop here to remember. My grandfather owned this when it was a theater.”  

The words almost caught in his throat, “I’m doing a story on this place. Could I buy you a cup of coffee? I’d like to know more.”  

She turned her head to the side, contemplating it for a second and replied, “I’d like that.” 

What’s the Point?

Jaime Sprague-Sullivan

The men walked up to the gaming center at the fair and looked around at all the mayhem.  Mayhem that was caused by a kid being bullied in school, using a gun on all of the teenagers, and then on himself. As the men walked up to the Whack-a-mole game that was covered in blood, they saw a bag that was sitting on the ground that was filled with body bags.

“It’s a shame he had to bring a whole bag of those.” The Detective said.

“Yeah, poor kids didn’t see it coming.” The other Detective said.  “Makes me wonder what kind of God would allow this to happen.  You’re the Theologist, is there any God you know that would allow this to happen.  I mean with all of your studies, you had to have found some reason for all of this to happen over and over again.”

“Look, just because you’re an Atheist doesn’t mean that you can go blame this on any God that there is. There is a reason that everything happens, what the reason is sometimes isn’t found out for years.  You need to have some kind of faith. Maybe you should go to church, any church, and seek answers.”

“Why would I go to church? Seeing all of this all the time makes me disbelieve even more than I did before I started this job.”

The men looked around at all of the evidence and blood and decided it was time to get started on trying to figure out how it happened.  All of the witnesses told them the same story; a young boy around the age of 16 walked up to the gaming area with a gun and just started shooting.  Then he turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger.  With the blood spatter all over the place and the way the bodies were all sprawled out, it corroborated their stories.

“What a waste. These kids think that making fun of a kid is nothing and doesn’t affect them, and then they all end up dead.” The Theology Detective states.

“Yeah. What was the point?”

They walked around the bag full of body bags, trying to not let it affect them.  As they looked at the blood spatter on the Whack-a-mole game, they were able to find out who was standing there playing the game, and how they were standing when they got shot. They looked around at the bodies and started to look for identification on them.  That was when the Atheist saw something that made him stop in his tracks, he saw his son lying on the ground in a pool of blood.

“Oh my God! No!” He yelled as he ran up and pulled his dead son into his arms and cried to a God he never believed in before that moment.

Rise and FallK. A. DaVur

K. A. DaVur

Into darkness we begin and, when our role is done, it is into darkness we return.  So it has been since the dawn of time.  Whether that dawn bloomed, as some claim, when the Maker bolted our world together and set us gently within it or,  as  others insist,  when  some  mystical force surged through us (often called the Big Bang Theory) I know not, nor do I care. At least, I didn’t. Those around me talk of little else, here as we wait in our holes. One of my fellow denizens believes that life is but a wheel, that we are destined to repeat the same day, the same life over and  over until  we achieve perfect selflessness,  can submit fully to our destiny.  Only then are we allowed to move on.  Another, my neighbor to the left, believes that we live in the shallows beneath a higher power. That we are, in our way, loved, and that we must take our hits in the joy we have and the joy we bring. Still a third thinks that there’s nothing beyond.That the rise and fall of our days is but the work of a giant machine.   I?  I am a lowly earth dweller. Our lot, or so I have always believed. My lot is not to question, but to do. After all, for such as I Truth is unknowable. Then yesterday, oh yesterday.  The morning dawned as any other and soon my came to leap into the light. I found that I could not. My legs, my strong, tireless pistons, failed to propel. I threw myself upward and still nothing.  I know what this means.  I’ve seen so many grow old, their heads greying, until they can no longer lift their heads.Then, they are pulled from amongst us, their rigid bodies tossed into a large black bag, and a newborn seeded in their place. My heart is pounding. My vision narrows. I find myself begging, pleading to – who? Anyone? – for just one more day. One more chance to join in the conversations. To do more than simply rise and fall at the whim of fate, to take my whacks.  It is no use. I am, all too soon, out of time.  Soon, he will come, He of The Keys, and soon my life will be over. Soon I will have the answer to the question I never dared to ask.

Let the Games Begin!

Suzann Smith

Suzann Smith

“A theologian, an atheist and a mortician walked into a bar,” John began much to the jeers of his companions.

“C’mon John! Enough with the ‘Walked into a bar’ jokes,” groaned Emily. It was the 14th Annual Whack-a-Mole Tournament.  John, Emily and Fredrick had nearly won last year and were determined not to take second again.

“No, it’s not a joke.  Look!” Strutting through the poorly lit bar, bopping to the beat of the 90s music blaring for the evenings festivities, Emily could just make out the figures of Drs. Johnson, Malverson and Henderson.

“I was hoping they wouldn’t make it this year,” whispered the now slightly dejected Frederick.

The Doctors were a few minutes late arriving, a fact which had raised the hopes of the trio.

Dr. Johnson was a professor of theology at the local university.  Emily had graduated from community college with him before he pursued his Doctorate of Theology at the fancy bible college in the neighboring state.  He had returned home quite full of himself, apparently failing to learn the lessons of humility.  Dr. Malverson was his best friend.  They had played high school football together and had remained close, frequently enjoying debates on the existence of God. Dr. Malverson, an astronomy professor at the same college, was a devote evolutionist and self-proclaimed atheist.

Dr. Henderson was truly the interesting one of the group.  The county’s Medical Examiner, she had waist length black hair, usually tied loosely into a ponytail at the base of her neck.  No one seemed to be able to decided which of the good doctors she was dating.  John wasn’t sure even the doctors themselves knew for certain.

“Doctor.  Doctor.  Doctor,” Emily nodded greetings as the teams took their positions.  “Dr. Henderson, I believe you dropped your, um… purse?” Emily said as she stooped to retrieve the item in question, accidentally toppling it and spilling the contents.  “I believe these are yours…” she replied handing the three body bags up to the ME.

“Uh,” she chuckled, “yeah.  Guilty.  You never know when you will be called to the scene… you know.  Occupational hazard and all….”

The whistle sounded and the play began.  Sweat dripped from the brow of teams as they beat defenseless moles on the head with mallets.  The carnage was great.  Team after team dropped until, in a repeat of the 13th Annual  Whack-a-Mole Tournament, the only teams left standing were the good doctors and John, Emily and Frederick.

In an amazing last minute show of dexterity, Frederick stretched high and to the right just in time to pounce on the final mole, driving home the victory for his team!

The reigning champs looked distastefully at the lowly, second place team, unable to fathom being beat by a plumber, a school teacher and a cabinet maker. Unable to speak, the atheist stared, red faced with anger.  The theologian burst out with a low, growled “I’m going to kill you all…” The ME sweetly turned to her companions and replied, “why do you think I brought three body bags?”

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