The Iron Writer Challenge

I was recently invited by Brian Rogers to join in with his Iron Writer Challenge. As soon as I saw the words ‘Writer’ and ‘Challenge’ I was immediately interested. As for the ‘Iron’ bit, well that’s the twist in the tale. Let me explain. On the surface it is a flash fiction writing challenge, conducted each week between four victims, sorry . . . authors, with a limit of 500 words. So far so good, particularly as the subject can be any genre (apart from erotica) of the writer’s choice. The ‘Iron’ part is when Brian wades in with his trump card. He provides four elements which have to be included, and believe me he must have a serious warped sense of humour, as none of the elements are REMOTELY linked. Below are illustrations to show the four elements I was given for my challenge. (If you click on the images you’ll see them in more detail):

Element Number One was a Tucker Turret. If you don’t know what one of those is, then you’re not on your own. It’s the gun turret, which can be seen on the ‘roof’ of a B-17 Flying Fortress. One of a number of WW2 aircraft fitted with such a device.

Element Number Two was a Russian olive tree. No, Brian couldn’t provide us poor scribes with a ‘normal’ olive tree, it had to be a Russian one. Thanks for that Brian. An olive tree, which doesn’t really have olives, but more of an olive shaped nut.

Element Number Three was Brian showing his kinder side, but I sensed something sneaky was lurking around the corner for the fourth element. Anyway, let’s accept his kind offer of ruby red slippers. I couldn’t visualise the pilot of a B-17 wearing these on a bombing run, or any other time come to that, so a rethink was needed.

I thought as much. Brian was going to leave his killer punch until last element was revealed. Element Four is a mermaid. I like to write thrillers, and I haven’t yet come across the need to include a mermaid in one. And as for trying to get her to wear ruby red slippers; well that clearly wasn’t going to work. Cinderella’s ugly sisters had enough trouble trying to fit into a pair, and they had feet. Now, up rocks a mermaid!

If this wasn’t going to be the root cause of writers block, then nothing was. However, I did rise to the challenge when Brian, with a big grin across his face, tossed his well travelled gauntlet in front of me. So, without further a do, here is what I came up with as a story, which included all of the above elements:


The Therapist


The B-17 Flying Fortress was a sitting duck. Two engines were ablaze, and gunner Charlie Jackson, staring through a hole in the shattered glass of his Tucker Turret, froze as an ME109 swooped in for the final kill. Just as the German pilot was about to open fire, Charlie sat bolt upright in bed, with perspiration oozing from every pore in his body. When would this continuously repeated nightmare end? It was 2012, and he was only 39 years old. Far too young to have been involved in World War Two.


He clambered out of bed, and headed towards the en-suite for a shower. He was due to see a therapist at 9.20am, and didn’t want to be late. A movement in the corner of his eye distracted him. He peered out of his bedroom window and observed a squirrel, scurrying across the lawn, with what looked like the fruit seized from a large, nearby, Russian olive tree. He considered the simplicity of the squirrel’s life, which was clearly hoarding food for the harsh winter months, and wished his could be as straightforward.


Charlie arrived at his therapist’s office five minutes early. He shuffled through the out-of-date magazines in the waiting area, but nothing grabbed his attention. He just wanted one night’s sleep without the sound of gunfire. The receptionist’s phone rang, and she quickly answered it. She then looked across at Charlie and said ‘Doctor Mea will see you now.’


Thirty seconds later Charlie was outside a door with a sign announcing the occupant -  ‘Dr I. M. Mea’. He knocked.


‘Come in’. The voice was female. It only then occurred to him he hadn’t even asked anything about this particular therapist when he made the appointment. He opened the door and entered the room. It was very spartan with regard to furniture, but Doctor Mea made up for that in abundance. She was Oriental in appearance, and was wearing a brightly coloured kimono and ruby red slippers.

‘Please Charlie, come in and take a seat. I can call you Charlie, can I?’

Charlie nodded, and sat in the seat he was shown.

‘So what brings you to see me? The notes given to me by my receptionist suggest you are having problems with a dream.’

Charlie shook his head. ‘Not a dream doctor, a nightmare. It starts with me being told, as I climb aboard a Second World War aircraft, that the dream will continue every night until I kiss a mermaid on the lips. How am I supposed to do that? Mermaids don’t exist.’

Charlie’s new therapist burst out laughing, walked across to him, and kissed him on the lips. He recoiled in shock. ‘What are you doing woman?’

‘Curing you of your nightmare. You are now cured Charlie. Jackie on reception will take your payment.’

Charlie was speechless, left the room and glanced at the sign on the door one more time. ‘Dr I. M. Mea.’ It was an anagram, and that night he slept soundly.


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