Iron Writer Challenge 102 – Carried Away by a Moonlight Shadow

I won the Iron Writer Challenge 102 with the piece of flash fiction below. Thank you everyone for voting for me and giving me feedback and encouragement.

The Elements

  • An event that changes a character’s personality.
  • A measuring tape
  • Tetherball
  • Haggis
Haunted House by AreYoU
Haunted House by AreYoU

Carried Away by a Moonlight Shadow

His soul had been trapped in the jeweled box for a century. The hundred-and-thirty-year difference in their ages left gaps in conversation.

“We played tetherball in the Army in 1895…” he said, after she explained the Super Bowl.
“That’s not even a sport, though,” she said.

“I’m sure you would like haggis, my dear…”
“No, I googled that. I know what’s in it.”

She showed him Wikipedia and how to work the mouse with his semi-corporeal hand, and he spent hours filling the holes in his knowledge.

He never thought he would call a woman steadfast, but her confidence in her ability to release him from his ghostly trap earned it. Nothing about his old house (now her house) frightened her, either; not the bloody puddle on the stairs every morning, the measuring tape that turned into a snake and bit her, the rocking chair that wouldn’t stop. Or him, the ghost. She painted, swept, dusted, repaired until the house looked as it had when he had walked and breathed there.

She loved his square shoulders, the way he set a formal table and read books. He was handsome in a way that men weren’t anymore. He wasn’t sloppy, wrinkled or slouching. If she could finish the house, he would be freed, she was sure. Whether he would fall fully into her world or float to another was unclear, but regardless she had to work harder.

“Do you like this color?” she said.
“How do you live on your own?” he wondered.
“It’s my money. What could my parents say?” she shrugged, and painted.

His protectiveness was charming but like a blanket on a warm day, unneeded. Or so she thought.

Tattered curtains hit the dustbin, and the city beyond the windows she cleaned had transformed itself since he walked those streets. She had a party. He lurked at the edges, unseen. Her friends were like her, irreverent, charming and smart. In his age such women were loose. These women were jewels, and she was their center.

He almost surrendered despair. He almost believed he was free.

The trap she finally sprung with all her endeavors unleashed not him, but a terrifying smog. It billowed up from fragments of an old letter in the ashes she cleaned in the cellar. She thought it was a hallucination, but the very real teeth wrapped around her arm finally dislodged her fear. She beat it back and fled upstairs. He recognized the black thing chasing her, and for the first time she saw his anger. He stepped between her and the demon and fought. It overwhelmed him until he rose up larger — filling the room, a monster, his face a horrible mask of rage. He took the jeweled pin from his chest and lashed at the demon, and it exploded and disappeared.

Relieved, she sought his face, but he was still terrified. The evening shadows came alive and swallowed him whole.

No more puddle, rocking chair, tape measure or him. The house remained, and the jeweled pin, but he was gone.

The Iron Writer’s Challenge is a flash fiction writing competition where you construct a 500 word story using 4 assigned elements. Your story competes against 4 others and is judged by official judges and also voted on by the general public. Winners compete in a tournament and stories are gathered in a published anthology each year. It’s a fun challenge to get you to flex your writing fingers, learn how to make your writing as lean as possible, and work with some potential obstacles. I wrote about my planning for the challenge here