Iris

Iris began as a friendly competition to write a story on Twitter by posting a tweet a day. Streamlining interesting story elements down to the character limit allotted presented me with the challenge of eliminating extraneous wording. Iris is currently being edited and illustrated, and I am now writing my second Twitter serial (@semicrazystory).

Once there was a very small girl named Iris who liked to embark upon grand adventures. She was rarely missed when she left on her excursions, because her parents were quite wicked and disinterested in her welfare. They spent most of their time away from their little girl and did not often ask her about her plans or aspirations. Iris was, for all intents and purposes, in charge of her own destiny. Despite their lack of caring, however, Iris’s mom and dad did give her something; they had a good deal of money and Iris had access to anything she could desire. Most little girls with nearly endless wealth would indulge themselves with new frocks and a great many dolls along with other such frivolous things, but Iris was not most girls. Instead she would wander through shops looking for useful and interesting gadgets which she would buy and then store in a place in the woods far away from prying eyes that only she knew about. She was not just hoarding things that interested her or sparked her imagination. No, she was building something fantastic, something of legend.

On the first full moon of her ninth year, she packed up and headed east toward the place where she kept her greatest treasures. Approaching the shadowy figure of a rather large structure looming in the distance, Iris felt her excitement grow. The leather pack strapped to her back was as big as the girl carrying it and contained the things she held most dear along with a few extra odds and ends that she felt she may need on her journey. Iris unlocked and opened the door to her hide out and  peered inside. Standing grandly in the center of the room was her most wonderful creation, a fully functioning airship.

Soon the crew she had hired would arrive. She would act as captain and leave the mechanics of flying up to them.  As she waited for the others she changed into the clothes stored inside the closet in her quarters aboard the ship. She donned a brown tunic decorated with purple flowers, tall leather boots, sturdy leggings, and goggles to keep the wind from her eyes. Standing on the ship’s deck she felt excitement envelop her. Soon, leaving her world behind her for a while, she would find the freedom of the open air.

Slowly the crew began to arrive. There were five of them, a modest group for a modest ship. They were well trained with good references and, she hoped, diligent workers. First through the door was her first mate, a woman in her middle years. Iris had picked her not only because she came highly praised, but also because she reminded the girl of the nanny she had before her parents decided she was old enough to care for herself. The woman had a kind face but had assured Iris that she could be stern when it was necessary. Second, a pair of brothers that had been hired as deck hands walked in the door. They claimed to be twins, although one was much taller and one was much stouter. The boys were young, but since they more than doubled her own age, Iris viewed them as nearly grown. Wearing overalls, goggles, and caps, they both appeared to be ready for their duties. Lastly, the cook came in alongside the man in charge of keeping the furnaces burning. The cook was rotund and looked rather like a cook should, while the furnace keeper wore a rather jaunty outfit complete with suspenders and a clean white shirt. His handlebar mustache was perfectly trimmed and he struck Iris as the kind of person that should be taking tickets on a train and not shoveling coal.

After showing everyone their quarters and the rest of the ship, little Iris reached into her pocket and pushed a button concealed therein. The roof began to shift and dust fell down on her auburn curls. The ceiling opened and there was a collective gasp at the sight of the moon. Stars shown brilliantly across the night sky. Feeling the cool breeze waft through her hair and brush her cheeks, Iris whispered, “It’s time.”

The crew moved about their business on deck and below while Iris took her position at the ships wheel. Her tiny hands grasped the large mahogany apparatus and a giggle escaped her lips from the anticipation. The giggle grew and soon her soft, tinkling laughter floated up into the calm of the sky along with the ship. Although she had been sure her airship would fly, Iris was surprised at how smoothly it moved through the air. It floated gracefully above the land while below them trees and fields passed by. Iris had mapped out a route for them to take, however, she had avoided an agenda as to what they would do while they traveled. She was rather carefree when she went adventuring; she believed that any specific plans could get in the way. Her hopes were big for this trip. She wanted to do it all: find treasure, fight pirates, and discover new places.

Days of uneventful travel passed and Iris began to give up on ever finding anything other than vast expanses of dull, nothing. The crew lazed about the deck playing banjos and singing folk tunes. Every now and then one would think they spied something in the distance, but it would just turn out to be a grouping of shrubs far off on the horizon or a large bird making its way toward them lazily. Iris began to think about going home, even though she knew the boredom there would be just as unbearable, but just as she opened her mouth to give the orders to start their return trip, she heard the distinct crack of cannon fire pierce the air. Grabbing the spyglass hanging in a leather pouch from a chord around her waste, she ran to the rail at the front of the ship. Perching on the very tips of her toes and leaning out as far as she could manage, she looked through the scope and saw a black flag high on the mast of a sinister looking vessel. “Pirates!” Iris called out and her first mate began giving orders preparing the rest of the crew for an encounter. Peering through the metal and glass tube, she looked, once again, off into the distance to see whom the pirates were firing at.  She could make out a small ship that appeared to be in great distress although not yet in retreat. It was taking a battering and did not seem like it could last much longer. Bracing herself for battle she moved forward. Delivering instructions to her crew, she seemed to gain ten years of age at least. Suddenly, she was a commanding presence, a fearsome leader. She ordered them to load the cannons and brace for an attack. The deck was alive with organized chaos as people went about their jobs.

The guns were at the ready just in time. The ship drew close enough to the pirates to fire and Iris could see the mangy lot along the rail of their enemy. Calling out for the other captain to surrender she tried to sound old and intimidating, and then she held her breath waiting for his response. A moment before she heard the explosion of the pirates’ guns, she heard a cackle float through the air to her small, waiting ears. Leaning on the opposing wheel a haggard and evil looking man glared at the little girl. He barked at the brigands waiting for his orders telling them to show no mercy. The ship that had been being attacked previously resumed their meager assault on their original attackers making Iris more confident that they might find victory. The pirates sneered from their ship, their gold teeth flashing in the sun. Hanging over the rails they waved their glinting swords in the air. Not showing an ounce of fear or trepidation, Iris called out for her crew to fire and reload their cannons. Although they had been together for only a short while, they worked together like they had been doing such for years. Iris perched herself proudly by the wheel looking proud and strong, but she ached to involve herself in the action. Trying to be content in her role as the leader, she wiggled and squirmed with the excitement and uncertainty of her current situation. For a moment, she began to fear that they would wind up on the losing end of the fight, however she quickly struck that thought from her mind and began to envision the proud looks on the faces of those around her when they declared their victory.

On and on the two groups fought. The pirates seemed to be weakening in their resolve and their once fierce faces began to show that they would rather run than be defeated by a child. The wavering of their actions was all Iris needed. With a final flourish she let out a battle cry and the cannons let loose one last time. With a snort of disgust the pirate captain recognized his defeat. He raised a white flag up, waiving it and declaring his surrender before his damaged ship was completely destroyed.  Iris crowed in victory and her crew responded in kind. Ordering the dejected bunch of scoundrels to hand over their treasure, she brought the loot into her own cabin. After giving some away to the group they had rescued, Iris went to take inventory of the spoils of their triumph. All around her sat chests of jewels and cold coins. There were statues and weapons studded with rare and beautiful gems. Completely overwhelmed by the sight of it all, she gasped and began to laugh. Gathering around, her faithful crew joined in her exuberant reaction. A good deal of time had passed, before the first mate asked if she should plot a course for home. Iris thought for a moment and said, “Yes, but only for a time. This adventure was a grand and sure success; I am in the mood to see what more we might accomplish together.” With those words spoken, the group set about their duties and Iris returned to the deck of the ship to keep her eyes out for anything that might arise to make her initial voyage just a little sweeter.

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