*Short story originally written for The Iron Writer in which no more than 525 words could be used to write a story that included the following elements: Smokestacks at night, unknown assailant, a maze, a chamber pot overflowing with radioactive candy bars from a parallel universe.

That last element was a struggle for me – my mind doesn’t normally jump to supernatural ideas. So I did the best with what I know –  sarcasm and family situational type stories.

Thanks for taking the time to read it! Please let me know what you think in the comments.


Clair was in the kitchen rolling Rice Krispy treats into balls before dipping them in chocolate. She checked her watch and called out, “We’ve got to leave in thirty minutes, gang!”
The family had a big night planned; the kids were attending a big school party out by the old smokestacks for Halloween and Clair and her husband Ed had graciously volunteered to help.
Eric, their oldest son, was at the table playing a game on his phone. He was already in costume – all black with a sign reading ‘unknown’ pinned to his shirt.
Ed came down the stairs and looked at him. “What are you supposed to be, bud?”
“I’m an unknown assailant.” He responded without looking up.
“I don’t get it.”
“We’re supposed to dress as characters from books and the unknown assailant is like, a staple in crime fiction. It’s like, literally the most popular character in books.”
“But… you’re just unknown. So now you’ll have to assail. You’ll have to attack people all night in order for that to work.”

Eric shrugged. “Ok I guess I will, then.”
Edward sighed and moved on to assess the kitchen table covered in items they needed to take with them to the party.

“Is that my antique chamber pot?” he asked, a hint of irritation in his voice.

“Ok, first can I just say again how weird it is that you have an antique chamber pot?” Clair responded, turning around with a Rice Krispy ball in one hand and a chocolate covered spoon in the other.  “I mean, you do know what those were used for, right?”

“It’s history, Clair!”

“And second,” she continued “Yes… it is your fancy antique chamber pot. But the kids needed it. It’s the perfect container for their candy…” Clair stopped and looked at Joey who sighed and rolled his eyes as only a nine-year-old boy can.

“They’re radioactive candy bars, mom! From a parallel universe! Duh.”
Clair smiled and shrugged at her husband. “Radioactive candy bars. Duh.”

“Well, my chamber pot better return to this house – in this universe – in one piece, got it?”

“Yes, dad.” Joey chimed. He was putting the last-minute touches on his costume, which looked like it was supposed to be some kind of wizard.

“What sort of character from a book has radioactive candy bars, anyway?”

“Literally tons, dad!” Costume building was obviously a stressful endeavor.

“Whatever you say, bud.”

“What are we meant to be doing at this thing anyways, Clair? Just sitting around while the kids play games?” Ed asked as he grabbed a rice Krispy ball and began munching.

“Basically. It’s going to be fun. There’s a corn maze and face painting, all kinds of activities you could help with.”

“You’re also supposed to be in costume, dad,” Eric added. “So, what are you supposed to be?”

Ed looked around, as though searching for an idea. He grabbed a piece of paper and in large block letters wrote ‘VICTIM’. Holding it up in front of himself and said, “I’m the unknown assailant’s victim.”

Eric rolled his eyes.

“Eric, it’s like, literally the second most common character in books.”

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