Friday 22 June 2012

#FridayFlash - If I Only Had A Heart

A small black dog bounded along the grass verge towards a small wooden shack. Bushes crowded its four sides, and knee-high weeds clustered around the door. Dorothy hurried after the dog.

“Toto, what have you found there?”

The dog barked and sniffed at something just beyond the foliage. Dorothy looked at the thick bushes - sunlight glinted on metal behind the leaves. She parted the branches, and gasped. A man made entirely of metal stood before her, frozen in position. Dorothy thought the metal might be tin.

“Oh my gosh, hello? Can you hear me?” She resisted the urge to rap her knuckles on his chest.

The man’s eyes swivelled towards Dorothy. He winked once, and rolled his eyes downwards. Dorothy spotted an oil can a few feet away near the path, not far from a discarded axe. She seized the can and pumped oil between the plates that made up the man's head.

“Oh praise the stars, I sure did need that.” The man worked his jaw, gurning as he eased life back into his face.

“What happened to you?” asked Dorothy.

Dorothy poked the nozzle of the oil can into his shoulders. She worked the plunger several times, and the man wrenched his arms downwards, the joints squealing in protest. Dorothy squirted more oil. The man swung his arms back and forth, the screeching of metal on metal growing quiet as the oil worked its magic.

“I got caught in the rain. Seems water and tin don’t mix. No, no, not at all. But that's magnificent. I don't suppose you'd be able to do my legs as well? My hips are awfully stiff.” The man flexed his fingers and stared down at his legs.

Dorothy squirted more oil into his hip joints. The man tried to raise his left leg, but too much rust clogged the mechanism. Dorothy shook the can, but it sounded hollow.

“It’s so sad. You must have been stuck like that for a long time.” Dorothy peered into the oil can. Only a few drops remained – certainly not enough to get his legs working properly.

“I don’t know if it’s sad or not. I don’t have a heart, so I can’t feel.”

“You don’t have a heart? Oh that’s terrible!” Dorothy’s hand flew to her chest. She had a vague notion that the heart didn’t really control emotions, but it was a nice idea. Not to have a heart seemed awfully barbaric.

"It’s alright. I’m sure I shall find another. In fact...I think yours will do!"

The Tin Man swung a metal fist towards her chest, his fingers grasping at empty air. Dorothy squealed and leapt backwards, almost tripping over Toto. The Tin Man’s eyes glowed and his mouth curved in a demonic grin. He leered at her, taking another swing.

"But I helped you!" Dorothy backed away from the wild metal man.

"More fool you, girlie."

The Tin Man lunged towards her. Dorothy scooped her little black dog into her arms, and broke into a run. She crossed the grass in several strides and her red sequinned shoes beat out a panicked rhythm on the yellow brick road.

"You'll get tired, girlie. Don't make this hard on yourself," called the Tin Man. He clanked and rattled along the road behind her.

Dorothy ran as fast as she could, careening headlong down the road. Clutching the shivering Toto to her chest, she fought back tears. First the Scarecrow and his terrorising ways, until the ravens tore him apart, and now a metallic man was out for her heart. What kind of place was this?

A piercing screech accompanied the slowing thuds behind her. Dorothy risked a glance over her shoulder. The Tin Man fought against the rust in his knees, forcing himself forwards in uneven strides. Dorothy paused to watch him haul his right leg in front of his left just as his hips seized solid. He roared, a howl full of anger and frustration, and toppled over. The Tin Man crashed into the Yellow Brick Road face-first.

“Help me!”

“After you tried to rip out my heart?” Dorothy scowled at the Tin Man.

Hugging Toto tight, she set off at a brisk pace. The Tin Man’s apologies and pleas fell on deaf ears, and she was too far away by the time the pleas turned into savage threats. She made her way along the Road, throwing nervous glances in every direction.

In the distance, a lion roared.


Helen A. Howell said...

Oh no Dorthoy, don't go forward! Click those rubies slippers together and mutter there's no place like home!

John Wiswell said...

Okay, I laughed at the lion roaring at the end. More gritty rebooting to come! And I wondered if Tin Man wasn't in league with Skynet.

Sonya said...

That was awesome!

M.A said...

Loved it :-) Modern take.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Brilliant reboot of the classic tale. Nice one.

Unknown said...

Really wished I thought of that, brill

Sulci Collective said...

I knew the son of the actor who played the Lion in the original, but can't say I've ever seen the movie, so this is a faithful take on the original plot right? ;-)

marc nash

Anonymous said...

Fantastic :) I really liked that though as sadistic Dorothy could be a fun plot line too.

Tony Noland said...

Heh, I loved the last line. Oz is a scary place!

Larry Kollar said...

This was great! I do love reboots of well-worn stories like this. Let's see… the Scarecrow had no brain, so he kept doing stupid stuff until it caught up to him. We've seen the Tin Man in action (and inaction, due to rust). The Lion ought to be good. And don't forget the flying monkeys!

A little trivia that Icy surely knows: Buddy Ebsen (who had lead roles in the TV shows Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones) was selected for the Tin Man role, but was allergic to the makeup. Oh, the iron-y.

Steve Green said...

I never really trusted that tin man, the heartless sod!

The lion shouldn't be a problem though, his courage will most likely flee at the first sign of violence.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I think I like this version much better than the original. Nice twist, Icy.

Thomas Pluck said...

I wish she'd taken the axe to him... and yes, the lion is a great touch.

Natalie Bowers said...

Oh my! Someone should have told Dorothy about 'Stranger Danger'. Great twist on a familiar tale. :)

Clive Martyn said...

Great story Icy. Was the Wicked Witch not so evil in this alternative Oz? It would be a ironic if Dot's house ended up killing the good guy.

Anonymous said...

lol Really like this version of the story!

Eric J. Krause said...

Ah, the horror version of the classic tale. Who needs the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys when the so called friends are the enemies. Great take on this!

Anonymous said...

Confession: I've never watched or read The Wizard of Oz. *gasp*

But I know enough to know this was very nicely done. :-)

liminalfiction said...

Fun story, Icy. The Tin Man sure didn't seem very grateful, or at least he had a funny way of showing it.

Katherine Hajer said...

This version certainly does make a lot more sense -- and it seems to me it would be more in keeping with the Oz sequel books L. Frank Baum wrote, which were noticeably grimmer than the first one.

Anonymous said...

Excellent re-telling! I always thought the Wizard of Oz had creepy subtext. I love where you took it.

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