Tag Archives: fiction

Atlas

by Sian Kelly

Photo by Maria Pop on Pexels.com

The dragon banked left, flying just above the horizon, low in the sky, and for one eternal heartbeat Atlas lost sight of her in the glare of the setting sun.

He shielded his eyes, searching…….There! A few quick strokes of her powerful wings and she was propelled high into the stratosphere.

Atlas thought she was beautiful. Her sleekly muscled frame and the length of the ivory protrusions along her spine marked her as a mature and exceedingly rare white-ridged variant of the Easter Blue Dragon.

Already the town of Copperbluff burned. Unlike most dragons the eastern blue didn’t breathe fire, yet their mere gaze could heat metal until it set alight anything it touched. They were renowned for their intelligence and their cunning. The with-ridged variant was also rumored to be incredibly vindictive. Atlast had noted that the dragon did seem to be especially enraged.

Atlas tracked her trajectory as she rose. She reached her apex and appeared to stop and float, weightless, a goddess waltzing gracefully across the heavens at dusk. She roared, an angry cry which tore even the bravest soul’s courage to shreds. It was a fell sound, and it promised death and destruction for the town far below and for the people there who cowered in fright. Then the dragon folded her wings behind her and dove towards the earth.

Standing along in the street Atlas brought forth the single arrow in his possession and nocked it. Master Hanshi had carved his bow during the Xxebani wars and had named her Plummet. Atlas drew the bowstring, bending back the polished arms of yew wood until it seemed they must break. He sighted down the arrows shaft.

The dragon descended with terrifying speed, growing from a mote in the sky to immense in the blink of an eye.

Atlas witnessed her power advancing, edging closer as everything formed of metal began to glow and run like red mercury, igniting anything combustible and creating a wave of fire which rolled towards him until he was surrounded by flames. Then he felt her awesome power first hand as the dragons gaze raked across him like invisible claws.

Atlas was prepared. He had divested himself of all metals save for the razor-sharp steel point now trained on the creature’s heart.

Time slowed when he released the arrow. It sliced through shimmering waves of hot air and disappeared in the smoke and steam. The dragon veered left, but Plummet was an ancient and mighty weapon. The arrow flew swift and sure and true. The dragon shrieked in surprise and agony when the steel tip struck. She crashed through the upper levels of the town granary before exploding out the far wall, much less gracefully now, erratic, writhing in pain as she moved against a backdrop of emerging stars, heading eastward.

Atlas watched as his bow was once again proven to be aptly named: the dragon faltered, then fell.

Later generations would retell the story, never with much accuracy yet never failing to recount the thunder that was heard that day when the wicked blue beast tumbled from the sky and slammed into the side of the distant Aishwarian Mountains. Those majestic peaks were miles away, more than two days hard ride to the east, yet the earth still shook with enough force to make atlas stumble where he stood, enough force to collapse the remains of the damaged granary, leaving mounds of wheat and corn and rice to smolder among the fires in the street.

For the briefest of moments Atlas experienced the most inexplicable, irrational pang of guilt, and he wondered if he had made a mistake.

Nucohume

By Sian Kelly

This was inspired by my series of flash fiction The Vessel.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ashton pushed the green gloop on his plate into three distinct pies then began using the backside of his spoon to shape the mounds. Pyramids were being formed. Ashton was still in the process of deciding whether they would be Egyptian or Mayan when a sultry voice purred from a speaker hidden somewhere near him.

“Why are you playing with your food, Daddy?”

Ashton set his spoon down and slid the plate a safe distance away.

“Chalan, I think I can reasonably assert that no Terran birthed on Earth in the history of ever could possibly mistake this mush in front of me for food.”

“But what’s wrong with it, Daddy?” she asked.

That was all Chalan ever called him. Not “Ashton”, not “sir”, not even “Captain” (which is what he guessed he now kinda-sorta was, technically speaking). Nope, always “Daddy”. Just his luck; a million vessels zipping to and fro across the universe and he hitches a ride on the only one with an unresolved Elektra complex. That was definitely karma at work.

“What’s wrong,” Ashton said, “is that gloop is not food. Chicken nuggets is food. Ramen noodles is food. A fried peanut butter and spam sandwich is food, even.”

Ashton waved a hand towards a pyramid that was sinking like Atlantis into a lime-colored ocean, “Darling, that shit doesn’t even qualify as being food-like!”

“But you haven’t even tried it,” Chalan said. The disappointment and hurt in her voice came throw the speakers crystal clear. Ashton had long since given up on the whole emotion-versus-algorithm debate.

“Please, Daddy?”

Jesus, her whining was just too damned cute.

“I went through a lot of trouble to whip that up just for you, especially for you,” Chalan said, “surely you can try one little bite, just for me?”

Ashton wasn’t sure if he was more disturbed by the fact that the ship’s computer was attempting to guilt trip him into eating, or by the fact that it took him so little energy to actually imagine Chalan in the kitchen.

In his mind he saw a French temptress in black lingerie and impossibly tall heels. She sashayed in front of a hot stove without breaking a sweat, smudging her makeup or smelling like onion and cilantro. Ashton smiled happily as Chalan pouted her lips to blow gently before sampling a rich, delicious sauce she had prepared from scratch. Then she locked eyes with him while slowly snaking her tongue down and back up the entire length of the wooden utensil.

“Daddy, I am going to mbfxnger dewn maei’xnt!”

The vessel lurched to the side, a trick of the artificial gravity field. Ashton was snatched out of his reverie and forced back to the reality of this ships galley.

“What did you say, Love?” he asked.

“I said you’re not even listening to me!”

“My bad.”

Chalan actually sighed. “Name another life form that gets the perfect balance – tailored specifically for them, I might add – of proteins, carbs, sugars, healthy fats and fiber.”

“The Koala bear.”

Chalan searched her data base. At length she said, “Hrrmph. Interesting. But anyway, what you so dismissively call ‘gloop’ is a full complement of every single essential vitamin, mineral and probiotic you need, Daddy. And I added some enzymes your body has ceased to produce to the nucohume as well.”

“To the what?”

“The nucohume. The nutritionally complete human meal.”

“Wow. Fuck. That sounds like something a cannibal pops in the microwave before he rushes out the door late for work. ‘Nucohume! Find it in your favorite grocer’s freezer section’.”

Chalan chose to ignore him, “I also added a switch to activate certain dormant genes in your DNA epigenetically. That should correct your genetic predisposition for male pattern baldness.”

“I like being bald.” Ashton said beneath his breath.

“It’s a flaw. I fixed it. You’re welcome.”

“Whatever.”

“I even took the liberty of adding several antibodies for some of the nastier diseases currently being spread around the galaxy. No triple-breasted Eroticon whore is gonna burn my Daddy.”

“But will she burn some bacon for me? Get it all crispy and slap it down on a sirloin burger with grilled mushrooms and Swiss cheese? That’s the million dollar question.”

Chalan had no answer for him. After a few moments Ashton heard a faint, muffled sound coming from the speakers hidden around him.

“Wait….Chalan…are you crying?”

“My daddy doesn’t appreciate me,” the ship’s computer managed to choke out between sobs, “I try so hard to make him happy, because it’s just us out here, and he’s all I’ve got, but all he does in return is make me feel worthless.”

“Stop this Chalan! I mean it. You’re just being silly now.”

The electronic sobbing and whimpering didn’t stop and instead became a soul-rending wail. Finally, Ashton realized he wasn’t gonna win this one.

“Fine! I’ll eat it. Will that make you happy?”

He grabbed the plate. Better to just get it over with. He shoveled a heaping helping of the gloop into his mouth.

“I’m eating it. For fuck’s sake, Chalan, I’m eating it!” He said trying his hardest to swallow the nucohume without it touching his taste buds. It was an impossibly, futile effort. The third spoonful was being chocked ow when eh suddenly stopped.

“Hey…”

“What?”

“This tastes like..” Ashton swished the gloop around in his mouth, “this tastes like a mushroom Swiss burger. Damn!” he said, amazed. Then he added, “with burnt bacon on top!”

Chalan had stopped wailing and sobbing, “And?” She asked.

“And grilled fucking onions!” Ashton said around a fresh mouthful.

“And?”

“And a fried egg. And you fucking rock!” He said.

“I know,” Chalan said, happily, “you’re welcome, Daddy.”

Dragon hunter 2

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Find part one here.

Ari sat in a crowded tavern in the small southern village of Umbleton considering his options. The clatter of dishes and roar of voices washed over him. Umbleton was about a day’s walk from Everness and the locals had definitely noticed the smoke that had been rising in the distance for several days as the city burned. Gossip was rampant but apparently no one had been brave enough to go investigate. Ari heaved a sigh as he regarded the tankard of ale in front of him and shook his head at the cowardice and selfishness of most people. Maybe the residents of this tiny coastal village weren’t concerned, but he was. He was very concerned.

In another life Ari would have been a king. His family had traces of dragon blood in their veins. That was the story anyway. He knew he could sense things that others could not. He could track a dragon with those extra senses. And track dragons he did.

Dragons had fled the boundaries of his homeland long ago. They had flow over mountain ranges and across oceans, they had flown over forests thick and impassable, they had flown across continents. They had settled in some of those places. Mountain tops too high for people to scale, remote islands too far for people to sail to, in caves and treetops in forests too thick for people to push into. For the most part, they had left people alone. And so the legends faded into fairy tales, children’s fantasies, and stories. No one actually believed in them.

Except the Dragon Hunters Guild. The guild was small and secretive. Secretive for good reason. The secrecy wasn’t so much to protect the dragon hunters from scorn and derision as much as it was to protect stupid humans that might actually believe and go looking for one and get themselves killed.

But now people were getting killed anyway. Three villages in three months, Northern Greys in southern regions, something was very, very wrong.

He had stood facing the Ridgeback Mountains, watching the Grey until it flew out of sight and then he had used his other sight to survey that mountain range. What he found was terrifying.

Dragons, and lots of them. Many of them far from their natural habitats. What were they doing there? Why were they gathering? How were there so many? Of course, when dragons had left it was to go and grow and replenish in secret. It would seem they had been successful.

His musings were interrupted by the arrival of an older man, ancient by some measures. Poradel arrived cloaked and hooded as was his wont. Without a word he pulled the chair opposite of Ari and lowered his creaking body into it. Ari watched as the old man twisted and shifted and settled himself into the seat. Only then did he turn to acknowledge Ari, lower his hood and glance around in annoyance.

“This better be important,” he practically snarled as he glanced around the room, “I hate people. But since we are here, where’s my pint then?”

Ari motioned to the serving girl, he held his tankard up, pointed to it then to Poradel. She nodded and headed back to the bar.

Ari knew better than to try to speak to the mage until the tankard was in front of him. Tipping the girl, he motioned with a jerk of his head for her to leave. He needed privacy for this conversation.

After a long quaff, the tankard clattered to the table and the old man sighed in satisfaction while wiping away the wetness from his white and grey streaked beard.

“Now boy, what do you want?”

“Nice to see you too Uncle Del.”

“Bah! You want something.”

“Yes.”

“Well?”

Ari sighed. Poradel had no patience for the niceties of polite society. He wasn’t his really his uncle as much as he was his great-great uncle. Not that family ties mattered to Del. He was a hermit, a grouch, an anti-social asshole truth be told. But he was also a brilliant magic user, and Ari needed his help. Plus, he didn’t know anyone else in this part of the country.

“I need to contact the guild-“ he started.

“Send a letter!”

“Quickly.” He finished.

“Rent a carrier pigeon, they fly between here and all the major cities.”

“I need to contact everyone at once and I need to do it tonight.”

“Why?”

“Because the Ridgeback Mountains are full of dragons.”

Del regarded him for a bare moment, then nodded curtly.

“Ok then. My cottage, two hours, I’ll have the spell ready.”

Jayziz

by guest contributer Sian Kelly

Jayziz woke.

He instantly knew deep down in his bones that this had been a rush job, a sloppy, half-assed, and downright ugly bit of business. There was no gradual dawning of awareness, no subtle shift to consciousness.

Jayziz felt like he had been kicked out of bed by an Amazonian giantess with Sasquatch feet and had landed in a concrete tub with maybe eight inches of freezing water at the bottom- banging his head in the process- while a heart shaped nuclear reactor pumped molten lava through his veins.

Yeah, his everything hurt.

He leapt to his feet, teetered sideways, crashed to the floor. He leapt up again, only slightly more stable the second time and stared at the six robed and hooded figures standing in a circle around him.

“Awww, hell naw! Which one of you misguided motherfuckers had the nerve and unmitigated gall to resurrect me?”

The six ruling members of the mages guild glanced about uncertainly, nervously wondering who would speak for the group. Jayziz threw up both his hands in frustration. His right hand and forearm broke off and landed somewhere on the other side of the mausoleum.

“Well that’s not good.” he muttered beneath his breath. He rubbed the tattered flesh of his face with his remaining hand.

“Alright, if my elbow has already rotted out then I’m guessing I’ve been dead longer than the standard 1,001 days. That means I’ve got roughly four minutes to lay back down or this back-to-life shit is gonna be permanent, so somebody better explain quick or I’m gonna Kamehameha all of you petty, pathetic, piss-poor parlor-trick magic users!”

Cowed by his tirade, the robed mages hesitated again.

“Oh? So you sons of witches think this is a game,” Jayziz said, “Ya’ll think I’m playing, huh?”

He waved his arm and his nub around in a complex, intricate pattern and shimmering waves of angry energy crackled into existence around him. He growled the word that would end them all,

“Kaamehaa-“

“Wait!” a blue robed mage said hurriedly, stepping forward, “We all worked together to resurrect you. We had no choice, Master!”

“No choice, Saulomon? Really?” Jayziz said through clenched teeth as he wrestled with the energy. “There’s always a choice!”

“No, Master, because the freaking red robes brought the apocalypse down on all of us.”

“It wasn’t my fault! Ass-rael and the greens are just as guilty, they planted the suggestion!”

“I don’t give a flying fuck whose fault it is!” Jayziz screamed in exasperation. He flung the energy to the side, blowing a horse-sized chunk out of the mausoleum wall.

“Energy not focused is energy waster. Now give me the really short version, Saul. Talk to me quick but don’t talk to me slick.”

“Eduardo here tried to pull off a McDisney’s Rapier,” Saulomon said, indicating the red-robbed mage by pointing an incriminating finger. “Instead, he bifurcated all of reality, and in the process he managed to leave one time-stream looped and the other stream just kinda sorta convex.”

Jayziz glared at Ed the Red, “You stoopid fuck.” Jayziz waved his elbow joint and with an inverted thump the red mages atoms were scattered to the far corners of the universe.

“Okay, so did he channel somatic energy the right way or did he take the material component shortcut?”

“The shortcut, of course.” Said a gaunt woman in yellow robes.

“Did he use basilisk blood or cobras venom?”

“With basilisk blood retailing at six hundred grand for a quarter ounce? You have to ask? El cheapo used cobra’s venom.”

“Well there’s your problem: Ed the Red didn’t know his asp from a hole in the ground, nahmeen? All you got do is ride the looped time-stream back to when he first began casting the spell,” Jayziz said, “Replace his snake venom with basilisk blood. Then use a Gregorovich shunt to unconvex the one time-stream, do a south Dallas crowbar to unloop the other stream, and meld them back together by performing a bilateral agreement. Easy-peasy!”

“Master, you’re a genius! That should put things back, make it like it was before!” Saulomon said.

“Yes, so once errythang is fixed back make sure you blow Ed the Red to smithereens again, just for me.”

“My pleasure Master.” Saulomon glanced at this watch. “Sixty seconds before you get stuck like that. Anything else?”

“Tell my beeyotch ex-wife I said wish you were here.” Jayziz climbed back into his casket.

“Saul, old buddy, you aren’t too shabby for a mage. Kelby, you either.”

The woman in yellow inclined her had in acknowledgement.

“The rest of you can all eat a dick. And one of you get that wall fixed. I don’t need critters gnawing on me. And the color in here sucks. Who decorated? Granite? Really? Wow, how original. Have it redone. Rose marble or some fly shit like that.”

Jayziz stretched out and yawned. Darkness was already closing in on him.

“And next time one of you brainiacs manages to destroy life, the universe and everything- even if it’s an accident- you’re just gonna be shit out of luck. Don’t come fucking with me, because I ain’t getting back up again.”

A skeletal hand shot up and flipped them the bird.

Jayziz slept.

Sisters

She walked briskly through the chill night air, a cacophony of voices rising all around her. On one side of the road, protesters.

“Dump Trump!”

“Drumph”

“Twittler! Orange Cheeto!”

On the other side, well, that was worse.

“Fags!”

“Perverts!”

“Kill them all!”

“You all deserve to die!”

“Fucktards, losers”

“…don’t deserve to live…”

“Get out of Trumps America!”

“Misfits, don’t belong here…..”

“You’re the real deplorables!”

“Disgusting filth…”

“Animals!”

“…should be exterminated….”

She shook her head in disgust as she hurried along.  She headed toward home eager to be inside in the cheery warmth. Her sister was home from college and she couldn’t wait to catch up with her.

Her sister, Samantha. Sam was young, vibrant, and full of life. She always had a quick smile and an open, accepting personality. She was very talented and had won a scholarship to attend Columbia University’s school of visual arts. She had a bright future ahead of her.

She was smart, funny, kind and thoughtful. The kind of person anyone would want for a friend, or sister. Lydia felt lucky to be Sam’s sister. But now their family faced a threat.

Whereas no one in the entire world cared one iota who Lydia fell in love with, a huge portion of the American public had made it their mission to harass Samantha and those like her and strip them of their rights. Because, in addition to everything else that made up Samantha, she happened to be gay. Yes, her sister was a lesbian.

She shoved her hands deeper into the pockets of her purple jacket and increased her pace. Arriving at home, she fumbled for her house key, her breath making plumes in the air. She slipped inside her family’s home, the warmth cascading over her body as she entered the foyer, soft light filtering down the entry hall.

Lydia removed her jacket, momentarily sinking her fingers into the velvety softness of it as she hung it on the hook. Her shoes thumped against the wall as she kicked them off and hurried into the family room.

A fire crackled merrily in the fireplace, the Christmas tree twinkled in the corner. The room was ablaze with light and warmth, everything she associated with her childhood. This room had always been the hub of family life, family meetings, family movie night, and countless late nights huddled on the couch, giggling with her sister. Now the house was quite, silent. She couldn’t be the first one home.

“Mom? Dad? Sam?” she called as searched the house for signs of life.

There was a thump from upstairs, but no answer. Her heart leapt into her throat as her mouth went dry. What was going on up there? She took the stairs two at a time. Reaching the second floor she craned her head wildly around trying to determine where the thump had come from.

There, at the end of the hallway, a shadowy figure appeared in the doorway to one of the rooms. That would be the game room. Inside were the pool table, fuse ball, and air hockey. That room was the main reason their house had always been the neighborhood hangout when they were growing up. Countless evenings and weekends were spent in there playing board games or air hockey, watching TV or just hanging out. Now her heart pounded in her chest as she made her way quietly, and quickly, down the hall.

As she got closer, she could see the man’s face. It was Jared, what was he doing here? Jared and Sam had dated back in high school, but that had been eons ago! Obviously it was before Sam had come out. Jared shouldn’t be here her mind was screaming. He was out of place in the dark stillness of the family home. Who had let him in? Why was he here?

Adrenaline spiked through her as she realized his presence in the upstairs hallway could only mean danger. She extended her right arm and alternately flexed then clenched her fist. Her palms were sweaty and her pulse thudded in her ears as she felt the heat rush to her face. Oh no, not this again!

Lydia had been struggling with controlling her powers; she wasn’t good at it yet! It was so unfair that no one was here to help her, she might kill Jared without even trying to, and then how was she ever going to get into college?

She stalked closer to him, but Jared was complete unaware of her so preoccupied was he on whatever he was seeing in that room. She stepped purposefully toward him, trying her best to stay calm and keep quiet until she could assess the situation.

Jared continued to back slowly out of the room. Lydia could hear her sister’s voice now, “Don’t make me do it Jared, keep backing up, turn around and get out of my house!”

Jared started to turn, saw Lydia, jerked in surprise then started back into the room. He had a baseball bat clutched in his hand.

Before she could do anything, there was an explosion of light and bright drops of gold that sizzled and twirled through the air.

Jared staggered backwards into the hallway. She watched in horror as he slumped to the floor, a smoldering hole in his chest. She glanced down at her clinched fists in horror but her hands had never risen up to deliver that blow.

Sam rushed out of the room and threw herself down next to Jared sobbing, “I didn’t mean to! He came at me with that bat, he was swinging it!”

The hysterical sobbing broke the spell and Lydia rushed to her sister’s side, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it was self-defense! What the hell happened here tonight?”

Rubbing her wet face Sam haltingly got the story out. Jared had shown up unannounced, said his car broke down, wanted to use the phone, came inside with the bat behind his back. He started berating her for their breakup, for moving away without him, for being gay.

“He called me an abomination! He said we all needed to be exterminated!” She hiccupped through the tears.

Lydia felt a sense of calm descend upon her like a well-worn cloak. For once, she knew exactly what to do. Pulling out her cell phone she sent a quick text to her dad, “Please bring home pizza with pineapple.”

It was their code, her parents would come right away, with the entire coven. The adults would know what to do. Of course, she always thought the code would be used if they were in danger because someone found out their secret.

She shook her head as she shoved the phone back in her pocket. Dumb, stupid humans. This was exactly why witches were still in the closet. If they reacted this way over someone being gay, imagine what they would do if they found out witches were real.

She was right. The adults arrived and in short order, the body was gone, Sam was showered and in clean clothes, the hallway magically cleansed, and everyone was in the family room gathered around the tree eating pizza.

There would be no evidence Jared was ever there. She thought she should feel guilty about that but gazing at her sister, she just didn’t. It was clearly him or her. If it had to be that way then she was glad it was him, if she had to choose, she chose her sister, she would always chose her sister.

The House

The old house, with its wildly overgrown garden, was silent, secretive. It was like a mystery that needed to be solved.

She stated at it as she walked by every day on her way home from school. Something was drawing her to it. She stood staring up the long walk way, past the decrepit front porch, roof sagging up to the impossibly tall windows that lined the second story. The windows were the most interesting part of the house.

Tall and imposing, they were elongated, tapering to a point at the top. Narrow rectangles, taller than they were wide. What secrets were hidden behind those windows?

As she watched, she swore she saw a curtain move. She froze to the spot, torn between an impulse to run and a stronger impulse to go inside. Her heart was thumping in her chest at the thought of it.

It was wrong, forbidden, unsafe and oh so tempting. What could it possible hurt? She would just step inside for a moment, have a look around, and uncover its secrets.

Almost unbidden, her feet began to move up the crumbling walk way. She watched her own hand reach out and push open the sun bleached front gate, rusty hinges screaming out their protest at being disturbed.

She clumped up the cement front steps, the sound of her shoes scuffing the ground loud in her ears. It was like every noise she made here was amplified somehow. She was disrupting the silence that had enveloped the house for untold years.

The front door was wooden with glass plating and a brass knob. A knob she grasped with her sweaty hand and turned. The door opened freely, easily.

Stepping inside she was greeted by soaring ceilings, doorways on either side of a hallway that lead off to the rest of the house in front of her to the left and to her right, a stairway. Her eyes locked on the stairway. A faint thump floated down to her, then a child’s giggle.

She started up the stairs as they creaked and groaned under her weight. She steadied herself with the banister, which coated her hand in decades of dust.

At the top of the stairs she paused and glanced back down toward the front door. She could turn around now and hurry back down the stairs but then she would never know what secrets were behind those windows. Turning back she stepped into the upstairs hallway. She was in a hallway, deep lush carpeting under her feet. How could it be so bright and red? It showed no signs of years of neglect that the downstairs flooring had.

She looked to her right, the hallway was short ending in a window. She looked left, the hallway stretched out seemingly forever. Somehow she knew that was the direction she was supposed to go. She padded down the hallway slowly taking in the sparkling chandeliers and the paintings hanging on the walls, watching and witnessing everything.

There were so many doors. She could see another window at the end of hallway but it never seemed to get any closer as she walked. She reached out and trailed her hands along the wall, the textured wallpaper rough and comforting under her fingers.

A door on her left creaked open and she stopped and stood outside it for a long moment. Again, she glanced behind her, back down the impossibly long hallway. The stairs seemed so far away now. Again she considered that she could turn away now and run back down the hallway. There was still time. And again, she turned back to face whatever it was that was calling her. She had to know what was in that room.

She watched, detached, as her arm reached out and pushed the door further open.

The room before her was carpeted wall to wall, a sea of beige full of the most amazing toys she had ever seen. With a sharp intake of breath, she stepped inside and stared around in awe at the colorful chests full of toys, the life size doll, the three story dollhouse, the trucks, balls, plastic horses, stuffed animals, tops, sets of toy dishes, a toy horse big enough to sit on and more, it was better than the toy store on the square that mama use to take her to at Christmastime!

She was so immersed that she almost didn’t notice the little boy in the corner. He was seated in a child sized rocking chair and when he closed the book in his lap, she jumped a little.

“Oh! You started me!” She said

“Sorry.” He sat the book down and approached her.

“It’s ok. What is this place? Do you live here?”

“Yes,” he said, “and so do you now.”

“What do you mean?”

In response he turned and walked to the window. The window she had seen from the street. It must have been the boy that had moved the curtain. She followed him to it and looked down into the street below.

There, on the ground, was her crumpled body. There was an ambulance, people were gathered around everywhere, coming of their homes to gawk. A car sat at an awkward angel blocking the road. She turned toward him in confusion.

“What happened?” she asked

“You died.” He said bluntly, “You could have gone back. Twice they got your heart beating again and twice you turned away.”

“Oh.” Was all she could think to say.

Her mind wandered back to her time on earth, to the big empty house she now went home to, to the aunt and uncle who had taken her in out of obligation but not love. To her mother’s face, warm and loving and gone. She flashed on her mother’s funeral and the bullying she had endured at school, the other children who delighted in her pain and taunting her with the word “orphan”.  No wonder she had turned back both times.

“Is this heaven?”

“No, this is a construct of your mind and I’m simply a guide to help you along. Think of this as the waiting room between the two planes of existence. You are welcome to stay here as long as you please, as long as you need.”

“Where will I go when I’m ready?” She asked.

As if in answer, a glowing door appeared in the wall behind the boy, a long glimmering hallway stretching out from it. At the end she could see her mother, radiant and beautiful, waiting. With a cry of joy she ran through the door, flew down the passageway and into her mother’s waiting arms.

 

 

 

The Orb

In my mind, these are the same characters that are in The Would Be Thief. Perhaps this was their first encounter?

Sara regarded the object carefully. She had no idea what it was but its beauty touched her somehow. Sitting on a black stand made of iron, the orb pulsed softly with the deepest, richest blue she had ever seen. As she watched, the dark blue misted out as a powder blue took its place. The continuous cycling from light to dark blue was mesmerizing.

A bump startled her out of her trance and she scuttled behind a statue as two men rounded the corner. Who else was in here?

She peered carefully around the corner at their backs. There was a taller, older man judging from the grey streaking his brown hair and a younger, blonde man speaking in excited whispers. She strained to hear snatches of conversation.

“…don’t even know what it does,” the older man was saying.

“….if I could take it, I could test….”

“Absolutely not! That’s out of the question! The brotherhood…..”

Her ears perked up at the mention of the brotherhood. There was only one brotherhood that got referred to as the brotherhood and that was the Astyrian Brotherhood. Now she was deeply interested. She leaned forward as much as she dared to hear what the younger man was saying.

“……finish my research on my own, I don’t need the brotherhood or the Society…….”

Now she was on full alert. Whatever the object was it sounded valuable.

“….very fragile…..cannot be moved…….” The older man was saying.

The blond man turned and strode toward the door, each thundering step betraying his anger and impatience.

“Alexander, wait!” The older man ran after him as he disappeared through the doorway.

Sara scrambled out of her hiding place, her mind made up. She murmured a stasis spell to keep it safe as she grabbed the glowing glass ball and lowered it gently into her bag. She could hear voices coming closer again as she climbed back out the window she had climbed in through and made her way quickly  down the tree.

By the time she heard the alarm raised, she had already made it over the fence and was sprinting into the woods.

 

Wind Talker

The wind whispered to her, literally. It said her name. It said a lot of things, actually.

“Emily” tickled in her ear as a slight breeze lifted her auburn hair off her shoulders. It was her Irish roots that gave her both the red hair and the ability to hear the wind speak, she was sure of it somehow.

She’d first heard his voice two months ago. At first it was only in the woods, but now the wind wound its way through her yard, seeping through the doorway and window sills, creeping through her home, finding her wherever she was.

She was starting to be afraid. The wind should not talk. At first, she thought it was her imagination, then she was intrigued by it. If the wind could talk, what would it say? Now she knew.

It whispered to her about her beauty, it whispered about how powerful it was, it whispered about giving her everything her heart desired. She had as many desires as the next woman, maybe more. So, at first, she listened, she let herself be seduced by the sweet susurrations of the wind.

But now she feared it. The voice was becoming more powerful, louder, clearer, able to seek her out no matter where she tried to hide. You can’t hide from the wind. It skittered across the dirt and slithered through the grass, whipped around the roof and tapped on the window panes. It found its way inside the house, the barn, the storage shed. It would not be denied.

She had a sneaking suspicion that her attention was making it stronger. The more she had listened, the stronger it had become after all. She had tried ignoring it, but that was impossible. She couldn’t unhear it now.

She couldn’t ignore it, so she answered, “What?”

“Emily,” the wind swirled around her, “I need…..I need….”

“What do you need?”

“To become.”

“To become what?”

“To become!” the voice boomed.

Emily jumped, frightened. The wind had never boomed before. It has whispered and tickled, it had conversed and muttered, it had chattered and questioned, but this was the first time it had boomed.

The wind increased in intensity and whipped up the dirt from the ground, tossing it into the air and turning it into a whirling cyclone. Her fear seemed to feed it, the cyclone increased in speed along with her heart rate. Spinning faster and faster, the dirt in the center of the storm started to take form.

She watched, heart in her throat, as the form became clearer, solid. The man in the center of the windstorm grew as he sucked the dirt into his being. When the man was totally formed, the wind slowed, then stopped.

He turned to stare at her. He was tall, tanned and well muscled, with jet black hair and the most piercing green eyes she had ever seen. They weren’t a normal shade of green, but a deep emerald color, something more suitable for a lush, verdant countryside than a mans eyes. He was completely naked and completely unfazed by that fact. His gaze was devoid of any human emotion. She froze under his stare, fear rendering her temporarily paralyzed.

“Thank you for bringing me back to life,” rumbled the voice of the wind, “It’s been centuries since any human has harkened to my voice. Your belief has resurrected me, but to strengthen myself and return to my former glory, I need more. I must seek out more humans, I need their worship.”

Worship? Her knees went weak and she sank to the ground, shock washing over her.
“Come with me.” He held out his hand to her.

Wordlessly, she shook her head.

He shrugged indifferently, “Suit yourself.”

He vanished in a puff of dust and she felt the air whoosh past her and out of the clearing where her home sat. Sucking in a deep breath she wondered in a wild panic, what have I done?

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Night Football

The ball was up! She watched as it spiraled perfectly across the field and fell into the hands of the waiting running back. The catch was good, he took off down the field as a player from the opposing team threw himself on him for the sack.

Gretchen leaned forward in her seat on the 50 yard line, barely breathing. No one else would have noticed the slight shimmer in the air around them as the running back twisted his body and practically flew out of his opponents grasp. The other man hit the ground hard and rolled harmlessly away as the man with the ball leapt out of his grasp and sprinted toward the goal.

Leaning back in her seat she breathed out a sigh of relief. At long last she had found him. He would not escape her this time.

She shook her head as she marveled at the audacity of using magic in front of the whole world. That was the type of thing that would get them all outed, start another witch hunt, get them all killed. That’s exactly why it was illegal. The council of Witches, Warlocks and Other Magical Beings (WWOMB) had expressly outlawed using magic in the presence of humans.

She left her seat and slipped quietly into an empty corner in the stadium hallway. Opening her compact, she waved her hand over the mirror and the WWOMB chairwoman appeared.

“Yes Gretchen?”

“I found him!” She practically squealed.

“We are dispatching a team to your location now.” The chairwoman nodded curtly then disappeared as the compact turned back into a regular mirror.

Turning, she bumped into someone. Annoyed she glanced up as she murmured an unfelt apology. When the person she had collided with neither responded nor moved, she looked up ready to give him a piece of her mind.

The words died on her lips on she gazed up at him! Oh no no no no, this was not good! If she messed up another case, she was definitely getting kicked off the council’s investigative team. This could be the end of her career in magical law enforcement.

“Azazel! How….I mean……”

“How did I know you were here?” He smiled down at her with a brilliance that she was sure melted women’s hearts all the time. But she couldn’t get distracted by that right now.

“Uh..yeah, how did you know?”

“You just used a mirror communication spell in a public place. And you want to arrest me for doing  the same? The council is full of hypocrites.”

“No, it’s not the same, I found a private place—“

“You call this private?” He asked gesturing to the people milling all around, “anyone could walk up on you while you were using magic. I just did.”

She felt confusion sweep over her. He was right. She used magic in public all the time; she was just good at disguising it. Like he had disguised his use, a voice whispered in the back of her mind. No, it wasn’t the same, he was on national television for pete’s sake!

She opened her mouth to tell him that when suddenly he grabbed her and kissed her. For a moment the floor fell out from under her. The building full of people disappeared, the council, her worry about her career, all of it just vanished.

When she came back down to earth, she stared up at him like he had lost his mind, “What the hell was that for?”

“Shhhh!” He said grabbing her hand as he looked past her. She followed his gaze to see the team of magic users the council had dispatched.

“They’re heading toward the locker room, of course.” He breathed as he pulled her the other direction.

“Wait! What are you doing? I’m on their side!” She protested, pulling her hand away from him.

“Are you sure about that?” He asked, “Your sister wasn’t. I know where she is. Come with me, I can explain everything.”

Her sister? How did he know about Lila?

“You know my sister? Where is she?” Gretchen demanded

“I can take you to her. The council is wrong about everything. Come with me, I can prove it. Please!”

She hesitated for a moment. Glancing back toward the backs of the extraction team, she felt her resolve waiver. Her sister! Lila had disappeared when Gretchen was still in high school, no one, not even her parents would tell her where Lila had gone or why. Could she really be a part of the resistance? The very thing that Gretchen had pledged her life to fight against? How could she go with him? How could she not? She had to know.

Oh what the hell was wrong with her? In a move she knew would be not only career suicide but possibly land her on the exact wrong side of the council, she nodded and took his hand. They ran down the hall together, away from the extraction team and toward her future.

 

 

Succubus

His eyes followed her as she walked across the room, her hips swaying from side to side. She smiled to herself. She was well aware of the power she held over men. She intoxicated them, they threw themselves into her path. Silly, stupid men.

She wasn’t interested in the man himself. Her heart was quite taken. But he did have something she needed, so she tossed her hair and shot him a slow, seductive smile over her shoulder. Of course he took the bait, grabbing two beers he made his way through the crowd and elbowed his way in to position himself next to her at the bar.

She turned to face him, gazing up into his dark brown eyes. She arched an eyebrow in question. Pretending she had no idea why he had approached her.

“Beer?” He asked as he handed it to her.

The liquid inside was ice cold in sharp contrast to the body heat induced warmth of the bar. Sweat rolled down the outside of the bottle. She reached for the it, the cool iciness doing nothing for her. There was something else she was thirsty for. She tipped the bottle back and drank anyway. Letting the coldness slip down her throat as she eyed the man in front of her.

He was about her own height, with jet black hair and eyes of dark amber, almost matching the bottle in her hands. Those eyes hid secrets, she could tell. Secrets and deep, tangible desires. His need wafted across the distance between them like something physical, something she could reach out and touch.

Setting the bottle down on the bar with an audible clunk, she licked her lips as she gazed up at him, lashes fluttering. It was an art, the chase. The trick was to make them think they were the one doing the chasing. Like an ambush predator, she was camouflaged, she seemed harmless, so the prey drew nearer and nearer, never sensing the danger she presented.

“Thank you,” she said, in a measured tone, betraying neither desire nor rejection. Make him work for it, that was all part of the game. Part of the fun. “What’s your name?”

“Mateo, what’s yours?”

“Jade.” She lied, offering her hand to him.

He lifted it to his mouth, her hand warm in his as he kissed the back of hers. He never broke eye contact. Ah, there was that Latin charm she so loved! She definitely had a type and he hit all the sweet spots. Dark hair, dark eyes, broad shoulders, not more than an inch taller than her. She knew that some women preferred men that were taller than themselves but not her. No, she liked to stand toe to toe and eye to eye with them. Looking up felt too submissive for her. She was definitely all about domination.

“Would you like to dance?” He asked.

“Sure.”

He led her out onto the dance floor where they moved and twirled and it was socially acceptable for him to touch her. Where else was it ok for a total stranger to put their hands on your back, your hips, your shoulders, to pull you in close and press their body against yours?

His body felt good against hers, his hands slid down her back but stopped just a fraction shy of going inappropriately low. She let her body press back against his, just enough to entice him, but not enough for him to be sure she meant it.

Three songs later they left the dance floor breathless and giggling.

“You want to get out of here and go someplace quieter?”

So predictable, she thought. What she said was, “I thought you’d never ask!”

His apartment was also predictable, just what one would expect from a bachelor pad, right down to the pin ball machine in the corner of the living room. But the furniture wasn’t what she was interested in.

Leading him into the bedroom, she let her clothes fall to the floor, the little black dress hitting the ground revealing the thigh high stockings, the garter, the bustier. Yes, she was dressed for seduction.

She watched as his desire grew, lust pushing him onward, never sensing his danger. She was a predator, he was her prey and it would soon all be over. She pushed him back and he thumped down on the edge of the bed, she straddled him, unbuttoning his shirt as she went. The shirt rustled as it dropped onto the bed and she moved onto to his pants. One garment at a time, she undressed him as she leaned in closer and closer and closer.

Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply, the musky, masculine scent sent tremors of pleasure through her. For this one moment, he was her everything, her desire, her overwhelming need, her dinner. The sexual energy rolled off him in waves and at first he sensed nothing as she began to feed, for there was ample energy filling the room for her to feed on.

His desire dried up as the sexual energy disappeared from the room, sucked into her aura. She began to glow and her eyes went black as she soaked it in and drank it down. She followed the trail of energy to its source and continued to drink, deeply, headily, without concern for his sudden terror as he realized his danger. It was too late, she had him, his life force drained out of his body before he could utter the scream that was stuck in his throat.

When the last bit of life force was gone from his body, when she was completely full and thoroughly satiated, when intoxicating warmth of his energy flooded through her body, then, and only then, she let him go and drew back. He flopped lifeless onto the bed beneath her. She licked her lips and sighed in utter contentment as she picked the dress up off the floor, shimmed back into it and casually sashayed out the door.