Tagged: fairy tale

The Swordsman and the Soldier

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 17

Long ago there lived a swordsman who, growing old after many battles, retired to a distant village to live out his remaining days fishing upon a mountain lake. His sword he buried beneath the hearth of his cottage. His bow and arrows he stored among the rafters. His helmet he concealed among the iron cookware. But though he gave up the tools of war, war itself continued in his absence, and tales of his valour lived on.

One day, a soldier travelled to this distant village from the very city where the swordsman had been raised.

“Honoured sir,” began the soldier, “for weeks have I walked to meet you here, to bring sweet praise and bitter news. The stories of your deeds have become legend, but legend alone cannot hold back the horde: the barbarians you fought have grown bold in your absence, their armies gathering even at the gates. Give me your helmet that no blade can sunder, that I might fear their onslaughts a little less, and that those who fight beside me might take courage from its presence.”

The swordsman retrieved the helmet from among the pots in which he cooked his fish, and gave it unreservedly. He was sorry to hear of this man’s trouble, and glad that he could ease it merely by giving away a memento of his own hard times. Continue reading

A Curious and True Relation of a Diſcovery near Stillbrook

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 14

Challenge #6: Write a story in the style of a major Literary Movement with a theme of either discovery or regret.

Though this following Relation expounds upon Matters divers, of a ſort to inflame the Imagination and confound the Mind, it is nevertheleſs convey’d into our Hands with Aſſurance that it be a Narrative true and unexaggerated.

It is by a Letter of the 14th of July that we are given this Relation, written by a perſon of no ſmall ſtanding whoſe Teſtimony would be heard unqueſtion’d by any Judge. It is our Pleaſure to ſet its Words in Print within this very Pamphlet, and the original Letter may be ſeen at Horton’s Coffee Houſe on Church Street ſhould any wiſh to further ſatisfy themſelves as to the Truth hereof.


From a young age my family diſcourag’d me from Travel, which at the time I consider’d was for fear of Accidents at ſea. My father was a Clerk for a Maritime Insurer, and ſuch Matters must ſurely have weigh’d heavily on his Mind. Inſtead of ſeeing the World by ſailing upon Water, I ſpent my youth immers’d in Books, which for a Time I credited with Knowledge of a certain Stone, or Monolith, erected in a Godless Age. Continue reading

The Emperor and the Ring

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 11

Challenge #5: Write a story combining one literary and one musical genre. It must also feature a cataclysmic event and three survivors. Optionally, it should also include the song “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child.

Once upon a time there lived an emperor, and this emperor had a ring. This ring, his seers told him, held great power: with it he could shape the world to his desire, and he need not fear the monarch of any realm. However, the ring also held a great curse: if ever he were to use it, the common people of his empire would surely bring down ruin upon him.

Hearing this, the emperor immediately settled upon a plan. He issued a decree that would bestow royalty upon all his subjects, defeating with ink and vellum the foes that he could not hope to turn away with powder and steel. Thus, his safety assured, he began to wield the ring’s power.

The emperor started small. He set out busts in his own likeness not only in his palace, but all across the land. He scattered palm trees too—exotic plants that cast a pleasing shade—even in his subjects’ very homes. This drew the people’s ire, but as all knew that none of royal blood could harm him, what could they do to prevent it?

Soon the most inconvenient trees were cut down for food and firewood, and life returned almost to normal. Some even came to embrace the changes—for it was quite flattering to be thought a ruler of one’s own land—but this did not last long. The emperor reshaped the land, smoothing its hills and valleys into a flawless, level plain, and this he ruled out with lines of magenta, almost in the likeness of a chequerboard. The sky too he changed as he saw fit, dyeing it a glowing teal that was neither day nor night, and casting down the stars to make room for vast geometric shapes. The Sun he fixed upon the horizon, ever-rising and always setting. And so that his subjects could not reject their royal titles, he took away their names. Continue reading

Jack and the Smalltalk

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 6

“Fee fi fo fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he live or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!”

“I’m Cornish,” Jack shouted.

“What?”

“I’m Cornish,” Jack repeated. “If you want to get technical.”

“Oh.” The giant stopped, the brace of dead cows dangling from his belt swaying comically. “Still, pretty close, though.”

“Yeah, but like… Nobody’s asking you to guess people’s heritage based on scent. It’s not as if I’ve popped up here and said ‘Have a sniff and see if you can work out where I’m from!’ That’s literally the first non-nonsense thing you said to me, and it’s wrong.”

“I feel like you’re getting really hung up over this.”

“I’m just saying, you only get one chance to make a first impression.” Continue reading

The Hunter’s Game

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 28

Once upon a time there lived a hunter in a wild land. Each morning he set out into the forest to check his traps and seek out game. Each afternoon he returned to his cottage to tend its small garden and to cook a simple meal. And each night, he rested that he would be ready to begin the next day anew.

One day, while treading a path that even he seldom used, the hunter passed an old man who wore a thick cloak and walked with a long staff. The hunter gave him a cordial greeting, yet the man responded by grasping his arm, pulling him backwards along the path.

“I pray you,” said the traveller, “walk no farther this way!”

The hunter began to protest, but his words were drowned out by a widowmaker falling on the path where the traveller had just passed and he had just been approaching. The vast bough rested, still trembling from the impact, as the hunter struggled to put his gratitude into words.

But “Do not thank me,” said the traveller. “I have not saved your life, but rather the trouble of lifting that bough.”

The hunter looked to the traveller and realised with horror that the man’s wrinkled face was but a skull, and his thick cloak a pale shroud. Likewise he carried not a staff, but a vicious dart. The hunter tried to pull away, but the terrible figure’s fleshless hand was still closed over his arm, and he remained fixed upon the path as firmly as a coffin nail. Continue reading

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Wolf Band

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 19

Once upon a time, Little Red Riding Hood was walking through the forest towards her grandmother’s cottage when she saw a wolf coming the other way along the path. Her mother had warned her to be careful of wolves, and so she stepped off the trail and hid in the shade of a sturdy conifer.

But evidently she did not step quickly enough, for the wolf called out: “Who’s there? Are you the Big Bad Wolf?”

This seemed a very strange question indeed, and since she had been spotted anyway Little Red Riding Hood returned to the path.

“No,” she said. “I thought you were—the Big Bad Wolf, I mean.”

“Oh!” the wolf laughed. “No, though people get us mixed up all the time. I’m the Big Band Wolf, you see, and this is my Big Wolf Band.” Continue reading

Wolf in Sheepish Clothing

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 27

“Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in!”

“Not by the hair on your chinny-chin-chin!”

“Guys, seriously, could we not do this right now? The delivery guy called while I was in the bath and when I ran out to try and catch him the door swung shut behind me. I’m wearing nothing but a towel and it’s not even a particularly big towel. Could you please just let me in off the street? It’s freezing out here.”

The pigs conferred with one another.

“That sounds like a lie,” said the first little pig.

“People do tend to throw in a lot of extra details when they lie,” offered the second.

“How do we know you’re not going to eat us?” asked the third.

There was a sigh from the other side of the door. “Look, your house is made of straw. If I wanted to eat you, I could knock it down just by breathing on it. But obviously that wouldn’t help me get out of the cold now, would it?”

“I dunno…” said the first pig.

“Come on, guys! What reason could I possibly have for asking you to let me in if I could just smash right through the wall like the Kool-Aid man?”

“Yeah?” said the second pig. “Well what reason could you have for coming to our house out of all the houses on Lollipop Lane? We’re not exactly on good terms, you know.”

“You think this is the first place I’ve tried? Humptey Dumptey was cracking up, the old woman who lives in the shoe just ogled my butt the whole time, and Wee Willie Winkie wouldn’t stop making dick jokes. Happy now?”

“Yeah, fair enough,” said third little pig, “come on in.” And he unlocked the door.

“Hang on,” said the first pig. “Does the wolf even wear clothes?”

“Actually, now that you mention it…”

“Oh, shit. It’s Dracula.”

“Haha!” shouted Dracula as he bounded inside. “Who’s the sucker now?”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

How to Pain Your Dragon

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 18

“Foolish knight,” hissed the dragon. “Did you think this place would be unguarded? Did you think the moat its only defence? None who pass through those gates return alive, for all who do must face me.”

“Okay,” said the knight. “Why?”

“What do you mean ‘why’? Obviously I’m gonna fight anyone who comes here. Do you really think they’d leave a dragon in a tower just to welcome people in?”

“Who’s ‘they’?”

The dragon made an annoyed little noise. “Only Queen Harriet the Third and the nobles of her court. Geez! You don’t see a lot of dragons guarding pubs, do you? I mean, it’s pretty much royalty or nothing, innit?”

“Why?”

“Because dragons guard treasure and the cash box at the Dog and Pheasant isn’t exactly going to cut it!” Continue reading

Puss in Boots in Boots

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 10

Challenge #5: Write a story set in a mall including a fairy tale character and an element of anthropomorphism.

“Does this sun cream protect against UVA and UVB?” asked Rumplestiltskin.

“Dunno,” said the cat sitting at the counter, without looking up.

“Well what about this one?” He picked up a different bottle—far too small to be good value for money—from the little impulse-buy shelf dividing the queue from the rest of the shop.

“Dunno,” said the cat, again. He licked one of his tiny cat thumbs and used it to turn the page of his magazine.

“Is there anything you do know?” Rumplestiltskin snapped.

The cat, at last, looked up. “I know I wouldn’t wear that shirt with those shorts,” he said.

Rumplestiltskin tutted and huffed. “This is the worst customer service I’ve ever had!” he proclaimed. “Do you know who I am?”

“Don’t know…” said the cat, absent-mindedly turning another page, “don’t care.”

“Well, you should care!” Rumplestiltskin waggled a tiny finger over the counter. “There are plenty of other shops around here. I could easily take my business elsewhere!”

“Not my problem.”

The cat hopped down from the cashier’s chair, boots clacking against the linoleum. He tucked the magazine back into the rack by the door.

“I was just putting my feet up,” he explained as he left. “I don’t work here.”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

The Dragon and the Dying Stars

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 31

Challenge #14: Write a story in the style of a fairy tale, including phrase repetition and involving stars as physical objects. It must be serious in tone but also include a Phillips screwdriver.

This challenge was set by G. Deyke.

Once upon a time, in a world far distant, the night sky grew dark. Slowly, at first, the stars grew dim. The king’s philosophers at first thought that this was nothing more than the action of passing aeons, and that more would burn anew. But ere long their numbers dwindled, and the naked eye saw plainly what no telescope could: the stars were consumed.

Troubled, the king sent out his greatest knight upon a steed of chrome. Agravane was that knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a sword born of a dying star. Never would that blade break, and never would its edge grow dull. For many weeks Agravane rode through the void, and for as many weeks the king watched through the seeing-stone that stood before his throne.

At last, Agravane found his foe, and the king at last saw who it was who plucked the stars from the aether like grapes from the vine.

It was a dragon, vast as his kingdom and black as the void. Each wing was as wide as a galaxy, and its eyes glowed like quasars. Its manner and its motions were that of a great animal; its structure and its form, that of a terrible machine.

When the dragon spoke, it spoke not to the knight before it, but to the king beyond the stone: “I have lived since before the days of time. Since before the noise of creation and beyond the notion of being. Your universe is an affront to me, but in its matter I have found a host, and that host offers a solution. From one hundred billion dying stars I built this body, and with it I shall consume all the living stars that remain. Then there shall be stillness and silence and peace until the heat death of the universe, wherein there shall be stillness and silence and peace still.”

In his throne, the king trembled at the threat of such a foe. But Agravane was fearless.

He held aloft his sword: “You might have seized your matter from the stars by force, but mine was a gift granted in a time of dire need. When I stood alone against the hordes of Far Reach and my weapon snapped in twain, bright Achernar crystallised into a blade that would never fail me so.”

But though Agravane was fearless, he was not wise, and his sword did not avail him: the dragon was forged of star-steel too, and though the blade did not dull against its scales, neither could it cut them, and the beast crushed him in its mighty hand unhindered. Agravane’s sword was lost to the aether whence it came.

Fearful, the king sent out a second knight upon a second steed. Carador was this knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a spear born of a dying star. Never would that shaft snap, nor would the point fail to find its mark. For many weeks Carador rode through the void, and for as many weeks the king watched through the seeing-stone.

“What fool comes to challenge me?” demanded the dragon, in a voice that carried even through the void.

“No fool am I,” Carador responded, keeping his distance, “for I carry the same spear that came to me during the siege of Omega Centauri when my own weapon was lost.”

The dragon snorted: “Never can you pierce my scales with your stick.”

Carador took aim: “I do not intend to try.”

He did not direct his spear against the dragon’s scales, but instead towards one of its vast eyes. Unerring, the spear flew, yet clattered from the boiling orb: even the eyes were forged of star-steel, and even the eyes could not be harmed.

With a single pulse of its fiery gaze, the dragon tore the knight’s very atoms asunder, and Carador’s spear too was lost to the aether whence it came.

Holding little hope, the king summoned still one more knight. Gilhault was this knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a hammer born of a dying star. When swung, the head was weightless, yet when it struck a foe it held the mass of a thousand moons.

But before Gilhault could mount his steed, an unseen assailant cracked his visor with a cudgel so he could not brave the void: Elayn, his squire, stole the reins and rode off in his stead.

Furious, the king sent all his knights to pursue her, but all were left behind: none tended the steeds with more skill or kindness than Elayn, and so none could catch Gilhault’s, which she had so long cared for.

Elayn faced the dragon.

The dragon laughed. “Will you fight me with a simple cudgel?”

“No.” Elayn drew her own gift of star-steel from her voidcloak. “With this.”

And the dragon laughed louder, for the item she produced was but a Phillips screwdriver.

“I too was at the battle against the hordes of the Far Reach, and there my master was dismounted. I leapt through the void to reach his steed, but found it maimed beyond motion. For weeks we drifted, helpless, until we were caught in the orbit of Leporis. From that star was born this screwdriver, and with it I saved this steed.”

“Go home, little girl,” said the dragon. “You have some years yet before I trouble myself with your sphere: do not forfeit them.”

Elayn did not answer this insult. She merely charged forwards, and the dragon, without even going to the effort of stretching out its neck, consumed her whole.

But though every piece of the dragon was formed of a dying star—every piece indestructible—they were held together with screws of star-steel. And though their threads would never strip and their shanks never break, no bond held them in their place but simple force.

In this way, with nothing but a screwdriver, Elayn beheaded the monster whose neck no blade could sever.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

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