Tagged: fantasy

The Dunwich Helper(s)

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 19

Challenge #9: Write a story in collaboration with at least one other author. It must feature a ragtag bunch of misfits, a humanoid abomination, as well as MacGuyvering and a character being punished for doing a good deed. Of these tropes, one must be played straight, one inverted, one subverted and one exaggerated.

This story was written in collaboration with GDeyke and Aida Reluzco.

“Hi. My name’s Steve, and I have the face of an eldritch abomination.”

A mumbled “Hi, Steve” made its way around the room in acknowledgement. Steve, indeed, had the face of an eldritch abomination. Tentacle-beard and all.

“I wasn’t always this way,” Steve explained. “I mean—obviously. Can you imagine what my mother would have said if I’d come out like this?”

The room tittered nervously.

“I’ve always had skin problems,” Steve continued, “but, like, conventional skin problems. Not go-mad-from-the-revelation skin problems. I try to stay fairly upbeat, but…” Steve trailed off dejectedly, staring into the expectant, if uncomfortable, faces before him.

“Anyway, there was a sketchy clinical trial in Fresno and here we are.” He scratched a tentacle. Continue reading

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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

When Grandmother Calls

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 17

Challenge #8: Write a magical realist story featuring a mentor character in which there is no direct dialogue.

When Grandmother calls, she says that everything will turn out alright in the end. I haven’t told her that the wolves are at the door.

Metaphorically and literally.

I’m not sure which concerns me more.

At first I thought that it was stress. You worry about a thing—about next week’s work rota, about making ends meet—and you start to see it as an animal skulking about behind the railings across the road.

Then you realise that there really is an animal, and you think that it’s a fox.

Then you hear the howling, find the claw marks in the wood.

***

When Grandmother calls, she says that everything will turn out alright in the end. I haven’t told her that the wolves are in the stairwell.

Nobody else seems to notice as they step over them or squeeze by. Perhaps they think they’re just somebody’s dogs. Perhaps it’s simply easier than acknowledging that they’re there.

While the sun’s up they just sit there, lounging on the stairs.

I don’t look at them after dark.

***

When Grandmother calls, she says that everything will turn out alright in the end. I haven’t told her that the wolves are in the flat.

They’re drinking all the milk and using all the broadband watching Breaking Bad.

But I do tell Grandmother that she was right all along.

Things are easier now the rent’s split twenty ways.

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 Watcher in the Wasteland

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 11

There was once a city with wealth beyond measure. Its streets were gardens, with statues in every alcove and trees in every square. By day travellers marked the place by the mist that rose from its fountains, and by night the smoke that rose from the palace spire. The city was a lighthouse to the desert’s sea: those who passed by knew no bandits dared to stalk the roads in the places where it watched, and those who passed through knew they were sure to find cool water and a warm bed.

Though this city was home to many guards who manned towers set about its border or patrolled its roads on horseback, the king himself would often watch over the land from the palace spire. His advisers were wise and the court’s demands few, so the lord of that high palace spent his days in much the same way as the lowest of his soldiers. He did, however, have one luxury they did not: an ingenious device—a gift from an alchemist—that allowed him to view passers-by on the horizon with such clarity that they might have been walking through the gardens below.

One day, while watching over the desert, the king happened to notice a figure upon a camel, robed in garments of dust-stained linen. The sight of such a traveller was far from unusual, but this figure did not seem to be travelling at all. Observing him through the alchemist’s device, the king saw that he was indeed merely seated upon his camel, motionless in the desert. Fearing some misfortune, the king sent for a guard to ride out to meet him. 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 Mages and the Demon’s Tower

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 9

In brighter times, the Ebon Tower had been a beacon of hope and justice, its garrisons watching over the Merchants’ Way from Grimble’s Vale in the East to Far Baragar in the West. But since the demon Kharael had come to claim it, that tower was a blight upon the land. Travellers would cling to the shadows of the Northern Peaks simply to avoid its gaze, though those roads teemed with wolves and bandits, and many lost their way.

Few could stand against a demon, but the Arch-mage Tharandel was one of those few, and so he felt it his duty to make the attempt. He pushed open the doors of the great hall at the tower’s tallest height, and what he saw there was nothing short of madness.

The demon Kharael had rearranged the very matter of the room. Screaming faces writhed across the walls, their words transmuted into silent flame. The pillars rising seemed to twist and bend, tormented serpents racked by pain that could afflict even stone. And in the centre of it all sat Kharael himself, upon a throne of skulls. Continue reading

The Lion, The Mix and the Wardrobe

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 7

Challenge #4*: Write story that opens with the final sentence of a story written by another author this month, and that features a character undergoing a change as part of the plot. It must also include the names of ten or more cocktails and two things that do not ordinarily go together. The total word count must be exactly 377, 610 or 987.

The opening sentence of this story is the final sentence of G. Deyke‘s What Remains After Burning.

“Let’s find another place to sit.” The two barbarians stared with surprise at the heaving cocktail lounge of The Walk-in Wardrobe. It was incredibly busy, and it wasn’t even happy hour. Standing room only. There were some little shelf type things where you could rest your drink, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

“If you’d care to book a seat at the bar, I can get you one in two weeks,” said Alsan, expertly pouring grenadine over a spoon to form a perfectly layered tequila sunrise. Despite not having any thumbs, he was really quite dextrous, and despite being a gigantic lion he was really quite charming. He slid the drink smoothly across the bar to the orc who’d ordered it.

The orc took a sip. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “By the three fingers of Crognar the Clumsy, that was worth the wait!”

Alsan gave a little bow, sweeping up a cocktail shaker from beneath the bar in the same motion. He scooped up some ice, sloshed in the appropriate measures of pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum, and began to shake it in spectacular fashion. He shook it high and low, and behind his back, and threw in several flips just to round out the performance. When you ran a bar near a competing establishment, it took a certain amount of flair to keep drawing in customers. When you ran a bar in a wardrobe inside that competing establishment’s cloakroom, that amount was absolutely shit-tons. Continue reading

Are You There Dracula? It’s Me, Van Helsing

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 3

Challenge #2: Write story including a scene in which a reconciliation occurs. It must also mention a year in which a historical peace treaty was signed and feature an unreliable narrator.

Abraham Van Helsing moved silently through the crypt, the stench of death all around him. The sanctuary of his nemesis lay ahead, illuminated by the yellow glow of the electric lantern affixed to the breast of his coat. Van Helsing carried a mallet of oak in his right hand and a stake of ash in his left, one held ready to strike the other. The coffin before him loomed closer, closer, as he prepared to tear open its lid and smite his foe.

With the point of his stake, he levered up the wood in one smooth motion and prepared to strike.

Yet the coffin was empty.

With unnatural speed, a shadow darted across the hall, yet protected by providence Van Helsing had the presence of mind to hold up his stake and mallet as a makeshift cross, and the creature halted its advance. Yet it was not yet defeated.

“Ah! Ah! Ah!” laughed Count Dracula. “Your feeble wood means nothing to me, for…” Continue reading

Are You There God? It’s Me, Dracula

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 2

“Stay back!” stammered the woman, backing farther into the dark alley. “I’ve got a crucifix and I’m not afraid to use it!”

“Ah! Ah! Ah!” laughed Count Goldschmidt. “Your little piece of wood means nothing to me. For I am a Jewish vampire, and— Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! What gives?!?” He took several steps back, frantically putting out the flames on his sweet vampire cloak.

“Oh, that,” said Count Williams, coalescing out of a handy cloud of bats. “That’s one of the quirks of being a vampire, yeah. You find out that Christianity is the one true religion.”

“Wait, what?” said Count Goldschmidt, still smouldering slightly.

“Yeah, man. It sucks.” Count Williams stopped himself briefly: “No pun intended. But, you know. You go through life pondering all these great mysteries, living with a sense that you can never really grasp the fundamental nature of the universe but appreciating that at least everybody’s in the same boat. And then you get bitten by a vampire, and oh hey! Crucifixes make you burst into flames. So…”

There was an awkward pause.

“Yeah,” continued Count Williams. “Kind of a lot to take in when you’re new, but, you know…” he shrugged. “Unlife goes on.” Continue reading

The Beggar’s Sovereign

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 1

Challenge #1: Write an adventure story using a character, setting and MacGuffin suggested by three different fellow participants. The character must be an autobiographical description of the person who suggested it.

Character: An engineer who prefers to solve problems with a hammer – but in down time enjoys drawing and singing folk songs. Enjoys outdoor pursuits as long as any trip culminates in a visit to a good old fashioned pub with a hearty meal and a tankard of cider. (squanpie)

Setting: The fully furnished and richly decorated throne room of a long-abandoned castle. Why it was never cleared out or looted is uncertain, only that everything remains, dusty and mildewed and occasionally a little moth-nibbled but otherwise untouched. (Oreramar)

MacGuffin: An enchanted coin that can be spent to bribe anyone to do anything. (distortified)

The sight was a wonder. Though the castle itself stood crumbling and forlorn – a bleak ruin atop the only high ground on the Fell Tor Mires – this one room was immaculately preserved. Where other chambers had been cleared of valuables and others fallen in all together, this room – the throne room – held every trinket and tapestry it might have done when it was constructed. Indeed, thought Lara Jones as she gazed about the straining tables and crowded shelves, it had probably gained quite a few new treasures since then.

With a sudden mechanical rattle, the door swung shut.

Lara would have turned to look at it, but her attention was instead drawn to the figure who had pulled the lever. The figure on the throne.

“You seek the Beggar’s Sovereign, I take it?” His accent was unfamiliar: nowhere in the world had she heard a voice quite the same.

“Yes,” she answered plainly. “It belongs in a museum.” Continue reading