Running and Riding

His feet were sore and blistered in his shredded shoes. His shirt was bramble-torn and leaf-stained, his trousers dirty and frayed.

The river was a mirage-like solace, too good to be true. He knelt on the bank and lowered cupped hands into the cool water.

After he had drunk his fill, he turned to see a horse, fur as dark as the blackest mud, with rushes tangled in its mane.

‘I’ve heard of you,’ said the man. ‘I won’t ride you, no matter how sore I am.’

The horse snorted and struck its hoof on the ground. ‘You think I mean to drown you.’

‘That’s what you are, isn’t it?’

‘And what are you?’ asked the horse.… Read more

The Woman in the Deep

There is a woman drifting in the deep.

Her eyes are closed, her limbs loose and floating. Fish dart in and out of her hair. Many-armed things probe her face with curious curls.

When she feels the sunlight rippling across her face, she is weary because it is about to begin again.

She will be fished from the water and forced to glare and bare her teeth for their pleasure. They will scour the scales from her skin and rip the coral from her scalp.

They think because they found her, that she belongs to them.

When she lunges for the ocean, they will hold her tight.… Read more

Wings Out

‘I don’t know if I can do it.’ The ground fell away mere inches from his feet, a chasm of rock walls and thorny brambles.

‘You can!’ she called from across the fall. ‘I know you can!’

‘How?’ His voice was hoarse.

She smiled and spread her wings, the feathers catching the light with an irridescent shine.

‘Because I didn’t think I could do it either.’

He shuffled his own wings on his back.

All there was left was to breathe in, wings out, and make a running a leap.

Another microfiction for Mastodon. Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay, used under Pixabay license.… Read more

Memory and Sight

He adjusted his blindfold. ‘What do you think?’

Her eyes tracked the clouds as they rolled across the azure sky.

‘It’s beautiful,’ she replied. She shifted where she lay on the grass, disturbing her hair. It hissed and resettled, scales sliding against scales. ‘I mean … I remembered that it was beautiful, but in my head … it was like a painting. This is something else.’

‘What else would you like to see?’

She smiled, sharp-toothed and joyful. ‘Everything.’

Another microfiction for Mastodon. Image by tatlin from Pixabay, used under Pixabay License.… Read more

Attack Dog

He found it on a country lane. A beast of curling black fur and heavy paws. Its red eyes lit up its face in the dark; long muzzle, long tongue, long teeth.

‘It’s okay,’ he said gently. Lacking anything better, he offered it a ham sandwich, arm outstretched.

The beast growled, a sound of low menace that brought to mind the first rumble of an avalanche.

‘I won’t hurt you, I promise,’ he said. He laid the sandwich on the ground and took a step back. ‘Try it.’

The beast lunged forward and snapped up the sandwich. Its teeth clacked and its mouth smacked wetly.… Read more

First the Flame, Second the Bell.

Their eyes meet across the burning glade. Fire still trails from the hands of the first, and the flames dance in her sad eyes.

The second is covered in ash. She hugs a cat to her chest. It buries its face under her arm.

‘I know you,’ says the second, as if in a daze. Her gaze sharpens. ‘Did you do this?’

The first recoils. The flames in her hands flicker; the fire around her dims, then brightens. ‘I didn’t mean to. It just … happens.’

‘Just happens?’ She coughs. Her eyes narrow. ‘A fine way to shirk the blame, when you’ve been caught flame-handed.’ The cat in her arms squirms, then resettles.… Read more

Love and War(craft)

She kicked the skeleton squarely in the chest, then drew her twin shortswords. ‘Still think this was a good idea?’

Her companion raised her staff and lightning cracked down from the sky, turning a zombie into ash. ‘Well, I’m having a good time,’ she replied.

Their eyes met over their laptop screens. One raised her eyebrows; the other looked down in a blush.

‘So … maybe we’ll do this again sometime?

‘Yeah! Yes. Um … the Ashara Raid?’

‘It’s a date.’

This microfiction written in thanks to a donor on Ko-Fi. Image by Orna Wachman from Pixabay, used under Pixabay License.… Read more

Moonlight Dog

Her dog was a creature of moonlight and chill wind.

It lived on the hill behind her house, in the ruins of the old stable. She’d been up there to get … away, when she heard whimpering.

It was a timid thing, thin-boned and silver-furred, all eyes flashing in the dark and tail vanishing into shadow.

Given time, she earned its trust.

It would lean against her side and she would run her hands through its icy fur. She brought it treats that it would never take, but when she called, it came. But only at night.

‘Who left you here?’ she would wonder as it bowed and bounded in play.… Read more

A better player

She played late into the night and then later still, ignorant of the shadows pressing in on all sides, uncaring of the heaviness of her limbs or the life set to resume in a few hours.

For her, there was only the quest, only the character on the screen, only the voices of her guildmates, intense in her ears.

The shadows crowded closer as her eyelids drooped, their inky hands reaching for the keyboard.

When her head hung and a snore rose up in her throat, they gently nudged her aside and finished the raid.

‘Yes!’ a player crowed in her ear.… Read more

Lost

They met at twilight: a woman, scratched and sore, and a fox with mauled ears and eyes like reflected stars.

The fox had one leg lifted, poised to flee. The woman pulled her tattered coat tighter about her as she sat among the leaf-litter.

‘I’m lost,’ said the woman. ‘But I can’t go back. I won’t.’

The fox tilted its head to one side, yipped, and picked up a careful pace.

And through trees and darkening light and desperate hope, it led the woman to her new home.

Another microfiction for Mastodon. Image by n4pgw, used under Pixabay License.… Read more