Passing Time

She dug her toes into the dirt and raised her arms.

As the wind struck her, she shivered; skin whorled and hardened into bark. Fingers lengthened and fractured into branches. Hair bloomed into narrow silver leaves.

She grew and twisted and changed, shifting from a girl into a narrow white-barked tree.

And thus, she let the seasons pass, and woke again in better times.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.… Read more

Enduring Friendship

The tour group moved on. He glanced around as the display room emptied.

When he was certain that it was just him and a lit case of bones, he took a screwdriver from his coat pocket and cracked the lid of the case.

He slid his hand inside to stroke the little feline skeleton there, worn smooth by years of handling. It shuddered under his touch, the bolts and wires holding it together pinging free to bounce from the glass.

The skeleton yawned silently, then turned empty orbs toward him.

He smiled. ‘I knew I would find you again eventually.’

The cat braced its paws against the glass and he complied to its silent request, lifting it free of the case and letting it snuggle into his coat.… Read more

The Source of Magic

What the researchers discovered was that magic came not from humans, but from animals. Or rather, from the relationship with them.

Those who gave their cats warm affection developed magic of shadow and illusion.

Those who played and pranced with their dogs developed the ability to heal and energise.

Those who sat quietly with their snakes became powerful diviners, and those who were kind to their mice could teleport.

But, the studies showed, more animals didn’t necessarily mean more magic. What mattered was that you loved them, and spent time with them.

And to be cruel or neglectful for the sake of your magic would twist you in horrible ways.… Read more

Coffee

It pulled itself from the mud and grit, a man-sized, amphibious thing of slimy skin, narrow teeth, and dark, cold eyes.

‘Stay away,’ it hissed, holding out webbed hands tipped with heavy claws. ‘I will fight you if I must!’

The human set aside their backpack and knelt. ‘I didn’t mean to startle you,’ they said. ‘My name’s Eden. I won’t hurt you.’

It lowered its claws. ‘You won’t hurt me?’

‘I won’t.’ They paused. ‘Do you like coffee?’

‘Coffee?’

‘I’ll be right back.’… Read more

It was as simple as clicking a few boxes on their site.

‘Internet’s Mail-Order Magic Letters: Bring some magic into your life!’

They didn’t ask for an address, or payment details. It seemed harmless enough.

Then came the letters.

The first opened in a spray of glitter that dissipated into the air. ‘CONFIDENCE!’ it read. She negotiated a promotion that day.

The next unfolded itself in her hands, and crooned bedtime stories from a small illustrated mouth. She got her first full night’s sleep in weeks.

Then the next held ‘good luck’ coins. She gave them to a beggar, who hugged her on the street the next day, their fortunes turned.… Read more

Boss Monster

‘It’ll be simple,’ he said, voice barely shaking. ‘Run in, grab the treasure, run out.’

‘What about the monsters?’ she replied. ‘What about the dragon?’

‘Well … we’ll move too fast for them, thanks to this.’ He hefted his newly purchased spellbook. ‘And you have the sword if anything goes wrong.’

‘I do not feel confident I could take on a dragon!’

‘We won’t have to!’

They clasped hands and he cast the spell, again and again. Walls crumbled before them to reform behind them.

All manner of twisted beasts and grasping undead howled at them, but they were gone each time before anything could be done.… Read more

Slow Awakening

It started slowly, as most Awakenings do.

She would hum as she brushed her sisters hair, and sparks would fly from the brush.

She would whistle to her hounds, who would race to her side with the speed and silence of ghosts.

She would gaze across the stormy sea and scream her frustration into the wind.

Then came the song. And the feathers. And the fury.

But when she sang people to throw themselves into the crushing tides, only the cruel ever listened.

Image by Noupload from Pixabay.… Read more

Vigilant

A high-pitched howl woke her before dawn. She sat up, rubbing her eyes, as the desperate cries continued.

‘Mara, darling?’ she called.

The howls stopped. They were followed by short meow.

She sighed, and climbed out of bed. As she shuffled into the other room, she rubbed the sleep dust from her eyes.

There, bathed in silver light from the window, was a cat-like creature of enormous size, tabby fur, and an oddly human shape.

The creature turned wide eyes toward the human.

‘Did you see another cat, darling?’

Mara nodded, then looked back out the window.

The woman smiled tiredly and came to stand beside her.… Read more

The Curses We Leave Behind

She stared hard into the enchanted pool, trying to recognise these new features. Smooth skin and tumbling curls, wide eyes with long lashes. A human face she had yearned for for long years.

But it had been her goat face that had laughed with friends. Been lion hands that first clasped Janna’s tightly. It had been her serpent tail that had saved her from the cruel knight.

That body had been pain. It had been torturous. A curse she had never wanted or deserved. But it had been all she had known for so long.

As her tears fell into the pool, she felt hands at her shoulder, at her arm, taking her hand.… Read more

Tomorrow, Perhaps

Every day, the hound watched the sun set over the graveyard, walking between the headstones, nose quivering in search of a particular scent.

As the sun vanished behind the mountains and the mist descended, wispy figures pulled themselves up from the graves.

They never shied from the hound, though he was large as a wolf and black as tar. Though his eyes pierced the night with a luminous glow.

Instead, they crowded around him.

They stroked his nose with phantom hands and whispered praise with distant voices. They watched his progress with milky eyes filled with sadness.

When at last he came to that particular grave, the headstone long-since pitted and overgrown, he would take up his guard and wait for a misty shape that never formed.… Read more