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
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?’
‘I’ll be right back.’… Read more
‘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
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
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
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
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
He hurried home across the park, hands thrust deep into his pockets. The moon was too sickly to light his path, leaving the lake a looming void.
The sound startled him. He tripped over a root and barely caught himself.
The duck waddled to his feet and glared up at him.
‘I don’t have anything,’ he told it. He’d had no notion that ducks could be nocturnal. He turned away, only to come up short when faced with another pair of beady eyes.
‘Shoo. Go on.’ He waved it away with his briefcase. He liked ducks, normally. Found their brazen begging endearing.… Read more
Every full moon, they locked their doors and shuttered windows. They barricaded, they barred, they held their children tight.
And listened for the crystalline ringing of silver hooves.
In the morning, they would always find the unfortunates gored through the heart by a long silver spike.
Nobody looked at their daughter too closely, because everyone knew that a unicorn wasn’t born from nothing.
First, there was a maiden with murder in her heart.
This microfiction in response to the microfiction poll winner: ‘evil unicorns’. Image by M. Maggs from Pixabay.… Read more
The cat turned its back to him and started grooming. After a pause, he pinched the end of its tail.
It hissed and spun, swiping at the empty air where his hand had been.
He looked guiltily at his mentor.
‘Tail pulling is not an appropriate human behaviour.’
He sulked and crossed his arms. ‘Tail pulling is not an appropriate human behaviour.’
‘Neither is mimicry.’
He groaned and flopped back on the ground. ‘Can I go back to being a crow now?’
Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay.… Read more