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

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

Her Loving Shadow

She’d found him tied to a fence at the side of the road, a noose around his neck and no collar to be found. A large black dog with a thick ruff, long teeth, and eyes that gleamed red when they caught the light.

He’d gone with her meekly enough. Let her bathe him, feed him. Brush the tangles from his fur.

She never told anyone about the blood around his mouth — whatever he’d had to do to survive, she didn’t blame him.

He became her shadow, always at her heels, or watching over her shoulder while she played. If his eyes sometimes followed things she couldn’t see, then that was fine.

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Moonlight Encounter

The couple spotted the monstrously fluffy cat striding purposefully toward them across the moonlit street.

The first tapped his partner. ‘Cat!’

‘Yes, I see it.’ He sighed dramatically, but couldn’t quite hide his smile. He knelt down as the cat approached. ‘Here, kitty.’ He held out his hand.

At his movement, the cat veered away.

‘Uh … kitty?’

The cat stopped and flicked its tail. ‘Sorry,’ it yowled over its shoulder. ‘Thought you were somebody else.’

The couple looked at each other. ‘Full moon,’ said the first.

‘Must be new at it,’ said the second. ‘I haven’t shifted involuntarily in years now.’… 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

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?’… Read more

Looking

Another microfiction for Mastodon.

She pricked her finger on the crooked needle and let the blood drip and swirl into the bowl below.

It clouded pink, then cleared.

She gripped the sides of the bowl with tight hands as an image resolved. A tatter-eared dog trotted through fields of smoke beneath a white sky, then paused and sniffed the air. It looked right at her, and barked, ears coming forward.

‘I miss you,’ she whispered.

Then came shouts and shuffling feet. She overturned the bowl and fled.

Image by Yuri_B, used under CC0.… Read more