The Ill Wind

She drifted down lonely paths, the flowers in her hair withered black and her bare feet thick with mud and ashen with cold.

Where laughter called, she turned away. Where smiles bloomed to greet her, she fled.

It was alone that he found her; hovering just above a rocky cliffside, the ragged ends of her dress swirling about her legs, her tangled hair afloat around her.

There was a power about her that gave him pause, but nonetheless, he approached.

‘I saw you, at the solstice,’ he said. ‘Flitting about the rocks. My sister called you over, but you fled. You looked so sad.… Read more

Bad Manners

They approached the thrashing, snarling creature hanging from the snare, calmly dodging claws as long as their fingers and snapping teeth with cruel points.

They spun the creature around and it howled and struggled, but couldn’t reach them. They got to work on the snare, glad of the thick gloves that let them touch the sharp wire.

When the wire was at last worked loose, the thrashing creature hit the ground, then rose to its feet. It was easily twice their size.

It was a hulking, hairy thing of long snout and muscled limbs. It launched itself at them, claws outstretched.… Read more

Regent of Winter

They hungered. Not just for food, though they needed it. Not just for shelter or love, though they wanted it. They were hungry because their spirit was being starved.

The world had taken from them again and again and they were fast becoming a husk. Something thin and twisted and locked away from sun and sanity.

They could feel it happening. It would be easy to become a hag, like so many before them. To take that hunger and turn it into miserable, malicious power.

Instead, they made a decision, because the world can be blamed for your pain but not for your cruelty, and that small and cold spirit inside them still longed to do and be better than what had spawned them.… Read more

I don’t know

She sat overlooking the ocean, legs dangling from the clifftop. Her blackened armour was beaded with gore, but her sword was plunged into the earth behind her.

Another woman approached, limping and clutching a spreading wound in her side. In her other hand was a glowing knife.

Without looking around, the first said, ‘So you’re here to kill me?’

The second hesitated.

‘I deserve it,’ she added.

‘You do,’ the second agreed. ‘Why did you do it?’

‘I don’t know,’ said the first. She looked up at the other with haunted eyes. ‘Somehow, that’s worse than if I did, isn’t it?… Read more

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

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

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

Terror by Moonlight

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

He Reads the Birds

There is a boy who can read the birds.

He throws crumbs to the town pigeons and in the pattern of their pecking, sees illness coming to his school.

He spreads seed across the garden and watches garden birds flit in and away, and sees that his mother will get a promotion.

He watches a plume of rooks rise from the trees below and sees that though folk think he is strange now, the world will one day have need of him.

It is good that the birds taught him kindness as well.

 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.… Read more

RSVP to Save the World

‘We await your response by sparrow?’ I murmured, reading the letter again. Something about destiny, the fate of many, and ‘answering the call’ …

I turned it over and looked at the wax seal, now broken; it looked like a penny had been pressed into the wax.

The letter weighed on my mind, however. When I left for work the next morning, I stopped by the gently chittering hedge on the street.

A little brown head poked through the leaves, followed by four more.

They stared at me with their button-black eyes, then launched into the air in a cheeping flock.… Read more