A Little Feud.

It started with a mouse. Not just any mouse, but Elden’s favourite mouse, Godfrey. Little thing had lived in his hat for nearly a century, and then, poof, gone.

He searched everywhere for that bloody mouse.

Searching his workshop, now in a mess, he scratched his head just as Little Socks, the cat, jumped onto his big table.

“You didn’t eat him, did you?”

The cat purred and licked his whiskers. Elden squinted at the farmhouse across the backfield with suspicion from his grimy window.

He shoved on his hat and tramped over, grumbling.

He banged the sorcerer’s door.

It opened and Calfern folded her arms with a grin. Godfrey popped out of her hair.

“I knew it.”

“I can’t help it if you can’t take care of your own.”

“Can’t take…” He sputtered in rage. “Why you meddling-”

“Look, Godfrey has decamped to me. Don’t be bitter and jealous, it doesn’t suit you.”

“Godfrey, come on.” He pointed to his worn and tatty hat.

Godfrey scurried back into her hair. It stung more than he expected.

“Fine.”

That night, Elden crept back over and at the chicken coop, muttered a few words, and the chickens went quiet. The large bright red birds were well known for their magical eggs, and he’d coveted this pair for some time. He picked one up under each arm but woke the giant goose he’d missed.

It hissed, showing its teeth, and flapped and chased him in the dark around the yard.

He heard laughter and there Calfern stood in her dressing gown, doubled over in laughter just as the goose bit his backside.

“You silly old fool, put my chickens down.”

“Never.” He vanished before her with the chickens back to his own farm.

He set them in the barn for the night with his three horned-goat and went to bed.

When he checked them in the morning, he found not only the chickens were gone, but Syral the goat too.

“Blast that foul old witch.” That he was more than two centuries her senior was irrelevant.

Calfern had decided to plague him until death but no more.

He scowled his wily brows and went to his workshop.

Muttering words over his black glass stone, mist swirled in the gloss.

There she was, the vicious wretch. His goat munched grass behind her as she brushed her unicorn down.

He narrowed his eyes and planned.

In the light of a full moon, he peered at the stars; all was perfect and with smug confidence, gathered his supplies. Moving a unicorn would take work.

The goat bleated, and her cat was curled up next to it. Well, might as well.

“Yes, yes.” He swirled his arms, heavy robes rippling in the breeze with his magic stone in front of him, and drank the potion he’d made, casting magic on his tongue.

The incantation danced away on the wind as mist surrounded him.

“Elden, is that you meddling? I can smell your vapour from here! It stinks.” A soft lyrical voice countered his power, but she was too late.

He evaporated into the ether, followed by the cat, goat, chickens, and unicorn.

They appeared in his yard, a little fractious, and he gripped his stone to his chest.

“That’ll serve her right.”

He settled the animals in for the night and went to bed with a smirk.

Elden brushed down the mare, sharp horn sparkling in the sun the next morning. It’d been a long time since he’d seen such a fine creature and wondered how Calfern came by it. The fine beast stamped her hoof and let a trumpet of a noise out so lyrical and bright, it soothed his heart. The clearest of sounds.

He smiled and patted her neck, white mane fluttering on the breeze.

The mare followed him to the workshop and sticking her head inside, huffed and then cantered around the meadow.

He watched as the goat joined her, and Little Socks and Calder’s cat watched.

It was quite the menagerie. He missed Godfrey though.

He got to work, making potions and amulets, when he heard from a dark corner of the room, a tapping.

Excited, he crept over. “See Godfrey, I told you.”

There was no reply, and he took off his hat.

Swaddled in a wicker basket was a large blue egg of a rare jewelled dragon. No plain land dragon for him. He hadn’t had the joy of such a creature for fifty years. He released his last when it was of age to breed, and there’s nothing crueller than keeping such a beast in captivity when it wants to leave.

One never tames a dragon, it chooses to stay with you. Like a cat. Or any other familiar.

Beside the basket was another stone, warmth radiated from it, nurturing the egg, and finally the shell cracked, and out from it, pushed the midnight blue of a baby dragon with huge yellow eyes and soft scales. A sky dragon, how beautiful.

“Welcome little one.”

It grouched and squirmed, but made its way out. Dragons had no gender, they were as they needed or chose to be, and naming such a creature was important.

The dragon stretched, showing their pale blue underside.

“Azure.”

The dragon blinked and licked its eye.

“Good.”

Elden collected the shell and set it aside to grind it later.

He fetched sticky honey and fruit and fed the little thing.

Poor creature. He’d found the egg abandoned and fading in its nest, and didn’t know of its parents. He feared some calamity.

The little thing jumped onto his shoulder, stretching its wings, iridescence catching the light, and curled around his neck.

“Well. There we go.”

A noise caught his attention and he found Calder in his meadow.

“Oi!” He hurried out to her.

“You stole my unicorn. Oh my word, is that a dragon?”

“Hands off, you vicious thief.”

Calfern softened. “Elden, my old friend must we bicker?”

“No, but you stole Godfrey.”

“Trade you?” She blew him a kiss, and with the other hand on the mare, they vanished.

In the powdery scent she left, the goat bleated.

He sighed, remembering the old days when he was a young wizard and she was a bright girl in training in the city. The games and tricks she played, and how they laughed.

Shaking his head, he turned back, and the dragon climbed over his head, making him chuckle.

Azure curled up at the window, little tongue poking out, one eye on the view. Rain beat the glass, and Eldren watched it. Poor thing was unhappy. He frowned.

Two days of quiet and hostilities seemed to have halted. Calfern was better with magical familiars, and he wanted to ask her what to do but couldn’t.

He tinkered with an amulet for the magic fair in a month.

Eldren scratched his head, looking for Godfrey and remembered the treacherous creature had left him. He grumbled and warped the precious magic in his hands.

“Blast it to the underworld.” The thing evaporated in a puff of acrid smoke.

Azure lifted its head and bleeped.

“Sorry.”

The little thing sighed. Sky dragons loved cloud if he wasn’t mistaken. With an impish grin, he picked Azure up, and it curled over his head. Outside, cold rain battered them, and Azure lifted its head, licking the rain. It stretched its wings.

“There! Taken you long enough.”

He narrowed his eyes at Calfern. “What are you about, appearing out the rain like the thief you are?”

Before she could answer, a shriek came from the sky and a massive dragon landed behind her, and the ground shook. Through the mist, it thudded forward, and Azure bleeped in excitement.

“Eldren, you are not the only dragon keeper.”

The sorcerers stared each other out until the great sky dragon, glittering blue, screeched, forcing Eldren back a step, and Azure cowered.

It came so close, Eldren felt its breath, it tasted the air and lowered its head.

Eldren sighed; this was right. Azure should be with its own kind. “Go on, little one.”

Azure nuzzled his hat, knocking it at an angle and jumped onto the bigger dragon’s head.

It took flight with a roar.

“Why? Why do you plague and tharwt me? Steal my familiars? What did I do Calfern that was so bad?” He shook his head and turned away.

“You really are a silly codger.”

“What?” He whipped back, setting his hat straight, ready to turn her into a cat.

She walked over, rain soaking her, and Godfrey poked out of her hair. He lifted his hat and Godfrey hopped over to the warm, dry space.

Calfern smiled, eyes always in play. “You’re far too dull, too set. You needed some excitement. We were friends for a long time.”

He scowled as she took his arm and squeezed close. The two sorcerers stared at each other.

“I’m tired of being alone, and I’ve been subtle long enough. Godfrey was kind enough to help me.”

Eldren opened his mouth but was stalled by a screech from above. The Great dragon landed, and Azure hopped down and climbed up Eldren’s robes. It licked his face and sniffed Godfrey when he poked out the hat.

Azure flapped and rose into the sky for the first time. It was beautiful to see. Flying up, the great dragon watched, turned, lowered its head to the wizards and followed Azure. 

Eldren watched them disappear into the cloud and rain. Their pale blue camouflaged in the sky. Pride and emotion closed his throat, and he pushed it back.

Calfern patted his arm. “Come on, I’ll make some tea.”

Eldren followed, bemused but not unhappy at the turn of events. Godfrey was home, and Azure would visit. He hummed a little tune, and the rain stopped.

Calfren laughed and kissed his cheek.

 

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Human Skin

 

C/W horror. Body horror

 

The woman woke to a buzzing sound. She pushed herself up onto her hands and knees and felt on the cold floor under her, filth and slime coating the concrete.

A flash of memory; the thing that took her, the fear, horror, and a cramped crate. It was more like a half-remembered nightmare.

She promptly threw up. Spitting everything out, she made herself stand, and covered her mouth to mask the smell of death, rot, and human waste as she staggered.

Looking about, she saw a crack of light from one end and made her way to it.

Moments came back to her. She remembered her mother’s face, her job at the hairdressers, her little flat, but her name…

Jan, her name was Jan. As she reached the door and managed to get it open, she breathed deep. Clean, cool air brought her around, and she blinked at the light. She didn’t know what happened.

She looked at her hands, turning them over and her skin seemed to ripple with a grey translucent light. She shuddered as the image of a squat thing, almost invisible, like something she’d see out of the corner of her eye, was clear in her mind. She knew its hate and greed. How jealous and furious it was.

Jan ran, fleeing from the scene of whatever happened. Across a disused industrial landscape, she fled towards the city, desperate to get home. Calmer as she went, easier in her mind, fear dissipated and the thing seemed normal, friendly, and part of her.

She stilled, heaving for breath, and looked at her hands again. Yes, it was her friend now. Hers, inside her, part of her, and they were one.

She smirked and hissed at nothing, letting the sensation fill her. She knew the feel of her skin underneath, and how her bones felt against muscle. Jan saw everything.

She laughed, head thrown back, and went on, confident and powerful.

Time to play. Time to kill. She licked her lips. What fun.

 

 

Image credit:

Una, Reborn #FlashFicHive

Under cover of a torn and filthy tarp, Una ran through the rain. The air tasted foul, and her bare feet slipped in the filth as she went. Finally home after so long from her beloved family.

She survived for six years in the penal district for a petty crime, and with her time up, they let her go. No contact with the world was permitted, and she longed for her family and meagre life.

The journey took days with barely any food, but she crossed the desolate wastes of war and found her way to the city.

As she arrived, Una wasn’t sure if it had been this bad as a child before her incarceration. Mounds of rubbish and squalor lay everywhere. Weeds covered every crevice in the streets. Buildings in ruins. Eerie quiet broke with occasional noise, and Una felt danger creep up her spine in warning. She knew the feeling well.

The gifts from her mother; powers she’d always feared, kept her alive. The abilities she possessed were dangerous and frightening, but all through prison, they helped her. Una honed her power and developed defences and protection. She dealt with robbers and worse on her path, facing a lawless horror that made her desperate for the safety of her mother’s voice.

Approaching the Lower Streets of home, in the poor side of the city, she slowed. Heavy rain drummed the tarp, and as she looked down, she let it fall a little.

Her home was gone. Levelled. All the squats and shacks of her past were nothing. She stood as it sank in.

Una made her way down, clutching the tarp to her with tears in her eyes.

Scattered tires were burning, and a few dirty faces huddled to the light and warmth. People looked up and then away.

She cautiously made her way over flattened debris to a group. “What happened?” she managed to ask, shivering near the acrid fire.

An old man with one eye spoke without looking away from the flames. “A plague. They blamed us. So many died. Children mostly.”

Una staggered back, pain punched her heart, and she sobbed. She’d stayed alive for her family. For her mother and little brothers and sisters.

Gone.

She turned, scanning the wastes. What hope was there?

The cut of pain was like a whip, and the power she’d learnt to conceal all her life was unleashed.

She growled a breath, face contorted, and her head fell back.

Grief, overwhelming and grim, syphoned through her blood, and Una went rigid. Light crackled from within. Her dark eyes and tawny skin glowed. Her feet rose from the floor.

With a piercing cry, she lifted high into the air with rain hissing against her hot skin, and her body filled with power. Pulsing terror overcame Una until light entered her mind and heart. Her soul sang in grief, but then hope. All stretched before her, and she knew her path.

Born in the ruins of the world; a new goddess rose. Powerful and frightening; the disenfranchised, the poor, and survivors gathered to Una, and she welcomed them to her heart and to hope.

#FlashFicHive GIF inspired flash fiction

Grace of Water

Grace’s toes dug into cool, wet sand as he gazed out into the predawn, waiting for the light to come. He was ready to go home and leave all mortal existence.
He was tired.
Leaving his shoes and socks somewhere behind him, he kept his eyes on the horizon and smiled into the dimness. Peace lapped in his heart as the sea licked his feet and he shivered. Cold water and the rushing sound of it centred him. A soft temptation of home, a call of love.
Tall and lanky with rich tawny skin, his sculpted hard face was as stone as he waited. Hands in pockets, time fell away. Squinting against the tiny hint of light, movement caught his eye, and in the distance, he saw a figure.
Grace’s shoulders slumped and set himself for the argument to come. Always the same.
As tall as he, but thinner and lithe, the figure looked amused.
“Who are you today, my friend?” Grace’s soft voice barely registered over the water.
They were dressed as he was, though they were much more dishevelled.
“I am Shah,” they smiled warmly, wild curls tangling in the wind. Light golden skin and soft features brightened.
“Shah, go home.” Grace turned back to the water.
“What happened that you would come here? This place brings you so much pain.” Shah faced the water alongside Grace, shoulders almost touching.
“I’m tired.”
The first hint hints of light hit the water, and Grace smiled. Shah took his hand.
“You’ve got blood on your shirt,” Shah murmured.
“It’s not mine.”
“When is it ever ours? We are not them. Wanting to be, wanting to look back at them brings us misery and regret. We cannot live that way. We are not people.”
“I know. I love you, I always have. For all my life and time. We are trapped, and I cannot bear the smallness of it.” Grace closed his eyes, a wealth of pain marring his perfect face.
“Sweet Grace. Full of compassion and yet without mercy to those in your path. Who did you kill?”
“A woman. Young. Frail. Weak. I made her think I was an angel.”
Shah laughed. Light crept closer over the water, warming the air with the cold sun.
“It comes. Do not leave me alone.” Shah turned, tears in their eyes as they ran their finger down Grace’s cheek.
“I want peace.”
“You will not find it in death. Come. Make love to me in a dark place and let me love you again. I’ll even wear a dress if you wish.”
Grace smiled at Shah’s tone. They were light and hope. Fluid in mind and form as he never could be. He’d loved Shah for it centuries ago when they were myth and pictures told with dead tongues.
An orange sky lined the horizon, and his eyes hurt. The tide invited him into the water. Come home it said, remember who you are.
He and Shah existed at the beginning of man. They were of the forming of the Earth and now exiled from their kind, all disparate and irrelevant.
Clinging to his bloodied shirt, Shah spoke quickly. “I cannot be here alone. There is just us left. From all that we were, there is only us.”
Grace shivered and turning to Shah saw tears fall down their perfect cheeks, and wet their shirt.
Grace hadn’t kissed Shah for more than a hundred years. A blink of time but forever. With a smile, he pulled them close, and he kissed them. Shah’s tongue sought his. So much history and love, passion and anger between them.
Shah’s smile as they pulled back was all the stars they’d ever seen.
To his relief, Shah pulled him away from the sea, and they made their way back inland.
Grace hated what humans had done to the Earth. Hated cities, the smells, the food, all of it.
Moving as mortals couldn’t, they left the city behind, and Shah took him to an open space, and through it, barefoot, they wandered the trees and fields. Grace felt ease at that moment, for he was of the forest and grasses.
All time was those moments, lacing in between banality and dullness.
Shah led him out to a small cottage beyond and inside where they would be safe, for now. Lost to each other, like the memory of water in creation, of the beginning. Bitter and sad, but beautiful and home.
With Shah, Grace would always return to hope. A peak of remembrance, harking back to the deities they once were.
Their names long lost, their purpose forgotten. All they knew was to kill, and love, and to fuck, and return to each other.

786 words.

#FlashFicHive. October Challenge 1 Beyond Sight

william-stitt-196804Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

tiko-giorgadze-261579 Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash

Challenge 1 options from the featured game graphic.

second draft 714 words

Beyond Sight

Carrie let the soft sound of washing machines and scent of fabric softener take her back. Memories of folding sheets with her mother in the tiny laundrette in her hometown made her heart pinch.
She chewed the side of her nail where the skin was scabbed and raw. At the taste of blood, she balled her fists.
A blast of cold air reminded her how warm it was from the driers and shivered as the breeze cooled her damp skin when a man entered.
He was dark and handsome and looked her up and down before busying himself at a machine. Odd that a man in an elegant suit would be in the launderette.
She looked at the clock. Clenching her jaw and repressing all the tension in her, she turned back to the window.
“What do you do?” a smooth voice asked.
“Huh?”
“You’re not dressed like most people who come in here.” The man’s eyes glittered at her.
“Really.” She raised her brow at him before looking back to the road. “I teach little kids.”
“Isn’t it a school day?” he smiled, suave and practised. Realising he wasn’t giving up, she gave him her full attention. His umber skin caught the harsh yellow light in the dim day. He looked impressive and dangerously sharp. “Are you okay?” his eyes became gentle, and for some reason, she wanted to explain it.
“You’re going to think it’s silly.”
“Go on.”
She pulled her lips into her mouth for a moment and stood up as he sat on the bench opposite her. Hands clasped, elbows on knees, he watched her.
“I dream sometimes. Odd dreams where I’m other people. I’ve always done it. I just thought it was how I dreamt.”
His careful expression didn’t change, and she went on.
“My girlfriend left me a few months ago, and I’ve not slept well since. When I do sleep, I keep seeing this thing happen.” Carrie turned back to the window.
“Today, something will happen, and someone will die. I’m standing — or someone is — here, and outside, there is an accident. I see it, the traffic is bad, and then there is noise and shouting, and a woman is killed.”
The only sound was the slump of washing. The man stood next to her at the window, and Carrie knew it was his eyes she’d seen through.
Looking up at him, he frowned down at her, and it was time. She knew it.
Carrie didn’t think; she was a rush of chemicals and reaction. Adrenaline flooded her.
Opening the door and hurrying out, she noticed the cars were just as she dreamt. The sounds and a light mist of rain as she remembered, yes, this is what she saw.
A woman in her car, idling in traffic, slipped on her accelerator as Carrie weaved through cars to cross over. Carrie didn’t see the car jolt forward before it pinned her between vehicles with a loud crack and slam.

When she opened her eyes, she was looking on at the scene from outside the laundrette.
“Sometimes, things merely occur as happenstance. Sometimes, they are known. It is a glitch.”
Carrie turned to the man who now stood next to her. She slowly blinked in a daze. “Huh?”
He grinned a perfect white smile. “What made you come here?”
“I knew I had to.” Her voice shook.
“Yes. And now you are dead, and we can begin.”
“Begin what?”
“Work. I am not a man. And now you are not a woman. I chose you, Carrie, a long time ago. You have a gift so powerful that mortality cannot keep it imprisoned. It is time to embrace it.”
Carrie looked back at the scene of her death. She thought of school, home, her lonely cold life without Beth.
“It’s a lot. I know. Shall we?”
It wasn’t like she had much choice. The unexplained of her life slotted together as he took her hand. The world vanished to nothing and then to light.
Carrie saw it all, the huge expanse of existence before her. Everything.
“What do we do?”
“We are death. We kill.”
That was when everything truly went to shit.

 

The Constancy of Anxiety

It begins in my stomach. Free falling downwards, though I’m not moving. It travels up my throat, and I think I’m going to be sick. The sensation of plummeting travels down my legs and pain sears the souls of my feet.

It makes me want to cry out. But I don’t. I remain still and quiet.

My head pounds, pressure builds in my ears, and lights, tripping in complex patterns, pulse in my vision.

My heart – there are few words to describe that feeling – It constricts, queasy and painful. The squeezing of the ventricles, the push and suck of blood; I feel it all.

My hands shake, sweat pools, yet I’m cold and shivery.

It’s all at once, and not for a few seconds, but for hours and days. Through the night.

That scary film that made you jump once? The sensation of dipping on the rollercoaster just before you fall? That’s me. Every second, of every day.

Sometimes, I can push it away, fight it, and find a sense of calm. It lurks, ravenous for adrenaline. I know I won’t win. I never do. Occasionally, I find something that distracts me. Pleasure and comfort. It’s not enough and never lasts.

Adjusting in the absence of ease is the worst. I try to cling on. It always slips away. The falling is worse then. Knowing a moment of relief makes it so much worse.

So here I am. Falling, with pain and grief in my gut making me want to fight and claw at it. It does no good.

Nothing does any good.

There is always hope, my quiet little voice says at the back of my mind. That, my friends, is bullshit. Hope of love and freedom from drowning is a constant lie. Finding balance in the riot of my body is what I should do. Yet there I go, searching for something to distract me. Fill the void. I might find it again, and for a time, I’ll sing. Then I’ll burn with the stench of fear in my nose, and sick in my throat.

This is what I am.

The Painting #FlashFicHive

I have been lax this month, and have failed most of the prompts, this started out as something entirely different, and now no longer fits to any prompt, but wanted to share it anyway.

painting-2111490_1920

The Painting

 

The scent is what hits me first. A thick aroma of linseed. Drawing a brush through the viscous texture of paint and the coarse drag of sable against the palette, centres me.

A bright stroke of colour against pristine canvas is heaven. A breach. It is done, and I work.

That first mark is always the hardest.

The line that appears is my body captured, it is the transference of energy and movement, and now forever recorded in paint.

Every daub is like hitting a drum, and the sound a rhythmic beat.

The raised texture of the canvas, the rough draw of brush, and the paint spreading under my will unfolds before me, building into the unknown.

I’ve yearned for this moment, and now it’s mine. Lost in colour, I delve into a blank mind, concentration driving the chatter away. I find the story in layer and colour. I feel truth under the play.

It builds in me, I guide it, coaxing the image from my fingers and muscles. I know its song and feel it coursing with a pulse. The brush falls away, my fingers blend, paint smears on my skin, its colour permeates me, and marks me as much as I mark it.

We dance as the light turns in the day, everything fades, and I see it.

The form, structure, and depth reveals itself. Familiar as an old friend, one I have not seen for years.

I remember it, startled and happy. I brought it into the world, and caress it with love.

Sitting back, I am sated and spent. A light smile on my face as I continue to stare. I can’t look away.

Flawed, but real, it breathes with life, and we dance away into the night.

 

295 words