Category Archives: Short Story

Writing Prompt Challenge #1: Black Box

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So, I found a website that has over three hundred writing prompts on it. I’ve decided to challenge myself! I will write something for every prompt. J

So here I go!

Writing Prompt: Close your eyes briefly. Think of one object that’s in the room and focus on it. Without opening your eyes, recall as much detail as you can about it. After three minutes or so, open your eyes and write about that objects without looking at it.

And here is what I came up with:

BLACK BOX

About six weeks before my husband was scheduled to return home from Afganistan, he sent home a rather large black Tuff box. When he told me that he was sending a box home, I didn’t truly appreciate HOW large the box was going to be. In my opinion, it was gargantuan, imposing even, and it sat in my living room, securely locked for several days, serving as the world’s most intimidating coffee table. I believe that all three of my little girls could have fit into it with ease.

So engrossed with curiosity was I to learn what was inside the box, that I often fantasized and had nightmares about the items that my husband might have sent home. The plan had been for my husband to send the keys to the box ahead of time via post, but unfortunately, the box arrived first. Menacing, taunting, and driving me to the outer limits of curiosity. I waited by the mailbox daily, eagerly looking forward to the day that the letter containing the keys would arrive.

I waited in vain. Two weeks, I waited, hearing neither word from my husband, nor receiving the aforementioned letter. I speculated. Perhaps my husband was still adjusting to his new duty station, or perhaps they simply did not have working internet yet? Those were the most innocent of thoughts, forcibly screamed through my brain to shut out the more horrible and terrifying of imaginings. With the lack of word from my husband, and the lack of the keys, the box became more and more of an obsession to me as the days progressed.

I walked past the box constantly throughout the day, staring at it from the corner of my eye. I became irate with my children, admonishing them for climbing on top of the box, leaving toys on top of it, or even simply touching the locks. Even I sometimes had ideas about how out of character I was acting, but it was not something I could help.

Finally, it happened. The rain pounded outside, slamming into the windows in thick thumps as it was blown sideways by the howling wind. It had been six weeks since the box’s arrival. On this particular day, I had sent the children to my mother’s house so that I could have some alone time. It was just me and the box. It had three grooves on the top, with unknown purposes. It was rough to the touch. It smelled of hot plastic up close. It was sealed tight with three master key locks. The page sized packing label was secured to the side with clear packing tape that was beginning to peal from the edges. It was also extremely heavy. I had a hard time dragging it from the living room to the utility room.

I’d had enough. I needed to know what was in the box. I broke the screwdriver trying to open the locks, both by trying to pick them, and then by trying to use it like a lever. The crowbar didn’t really work either. I wasn’t sure if it was my lack of strength, or the metal’s resilience. I pouted, and thought hard for another option. Finally, I spotted the chainsaw.

I bit my lip. It was possible. If I could cut at an angle, I could cut the lip before the lock. I wouldn’t even have to go through any metal. It took me a couple false starts, and one trip to Google to get the chain saw started, but I managed. I even managed to lift it.

Finally, with the smell of gasoline and burnt plastic filling the utility room I had succeeded. The box was no longer secured. Putting the chainsaw down, I smirked while I wiped the sweat from my forehead. Lifting the chainsaw had been harder then I had thought it would be. I approached the box and smiled, ready to finally lift the lid. The stray thought entered my head that I might have just destroyed government property, but I wasn’t sure I cared. I HAD to know what was in the box! Then, I heard the phone ring. I paused, with my hands on the lid. I briefly contemplated not answering the phone, but what if it was my husband? I hadn’t heard from him in weeks, and missing his call would kill me worse than not knowing what was in the box.

With a sigh, I left the box, unopened, and rushed back into the house to get my phone.

 

“Hello?”

Static answered me. “… me? … lo?”

It sounded like my husband from what did come though. My heart skipped a beat. “I’m here! Don’t hang up! Can you hear me?”

More static, but then, “ …me? Don… pen… the box!” Click. Beep, Beep, Beep. The call was disconnected.

Uh, oh.

Espionage and Etudes

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Espionage and Etudes both come at a price.

Passer-byes looked on in muted curiosity while a petite, blonde, and somewhat attractive woman pounded on the back door of the tavern, shouting, “You forgot to pay me, you foul troll!” Her efforts were in vain as they went completely ignored. She kicked the door with a soft leather boot and cursed with words that no lady should know and gave up with a huff, giving a tentative smile to the onlookers. By their faces, it was obvious that a few were contemplating giving her aid. She pushed her long golden hair behind a slightly pointed ear. The onlookers quickly looked away, perhaps deciding that it was best they mind their own business. It didn’t’ surprise the woman. They had heard of her, heard her sing and play the lute, and most of them probably whispered about a darker reputation than that of a comely bard.

It was all rumor and conjecture, but this mystery was part of the bard’s allure. The nobility paid good money for an entertainer of intrigue. A woman of beauty and mystery was a wonderful draw to any noble woman’s soiree, guaranteed to make the event a success. They’d be dazzled by her voice, enraptured by her lute, and enthralled by the fantasies that she herself inspired them to entertain about her. She had many pasts, and no past. However lucrative this usually was, this same intrigue turned away any help she could have otherwise gotten. It was a shame. She was a favorite of many patrons, and it was a shame that none were present to champion her.

Miffed at the lack of coin in her purse, she straightened her shoulders and secured her lute case across her back. The day was not yet lost. She made her way to the main street while she plotted ways to receive the compensation she was owed. The street was crowded, filled with excited whispers and rampant gossip. Magistrate Thaslay was dead after a sudden illness. She knew about the death hours ago, but it was interesting to see how the population was now reacting to the news. If only they knew. She was pulled back to some particularly vengeful, though delicious, thoughts when her attention was drawn to a cacophony across the street in front of the Governance building.

By first appearance, it seemed as though the town guard was arguing with a Knight of the Order. “This is an outrage! How was I to know that wasn’t the real chef!? I was hired to protect the Magistrate from knives and arrows, not poisoned pastries!” The knight was indignant, proud despite obviously failing in his task.

Taliesen paused and watched the scene unfold from across the street. Mystery and intrigue indeed. Had this fool knight succeeded in his task, then hers would have been successful as well. The coupe actually cost her a bit of money, since any information she could have gathered on the recently deceased was now moot. It was a shame that he had doomed them both to a poor evening. It wasn’t as if she was entirely without options, though. She simply needed to strum the right chord for the right person.

The surly, and rather large, human in the guard uniform scowled at the man he had just thrown out. “You can crawl back to your order and cry to them if you want, but remove yourself from these premises before I and several of my good friends remove you to a cell.”

The knight rolled back his shoulders, seeming twice his actual size, almost like a blowfish in breastplate. “My family…”

The town guard snickered. “Has disowned you, I’ve heard. You can’t call the Cantu name, no matter who whelped you.” There was something exchanged between the two, through Taliesen did not see what it was.

And like a blowfish, the knight deflated. As if it had been the tale of Halfling Tom and the Giant, the town guard had bested the knight.

The Cantu name was one that Taliesen knew. They were a prominent Elven family in Capital of Lyndhol. It was interesting that this man was son of that house when it was painfully obvious that he was human. The knight turned away but not before casting a smoldering scowl at the guard. He would have demanded satisfaction had the guard not been in the right. Even despondent and shamed, however, Taliesen couldn’t help but notice the look of a tough, intimidating, and surprisingly helpless knight in distress. A sly smile crept onto Taliesen’s face as she prepared to pluck the strings of fate.

***

Eric Cantu, Knight of St. Cornelus; son of the favored mistress of the late Jonathan Cantu, the Third; half-brother to Jonathan Cantu, the Fourth, Marquis of Cantu; Protector of the nobility of Vestus; and newly fired protector of the Pellan Magistrate, felt the strong urge for a strong drink. Clenching the letter of disownment from his half-brother, complete with the Cantu insignia, he made his way through the crowd on a mission to find the nearest flagon of ale.

The Hanged Horse wasn’t the finest establishment, and had Eric read the name, he might have realized that. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. His mission was not to be hindered by such trivialities.

It wasn’t long before the aroma of stale smoke and musk assaulted Eric’s nose. Nevertheless, he took a seat at the bar, waving for the burly barman to deliver up some of his strongest brew. With a curt nod, the barman silently slid a flagon down toward his hand. Eric downed half of it in the first draft.

“Didn’t know Knights were allowed to drink like that, Sir.” The barman cocked a hefty eyebrow to his patron, leaning against the kegs as he cleaned a mug with a filthy rag.

Eric grunted. “They damn well do when the situation warrant’s it, believe you me.”

Wordlessly, the barman nodded his approval, and returned to scanning his more unscrupulous clients.

The drink was stale and tasted more than slightly watered down. Eric wasn’t sure he cared. The dark, loud, and foreboding atmosphere meshed well with his dark mood. He had a reputation, a good one. One failed job had apparently been all his elven half-brother had been looking for to disown him. Cut off from his family name, a knight in disgrace… Eric didn’t want to think about the repercussions this might have with the Order, both for his failure and his lack of family connections. No matter how hard he worked, “Youngest Knight of the Order of St. Cornelus” just translated to “lucky bastard with connections” to some, and those persons were going to push until his honor demanded satisfaction.

If he had any honor left.

He lifted the flagon to his mouth and took a more thoughtful drink.

The bartender returned and leaned over the bar, whispering conspiratorially with a furtive glance to the other patrons, “Say, you Knights don’t have one of those ‘vows of charity’ things, do you?”

Eric’s eyebrows furrowed, and then he realized what the barman meant. “You are thinking of priests.”

“Ah.” He leaned back and gave Eric a smirk. “Right then.” And then he left.

The odd question somewhat worried Eric. Thinking that it may be time to leave, he downed the rest of his ale and half rose to leave, and then caught sight of the slip of a female sitting at the bar next to him.

“Oh, please don’t leave yet. You may be the most interesting person here,” she said. Her voice was delicate, melodious. It was a shame that he couldn’t make out her features under the heavy cloak. He sat back down and studied her. She was very petite. Elven maybe? No, the elongated point of her ears would have been obvious even under the hood. Half-elf, then, he decided.

He shook his head. “I’m not entirely sure that is true, madam.”

She laughed. The sound turned more than a few of the near-by heads. “Nonsense,” she replied. “Let me rephrase. There is no one here more interesting to me.” She pointed to his empty mug. “May I?” She took the mug and sniffed its contents without waiting for permission. “Ugh. This is revolting.”

“Um, yes, it is,” he said cautiously and took it from her gloved hand. “Is there something you need of me, Madam?”

The hood nodded. “Undoubtedly, though I believe there is something you need from me as well.” She waved down the barman, who seemed to answer her faster than anyone else that evening. She leaned slightly over the bar and spoke in a low voice, holding out the mug. “Surely this is not the best of your finest stock.”

“Err…” the barman replied.

She crooked her finger at the barman to come closer, and she whispered in his ear. His smirk flitted across his face for an instant. Straightening up, he nodded at the woman, who had sat back down. “Right away, Madam.” He left with the mug, leaving his associate to watch the bar.

Eric frowned at the woman. “I’m mystified.”

Again, she laughed, though it was more of a soft, private laugh. “I’m sure you are. Allow me to elucidate. We share a common problem that I believe we are both in better positions to solve for each other.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Elucidate further.”

He imagined that she smile under the darkened hood. She sounded like she was smiling. “We both need to be paid. I need a strong arm for negotiations, and you need… a more refined touch.”

Eric frowned. How much did this woman know? He had an idea. “If you are looking to establish a connection with Cantu, you would do better to look elsewhere.”

She sighed. “You silly man. Not every woman is after fortune.” She paused. “Well, your family’s fortune.” So she was after a fortune somewhere. “I am simply looking to exchange services. I help you receive your due reward, while you help me receive mine.”

He cocked an eyebrow at her. “What is the catch?”

The barman was back, and laid down a mug of clear amber liquid and a thin glass of presumably wine. The woman took a delicate sip from the glass. “On me. Consider it a good will gesture.”

He took a cautious sip from the mug. It was potent and heady. He took a drink. If the swill he had first been served was ale, then the liquid in this glass was undoubtedly ambrosia. He looked at the minx beside him. How had she coaxed this out of the epitome of corner-cutters?

He smiled and took another sip. Perhaps it was worth the risk to accept her offer. Besides, honor agreed with him helping the distressed maiden, though truth be told, he was surprise that she hadn’t drawn blood from stone yet.

“Madam, I don’t even know your name.”

She held up her glass. “My name is Taliesen. To joint ventures?”

He considered her raised glass, and after a moment of deliberation raised his own. “Eric Cantu. To joint ventures.”

They both took a drink.

Morning (By the Light of the Velvet Moon page 3)

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Back to Page Two

He slept until well after dawn, and I feared for him. We had both regained our original forms shortly before the rise of the sun. I was thankful that his curse did not cause him to suffer twice in one night, as he slept soundly through the whole process. The sound of snapping bones and ripping stayed with me, however, and I was thankful that the nature of my being kept me from such pain.

I sat back on my haunches outside of my small unhidden den, and guarded the man-wolf. As a wolf, he had been arrogant, definitely, but also handsome. Where I was lithe, he was muscular and half again my size. Where my fur was a pale tan buried in white pelt, his had been a thick, tawny brown. He had been everything that I wasn’t. He looked like the other wolves, for a few hours at least, and I did not. We had another major difference; he was lost, or at least he soon would be when he awoke.

Where he was ignorant to his nature, I was not. I was young and inexperienced, but I knew what I was: a faoladh, spirit wolf, a guide to the lost, and protector of the young. Those are the things that my mother had whispered into my ear during the days of my weaning. I never understood her words, but looking upon the furless form of the man in my den, I understood. Understanding came in the form of a tugging at my heart and the knowledge that I could not leave the cursed one alone.

I was not an expert on men. To be honest, this was the first one that I had ever seen up close. I had seen the shiny beasts that carried them down the black river, but they frightened me so I had never approached closely enough for a good look. He did not seem impressive to me at all. His fur was reduced to a messy mass on top of his head. It was short and needed grooming. At least my woman-form had long thick hair that covered my back, providing me with some warmth. He was almost as bare and just as thin as a maple tree in the winter.

I examined him closely, drawing in his scent. There were remnants of the wolf to his skin, and it barely masked the scent of other. Had I been looking at him with my nose instead of my eyes, I may have mistaken him for wolf instead of man. As that thought crossed my mind, a strong whiff of something sickly spicy assaulted my nose and I sneezed, waking the conriocht.

He made a sound like a growling bear and woke up like a frightened squirrel. He twisted his head and saw me sitting in front of him. My ears perked and I cocked my head to the side as I considered him.

“Holy shit!” he yelped and sprang back, hitting his head on the rock of what had been the opening of my little den. He hissed and rubbed his head, scooting back with his eyes on me. They were honey brown, like his wolf’s had been.

I whimpered and lowered my head down onto my forepaws, looking up at him. I didn’t want to scare him further.

His eyes darted around like a prey animal in search of the hunter. Finally, his eyes fell on me and he licked his lips. “Nice doggy,” he said, holding his hand tentatively out to me. “Those are some pretty blue eyes. You part husky?”

His voice was gentle and nervous, but his words offended me. I sat up and pulled my ears back, giving him a nice growl.

He sat back down and held up both hands. “Okay, okay, not a husky. I get it. Nice wolf?” he asked. I stopped my snarl and recomposed myself, sitting tall.

He looked around the small den and then back at me and cleared his throat. “Uh, whatever happened last night wasn’t me, okay?” His skin started to change color. It was intriguing. I had seen lizards do the same thing but they usually turned brown or green, not red. I wasn’t aware that humans had the same ability, and I wondered why he did it. I had never experienced such a change in my woman-form. Perhaps I did not share the ability.

I will admit to a small amount of satisfaction that he seemed to be the one who was frightened this time, and not the other way around.

I moved away from the entrance and let him stand, since he seemed be looking for a way of escape. Following me out, he stood up in the sunlight and looked around. “Damn it,” he whispered. “How am I supposed to get back to the road? Didn’t think about this part…” For a moment I thought he was talking to me, but then I realized that he was speaking to himself. His voice went a pitch higher. “‘Let’s drop you off at the nature preserve, nobody will be there! You’ll have plenty of woods to run in before you see a single person!’” He tripped a bit over the fallen ivy and hissed something that I couldn’t understand. “Great idea, Ryan!” he said sarcastically once he regained his balance.

I stepped over to him and tried to take his wrist in my mouth. I planned to lead him to the black river where his things were. “Woah, what do you think you’re doing?” he yelped, pulling his hand back and holding it to his chest. I whined and took a few steps in the direction that I wanted to go and let out a small bark. I’m not a dog, but he was familiar with the concept. I met a dog once, and all he did was bark and whine. It was very annoying, and I found him to be extremely rude.

The conriocht took the hint and followed me. “What is it, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well?” he asked.

I stopped and looked at him inquisitively. Perhaps becoming cursed rendered one insane as well. He shook his head and laughed. “Do you know the way back to the road? Is that where you are taking me?” I gave him another small bark. “Okay, sorry. Lead the way, Ivy.” I whimpered and sat down, cocking my head to the side. He named me? “You smell like ivy, okay?” he defended himself. I had a name, Cana, but since I could not convey that to him in words he would understand, I let it slide.

It wasn’t a log walk through the woods before we found the place near the black river, or the road as the conriocht called it, where the colorful skins had been left. I could see a silver glint through the trees, and it drew my wary attention. It was one of those shiny monsters, only this one stood still. Another man stood behind it and called out from the road.

“Hey, Rick! Where you been, man? I don’t have all day to stand here waiting on werewolves, you know.”

The conriocht -or what did the other call him? Rick? – picked up the skins and examined them. “Shut up and just bring me the bag. My old clothes are ruined.”

I heard the other man open the monster. I took the opportunity to hide.

“I’m impressed you managed to find them. I had a thought after I dropped you off last night that you might get lost out here. So, how did your first night as a werewolf go?”

Rick snarled. “Could you please stop saying that word?” He reached into the bag and pulled out a new set of… clothes. I watched him pull them on in fascination. It answered my question of how he could stand having so little fur. “And I don’t remember,” he continued answering. “I probably did some things that I would’ve regretted this morning if I had remembered them. Plus, I think I might have eaten something.”

“Man, that’s just gross,” his friend laughed.

Rick looked around. “Did you see a wolf around here?”

The other shook his head. “You mean besides you? No. Why?”

He sighed. “Nothing, let’s go.”

They left, and I watched from the woods. This was not the last that I would see of Rick the Werewolf. I felt it in my soul.

 On to Page Four

April Showers (Blog Hop)

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This post is for the April Shower’s Blog Hop, hosted by Blogaholic Social Network!

In Honor of this auspicious occasion (my first blog hop), I have taken the liberty of writing a small bit of Flash Fiction, titled (teehee) “April Showers”

 

It was spring, and instead of planting a garden or looking for love, I was skulking in the doorway of an old book store, avidly avoiding the torrential downpour that currently assailed the small town of Whitehaven.  I scowled at the offending sheet of constant rain that blocked my escape through the open doorway. I took a deep breath, fully taking in the musty odor of ancient books, and let out a disgruntled sigh.

“Just make a run for it, lass. So you get a tad wet,” Oliver shrugged, giving me that crooked smile that he usually reserved for old, battered, and rare tomes.

I leveled my eyes at him, glaring over the top of my glasses. “That isn’t funny. You know that they hang out in the rain.” I waved at the doorway. “It’s a frigging monsoon out there. They will be out in droves.” I crossed my arms and scowled, leaning against the Horror section.

He chuckled. It was a raspy, like the sound one gets from quickly flipping the pages of an old book.  “You can’t hide from them forever, Anemone.”

“Ann. Why can’t you remember to call me Ann?” I ranted, pushing my glasses back up my nose. “They are going to find me if you keep calling me by that other name.”

Oliver grabbed his cane and something else, and hobbled around the counter. At first, I thought that he was bringing me a rolled up newspaper, folded longwise and wrapped around a broom handle, but unfortunately, it turned out to be an ancient umbrella. It did not inspire confidence. He thrust the unwanted contraption into my hands and nudged me towards the door. “I suggest you hurry, then, lass. Those manuscripts aren’t going to fetch themselves.”

The old librarian was probably my dearest friend, but it was times like this that made me question his priorities. The rain still showed no signs of abating. I frowned and reluctantly opened the umbrella. It smelled like mothballs. I cocked an eyebrow at Oliver, but he just gave me that crooked smile.  “If they catch me,” I warned him, “I’m going to blame everything on you.”

His wrinkled face curled into a smug smile and he gave me a small wave, effectively shooing me wordlessly out the door.

I stood in the rain, under the ancient umbrella, and prayed that the Nixe didn’t find me. Much to my dismay, I turned towards the street and walked right into one.

I fell backwards, dropping the umbrella and nearly landing in the puddle. The only thing that saved my tush from being completely submerged in puddle was the Nixe catching my arm and pulling me against him. My heart stopped, but not because I was afraid of the water spirit.

No, it was something worse. Flower sprites liked Nixies. It was a Mother Nature sort of thing. I looked into the face of the Nixe and into the face of my doom. All these years of avoiding them and my day of reckoning had come. I, Anemone, am a flower sprite, and Nereus is a Nixe.

There are going to be lots of flowers around the old book house in May.

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Conriocht (By the Light of the Velvet Moon page 2)

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Back to Page One

My private place was a small indention in an overhanging rock face, covered over by ivy and tall grass. It was low enough to the ground that someone could step over my hiding spot and be none the wiser, but also open enough that I could get in quickly and easily. I slid in quickly, pressing my belly as low as I could to the dirt. A feral howl rang out desperately. The cicadas no longer chirped. Everything was still but for the running of paws and the desperate call of the unnatural creature that seemed to be drawing ever nearer.

Seasons ago, when my mother called me Cana and nursed me through my pup stage, she told me of the ones who were different. They weren’t born of the fur and traded pain for the freedom of the hunt. I could only guess that this creature was one of those wretched beasts. My mother had once given them a name, but I struggled to remember it. In the near distance, perhaps a mile from my secret place, I heard the final cry of a deer. Conriocht: that was the name of the cursed ones. Men-wolves.

My ears remained perked, twitching to the sounds of the forest. I heard the conriocht howl. His heady musk, wolf with remnant hints of the outside, still filled my nose, and I knew that he could smell me. He was a stranger to this forest, and he called to me to join him. He was like an infant, calling to the pack, and I was the nearest to his senses. I knew it would not be long before he stopped waiting and sought me out.

A worried whimper barely escaped my throat. I was conflicted. I had not known the ungrudging presence of another wolf since my mother left me the spring after my birth. The local pack would tolerate me, but only for so long. They warned their pups against me, and those pups grew, and warned their pups against me. I was lonely. I longed for a pack that would not have me. I stuck my nose out through the hanging ivies and gazed out into the forest.

The moon was now full and high above the trees, casting steady beams of soft light through the gaps in the trees, including one that fell just outside of my den. A moment of panic gripped me, and I noticed, probably too late, the fallen limb that had once filled in the gap in the treetops above my secret place. I retracted my head and backed as far as I could into my den, flattening my ears and tucking my tail as close to myself as I could without actually sitting on it. I was going to have to find a new den after this night was over.

A breeze wafted through the ivies, carrying the scent of the kill on the wind. I knew better than to attempt to hunt amongst the moonlight and therefore had hunted before the sun left the sky. Nevertheless, my ears perked to the aroma, even if it was accompanied by the nearing musk of the conriocht.

Leaves crunched outside my den, and I pressed further to the inside. I was trapped. I could not escape into the moonlight. My only hope was the shadows of my shallow cave. A grey muzzle, tinged with the ocher of remnant blood, poked in through the tall grass and ivies and rudely intruded into my space. He whimpered at me, chastising me for not answering him while he rubbed his sides against mine.

Once I realized that I was safe from the moon for the time being, I found myself annoyed with the intruder. A low growl rumbled in my chest, but it was half-hearted. For an unfamiliar wolf to intrude upon another’s den without welcome was impertinent, but it did not take me long to recognize the reason behind this conriocht’s behavior. He considered himself an alpha. He nuzzled my side and then plopped down beside me, knocking down the tall grass and pulling down a plug of ivy while he did. He was quickly asleep.

I was given to believe that this was often the case with his kind. They embraced the wolf and the hunt for a few brief hours during the full moon, only to fall prone once their hunger and curiosity had been sated. I attempted to rouse him with a nudge of my muzzle, but he remained unresponsive. I huffed through my nose and laid my head on my paws, watching the cursed one sleep.

The moon crept through the sky, and I watched the moonbeams shift with it, inching closer to my paws. The conriocht slept on, as I knew he probably would until morning, and I was thankful for it. The gentle glow crept over his sleeping fur, and touched mine. I sighed in resignation and embraced it as the moonlight pooled, pouring over my skin, enveloping me like a moth’s cocoon. My fur melted away into smooth skin as I metamorphosed painlessly and gently. The glow faded away into the normal shallow rays of wispy moonbeams.

A tear ran down my woman-face, and I whimpered while I ran my reshaped paws through his fur. The sound was odd from my reshaped throat, but his fur was warm and comforting. I hated this new shape. Every sense was dulled, and I felt ungainly. At least I had no need to move for some time. I remembered from experience that my legs would feel as unsteady as a newly calved deer. I laughed, which was probably one of the few human actions that I had a firm grasp on, at the irony of a conriocht curling up next to a faoladh on the night of a full moon.

 On to Page Three

By the Light of the Velvet Moon

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Dear Reader,
You have before you my newest short story, title evident. As the story evolves, I will post a link on the bottom of each page, leading to the next segment of story, and on each subsequent segment, I will put a link back to previous segments. I do this for a few reasons.

1.) I want to allow readers to get a quick taste of fiction during their hurried blog readings. Not everyone has the time to read a 10k word short story. =)

2.) I hate long posts that stretch for miles. I like the feel of “turning a page”, even if it means clicking a button.

3.) (Selfish Reason) I won’t have to struggle with what I’m going to post on the blog today!

And now, without further ado:

By the Light of the Velvet Moon

 (Part 1)

Cicadas sang their long awaited mating song, drowning out the other usual sounds of the night. The whisper of the wind, the hush of the stream, the chatter of the crickets and the frogs, all masked by the cacophony of the insects firmly set in finding a mate before the end of the summer and their ultimate deaths. That seemed to be fate of all the creatures of the forest: a fast, hurried life, brief moments of pleasure and procreation, and then death, either at the mouths of other beasts in search of a meal, or by the curse of a short life span.

I was bothered by none of this. I had no hunter, I was in no hurry to die, and a mate was not in the cards for me. No wolf would have a mate so queer. This was the very reason why I wandered these woods alone. The call of my brethren sang enticingly, even over the song of the cicadas. I whimpered, but did not respond. They would not welcome me into their packs, would not walk fur to fur with me through the woods as I longed to do. My scent was in harmony with theirs, but soon my voice would no longer be capable of the bittersweet song that I longed to sing.

Even if I were to join them, it would not be long before my presence was no longer welcome.

I turned my nose to the sky and inhaled the crisp night air. There was something different in its fragrance tonight, something that did not smell of fur or feathers, honey suckle or hickory. It was foreign. Odd.

Leading me away from the calls of the pack, the smell moved my cautious paws, driving them closer by curiosity. In a moment of self-awareness, my eyes scanned the blanket of stars. The moon was full, but still hidden by a mask of trees. My heart raced, conflicted between investigating the mysterious smell, and seeking shelter before the moon hit its apex.

I whimpered and pawed the ground nervously in my indecision. In the end, curiosity won. With a huff, I put my nose to the ground and air and sought out the object of my obsession. I found it near the edge of the woods, almost outside of my territory. If I had continued much farther, I would have crossed the black river. I was afraid of the black river. It often smelled of death.

The source of the scent was a discarded heap of colorful skins. They did not move, smell, or look like fur or scales, but they had the same disembodied movement of a snakeskin when I brushed them with my paws. A sound in the near distance snapped my ears to attention, like the snapping of a twig. It was followed by other sounds, familiar sounds, more snapping, accompanied by an anguished scream, like the final yell of a dying bear that morphed into the bitter howl of a pained wolf.

I panicked and ran, leaving the mysterious skins behind, racing through the woods to my secret spot. The unnatural howl followed me on the wind. It was lupine, but I had no desire to join it as I did the howls of the pack.

On to Page Two

 

Three Wishes

Standard

I’d like to share a story with you. This story isn’t very long, some would say that it isn’t very good, and most would say that it isn’t even true.

But I’m going to tell it anyway.

It all started on a muggy spring day. The humidity was sweltering. Fish were jumping upstream to get away from the humidity, it was that bad. My story starts off with… let’s call him Eustis, because I hate that name and I’m not too fond of him either. He’s a pillock. Anyway, Eustis was in a bad mood, as usual, but at least this time, he had a good reason. It was pretty darn hot outside. It made the hair of his toupee fall flat and sweaty against his bulbous head and the elastic of his pants chafe his overly rotund midsection. He was also late for his usual park trolling appointment…

Story has been moved to the “Short Stories” section of the blog, where it should rightfully be. I’m going to try to avoid putting such lengthy posts in the common room. =D