Monthly Archives: May 2016

Kingdoms of Magic

The Prince stared up the tower at her. He held his Stetson firmly to keep it on his head. The wind billowed out his red cloak, exposing his leather armor. Although clearly it had once been expensive, battle and the elements had taken their toll. The bright yellow utility belt that carried his weapons and tools featured a distinct black bat insignia at its buckle.

“All right, Blondie. Toss it down and I’ll be right up.”

The Prince let out a muffled oomph as four pounds of fine, blonde hair hit him in the face. He pushed it out of the way, grabbed two giant handfuls, and began his ascent. A few feet up his grip slipped and he fell back to the ground, landing on his rump.

“Hurry! I’m going to die from long hair!” the Princess yelled down at him.

“Would it kill you to use a little less conditioner?” he mumbled back up at her. He removed his gloves before his second attempt and found his bare hands gave him a much better grip. This time he scaled the eighty foot tower with ease, in true hero fashion, quickly arriving at the window. He tumbled inside and paused for a look.

He noted that the Princess had tied her hair off to a post in the small chamber rather than carrying all of his weight on her neck. Sensibility. Most princesses lacked it, which made him appreciate it all the more in his sister. She’d even tied it well.

“Nice knot –” he began. The frying pan racing toward his face interrupted him.

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Second Home, Second Chance

He was alone. The cramped apartment seemed strangely empty now. He sat with his back to the window, the sole source of illumination. The sun was setting; its rays cut horizontally through the room, slicing it into light and dark.

The room was half the size of a garage he once rented in the old country. His neighbors’ apartments were all identically proportioned; he had lived here long enough to have seen them all, though it was rare to be welcomed inside because of the lack of space. The dimensions supposedly conformed to strict regulations for government-supplied housing. Based on his experience of this land, none of its natives could argue they had been treated unfairly.

He sat in what the locals called a ‘living’ room: a space for kitchen appliances plus a square table with four chairs. The wall to his left was decorated with a photograph printed on canvas. It was mounted on brackets which had once supported an outmoded television. Pencil drawings were pinned to the wall on his right. The photograph showed the man with a woman; she embraced him as he cradled a naked infant. The sketches featured fantastic places that could never exist in the real world.

Doors led to two bedrooms, a washing cubicle, and the elevator lobby for the 180th floor. With twenty-four families per floor, the locals treated the floors like neighborhoods. He could hear the neighbor’s children running around and around the central elevator shafts. At one point he thought the kids had knocked on the door, like they used to. They were sorry that Keisha would no longer join their fun, but were too young to dwell on such matters. Their racket distracted him but not enough to cause him to rise from his seat. Let the kids play, whilst there was still somewhere they could.

He had stopped reading the letter, which lay in shadow upon the table before him. The remainder of its contents could be deduced from the opening paragraph.

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On the Bayou’s Edge

Nathalie Burel awoke from a deep sleep that night as suddenly as if someone had dumped a bucket of cold water on her head. There was a monster out in the dark…and not the monsters she was used to.

The light of the alarm clock that her youngest granddaughter had bought her at the school Christmas store was bathing her bedroom in an eerie green glow. The numbers read 4:08. They were large enough that she could see them even without her glasses. Little Maria was thoughtful that way. Nathalie, whom everyone from the priest at her parish to the bag boy at the grocery called MawMaw Nat, had an exacting schedule that she had kept to for forty-five years. She awoke in the morning at 5:00, every morning, without the help of the gifted clock.

MawMaw Nat did her best to survey the room, wondering what was different. Wondering what had come in from the swamp. Her cat, a mean old white tomcat she’d named Haint, was sitting on the small window sill, staring out into the darkness. His tail was twitching.

Nat sat up, her old bones and muscles creaking. If the cat was absent from his spot at the foot of the bed, and she was awake, then she it meant that the demons were up to something. She would move her morning routine up by roughly an hour and prepare to deal with it. It was getting harder and harder in her old age to stay one step in front of the swamp haunts, but the stakes were too high for her to do any less.

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A Ruby For Dyree

After weeks of walking, only a few stale crusts of bread remained. Rel yawned and crawled out from the rocky overhang. He slung the nearly empty sack over his shoulder and headed toward bushes near the river looking for anything edible. Dyree had stuffed as much food as she could into the sack, almost more than the village could spare. They both thought it would be enough for Rel until he found a caravan willing to take him on. But the terrain he crossed had been too barren for foraging, and his stomach complained day and night. His love for Dyree was the nourishment that pushed him on.

This morning he was lucky. He frightened away a few birds and hastily stripped berries from the bushes where they had feasted. For each greedy handful he stuffed into his mouth, he poured another handful into his sack. He licked his lips, savoring the sweet tangy juice that dribbled down his chin. His hunger sated, he turned toward the narrow river for a drink.

On his knees, Rel plunged his head under the cold water, relishing its crisp, refreshing taste. He sat up and was about to shake the wet hair out of his face when he heard voices. He was in the open, no hiding place near enough to disappear into. Rel reached into the pouch belted around his waist and brought out the short knife that was his only weapon. He backed slowly away from the river, listening.

Three children carrying small baskets meandered into view, sprinting forward when they spotted the berry bushes. The oldest, a girl, saw right away that the bushes had been picked over. Shading her eyes with one hand, she looked around, searching. She found Rel.

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Edge

My motorcycle hung, thirty feet up the side of a brick wall, suspended only by luck and willpower – which is about how I managed to hold onto the katana, too.

Motorcycles are different from cars. Cars, by their nature, want to stay upright. If you leave a car alone, it’ll stay upright. If a sudden gust of wind hits it, it’ll stay up. If you lose your balance while driving, it won’t fall. If you hit a slick spot in the road, you might lose control – but the car won’t topple over. A car has four wheels under it – four fat, wonderful, stabilizing, traction grabbing wheels. Cars are nice that way.

A motorcycle, by its nature, want to fall. They say their are two kinds of motorcyclists – those who have lain down their bikes and those who will lay down their bike. Motorcycles throw away two of those wheels under the theory that stability is optional. They’re held upright by a freakish combination of gyroscopic physics and balance. The former only works if you’re going fast. The latter depends entirely on the rider. And all of it can fall apart in a heartbeat if you hit a slick spot, a sudden gust of wind, or a redhead that makes you do a double take.

Let me tell you, a motorcycle suspended three stories off the ground wants to fall in the worst kind of way.

But maybe I should back up a bit, because you’re probably wondering how I got up there. And if you know me a little bit, you’re probably also wondering what damn fool idea got me on one of those two wheeled monstrosities in the first place. To be honest, I’m still not sure why I did it. But I can at least tell you how it happened.

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