The Mage

(This story is from a prompt about new beginnings)

Mage titleThough I knew I had to steal the key, my conscience still smote me brutally. It wasn’t like it had been my idea. The hall was black-dark, but it wasn’t hard to flick open the lock on the tiny box and remove its contents. I could feel everything through my thin gloves, black as the shadows, as if they were a second skin.

The lock snicked shut as I closed the metal box. Ghosting over dark velvet floors, the massive ornate door in view, I was already triumphant. I would get my pay, and he would get his key. The authorities wouldn’t find out who’d stolen it; they never did when I was involved.

“Going somewhere?” The chuckle froze me by the door. Light spilled from a slit in the hall panels, an emerald eye peering through. I stared back through the dark mask across my face. I held my breath, waiting to see what she would do. Not that she knew anything was missing. Yet.

The mahogany panel slipped further open, light spreading toward me but stopping just short. “You do know you aren’t the first.” Her wrinkled lips pursed, eyes narrowing. “But I think I’ll give you a chance.” She stepped back. “Come in! Show me you can use that key, and I’ll let you keep it.”

I stayed motionless, mistrustful of her offer. Besides, it wasn’t my key; I didn’t want it, nor did I particularly want to steal it. “I was hired to take it, not use it,” I said, the words spilling out against my better judgment.

“Perhaps you’d like to change allegiances then.” She grinned. “You’re the best that’s ever tried! I almost missed catching you. And I assure you, I pay much better.”

I wavered, unconvinced, but she hadn’t called for help or tried yet to stop me. Cautiously, I approached, shadows unfurling behind me as the revealing light swirled before my boots.

She sank into a curving armchair, and I saw she was clothed in a riot of colors bright as her eyes. I stopped by the door, and we watched each other until she flicked a hand. “Go on, girl.” Slowly I uncurled my fingers, glancing at the slender key made of irregular wooden chunks fashioned together. Except…it was a puzzle, not a key.

Guessing it was supposed to open some way, I began shifting the pieces. Bit by bit they came apart until the last cluster fell open. Inky smoke spilled from them, unfurling into dark shimmering scales, an angular head, and slender body. I recoiled in shock as a sleek wolf-sized dragon gazed up at me.

“Ha! You thought he’d hire you to take a simple key?” the mage laughed.


“That is magic, my dear. Never ask of magic ‘how.’” She waved airily. “Don’t worry, that dragon won’t hurt you. She’s yours remember!” I looked from the dragon, tail neatly wound around her feet, to the woman, who chuckled again. “I told you I pay better.”

The Trouble with Rumors

(This story is from a prompt about getting an undeserved, unwanted, accolade)

RumorsIt had been a tranquil summer day until my sister stepped on the snake. She hadn’t seen the long black creature in the grass until it reared up and struck at her. I couldn’t really blame it. After all, my sister had stomped her foot down on the thing’s back. I probably would have struck at her if she stepped on me like that.

The scream my sister let out could have woken the dead. Mom heard her from all the way up at the house and came running. Sophie was still screaming and dancing around when mom finally got there. She’d been smart enough to jump away from the snake, but instead of turning and fleeing like a normal person, she started running around in circles. The snake, who didn’t want anything except to not be stepped on, had subsided into the grass and slithered away under some spiny bushes. At least there it wasn’t likely to get stepped on again.

My sister, teary eyed and pale faced, was standing trembling in the yard when Mom rushed over. “Honey, what happened?” Mom asked.

Sophie pointed toward the bushes. “I—It—s—snake—b—bit me!” she stammered before collapsing into sobs again.

Mom put her arms around Sophie and looked over at me. “Sasha, what happened?”

“She stepped on a snake,” I said.

Mom’s eyes widened. “What kind of snake?”

Continue reading “The Trouble with Rumors”


(This story is from a photo prompt, included below)

SpiritsWind whispers through the soft feathers of my wings. I swoop down, landing before the wooden building half buried in pristine snow. The place looks strange in the pre-dawn light, as if it really is haunted.

I was sent to investigate this place, as rumors were spreading that it housed a malicious or ghostly presence. Standing in front of the old gray church, I can start to believe the rumors, though it is still hard to imagine anything mean enough to take down a dragon. I crunch closer, past ice glazed trees, feet sinking through ice to soft snow.

Movement flickers at the corner of my eye. I stop, staring through a broken window. Nothing. I move closer, through snow the color of my scales. Just as I reach the steps up to the door, a blur of movement explodes past me. I jump as an unearthly wail rends the air. I stagger as the thing charges in front of me.

Black is the first thing I notice, stark against white snow. Black hooves thrash the air, tangled black mane whips in a non-existent wind. Before I can react, the creature screams again.

“Antira!” he wails. My eyes widen. I haven’t spoken, let alone said my name.

“What?” I ask.

“Beware, Antirrhinum! Our kinds have not met in a thousand years, but the time is soon that they will meet again!”

I stare. “Your kind?”

“The Myrjieque Chevala, the Magic Horses,” he says.

I snort. “What dragon fears a horse?” The stallion stills, only his forelock billowing slightly.

“None, but the one who took my life. For I think she has learned the curse of the spirit form.” Quick as he’d come, the ghost horse whirls and disappears back inside the building. I stand and stare for a moment, realizing…

I leap into the air. I will tell the others of the horses approaching. But no more. I do not belong with them. My old enemy is right—even in life, I had not truly belonged in the land of the living, but in this surreal place of spirits.

Fact and Fiction

Well, after another year of randomly disappearing from my website (blows cobweb off keyboard) I have returned again! I have a backlog of candidates for the Writer as Reader’s Corner I’m hoping to get around to reviewing, but in the meantime I felt it might be nice to get back into some short fiction writing of my own. Some stories will likely be reposts of works I did over on the Confabulator Café before its demise, though with some edits to clean them up a bit better. Some may also be stories I’ve shopped around to enough magazines I feel comfortable letting them retire after collecting a long pedigree of rejections.

So, we’ll see how long I keep this endeavor up! Hopefully I will have edits finished on the book in the next few months, and while it’s off tormenting agents I’ll spend some time on here, cleaning the place up a bit. Maybe I’ll even manage a little more consistency while I’m at it, haha.

Elementia Best of Publication

Last Friday was the reception for Best of elementia, an anthology of works that were published in elementia magazine over the last fifteen issues. My sonnet “Curse of the Huntresses,” which first appeared in elementia issue xiv, was republished in the Best of elementia anthology, along with an author interview of…me! The Best of reception was open mic, so I was allowed to read three of my pieces: “Curse of the Huntresses,” published in issue xiv and Best of; “Ghosts,” which won first place in Showcase Selections, and “Place of Lore,” which was not only published in elementia’s issue xii, but is also my first ever published piece.

An online version of Best of elementia is at JoCoLibrary/best of elementia. My poem is on page 136, author interview on page 71.

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Mythical Rivals

I could not pass up the Café prompt for this month; mythical beast vs Battle of Willsmythical beast. As a fantasy fanatic, I almost had too many ideas for this one, but I ended up with a story near and dear to my heart. “Battle of Wills” is in effect an excerpt from my current novel-in-progress, but from a viewpoint not used in the book after the prologue. It also works as a stand alone story, without ties to the larger world of the novel.

Complicated Beginning

For my latest Café contribution I tried my hand at flash fiction again! The first few stories I wrote were flash length, but the majority of my pieces Mage quotesprawl well into the three and four thousand word ranges. This month, the prompt was new beginnings with a twist, and The Mage certainly has a few of those.

A Dose of Nightshade

I had a short story go Deadly Seductionlive on the Café today! Since December is freestyle month, this is actually an old story I wrote quite a while back. I started writing it for the Café but it hasn’t been posted until now. Deadly Seduction is a sister tale to my novel-in-progress, so it’s fun to have this story go up just after NaNo.

The Mystery Key

I had a Café story posted this Friday! The prompt was the mysterious appearance of a Will of Bequestnew key on your key chain. There are no ghosts or ghouls in Will of Bequest, but there is a funeral and an opal in honor of the month. And of course, that key.

Worst or Best

I have returned to the the Devil's AlleyCafé after a hiatus (and also to one of my previous story worlds)! This month’s prompt was to tell about the worst person to come through someone’s door. But who is the worst person in Devil’s Alley? It might change depending on the perspective…