The Wishing Tree

wishing tree

© Sue Vincent

Little Mari, a year younger than five-year-old Zooey Davidson, took her by the hand as they ran toward the wishing tree. In their free hands, they each held a colorful cloth provided by Tala, who looked like she could be Mari’s teenage sister but wasn’t.

“Danilo helped me put my first one up. Now I’ll help you.”

“Did your brother tell you what it is?”

“Of course. It’s a wishing tree.”

“What do you wish for?”

“Anything you want.”

“Can I wish to go home?”

“I don’t know. A lot of the kids don’t want to go home.”

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When Hell Boils Over

shark

Photo: Discovery Channel

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon first.

Landon’s soul shot straight up from the pits of Hell as fast as he could go, but Hell was a lot more confusing than he realized. There were all kinds of tunnels and passageways all over the place. Which one led him out of Hell, and even if he could find it, how was he going to get back to the Moose realm and his dying body?

“Wait!” He saw a blue light just above him. “That’s got to be it.”

He heard yelling, and screaming, and a bunch of voices making vile threats against him. Looking back, there were hundreds of winged demons pursuing him, and they were catching up.

“Oh no.”

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The Runaway Stuffed Rabbit

bunny vs dragon

Found at the bloodbankdragons YouTube channel

“What in the name of a bunch of deleted, censored, and just plain bad words happened to me?”

The scream came out of Landon’s room, but the nine-year-old was at school at the moment, so the only ones to hear him were the boy’s nearly three-year-old sister Dani, his Grandpa, and of course, Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon.

Well, that’s not quite true. Baby the Stuffed Giraffe and all the other living stuffed animals had been taking a mid-morning doze when they were startled awake by the caterwauling.

Dani had been riding her little, plastic car up and down the hallway, and was right next to Landon’s bedroom door when she heard the yelling. Fumbling with the doorknob, she managed to get it turned, and pushed the door in. Then, seeing the source of the commotion, she jumped up and down with delight and giggled. “Bunny rabbit!”

“Bunny rabbit, my bow tie! I’ve been turned into some kind of plush toy, and for heaven’s sake, where the blue buttons am I?”

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The Forest

spiral staircase

© Sue Vincent

The Beginning of the Saga of the Davidson Children

Five children abruptly found themselves at night in a dark forest being drenched during a thunderstorm. “Mandy! What happened? Where’s Mom and Dad?” Thirteen-year-old Amanda Davidson felt panic rise her chest. Where were her brothers and sisters? What happened to their parents? How did they get here?

“I don’t know Paris. Stick with Taylor. Can you see Jake and Zooey?”

“Zooey’s here with me, Mandy.” Paris was holding her younger sister’s hand.

“Jake’s right next to me.” Taylor pulled his brother closer to him.

Mandy was trembling from the cold and terror at suddenly being alone with her brothers and sisters and lost in the dark.

“Everyone stay close to me. Paris, get right behind me. Jake and Zooey, get behind Paris. Taylor, you get behind Zooey and make sure everyone sticks together.”

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Horror in Straw

straw people

Photo credit: Ellespeth

On a school field trip, third-graders Tony and Martha decided to do a little independent exploring. Slipping away from the rest of the group, they headed into a secluded field.

“I think they’re some kind of scarecrows or something.” The boy wrinkled his nose in thought.

“That seems silly. I mean they look like they’re working, and they’re…” she blushed gazing at the straw women’s attributes. “…women.”

“Let’s have a closer look.” Tony started to run forward.

“Wait! Remember? The farmer told Mr. Pushkin none of us were allowed in this field, and that it was dangerous.”

He turned back toward her. “Oh, come on. We aren’t going to hurt anything. I just want to…”

“Tony! Get out of there!”

He saw the expression of horror on Martha’s face and then spun toward the field. The straw people were moving. One of them was swinging her ax at him menacingly.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of April 24, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 150.

Yes, I noticed the two straw people were supposed to be women, and of course, the first thing I thought of was that they were haunted.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Dragon’s Legerdemain

stuffed toys

Produced by DollyAndPaws and found at Etsy

The dragon was about the size of a small St Bernard and covered with golden scales. He had two hind legs but his forearms ended with what could have been hands complete with opposable thumbs. His eyes where the most human thing about him, a crystal clear blue, like water in a mountain stream. When he opened his mouth, the first thing you saw were hundreds of needle-thin, razor-sharp teeth, and then a long, tapered tongue the color of raspberries.

His long, thin wings fluttered but not as fast as a hummingbird’s and his tail wagged back and forth with annoyance like a common house cat, and yet he was far more fierce than even the greatest feline predator in any jungle.

The source of his annoyance, actually it was more like trepidation, was the vision that had manifested before him. It was late on a Sunday morning. Landon had been helping Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon test the boy’s young friend Ana for potentially possessing a latent magical ability. To that end, they were using a story book that allowed the user to bring into reality any tale the book contained. The story they’d chosen was that of a cloud city.

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Wilderness Pilgrims

horizon

© Sue Vincent

There was a sense of finality as the gateway between Gerliliam’s forest and this vast frozen wasteland closed behind the five Davidson children. At first they had questioned the wisdom of changing into such heavy clothes and coats, the weather in the forest being mild this morning, but now they faced a long stretch of frozen marsh with jagged snow-capped peaks beyond.

They were standing by four big stones which marked the exact place they were supposed to wait. There was a small, muddy pond right in front of them, but beyond that was only the vast flatlands covered with ice and snow.

Although the clothing provided by Gerliliam’s friend, an unusually friendly troll, kept them warm, they were all trembling with fright. Thirteen-year-old Mandy had the keenest sense of loneliness and responsibility. She was the oldest and now that the ancient grey dragon and his friends had departed, all of the others were turning to her.

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Remembering Two Lives

marina

© J.S. Brand

Landon remembered two childhoods. Sitting at the Lauderdale Marina, he contemplated his ordinary life as a twenty-year-old student.

“Are you a crane or a morphing bloodslayer about to rip out my throat?”

The crane ignored the NSU sophomore and waited for its next meal to appear.

He had been nine and his sister Dani was turning three when it happened. It was their week to be with Dad and Landon was supposed to call his sister in for dinner. She thought it was a game and ran. Dad was yelling for him to hurry up. She did stuff like this just to get him in trouble.

“Dani, come in now!”

“No!” She screamed and bolted away.

And then it was night in a big, creepy forest.

“Dad!” Where was Dad and their house?

Something ran into him. “Landon, I’m scared!” Dani was crying, clinging to his legs. He put his arms around her.

“Ahem.”

Landon jumped startled.

“Perhaps I can help.”

That was the first time they met a dragon.

I don’t usually write two responses to a single flash fiction prompt, but I’ve been trying to puzzle a few things out.

The first has to do with the long series of fantasy stories I periodically write for my eight-year-old grandson. The most recent one is The Outside-In World. Sometimes I use a few of his ideas or concepts and he suggested writing a tale where he is a young adult looking back on a life of extraordinary adventures with a dragon. That’s how I ended his last story but I didn’t know where to take it next.

The other is a novel that I wanted to write stalled in my imagination. I’ve presented short snippets here on this blog involving some of the main characters. They appeared in missives such as The Whisperer, The Way Home, Where Did Our Home Go?, and Mr. Covingham’s Secret.

I’m planning on including older versions of my grandchildren in these stories but like I said, I got stuck and then distracted into others such as those involving my vampire Sean Becker and my synthetic woman turned black ops agent Mikiko Jahn.

But this one is always in the back of my mind and maybe an expanded version of the current tale will shake a few things loose.

How were Landon and Dani suddenly yanked from their Dad’s backyard and thrust into a mysterious forest, one with a talking dragon? That’s just the very beginning of a long tale of adventure.

Oh, since I set my first response to the prompt in Florida, this one happens at the Lauderdale Marina which is just a short distance from where I’m having my grandson go to school at Nova Southeastern University. Yes, it’s a long way from Idaho and if this becomes “canon,” the location is bound to change.

I’m posting the URL to this story at the Link Up and hopefully I’m not breaking too many rules.

Adventure’s Bitter Memories

old tree

© Sandra Crook

Nine-year-old Taylor jumped grabbing the tree’s largest branch and pulled himself up. He danced among the leaves this way and that like cinematic swashbuckler’s of old, wielding his sword.

“Taylor, Grandpa said it’s time for dinner.”

Darn. His twin sister Paris. “I’ll be down in a minute.”

“He said now.”

The boy stopped and looked down at her. He used to ignore Paris but they’d been through too much together. He remembered when the demons were real and she almost died.

“Okay. Coming.” With acrobatics honed on the battlefield of Dragonworld he deftly landed near his twin. “I’m here now.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

As you might have guessed, I’m again leveraging ideas I’ve presented in The Whisperer, Mr. Covingham’s Secret and other similar stories about a group of five siblings who are somehow spirited away to another realm, one of dragons and demons, of friendship and warfare.

In today’s tale, I showcase two of Zooey’s siblings, twins Taylor and Paris. I’m writing a novel with these children at the center. I’ve got four chapters in rough draft now and am continuing to write. Hopefully, these wee tales will whet your appetite.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

For a different point of view on the old tree, and a look at one of Taylor’s other siblings, read The Remembering Tree, an expanded tale based on today’s prompt.

The Gremlins Will Get You If You Don’t Watch Out

gremlin

From the 1984 film “Gremlins”.

Landon was practicing using his invisibility cloak. Buddy had cast more spells on it to keep the cloak from pulling him too far into the invisible universe the way it once had his sister.

She was a lot older now but still a baby, especially when she threw her big tantrums. Buddy was busy talking with Grandpa in his study and his sister Dani was playing with her toys in the living room. Here was his chance to play a trick on her. He looked at himself in the bathroom mirror to make sure he couldn’t see himself, then he snuck out into the hallway.

The living stuffed animals were playing a rousing game of “Uno” in his bedroom so they wouldn’t be in the way.

He tiptoed into the living room. He could see Buddy and Grandpa in the study through the glass doors. They were still talking. Grandpa was showing the little Ambrosial Dragon something on his laptop. Dani had her back to him playing with her duplos. I wouldn’t matter if she were looking right at him though, since she’d see right through him.

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