The Demon in the Mask

Venetian mask

Venetian mask

When you touch me my heart melts
(And anything you did wrong I forgive) Yeah, yeah. So you play me and take advantage
Of the love that I feel for you

Why you wanna hurt me so bad
I believed in you that’s why I’m so mad. Now I’m drowning in disappointment. And it’s hard for me to even look at you

-Recorded by Heather Headly
“I wish I Wasn’t (Radio Edit)”
Songwriters: James Wright, Terry Lewis, and James Harris Iii

Four strong, brutal men held Andre motionless in the tiny cell of the North Tower as the unholy Priest locked the iron mask over his face. He didn’t resist, though in fact, it would have been impossible for him to do so. He had failed and this was the consequence and his penitence. If she would have just killed him as she had so many others, at least his soul would have known peace. To be kept alive like this though was worse than an eternity in Hell.

Only after Andre’s handsome and nobel visage was encased in the cold metal did she finally appear. With a nod, the four armed thugs accompanied the Priest out of the cell. Katia took the key to the mask from the Priest and in return presented him with the only key to the door of the tower’s solitary cell. The eldritch clergyman ceremoniously locked it and then returned that key to the Princess as well.

Once the door was secure, she spoke solemnly to the men, “Leave us.”

They obeyed immediately and without a word. Everyone did, everyone except Andre.

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The New Neighbors

the fairy farm

© Eric Wicklund

“What do you think, Pumpkin?”

“I think it’s totally awesome, Grandpa. Thank you so much for making it for me.”

The other houses on the block had Christmas lights and nativity scenes, but six-year-old Aubrey loved Fairies, so he made her a Fairy Farm instead.

She knelt down reviewing everything. “Here’s the chicken coop, the barn, an old log, a bench, a table, a little campfire, and there’s the house. It’s so beautiful, Grandpa.” She gave the gray-haired man a hug.

“Wait, Grandpa. What’s that on the roof?

“It’s a cross, Aubrey.”

“Um, why?”

“It’ll be Christmas soon and I couldn’t completely ignore…”

“Silly Grandpa. Fairies are Druids, not Christians.”

“Tell you what, when the Fairies move in, they can decide if they want to keep the cross.”

“Deal, Grandpa.”

“Let’s go in and see how the Chicken Pies are doing.”

Minutes later, the tiny door to the Fairy house creaked open. “Gawd. Thought they’d never leave, Gertrude.”

“Same here, Andrew. Druids. Did you ever hear of such a thing?”

“Indeed, m’love. Let’s do some proper decorating now. I brought the bulbs and tinsel, do you have the box with the lights?”

“Yes, dearest. It’s right with the Nativity scene.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for December 10th 2017. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I’ve probably written something like this before in response to a similar prompt, but nothing else came to mind. What appears to be a cross on the roof of the Fairy House was a bit of a problem in the overall context, but then it also gave me my “hook.” So I thought I’d have a little fun with this being the Christmas season as well as “religious preferences” among both humans and fairies.

As an aside, my wife is Jewish so we don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s easy for me to find my house when I come home from work at night since it’s the only one on the block without lights and decorations. No, I don’t even have a fairy farm out back.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Eira

leafless snow

© Sue Vincent

It had finally come, the first real snow of winter. Robert Jeffries knew she would come with it, as she had ever since they’d met ten years ago. He had only been fifteen then. He’d gotten into another argument with Mom and stormed out the door and into the snow. He wasn’t thinking and he was over a mile from their cabin, with the town a three-hour walk away, when he realized he wasn’t going to make it back.

His feet and hands were numb. He was trembling. The sun was low on the western horizon. The worst thing was that he was lost. He’d stumbled, falling off the path, gotten turned around, disoriented. If he couldn’t make it back home by dark, he was going to die.

“Man-child, what brings you out into my Father’s domain so ill prepared?”

Robert had been hanging onto the trunk of a tree so he wouldn’t collapse in the snow. He looked toward the voice. If she had a place nearby, he was saved.

Then he saw her.

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My Only Night With You

vashti

Queen Vashti

“…I swear you get better looking with every year…your sexual peak, your full figure physique…”

Every year in the Spring, the Queen of the West gave a banquet. It was opulent beyond the dreams of avarice, but the Queen had great wealth which she administered for the benefit of her people. At the banquet every year, she held a lottery. All of the eligible males were required to enter (and they were all eager to do so), all of those unmarried and between the ages of fifteen and thirty. Every year only one man would be chosen to be the Queen’s consort, and only then for a single night. Afterward, the man joined the others from previous years, where they were kept for the rest of their lives in comfort and ease on the nearby island of Stateira.

They were never seen or heard from again and, if the stories were true, they would never willingly leave Stateira and return to their previous existence.

Lugo was in love. Of course, all the men, even those who were married, even boys too young or men far too old, longed for a night with the Queen. She was the very essence of beauty, charm, graciousness, and poise. The image of her body burned in their hearts and minds. The loins of old men long dead were still stirred by even the mention of her name. Men would kill to possess her. Men would surrender their limbs, lives, and souls for a night in her bed chambers.

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Time is the Fire

kala

Cover for the digital music album Aporia​:​Kāla​:​Ananta by Wolvserpent

Los Alamitos, California – Friday, 3 November 2017 – 8:01 a.m.

He knew she had been terrified, desperate, but that was no excuse. Without balance the universe couldn’t exist, well except for that imbalance called entropy. The universe was moving slowly, inexorably from order to disorder, but Yama couldn’t let the breakers accelerate that process. Damn Kāla for the mess she’s created, that is if one can damn a goddess.

She is here, the breaker, he could sense her presence, her non-conformity, her being out of place and time. He would find her in this strange country with its paved roads and automobiles, this land hardly populated in the time she came from. But then from her point of view, this place was far better than the one from which she escaped.

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The Goddess Stones

pachamama

Depiction of the goddess Pachamama

Everyone thought Rich and Francesia were crazy to spend their honeymoon hiking in a remote part of the Andes in Bolivia, but to them it was a thrilling prospect, that is until they got lost. The travel agent in Cochabamba strongly urged them to hire a guide, but the two had hiked some of the most remote areas of the Earth and felt they were experienced enough to go it alone.

Besides, it was their honeymoon and well…they didn’t want the company.

It was night again. They had rationed their food but it was almost gone. Rich gave the last of his water to Francesia an hour ago.

“We’re going to die up here, aren’t we?”

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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.

Mr. Covingham’s Secret

garter snake

How I imagine Mr. Covingham appears

Five-year-old Zooey’s eyes fluttered. She felt especially warm and cozy wrapped up in all of these blankets in front of Gerliliam’s fireplace. She opened her eyes just long enough to see that her four siblings were still sleeping all around her and that made her feel safe. The fire was the only light in the room, and since the dragon lived under a tree, she couldn’t tell if it was still dark outside.

Then she felt something moving against her arm and a small head protruded from the covers.

“Mr. Covingham,” she whispered not wanting to wake the others. “I thought you’d gone home.”

She had only met the blue and orange striped garter snake last night, but already she felt like they were really good friends.

“I intended to Zooey, but it was still so cold and rainy out. You know how we snakes don’t do well in the cold.”

“I’m glad you decided to stay. I wanted to get to know you better.”

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The Whisperer

bird

© Douglas M. MacIlroy

“Cats, bats, and now this. Why can’t I leave my garage door open for two seconds without…”

“It only happens when I’m here, Grandpa.”

“The old man looked to see his five-year-old granddaughter walk out from the house.

“Hi, Danielle.”

“I told you Grandpa, my name is Zooey.”

“Sorry. Why do the critters invade my garage when you’re here?”

The little girl gently took the bird from his hand. It sat peacefully as she stroked its feathers.

Zooey walked outside and the bird suddenly took flight. “You just have to know how to talk to them.”

The old man chuckled.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields 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. After much editing, my word count is exactly 100.

Again, I’m leveraging characters from a storyline loosely involving five children who are mysteriously summoned into a world of dragons and other forces for unknown purposes. The youngest child is Danielle or “Zooey”. Two previous flash fiction entries involving an older child in the same universe are The Way Home and Where Did Our Home Go?. I can’t tell you where in the sequence of the events today’s tale takes place since, if I actually write this series of novels, I don’t want to give out “spoilers.”

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

Addendum: I decided to expand this tale to reveal a few more details, more of a hint of what’s to come than anything else. Go to The Whisperer Expanded for the rest, plus a look into Zooey’s past in Mr. Covingham’s Secret.

The Way Home

leaves

The leaves made a long-forgotten sound as she walked across the field. Danielle took a deep breath and let it out, watching the white mist sail out in front of her. She wasn’t used to the cold. She’d spent nearly a decade in the desert helping the dragons reclaim what was theirs. The war was finally over. The dragons won but Danielle had lost so much. Her brother died defending what was right. She came back home and discovered Mom and Dad died in a car accident.

Now she was going back to the only home she had left. Grandpa had grown old but he was still alive. Ten years ago, she sat on his lap and he read her the first story about the dragon’s quest, how the demons had taken their homes and put them into exile. She was only a girl when she found the stories were true. She was barely a teen when she stepped through the portal to help.

Now she was back. There. His cabin. Smoke rising from the chimney. She could almost smell his pancakes. She opened the door. He never locked it. “Grandpa, I’m home.”

“Darling. I’ve missed you,” he replied smiling.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for September 24th 2017. The challenge is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is exactly 200.

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