All Stuffed Up

baby

© James Pyles

“Why not, Buddy?”

“No magic. Anna have no magic. Not taking new apprentices. Just you.”

Keeping his promise, Landon told his best (human) friend Anna all about Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon and their adventures together, which started almost a year and a half ago. It had taken a long time to relate everything to Anna. Landon hadn’t realized just how much he and the dragon had gone through together.

“But couldn’t we teach her magic?”

After Landon told Anna everything, she thought it would be really cool if she learned some magic, too. Landon said he’d ask Buddy if he would take her on as his second apprentice. Today in the boy’s bedroom, the dragon gave him the answer.

Only the events that had occurred in Shadow of the Dark Wizard made it absolutely necessary for Buddy to train Landon in the mystic arts, and that was because the child had been accidentally infused with magical energy. If Buddy didn’t teach him how to control the magic inside, the magic would control Landon.

But such wasn’t the case with Anna. Like most other children, she was a perfectly ordinary human and had no access to occult energy, especially in this universe where real magic was all but unknown.

“She’ll really be disappointed.”

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Of Ice and Anna

ice monster

Found at DeviantArt.

From the previous story:

The magic lantern amulet around his neck glowed brightly as the boy stood and weaved his spell right in front of the wounded and bleeding creature. A portal opened at his feet and he fell through, just like a person would if the walked over an open manhole.

Landon spoke the magic words in the tongue of the ancient masters and the portal closed. Instantly, the world around them began to fade and shimmer.

“You did it, Landon. You broke the spell. Now the fantasy world the evil water spirit created is evaporating. I love you Landon.” She hugged him. “See you again in about twelve years or so.”

“But by then I’ll be…”

Then everything went black.

Landon woke up. He had to pee, so he got up and stumbled down a long hall to the bathroom. He turned on the light and looked in the mirror shocked. He wasn’t eight years old anymore and this wasn’t the bathroom at Grandpa’s house. It was one of the bathrooms in his dorm. He was in college and he was twenty years old.

Landon woke up. He had to pee, so he got up and stumbled down a short hall to the bathroom. He turned on the light and looked in the mirror. He was relieved to see himself just as he was when he went to sleep. He was back home at Grandpa’s house and he was eight years old like he was supposed to be. Then he used the bathroom and washed his hands.

Going back to his bedroom, he saw his now non-alive stuffed animals lying on his pillow. Some were under his blanket making “lumps” pushing up here and there. But there was something or rather someone missing. Buddy still hadn’t come home. He was overdue. Where could he be?

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The Outside-In World

pellucidar 1

Pellucidar artwork by J. Allen St. John

“Dani?” Eight-year-old Landon’s brain figuratively froze at the thought that his two-and-a-half-year-old sister could wake up over ten years older than she went to sleep. Further, she was dressed in animal skins like what Grandpa might call a “refugee from an old Tarzan movie,” whoever “Tarzan” was.

“I know this is a shock Landon, but I’m the only one who can help accomplish your mission and put the evil spirit back where it belongs.”

Landon just blinked and stared, unable to process the fact that his sister was now older than he was by about five or six years.

“Sorry about the shock old boy,” Gerlilanum added. “I guess I should have given you some warning, but I wasn’t sure the spell would work.”

“Spell?”

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Pretending

lake rotoroa

Lake Rotoroa, New Zealand – Found at The Venturing Angler

How many times must we tell the tale?
How many times must we fall?
Living in lost memory
You just recalled

from “Pretending” written by Jerry Lynn Williams
Performed by Eric Clapton

“Janice, please stop pretending. We both know you stopped loving me a long time ago. Every time I try to talk to you, you act annoyed, as if you can barely stand to be around me.”

“It’s not like that, Harry. It’s not you. It’s me.”

“That’s what they all say when you really mean when it’s me, Harry. You’re just playing games.”

Janice and Harry had been married for 35 years. They’d raised two kids together. Ben got married and divorced in less than a year and was now on this third tour of duty with the Marines in Afghanistan. Elizabeth married Raoul two years ago and was expecting. It would be their first grandchild, but then again, they weren’t going to get that far.

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The Girl in the Tiny World

globe

tiny world

“No!” Landon was startled and then crazy scared as his two-and-a-half year old sister Dani appeared before him as Circus Baby, a character for the horror-based video game Five Nights at Freddy’s but an instant later, and for the millionth time, the impossible happened.

The many fragments of the soul coin, shattered by the combined magic of Landon’s formerly animated stuffed animals leapt out of his top dresser drawer where he had put them and spun around the two children as if they were in orbit around twin suns. Then a big light flashed and they were gone.

“Coming, coming. I’m old. Don’t rush me.”

It was a very familiar voice. Landon was holding onto Dani’s hand standing in front of an ancient door set into an even more ancient tree, a really big tree in a really big forest. Sunlight was streaming through the emerald canopy above. The day was warm and the children could hear birds singing friendly songs.

The door opened and as Landon expected, the oldest dragon in the universe, Gerlilanum was on the other side of the threshold.

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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 Alchemist’s Orb

orb

© Sandra Crook

“I want my money back.”

“Why, Romano? I sold it to you at a bargain.”

“You’re a cheat, Valentino. The real Alchemist’s Orb should have turned my worthless lead into gold.”

During the argument, a street urchin slipped into Romano’s shop. “Excuse me, Sir. My Mother is sick and we have no food. Can you spare…”

“Out filthy beggar. Get out!”

As the child ran, Valentino knew the Alchemist’s Orb had worked again. Romano’s reputation was one of generosity and kindness but the Orb had changed his outward behavior to match the cold and miserly stone that was his heart.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction challenge for 15 December 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a wee tale no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

The first thing I thought of when I saw the picture was that the object it depicted looked fake. From there, I thought of something magic and, realizing I had a scant 100 words to play with, told my small story of greed and charity appropriate for this “season of giving.”

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

The Girl, The Unicorn, and Their Kitten

enisa

© Enisa

“Now you knew I had to grow up sometime, Marigold.”

“Yes, but it all seemed to happen so fast, Phoebe.”

Phoebe couldn’t actually see the unicorn, but that was just as well because she was driving South on Interstate 5 and unicorns are terribly distracting.

“That’s what Mom and Dad said, too.”

“But your parents aren’t immortal, Phoebe. I am. The passing of centuries to me is like how the passing of a few days is to you.”

“Then I aged from eight to eighteen in the wink of an eye.” Phoebe was joking around but it was no joke to Marigold.

“Please don’t jest. I want to savor every moment of being your friend.”

“You will, Marigold. I promise.”

“When do we get to this ‘UCLA?'”

“In just a few hours. You’ll have to stay hidden on my clothes when we’re there.”

“Fortunately, little Muffin can be my eyes and ears, Phoebe.”

“Familiar spirits do come in handy, Marigold.”

“They do indeed, Phoebe.”

“Meow and please don’t speak of me as if I’m not here.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of December 5, 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for authoring a piece of flash fiction no more than 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I admit to being momentarily flustered when seeing this week’s photo prompt. “What in the world can I make of that,” I thought.

In 1983, My wife and I moved from Berkeley to Orange County, California, both so I could attend graduate school and so she could take charge of her recently deceased Dad’s house. I drove down with our cat “Mamacat” (long story). Well even though I had her sedated and in a carrier, she was pretty unhappy, so I put my hand in her carrier to pet her. Bad mistake, grievous error. She was out like a flash and parked herself under the brake pedal. I was traveling South on Interstate 5 at about 75 mph and if I had to stop in a hurry, she was going to be toast.

Fortunately, everything all worked out, but the photo sort of reminded me of the journey. I couldn’t really use that story, but the horses on the woman’s blouse reminded me of unicorns.

True confession time. I read a comic strip called Phoebe and her Unicorn written and drawn by Dana Simpson. I don’t know why I started reading it. I saw that it was new at GoComics.com and decided to give it a whirl. Then I got hooked, although sometimes I get a little annoyed at Phoebe’s millennial generation parents (I assume they’re about Simpson’s age).

I decided to use the character names for my wee tale, age Phoebe ten years and have her going off to university. I had to make something up for the kitten since there isn’t one on the comic strip. Just a fun, lighthearted tale.

In the comic strip, absolutely no one is surprised or otherwise reacts to a full-sized unicorn always being around Phoebe, but I decided for the sake of UCLA that Marigold would have to hide as a design on Phoebe’s clothing. Besides, I’m not sure she would have fit inside the car otherwise.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to 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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Far Too Late

older cary grant

Actor Cary Grant in his later years

“God knows I never meant to hurt you…I never meant take it that far…”

He was the perfect man for her but she was born far too late.

Alec Bristol (born Archibald Leech) died of a stroke when he was 82 years old. Throughout his entire film career, he was the quintessential leading man, suave, debonair, charming. He had first melted Chelsea’s heart at the Anza Classic Movie Theatre when she was only twelve-years-old.

When she was twenty-two, she visited his grave at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park near UCLA. He’d been dead longer than she’d been alive. It didn’t seem fair.

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