Flash! Friday # 39

CLOSED!!! Thanks to you brave adventurers for sharing your surreal tales. Results will post Sunday.

Welcome to Flash! Friday # 39. I don’t know quite what to tell you about today’s surrealist prompt except that it’s cool, and a million stories crouch, waiting, in its layers. (Gold star to whoever spots the dragon. And no, that is not why I chose this painting. Stop looking at me so suspiciously!)  Now: pick whichever layer speaks to you, and get writing!    

(Don’t forget the freshly updated contest rules!)

This week’s contest is judged by SVW member Jaz Draper who may very well evaluate this week’s stories while milking a cow or composting. Be sure to check out her judge page to find out what she looks for in a winning entry. Short version: she likes tales with unique but round & resonant characters, and she’s a sucker for really great dialogue.

And now:

Word limit: 300 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt. 

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (290 – 310 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. 

* Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday’s on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post SUNDAY 

Prize: A head-scratchingly stunning e-trophy e-dragon e-badge, a curiously personalized winner’s page here at FF, a marvelously odd 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME translated into the languages of unicorns, dragons, and butterfly-winged princesses everywhere (so to speak). NOTE: Winning and non-winning stories alike remain eligible for selection for Monday’s occasional Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for up-to-date news/announcements/dragon camouflage kits.  And now for your prompt:

Unicornio, by Salvador Nunez, shared as part of the Peru Arte Valor effort.

Unicornio, by Salvador Nunez, shared as part of the Peru Arte Valor effort.

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141 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 39

  1. Bored Meeting
    By Charles W. Short
    311 words and thereby disqualified
    {{DRAGON OVERRIDE! Collapsing a compound word puts it at 310.}}
    @CharlesWShort on twitter

    Somewhere there is a board meeting going on. But it doesn’t matter. Reggie is not on the agenda. He just has to be present because he is a VP, and I, his assistant, have to be here. To assist him.

    But he can pretend to listen without my help. So I am taking my flight of fancy.

    Reggie is my fancy, but there is a barrier between us. I don’t understand how to get through.

    I knew he would wear that shirt. I know him so well. I chose my matching dress. He hasn’t notice.

    I took a flying carpet on this dream. I could have flown, after all in my imaginings, I have wings. But I needed to bring a unicorn to pick the lock. Unicorns don’t fly. Duh!

    And it turns out they don’t pick locks. They don’t talk to snails either. The unicorn is turning out to be downright useless. And who knew they were afraid of heights.

    Unfortunately, they do attract dragons. I can only maintain this flight for a little while. If I am caught daydreaming they will fire me. I wonder if Reggie would object.

    I wonder if he has nice feet.

    What is that friend unicorn? This door has no lock. The lock is in the tree on the other side. Then how are we supposed to get to it?

    Simply walk around the door? Simply approach the man?

    But what if something dreadful is waiting on the other side? Something like the CEO or the COO, now there is a dangerous old wizard if I ever saw one.

    Fears are not so easily side stepped.

    I really should be taking notes, instead of fantasizing about my boss.

    That man should wear a dunce cap. I have fawned over him for months. He still doesn’t know I am falling in love with him.

  2. When Ashley first arrived, she sounded absolutely terrified. I was worried for her and comforted her through the door… until I finally opened the door and saw it was her. She was a lot older, but it was her. Immediately pushing her back out, I hoped she wouldn’t see the key I had around my neck.
    “Tell me that key is for the door on the mountain. You have to give it to me!”
    “I do, do I? I seem to barely remember you daring me to balance on that old well before you tripped me up. That must have made you laugh so much! I’m only guessing since all I could hear was my own SCREAMING! But you’ll enjoy it here. The bottom sky looks so beautiful in the afternoon.”
    “You’ve lost your mind!”
    I shook my head around.
    “No, I still have it. Now leave my door… until Yadnus. I’m having a party then.
    “Maxwell, please! I’ll do whatever you want!”
    Not feeling as spiteful as I thought I did, I simply sent her across Egam River to get me a flying mule, hoping she’d get lost or get convinced to use the key for me. As I sat on the ground, thinking, I saw a pendant on the ground that she dropped when I rushed her out. I wondered about the pretty little girl in it up until she got back rather quickly with the mule.
    “Who is she?” I asked, holding up the pendent.
    “My daughter. I named her Maxine in your memory. You’ve been gone 15 years.”
    Figuring out the time conversion and fighting back a tear, I handed her the key, the pendant and a feather from a CertyWing for her to give to Maxine.
    “When you get out of here, you tear that well down.”
    @JSHyena – 302 words

  3. The Rescue (300 words)

    Only the dragons knew where the ruined kingdom and its captive prince lay. In exchange for this information, Alma had painted portraits of them – for dragons suspect mirrors as hideaways of warlocks – until her hands and eyes ached.

    “We’ll never find him,” Beagle said as she packed her paints back into the saddlebags on his rump. So beautiful, she thought, but Athena Almighty, they complain a lot.

    “We’d complain less,” Beagle snarked, “if you treated us with respect.”

    The land was jagged, colorless; destroyed by mismanagement. Whatever worth the land had was now so many bags of idle money far away. The crops, forests, and minerals disappeared and then the people. It was Alma’s mission from the Sisterhood – at which she was interning – to find and bring the prince to his aunt on the celestial coast.

    It took days but they spotted the portal set on the edge of a cliff. Alma knocked on the door and called out. “Prince, sir, we have come to escort you to your relatives.”

    His voice was the voice of a man who had not talked in years. “I have no wish to go anywhere. I am staying to bury my kingdom.”

    “You have nothing to rule, I am afraid,” Alma yelled through the door. “This is all going to be an amusement and restaurant destination with miles and miles of parking lots. Eminent domain.”

    Beagle snorted and said, “No need to bury anything! The bulldozers will do that for you. You gotta meet Alma here, lovely young woman with great big wings.”

    More protestations came from the prince but he seemed to be slowly changing his mind. He started to say, “The door is locked by a spell—“

    Alma sighed. “Zapoop the door! We’ll go around it,” she said. And they did.

  4. The Diva in the Dive.
    She enters and pauses. Her eyes flick over the joint. I am alone at a table. She knows I am watching her. She glides past the mismatched misfits propping up the bar. I pour cheap wine with an unsteady hand, cursing my schoolboy nerves. She stands at the table, not so much waiting for an invitation to join me, more as a sign that she might not.
    ‘Please, have a drink,’ I say in a voice that doesn’t sound like mine.
    ‘I want something stronger,’ she says before slugging the contents of the glass. A signal to the bartender, a tree of a man, and an amber liquid arrives at the table. His knotted hands produce two tankards. She eyes him with a look that sears my insides with jealousy.
    But it’s okay- she turns to me again.

    ‘You man enough?’ she says nodding at the firewater.
    (I fear I’m not. But I drink.)
    I try to not to cough. I splutter instead. She has a half smile dancing on her smooth lips. I panic. I am transported two decades: the awkward teenager, the guy with no cool. I need to recover.

    ‘You look radiant,’ I say, when the heat dies in my throat.
    This time the smile is for me, and I am relieved.

    I have more booze than sense, and I hope the flush across her flesh has something to do with me.
    ‘You know this is dangerous, don’t you?’ she says.

    I nod.

    ‘You know in one breath I could consume you, don’t you?’
    I nod.

    She leans towards me so I feel her warm words form:

    ‘So why are you here?’ is her sultry whisper.

    ‘Because you are.’

    A leathery wing twitches, what I hope, is approval.

    291 words

  5. Nimue and the magic garden

    ***

    Behrn was pulling at a tuft of herbage with what was left of his yellowed teeth when he heard the sound of weeping; it was a delicate, tinkling sort of sound, but definitely weeping.

    Curious, he slowly made his way over to the source of the sound, his hooves silent in the long grass. Soon he found a fairy girl, her soft pink dress muddied at the hems, her delicate blue and orange wings shaking as she sobbed into her hands.

    “Hey, er…hello” mumbled Behrn as he approached. The girl took up some of the fabric draped over her legs and wiped her face with it before looking up at the horse, her eyes red.

    “Hello” she replied, smiling weakly.

    “I don’t mean to be nosey, but why are you crying?”

    Tears welled up in the girls eyes as she spoke. “I’ve run out of magic powder to sprinkle on children’s eyelids as they sleep. Now they won’t have any nice dreams, and I can’t find any magic toadstools to make more powder…”

    “Magic toadstools eh?” said the horse slowly. “I might I know a fellow…there’s a magic carpet stowed in my saddle, we could go now. I’m Behrne by the way, and you?”

    “Nimue” she replied, smiling as she wiped her eyes, now gleaming.

    So it was that Nimue and Behrn glided up from the meadow to mist shrouded mountains. Eventually, they stopped outside a door which stood upright in mid-air on a bare mountain ledge, no edifice surrounded it. The face of an old bearded man set into the centre of the portal opened its eyes; its voice boomed.

    “Berhn, it’s been too long! Enter the garden of Lug Bran Llew, old friend.”

    The door slowly opened, revealing a dead tree surrounded by fungi of every hue and a man, wearing a pointy hat, sitting at a desk.

    ***

    @theimaginator20
    310 words

  6. Erin Mccabe
    Twitter: Disturbiakiss
    Word Count: 310
    Title: Second Living

    He was sitting in front of a table; a tall man with strong angular shoulders; atop his head was a magnificent wizards hat, curled and gnarled at the corners. In front of him was a mystical door which seemed to be suspended in mid-air, although his view was somewhat obscured by a dead tree. A beautiful woman stepped through the door; wildly vibrant butterfly wings were sprouting from her back and she was accompanied by a dazzling white unicorn.

    “My Liege” she stated, performing a somewhat unnatural looking curtsy. “What shall we do today Sire?”

    He was confused by this form of address as clearly his hat signified his Wizard status, but he decided it best not to complain. What followed was a thoroughly frustrating half hour spent attempting to satisfy her requirements; he had taken her to the bog moors of Alierain, but she had been unimpressed. He had then transported them to the hot spring glaciers of Macembree, but again she expressed only boredom and annoyance. She had initiated a conversation about her favourite “toys”, but had disappeared quickly after he had started talking about his.

    “Christopher, are you busy? Shouted a voice from the kitchen.

    “Just playing with a friend” he replied.

    “Having fun?”

    “Not really, she wanted to go somewhere dirty, so I took her to the bog moors, but then she wanted somewhere steamy, so I took her to the hot springs; she didn’t seem very happy about either.”

    “What was her name?” The tone of the question seemed cold and considered.

    “S.X.Y Fairy 69” he replied. “Although I think she must be one of Daddy’s friends, as I was using his online account.”

    The clatter of dishes which erupted from the kitchen, accompanied by a string of swear words from his Mother made Christopher wonder if all woman hated bogs moors and hot springs.

  7. The break up – 308 words
    @todayschapter

    Frank sat quietly in the room whilst his whole life came crashing down around him. He nudged his lawyer in the hopes of a miraculous recovery, but he only got a whimper in response. He should have known his ex wouldn’t play fair. The down side to pissing off the queen of the fairies was that she was extremely creative in finding ways to make his life miserable.

    Her lawyer was a twelve foot dragon, which was making this whole affair rather one sided. The dragon spread its leathery wings and announced, “My client is entitled to the house. However, she is graceful enough to allow her ex to keep the land it is on. She has already secured lakeside property in fairy land and will teleport the entire structure to it. He may keep the door, as she would like to be able to slam it in his face when she leaves.”
    The judge nodded along feebly. The dragon continued, “She also requires both the magic carpet and the unicorn.”
    Frank blared out, “Why does she need two vehicles? The bitch has wings!”
    The judge ignored him.
    “Their pre-nup quite clearly states anything she brought to this union would remain hers. The Unicorn was a wedding gift from her Aunty Molar, the magic carpet a weaving project she undertook without help from her ex-husband.”
    Franks lawyer whimpered, “Sounds reasonable.”
    “My client has agreed to leave the kitchen table, because of the memories it holds of her ex-husbands terrible cooking.”
    His lawyer turned to him like this was an accomplishment, a victory to be celebrated. Frank balled his fists and resisted the urge to punch him.
    The dragon smiled a wicked grin, all fangs and embers, “Finally, my client shall allow her ex to keep the shovel, so he may dig his own grave.”

  8. I know I Can Turn This Around
    by Jake Kuyser

    The pale, raven haired girl flew high, rising as if on the air itself alongside her horned, horse-like companion. The creature stood impassively, impossibly held aloft by a small rug, completely unlike a horse. Any horse would have long since bolted.

    “What are you doing up here Marto? Me and Unicorno have been looking everywhere. I even grew these wings and flew with the fairies to see if they knew.”

    “The tall hat of forgetting is helping me. I came to Impossible Mountain to forget you.”

    He removed the pointed hat. It seemed almost alive, but of course hats are never alive.

    “We never would have known you were here if carpet hadn’t told us he flew you up here before you sent him away.”

    “Why did you come? If we can’t be lovers, I don’t want to see you.”

    “Because I love you. I miss you.”

    “I do want to see you of course but it hurts. My heart is heavy.”

    “Don’t be. I told father if I can’t marry you then I don’t want to be his daughter.”

    “You did? I thought you would never defy him!”

    “He said if we really love each other them he can’t keep us apart and I do love you so much.”

    “The hat said there was a good reason it couldn’t let me forget. Now I know why.”

    They flew into each others arms. Literally. In the way that people don’t. Because people can’t fly.

    The four of them flew down from the mountain in a swirl of ecstatic happiness.

    The End. In exactly the way these stories don’t end.

    280 words

  9. The Battle
    by Melinda Lancaster
    Word Count 305

    In the land of magic, Fiona was bored as she sat, grooming Tahmahtze, her unicorn. There was no adventure that a fairy could not overcome and after 500 years, she had definitely had her fill of day after day of nothing new.
    “You know, Fiona,” said a leprechaun, “there is a land of no magic.” Such a mischievous fellow to put that thought in her head.
    “Where? Oh, tell me where! An adventure unlike any other!”
    “Past the Dragon’s Haunt and over the Pinnacles of Prometheus, there is a door, open it and you will find the world of Man. Here, I will even share the Genie of the Lamp’s magic carpet, for the price of a bag of coin.”
    Fiona made the exchange and standing firmly on the carpet, her and Tahmahtze, struck out. But with every passing mile, spirit and doubt waged a battle to see who would win.
    It was spirit that won when the dragon flew at them, flames shooting from his nostrils, and Fiona and Tahmahtze lay low upon the carpet and flew up, up, up where the air grew too cold for a dragon’s liking.
    And spirit that won when they braved the height of the Pinnacles of Prometheus.
    While below, a man full of spirit and seeking magic, climbed.
    Yet, when each reached the mountaintop, it was doubt that met them at the door.
    A wizened face looked out and spoke.
    “Dare you open me? Dare you find what you seek? Dare you reach beyond what you know to what you dream? Opportunity is waiting, you only need to knock.”
    And the man who had climbed a mountain in search of magic and a fairy who had dared seek reality, stayed still. One afraid a dream would not be answered, the other afraid it would.
    Melinda Lancaster

  10. Scott L Vannatter
    “Conflict”
    306 words
    Twitter: @SVBookman
    ________________________
    It had taken him 16 months, 5 Days, and 14 hours to dig the top of the mountain down to where the ground was level and the door was totally out in the open. Josiah now sat in opulent silence at his mother’s card table which he had borrowed six months ago and planned to return to her someday. The door had no frame and appeared to all onlookers to simply sit an inch or so above the ground. Opening it, mostly gave no results except to see out into the air beyond the mountain. It was the mostly that had his attention. For Josiah was in love.

    He had opened the door 1,332 times since digging it out. On the 14th time he had come face-to-face with Heminsia. She was a simple elven fairy princess who stood on a small floating carpet with her off-color unicorn, Samuel. He had tried to step to her, join her on the carpet, but there was no room, so they had talked from their own sides of the door.

    Heminsia was beautiful beyond measure. Neither she nor Sam could fly any longer. Amadian, the white dragon had seen to that. He had cursed her and Sam because Heminsia would not return his love. She had tried to explain he was a dragon and she an elf and what a mess that would entail, but all was to naught. Amadian gave her the floating carpet and cursed both her and Sam to stand on it and stare at the door for eternity.

    Josiah had been told this in the short time the door remained open to Heminsia’s realm. Now, he had decided he would return to her and join her on the carpet, no matter what.

    He opened the door for number 1,333 and caught a glimpse of tenebrous tresses…
    ________________________
    Namaste,
    Scott

  11. @hackerverse
    Word Count: 308

    Knock knock.
    “Who’s there?” called a man’s voice.
    “Serena. I found your horse.”
    “Serena-I-found-your-horse,” he mumbled. “No, that’s no good.”
    “What?” Serena yelled. “I couldn’t hear you.”
    “Can you do that over again?”
    “Do what? Just open the door.”
    “Just humor me, please. Can you knock again?”
    She pressed her lips together. Deep, calming breaths just like the anger management fairy had taught her after the last…incident.
    Knock. Knock.
    “Who’s there?”
    “Oh you gotta be kidding me,” she whispered, taking another deep breath. “It’s Serena the Pink Fairy,” she sang out in a melodic, sociopathically polite voice. “Your horse was in my garden again, eating my mush-a-rooms.”
    “Pink fairy…fairly pink,” he muttered. His mouth and eyes flew open wide. “Aha! I’ve…no, that won’t do. The queen would kill me.” He slouched back down and drained his cup.
    “Clowns are only good for dragon fodder,” she said to the horse beside her, but it was oblivious, just hanging its head and smiling in a mushroom-induced stupor. It had also sprouted a horn. Hopefully he would nuzzle his owner with it. “Hello?” Her orange and blue butterfly wings twitched and fluttered, giving the appearance of sunset over water. An exquisite, treacherous sunset.
    The door was enchanted, the only reason it still stood on its hinges.
    “So, I’m leaving now. Good luck with the horse.”
    “Serena? Sorry. It’s the king’s birthday, and if I don’t make him laugh, it’s the last birthday I’ll see.”
    “Oh really?” Her eyes twinkled like fairy dust. “I’ve heard that what really gets the king going these days, is prop comedy.”
    “Props? Really?”
    “Yep,” she said, and waved her wand. A silver shovel appeared in front of him. “Take that, and smack yourself in the head with it. I guarantee results.”
    “Thanks!”
    “Don’t mention it.” She left the horse, and flew off.
    To find her sponsor.

  12. “Return to Sender”
    Margaret Locke
    Margaret_Locke
    Word Count: 307

    “I’m telling you, Merlin, he’s not coming back.”

    The wizard sighed, resting his chin on his hand. He was tired, so tired. It had been over a thousand years. Where was the king? Where was his friend?

    He sipped from the cup on the table. The Holy Grail, they called it. He’d always thought the name ridiculous – it was just a cup, more like a Tupperware tumbler than the fancy goblets they imagined.

    The elixir in it kept him young, allowing him to blend in with current society. He snorted. Was it worth it? He longed for the freedom of his robe. And forget the foot-torturing things they called shoes; if he couldn’t wear his boots he’d wear nothing at all. The hat stayed, though. Without it he felt naked. Frail. Alone.

    He closed his eyes. He couldn’t face the reality of his own sadness. His own loss. His own failure.

    “Check again. There must be someplace we’ve missed.”

    Weariness bowed the fairy’s head as she studied the map in front of her. Searching every corner of this earth, attempting to blend in with untold numbers of societies across centuries and continents – it was exhausting. Even her beloved unicorn was browning with age. Soon it would lose its horn. She wanted to weep for the shame of it.

    “Give up,” squeaked the tiny sprite. “There IS no Once and Future King. It’s a myth!”

    Merlin stared at the sprite in horror.

    “If Arthur is a myth, then we are nothing but myths as well. All of us,” the wizard intoned.

    “Hold on!” exclaimed the fairy. “The snail moved. I see a spot I haven’t checked before. Some place called…Memphis, Tennessee.”

    Merlin closed his eyes, the tornado on his head whipping up images.

    “Graceland,” he said, after a long pause. “The King is at Graceland.”

  13. The door sat across the clearing, just beyond the tree, right on the edge of the cliff. The face where the handle should have been laughed at me. “Coward!”

    I’d brought my shovel to dig my way around the door. To its left and right. I’d looked for ground to dig through, but there was none. I could walk right up beside the door, to its left or right. The ground ended beside the door. There was nothing beyond the door. There was nowhere to dig too.

    Beyond the door, there was nothing. No pathway. No land. No trees. No fields. No city in the clouds. Nothing. Just blue sky, clouds, and in the distance, mountains. Nothing.

    The door face laughed at me. “You can’t figure me out, can you?”

    “I’ve looked beyond you, you know. There’s nothing.”

    “You mean, nothing you can see from this side of me.”

    I got up, grabbed my shovel, walked up to the door and stepped to its left. “Watch this, you idiot!” I held the shovel by the handle, and reached to the right side of the door, grabbing the shovels blade. “See! There’s nothing there!”

    “You mean, nothing you can see from this side of me.”

    The door goaded me. “How is your cold, frozen, uncaring, bitter, lonely heart, human?” I glared at the door. “Do you long for more? Is there more to life? Has there got to be more to life than just your job? You dull, dreary, day-to-day life that never changes. Where there is no color?”

    Then the door said the one thing I could not stand. “You’re afraid to open me, aren’t you, coward!”

    I’d heard enough. I grabbed the face by its nose, and turned it upside down. I opened that door, and walked through.

    And all my dreams were waiting there for me.

    309 Words
    @LurchMunster

  14. “Who goes there?”

    “A traveler, sir, in need of rest.”

    “Have you the secret words?”

    “No, sir, but I am weary, and my horse and I struggle to keep from falling. We have been so many days adrift over the canyon, sir, we wish only so come ashore. We will give you no trouble.”

    “You must have the secret words! That is how it is written. I am sorry. Good day.”

    “No, no! Sir, you must help us. We have spoken with the Trolls, and the Dragons, and even the Tiny Rock People, and none will let us come in. Please.”

    “Fine… let me consult with Elder Door. One moment.”

    (Murmuring, stern sounds, deep discussion)

    Then, a throat clearing and the creak of a chair.

    “Young lady, Elder Door tells me that in this instance I am authorized to offer an alternative.”

    “Anything, just please give us a chance. We are so close to falling into the canyon.”

    “You must tell me about my hat.”

    “But, sir, I cannot see your hat through the door.”

    “You must tell me about my hat.”

    “Fine…. Just give me a moment.”

    “You shall have all the time you need.”

    (A long silence, the horse bows its head with fatigue. The carpet sways a bit but stays put.)

    “Sir?”

    “Yes.”

    “Your hat, it is… tall. Befitting a personage such as yourself. Great in stature, filled with folds, topped with a puff of wind.”

    (Silence.)

    “Sir?”

    “Er, hrm, yes. Well, yes, that shall suffice. Please, step through the door. Elder Door?”

    (Elder Door creaks open, and girl and horse step through.)

    “Wings? Why did you not use your wings, lady?”

    “Because, Sir, I did not need them. Your kindness was sufficient.”

    “My kindness?”

    “Yes, Canyon Digger, though you create a great rift in the ground, you also have the power to heal it.”

    308 words
    @betsystreeter

  15. The Wooden Key

    He felt resistance as the spade came up against a root; with a savage thrust, he cleaved right through it.
    This should’ve been done years ago, he thought. But while his father lived, he hadn’t allowed it. Now, the old man was gone, and they could finally get rid of this monstrous thing, this tree with a hole at its heart. He had always hated it.
    Resettling his grip on the spade, he readied himself to dig again. As his spade touched the earth, however, he heard a voice.
    ‘You haven’t aged, Bartholomew.’ He spun around, but the speaker was nowhere to be seen.
    ‘What?’ he said. ‘Who’s there?’
    ‘Can you have forgotten already?’ There came a laugh, warm and amused.
    ‘Who are you?’ he demanded. ‘Tell me! This is my father’s property, and…’
    ‘It is most certainly not,’ said the voice, all humour gone, straight into his ear. He turned; a woman now stood where the tree had been, and a giant hole had appeared in the sky. He made to grab the shovel, but discovered it had grown roots. The woman smiled, her black hair falling over her eyes.
    ‘I…’ he said, confused. ‘I’m not Bartholomew. I’m his son.’
    ‘Ah,’ she replied. ‘Has it been so long, then?’
    ‘So long? Since what?’
    ‘Since my imprisonment,’ she said.
    ‘What? Look, lady, I’m…’
    ‘I am a queen!’ He took a step backwards as wings burst from her back, brilliant and terrifying. ‘I am no lady!’ He fell to the ground at her feet, and said nothing.
    ‘You have destroyed the key that held me,’ she told him, stepping out of the roots of her one-time prison. ‘For that, I shall not kill you.’
    His thanks died on his lips as he looked up. A dragon, wheeling, tearing the sky with its flame, was heading straight toward him.

    307 words
    @SJOHart

  16. Desk Duty
    by James Mender

    “Don’t forget. You have to wear the hat and take off your shoes.”
    “Wait. Take off my shoes?”
    “It’s their custom.”
    * * *
    “Next?”
    “Is this where I come to complain?”
    “Yes, it is.”
    “I want to file a complaint.”
    “Nature of complaint?”
    “Look at me!”
    “Oh, yes, I understand, sir or madam. You’re a tree and you’re complaint is that a DUST traveller put a hole in your trunk to store some kind of magical lock.”
    “This is the second time!” the tree shouted, showing the other hole in its trunk. “I want compensation!”
    “I see. What sort of compensation?”
    “I want my seeds spread on the perpetrator’s homeworld.”
    “And who was the perpetrator?”
    “How am I supposed to know? You humans all look the same.”
    * * *
    “Next?”
    “Snail,” the door said.
    “Snail?” I asked.
    “Climbing.”
    “Where is the snail climbing, sir?”
    The door was silent and then I remembered the rules.
    “Where?” I asked.
    “Back.”
    I walked around to the back and found a snail from a standard Earth DUST world, definitely not native to this place. I removed it and made a note to warn other DUST travellers to check their gear for stowaways.
    “Removed,” I told the door.
    “Thanks,” the door said.
    * * *
    “Next?”
    “I wish to file a complaint,” the faerie said.
    “Nature of complaint?” I asked.
    “Just look,” she said, indicating the unicorn at her side.
    “He looks fine to me,” I said.
    “He’s *brown*. One of you DUST travellers let your horse mate with a unicorn and now this foal is brown instead of a proper color.”
    “Proper color?”
    “You know, purple or green or pink.”
    * * *
    “Next?”
    I heard the dragon roar as it approached.
    “Uh, sorry,” I said quickly, opening a Waypoint out of there. “We just closed.”
    * * *
    That’s the last time I bet when the stakes are desk duty on *that* DUST world.
    ~ ~ ~
    Author’s Note: 308 words @JamesMender

  17. ARTHUR (308 words)
    @ifemmanuel

    One look at Batios and it was clear why the books called it the end of the world. Mountains rose in the middle of nothing and disappeared into the mist-filled silent expanse. Ariane flicked her wings and stroked Arthur’s mane absentmindedly, the telepathic Unicorn had travelled past the Great Swamp and through the Wilderness without taking directions from her, but it appears ‘The Beginning of the End’ was beyond its powers, a lifetime of preparation had come to this – Nothing.

    A dragon flew out of the mist holding a rug in its talons – she recognised it from Melinade’s books. They disappeared 100 years ago at the start of the unending war until a decade ago when the Prince asked all the provinces to send an artist to ‘The Beginning of the End’ for a contest to control the dragons. She remembered the words of Leopold the Elf, “The dwarfs must not control the dragons”.

    The rug was dropped at the edge of the cliff and Arthur stepped on it, Ariane walked up to its side and felt the rug levitate. It flew through the mist and arrived at the foot of a cliff where the Prince was seated behind a blank canvas, he motioned with his head and she went to work. When she was done, the canvas flipped to face the seated Prince. He stared pensively at the canvas for what seemed like eternity and a snail already was walking on it, thinking it part of the flora. She was at the limit of her stamina when the Prince stood up, shook his head, grabbed his shovel, and started to walk away. She opened her mouth in protest and felt her head go light.

    She opened her eyes and saw the Gates of the Province, she reached out her hand to stroke Arthur’s head – it was scaly.

  18. The Assistant

    It was the part of his job that Cearbhall disliked the most. But he would not become head of Spiorada University unless he could deal with the more undisciplined students. They knew everything, dismissed their teachers, especially Siobhan whose lovely face disguised her determined mischievousness. After weeks of dealing with her on his own, Mr. Arach had enough! Siobhan went too far this time and Cearbhall would have to discipline her.

    All of Spiorada was familiar with Siobhan. She was smart and talented, but refused to heed the basic rules. She believed that she knew best how to work her extraordinary magic.

    “The thing is,” Cearbhall said to his friend and mentor, Dorus, “I rather agree with some of her ideas. Why can’t tulips be multi-color? Why must mortals only dream in black and white? And if a horse wants to believe that he is a unicorn-and, I might add, agreed to have a fake horn attached to him-why can’t we just let it be?”

    Dorus smiled sympathetically. “Gentle Cearbhall, you are not the first to question The Way Things Are. But if we were to let the young choose we would have all sorts of nonsense and anarchy. Roses would be violet not yellow. The platypus would have fur, not feathers. Things are The Way Things Are because this is how best they work. It is not for us to change only for the sake of change.”

    Crosta, in his usual spot, the corner, piped in, “The Old Ones know nothing!”

    “Pipe down, imp,” Dorus replied.

    “I’m a sprite, not an imp,” Crosta shot back.

    “Enough you two,” Cearbhall pleaded, stroking his chin in weary. He knew Dorus was right and he knew what he must do. But he couldn’t help feel compassion for Siobhan and her friend, Capall, who now believed that he was a unicorn.

  19. @NadaNightStar
    309 words.

    Nae

    The fate of the magical worlds rested on her shoulders. But that has always been the case. Women, mortal or immortal, have always carried the heaviest burdens; they will always do.

    Princess Nae is one of the wisest fairy-women I’ve ever met. Yet, she is the saddest, for she has never enjoyed all the fairy-fun they speak of in books and reality. She has the kindest and wisest heart. It is how she brought peace to the Unicorn and Dragon realms. Since then we have entrusted her with all our burdens and sorrows.

    Her shoulders grow weary; I can sense it as I soar beneath the Holy Meeting Rock. Her Unicorn, Bloom, senses her weariness and does not bloom.

    Stay strong Nae. It will be over soon. I will take you on my back and we will glide till our wings hurt.

    The Wizards are known to be selfish; but their new generation seems to care more for magic and the other worlds – or so we feel and hope.

    Prince Alek had requested a meeting with Princess Nae. The Dragons, Unicorns, Fairies and even the Chimeras were suspicious; Nae too. But she knew better. Suspicions were the path to evil. They had to accept the meeting and see what the Wizards needed. They had tons of problems, most importantly was that their race was dying. Nae already knew that. But it is what they may ask that she feared. She knew their flaws and their selfishness; she doubted if they could shed these flaws.
    Stay strong Nae. This Prince Alek seems to be a good fellow. It’s not enough, I know; we should all know, but at least it’s a start.

    If I had to trust someone with the blood of my species, it would be you Nae; it has always been you my dearest Fairy.

    Stay strong Nae.

  20. “Isabel!”
    “Kenneth!”
    They ran toward each other, arms outstretched, making the distance separating them seem shorter than it really was. The inches closed in, , until the gap between them was a hairsbreadth in length. They both smiled, thinking that their nightmare was finally over, that they could finally be together, away from the warlock’s wrath.
    Suddenly, a light appeared, scalding their hands and making them jump back, away from each other.
    They watched in horror as a door manifested between them, the horrific face of their tormentor branded upon the wood on Kenneth’s side.
    The face blended easily into its surroundings, brown and rough. Eyes closed made it look as if it were sleeping.
    But looks can be deceiving,
    Kenneth reached out for a metal doorknob adorning the wood beside the face, knowing this would be too easy, but ultimately deciding he had to do something. An electric blue spark shocked his hand at the slightest touch.
    The face upon the door chuckled evilly. Its eyelids fluttered open to reveal eyes the same colour as the spark that had shocked Kenneth.
    He continued to laugh as he said, “You really thought you could go without a fight?”
    Kenneth rubbed his hand and looked warily upon the warlock, knowing that he could trick even the smartest of men with a single word. Kenneth said nothing.
    “You know what the prophecy says…you know that she is mine…”
    Kenneth almost growled at this statement. “She is not property. Nor is she the slave of some mad man’s ramblings.”
    The warlock’s eyes glinted. “We shall see about that.”
    On Isabel’s side of the door, two snakelike, green vines shot out toward her.
    “Kenneth!” Her cries were futile, because Kenneth had no way to save her from the terrible wrath she was about to face.
    The vines wrapped themselves around her, binding her into silence.
    “Isabel!” Kenneth attempted to run to her, to run through the door. Another, much bigger shock to his chest caused him to fly backwards. He shook his head against the throbbing pain and stood up. “Don’t you dare hurt her!”
    “Oh, I won’t…That is,” The warlock held a hand out to him, “if you win.”
    Kenneth hesitated before he grabbed the rough wooden hand. That one touch allowing him through the portal that would take him to the warlock’s own world.

    This story does not qualify for the competition as it is too long, but I decided to post it anyway. I love this story, and I definitely love the picture to go with it. My entry is just for enjoyment purposes, so please enjoy!

    393 words
    @bookwormattack

  21. Speaking of which, I GET A GOLD STAR! However, I will not disclose the dragon’s location so that others may have the enjoyment of finding it on their own.

  22. Rescuing Prince Charming

    “You need a flying carpet.”
    Carpet “Destination?”
    I want to find Prince Charming.”
    “Processing. Prince Geoffry currently available.”
    Unicornio “You’ll need to buy a magical paintbrush.”
    “A paintbrush?” The winged fairy asked bewildered.
    “To break the curse.”
    Supplies packed they stepped onto the carpet and lifted off. Hours later they arrived at their destination. On a desolate clifftop was their quarry. Barefoot he sat at a table staring fixedly at the portrait of the Wizard on the door standing by itself. A green Dragon soared through the clouds benrath them.
    “Who is that tiny woman next to the miniture tree?”
    “Oh, that’s just the last person who tried to free the Prince.”
    “Hello there! She called and waved.
    The Prince completly ignored her.
    “I asked for Prince Charming, not Prince Becharmed.” She stamped her foot on the carpet in irritation.
    Carpet “Geoffry is the only available Prince with chbharm in his name.”
    “Thsat’s what I gewt for renting an economy class carpet!” She exclaimed disgustedly. “well, I’m already here. What do I do?”
    “You must paint over the Wizard’s eyes to break his gaze.”
    She obeyed. “Why is there a snail on the back of the Door?”
    Snail “I represent the current speed of Geoffry’s thoughts.”
    “Next you must remove the Dunce Cap from his head.”
    “Who, what?” Geoffry blurted.
    “I’m Maileeah, I’ve come to rescue you.”
    “Prine Geoffry pick up the shovel and dig.” Unicornio ordered.
    “What am I digging for?”
    “Your wits.”
    Restored to normal Geoffry was quickly able to solve the riddle that opened the padlock on the Portal in the Dead Tree. He grasped Maileeah’s hand tightly as they stepped through under the moon’s light. I can’t wait to see the look on Stepmother’s face.” He gloated. “She’ll have a fit when she learns that I’m alive and well!”
    302 words karnemily@yahoo.com

  23. KNOCK-KNOCK
    @dieterrogiers – 297 words

    “Knock-knock.”

    She loved knock-knock jokes. I played along.

    “Who’s there?”

    “An elf and a unicorn.”

    She didn’t quite get these jokes yet. She was only six after all.

    “An elf and a unicorn who?”

    She looked puzzled. But she was game. So she continued.

    “My elf is a girl elf. And she hasn’t got normal wings. She’s got butterfly wings.”

    “What does your unicorn look like?”

    “Brown.”

    “Are we still doing a knock-knock joke?”

    She nodded. But she wasn’t doing a knock-knock joke anymore. Not one I’m familiar with anyway.

    “Who are you then?”

    “Is it important to know who I am?”

    Once again she nodded.

    “Okay then. I am… a wizard. A wizard with a big blue pointy hat. And on top of the hat there is a dot. The dot is also blue.”

    “What are you doing, Mister Wizard?”

    “I’m just sitting at the table.”

    “Is there a monster under the table?”

    She looked like she didn’t want there to be a monster under the table. So I made sure there wasn’t.

    “No there isn’t.”

    “Is there something else under the table?”

    “My girlfriend is.”

    Juvenile? Perhaps. But why should I be different from any other 16-year-old boy?

    “What is she doing there?”

    I’ll tell you what she’s doing…

    “She’s looking for the key. The key that opens the lock that is hidden in the tree trunk.”

    She was totally on board now.

    “What if she can’t find the key?”

    “Then I’ll use the shovel to break the lock.”

    “Won’t you hurt the tree?”

    “No, I won’t.”

    “Why not?”

    “Cause I’m a wizard.”

    That made a surprising amount of sense. She smiled and started all over again.

    “Knock-knock.”

    I love my sister.

    And I’m going to miss her like hell when the cancer kills her.

  24. Arturo’s Choice
    @EilisPhillips
    (308 words)

    “You’re dead of course,” the old man said, and Arturo nodded.
    “Now, what that means is that this isn’t a dream, you can have the angel, the unicorn or the magic carpet, but you can’t have it all.”
    “That’s not what I was lead to believe.” Arturo said, as somewhere below the table he could feel hot sand beneath his toes. The bitter disappointment he had initially experienced had waned now to sleepy apathy. At first, Arturo had pushed the wine away, but the old man had no interesting conversation, and so far the wine, and the view, were all that appeared to make up heaven.
    “You know it’s strange,” he said, as he felt for the brim of his hat.
    It was the first piece of his Halloween costume; the last clothes he had been wearing when his wife had seen fit to fire those bullets into him.
    “It’s just that I was always taught that when we die, we go to a better place, if we’ve been good, and a bad place, if we’ve been bad. What then, is this place?” He laughed, “it’s like nowhere at all.”
    The old man grunted.
    “Do you want a gift or not? I haven’t got all day. People die every second. Not everyone gets to be so lucky as you.”
    “Lucky?” Arturo asked.
    “Lucky,” the old man replied.
    Arturo contemplated his choices. Finally, when he had grown tired of wearing the old man’s patience out, he said: “I’ve made my choice.”
    “And?”
    “I’ll take the shovel.”
    “Why?” The wooden face contorted into a tortured shape.
    “I’d like to see my wife,” Arturo replied, amazed at how the words no longer burned in his mouth.
    “Hell’s that the way,” the old man said in disgust, motioning at the ground with his chin.
    Arturo picked up the shovel, and began digging.

  25. Lost in the Game
    By Emily Stamm
    @Stammily
    308 words

    In the game, we could be whatever. A wizard, a dragon, a butterfly princess… imagination was the only limit. I was myself, but tiny. I loved being able to hide and eavesdrop. With my magical cloak (won with great difficulty from the boss in the water level) I was the perfect spy.
    It was never supposed to have gotten so far. We were all on the same side, battling Minerva and her ghastly nightmares. It started as a bit of fun between us and the Wizards. Who was stronger in a fight, who was faster, that sort of thing. By the end of that first day there were players that had lost everything. Items, experience points… that was the big blow, when we realized that the Wizards had a way to suck experience points. We were dropping levels left and right, we had to retaliate!
    When they announced the Peace Talks I was sent to represent the Thieves Guild. I didn’t want to, but what could I say? No thanks, I didn’t want to be in this guild in the first place? That wasn’t an option, not after all the times they’d protected me from the General Flying Association and the Wizards. So I went to the mountaintop. It was a huge risk–in a game where anything you imagined could be real, crazy things could happen. I had seen players go a little mad after some of the things they saw in the War. They didn’t know when to attack back, or when to just log out. There were rumors going around the chat that there had even been fatalities IRL.
    It wasn’t a game for the weak.
    Anyway, I guess that’s the short version of why I’m here. The game drove me a little nuts… and well, the real world never seemed quite as colorful, you know?

  26. (300 words)
    Charley_001
    Art for Arts sake!

    Ten days to make a masterpiece or he had to use the shovel on himself! Well everyone knows what that means so he couldn’t see any form of escape. A masterpiece in ten days.! Honestly even Michelangelo had longer than that!

    For eight days J wandered wearily until he spotted the most beautiful tree in all the worlds. A passerby giving him the strangest look had attempted to hurry past but J’d stopped him and asked how come such a beautiful tree was left alone so? The passerby had exasperatedly told him it was just a tree laid bare by their recent harsh winter. Staring at the tree for so long the passerby ran speedily away. J wondered what he’d meant by Just a tree! It was a work of art. Quickly J pulled his portable table and stool out of his backpack and his canvas behind the tree.

    J sat and allowed his mind to flow into his desired piece of surrealist objection. He sat for a whole day in the hot sun, weary and wearing his homemade paper hat. Suddenly J sat bolt up right… There in the corner was a face coming through the canvas.

    Rubbing his eyes he looked again. Yes it was still there and two more figures too. A girl and a unicorn!

    Smiling and in awe J sketched, the more he sketched the more he saw. He saw her wings and her secret smile. The unicorns’ majestic stance. The beckoning of the older face!
    He felt empowered.

    J realised that the older face actually was himself. He was sketching eternity, this would be his masterpiece!

    His sketch complete, he laid the shovel on the ground by the tree and laid his head smiling at that he’d foreseen until he vanished to become immortalised.

  27. Love the prompt.
    308 words

    Can you hear me?
    *Yes! Where are you? I’m trying to find the well, but everything keeps twisting. I don’t know where we are, anymore. Please, I think I’m changing…*
    Forget about the well. I found another way, but you’ll have to be in a static, unchanging place or it won’t work.
    *Great. Because of you, there’s only one constant I know here.*
    …….the dragon?
    *Yeah, the f*cking dragon.*
    Shit.
    *He’s circling. The minute I open my eyes, he’ll be all over us. What else is constant here?*
    Hold on, lemme think.
    *Hurry.*
    I said, I’m trying! The…the Wimwood tree!
    *What?*
    The Darkness Dawns Series, remember?
    ‘The Wimwood Tree
    captures all who magick
    and bears their aged
    and rotten flesh
    for the world to replant for their sins
    or repay with life for debts of kindness’

    *What about it?*
    I put it in every backstory, so It’s static across worlds! Lead the dragon there and-
    *And when the tree tries to catch him, climb up the trunk while it’s distracted! Okay, got it. Wait, something’s happening to Jenny-*
    You’re welcome.
    *A mule? A unicorn…mule?! REALLY?*
    Yep, now get to the tree.
    *Unicorn’s don’t fly here, James.*
    What?
    *Faeries in the Outfield, Book 2. Jimmy visits Faestle and finds out unicorns teleport, they don’t fly. *
    Oh… OH.
    Hey!
    Okay, so there’s your answer!
    *What the- Ow! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaa!!!*
    ………
    *A Faerie? You MADE ME a faerie?*
    There’s not time for this.
    *What about Jenny? How’s she- Oh, great, flying carpet. Very helpful, James, thanks.*
    Just get to the Wimwood Tree.
    *Fine, but when we get home, if you ever drink tea you bought from a mysterious old blind man in a shop to cure writer’s block again, I WILL kill you. You’re my husband and I love you, but I will kill you.*
    You have my permission.
    *Wasn’t asking.*

  28. Lost
    By: Allison K. Garcia
    309 words

    Muriel strained her eyes as she scanned the map board at the Visitor’s Center.

    An employee in a tall hat peeked around the sign and cleared his throat. “Can I help you?”

    After leprechaun-hunting, asking for directions was her second least favorite activity. Holding onto her horned steed, she guided her magic carpet over the cliff edge. She stepped onto the soft earth, smoothing out her pink gown. “I’m trying to find my way to St. Stephen’s Green, Astral Plane #5.374.”

    His mouth briefly twitched into a smirk. In one swift motion, he hid his left hand on his lap. She spied a blackened pinky finger. One smirk too many, she supposed. The pair of spectacles on the edge of his nose floated over to her magic carpet.

    “It’s a rental.” More or less. She’d return before the spell wore off and planned to compensate her neighbor handsomely.

    “The spells read right to left on these Arabic versions.” He squinted his eyes. His arm jerked, and then his lips trembled. “I’m sure they just forgot to tell you.”

    Muriel stifled a giggle. With the strength of spell she had used on old Gregory, he’d likely forget a lot of things.

    A screech pierced the air, knocking the jittery man off his chair. “Jumping toad’s liver, what was that?”

    “Only my dragon.”

    “If you have a dragon, why do you need a magic carpet?” He pulled himself up, straightening his hat.

    “Niallghas refuses to work without his favorite snack. Of course I ran out the night of the Centennial Ball. Story of my life.”

    “If he’s not picky, I’d suggest #5.382. Leprechauns there are much fatter and slower.”

    “Marvelous, how can I ever repay you?” Her steed neighed. “Good idea, Embarr.” With a flutter of her luminescent wings, she healed his finger, glided back to her carpet, and shifted planes.

  29. “Dis ain’t no fairytale”
    by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
    [300 words]

    Tom Rimmer’s the name. Fey Investigation is the game. Well, that’s what it says on the plaque next to the novelty snail door knocker. I pride myself on an open office policy, but the wallpaper was a problem; not going to take an emperor’s recommendation for interior decorator again, I can tell you.

    Anyway, I hadn’t had a case in days – months in human time – when outside, I heard a ring tone playing “Titanium” except the last ‘m’ had been removed, which meant only one thing: another royal client job. I hated those; it was how I got into this business.

    Snail knocked. Door spoke, “it is Her Royal Highness, Queen Ti…”

    “Tell me something I DIDN’T know,” I said grumpily.

    “She’s not packing a wand…”

    That did surprise me. I motioned Door to admit her. “How’s it hanging Queen T?” I asked provocatively, “Business? Or Pleasure?”

    She glided into the room with that look she has. “Maybe both, Thomas. It depends on if you’ve got the rhyme…”

    “You mean ‘time’, Titty. How come you never got colloquial English?” I could tell the ‘Titty’ gag had hit home, but it didn’t do too well provoking the Others too much. “Anyway, I’ve got plenty of time, thanks to you. I’m yours.”

    “We’ll, it gladdens me to know the Rhymer knows his place. I’ve a little case for you.”

    “I’m all ears,” I said, “Oh no, that was Bottom. Sorry about that.” I couldn’t help myself. With or without Human dignity, Titania was a tough cookie.

    “You want, maybe, that hat to be permanent?” she asked diplomatically, “Or do you want the work?”

    “Oh, I’ll take the job. What is it? Another missing pixie?”

    She shook her head. “No Tom, this time it’s simpler,” she lied unconvincing. I could tell.

    “Ok, spill…”

  30. Painting Windows

    It’s official. Brent is going to kill me.

    The mural had started out innocently enough: a simple tree branching in seemingly unlimited directions. She’d added a lock for the heavy-handed metaphor of unlocking one’s path in life among the many branches. Boring.

    She wanted to inspire his students, so she’d opened a window into another world, right there in the tree trunk. Then everything had spun out of control.

    A plank popped up in the center, at the edge of a cliff, with its own face and a snail handle. A flying carpet hovered over the chasm, carrying a unicorn and a fairy that accidentally resembled a prettier, more feminine version of Jessie herself. The colors of her wings bled into her hair. She’d added a dragon flying far below for perspective. Plus, the unicorn liked watching them fly by.

    Two mundane pieces remained on the wall: a shovel, and a cup, that stood on an unfinished table.

    Jessie wiped her hands on her unsalvageable, paint-covered pants and glanced at the clock over the blackboard. 11:23. She slipped her brush through the yellow on her easel and resumed painting, driven to fill the empty patch on the left-hand side. Not that she had a deadline, per se. But the asymmetrical shapes blended with unexpectedly clean lines and spurred her to paint with unprecedented alacrity.

    11:59. A despondent man had appeared at the table, staring at the face on the not-quite-door that blocked him from his visitors.

    Jessie blinked then stared at the snail, watching it move up the panel. The unicorn beside her whinnied, and wind ruffled her wings. She searched for the clock she’d seen a minute ago, finding only the mountains and sky instead.

    The man stood and approached the cliff’s edge. He smiled, and Jessie’s heart mysteriously lightened at his happiness. “You found me.”

    (307 words; @AriaGlazki)

  31. “The Magician and the Red Death” (Word Count 305)

    The young fairy clutched the rough wand in her hand, wincing as the mountain winds brushed against her charred wings. Before the Red Death, she would’ve become enraged if something bad happened to her wings, but now it didn’t matter. The harm to her wings was insignificant compared to the destruction to all of Faewood if the Red Death could not be stopped.

    Dawnguard brushed the side of his face against her and snorted. She smiled and stroked his main. He’d been loyal throughout their journey but still, even he wasn’t immune to the toil and hardships; his dark eyes were growing heavy and seemed to be fading.

    They waited on the silk carpet before a plateau where a barren tree stood erect, its branches stretching up towards the heavens.

    But he wasn’t there.

    Her blue eyes filled with tears, and she stared at the dirt ground before them. They slipped from her eyes and trailed down her cheek before falling into the abyss where the dragon dwelled.

    “The Magician was just a myth after all,” she murmured before swallowing back her tears. Closing her eyes tightly, the images of her parents, her sisters and Bayar appeared fresh in her mind. When she reopened them, she saw a small figure dressed in white, no bigger than Dawnguard’s ear, standing near the tree.

    “Bayar?” She whispered. The man did not look at her. This was her punishment, the price of failing her kind by believing in old tales.

    The fairy placed the wand upon the plateau but could only continue to cry.

    “I have failed.”

    From the burning tip of the wand, a flame spread from the ground up, destroying the invisible wall. Smoke hid the plateau top and stung at the fairy’s throat. A wooden door creaked open.

    “No, you have not,” a voice said.

  32. The Petitioner

    “A petitioner approaches.” Rayan intoned.

    Curtis rolled his eyes as he covered the time capsule. He dusted off his hands, placed the shovel on the ground, and slumped in his chair at the table.

    “Are you not even going to put on shoes?” Rayan pursed his lips.

    “Why bother? It’s not like she’ll even get the door open. I’m surprised she made it past Fierma, not many can claim that.” Curtis tucked his feet under the table.

    “She bound Fierma to a lower altitude. Aren’t you forgetting something?” Rayan raised an eyebrow.

    “Huh. Clever.” Curtis looked around. The clifftop was covered in brush. The winter pixie gave him a thumbs-up as she flitted past. He glanced at the table and smacked himself on the forehead. Raising his hand over the cup, he filled it with elderberry wine. “Happy now?”

    Rayan huffed, the air fluttering his moustache. “Do you not wish to be rescued?”

    “Of course I do!” Curtis glanced at the mounds of dirt behind him, row upon row reminding him how long he’d been stuck at the top of the world. “There are just so few who earn their wings anymore, let alone their wands – the door’s never going to open.”

    “But what if-”

    “Even if she opened it, like Glenda managed to, she’d have to have a unicorn to unlock the winter tree and release us all from eternal night. A unicorn! Absurd, mythical creatures that don’t exist!” Curtis stood, throwing his hands in the air and knocking over the chair.

    “But what if-”

    “Then, even assuming a miracle, why would she ever choose ME over all the riches of the world.” A tear spilled down his cheek. “I lost all hope a hundred years ago, Rayan.” He bent to pick up the chair, resigned.

    “The door opens!” Rayan intoned.

    Curtis hastily sat and smoothed his shirt.

    309 words
    @lissajean7

  33. Bye, Bye Ned (308 words)
    By A. Jarrell Hayes
    @ajh_books on Twitter

    “He’ll find out eventually, Misty,” said Ned.

    Misty wrapped the leather strands of Ned’s reins around her wrist twice and clutched the loop she made. “I know, but . . .”

    “You promised tonight was the night.” Ned kicked up some dirt.

    “I can’t.” Misty sighed. She glanced at Ned.

    His appearance mesmerized her; the way his horn spun flickering sunlight into strands of prism color—who could resist falling in love with such a majestic unicorn? She stroked his sleek alabaster coat. Ned neighed, swung his head down and licked her hand.

    “You can do this,” said Ned reassuringly. His gaze radiated confidence. His hazel eyes said, “Trust me; I will take care of everything.”

    Encouraged, Misty nodded. “I’ll do it.”

    She reached for the knob and suddenly froze. Her wedding ring sparkled in the colorful illumination reflected from Ned’s horn. It looked beautiful; as perfect as the day Dan, her husband, placed it upon her finger. She shook her head and blinked away tears.

    “I can’t,” Misty whispered. “I think you should go.” She kept her eyes downcast.

    Ned snorted. “If you walk through that door, don’t expect me to follow you. Not this time, not ever again.”

    Misty’s fairy wings flattened against her back. She gulped down the welter of emotions—fear, regret, love, duty—swirling within her. She closed her eyes, grasped the doorknob and twisted it open. Ned’s reins slipped from her fingers.

    Misty walked through the door and opened her eyes. Dan, wearing his favorite pajama set, glared at her from the kitchen table. “About time you came home,” he barked. “Where’s my dinner?”

    Misty smiled and fluttered over to her husband. “I’m sorry, dear.” She turned to the door, which she had mistakenly left ajar. “I was . . . busy with something,” she said, her voice trembling.

    Ned had vanished.

  34. With Apologies to Rosemary Wells

    Jackson tripped over his briefcase on his way out the door, banging his shin on the coatrack.
    The bus was overcrowded, and he had to stand between two men who hadn’t bathed since the Reagan administration.

    At work, his boss was mean, because his wife had threatened to leave over his uncontrolled drinking, and he took out his misplaced anger on his subordinates.

    The line at the bistro was too long at lunch, so Jackson ended up eating a Big Mac, again, and spilling secret sauce on his tie.

    He had to stay so late at work, his girlfriend told him not to bother calling anymore, and went out to the bars with her “friend” Mike.

    At home much too late, he dropped his last Coors Light on the floor, and realized his neighbors were having a wild party which would keep him up all night.

    Jackson needs a visit to the Bunny Planet.

    Far beyond the moon and stars, twenty light years south of Mars, spins the gentle Bunny Planet, and the bunny queen is Janet.

    “Jackson,” Janet says, “Come in. Here’s the day that should have been.”

    The table walks to my front, and sits down there, with barely a thump.

    The drink on top is whiskey neat, with more than just a hint of peat.

    The fairy queen flies in, bright and beautiful without and within.

    She brings a magical steed, for me to ride and do great deeds.

    We say grace and bow our heads, giving thanks to gods alive and gods dead.

    Ahead lay quests, and dragons, and magic, with no remnant of a life all a-tragic.

    We fly away, but not too fast, I’m staring at her fairy ass.

    At midnight, I awaken to an oddly quiet apartment. The light from the Bunny Planet shone down from the window. “It was there all along!”

    310 words (discounting title)
    @drmagoo

  35. The Petitioner
    The mists rolled through the mountains, almost obscuring the waiting petitioner as she waited before the door. Her colorful wings were at rest as she trusted the carpet to hold her aloft, her friend and companion at her side. It had been a long trip to the door of the wise one and she still didn’t know if he would see her.

    The door stood on the edge of the mountain, nothing around it, but she couldn’t see beyond it to where the wise one resided. There were no walls, but something prevented her from seeing anything but the door and a blank space.

    “Shall I knock?” she asked as she eyed the door with trepidation.

    You’ve come all this way, Shalaan, the companion replied. If you don’t knock, what was the point?

    “It let me get away from the People. And out into the World.”

    Then you made the journey, but you have nothing to prove from it. Knock on the door and come away with an answer.

    “And how do I know I’ll receive an answer I want or like?”

    You don’t. But that’s part of life and part of what you accepted when you decided to undertake this journey.

    Shalaan considered the door for another minute, contemplating. She still wasn’t positive she should knock on the door.

    It’s a decision only you can make.

    Raising her hand, she knocked loudly on the door, watching as it swung slowly open, revealing a young man sitting behind a table, a long cone hat perched atop his head. “Yes?” he asked.

    “I’ve come to see the wise one.”

    “You’ve found him.”

    “You’re the wise one?”

    “Age does not denote wisdom. Step forward and ask your question.”

    Shalaan stepped forward, knowing she had just one chance, and this was her only one. “Thank you, wise one.”

    Word Count: 305

  36. Immigrants

    “Name”

    “First Born of The Exalted One Who Shall Forever Remain Nameless, Marina Santiago Mitchell Berger Iben Chin.”

    “Hmmm.” Clerk Alfred of the First wrote, “Mary Chin.”

    “Passport?”

    Marina blushed a bit, tucked her head. “No Sir. I had to depart in a hurry. All I have is what you see. My father sent me away while he handled some…business at home.”

    “Other Identification?”

    Marina whirled her hand in an intricate pattern. Her name wrote itself in flames.

    The patrolling dragon took notice, turned tightly as powerful wings beat the air, and headed their way.

    “That is sufficient.” Alfred made another note. “Please refrain from any further exhibitions of magic during processing. Homeland security is very touchy these days.”

    Alfred jotted a note as he muttered. “Another one With Out Papers.”

    All sorts turned up at Elvish Island since ‘The Shining One’ became trouble in the Lands. They all hoped to escape the destruction and find a new home in the Republic.

    The dragon relaxed and soared away.

    “Anything else to declare?”

    “Just my carpet and my companion.”

    “How old is the carpet?”

    “Twenty three years sir. Given me at my birth. “

    “Your companion? Shots up to date?”

    “Excuse me sir. What shots? This is my familiar, Zartan. We were born on the same day and have never left each other’s sides.”

    “Hmmmm. Just looks like a horse to me. Is that horn real?”

    Marina whispered to Zartan who looked at the dragon then at Alfred.

    Zartan’s head dipped and a brilliant blue light shot from the tip of his horn striking the paperwork on Alfred’s desk.

    The dragon started their way.

    “Zartan” was burned into the paperwork.

    Alfred stared then waived away the dragon.

    Shaking a bit, Alfred motioned to Marina, “Everything looks in order. Here are your papers. Enjoy your stay.”

  37. @HannahStreett1
    Smart Desire – 304 Words

    Head bowed, eyes closed. Don’t look, don’t speak. Don’t listen if you can help it. If you dare to do otherwise?

    Look at this board.

    See the face?

    That will be you.

    So wait there like a statue, like the puppet you are. He might not wake up for a millennium. He’ll probably kill you when he does. But please, don’t go. I want to watch the show.

    I used to be like him, you know. Until I got too proud. See me now? I barely come to the top of your fancy pony’s hoof. Don’t give me that look, though. I don’t want those sorry eyes. I still have my tree here, see? That’s all I need. I’ll stand as long as it does.

    He’s moving? You’re lucky. It’s only been eighty-two years. So go on, tell him what you want. Pour out your heart’s desires. You’re pretty enough that he might even give them to you. For a price, of course. Magicians love souls.

    Wow, what a smile. You charmed him right off. Funny, but I expected you to ask for something better than a pink-tinged, tamed dragon. Call me crazy, but I’d only wait this long for something really important. Peace and prosperity and the rest of that nonsense.

    Oh, you didn’t mean it.

    Oh, you’re clever.

    Chop, chop. Two swings of that shovel—you’re strong. Look, he’s already fading. His life force is leaning, dying, falling…

    Oh.

    Snap. That’s the sound of my miniature twig of a tree, dead and gone. One, two, three. My seconds are numbered. My fingers and toes tickle as they start to dissolve. Spells do that to you.

    Farewell, then. Don’t apologize. I deserve this, too. I taught him the mad delight of power.

    Smart desire, by the way. You’ll become something in this world.

  38. The Runaway (307 words)

    “Haven’t we been going long enough, Miss I-Don’t-Want-to-Get-Married to Geoffrey?” Fritz shook his mane. His feet hurt. They were only able to fly so far until they reached dragon country.Then they had to ascend the rocky mountainsides clinging to shadows, until the reached the high peaks. Even now, he could see the dragons circling far below.

    “Geoffrey’s a bore,” Elesia said. “I want adventure. Excitement. I want–”

    “I want to go home to my nice stable,” Fritz said.

    “Look! A floating island. Isn’t that amazing! They even left out a door mat.”

    Fritz yawned. ‘How exciting. A floating island with a dead tree and a snail on the door. I’m hungry. Do snails taste good?”

    “Only with butter and garlic. Besides I’m sure it’s magic and wouldn’t want to be eaten.”

    “Well, I’m magic, and I’m hungry.”

    “No! I’m going to knock.” She rapped on the door. “Hello! Hello! May we come in? It’s rather chilly out here and my noble steed is very hungry.”

    Fritz’s ears perked up. “That was nice of you to say.”

    “I thought it might speed up the process.” Elesia knocked again. “Hello. Anyone there? Did I mention it’s cold out here?” She glanced at Fritz. “It looks boring.”

    The door creaked open, and she saw a young man sitting a table. He wore a ridiculous hat that poked up into the air.

    “Goodness,” she said. “Geoffrey! What are you doing here? You look ridiculous. What’s that thing on your head?”

    “It your father’s sorcerer hat.”

    “Don’t be ridiculous, Geoffrey.”

    “You father’s banished you, I’m afraid. Not for long. A hundred years. No hard feelings.”

    “What?” Elesia collapsed.

    Fritz sighed.”What about me, my lord?”

    “Oh no. You’ve done good service, my friend. You shall bear me home.”

    Fritz nodded. “Maybe some oats before we leave?”

  39. @NadaNightStar
    310 words

    The Meeting

    Kaya had passed the test – unfortunately. She didn’t want to, but she couldn’t just fail; not when everyone had their eyes on her. Now, she had passed the test, which meant she will be betrothed to a total stranger.

    She respected the idea of marriage – if you knew your partner beforehand.
    His name was Marek – so she had been told.

    She stood at the gate that led to the Meeting Table that bound their two worlds.
    She sighed and reluctantly began to turn the doorknob.

    ***

    Marek sat at the Meeting Table thinking of his bride-to-be. It was common knowledge that Fairy-Women were beautiful, but he wondered what ‘Kaya’ would be like. He was restless, shy and afraid. He didn’t like the way Elf-Wizards and Fairy-Women met. He felt embarrassed; what if she didn’t like him. They were practically stuck.

    As he sat at the Meeting Table, the Ancient Gateway door before him suddenly erupted into a shining sheen of white. It opened and Kaya entered escorted by her Unicorn.
    Marek rose and gave them a small bow, which Kaya returned.

    They were silent.

    ‘Hi,’ she said.

    So she was as embarrassed as he was – not a good thing but not a bad one either.

    ‘Hi. I’m Marek. I – er – let’s sit down, shall we?’

    They did.

    ‘The colours of your wings are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! – Er not that I’ve seen many!’
    She smiled and blushed.

    She was far more beautiful than he’d imagined.

    They were silent again.

    ‘Erm, can I try your hat on? I’ve always wanted to try one,’ said Kaya.

    Surprised, Marek gave her the Wizard’s cone-shaped hat.

    ‘At home, we try to make hats like these out of cloth and leaves to see what it’s like,’ she explained, ‘but they don’t stand up pointy like yours.’

    He chuckled.

    She had broken the ice.

  40. What Dreams May Come
    309 words
    @mishmhem

    Regina bowed her head and took a deep breath drawing strength from her father as she tried to still the butterflies in her stomach. She looked into the mirror and saw hints of the young woman she was becoming. It was her birthday, like so many before but today was her quinceañera, the day she stepped over the threshold between childhood and adulthood.

    “Papi,” she called, trying to keep the tremble out of her voice. “What if I’m not ready?”

    Her father turned and gave her a slow patient smile. “Mija, you can do anything you set your mind to. You have always been my amazing little girl, but there is so much more left for you to do.”

    “But,” she stopped, shaking her head. There were so many dreams and fantasies she’d held and she was afraid that becoming an adult would mean leaving them behind.

    “Gina…”

    She turned touched by the kindness in his voice.

    “Dreams are not something you leave behind, not something you give up—they are what inspire you and see you through the tough times. They challenge you to grow into them but they are not the journey itself, hold onto them, but never let them hold you back.”

    Regina thought about what her father had said and smiled. Whether she walked through that door or not– she would be what she would be. She would be leaving the magic world of childhood imagination for the magic of adulthood. Was it really that bad?

    She glanced over to the mirror and saw her pink ball gown glitter in the evening light. As the last rays of the sun touched her dress, she saw the first hint of butterfly wings unfurling.

    Perhaps she would never be a mathematician as she had dreamed, but perhaps one of the children she inspired would.

    It was time.

  41. Samson Weeps (301 words)

    Samson was disgusted. He had failed every vocation he pursued and now was a washed-up warlock. Even his enchanted hat had morphed into a dunce like mess.

    “How can I look wizard like if you refuse to get into shape?” The hat would just throw the same question back at him. Clothing reflected ability, the hat reminded him, “and some dress for success. You, sire, groom for doom.”

    Samson had faith that showing off the six toes of one foot would impress clients. However, what little business he could attract tended to be the ones who’d pay him off in chickens, dodos, and broken lava lamps.

    The landlord, a dragon, had just left, swooping down from the aerie he had leased. She had lost her normal appetite for violence at the tenant’s sheer ineptness.

    His office was a mess of spells gone wrong. Even the evil eye of the door was facing the wrong way. What began life as a silver spoon was now a shovel. The money tree was naked and ashamed.

    “I might let you live,” she screeched. “But you must go into the funeral business.”

    “Why ?”

    “No one would die as long as you tried selling coffins! I’ll live forever!” Those were her last flame edged words as she flew off.

    It had all started off with an Internet ad. “Now Hiring Witches, Wizards, and Warlocks! Weave Spells for Fun and Profit!” His female pixie friend Lois expressed her doubts but he went ahead and invested the funds she loaned him .

    “Thank the power, she’s back home in Hanna-Lee,” he muttered to the cringing hat. “I could never bear her seeing me like this.” He dozed but then caught the scent of a very jaded unicorn, like the one he had palmed off on Lois.

  42. Face off

    My face is old and withered with time and wisdom — but what is wisdom when faced with an eternity of orders from a fool?

    “You tell her, Face,” the fool reminds me, “I will not speak with her. I will not, you hear?”

    I nod to him. Then I force my way through the door to face her on the outside. I wish not to relay his message. But as the door man, I must.

    “I heard you clear enough,” she tells the fool. “I’m standing right here.” Indeed, with strength and poise, she stands with honor. It makes me wonder what she ever saw in him — enough of something for her to vow to love him forever. But old and wise as my face is with time, my years seem like nothing compared to what she has to endure from him.

    She tilts her head to the left, to look past me — at the fool. When she moved away from him, and he found a new home in the clouds, he wanted a place without structure, without walls. He even dug away the ground around his fortress so intruders could not coming knocking. Evidently he forgot about her father’s magic carpet factory. Now, every week she arrives here on the carpet, with her unicorn beside her.

    “Face, you tell her I want nothing to do with that unicorn.”

    “I have plans tonight. Cannot you see my costume, these wings, this dress?”

    “I will not speak with you, I won’t. I’m too busy. Face, you tell her.”

    “He will not, Miss,” I say.

    “It’s his turn,” she says. “We agreed.”

    “I am much too important to care for that horned animal.”

    “We arranged this,” she tells him. “It’s your week with the unicorn. He misses you.”

    296 words, minus title
    @Josette Keelor

  43. The Secret

    Beyond the reach of stars, beyond gravity and accepted laws of time; across the known cosmos and guided by the light of rainbows arching different worlds; the satyr sulked and leaped into the flame.

    “The secret is protected.”

    “The satyr knew, and is no more.”

    “Why have you come?”

    “The door beckons and begs me into being. I have looked into its eyes and heard it speak.”

    “Machine men, zipping round, seductive, pulling millions and millions of Mah‘dor‘mon**…. They never rest nor never sleep, they search the Earth, go round and round. They will find you, my dearest, my darling dear, they will find my love and you will die.”

    “How is that to be? I am older than the hill and longer than the tree of legend-length; older than the moon, more seasoned than the suns; my time is squared, though gained for loss; I fell before, I rose again, by righteous will I die no more.”

    “Surrender. These creatures do not belong. We will not fight them. We must trust the bridge. We will not fight. We will not force. We are true. We are real. The great mystery is our strength. Cast your light into the door, the door will move. Your energy is in your light.”

    “I will bend the cosmos. Press my light into the fabric and roll the galaxy into my palm and fly beyond the sun.”

    The door, opening, revealed in truth: “Because it they, who never speak, though in their thoughts do dwell, they never, nor for nary ought, best to their thoughts do tell. And though through those, thrice they therewith, my quaking heart can’t quell, my mind for naught but wicked words, in propense-ed pain do spell.”

    That is the secret of the stars.

    **A type of canned stew

    301 Words
    @ducknado

  44. Selene
    “What’d you do with it?”
    “It wasn’t worth my time.”
    “You said that the last time.”
    “I know.”
    “What did you do with the idea?”

    “I buried it.”
    “You should never throw something like that out. But at least that explains the shovel.”
    Salvador grunted, agreeing.
    “So try again?”
    Salvador sighed, nodding. “If I must.”
    “Salvador, this is what I live for. I’m your muse. With me, you can open any door.”
    “I thought muses were better looking. And cleanly shaven.”
    “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
    “You have such a way with words, Myron.”
    “Your words, not mine. I’m just here for support. Boost your incessant lack of motivation. Now try again.”
    Salvador rubbed his brow, watching the dragon disappear into the mist, the idea buried forever. He held himself there, thinking for some time.
    “What about gnomes?”
    “Creepy.”
    “Snails?”
    “Boring.”
    “Magic carpets?”
    “Require maintenance.”
    Salvador and Myron sat in silence, the easel still a void.

    “I just want something different, you know?”
    “What about the girl?”
    Salvador shifted uncomfortably.
    “You’ve got to address it sometime, Salvador. Perhaps this is the right time. You’re ready.”
    Something glistened underneath Salvador’s eyes. He uncrossed his leg, pushing the shovel aside. Myron was, as always, right.
    Salvador began to sketch: the thin outline of a pony formed, a horn rising from its crown. She loved ponies. Salvador felt with pen, letting his heart guide him. His eyes closed as he sketched her perfect figure, high cheekbones, dark hair framing olive skin.
    “She’s pretty,” Myron breathed, his image beginning to fade.
    “She always was.”
    “And now people will look upon her beauty forever.”
    “I miss you, Selene.”
    Salvador finished, placing a single red flower in her hair. A weight lifted within him. This was his masterpiece.
    “I told you it was a good idea,” Myron whispered, disappearing.
    And by painting her, Salvador healed.

    @nXgWVteacher
    306 words

  45. Fairy Magic
    299 Words
    @mishmhem

    “She’s done it again, hasn’t she?” the sage asked the seer as he pushed his drink aside.

    There was very little the seer could do but nod. “I’m afraid so but to be honest, this time it wasn’t really her fault. The boy had it coming.”

    “Whether that’s true or not, this is our third intervention in as many days,” the sage answered shaking his head. “I’m running out of places to bury her mistakes and it sets a very bad precedence.”

    “She may not be Good – Fairy Godmother material, but you have to admit… she’s got style.

    “Style is good,” the Sage admitted. “But her ‘style’ has ended in more interventions on our part than any twenty other fairies combined. “

    The seer nodded. “But she does keep our lives interesting.”

    After a pause the sage nodded. “Show her in.”

    The seer bowed slightly opening the door as he did so.

    The young fey in question drifted through the door, her head bowed. She raised her hand, her wand still smoking from her latest… indiscretion. The sage held out his hand, trying to keep his expression neutral.

    “What happened this time?” He asked.

    The woman shifted her weight slightly, her wings furling slightly to keep her upright.

    “He insisted he didn’t need me,” she began, looking back the way she’d come. “So I did what I could to help.”

    “You fed him to a dragon.”

    “Not… exactly…”

    “Exactly what did you do then?”

    “He wanted to be a dragon, and since I don’t possess that kind of magic… and it really isn’t the sort of thing we’re supposed to do… “

    The seer sighed. “What did you do?”

    “I turned him into to a dragon.”

    “What!?”

    “Well…. If you are what you eat… then what eats you…”

    • I liked the twist of the fairy turning the man into a dragon. I felt sorry for the poor fairy, she was doing the best job she could.

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