Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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18-Oct-2019

What if you put Snape and Hagrid together and then had that guy do a potion-making show?

“Hello all you aspiring potion masters. Welcome back. Today, as you can see, we’re in the equatorial rainforests of Yucwer, or Sumatra as the human population calls it. As I promised last week, we’re going to gather the last of the ingredients for our fear potion, which has been brewing for the past eighteen and a half days.”

“Oh look at that. I’ve not seen one of those in ages. A teal anaphalis javanica. The humans can only see the white and purple ones, but these are blooming and in rare form at the moment. I’m just going to nick a quick sample from the lower stem, because we can use that later in the month for our human repellent potion.”

“Alright. On to our destination. You can see the normal corpse flowers around us. The largest is over two meters tall, and they are just beginning to open up. The smell is pretty bad, but not nearly as bad as where we’re going. I’d have to say that on a scale from one dead body to ten, this one is about a four. Give this place a couple of days and it might ratchet up to a six.”

“The last time I was here we were hunting for a rare form of Teak, which we make items that can fly out of. Remember that? I almost got spirited away by an entire plant of the stuff before I realized that I was no longer tethered to the ground. Good times.”

“Oh my goodness. What a treat. If you look through the trees right over there, you can see a unicorn standing by the lake. Now, the creatures have come off of the endangered species list, but each one is protected by a tracking spell. If anyone besides a natural predator attacks one—and we all know what that is—they are instantly transported into a zoo and made to look like a monkey for the humans. The sentence lasts for six months, in which time you won’t see real food and will likely have poo thrown your way. See there? She’s headed away from where we’re going. Smart lass.”

“Alright, I knew I should have brought my flying soles, but instead decided to take the natural route. Mental note to me, next time I shall forego the natural experience.”

“Almost there. These things hide in the crags of these hillsides, which as I’ve mentioned before, look like a much larger mountain to the humans. I see several specimens that will work for our purposes. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?”

“As you can see, this first one is a monster. Over three meters tall, and the flower is wide enough to swallow me whole. They shoot this large, white tongue, disguised as a normal pistil, toward the sky in an attempt to entice insects and birds down into its petals. This one hasn’t started to smell too much. I’d give it a six out of ten dead bodies. We’re looking for at least an eight, so let’s carry on, shall we?”

“I’ve passed three more, and now stand before a full corpse flower. The pistil towers well more than a meter over my head, and I can clearly see several large birds being slowly digested through the stalk. I’ve used a swipe of smelling salve under my nose to keep the stench at bay. Before I used it, this thing was at a nine out of ten dead and rotting corpses. The excrement smell is also very strong, and that’s how we can tell we have a winner.”

“Notice how I’ve gone to the uphill side of the flower? While it is rare for even these true corpse flowers to attack a full-sized human, if it is feeling that it hasn’t stored enough for its hibernation phase, it will gladly digest a man or woman. Especially since the scent keeps most mammals away.”

“The next part is going to be tricky. We need a bit of the pistil for our potion. It won’t take much, but we’re going to have to be quick. I’ve brought a long rod complete with a set of jaws at the end and a little pouch that will store what I take. Once the flower finds that what has attacked it is inanimate, it should let the rod go. Let’s have a go, shall we?”

“Hold it steady. There we go. Now bite!”

“Oh, see? The pistil has retracted, and the petals sealed up. It’s spewing juices on the rod right now, but in a moment it will figure out that the rod won’t digest, so it will spit it out. Hopefully. Stay tuned.

“Ah ha! That took longer than I expected, but as you can see, I have the rod back and if we just…sure enough. There’s what I took with the jaws. This much of the pistil should make twenty or so batches of our fear potion, especially since I have a suspend potion that will keep it from rotting while I travel back.”

“If you’ve enjoyed today’s presentation, join my potions channel, The Most Sinister Potions in the Land and How to Make Them, and find out next week how to finish this project.”

“For now, cheers, happy potion making. Do dark things.”

***

Okay, so I pushed the crafting/cooking show a bit, but hey, I like it!

Genre – Cooking / Crafting Show

Random Object – Man-Eating Flower

Setting – Lake in the Mountains


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11-Oct-2019

This is what big brothers are for.

“Do you want to see it?” Bobby asked.

Bobby’s little brother, Kyle, gave him a skeptical look and shook his head.

A quick look at the front seat showed that his parents were still talking to one another and not paying attention to the two boys. Bobby reached across the seat and held out a single, red, twenty-sided die. “It’s not going to hurt you. See?”

Kyle leaned away. “Mom!”

Bobby scowled and turned forward.

“What is it?” their mom asked as her eyes appeared in the mirror in the flap on the window. She looked at Bobby, expecting him to be torturing his little brother.

Before Kyle could spoil his plan, Bobby spoke. “It’s kind of hot back here. Can you open the windows?” He made his hand into a fist below the seat where his mom couldn’t see it and pounded it into his other palm.

Kyle gulped, then nodded. “Yeah. It’s hot.”

“You got it, guys,” their dad said in his usual, chipper tone.

The van windows cracked a few inches each, and suddenly Bobby’s shaggy, blond hair was whipping everywhere. “Thank you,” he said. When his parents went back to talking, he turned to Kyle. Apparently he was going to have to be more drastic. “You’re such a chicken.”

“Am not.” Kyle pouted.

“Are so. You won’t even touch this.” Bobby rolled the die around in his fingers. The light glinted off the surface and seemed to make the inside glow.

“I don’t want to.” Kyle folded his arms across his chest.

He wanted to. Bobby could tell, because Kyle’s eyes kept drifting to his hand.

“You’re not even curious if the legends are true?” Bobby glanced up to make sure his parents weren’t watching. They weren’t. Actually, opening the windows had provided enough background noise to keep his voice masked.

“I don’t care.” Kyle turned his head away this time to look out his side.

“Come on. I spent all summer looking for this, but you have to toss it out.”

“Do not.”

“If you don’t do it then it won’t work.”

Kyle finally turned back to Bobby. A hint of anger filled his voice. “I said I don’t care. It’s stupid. It probably wouldn’t work anyway.”

“We won’t know unless we try.”

Kyle glared. “I won’t do it.”

“Fine.” Bobby sighed. “I guess I’ll just keep this thing and always wonder that if we would have rolled a twenty if a dragon would have appeared.”

“Dragons aren’t real,” Kyle said.

“Who told you that?”

“Mom.”

“Grown-ups have to tell kids that. It’s like a law or something.” Bobby infused his voice with as much adult-ness as he could.

“You’re lying.”

“You’ll never find out.” Bobby tossed the die a few inches then caught it.

Kyle glanced at his mom then back to Bobby. “Why haven’t I ever seen one?”

“Because, you have to roll a twenty on a die just like this while you’re riding in a car on a road trip. That’s the only time the youngest member of a family can call a dragon, and the only time the dragon will bond with you.” They’d been watching dragon movies for a few weeks. He knew Kyle would try this, if he could convince his little brother that it would work.

“You’re making it up.”

“I tried once.”

That got Kyle’s attention.

“Uncle Drake told me about it, found a die and I rolled it out the window.”

“When?” Kyle scowled.

“On our way to grandma’s.”

“And?” Kyle couldn’t keep the excitement out of his voice.

Bobby shrugged. “I must not have rolled a twenty, because nothing happened.”

“That’s because it’s dumb.” Kyle let out a huff.

This was Bobby’s chance. He leaned over and spoke so soft that Kyle had to lean in to hear him. “I probably rolled a nineteen, because I did see a dragon.”

Kyle’s eyes narrowed. “You didn’t.”

“I did. In the sky. Behind us. Mom and dad couldn’t see it, but Uncle Drake did.”

“He didn’t.”

Bobby folded his arms. “You ask him. He’ll tell you.” Then Bobby narrowed his eyes. “Then you were born and I wasn’t the youngest anymore.”

Kyle’s eyes were now wide.

“You sure you don’t want to try?” Bobby held up the die again.

Kyle tracked the object with his gaze. He licked his lips.

Bobby held it out, below the seat so his parents wouldn’t see. “It has to be a secret.”

Kyle looked at the die, licked his lips again, then slowly reached out and took it from Bobby’s fingers.

Bobby held his breath as Kyle studied the die.

“All you have to do is throw it out the window.” Bobby’s heart was beating fast. He tried very hard not to smile. “Do it.”

Kyle gathered his courage, sat up, glanced at his mom once, then threw the die through the opening at the top of the window.

“Wahoo!” Bobby let out a holler.

His dad’s eyes looked at them in the rear view mirror. “Did he do it?”

A grin tugged Kyle’s lips. “He totally did it.”

“I didn’t do anything!” Kyle shouted.

Bobby and his dad laughed. “Good job, Bobby.” He checked his watch. “That may be the fastest time ever.”

“Thanks.”

Kyle glared between them. “What is this?”

“Just a little thing we do on your first road trip after you turn seven.” Their dad smiled. “You owe me a new die.”

Red climbed up Kyle’s cheeks. “Do not.”

Bobby laughed. “Do too.”

***

That made me laugh. I don’t have brothers, but I can totally see this happening in my husband’s family.

Genre – Tall Tale

Random Object – Dice

Setting – Road Trip


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4-Oct-2019

A little Jane Austen style romantic tragedy/comedy for today!

Phoebe squeezed my arm tight to her side. “Oh Alexander, will you push me on the rope swing?”

The two young men strolling opposite us on the path with their own girls gave me an envious look.

I ignored the sweat gathering under my hat due to the excessive heat and gave Phoebe a placating smile. “Of course.”

She squealed, as she always did, and dragged me forward.

Three more young men’s eyes strayed from their own partners to mine.

Yes, Phoebe’s delicate blond curls and her shinning blue eyes, along with her pleasing figure made her perhaps the most beautiful girl in town. Unfortunately, the tree they were approaching was probably more intelligent.

“Oh Alexander,” Phoebe said when we stopped at the swing. “Don’t you just love swinging?”

I did not. My brother had, when we were young, become overzealous and had pushed me too hard. I’d ended up arching across the air only to land in a garden of rocks, which resulted in a broken arm and missing teeth. Still, I smiled, held the swing, and gestured for her to sit.

Phoebe called upon all of her feminine whiles and elegantly settled onto the plank of wood held up by two ropes. She sighed and sat so the eye would be drawn to her ample bosom.

I moved around, put two hands gently on her back, and gave her a little push.

The gentle push resulted in another squeal.

“Oh, Alexander! Higher!”

I obliged. Yes, she would let out all sorts of non-appropriate noises, but at least my arm would get a break from being squeezed into a thin noodle for a few minutes. This also gave me time to glance at the nearby fruit stand.

Even from here I could see bright red apples and golden pears piled high in baskets on the table.

Behind the baskets stood Sally Fifett and her sister.

Sally lived at the manor next to mine, and we had spent many a day hunting for frogs as children. It was only as I grew older that I understood that Sally and I were different. Her father ran the stables there, and my father, the Duke, ruled ours.

Now that we were older, she helped run the fruit stand, and I got to parade Phoebe Brooks around as if she were my prized mare. My father had been grooming us to be married for years, but I hadn’t understood until a few months prior.

Phoebe let out another cry of delight as I pushed her a little higher. My eyes darted to the stand, then over to Thomas. “Phoebe, I know you love pears. Will you be alright if Thomas pushes you while I go fetch some?”

“I can go with you!” Phoebe said.

“And ruin your fun?” I pushed her again. Higher. “I wouldn’t dream of it.” I looked at Thomas. “Would you be so kind?”

Thomas had been eyeing Phoebe since she’d begun looking like a woman. He nodded. “Of course.”

“Wonderful. I will return shortly.”

“Get the firm ones!” Phoebe instructed.

“Of course.” I stepped aside and took long strides down the hill.

Sally saw me coming. Another couple got there just before me, and I had to wait. Sally met my eyes and her lips twitched into a smile of mirth.

When the other couple left, Sally’s sister busied herself at the other end of the table and pretended not to listen.

“Good afternoon, your grace.” Sally gave me a little bow.

“Good afternoon. I’ll take three of your finest pears.”

Sally’s nose wrinkled as she grinned. “Of course.”

The sun highlighted her red curls and the smattering of freckles on her cheek.

My heart skipped a beat. I cleared my throat. “The heat is abominable today.”

“Perhaps you should try the swing.” Sally picked out three pears and held them up.

I took them and examined them. “Who would push me?”

“Surely Phoebe would.”

“I’m afraid she’s a little delicate.” I rotated my hands. “Weak wrists.”

“That’s unfortunate.”

I gave her an nod and set the pears on the warm, wooden surface of the table. “It is.” I drew out my purse and held out a shilling.

“You know that’s too much,” Sally said.

Before I could stop myself, I leaned in. “It is a small price to pay for intelligent conversation and a measure of whit.”

“A measure?” Sally raised one eyebrow. A look I knew all too well.

“Yes.”

“You had better be using a large scale, your Grace.”

My eyes got lost in hers. I knew I was grinning, but couldn’t help myself.

Sally’s sister let out a cough.

I immediately stood back up as a young woman and her sisters approached.

Sally held out her hand, and I set the shilling into her palm. For the brief moment that our skin touched, warmth traveled through me.

A squeal from the tree brought me back to reality, and I scooped up the pears. “Thank you, ladies.”

“Our pleasure, your Grace,” Sally said. She smiled and gave me a curtsy.

The only woman of intelligence in the area and her father ran the stables.

I cursed fate. I did so again when I saw Phoebe watching me with an eager expression on her face as I approached the tree. “Oh, Alexander, look how high I am!”

“Very high indeed.” I smiled.

She let out another of her high-pitched noises.

I felt a weight in my feet. Perhaps I could turn her eye to Thomas.

I snorted. And perhaps Sally and I could be married. I ruefully shook my head at the thought and walked toward my fate.

***

I feel like I got Regency Romance and Fruit stand before, but can’t remember for sure.

Still, I thought this was cute!

Genre – Regency Romance

Random Object – Rope Swing

Setting – Fruit Stand


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27-Sept-2019

This is what happens when the chosen one is an idiot

Chapter 12

Hindsight

If I had understood the part I would play in the discovery of magic, I surely would have used it to my great advantage. Lucky for the world, I was too young to really grasp the scope of the power I possessed.

Most children have a special place that they go. A secret hideaway where no one makes them do chores or tells them to think about school work.

I think many people think I had some sort of miraculous childhood, but in reality, I was as average as could be. My parents loved me, but they fought. I loved them, but sometimes wished I was a prince that had been switched at birth.

There weren’t many children my age in our neighborhood—a fact I didn’t understand until I got much, much older—so I often played by myself. I could entertain myself for hours on end, until my mother would call me in for dinner and send me to bed.

One day, in my sixth year, my mother bought me an extra special treat. A bag of marshmallows.

That alone would have been enough, but I had begged for the colored ones, and she had gone the extra mile and bought me the marshmallows that were shaped as dinosaurs. I knew that begging didn’t usually work, but for some reason I insisted, and for some other reason she gave in.

Of course now that I know how magic works, it’s only logical that the bag of multi-colored, multi-flavored, dinosaur-shaped marshmallows called to me.

How else was I going to release my familiars into the world?

While my mother had bought the bag for me, she doled them out in small quantities.

My child brain yearned to have one of each shape, and for the first time in my life, I saved a treat. One each time she gave me my allotment. I didn’t eat it, but carefully slipped it into the back of my sock drawer where each one waited for the next.

It took me four days to get one of each shape, and another excruciating afternoon before my parents put me to bed and proceeded to their room for the evening.

When they were sufficiently distracted, I gathered my dinosaurs and a flashlight and crept out of my room and down into the cold, cement basement.

My mother stored boxes down here, and my father had a work bench, although I never knew why it was covered in bottles filled with colorful liquids until I was a teenager. I always thought my father worked at a factory. Imagine the shock when I found out he was a love-potion maker. And a good one at that. So good that no matter what he did, my mother never left him.

More on that in a few chapters.

Back to the dinosaurs.

There was a small, square door on the top half of the wall opposite the stairs. It was made of plain wood and had an old cupboard knob as a handle. I gently pulled the handle until the door gave way with a pop.

For a moment I froze, listening as I had never listened before for any sign that my parents had heard me.

They had not.

I carried a stool over to the wall, climbed up on to it and shined my light into the crawl space.

Looking at it now, it isn’t large, but to my small self it seemed to go on for forever. One corner called to me, and I quickly made my way over the packed dirt to where I had already stashed several things that felt important to me. I removed the dinosaurs from my pockets and reverently set them next to the white crystal I had taken from my mother’s dresser and a gold chain that my father used to wear. Until he lost it and I found it.

The little collection looked strange, but it felt right.

Without thinking, I put my hand on the soil at the dinosaur’s feet. I closed my eyes and somehow knew that I could will energy into them. And that if I did, they would come to life.

Since this moment, I have learned that only one in a million children have the gift of magic, and only one in a hundred of them can manifest. What I did that day was nothing short of miraculous.

To me it seemed a game. A flash of light filled the crawl space, and when it faded I found the dinosaurs had filled out into perfect, tiny replicas of themselves. Still the marshmallow colors, but now a life-like shape.

“Hello,” I said. “I think we are going to be friends.”

The dinosaurs bowed to me.

I smiled. “Let me go get you something to eat.”

Looking back now, I wonder if my mother had sensed something about that bag of marshmallows, or if she was just anxious to get back to my father.

That truth will never be revealed.

***

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Genre – Memoir

Random Object – Dinosaur Shaped Marshmallow

Setting – Crawl Space Under the House


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