The patchwork pig was a family heirloom, passed down from one generation to the next. It sat, fat and happy, at the foot of each firstborn male, as if guarding the crib.
It brought the family luck, health and prosperity, but it came with a price.
It needed to feed.
Jack Herringford stood beside his father’s coffin, blood dripping from his knife. The incision had been made quickly; the pig inserted, without fuss, into the opening.
Jack turned from the sound of chewing. His son was sleeping in his stroller, unaware of his grandfather’s desecration.
One day he would understand.
Author’s Note: The inspiration for this was simple – what was the least scary thing that I could convincingly work into a horror story? A child’s stuffed toy seemed to fit the bill.
Dragonskin makes excellent armor.
Dragons know this too, which makes acquisition difficult.
Gul reckons he knows how. “Reptiles, right?”
“Ye-es,” say I. “Fire-breathing, though. And big.” I’m not keen.
“They’ll shed. They have to. In the lair, I bet. We trespass while it’s out.”
“I’m not liking this.”
“You’ll pay ten gold a skin at the merchants? Or get it free?”
Well, framed that way…
Lair’s dark, stuffy, smelly. Eventually, we find the skins.
Dragon finds us.
Nostrils. Heat. Teeth. Noise.
“You’d steal my old scales?” the dragon glowers. “Thirty gold a skin, same as everybody.”
Author’s Note: Dragons are a staple of fantasy. But in the real world, everything is a resource.
“Johnny, I’ve called you three times. Breakfast, now.”
“Okay, okay. I was just tweaking the teleporter.”
“Tweaking it. Right. Better put your father’s tools back before he finds out you were messing with them.”
“No worries. I wasn’t using them.” He closed the access panel. “Corn flakes, right?”
“Bacon and eggs today. Protein for the big test.”
“Are you sure I can’t stay home sick today?”
He was on his second egg when the call came from the school. “A virus has infected the teleporter system. School is canceled until further notice.”
Johnny smiled innocently at his mom.
Author’s Note: This winter has had a lot of snow days for my kids. I wondered how that would work in a world where they could just teleport to school.
Glitterwish had heard such amazing things about coffee. Sparkledust claimed it made her magic stronger. Francoflier said he could loop-the-loop after only one sip.
The fairy flew closer to the steaming ceramic mug. The fragrance was bitter; the foam looked thick enough to gum up her delicate wings. Cautiously, she flittered close, dipped her fingertips into the mushroom-colored liquid and licked them clean.
“I’m seeing things,” said the writer. He slammed his laptop shut and pushed the mug further away. She could hear him. She could hear all the large things. She put her hands over her ears and screamed.
Author’s Note: I love the idea that magic exists alongside us. Most people don’t notice fairies – seems obvious that most fairies wouldn’t notice us either. The message that not all the side effects of drugs are pleasant (RIP, Phillip Seymour Hoffman) was just a bonus.
When I woke up, my arm was asleep. Fantastic. I tried to wriggle my fingers with little success. I got up. My arm dropped against me like dead weight. My skin crawled at the sensation. I tried to rub life into it and flex my fingers. Neither worked.
I headed downstairs. When I reached the kitchen, my good arm tingled and went cold. It dropped to my side, as limp as the other one.
A chill ran through my entire body. My legs became nothing. I dropped like a fallen tree.
From the other side of the room, something laughed.
Author’s Note: The feeling when your arm is numb is really creepy, so I turned it into a story.
Norman tended his garden night and day. Everything he planted bloomed beautifully, and it was widely regarded that his skill enflamed his energy, pushing him on, despite his advancing years.
From his kitchen table, Norman watched himself coming in from his labours. The double collapsed to the floor. Its green eyes were already losing their lustre – in a day or two it would only be good for compost.
Norman grabbed the secateurs. With a small cry, he cut off another finger, planting it into a pot. He’d be out and about again soon enough – or, rather, something very like him.
Author’s Note: I like stories like this – no rhyme or reason for the creepy element to work, or even exist. Not even an in-universe justification for it. Why can this man grow clones of himself? Because that’s what the story says he can do.
Valent flourished the wand, concentrating, and stage-whispered, “Draconis.”
The dragonfly on the golden orchid displayed iridescent wings and gazed at him from multifaceted eyes.
He shook the wand, frowning at it balefully. It was a simple enough spell, and he knew he had the power to perform it.
“Draconis!” he insisted, waving the wand exaggeratedly before pointing at the dragonfly again.
The tip of the wand quivered within an inch of the insect.
The dragonfly preened, rubbing dainty feet over sparkling eyes.
Valent gritted his teeth and brandished the wand angrily. “Draconis!” he shouted.
Behind him, a third dragon appeared.
Author’s Note: I find it interesting when people are so focused on one single thing, that they completely lose sight of everything else.
My wife is having an affair. Vicky stays out late and comes home glowing with celestial bliss. She tries to hide her grin, but cannot.
Following her, I see her meet him, walking hand on his arm; his ravens, black as pitch tag along at a discreet distance. My knuckles hurt gripping the steering wheel; my teeth crush against one another. He turns to me, his one eye gleaming with mischief and triumph. Of course he knows I’m there.
He’s only toying with her, dallying for his own divine amusement. I’ll be here when he’s gone. I love my wife.
Author’s Note: I sometimes worry my wife will meet a god and fall for his charms.
Bernard Evans stepped out of his time machine and marched across to the memorial commemorating his famous arrival. There was a policeman standing guard.
“Hello. I’ve come back.”
The policeman stared at him.
“The first Time Traveler. I thought I’d travel forwards in time to the scene of my triumph and see what sort of memorial you’d come up with.”
The policeman took out his notebook.
“Right, that’s it. I’m arresting you on a charge of wasting police time.”
“That’s the third occasion you’ve done this today and I warned you last time not to do it again.”
Author’s note: It must get quite confusing for a time traveler to remember when they had been somewhere before.
The witch’s spirit hovered overhead, watching the operation. The artificial heart sat ready to replace her own. It hadn’t been easy to arrange for the transplant, but the lore was clear — her heart had to be destroyed to kill her. If it couldn’t be, she would live forever.
Hours passed before the surgery was complete.
Joy threatened to overwhelm her until she noticed the nurse carried her heart, not toward the cold box the witch had provided, but to the biohazard incinerator chute. She had time for fearful realization to kick in before her body went up in flames.
Author’s Note: I loved reading fairy tales where the heroine had to find the witch’s heart to destroy her. Wouldn’t it be so much simpler if it never got hidden away in the first place, though?