After popping into existence, the stranger knelt before the child.
“Do not be afraid, Jennie. I am your future self.”
“I’m thirty-four, you little—never mind. I only have a minute. Listen: the cure for Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and depression is—”
“Who am I going to marry?”
“What? You haven’t even hit puberty, why would you care?”
“Is it David? He’s cute.”
“Newsflash, kid, you won’t be liking boys much longer. Now memorize this and tell Mom right away: there’s a mineral spring in Utah—oh damn.”
Grownup Jennifer popped away.
“I bet it’s David,” said little Jennie.
Author’s Note: Someday a time traveler is going to appear to me and I’m going to fixate on the wrong thing, I just know it.
George stood proudly over the body of the dragon. As far as he knew, it was the last in the realm. Taking its head, he returned to see the Queen.
“We are facing an orc problem,” the Queen said. “It seems the dragons ate the orcs. Now, with no dragons, the orcs are breeding out of control.”
“Surely, orcs are less dangerous than dragons?” George asked hopefully.
“Not when there are quite so many of them,” she replied in exasperation, as George slid the head behind a nearby chair. Now might not be the time to ask for a reward.
Author’s Note: Different creatures have different roles to play in the ecosystem, and one can rarely be removed without some unintended consequences.
Unable to bear another ultracrepidarian lecture, the magician interrupted his king.
“Trust me on these matters: The spell stops at the new moon no matter what.”
He wondered whether his interruption or his news made the king’s face burn red. “You will keep her in that tower or be exiled!”
The magician obliged. He cast useless charms at the princess’s window, but the night of the new moon the king posted guards lest she use her own magic to escape.
In the dark, the magician raised his humble carpet to her window.
“Come with me, princess.”
“Where?” she asked.
Author’s Note: The word of the day was ultracrepidarian—immediately this story came to mind.
Amlica stood outside of the carefully dilapidated fruit stand. The owner, a squat Renoan by the name of Hedelfish Rightly, ducked his head and wrapped four of his arms together in deference. Amlica picked up what at first appeared to be a withered harrinjus, the speckled apple for which Renos was famous.
She twisted the fruit open, revealing tell-tale pink flesh. “Well?”
Hedelfish unfolded his arms and squinted.
“It’s just not very ripe,” he said. His nostrils flared open, into the position associated with sincerity.
“I don’t think so,” Amlica said. She pulled out her badge. “This stand is closed.”
Author’s Note: When genetic manipulation becomes the norm, I see a future in fruit forgery.
I met her in the spring, when she wore the palest green birch leaves.
Oh, how we danced.
In the summer, dewy flowers blossomed on her brow, and her kisses tasted of sunlight and the morning rain.
When fall arrived, she came to me crowned with fiery leaves and rowan berries, the scent of moldering apples on her breath.
In the winter, she lay under a downy blanket of snow, still and cold.
At the first touch of the thaw,
a tiny sapling cradled in her hands.
I planted it in my back yard, next to the roses.
Author’s Note: I saw a wonderful modern-dance piece where the performers danced with real birch trees.
Ennis perched on the threadbare seat and gripped the old book tight. He could feel the leather writhe under his fingers, hear it whispering to him in the indifferent silence of the train carriage. Uncertainty assailed him. Was he sweating, mumbling? Gods he was hungry. Would anyone ask?
A young woman approached him, eyeing the heavy tome.
“That’s an odd book. What’s it about?”
Ennis smiled. “Would you like to have a read? I warn you: you won’t be able to put it down.” He handed it over, and his heart lifted.
It felt good to pass the curse on.
Author’s note: I like to speculate on what might happen if clichés were literally true.
For most of them, it was the night sky that gave the first clue. They used social media to meet up, to stand together, ooh-ing and aah-ing as a constant stream of shooting stars rained down on Earth for almost four whole days.
But their leaders knew better.
No artificial satellite could survive that bombardment. Blinded, they could do nothing but await the inevitable arrival of the asteroids.
Of the eight we sent, only five hit – one missed completely, and two glanced off the atmosphere. Nevermind, it was sufficient.
The humans had no colonies. They are no longer a threat.
Author’s Note: Despite what some books and movies may tell you, there’s no reason why aliens would invade Earth. Killing us from afar is a much more efficient way to remove a resource competitor.
There once was a princess who was sometimes a dragon. She lived in the highest tower of a castle keep, but she wasn’t a prisoner there. On the contrary: on warm, sunny days she would spread her wings and leap from the battlements to go sailing away over the moat and across the fields.
Knights came from all over the land to win her fair heart, but when they told her of their great deeds of monster slaying, the princess would allow herself to transform, daring them to slay one more great monster in her name. Somehow, they never could.
Author’s Note: I know you’re wondering if she eats them… but I’ll never tell. 😉
He picked up the broken shards. “Is this glass on the floor?”
Arianna frowned. “I didn’t mean to, but I dropped it.”
“That’s your mother’s favourite mirror.”
Her step-mother stared at that mirror all day long, pausing just long enough to criticize Arianna’s looks. So with a few magic words, Arianna trapped her in the thing she loved most.
“I know how hard you’re trying to get along with her. When she comes back I’ll tell her it was an accident.”
“Thank you, Father!”
“Be more careful next time.”
She smiled. “Don’t worry, there won’t be a next time.”
Author’s Note: I really like playing with fairy tales and mirrors.
Cindy hates sweeping ashes. Haunted house janitor is a major demotion from theme park princess. Age ruins us all.
It was shocking the first time that boy spotted his grandpa among the fake, mirror-conjured spooks. It was touching when that woman reconnected with her fiancé, after he died in that war.
By now it’s old hat to the locals. Want to keep in touch with your loved one? Smuggle an urn onto the ride, open it after the first hill.
Cindy keeps her broom moving, pulling headphones down over her ears, and tries to ignore the screams of the damned.
Author’s Note: This was a longer story and included many Disneyworld references until I realized Disney would probably sue me.