We decided that once the candle burned out, we would never speak of it again.
James lit the match, put flame to wick.
“The ghost was a young boy, maybe ten,” I said.
James shook his head. “It was a girl, Grace,” he said. “Maybe fifteen, almost a woman.”
My eyebrows rose. “He had peach fuzz! And he wore a tie. Blue. With dark stripes.”
“A red dress,” James said. “Grace. We saw different people.”
Silence hung between us. The flame flickered. Sputtered. Died.
We left it at that, and spent our time there with spirits we would never understand.
Author’s Note: I had an image of two people who needed to speak about a strange experience, but when they started speaking things only got cloudier. This story was what resulted.
“If I write your name wrong, you get this coffee and a free refill,” the barista said. Her grin grew wider when she added, “If I’m right, I get your soul.”
I shivered. It had to be a joke. Still, I counted my lucky stars as I gave my name. “It’s Dominique.”
All through school, my name was misspelled Dominic or something far from pronounceable.
But that barista’s teeth gleamed as she scrawled. She showed me the cup and my heart dropped.
“Sorry, but your name is in your eyes. We see all here. Here’s your smock. Get to work.”
Author’s Note: Most want their names written right on their coffee cups, but not at Café Nightmare where you have to work as a barista for an eternity, no breaks. Good thing there’s coffee.
The door closed. Pixie Lou went all over the house spreading the dust. Flowers bloomed here, rainbows appeared there.
Watching his friends dance, sing and slide down the bannisters made him squeal with delight. Oh, what fun!
“Why is it getting dark?” Pixie Lou wondered. “It’s the middle of the day and there are cloudless skies.”
The workers finished the last seal on the tent and started hooking up the chemical pump. The boss walked over spitting purple glitter and brushing petals from his hair.
“Make sure you give it the maximum dose, Sam. That house is lousy with pixies.”
Author’s Note: I hate dusting so Pixies really tick me off.
Deep in a dark Namibian cavern, a cluster of huge eggs sat as they had done for countless centuries. The roar of a lion echoed briefly and, from the jagged mouth of the cave, a near-full moon reflected faintly in one of the thick black shells.
Many eggs stirred, as they did more often now that the years grew warmer. A few even vibrated softly but soon returned to rest. As each dragon fetus briefly woke, its brain charged up a little more, sparked by instinctive visions of flight, fire, hunting, and feeding. Their growing bodies pushed ever harder.
Author’s Note: Dragons are irresistible and a dragon drabble has such a nice sound. Adding an environmental touch is also very satisfying.
My department deals with the aftermath—the grieving families, messy crime scenes and overzealous reporters. At nine every morning, my computer buzzes with updates on new incidents and developing threats. Today, it looks like Poseidon had another temper tantrum and took out a fleet of cargo ships.
“Lenny!” I call, waiting for my portly desk partner to waddle into the office. He always has food in his teeth. Today, it’s something yellow.
“Kobaloi?” he groans, shoving a piece of cheese into his mouth. “Another Internet scam?”
“No, it’s Poseidon.”
Lenny shakes his head. “He’s always moody when the tides change.”
Author’s Note: You’d really need a coffee break after a nine to five in the mythological world.
When he thought they’d had enough, he turned off the wind. It was making the sleet too painful to walk through. Never let it be said he didn’t show them sympathy. But he was tired of the myth he’d been done away with everywhere, thanks to better heating systems, savvier consumers, global warming.
Still, the ice piled up. Their cars wouldn’t start, the engines frozen with it. The air, such bite, so very, very grim, his harsh reminder of their vulnerability.
He would have to remember to tell Spring to go easy on them on his way out the door.
Author’s Note: In my neck of the woods, where we’ve often been called ‘weather wimps,’ dealing with the coldest season can feel like doing battle with a physical adversary.
Humans were cruel, this Snowdrop knew even before the child tore off her wings, but their winters were crueler. The first snow fell, and she shivered in her burrow, lined with dry leaves. The frozen rowanberries she had to eat gave her a stomachache.
One day she lay in the snow to die.
But she didn’t. That night fragile wings of ice grew from the dead stumps on her back.
Snowdrop flew, rushing through the freezing air. She enjoyed it so much she forgot to fly to Faerie.
Then came the thaw.
It was a long wait until next winter.
Author’s Note: Could you fly on wings of ice?
Becoming a ghost was the easiest thing in the world. Holding onto my skin was the hard part—the bullet cut through a big artery. I should have gone ghost immediately, but I wanted to look the gunman in the eyes. With my body going into shock, I carved his face into the depths of my memory.
Dead or alive, I would never forget.
My heart ached for Jane. Twenty-five years together, two kids in college, now she’s alone. Or so she thinks. Being a ghost is how I’ll keep her company. But first, it’s good for something else.
Author’s Note: People must have lots of reasons for becoming ghosts. Not all, I think, are benevolent.
She looked beautiful, a girl drawn 2-D with pencil lines. Kenji wished at the shrine last night that the girl would live for one evening. He knew she couldn’t exist forever. When the sun sank and the moon bled on the rooftops, Kenji waited.
He heard shuffling, the rattle of paper. His magazine sat beside him. Had it shifted? Kenji squinted at its pages, leaning over them. Whish! And he was in the pages himself, in the midst of the magical war fought by his desired girl.
It was okay. He’d be out tomorrow, if he could survive the night.
Author’s Note: As a fan of anime and manga, I had many a wish of wanting characters and/or alternate worlds to exist. Then I’d realize I probably wouldn’t last a day.
At third watch, Chancellor Gao climbed the eighty steps to the throne. Brass braziers lit his passage, the smell of incense heavy in the air. The moon was hidden behind the clouds. An auspicious omen.
Emperor Leung sat beneath a canopy, wearing a mian guan with jade tassels.
“Lord of Ten Thousand Years,” Gao said as he kowtowed, presenting the alchemists’ latest attempt at the immortality elixir.
The emperor drank. The chancellor waited.
The clouds moved, and Emperor Leung’s remaining ear fell off.
Gao withdrew, smiling, kissing the floor. “Your forgiveness, Son of Heaven. I will have them try again.”
Author’s Note: I took a course on ancient Chinese history recently, and learned about how certain emperors were obsessed with finding the fabled elixir of life. Unfortunately, a lot of the potions that were offered to them were made from toxic ingredients.