“DEATH! DEATH FOR SALE!”
“More than you can afford.”
“Please, it’s for my father. He’s eight hundred and twelve. Ready to go.”
“At eight hundred and twelve I’m sure it’s more then he can afford.”
“How much sir?”
“12,000 jacks. Yep, bugger off.”
At 200 the boy was still young, but already he worried about his own eternity.
The boy returned home empty handed.
“I fear I will live to see a thousand,” said the man, “It is just good that we afforded your mother’s death. She wanted to wait for me, but she was ready to go.”
Author’s Note: Everyone is obsessed with the idea of living forever, but at what point does it become too much?
He had been expecting it hours ago, a rush like adrenaline, the pleasant letting go he remembered from his wasted college days. Half mad in want of it, he’d drunk half the bottle, sure it would arrive in this forbidden potion.
“There’s a rumor some kind of spirit arrives,” he said to no one. “And then she wants your soul.”
“Who says it’s a ‘she’?” came a voice from beside him. He turned, shocked by the massive giant occupying the space next to him, its skin the color of split pea. “And I already got it—after your third drink.”
Author’s Note: With the renewed interest in absinthe these days, I wonder if more people don’t want to be warned of its once notorious reputation.
Only a mad king would demand a pie of blackbirds. He ordered twenty-four birds be slaughtered, diced, and cooked for the crime of robbing the royal fruit trees. Yet when the baker presented the fragrant dish, the crust held only six. Six whirring, clanking clockwork crows with wispy feathers of gold, secretly constructed by the kingdom’s finest tinkerers deep in the rebels’ quarters.
His knife sliced the pie, meeting metal rather than meat.
The crows burst forth, brandishing their needle-sharp claws as weapons, their tiny beaks as spears.
The king fell, clutching his heart, in a heap of bloodstained feathers.
Author’s Note: This story is (obviously) based on the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” with a steampunk twist.
The guys were covered in mud and none of them cared.
“How about a beer?” James.
“I’ll fire up the grill.” Don.
“I know how to clean fish.” Mel.
“I can light the kindling.” Mark.
Together they ran a microcosm of civilization in the acre of woods to which they retreated one weekend per year.
On the outskirts of their camp the hovercrafts steamed in the cool air. They sat in folding chairs, enjoying their meal. The trees blocked all views of the distant skyscrapers. In the silence, they remembered why they made sure to come here, year after year.
Author’s Note: Science fiction is great for showcasing advanced technology, but also for escaping it.
I hate waking up in the morning. I never know where I’ll be.
Yesterday I had to get out of the inside of a tree. Not on the branches, inside the trunk. Weird.
Luckily there was a knot hole so I could raise my wand and get out.
This morning I wake up in another tree. This time a nest, inside an egg. I had to chip my way out.
I have to stop drinking but the nectars are so sweet.
The mother bird looks at me distastefully and mumbles ‘fairy scum’ as I straighten my wings and fly off.
Author’s Note: Magical doesn’t mean immune from vices.
The melted tin hisses and sputters as I drop it into the cold water. I roll up my sleeve and lift it out. Lara got little nubbly sprinkles that mean money, and Jonna’s resembled a crown, which means marriage or power.
Mine looks exactly like a werewolf. I drop it.
“Wow, that’s creepy,” Lara says. “You want a do-over?”
I nod, drop the offending thing into the ladle, and start melting it again.
I fish it out.
The werewolf, again.
I scratch at the bite marks on my arm and wonder if I casting silver bullets is hard.
Author’s Note: Casting tin on New Year’s Eve to tell the future is a Finnish tradition, but what if you see something you don’t want to?