Detective Iredell wanted a drink, and not the enhancement formula. Too much clarity is a bad thing.
Still, the victim’s family needed closure, and Iredell would provide. He drank the syrupy liquid.
It worked at once—he spotted blood on the carpet. Smelled chloroform. Felt a draft and followed it to the window. Escape route.
Iredell also felt his own pains. Arthritic knees and hips protested as he squatted over the scene. His heart strained with clogged arteries. Mostly, his liver ached.
Each enhancement he was more tempted to drink to counteract the effects. Soon, he knew, I’ll give in.
Author’s Note: I recently read a great story about an alcoholic detective, and I wanted to try my own . . . with a sci-fi twist.
“Now’s a bad time to let our guard down,” Aaron said. I concurred.
We found a cave and took turns keeping watch—bandits had stolen treasure from Lord Grant, and he’d charged us to steal it back. Bandits don’t usually appreciate that.
“Wake up, Duncan!” Aaron hissed, and I sprang to my feet. Still midnight. Aaron loaded his crossbow; nothing moved in the woods outside.
“Not out there,” he whispered. I turned. Two eyes caught the starlight, at least three feet over our heads.
We fled. Given the choice between ogres and bandits, we’d take our chances with the thieves.
Author’s Note: I wanted to try something that started in one place, then took a right turn and ended somewhere completely different.
Locked in a dungeon, it’s easy to forget you’re a wizard.
Daryn lost track of the days until something stung his eyes: sunbeams slanting through a high window. He hadn’t seen light in so long.
The next day the rays slanted lower, then lower still. The days grew longer, warmer. Finally, Daryn thought if he stood and stretched he could touch it.
His legs shook, but the sun on his palm made his heart pound. He remembered magic. They had suppressed his gift for too long.
He gathered some sunlight into his palm and threw it at his prison door.
Author’s Note: Incarcerating a wizard can be dangerous, especially when said wizard grabs hold of some hope.
The currents had a strong northerly pull, but Grayson didn’t mind. He didn’t swim so much as become water, and the cool breakers felt refreshing rather than frigid.
“I never thought I’d meet another.”
The voice made Grayson pause before diving—a girl his age, floating ten feet above the surface. They considered each other, curious and awestruck.
“I’m wind,” she said. “You’re obviously water.”
“What do you mean, I’m water?”
“The elemental gift, of course. There are two others. They’ll be on land.” She started to blow inland. “Coming?”
After a moment, Grayson became a wave and lapped ashore.
Author’s Note: I’m not huge on elemental magic, but I thought discovering you had a penchant for it all along might make for an interesting story.
“I won’t mind disintegrating,” Dolphas proclaimed. In the pilot’s chair, Judson nodded. “But let’s not ricochet into space and starve.”
“Deceleration engines ignited,” Judson reported.
“Whoever dies first, the other has to eat him, okay?”
“It’s survival. Morally permitted.”
“Releasing drag fins.” The straps cut into their shoulders and waists. Ionizing plasma blanketed their ship’s hull and hypnotized Dolphas into silence.
They hurled like a comet but, blessedly, down. Neither cheered, lest they jinx themselves. Judson steered them lower, then Dolphas pulled the parachute lever.
After a soft touchdown, Dolphas spoke again.
“I really would have eaten you.”
Author’s Note: I was wondering what things pilots might talk about to ease the tension during this kind of moment.
“I don’t think you’d kill a boy of ten,” I said to the man, and hoped it was true.
The warrior before me was a demon’s servant. He guarded a dark cave’s mouth a mile outside the town where the beast had been attacking. The kid and I had to get through this fool to slay it. I reached for my sword, but the kid was smarter.
“Wine?” he said.
The warrior lowered his blade and took the wineskin. It was the strongest in the land, and before long he was snoring.
We stepped over him and drew our weapons.
Author’s Note: This story started with the opening line, became a drabble, but now I’m thinking it could survive as something longer.
The empty escape pod seat spoke volumes.
“She’s scuttled, David,” Arnold said. “There’s no turning back.”
“You don’t know if you’ll hit the planet,” David said, but Arnold’s math was always superb.
He looked at David now, pitying. “This is why you weren’t captain,” he said, buckling his harness. “You lack boldness.”
“It’s why you were never good at it,” David said. “Too flighty.”
A career’s worth of animosity, long suppressed by success, passed between them. Their trusty spaceship soared on in its death throes.
The hatch hissed shut; the pod ejected. Unimpeded, David sat alone in the captain’s chair.
Author’s Note: This is a snapshot of a relationship between two men with opposing core beliefs forced to work together. Whether it’s for better or worse is up to them, I think.
Each time the couple kissed was like a slow execution to Vanordan, the court magician. He had grown up with the princess and harbored a childhood love. But a prince from a neighboring land couldn’t be refused.
There were many such lands, Vanordan realized, and he was young. Why stay and torment himself?
He packed his wand, his spellbooks, his herbs. Before leaving, he brewed a steaming green potion. “A farewell gift,” he said to the princess, and turned his back.
Suspicious, she dumped the potion in the royal garden and watched, a bit sad, as a gorgeous rosebush sprouted.
Author’s Note: Some tales of unrequited love end in malice, but they don’t all have to.
The cold didn’t bother Steffon Drake at first; the isolation, though, almost drove him mad.
Above, red hot streaks of debris continued to rain—remnants of his exploration pod. Only the escape vessel had worked properly. It steamed in the ice and snow behind him as he took in the alien world.
Blinding whiteness. Drake dimmed his helmet lenses, then oriented himself south. He could calculate his latitude after sunset, but he figured a minimum of four months’ walk to clear the glaciers and reach his colleagues at the equator.
Drake hoisted a rudimentary survival pack, sighed, and started walking.
Author’s Note: This story came from an image of a group of colonists landing on a new planet, only the landing goes awry for one of them. Perhaps it’s a snippet of something larger.
Max Murphy had no idea he would wake up as an osprey.
He had read Kafka in school—compared to a roach, this seemed infinitely better. He soared high on thermals and took in the scenery. When he got hungry, he snagged a fish.
“I didn’t transfigure you so you could joyride.”
Max looked up from his fish into the grey eyes of a large tawny cat.
“A wizard,” Max said.
The cat grinned. “I knew you had the intuition.”
“Why, then?”“A mission. Follow, and find out.” He scampered away.
Max considered his fish, then flew off after the cat.
Author’s Note: I was contemplating Kafka one day and wondered, Why a roach? What if instead he woke up as something awesome?