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.
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.
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.
Being forbidden from the ball was the spark which ignited the inferno.
“You’ll never find a husband before us,” her stepsisters told her, “and all the nobles will be spoken for.”
She hated her tears. Her lineage was a litany of unfairness. No. More.
She summoned her fairy godmother. The gray-haired matron listened, irate.
“You will have until midnight to claim your revenge!” she said. “Then, the fires go out.”
Vengeance! Her magic burned her home, her town, the streets, and finally the castle. The nobles fled the conflagration screaming, all terrified, all but one.
“Long overdue,” said the prince.
Author’s Note: I always thought Cinderella ended a tad too tidily.
Reggie took to his new tasks with such alacrity that the captain named him crewman of the month.
“Look how happy the parnaxes are with their spotless cage!” the captain said.
Indeed, their songs filled the transport ship. Avian aliens, the parnaxes boasted wings that conducted electricity—they shocked fishes to death in tidal pools, and put on winning displays for orbiting circuses.
“You’ve got talent,” the captain said.
“Happy to help, sir,” Reggie replied. But once he was alone again, he upended his liquor flask into the faux tidal pool. “Drink up,” he whispered, “and give us a show.”
Author’s Note: One thing I greatly enjoy about sci-fi is imagining alien flora and fauna.
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.
The two boys on the raft watched the shorelines fly by.
“We’ve never been this far,” Kendall said.
“I have,” Jaimie replied, “and there’s something I want to show you.”
A dilapidated shack came into view around a bend. Wispy smoke from the chimney; green light blazing through a window. “A wizard lives here,” Jaimie whispered, eyes hungry.
“We should go back.” Kendall grabbed the oar.
“I’m never going back.” Jaimie jumped in and swam to shore. Kendall watched him approach the shack, dripping river water. The door opened—a flash—and the raft carried Kendall out of sight downriver.
Author’s Note: I had Huck Finn on my mind writing this story. I think a wizard would have spiced up that tale a bit.