Tag Archives: Fantasy

Checkmate

l-Checkmate

—————
“Don’t blame the sinner.”

“Don’t fear for him sister, I promise his death will be as swift and painless as possible.”

“It wasn’t his fault, he was being manipulated. Please, hasn’t there been enough killing already?”

“Another of the Black Queen’s pawns, is that it?”

“No, he’s much more than that.”

“Yes he is, a knight disguised as a bishop, very clever.  But I saw through your little trick, didn’t I?  I’ve always been three moves ahead of you.”

The White Queen and the Black Queen, Luminous and Caliginous, locked in a battle that had been going on for decades.  They were the twin daughters of King Stalemateous, who ruled over a vast empire.  Upon his death his expansive kingdom was divided in half and split between his two daughters.

Everything to the west of Lake Isongard; the golden fields of Adelphia, the orchards of Kalipula, the rolling plains of Surmanthia where the horse lords bred steeds for the royal patrol, and where seldom a cloud was seen in the sky, along with all the people who lived among those lands, now fell under the rule of Luminous, the White Queen.  The lands to the east of Lake Isongard and the few people who still lived there became the kingdom of the Black Queen, Caliginous;  these were the lands filled by the nearly impenetrable Dimwood Forrest where nothing was said to live except for the twisted and gnarly trees that were as old as the world itself, the tar pits of Undoora that were told to have swallowed entire regiments of knights, and the rocky peaks of the Heltermonth Mountains which reached up to snow-covered heights.

After their father’s passing Caliginous implored her sister that they should reunite the kingdom, and rule together.  Luminous, however, had other plans.

Being born minutes before her sister the White Queen believed herself to be the rightful heir of all that her father had, and she struck out violently in an attempt to rest control away from her younger sibling.  The surprise attack was devastating, and sent Caliginous and the few people loyal to her into hiding in the depths of the Dimwood Forest.  The family feud raged on for years, the Black Queen and her armies battled back, and at one point seemed poised to win the war as they toppled one of the White Queen’s castles.  But then on that same night, as the fires among the remains of the ruined stronghold were still burning, the Black Queen and her followers fled back to the safety of Dimwood Forrest.

Luminous, blinded by her fury, sent wave after wave of her soldiers into those cursed wood, none of them were ever seen again.  Unsuccessful at flushing her sister out, the White Queen withdrew and lived secluded from her kingdom until her sister came out of hiding and asked for a meeting to discuss the fate of the knight that had been captured sneaking into the White Queen’s castle.

“Please sister, you don’t know what you’re doing.  He was not sent there to kill you, he came with an offering of peace.”

“This war will end when I reunite father’s kingdom, only I am his rightful heir, and after I rid myself of your assassin I will send my armies across the lake to end this once and for all, even if I have to burn that entire cursed forest to the ground to do it.  Until then, this is what I think of your peace.”  and with a flick of the White Queen’s wrist the young knight was flung over the castle’s wall, his body snapped to a stop as the rope tied around his neck went taut.

“Nooo!” the Black Queen screamed out to late.  “What have you done.  He was no killer.  He was your son, the secret child you hid away in the castle I destroyed all those years ago.  I found him among the rubble and took him back to Dimwood Forrest.  I taught him of our father, and of our feud, and I sent him to you to beg for peace.”

Luminous turned and looked into the eyes of the now dead man who hung from her castle’s wall, and as the heavy realization of what she had done sunk in she collapsed to her knees.

Caliginous signaled her army to attack by removing the black veil she was wearing, and as she turned her back on her grieving sister she uttered, “Checkmate.”
—————
written for: The Speakeasy #149
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Awakening

alexis_by_emilysoto-d416mzt

When Alena awoke she found herself in a cyprus forest, still donning the same black silken robes that she had been wearing at her mother’s funeral; petals from the lilac wreath that had adorned her head that afternoon still clung to the waves of blonde hair that cascaded down around her sunkissed shoulders. Alena looked up to see the pale moon peeking between the limbs far overhead as she picked herself up from the cold hard ground, and wondered where she was.  The sharp bitter wind that blew through the ancient trees seemed to pierce her to the core, but it was the glimpse of something unseen that fleeted past the corner of her eye that sent the chills up her spine.

Terrified, and frozen in fear; Alena tried in vain to spot the shadowy figure amongst the impenatrable darkness cast by the trees, but the crushing silence of the night yeilded nothing.  Barely able to breathe she called out into the blackness in a voice barely above a whisper, “Hello…is someone there?”, as she waited for the response that she prayed would never come something whisked by behind her; flipping her hair playfully as it passed.  Alena spun around, but only in time to see a lone cyprus branch slightly swaying in the distance, and as the limb went still, so did the night again.

Lost and afraid Alena stood on trembeling knees, barely able to keep herself from collapsing back to the ground. Alone among the twisted and gnarled trees, she waited for whatever terror lurked in the forest to come rushing out and devour her. It was the sound of the tree branch breaking behind her that caused Alena to start running.

The sharp crack of the limb snapping under something’s foot rang out through the night like an unexpected clap of thunder.  Aleana did not look back as she ran to see what was chasing after her, not at the first sound that sent her running, not as she heard the bushes exploding behind her, and not as the guttoral scream continued its pursuit.  Alena no longer noticed the coldness of the night, but instead felt the burning in her legs and lungs growing as fear drove her forward.

Alena grew up on the island of Adamas in the Mediteranian, she knew most of its many forests, none of them with trees this ancient, knotted and twisting about themselves, so tall they looked as if they reached up amongst the very homes of the gods.

Alena had not run like this since she was a child and a wild dog chased her through her uncle’s olive orchard.  That time she ran for her mother’s out stretched arms, as the woman watched in terror at her daughter being chased by a black, mangy beast that was foaming at the mouth. Her uncle notched an arrow into his bow and let loose a shoot that sailed within an inch of Alena’s face as it dropped the half wolf mongral as it made its final lunge for the girl. Now her mother was dead, and there was no uncle to save her from the dark presence that felt like it was quickly about to overtake her. The spirit of some long dead beast, come to finish what it started all those years ago.

The ground under her feet dropped away several feet as Alena came bursting out of the forrest and into a clearing that laid before the beach, she tumbled headlong and sprawled out into the coarse sand.  Alena rolled onto her back just in time to see the bushes she had just run out of explode.

It was no black hearted beast though, that bore down upon her, but a man.  This man was dressed in the armor of a hoplite, and could have passed for one of the guards from the palace on Adamas; except his armor was not the polished bronze she was used to seeing, but was black as night, and his shield did not bear the pegasus, the seal of the island, but instead had that of a viper showing its fangs.

The man bound onto the shore and stood over Alena, the point of his black spear touching the soft skin of her throat just below her chin.  Alena was frozen by her fear, desimated by the loss of her mother, unaware of where she was, and unsure if she even wanted to go on.

The warrior’s breathing was heavy, and the fierceness of his eyes shown out from under his helmet as he snarled at her, “Disguise yourself as whatever you want, but tonight we find out if a fury can bleed.”

A tear ran down the side of Alena’s face as she closed her eyes, and waited for the blow that would end her life.  She felt the spear leave her neck, and heard the man let out a ferocious roar; but she did not hear the ping that came right before the spear thudded deep into the beach next to her head, and sent sand flying over her face.

Alena wiped away the debris as she opened her eyes and saw the soldier now standing to her left; his attention no longer on herself, but instead he looked at something off to her other side.  Alena looked to her right, past the spear still embeded in the ground, and an arrow that now laid next to it, and saw a woman emerging from the trees to join them on the beach.  Alena took the opportunity to scamper back a few feet as the man in black armor unseathed an equally black sword, that somehow still gleamed in the moonlight.

“You missed your chance.” the man growled.  “Now you’ll die for your trespasses girl.”

“I missed nothing.” the girl replied calmly, as she continued to walk forward pushing the hood of her cloak back to reveal her dark hair and brilliantly green eyes, she was not much older than Alena, and her skin looked milky white under the night sky. Alena had never seen anyone dressed liked her before; she wore a vest, skirt, and boots made of dark brown leather over a linen dress, and a dark grey hooded cloak, that was held in place by a jade leaf connected by two leaves made of silver.

She stopped several paces to the right of Alena, “Now leave the girl be, or I’ll put the next one through your eye.”

The warrior snortted in amusement at the threat, and spit on the ground between them where Alena had just been laying, “And why do you protect this demon of the night?  She is a fury, and will rip us both apart, or drive us mad for her amusement, if we give her the chance.”

“Do you really think a fury would cower from a lone soldier?”

The warrior looked down at Alena where she remained on the ground.  He saw the fear in her eyes, and the trembeling of her lower lip as she tried to maintain some semblance of composure.  “She’s deceitful.  It’s all part of her game. We are better to kill her and be safe.”

“So you would kill an innocent girl?”

“If she is an innocent girl.”

“And what makes you think she isn’t?”

“She’s still alive on this island.”

“So are you.”

“Yes, but none of my men are.  They were all driven to madness after our ship ran aground here five days ago.  These were battle hardened men, and after a few days on this island they turned on each other, until no one was left alive.”

“Except you.” the girl confronted him, still not willing to lower her bow.

“I am Helios, brother of Neoptolemus, and son of Achilles. I have battled the cyclops that live in the land of Polyphemus, and I have slain the hyrda that dwell in the swamps of Lerna. I am not so easily killed.” Helios extends his arm, leveling the point of his sword with the girl aiming an arrow at him.  “Now, who are you? and how do you come to be in this place?”

The girl lowers her bow, but does not un-notch the arrow, “My name is Keira, I am a shieldmadien from Avalon. I was but one of a band of warriors sent by Morgan le Fay to investiage the rumors that a jotun was in the high mountains, preparing to attack the castle.  But there was no frost giant.  The queen had been tricked by Loki, and he set a blizzard on us so thick, and with winds howling so loud, we could neither see nor hear each other.  When the storm finally broke I found myself here.  That was three days ago.”

Helios lowers his sword, and looks to Alena who is still seated on the ground.  “And what about you, if you are not some demon trying to trick us, then how did you come to be in this wretched place?”

“I don’t know.” Alena offers meekly.

“Convenient.” Helios retorts as he slides his sword back into its seath and steps forward to pull his spear from the ground before turning to face Alena.

The emotional overload of the day was finally too much for Alena as she released the first sob, and the tears that had been filling her eyes finally spilled over and ran down her cheeks.  “I was at my mother’s funeral.” she managed to get out in a voice that cracked under the weight of what she had been through.  “I was standing alone at her funeral pyre, staring into the flames, and then I woke up here in the forest.” With that Alena fully broke down, pulling her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them, and burying her face.

“That’s enough.” Kieara told Helios as she kneeled beside Alena.

In a huff Helios turned and went to inspect the treeline, not satisfied that they weren’t being watched by something.

“Dry your eyes child.” Kieara spoke softly to Alena, “Save your tears, they’ll do you no good here.  We are all lost together.” Alena stops crying, and looks at Helios as he peers back into the forest. Kiera continues,”Ignore him, he is exhausted from battle, and no longer has his wits about him.  I will not let him harm you.”


Down The Hall

peek_by_muttermeem
—————
There was a loud crash in the hallway.

“What was that?” Lilly asked groggily, as she tried to wipe the sleep from her eyes.

“I don’t know.” Jacob replied, as she sat up in his bed.

Jacob and Lilly were brother and sister.  Eight-year-old Jacob, and six-year-old Lilly shared the upstairs bedroom where they lived in an old cottage with their parents on the outskirts of Hackensack; a somewhat small and not the least bit impressive town that was surrounded by the country side, and thick forests, and which sat at the foot of the Wandaway Mountains.

“What are you doing?” Lilly asked, as she watched Jacob slip from his bed and start tip-toeing towards the door.

“I’m going to see what all that commotion was.”

“If Mommy and Daddy catch you up, you’re going to get in trouble.”

“Don’t be such a baby.”

“Don’t call me that.” Lilly spat back in a huff as she slammed her hands down on her blanket.

“Well then, don’t act like one.”

Lilly understood the challenge, and quickly got out of bed and plodded across the room to the door where Jacob waited for her. “Turn on the light, I can’t see.”

“No!” Jacob hissed under his breath, someone will see it.

“Who’s acting like a baby now?” Lilly taunted.

“Keep your voice down.  I think I hear something outside.”

The two huddled next to the door, straining to hear what was going on after the loud crash that came from the other side.

“I hear it too.” Lilly proudly announced, and then suddenly realized she had proclaimed her triumph too loudly, and hunkered down behind Jacob ready for the door to swing open and to be caught out of bed by their parents; but as they waited nothing happened.

Jacob reached for the door.

“Don’t.” Lilly pleaded, “Let’s just go back to bed.”

“I’m just going to peek.” Jacob slowly turned the knob, and pulled the door open just a crack so it wouldn’t squeak the hinges.

The two children peeked out into what used to be the hallway outside of their room, but was now a vast valley with a slow meandering stream cutting across through its middle; and though outside their bedroom window the moon still hung high among the stars in the night sky, out in the hallway the sun was out, and it was midday already.

“Where’s the rest of the house?” Lilly asked.

“How should I know.”

“Where’s Mommy and Daddy?”

“How should I know.”

“Call them.”

“What if there’s something else out there instead.”

“Stop it, you’re scaring me.” Tears started to form in Lilly’s blue eyes.

No sooner had Lilly spoke the words than dark clouds suddenly began to fill the sky, and loud rumblings of thunder shook through the doorway, and into their small room.

Jacob shut to door again and locked it, and headed for the window.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to climb down the gutter pipe, and try the front door. If Mom and Dad aren’t there I’ll climb right back up, I’ll only be gone for a minute, you’ll be fine.” with that Jacob lifted the window and disappeared outside.

Frightened and alone Lilly climbed back into her bed, and pulled the covers up tight around her.  She tried to tell herself this was all a dream, and that she would be waking up soon.  As she anxiously waited for her brother’s return the door handle started to tried to turn and  rattled behind her, then the whole door started shaking, someone was out there trying to get in.  Lilly dove under the covers, hiding and waiting for whatever was outside to pass, but it didn’t seem to be giving up.  Then she heard the eeriest of sounds, the sound of someone, or something, sliding the key into the lock.

The door creaked open.

“Lilly.” it was her mother’s voice.

Lilly threw back the covers, “Mommy, everything outside our room was gone and I was so scared.” Lilly tried to explain through the tears as she looked past her mother and out of her bedroom door to the quite normal looking hallway outside.

“It was just a bad dream, you’re fine now.” her mother cooed into her ear.

“Get back in bed.” their father told Jacob, before he glanced back into the hallway and thought to himself; the last time I heard of something like this, I was just a boy and wandered into the back of a wardrobe.
—————
written for: The Speakeasy #143
photo by: muttermeem
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Shadow Tower

Big Ben UK

—————

The clock tower at the heart of the city had not always been a clock tower.  Long before it was a tourist attraction,  it was the last place on Earth that anyone would willingly go; and long before the clocks were installed, the four walls of the chamber at the top of Shadow Tower had one very small window each.

Shadow Tower was built during one of the darkest periods of the kingdoms past.  King Heckleford had ordered the tower built, and upon its completion he locked away his unfaithful queen and her secret lover, they were never seen again.  The tower would go on to be used by many kings, as an unspeakable way of dealing with many problems.

Shadow Tower had become synonymous with death, until many hundreds of years later when revolution relegated the royal families to a much more pagent-like figure-head role.  During one remarkably brilliant renaissance the darkness of the tower’s past was debated, and there were more than ever that wanted to see the tower pulled down.  But fears of disturbing the evil that once took place within the stone walls kept such talk from going very far.

It seemed that the light, and goodness of the renaissance would be marred for the kingdom, until one exceptionally talented tinkerer appeared and offered to transform the tower.  No longer would it be Shadow Tower; it would be renamed The Timely Tower, the largest and most accurate clock tower in all the world.

It took the tinkerer seventeen years, eight months, three weeks, four days, and eleven hours to complete his work; and once done he left the kingdom forever, nearly blinded from the job, and his hands so struck with arthritis his fingers were permanently curled.

* * *

When Brent broke the news that he would have to work on New Year’s Eve, Kira was none to happy, but when he reminded her that he had keys to everything in the museum, including the clock tower, her mood improved.

“No one gets to see the clock tower like this.” Brent told her as he slid an old iron key into a lock that had not been opened in decades.

“Do you think it’s really haunted?” Kira’s voice betrayed the fear that she was trying hard to hide.

“No, those are just old stories….I’ve never seen anything, and I’m here five nights a week.”

They made their way to the room at the very top, it was full of gears and pulleys, clicking and twirling away.  In the center of the room sat a table made of solid iron; it was cylindrical and perfectly smooth; it contained no handles, buttons, or switches.

Kira sat on top of the table, “Come here and kiss me, it’s almost midnight.”  Brent was more than happy to oblige.

“Mhmm, I’m getting hot.” Kira said, as she ended the lustful embrace.

“I bet you are.” he replied full of swagger.

“No, I mean I’m really getting hot.” and she slid off the iron table just as the clock tower struck the first chime of midnight.

The large iron table began to give off a faint eerie glow.  With the second chime the light that was being emitted became more defined, it was coming from the smallest of openings that encircled the top of the table.  The third, fourth, and fifth bells of midnight rung out as the two lovers watched in awe.

“It’s a lid.” Kira knelt before the table and reached out tentatively.

“What are you doing?”

“What do you think, I want to know what’s inside.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Don’t be such a chicken.” she mocked.

The ninth, tenth, and eleventh bells rang out.

Just as the twelfth bell was rung, announcing the arrival of the new year, Kira lifted the lid.  As soon as she had every movement of the clock came to a grinding halt, and the light that flashed out from the container blinded her and Brent, and sent them reeling.  The room at the top of the tower was filled with shrieks of terror, and then everything was deathly still and quiet.

As Brent and Kira reopened their eyes, huddled together in the nearly complete darkness, the only light that remained came from the underside of the still open lid, from the words that were inscribed in scrolling letters upon it, and that were now glowing, ‘There Is Only Peace and Rest Inside, The Outside World Holds Nothing but Destruction’.

—————
written for: The Speakeasy #142
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Call Me Al

pirate_queen_by_eazzywc-d33mi3p

—————
As you may recall, when we left poor, lonely Frank, he was just sitting on the dock of the bay, killing time. Staring out into its cold murky waters, and thinking about the young, beautiful Captain Al, whom he had just met.

Frank knew that he didn’t “know” the Captain, and by that I mean that they’d never met before, but seeing her filled him with an old feeling, one that he’d not felt since he was a child, he was filled with an innocent love from long before. He sat there watching the waves gently roll in with the tide, and wondered why this dream he was trapped in felt so real, and why the other girl on the ship had acted like she couldn’t see him.

Frank had been sitting there for quite sometime, longer than he could have given a recollection of, before he noticed that there was a face in the water looking back up at him. It was a young face, the young face of a girl, the young face of a gorgeous blonde girl with eyes as blue as a tranquil sea, which made a certain sense, her being in the sea and all.

Frank sat there watching the face just below the surface that was looking back and watching him, and then a hand reached up out of the water. Frank looked down at the hand, that wasn’t wrinkled up and pruney at all, but instead was smooth and young like the face, and had a certain glow about it. Frank, thinking he was meant to go with this girl reached down to take her hand, and as he did the hand whipped back and threw something that smacked Frank in the face.

It was a cold, hard, wet something, that landed in his lap, and as he regained his senses Frank saw that the hand had withdrawn back under the surface, and the face looked now as if it was giggling.

Frank picked up the small object in his lap, and removed the seaweed that had been wrapped around it. What he found was something just as out-of-place as everything else in this dream. A cassette tape. Frank couldn’t help but let out a laugh of his own as he thought that even back in his real world this would be quite out-of-place by nearly twenty years. But as Frank looked at the cassette he noticed that there was still a label on one side, well that is to say that there was a part of a label on one side, a handwritten label, and the ink was so blurry it could barely be read…but it could be read, and what was left of the label said “…Call Me Al”.

That’s what the pirate had told him, Frank thought, “…just call me Captain Al.” he remembered her words. This must be her’s, maybe it’s some manifesto, maybe it holds the secret to who she really is, and why she seems so familiar.

Frank looked back to the face in the water, “Do you have the machine too? So I can hear what it says? I must know what’s on it, so I can get back on the ship.”

The face below the water beckoned him to join her, waving him down with the motions of her sensuous hands.

——

Now at this point I should tell you that Frank thought he was in a dream, but of course he wasn’t. He was just in another world. You see, there are many other worlds. There are the worlds beside ours, that are very similar to our own, but with very slight changes. There are the worlds behind ours, that take place in what we would think of as the past. There are the worlds ahead of ours, that take place in what we would think of as the future. And there are worlds off to the diagonal, some of which we wouldn’t be able to recognize at all. The world Frank had fallen into was behind ours, and only a little off to the side.

Now in this world there were things that would have been considered make-believe to Frank, as well as to you and me, but here they were quite real. Like Frank’s being invisible to everyone on the ship except Captain Al, the reason for which we’ll get to later; or the talking mice aboard the W.S.S., which Frank had no idea could talk; or this girl in the water, that was actually a mermaid.

——

The merpeople were the first children of Naptuna, one of the first gods, and by far the oldest thing to ever live in the great seas. For thousand of years, or perhaps even thousands of thousands, the merpeople lived in the seclusion of the ocean’s great depths, forbidden by Naptuna to go near where the waters ended. But every so often the great fish god slept, and when he did there was no one to enforce his strict rule. And so it was during one of these slumbers that a small band of merpeople, led by Tangaroa, ventured up near the surface and gazed upon the primitive people who lived above the water, and they were very primitive indeed, for the seas and all that lived in them, were much older than the land.

Tangaroa and his followers spent many long days watching these land dwellers, who had many strange practices that were quite foreign to the merpeople. They watched the exchange of small shiny discs for food, how they covered themselves with the hides of the creatures they killed, and how some stayed in the shade and directed, while others worked in the fields along the coast by the sea, and some did nothing at all but look fat and happy.

Now all of this looked strange to Tangaroa and his group of observers, because life was much different down in the sea. The merpeople had never worn clothes and felt no shame for it, and they didn’t have money because they didn’t buy and sell goods. There were no masters, or servants, or rich, or poor. The sea had always been a bountiful place, with more than enough for all, and they all worked together, and none went without. Still, there were those among the merpeople that always secretly wanted more.

Then one day, about halfway through Naptuna’s great slumber, while Tangaroa was studying the strange people at the shore, he saw something he hadn’t seen in all his years of watching. It started as what seemed to be just another simple exchange, the shiny discs were offered, but this time the one they were offered to declined to take them. The offerer grew angry and pulled out more shiny discs, and again the one they were offered to refused to take them, instead laughing in the ever reddening face of the man with the shiny discs, the man they were offered to turned and proceeded to walk away. The man making the offering drew a shiny sharp object from his side, one that Tangaroa had seen used to butcher and skin the beasts of the field, and he slid it straight through the man who was walking away. The man fell where he was, and the one who had been doing the offering earlier took what he wanted and made off into the darkness.

Tangaroa had never known the idea of simply taking something from another without it having been offered, or of having something and being unwilling to share. And thus began the reign of the sinister King Tangaroa, who formed an army of mermen and started a great war, for why should they labour side by side with the others, when they could armour themselves with giant shells of the deep, and arm themselves with the spines of the ancient sea urchins. And nearly three thousand years later, when Naptuna finally awoke, he no longer recognised his first and most beloved children, and they no longer knew him, for now they only worshipped themselves.

For what existed now deep under water was a corrupted reflection of life on the land, Tangaroa had built a kingdom, and declared himself a god, and he had made war with the other mermen that would not submit to him, until only his loyal soldiers remained, and he made prizes of the mermaidens, and slaves of the lesser creatures of the sea. And all of this upset Naptuna a great deal.

In a flash of anger Naptuna swallowed up Tangaroa and all of his mermen, he released the mermaidens from their bonds, and the sea creatures from their servitude.

But this left the mermaidens with no one to help them bear children, for Naptuna had decreed that there would be no more treacherous mermen. However, Naptuna could not stand the sorrow this caused his beloved first daughters, so once in each mermaidens life she is allowed to go to the surface and seek out a true love. And this is how the people of the surface came to know of mermaidens, for the sailors of yore would bafflingly jump overboard to be with these creatures, for the gaze of a mermaiden floods a man with desire that he can not withstand.

And such was the trap that Frank found himself now in, after staring into the blue eyes of the beautiful face below the waves, he didn’t even realize that he had thrown himself from the dock, nor did he know that Captain Al watched on from the window of her cabin.

—–

Now it’s important to note that the charms of mermaiden only work thru the veil of the sea, and once in the water Frank quickly saw his new love for what she really was, a girl who is half-fish, with gills hidden behind her wavy blonde hair. But there was scarce little Frank could do in way of changing his mind, for once in the water she had grabbed hold of his hand and propelled them toward the sea bed below. And when the light from above was a faint distant thing, she pulled Frank close and kissed him, and waited and watched. Frank fought to free himself of her grasp, but found his struggles were in vain, for her grip was unyielding, and her strength much greater than his. And as Frank felt his lungs screaming, and his eyes about ready to pop from his head, he thought one more time of Captain Al, and the red apple she held, before his body gave in, and he gasped, filling his lungs with the cold, salty waters of the deep.

Drowning wasn’t at all like Frank had imagined, in fact he wasn’t feeling any pain at all, and when he opened his eyes expecting to see a light that he should follow, he instead saw the young mermaids face giggling before him. Frank inhaled again and could feel the chilly water go in through his nose, but his chest did not rise, he did however feel a cool draft run down the sides of his neck, and tentatively he raised a hand to feel what it was, ‘My god I have gills!!! What has she done to me!!!’ he thought, as he looked at her quite bewildered.

“A mermaidens kiss is a magical thing, but only magical once, and only to her true love.” she told him.

He understood her words perfectly, they were not garbled at all by being underwater. “I think there has been some sort of mistake.” Frank replied, “I can’t be your true love, I don’t even know who you are.”

“My name is Ariel, and you most certainly are my true love, for you accepted my gift as you sat on the dock, and now we will be wed first thing in the morning, and you will father my children before your transformation is complete, and Naptuna swallows you up.”

“Ariel…like ‘The Little Mermaid’?”

“I’m not a little mermaid.” Ariel said quite perturbed, “I’m a perfectly average sized mermaid, and how dare you insult your soon-to-but-not-for-very-long-be wife.”

“Lets not go ringing the wedding bells quite yet, and what is this transformation you’re talking about? And what’s a Naptuna?”

“My kiss will not stop at giving you gills, you will be a merman by the setting of the second sun, and Naptuna, the great god of the sea, does not allow any mermen to live.”

“Not me sister, I’m not ready to die, or be half fishy.” and with that proclamation Frank began to swim for the surface.

He didn’t get far before Ariel grabbed him by the hand once more, and against his protests pulled him further down into a trench, and then into a cave that was there in its side. Where she left Frank after closing his foot inside of a giant clam’s shell from which he could not pry himself free.

“I’ll be back to get you for the ceremony in the morning, until then, rest well my love.” and then Ariel disappeared off into the distance.

Frank was becoming more and more concerned because he had noticed that he was beginning to form blotches that were made up of scales, and the spaces in between his fingers looked as if they were starting to web. ‘This can’t be real, this dream must be over soon, people don’t really get turned into mermen, and then eaten by nappy tunas.’ Frank thought.

As Frank still struggled to free himself he saw a girl near the entrance to the cave. “Ariel, come here, you must send me back before it’s to late.”, but as soon as Frank finished talking the girl disappeared out of view.

A few minutes later she returned, and this time Frank tried in a somewhat calmer tone. “Please Ariel,” he said, “I need to talk to you, let me help you understand.”, and again the girl withdrew out of view.

When she appeared for a third time Frank again tried a new approach, “HEY! GET IN HERE!”. The girl startled, and froze, and then slowly crept forward, and as she came into view Frank saw that it wasn’t Ariel, or even a mermaiden, but it was a different creature all together, “Are you…part octopus?” Frank asked as he looked at the arms coming out from her lower half.

“Oh no, the meroctopusses live only in much colder waters. I’m a mersquid.” the girl explained to Frank.

‘A squid girl, of course, because this dream wasn’t strange enough already.’ Frank thought. “What in the world is a mersquid?” Frank asked her, not entirely sure if he wanted to hear the reply.

“Well, after Naptuna devoured all the mermen, the mermaidens tried to find another to help keep their species alive. The meroctopusses, mersquids, and merhorses were all born before the great Naptuna allowed the mermaidens to go up and take men for lovers.”

“Meroctopusses and mersquids I sort of understand, but what was a horse doing down in the sea?”

The squid girl laughed, then replied, “Not a horse a seahorse, but they turned out quite the opposite as the rest of us, and can only run about the bottom of the sea floor kicking up silt.”

“Squidgirl, you must help me get free. That mermaid means to force me to marry her, and then feed me to some fish god.”

“Oh it’s a great honor to be eaten by Naptuna.”

“I don’t want to be honored, I just want to go home.”

“Then why did you accept her gift when she offered?”

“You mean the cassette she flung at my head? I only kept it because it’s about Captain Al, and I have to know more about her, she is the one I’m truly in love with.”

Hearing this declaration of true love melted the young squid girls heart, “I’m tired of watching these mermaidens trick men into marrying them, I can help you get free, but you’ll need the assistance of Lady Bah to stop the transformation. By the way, my name isn’t Squidgirl, it’s Legasea.”

Legasea grabbed hold of the clam, and with her eight powerful leg-arm-tentacle-things, and easily pried it open, freeing Frank. Frank then held tight to her and she propelled them far out to sea cutting through the depths of the ocean like a torpedo. Until they reached a tiny island, not much bigger around than the average house, but it reached up to great heights, “This is the island of Lady Bah.” Legasea told Frank, “and at the very tippy top, you’ll find the great lady, she’s the only one that can help you now.”.

“Thank you.” Frank told her from the bottom of his heart. “How can I ever repay you.”

“You can’t. You’re a land dweller, and I’m a girl that’s half squid. What could you possibly do for me? I’m just glad I get to stick it to those mermaidens for a change. They think they’re so special.” with that Legasea turned, and with one powerful flap of her arm-tentacle-leggy-things she shot off, disappearing back into the depths of the sea.

Now out of the water, Frank found that it was much more difficult to breathe, he felt as if his lungs had shriveled up and disappeared, and his legs felt as if they were trying to come together and become one appendage, ‘Not much longer and I’ll have a fish tail’ he thought, as he began the desperate climb to the top of the mountain that towered above him.

There were several points along the climb that Frank thought he’d have to just give up, his webbed hands made it nearly impossible to grab onto the sharp rocks, the scales that were starting to cover his body were drying out and feeling quite crackly, and his newly formed gills burned and longed to be back in the cool water below. Despite all the pain he was in he pushed on, until finally he pulled himself over the last ledge, to the tiny circle of rock that was the top of Lady Bah’s island, and as he looked up he saw Lady Bah standing there before him.

Lady Bah was not what Frank had expected, although he wasn’t really sure what to expect anymore, she was what we would call a satyr, a being that is half person and half goat. You see, in this world the animals were created long before the people, and in between the animals and the people there were the creatures that were a half of each. Lady Bah, the leader of the light brigade, was the first satyr, and that’s why she was the leader, and also the most wise and powerful.

“Are you Lady Bah?” Frank asked very meekly.

“Yes, and you are trespassing on my sacred island, and will now be food for my children.”

Frank looked around and saw many more half goat people starting to edge out of the underbrush. “Please, you have to help me.  They’re turning me into a merman, and then they’re going to let some fish eat me.” Frank pleaded.

“And why should I care about the affairs of the stinky fish people?” Lady Bah questioned.

“Because I’ve just met Captain Al, the girl I’m destined to spend the rest of my life with, and I haven’t even had the chance to make her see I’m really real yet.”

“Stop!” Lady Bah called out, just as one of the goatmen was about to run a spear through Frank from behind.  “Captain Al you say, the Captain Al, Captain Alex Ferdinandles of the W.S.S.?”

“Actually, I believe if it’s Captain Alex Fluffydander, but yes she’s the one.” Frank exclaimed.

Without another word Lady Bah charged forward headbutting Frank and knocking him unconscious.  When he awoke he noticed that he was not so short of breath, and when he looked at his hands the webbing was gone, and when he checked his torso the scales were gone, and to his everlasting relief when he touched his neck his gills were gone too.  “Why?”

“Because the prophecies foretells, once Ferdinandles finds love, the great ending begins.”  Lady Bah explained, “And now you will return to the land of the people, and profess your love for this girl.”

“Well that makes no sense, and I’m not hearing a plan that will make her fall in love with me, and I’m still pretty sure her name is Flaffydoodles.” Frank told her, “But, since I’m not going to be a fishguy, and get eaten by some tuna, I’ll give it a shot.  Do you have a boat I can borrow?  And I go that way right?” Frank asked pointing in the wrong direction.

“I have a far better idea. Come here and look, do you see that point far out on the horizon?” Lady Bah asked him as she pointed at something far out of sight.

“I don’t think so…you mean that…OWWWW!!!” Frank screamed as Lady Bah’s back hooves kicked him square in the behind, and sent him rocketing through the air.  Frank’s rear stung for half the flight back to the bay, and he splashed down not far from the dock he was sitting on earlier.  He finally pulled himself to shore,  removed the seaweed from his hair, and turned to look where the W.S.S had been earlier before it sailed away.

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written for: GoodReads.com Weekly Short Story Contest Week 193 – Topic – Cassette Tape
photo by: EazzyWc


Grandpa’s Story

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Grandpa told the best stories.  Last night he told of how the evil King Trumperdink sent his henchmen to capture the Myopic Dazzle Basin, and the fey witch Tinkertangle, the only one able to clearly see its blurry images of the future. The king’s men were successful, and Tinkertangle was locked away in the deepest, darkest of the kingdoms dungeons along with her most magical of bowls.

“Grandpa!  It’s time for the rest of the story?”

“Oh that’s right, I owe you an ending…where were we?”

“Sir William was taking his army to save Tinkertangle.”

“Most certainly not, there was no army.  Just Sir William, his most trusted friend and fellow knight Sir Buckley the Brave, and the only barely trustable pirate, Captain Flashatty.”

“But Grandpa, you can’t storm a castle with only three people.”

“No, and it’d be a foolish mistake to try, but sometimes when you just need to get something out, sneaking in is the better way.  And that’s just what they did, slipping past tired eyed guards in the waning hours, hiding in the long shadows cast by the nearly moonless night, and sneaking down seldom used corridors that had  been nearly forgotten, down a long spiraling stone staircase they went deep underground, and found themselves in the very belly of the keep.  Down the long narrow hallway they quietly tred until they reached the far end, and the cell reserved for the king’s most prized prisoners.

“Who goes there?” questioned the guard by the door.

With one mighty thud from Sir Buckley to the top of his head the guard slumped in the floor, and would likely not wake until late the next day.

“Buckley?!?” Sir William protested.

“We don’t have time ask politely my liege.” responded Buckley as he retrieved the ring of keys from the guard’s belt. “Are you sure freeing this witch is the best of ideas.”

“No.” William admitted as he took the keys from Buckley, opened the very old iron door, and entered the cell to find a not at all scary looking witch, but instead a beautiful young woman who seemed just a little bit transparent.  “We’ve come to free you.” William announced.

A somewhat mischievous smile crossed Tinkertangle’s face, “Thank you brave knights, let me just collect my….”

“We’ll carry this for you.” Buckley told her as he picked up the Myopic Dazzle Basin, “We’d be best to keep these two separate.” Buckley said to William as he headed out of the cell. All traces of Tinkertangle’s smile vanished as he went.

Captain Flashatty led the way back, not to the stairs that went up to the keep, instead he took them to a barely noticeable hitch in the hallway where he pressed the fifth brick up, and the third from the right, and the wall slid open a very little bit.  The four slipped into the passage that almost none knew of; Flashatty only knew it because he was once a guest of this very same dungeon, and had used it to escape.

The passage led all the way outside of the keep, where the sun was just starting to rise.  “This is no good,” William proclaimed, “they’ll track us too easily in the day, we will never get away without a fight.”

“I may be able to help,” Tinkertangle humbly offered, “but I’d need the magic of my bowl.”

“This is a bad idea.” Buckley advised.

“We have no choice, give her the bowl.”

Tinkertangle smiled wickedly once again, and as soon as she grasped the sacred vessel she began to dance around and chant, as she danced she threw handfuls of the bowl’s water into the air.  “Summer morning, not what I need. Listen four winds as I plead. Blow and freeze as I demand. Turn this place into a winter wonderland.”

Clouds filled the sky, it turned nearly as dark as night, and large heavy snowflakes of a blizzard started to fall, quickly covering any tracks that were left. Tinkertangle seemed to vanish into thin air.

“Where did she go?” William asked as he looked all about.

“She’s gone.” Buckley said, “I tried to tell you, never trust a witch.”

“The end.”

“Grandpa, that can’t be the end. The witch got away.”

“That’s the way that these things go sometimes, for witches are full of tricks.”

“But witches aren’t real.”

“Or are they?” Grandpa asked as he turned out the light, and shut the door behind him.
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written for: The Speakeasy #139
photo by: Deliverme
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Myopic Dazzle Basin

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The Myopic Dazzle Basin is kept locked away in the deepest, and darkest corner of the dungeon; along with the fey witch they captured, the only one able see clearly what it shows.
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written for: Trifextra – write exactly 33 words including Myopic, Dazzle, and Basin
photo by: lostknightkg