The Book Tree
I just submitted this story to fantasy-writers.org for the December 2020 contest. I’m really pleased with it, and hope you will be, too.
Penelope Nuru Tesfaye, Librarian of the Third Annex of the Endless Library and youngest in the known history of that dimension-spanning institution, threw her crystal glasses onto her desk and glared at her assistants. “No ideas?” she demanded. “Not one?”
They looked back at her: Alexander, a shaggy-haired boy in bare feet and patched clothing; a one-winged owl pacing the tops of Penelope’s book cases; and a nervous shelving squirrel grooming his tail under the owl’s attentive watch. What am I asking them for, the Librarian chided herself. I might as well ask the walls. Then she remembered that sometimes the Library walls would answer, if you asked nicely. Oh! It was maddening—especially since she should really be able to come up with a solution herself. Some Librarian she was turning out to be.
It's been awhile since I posted a story here. But this month, Fantasy-Writers.org made their monthly contest another 5-element challenge. Can you find the evidence of corona virus thinking in the following story? These were the prompts:
And here's the story... "Flickered"
It was one in the morning in the back room of a high class speakeasy. January chill seeped through the blacked over window. The beauty across the table pulled her sequined wrap tighter. She was slim and brunette, and whether you looked at her face or her figure, the view was grand.
"I'll see your fifty," she said, "and raise you a hundred." She grinned.
I’m excited to say that I won the December 2018 story contest on www.fantasy-writers.org. This is the first time I’ve written for the site, and didn’t imagine I’d grab the brass ring this soon.
Anyway, I’m really proud of this story. In keeping with the December holiday, story rules required that I include all of the following: 1. A feast 2. Songs sung once a year 3. Decorating a tree 4. A birth in unusual circumstances and 5. Breaking into houses for a benevolent purpose. Hope you enjoy Monkey Weather.
The day before Festa, Marya pu Nova, the widow of Tenth House, attracted the attention of a god. She woke in the hour before dawn before any of the staff or guests, after yet another night alone. Lighting a taper, she padded up the stone stairs and onto the open third-floor gallery.
The god watched her through the eyes of his children, the monkeys that roamed the rooftops, temples, and monuments of the ancient city of Lankoor. Tenth House had its own troop of them, under the rule of an old fellow humans called Greyface.
A Sliver of the Sky
Writing this story took me on a reading journey high over the streets of Manhattan to learn who lives in these immensely high buildings and what that life is like. One really interesting fact is that at a certain point, you’re so high that you can’t see the city below without going to your window and looking straight down, and the sky in front of you is rather dull. Not a fact I used here, but interesting none the less.
This story won the F-F monthly contest in January 2017.
A black paw flicked from the shadows and swatted my candle, snuffing out the flame, and spilling wax on a ten-thousand-dollar rug. "Stop that, Py," I said. The wax hardened into another strata of trial-and-error. Teaching myself witchcraft had been a very slow business.
Get ready for some puns: "archetype" and "orc-type" or, "Orchetype". Or - well, anyway. This is a silly piece. I hope you get a chuckle.
“The Orchetype?” The name was as unimpressive as the ship itself, a squat, old bucket I wouldn’t trust to break orbit.
“My Lady’s little Joke,” replied the dwarf, puffing a bit from keeping up with my longer strides across the length of the spaceport.
I’ve spent some time with dwarves, what with a little light syndicate work, some illegal asteroid mining ops, and a short stint as a bouncer in a Gabranian whore house. Doesn’t matter if they’re three spanners to the wind or stone cold sober, they’ll emphasize just about any Noun that can’t outrun a Capital Letter.
To the Ruins
The prompt for this story was "Regret & Redemption". It's another short that could easily be a full adventure book. I especially like my main character. At the very end, there's a reference to later events - which is what a future novel would cover.
Reader, I promised that even if in my writings I shield the reputations of some, I would never spare my own. By now, you have facts enough to judge me. In this next entry, I give you more and besides.
Among the men of action I have known, Braudus Flynt was deep in goblin lore. He knew the marks of every Eastern clan; was on fighting terms with every chieftain. Perhaps you’ve read the spurious accounts of him published by Professor Marriden. I swear to you, he was both nobler and sadder than you know.
I traveled with Flynt. I fought beside him. He saved my life, and I cost him his.
I love fairy tales, and I love to create new takes on them for a new era. Here is a twist on "Snow White" that I'm rather proud of.
How did I meet your mother? You want to hear that old story. Are you sure you won’t be scared? Yes, you can sit in my lap. But if you fall asleep, I’m taking you straight off to bed.
Once upon a time, seven dwifes stood weeping around a crystal casket in a forest glade. Yes, that’s the right word: dwifes. Are you telling this story or am I? Inside the casket was the handsomest prince in the whole world, Stormwhite.
I’m starting at the wrong place? Alright. We'll go farther back.
Many times I write a short story and find it deserves a full book. This story of two small forest folk fighting pirates is an example. Maybe one day I’ll write that book.
Night on the sea after the storm. The clatter and commotion of men working by lamplight to restore the shredded rigging of their crippled ship.
Lafttak climbs the ratlines, carrying whatever is needed to wherever the bigfolk want it. He may be a passenger, but he can help. Most laugh to see him lifting barrels of tar or coils of rope twice his height, and grunt their thanks, then make the evil eye when his back is turned. Greenfolk aren't very welcome on human ships.
The Library of Alexander
Another Fantasy-Faction contest winner, this one from December 2015. The story prompt was "Young Love".
The Library of Alexander
The wizard’s apprentice sighed and took off her mistress’s magical translation glasses, then set down the last of the books she'd pulled from the Eternal Library’s shelves. "It’s not this one either,” she said to the boy sitting across from her. “The title translates to Gardening for Dragons, though it sounds much fiercer in firetongue.” It certainly wasn’t The Nightmare of King Barouk, which was the last book the wizard had sent her to find. She’d already fetched and delivered ten others, but her mistress would not stand for even the smallest failure from her apprentice.
The Far Unknown
I almost used the title of this story as the name of my blog. Meanwhile, this was written for the November 2018 Fantasy-Faction.com challenge, in which we chose from several "ship" pictures and wrote a story about one of them. Enjoy.
he lure of Aelf gold sent Marinhall to Mitgar’s dungeons and doomed the Grom. Stronger than steel and shinier than a seaman’s eye at the sight of dry land, a blades-worth of aelfgeld could ransom a king — or send a sailor beyond his charts, into the far unknown.
On a raw, miserable morning, we rowed Weaver out of Cape Vale harbor and pointed her prow to the frozen seas at the bottom of the world. Karadal stood in the bow, his silver hair flat against his skull, looking like death. I wheeled my chair next to the Aelf and secured it to the rail. He acknowledged me with a nod. “Captain Bucket.”
“So,” I ventured. “What’s it like to live for a thousand years?”
I write because it's the most fun I can have legally.