Frog Slime

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“This will never do,” Mrs. McGillicutty snapped. She dropped the toad gently back down to into the young man’s pail.

“Why not?”

“It’s a simple mistake, but one witches such as I – and you, if you’re willing to stick with your apprenticeship – must learn well.” The woman, whose wild curls had once been a fine jet-black but were now grayed and thick, pointed at the toad. “See the roughness of the skin? The mottled pattern? It’s a toad. In order for spells requiring frog slime to work, you must have a frog.”

The boy rolled his eyes. “So you want me to go back out and look for another one?”

“Well, if you want to make a potion to breathe underwater, you need a frog’s slime. There’s no way around it.” She pointed back to the toad. “If you find another of these, just let it go. The frogs around here are a muddy green, and they tend to live in the ponds.” She turned to her own work, dissecting flowers and carefully removing their various organs to make an aphrodisiac. “Now get on – shoo! The faster you get the frog, the sooner we make the potion.”

Young Chris pursed his lips, refusing to contradict his boss when he left. He shut the door behind him, then sauntered down the dirt path toward the pond. It was another mile away, over by where he’d already picked mushrooms and violets for the witch.

“Stupid witch,” he mumbled to himself. “Should have joined the army and fought the British like father wanted.” He kicked a rock in the middle of the road and contemplated how it rolled, how it couldn’t control its own direction or destiny. He should have followed the advice of the natural world and not tried to kick against the thorns by taking up this unnatural occupation.

Along the side of the road, however, he spotted a bunch of trillium. They were in flower, and the bunch was big enough that he could take several of them and not disturb their future growth. The witch liked these flowers, so he hoped she’d be pleased even if he didn’t find the frog. He dumped the toad out of the pail then collected some of the flowers and continued on his way.

The sun shone brightly, bleaching his hair as he continued down the path. A little ways further, and his eyes caught sight of a spider’s web. He investigated closer, then noticed the little friend of all witches: the black widow. His heart shuddered at the thoughts of the bug’s bite, but he knew the potency of the spider’s bite was something all witches desired. He took a stick, prodded the creature, and eventually convinced her to bite the end of the oak. Sure, the poison would need to be leached soon in order to be made use of, but the witch would know how to do that.

Soon, the young man came to the pond. As if on command, a frog, definitely a frog and not a toad, swam up from the foulest part of the pond and sat on a log. Green algae stuck to its skin.

Mrs. McGillicutty wanted the frog, but the young man looked at the animal and considered it. He’d taken the venom of a spider and a few shoots of a flower – why capture and torture this poor animal? Why waste that time? He scooped the frog from its perch, wiped away a little of the algae, and scooped the slime into one of the wooden gourds the witch made him take on his journeys. The frog was pleased to re-enter the pond, and the boy put the gourd back into his pail.

By the time he returned to the witch’s house, the sun considered setting, and clouds threatened to rain. He knocked once on the door and entered.

The witch looked up from where she stirred a cauldron. “Any luck?” she asked.

“No,” he answered. “I didn’t get you a frog.” He placed the bucket on the table.

“You can just look again tomorrow.”

“I don’t think so,” he answered. “Witchcraft is a woman’s work for a reason: it’s not something a man like me should partake in. I’m not learning anything, certainly not enough to make a living doing something so… foul.”

The witch opened the gourd and examined the slime inside. She shuffled through the flowers and sniffed the stick, discerning what was important about it. “Then why bring me all this?”

“Because I knew you’d like them.”

“And how did you know that?”

He bit his lip.

“You’re learning at quite the right pace. Now sit back – I’ve made us some venison stew, magic-free.”

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This was written for Alexander Eliot’s new photo prompt! The prompt isn’t on any certain schedule, as far as I can tell, but I can promise that the photos have been wonderful so far. No rules, just a story.

The Lavender Witch

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I’ve farmed lavender for uncountable years; witches live a long time, after all.  The quality of my lavender eclipses ordinary varieties – even mortals love my cultivars.  I can make a powerful sleep potion from the oils of my blossoms.  I could teach you, but mortality is precious – don’t waste it on sleep magic.  Don’t waste it at all.

Like I said, witches live a long time, but not forever.  I love you, child of man, and I want to give you the lavender farm when I pass.  Bury me beneath the tree in my fields, and I will rest easy.

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This was written for Joanne the Geek’s Flash Fiction Challenge #5magic. The prompt word is in bold.

Photo by CARLOS PÉREZ ADSUAR ANTÓN on Pexels.com

The Evil Gelly

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The druid priest held up his holly branch and muttered spells.  He held back the onlookers behind him.  “Do not touch it – it is anathema!”

Before him flailed a red blob, not human or natural.  It resisted his spells, so the priest sighed.

“Damn.  Looks like we’ll need to sacrifice a virgin.”

***

This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #99, Anathema.

The image is a bloodfire ooze by Anne Stokes from MMIV, according to the site I found it on (which I believe claims it had no IP rules).  However, if I am wrong, please feel free to point it out and I’ll find something inevitably worse but probably fairer!  I am worried that the site lied to me…

Be Careful Who You Resurrect

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The side of the candle read ‘Apple-Cinnamon’ scented.  I replaced it on the table, just as Tony wanted it, but said, “You can’t use your mom’s stupid candles for this.  I don’t think any ghost would answer to the call over a candle with all that perfume in it.”

“What do you want me to do?” Tony asked.  He turned the pages of the ancient grimoire in his hands, looking for further instruction.  “You got the pig’s blood, then?”

I put my backpack down and drew out the Cool-whip tub full of blood.  “Yeah.  What do we need to do with it?”

Tony put on a pair of gloves, opened my little container, and dipped a finger into the ooze.  “I’m surprised you didn’t have any problems getting it.”

I just shrugged.  “Butcher said he didn’t have many requests for blood, that most of it just got bleached and drained away.  So he gave me some.”

Tony ripped a couple sheets of wide-rule from a notebook and placed them just before the candle.  “Alright.  What ghost you want to see first?  Has to be someone you know is in Hell.”

“Hitler!” I said.  “See if he’s as hard to kill in real life as he was in Wolfenstein!”

“Yeah!” Tony agreed.  He dipped his finger back in the blood, this time drawing more onto the latex, and wrote the name ‘Adolf Hitler’ on the pages six times.  “Oh spirits, bring us who we requested!”

He pinched the candle light out, and the room fell to darkness.  It was quiet, only the pitter-patter of rain on the window.  My hackles raised, and I got the feeling I wasn’t alone.  A chill ran up my spine, goosebumps forming all over my flesh.  I whimpered, but steeled myself by holding onto the back of Tony’s desk chair.

Without warning, the lights in the room flicked on.

I squealed and fell into Tony’s lap as he screamed.

At the door, hand on the switch, stood Tony’s mom.  She tapped her foot, letting the toe of her high-heeled shoe make angry clacks against the wooden floor.  “What are you doing, Tony?”

He stammered too much, so I answered, “Resurrecting… resurrecting Hitler.”

His mother rolled her eyes and stomped over to see what was on Tony’s desk.  She grabbed the two sheets of notebook paper, crumpled them, and threw them in the trash can.  She turned her attention, then, to the leatherbound volume by the side and snatched it up.  “You obviously didn’t turn to the appendix – Hitler’s one of those irredeemably evil people that our Covens unanimously elected to seal into Hell.  And wide-ruled paper?  You should know better than this.”

I felt my heart rate increase again.  Tony’s mom was… a witch?  That was so strangely hot.

“Aww, Mom,” Tony whined.  “You won’t teach me anything.  I was doing the best I could.”

“By resurrecting Hitler?” she asked.  “No.  You’re grounded, young man.”

I crawled off Tony’s lap and shuffled my way to the door.  “Uh, yeah, dude.  Uh, I’m just gonna go home.”  I dashed away, didn’t look back to see what Tony or his mom said, didn’t wait to see if his witch mom would call my normal-ass mom and get me grounded, too.

***

This was written for the Rachel Poli Time to Write prompt.  Rachel Poli is extremely popular and active on Twitter, but I think she’s not widely followed in my little corner of WordPress.  Check her out – she has a ton of interesting writing-based materials! 

Veritas!

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“Their wards are powerful.”  The words slithered out of Salacus’s lips while he plucked at the shining ribbon of magic.  Power reverberated through to his fingers.

His boss, Maledicta, slapped the hand away from the ribbon.  “Then don’t touch it, you fool!  It only has power as long as we can’t get the truth to reveal itself.”  She pushed Salacus out of the way and scanned the dark void for a source of the illusion’s power.

“There!”  With straight, desperate finger, Salacus pointed to a cylindrical rod of gold at the end of the ribbons.  “It’s the power source.”

Maledicta chuckled.  “You’ve met your doom, Angelica! Veritas!”

The golden ribbons disappeared, showing instead a play room strewn with toilet paper.  Maledicta and Salacus crept over the paper to where Angelica’s children slept…

(132 words)

***

This was written for the FFfAW Challenge #201!  The picture was provided by – can it be!? – moi!

So allow me to regale you of the truth behind this photo, if you want it: aftermath of a party in a dorm.   I woke up and saw this on my way to the bathroom.  I went back to my room for my camera (’twas before camera phones) and snapped a picture.  It’s been long enough ago that the people under the tent probably wouldn’t care if they knew I had this, and maybe not even if I still remembered who it was sleeping there…

Yes, I am a millennial.

A Missive from Dr. Stokes of Attenhold University

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I flexed my fingers beneath the sealskin gloves.  Tarileah, the elflord who hiked before me, didn’t have to wrangle such thick clothing, his body being made for extreme climates such as these.  “Storm’s clearing, eh?” I asked, hoping to inject some cheer.

Tarileah responded with a shout just over his shoulder, “Can your human eyes see it yet?”

“See what?” I asked.

“Hurgruld Mountain.”  Tarileah pointed ahead, through some mist.  “I can see unnatural shapes ahead.  We might approach today, perhaps tomorrow if we must camp.”

I squinted my eyes, but I saw nothing, try as I might.  The dwarven mountain was surely in that direction, and I could believe Tarileah wouldn’t lie about his excellent sight, but my senses couldn’t detect the mighty, dwarven Hurgruld.

The dwarves create magnificent things and leave fantastic vistas behind them wherever they go.  After they’ve strip-mined the inside of their mountains, emptied every vein of gold and gems and adamantium, they saunter out of their underground holds and take a look at how they changed the shape of their abode.

After a long silence, something that makes us human visitors and researchers nervous, one dwarf harrumphs and declares the decor gauche, last century, out of touch.  Another may point out cracks in what appears to be a flawless facade, yet another determine that it doesn’t have the essence of dwarfness about it.

Without arguing, the bearded folk take up a pickaxe or a shovel (some humans claim there is sexual differentiation in tool preference, but those humans have not studied statistics and would claim wrong) and leave everything without qualm.

It astounds me how quickly human and elven pilferers descend upon the mountain en masse and take out anything valuable and many things that aren’t.  Hurgruld was, by rumor, recently abandoned, and I hoped to find it mostly intact.  My nanothropology work for the University of Attenhold would be phenomenally enhanced by the presence of an entire dwarf city, complete with all the holdings thereof.

I chewed on some of the hard tack from my bag and longed for the strip of jerky I’d have with my supper.  Tarileah’s pace didn’t slow, nor did the column of Attenhold students and technical workers that followed.  Scarcely an hour of walking passed before the squirming excitement of the young elves (of which Tarileah most certainly was not a member) became audible, and chatter amongst the studentry in general flared up.

The slope beneath our feet pointed upward, and as the altitude climbed the fog soon cleared.  Through the mist, at last, I could see the outline of a giant’s shoulders.  The masculine figure (or feminine?  with dwarves it’s hard to tell) held down a dragon by the nape of the neck.  The immense mountain statue was carved exquisitely to reveal a chill marble finish.  Snow capped the frozen threshold and smoothed the edges of the magnificent sculpture.

“By the ghost of Amathea,” I heard Tarileah mutter, “It’s amazing.”

I wasn’t about to swear by my own god and risk damnation, but certainly the mountain’s appearance was grand beyond belief.  A human would have risked life and limb to retain this magnificent fortress, this astounding representation of one’s own form – and here it was, empty.

Not even my students, young and spry, responded as quickly as I.  I hurried to the mouth of the (comparatively) small dragon, as I noted rightly that a stone door was lodged in the throat of the unrealistically proportioned dragon.  As a good sign that the quarry within remain untouched, several inches of ice held the door shut and a crack of glassy frost sealed the two doors together.

Tarileah caught up with me easily.  “It seems we’ve arrived prior to the robbers.”  He placed his slender hand on the bas relief under snow, then brushed away some of the flakes to examine the intricate carvings underneath.

I removed a small pick and hammer from my own bag, then chipped away at the ice.  Students, all of them aware of the work and prepared to do what was necessary, set up a camp outside the cave and immediately set to removing the scads of ice that kept the dwarven city alone and empty.

My breath, which turned into fog and eventually withdrew from the air, became heavy and wheezing by the time the winter sun began to set.  The human students filled the lanterns with a little whale oil and the elves cast their spells so as to keep the area lively throughout the evening hours.

It was as dark as pitch by the time I sat down next to the campfire and pulled my hood from around my head.  I hadn’t noticed how cold my fingers had gotten, not with the excitement of this find, not as hard as I had been working.  I warmed them near the fire then reached to my bag in search of a little piece of dried beef, which in combination with the hard tack I’d already consumed should sustain me for the next day.  Before I could get the morsel into my mouth, one of Tarileah’s students put a hand on my shoulder.  “Professor,” the young human said, “We’re about to get the door open.”

I dropped the jerky back into its paper sack and shoved that into my leather bag.  Supper could wait for this magnificent discovery.

The students had chipped and carried away the ice to reveal a smooth mosaic stone beneath the foot of the door.  The tile seemed to creep underneath more ice that led up to the entry, but it wouldn’t be worth investigating until summer.  Clever lines had been pushed beneath the doors to help pull them open, and the human students had contrived of a wire device to pop open the dwarven lock without breaking it.

I shuffled up beside Tarileah.  “I hope this is as complete as we dreamed.”

“The omens are in our favor.”

“Heave!” someone shouted.  A small team of students took to the ropes and tugged, pulled with all their might to get one of the massive doorways to budge.  Without our having built scaffolds to remove the ice at the top of the door, the massive structure bent slightly before dislodging – thankfully in one, safe piece.  Some of the taller humans placed tools between the open door and the closed one, helping to open the door with their levers.

Tarileah held an orb of magic in his hand as I lifted my torch.  “Shall we tempt ourselves tonight by looking at what we must wait until tomorrow to search?”

“Oh, without doubt,” I answered.  “It would be a right pity to leave this crypt dark after all this walking and work.  Besides, we may be able to move camp inside.”

The students held off, many of them with jealous faces, as Tarileah and I shuffled into the doorway.  The inside of the dragon’s throat was lined with glassy tile.  Blues and tins swirled into marvelous garnets and flagstone chips, each placed with remarkable precision in a grout that nearly out-whited marble.  “This mosaic is an impeccable example of what Dr. Stonington described in her thesis on the Nanopic Renaissance period – I never dreamed to witness so perfect an example!”

Tarileah nodded quietly, but his elven features betrayed an excitement rare amongst his people.  This love of knowledge, adventure, success – oh, how grand to share something like this with another!  How lucky was I that the stoic elves could share human love of study!  His own joy rubbed off into mine, further spurring my own response.

We came to the end of the tunnel.  Our frail lights failed to light the massive cavern in its entirety, but I was astounded at the reflective properties of the materials that lined the causeway.  I suspected the spire that rose through the middle of the mountain was of diamond and anthracite – a magnificent piece of contrasting darkness and light, forged with methods unknown to man or elf.  After checking my footing, I realized that traversing such a monumentally large cavern would be unwise without additional light.

“Get everyone in.  We’ll grid this thing up, start cataloging tomorrow,” I said.

“We’ll need horses,” Tarileah announced.  “Someone will have to return to town and get a telegram to Attenhold requesting money for the excavation and shipments.”

I smiled.  That was of no matter.  At last, scientific process had prevailed.  Mount Hulgruld would be carefully excavated and its treasures brought to the University of Attenhold.  No one would be allowed to rob this hoard!

***

This was written for D. Peach’s new challenge.  I read the fantastic entry Glass Mountain by Robbie Cheadle and thought the photo was a magnificent choice for something to write about.  Since then I’ve read other entries that have shown up on D. Peach’s blog, and wow – amazing!

Want a Piece of Candy?

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All the kids in town
In their bright orange cloaks
And their hero masks
Beg candy from all my folks.

What they don’t know
Is that I make great goodies
Filled with razor blades
And start a rumpus with the mommies.

I cackle and escape by broom.

***

This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt Number 77.  I would like to acknowledge to all those Australians out there that I thought about writing needled strawberries rather than razor blade apples, but the syllables didn’t work out as well.

History’s Full Circle

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Fannie patted off the birthing fluids with clean linen and magically peered into the boy’s eyes. She shivered and examined his future. This boy, born in a fort, was destined soon to die in a fort.

She handed the child to his mother and ran out into the woods. She cried, “Why bring this boy into the world for such suffering?”

The entire company of the fort looked for her, but she returned at her own pace.

She moved to Virginia where her vision directed. In twenty years, Fannie Hooe comforted a dying young man in a Union fort.

***

Thanks once again to Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch for this prompt. I personally like to add a bit of magic to odd settings, and the Civil War and associated eras offer a great opportunity.  I hope I didn’t put in too much magic for such a serious sounding prompt! 

– If I Only Had No Heart – Free Kindle Formatted PDF

Want a free book that you can take along with you?  My recently completed serial – If I Only Had No Heart – is available here, for free, in a Kindle formatted PDF.  You can put it on your kindle by surfing through your folders when it’s hooked up to your computer.

Click here to download – If I Only Had No HeartIf I Only Had No Heart_Small

Haven’t heard of the story yet?  Here’s a quick teaser to get you started.

Spirit, android acolyte of the machine goddess, performs her duties well and still yet absorbs much torment from her superiors. Thought to be a viral creation, the android is banned from speaking with the goddess until, one day, her friend Klavdiya hands her a prayer card. Spirit hopes that the prayer card will bring her peace, but the goddess has other ideas…

If that’s not quite your cup of tea, feel free to check out my sci-fi survival story, Evolution of the Predator.  In the near future, I plan on writing more short stories and look forward to meeting more of you!

Cheers!

 

The Wish’s Brew

On Sundays, I respond to one writing prompt I’ve seen throughout the week.  This time, I chose K.R. Summers’s Dare to Write IV prompt – “Anything on Earth.”  I also was inspired by Aak Fictionspawn’s Witches Brew story, and I hope that this isn’t too much of a copy of that excellent work.

The witch held the spoon up and blew on it, cooling the brew from her cauldron.  She smiled, then glanced over to the child sitting on a stool nearby.  “Would you like some, sweetie?”

He swung his legs beneath the stool, neck scrunched up near the straps of his overalls.  The little chin wiggled up and down in a nod.

The witch held up the spoon, just far enough away from the little boy’s chubby face that he couldn’t quite lean forward and sip it.  “Now before you take a sip, know that this is a special brew.  If you whisper a wish over the spoon before you drink, it will grant that wish.”

His eyes fluttered, the pupils focused her crooked nose covered in warts.  “Anything?”

She smiled coyly.  “Anything.”

He pursed his lips and, after a second, whispered over the broth.  She gave him the spoon, and he drank it up. His face knotted up, the taste less than pleasant.

“Is everything alright?”

The little boy’s brows furrowed.  “You lied.  You told me it would grant a wish.”

“It does, and the bigger the wish, the more unpleasant the taste.  Would you like to tell me what you wished for?”

The boy stuck out a lip.  “I wished that you wouldn’t be so ugly.”

The witch put her spoon back in the broth, then picked the boy up off the stool.  She brushed off his overalls, then took one of his hands.  “That’s the kind of wish that doesn’t work immediately,” she said.  She drew the boy towards her door.  “You see, I’m already beautiful.  You simply have to wait for the brew to work on you, to convince you that I don’t need to change.”

As the witch opened the door and ushered him out, the little boy looked up at her.  “That was a waste of a wish.  Will you have more tomorrow?  Can I try again?”

The witch shook her head.  “No.  You can only find my house if you are lost, and tomorrow you would be trying to get here.  You had your chance, and your wish will one day be more powerful than you realize.  Don’t regret what you did, dearie.”  She patted him on the back, pushing him away from the house.  A long, bony finger pointed to a nearby colonial with blue siding and white trim.  “Now run along home.  Your mother will be wondering where you were.”

So the little boy left.  Thorns and forest closed back over the walkway, his wish granted but never forgotten.