Tag Archives: fiction

Time for another story! :o)

If you’re like me, the absence of characters has seemed far too long even though it’s only been a few weeks since we wrapped up the story snippets that were the heart of this little blog for quite a while. While I’m still working on having an animated story or two to make their debut, I thought a short story would provide a nice break from the typical sort of posts we’ve had since then. Nothing against those slice of life posts and I enjoy those as well but as many people who follow this blog likely initially did so because of stories and characters more so than my own amazing nonfiction musings, I think that should definitely remain the centerpiece.

This particular story is a very short one – it’s a flash fiction piece I actually wrote in a writer’s group back in the days when I still claimed NC as home (oh dear Tar Heel State, you’ll always be my true home, don’t worry). The challenge, as flash fiction goes of course, was to write a story with a 1,000 or fewer words. Clocking in at 554 words, it is indeed short..but still filled with one character’s hopes and challenges. Meet Simon…

A Likely Scavenger

            Simon crouched his body down low, trying to remain as still as possible. It felt like a short eternity since he last heard them moving about just outside the shelter but one could never be too careful. After taking a few deep breaths to steady his courage, he crept toward the shelter’s edge, daring a peak outside. Not a sound, not even the wind. It was night now, this was usually when they slept. Sim

on cautiously lurched out to the clearing, knowing he still needed to finish the job he and the rest of the team started. Even if it meant his life.

            Breathing was difficult. He searched himself, half-expecting to find a wound he’d failed to realize but knew all too well the true cause of his labored gasps for air. It was the gas. Most deadly of all their weapons. Apparently he hadn’t escaped unscathed from the attack earlier.

            When he and his family first came to this place, they thought they’d found paradise. Food was bountiful. Perfect climat

e. But they were here before them. No attempts to live in peaceful coexistence were regarded with anything but death. One of his best friends stood smack in the middle of the clearing a week ago. Not daring to run with everyone else but standing firm on his conviction that if only someone took the initiative, the chance to make them see the differences between their kind were insignificant, they would cease the senseless killing. Simon paused for a moment, lowering his eyes slowly across the spot where his friend’s body once rested. It was gone now, as were all the other remnants from previous battles. He wondered what they did with the dead. Did they have the consideration to bury them or did they just throw the bodies away like useless scrap? Given their actions thus far, Simon couldn’t picture anything other than the latter.

            He reached the area that he and his team had been working on just before the attack. Simon knew he wouldn’t be able to bring all the food here on his own but he had to do what he could. The colony’s num

bers were dwindling now and everyone back home desperately needed some relief to make it through to the next day. He could see the faces of his children as clearly as though each of one of them stood before him. It was the only way he pressed on with his task.

            No sooner had he turned to begin the first trip back, the clearing became bathed in glaring light. No! That was the first sign they were back! Simon ran as fast as he could back to the shelter, carrying what little food he could in his arms. A shadow loomed overhead and he didn’t need to look up to know de

ath loomed near. Up ahead, the shelter was almost in reach. If he could just make it a little further…

            Too late. Noxious fumes filled the air around him, giving no way of escape. Simon collapsed to the ground, his eyes stinging and the world growing dim. His insides felt as though they were melting, as if the gas w

as capable of almost liquefying its victim’s bodies. What horrible weapons they created.

            And this thing they called Raid was the worst all.

UnlikelyScavenger

 

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Once Upon a Time – Final Snippet (A.K.A Everyone Gets Popsicles)

Dear wonderful and amazing readers – I had every intention of this final story snippet being posted on Saturday. Life, however, intervened as it is sometimes known to do. There were car repairs which ended up with my car going straight back into the shop (ya know, the cheapest and easiest way to solve this whole “check engine light” thing would be to just put some electrical tape over the light). There was the eye appointment that included getting a wee bit stronger prescription because apparently it wasn’t just my imagination that road signs and objects in general have become harder to see. And then there was the possum. Yes, an adorable momma possum ambled up to our front porch to eat some of the food I’d left out for a stray cat and she had an even more adorable BABY possum chilling out on her back while she ate dinner. Okay, finding myself watching the up close and personal version of National Geographic for 15 minutes isn’t exactly on the same scale as everything else that got packed into Saturday but you would have chosen watching that cuteness on parade over writing too, I know you would. That being said, apologies for the late post and I am very glad to finally be able to share it. Both this and the awesome possum encounter are easily two of the least expensive things to occur this weekend!

UncleAlbertAirShip_inWindow

Albert threw a single sack onto the back seat of his airship, the contents of which included several pens and a new, blank journal. His old journal, with all his scientific scribblings and recorded eurekas from experiments completed in years past, now rested in the hands of what he considered the best pair of apprentices he could have ever hoped for.

“You’re sure you want to leave this with me?” Simone seemed to ask the journal itself as she and Ian thumbed through its pages together. “All this work, everything you’ve ever done and discovered—

“Is now the beginning of your own work and discoveries.” Albert held out yet another journal to them. “And I’m sure the information in this one will make more sense to you than it ever did me anyhow.”

Ian took the journal, his eyes widening as he turned the cover to reveal its contents. “But this is the one that your father wrote in, isn’t it? Yeah, it is, here’s that illustration of a toaster, the light bulbs,” he turned a page and thwacked the next one with his finger, “even one of those old cameras where the picture spits out and develops after you take it. Why are you giving this to me, I’m no inventor or scientist.”

“But the young woman standing next to you is and I imagine you’re actually familiar with all the strange contraptions listed on those pages. And since the two of you are so smitten with each other,” he smiled at the blushing couple, “I can’t imagine a better combination of minds for ensuring the information in both journals continues being useful after I’m gone.”

“After you’re gone?” A confused and angry voice shouted at them from near the airship. “Uncle Albert, where are you going?”

Albert turned toward the ship to find Sylvia standing with arms crossed and a pout so large it looked as though her bottom lip might takeover the chin under it. Beside her stood Gwendoloena.

“Albert, dear friend,” Gwendoloena put a hand on the girl’s shoulder, “I know you weren’t going to leave without saying goodbye to one last person.”

“Of course not!” Albert sighed while nodding at the niece before him. “Just trying to wait until the very last minute though. That’s how it always is with difficult tasks and final farewells I suppose.”

Sylvia stepped toward him, planting both hands on her hips. “What do you mean final farewell?”

“Sylvia, you know I”—Albert started to kneel down and then decided against such an action that, in his current state, may prove itself irreversible—“you know I love you and everyone else in the family very much. And I am so very glad to have been given the chance to see you all now safe and sound from the havoc those two Keepers stirred up. But while that may be true, I didn’t actually live to see it. And what I am now,” he leaned against the table, “is not something that should still be walking and talking.”

“But we won, remember!” Sylvia shoved Gwendoloena’s hand away. “And she’s looking less like a monster now, so is everyone else in this castle. Maybe it just takes longer with you and Seth because you’re zombies, I don’t know, but that means the curse is over!”

Albert shook his head. “I’m afraid there’s one key difference shared by Seth and I versus the residents of this castle. That crooked apprentice of mine murdered me and poor Seth fell at the hands of a thief while he was traveling on the road. The sad truth of the matter is that we both died in fairly typical fashion whereas Gwendoloena and everyone under her charge were all still alive. That they became monsters was just a result of the curse on them and now that it’s over and done with, they’re simply changing back into the people they used to be. For me, that same curse is the reason someone who should have never stood back up in the first place is even talking to you now. And again, since the curse is over and done with,” he shrugged, “I’m changing back into what I used to be or rather, should be.”

“I don’t understand.” Sylvia’s pout drooped down further. “Changing back into what?”

“For lack of better word I’m well,” the zombie stretched his arms out and made a mock examination of the decaying hands and arms, “I’m dying I guess you might say. In just a short matter of time, maybe a few days, all the magical hoo-haw that made this body bounce back up will be gone and I’ll be quiet as a rock like I should have stayed.”

Sylvia gave the queen a side-glance. “No you won’t, Gwendoloena is right here and she can fix that, right Gwendoloena?” The glance became a glare as the queen shook her head. “Why not! You’re supposed to be a powerful magician and you even defeated the Keepers! That means you’re the most powerful one now, why won’t you!”

“Because little one,” Gwendoloena sighed and tucked a loose lock of hair behind Sylvia’s ear, “there are some things which shouldn’t be fixed because they are the way they should be, even when we don’t like it very much.” She nodded her chin toward Albert. “And this is what your uncle wants, to say goodbye while he can.”

“And then leave!” Sylvia whirled back to face him. “That’s what you want, to run off and hide like some sick cat!”

“I’m not running and hiding.” Albert waved a hand toward his airship. “I’m going on one last adventure. Seth, wherever he started off to this morning, is fairly much doing the same. And we both got a chance that few people, monster or otherwise, ever get when facing death and that is to actually say goodbye to the people we give half a hoot about.”

Sylvia stomped her foot. “What about mother? Did you tell her you were going to fly off in your airship and never come back?”

Albert nodded. “She was the very first one I spoke to about it.”

“And what did she have to say about it? I bet she gave you an earful of how stupid this whole thing is, didn’t she!”

“No, she said goodbye.” Albert shared a look with Gwendoloena as his niece’s anger faded away somewhat. “Sylvia, to be honest, you’re one of the very last people to know I’m leaving because I knew you would give me the biggest amount of grief about it. But there’s absolutely nothing to be sad or upset about because what more could I ask for?” Albert motioned toward Ian and Simone behind him. “My work will continue in the hands of these two wonderful people and,” he made a jerky motion with his other arm toward Sylvia, “I leaving knowing my family is safe.” He let the hand fall with a sigh. “The only remaining thing I wish is that I could have witnessed seeing you find a proper young man to marry but at least I know you’ll won’t be marrying Trevor and that’s almost as good in my book. In fact, he’s just about the only one I didn’t plan on saying goodbye to and if I never see that sorry lad again, I’ll die a very happy zombie.”

As if he’d called him by name, Trevor came bounding into the room with colorful elongated spheres attached to wooden tongue dispensers in either hand. “Look everyone, I made Popsicles!”

“Trevor, well done!” Gwendoloena took one of the spheres, a bright blue one, and held it out by its stick at arm’s length. “However, I don’t quite know what this is that you managed to make.”

“I do!” Ian ran over to claim the lime green colored one that Trevor offered him. “It’s sort of like ice cream, I used to eat these all the time when I was a kid!” He started to chomp into his but stopped mid-bite. “Wait, why do you have Popsicles here?”

“Because the author was late posting this last chapter!” cheered Deigen as he and V entered the room, both carrying colorful spheres on tongue dispensers of their own. “And the three of us all agreed last night that if the last snippet was late, we’d get to have Popsicles.” [Authors note: one of the things I’ve enjoyed while writing this story via blog has been letting the characters point a finger at me when needed. There may or may not be Popsicles in the final draft].

“Deigen and V,” Gwendoloena took on a scolding mother tone, “I’m fairly certain we don’t have Popsicles in this world and you know full well they have nothing to do with the story.”

Both former vampires, bearing normal complexions but still retaining about an inch worth of fangs at the moment, quietly munched on their Popsicles in response.

Gwendoloena sighed at them and let out a chuckle. “Well, I suppose we were having a bit too serious of an ending anyhow, perhaps it was time for a little intervention.” She bit into her Popsicle and nodded with surprised approval. “Hmm, this is quite good.”

“Here Albert, do you want one?” Trevor offered a white Popsicle to the zombie. “You can eat it on your trip to wherever you’re going!”

Albert raised a brow at the cold treat presented to him. “Is it brain-flavored by any chance?”

“Um no.” Trevor drew his hand back. “I think this one’s pineapple.”

“Trevor, I never liked pineapples while I was living and I don’t like you now but I appreciate the offer.” Albert turned and hobbled toward his airship. “Well, I’ve settled my final affairs best I could and said goodbye to everyone I wanted to and even someone I didn’t so guess it’s time for me to take off.” He hopped in the ship’s cockpit and flipped a few switches until the machine came to life. As the airship slowly began floating upward, the zombie waved one last goodbye to the living below. “So long Sylvia and friends, I’ll miss you all!” His tone remained upbeat even as he turned his head to address Trevor one last time. “Stay away from any romantic notions with my niece or I swear I’ll come back and eat you.”

“Yes sir!” Trevor gulped and sidestepped away from Sylvia until he was standing beside Deigen and V again. He joined the rest of the group in waving goodbye to the airship as it tilted ever so slightly to make room for it wings and flew out the window.

And so here our story ends with a zombie flying off into the sunset, final farewells made by some and new beginnings starting for others. But if you’re the type who has never been fond of the words “the end,” just remember how close another world might be. If you happen to ever spot a strange stone with markings you can’t decipher or find monsters raiding the fridge at night, that other world may be as close as your closet.

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 60.1

I mentioned a wee while ago that we were approaching the end of our story snippets and looks like next week’s post may be the last one as we truly are in the wrap up stage of things. Does that mean no more blog posts after they’re done? Oh no, no, noooooo! The dry erase board portion of this blog may see a little more use but there will still be stories (hopefully animated ones in the very near future), random thought sharing, and a plethora of other wonderful things to come!

For those who celebrate Easter tomorrow, happy early chocolate bunny and dyed egg day! For those who do not, don’t worry – the takeover of pastel everything and little plastic eggs hanging from trees will soon be over. As a Christian, I sometimes find myself a little envious of friends who’s faith holidays haven’t been taken over by commercialization and marketing. There was no red-nosed reindeer flying Santa’s sleigh when Jesus was born and the disciples never had an Easter egg hunt (though I’m pretty sure Matthew would have won).

Not quite on that note, some readers may feel a correlation of sorts with our lady Serena’s predicament in this snippet and the view of sin in general. To be clear, the zombies in this story really are just zombies, the vampires are vampires, and yada yada. That being said, I do write from a somewhat particular perspective. While the story itself is not “Christian Fiction” (though there are some good ones out there, even in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy), that correlation is not an accident. Since I, the author, do see sin as a real and daily threat that we all battle with, it’s not something I can keep from including in anything involving good versus evil. We want to be good but, alas, we are inherently not (and as a result, inherently monsters).

But enough of my yapping (can you call it yapping when you’re really just typing?), let’s get on with the nearly last snippet!

Feather_on_perch

A few days later, Kirkaronus made his hundredth heavy sigh as he stood in front of the man-sized cage where a scaly monster named Serena now resided. The monster occasionally lunged toward him or anyone else that came too close, its razor sharp claws fortunately halted by the cage’s thick iron bars. Always in a perpetual state of hunger, he somewhat looked forward to feeding the monster for it at least provided temporary relief to its groaning for food. Except for this morning. The raw meat he threw through the bars barely touched the cage floor before Serena slurped it up and frantically looked around for her next piece before he’d even had time to toss it.

“Slow down already!” Kirkaronus found himself groaning in unison with the monster this time as he reached his hand into the sack he held for one last remaining sliver. “You’re not getting anymore until noon, you might as well take a few seconds to chew.”

“Being a little hasty with breakfast today is she?” Seth’s voice from the doorway made Kirkaronus jump. As he turned around to speak to him, the zombie’s appearance made him jump even higher for there was something new about this monster today as well; Seth had no nose.

Kirkaronus gulped as Seth shuffled into the room. He lifted a finger to his own nose but couldn’t quite make himself say or do anything else except stare at the grotesque gaping hole coming closer to him.

Seth stopped to stand in front of him and mimicked the horrified pointing gesture, acting surprised for a moment as his finger had no nose to point to. The zombie let his hand back down. “Fell off about an hour ago. Was just walking down the stairs and heard something drop down on the steps. It took me a second to realize it was my nose and not just some loose pebble.” He gave a nonchalant shrug as he turned to the cage. “Needless to say, I’m not having a great morning either.”

“It doesn’t matter how much she eats,” complained Kirkaronus, finally recovering from Seth’s appearance enough to gaze back at the cage as well. “She just stays hungry all the time now it seems, I don’t understand why.” As if on cue, Serena let out a snarling growl and tried to stretch her claws toward the sack in his hand. He shook his head and threw the last piece of meat into the cage. “I don’t think I told anyone this yet, but she’s actually my sister. We were the last remaining family members of those magicians who ruled over the land and we saw it as our rightful place to reclaim that power.” He sighed. “Now instead of being a powerful queen, my sister is in a cage and eating raw meat like some animal.”

Seth watched Serena as she made a desperate and fruitless search for another morsel to devour. “Your sister is a vile and gluttonous beast.” He gave another shrug at the glare he received from Kirkaronus. “You said you didn’t understand why she was getting more ravenous and I was trying to offer an explanation. She’s just doing what all you living things do, letting her greed, selfishness, and all that other ugly mess take over.”

“And I suppose you think you’re better?” scoffed Kirkaronus.

“No, I’m obviously a monster too. I just have stronger willpower.” Seth gave him a side-glance. “Otherwise I’d be chasing after you instead of having this little chat.” He took a step back and examined the cage, stopping his eyes on the one area Serena avoided in her humble abode: a wooden perch with the bird feather that could change her back fastened on the end by a ribbon. “She hasn’t even tried to touch that feather, has she?”

“Avoids it like the plague.” Kirkaronus rolled his eyes. “I even tried throwing food near it and she actually did come close a few times but no luck. Then again, Gwendoloena said she has to choose to touch the feather on her own accord so I guess just brushing up against it wouldn’t help anyway.” He looked back at Seth. “Gwendoloena and Raynerus are the only ones who come in this room to visit her besides me. Why did you stop by?”

“I came to say goodbye.” Seth gave a sheepish smile at the look of confusion on Kirkaronus’ face. “I know odd, isn’t it? You and your sister were the ones everyone had to go to war against and now here I am saying farewell like we’re old friends.”

“It’s not that but,” Kirkaronus shook his head, “where are you going?”

Seth circled his face with his only hand and then turned the hand itself back and forth as if putting the decaying flesh on display. “I’m a different monster from your sister for another reason. She’s still living, still has a choice of whether to touch the feather or not. I on the other hand, died a while ago and there’s no magical cure or antidote for that.” He nodded as if Kirkaronus had offered more than just complete silence in response. “I know the vampires, most of them anyway, are all slowly turning back into their normal selves again now but they were put under that curse while still alive. I was killed a while ago and my body knows it despite its present uncanny ability to remain standing.” He pointed at one of the splotches of dried blood that adorned his jacket. “This wound right here, that’s when my life ended. And there’s not a second chance, no simply reaching out and touching a feather to change things. There is such a thing as too late and I am far past that point. And I have no place remaining among the living anymore. So, I’m going,” he paused and shrugged, “away.”

“What about Albert?” asked Kirkaronus. “Is he going away too?”

“Yeah, he’s saying his goodbyes and getting things wrapped up right now too actually. I don’t think he’s told Sylvia that he’s leaving yet though.” Seth sighed. “And I somehow don’t think she’s going to take saying goodbye very well.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 51.9

Hello all and happy Saturday! Granted for those of us living where Daylight Saving Time is observed, it’s technically already tomorrow but since that doesn’t officially start until 2am I can still say it’s Saturday for now. Two quick announcements before jumping into our story snippet: 1) I’ll be at a women’s retreat this coming up weekend so there will be no post next Saturday. 2) I was able to finally try my homebrewed beer tonight and it was actually pretty decent – hooray for not creating an undrinkable science experiment, go me! Will probably have a separate post about one of the above in the recent future but for now, on with the snippet!

Albert_brain_vitamins

As Serena positioned herself within arm’s reach of the ceiling, Kirkaronus shook the bird feather in his outstretched hand with even more zeal and hopped up and down under her. For the few seconds before he began speaking again, it looked as though he was making another doomed to fail attempt at joining her in the air. “Serena, what are you doing? Just touch the feather already. You can’t rule the world in that ghastly state you’re in now anyhow!”

“I’m not certain she can really understand you.” Gwendoloena walked around the table and put a hand on his shoulder. “She’s nearly completely transformed into a monster now and all that greed and lust for power is still too strong for any of us to talk sense into her. I suppose there’s only one thing we can really do at this point.”

Kirkaronus let his arm drop and whirled around to face her. “What’s that?”

“We need to give her a cozy place to perch those scaly feet.” Gwendoloena turned to Deigen and V. “Is the cage ready?”

Both of them nodded and spoke in unison. “Yes, your majesty.”

“Have it brought in here at once please.” Gwendoloena looked back at the winged lizard-bird creature hovering above them all. “And perhaps bring some of those raw steaks we kept hand, I’m sure this whole turning into monster business has made her a little hungry. Oh, and she might like that last plate of lemon cookies I left in the kitchen as well.”

Deigen and V again nodded together. “They shall be retrieved at once.”

As the guards set off on their appointed task, Kirkaronus’ face twisted itself back and forth between dismay and confusion. “Cage, what cage? And steaks? Cookies?”

“Well, when you and Serena started doing rude things like turning villagers into birds and trying rule over everyone, I knew my humble little castle would eventually have to put its foot down on the matter. So we began making preparations for that.” Gwendoloena reached over the table and grabbed a sugar cookie still left untouched on someone’s plate. Taking a second to nibble a few bites, she nodded at the Serena monster and continued. “I had a fair hunch that the end result would be some sort of reptile bird creature like that. I mean just consider how greedy and narcissistic most flying dragons are.”

“Eh, Gwendoloena,” Albert made a wary dance of his eyes between the queen and the frightening houseguest that had now flown to another corner of the room. “Please tell me you’re not intending to keep her as a, eh, pet.”

“Well of course not but we do need to give her a place to stay for now.” Gwendoloena nonchalantly nibbled another bite of her cookie. “I’m hoping that eventually she’ll choose to touch the feather and change back but until then I don’t want to risk the chance of her trying to eat anyone.”

“Eat anyone?” Sylvia flung her hands up. “If it’s already a monster that might try to eat people why not just kill it?”

The room itself seemed to let out a shocked gasp as everyone turned to stare at her with mouths agape at the notion.

“Sylvia, really!” Albert slowly shook his head at her. “As both your uncle and a zombie, I’m appalled you would even think to say something like that.”

“And potentially man-eating or not,” Gwendoloena spoke to Sylvia while pointing upward, “that creature up there is a ‘she’ and not an ‘it’ little miss.”

“Okay, so she’s going to be put in cage for everyone’s protection and you’re giving her steaks to eat to make up for not being able to eat people.” Kirkaronus raised a brow. “But why the cookies?”

Gwendoloena clapped her hands. “Because monster or not, everyone deserves to have a cookie every now and then. Everyone loves cookies!”

Seth and Albert exchanged glances, the latter zombie again being the one to speak. “Eh, not every monster necessarily loves cookies I’m afraid.”

“Oh dear, quite right.” Gwendoloena pouted. “Would you happen to still have any of those brain-flavored vitamins of yours just in case her taste buds have taken a turn for the worst as well?”

Albert reached into his pocket and held out the stiff, gray hand missing its pinky finger to reveal two vitamins in his palm. “Made another batch this morning before the battle began. How do you think I’m keeping from trying to eat anyone in here myself?”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 51.8

Kirkaronus_and_feather

Serena let out what perhaps had been intended as a snappy retort but what escaped her mouth sounded more like a raspy screech that made half the room cover their ears.  Her mouth itself had more the appearance of a scaly beak now and the jagged teeth inside only made her look all the more unsociable.

“Oh dear, I knew that woman would simply be nothing but a trouble maker.” Gwendoloena spoke as though the sight before her were a drunken party guest making a fool of themselves rather than someone actually transforming into a monster. “I truly was holding out a little hope that she might have a change of heart too but I can see now that’s just not going to happen.”

“It’s still possible.” Raynerus said with a shrug. “After all, she has scales and whatnot but she hasn’t shown any sign of sprouting wings yet.”

As if on cue, a rather gross and uncomforting sound (something akin to a chicken bone snapping in half crossed with a rotten tomato smashed against the wall) emitted from Serena’s back. While everyone else in the room instinctively ducked down as she catapulted straight up into the air, Raynerus and Gwendoloena sighed and shook their heads.

“Is that wings I see?” asked Raynerus.

His sister nodded. “Yes, that’s definitely wings.”

“But she’s fine, she just needs to touch the feather like I did, right?” Kirkaronus tried first to throw the feather up at Serena and then, as it naturally began fluttering back down, ran under it and stood trying to blow it further up in the air.

“It’s no use lad,” Raynerus waved a hand at him, “you’ll just make yourself hyperventilate. She has to choose to take the feather.”

“Fine then.” Kirkaronus jumped up to grab the feather and shook it at her. “Serena, touch this feather and start changing back, you look absolutely horrendous!”

Rather than lending a scaly ear to the plea of her former accomplice in trying to rule the world, Serena belched out another screech and flew even higher.

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 51.7

Monster_Serena

Kirkaronus let the stone puzzle drop straight down to inspect his other hand, which exhibited the same transformation of his normal skin to a sickly green flesh. Though the table he stood over may have likely stopped the puzzle’s fall, Serena lunged forward and caught it in midair.

“You imbecile!” Her voice came out somehow as an actual growl, whether due to rage or her own still occurring transformation one couldn’t be sure. “You almost let this thing fall and likely shatter to pieces again!”

“But, but my hands.” Kirkaronus held them in front of her. “They’re green!”

“And so is my whole face by this point, stop whimpering like a child at me!” Serena proudly tilted her chin up, which was now not only green but also pointed and somewhat scaly. “It won’t matter one bit when we rule the whole world.”

Kirkaronus took a step back from her as what appeared to be miniature horns began sprouting from her forehead. “But that’s just it. I wanted to rule the world and be the most powerful magician ever known but I didn’t want to actually change into something else in the process.” He turned his palms toward himself and gulped as his nails grew longer while becoming black and thick. “I wanted to relax in a hammock all day and bark orders at our army of lowly minions but this is looking like I might actually start barking any minute now!”

“You’re sounding as useless as Wymer now.” Serena shoved his hands away and held up the stone puzzle. “It’s fine with me if you’re having second thoughts however, that means I’ll be the only one to rule the world then.”

“Um,” Gwendoloena made a subtle throat clearing noise as if apologizing for interrupting their back and fort banter, “not quite. You see, this change occurring isn’t only physical but you actually are becoming monsters. Just how frightening the end result will be depends on how truly greedy and vile you are as a person. But rest assured,” she shook her head at Serena’s increasingly monstrous appearance, “there may not enough of the person left by the transformation’s end to try to rule over anyone.”

“I don’t want to become a monster!” Kirkaronus leaned over the table toward her, his greenish and scaly lower lip quivering in fear. “Not a real one! I’m too handsome and important a person to become a mindless beast!”

Raynerus leaned in toward his sister. “Eh, I can’t be sure but do you think that ego heavy attitude is a actually step in the right direction?”

“It’s close enough I think.” Gwendoloena smiled warmly at Kirkaronus. “That top hat on Serena’s head knows the true condition of your hearts and is what has caused the stone puzzle to amplify not just magic, but your transformation into monsters as well.” She nodded at the bird feather still resting directly under him on the table. “But that feather there knows a few things as well and it can tell if your own motives have changed. Why don’t you go ahead and pick it up?”

“Don’t you dare!” Serena snarled at him. “It’s most likely a trick!”

Kirkaronus turned to say something to her but nearly jumped away at seeing Serena’s current state. Her skin now entirely consisted of green scales and even her hair had begun taking on a rigid form that caused the top hat to fall off. Her top teeth had collected themselves into one colossal tooth while the bottom ones became smaller jagged ones. The claws on her hands were longer than the actual fingers and her arms were apparently growing in size as her expensive silk dress began ripping in the sleeves. Kirkaronus snatched the feather up and jumped away from her in almost one single motion. “Think I’ll take my chances, thanks.”

Far from being a trick, the feather seemed to believe that Kirkaronus truly had enough of becoming a dreadful monster and wanted to forgo this whole take over the world business. Where the feather rested in his clenched fingers, the scales had already starting changing back into normal skin.

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 51.6

So, here we are a on the a.m. side of Sunday rather than the p.m. side of Saturday. Apologies once again for being a bit later on the snippet than planned. Quite simply, number of hours needed in the day did not quite equal number of actual hours available in the day. Fun random fact I learned tonight is that a day on Venus would equal about 243 Earth days, so if I just moved there then time definitely wouldn’t be a problem. Good news, however, my beer is brewed! Well, no not the actual beer..my wort is sitting happily in a fermenter with what I hope is some equally happy yeast (otherwise the end result in a few weeks will not be very happy at all). I so, so, so wanted to get the home brewing started last weekend but there was just too massive a cleanup needed to the kitchen and, yes, that uncooperative vixen called time refused to be a team player as well.

Gwen_blowing_featherEveryone in the room watched as Gwendoloena blew on the feather in her hand and caused it to take flight over the table. Some, such as Kirkaronus and Serena, watched in apprehensive curiosity of what new surprise might daunt to their world domination plans. Some, such as Sylvia, watched with held breath while hoping for something spectacular to occur when it landed. And some, such as Seth and most of the others, simply watched it in silence while knowing better than to make any assumption of what might happen next. Within a few seconds, Gwendoloena’s feather finished floating and made a gentle descent onto the table to provide the room with the answer as to just what it could do – which seemed to be absolutely nothing from the looks of it.

Kirkaronus looked back and forth between the feather that happened to also be directly in front of him and Gwendoloena before speaking. “It didn’t do anything.”

Gwendoloena nodded and smiled. “Yes it did.”

“Wait a minute!” Serena pushed Kirkaronus aside and bent over the unimpressive feather to inspect it closer. “That’s one of the feathers left over from when we turned those useless villagers into birds. You could have just picked it up off the ground earlier, it’s nothing extraordinary!”

“You’re correct about its origin,” agreed Gwendoloena, “but that’s actually what makes it extraordinary. Yes, this feather is left over from that curse which caused so many people to look different from their normal selves. And appearing to be a bird is certainly more agreeable than appearing to be a monster as others and myself in this room.” She raised a brow at Serena, whose face was now entirely moldy green. “But as my brother tried to explain to you a moment ago, some of us in this room who appeared not be monsters shall soon find themselves revealed for what they truly are.”

“So we’re supposedly monsters because of our greed, pride, and lust for power as you all like to call it then, is that your game? Well looks like the childish illusion you conjured up to prove that only works on her!” Kirkaronus, threw a chin toward Serena while pointing at himself. “Sure, you have her looking frightening enough but I haven’t changed one bi”—he sucked in a gasp of air upon catching glimpse of his pointing hand and realizing it too had begun to take on a greenish tone—“but, but, wait, how can this be happening to me?”

Gwendoloena walked toward him, stopping at her side of the table. “Because just as the villagers were foolish and unaware of themselves when you turned them into birds, your own pride blinds you to the point of being a fool.” She turned her head to nod at Seth and Albert, two of the more obvious monsters in the room. “Just as a zombie suffers insatiable hunger,” she turned back to Kirkaronus, “your greed rekindles itself with each new possession you steal. And just as a vampire must deal with a form of unquenchable thirst,” she gave a heavy sigh over her own current state, “your desire for power would never be satisfied even if you truly did manage to rule the whole world.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 51.5

Apologies for what has turned out to be a very short snippet but this has been a craaazy busy week and my weekend begs for more relaxation than what it actually has time for. One of the relaxing things I will be attempting this weekend is trying my hand at homebrewing, which at least gave me a good reason to clean the kitchen. Since our kitchen happened to be in such a sorry state that I would have gladly attacked it with a fire hose if I could have, this new hobby has not started off all that relaxing. But hey, clean kitchen! (And if all goes well, I’ll have a few non-story snippet posts coming up in the near future about my adventures in homebrewing).

bird_feather

Serena frantically waved a hand in front of her face while mumbling panicked gibberish but to no avail and soon the nose was not only green but becoming pointed at its tip as well.

“I’m afraid you’ll find any magic you try to be a tad useless,” Raynerus called out to her. “At least the sort you’re playing with.”

“What have you done?” Serena threw her spoon mirror at him. “Just what sort of trick is this?”

Raynerus shook his head. “No trick, it’s quite real. But you see, that very special hat of mine is more special than you realized when you snatched it from me. It managed to turn our friend here,” he patted Wymer on the shoulder, “from a zombie back into a person because the hat recognized he truly wasn’t a monster at all. You, however, are apparently the exact opposite. As far as normal outside appearances go, you’re a beautiful woman with hardly a flaw in sight.” He nodded at the top hat still resting on her head. “But my hat there must have caught on to all that greed, pride, and lust for power swirling around inside of you. This transformation occurring is simply my hat showing the true monster inside.” 

“I’m sure you must be quite proud of your little hat but you forget I’m holding the most powerful object in this room.” Kirkaronus spoke with a sneer. “I can easily fix her back to normal and turn all of you into monsters, what do you think of that?”

“I think you’re mistaken in believing that stone puzzle in your hands to be the most powerful thing in here.” Gwendoloena held up a single black feather. “This actually is.”

 

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 51.4

Serena_and_tophat

Serena’s pout furled its corners up into the impish grin that so often smeared itself across the lower half of her face. She turned to Kirkaronus and waited until he continued playing copycat enough to match her expression before chortling at Raynerus and the others. “What do I care if some useless henchman possessing more stomach than brains chooses to switch sides?” She raised her hand and made a swirling motion in the air that somehow caused a miniature cyclone to snatch the top hat from Raynerus and whisk it way to her wiggling and ready fingers. Placing the hat upon her head, Serena tilted the brim and let out another wicked laugh. “Especially since it would now appear that I have the precious antidote as you like to call it! So what do you have to say to me now?”

Raynerus cocked his head to the side, seeming to give her new look a quick study. “I’m not certain it quite suites you.”

“Hmmm, certainly not.” Gwendoloena agreed while giving the gloating nemesis a disapproving shake of her head. “Serena, dear sweet, you have an absolutely lovely face but I’m afraid it’s just not one for hats, at least not a top hat of all things.”

For a moment, Serena looked as though she’d swallowed an ice cube at their responses but recovered quickly. “I’m not asking how this stupid thing looks on me, I asking how it feels to know that you failed! To know that I possess the only hope any of you had of anything but defeat!”

“And just as easily as she claimed that top hat, I will take the rest.” added Kirkaronus as he eyed the stone puzzle in Gwendoloena’s hand along with the fragment still held by Seth. “And then we will be unstoppable and rule over you all!”

“Well, if that’s all you’re wanting,” Gwendoloena spoke as if this were the first time she’d heard of such high aspirations, “why make anyone wait one more minute?” Without another word, she plucked the lone piece from Seth who was too surprised and confused by her actions to do anything but watch. Then, after sliding the piece into its proper place, Gwendoloena grabbed the completed stone puzzle with both hands and hurled it in the air toward them. Not quite prepared to so easily have the object of his desire literally in arms reach, Kirkaronus clumsily lunged forward over the table and nearly caught the puzzle with his head rather than open hands.

Up to this point, Sylvia had watched the back and forth banter between good and evil along with everyone else in the room and maintained the same shocked silence one might reserve for a particularly enthralling play. Seeing both magical artifacts just handed over to the enemy however was simply too much for her to remain a wallflower. “What are you doing!” she yelled, flailing her arms in the air as though she might take flight. “You just gave them everything they wanted!”

“As any of our underlings should willingly do and such a thing you will learn to do yourself.” Serena straightened the top hat and lifted her chin proudly in the air. The chin plummeted back down as she noticed Kirkaronus staring at her. “What are you gawking at? Fine, the hat looks horrible on me, everyone’s made that clear. You can wear it if you really want to but then give me that puzzle!”

“It’s, it’s not that. It’s the hat and you.” Kirkaronus pointed at the tip of his own nose while cautiously leaning in closer to inspect hers. “You have something”—he tapped a finger at his nose’s tip—“there.”

“Something, what something?” Serena grabbed one of the serving spoons from the table to use as a mirror. Her jaw dropped at the reflection, which showed that not only had the hat’s band changed to a moldy green color but the tip of her nose matched the unpleasant hue perfectly. In the few seconds it took for her to blink, the color crept up further.

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 51.3

 

Wymer_and_cookies

Kirkaronus mirrored Serena’s actions of leaning over the table, narrowing his eyes at the group’s most rotund member. “Wymer, is that you?”

Wymer, who had been trying his best to remain hidden behind Raynerus and Seth, stepped forward with a loud gulp. The bag of iced oatmeal cookies remained clenched in the terrified henchman’s hands and he now held to it like some sort of sugary security blanket. “Oh yes, hi, hello.” His voice cracked halfway through the greeting’s forced cheerfulness. “Miss much while I was gone?”

“You’re supposed to be a zombie!” Though she yelled from across the table, Serena’s reprimand held more confusion than any real sense of scolding. “How are you normal again? Your should be chasing after every living thing close to you and trying to devour them!”

“Ah.” Raynerus sidestepped to Wymer and put an arm over his shoulder. “He isn’t much of a listener as far as henchmen for megalomaniacs go these days, is he? But I’m afraid I’m to blame for his current condition of reverting back to his former self.” Raynerus paused a moment while he seemed to bounce his own words around in his head and shrug them off as making enough sense to work. “You see, I devised this antidote,” he tilted the top hat in his other hand, “to that ugly stone plate looking thing your lot came up with ages ago,” he raised a disapproving brow at the fragment still in Seth’s hand. “And Wymer was the first person ever to prove that my magic could overcome yours. So quite simply,” Raynerus patted Wymer on the back, “this fellow proved that good is both stronger and more fashionable than evil.”

“Rubbish on both counts.” Serena snorted at him. “And you may have managed to change that fool from a zombie back into a person but if there’s one thing evil can count on, it’s loyalty.” She snapped her fingers at Wymer. “Wymer, come here!”

The henchman pouted with a heavy sigh. As he began trudging toward his masters, Seth stepped in his path. “Wymer, what are you doing?”

Wymer nodded toward Serena. “She told me I need to go over there with her and Kirkaronus.”

“But Wymer, they turned you into a zombie earlier. And they keep putting you in harms way while trying to achieve their plans. I think you can safely consider this moment as an opportune time to announce your resignation.”

“No one resigns from being a henchman except by death in the course of their duties!” Serena pointed a ruby tipped finger toward the floor and made a jabbing motion at the open space beside her. “Wymer get over here now!”

Wymer’s pout deepened as he looked back and forth between Serena’s reddened face and Seth’s rather grotesque and rotting one. “But I’m not a good guy like you people are. I wish I was.”

“You know, Wymer.” Raynerus tapped him on the shoulder. “That hat of mine wouldn’t have likely changed you back from being a monster if you weren’t really a good at heart.”

The henchman’s face brightened. “Really?”

“Oh goodness, Wymer, that’s what I tried to tell you when we first met and I did the goblet test on you and Seth.” Gwendoloena leaned in and gave him a side hug. “You wear the right color cloak to look the part of being an evil henchman darling but outward appearances mean nothing.”

“Wymer!” Serena’s voice shrieked this time. “Do you want to get over here as I commanded or stand there and perish with your new friends?”

“Wymer remember,” Gwendoloena’s calm and gentle tone came as a soothing balm in comparison, “our side has cookies and scones.”

Wymer’s eyes drifted down to the bag of iced oatmeal deliciousness still tucked away in his clammy hands. Without another moment’s hesitation, he stepped back and put his chin up in silent defiance of Serena and Kirkaronus.

Raynerus nodded approvingly and smiled. “I find it no surprise that apparently cookies can help defeat evil just as well.”

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