Short Stories

Wild Magic

Another entry into FuriousFiction run by the incredible Australian Writers Centre. I really had fun with this month’s (unlike our narrator) and hope you enjoy it as well! The specifications for this month are as follows:

  • Your story must take place in a SCHOOL.
  • Your story’s first word must be THREE.
  • Your story must include the following four adjectives:

I also want to wish FuriousFiction a happy third birthday! I’m sad I missed out on all those previous prompts and wacky antics, but I’m so thrilled to have found them now. They won’t get rid of me so easy! 

Please enjoy.

Three classes in and I am over this day. It was bad enough slogging through a lecture on tinctures. And that demonstration of scrying bones? No thank you.

The third lesson is set up in the ancient amphitheatre on the outskirts of the grounds. The stone is cracked and worn, vivid green moss flourishing on the ever-damp surface. The sky overhead is dark purple; stormy clouds crowding close. There is no roof, and all of us keep shooting suspicious little glances upwards. Any umbrella will be nothing more than a lightning rod out here and if the sky opens up then we will all be drenched.

The lecturer is Headmistress Amelia Jones. She is a short, round woman with a tendency for uncouth jokes and an infectious, bubbly laugh. As she walks to the centre of the stone, her long hair brushes the ground behind her.

“Welcome, kids,” she says. Though her voice is soft, she immediately commands the attention of all of us. “Today I’m going to show you how to tame wild magic.”

A ripple passes through the students. It goes over me and I don’t join in the whispering.

Amelia raises her hands. The air hums, and, as though on command, the clouds overhead break. Rain falls in sheets, but when the drops hit the humming air the water dissipates, filling the amphitheatre with mist. A snap of her fingers, and Amelia condenses the mist into jets of flame that dance overhead. Her mouth is forming words, but what they are exactly is lost under the frantic murmuring of the students around me. Bringing her hands together in a sharp, quick clap, the flames drop to the stone between us and sink into the moss, the surface charring black. It only takes a second for the flame to vanish and the moss to swell, burst, grow into thick, twisting, flowery vines.

The other students, some who have never seen magic before today, are astonished. One reaches out and touches the vine, fingertip brushing a pale pink flower.

Lightning splits the sky overhead. Thunder crashes immediately afterwards, making all of us jump. Except Amelia. She seems to have expected it, because she throws her hands up.

Almost as though her hands are magnetic, the electricity is drawn to her. Dancing in sparking, crackling arcs above her head, hopping between her fingertips. Her long hair lifts and stands on end, fizzing and snapping as it surrounds her like a halo. With a wide grin, she spreads her arms and starts the lecture proper, now that the demonstration has fully engrossed all of us.

Except for me. I lean my chin on my hand and roll my eyes. This was super cool when I was like, five, but after a decade of watching Mum—sorry, Amelia—pull the same old moves, it’s gotten a little boring. The fun of the lightning is over, the talk is very dull in comparison. It’s a shame I’m getting graded on it this time.

Short Stories

The Mermaid

My first entry into a Furious Fiction competition. This was a photo prompt with some caveats.

  • Each story had to be INSPIRED by the picture above.
  • Each story’s first word had to begin with the letters SHO.
  • Each story had to include the following words: SCORE, SLICE, SPRINKLE, STAMP and SWITCH (past and plural variations were allowed)

Shocked, I stared into the water below. The Stitch Witch—my trusty home since I had sailed away from my lonely life—rocked in the waves, a fine mist of sea spray sprinkling against my face. Almost enough to convince me I was awake. Almost. Despite the bright sun and clear blue sky overhead, the sight from beneath the white tipped water was hard to reconcile with reality.

Fins as tall as I was sliced through the waves. Glittering kaleidoscopes reflecting off the smooth surface. A powerful tail churning up crashing whirlpools. Beneath the water, two huge, sparkling eyes looked curiously up at me.

I opened my mouth. Closed it again. Like a fish gaping uselessly at air I couldn’t breathe. The mermaid—an actual mermaid!?—giggled. Their voice like a wind chime, a xylophone. A score of tinkling musical notes that burst through the churning surface of the ocean to ring in my head. Stamping reality onto my brain.

When their hand broke the surface, webbed fingers extended and nails that looked a hell of a lot like claws gleamed in the sunlight. Their laughter continued. Surrounding me in a cloud of music. It was more a lullaby now, delicate and soothing. The stories of ancient sirens floated through my head, but they were vague and distant. The nonsensical mythology of a dead world. Not like this divine creature floating beneath me. This ephemeral vision. 

I took their hand. Without a moment of hesitation. Felt the fingers close around my wrist like a vice. A sharp tug. The rocking deck of the Stitch Witch falling away. The icy embrace of the water swallowing me whole. The sudden switch left me dizzy, reeling. Gasping for breath and finding only mouthfuls of liquid. 

The mermaid loomed over me, blocking out the sun. Gripped me tight against them. Skin that was cool and smooth and lined with delicate scales. They held me like I was a flickering match in a pitch black night. Their scales scraped against my cheek as they leaned closer to me. When they whispered in my ear, their voice was the susurration of the waves, the empty hum of the deep, the creaking wood of my little ship. They murmured stories of drowning. Of death. Of being tossed aside and finding rest in the deep dark water. 

Of loneliness.

Any thought I had of struggling waned. The memory of home, of the empty bed and the empty apartment and the empty life fell away. I opened my arms and wrapped them tight around this lonely, abandoned creature. Breathing the water deep. Feeling the panicked alarm for oxygen fade. Embracing death and loss and fear. 

When I opened my eyes, the ocean was clear and still. I rolled in the water. Luxuriating in the currents supporting my body. A flick of my tail. Reaching out my clawed hands. I caught the gaze of the mermaid who had drowned me. Who had brought me to life.