When You Wish Upon a Star

There are more rules to wishing stars than you realize. One is that your wish only comes true years after you make it. Unfortunately for you, your wish has just come true.

I woke from a dream of shaking earth and sirens, and sat up, grumpy. The sirens didn’t stop. Somewhere, there must be a fire. I plodded into the kitchen in my underwear, then turned back to put on my slippers and a bathrobe. Thus armored against cold tile floors, I returned and filled an over-sized coffee mug with coffee. Sugar. Cream.

I looked at the curtained window, wondering what the ruckus was.  I sipped my coffee, taking the time to indulge the bleary, half-asleep fog of early waking. Then, with another sip of coffee, I shook off my sleepiness and went to the window. I found myself looking at a red stone wall. Not brick, a kind of glazed stone. It wasn’t flat; the wall curved, and each fitted stone had a curved surface, almost like . . .

“Scales?” Continue reading “When You Wish Upon a Star”

Photographer’s Spirit, Sniper’s Soul

A photographer and a sniper meet in a bar. Neither is aware of the other’s occupation. They talk about “how to take the perfect shot”.

 

Original

I looked at the mirror across the bar and surveyed the damage. The youthful man looking back at me was a mess.  My hair was full of dust; from the explosions, from the powdered concrete of ruined buildings, and from the ever-present road dust.  You couldn’t escape it.  The caked mud on my face was where the dust in the air had mixed with a bloody scrape.  a I sipped at the beer in my hands – the first I had found in a week – and sighed, savoring this respite from the chaos.

My companion was a more grizzled man.  He looked like he was used to conflict.  His hair was cropped shorter than mine, a week of beard went unnoticed by any razor, and a jagged, torn scar snaked along the line of his jaw like a disfiguring rope.  “You’re new to this, ain’tcha?”

“It’s my first time ‘in it.’  I took some fantastic shots, but . . . it’s chaos out here.  This country is a wreck.”

He smiled, putting an empty glass down, and the bartender refilled it with an amber liquid that smelled like kerosene. “Y’get used to it.  Learn to function in chaos, or go home.  Got some good shots myself.  See that bell tower up there?” He pointed through the window – a church steeple was visible from a few blocks away.  The top of it had been destroyed, leaving only a broken wall, and the crumbling stub of a staircase. “Before they secured the city, got some of the best shots of my life up there.” Continue reading “Photographer’s Spirit, Sniper’s Soul”

Paranormal Activity

A challenge to myself, to write a story for a picture chosen by somebody else.

Original

Eight o’clock. I had n’ left work this late in months. All of the other purchasing agents had quit on me or were detailed to other tasks.  It was just me right now, and I was exhausted. The monorail roared down the track running parallel to the road, the street flashing bright and dark as the windows rushed by.  I didn’t pay it much heed, until it went dark, though.  The streetlights went out, the house lights went out, and I could tell the train wasn’t powering down the rails anymore, only coasting.

I turned around, and looked down the mountainside – I could see so much of the city from here – and I was just in time to see the whole city go dark in patches. The train stopped with a squeal and hiss of hydraulic brakes, and then everything was quiet.  I looked at the train and saw people in the glow of their phones, some pressing against the windows to see outside.  A city-wide blackout. Continue reading “Paranormal Activity”

Murine Honor

If you’ve tried to ride a cat into battle, you should know it doesn’t turn out well.

Original

The enemy lined up in the distance. Their snarls and growls made me shiver, the tremble shaking me to the bones. “Steady on,” my mount purred.

I took a breath, calming myself, reaching forward to scratch behind his pointed ears. “Nerves like steel, whiskers like wind.” I repeated the battle mantra, imagining the steel in my bones. It was a pretense, imagining strength where there was none – I knew how easily my bones, tiny in comparison to the enemy, would break. And yet, it worked. I was calmer, and ready. Continue reading “Murine Honor”

Mag Support

You work at Magic Support. It’s like Tech support, but for magic.

Original

Another crystal lit up red, as their counterparts would be doing on a dozen other desks. I watched it for a moment, hoping someone else would reach for it first, but after a moment it was stubbornly red. I reached out and picked up the crystal. It turned yellow for me – if someone else grabbed it now, it would still show red. This was my call, now. After a moment it turned green, and a voice rang out in my mind.

“Hello? Is this thing working? I’m trying to get a ‘cure disease’ spell to work, but it just gave me a headache.”

I sighed and covered my face. Another careless teenage mage, trying to resolve their teenage stupidity without their parents finding out. Continue reading “Mag Support”

Retirement Plans

Um, no. How about we don’t, and say we did…

Artwork by Tomislav Jagnjic (ArtStation)

I stared up at the living mountain before us. We rode atop a ridge, and we could look at the spiral emblem on its ‘face’ without craning our necks too far.  When we got close, we’d have to climb its body just to attack the top of its toe.

“So . . . that’s the thing, huh?”

Jamon looked on with me, nodding once. “Yup.”

Continue reading “Retirement Plans”