there is this house between lime trees
an old man with a black dog lives there
and on the collar it carries a bunch of keys
listen – a distant jingle in the cold night air
One key is black, the other made of silver,
one is of iron, one of wood and quicksilver,
one of rust, one of copper, one made of lies
one is made of sunshine, one of bottle flies
night falls with pallid light and heavy shadows
winter chill exhaled from the animal’s wet nose
the old man lights a candle and his dog sits
he arranges pebbles, buttons and wooden bits
his dry bony fingers poke at them on the table
trying to pick up a witch stone but unable
he smiles and tugs a key from the collar
the dog howls, saddened with dark dolor
its eyes glow, searching for his master’s face
searching for an impulse in time and space
The old man stands up bent, goes to the door
jams the key into the lock to turn it once more
the entrance door swings open, to let in the dark
the dog follows the living light ignited into spark
a Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge (240 w) here
I plucked out a thin thread from the empty space in front of me.
With a gentle pull, I rotated my index around it. Slowly. With elliptical movements, carefully not to rip it. Always the same, always one thread at the time. I tugged at the fabric of destiny, twirled it between my thumb and index, till it became solid. Not one resisted my hands. I made a ball, in the size of my fist.
It looked like hair, made of pure moonlight. I remembered its glow, when I was still able to see, but that was long ago.
Somewhere around me, on the limestone tiles of the room, there must be over ten thousand orbs of glowing silver.
Decades passed, and what I did, I did every day. Since I got blind, I only imagined, when one day began and when it ended. The only constant occurrences were the food. They always send a child with the food, once a day – probably – always a different child.
But that wasn’t my concern.
My duty was to eliminate the uncertain futures, by pulling the alternative destiny patterns out of the tissue of time. I obliterated parallel events out of the myriads of possibilities. The run in the fabric collapsed the unwanted realities on its own. I only hooked the critical event and tugged, till I felt the cold sigh of perishing on my face.
a Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge (208 words) here
I sat at my tiny table, a cup of hot green tea in one hand. The table was perched at the northern corner, on my two square meter balcony. Seventeenth story. The wind was icy, but I had great view. A view other people payed for: to my right, the blueish white blotch of Mount Fuji, to my left, the soft silvern gleaming of the ocean.
Around my apartment building the beads of streetlights and headlights of cars stretched as pulsating arteries of Tokyo. Although it was only about four o’clock pm, it was dark already. The stars and the full moon hid behind thick grey clouds. This January evening brought the scent of snow.
As the first flakes drifted by, I caught a glimpse of movement. Finally! It was the ghost light of a fox, heading this way. What trouble will you cause, my friend?
As His Majesties first Magician at Court, I had to keep the spiritual peace in the city. A mischievous little fox meant nothing good. They kept sticking their noses into the emperor’s business.
I thought of my tea. Really, it was a sin to let it cool out, but I had work to do.
a Chuck Wendig prompt (209 w)- here
I pulled the car into a parking lot, and killed the motor. My head was spinning, since I left the highway.
My forehead touched the steering wheel. It’s cool soothed my headache. The long wooden mask, I bought hours ago, sat beside me in the passenger seat. It’s dry hair was made of some kind of weed, smelt of rain and mud.
“Breathe.” The words fell into my lap. I obeyed, slowly forcing the air in and out of my lungs, counting. One. Inhale. Two. Hold air in. One. Exhale. Two. Keep air out. One. Inhale.
I sat up and threw the driver’s door open. My head and stomach felt hot, my hands and feet were icy. I tried to keep the blazing sun out of my eyes, by squeezing them shut. It didn’t help.
The murmur of the river seemed too distant, although I parked directly at the shore. Steps approached, sloshed through mud. Something wet touched my cheek. My eyes flew open. A man had his cold hand on my forehead. The bright made it impossible to see his face. I felt better, though.
“Finally. Took you long enough to get here.” I knew that voice. He sounded like me.
a chuck wendig prompt (204 words) - here
I had my notebook and a pencil safely tucked away in my parka. A glance at my wrist showed it was 9:30 pm. Right on time, this time at least… I relied on the weather report, which said no snow, no rain.
Between Houston Street, Canal Street and South Ferry Station was something I dubbed the Triangle of Uncanny. I’ve been down here for nearly a weird week, every night. I’ve been exploring the streets, the parks towards the Hudson, taking notes. Today was Teardrop Park on schedule.
The triangle… That thing kept spitting out huge dark figures, gestalten, weird shops, I never was able to located during the day. The empty streets were as inviting as ever. That never failed to get the writing juice flowing. I heard the Hudson ahead, licking at the piers and walls of River Terrace.
A young girl, not older than twelve stood at the entrance of the park, waiting for me. Her straight dark was hair tied back, her bright sand colored eyes beamed at me. “Welcome to the moonlight market, pilgrim. Password. Please.” She smiled a broad, nearly friendly smile.
“Uh…” I said, and remembered what that hobo screamed at me. “Uhm…BookFeet?”
It even threw my shadow in front of me. „Don’t look back!“ I told myself. Whatever that was, I mustn’t look back.
My fingers stretched forward. Finally I could feel and grab a piece of rectangular wood and carpet. The open door! I had reached it! The strange glow faded rapidly.
I pulled myself up, clutching at the doorframe. Clouds of breath vapor puffed fast into the darkness of the house. „Stand up!“ I commandeered myself. My bad knee throbbed, it wouldn’t stretch properly. But I got up, anyway.
The wind had blown in enough snow, that it blocked the door, no thought on moving it. I propped my back against the hallway wall, swept off the framed family photo. My numbed muscles didn’t move. I reached after it, but was too slow. It fell to the ground.
The sound of shattered glass ripped the silence. No! Curled fingers hovered over broken Maria and Amy. Too late. Again! They gazed up to me, their eyes pierced me between the cracks in the glass. I felt pinned in place. They kept smiling happily. That smile… They were my last link to a better world, to a good and bright place, where things worked out just fine. Hadn’t I atoned? How much longer?
Something cracked. Their smiles tortured me, mocked me… But that wasn’t their fault, not at all… Only mine alone.
The shape of my daughter fogged up in the entrance. She materialized straight from the white wind gusts. Someone inhaled sharply. Everything was right again, back to normal, back to perfect. It was the little girl I saw earlier through the window. She was my Amy again.
„Daddy?“ She stood in the doorway, scared. A betrayed expression crawled over her face. As if I had taken her favorite plushy away, and have been waving it in front of her, out of reach. „Daddy? Are you mad?“ Her wary words trembled over to me. She was honestly hurt, and about to cry. I knew that face, the way her chin and lower lip quivered.
„What are you?“ I shouted, not sure I wanted to know. „What the hell are you?“ There was no answer to that. No answer she could give. Amy held her arms out, wanted me to pick her up. I was a real jerk, asking such stupid questions. How cruel from me, showing her my fear and hate — to a child! When did I start venting on my child? What was wrong with me? I’d never do that, at least I thought I’d never do that.
But she wasn’t my baby girl, was she?
She was something else. But did that make her less of a child? Amy grimaced, big tears formed clinging to her lashes. No. She was a nearly my baby girl. I knew, if she started crying, she wouldn’t be able to stop. She’d get those red spots all over her face and neck and hands, and she’d keep sobbing for hours. Like her mommy used to, when she got upset.
„Daddy? Up! Up, up.“ She demanded a bit more urgent. „Pwease?“ I took a step forward to her. Couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t want to. „Pweeeease?“ Come on, old man, pull yourself together!
„Are you… Amy?“ I asked carefully. Say something else! She nodded so eagerly, that her beanie almost came down. How strange… My hands shook, my knees almost gave out under me. Where did this feeling come from? A warmness spread from my navel to my back, leaving me without strength. She beamed up at me with her dark eyes. They glowed with a soft fire. „Are you really my baby girl?“
„Mhm.“ She smiled wholeheartedly. She believed it. I was her father. I wanted to believe it too.
That was crazy! But she was so real. On my doorstep, she stood there, wanting to be held. Like any other little girl would want to be held by her daddy.
Amy from the photos wasn’t here, Maria wasn’t here either. My wife would think I was crazy… And maybe I was. Even considering something this twisted…
I kept thinking, that I had gotten a second chance. That this time, everything was going to be okay. I’d take good care of her, I’d protect her, no matter what. I surprised myself by taking another step forward.
Should I hold back? Should I run? Where to? And why? I didn’t wanted to. Not anymore… I let my body do, what it longed for. I picked Amy up. She had the same weight, as the last time I held her.
My Amy! My other Amy, my second Amy. Her innocent child smell hit me. Crayons, cookies and strawberries. I’d never want to miss that again. My knees trembled a bit, butterflies fluttered in my stomach. This time I was going to be a proper father.
„Are you hungry, baby?“ She nodded and sighed with relief. „What do you want to eat?“ There had to be pancakes dough somewhere in the cupboards. „I can make us some pancakes with syrup and chocolate chips. How’d you like that?“
She hugged my neck and gave me a big wet smooch on my cheek. „You’re the bestest daddy in the woods.“ I smiled.
Something bright and warm whirled in my chest.
I — I thought, this time…
I could be happy.