Category Archives: Fantasy Fiction

Encounter

A good night's work and a delicious meal for a succubus are one and the same thing.

 

Encounter
     by Paul Haynie

 
Isabelle was hungry. Isabelle was ALWAYS hungry. If you were
a succubus who made the mistake of developing a conscience, hunger
was simply part of being alive.

The problem wasn’t that food was hard to come by, but rather that the
portions were small, and the quality was
miserable. Most men just
didn’t have the energy to spare to make her a really decent meal. That
meant she had to either take just enough to barely survive,
or take so much that her source would never fully recover.

Sometimes she tried to find people who deserved to be crippled or
killed, but that was
not a good choice, either. Such meals satisfied
her hunger, but the energy
always felt tainted, and the sex involved
in such a feeding always made her
feel unclean.

The dream, of course, was to find someone with so much
natural energy that she could sate herself without doing permanent harm to
her donor. She had heard of powerful wizards who could keep a string of
succubi well fed, but had never met such a creature…

///

Isabelle looked up from her drink and double
checked her glamour in
the mirror behind the bar. She looked perfectly human,
and her wings
were invisible; all was as it should be. As she watched, a
waitress brushed against one of her wings, took a half step backwards,
and shook her head as if a momentary thought had flickered and
vanished.  Isabelle smiled slightly at the proof that that spell was working
as well.

There was a small commotion at the door, and Isabelle saw a
man in a khaki uniform and a baseball cap walking toward the bar, to
the accompaniment of calls of, “Hey, Sheriff” from various patrons.
The man was young, and big, and moderately good looking, but he
also fairly crackled with energy. Isabelle tossed down her drink and
tried not to look too predatory. The Sheriff held a brief conversation
with the bartender, accepted and drank a glass of water.

“Hello, Sheriff,” Isabelle said, launching her best seduction charm as
she spoke.  “Would you care to take me somewhere private and question
me?”

The Sheriff looked at her, ran his eyes quickly but thoroughly from
head to toe and back again, and smiled. “Sounds good to me,” he said.

The Sheriff’s
house was only a few blocks from the bar; they made
their way to the bedroom
exchanging kisses and haphazardly removing
clothing. Isabelle maintained just
enough control of things to make
sure she stayed on top; her wings made a
singularly painful mattress.
And then he was inside of her and she was
kissing him deeply and she
finally was able to open herself psychically and
begin to feed.

She was careful at first; even though the man seemed unnaturally
strong, she didn’t want to draw energy too quickly and risk going
too far. When it seemed that she was not weakening him at all, she took
a chance on letting the flow increase. Again, it didn’t seem to
weaken him; if anything, he seemed to be getting stronger the more energy
she took. She opened herself still further, and found she was getting
lostin the sensation; a part of her mind realized that a normal man
would be reduced to a dying husk in minutes at this rate, but she was
too besotted to stop.

The man pulled his feet back beside his hips,
rose to a sitting
position, and then again onto his knees; energy was pouring
out of him, pulsing with their movements, and she was trying and failing
to draw it all it. She felt as if she would burst into fire at any
moment, and she was terrified, and yet it felt SO wonderful…

The man was
changing; his hips and shoulders were getting wider, and
the hands that
cupped her buttocks seemed to be as large as dinner
plates. The energy flow
was impossibly great; Isabelle was certain
that if she dared to open her eyes
she would see her skin glowing
white hot, and she felt that she was only
seconds away from being
shredded to her component atoms.

And then it
was over, and the two of them were panting against each
other in what felt
like a boneless heap, still somehow impossibly
upright; their bodies were
swaying slightly in an echo of recently
concluded rhythms. Isabelle suspected
that she HAD been blasted into
her component atoms, and that the universe had
reassembled her out of
gratitude at its amusement. She was sated beyond
anything she had ever
dreamed of, overflowing, flooded. She realized that her
glamours had been completely blown away by recent events, and that it would
be some time before she regained enough control to recast them. She
hoped it wouldn’t matter.

She realized that the skin pressed against
her cheek, breasts, and
belly was smooth and oddly slick, but the skin
against her forearms
and hands was extremly rough and… Ridged? What in
seven hells? She
opened her eyes to find her cheek was pressed against an
elongated throat covered in yellow green scales. She pulled back her head
and blinked in bewilderment. Her partner lifted his head and craned
it back on an impossibly long neck to look her in the face; Isabelle
found herself staring into enormous yellow eyes in a crocodillian
head, complete
with a long toothed mouth that could have engulfed her
entire head with ease.
She also realized that thier upright position
was made both possible and
necessary by the fact that her partner had
sprouted a tail larger than one of
her legs.

“That,” rumbled a voice so deep that Isabelle felt it in her
belly as much as heard it with her ears, “Was unexpected.”

Isabelle blinked again. “You’ve never shifted shape before?”

The creature
chuckled, and Isabelle’s whole body trembled at the
sepuchural rumble. “Never
during sex.”

“Oh,” Isabelle answered. There didn’t seem to be much else
to say.

The creature continued to look into her eyes. Its face wasn’t
built for human expression, but that deep voice made up for it.
Isabelle could HEAR the grin in his voice when he asked, “Wanna do it again?”

End

_________________________________________________________________________

Thank you, Paul, for the momentary fantasy.  Even for creatures of the night, a good man is hard to find–and a hard man, even if he is a were-lizard of some sort–is good to find.

The photo at the top of this story is a publicity photo of European actress Isabelle Huppert.  She makes a very fine succubus.

Remember that this page is always looking for flash fiction of any sort.  If you have a story you want to see published, and it’s any good at all, send it to Atrrroll@gmail.com.

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Skull Stories

The Errand

     by Stacy Assaf

The air seemed to mold itself to her breath, leaving no trace of her presence.  Her control was effortless – blending into the surroundings as if she were merely a wind gently blowing by.

The statues in the cloister stared at her wordlessly as she crept toward the temple.  She wondered briefly if they approved.  Did they know what this place had become?
Would they be on her side or his?

As she moved from shadow to shadow, faded light filtered through the ancient leaded glass from
the inside of the temple to the ground below.
Ivies and shrubs grew up to meet it, wrapping around it and partially
covering the window.  She continued to creep along until she reached the servant’s entrance.  She had done her research well… paid the right informants, observed for long nights, making no moves, making no sound.  Only the orphaned slaves came here, to clean the incense and dust from the temple’s altar and walls.  The irony of a mistreated orphan cleaning the
surface which was used to offer a sacrifice in order to ask for favors and
mercy was not lost on her, but she had to stay focused.

They didn’t expect anyone to choose such a lowly entrance for infiltration, making it perfect for
her purposes, and after months of planning she was almost there.

The light seemed to shift across the narrow courtyard to her right. Before the sentry could even
raise his arm, the feathers of her shaft quivered slightly and her arrow found
purchase in his skull.  She had been
careless – and all was almost lost.  How
ashamed she would be if she had failed her errand! She paused to collect
herself, pacing her breathing  until her
heart stopped fluttering.  One.  Two. Three.
Now she was ready.

She slipped through the entrance, leaving the gardens behind.  The smell of the incense was stronger here, and she wondered if it was the last thing that her brother had smelled.  Suddenly the smell was nauseating.

The Backhall was dimly lit, the heavy curtain separating  the altar area from the less attractive
functional area behind.  Urns and clay pots littered the walls and small tables were covered with incense, embroidered cloths and colorful vials of oils scattered according to ritualistic
importance.      Everything was clean and carefully placed; even in servitude her people had done their work well.  It showed a pride that the Unity did not understand,
and that would be their downfall one day.

As for today, if her errand were successful, they would be given a hint
as to their destiny. However if their arrogant inhumanity stayed its present
course, no amount of hints would preclude the civil war that was inevitable.

Only one thing mattered now, here, tonight.  Only one.
She steadied herself before pushing back the curtain and sliding silently into
the temple main room.

This was the one room that she had not been able to observe – the one thing that she had not
been able to carefully plan. There was some concern that she wouldn’t be able
to find it once inside –but she needn’t have worried.  The skul lof her brother sat on a pedestal,
surrounded by candles – the unwilling leader who became the unwilling sacrifice
made for her people by bloodthirsty oppressors.
She took it down, kissed his beautiful head and left, carrying what would
be the symbol of their rebellion close to her heart.

End

Until Death

     By Robert Kassebaum

 “Did you bring the sword?” the skull asked.

“Yes… I did,” Colinda said as she held back her tears. “As
you requested.”

“Please don’t be sad. It’s really for the best you know,”
replied the skull.

Colinda started to pace the anti-chamber in a slow, circular
pattern; her leather boots creaked as she stepped. She stared into the empty
eye sockets of the skull she held. It is all that was left of her friend, her
lover, her husband. “Please. Is there no spell that can bring you back to me?
Something else we have not tried.”

“No. It is the only way to free my trapped soul. My time
here, on this world, with you… is over,” the skull answered.

Colinda walked over to one of the windows and looked out. She
saw the sun was starting to set. The sword in her other hand began to weigh
heavily, and as the tip of the blade hit the floor, it rang out.  Tears streamed down her face.

“Now is the time, my love, before the sun sets. The magic
within the sword is at its strongest,” the skull said.

She went to the center of the room and placed the skull down.
Colinda grabbed the hilt of the sword with both hands and lifted it above her
head. “Do you like my outfit?” she said, trembling. “I  made it just for you. The material is almost
see through and, if I move ever so slightly, quite revealing. It’s like the one
I wore on our wedding night.”

“I remember,” the skull stated. “It’s beautiful, as are you.
But it is pure torment, for me, to see you dress so. I can no longer hold on
you, as in life, I have no hands, to caress you, and no lips, to kiss you
with.  So please, while there is still
time, I beg you, strike!”

Colinda swung down hard, missing the skull by inches. The
blade of the sword broke in two with a snap as it hit the floor. She let go of
the sword, and fell to her knees. Both hands went to her face. “I’m sorry. I…
c-can’t bring myself to let you go,” she sobbed. “You mean so much to me. As in
life, so as in death.”

The skull was silent.

She stood up, picking up the broken sword with one hand and
the skull with the other. Once more, Colinda looked deep into the empty eye
sockets. “Please, say something,” she said crying. “Anything.”

But the skull remained quiet – not saying a word.

End

 

The Lusty Skull

     by Ken St. Andre

“Take me with you!”

Vrionne stopped admiring the wavy-bladed sword that she had just taken from its place of honor above the altar of sacrifice, and looked around for the voice.  The temple chamber was still empty, and that was good, but then where did the voice come from?

“Over here.  Look up! It’s kind of a high niche.”

The voice came from her left.  She thought about making a break for it.   She had what she came for, and the voice was scaring her just a bit.  Thieves hate to be interrupted in the middle of an operation–even if the interruption was just a disembodied voice. Still, it didn’t sound hostile.  She looked to her left–nothing but wall over there.  And a niche high on the wall with a skull sitting on it.

“That’s right!  I’m the skull. Come take me down.”

The voice was oddly compelling.  Vrionne crossed the chamber, stood up on tip toes.  Her fingers could just barely touch the skull’s lower jaw bone.  She stretched for it, and then felt teeth  clamp firmly, but not painfully on her middle finger.  She almost screamed.  But, thieves have self control, or they don’t last long in the business.  Slowly she pulled her hand back, and the skull rattled along until it fell off the ledge.

But, it didn’t fall.  Attached firmly to her finger, it came down at the same speed as her hand.

She put the sword down on the altar–quietly.  Then with her free hand she disengaged the skull and held it up to look at it.  “How can this be?”

“In life I was a wizard.  In death, I remain one.”

Vrionne was spooked, but she tried not to show it.  Holding the sword in one hand, she held the skull in the other and gazed at him.

“Why would you want to go with me?”

“I like the way you dress.”  Vrionne glanced momentarily at her skimpy costume.  It was an outfit designed to call attention away from her face, and also to permit rapid movement.

“Thanks for the compliment!  But I came to steal the sword, not a talking skull.”  She started to set him down.

“But baby, I’m in lust with you,” groaned the skull. Vrionne though she heard the hint of a chuckle in its bone-dry voice.”  She had heard such comments before, and she didn’t put much faith in them.

“It would never work out,” she told him. “You are notably lacking in all of the requirements I look for in a lover.  You don’t even have a tongue!”

“Well, then, I am the Guardian of the Sword.  How can I guard it if you leave me behind?”

“The sword won’t need a guardian where I’m taking it.  No, you can stay her, Sir Skull.”  She set the bony head down on the altar.  Then she carefully tied the sword around her neck with a piece of cord she had brought, turned and started toward the knotted rope that dangled from a skylight thirty feet overhead.

“You’re making a terrible mistake,” said the skull.  “Last chance!  Take me with you.  I am so bored in this place.”

Vrionne grinned slightly.  Men!  They always tried to wheedle her when they didn’t get their way. She gripped the rope and leaped upwards, catching it with her other hand.

“Freeze!” said the skull, and there was no longer any friendliness in his voice.

Vrionne felt her muscles lock up.  She felt an icy chill in every part of her body.  The rope turned slightly with her weight on it, and she saw the skull lieing on the altar.  A baleful blue glare emnated from the empty eye-sockets.

“Please,” she could barely whisper.

“You had your chance, baby.  You should have taken me with you.”

Vrionne hung helplessly in magical paralysis.  She wanted to scream, but only the barest whisper would pass through her lips.  She felt her body going numb under the chill.  Her mind raced, trying to think of a way out of this predicament. She knew what they did to thieves here in the city of Stormgaard.  Only one thing occurred to her.

“I’ll take you with me,” she managed to gasp.

“But I could never trust you!  No, you will hang there until the guards arrive, and they are already on their way. You should have taken me when I offered. After all, I told you I was a wizard, and you never want to offend a wizard.”

Vrionne wished the damn skull would shut the hell up.

End

Looks like the skull gets the last laugh.

______________________________________________________________________

Comments on these stories would be most welcome.  If you read them, I’d especially like to know which story you liked the best.

–Atroll

Wolf and Girl Stories

Three days ago, I started a flashfiction contest.  I got two entries and I wrote a story myself.  There may not be any literary prizes here, but I’m pleased with the stories, as it gives me something to share with you all today.  The winning story, imho, is the third one, but please leave a comment and vote.  I’d like to know which story you think is best.
Incidentally, I want to say, GOD DAMN WORDPRESS!!!  I worked and worked to get the formatting right on these stories, and WordPress kept putting the wrong, poorly spaced and balanced formats back.  Well, I give up.  You readers will just have to take the stories the way WordPress allows me to produce them.  GOD DAMN WORDPRESS!!!  I WANT A WYSIWYG INTERFACE!  GRRRRRRR!
–Atroll
_________________________________________________________________________________
Meet Me By the Fire
By Laurie Rose
The maidens giggled as they helped each other wash
their hair in the quiet place in the river.
The sun was shining warmly on the day, seemingly anticipating the coming
festivities as much as the maidens.
“Shareena, your hair is so beautiful, he is sure to choose you,” one of
the maidens pouted.
“I think he’ll choose her for her beautiful voice, “ another whinesd.
Shareena dipped her head into the water to rinse the herbal suds from her
flowing locks.  As she put her head up, she splashed Calaya, her best friend, and giggled uncontrollably.
“Oh, Shareena,” Calaya scolded, “you have
everything a man can want, but you are still like a child!”
Shareena laughed and then gasped as looking into
the forest she saw eyes looking back at her from behind a tree.  Shareena found a rock to lie on and be warmed
by the sun’s rays.  As she combed her fingers through her hair, she again spied the eyes in the forest looking at her.
“Surely, it must be Karlund,” she thought. Karlund was the greatest warrior in her village and the one she hoped to
be betrothed to this very evening.  Shareena removed the straps of her top, revealing much of her breast, as she spread aloe
and chamomile oil on her body to make it shine.
The eyes continued to look.  As Shareena massaged the oil  on her chest,
it became evident that the eyes watching her were causing her to be
aroused.  Shareena lay back on the rock, her breasts nearly fully exposed. Then she heard
the calling.  “Shareena, come to me.”  Shareena sat up quickly, looking
into the forest.  “Shareena………………….” The voice continued to call.  Was that
Karlund’s voice?  Shareena slipped her arms back in the strap of her top and slipped away while the other maids were
chatting and laughing.
Her limber body made its way easily as she called out
for Karlund.  “I heard your voice,
Karlund, make yourself known!  I am here
to………..” Shareena fell silent as she came face to face with a hideous
creature.  His teeth were sharp and pointy, ears facing forward, and he crouched ready to attack.  Behind the creature, a hideous female voice hissed, “You, woman, prepare to meet your final moments.  I will have Karlund as my own, and you are
the only one to stop me!”
Shareena jumped back and grabbed a large stick
just as the creature lurched forward to strike.
Shareena felt a new-found strength she’d never known before and with
both hands swung the stick hard making a loud thud on the creature’s
skull.  Shareena dropped the stick in surprise and looked to find the woman who had spoken had fled with haste.  Shareena, breathing quickly from as much fear as the physical strain of the moment, put her foot on the chest of the wounded
beast.  “I demand you state your purpose.  Why would you call to me and
attack me, creature?”
The creature,gasping, opened his mouth as though to speak, then disappeared as if he had
never been.   Shareena was bewildered as she looked around the forest.
In that moment, Karlund and his father stepped
from behind her.  Karlund’s father put his arm on his son’s shoulder as he praised his son, “You have chosen well,
son.”  Karlund smiled longingly at Shareena as he whispered, “I have found my true love.  Until tonight………….”
Shareena made her way back to the river, the other
maids staring at her dissheveled appearance.
Shareena could only smile as they maidens asked her endless
questions.  Finally, Calaya came very
close, enough to where Shareena could smell the fragrant herbs in her
hair.  “Shareena, you’ve only minutes
before we have to go to the fire for the festivities.  Do you not care?
Shareena smiled again, dipping her hair in
the water.  “Let’s  go, Calaya, let us dance, let us find our
true loves!!!”  Shareena half danced and
half skipped towards town, the other maids’ mouths wide open.  They could barely hear Shareena as she sang,
“It’s a goooood dayyyyy.”
End
________________________________________________________________________________
From a story of true love, let us move on to a story of true lust.  Read this and then let me know if I have a great future in store for me as a wrtier of romances.
–Atroll
______________________________________________________________________________________
Karma
By Ken St. Andre
Runt hated his name, and he hated his status. He
was the smallest member of his pack, and the slowest, and the weakest. Even old
Greymuzzle could beat him.
So, he left. He changed into man-form and hitchhiked down the Pacific Coast Highway
until he reached San Diego.  Couldn’t get
much further south than that.  He got a
job at a Jack-in-the-Box cooking burgers and other local delicacies.  There was plenty of raw meat for him
there–just clip off an ounce before cooking, and pop it in his mouth.  Customers never noticed if their burger was a
little light.
And . . . he got a girlfriend, a cute little
brown-haired beach bunny named named Kara.
She caught him walking into the restaurant one morning and said
“Hey, what’s your name?”
“Runt–er, I mean, Ron.  Who are you? Why do you ask?”
“Ha, ha, ha!  Runt!? It’s a good nickname for you, Ron.  I’m not tall, but you’re shorter than
me.  Still, I like the way you look.  There’s something wild about you.”
“If you only knew,” thought Runt.  He licked his lips.  “Gotta
think of something nice to say to her.”
“You’re pretty hot.  What’s your name?”
“Kara.  Kara Smith. And you are . . .”
“Ron.  Ron Wolf   Hey, Kara, I’m a cook here.  Would you like a free burger, my
treat?’
“I’d love one.  Make it rare for me, will you, Ron?”
And that was the beginning of a beautiful
friendship that got better every day.
Kara and Ron went to the movies together.  They went to the arcade together. They went
to concerts together.  They went to the
beach together.  They went to bed together.
Runt learned a lot about his Kara.  She was strong and wild, and she liked to be
on top.  Ron enjoyed his time with Kara, knowing that it would be short, because the full moon was coming.  With the full moon would come the change, and that, Runt thought, would be the end of Kara.
A werewolf dreams of the first maiden that he gets to ravish and devour.  He couldn’t help salivating every time he
thought of how he would really bite into her soon.  Grrrr and Yummm!
The day of the full moon came.  Ron got the afternoon off and took his girl
to a La Jolla beach.  They found a very remote spot way down past the nude beach and set up their blanket and umbrella.  By the time the sun went down they were alone.
“Tonight we stay and watch the moon come
up,” Ron told her.  He leaned in to
kiss her lips.  They were a bit salty
from her last swim in the ocean.
“Oh, Ron, you’re such a romantic.” Kara kissed him back, grabbed him, and rolled him on the blanket beneath her.  He lay beneath her with her bikini-wrapped breasts bobbling a few inches from his face.
He could scarcely repress a howl of glee.  The tingle in his skin told him the change
was starting.  He lifted his head to snap at her teasing tit, but she jerked backwards and he gnashed only air.
Kara  giggled.  “Down, boy!” she commanded.  Then her eyes widened.  “Ron,
what’s happening?  You’re changing!  Growing hairier, darker, more–“
Ron surged upwards and threw her off his body.  “I have a surprise for
you,” he growled.  His words were just barely human.  “You know why my
last name is Wolf?  It is because I am a wolf–a werewolf!”  He loomed over
her and let the saliva drip off his canine fangs and out of his muzzle.
Kara scooted away backwards until she could get to her feet. Runt advanced slowly, savoring each step as he
watched the terror on her face. It slowly occurred to him that she didn’t seem
as terrified as she should be.  Then he rushed her, claws outstretched to grab her rend her frail form.
Kara reached out, caught one arm by
the wrist, pulled him forward, bent to the side, and threw him to the
ground.  His head smacked into a boulder
and in the next second he found himself flat on his back with Kara stepping on
his chest.
“I think I’ll call you Rover,” she sneered. “And you should know by now, I like to be on
top!”
End
_________________________________________________________________________________
Poor Runt.  When you can’t win, you really just can’t win.  Just his luck to run into  a weregirl in his new home by the sea.
The third story takes place in Trollworld, and is by a member of Trollhalla. Come to think of it, all stories are by members of Trollhalla. Come on, rest of the world!  These contests are open to everyone.
–Atroll
____________________________________________________________________________________

Cloak

by Bernard Assaf

“Bah!” came the cry, closely followed by chair-on-floor
scraping, pewter mug crashing, and sloshing liquid sounds.  “Dragon droppings!” Nocks lamented aloud.

Those in the crowd gathered at the Blue Frog Tavern who were
close enough to Nocks’ table, turned their heads in time to see the aftermath
of the collision.  One of the servers had
tripped over a wayward sword’s scabbard, and he had spilled his tray, which had
previously held aloft several of mugs of ale.
One of the mugs had sloshed its contents in a wide arc which splattered
on the head and back of the young woman who until a few moments previous to the
crash had been enjoying her evening meal.

“Oh no, I’m so sorry!” Crumbs the server quickly replied.  He scooped up the spilled mugs and wiped up
the ale from the floor, then offered to clean her ale-doused cloak.

“No way!  That dishrag
is probably dirtier than my cloak.  I’ll
clean it myself,” Nocks fumed.  She
gulped down the last of her grog and shoved the last of the potato slices into
her mouth.  Nocks bent down and scooped
up her pack from under the table, then made her way outside.  Outside, she shook her head and the stray
splashes of ale that had landed in her hair sprinkled the front porch.  In the relative quiet of the mostly deserted
landing, she was surprised by slurping and smacking sounds.  Quickly she turned around and spied a patron
relaxing on a chair by the door.  He held
a glass to his face.  “Good grief!” she
barked.  “Men these days—no manners!” she mused silently.

At this hour, none of the reputable cleaning establishments
were open, so Nocks trudged off home.
The man without manners lowered his empty glass, shrugged, and resumed
counting the cracks on its interior.

Inside Nocks’ under-furnished room in the female wing of the
third floor of the adventurer’s guild hall, Nocks slammed and locked the door,
dumped her pack, and stripped off her cloak.
She crossed the room with its lonely bed, desk and chair to the wash
room, and dumped her cloak in the wash basin.
The tub still held a half-full mix of water and soap from her previous
bath and would now serve to clean her cloak, just as it had cleaned the grime
and sweat from her body that afternoon.  She
kicked her boots off her feet, pulled off her tunic and trousers and tossed
them into the basin as well.  That was
when she heard an unexpected gurgling sound.

“Death Goddess!” she cursed, swinging around to scan her
tiny two-room home for the source.
Making a full circle, Nocks focused on the wash basin.  The water was slowly sucking her garments
under, and the guttural gurgle became louder.
Confused, Nocks reached in, brazenly pulled out her clothes, and spied
her cloak—if it could still be called that.
A beast with matted fur the same black color as her cloak squirmed,
sputtered and clawed its way out of the wash basin, dumping itself on to the
floor. Astonished, Nocks peered into the washer, which was empty save the soapy
water.

“What?  Who?” Nocks stammered, returning her gaze to the black animal as she backed up into the
room toward where she’d left her pack and sword.  The creature was growing in size like a
soaked sponge decompressing underwater.

Nocks reached her sword, eyes still fixed on the monster,
and as she pulled the blade from its sheath the creature stood up on its
cat-like hind legs, shook itself to dry, then stared her down.  “More!” it growled, guttural and feral.  It picked up her soggy tunic with its clawed hands.

Nocks, clad only in her black and white flower print
undergarments, charged the beast with a brave roar.  It was the first time she had entered into
combat with a piece of clothing, but the actual mystery of its transformation
from cloak to creature did not surprise her, for that was the magical norm of
everyday life in the city of Khazan.

The beast surprised her with a back-pedaling retreat from her
advance.  Nocks hesitated.

“More?” it said more hesitantly, almost questioningly.  Nocks sensed no aggression, but instead fear,
in this still growing creature.  The
beast looked about, spied the lone window in the wash room, leaped to it,
banged open the wooden shutters, and jumped.

“I don’t think so!” Nocks challenged, and leaped after
it.  She knew what lay outside—the river—and
she was confident in not only her leaping ability but also her splashdown and
swimming skills.  This cloak come to life,
or whatever it was, would not escape her!

The beast, only a second in front of her, splashed down
first, and then quickly scrambled up to the opposite bank.  Like a cannonball, Nocks plunged into the
river after it, her topknot of hair whipping in the night air.  She pushed up from the rocky riverbed that
came too quickly for her comfort—she’d have bruised heels for sure in the
morning—and broke the surface.

Nocks heard the cat-like creature shout pleadingly: “More!”  It was now about her same height and
scrambling away from her, still clutching the doubly-doused tunic.  As Nocks approached with sword in front of
her, the cloak turned cat-man dropped her tunic, turned to run, but tripped
over a root and fell over the upraised stone circle surrounding a landscaping
rock which Nocks had seen the children use to play king of the hill.

This thing made no motion to threaten her, and so Nocks returned
the favor, thrusting her sword into the earth.
Nevertheless, the chase coming to a close, she jumped up on the stone,
earth and rock dais and plunged one wet foot into the beast’s midsection.  She pointed her finger accusingly at the
creature.  “What are you—and what do you want?”

“More!” it stammered, afraid.

“More?  More what?” Nocks demanded.

Exasperated and licking its lips, the creature cried out.
“Ale!”

The End

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There are many strange adventures told in Trollworld, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything stranger than that.

And now, esteemed readers, please comment and let the world know which story you liked the best.!

–Atroll

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There will be another contest later in the week.  Think about it!  Wouldn’t you like to see your flash fiction published here at Atroll’s Flashfiction.  All you have to do is write something–preferably something fantastic–and email it to:

Atrrroll@gmail.com.

Hunting Parties

Hunting Parties

two tales of Trollworld by Ken St. Andre

Hungry Fairies

“Summer is almost over,” said Bluefeather.

“I like winter better,” Prickle answered.

“But winter is cold. I don’t like the cold.”

“Cold doesn’t bother me, and I do like the meat.  Don’t you?”

“Mmmhmmm.” A dreamy glaze came over the eyes of the two fairies. Prickle licked her tiny lips.

“Hey, you two! I’ve got weapons for you.” Burndog flew up with his arms full of flint knives.

“Flint! Flint again? Why is it always flint? When do we get iron or steel?”

“We can’t buy iron or steel,” he answered.  “Fairies don’t have money for men-things. And the elves don’t like those
metals.”

“The stinking elves,” snarled Prickle. “We treat them like lords. They aren’t our masters. We have no trouble with cold iron.”

“Psst!” Prickle and Burndog turned to look at Bluefeather.

“Look! Bunnies!” hissed the other fairy. “Let’s try out those knives.”

The three fairies attacked. The shrill screaming of the rabbits filled the night.

“Yum, meat!” Prickle gloated as she cut her prey open and started to eat.

Dinner is about to be served.

The End

Nobbig was making too much noise.

Frog Hunt

Four Goblins splashed through some of the shallower waters of the Great Sump.  They worked in pairs as they hunted for their supper.

Nobbig from Knor splashed through the murky water. It only came up a little past his knees, but the bottom was so soft and
muddy that his splay-toed feet kicked up mud and water with every step. He had a bamboo spear in his left hand – the perfect frog sticker. It was just a hollow cylinder of reed with one end sharpened.

“Do you have to make so much noise?” complained his partner – another goblin named Glumb. Unlike Nobbig, Glumb could glide through the swamp and never leave a trace.

“Are you worried that I’ll scare the frogs away?”

“A little bit. I’m more afraid that you’ll attract something that might want to eat us.”

“What? You didn’t tell me that we could be prey as well as predator!”

Rrribbet!  The bullfrog’s croak was surprisingly loud in the night.  Nobbig looked around apprehensively.

The Goblins stopped arguing. Their big ears swiveled on their bald green skulls. Their eyes darted from side to side,
searching the reeds and weeds and lilypads. Every ripple could be their targets.

As the water got deeper, frogs and other creatures began to appear. Fishy shapes darted between their legs and larger serpentine bodies sometimes pursued them.

As the night deepened even more of the swamp creatures came out. Glumb struck first – his arm darting out and slashing at a
big bullfrog, but he missed.

“Har!” snorted Nobbig. “And you’re the great swamp hunter.”

“I’d like to see you do any better!” snarled Glumb.

Nobbig looked left but speared right and there he had it – a big yellow-bellied amphibian transfixed on his spear. The frog’s
blood trickled down its bulging stomach.

“How’s that?” he gloated.

“Put it in your bag. We need more than one frog tofeed the clan.”

Nobbig got the second frog also. Then, Glumb got three in a row. They were doing well before the whirring of gigantic wings
interrupted them.

“Get down!” hissed Glumb. The two Goblins hunched down until only their eyes and nostrils were above the surface. The shadow of a monstrous dragonfly fell across the water, and a huge insect buzzed above them.
Luckily, it did not stay long. Two little goblins would not be enough to satisfy that bug’s appetite.

But they stayed low in the water until the whirring of its wings faded out in the distance. After nearly half an hour they
got back to an upright position.

“Let’s get out of here,” said Nobbig. “We’ve got enough.”

“I agree. I think the shore is this way.”

They started off. Nobbig didn’t splash nearly as much as he had at the beginning of the hunt.

They had just emerged from the water when the biggest frog Nobbig had ever seen appeared out of nowhere.  There was a mighty thump as it landed, and then the huge amphibian had its tongue around Glumb. and popped him right into its big, gaping maw.

Goblins are ferociously brave.  Nobbig and the other two members of the hunting party attacked.  Even Glumb struggled inside the frog’s stomach–he wasn’t chewed up on the way down.

The Goblins fought with determination, cunning, and all the ferocity they could summon.  And not a single one returned to camp to tell the tale.

The End

Brilliance as Dawn Approaches

 
 
Brilliance as Dawn Approaches
     by Laurie Rose
 
 
As the night vanishes with the placing of the last dew drop, Fetrina settles in on a tree branch to watch the sun rise.  She breathes in a heavy, awe-struck gasp as the most brilliant sunrise decorates the sky.  First just oranges, but then purples and dark yellows and reds join the pallette.
  
Fetrina lies on the branch, her back against the trunk of the tree.  As she puts her arms behind her head, she glances up briefly in  “sun-rise-satisfaction” to see a most peculiar sight.  A cloth in the branch above her is moving and making sounds.  Alarmed, Fetrina flies above, but not too close.  A fairy cannot be too careful, you know.
 
What lies in that bundle strikes awe in Fetrina’s heart.  It is a human baby, with deep hazel eyes and blonde curls.  Nearby is a stork with a broken wing–it is near death.  The baby is beginning to cry.  With all of the calmeness she can muster, Fetrina flies beside the baby’s face, stroking her cheek as she says she will return in a moment.
 
It takes some persuasion, but four squirrel friends return with Fetrina to help get the baby down.  The stork has passed.  Fetrina takes a few leaves to cover the stork, thanking the stork for protecting this baby.  The squirrels bring the baby to Fetrina’s home where Fetrina is now debating with the Fairy Queen.  Reluctantly, the Queen allows the baby to be reared by Fetrina.  Perhaps it will give Fetrina some focus.  After all, Fairies are called to serve and protect where they can.
 
Alone again, Fetrina and the squirrels vow to bring this baby up to be the most beautiful, caring and gentle human possible.  Her name, she must have a name.  The baby coos as the last star gives way to the full sun.  Naaaaaaaame…..ahhh……..Her name is Dawn-keeper of the morning light!  There is much work to do. 
 
End
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The story isn’t very trollish, but it is a lovely fantasy.  I liked it, so I printed it.
–Atroll

Two Elves Redux

Hi!  Ken St. Andre talking to you for a moment, before I put the story down.  If you keep reading this blog, you’re going to notice that an awful lot of my stories are set in Trollworld which is, of course, my private playground within the Tunnels and Trolls game universe.  I could write about other times and places, and I will, sometimes.  I have a fun piece about wizards in outer space coming up soon–maybe tomorrow if I get it finished in time.  But it makes sense for me to set a lot of  my stories in Trollword–you see, it’s my world.  I made it up for the Tunnels and Trolls game, and if I don’t write about it, who will?  Like Tolkien with Middle Earth, or Howard with the Hyborian Age, I have a million little stories to tell about the fascinating place that is Trollworld.  And one of the things I have to tell you is that Trollworld is not just a single world–it is a nexus of realities–an infinite series of worlds where adventures can go every which way.  And what better way can I show that than with this story that I call:
Two Elves Redux

     by Ken St. Andre

Two elves sat in a room with a treasure chest. Two Orks had left a few minutes ago.

“Why are we here?” asked the first elf.

“We’ve got to be somewhere,” said the second elf. “Why not be here?” He grinned.

“Don’t get metaphysical on me. I hate it when you do that.”

“But you make it so easy.”

“No, really, why are we here?”

“We’re here to guard the treasure.”

“Guard it from what?”

“Orks.”

“Ha ha! But why are we here? The treasure doesn’t need guarding. This place is a fortress. I doubt if any thieves could ever get in there.”

“They might. Delvers sometimes come in force, and they can be tricky.”

“If any delvers are powerful enough to reach this room, I’m not going to fight with them. Are you?”

“The room only has one door. We’ll have to fight to get away.”

“Then shouldn’t we be guarding it out in the hallway where we can see people coming, and run away if we need to?”

“Our orders are to sit in here and guard it.”

“Damn!”

Silence for several minutes.

The first elf plainly wasn’t satisfied. “But why are we guarding the treasure?”

“Because the Evil Wizard is paying us to guard it.”

“Do you want to piss off the Evil Wizard?”

“Um!  No.”

Two elves sat in a room guarding a treasure chest.  They were thinking maybe they had made a big mistake when they took the jobs with the Evil Wizard.

End.

The evil wizard had the elves in his power.

If you would care to read a longer story set in Trollworld, please take a look at http://delvers.wordpress.com where my most recent story is called

Hobgoblin’s Holiday in Khazan.  Khazan, in case you haven’t heard of the place, is the capital city of the Empire of the Death Goddess.  It is named after her old nemesis, the elven wizard Khazan.  It bears only a very slight resemblance to the earthly city of Khazan in Central Asia, although that is certaily where the name came from.  If you work your way back through Delver’s Tales, you will see that they are all set in Trollworld, and cover a lot of minor adventures of minor characters in that world.  I seldom write of kings, queens, and earthshaking events.  I mostly write the minor adventures of minor characters, because the ordinary people of fantasy worlds should have their stories told, too.  Stay with me, and see how the citizens of Trollworld really live–and die.

End.

The Old Elf Teacher Tries to Explain

The Old Elf Teacher Explains It All, Part 1

     by Ken St. Andre

The Old Elf settled on a comfortable hummock of moss and made the tongue cluck that meant, “Pay attention now”.  His ancientness showed in his long long nose, his long long ears, and his long long white beard.  The younger elves gathered in front of him and waited for him to speak.

“Today, younglings, we will learn about the gods.”

“But Grandfather, there are no gods, just Great Wizards.  That is what we have always been told.”

“And I ask you, what is the real difference between a Great Wizard, and a god?”  No one had an answer for that.  “These are the beings in Trollworld who have made themselves into gods.  Listen and learn!”

They waited expectantly.

“Greatest of the gods is Ohtariel, the God of the Sun (called Bhanu in Old High Elven). He brings life and warmth to the world, and frightens monsters and destroys them. In the morning, he rises to glory; in the afternoon, he sinks into defeat, and retires to an island in the west where he sleeps, recovering his strength to fight the great battle again on the following day. Those well versed in the lore of the sun associate him with Khazan-Ohtariel-Khazan, the great Elvish wizard who united the Six Good Kindreds and formed the Empire of Khazan. For centuries, Khazan reigned in his city in the Dragon’s Mouth, bringing a golden age to the land while the monster kindred hid in the wastelands. He overthrew the Ogres of Tharothar. He organized the wizards into a great guild that regulated the working of magic in the land. He defended the land from the depredation of Zweetz, the evil bird-serpent god. But in the end, he grew weak, and was defeated by Lerotra’hh, Goddess of Death and Night, and the monster kindred. Then Khazan withdrew into the hidden island in the sea where he now sleeps, leaving the land in spiritual darkness. One day he will rise again to bless the world with a new morning of hope. In the meantime, he shows his power and love in the daily light of the sun, which fights many battles with darkness and with storm, and always sets and leaves the world in shadow, yet always rises again to bring new hope to it. This is the legend of Ohtariel, also known as Khazan. ”

The setting sun symbolizes the temporary victory of the Monster Kindreds.

 

“But Grandfather, that is just a short version of the story of Khazan, a great elven wizard, but no god.  The world existed before he walked these lands.  And it still exists now that he is gone.  How can you call him a god?”

“Did it?” asked the ancient elf.  “Does it?” 

They did not understand.

–The End

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Bio:  Ken St. Andre lives a life of infinite power in Trollworld as Trollgod–not so much on Earth.

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Late One Night In An Empty Bar

     by Paul Ingrassia

“Johnnie Walker Blue, neat,” a deep voice said.

Joe jerked and dropped the glass he was wiping.

“Holy shit, you scared the hell outta me, man. I didn’t hear you come in…”

“Johnnie Walker Blue, neat. Please.” The short man looked in his mid-thirties, and his suit was torn and filthy.

“Let’s see the cash, little brother. That stuff’s forty bucks a shot.”

“Make it a double,” the stranger tossed a handful of damp, crumpled one-hundred-dollar bills onto the bar.

“It’s your paycheck, pal.”

The stranger downed the drink in two gulps.

“Another double, please.”

The second disappeared as quick as the first. The stranger waved his finger at Joe.

“You know, pal,” Joe poured the whiskey, “you keep slamming ’em like that, I’ll have to take your keys or cut you off.”

“I don’t have a car anymore, so keep ’em coming.”

“You okay, man?” Joe poured again.

“Can I talk to you,” the stranger had tears welling in his eyes.

“Sure, man. I’m a bartender, it’s part of the job description.”

“Listen, please… I have a confession to make.”

“You’re not gonna tell me you killed someone, are you?” Joe thought of the .45 next to the speed well.

“No, nothing like that,” he motioned for another drink. This time he sipped it. “I left my wife and kids today. I got up, went to work, and I’m never going back. They will be totally shocked.” The stranger started crying. “God, I love them so much.”

“So why don’t you just go back, man?”

“I can’t. It’s impossible.”

“Nothing is impossible,” Joe said. “Shit, between you and me, I’m a sober junkie. I was spiking it for fifteen years, every day, stealing for it, in and out of jail. I’ve been clean for two years now. If a scrub like me can kick the shit, anything is possible.”

“You don’t understand. I just can’t go back. Ever.”

“Well, buddy, if you can’t go back, then I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Look out for number one now, move on, head off to the next adventure.” Joe poured him another.

“You know something,” the stranger downed the fresh drink in one swig, “you’re absolutely right. I can’t do anything for them anymore. Mary and the kids will just have to get over it, get on with their lives. I can only worry about me now. Thanks for your help. It’s time for me to go.”

The stranger slowly faded away to nothing.

“What the fuck!”

The bar door swung open and Sheriff Franklyn walked in.

“Hey, Joe. Gimme a beer and a shot of rot-gut. There was a nasty accident up the road a bit. Poor guy was killed, thrown from his car. He was only thirty-two. God!”

Joe stared at the sheriff wide-mouthed.

“What’s eatin’ you, Joe? Come on, I need a drink. I just got back from telling some poor woman and her kids that daddy aint coming home anymore.”

Joe collapsed.

end

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Bio: Paul is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and a fan of cinquain, prose poetry, flash fiction, RPGs, and tabletop skirmishing.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Paul also writes a great short ghost story, and we hope to see more of his work here soon.

end

Nocturnal encounter

Nocturnal Encounter

        By Laurie Rose Reeves

The still of the night does not go unnoticed by Grrogggg. Though lying by the fire, his hand remains on his weapon. One never knows when it might come in handy. Scrrraaaaffek is snoring lightly from the other side of the fire. Sklipp, the youngest of the group, is tossing and turning, this being his first battle. He has much to think about and much to learn. Barely discernable, a twig cracks. Grrrog’s hand tightens on his weapon. He sees that the others now have their hands on their weapons. This day is not over. How nice it will be to return to the swamp. Another twig……….”

***

A yelp from the other side of the forest had the entire party on their feet.  A pack of four-legged beasts shot from behind them towards the forest where the sounds had resounded.  Their foes lurched forward as well, just 50 or so feet from the party.  The four-legged beasts were grotesquely muscular, with huge fangs protruding 5 inches from their muzzles.  The beasts stood up to a troll’s chest.  Scrrraaaffek whispered, “I fed one of those beasts last night by the river.  I threw him the last of the meat from my plate.”  The party stood agog at the massacre as “their beasts” tore apart the threat that would have surely finished them all. 

dire wolves  (click this link to see a picture of dire wolves by David Ullery, a Trollhalla artist.)

 From behind the melee, another threat stepped forward as giants stepped forward. Formidable, these giants were, with maces bigger than any of the trolls’ heads.  Upon seeing that their beasts had been torn to pieces, the giants stopped to size up the situation.  17 beasts stood in front of Grrrogggg’s party, snarling formidably at the giants.  The giants, 8 in number, knew that they were outnumbered.  For now.  The leader grunted a command and the giant group turned to leave.  The giant leader stared down at Grrogggg. This leader had seen many battles.  He had a scar running down from his hairline to his ear and then to just near his right eye.  That had to hurt.  His left arm had a scar, not too old, going from his elbow to wrist. 

Grrrogggg realized he knew him from somewhere.  Where?  The giant leader pointed at Grrrroggg as if to say, “I will get you later.”  He then turned and left, his immense stature taking him close to the branches of the tall trees.  The beasts wearily approached the party and sat in a circle just in the outskirts of where Grrroggg and his warriors stood.  Grrroggg reached into his pack and threw out some dried meat to the apparent leader of the pack.  Grrroggg stepped closer, as did the leader.  Grrroggg reached out, the pack leader drew closer.  Grrroggg put his hand on the leader’s shoulder, “Thank you, my friend.  We surely would have perished had you not helped us.”  The pack leader snorted slightly then bowed to Grrroggg.  Why, why did he assume a subservient position?  The group decided to move on to a more secure position.  In finding a a cave, they found it a defendable position, the trees and forest about 50 yards away, it leaves some space between the unknown.  The group gave the beasts some more meat, built a fire and laid to rest for a few hours.  They knew the beasts were watching out.   Grrroggg took a last look at the darkness of the trees.  The vines hanging down reminded him of his childhood, playing on the vines with some who were in his party even now.

***

Though lying by the fire, his hand remains on his weapon. One never knows when it might come in handy. Scrrraaaaffek is snoring lightly from the other side of the fire. Sklipp, the youngest of the group, is tossing and turning, this being his first battle. He has much to think about and much to learn. Barely discernable, a twig cracks. Grrrog’s  hand tightens on his weapon. He sees that the others now have their hands on their weapons. This day is not over. How nice it will be to return to the swamp. Another twig……….”

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Life is made up of many tiny stories.  Just goes to show, life is better with friends, and even trolls have friends.

From trolls and wolves and giants let’s move on to fish.  Again, we are talking life and death.

________________________________________________________________

 

Just Say No

    by Ken St. Andre

Preface: Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fish?

I want to tell you a fish story.

 

Splish!

“What’s that?”

‘Don’t know.  Over there, by the smooth stone.’

“Looks a bit like worms  Nice brown worms.”

‘Looks kinda good.  Maybe we should go over and nibble a bit.’

[No!  Don’t go, younglings!  It’s danger.]

“Oh, Gramps!  You always think everything is dangerous.”

[And that’s how I got to be as big and old and wise as I am.]

‘Look!  Clyde’s going over to investigate it.’

[Clyde!  Stay away!  Danger!]

(Don’t be silly, Gramps.  These worms can’t hurt me. Ohh, that feels kind of good.)

“What are the worms doing?”

‘They are rubbing against Clyde’s belly.  Look at the smile on his face.  He loves it.’

“I want some.”

‘Me too!’

SPLASH!

“What happened?”

‘Where’s Clyde?’

[The thing got him.  Clyde is gone.]

“Gone where?”

[Don’t know for sure, but I doubt if he will return.]

‘How did you know about the danger, Gramps?’

[When I was younger, something like this happened to me.  Strange delicious looking worms appeared in the water, they stroked my stomach, it felt better than anything ever has before or since . . .]

“And?”

[Suddenly the thing grabbed me, and pulled me out of the world.  I flew through outer space, but I wriggled and twisted.  I came down and hit hard.  It wasn’t water.  Something huge lunged for me, but I twisted and flopped as hard as I could . . .]

“And you got back in the water?”

[Yes.  I was very lucky.]

Splish.

‘Look, here it comes again.’

“Ooh, they do look good!”

[Just say no.  You will live longer.]

‘Let’s get out of here.’

* * * * * * * * *

End

Two Orks

 
 

There are two Orks guarding this treasure, but they're not in the picture.

 

 

Two Orks

     By John Wick

Two orks sit in a small, square room with a treasure chest and wait.

The first ork asks, “What are we doing here?”

The second ork says, “Shut up.”

The first ork asks, “But, I mean, what are we doing here?”

The second ork says, “Who cares?”

The first ork asks, “Are we waiting for someone?”

The second ork says, “Shut up.”

The first ork stops asking questions.

Two orks sit in a small, square room with a treasure chest and wait.

Not . . . The End

__________________________________________________________________________

Hi, my name is Ken St. Andre.  I’m a game designer (Tunnels & Trolls, Wasteland, Ogreocre, and many others you’ve probably never heard of) and a gamer.  So is John Wick  (7th Sea, Legend of Five Rings, Houses of the Blooded, and more).  These days he’s much better known as a game designer than I am.  You have to expect us to write stories about our games, or at least stories that could have some game context.  That’s what you got today.

________________________________________________________________________

The Hero

by Ken St. Andre

 

Preface: I don’t know where this came from–perhaps a dream.  If I dream anything remotely interesting, I usually try to write it down. Talk about your small stories! But, at least this one has a moral.

This looks like a quiet place to stop and rest, but . . .

 

I paused by a forest pool to refresh myself and my mount.  I was kneeling and using my cupped hands to drink the cool, refreshing water when suddenly I heard a shout, and a man rushed out of the trees at me, his hands upraised as if he wanted to throttle me.

It surprised me, but I fear no man.  Lightly rising to my feet, I side-stepped his mad rush and drew my rapier in one clean motion.  As he turned to attack again, I foined at his neck and drove the keen blade through his bearded throat and out the back.  He fell down in a geyser of blood.  I dodged back so that none of it would soil my clothing.  He gasped and burbled, but he couldn’t speak and in about a minute he bled to death.

That was unpleasant.  I searched the body, but he had nothing on him but a peasant’s filthy ragged clothing and a poor knife of blunt iron–nothing that I would want, and nothing to tell why he attacked me.  Come to think of it, perhaps he had simply been happy to see me in that godsforsaken forest.  Now that I had a moment to think, I realized the shouts hadn’t sounded that angry.

Well, I had no way to bury him.  I dragged him away from the pool and left him behind some bushes–carrion for the forest wolves.  Filling my water bottles, I rode on and presently reached the city of Paris.

And the moral of the story, lads?  Never rush a fighting man, and stay out of my face!

End

Adventure of the Deerstalkers

 

 

Sherlock put on his hat and agreed to an outing.

 

The Adventure of the Deer Stalkers

      By Dan Lambert

 I have told many tales about how my friend, Sherlock Holmes, has solved some of England’s most vexing mysteries. I have never (until now) put my pen to the task of relating the tale of how one of Holmes’ idioms made its way into his vocabulary. I will break with that tradition today. We know Holmes’ idiom about eliminating the impossible. But here I will reveal the origin of another of my friend’s oft-repeated phrases. The phrase itself I will save for the end.

It was midmorning, in the Autumn of 1888.  Holmes had been wearing a path in the floor of our flat at 221B Baker Street. It was one of those periods of London history that Holmes deplored.  The city was devoid of criminal activity. I, too, was feeling the effects of boredom, being between marriages, and finding my medical practice to be excruciatingly slow. A story in the Times gave me a splendid idea for a diversion. The story was about a new statue being dedicated to one of England’s most beloved literary figures: Robin Hood. I had often jostled Holmes with predictions that the Crown would erect a statue in honor of him some day. Holmes’ usual response was that if such a statue were to portray him wearing that ghastly Deerstalker cap and Inverness cape, he would be the first to sneak in under cover of darkness and pull the abomination to the ground.

The idea I proposed to my friend was a mid-afternoon hunting excursion to Sherwood Forest. To my delight, Holmes agreed, and we were on a train within the hour.

Later that afternoon, we found ourselves in Sherwood Forest, the hunting grounds of that famous outlaw. Once there, I unwrapped a package containing artifacts I had purchased from a Belgian trader in Kabul: two beautiful, finely-polished shotguns.

Donning his much-maligned but necessary deerstalker and cape, Holmes loaded his shotgun, and led the way into the forest gloom.

 “Come, Watson,” he called.  Soon, we spotted a sixteen-point stag, and I promptly shot the beast through the heart.

At least, I thought I had shot the creature through the heart. In fact, I had merely dealt the stag a far from grievous blow. My marksmanship skills had apparently worsened since my army days.

     This stag, whom Holmes came to nickname “Moriarty,” eluded us for nearly an hour.  During that time, we had only Moriarty’s blood spoor to guide us, like a gory trail of bread crumbs in some variant on that German tale about the children and the witch.

     It was nearly sundown when we caught up with Moriarty.  We stopped short when we saw where the stag’s trail led us.  The spoor led directly into the entrance to the den of a cave bear!  As we approached the mouth of the cave, I imagined our hard-earned stag in the belly of a bear.  As we inched closer, our guns at the ready, I could hear the brazen glutton snoring from within the cave.

     Holmes whispered to me his intention to enter the lair.  “But Watson,” he admonished, “I want you to stay here.  If you spy me making haste from that cave, I expect you to provide covering fire.  And not to insult you, Old Boy, but please endeavor to let your aim be true this time.”

     Bracing my shotgun against a nearby oak tree, I aimed and waited.  Holmes crept into the cave, shouldering his own weapon as he went.

     After a few breathless minutes, Holmes returned from his excursion.

     It turns out that the bear had, indeed, devoured our beloved stag, although one part of Moriarty survived.  Holmes had managed to find it whilst searching the floor of the bear’s den.  The bear had spared part of Moriarty’s left foreleg: the creature’s hoof, to be precise.

     Holmes had managed to pocket this treasure and steal away with it, all the while managing not to awaken the sleeping bear.

     I learned all this immediately upon Holmes’ return to my sheltering oak.  “Holmes!” I exclaimed.  “You’re alive!”

     Putting his forefinger to his lips, Holmes admonished me to keep my voice down.  “Yes, my friend, I’m alive.  I’m afraid our game was not so lucky.”

     “Don’t keep me in suspense, Holmes,” I whispered.  “What has become of our game?”

     Holmes reached into the pocket of his coat, and, handing me the stag’s hoof, said with a grin, “Our game, my dear boy?  I hate to tell you this, Watson, but the game’s a foot!”

end

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You can groan all you want now, but flash fiction frequently ends with a pun.  And, Sherlock Holmes is a beloved target for such activity.

I’m not always going to put myself first on the menu, but I am always going to try and give you at least one story by me each day.   Let’s leave Holmes and Watson heading back to London on a train and jump to the 21st century for my cautionary tale.   What if they weren’t wiped out by a huge meteor strike, but left the planet voluntarily before the cosmic axe fell on them?

It took the aliens a long time to find the United Nations Building in New York.

 

Message to the United Nations
     by Ken St. Andre

    The aliens looked an awful lot like dinosaurs.  They had very large brains, and wore a sort of shimmery metallic sarape for clothing–at least that’s how they showed up on television.  They did the usual thing for aliens, and seized control of all television broadcasts around the planet.  Astronomers said that there were close to a million ships in earth orbit out about the distance of the moon.  One minute space was normal and empty; the next moment radar showed it full of a million huge spacecraft–give or take a few thousand–it was real hard to get an accurate count.

    The alien on television had a very short message, and it repeated constantlly.  He obviously used some kind of mechanical translator, as the sound accompanying the picture was a combination of hisses and whistles and clicks.  An inflectionless metallic voice broadcast in English alternating with Chinese.

     The message was short and a bit perplexing.  It said, “You understand the concept of property.  Good.  Prepare for a message from the owner.”

     The message filled the airwaves for nearly a month.  It saturated the broadcast spectrum, much to the dismay of people on Earth, who had to find alternate means of communication.  Then a ship came in for a landing.

     The ship was like nothing ever seen on earth before–an eight-sided truncated pyramid made of a glowing green stone with a base one mile square.  It came down, quite slowly actually in New York City not far from the United Nations building.  As it settled a kind of klaxon sounded–so loud it could deafen a person in a single blast.

     Of course, there was no room for it to land, far too many buildings in the area in which it was settling.  It hovered for over an hour above the highest skyscraper.  All attempts to communicate were ignored.  Then it began to settle again, and it crumpled the steel tower of the building like it was soggy cardboard beneath a brick.

     Anyone with half a brain had already evacuated the area.  Now the rest of the population began to stream out of the landing zone.  Panic, confusion, chaos–and of course the U.S. Army had to arrive with tanks and jets and coptors and missiles.

     And as the ship came down, slowly crushing everything beneath it, and all communications failed, the military opened up with everything it had, all to absolutely no effect.  The bullets bounced off.  The explosions blew back into open air.  The ray weapons fizzled out.  And the ship came down.

     In the middle of the barrage, a great mechanical voice boomed out.  “Stop that!”  Seeing that their weapons had no effect at all, the Army stopped shooting.  Maybe someone remembered that there were a million more ships like this one in orbit.

     The alien ship finally reached the ground, and it settled down, down, down through the earth until it reached bedrock.  And there it sat for seven days and nights.

     Finally a portal opened in the smooth skin of the ship, and a ramp extended, and out floated a small army of dinosaur-aliens, 81 of them to be exact.  They were enclosed in a light blue forcefield, and they rode on platforms of green stone, and they didn’t touch the ground.  They made their way to the entrance to the United Nations, and used some sort of tool to dematerialize an opening in the building wall large enough for their party to float through.  Ignoring all the people who tried to block or guide them, they went directly to the assembly station.

The President of the United Nations put it as gently as he could, but finally had to ask, “Why are you here?”

The alien dinosaur barked at him.  “Exactly what we wanted to ask you!  Why are you creatures here?”

“This is our home planet.  We evolved here,” said the human.

“Wrong,” snapped the dinosaur.  “We evolved here and had a high civilization on this world more than 70 million years ago.  When we developed a star drive, we set out to explore the galaxy.  Now we have returned, and find that our planet has been infested with mammals.  And you’re ruining and polluting the world!  That has to stop, and we’re here to tell you we want our planet back!”

“What? You want the planet back?”  The delegates erupted into a maelstorm of shouting and noise.

“Since you seem to be marginally intelligent, the Galactic Council ruled that we could not just come in and wipe you out like the vermin you are.  But we can evict you,” snarled the dinosaur.  “This is your formal notice.  You have one hundred years to leave the planet, and if you’re not gone by then, you will be thrown off the planet with all the force at our disposal!”

The End