Fracking Flax

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Flax fields grew atop a rocky mountain. Never suspecting they would be trampled, the pretty blue flowers waved at trucks filled with chemicals. They expected to become fiber, fabric, clothing, paper; to end in a spark of light and heat, ascending to the sun. That is what their ancestors had done.

But they were destined to die under machines that would mine shale, producing oil that would make polyester, gas that would become electricity to power the paper of the internet. Their glory short lived, the flowers photosynthesized carbon from the atmosphere, but not enough to cool the warming earth.

Hans Christian Anderson, The Flax inspired this story.

Let Down Your Hair

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A desperate hag stood on the step.

As Hezbella opened the door, children spilled outside in a game of chase. “Can I help you?” Hezbella, a generous person, really meant this.

“Take her back. Please.”

“Do I know you?” Tugging at Hezbella’s skirts, a small child made a hiding place.

“I have your first born.”

Hezbella tried hard to remember, but so much had happened. “That was ages ago. Something about arugula?”

“I can’t keep up with her.”

“Teenagers can be tough. But you have so many advantages, being a witch and all.”

“Wicked young crushes wicked old every time.”

It Could Happen Anywhere

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In the closet where pillows were stored for the pandemic, stuffing lay scattered. Fabric soiled. So many had become mouse nests.

When first furloughed, the smart-looking cushions had done humorous impressions of the Nobel prize winners whose rears they recalled. Now that their padding had thinned, their numbers were also thinning. The best rotated among the dining room chairs. Not every guest could have a back support.

“Listen here,” the plumpest whispered. “A mouse ran under the Queen’s chair .”

The others cried in unison, “Where will it end?”

The door opened. Pussy Cat walked in. “I hear you’ve got problems.”

Independence Day- Stone Soup

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“Where ya goin’?” Not that Fred needed the wall anymore. The war was over.

“You want some soup?” Neville, prone to compromise, hoisted a weathered quartz.

Fred sneered. “What’s it now? Stone soup?”

Neville nodded, making his way across the field.

When Fred joined the other villagers, he saw three strangers. Soldiers. Fred spat at their feet.

“What’s independence with nothing to eat?”

“There will be.” Despite tattered clothes, the speaker had a commanding air.

Fred sat on the ground. Neville joined him. “There’s more than stones. Sausage, potato, and carrots. A right good Independence Day. We can start again.”

See the Stone Soup entry at Wikipedia if you’re not familiar with this folk tale.

Witch Question Was That?

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The shelter director took in the kitchen situation. “Will lunch be ready on time?”

The problem was Elspath. She stood beside a metal bowel swimming with chicken livers. With a spatula, Elspath turned onions in butter for a pâtè. Next to the skillet, a saucepan boiled.

The woman at the front of the line, her wrinkled face rivaling Elspath’s for age not wisdom, always had the same question. “When will my daughter visit?” She offered up a liver.

Slimey, it roiled in broth. Elspath said, “Remember, she called.”

The woman’s face brightened. “Yes.”

Elspath said. “She’ll be here for lunch.”

Werewolves of the Prairie

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They were headed for the south pasture. Turning hairy faces to each other, they rode horses alongside the herd.

Eyes searching, one pointed a claw. “He’s over there, my boy. I can smell him. See that movement. At the edge of the trees.”

“He’s left?” A concerned look.

“Didn’t come back from the last prowl.”

 “Like so many of ‘em.”

They both looked down. They remembered staying home from school when the moon turned full. They tasted fear at the thought of werewolf hunters.

“Wolf packs, they’re more accepting.”

“Probably. But who’s going to take over when we’re gone?”

“Dunno.”

Let Him Catch a Wink

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Willie seemed embarrassed. “Mrs. Winkie’s suggestion. Some kaffeeklatsch nonsense.”

Several curious dads shifted on their barstools. “The neon yellow nightgown? Their idea?”

“Yeah. Said the kids would pay attention. I came up with the lantern and stopping in here afterwards.”

“So you don’t go all through the town.” The guy speaking had bags under his eyes.

“ Nah, that’s an exaggeration. Just my street.” Willie took a sip from his beer.

“Do the kids get into bed by eight?” Same guy. Seemed hopeful.

“Yeah, absolutely. Everything’s quiet when I get home.” Willie warmed to his subject. “And it’s cured my insomnia.”

A Girl Named Mädchen

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With minutes left, Mädchen found the crook’s password. “Bingo, Rumplestiltskin.” Using his name, she cast a cheater’s spell to bind his Alchemist Account.

Once she had access to his vault, she could see his transactions. Straw to silver, straw to gold, gold to straw; all typed in neat rows alongside the names of infamous drug lords and traffickers.

Mädchen sniffed brimstone in the air.

The wizard stood in front of her, hand outstretched. “The gold.”

“I don’t have it.”

He grabbed her. Once they touched, she ensnared him and worked a shrinking spell. His soul evaporated until nothing was left.

To Catch a Curse

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“She won’t wake up.” A harried looking Queen sat on the edge of her daughter’s bed while the royal physician poked, prodded and tested the Princess.

“Anything unusual to report,” he asked.

“Her birthday. Yesterday. She had a lie down after she’d opened her presents.”

“I see.” He peered at the child’s finger. “Something sharp, a sewing kit? Knitting needles?”

“She got a spindle from her godmother. And merino wool.”

“Tried it right away?”

The queen nodded.

“A witch practitioner is what you need.”

The queen frowned. “Magic, what kind of medicine is that?”

“Only a spell cures a spell.”

Siren’s Song

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Sherlock Wolff tracked the notorious hacker, Lorelei, to the Rhine Club. Concealing himself at the back, he scoped out the exits. She sang. Too late, he noticed his cocoa turning wolfsbane blue. The arrest warrant in his hand wavered like a timepiece in a Dali painting. He found himself on stage.

Instead of serving the warrant, he was served. Instead of arresting Lorelei, she handcuffed him. Wolff’s supervisor appeared. “Good work, Detective Wolff.” He shook Lorelei’s hand.

Wolff couldn’t find his tongue.

He woke up in a Bavarian jail. The woodcutter in the next cell said, “Don’t I know you?”