“Why do you fear the dark?”
“It’s too quiet. It blocks my sight.” Dagny’s bright yellow hair contrasted with Lilith’s dark curls.
“Close your eyes,” she said.
He did. Reluctantly.
“What do you see?” Lilith moved a hand across his shuttered gaze.
“A flash, dark, flash.”
She dropped her hand to her lap. “Then gather the light that is left behind your lids and see my form in your mind’s eye.”
To begin, Lilith was a shadow. Her hair was the first to differentiate itself. Then her lips and her eyes, and once her face appeared, Dagny had no fear.
Inspired by Jane Yolen’s
The Moon Child.
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.”
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.”
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com
“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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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?”
“Sherlock Wolff, ma’am. National Narrative Crimes.” He held a promotional photo. “Have you seen this blond chanteuse?”
Mrs. Bear dried her paws . “Lorelei’s gone, I’m afraid.”
“Did she leave anything?”
“ A mess.” Mrs. Bear ushered the detective in.
“We’re looking for a first edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and a laptop. Seen anything?”
Mrs. Bear shook her head. She called her son in.
Babyface said, “Lori’s not a reader.”
“She’s a hacker. Breaking into physical books, shortening them, changing plots. Her ex-boyfriend reported her.”
“She told me about him. The beast.”
Detective Wolff said, “He’s a wolf. There’s a difference.”
Bavarian Boots had a storied history. Now the elves wanted to change the company name to
“We’ve voted to relocate to the Canary Islands.” The elf twisted his beard into a white knot that rested on his collar.
Shoemaker’s father had been right. What a mistake to encourage a union. First it was holidays, then four weeks vacation. Now this. “I’ll consider it,” Shoemaker said.
“When you’re two centuries old, you’ll want a warm place to live,” the elf said. “Visit. You’ll see.”
Shoemaker booked a trip for three days. A month later, the relocation plan was complete.