Fiddler’s Tale

by T. Gene Davis

Ivy clung to thick stone walls surrounding the cottage entry. Shade from the castle’s high turreted tower gave some relief from the summer sun. An herb patch rested to the left of the entry providing a scent to the thick muggy air. Smoke curled from the cobblestone chimney defying the summer morning’s warmth.

Entertaining a fire in the cottage was unpleasant, but the baker lived in the castle. Letal and Mary lived outside the castle. Taking their cooking to the baker took a lot of time. On days when Letal entertained the king with his music, Mary took the bread out to the baker. However, with Letal home she chose to endure the heat of the fire. He was glad for it. They were still sappy newly weds, and felt near physical pain at separation.

“Letal,” Mary called from the fire’s hearth laying thick her best damsel in distress tone of voice.

“Yes, my wife?” Letal responded, enjoying the playful attitude of his wife.

“When are you going to stop adding, ‘my wife,’ to everything you say?”

“I like the sound of it. So, never, … my wife.” He smiled at her as he spoke, showing imperfect yellow teeth. However, he had all of his teeth and was proud of it. He showed his teeth whenever he smiled.

“Do you have a tune in that fiddle of yours for getting rid of flies from the kitchen?” She teased Letal, knowing he hated anyone calling his viola a fiddle.

“My viola? Yes, my wife.”

“Well play it, my husband.”

He pulled the bow across the finely tuned cords, playing a simple tune composed of three repeating notes. The tune did not sound like much. However, the flies fled for the window.

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I Had Enough Silver

by H. K. Marshall

I had enough silver to hire the turnip farmer as a guide, but did he speak the truth?  “You can believe it, Gregory.  It lives in the western wilderness, the most fearsome serpent I’ve ever seen.”  Mud from baiting a hook stained his hands but did not reach the sleeves of his yellow shirt.

No dragon had been seen in the region during the reigns of the last four kings, and most disappeared within a generation after the settlers drained the swamps.  “How many dragons have you seen?” I inquired.

He chuckled.  “Um, well, I’ve seen plenty of brown rock snakes.”

“You compare rock snakes to dragons?”

“I’m telling you it stood bigger than a bear.  Came upon my sister as she dug turnips.”

“She cried out?”

“No, my sister neither hears nor speaks, but you never met a kindlier girl.  She ran back to find me mending the plow.  Never too early to start preparing for sowing, you know.  Pale as a corpse, she moved her mouth in vain and pointed.”

“What did you do?”

“As soon as I saw it, I took my father’s spear from above the fireplace.  He served as a spearman, a great one, in the king’s army, and he taught me a little.”

A woman’s voice piped up from atop a small boulder that sat against the riverside.  “Ralph,  you’ve never seen a dragon, and I’ve never known you to miss a chance to back down from a fight.”  The voice belonged to a woman he called his twin cousin, maybe younger than Ralph and with a nose like the blade of my battle axe.  Her brown hair hung down in three braids.

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Tiny Dolls

by Anne Skalitza

“Wasn’t your Aunt Elda just a little touched in the head?” Mrs. Casey asked, tapping her forehead.

Mary Beth Quincy’s eyebrows shot up. “A little? Oh no. A lot, I’d say! Always talking about curses and such.”

The two women snickered. Mary Beth’s husband, Andy, joined in the laughter. Their daughter, Kimmie, looked around Great-Aunt Elda’s living room. So many grown-ups but no one cared now if her brother, Jack, put his wet glass directly on the table. No one cared if someone sat in her great-aunt’s favorite chair or spilled coffee on the rug. Kimmie remembered: Great-Aunt Elda had told her that everyone considered her to be a strange old lady. She even said that they couldn’t wait ’til she, Elda Warren, died. “Then they’ll see,” she said. “They will see.” Well, now she did die and Kimmie thought that maybe her great aunt truly was off her rocker; she had never let anyone—not even her, her only great niece (who really was very careful), go near the dollhouse that stood by itself at the top of the attic stairs.

Kimmie pulled on her mother’s sleeve.

“The dollhouse,” she said. “The one in the attic. Can I have it?”

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

by T. Gene Davis

I barely finished writing the note, Mom, I promise I still remember your birthday. I hope you had a happy one! before Heidi joined me in good old conference room 812.

“What’s that?” Heidi interrogated as she flopped into the conference room chair next to mine. She gasped the words, like it was the last chore she could manage before succumbing to overwork and collapsing into unconsciousness. She still managed to point accusingly at the birthday card. I wanted to say, none of your business, but she had already snatched it from my lap.

“Do we need another talk about personal space, Heidi?”

“This is nice.” She examined the glitter covered front with candles and cake, then she examined the interior. “You forgot your mama’s birthday. Oooo, you really forgot her birthday. Just a tip, … putting the date of her birthday inside the card doesn’t make it any less late.”

I reached for the card, not really in the mood, but she gave me a hands-off kind of look, and moved the card just out of reach.

“I’m not done looking yet. Don’t be so grabby! Sheesh.” Continue reading


Speak English

by William R.A.D. Funk

“No. No. No,” Van Richter whined. He slapped a hand against the steering wheel.

The hover car, its battery reading empty, puttered to a halt on the scenic roadside. Without adequate thrust, it sank down into the grass.

The twenty-forty hover model would never have done this. Goes to show, Van thought, newer isn’t always better.

“I knew we should’ve recharged back at the last station,” said Ula, his wife. Arms crossed, she stared at the road ahead, unable to see Van’s irritated glare. “What are we going to do now?”

Van took a deep breath. When the ire subsided, he said, “Relax. Emergency roadside will send someone.” He pressed a button on the dash. “In the meantime, enjoy all the trees. You don’t get much of those in the city.”

Surrounded by tall, green conifers, Ula glanced their way and then back at her husband. “If I wanted to see trees, I would’ve chosen to live out here like some cyber-social recluse.”

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The Chosen Ones

by Kelli A. Wilkins

“They all claim to have been abducted by aliens?” Carl turned and stared at the crowd. Everywhere he looked, people sat cross-legged on blankets chanting, meditating, and shaking tiny bells on green strings.

“Not claim, and not abducted.” Jim brushed a lock of black hair away from his face. “These experiences are real. And we use the term visited. After all, these ‘aliens’ as you call them, have enlightened us, not kidnapped us.”

“Right.” Carl nodded. As a reporter for the weekly tabloid The Investigator, he had no choice but to cover the latest, most bizarre “newsworthy event” if he liked his job.

Over the last three years, he’d been to every Bigfoot sighting, UFO abduction site, and haunted house in the country. He was used to keeping a straight face and “getting the facts” when dealing with crackpots, but something about this story didn’t sit right in his gut.

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At the Edge

by T. Gene Davis

“Well there’s your proof.” Riley slapped Gus on the shoulder. “The Earth is flat.”

Gus stumbled back away from the edge, overcompensating for Riley’s slap.

“I told you he was smarter than you,” Violet chimed in with her hands on her hips. Her parka’s drab green somehow looked feminine despite its bulk. Riley shook his head and gave his attention back to the chasm.

Gus approached the edge again, cautiously. He got onto all fours, then on his stomach, and leaned his head out over the cliff of ice edging the world. Gus kept the bulk of his body firmly touching the snow and iceas far back as possible from the infinite drop. Only his head hung out over the edge of the world. He pulled out his phone and started snapping pics of everything in sight.

Riley picked up a couple of handfuls of snow, molding them in his hands. He stepped up to the edge without taking precautions and dropped the snowball, watching it disappear into the sky-blue nothingness.

“I was expecting something more spectacular,” Riley admitted. “It’s just like looking up, … except you’re not.”

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