Snippet: John and Mary

The bride was having a meltdown over the demon in the lobby.  “I don’t care if he’s with a conference!  I don’t want a blue guy in the background of my wedding photos!”

Mary and John watched, amused, as the bride’s parents, groom and hotel personnel all failed to calm her.

“I bet she finagles a comped suite and brunch for the family,” Mary whispered to John.  They stood several feet away, outside the Oak Room.  The bride’s raised voice had stopped them on the way into the Friday night meet and greet.

“You think she’s faking it?” John asked.

“I think she’s exaggerating.”

“You think or you know?”

“I’m not going to waste my time trying to read the mind of a bridezilla.  Whenever no one is looking she rolls her eyes.”  As they watched, the bride slapped away her mother’s conciliatory hands.

“No!  This is my day!”

“See what we missed out on by eloping?”  John kissed Mary’s forehead as she laughed at him.

“Middle-aged brides look ridiculous in white gowns.”

“You would have looked lovely.”  John leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “You do look lovely.”

“Thank you.  You aren’t half bad yourself.”

“Think we should find the offensive demon and ask him to change color?”

“I have half a mind to ask all the demons to take on the rainbow.”  They left the bride to her problems and entered the room.

The meet and greet was already in full swing.

 


A snippet from the beginning of a novel about demons, magic, witches, Dante’s Inferno and a bunch of other stuff. I might even finish it one day.

So You’ve Been Enchanted, A Guide to Breaking the Curse in Five Easy Steps

Whether you spurned a fairy lover, insulted a witch disguised as a beggar or had the bad luck to be born to the wrong parents, there’s nothing worse finding yourself the target of a transformation curse.  One minute you’re enjoying life in your perfectly formed human body and the next—bam!—you’re a hideous beast, a slimy frog, a white cat, or some other creature.  Don’t let your new form get you down.  You can break out of that enchantment using the time-proven system outlined below.

Your first step is to set the bait.  Residual magic from the enchantment can be shaped into an appropriate setting.  This is no time for humility or small ideas.  Dream big: grand estates, cavernous jewel-encrusted grottos, underwater palaces, darkened woods shrouded in mist.  Choose your location carefully—not somewhere out in the wilderness but definitely off the beaten path.  Old trade routes, lands once occupied by legendary kingdoms, and abandoned ruins all are suitable.  Don’t forget the attendants.  Invisible servants are popular these days, although anthropomorphic animals are traditional.

The second step is to cultivate patience.  You can’t expect your prince or princess to show up the day after you’ve been enchanted.  It takes time for word to get out, or for a hapless questor to stumble across your estate.  While it is frustrating not knowing how long you will be locked into your cursed form, put the time to good use.  Learn how to play chess with the servants.  Practice dancing, fencing and dining without making a mess.  Improve yourself; it will help with step number three.

The big day is here!  Your rescuer has arrived either under his own volition or as a deal to save her kingdom from your murderous appetite.  Now you must make your guest fall in love with you.  This is the easy part.  Such rescuers are raised from birth to expect to find true love through magic.  All the stories they have heard end with, “And they lived happily ever after.”  Every royal brat dandled on a nurse’s knee is taught that underneath all ugliness and uncouthness a just and noble heart lurks, waiting to be released by True Love’s Kiss.  And their true love will be found through adventure and adversity.  This will, however, prove to be a small obstacle in breaking the curse.

By now your beloved has seen past your external horridness to the sensitive, refined person trapped inside.  It is time for step four: the second hardest part.  Persuade your prince to cut off your head.  Encourage your princess to throw you against the wall.  The details vary according to the spell, but it can only ever be lifted through violence.  This is tricky.  Convincing your rescuer to do violence without revealing why puts his or her faith and love to the test.  It also requires a certain character defect on the part of your beloved, so it is a test of your love as well.  Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with someone who is willing to hurt you?

Step five: congratulations!  The spell has been lifted.  You are now free to live Happily Ever After with your prince or princess.  Do not look for your servants or estate or library.  These all disappear with the breaking of the spell.  Now it’s off to the faraway kingdom to live in relative wealth and comfort.  You can entertain your children and grandchildren with stories of magic and true love so that in time they will be prepared to go out and find their own.  And if you have to settle for a life less magical, well it will be worth it, won’t it?

 


“So You’ve Been Enchanted, A Guide to Breaking the Curse in Five Easy Steps” copyright 2016, Raechel Henderson

Snippet: The Slope

(A piece of fiction written about a LARP character.)

The rats screech and squeak in fear as Alice tosses them into the web. They struggle, clawing and biting, tiny nails scratching the air in a vain attempt to escape. Alice notes that the monstrous spider waits before skittering along the web, dancing to her dinner. Perhaps the thrashing tenderizes the meat, or maybe terror is a succulent marinade.

Alice watches the spider quickly wrap each rat in silk. They make neat, lozenge shaped packages. They are tiny compared to the massive bulk of the spider. Pet store rats can’t be all that satisfying.

Alice tilts her head, considering. Cats would be only slightly more difficult to obtain. The same goes for dogs. But they could be gotten, and would provide better fare. Alice imagines the struggles of a tabby or mutt. She calculates the size of a mummified retriever.

Of course there are even larger prey she could obtain.

Little tow-headed toddlers, lured from the playground or bright-eyed teen-age girls promised a chance at modeling. With the start of the school year there are plenty of freshmen hanging out in parking lots stoned or drunk. The streets are full of homeless men, unemployed and desperate for money who could be overpowered with a taser.

Alice imagines all of them wriggling and crying, pleading to be released. The glamour to be reaped would be oh so delicious.

The spider has withdrawn to its hole at the roots of the dead and withered oak. All that remains of the rats is the cardboard box in which Alice transported them. Alice gives herself a shake, slightly disgusted by the fantasies she entertained, mostly saddened by them.

There’s so much talk of the slippery slopes, of destroying fetches leading to the wholesale murder of humans, she thinks. But it’s not a slope. It’s a drop off.

An unmarked drop off.

And so one must occasionally feel one’s way to the edge, moving slowly, and with deliberation to mark where the ground falls away, or else one risks imitating the cartoon coyote, running on air, solid ground just out of reach. At that point one must remember not to look down.

They hardly ever remember.

Alice backs away from the ledge. The way is clearly marked, the lines apparent. A rat is a rat. A human is a human. The former is for eating, the latter not.

Alice picks up the box and leaves. She’ll not revisit the pet store any time soon. The spider can catch its own meals.

The Unicorn’s True Wife

Upon reflection Madi should have known what to expect when the mob came for her. After all, one did not spurn the advances of the Mayor’s son without facing some sort of consequence. To be fair, she told herself, you did more than spurn Tobor. She recalled taking the boy’s knife from the sheath around his waist and threatening to geld him should he grab her again. She had supposed she would be made to apologize or serve on some mission of mercy to the poor. It had never occurred to her that she would be banished from the village.

Be glad that it’s only the Unicorn you’re getting, she told herself. In her great-grandmother’s time, dissident women were accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. The thought was no great comfort as she knew most maidens sent to the Unicorn killed themselves after their wedding night. Others were found days later wandering without their wits. Those poor girls ended their days abused and killed by bandits. The thought of losing her mind scared Madi more than the thought of death. She had witnessed death plenty in her nineteen years: first her grandparents to the Red Fever, then her mother died giving birth to a stillborn boy, and finally her father the past spring—killed in a dispute over money.

Madi sighed and adjusted the pack on her back. She was allowed to take only what she could carry. Everything else, her family’s cottage, their grazing plot, even their old nag was to go to the village. From where she stood, at the outskirts, she could already hear the wagons rumbling up to the cottage. There was little satisfaction to be had with the knowledge that they had owned little of value.

“Better get on with you,” said the guard who had been sent to escort her out of the village. He would stay at his post until tomorrow to make sure she didn’t try to return.  To insure that she wouldn’t just run away to another village, she had been marked with the symbol of the Unicorn, a spiral in the middle of her forehead.  The skin itched where the symbol had been charmed on.  It would not come off with scrubbing or herbs.  If she were caught in another village she’d be stoned for shirking her duty.

“Once it was customary for the Unicorn’s bride to be escorted to the nuptial bed by a procession,” Madi said. “She was given a new set of clothing and women would cook a feast for the newlyweds.”

“That so? Well I think everyone is too busy to cook your feast. Move on now.”

Continue reading The Unicorn’s True Wife