Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Seven

It’s our last week of magic. Today we have an evocative image by Christian Miller to inspire your stories. Remember, stories considered for the anthology will have some element or exploration of magic in them and be 500 words or less. Read the complete contest rules here. In honor of this being our final week of the contest, we are extending the deadline for story submissions to 7 am Sunday, 12/21, the beginning of the winter solstice. Submit your stories in the reply section of this post and enjoy! We highly recommend clicking on the picture below to see it in better resolution.


9 thoughts on “Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Seven

  1. Holly Geely

    The Jeweled City
    Holly Geely – @hollygeely
    489 words

    Jasper wanted to see the Jeweled City.

    He didn’t tell Sapphyra he was leaving until the wheels were already turning. He shouted goodbye and urged the horse forward. Sapphyra screamed after him but he did not look back. Some of her insults hit the mark.

    Coward was especially cruel.

    There was a street in the Jeweled City that lit up in the afternoon, so that the colors of the stone came to life. He wanted to see them sparkle, hoped they would reignite that cold, dead place in his heart.

    Sapphyra wanted a baby. Jasper couldn’t imagine being a father. He still loved Sapphyra, but not in the way he had believed when they married.

    “There’s magic in the Jeweled City,” the minstrel had said. “Not like the sorcerers have, but it will make you feel alive again.”

    Jasper recalled the enthusiasm with which he had kissed the minstrel – Rubis – afterwards. He’d certainly felt alive that night. Was what they had done magic? Sapphyra certainly wouldn’t think so.

    Adulterer, she would have said if Jasper had worked up the nerve to tell her.

    It was true. He was an adulterer. He was a coward.

    He wanted to walk through the glittering streets of the Jeweled City and finally understand who he was. He was running away. Did it matter? He made candles for a living, he could do that anywhere.

    Would Sapphyra be any happier if he stayed behind and gave her a child he didn’t want?

    Would he be able to go back to her, if he discovered she was what he truly wanted?

    He arrived in the evening, too late to see the miracle street. He bought dinner in the market and found a theatre that still had seats available. The play wasn’t a good one, but it made him laugh, and that eased the twisting anxiety in his belly.

    The tavern was painted as brightly as the rest of the buildings in town. The walls inside were a bright yellow that should have welcomed him. He felt out of place, like a brown rock in a bag of emeralds.

    “I hoped you’d come,” Rubis the minstrel said. He sat down beside Jasper and offered a slender hand. Jasper couldn’t take it. He was afraid.

    “I didn’t tell her,” Jasper said.

    “Would she have understood? Best let it be. She can move on, as you have.”

    “I don’t know if I have. I don’t know if I can.”

    “I’ll take you to see the magic tomorrow,” Rubis said. “Your heart will be at peace then.”

    He offered his hand again. Jasper took it this time and felt a shiver through his arm, all the way down his spine.

    He couldn’t go back to Sapphyra, couldn’t raise a child with her. He wouldn’t disgrace her like that, not after what he’d done.

    What he’d desperately wanted to do.

    It wasn’t the Jeweled City Jasper had come to see.

  2. Mark A. King

    Title: Breathe
    492 Words

    Life. Death. Hope. Despair.

    Words that fuel a hospital.

    He paces the corridors. Corridors where metallic fragments once sparkled in the floors before they were worn away by abrasive solutions. Corridors where patients shuffle, one hand on a wheelie-drip, the other on their pack of cigarettes; they dodder past to the promised land of the smoking-zone with their hospital gowns gaping in their wake. Corridors where there are half-glances of acknowledgement, half-glances of empathy, half-glances of don’t ask me what’s wrong. Corridors where trolleys rattle past, carrying cargo of used linen that requires incinerating.

    He approaches the neonatal unit. He presses the buzzer with his elbow. The door clicks and he backs into it, opening it without using his hands. He enters the prep room. He washes his hands, focusing on each finger, then the pads of his palms, then the outsides, the thumbs, the webbing, the wrists. When he is sure, he rinses and does it again. When his roughened hands are dried with the harsh paper towels, he applies alcohol disinfectant; it permeates and stings in the volcanic ridges of his broken skin. He approaches the hot-rooms.

    Dianna is sitting there. She has never left this room. She sits over the plastic incubator, her hands resting on the shape inside.

    Their unnamed daughter is barely visible between the wires, the tubes and the machinery. Her eyes are fused. Her skin is transparent. Her ears are bent from lack of cartilage. Yet, she is beautiful.

    They whisper. But they only talk in numbers. Oxygen saturation. Blood-cell counts. Respirations-per- minute. They watch the magic of the machines that keep her alive. He thinks of the magic that only a few weeks ago he still shared with Diana. But now there is blame. Tension. Unknown futures.

    They see the pictures on the wall. Tiny specs in incubators that are now grown men and women. Some of them are leading full lives. Others require care. They cannot imagine these moments. Every hour, every minute, every machine-controlled breath brings complications, reassessment and intervention.

    Eventually he leaves. He knows not to ask if Diana if she would like a break.

    He approaches the hospital chapel, but he can pray no more. He’s prayed enough for the magic of miracles to an omnipresent god that may or may not be real. His DNA forever in the carpet. A carpet full of tears.

    He leaves the hospital.

    He walks the cobbled street outside, through this corridor of normality. The blink, blink, blink of Christmas lights. The sounds of office parties. Traffic. Laughter. They can’t comprehend his plight. He is just another pedestrian. He sees the golden curtain of sunlight from our nearest star. He thinks about the world and atmospheric air that is recycled. We breathe the same air as our ancestors. He inhales. He exhales. Will she ever walk these streets? Will she ever breathe this air? He walks, and somehow, the world around him keeps turning.

  3. davidshakes

    447 words

    Cracked blues and radiant golds paint the city; its balconies glossed in a burnt umber as the sun begins another descent. The stream of humanity that earlier trod the well rounded cobblestones has reduced to a trickle. A last shopper stares hopefully at some overpriced antiquities but her husband has buried his hands in his pockets and is heading back to their hotel.
    Beyond them my quarry waits unnoticed.
    His dark robes mark him out in this unnaturally bright place. Some minor hex must be shielding him from the people of the city. Just as well, they wouldn’t like what they saw. I never did.
    Carefully walking up the smoothed side street, I scan the balconies for signs of movement. He’s placed so many obstacles in my path before that, despite my nature, I struggle to believe he’d simply wait for me this time.
    He leans against a shop front like a dark stain on its brilliant brickwork. He consumes the light, erases the beauty around him.
    He wears my face.
    I wear his.
    We were one and the same. Now, we are two.
    Depression is the worst of the modern demons. It entangles itself in the subconscious mind, then pollutes memory and twists thoughts.
    As a student of The Art I knew a simple enough incantation that allowed its speaker to be in two places at once. With a few modifications, I was able to create something to dispel my depression. At first, just for a short period of time but long enough to see the joy in the world again. Unencumbered by negative thought the mind can soar. I was addicted.
    I reworked and rewrote obsessively. I could feel it writhing inside my brain and wanted it gone forever. At last, I was able to exorcise my demon for good.
    Now, here he stands.
    I saw this movie once, a guy was dead but didn’t know it. He’d created a perfect dream world for himself but couldn’t quite fit in. There’s a line from it:
    ‘The sweet is never as sweet without the sour.’
    Appreciation through juxtaposition.
    Do you know how unbearably beautiful this world can be?
    I needed him back, but when one has tasted freedom why walk willingly into the cage? He ran. He fought.
    Now, he waits.
    As I near him, the truth is written on his tortured features. He is suffering as much as I. He needs me as I need him. We are two sides of the same coin.
    He begins to walk towards me.
    We stretch out our arms in a strange symmetry.
    As we embrace I am struck by a troublesome thought – who will be reabsorbing who?

  4. zevonesque

    The Incredible Lightness of Unbeing
    A.J. Walker

    The plaza had been bathed in the white sun of summer and Juan welcomed the exit north along the cool shaded gorge of Calle San Felipe. The basalt setts had been washed black by a hit and run shower and were as shiny as jet and the returning sun was making the oranges and blues of the shop walls vivid. Juan felt he was walking into a Mondrian vision of a townscape.

    Juan was struck by the two men walking on the opposite side of the street both wearing the same light blue scarves. He was sure that they had been together when they had come around the bend, but were now walking apart as if they were trying to appear they weren’t together.

    The thinner man was burying his face behind his collar and scarf and the fat man had pulled his hat down far too tight to look comfortable. He was carrying a battered leather bag which looked strained by its contents.

    Juan couldn’t work out what was wrong but lost interest in the characters after they’d passed each other. Then he observed a third man who seemed to be walking between doorways in a caricature of a private investigator surreptitiously tailing his prey.

    This man in black pulled into the door of the art shop almost opposite Juan, adjusting his sunglasses so he could see in the darkened shadows. Juan was now sure that he was following the men and he turned to look for them. They’d reached the plaza and he saw them nod to each other before they turned and walked quickly in opposite directions – the man had a decision to make now. Juan thought the fat man would be the easiest to catch, but it would depend what he had in the bag; books, maybe guns, or some cheeses stolen from the delicatessen just up the road?

    The man looked at his watch as he stepped out from the doorway and walked to Juan.

    “You must stop here. Walk back to the plaza.” said the man, pointing the obvious way.

    Juan didn’t move. He noticed that the man had a mic and an earpiece in. He also saw the gun holster.

    “I said…”

    Juan nodded. “What’s happening? What’s going on?”

    As the man looked to answer they turned to look up the street as a strange high-pitch ringing began. They clamped their hands to their heads, falling to their knees in agony as blood glugged out of their ears.

    They saw a burning glow at the end San Felipe, painful to their eyes. It seemed to engulf everything, the buildings disappeared.

    Uselessly Juan shouted.

    The intense light grew steadily expanding in a walking pace explosion down the road, consuming all and heading towards the helpless men. The noise became deeper, crackling and popping as matter disappeared in an insane magical show – a reverse big bang. The man in black and Juan looked into each others eyes accepting this strange death before becoming light.

    (500 words)


  5. Catherine Tiley

    Catherine Tiley
    Email: (I don’t have a twitter)
    495 words
    The Light of a Million Suns

    In the suburban streets of Brazil, there is rumored to be a house that glows with the light of a million suns. I read about it in National Geographic magazine, but I couldn’t believe it. I am a scientist. I see magic to be full of nonsense. There has to be a logical answer to everything question, even why a normal villa would glow.

    My girlfriend, Gianna, on the other hand, finds nonsense to be whimsical. So, of course, when she saw the shinning image on her laptop screen, she demanded we go and see it.

    I walked over to her and put her soft hands in mine, “Honey, you have to be reasonable, we don’t have the money right now to visit a lousy tourist attraction.”

    “What about that bonus you just got at work? You’re a chemist aren’t you? You make plenty of money! Come on please, for me?” She looked me with those sweet, beautiful eyes and smiled. Ugh, I couldn’t say no to that face.

    We walked out of the São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport after the flight from Boston. My back ached from the lack of lumbar support the plane’s seats had and my head killed from listening to that infant in front of us cry for ten hours. But Gianna seemed to be enjoying herself. She spent the whole plane ride planning out our trip down to the last second. Thank god she left today for sleeping, I thought.

    We got to our hotel at about seven pm. It was small and dirty, more like a self-run inn than a hotel. I turned the door knob and it quickly fell from the door. A women from inside yelled “Um segundo docinho!”

    I bent over and picked up the rusty knob, “Ugh, why did I trust Travelocity?”

    Gianna took the knob from my hands and cleaned it with the side of her shirt, “Come on, it’s an adventure Matt! This is just a small bump in the road.” She gave me that warm smile again. Ugh, why couldn’t I say no to this girl!

    The next morning we sent out looking for the shinning house. Gianna bought a book on Portuguese and tried communicating with the locals. Sadly, yelling “Onde is the glowing casa?” didn’t get us many answers. One old man, thank god, finally knew what she was talking about.

    Gianna hurried down the skinny side streets, barely able to control her excitement. Just as I playfully shouted “Slow down speed racer!” I saw it.

    I couldn’t believe my eyes. A thin three-story high villa stood in front of me, and it blazed with a burning white light. I walked over and touched the white paint of the house. It was just normal paint. But why does it glow? I stood there for hours, and nothing changed. The house still glowed.

    We visit the house every spring now, and it never stops shinning with the light of a million suns.

  6. necwrites

    Torrent of Gold
    500 words

    A migraine spiked Rellan’s temples. The neat lines of the Firyan text he was reading blurred into a scrawled mire across stiff parchment. Rellan pushed his fists into his aching eye sockets. A torrent was on its way, a big one.

    Half-blind, he placed the Firyan scrolls in the hearth. While flames excised the spells, Rellan struggled into musty ceremonial garments. The hem dragged unceremoniously on the ground. Rellan strained to straighten his spine. It would be his last chance to save his sister.

    He pushed open a cantilevered window, releasing weeks of cobwebs. The sky boiled grey and yellow in anticipation. Up and down the street, shutters and storm doors slammed, ward-woven tapestries unfurled across storefronts. None dared be caught outside in a torrent lest it devour them—like it had his sister half a century ago.

    The migraine pulsed at Miria’s memory. Back then, she’d been placed in his seven-year-old care so his parents could secure their home. The mewing lure of a kitten had been too pitiful for her to resist. The river of solar fire tore her from the stoop, leaving a wound that bled the family dry.

    This time, though, after decades steeped in Firyan codices, Rellan was prepared.

    He hefted himself onto the sill. His legs wobbled, his grip gnarled over the jamb. Golden ichor oozed up the side of the apartments opposite and slid down the cobblestones. What a sight he must have been, a frail old man draped in spell-embroidered robes, still seeking to redeem himself.

    Rellan struggled to mute his wheezing lungs and listen. There! The same kitten-calling voice that haunted every torrent for the last fifty years. The fluid swelled up over the ground floor and rose toward his slippered feet. He chanted the mantra of her name, spinning an occult thread of indigo.

    A jolt of icy fire snapped his brittle grip. Rellan plummeted into gold. Fluid effulgence permeated his flesh, an acid that bubbled down to bone and gnawed into the marrow, but the robe-spells kept Rellan in tact if not out of agony. He didn’t have much time.

    With the memory of lips, he cast the indigo thread through the chaos. It tugged twice and Miria bobbed before him.

    “Rel?” Delight rippled from her image: a wild-haired mermaid of a girl swimming in a supernatural sea.

    He lunged at her like a drowning man.

    She wriggled in his embrace. “You’re here.”

    “I promised,” he rasped, “I promised Mother I’d save you.” He looped the thread around her.

    She stopped struggling. “Mother’s alive?” A butterfly of hope fluttered in her words. She let the thread drag her against the current. As it did, an eddy crossed her face, rumpling the skin with age. At the same moment, vigor surged through Rellan’s skull.

    Within the torrent, Rellan exulted in his accomplishment. Elemental immortality coursed through him. No one would attempt to rescue him. Burning the scrolls ensured that.

    From an open window, a wild-haired crone wailed against her salvation.


  7. voimaoy

    Kavi Han
    490 words

    On this tilted world, the seasons change. Days grow shorter, now, and the violet hour lingers longer in the city. There’s a coffee place on Cortez Street, near the corner of Cortez and Atahualpa Court. I am meeting someone there. The Kavi Han, do you know it?

    Kavi Han is also an intersection of space-time, never the same place twice.

    Sometimes, it is crowded, filled with people from different periods, decades, years. The styles and gestures vary, that’s how you can tell them apart. Who you run into depends on when you go there. Needless to say, getting together with someone could be quite an adventure. Be there on time, or you may never meet.

    There is the door, old wood with peeling layers of paint–rust and vermilion, brown, turquoise blue, a pink the color of roses. Inside, there is a room full of tables, repeated in the long mirror behind the bar. The clock above the door always reads the same time, hands pointing resolutely to nine and three.

    The door opens and closes, a gust of wind. Papers scatter along the tables by the windows overlooking the street. Blue glow of neon on angular faces. It’s Bohemian Mix tonight.

    At a corner table, there’s a tall brunette in a black turtleneck sweater and a black beret. She’s writing in a notebook. “More coffee?” the waitress asks.

    The poet girl looks up. “Thanks. This stuff is addictive.” She smiles.

    The waitress smiles back. “What isn’t?”

    In another corner, Jack Kerouac and Anais Nin trade lines and spiral notebooks. They wave to Allen Ginsberg.

    He is not here, yet, so I find an empty table and wait. The door opens and closes. This boy moves with the caution and grace of a wild animal. He could be Marlon Brando, or not. He looks around, as if he is looking for someone, expecting to meet them here. He looks at me, looks away. He is not the one I’m meeting, either.

    Johnny is the one I’m waiting for. We met here, once, one night. There was a jazz quartet and he played the stand-up bass. Yes, it was his hands I noticed first, his fingers on the strings. Later, his hands tangled in my hair.

    The waitress comes over, her long blonde ponytail swinging down her back. “Coffee?” she pours a cup.

    “Thanks. Say, have you seen Johnny? We were meeting here, tonight.”

    “Johnny?” her wide blue eyes rimmed in black eyeliner. “Yeah, I think he was around, earlier, maybe. You know, he comes and goes. ”

    So, I will wait. I have brought my notebook. The coffee here is addictive. Tonight, Allen Ginsberg is reading.

    I will stay until the sun rises over the city, the light like a river between the buildings. It’s the Winter solstice, I remember. Winter solstice, and the sun will rise between the stones at Stonehenge. The world tilts, and the seasons change. Time never stops.

  8. Catherine Connolly

    Colourful Talents

    (500 words)

    “Marya,” the Governor says. “Your talents are needed.” She knows better than to protest at a job. Grabbing her needle and placing a pair of scissors through the belt at her waist, she follows the uniformed gentleman along the narrow cobbled streets of the derevnya, lifting her skirts as she walks.

    “You see?” the Governor asks, gesturing, once they reach Okytyabrskaya, at the outskirts of the district.

    Marya does – though she squints, seeking to adjust her eyesight nevertheless. “It cannot be,” she says, looking up at him.

    “It is,” the Governor responds. “You see why you are needed? What you must do?”

    Marya nods – considering the problem and its practicalities, whilst the Governor cringes at her shoulder. Gaping at head height is a jagged rent across the skyline – a pitch void within which nothing shows. Swirling at its edges are iridescent bursts of colour – slashes torn from their moorings and pulled into its vicinity; the buildings they once belonged to left grimly grey in the wake of the thievery. As Marya watches, a block of ocean blue disintegrates beneath her gaze, leaving its absence beyond it. She blinks rapidly before peering into the lengthy opening and retreating again.

    “If I do this,” she says, turning to the Governor, “I will be free? No longer kabal’nykh?” She looks directly into the Governor’s light eyes, seeking confirmation. “That is my price for a task such as this. I will agree no other.”

    The Governor’s eyes narrow as his head nods. “There is no choice in this. We have no wish to fade too.”

    “So be it,” Marya says, concluding the agreement. “I must bind dark with light.” She turns, seeking the nearest solution. Casting her needle into a stream of white light struggling to avoid being sucked into the dark tear, she pinches the far most corner closed carefully with one hand, holding the edges in place. The point of her needle slides through the sky easily, pulling the brilliant thread through taut, as she sews.

    “Ved’ma,” the Governor says, frowning as he watches Marya work.

    The girl shrugs. “It suits your purposes. You knew well what I was when you first bought me and bound me.” There is no answer from the man.

    Marya’s eyes stream black tears as she concentrates on creating small, even stitches which glow against their backdrop as they settle into place. The tips of her fingers burn dully beneath their bright shades, as she concludes the kaleidoscopic row along the rent – hiding the blackness of the void beyond it once more. Painstakingly, she works the threads into place, one by one, as the Governor observes, silent.

    “You see?” Marya concludes, as she ties a knot, looping the colourful threads of light to hold them in place. The Governor simply nods, shuddering – gesturing her away. Marya turns, obedient one last time – skin cloaked in shadow to her elbows, eyes pitch now from pupil to iris; her curls a radiant rainbow glow backlit by the sun.

  9. milambc

    Manhole (500 words)

    The brickwork overflowed with the seepage of men that tread across its surface. Their sins; their madness drizzled like runoff from their normal human functioning into its crevices, to which Charlie now lapped from. His dried tongue with open sores swirled inside the crevices trying to procure the remnants of the ooze.

    It was to no avail and Charlie knew that. Even when his tongue slurped up the ooze of a man that had mere hours before ravaged the throat of an ex-lover with the claw side of a hammer, Charlie knew the ooze would pass through him, avoiding his innards and return back to the brickwork.

    In frustration typical of his inability to gain the ooze, Charlie grabbed a loose brick from the ground, some residual ooze on it still, and heaved it as hard as he could against the skull of a businessman hurrying to the deli around the block.

    The brick tore through the air and then stopped within mere inches of the man’s temple; then dropped lazily to the ground, as if now bored of its intended goal. The businessman saw nothing of this act.

    Charlie wailed and ran to the businessman, still oblivious of him and tried to swing his left fist at the man’s temple. He knew this futile and it was. His own fist stopped inches before the man’s head and dropped to his side, deflated of its power.

    Tears streamed down Charlie’s face.

    “Never…never should have,” Charlie wailed.

    He fingered a photo out of his pocket displaying a month-old baby boy with already a fiery mound of red hair coating his nascent head.

    Today, on the day Charlie once more took to the city and its sin to lap from the ooze of man, Jasper would have been two. He would’ve been stumbling into table legs with his wobbly upright body, muttering words, mostly gibberish still, and Charlie tried to imagine just how vibrant and alive his hair would’ve been.

    But he couldn’t. He couldn’t because he killed Jasper. Melted the infant’s barely developed insides in the back of his newly-acquired Volkswagen Golf, which the men at the pub kept egging him on to buy, even though it wasn’t his style.

    Jasper had been forgotten on a particularly odd scorcher for London while Charlie hammered out business deals for skyscrapers in Beijing.

    To the shaman he found in the underbelly of the city’s shadows, he begged her to never let him hurt another human again.

    So, she extended her benevolent magic to him at a time when he craved it. Even more, she opened his eyes to the malice that men carried with them in the cities; the ooze.

    But Charlie still had the thoughts of man. Even with Jasper’s image burning a hole in his pocket, Charlie wanted to lash out.

    “I don’t deserve this,” Charlie wailed to nobody.

    Worst of all, he couldn’t even harm himself, to rip at his flesh; the one most deserving of his blood lust.


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