Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Six

Welcome to Week Six. Today we offer you a photo prompt courtesy of Jerry Wingren of Boulder, Colorado. It is titled Totem.

Submit your stories of up to 500 words in the reply section of this post. Submissions are accepted up until 6pm PST on Saturday, December 13. Stories considered for the anthology will explore a theme, idea, character, or event related to magic. See complete contest rules here.

jerry4 021

7 thoughts on “Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Six

  1. zevonesque

    A Transformation in Snow

    After a good sleep Jeremy rose early feeling thoroughly rested and at ease. He opened up the tent and was surprised to see that several inches of snow had fallen over night. He loved snow, with no-one around he felt privileged to have this transformed landscape to himself. He efficiently packed his tent and put it in the car, making sure to remember to grab the thin gloves as an additional layer. He always found it a bit depressing knowing it was time to return to real life, so with this pleasant surprise he decided to stretch his trip out with an early morning walk in the snowscape down to the river.

    Just minutes from the road and he felt completely remote from man. The snow had left a gentle blanket across the plain and as the sun began to rise it gave it a pinkish otherworldly appearance. The simple vista was now a stunning experience and Jeremy considered the price paid with the cold nights and long drives well worth paying.

    Jeremy strolled down the hill towards the river, enjoying the sound of his boots crunching through the few inches of snow. He watched as the thin sun-blushed clouds changed shades with the sunrise. As the angle of the slope broke he saw a bison emerge; standing before Jeremy as a stark black mountain.

    Jeremy stood transfixed. The bison seemed to bear its gaze into his soul. He could feel it communicating with him. Projecting its strength and confidence.

    The view was snow and the furry mountain; the mountain and then the snow. The mountain breathed steadily, steam billowing around its flaring nostrils, its eyes jet.

    Jeremy heard a voice. We are all connected. Our knowledge is ancient. You have long forgotten. But you are us. You are bison and we are you. We are connected you and I.


    This land is sacred; all land is sacred. The soil and dust a link to our ancestors. Feel the ground beneath you transmit its energy into your soul. Close your eyes, can you feel it? Do you soar with eagles or charge with the bison?

    I know you are bison.

    Jeremy knew too. He could see through the mountain’s eyes. The landscape flattened, became longer somehow. He felt part of it, not a visitor. The river seemed an artery pumping life through the plain. Life hidden now by the snow, but he could feel it through the ground, pulsing gently, knowing spring would come.

    Life was everywhere.

    He looked out and saw Jeremy standing before him. He was bison now; granite strong. He felt energy coarsing through him like the river. The horns represented strength and virility, the ground swelled beneath him like a wave.

    Jeremy closed his eyes enjoying these simple feelings.

    He closed his eyes. He felt alive like never before. When he opened his eyes again he saw the bison before him and the sun was high. The bison turned and left him; stronger.

    (500 words)


  2. Catherine Connolly

    Their Guardian Generals


    (500 words)

    Bong hears the chuckle begin and scoops Chin up, holding her close as she runs. Luckily, they are yards away from the group of pillars rising tall at the edge of the trees, no more. Several quick steps and they are beyond their boundaries and amongst the whittled wooden bodies. Bong holds Chin’s hand, as she traces the edges of the Great General and his black inscriptions with her nails. He doesn’t seem to mind. His laugh, at least, is still loud, above that of the others; his mouth wide and gaping, as he mocks into their masses before him.

    It is a night since they last laughed. Though she, at least, has heard them again. Eun. Hwan. So many more. Far too many. “Hold tight to the General,” Bong says, as she turns towards the lamps. Darkness is descending into their light – testing their warriors where they stand. “Turn away and keep him at your back,” Bong says, voice firm. “No peeking now! You know what you’ve been told?” Bong exchanges a glance with Suk, who sits cross-legged nearby – back already turned, before his eyes dart away. She thinks she sees him close them, before he presses his hands tightly to his ears.

    Chin sighs before obeying. “But I want to see!”

    “No,” Bong says. “You don’t. You’re on a promise now. No turning ‘til they’re gone and the Generals have sent them away. You remember what we’ve said before?” Chin pauses, then nods. “Now. Cover your ears. I’ll tell you when it’s safe. You trust me, don’t you? We’ve been okay to now?” Chin’s eyes look into Bong’s, as her head moves up and down. “So – hold faith with your favourite General.” Bong puts an arm around her; holding her to her side, whilst she keeps contact with their guardian.

    There are twelve of them here, sitting, together – waiting for the noise to cease, though it is welcome, too, whilst it lasts. Perhaps others in the areas east, south and west. Perhaps not so many. Bong reaches her other hand towards Suk. It quests into air. Glancing sideways, not backwards – ever – she sees only unoccupied space. A flattened patch of green where his body had been. It is warm to the touch. Bong’s eyes are suddenly swimming. She closes them briefly; breathes in, then out, before opening them and keeping them trained on Chin. Their laughter is long, tonight – though she hasn’t kept count of the timing.

    It takes Bong a moment to realise the din is no longer deafening her and that Chin is tugging at her hand; on both knees now. “Where’s Suk?” she demands. “He was there, wasn’t he? With us?”

    “He couldn’t keep his promise to the guardians,” Bong tells her. “He had to see. Once he had, he had to go with them. The Whatevers. Wherever. He can’t come back. Like the others, remember?” Chin nods vigorously; mouth trembling. They will add again to the stone pillars beyond the wooden whittled bodies tonight.

  3. voimaoy

    World is the World
    456 words

    On Arverne, orchids grow out of the snowfields, taller than a man. Drake was an exobotanist, and he had come to talk to them.

    His guide was named Licia. On any other world she would have been a goddess, an amazon, a supermodel. She was well over 7 feet tall, and her violet eyes were striking. Here, she was considered average looking, even plain. The Arvernians were all tall and beautiful, and they lived a very long time. They were poets and dancers, mathematicians and musicians.

    It was a peaceful world, a world without egos and enemies. To Drake, it seemed like a paradise. He wanted to know its secrets. The people were friendly, but evasive. “World is the world,” the people said. “That is enough.”

    Licia was one of the few who didn’t seem to mind his questions. She knew the orchids, too, and she agreed to take him where they grew, in the valleys, under the snow.
    The snowfields stretched before them, the plants rising toward the sky (almost the violet color of Licia’s eyes) and she stopped for a moment and regarded the smaller man. “Before we go any further,” she said, “You should know. Whatever you hope to learn from the flowers, you have but to ask. They will tell you.”

    “You mean, I can speak to them?”

    “Not in words. but they will understand you. Come.”

    She led him by the hand among the plants towering above them, the flowers opening in the morning light. pink as the sunlit clouds.

    “Breathe deeply,” Licia said. “Empty your mind. Ask your questions.”

    Drake did as she instructed. He emptied his mind of doubt and random thoughts. He focused his question. “Who are you?” he asked.

    Tendrils of mist curled at the edges of his mind. Pink tinted thoughts tickled him. “Who are you?”

    Now he could feel another mind, violet thoughts of Licia laughing. “You are so silly,” she said. “Don’t you see?” Drake could see her dancing in the snow, running around the stems of the orchids. “They’re happy to see you. They’ve never seen anything like you.”

    “I don’t understand.” his mind protested.

    “Wait, wait and see.”

    The sun was rising higher in the sky, and the mist of pink grew thicker, until Drake could hardly breathe. “What’s happening?” he cried.

    A violet flower bloomed in his mind. “Don’t be afraid. It’s not supposed to hurt. Soon, all your questions will be answered.”

    They fell together in the snow. And it seemed to him then, that there were no questions. The sky was a blue eye, opening.

    Later, they returned to her people, and Drake held Licia’s hand. They were one, and the people welcomed him. He was one of them, now.

  4. Pingback: Special Alert! | Luminous Creatures Press

  5. Holly Geely

    Picture This
    Holly Geely – @hollygeely
    481 words

    No – I don’t believe. The last time I thought about it, was – oh, it must have been twenty years ago, when I was still a mercenary.

    Carp’s eyes were flashing, red and white, and that meant trouble. He tried to sit down on a log by the fire, but he was so excited his backside hovered a few inches above it and bounced while he talked. It was distracting. Not because I enjoyed looking at his backside– who knew what he looked like under the layers of filthy rags. Every time it bounced a cloud of dust rose above him.

    “What are you doing here?” I asked. I kept an eye on the roasting rabbit. Carp would inevitably try to snatch it before it finished cooking and I was too hungry to let it go. It had been a long day of ogres, trolls, and stingy employers.

    “I got us a quest,” Carp said.

    Carp found a new quest every other week. He didn’t always bring them to me, but for some reason I seemed to be his favourite “friend.” It might have been because I never spat on him or hit him, like some of the others. Truth be told, I didn’t want to get that close to him to do it. He stank.

    “Picture this, Garyn: a snow-covered mountain, in the light of the setting sun. A tall branch, reaching toward the sky. The enchanted shield, waiting to be plucked by the worthy adventurer.”

    I could picture it, and I did. I watched Carp and his colour-changing eyes, full of hope that I hadn’t felt since I was a kid. I still don’t know where Carp really came from, or how old he was, but I had a hunch he was from before. I felt sorry for him while he sat there in those smelly bits of cloth and waited for me to say something encouraging.

    “Magic is dead, Carp. You’ve got to give it up.”

    His face, dirt-streaked and wrinkled, dissolved into sadness. He’d been counting on me, and it hurt to turn him down – what harm was there in these quests, really, besides risking my life to fight monsters (which I did every day anyway)? I tried to take it back, but he had his back to me and he didn’t want to listen.

    “I’ll get the magic back,” he said. “I don’t need your help.”

    “I’m sorry, Carp. I don’t believe in it anymore.”

    I still don’t. I never saw Carp again after that, and I didn’t hear news that he’d succeeded. He probably died cold on that mountaintop, buried in snow, reaching for magic that doesn’t exist. It died a long time ago, with the last of the magicians. Maybe Carp had some of their blood in his veins, or maybe he was one of them.

    I wish I’d thought to ask before he left.

  6. Casie Danielson

    Casie Danielson
    499 words

    He had left the house with a grey, purple trimmed Coleman tent purchased in the 1990s for his daughter; a flashlight; change of clothes; orange Nalgene bottle; several Nature Valley Sweet and Salty granola bars; winter jacket; can opener; and the gospel of Mark, which he had unceremoniously torn out of his wife’s confirmation bible and placed in a gallon size Ziploc bag. He was ready. All that he needed in the world was attached to his back.

    Under I-5, there were bastions of small camps where the freeway glided over recesses in the land, creating dug-outs. In one of these, he pitched his tent atop two plywood pallets he had found dumped into the brush a couple yards away. As he worked, he noticed the lights in the sixth story office building nearby slowly turn on as the cube workers arrived for the day. Some eyed him as they waited for their coffee to brew in the staff lounge. He was the new troll under the bridge. About twenty feet away a hooded man in his late sixties sporting a long goatee, capped his spray paint can, threw it in his duffle, turned to the office building giving them the gift of his middle finger, and ducked out of view. Perhaps, that was who they were really watching.

    Focusing back to fortifying his tent, he noticed a small, wooden figure of no particular shape stuck into the side of the pallet. He grabbed it and tried to pull it out, but it was securely attached to a narrow metal pin. He pulled and pulled, setting his entire 203 pound self against it. Nothing budged. He sank to the ground in exhaustion with his hand still on the figure, but his grip now looser.

    For the first time he noticed how smooth and warm it was, and not just warm from all the friction he had created. No, there was warmth emanating from its core. On instinct, he gently traced the lines in the wood with his index finger. As he did, the figure glowed with a blue hue and slid, pin and all, into his hand. He looked down and the pin grew until it was the size of a wand. He laughed and not fully conscious of what he was doing, pointed it at the office building and said, “Be gone!” Instantly, darkness descended and then ever so slowly, light flickered on the horizon. As the light grew, the office building was no more, nor any of the buildings that concentrated around Lake Union, nor all of Seattle. He could finally see the shape of the land, all green hills and mountains dotted with water as far as the eye could see. In amazement, he dropped the wand and it landed point down into a small bit of Styrofoam. It lost its blue glow and went back to looking like a wooden figure atop a metal pin. The man sat down, aghast, and contemplated his new gift.

  7. Mark A. King

    496 Words
    Title: Elle

    Clive cursed the frigid wasteland. He watched the totem silhouetted against the bruised aubergine sky. The totem hovered above the powdery snow like the corpse of an animal. He thought of an impaled bat, forever glancing downward.

    He’d tried all types of exotic food before, but never bat. Perhaps he could have it skewered on a kebab, it might go well with peppercorn sauce, or mustard, not that fancy crap from Dijon, but proper English mustard. Because he was Clive Castle, he could get anything, any time. Apart from here, in the land that crime forgot.

    They were installing the totems in Alaska, home of the artist, and in her ancestral homeland, Scandinavia. The gaffer had given him the choice of doing the deal in either place, Clive had seen Denmark on the TV, he liked the thought of hot tubs, of log cabins and stunningly beautiful blond women. However, since arriving, the hot tubs were no existent, the log cabins were antiqued and the only blonds he’d seen were muscular men.

    His mind drifted…his expensive tailored suits… his Audi with its plush leather seats… white powder of a different kind.

    He was supposed to meet her here. Buy some art and pay too much money for it. Sell it on at a loss. Buy other, unrelated, things elsewhere, sell them on. Money laundering. Pure and simple.

    The sky turned darker and Clive could see the stars like they were a bed of a million shiny nails trying to pin the darkened earth to the ground.

    The car arrived, the winter tyres crunching on the snow.

    She got out.

    This was better. This was more like it.

    Her hair was blond – no, gold. It looked like strands of woven gold that flowed in the wind. He corrected his slouch, and stood upright. Her skin was flawless and as she approached he could see her eyes that were more blue and pure than the glacial fjords.

    “Alright darlin’, I’m Clive.” He offered his hand, confidently.

    “Elle,” she said, as she shook back.

    He applied pressure. She returned it with greater power.

    Clive tried not to wince, he smiled, like this was normal and his fingers were not about to be pulverised.

    Nobody had ever done that to him before. He was drawn to her in ways he couldn’t explain.
    “Let’s go to the log cabin and drink, and drink, and dance until we are merry,” she said, as she took his hand, gently this time.

    And so it was. They drank. They drank. She danced, oh, how she danced. Her back forever turned to him. While her beauty was that of life itself, her back was hollow. And inside she was dark and empty.

    She was Elle Piger, Ellepiger, or an Alder Tree Girl.

    She called men from afar. Men that would not be missed. Men that would not be seen again, well not as they were. Sometimes she liked to make totems, from alder tree and bone.


Leave a Reply