Monday, April 16, 2012


Following last week's fairy tale theme, this week, we were to take a typical fairy tale villain or monster and make them our protagonist.  Use 'something wicked this way comes' as a line in the story.  The genre was to be fairy tale/mixed, with a 1200 work max.  I had a lot of fun with this week's prompt.  Please enjoy.


“Melisande, now, what did we say about losing your temper?  It doesn’t resolve issues and makes you feel even worse.”

“Yes, I know, but did you hear what I just said?  I’m accustomed to putting up with a lot of crap from the village brats, but this?  This is just too much.”

“Just because they make nasty remarks when you walk by is no reason to get yourself all upset.  After all, haven’t we already gone over the ‘sticks and stones…’ thing?”

“We certainly have.  But you’re not listening to me.  While they’re saying ‘something wicked this way comes’, they’re tossing sticks and stones at me at the same time.  I’m telling you, it’s this new generation.  They have no respect for their elders.

In the old days, it was no biggie to snatch up a baby or two, pop them in the slow cooker to simmer while you went out to earn a few bucks casting some spells.  Now, everything has to be done legit.  You have to make reservations at the nurseries months in advance.  That’s just nasty.  I mean, taking pot luck like that.  I like to take a look at what I’m getting.

Even bringing in an ugly stepsister to pick up about the place has gone to Hell.  Can’t just place a few charms around their bed while they’re sleeping and then enchant them to believe that’s what they were born to do.  Oh no.  You have to post advertisements in the Square.  And, then there’s the benefits package…”

“Melisande, I know that times have changed, but we need to learn how to change with them.  Good, bad or indifferent, we have to live in the now.  I’m not going to lie to you though; it’s not an easy task.  It takes hard work, but I know you have the inner strength to accomplish any changes that may be required.  Family support is always important too.  Speaking of family, how’s Rapunzel doing these days?”

“That little tramp?  When I was out watering my herb garden this morning, another one of her princes was sliding down her hair to the street.”

“A prince?  But that’s good news, isn’t it?  Perhaps if she marries well, you can stop working so hard.”

“Yeah, right.  Let’s get real here.  She’s got men coming and going at all hours of the day and night.  And, of course, they’re all princes.  I don’t even want to get in there to clean anymore.  She’s such a nasty…”

“Now, Melisande, you’re the one who took her from your neighbors and put her up in that tower to raise her as your own.  Perhaps you should have considered the fact that she would grow up someday.”

“Her old man was robbing my garden blind and I couldn’t just look the other way, now, could I?  After all, I have a rep to maintain.  You let one in there, and before you know it, everybody in the neighborhood is helping themselves instead of growing their own herbs and stuff.  Then, I’ve got nothing, and if I needed to borrow a sprig of something from one of them, I can just hear them.  ‘Oh look, Miss High-And-Mighty-Enchantress needs to borrow some herbs so she can cast a spell.’  You don’t know what I have to put up with.  The stress is unbelievable.”

“I understand Rapunzel has seriously crossed a line with her behavior, but we can deal with that at another time.  Right now, I want to find out if you’ve been doing anything for yourself.  Remember when we discussed that you have a life too, and that all work and no play makes for a depressed enchantress?  Tell me where we are with your recreational activities.”

“Well, I have been making an effort in that regard, although I do feel I need to explore more options.  Let me explain.  You know Lady Tremaine?  She’s the one with the three girls, Drizella, Anastasia and Cinderella.  Lady T and I ran into each other at one of the coven reunions a few weeks ago and turns out, she’s in as deep a rut as I am.  We decided to go clubbing; you know, have a few cocktails here and there, pick up one of the out-of-work jesters and take him out by the dumpsters in back of the clubs and mug him…  Most of them still have jeweled buttons on their outfits, you know.  Afterward, we’d stop in at Rumplestiltskins’s for a quick snack.  He’s always got some legs and thighs in the oven, and he makes the best bar-b-que sauce…

Anyway, we go out a few times and all is going well, until we find out her Cinderella has snuck out and is up in the tower at my house with my Rapunzel partying until dawn with some of their ’princes’.  Now, Lady T is worried what C will bring home.  I told her just to have Dr. Know-all give her the once-over.  I told her that so far, Rapunzel’s tested clean.

She blames Rap for corrupting C, which pisses me off since she’s not exactly a prime example of mother-of-the-year.  But I digress.  Since one daughter seems to have hopped on board the tramp line, she insists on bringing the two uglies with us when we go out.  How are we supposed to have a good time and hook up with a man we can ravage with those two trolls along for the ride?  I believe there’s something Freudian going on there.”

“Perhaps Lady Tremaine is not the ideal companion for your after-hours activities, Melisande.  Let me think about this, and perhaps I can make some suggestions at our next visit.

Since our hour is about up, I want you to go back out to the waiting room and schedule your next appointment with my receptionist, and I’m going to write you a prescription for two second graders.  Fill it at Allisandro’s.  That way, you won’t have to go through all the regular channels.  They’re too big for your crock pot, but they’ll fit snugly in a large roasting pan.  I’ve found 325 degrees for a half hour per pound makes them tender and juicy.  These two are from my private stock and if wrapped up tightly, they’ll keep for at least a week in your fridge.”

“Thank you, Dr. Ray.  You are the best.  I always feel better after I’ve come to see you.  Psychiatry really is your calling.  How much do I owe you for today‘s session?”

“A couple of enchantings should cover it.  I’ve written the names of two people I want turned into slugs on this blank prescription form.

I’m glad our sessions are helping you.  Try not to let Rapunzel’s shameless lack of morality and self-respect upset you.  After all, consider the gene pool from whence she came.  Till next week…

Yvonne, since that was my last appointment of the day, I think I‘ll head out for an early dinner at…”

“Dr., I’m afraid your early dinner will have to wait.  Snow just called.  She’s in crisis and on her way over.  Those dwarves are trying on her underwear again…”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The prompt this time was Once Upon A Time.  We were to write a fairy tale and start it with ‘Once upon a time’, and use the words widow, woodcutter, witch, willow, and wander.

Let’s see what happens when careless words are spoken and wishes aren’t taken as seriously as they should have been.  Is there really the possibility of a happily ever after?


“Once upon a time, there was a girl named Goldilocks.  Do I really have to read this to you again?  Why can’t you learn to read it yourself?  You’re sick, so I miss the best pool party of the year.  I hate you!”

Annie knew she shouldn’t say mean things to her sister, but she was such a pain.  If Mom and Dad wanted to go out and Cassie wasn’t well, Annie always got stuck babysitting her.  She was never happy about it, but Suzanna was having a boy-girl pool party this evening and Annie was going to miss it.  All because of the baby.  Now, Cassie was crying and mumbling how she wished she could go live in fairyland.  Annie was getting ready to say ‘see ya’, when, to her horror, her younger sister seemed to be pulled into the book and disappeared.

Annie called out to her, but Cassie was gone.  She’d wished herself into the book of stories their father had picked up at that odd curio shop on County Line Road.  The shop owner had told him a witch had cursed it,  and Dad had relayed that message with a smile.  As if there were curses…, or witches…  Annie knew now there were both, but what to do?  How was she going to get her sister back before Mom and Dad got home?  She could explain how Mom’s favorite vase slipped off the mantle, but this?  She knew she needed to go in after her, so she touched the page as Cassie had done, closed her eyes and wished herself in.

When she opened her eyes, she was standing in a bedroom of a house she didn’t recognize, and there was wolf standing in front of her on its two hind legs, shaking its head.

“Oh no, not again,” the wolf said.  “All these distractions.  I’ll never get ready in time.  So, who are you, and what is it you want?”

Annie couldn’t believe what was happening.

“My name is Annie, and I’ve come after my little sister, Cassie.  I was babysitting her because she was sick and that made me miss a party, so I told my her I hated her and she started to cry, and then she wished herself into this book, and I’m so sorry because I never should have said that to her because I don‘t really hate her and now I‘m scared I‘ll never see her again.”

The wolf pulled a shawl over its shoulders and sat down on the bed.

“Yeah, I know, hindsight is 20/20.  Listen, I know they call me the big bad wolf and all, but I feel for you, kid.  You seem like you’re trying to make it right, so I’ll take a chance and clue you in on how to fix it.  Thing is, Annie, there’s a way to get the small one out, but it’ll cost you--big.  Hey, turn off the tear knobs right now honey, those don’t work on me.  Besides, you will owe me nothing.  Some witch way back when put a spell on a batch of books so if a kid wished themselves into a story, it would come true.  What she gets out of it is anybody’s guess.  All I know is what a pain in the ass it is to us here in fairytale land.  There’s kids wandering around in between a lot of the tales in here, messing things up,

“I understand how they got in here, but how do they mess things up?” Annie asked.

“You have no idea what a headache they can be.  For instance, my buds, the three bears.  Oh what they’ve had to put up with.  Some of those little monsters beat Goldi to the beds, jump on them, and then she’s got to put on fresh linen.  Other times, they use the spoons that are set out to sample the porridge, and Goldi has to disinfect the entire…God knows where those nasty little mouths have been…  You get the idea.

Anyhow, to the point, there have been some who found their way in to get the kids back, but when find out how it works, they hightail it back out.  Nobody wants to pay the price, you see.”

“But a little magic is all it takes, right, Mr. Wolf?  What’s the witch’s price--a favorite toy?  You give up something you love and she gives you your sister or brother back?”  Annie wondered if the witch would take her tea set with the chipped saucer.

The wolf couldn’t believe this one.  He wondered why they always had to come in on his watch.

“Kid, you can’t just take her chubby little hand, close your eyes, click your heels together and say ‘there’s no place like home’.  That crap doesn’t work in here.   To get her out and back to the real world, you’ve got to wish her out and wish yourself in--forever after.”

“You mean she’d get to go back and I’d have to stay?”  Annie couldn’t imagine anything more terrifying.

“That’s the deal, kid.  If you want to find her, check out the woodcutter’s house.  Cassie might be hanging with Hansel and Gretel.  They all usually start there.  Stay away from that willow tree gig though.  It’s cold most of the time, and there’s a dead guy at the end.  Those Grimm boys, I’ll tell you, they’re sick motherf…fellas.  One of the many widows in here may have taken her in to pick up their place or fatten up to eat later.  Hard to pin their motives down.

You’ll have to keep moving though so you don’t get snatched up by one of the ogres  This isn’t Park Avenue, you know.  By the way, if you decide the risk vs. reward ratio isn’t in your favor, just close your eyes, picture where you came from and wish yourself there.  Little sister will never darken your doorway again.

Either way, you’ve got to split.  I’ve got to finish dressing--Little Red will be here soon.  Good luck, kid, and remember.  Good things happen to those who remain pure of heart.”

Annie wondered what good could possibly come out of all this as she stepped out of the little house and started down the path into the woods to find Cassie.  She would really have a lot to think about on this journey through the various stories that were full of killers, cannibals, witches, and who knows what else.  The wolf had been right.  Park Avenue, this was not.

Annie moved quickly and quietly through the pages, through dark and light, dangerous and delightful, and soon Cassie appeared sitting in a clearing, alone and crying.  Still.  She looked so pitifully small and fearful, Annie knew in her heart what she had to do.  She walked over to Cassie, knelt down beside her and took her hand.

“Oh Annie, I’m so glad to see you.  I should never have wished to be in here.  I want to be with you.  I’m sorry I’m such a pain.”

“No, Cass, you’re not.  I shouldn’t call you names.  I’ve missed you and I’ve come to fix everything.  You’ll be home soon.  Just remember, I’ll always love you, sis.”

Annie closed her eyes and made the wishes.  When she opened her eyes, she and Cassie were back in their bedroom--in the real world.  She was confused because she had wished for Cassie to return to reality and for herself to remain.  She picked up the book and found the page with a picture of the wolf.  When she saw him wink at her, she knew.  That ‘pure of heart’ thing had saved them both.

Annie tucked Cassie in and began reading to her from a book about collecting butterflies.  They’d had more than enough fairy tales for one afternoon…

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


This week’s prompt was to tell the story behind one of the drawings by Steven Russell Black.  We could choose from the ones on the F3 site or pick one from his blog or Facebook page.  Mine was chosen from the F3 site.  I was drawn to its intensely disturbing image.  All the images are ©Steven Russell Black, and the artwork is being used with the artist’s permission.


As Michael O’Reilly started to come around, he could have sworn he heard a high-pitched growl.  He wondered if that was one of the symptoms of the closed head injury he’d obviously suffered when he fell off the ladder while trying to enter the second story window of the house he planned to burglarize.  He knew his head hurt like holy hell, and he couldn’t move his arms or legs.  My God, he panicked, I’m paralyzed, and pretty soon my brain’s going to turn to mush.  I promise, if I can ever use my legs and hands again, even for two minutes, I’m going to find Timothy Hanrahan, and squeeze the last fucking breath out of his…

“I see you’re almost awake.  That’s good.  Sorry I had to hit you so hard, but when I saw you getting ready to climb that ladder, I had to take steps to make sure you didn’t enter my home uninvited.  Since we are not acquainted and I don’t know your intent, I’ve brought you down to the cellar and tied your hands, legs and feet to the chair.  That way, we will be able to converse in a civilized manner.  I’ve sound-proofed this entire level, so we won’t be disturbed.

My name is Rodney Ravern.  Perhaps you’ve heard of me?  I’m an artist and I have quite a number of drawings on display, and for sale, at several of the galleries in the city.  What’s your name, and what was the purpose of placing that ladder on the side of my house?”

Wow, Michael thought, an artist.  An artist and obviously a true wacko to boot.  385 Birch Lane’s a nice easy score, Mike.  The owner’s like 100 and does nothing but sleep.  Yeah.  Right.  Thanks, Tim.  Wait until I get my hands on…  There was that growl again.

“Listen, Rodney, my man, I wasn’t going to do anything to you.  I’ll admit to you, I’m a burglar, although obviously not a very good one.  Name’s Michael O’Reilly.  See, a friend of mine told me 385’s owner was really old and wouldn’t wake up if Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marched through his living room.  I was just going to check the upstairs bedrooms to see if there were any watches or wallets laying around.  Just any odds and ends I could hock for some quick cash.  If I’d have known you live here now, I would have never…”

“Did you say 385?  Oh my.  But, this isn’t 385.  This is 885.  I’m not really handy around the house and the numbers must have worn down in certain spots.  385 is down at the other end, past the water tower.  Birch runs the entire length of town, you see.  You’ve come to the wrong house.”

No kidding, Michael thought.  And what the hell was growling behind that dark curtain.

“Look, Rod, sorry about the mistake and for disturbing you.  If you’ll just untie me, I’ll be on my way.  Like I said, taking little stuff is all I do.  I’m not into doing violence of any kind and I am very against violence of any kind being done to me.  That’s why I either wait until the homeowners are out or are so old, they sleep 23 and a half hours a day.  I’m in and out in a flash, so if you’ll just get this rope off me, you won’t have to give me another thought.  One thing though, do me a favor and tell me something.  What have you got behind that curtain that growls?  It doesn’t sound like a dog I’ve ever heard.”

“Oh, I’m so glad you’ve asked, Michael.  I so rarely get visitors that I can share my story with.  Let me explain.”

Great, Michael rolled his eyes.  He’s going to share his story with me.  Well, if that’s what will get me out of this loony bin, I’m game.  Rodney pulled the curtain back and revealed a metal cage that had the appearance of a jail cell designed for one prisoner.  Michael was very familiar with that accommodation.  What he was not familiar with was the creature inside the cell.  Its body was that of a young woman, but the face was feral.  Her eyes were dark and constantly looking in all directions.  Her teeth were pointed, and she growled, panted, and drooled as she paced back and forth inside the cage.  Michael instantly regretted expressing his curiosity.  This wasn’t the home of some ordinary wacko.  He’d hit the serial killer/mad scientist jackpot for sure.

Rodney turned on a light in the corner to the right of the cell and Michael saw a drawing sitting on an easel--the most frightening, and yet saddest, drawing he had ever seen.  It depicted the face of what was a beautiful young woman, obviously in death, complete with coins on her eyes, at rest in crystal clear water with exotic fish as her final companions.

“This is my wife, Rosalynd,” Rodney gestured toward the creature in the cage.  He pointed at the drawing and said “and this is the image of her death.”

Michael prayed he wouldn’t pass out.  He didn’t want to come to and find himself floating in a large pot surrounded by carrots, potatoes and chopped celery…

“Rosalynd and I got married on a Sunday morning almost five years ago.  That day and night were wondrous, but when I awoke the next morning, my bride lay dead beside me.  Nature can be a cruel mistress; it was simply her time.  But I could not bear it, so I sought remedy from the evil one who resides at the back of the woods behind the lake.  She quoted her price and I agreed.”

“Don’t tell me,” Michael considered the likelihood that his closed head injury had developed into a tumor.  “Your immortal soul, right?”

“All the cash from my next sale at the gallery,” Rodney replied.  “What would she do with my immortal soul?”

Michael now knew the tumor was the safest bet.

“I…don’t…know,” he said quietly.  “Sorry.  Please go on.”

“Anyway,” Rodney continued.  “She gave me a cloth and told me to place it over Rosalynd’s face.  Once it took shape, I was to draw its likeness on the special parchment she would provide.  On completion, I was to burn the mask.  Once the cloth was destroyed, the substance of her death would be captured in the drawing, where it would remain, and my wife would return to me.  But I was warned that she would now be dangerous and require confinement, so as not to inflict great harm upon others.  No harm would come to me, but any who crossed her path…

I fulfilled the dark deed and she seemed harmless at first.  One night, however, she disappeared, and I found her the next morning at a farm at the north end of town, where she had killed the entire family and her appearance had become as she now is.  If I burn the drawing, she will die--again--permanently, but I cannot.  She is no longer my Rosalynd, but my love for her remains.  I cannot destroy her.”

“I feel for you,” Michael didn’t believe a word of what he had just heard, but this fruit loop apparently did, so perhaps humoring him was the way to go.  “I’ll help you out, if you’d like.  Get me out of these ropes and I’ll burn the drawing.  That way, your Rosalynd will rest in peace.  That would be best, don’t you think?”

Rodney closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  He looked at Michael and said “Thank you for your understanding and for your compassion.  I will ponder that option.  But in a bit, I’m expecting a dear friend who brings me the money from my gallery sales and who also takes my latest works and sets up the displays.  Each Friday, we have a leisurely evening meal, a relaxing game of chess, and enjoyable conversation.  I would like very much for you to join us.”

Michael knew he’d done the right thing.  Hear the nutcase out, act like he gave a fuck, pretend to need to use the restroom, and then hightail it out of there and go and get a real job.  Any reward he got from this sneaking into houses thing was in no way worth the risk.  This time, he lucked out, but the next?

*   *   *   *   *

“Rodney, old friend, I have quite the tidy sum for you this week.  All your drawings sold for what was asked.  It is such an honor to have such talent in the family.  Speaking of family, dear brother-in-law, how fares my sister, the sweet Rosalynd?”

“Simon, she remains the same, I’m afraid.  I’ll take you to see her after dinner, if you’d like.  For now, why don’t you fix us a couple of cocktails and I’ll get back to chopping my carrots, potatoes and celery.  I’m trying a brand new recipe this evening.  A nice hearty Irish stew…”