Posts Tagged ‘short story’

15 Jul

Story Snippet: Cinderella’s Big Night

An alternative fairytale, originally written as a flash fiction challenge for my group blog, Eight Ladies Writing.

Cinderella inched open her dressing-room door and paused seductively on the threshold of the bridal chamber. Her wedding dress had been a demure cloud of white silk and tulle, but there was nothing virginal about her nightgown. If the populace could see their fairy-tale princess now, there’d be a riot.

Her outfit was a scanty mix of midnight-blue satin and lace, with a few strategically placed ribbons and buttons to make life interesting for Prince Charlemagne. The inarticulate croak that emanated from the royal four-poster was all she could have wished, but when it was followed by another she stopped smoldering and closed the distance to the bed in record time.

The frog that stared furiously at her from the center of the coverlet had smooth, shiny skin with an elaborate pattern that bore a disturbing resemblance to Charlie’s richly embroidered ceremonial coat. Across the room, the cabinet that had held her crystal Jimmy Choos stood empty.

She tried the door and both windows. Locked. Her godmother had blanketed the room with a silence spell, so there was no point in shouting for help. She had to figure out a plan. Fast.

The obvious first step, kissing Charlie-the-frog, was surprisingly enjoyable, but didn’t achieve anything except to confirm the amphibian in question was indeed her prince. Lingual dexterity was one of his most delightful distinguishing features.

She set Charlie back on the mattress, calling on the ingenuity that had taken her from pauper to princess before her twenty-first birthday. What would her godmother say? If at first you don’t succeed, scry, scry and scry again.

Cindy grabbed a silver bowl from the pile of wedding presents on the table, moved it until it caught the moonlight, and filled it from the pitcher of ambrosia beside the bed. The reflected image was hazy, but over short distances the resolution should be good enough.

“I’ll buy you a new one,” she said to Charlie, as she reached for his state-of-the-art game controller. She dunked it briefly in the bowl, turned it on and felt magic tingle in her thumbs. As soon as the surface of the liquid settled, she started to search the castle. Up, down, right, left, image followed image. Nothing outside. No-one in the guardroom or the guest chambers.

Her blood began a slow boil when she flipped to the throne room – everyone who was anyone was gathered there. At the top of the thickly carpeted steps stood Wanda, her treacherous stepsister, looking like the ‘after’ section of a makeover show. The witch was arm-in-arm with a hunk who was superficially indistinguishable from Charlie. Wanda was wearing Cindy’s Jimmy Choos, neon pink lipstick, and a triumphant smile.

This wasn’t a heist, it was a goddamn coup.

“I don’t think so,” she snarled at the bowl. “This is my story. My shoes, my prince, and my happy ever after.”

She finger-combed a piece of confetti from her hair and let it fall into the bowl of moonlit ambrosia. Next came a sequin from her negligee, and as the mixture began to bubble she dropped in her wedding ring and made a wish. A shimmering lilac-scented cloud rose into the air, hovered for a moment, and disappeared under the doorframe.

Charlie hopped athletically to the top of a carved bedpost; together they held their breath and watched the scene in the scrying bowl as the cloud slowly re-materialized above the impostors.

“Now!” she yelled, and Charlie croaked his agreement.

The bowl lit up with a flash of brilliant lilac-colored light as the cloud exploded, drenching the throne room in glittering droplets. By the time the image cleared, Wanda was standing between two of Charlie’s elite Royal Guardsmen. They held her arms and avoided her eyes as she stared at the floor, where a suit of formal court clothes sat in a shimmering purple puddle. The fabric of the linen shirt moved intermittently, as though something inside was trying to hop its way to freedom.

There was a rush of air behind Cindy; a moment later Charlie’s arms came around her and she was dragged back against his muscular chest.

“Damned in-laws.” His lips found her ear. “You told me not to invite her.”


“You told Wanda you’d settle her once and for all if she stepped out of line.”

“Yep.” Cindy leaned in to his hands as they worked their own magic over satin and bare skin. “My godmother’s on standby. She’ll take it from here.”

She did.

And without further ado, Princess Cindy took her handsome prince to the matrimonial four-poster and loved him very happily ever after.

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23 Mar

Runaway Match

Here’s a short story I wrote for the Eight Ladies Writing Christmas Challenge: write a short story of no more than 500 words including ‘Derbyshire’ and at least three of the following: Darcy, Rhinoceros, Woolly, Admire, Love, Mine, Villain, Volcano, Ghost. Extra kudos for including more than three, and kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

“Goddamn it, Darcy, this is no time to behave like a gentleman!” Rhett Favre snarled. Barely a handful of grains left in the game timer, one score behind, and still his best friend hesitated.

“I admire your ingenuity, Rhett.” Darcy Moncrieff looked over to the far corner of snow-covered Chatsworth Field, where Lady Elizabeth stood, desperately waving her woolly white pom-poms. “I love her more than my honor.” He stood tall and squared his broad shoulders. “Very well. Let us do it.”

What the hell had the Duke of Derbyshire been smoking when he decided to offer his daughter’s hand in marriage to the winning captain of the Christmas football game? He’d surely never expected Read more »

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23 Mar

The Vampire Strikes Back

Last year, I tried out Alphabot, the story word generator from the 500 Words children’s writing competition. Michaeline Duskova, my friend and fellow blogger at Eight Ladies Writing, said she’d have a go if I did, so the bet was on. My words were butterfly, vampire, witch, invaluable, tender. Here’s what I came up with.

If James had still been human, he wouldn’t have lasted five minutes out there. The vampire stood immobile on the tiny ledge, impervious to the screaming wind and spray from the waves breaking around the base of the tower.

Far below a door opened and the witch emerged, arms aloft, drinking in the tempest. Then she was gone, riding the storm towards the distant cliffs.

James popped open the latticed window and slid inside. So far, so good. His heart wasn’t thumping, but he knuckled the spot on his stake-proof vest all the same. Kevlar had proved surprisingly useful in the afterlife.

“Excuse me, sir?”

The voice was feminine and faintly Spanish. It sounded harmless, but he wasn’t stupid enough to fall for that. He Read more »

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16 Mar

Home Advantage

An excerpt from my contribution to Stories For Homes, an anthology of 63 short stories of all styles and genres on the theme of ‘Home.’ There are families, lovers, friends, neighbours, and a surprising number of dead bodies. It’s an excellent read, and as a bonus, all profits from the sale of the anthology go to support the UK housing and homelessness charity Shelter.

Suzanne Wilson stood in the marbled lobby and prayed for patience as her nineteen year-old meal-ticket squared up to a man more than twice his age. The job should have been easy. Show the kid (sorry, client) a selection of the best rental properties in the area. Wait for him to choose the one he liked. Send humungous invoice to his management company. Receive payment, placate bank manager, high-fives all round.

The building was brand new, but the concierge was old-school, suited and booted, with shining shoes, ramrod posture, and a military-standard haircut. His face was professionally blank, but his feelings about her client as a potential tenant were crystal clear.

Johan Moore gave the old soldier a final scowl and spun round on his good leg. His sweat pants fell even lower on his hips, showing a good three inches of underwear bearing his name on the waistband.  He hitched them up, and they slid back down. Read more »

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