Prompt Short Story: Final Lesson

D is a character created and owned by myself, Alexia Harvey (aka the other half of Team Cuddles) and artist Peter Hackney. They are eventually destined for a webcomic but Peter moves at the speed of a glacier (3 yrs and one episode now aaaaaalmost finished drawing!), so I couldn’t resist the urge to write this when the prompt showed up!

Millie puttered around the kitchen, humming the minute waltz as she foraged for the ingredients to make scones to go with her lunch of salad sandwiches, made from last night’s leftovers. Listening to the coffee percolate as she kneaded, it took her a moment to realise someone had materialised in the kitchen with her.

“Ahem,” came a polite cough.

Millie spun and raised her rolling pin, ready to hit the intruder sharply until it regretted every choice that had led it to this point, then stopped short, her muddy green eyes taking in the figure before her.

“So it’s you, then,” she said, putting down her weapon and forcing some wisps of grey hair back into her bun. “Coffee? Sandwich? I can offer scones if I’ve time to finish, if not I need to turn the oven off.”

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Prompt Short Story: On Mission

Using the coffee table, Alison emptied her purse and began replacing objects within, mentally checking off her list to ensure she had everything she might need for the day. 

Behind her, padding downstairs in socks and not much else, her roommate and best friend, Denise glanced over, “Uh. Should I ask you why you have a knife in your purse?”

Alison let out a yelp. She hated when Denise wandered around in her socks, she was so damn quiet! Quickly checking the rest of the items left of the table for anything else questionable and seeing nothing, she forced herself to shrug nonchalantly. Standing the blade upright on her forefinger, she artfully balanced it as she spoke, “It’s a dagger, actually. And no, you shouldn’t. Didn’t your mother never teach you not to ask a lady about what she carried in her purse?”

Denise laughed and hit the button on the kettle, “My mother didn’t stick around long enough to teach me anything. Want a drink?”

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Prompt Short Story: Precognition

The scent of spice and flowers hit her as she wrenched open the door, “Will you quit bangin! Whaddya want?”

The elf bowed low, his tight tunic, and tighter trousers, almost creaking with the strain, “Madame Reval, such an honour to greet you. As my apology for disturbing you, please accept these tokens,” he thrust forward a bouquet of wildflowers, and a small tin of magically-enhanced cooking spice, his clothes shimmering in the twilight. “The spice is fully legal and of the non-addictive variety, I assure you, although I cannot promise no addiction to your cooking once sprinkled with it.”

Even the formidable Madame Reval was no match for the charm of the elf before her. She offered a clumsy curtsy, “You’re right kind, sir. May I ask yer name and yer business here?”

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Prompt Short Story: Touched – Chances

The mage sighed and ran her fingers back through her hair, “Helluvan ask you got here. Y’know most mages’d laugh you right out their rooms – those as wouldn’t just call the police on you fer askin.”

The clent nodded, “I know how big – and how dangerous, and illegal – this is. I heard you were the sort to hear a body out before making a decision. Hear me, and if you choose to kick me out or call the cops then I’ll accept it. But if you agree, I can pay more than you’d make in a lifetime of magicking.”

“That’s a fair bit, my services ain’t cheap,” the mage said, one eyebrow raised as she motioned around the richly appointed room.

Even if this was just the showroom, and she spent the rest of her time in a hovel, the money spent on the lush carpeting, the decoration, even the ceiling lights, was nothing to sneeze at.

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Prompt Short Story: Rip

Torella glanced around as she slipped her picks into the lock, closing her eyes as she felt for the pin. The soft click came and the cage door swung open.

The chittering of the crystalline creatures grew as she reached in a hand, loading them into a specially-lined sack.

“Shh…” she whispered at them, hurrying back through the building.

Once outside, she reactivated the building’s security and drove her van calmly home, heart finally slowing its heightened patter as she reached her underground parking spot.

Closing her apartment door behind her, she took deep breaths, steadying her post-adrenaline shakes before upending the sack into the specially-built biome that took up the entirety of one of her spare rooms, and had cost no small amount of her fortune to have built –  and that was before the cost of the bribes for silence from all involved.

She was exhausted, but now was not the time for sleep. She retied her fair hair into its low ponytail, brown eyes glinting in the glow of the biome’s special lighting, and changed quickly into something more comfortable. A low collar and rolled-up sleeves revealed tattoos, covering her pale skin, and criss-crosses of old scar tissue, the gaining of which still invited occasional nightmares.

Looking into the biome, Torella remembered the day the rip opened and the crystalline balls appeared. 

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Prompt Short Story: Touched – Cold

The assassin hooked their fingers around the windowsill, testing the strength of the treated synwood, their other fingers and bare toes pressed firmly into the smooth wall, attached by no more than a thin instaweld mesh.

Carefully they moved their weight up, calculations flying at light-speed through the tech in their head, transferring to their limbs faster than the speed of thought, as the second hand joined the first and shifted their body to the left of the window, balancing as they removed a toolkit from their belt.

They opened the kit with a quick tug of their teeth, letting it dangle from their mouth as their right hand reached in and removed a small, thin stick, topped by a chip barely visible to the naked eye.

The assassin pressed this against the window, on the exact spot where the magitech lock held the window closed on the inside.

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Prompt Short Story: Freedom

“Open it,” Morgan nudged his best friend, dirty blonde hair flopping over his muddy brown eyes.

“You open it,” Salima responded, nudging him back, dreads swaying with the movement.

“I found it,” Morgan retorted. 

“So the honour should be yours,” Salima grinned, passing over the crowbar. 

Morgan glared at her, “Dammit, fine.”

He took some steadying breaths and looked again at the lid of the stone seat.

They had stumbled, way off the paths in the woods, into an old mausoleum, clearly long abandoned and forgotten, and decided to force open the thick iron gate and make their way inside.

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Prompt Short Story: Cheers!

“CHEERS!” The slightly drunken cry came from the four customers at the table in the back corner, and not for the first time that night.

The bar, out of the centre of town and tucked away down some back streets, was never a favourite of University students even during term-time, and was mostly empty during a weeknight in the summer break.

The decor had gone through an upgrade since the last time these friends had been there. The dark oak had been treated with a lighter woodstain, and the tacky gold leaf had been replaced with a more sedate copper to match.

“This place changed about as much as we all did,” the fair-skinned woman in the blue summer dress said as she took a gulp of her beer.

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Prompt Short Story: If Only

I can’t forget the moment. It still replays in my head. Along with all the others. They fight to be the memory that fucks me up that day. 

This one is the accident. A rainy day, just turning to twilight, streetlamps just being lit, bouncing their light off of raindrops. The street smells like wet horse and smoke from the stacks across the river.

I’m walking, looping my way home from a visit to a friend via the park, dripping wet and slightly grumpy that my favourite hat and jacket are likely ruined. I don’t see the carriage, don’t even hear it until it’s too late. The driver, blinded by the dusk and the rain, doesn’t see me in time. They swerve, but it’s too late. I get slammed and thrown aside, and they crunch into a lamppost.

They’re ok, mostly, some whiplash and some bruises from being thrown off, but that’s all, and the carriage was fortunately empty.

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Prompt Short Story: Anniversary

You can’t always see the big ones coming. The days where everything changes, for better or for worse. Sometimes you get a hint, a clue, an idea, even just a hunch. Other times? Zip.

She was just one of many, in the beginning. We get taught distancing techniques, mental exercises to keep us from getting invested, from caring about our subjects. Our instructor used to tell me I was good at them – “Jessica, you’re a natural, just keep up those guards!” – and I’d smile and nod and know I would be great.

And for the first few years, I was. But while I was on alert for the obvious signs we’d been taught to expect, the others snuck up on me. It was just a job. Three years watching her, and all the others, through that machine. And without me realising it, maybe a little part of me fell in love with her, because I wished she knew who I was. Until she did.

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