Tag Archives: jane dougherty’s microfiction challenge

The Midnighters

“Parliament is in session,” declared Ozzie, “we have a couple of live ones this evening!”

“Whooooooh…I love the futility of it all,” hooted Ollie.

Orville chimed in, “Foooooools.”

Otto, the quiet one, just ogled. He was good at ogling and freaking out fearful humans. ‘Am I a good omen or a bad one…whooooo can tell?’

“Shhhh!” Otis screeched.

“Whooo, look! They’re coming!” Odin announced.

Two souls bolted over the hill and into the valley, their hapless former selves stumbling behind in pursuit. It was futile, just as Ollie had said. After a few dips and swoops the souls faded into the mist, leaving their fleshy hosts in darkness.

Once a person loses his soul it is nearly impossible to get it back. Give your soul an inch of freedom from reason and it is sure to bolt. It’s a slippery slope. An epidemic of epic proportions orchestrated by legions of soul-less heads who are miserable and in need of adoring followers.

But at least the midnighters were entertained.

“They never had a chance,” sighed Ollie.

“Same time tomorrow then?” Odin asked his fellows.

“Wouldn’t miss it. This is better than barn crashing!” Orville guffawed.

“Whoooo’ll be next? Whooooo knows?”

~kat

A bit of silliness for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge based on the odd painting above, that I discovered, after a quick google search, is by Hugo Gerhard Simberg (24 June 1873 – 12 July 1917), a Finnish symbolist painter and graphic artist.


The Girl Who Dreamed of Flying


Once upon a time…you know where this is going. You might even think, this is one of those ‘fairy tales’ and dismiss it straight away as a myth, but I can assure you it is truer than true. For it is true that everything in this world has a once upon a time; even you, if you think about it, when you burst purple, wet into this place, gulping your first breath, eyes squinting at the bright glare of life.

And so it was for Clarissa. Born in a humble wisteria-draped cottage in a dingle village long, long ago, Clarissa emerged from the Guf laughing, eyes wide and bright. The midwife declared, “My my, but this is a special one!” Never had a truer thing been uttered, as time would tell.

As soon as she could walk, Clarissa set about exploring every cranny and nook. Birds and bugs, whirlygigs, cottonwood fluff and witch’s gowan wishies…flying things, were her favorite things of all. She spent hours studying them, quite unusual for a youngster, and gibbering to them about this and that, as if they were listening. She dreamed of flying like her airborne friends. One day she did. It was the saddest of all days the dingle had ever known.

On that dark and dreadful day Clarissa managed to escape the watchful eyes of her doting mum to wander up the mountain trail to the lookout ledge. She stood there for a moment, feet clinging to the rocky crag, arms extended, her fiery red curls dancing in the wind, and she laughed so loudly it caught the attention of every living thing below. They watched aghast as Clarissa lept into a swooping gust and flew for a short, too few magnificent seconds.

Frantic to save her, every winged, wispy thing surrendered their feathers and wings, whirligigs and fluffy, puff wishies to the wind, hoping to break her fall her by blanketing the dingle in feathery fluff, but they were no match for gravity’s power, drifting helplessly in the air. Clarissa fell right through them, landing in a horrible thud as the last echo of her laughter faded in the distance.

Now you may not notice it when it happens but I can assure you it’s true. Every time a child laughs a bird sheds a feather or bug its wings. And sometimes Maple tree whirligigs, cottonwood fluffies and dandelion wishies take to the wind too. All to remember Clarissa, the girl who dreamed of flying, and to add another moment’s wonder and happiness to children everywhere. For it is also true that their magnificent innocence, like Clarissa’s ill-fated flight, fades far too quickly, like echoes of laughter in the distance.

~kat

A Folktale for Jane Dougherty Microfiction Challenge inspired by Jeren of itsallaboutnothing’s poem that you can read HERE.


When Women Ruled the Land

A fitting microfiction tale for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange Microfiction Photo Prompt on this International Women’s Day. Peace all! 🙂

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Painting by Hans Thoma

Once upon a time, when women ruled the land, the Earth Goddess appeared on Elysium Mount playing her harp to call forth Spring. The people, dressed in white, gathered in vernal fields to celebrate the emergence of new life. It was said that one could hear the sound of Earth Goddess’s harp for miles, from sea to sea. It was a time of peace, hope and prosperity.

But Old Man Winter was not fond of Earth Goddess’s gaiety or her authority. He particularly disdained her warmth and light and greenness.

“Too much green!” he bellowed, as he spewed cold nips of icy breath across the plains to dissuade the buds from blooming.

“Too much light! he bemoaned, as he sent the darkest cloak of blackness to loom over the land in the wee, late hours of night to suppress the flickering sparks of dawn.

“She is much too hot!” he growled from the center of his cold, cold heart. “The world does not need new. Things are fine just the way they are!” Old Man Winter whined every year as he retreated to the earth’s poles to wait for Spring and Summer to Fall.

Of course it was completely out of place for him to demand that the seasons, the earth and his way of bitter existence upon it, be only as he wished it to be. The seasons are as sure as the rising of the sun and the setting of the moon.

While in exile, Old Man Winter devised a plan to usurp the Earth Goddess’s rule. As winter was fading on the cusp of spring the following year, Old Man Winter sent two messengers, Power and Greed, to visit Earth Goddess as she played her harp on Elysium Mount. An enchanted flute-playing Lizard joined them. Lizards, as you know, are powerful totems of regeneration, renewal and rebirth, but they can be quite lethal, breathing fire and destruction, if allowed to sprout wings.

“Hello Fair Earth Goddess,” Power began, “we think the Spring Festival would be much more festive if you would consider adding the talents of our friend Lizard to your sinfonietta. He is a fine flautist from the rocky shoal along the Crystal Sea.”

“Imagine the beautiful music you could create together!” added Greed, “after all, two is better than one, don’t you agree?”

Knowing the legend and lore of the Lizard and seeing that he did not bear even the slightest bud of wings upon his back, Earth Goddess agreed to let Lizard play his pipe to her harp.

So enchanting and mesmerizing was the duo that the people stopped dancing to listen. It was then, that the Lizard sprouted wings, launching into a spree of terror from the sky, as had been the plan. The people scattered in fear to every corner of the earth leaving Earth Mother alone amidst the fading blooms of Spring; fading because she had stopped playing her harp when she realized she had been played. Finally, a cold wind whipped through her, ejecting her from the mount. She realized the culprit of the plot, but it was too late. Old Man Winter had won.

He still allows Spring to pass through each year, but he is clearly in control reminding her of this fact by sending unseasonal gusts of icy air. The Piper, (or Lizard as he was once known) still plays his pipe, its melody traveling on the wind while the people shudder, still scattered and fearful of shadows, bumps in the night and fire from the sky.

As history will attest, it was also the beginning of the time when men, fearful of women’s strong intuition and powerful ability to create and nurture, began to use fear to their own advantage, as a way control the people.

Though thousands of years have passed since the coup, I have heard that on rainy spring days, if one listens closely, the sound of the Earth Goddess’s harp can still be heard between rain droplets. She is close by, waiting for the day when peace, hope and prosperity are released from their chains and she is restored to her place atop Elysium Mount. On that day she will play and play, and the people will dance once again.

~kat – 8 March 2017


Star Light, Star Bright…

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Illustration by Virginia Frances Sterret

It was a cold, dark night when Eveline saw her, like a glowing specter, behind a grove of persimmon trees. She had heard legends about the white doe who roamed the woodlands near her grandparent’s estate. If one were fortunate enough to look into the eyes of this elusive creature, they would be allowed three wishes. But there was a caveat. Only wishes of pure intention would be granted.

Eveline stood perfectly still as she watched the white doe meander through the trees, pausing to savor sweet persimmons along the way. Her old cat brushed against her, purring loudly.

“Shhhhhh, Fiona!” Eveline whispered, but it was too late. To her dismay, she had captured the doe’s attention. It ambled to where she stood bowing its head.

To Eveline’s surprise the doe spoke audibly, “Fortune comes to thee this night. Reveal to me thy wishes three. And if thy heart is pure as light, I’ll grant thy wishes unto thee.”

“But what shall I wish for?” Eveline queried. “A wish by it’s very nature seems a selfish thing to me.”

Eveline looked deeply into the eyes of the enchanted doe. In that moment of silence she realized she knew exactly what to wish for.

“Very well,” she said, “here are my wishes. First, I wish a wish for my family: that they would never have to toil to survive another day. Second, I wish for peace in the world. And third…” she looked at the doe and smiled, “my third wish is for you dear one, that you would have the desire of your heart.”

“As you wish,” the white doe responded, “you and your family shall never want, and nevermore shall any of you toil. You shall have plenty for as long as you live.  As for your second wish, I hereby grant that the world will know 100 years of peace.” (From that very day there was, in fact, peace in the world that lasted 100 years.)

“And my third wish?” Eveline smiled.

The white doe spoke softly, “I have listened to and granted wishes for centuries. In all my travels, I have never beheld a heart such as yours; one whose wishes are completely selfless and pure. You, Eveline are my wish. You have set me free to grant wishes with every fiber of my being.” The doe nuzzled Eveline gently before transforming into a thousand stars that drifted skyward settling in the firmament above.

There is an old nursery rhyme that goes something like this…
“Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.”

Now you know how that rhyme came to be. And it is true, if you believe.

~kat – 21 December 2016

For Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge based on the illustration by Virginia Frances Sterret above.


The Piper’s New Gig

Some of you may have heard the tale of the Pied Piper, commissioned to rid a village of its rats. When the unscrupulous town leaders refused to pay him for his services he exacted his revenge by stealing away all but a few of the village children, and as some tell, returned them only after he received a ransom that was twice more than his original contractual fee. He was never heard from again but there is more to his story…

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Illustration by John Bauer

Over the years, after Hamlin, the Piper made quite a fortune for himself, traveling from town to town. He gave up gathering rats, nasty, diseased creatures that they were, and focused his attention entirely on the children of a place. Parents, he discovered, would pay any amount of money for the return of a child. It was a quick and tidy transaction and children were gullible and easily led astray, no matter how severely their parents warned them to be cautious of strangers.

One day, after finalizing his last job, he met up with the purveyor of a brothel in a shady pub outside of town.

The old man who had been watching him walked over and settled himself on the stool next to him. “So yer that Piper aren’t ye? I’ve heard ’bout yer comin’s an’ goin’s fer years. Always thought ye were a legend, though.”

“Yes sir, I am he.” It was rare for the Piper to admit such a thing in public, but they were the only two in the place and he planned to leave town the next morning.

The old Mack raised an eyebrow and eyed the Piper from his head to his toes. “I’ve bin wond’rin’….when ye gather up yer herd of children, do ye e’er come upon a girl o’ 12 or more?”

“I suppose I do. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages; boys and girls. Why do you ask?”

“If yer int’rested I might have an offer fer ye. How much does one o’ yer brats bring ya…if I might be so bold as to ask?”

“Enough.” the Piper was getting leery. The old coot was asking far too many questions.

“Well, what if I told ye I could double whate’er ‘tis yer makin’? Would ye be int’rested?”

“Mmm…I might.”

And so it was that the Piper entered a new venture. Just as the Mack had promised, young girls were a most lucrative commodity, bringing unlimited riches. He never had to pipe another day. Shiny things and promises of fame were all it took to lure them from safety.

To this day there are Pipers still, who peddle fair lassies to the highest bidder. Be sure to warn your daughters. All that glitters is not gold.

kat ~ 14 December 2016

For Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge based on the illustration by above by John Bauer.

 


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