Short Story: The Sting of Betrayal

In hindsight, it started as a sting at the back of his neck. He didn’t think much of it, just rubbed absently at the irritated skin without looking up from his book.

“Your highness?” his valet asked.

“Just an itch,” he waved it off.

Overnight, it turned into a stiff neck. Halfway through the day, it turned numb. The morning after that, it turned into fire.

“The prince has been poisoned!”

Continue reading “Short Story: The Sting of Betrayal”

Short Story: Trespassers Will Be Cursed

An old, weathered plaque stands outside the cave. You know the words written on them by heart.

KEEP OUT. TRESPASSERS WILL BE CURSED.

You ignore it, as you’ve done all your previous trips to the excavation site. The rest of your team follows without a fuss.

Well, most of your team.

“It says keep out,” your new assistant says.

“Don’t worry about it,” you say.

“But I don’t want to be cursed.”

It’s a familiar fear. Most of your current team members had the same doubts when they first came onsite. You convinced them, and you’re confident you’ll be able to talk the newcomer around too.

“We’ve been here for years, and nothing has happened to anyone. It’s just a relic of a long-gone civilization,” you say.

In this modern day and age, that usually works, but the new assistant is unconvinced.

“I don’t feel comfortable. I’d rather stay out.”

You frown.

“This is where we spend most of our time. If you don’t want to go in, then you’re unfortunately not suited for this team. Your job or your superstition. You choose.”

Your new assistant wrings her wrists, but finally relents and follows you in.

“Good choice.” You pat her on the back, then turn your attention to today’s work.

Even after years of exploration, you’re still discovering new rooms. Today’s chamber was only found yesterday, and you’re excited to see what you’ll uncover.

Your assistant is less so.

“I think I’ll resign after all,” she says anxiously, ignoring all the ancient artifacts you have just unearthed. Your lips twist as you turn to her.

“If that’s how you feel, the exit is right behind you.”

The girl leaves. You put her out of your mind. You have more significant things to focus on.

Like the gold-plated doll on the ground.

You pick it up with gloved hands, but the thin material isn’t enough to stop what is to come. Your human hands have defiled the guardian of the temple. You have defiled my avatar.

The eyes on the doll open.

“Trespasser, on you a curse I place. Until all of mine is back in place, you and yours will have no place.”

You are alarmed, but ultimately brush it off as a trick from a dead culture. You will learn better soon.

Better start looking, trespasser.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

September post count: 6/12

Short Story: Grey Autumn

It’s autumn. He knows this not because of the hue of the leaves, but because they fall like rain.

He may have survived the poison, but he has lost his colour vision. He can’t complain. Most people don’t survive at all, and the few who do are often left with even more debilitating issues like partial paralysis or the inability to form new memories.

Still, it’s a shame that he’ll no longer be able to enjoy his favourite fire-red avenues. He’ll need to change his favourite season. Lips curled in a wry smile, he turns away from the monochrome trees. He’s just about to cross the road when he catches a flash of green.

His head whips around, chasing the first spot of colour he’s seen in months. All his plans for the day drops from his mind as he breaks into a sprint.

~End~

Genre: general

September post count: 5/12

Short Story: Life and History

Their house was going to burn tonight.

It was only because of a coincidence that a neighbour of their friend’s niece overheard the plan while cleaning as a janitor. The invaders weren’t satisfied with taking over their town, they were going to wipe out their history too. A few hours wasn’t enough to save all their relics, only their lives.

But there were things more important than their lives. Her family had been archivist for generations. Keeping history alive was in her blood. While the others ran, she turned back and grabbed all the treasures she could carry. She hid them everyone she could. The hidden underground cellar, the ancient stone walls around the grounds sturdy enough to last until the end of time. As long as there was a space, it was good enough for her. Not everything would survive, but she would stay and burn with her home if that would let her save one more relic.

“What are you doing?” Hands tightened around her arms and threw her over a broad shoulder. She kicked and writhed, but her strength was not match for her father’s.

“Let me go. We can’t let them destroy our history,” she said, hoping words would work where brute force failed.

“They can destroy the physical reminders of our past, but as long as we live, so will our stories. Rather than stay and die, live and remember.”

She watched the house shrink as they ran, watched as the light of the sun gave way to a blaze that devoured the stars.

Her father never looked back once.

Tears streaming down her face, she made a vow. This wasn’t goodbye. She would return and restore her home to its rightful state. However long it took.

~End~

Genre: general

September post count: 4/12

Short Story: The Cabin in the Mountain

Only seasoned hikers challenge the physically demanding but popular two-day mountain trail. That means that most of them plan the trip with the cabin in mind.

No one knows who owns the cabin. All they know is that hikers have been sharing it for years, and no one has ever come to chase them out. The large structure, more like a mansion than a hut, has enough room to house half a dozen groups at a time, and the unspoken rule is that anyone who uses it is also responsible for taking care of the place.

Either from the forums or through the more experienced hikers, everyone learns the chores needed to keep the building running. How to stock up the firewood, where to collect water to fill up the tanks, the tradition of leaving extra supplies for the emergency pantry, and more.

Those who don’t do their part, or worse, actively sabotage the amenities, get booted out. It doesn’t happen often, but a freezing night outside and with the howls of nocturnal predators are usually enough for most people to learn their lesson.

After all, if they don’t take care of the cabin, they won’t have this pit stop to refuel, and this trail won’t just be challenging, it’ll be deadly.

~End~

Genre: slice of life, general

September post count: 3/12

Short Story: The Different Child

Her parents had twelve children.

Most were adopted. And by most, she meant she was their only biological child. Yet somehow, she resembled her parents the least. The only blonde among the brunettes, the only O blood type among the As and Bs, the only one without a widow’s peak…

With her family structure, she’d grown up assuming she was adopted the same way most people assumed they weren’t. It was only after her parents showed her the video of her birth that she believed them when they told her she was their flesh and blood.

“But why do I look so different?” she asked.

“Recessive genes. You just happen to have a lot of them. And it’s not true that you don’t look like us. You’re just not looking at the right spots.” Her mother bopped her on the nose. “We have the same schnoz.”

“The same smile.” Her father grinned.

“Grandma’s wavy hair.”

“Granpa’s tiny toes.”

A weight dropped across her shoulders as her older brother chimed in. “And you all scrunch your nose the same way when you smell baked beans. I’ve never seen anyone else do it so you’re their kid alright.”

“Is that enough proof for you?” her mother asked.

She snuggled into her father’s side until only a single shy eye peeked out. “I’ll believe you more if you make earl grey panna cotta.”

“And that’s your aunt’s bargaining style right there.” A large hand patted her head as they chuckled. “Alright. If we start now, it’ll be ready in time for dinner.”

~End~

Genre: family, slice of life

September post count: 2/12

Goals of Logical Dreams: August Recap + September Goals

After the craziness that was Camp NaNoWriMo 2021 in July, I wanted to take things easy for August. Maybe one every alternate day.

Reality was roughly two posts a week.

Learning from Camp NaNoWriMo, having a concrete number to aim for is more stressful but also more likely to be achieved. So, if I want to have three posts a week this month, that’ll be 4×3=12.

Let’s see how this goes.

September post count: 1/12 :p

Short Story: Her Fanciful Room

Her room is as big as a school assembly hall, filled with tall bookshelves arranged like a maze on the ground a level and a web of walkways on the top. Window seats dot the walls at different heights, soft and warm with cushions in contrast to the cold, hard ice that carpet the floor like an ice skate rink.

None of this is real. Her actual room barely fits a skinny bed, the only space she can afford with her meagre pay. But her fanciful room is her haven in this dreary world, and she builds upon it every night.

One day, she hopes to turn imagination to reality. Can she really do it? Maybe not, but in this place, no one can survive without hope, and an unattainable dream is better than nothing.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

Short Story: A Tangled Fight

He blames the incident on insufficient sleep.

As the top ranking student in the fighting academy, his battles aren’t restricted to the training grounds. There’s always someone who wants to ‘test his reflex’, ‘check his situational awareness’, or to ‘practice their sneak attack’.

It’s tiring and annoying, but he takes it as extra training to widen the gap in skill between them. So far, he hasn’t lost yet.

He has just stepped out of the showers, bare except for a towel around his waist when a first year jumps at him. That’s not a problem. They’re trained out of their self-consciousness of their nudity as part of the academy’s motto for their students to be ready for combat in any situation.

The problem is that the newbie has very long shoelaces and terrible knot tying skills. By accident or by design, the twin strings unravel after they exchange their first blows and wrap around both their ankles, locking them both together.

Grappling is also a combat style they practice in the academy. When they both hit the ground, he rolls out of instinct. But instead of seizing his attacker, he grabs… someone’s lumpy soap bar. Granted, it’s the same colour as the kid’s shirt, but he hasn’t grabbed the wrong thing in years. Hand eye coordination is another skill they hone here.

The momentary shock gives the newbie an opening to land a punch on his jaw. That shocks him back to the current threat. He rolls with the hit, and the tangled shoelaces pulls the first year with him. He uses his greater weight to pin the small boy to the ground until his bones creak and his mouth cries for mercy.

A stronger opponent would have kicked his butt before he could recover from his mistake.

That’s it. No more drama episode marathons at night.

~End~

Genre: general

Short Story: The Train

At the age of ten, she comes a cross a train on her way to school. She’s seen trains before, but usually at the station, or running along its tracks. This one is just sitting out in the open, like a huge sunbathing caterpillar, a sight so unusual that she decides to make a detour.

She doesn’t know this, but the train will resume its journey while she’s on board, and it will take her twenty years to find her way back home.

But right now, she’s ten and curious, so she climbs in through an open window without a single worry.

~End~

Genre: slice of life