Short Story: Big Skunk and Little Skunk

He was adopted when he was six. Took the hand of a lady with a white streak in her left temple just like his and walked out of his parent’s corner house.

(He later learned that he was technically abducted, but his parents weren’t around anyway, so was there really a difference?)

The woman, never let him call her ‘mum’ (which in hindsight should have been the biggest clue he wasn’t actually adopted). Instead, they both went by the nicknames big skunk and little skunk.

While his peers memorized the periodic table and learnt about integration and differentiation, he learnt about the chicken in the woods and Polaris. He entered adulthood without a certificate to his name, but he knew how to survive almost any terrain completely off the grid.

“That’s it,” big skunk said one evening as they reset their crab traps, “I’ve taught you everything I know. The rest is up to you.”

“The rest of what?” he asked.

“The rest of your life. Every bird needs to leave their parent’s nest one day.”

“But you’re not my parent,” he pointed out.

For some reason, that sent her into a giggling fit. Between laughs, she said, “You’ll understand one day.”

The next morning, she was gone, and he wouldn’t understand what she said until almost two decades later, when he held his baby girl in his arms and looked at the white streak of hair at her left temple.

~End~

Genre: science fiction/fantasy

Time loop story: 3/8

Short Story: When You Need Me

She looks at him with blank green eyes. “You’re going to get yourself killed.”

Which is a weird thing to say, considering he just saved the lady from three robbers. Her next move is even more baffling. She leans in and brushes a kiss against his right cheek, inky black hair flowing like a sheer curtain. “When you need me, tap your cheek.”

Then she walks away without another word, leaving him alone at the park.

The strange encounter lingers at the back of his mind for weeks, but his days flow by as normal, and the worry is eventually worn away.

Until now, at another park, in another fight. This time, it’s domestic violence instead of a robbery, and the aggressor isn’t so easily scared off. He has to look up to meet the other man’s eyes, but he veils his apprehension behind a hopefully friendly smile.

“Why don’t we talk this out? You don’t need to beat people up to make a point.”

Unfortunately, the other guy is a man of action.

“Mind your own business.”

The angry snarl is the last thing he hears before a brick smashes into his face and turns his world black.

He snaps awake to an angry man.

“Mind your own business.”

Wait, didn’t this just…

A brick slams into his face.

He snaps awake to an angry man.

“Mind your own business.”

He snaps awake to the same guy again and again, face on fire from a brick that hasn’t-but-already hit him. His mind spins from the pain and confusion, and his body’s survival instincts have to kick in and pull him out of the endless loop. He ducks back and crosses his arms before his face.

The hit doesn’t land.

When he looks up, he finds a curtain of black hair.

“Both of you will leave and forget what happened here,” the green-eyed lady says and snaps her fingers.

The arguing couple pivots woodenly and walk away, leaving him alone with the lady, just like the day weeks ago. Again, she considers him with a blank gaze.

“Your heart’s in the right place, but you don’t have the skills to back it up,” she says, and there’s nothing he can say to counter her blunt assessment. So he changes the topic instead.

“What just happened?” He definitely got hit, multiple times, but when he touches his face, his fingers find unmarred skin instead of blood and brick bits. Combine that how the couple left like marionettes and this lady appeared out of nowhere, something’s definitely up.

The corner of the lady’s mouth twitches in a near smile. “Figure it out yourself and tell me next time. Remember, when you need me, tap your cheek.”

She throws her hand at his face, and he flinches back, eyes screwed shut from the memory of the brick’s impact. But all he feels is the wind, and when he looks up, he’s alone.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

Time loop story: 2/8

Short Story: The Disappearing Desk

She realized she was in a time loop when she woke up to find her desk missing.

Ok. That wasn’t the full story.

When she first saw empty space in place of the new desk she’d just spent the whole day building, she thought she’d been robbed in her sleep.

Fear turned to confusion when she rushed to her living room and found her table, still packed in pieces in its original packaging. She could have sworn that she had already assembled the massive furniture, even had the bruise from when she dropped a drawer on her foot to prove it.

Except… her skin didn’t have a single mark.

For one scary hour, she curled in the corner of her couch, wondering if the stress from work had finally driven her insane.

She only had one free day off for the rest of the month, set aside especially to put her new desk together, so she pulled herself out of her spiralling thoughts and got to work. This time, she learnt from past experience and didn’t drop the drawer, but she stepped on a screw instead.

The next day, she woke up once again to an unexpectedly empty space. Only then did she realise time had rewound.

Assembling a desk half her weight was tiring enough once, she wasn’t going to do it a third time, especially if her day was going to reset itself. Which meant… she had a free day.

She rolled over, pulled her blanket up to her chin, and burrowed in.

~End~

Genre: science fiction

Time loop story: 1/8

Short Story: Runaway Night Mare

Night mares are misunderstood. He’s had his herd for centuries and he’ll trust them with his favourite mug any day. Unlike those disastrous dreamwalkers who don’t know how to keep their sticky hands to themselves.

It’s not the mares’ fault that bad dreams cling to them like a drowned cat, but people like to confuse cause with correlation. So when one of his mares escape their pen, he starts his search immediately.

He finds the runaway a few hours to dawn in a child’s dream garden. Four hooves planted on the cotton candy grass while dark teeth chomp at a large marshmallow hanging from a candy cane tree. A line of charred and writhing dots shows the path the mare took to get the sweet snack.

A gentle touch against the long neck is enough to guide the mare away from the tree. A little skip and both of them are airborne. But the dots remain, little scary shadows in an otherwise happy childish dream. He reaches into his sack and sprinkles slivery gold dust into the landscape.

The dark patches lighten into iridescent butterflies. The beat of their wings tinkle like windchimes as they dance in the garden.

His night mares can’t control the bad dreams that follow them, but he hopes the good dreams he brings will supersede any night terrors.

Sweet dreams, little one.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

July stories: 21/21