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.
July stories: 21/21
For the immortals, who live in a world where lives come and go in the blink of an eye, this timeless valley is a boon.
A perpetually overcast sky hides the movement of celestial bodies. The isolated biome is comfortably stable, consisting of great flora and ancient fauna that have outlived most modern civilizations.
Here, there is no need to change their identities every few years. They can sleep deeply without worrying that they’ll wake to find new faces in old places.
But this valley is also an insidious drug. Those who linger too long risk falling into complacency. An unused mind turns dull, even for an immortal whose physical body can’t die.
So they reserve this refuge only for when they need a breather. As a compromise, many choose to live for a couple of years at a time in the nearby towns. Far enough that they are still part of the fast-paced mortal world, close enough to protect their valley from any threats.
Because if they lose this last haven… even the hardest mountain can be worn away by relentless pressure.
July stories: 16/21
“Your orange juice,” the waiter says.
But the liquid in the glass isn’t orange. It’s green with purple frog eggs-like seeds.
Right, she’s in a different dimension.
She prods the thick juice with her straw. It was the only drink on the menu that sounded familiar. Maybe she should have just stuck with water.
Bracing herself, she takes a sip.
She flags a waiter.
“Can I have water?”
July stories: 14/21
If man were meant to fly he would have been born with wings.
As of two hours ago, she could no longer use that excuse to get out of her friends’ weekly paragliding sessions.
She’d heard on the news recently of people randomly developing special powers, but that was like hearing someone win a lottery. Nice to fantasize, but unrealistic. So when her back started to itch, she just thought it was her eczema acting up again.
The scraggly down feathers that burst through her skin was definitely not what she expected in the middle of the night.
Fortunately, they were experiencing a cold snap for the rest of the week. As long as she layered up, no one would be able to tell that she had sprouted extra appendages. The ruse wouldn’t last forever, but it would buy her enough time to gather everything she needed to bribe her friends so that they wouldn’t celebrate the discovery by yeeting her off their favourite cliff.
She cracked her fingers and typed in her first search term.
Crocodile slippers for adults.
July stories: 8/21
If I can own only one thing in the world, I’ll choose a noise cancelling headset.
On a good day, I can hear the whisper of my neighbour’s cat padding over their soft carpet.
On a bad day, I can hear the rapid tapping of a centipede’s many feet as it crawls over the bark of a tree further than my eye can see.
For me, the world is a noisy place. Some days, there’s just so much going on outside that I can’t hear myself think.
But some days, my thoughts are the last things I want to hear. When that happens, I close my eyes and follow my ears outside for a meander.
To the little ducklings’ feet slapping against the pavement as they hop down the curb to the gravel road after their mother. To the explosive clap of wet fabric as someone shakes open their laundry to hang. To the panting dog whipping its tail in the air as it drooled heavy goblets onto the hard floor.
Am I gathering the energy needed to face my thoughts? Or am I just running away to delay the inevitable? It doesn’t matter. Until I’m ready, I’m not coming back.
Genre: fantasy, slice of life
Check out the related stories: Insistent Leaking, Morning Sizzle, Crispy Review
July stories: 7/21