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

Short Story: Her Late Brother’s Best Friend

“You’re always together. It’s cute,” her friends say.

She can only smile politely as her late brother’s best friend drinks his coffee, blatantly ignoring the group. What can she say when he’s a constant presence by her side not out of affection, but guilt?

Her late brother’s best friend is a man with many enemies. Her late brother had none. When they found cut brakes at the scene of her brother’s death, it didn’t take a genius to put two and two together.

After the accident, her parents were sent away to another country for their safety. A tactic that works because she remains behind as the more accessible target of revenge. And this time, he’s determined in keeping the remaining sibling alive, even if it means keeping her company for the rest of her life.

~End~

Genre: general

July stories: 20/21

Short Story: The Village of Kindness

The children in the village learn from a young age to be kind. “No” means no, it’s ok to be angry but not hurtful, allow extra time when travelling to allow for interruptions.

They learn this from their elders, their peers, their juniors, through explicit instruction, through observation, through experience. And when everyone is kind, it is easy to follow the crowd.

But there are outsiders who see their kindness as an opportunity, and they come expecting a group of easily exploited pushovers.

The children in the village learn from a young age to be kind. Boundaries should be respected, a listening ear is available to all, protect one another.

The harder the outsiders pushes, the harder they push back.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 19/21

Short Story: Brutal Play Time

Only one word can do this scene justice.

Brutal.

A dozen sweaty, young people lie strewn around the living room like discarded clothes after a flash sale.

Among them, a single Border Collie hops excitedly from one limp child to the other, every bit as energetic as when they first started playing together four hours ago.

Looks like bedtime won’t be a problem tonight.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 18/21

Short Story: The Char Siu Bao

She licks her lips and swallows before her drool escapes.

Glistening braised pork, deep red watermelon juice, glossy stir fried cabbage. The dishes have been left on display for hours, but even cold and stale, it looks delicious. Customers want fresh food, so maybe the owner won’t mind if she snags a bite?

The char siu bao that she grabs is hard and cold, but food is food. She stuffs the bun into her mouth before it can be taken from her.

She spits it out with tears of pain leaking out of her eyes.

The bao wasn’t just tough, it’s hard as a rock.

“That’s fake.”

She jumps at the foreign voice. A man watches her from the side entrance of the restaurant, apron wrinkled and hair tied back in a tangled ponytail.

“Here.” He holds out another white bun. “Let’s trade.”

The other bao curves around his fingers the way hers doesn’t. Is it a trick? She knows some people like to add weird things to food as pranks on people like her.

Without a word, the man pinches out a piece. Steam waffs into the air from the pork filling as he takes a bite.

“It’s safe,” he says.

If he can eat it, she can too. They trade buns at the same time and she scurries back the moment she has her hot treasure.

This is the taste she was expecting when she saw the food on display.

“If you want more, I have an open table inside,” the man says, “My treat.”

“What’s the catch?” she asks.

“No catch. Someone helped me last time. I’m just paying it forward.”

When she doesn’t answer, he just steps back into the building.

“My break’s over, but if you take a seat I’ll serve you,” he says in parting.

She fiddles with the hem of her shirt as she rocks nervously on her feet. She’s still hungry, and this is a public space. If he tries to do anything funny, she can run.

Worn hands smooth the wrinkles out of her clothes, fingers comb greasy hair into order, and she gathers the little courage she has left like a cloak and walks in.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 17/21