Bre (she of the wonderful encouragement) sent a short little no-pressure email to myself and Perry with some writing prompts.
I caved first, after which we had a waterfall of lovely little stories that I have been granted permission to share with you. If you’ve time and are so inclined, we’d love for you to join in and write your own!
Here are the prompts:
- They found his diary under his bed
- He hadn’t meant to scare the child
- The whole family had been cursed since
They found his diary under his bed.
A raw nerve exposed to the daylight. It quivered in their hands, a live object squirming for cool shade.
It was a tattered thing, barely held together with scotch tape and actual thread sown to the sides, a patchwork of a book.
Too much like a Frankenstein’s creation, pieced together with scraps of pages salvaged from abandoned books.
A phrase from Moby Dick peaked out from under the confines of the weathered rubber band, marbled by age and abuse.
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
The words mocked the viewer, daring them to pull back the band and open the almost bursting diary.
“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
[Omnes relinquite spes, o vos intrantes]”
And find him inside, frozen in fragments. Moments captured in another’s images to color their memories of him.
Your mind should never exist outside of yourself.
Never left behind, under a bed to collect dust
And confuse the uninitiated.
He hadn’t meant to scare the child. Y’all get that, right? I mean, y’all are lookin’ at me all mean and scary-like as if I’m lyin’ at ya, but it’s the God’s honest truth and I’ll swear to it till the day I die.
We didn’t mean for it to be anything but a quick look-see, you know? T’ain’t everyday that we see a pack of them things wanderin’ anywhere near the town, after all.
Did y’all even see the town down the road? Gransburg is as tiny as all get out. There ain’t nothin’ to do ’round these parts, so y’all can’t be blamin’ me an’ mine from wanting to take a bit of a gander when folk start talking about there being a family of brownies or pixies or some such in the glen by the wood, alright?
Oh no, y’all don’t got the right to be all judgemental and be calling us idiots or some such. In case you ain’t noticed yet, Gransburg is a pretty goddamned far off ways from New Eden. Ain’t none of you fancy city types ever lived in the backwoods before? Y’all don’t know what it’s like. It gets powerful boring here in these parts, doing the same damned thing day-in and day-out. We scratch out our living from the land and there ain’t much around that you can do to pass the time. I’m sure it’s all flowers and gravy up in Eden, what with all the sights to see and all manner of magical folk up around there, livin’ cheek by jowl with the rest of us normal folk.
No, I ain’t sayin’ that they have no right to it. What kinda damn-fool bumpkin do you take me for? I ain’t got no issue with the Folk. Some others in Gransbug might have, that’s somethin’ you’ll have to take up with them, but I ain’t got no problems with em. I just wanted to see em is all.
Jake and me, we been best friends since we was growin’ up. An’ when his parents died in the Fastingways War when he was just a babe, why, my ma and pa insisted that he come live with us.
Yeah, y’all are giving me that look again. I don’t care if y’all believe me or not. I don’t care what you city folk do or don’t do when it comes to helpin’ your fellow man like good, god-fearin’ folk should. Out here in the sticks? You learn right quick that ya either pitch in together when times are tough, or ya die separate and lonesome when it’s your turn to suffer.
Yeah, I’m gettin’ to it. I’m gettin’ to it. Y’all cityfolk are quite impatient. Ain’t your parents never learned you some proper manners?
Anyway, we was close is all I was tryin’ ta say.
So when Jake told me that he’d heard from the Pell’s little brat that there was a family of wee folk that’d taken up living by the glen? He wanted to take a look and asked me if’n I’d come with him.
I didn’t want to do it, mind. But me and Jake might as well have been brothers and I wasn’t ’bout to let him do somethin’ like that alone. Besides, he would have gotten free drinks for a month at the tavern in town off’n them stories and my mama ain’t raised no fool, no sir.
So we went down to the glen. Midnight on a full moon, like’n all them stories say.
We shouldn’t have gone. We didn’t know. How was we to know?
Maybe we should’ve knowed when we saw ‘em in the moonlight. All tall and graceful and just…beautiful.
I ain’t never used that word before, but I’m usin’ it now. They was beautiful, like star people, with all the light shinin’ out of ‘em like nothin’ you ain’t never seen before. We should’ve knowed it right then and gotten the hell outta dodge, but like I said, we ain’t used to things like this out in the sticks. We wanted to take it all in.
So we watched em for a while is all.
Ain’t no one told us that the Folk and the Sidhe are two ‘tirely different breed of animal.
What? Did we know?
Are you off your gourd? You think we would have stayed watchin’ ‘em if we knowed they was some blue-blooded nobles from the Winter Court? What kind of damned fool idjits do ya take us for?
We was gettin’ set to leave, alright? Gettin’ set to leave without botherin’ nobody when we turned and there was the kid, just standing there, starin’ at us all goggly-eyed.
Jake just wanted to make him jump a bit, he wasn’t goin’ to hurt him or nothin’, I swear. Jake wouldn’t hurt no fly. Why, back when we was kids and his horse done broke his leg, Jake couldn’t even–
What? Oh fine, if y’all are in some fired up hurry, I s’pose I can get on with it.
Jake just wanted to make the kid jump a bit. Just wanted him to have a story he could tell his fairy friends and all when he got back to wherever home was. ‘Bout the time he met some scary humans and got away without no scratch on ‘im.
The kid just screamed and next thing I know, they was all ’round us, coming down from the trees and outta the bushes. Lord as my witness, there was more of ‘em than I even thought possible.
The boy ran to his parents, and they was the tallest and most fair lookin’ of a pretty tall and fair bunch, let me tell you. And he babbled to ‘em in that moonspeak that the Sidhe got.
She looked as us all cold-like, an’ I shiver to think of it even now. I ain’t never seen nothin’ like the look on her face when she looked at Jake and told him that since he liked scarin’ folk so much, she’d see to it that he could spend the rest of his life scarin’ things. Looked to me next and said somethin’ I won’t never forget. Told me that since I liked watchin’ em’ while they was stealin’ time away from the Court, she would steal time from me and see how I liked it.
Course, she said it all nice-like, nothin’ like what I just said now, ya know?
Next thing I know, she points to me an’ Jake and there was a light…
Bright light. Like nothin’ I’d ever seen before. Like nothin’ I’d ever seen since.
When I came to, I was back at my farm. Jake was here too, out in the field, just like you see him now. All frozen stiff and not movin’. I tried to pull him inside but he won’t budge. I guess that Sidhe lady thought it’d be some kinda funny, turnin’ my best friend into some sorta human scarecrow.
But then, the Sidhe ain’t never really had much of a sense of humor.
As for me, I still dunno what she meant by stealin’ time away from me. Everything on my property looks just like I left it, so maybe she ran outta steam once she finished with Jake and had nothin’ left for me?
Anyway, I’m gettin’ tired of jawin’ at ya. Y’all think maybe I could lie down for a spell? It’s my ma’s birthday today. Her and my pa live just down the road. It’s a fair walk, to tell the truth, but you gotta visit your parents, at least on their birthdays when they start gettin’ up in the years, you know?
Ain’t no tellin’ when they’ll kick the bucket so you need to squeeze in all the time together that you can, while you can.
Still…I think back to that night? And I just want it on whatever record you folks are jottin’ down. Jake didn’t mean no harm, wouldn’t hurt a fly, like I said…he just wanted to scare the boy a mite, no more’n that, that’s all.
Say, I know you folk are from New Eden and that city-folk have got a lot more interesting things than us livin’ in the sticks do…but that’s a mighty odd carriage y’all pulled up in.
Where do y’all hitch up your horses to on a contraption like that?
The whole family had been cursed since great-uncle Armin decided he was a dragon slayer instead of a cobbler. Oh, sure, he slayed the dragon. Hometown hero, the whole shebang. Wasn’t till he started going through the dragon’s treasure that he found the lead-stoppered vial tucked between a rusting shield and an old tapestry.
Turns out, the magical community had (at one point or another) started stoppering really dangerous stuff with lead. It was a good magical deterrent and just odd enough that hopefully someone would think twice before prying the cork out.
Great-uncle Armin was neither a member of the magical community nor particularly prone to thinking more than once about a thing.
POP went the cork and POOF went a djinn and KAPOW went our entire family future. Normally, you’d expect a djinn to just outright kill whoever was dumb enough to release him, but that’s only if he’s loosed between two and five hundred years into his his isolation.
This particular djinn had been bottled for over a thousand years, so he got to invoke a little-known clause in the djinni handbook which allowed him to curse all of us.
I can see from the slack-jawed look on your face that you’re neither a member of a magical community nor particularly prone to thinking yourself, so I’ll just lay it out for you, plain and simple.
That lead cork in your hand? Was a bad, bad idea. I’ve only been in this bottle for 250 years.
And I’m hungry.