October 25

Fictober, Prompt 25 – “I could really eat something.”

Warnings: off-screen eating of carrion? Fantasy. With dinosaurs. Because I can.

(I’m a bit late tonight, this one wanted to get away from me.)


As we got closer, it became obvious that the large mound ahead was what remained of a dead frill-horn.

Very obvious. A brief whiff made me gag, cough, and pinch my nose as soon as I could to block out even that bit of stench.

Below me, I could sense White-Eye’s opposite reaction. She lifted her head, deliberately sniffing the air.

I could really eat something, she told me hopefully.

“Okay,” I told her, “but maybe let me down here? I’m going to stay back.”

Obligingly, White-Eye bent her strong legs and lowered herself down, letting me clamber out of the minimal saddle strapped over her hips before rising and making her way towards the carcass with long strides.

I smiled fondly after her, still holding my nose, and retreated upwind. There was a small rise nearby that would give me a good vantage point on the surrounding area, so I made for that and put a simple barrier spell before settling down for a stretch and a rest. Most predators would smell White-Eye on me and were willing to respect her judgment, but there were always a few who didn’t care. More importantly, it would also temporarily stop any of the large plant-eaters, who tended to wander around without paying too much attention to what was happening down around their feet.

For a little while, I watched White-Eye eat (a somewhat terrifying process that was better viewed from a distance), but she seemed content enough, and unbothered by the smaller predators swarming the carcass. Soon, the warm afternoon sun had me yawning; we had walked most of the night and all day today. White-Eye was in no danger, and the barrier would warn me in plenty of time to do something about it if anyone approached me, so I let my eyes drift closed.

The sun hadn’t moved too much when I woke, feeling a familiar tremble in the earth from heavy footfalls. I adjusted the spell to expand and cover White-Eye as well as she lowered herself next to me, and forced myself to shift around, tucking up against her side near a small arm.

You are well? She asked, her voice sleepy as she turned her head to peer at me, the patch of white around one eye contrasting brightly with her mostly-dark hide in the sun.

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October 24

Fictober, Prompt 24 – “Patience…is not something I’m known for.”

Warnings: implied monster, implied violent death, ambiguous ending. Horror in a midwest-gothic-adjacent sort of way.


A corn field. Of course part of this stupid Fallfest scavenger hunt would take us into a corn field.

As if my night wasn’t complicated enough already.

My assigned partner for the evening, who had introduced himself as Jake, had been eager to win the hunt. We had flown through the first few items, barely taking any time to get to know each other even though this was supposed to be a dating game. ‘See how compatible you are by looking for clues and solving puzzles together!’ the brochure had said.

Neither of us was actually here for a potential date, though. He assumed that I didn’t know that about him, and I was desperately hoping that he didn’t know that about me.

If he did, then this corn field was going to be even more dangerous.

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October 23

Fictober, Prompt 23 – “You can’t give more than yourself.”

Warnings: implied violent deaths? Nothing onscreen. Fantasy, rural fantasy if that’s a thing. Not quite midwest gothic, but leaning that direction.


Abby paced, agitated and upset, and I could only watch, sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of hot cider to warm my hands. Hers sat abandoned across from me.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said again, stopping only to stare out the window at the rapidly darkening corn fields. “And I’ve got to decide soon, the ritual is in three hours.”

I frowned down at my mug, lips pressed together. I didn’t like the group she was part of, especially the man leading it, but just because she was my sister didn’t mean I could interfere. She had to make her own decisions.

“I’ve learned so much already,” she said, back to pacing. I nodded, still frowning at my mug. That much was true; Abby had been able to harness her strange powers much better, with better control, than she had before, and that was certainly a boon for all of us. It wasn’t that I thought the group was all bad, but something about this ‘ritual’ of theirs made me uneasy. It was supposed to be some cross between a final exam and a party, the leader had told her several weeks ago, a chance to use their new skills and boost their power, and then celebrate.

“I’m not going to tell you what to do,” I told her, my first words in quite some time. She stopped pacing, sighed, and came back to the table at last, reaching out a tentative hand to cover mine where they still clutched at my mug.

“I know you don’t like any of it,” she said.

I shrugged. “You’ve learned a lot, like you said. I don’t like the sound of this ritual, but what I don’t like even more is that you’re not sure about it. That’s the thing you should pay attention to, not what I think.”

Abby blew out a breath and sat back. “I guess you’re right. It’s probably all your fault that I’m feeling weird about it anyway.”

I shrugged again.

“But…I don’t know. Something about it, about the way Master Barrett talks about it sounds a little, well, strange,” she admitted. “Like the sequence of events sounds fine, and it’s fine when the rest of us talk about it, but when he does, it’s just…”

“Which words he uses?” I guessed.

“Yeah,” she said, frowning at me now. Not angry, more thoughtful. “Yeah, something like that.”

I grimaced again, but held my tongue. That was one of the things that had sparked my intense dislike of ‘Master Barrett’ shortly after he’d wandered into town several months ago. He’d soon set up camp in the Dirksen’s pole barn and offered to teach those who needed teaching in magical things, and soon enough everyone was chattering about him as though he were the best thing since sliced bread. But whenever I listened to him speak, I couldn’t help but hear double-meanings in his words, and I didn’t like it.

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October 22

Fictober, Prompt 22 – “We could have a chance.”

Warnings: pursuit, implied creepy things. Urban fantasy.


Our footsteps pounded down the alley, echoing too loudly from the old brick walls. There was no way we could avoid pursuit, but my heart sped even faster than the exertion at the thought of the noise giving us away. We had gained a small lead, at least.

Cass skidded to a halt ahead of me as we neared the end of the alley. The buildings gave way here to the street and then the river and dam beyond. I stopped also, and we panted for a moment, staring at the open space ahead.

That was not safe either.

This was a small town, though, not a city with plenty of tall buildings and potential hiding places in between.

Behind us, the sounds of pursuit echoed suddenly loud down the narrow way.

Cass’s head jerked around, eyes wide with terror. I didn’t look, my eyes stuck on the river.

The river. The bridge.

“We could have a chance,” I said quickly, hearing Cass draw in a ragged breath. I would have to take a chance of my own, but I could accept that. “We have to get to the bridge.”

Crossing the open space would leave us vulnerable, but as I began to let my other senses stretch, I thought that most of the pursuit was behind us, fast approaching.

Cass nodded, and I said, “Go!”

We both took off again, breath just barely under control from our last sprint. Human shouts and footsteps mingled with other, less identifiable noises behind us, but they hadn’t been expecting us to make a break for it.

The bridge, I thought, willing us both to have enough energy. The bridge.

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October 21

Fictober, Prompt 21 – “Change is annoyingly difficult.”

Warnings: magical battle, slight creepy imagery.

Fantasy follow-up to Day 2 and Day 9 (starts immediately after #9).


It was large, amorphous, and colored with a sickening swirl of unpleasant greens and reds and oranges. It looked like something that should have oozed over the ground, but instead it was fast, and the discordance jarred my head worse than the colors.

The creature came straight for me, scarcely seeming to notice the kami.

She intercepted it before it could reach my shields, cutting off a reaching, gooey arm with a sword made out of light.

The thing screeched in pain and drew back, only now seeming to focus itself (did it even have eyes?) on the deity standing before it. Still, it did not move to strike her, but squirmed sideways, working towards me again.

I sent out a blast of my own power, dark and heavy, aiming for another multicolored arm.

The magical punch struck home, and did some damage, but this time the creature shrieked in rage rather than pain.

I was the target of its malice, clearly. Because I was human? What did that mean?

The kami went on the offensive now, darting forward with her shining blade, her sword strokes fluid and practiced as she hacked off piece after piece of the strange, magical flesh. Some of the pieces quickly reattached themselves, while others wisped away into nothing.

Now it did strike back against her, but either it was unable to touch a deity, or her own magical protections were strong enough to fend it off, for she sustained no apparent wounds. Slowly, she drove it back.

I followed as close as I dared, sending my own magic in whenever I could get a clear shot. I doubted that my strength would do much to touch a kami, but I did not wish to hit her, even by accident.

As we pressed closer to the river, the thing seemed to temporarily regain some strength, surging up larger again, as if drawing form and power from the area where it had originated. I could almost tell what the kami meant about its power having a weird taste; it wasn’t quite that, not for me, but the smell of the air was strange here, a swampy miasma where there should have been only forest and rock and river.

Still the kami pressed it, relentless.

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October 20

Fictober, Prompt 20 – “You could talk about it, you know?”

Warnings: none. Fantasy.


I traced the last rune and watched as the energy poured down into the mixture bubbling on the stove. It looked good so far, the color was shifting from brown to orange the way it was supposed to, and I’d double-checked all the ingredients three times, so it should—

Something in the magic twisted, and whole pot flared briefly orange, and then faded into a distinctly unappetizing gray.

I cursed at length, spinning away from the stove and trying not to stomp along the floorboards like a petulant child.

“Still having trouble?” a voice asked from the doorway, and I glanced over to find Nkiru standing there before turning my head sharply away. I thought she had gone out; I didn’t want her to see me like this.

I didn’t want her to know that anything was wrong at all, but it had been impossible to hide for long with the two of us sharing the house right now.

Nkiru sighed and came over to wrap a dark-skinned arm around my shoulders, squeezing a little. I kept my head turned and tried to accept the comfort for what it was. She was open with physical affection and while I was discovering that that could be nice, I was…not used to it. Not after living on my own for so long.

“You could talk about it, you know?” she said softly, voice warm and understanding.

I squeezed my eyes shut tight against the sudden threat of tears. Kindness made this harder, somehow, but I couldn’t bring myself to shrug her off and turn away.

I shook my head. I didn’t think I could stand to talk about it. Not with my latest failure still simmering on the stove, smell becoming fouler with each passing moment.

She squeezed gently once more and then let me go when I turned away to move the pot off the heat, replacing it with the kettle. No sense in having gotten the stove going for nothing, and tea sounded appealing. At least all my non-magical cooking still went smoothly, which was just as well, because Nkiru wasn’t very good at it.

“Maybe it is a curse,” she said.

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October 19

Fictober, Prompt 19 – “Yes, I admit it, you were right.”, Original Fiction

Warnings: none. Fantasy, follow-up with Day 3′s raven friend.


On the fifth magical blast, the last of the Constructed soldiers finally fell apart and dissolved into black dust.

Lowering my hand, I panted, gulping in enough air to get my breath under control. I couldn’t risk speaking an incantation incorrectly, but I had to be sure there weren’t any more of them in the area.

When I was sure I could speak steadily, I enacted a magic-seeing spell and then turned slowly in a circle, watching for the cloudy glow that would mark the presence of an active spell or magical being (including Constructs of any kind) for at least a mile around.

It was a relief to come back to my original position having seen nothing.

I let the spell collapse, and staggered off the road just enough to be out of sight before putting my back to a tree and slumping to the ground, all the strength going out of me now that the danger had passed. It would take food and rest before I would be able to manage that kind of magical battle again.

The soft displacement of air by feathered wings was sufficient warning, and I did not open my eyes as my companion dropped out of the trees and landed on my shoulder. The raven croaked in an inquiring way, nibbling at my sweat-soaked hair.

“I’m fine,” I told her, summoning the energy to reach a hand up and gently stroke her chest feathers. She switched her gentle nibbling to my finger, then croaked again.

“Yes, I admit it, you were right,” I said, laughing a little. “That was definitely the best place to set an ambush for them.”

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October 18

Fictober, Prompt 18 – “Secrets? I love secrets.”

Warnings: creepiness? Implied monster? This one is weird.


“Can you keep a secret?”

“Secrets? I love secrets.”

That was…not an answer to my question. “Why?” I asked.

“Why what?” This was followed by a childish giggle that was very out of character for the woman I had been speaking with for the last several days.

“Why do you love secrets?”

“They’re so interesting!” She spun around, arms flung out in a parody of childhood delight. “Full of whispers and corners and shadows.”

Another not-answer. A chill crept through me as I realized that she was not what I had thought, not at all.

What she actually was, I didn’t know, and was beginning to think that I didn’t want to. Not something I could confide in, certainly.

She was watching me sidelong with a too-wide grin, hands clasped decorously behind her back.

Had she always been this other thing? Or was this a recent change?

“Tell me your secret,” she sing-songed, bouncing on her toes.

“What will you do with it?” I asked, voice low, wondering if I should risk backing away. We weren’t in a deserted area of the mall, exactly, but there wasn’t anyone else around right now.

“Keep it,” she said, “keep it forever. But there’s a price!”

I swallowed, knowing my eyes were too wide but unable to fix it, unable to blink. “What price?”

She grinned that too-wide grin at me and clapped her hands together in delight.

“You!”


(To be honest, I have no idea what is happening here, but I ran with it.)

October 17

Fictober, Prompt 17 – “There’s just something about them.”

Warnings: none. Urban fantasy.

It turned out that this was a continuation of Prompt 13, which I was not expecting. I really like this world though!


With that specific group of United Wizards Legion members thoroughly removed, thanks to the help of my new…friend from elsewhere, the next few days were calmer than I had anticipated. There were more of them out there in the world, but this loss would be a blow to their group, and this had been the most immediate threat.

We were lying low at my small house in Oak Hill outside the city, which mostly consisted of trying all the different foods we could find take-out for, and me buying new subscriptions to both the electronic and magical entertainment services so that we had something to fill our time other than the internet. The former was more than I anticipated, and the latter was probably a bad idea, since it wasn’t going to give my friend the most realistic view of things. Still, he seemed almost as interested in how the technology and magic worked (sometimes separately, sometimes together) as in the content of the shows and movies we watched.

On the second day, I made the mistake of saying, “Um, is there something I can call you? A name, or title, or anything?”

He blinked those human-but-not eyes at me, then smiled. (Like his laughter, it made my spine crawl, but…not in a bad way? Or maybe I was just getting used to the feeling.) “My native tongue is not one that humans find easy.”

I almost said, “Try me,” but managed to hold my tongue. For now. I was pretty good with languages.

“But,” he went on, looking thoughtful, “I would be happy to pick a human moniker, if that would suit.”

“Sure,” I agreed, and then promptly made my second mistake by introducing him to a few baby name sites on the internet.

“Are you sure that I cannot use Enguerrand?” he said after I had fervently vetoed his first half-dozen choices. “It has such a nice resonance to it.”

“What does that even mean? Never mind,” I shook my head when he opened his mouth to explain. “You’re trying to blend in a bit, right? If I’m going to call you by this name in public, then it can’t be too unusual.”

“I suppose you are right,” he sighed, and eventually settled on Alexander, to my relief. I was never going to be able to think of him as an “Alex” or otherwise shorten the name, but at least it wouldn’t sound weird.

Grocery shopping on day four was an experience.

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October 16

Fictober, Prompt 16 – “Listen. No, really listen.”, Original Fiction

Warnings: horror, implied monster, ambiguous ending. Midwest/north woods gothic.


I stuttered to a halt in the middle of the trail, looking warily to my left where the high, trilling call had sounded.

Of course, there were loons out on the lake at this time of year, making their way south for the winter. I just hadn’t realized how much more eerie the sound would be when I was out in the woods after sunset, and not safe inside the coziness of our cabin. We couldn’t see the lake from here, the trees were too thick, but it was nearby.

“Just a loon,” Lukas called back to me, still walking up ahead.

“I know,” I said, unable to shake the feeling of uneasiness as I continued, trotting a little to catch up to him. He had spent more time up here than I had, but even I knew what the loons sounded like by now.

We passed on through the increasing darkness. Lukas thought there might be some good owl-watching tonight, if we could find the right spot in the woods. That had sounded a lot more fun back in the cabin, where it had been warm near the fire.

Now, out here, with night falling around us and the temperatures slowly dropping, I was less sure about it. I shivered, and shivered more when the loon called again, long and wailing.

Another voice answered it this time, almost that same, wailing cry.

Almost.

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