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 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 13

Fictober, Prompt 13 – “I never knew it could be this way.”

Warnings: none, I think? Slight creepiness, urban fantasy.


It wore the shape of a young man, though the pupils in its eyes were not quite round, and its teeth just a little bit too sharp.

It grinned at me. “Have I gotten it right?”

“Pretty close,” I said, and explained about the eyes and the teeth. Something in my vision rippled, and now it looked like a perfectly normal human was standing in front of me.

“And now?” It asked, with another smile. I nodded. “Very well. What next?”

“Follow me,” I told him – it – and turned to leave the clearing. I sensed its hesitation, but heard footsteps following.

I was taking a chance, turning my back on it, but it seemed more pleased than upset at being summoned, and I thought that it probably wouldn’t try to rip through the binding spells just yet.

It could, I suffered under no illusion about that. I hadn’t meant to summon something quite this powerful, but this had been the creature that answered, and I’d had no choice but to proceed with my plans. I was just fortunate that it was amused for now.

We crossed out of the woods and back into the town. I kept going, heading for my car, grimly intent on my goal, and didn’t realize that it was no longer following me until I was a dozen paces away.

The look of…was that surprise? Wonder? Curiosity? Whatever the expression was, it was not something I had expected to see on the face of something like this being.

Yet there it stood, looking up the small-town street of houses and shops and streetlights, and the distant skyline of the city, examining them with every sign of interest.

“The last time I was on this world,” it said after another moment of observation, “it was nothing like this.”

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October 7

Fictober, Prompt 7 – “No, and that’s final.”

Warnings: none.


“No, and that’s final.”

This seemed unlikely to me, since he’d said the same thing yesterday, and the day before.

“Then why are you letting me come back to ask again? I know you’re more than capable of keeping me off your property if you wanted to.”

He narrowed dark eyes, glaring at me for pointing out this truth. “I don’t understand why you’re even coming to me in the first place.”

“You’re the only witch I know,” I answered. He had made it clear the first day that he was a witch, thank you very much, none of that ‘warlock’ business around here.

“This town is full of witches!”

“And I don’t know any of them,” I said, keeping myself steady. In spite of his mixed signals, I sensed that something about my problem had intrigued him. I just had to figure out why he didn’t want to get involved.

“You barely know me,” he was quick to point out, and I was forced to nod in acceptance of that truth. Still, he had heard my story, and hadn’t banished me forever from his doorstep, and that was more than I could say of anyone else.

Instinctively, I held my tongue and waited.

“Argh, fine!” he said after another long moment of stewing. “Fine, I’ll help. But you’re paying me half up front, and I’m not doing any driving. It’s not a good week for me to drive.”

“Agreed,” I said immediately, sticking my hand out to accept his bargain. His expression said he was already regretting it, but he shook my hand anyway, and gestured me inside for the second time.

“Curses aren’t my specialty,” he warned me. “I’m more of a potions kind of guy.”

“It’s not exactly a curse,” I reminded him, “and I think it might be a potion that I need.”

“Well, we’ll see,” he grumbled.

But I caught a glimpse of a smile on his face as he turned away, and let myself feel hopeful for the first time in quite awhile.