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January 28, 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge – Fairy Tales Remix

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , , , — Eva Therese @ 7:42 pm

Challenge as always courtesy of Chuck Wendig and can be found here. I rolled a natural 20 and got Detective as my genre and in my head Detective always translate to Noir.
Note, it’s be years since I read the fairy tale or watched the adaptation in Jim Henson’s Storyteller, so if the details differ from what you remember, that’s why. I don’t have an old or rare version lying around somewhere, I just have a bad memory.


Like all the others, this story started with ‘a dame walked into my office’. After that came trouble, as always. It’s not that I never learn; by now I’m perfectly well aware, that a beautiful woman walking into my office means trouble and lots of it, but somehow my common sense is always overruled by wishful thinking. And in this case, there was more than enough to be wishing and thinking about. Long red hair, legs that seemed to go on for miles and eyes dark and dangerous like the sea during a storm.

And so it was that, rather than send her packing, I told the lady to have a seat and pour her heart out. I even offered her a drink, which she declined, so I drank it myself, while I listened.

“Please, Mr. Horowitz “It’s my husband … He’s … He’s disappeared.” She lifted a handkerchief to her eyes.

I frowned. “Listen, Mrs…?”

“Kitsis. Emma Kitsis.”

“Mrs. Kitsis. In most of the cases I have involving disappeared husbands and boyfriends, I find things that make my clients wish that they had never hired me in the first place.”

She looked at me indignantly. “It’s not like that,” she said, like so many before her.

“Be that as it may, I will be requiring payment up front.” Some things I had learned.

“Very well. Money is not an issue.” She folded the handkerchief with a brisk movement. “But once I’ve told you my story, you’ll see that it’s not like that at all.” She hesitated. “I suppose I should go back to the very beginning.”

“Please do.”

“A year ago my father found himself in a dark place. I won’t go into details, sufficient to say that it was a very dark place. My husband … Well, he wasn’t my husband back then … Mr. Kitsis, helped him out of the situation and in his gratitude my father promised him anything. Anything at all. Imagine his dismay, when Mr. Kitsis asked for the hand in marriage of one of his daughters.” She looked down at her immaculately manicured hands and added in a low voice: “He had a deformity, that made him very unattractive to look at. Had never had any luck with women, I guess.”

“That sort of thing is against the law,” I pointed out.

“Oh, there wasn’t actual forcing involved. No-one was dragged off to the altar. My father wouldn’t even ask me or my sisters to do it. But I felt it would be very bad to go back on a promise that had been given out of gratitude, even if Mr. Kitsis was asking for something that, strictly speaking, wasn’t my father’s to give.”

“And maybe you feared repercussions. After all, Mr. Kitsis must have been a man with some power.”

She licked her lips. “Maybe,” she said dismissively. “But that hardly matters now. The important thing is that we got married. And then we got to the wedding night.” She actually managed to blush prettily as she said the words. I wondered how she did it. “And he …” She hesitated once more and frowned. “He transformed,” she said finally.

“Transformed?” I eyed my by now empty glass and wondered if I should have another. “Metaphorically?” I ventured.

“Literally. When he lay down beside me, he turned into a beautiful young man. He told me he was under a curse and that I could help him break it.”

A curse. There was trouble and there was big trouble and then there were curses. My common sense was getting the better of my wishful thinking and I was seriously considering asking the lady to get the hell out of my office. Instead I grabbed the bottle and poured another drink. “A curse. Go on.”

“By agreeing to marry him, I had lifted the curse at night. But for it to be lifted completely, I would need to keep it all a secret for a year and a day. I couldn’t tell anyone.”

I knew what came next.

She looked down and lifted the handkerchief once more to her eyes. “But I couldn’t keep it. My sisters weaseled it out of me. They pretended to be worried about me, about my happiness, but really they were just jealous because I was happy. Anyway, the moment the words left my lips, I heard a roar. I ran upstairs, but my husband was … gone.” She sniffled and looked up at me with those huge, dark eyes, shining with tears. “You have to find him, Mr. Horowitz. Find him and break the curse.

I cleared my throat. “I may not be an expert, but shouldn’t it be you who go looking for him? You, who break the curse?”

She lowered her gaze demurely. “I am with child.”

I looked at her stomach, but there was nothing to see. I fact, it didn’t even look like she had had any breakfast, that was how flat it was. Still, it wasn’t hard to believe that spending several nights in bed with a handsome young man, could have had that result. “Yes, I see why your delicate condition would make it impossible for you to travel the world, looking for your true love.”

She smiled at me, a little too eagerly. “So will you find my husband?”

My common sense and my wishful thinking had a short but heated debate in my brain. There’s no telling who would have won, but then the two glasses of whiskey interfered and reminded both sides, that the lady was married to a wealthy man and that I needed to get paid if I wanted more whiskey. This made my common sense pause and my wishful thinking started to dream about whiskey.

“Yeah, I’ll take the case,” I said, already thinking about where to start. I knew a few birds who might be willing to sing for me.


January 14, 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge – Roll For Title

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , — Eva Therese @ 2:52 pm

It’s time for another Flash Fiction Challenge and really, it’s been far too long since I did one. The challenge is as always courtesy of Chuck Wendig and can be found here. I got 9 and 4 on my RNG which got me the title ‘The Cartographer’s Vault’. The ‘the’ was optional. This is what I got out of it.


The door opened and a man stepped into the small, dimly lit shop, which smelled of curry and broth. The woman behind the desk put down her soup bowl and gave him a wide smile, showing teeth that were surprisingly white, not to mention numerous, for such an old, weathered face. She leaned forward over the desk, showing off arms on which the sagging skin was covered with faded tattoos. “How may I help you, young man?”
The man had short blond hair, a neatly trimmed beard and blue eyes which were currently blinking rapidly, trying to adjust to the gloom. He bent his head politely. “Mistress, I’ve come for a map.”
The woman’s grin widened, showing off a gold tooth. “You’ve certainly come to the right place.” She made a gesture with her hands indicating the maps pinned to the walls all around them and rolled up and stacked in boxed on the floor. “You have the look of an air ship captain. Perhaps looking for something to help you navigate an unfamiliar sky, yes?”
He shook his head, a tiny smile playing on his lips. “No. Though you are right about me being a captain. But I have the maps I need, for now. I am looking for something a bit more special.”
The old woman’s face became shrewd. “A treasure hunter, then? Well, follow me.” She grabbed a lantern, and hobbled over to a door, producing a large key ring from her belt, while she walked. She selected a big iron key and unlocked the door with it. The key, the lock and the hinges on the door all looked rusty, but the key turned smoothly enough and the door slid open with barely a sound. There had been a time when the door had opened slowly and creakingly, but that was some years ago. For one thing it had been almost impossible to make it seem like the door was very rarely opened, when in truth she had treasure hunters dropping in several times a month. And secondly, with her back not being what it used to be, in was just getting to hard to open.
She stepped first into the room, the man following in her footsteps. The vault was even smaller than the shop, but much more packed. All the walls were covered with shelves and there were boxes on the floor in the middle of the room. Every available surface was packed with maps. Most were scroll, but some were just folded. A few were stitched together into books. Some didn’t even look like maps but were wooden cubes with odd markings.
The woman made another grand gesture with her hands, which made the lantern swing wildly and shadows dance on the walls and turned towards the man. “In here are maps of everything. Maps of places that are, that have been and that will be. Even quite a few maps of places that will never be. Now, what do you need?”
“I need a map that can show me the way to the Land of the Dead.”
The old woman’s smile disappeared and was replaced by an expression like she had just smelled something unpleasant. “Oh, you’re one of them,” she said flatly. “Off to tear a sweetheart from Death’s clutches? Although, you don’t look like the romantic type. A friend then? A sibling?”
The man shook his head once more, with the same small smile. “No. I want to find a man I killed.”
“Why do I get the feeling, that you’re not filled with remorse and looking for a way to undo your misdeed?”
“You are vise.”
“Vise enough to recognize trouble when it rears its ugly head. I don’t want to know anymore. Take your map and be gone.” Without even looking, she reached into one of the shelves and pulled out a folded piece of parchment. She practically shoved it into his hands and yet, when he took it, there was a moment where she held onto it, as if her fingers were refusing to let go.
He bowed his head. “Thank you, mistress.”
She scoffed. “Save your thanks. Soon enough you’ll be cursing this map and me and everyone else who had a part in your endeavor, down to the merchant who sold you your walking boots.”
He looked up at her, an expression of genuine perplexion on his face. “Walking boots?”
“To get to the Land of the Dead you have to cross the desert of salt, on foot. And that’s just the beginning. But it’s all in the map and now you have it.”
“We haven’t even discussed payment yet.”
“Consider it a gift. And now I would really like to finish my lunch, if you don’t mind.” She shooed him up the stairs and out, despite his objections.
When she had closed the door firmly behind him, she returned to her desk and picked up her soup bowl again. She took a sip and noticed with a grimace that it had gotten cold in the meanwhile. She shook her head at the folly of young men these days and at the folly of young women fifty years ago, when she had drawn a map to a place, that should much rather have been lost forever.

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