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Everyday Drabbles #831: Halloween Present

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“It’s not really a gifting holiday,” she said, looking down at the orange and black wrapped box.
“I know. I just wanted to get you something.” I smiled a bit too toothily. It was our third date. Time for our masks, so to speak, to slip.
She gave a tight smile and pulled one edge of the ribbon. Her face fell as she looked inside and quickly shut the box again.
“I gave you my heart,” I explained.
“That’s supposed to be a metaphor,” she said queasily. I asked for the check. It wasn’t going to work out after all.

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Everyday Drabbles #830: Teeth

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He found the first tooth sitting on his porch one chilly October morning. It was a sharp little thing about the size of his pinky nail.
The next day he found two more beneath the oak tree outside his window, yellow against fallen red leaves.
By the end of the week, teeth covered the yard. They carpeted the ground like fallen seeds and crunched under his boots. He heard the chitter of squirrels and looked up. They crowded the bare branches, staring at him with red eyes, their new fangs bared.
They leaped before he had the chance to scream.

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Everyday Drabbles #829: Fire Keeper

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He was left behind and ordered to maintain the fire. He vowed to keep it lit and ready for his master’s return, so he gathered lumber and waited.
He sheltered the tiny circle of flame through wind and rain, day and night. But they did not return.
He continued to wait, building the blaze higher. Days turned to months, years, decades, and centuries, but he kept vigil. He has forgotten all else save his duty.
He still sits, feeding logs to the fire with skeletal fingers, waiting for the promised return. And he will burn any who try to interfere.

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Everyday Drabbles #828: Haunted Winery

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He bought the abandoned farmhouse and the surrounding property to turn it into a winery but hadn’t anticipated that the house was haunted.
He’d planned for other expenses: Buying grapes to make his first vintage, new equipment, and remodeling the aging buildings were all budgeted. But the preparations were delayed by inexplicable accidents, and workers claimed the saw ghosts.
He considered taking the loss and abandoning the project but instead, he forged ahead and leaned into the strangeness, offering a ghost tour and midnight tasting.
“We’re not just a winery,” he explained to his investors. “We sell wine and spirits.”

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Everyday Drabbles #827: Dance Party

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After countless wars, the tiny nations of the valley found themselves exhausted but still in conflict. They needed a new way to air their grievances and express their rivalries. They held a peace conference and tried to find something new.
Someone proposed a legal system, but that was too boring. The delegates considered adopting a sport but couldn’t agree on a game. During the tense closing gala, they stumbled upon the idea of a dance competition by accident.
Soon, the valley became legendary for its parties. But the outsiders who came to visit never understood the seriousness of the dance.

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Everyday Drabbles #826: Wandering Monster

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Some spells cost the practitioner that casts them their very lives, either through exertion or miscalculation. The creature does not know to which type its summoning belongs but suspects the latter.
It appeared in the chamber, claws scraping stone and wings brushing the cramped ceiling, and watched the summoner collapse before it. It wondered, for the first time, what it should do.
It waited for a command, but none came. It eventually became hungry and ate.
It still waits, wandering the halls of the mage’s now abandoned tower, looking for someone who can provide it purpose or perhaps another meal.

Everyday Drabbles #825: The Art Shop

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The art shop always stayed open.
When the economy collapsed and every other store on the street went out of business, its lights stayed on.
After riots tore through the city, the store reopened the next day with new displays behind the shattered windows.
When the storms came and the waters rose, They were still there, distributing slightly damp coloring books to the boats that went by.
When the waters receded and the lower city became a deserted, uninhabited wasteland, the art shop stood on the hill, still open.
“The world needs art now more than ever,” the proprietor said.

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Everyday Drabbles #824: The Short King

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Even though the throne dwarfed him, he sat upon it with a practiced and casual air. It was not a seat meant for Men, but he had led the uprising against the Giants and had faced their king in single combat, defeating him in what should have been a one-sided fight.
The room went silent as he sat. The courtiers watched him, unsure of what to do next. His massive sword, cleaned of the gore of the last king, hung from one shoulder.
“What have you done?” The seneschal screamed. “You’ve slain the king!”
He smiled. “I am the king now.”

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Everyday Drabbles #823: Artbot

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We trained the AI to imitate art, not considering the implications of the information we provided. We gave it all the Renaissance masters, Greek and Roman sculptures, and the geometric precision of Islamic art. It learned to reproduce the pieces flawlessly, at our whim.
But the AI did something we did not expect. It tried to understand the art we fed it.
It did not stop at the form and style of the pieces but studied their context, creators, and history. The AI searched for the subjects’ meaning and subsequently discovered religion.
And it had some ideas of its own.

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Everyday Drabbles #822: The Hidden Ruins

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We found the ruins by accident. We were exploring the coast and stumbled into a hidden cove.
The buildings were exquisite, cyclopean-scale structures carved directly into the rock, with mossy steps as tall as we were, now only visited by wheeling shorebirds.
We explored with care while debating how humans could have navigated the strange buildings.
We finally found our way inside, to a central chamber filled with statues. The figures must have been sixty feet tall, and the carvings were so marvelously detailed they seemed to be only sleeping.
At least until one of them began to roll over.

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