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Fiction: Home Prophecy Test

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After she finished peeing, she pulled her skirt back up and washed her hands. She stared as the liquid reacted to the reagent in the bottom of the little clay vessel.
It didn’t take long. There was a pop, and a spray of blue sparks. The rune burned into the bottom was unmistakable, and identical to the two tests beside it.
When her husband came home, she sat him down at the table.
“I went to the alchemist this morning.”
“Then we’re…” he said, unable to finish. She nodded and patted her belly.
“He’s going to be the Chosen One.”

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
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Fiction: The Cur’s Quest

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One day a dog wandered into the seer’s sanctum and began to speak.
“Seer, I was once my queen’s greatest bodyguard. Everyday she asked me a question, and I had no answer. In the years since, I’ve searched far and wide for the answer. You are my last hope.”
“Look in my magic mirror, and find what you seek.”
The dog did as he was bid, but soon became angry. “There’s nothing here!”
“What was your mistress’s question?”
The dog stared in the mirror for a long time. “It was me,” he whispered. “I was the good boy all along.”

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoyed this story, why not support my work by buying me a coffee?
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Hugh Likes Fiction: The Haunting of Tram Car 015

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The Haunting of Tram Car 015
Written by P. Djeli Clark
Audiobook read by Julian Thomas
Published by Recorded Books

The Skinny: A light fantasy adventure novella set in an alternate 1910’s Cairo.

What starts out as a routine haunting for two agents from the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities quickly expands in a plot involving smuggling rings, women’s suffrage, and the uneasy mingling of cultures in an alternate 1912 Cairo that is the center of the modern and magical world.
Never quite hard-edged enough to put the punk in its steampunk, Clark never the less wrestles with the concept of empire, if only by having the characters discussing how glad they are to not have the English in charge anymore. His Cairo is a cosmopolitan jewel, with a mixture of vibrant cultures and characters both real and mythical. Much like his earlier short story that shares the setting, “A Dead Djinn in Cairo,” Haunting evokes a deeply complex world that challenges both the reader’s and the characters preconceived notions.
And speaking of which, his characters are memorable delights, from sassy shopkeepers, to obsequious transit officials, and his two main leads, the tough, world-weary agent Hamed and the sharp, but soft agent Onsi. Clark skirts the line of some well-worn procedural tropes, but his dialog and realizations of the characters breathe unexpected life into them.
I listened to this book on Audible, and Julian Thomas gives an excellent, if a bit slow, reading. His performance of the characters makes each of them clearly recognizable, and to my inexperienced ears he handles accents well, making them distinctive but still easily understandable to a listener generally unfamiliar with the region.
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is available in ebook, print and audiobook from Amazon, Audible, and your local independent book store. It’s well worth checking out if you’re on the hunt for a well-realized historical fantasy that plays outside of the typical Western European sandbox. I’m eagerly awaiting Clark’s next entry in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite fictional settings.
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Fiction: Fire Arrow

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The Elemental Creators all stared in horror as the Fire God’s javelin slammed into the Sea Goddess’s chest in a pillar of flame. Silence rang throughout the slowly forming plane. She slowly pulled the projectile out and examined it dispassionately as the flame guttered.
The other gods all looked on, ready to intervene if he attacked her again.
“Can we all get back to work, please?” The goddess asked in a voice like the tides.
Once they all resumed their work creating the fledgling world, the formless Wind Deity whispered in her ear. “Aren’t you mad though?”
“Steaming,” She replied.

This story was first published on Wattpad as a part of Everyday Drabbles, a daily hundred-word writing project. Click the link for more free flash fiction!

 
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Fiction: A Difficult Labor

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The huge creature stalked across the room, its expression unreadable in a twisted face of beak and fang.
Siobhan cleared her throat and the owlbear froze. Its head twisted at an unsettling angle to stare at her.
“The laying was successful. You can go on in now.” The monster squeezed his bulk past her and into the delivery room, leaving a trail of hairy feathers behind.
She was the best midwife in the kingdom, but chimerical deliveries were always challenging. If she ever found the wizard that crossed birds and bears, she would give them a lecture they wouldn’t forget.

Fiction: The Home of Rest

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“Ho, what fair yonder maiden does my elf eye see?” Aoife jumped in surprise and looked up. There was Mr. Aradol, bathrobe flapping in the breeze and long white hair streaming behind him. She sighed.
Some folks thought elves were immortal. It wasn’t true, of course. They lived for centuries, longer even than some dragons, but they succumbed to the same infirmities of time as anyone.
Aofie hated working the Elvish Dementia ward. Some idiot had left the door unlocked last night, forgetting how hale some of the residents were. She’d be pulling them out of the trees all morning.

Hugh Likes Comics: Die

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Die #1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Stephanie Hans
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image

Die

The Skinny: Less “Dungeons and Dragons” and more “It.”

In 1991, Dominic and his friends played a game, and then disappeared. In 1993, they returned, unable to tell a soul where they had been or what they were doing. And one of them, Dominic’s best friend and GM Solomon, never returned at all. Twenty-five years after that, Dominic receives a strange and chilling birthday present: A crystalline 20-sided die. The game isn’t over.
Writer Kieron Gillen’s first creator-owned project since The Wicked + The Divine tackles nostalgia, trauma, and the scars left by fantastical childhood journeys on adults. This isn’t untrodden ground, of course. It has been approached in all sorts of ways, from the Robin Williams movie “Hook” to Stephen King’s It. This tale hews more closely to the latter, as you might expect. Gillen makes things more interesting by incorporating another element: Dungeons and Dragons. His epigraph at the end of the comic makes the reference more explicit: The unfinished 80’s cartoon which transported six real-world kids to the roleplaying fantasy land. He’s also tapping into the 80’s “satanic panic” surrounding the game, with six kids who were literally swallowed and chewed up by the game. It’s an interesting twist on the concept, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Hans’s art is gorgeous, and impliments some cool tricks with light. The is dull, dark, and full of shadows. Not to spoil things, but this is reversed in a double-page spread late in the issue to great effect. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the outstanding logo design from Rian Hughes, which takes a D-20 and spreads it flat into a maze of triangular segments. Hans takes it and pulls off a neat trick on the cover, interposing the design for a character and her in-game persona.
Die #1 is an intriguing new fantasy horror series, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next. You can find it at Your Local Comic Shop or digitally from Comixology.

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