Stories by Mail, Day 45 – Skim

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“Well? Why aren’t you reversing it?”, the mustard-colored scorpion clicked angrily. It shook a pincer at the wizard, who seemed largely unimpressed. “This wasn’t our agreement!”

“If you refer to the specific conditions in your contract, I believe you’ll discover this was exactly our agreement,” the wizard said. “You asked to become a scorpion, and I accepted payment.”

“I was supposed to be gigantic!”, the scorpion yelled–or so the wizard guessed. He had completed only a semester of Scorpion, and the clicking was surprisingly nuanced. “I’m six inches tall and I’m not even poisonous! How do you expect me to destroy my enemies or terrorize cities like this, let alone conquer Earth? You’ll be hearing from my attorney!’

“That’s fine, Chad.” The wizard sighed. Only four hundred and eleven years until retirement, he thought longingly as the perturbed arachnid furiously paced from one end of the table to the other.

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Stories by Mail, Day 44 – Propping up the point

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The brim of the impeccably-dressed gentleman’s stovepipe began to perspire.

Hats do not possess sweat glands, generally speaking. Most are constructed from felt or wood rather than from tiny paint daubs. But remaining motionless requires intense concentration, and the three dots that collectively considered themselves The Brim were struggling.

In the top right corner of the painting, a dot playing the role of Ocean Moss wobbled slightly. Silent pleas sprang up from an umbrella’s midsection, the hem of a violet dress, nearly an entire tree branch, and several daubs that had the misfortune of being permanently fused to dog extremities.

The dots inhaled deeply and carefully, for no one had explained that they lacked lungs. Each was so small that the human eye would fail to detect a little toddling, but too many straining sections could spell calamity.

Hour after hour they toiled, until at last the lights dimmed and the doors locked. The painting, admired by hundreds that day, sighed with relief as thousands of dots collapsed and immediately entered The Dreaming.

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Stories by Mail, Day 40 – In which I celebrate the shifting tide



When Street & Smith called to hire me for the cover of its upcoming fantasy anthology, I’d been in the middle of my fifth nap.

The gnomes you see holding up the curtain are Clakmart and Wamwekurt. They were understudies for Kiss Me, Kate, and Clakmart griped good-naturedly about the show’s costume designer throughout the entire shoot. Right friendly blokes, though, both of them.

Robbie had a sweet retainer serving as a witch’s paperweight during the day, but he also moonlighted as a fill-in busboy for the Stork Club. I never learned how a skull with a missing jawbone managed to clear tables, but he struck me as an innovative chap.

None of us knew the snake’s name. He kept his own council, slithered and hissed dramatically for the camera, and then just left.

I hopped home to my lillypad that evening with a quarter strapped to my back and the budding realization that I envied the social calendars my new friends maintained, the sense of purpose they enjoyed. The next morning, I hired an agent and launched my fantasy-and-horror-novel modeling career.

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Stories by Mail, Day 37 – A maidly roar



The waterfall raged and sputtered, a cascade of beautiful destruction, gallon after gallon crashing into the sharp rocks below. A nearby tourist boat tittered excitedly from a few hundred feet away. And behind the falls, The Maid of the Mist sighed as a sneeze rocketed through her chamber.

She’d been ill before, most recently in the mid 1700s. The boats that crossed her front parlor then carried men in uniform, their accents sharp and rolling. She remembered the explosions, so deafening they’d often drowned out her own voice.

She concentrated as the boat approached, closed her watery eyes, and roared with all her strength. It proved only about half the fury she could normally harness, but the passengers applauded and cheered, their phones aimed straight into her doorway.

The Maid grinned. She adored her job.

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Stories by Mail, Day 23 – Clarity from a stone



The Thinker refocused, but the befuddlement brewing in his mind only thickened.

The act of thinking had awarded him international fame and kept him perpetually occupied, but after so much practice, he’d become rather adept at reaching conclusions–at least when the questions centered around himself. He knew, for instance, that a chisel and a block of stone comprised his entire ancestry. He’d deduced his name. He was aware that other, nearly-identical Thinkers were scattered throughout the globe.

What the Thinker failed to solve, though, was the question of how the girl currently hoisting herself into his base could hear his every thought. She lifted her eyes to meet his, her tiny features awash with confusion and wonder.

UPDATE: @UnmagicalMe points out that “The Thinker” is a bronze casting, not stone. Someone will be receiving an alternative facts postcard.

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Joseph Writes Fanfic Drabbles, Day 25 – Santa Claus

A tiny bead of sweat dripped down from his jolly red cheeks. The elf pulled his sparkling white gloves back, tightening over his forearm. “Steady is the hand that guides the sword,” he whispered with a chuckle.

“Stand down, little one,”  the dragon thundered, thrusting out its wings to their full expanse. It was nearly twice the size of a commercial airliner, and three times as miserly. “You will surrender that sack, or I shall relieve you of it.”

Santa pulled a Scottish Claymore from the bag and settled into position. “Not today, Mushu. I wasn’t always a toy distributor.”

Also less well known: I can bust moves like you ain’t never seen, son.

Joseph Writes Fanfic Drabbles, Day 7 – Treebeard / Rock Biter

“From my cellar. The North had delicious gourmet flavors,” the Rock Biter growled slowly. “I thought they had all perished, but last year, I picked up a vintage! Mmmmmmm. I will break rock with you.”

Bru-ra-hoom,” Treebeard sputtered, pressing his enormous branch-hand on his guest’s shoulder. “I am grateful, strong friend-rock, but I drink Ent-draught. You bite rocks. It is the way of things.”

The Rock Biter considered this, and then lifted his gift-wrapped rock again. “The way of things allows for sharing a snack with a friend.”

Treebeard allowed himself a pocket-sized grin. Surely just a nibble wouldn’t hurt.

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You’ve got to try it with a dollop of hollandaise. Delish.