Modern Fairytale


This piece was born from an exercise in an Urban Fantasy Lit Circle to place a fairytale character into a modern setting. This was the first image that came to mind:


“Yeah, Karen? We’re gonna need your assistance in Footwear.”

Karen sighed and clicked the microphone button. “Sure, what’s up?”

“See for yourself,” her boss crackled back.

Straightening her blue work shirt and smoothing down her hair, Karen entered the service lift and pressed the Level 2 button. She was always given the shitty jobs, but hey, it’s what you had to do to get a promotion around here. They certainly didn’t pay her enough now. Karen wondered what kind of job this would be; another kid throwing up everywhere, or another group of women fighting over the same cute pair of sandals?

She exited the lift into a new chaos.

As far as Karen could see, each shelf was empty. Every single shoe had vanished. Even the discarded pairs that usually littered the floor were gone. The bare white metal reflected Karen’s face as she tried to comprehend the vast emptiness. She was vaguely aware of a woman complaining to her right, and mumbled a brief, “we’re very sorry madam, we’re sorting it.”

A loud sobbing made her turn sharply left and follow the wretched sound.

She found the shoes.

Every single style, from slippered boot to stiletto, had been accumulated into a large footwear mountain. Amongst this, a woman sat crying into the folds of her pink and white dress. A crowd of women surrounded her, mumbling and giving her funny looks. Any time they reached for a pair, the woman in pink hissed at them.

They turned as Karen approached, expecting her to know how to handle the situation. She smiled nervously and knelt beside the distressed lady.

“What’s the matter, love?” She asked. The lady was surprisingly beautiful behind her puffy red eyes and soggy blonde hair.

“They all fit!” she moaned, hugging some court heels to her chest. Karen raised an eyebrow.

“Surely that’s a good thing?”

“No, you don’t understand! They all fit! All the shoes here fit more than one of us! There’s not a single pair here that just fit me! How will he recognise me now?”

Before Karen could reply, she broke down again, collapsing on the cheap pile of footwear and muttering about pumpkins between sobs.





She walks among the tombstones with an air of ease. If she knew I was watching, maybe it would not be so. The bleak graveyard accentuates the deep red of her dress and the rosy hue of her intoxicating presence. She’s been to a ball again.

I do not know if it is out of guilt or habit that she comes here tonight. She follows the familiar pathways back to me. To what’s left of me. She kneels in the dirt, cool wind playfully flicking her curls.

The pattering nuisance of the rain hammers harder, yet despite its efforts it soaks me not. My darling Portia is equally unperturbed. The rain bites at her porcelain skin. It flattens her hair to her flushed cheeks. It deepens the red folds of her gown into pools of fresh blood. No single tear mingles with the rainwater. If her body is far from me, her mind is further.

She lies a singular rose upon my earthen corpse and sits there, reminiscing. I look toward the house I once called my home. Lights engulf the outer porch and ballroom windows. Singing and merriment beckon from within. And yet my widow lies out here with me, allowing her foolish new husband to orchestrate this grand soiree without his sweet songbird.

I glide closer to her, hoping my ethereal senses will grant me just the smell of her perfume, the beat of her heart, the warmth of her chest. Not so. I want to feel the blood coursing through her veins. I want to feel her in my arms once again. Just once.

Once is enough.

She is too deep in thought to see me. I reach out to stroke her hair and she shivers uncontrollably. I put my arms around her, and her crimson lips turn purple. The heat is seeping out of her. I can almost feel it. So close! She tries to stand, but I won’t let her.

Finally, she sees me. She looks up with those wide hazel eyes and truly sees me. And her poor, frail, mortal heart ceases. She becomes as cold as me. I look upon her soft body one last time. Soon, my love. 

The Harp


“So,” he whispered. “It’s really true.”

In the heart of the forest, in the last place you would expect to find one, was a harp. It glistened under the waterfall, the water crashing down on it and bouncing off in glittering cascades. These golden droplets splashed into a small lake that shimmered in the later afternoon sunlight. Birds chirped overhead, flitting between the branches. A young stag pranced about in the long grass, and the blur of a bushy squirrel tail whipped behind a thick trunk. This was the most magnificent, secluded place Warren had ever seen. He smiled and felt at one with the nature.

It was clear this was no ordinary harp; not only from its unusual location, but also by its sweet song. It was a beautiful, hypnotic sound which the trees almost seemed to sway in time to. In fact, the sounds of the forest worked in harmony with the harp rather than drowning it out. The music wrapped its silken fingers around Warren’s heart. His very soul.

The song, the beauty of the scene, and the sense of peace they brought to him both physically and mentally, made Warren long for the instrument. He should have been asking himself how it was playing by itself, or how it had come to be there. He should have sensed the magic.

But he was already under the spell. He climbed hastily over the rocks, eyes and heart locked on the enchanting artefact. It shimmered alluringly, flirting with him.

He hesitated as he reached the waterfall. One poorly placed foot and he would slip downstream. Warren stepped underneath the crushing weight of water. He felt an intense energy that had nothing to do with the strength of the waterfall on his shoulders. The harp was pulsating, and radiating with heat despite the coolness of the stream.

There was definitely no-one playing it. In fact, there was no evidence of any human interference in this forest bar the harp itself. It did not seem like this was a place humanity was meant to see.

He studied the harp up close. He looked at the ornate wooden carvings of exotic flowers and graceful animals and thought they moved. He blinked and looked again. The strings were like silk, finer than a spider’s web. He put his hand on the frame. The throbbing power transfused into his palm, and wound its way through his entire body. He felt the melody entwining with his lifeblood, and it felt incredible. He felt stronger and healthier than he had in years. Overcome with euphoria, he placed his other hand on it, and pulled it out of the water.

The music quickened. It grew louder until it sounded angry and deafening. The soothing sound of the stream became a crashing roar of betrayal. The river raged and swelled until it flooded the banks. The trees grew dark as hundreds of birds burst from their midst and dived at him. Dozens of squirrels and other woodland creatures poured from the oaks like  a furry plague. The deer’s eyes turned bloodshot as it charged wildly at Warren. The forest awoke with a cacophony of fury, and it had a thirst for blood.

He tried to run from the clearing, but the harp grew increasingly heavy and he struggled to move it. The crows pecked at his exposed skin in relentless waves of black feathers and sharp beaks, their beady eyes wide with rage. The other animals bit at his bare legs until they were tattered and bloody, missing large chunks of flesh and sinew. In several places, white of bone was visible. He had puncture wounds on his arms, chest and neck, but still the birds circled him. He screamed, but there was nobody to hear him.

He tried to hobble back to the waterfall to replace the harp, but succeeded only in ripping his skin further. It was agony. One crow clawed at his face, scratching deep gouges from forehead to chin. Another pecked at his eye and it popped, instantly spurting blood. He shrieked in helplessness, adding to the din of animals noises and screeching music.

His legs couldn’t take it anymore. They buckled beneath him. The animals did not relent their attack, but increased in ferocity now that they could attack more of him. The river dragged him under its depths, as if the water was against him too. He has no enerfy left to fight the tide, and was almost glad for the coolness of the water.

Until the current pulled him downstream and his skull smashed open on a rock. He spat out blood, struggled to breathe for a minute, and then was overwhelmed by animals and water alike.

The water tainted with blood ran upstream, against the current and back into the lake, where a small whirlpool drank it down into the unknown.

The music slowed back to its soothing tune, the harp back in its original dwelling. The birds flew back to their nests, whistling merrily, and the army of little animals scurried out of sight. The water saturated the earth until it had shrunk back to a gentle stream. The forest quieted down. It had been appeased.

100 Word, One Sentence Story


As he sat by her bed, a thousand images burst into his mind; his first tantalising glimpse of her auburn hair as she passed him in the corridor, the twinkle of her emerald eyes across the table on their first date, her dazzling teeth grinning behind those perfect lips as she screamed, “yes!” in answer to his proposal; her stomach becoming bloated with their unborn child (while she somehow remained as astonishingly beautiful as ever), and yet all soon to be gone with just one push of a button that will not only end her life, but his as well.