Here’s my TBT short story – I’m really not sure when I wrote it (before 2010) and it wasn’t one that was inspired by a classic fairy tale but is my own fairy tale.
The Kingdom of Pillars
by Dorlana Vann
“I didn’t do anything!”
“Do you want father’s wings to be taken off? Is that what you want? You march yourself right back there.”
I stared at my sister, all blue and getting bluer by the minute. If we would’ve been having this conversation a couple of months earlier, I might have turned my back to her and aired her out. Instead, I smiled.
“What are you up to, Rose?” she growled.
“I understand everything now. I’m happy and miserable at the same time.” I sighed and sat down on a buttercup. “I even understand love and how it can fill your heart and break it at the same time.”
“You did go to the Kingdom of Pillars, right?” Indigo glared at me.
“I didn’t have a choice. Remember? Guards with sticks and mean words.”
“Hmmm… Are you telling me you fell in love in there? With what? Your reflection?”
“It is a lovely sight, isn’t it? But no, you see, I was once like you, only able to see outer beauty.”
“Is that so?” she said. “Let me get this straight. You think the Kingdom of Pillars is beautiful … or is the King?” I could see her thinking herself into a small gag and look of distaste.
“When I’d first arrived, I looked at them the same way everyone does. It’s like a line has been drawn between the lands. One side, our side, is light and green. You make one tiny step and the world becomes scary and dark. And I was scared.”
Indigo looked a wee bit uncomfortable, almost guilty, so I kept going.
“I understand why father picked me to go instead of you. You were already betrothed to Emerald before you were born. He had no choice but to send me. It wasn’t your fault I was born second. Always second. I understand that a princess had to be sent in order to bring peace. Besides, if I wouldn’t have gone, the curse might not have been broken.”
“Wait a minute.” She smoothed her long, sparkly blue hair behind her ears. “You’re telling me that you broke the five thousand-year-old curse?”
“It was the most wonderful sight in the whole entire world. First, let me tell you what happened in the beginning, when I arrived in the Kingdom of Pillars.”
Indigo arched her eyebrow as she sat down in the morning dew.
“I was a bit grossed out when I first met the King. You know how Pillars look, right? Kind of round and prickly-looking. Those black and yellow spots and rings aren’t very flattering either. Oh, dandy me, he crawled so slowly … on the ground. He had tiny little legs and those black little dot eyes. He was no where near as hideously handsome as Emerald.”
Indigo had been staring at me with curiosity and a growing grin, but at this, she looked down.
“I suppose I wasn’t the best guest,” I continued. “But I was in shock, you know, out of my element. Could you blame me? I was surrounded by these … grubs. Not to mention, I felt like my own family had deserted and sacrificed—”
She shot me a look. “Now you’re just being dramatic.”
“Really? My husband had sixteen legs.”
“You just told me you thought he was beautiful,” she said smugly.
“Well, maybe at first, I didn’t. I hated him, the place, you …”
Indigo crossed her arms.
“The first night I did nothing but sulk and refuse anything offered to me. Really now, how could I eat that dull food? Everything was already half dead, like winter had already arrived. It seemed strange to eat and live in such sadness. That was how I felt; alone and sad as I sat there and watched them eat and eat in the madness of the day. King would look at me every once in a while and ask if I was okay. I hate to say, but I turned my back to him and fluttered my wings.
“He kept asking, again and again, so I let him have it. I told him exactly what I thought about him and his ugly kingdom. I hurt his feelings, and I was glad … until he said, ‘I’m sorry, my Queen. I will not bother you again. Even though your presence makes this gloomy world bright, you are free to leave.”
“So you did?” Indigo jumped up and put her hands on her hips. “You came back home! How could you, Rose?”
“But I didn’t!” I smiled. “At that very moment, I felt special. More special than I had ever felt in your shadow. Indigo this, and Indigo that. I was Queen, no longer a princess.” I wrapped my arms around myself and flew into the air, twirling around as I did.
“Get down here, Rose,” she shouted.
“Come with me,” I said. “You have to see.”
She sluggishly stood, but a second later she was beside me, and we flew through our forest.
“Oh … he lavished me,” I continued. “He was kind and made me feel like I was the most important creature in the world. He brought me flowers and dew drops and honey. The food didn’t taste as dull as it looked, it was fine. Everything was fine.”
“Hmmm … so then, if it is such paradise, why are you here?”
“One day he told me not to worry, that he would be sleeping for a couple of days. He said the kingdom did this every couple of months. Still, when it happened, I grew scared and cried and cried over him.”
“You cried because he went to sleep?”
“No, not just asleep; it was bizarre. They were all wrapped in these web-like cases.” I tried to explain it with my hands. “I didn’t think he could breathe in there. Something was wrong. I thought he was dying, so I sprinkled my life-dust on him.”
Indigo’s mouth grew into a giant circle and she stopped mid-air. “You used your personal dust on him? Rose, you know you can’t use it on yourself any longer! If something happens to you—”
I held up my hand. I understood the consequences. “It doesn’t matter. The most amazing thing happened. His prison started coming apart, and the most beautiful, amazing winged creature emerged. It was my King! He had huge double-like wings, oh so much bigger than any fairies. So many colors! Not just one, like ours. He was bright yellow and white and orange.” I put my hands to my face. “And then, and then… they all emerged. The entire kingdom, all so colorful and beautiful, floated into the air. They reminded me of buttercups, daisies, and roses, being blown by the wind. Even the dark, gloomy clouds drifted away and the sun began to shine.”
Indigo’s face froze with an expression of bewilderment. Then she said, “I didn’t think it was true. I had heard that they used to be beautiful creatures before one of us cast a spell.”
I closed my eyes as my thoughts turned bittersweet. “We played and flew and chased for days on end. Even when the sun set the splendor of the colors was almost more than one could bear. But then …” I grabbed her hand and flew faster to my destination.
“What?” She asked, letting me drag her through the air. “What happened? Why do you look so sad? If it was so wonderful, why did you come back?”
I choked back a cry with a smile as I looked at my sister who seemed genuinely concerned. “Like snowflakes they all slowly began to return to the earth. I went to the king, who balanced on a leaf barely able to move. I asked what was happening.” I held my hands to my heart as I remembered his words. “He told me not to worry, that I had broken the curse. That he and his kingdom owed everything to me and my sacrifice. My little fairy dust did all of that. I went to give more, and he told me he didn’t need it. He said he had finally been able to live out his cycle and now it was time for them to move on—to die. They had been trapped and unable to evolve for thousands of years.”
Indigo gently pulled free to wipe her eyes. “That is so sad,” she said.
“The fluttering of their wings quietly died away. The last words my king said to me were, ‘Long live Queen Rose.’” I pointed down to the valley below. “Look! Can you see them?”
Indigo sucked in a quick breath. “I thought you said they all died.”
“They,” I said looking at my adopted children, “are the next generation. A generation that will live, fly, and die like they are suppose to. This is why I came back to see you one last time; I needed to tell you, to tell father, that the feud between the two lands is truly over. And from now on, my home is no longer to be called the Kingdom of Pillars, but the protected Land of the Butterflies.”
Beauty and the Beast + Zombies =
Zombie and the Beast
a supernatural fairy tale by
She opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, loosening her jaw, before she spoke. “You can’t be serious. Marriage is no longer something we can consider.”
He stood far away, at the other end of the long, formal dining room table. She couldn’t believe how handsome he looked now: tall, regal. She had fallen in love with him when he’d thought he was so hideous he had to hide. But his compassion and heart were so big it had swept her away. So she wasn’t surprised by his proposal even if it was a bit insane.
“I love you,” he said. “I want you to be my wife.”
“I know you love me. I love you, too. But we have to face facts. You have to accept this. You shouldn’t even be feeding me. Look at me. What kind of bride would I be?”
“A beautiful one. When I was beastly, you saw something inside me and loved me for me. I love you for you. I know who you are on the inside.”
The rancid taste in her mouth distracted her for a second. Was it from the meal she’d just had or her own tongue? What did he say? He was comparing them. “But I’m not like you. You were cursed by a witch. I’m–”
“Doesn’t matter.” He slammed his fist down on the table, making everything on it jolt. “If I have to, I’ll use every last cent I have to find a cure.”
“You’re not listening to me.” She tried to stand up but the chains around waist stopped her. It took a second to remember why she was chained to a chair. Oh yeah, that’s right; dinner had taken a little too long last night. When she was hungry, nothing else fit in her head. If it hadn’t been for the butler with the Taser, they wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. “Sweetheart,” she said sweetly, trying to calm him, “There’s no cure for dead.”
“Maybe one of my tears, or a potion of some sort … or maybe a kiss.”
“Right,” she said with a roll of her eyes. They stuck like that for a second until she shook her head to get them straight again. “You’re going to kiss me? Do I even have lips, anymore?” Just as she pushed out her tongue to feel for lips, a twinge in her head stopped her. What was she doing?
“There’s got to be something. But first, we will get married.” He walked beside the table toward her, stopping halfway, a hint of fear in his eyes.
The fact that he was obviously scared of her didn’t upset her, didn’t really faze her. Something else came to mind. Hunger. The hunger didn’t feel the way it had when she’d been alive. This hunger was in her head. It rumbled, it stirred, it wanted, it hurt …
But she’d just ate an entire plate of … Who? Where was the maid? Had he …? The sudden spasm in her head caused her to let out a moan.
He was saying, “I mean, we can’t really have a honeymoon right now. We’ll postpone it until later. When you’re better. But please let me prove my love and devotion to you.”
It had been a delicate, light meal tonight. She tried to remember how many more maids were in the house. A series of intense, sharp pain ricocheted inside her head. She held onto it with both hands for a second.
Her brain pulsed and rumbled. Wait? What was this house? Who lived here anyway? Who was this stranger walking closer to her? He was so close – she sniffed the air – and luscious. Her mouth watered, and all she wanted was one little taste, one little nibble.
“Right after the ceremony, I will hire the best researchers on the planet …”
She tried to get up, but for some reason she couldn’t move. She tried again, and again, and again. The hunger pains moved down to behind her eyes, making her have to squint to see the delicious meal that was igniting her senses.
“So? What do you say? Will you marry me?”
The food was right there in front of her now. Maybe if she stretched out her arms as far as she could, she’d be able to reach it. All she needed was a one bite to make this unbearable torture end.
“Oh, Beauty. I don’t know. But you did just eat, so I guess one hug, to seal the deal, would be okay …”
This is one of my stranger short stories from some years back, and I thought it would be fun to post it for Halloween. It’s a dark, quirky, moody tale of two men who walk a fine line between good/evil, sanity/madness.
By Dorlana Vann
Part I – The Body
I watched as a guy in a dark suit dug up Beatrice Beaumont Virgil, April 5, 1965 – August 19, 1998. Funeral flowers still fresh, dirt still moist, Until we meet again her epitaph.
I stood in the shadows and dared to watch a moment longer before deciding I would just make note of his car license on my way out. If I had to say, I would guess his height as six feet and give him a generous build of medium. And I would only use this information if there were questions. Otherwise, I’d rather my secret after-hours visits stayed my secret.
As I turned to leave, the moody clouds drifted, allowing the full moon to tattle. I limped away as fast as I could, but my bad knee had started acting up again. I could only hope I was far enough to seem a ghost. Just as I began to breathe, I heard the man shout, “Hey you… stop!”
A gun fired; the bullet ricocheted off the tombstone next to me. I stopped.
“Now, get over here,” he said. “Slowly.”
As I approached the grave-site, I could see that he had dug about halfway down into the grave. He held a shovel in his right hand and a gun in his left. “You’re not going to run are you?” he asked. His appearance seemed rather ordinary— until our eyes met. I’m not easily spooked, but his keen stare alarmed the hair on the back of my neck.
“No,” I said.
He tucked the gun into his pants and then threw me the shovel. “Start digging.”
I dropped the shovel down into the thigh-deep hole and grunted as I followed it inside.
“What are you doing out here this time of night?” he said as he sat down and wiped his brow.
“I’m the groundskeeper.”
“That’s strange. I did my homework; there are no employees at night.”
“I’m not supposed to be here either.” The shovel sank into the dirt easily enough, but my muscles complained when I started shoveling it out of the hole.
“Hmm,” he said. “So, what are you doing here?”
“It’s peaceful at night.”
“So you work here… and come here to hang out? Kind of an eerie guy. But I suppose the right kind… if one has to exhume a body.”
I kept digging, and the man kept watching until the shovel caused a clunking noise.
“All right,” he said. He sat with his legs dangling over the side of the hole. “Now start digging on the sides so we can open my treasure chest.”
When I had finished my task, the man jumped in beside me. It took quite a few hard pushes before we finally had the lid all the way open.
I generally have to be content with a mental image of my residents—unless their loved ones are kind enough to leave me a picture—I couldn’t help but comb my hair with my fingers to tidy up a bit before I met her.
Her long blonde hair flowed gracefully over her petite shoulders. Rosy cheeks and ruby lips highlighted powdered fair skin. “Beautiful.”
POW! I felt the deafening discharge from my fingers to my toes. Beatrice received a bullet hole in the middle of her forehead. I had stopped breathing.
“Hmm,” the grave robber said. “Grab her arms.”
It took him aiming his weapon at me before I comprehended the instructions.
“Grab her arms. I’ll get her feet.”
Heavier than she looked, the first attempts at getting her out of the grave were grotesque. I wanted to lay her back in her bed, fold her arms back across her body… smooth her hair.
Finally, we had her in a somewhat normal position lying in the grass next to her assumed final resting place.
My dilated eyes absorbed a sudden explosion of light. When I regained my vision, I realized the man was snapping pictures.
I couldn’t withhold my curiosity a moment longer. It had fused together with fear and sympathy for Beatrice and formed a knot in the pit of my stomach. “I do realize that this is none of my business, and I really shouldn’t be asking you anything, but…”
“I don’t off chicks,” he said. His chest heaved in and out, just like mine.
“That’s why I’m doing this. That was your question … right?”
He pulled a flask out of his jacket, put it to his mouth, and took a drink. Surprisingly, he handed it to me. As the unexpected bland taste of the pure water quenched my dry tongue, he spoke, “Some asshole hired me to kill a woman. This is just what I do when I’m put in the situation.”
I swallowed hard. The liquid felt like a tank going down my throat. The man standing beside me murdered people for money. And he’d said I was the creepy one … “So you’re going to pretend that Beatrice is the woman you were supposed to kill?”
“Beatrice,” he said and stared down at her. “They don’t want them at their doorstep. All I need is proof. I did a lot of obituary searching to find her. Same facial features, hair color, age.”
“What about the real girl?”
“She’s on a plane as we move our lips.”
We stood there for a moment: the atmosphere thick with the smell of death and the moonlight animating tree shadows across Beatrice’s face.
“So, why did someone want her dead?” I asked.
“Don’t know … didn’t ask.”
“Let’s get her back down,” he said.
The chore of replacing her didn’t take as long as excavating her had, but I hated our method. We just dropped her in.
We climbed in after and put her back in the casket. Except for the bullet hole and the dirt in her hair, she looked like she did before we disturbed her. I said my goodbyes and shut the lid.
When I looked up at the assassin, his jaw was tense and his eyes and gun were focused on me. He said, “You know, I have to kill you now.”
I stopped to inhale the earthy air, to scratch my nose, and to think about my new home with Beatrice Virgil’s address. Until we meet again, my epitaph. “Yeah,” I said. “I know.”
Part II – The Revenge
John knew the old saying: Revenge is a dish best served cold. But he had to disagree. Because this time, his revenge would be cooked and served sizzling hot.
Being the cook for the Beaumont family had definitely been hell, and it seemed as if he had already worked for them an eternity. When he saw his murderer, standing there on the auction block, another saying seemed right on: What goes around comes around.
New arrivals went straight to the auction house. Both demon and H.S.L. (Human Soul Laborers) bought souls for a variety of reasons—the juicier the more they cost. John’s assassin was already up to a stellar price.
The red demon auctioneer had the whole house animated with energy. He was saying, “This soul here has no moral backbone. He killed over fifty men. He’s a thief, a cheater, and a murderer. Do I hear seventy-five….”
When John held up his auction paddle, his assassin looked him in the eyes. John remembered the last time their eyes met. The next thing he knew, he was in hell, standing exactly where this guy stood now. John had committed minor sins in comparison to murder, so buying him to eat would have been like buying a sickly, skinny cow. Not worth eating.
John had been purchased as an H.S.L. by one of the more prestigious demon families. Some souls were bought for pulling wagons, for building roads, for housewives, for…dinner. He understood how lucky he had been that he knew how to cook. His duties included buying groceries at the auction house.
He didn’t win the bid on his murderer just for pleasure; he would also make a fine meal. The Beaumonts planned to have a dinner party for twenty guests. John purchased two other plump souls as well.
When John arrived back at his kitchen, he put the three men into his tall, refrigerated cage. They needed to be fresh. Much longer out in the heat, and they would have been tough. He himself had developed skin close to the texture of leather. He hadn’t lived in Hell long enough to figure it all out, but he reckoned all the demons started out looking the way the human souls did, but in time they adapted to the atmosphere, causing their crimson, rutted skin.
Once John shut the cage, the hit man said, “Funny meeting you here.”
“So, you do remember me.”
“I never forget a face.”
“Of someone you killed or just in general?” John reached in a drawer and pulled out his knife sharpener. He wanted to give this guy the full treatment. At that moment, if he had ever wondered before, he recognized one of the major reasons for his descent. He kept deep hatred in his heart. Hmmm. He began to grind the knife across the sharpener.
His murderer said, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m about to make dinner.”
“I mean, in the hole. I never characterized you for a sinner.”
“We all have our sins. It’s the people who realize it too late that end up down here.”
At this, the hitman nodded his head. “So, what are you making?”
The two other men in the cage looked downright terrified. John looked down at his knife. No matter what kind of show he put on for his murderer, this wouldn’t be any easier than any other meal.
He inhaled and then nodded his head over to the man standing to the right of the murderer. “Leg of Sam,” he said. He glanced at the next guy, “Barbecued ribs.” He looked directly into the hit man’s eyes. “And roasted pig.”
“You don’t have to be so nasty. Just making conversation.”
“Perhaps we should save the small talk for the guests.” Meals had always just stood in the cage awaiting their fate. Once in awhile one would sing or one would cry, but never did he actually have to talk to one before he prepared it.
“For what it’s worth,” his murderer said. “I apologize. I was just doing my job.”
John thought about this for a moment. He wondered if he would have repented if given more time. If he had not been killed at that moment, would it have caused a different finale? He doubted it. Just doing my job. “All right,” he finally said. “I’ll accept your apology. I have an apology of my own.”
“I suppose you do,” the man said.
John said, “You know, I have to cook you now.”
“Yeah,” the hitman said, “I know.”