If you haven’t had a chance to check out my Kindle Vella Series, Potion, you can take a peek at Episode 1 on author Martin Shannon’s YouTube Channel, Marty’s First Look. He also gives a mini tour of Amazon’s new platform.
While you’re there, check out his preview videos of other Vella stories. And for more information about Marty’s thrillers, visit his website Here: Martin Shannon’s fiction that Bites
Love, Laughter, and Fairy Tales,
Potion by Dorlana Vann
Lucas and Melrose survived their not-so-fairy-tale childhood and are now trying to live a normal life. But the teens’ dark past is summoned after three new girls arrive at their high school with a wicked agenda. Soon the siblings are lured back into the world of magic where evil witches can distort reality. They must uncover the deception before all the ingredients for a deadly potion are gathered. Or this time, there may be no escape. #WitchesBeBitches
“All black doesn’t suit you,” Dominick said. “I think you should choose softer more delicate colors.”
“Delicate?” I said. “Seriously, do I look delicate?”
He grinned like he had me all figured out.
“Tuh … You are such an idiot.” When I spun to leave his presence, he grabbed hold of my arm. I didn’t turn around, but I didn’t pull away either.
“I want you to come to my Halloween party.” He placed a piece of paper in my hand. Finally, after I didn’t answer, he let me go.
I walked down the hall, not looking back until I was about to turn the corner. The bastard was still there, stationary, as the student body seemed to move around him at an accelerated speed. Our eyes remained locked, until a wall replaced my view.
“You should stay away from him,” Amanda, my stepsister/cousin/shadow from hell said. My mom died a year ago, and my aunt— her only sister— moved right in. Two months later, she became my stepmom. My dad died three months after the wedding. I guess he realized that just because Aunt Miranda looked exactly like my mom, she couldn’t replace her. I still hate him for it.
“Who?” I asked after I realized I hadn’t out-walked her yet.
“You know who. I saw you talking to him, again.” She cleared her throat and lowered her voice. “I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff about him. Mom would freak.”
“Everything from he’s creepy to he’s fresh out of juvie for murder.”
“Oh, please, this school is so stupid. It’s like no one has ever seen an emo kid before. Besides, he just invited me to some lame Halloween party tonight. He’s not that bad.”
“Mom will never let you go.”
“Grow up,” I said as I turned and went inside my classroom. But at that moment I knew I had no choice but to go, or more like, it gave me an excuse to. I didn’t want to socialize with anyone, but Dominick made it difficult for me to stay mad at the world.
Amanda stood next to Miranda, my aunt/step mom/guardian from hell, with a look of, You’re in trouble now—combined with a dash of—Maybe I shouldn’t have told on you. I had to remember that Amanda was used to being a finger-pointer; she had been since I could remember. I also knew that she wasn’t like the other girls her age. For some reason, she seemed to be maturing at the rate of 2:1. When we had lived apart, I could handle her. But now that her tattling neared constant, she really got on my nerves.
“Stella … Pumpkin,” Miranda said. “Can we talk?”
My skin crawled at the word pumpkin—my dad used to call me that. I exhaled and dropped my book bag where I stood and then walked over to the couch and plopped. At least it had become a little easier to look at Miranda. Her and my mom could have been twins. She even stood the same way my mom did when she became upset: one hand on her hip and the other one fidgeting with her face. I guess I could see how my dad, who loved my mom to no end, could get pulled in so easily.
“I heard about the party,” she said.
“Big surprise there.” I glared at Amanda.
Amanda examined her pink fingernails.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea. Amanda tells me that this guy, Dominick, is bad news. After everything that has happened this year, I think maybe it would be best not to associate yourself with the type of people that might lead you into adolescent …”
I tuned her out at that point. Six months, and I would be out of there. She could have the house. She could have everything. Everything that had been important to me had already been taken away.
“Go to hell,” I said after she had finished her spiel, and then I went to my room.
I didn’t answer the knock at my door because I figured it was just Miranda checking to see if I had climbed out my window yet.
The door handle moved. Crap. I had forgotten to lock it.
She poked her head in. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”
“Go away,” I said through the muffle of my pillow.
I felt the bed move when she sat down. Didn’t she get it? Didn’t she get that the very sight of her made me want to throw up – made me want to die.
Miranda sighed and then said, “I used to be so jealous of her. I had straggly hair and this enormous mole on the tip of my nose.”
I really didn’t want to look at her, but she left me no choice. I didn’t remember any mole.
“I had it removed. That’s why I removed Amanda’s, so she wouldn’t have to go through what I went through. But still, she seems to be going through a lot of the same awkwardness. You remind me so much of your mom. She was a beautiful teenager, a cheerleader … and the school’s vice president, and the captain of the debate team. Me? Just her strange older sister, secretly in love with the star football player. Your father.”
“Look, this isn’t helping,” I said and got off the bed she had contaminated.
She exhaled. “They didn’t even know each other at the time. Me and your dad were seniors and in a lot of the same classes. He was nice to me, and I fell hard. I was so confused because it wasn’t anything like the fairy tales I had read. I physically hurt for him. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but I couldn’t. I know he wouldn’t have laughed at me, but I was afraid I would look in his eyes and see pity. I couldn’t bear the thought of him not talking to me, either. Complete agony.”
I heard the sorrow in her voice and the tears at the edge of each word. But I felt nothing but disgust. Still, something kept me listening …
“When I graduated, I was finally able to put him out of my mind. Out of sight out of mind, until that next year. Your mom brought home her new boyfriend that she had met in college.”
“Oh, wait,” I mumbled. “Let me guess. My dad?”
“Yes. I never told either one of them. Never told a soul … until just now. “
“Well, you didn’t waste any time going after him.”
“It wasn’t ugly. That’s what I want you to know. That’s why I’m telling you this. I don’t want you to hate me, or your father. I wanted you to know that I had loved him for a very long time.”
Miranda’s undying love confession didn’t keep me in the house. Surprisingly, she didn’t take my keys but just assumed that I would be a good little girl and stay put like I was told.
I stood at the end of the sidewalk looking up at the house that sat on a hill. The moon shone down giving it an old school horror movie castle appearance. I laughed but reread the invite Dominick had given me to confirm the address.
As I walked up the steps, a couple of girls dressed in skimpy fairy costumes passed by me. “Invitation only? How lame,” the one girl said.
I nervously approached, a little worried because I wore regular clothes. The invitation did say Costume Ball. Costume Ball. I thought maybe I should have picked a different party to go to; one of those where the kids had given out flyers saying B.Y.O.B.
The vampire at the door didn’t check my invitation; he just nodded as I walked by. When I stepped into the foyer, the faint sound of orchestra music teased my senses, but I should have known better than to expect silly Halloween songs and sounds.
A grand carpeted staircase rose a few feet in front of me, and the gaudy antique-looking chandelier that hung from the lofty ceiling probably cost more than my car. I stood for a second wondering in which direction to go, finally deciding to follow the newly arriving guests.
We walked through a room with table after table of food and drinks and then down a dimly lit corridor with old paintings. The classical music grew louder as we approached a doubled-doored entry.
As the doors swung open, the music whisked my hair back as it flowed out of the room on a breeze. Then the music abruptly stopped with a screech. Everything stopped, except for my heart that I hadn’t noticed, until then, had gained beats per minute.
There must have been two hundred people in that room, all looking at me through their masks. The men wore long black masks that seemed to be glued to their faces, while the women held their colorful, feather adorned ones on long sticks against their eyes.
The women wore elegant floor-length gowns, and the men were in black tuxedos; just like the guy at the door who I had assumed had dressed as a vampire.
I had obviously walked into the wrong party. I wanted to apologize for interrupting, however, my embarrassment made me speechless. I turned to make a quick exit but stumbled over my gown.
The long white dress sat low on my shoulders, tightened unmercifully around my waist and then ballroomed out to the floor. I squeezed my eyes together, hoping that when I opened them again, my delusions wouldn’t soon include the ghosts of my parents.
My eyes opened when a sudden gust of wind just about lifted me off the floor. I became completely nauseated by the change of scenery. Straight back chairs filled the room and were divided by a center aisle. The guests were now all sitting down, but still faced me, silent, and with their masks still pressed against their faces.
When I felt something tug at my dress, I turned around, and there were three little girls holding the train of my dress like it was a wedding dress.
Obviously, I was having a nightmare.
“Stella.” The echo seemed to travel from the back of the room and then reverberate loudly when it reached my ears. This sent a new sensation up my spine and around my neck that made me quiver. Ready to scream, I held my breath as I turned to face whatever came next.
Dominick stood right in front of me, but he didn’t look the same as he did in school. He wore formal attire like the rest of the crowd. And instead of his normal long straight hair that almost completely covered his eyes, he had it slicked back, which made him look a lot older. Oh yeah, and a lot hotter. So gorgeous I almost relaxed at his smile.
He said, “I knew you would come.”
“What’s going on?” I said through my teeth.
“Don’t be afraid.” He held out his hand.
I stared at him for a few seconds until finally forcing my eyes away so I could look around and remember. “If this is your idea of a joke …” Some joke though—the dress, all the people. “… it’s not funny.”
“I know this is strange but let me explain and then you will see how this is meant to be. Since your birth, your mother’s birth, her mother’s birth on up five generations, this has been your destiny. We are betrothed. We must wed and then consummate our marriage before midnight so that my son will carry on my name. My time has come to an end. After midnight, I will be dead. But before I leave, I must pass on my powers. You are the only one in the world who has the right combination of genes for this to succeed.”
“Right …” Well, my brooding finally attracted someone completely insane. And then thankfully, I noticed Mike Cole from 6th period. “Oh, you guys can’t trick me so easily.” I walked over to him and snatched the mask off his face. I gasped and took a step back. Not him. This guy’s face was cruelly cratered and monstrous. “I’m sorry.” I backed away and bumped into Dominick with a gasp.
“Don’t be afraid. Soon, you will be mistress of all of this. And all of them, your loyal servants.”
“That’s a generous offer, really, but I’ve got to go. People know I’m here. Wait, was that a knock at the door?”
The band started up again. I recognized the song: The freaking Wedding March. I don’t think so. I turned so abruptly that I knocked down one of the train-holding little girls, and I was so upset, I didn’t care. I tried to run. But even though I held up the dress the best I could, I stumbled and lost a shoe—high-freaking-heels that I didn’t put on when I left my house.
I was almost to the doors when I heard death curdling screams. I spun around. Like an old cowboy movie, Miranda and Amanda were at the back of the room with nooses tied around their necks. The tips of their toes were on stools, their mouths gagged, and their hands bound behind their backs.
I charged back down the aisle, but before I reached them, several men jumped up from their seats to hold me back.
My situation had become a little clearer, even though it made no sense at all.
“Do I have your attention now?” Dominick said.
I took one of those double-takes when I looked at him. His hair, that had been dark brown, had turned completely white. I couldn’t take my eyes off him because it seemed like I was watching really good movie special effects as his hair began to move up his head, slowly revealing skin. His ears and nose were bigger than I remembered, and wrinkles formed around his mouth and eyes.
“What are you?”
“My name is Dominick Hamsphere. I am a 200-year-old warlock. My time in this realm ends at midnight, but I must plant an heir to carry on my name and to inherit the family wealth and power.”
Did he say 200 years old? “Gaa-ros.” I had been seriously attracted to him. “You have the wrong girl. I don’t know anything about any of this.”
He smiled, showing black rotting teeth.
My stomach churned.
“I have been following your line for five generations. I would have preferred to have met you last year, so I could have spent more time getting to know you. Unfortunately, I lost track of your grandmother when she moved to the states. I found you just in time.”
He held out his hand, his fingernails beginning to curl with length. “I’m offering you marriage before the honeymoon because I am a gentleman. However, I do have a deadline.”
“You’re crazy! I’m not marrying you.”
He turned his head toward Miranda and Amanda. “Which one has to die before we get started?”
Hot tears streamed down my face as I looked up at them.
Amanda sobbed, and Miranda’s eyes were wide with horror. At that moment, I knew Miranda feared for me too, not just for Amanda. My mind became clearer than it had been in months. I knew what I wanted. I knew what was important. Annoying, yes, and everything that had happened over the past year didn’t automatically erase. But they were family. The only family I had left.
“Just let them go first,” I whispered. “Then I’ll do what you want.”
With a wave of his hand and a warm wind, they were gone. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get out of there way before midnight.
“I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
I didn’t want to move my attention away from the masked guy who had married us. But I knew I had to. Slowly, I turned my head.
Dominick’s appearance scared the tears right out of my eyes. I couldn’t hold back the whimper. I could see his cheek bones through his thinning skin. He was completely bald, except for one tiny section on the right side of his head. Where his lips had been before, only huge ugly teeth. I squeezed my eyes together as tight as I could so not even light would influence my vision.
With a grimace, I puckered.
I felt something graze my mouth and then the atmosphere sounds distorted. I knew my surroundings were different, even before I opened my eyes.
I stood in a cold bedroom wearing the clothes I had arrived in, blue-jeans and a black t-shirt. I didn’t see Dominick, so I ran to the door. Of course, it had been locked from the outside.
Then I heard him say, “Stella,” with his teenaged voice. I turned my head slowly, and there he stood, dressed as he did at school, looking at me through his intensely dark eyes.
“I don’t want you to be frightened,” he said. “I’ve saved my last bit of energy, so I would be beautiful in your eyes. This is what you like, right?” He glided over to me. His skin looked silky white smooth. “I couldn’t ask for a more perfect bride. You look just like your mother, and her mother before that. It is amazing to see how your beauty has progressed through the years. I was a little taken back the first time I saw you, and a little concerned that you had removed the mark that represents your heritage. I can understand the temptation, but you would have looked beautiful with a hundred moles on your face.”
“Moles?” And when did he meet my mom? I began to laugh. I felt drunk with terror and the ridiculousness of the night “Do you think Miranda’s my mom?”
Dominick looked at me with a curious smile that slowly became a curious frown.
“Hmmm …” I mocked. “Boy, did you screw up. Miranda’s my aunt, not my mom. They had the moles. You thought I was Amanda!” I threw my hand over my mouth, wishing I could take my words back.
Suddenly, the window crashed inward, and a furious wind swept through the room. Dominick’s appearance changed in an instant, and he stood before me more hideous and post-grave like than he did before. The realization that he had redirected his powers to summon Amanda seared from the top of my head down into my stomach. I couldn’t let that happen.
I charged the old witch before he knew what hit him. His fragileness lent no resistance as we rushed the window and fell two stories. I felt him crush beneath me.
So much for Midnight.
Midnight was inspired by Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault containing Stories or Tales from Times Past, with Morals, with the added title in the frontispiece, Tales of Mother Goose. France: 1697
Midnight is one of the paranormal short stories from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales
Welcome to the world of Supernatural Fairy Tales.
There are 18 paranormal short stories inspired by classic fairy tales including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Thumbelina, and more. Inside you will find: a warlock’s indecent proposal, vengeful ghosts, pill-popping wolves, merfolk (Are they just misunderstood?), trees in love, cowboys and dwarfs, mind reading thieves, a bratty princess, wicked grannies, a vampire strolling about town doing lunch, fairy dust, werewolves tamed by muffins, luck for sale, and a morbidly romantic zombie tale. Fair Warning: They don’t always have a happy ending.
Also included: 13 fairy tale inspired poems.
“They are full of clever twists and some are just down right freaky and creepy, which is a good thing.”
I did some fun research this week for Potion, which led to the title, The Wand of a Fairy Godmother. Let me start by saying, I’m not a tarot expert, I’m still learning and rely on source material, definitions, and research for interpretation.
In episode 28, Star decides to burn the remainder of her tarot deck to release any negative energy because another character, Lucas, destroyed one of her cards making the deck useless.
I wanted to name at least three tarot cards for the scene. As you can see from my picture on the left, I shuffled and drew The Hierophant, The Eight of Wands, and The Queen of Wands.
I found the cards interesting because earlier in the series, episode 3, the card Lucas had burned was The Five of Wands, which I had randomly drawn. (I was pleased because the meaning of the card went with the episode.) Now I had three cards from The Suit of Wands. And this suit is connected to the element of fire. And The Hierophant card represents universal support. I love it when things like this web together.
I also like to make sure my potion ingredients/titles represent the episode, and when I can also include a fairy tale reference, it makes me happy. In episode 28, there is also fairy dust. So, I had fairies, and I had wands …
No hating on Disney, but I also try to stay true to the original fairy tales. That’s where my Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales book comes in. My question was, is there a fairy Godmother in Grimm’s 1812 version of Cinderella? The answer is, no: “Then the bird threw a gold and silver dress down to her, and slippers embroidered with silk and silver.”
However, I found that the earlier version written by Charles Perrault in 1697 did. Therefore, my ingredient: The Wand of a Fairy Godmother was added to the potion.
Love, Laughter, and Fairy Tales,
Five Hundred Eight Ounces of Red Wine Parboiled with a Devil’s Bit Root has been added to the Potion.
We are now up to episode 27 where Lucas’ mom tells him a secret about his dad who disappeared years earlier. If you haven’t had a chance to start the Kindle Vella series, clicking here will take you directly to Episode 1: Eight Sprigs of Thyme.
BTW, each episode title is an ingredient for the potion (What the potion is for has yet to be revealed. Bwa-ha-ha ) The ingredient names are also relevant to the episode, which is a fun challenge.
In other news, Potion: a witchy fairy tale reimagined, received a cool review from @vellastagram on Instagram: “Get your Hansel and Gretel vibe on with this smart fairytale reimagining, and head off on a fun escapade of witch-finding.”
Thanks for stopping by!
Love, Laughter, and Fairy Tales,
Phone Calls and Dwarfs was my first fairy tale inspired short story. It if funny to read it now and see how much technology has changed since 2007. It was inspired by Walt Disney’s film version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (1937)
“Hello,” she answered her phone for the third time since I sat down. “I told you not to call me anymore.”
I didn’t hear the phone ring once.
Happy, a petite woman in her thirties, moved into my neighborhood two weeks before. Since I had a day off from work, I finally had a chance to walk over and say hello. She introduced herself and welcomed me into her home. I didn’t know what to think after witnessing her bizarre behavior.
The first time it happened, I thought maybe she was deaf and had some special code, like a blinking light or something connected to the phone, so when it rang it gave her some sort of noiseless communication. But the second time she answered, she had seemed to be listening attentively to me. She’d been staring me straight in the eyes when right in the middle of my sentence she said, “Oh, just a minute,” and picked up the phone. That conversation had carried on just about the same way this third call was going.
So, after the second time, I knew something was just not right with this Happy person. I told her I left something on the stove and had to get back home—if she could have imaginary calls, I could have pretend food cooking. However, before I made it to the door, she excused herself, this third time, to answer the phone.
“I have someone—” she stopped mid-sentence and hung up. She looked at me, but I recognized it as one of those blank, straight through a person stares. And then suddenly she smiled and said, “Would you like something to drink?”
I used my stove excuse again and made my exit.
My husband was out of town on business and my children were at school, therefore I had the day to myself. I went to the kitchen and thought about mopping the floor but made myself a pot of coffee instead. Before I had a chance to pour myself a cup, my doorbell rang.
“Mrs. Roberts?” A tall, gorgeous policeman stood at my door—and me with no make-up. Behind him stood a shorter officer who looked aggravated.
“Yes, is something wrong?” I gave my best smile to the handsome policeman and tried not to look at the unpleasant one.
“Do you know a Hillary Glass?” he said, not returning my smile.
“Are you sure ma’am? She lives right across the street.” He turned and pointed to Happy’s house.”
“Oh … Happy. I just met her a few minutes ago.”
The policeman frowned at me and then turned to glance at his partner. “Happy?” he said, after he turned back to me.
“Yes, I guess that’s her nickname.”
His left eyebrow made a high arch. “But I thought you said you didn’t know her. Now you’re telling us you know her by her nickname.”
“Yes, I mean, I didn’t know her real name until you just told me. I met her this morning and she introduced herself as Happy.”
They both just glared at me, their mouths slightly open.
“What is the problem?” I asked. “Did something happen?”
“We received a complaint today. Mrs. Glass has been receiving threatening calls and has named you as the perpetrator.”
“What? Me? No, there’s a mistake. Happy, I mean, Mrs. Glass is a little, you know, not quite there. She received three so-called phone calls.”
“She received the prank calls while you were there?”
“No,” I said. “She didn’t receive any calls.”
The handsome policeman stared at me. The unpleasant policeman looked up at the clouds.
Handsome spoke slowly, “You said she received three phone calls.”
I said, “She picked up the receiver on the phone three times and carried on a conversation, but the phone didn’t ring.”
“So she made three calls while you were there.”
“No, please listen to what I’m telling you,” I said, becoming quite upset. “Happy picked up the phone like it rang, but it didn’t, but she talked like it did. It was very weird.”
“Yes, Mrs. Roberts, it sounds really weird. All I know is that she said she has been receiving threatening calls and has named you as the one making those calls.” He exhaled. “Just treat this as a warning. Any more calls and we’ll be back … understand?”
“I don’t even have her phone number. She probably doesn’t even have her phone connected.”
“She’s putting caller ID on her phone today. If you call again, your number will be recorded, and she has the right to press charges.”
“She can put whatever she wants on her phone. I didn’t make those calls, and I will never call that lady.”
“Have a nice day,” the not-so-handsome-anymore policeman said.
After they left, I went back to the kitchen and poured myself the cup of coffee. What was that woman’s problem? Certainly not a problem I wanted any part of. I decided a nice shopping trip would get my mind off the morning.
Make-up and hair done in less than thirty minutes, I opened the front door, and there stood Happy Glass. I stared at her crossly, but her focus was inside my house. I wanted to shout at her. I even had an urge to punch her in the mouth. But I held my tongue, and my fist, and waited for her to speak.
Finally, she said, “Where are you going?” A smiled covered her face.
I could feel my face rising to an abnormally high temperature. I bit my upper lip, and then I bluntly said, “Out.” I practically had to push my way outside. I took my keys from my purse and locked the door, trying it three times, just to make sure.
“Oh,” she said, “I was hoping we could do lunch. I made a couple of sandwiches, and I have a fresh pitcher of iced tea. We can sit outside on my patio, so the phone won’t disturb us.”
“What? Are you …?” No, I wasn’t going to say the word, because obviously she was. Okay, she called the police on me. I wanted answers. “Why did you tell the cops I prank called your house?”
“Is that why the police were over here earlier?”
“Yes,” I said through my teeth. “They told me, you told them, I called your house and threatened you. Why would you say that?”
“Oh no,” she said and put her hand to her mouth in dismay. “They must have misunderstood. I told them you were there when I received the calls. I’m so sorry. Let me call them right now so I can explain the misunderstanding. Can I use your phone?”
“I’m leaving. Why don’t you use your phone at your house?”
She sniffled air as her bottom lip pouted out. “I really didn’t want to go back by myself. I’m afraid the phone will ring again … and please … I’m really spooked.
I felt myself soften to her pitiful eyes. I did want the whole mess cleared up. “I’ll tell you what,” I said. “I’ll make us lunch and that way you don’t have to be alone. Okay?”
“You are very kind,” Happy said. “Thank you.”
I unlocked the door and walked in. Happy followed and said something about how wonderful I had decorated the house. When she asked where I kept my phone, I directed her to the one on the table next to the couch. I heard her ask for Officer Brenter, and then I walked into the kitchen.
After making tuna salad, I went back to the living room to tell Happy to come eat. She was gone, and the front door was wide open. I walked outside just in time to see Happy open the door to her house and go inside. Okay, that was strange. But fine, I didn’t want to have lunch with her anyway.
I decided to go on out for the day and treat myself to lunch. I put the tuna in the trash and grabbed my purse. I couldn’t wait to tell Frank, my husband, all about this when he arrived home. Yes, later this would become a grand story to tell all my friends. The next time they come over, we can stand outside and stare and point at the weird neighbor’s house.
Lunch out by myself is never one of my favorite things. I never know where to focus my eyes. I didn’t want people to think I was gawking at them, and I didn’t want to look lonely, so I picked up a newspaper on the way to the restaurant. As I read the paper and waited for my order of tuna salad, one article caught my attention, “Bashful strikes again!” The story told about a bank robber who would request the money in a shy manner. This made me think of my neighbor, and I laughed to myself. The seven dwarfs—Happy and Bashful made two of them.
It began to shower as I left the restaurant, but the darkness of the sky and the distant thunder divulged a more sinister storm to come. I decided to skip the shopping trip and head home to take a nice long nap. Sleeping in the middle of an afternoon thunderstorm is magnificent.
As I made the turn down my street, I saw rain-blurred blue and red lights. In front of my house were two patrol cars and in front of Happy’s house was an ambulance. My heart began to pound when I thought about my kids. I was relieved when I glanced at my watch and saw that it was only 1:00 PM.
As I pulled up to my usual spot on the side of the road, four policemen immediately surrounded my car. “Get out with your hands up!”
What? I squinted and tried to see out the window. The rain came down in a nasty hurry, but I could still see that the officers actually had their guns pointed at me.
I stepped out into the rain with my hands up. Before I had time to ask questions, the cops had me facing my car, handcuffing me and reading me my rights. My children came to mind again, and I told them I needed to make a call. One of them laughed and said I had made enough calls.
Soaking and freezing I sat in the back of the patrol car with my hands cuffed behind me. I asked what I had done. That’s when I noticed I was with the handsome policeman and his partner.
“As I told you ma’am,” Handsome said from the passenger side, “your neighbor has caller ID. She recorded your phone number today.”
“What? How did she record my number? I didn’t call her.” And then it dawned on me. “Wait a minute. When she came over today, she didn’t make that call to the police … she must have called her own house.”
“Is that when you slit her throat?” he growled.
Despite my wet clothes, I began to get extremely warm. The entire day began to jumble up in my spinning head. I closed my eyes trying to rid my double vision and the feeling of nausea.
“Ma’am. Ma’am.” Someone gently tapped me on my forehead. When I opened my eyes, I saw Handsome’s annoyed face. I was still in the police car but lying down on the seat. He helped me sit up. Both of my arms were still asleep behind me.
“You passed out,” he said, but rolled his eyes. “Do you think you can walk into the station or do we need to get a wheelchair?”
“I can walk,” I said.
The rain had stopped, and the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds. When I stepped out of the patrol car, my clothes clung to me like plastic wrap, but because my hands were cuffed behind me, I had no way of wringing them out or peeling them from my body. My hair, which had been in a neat little bun, was now undone and plastered to my head.
As we walked into the building, the two men were arguing about something and Handsome told his partner to stop being so grumpy. I began to giggle. Dwarf number three. The police officers looked at me oddly but didn’t question my untimely laughter.
I spotted a clock above the front desk and switched gears as I remembered my children. “I need to call my mother. My kids are getting off the bus in ten minutes and no one will be home to let them in.”
“No calls until you answer some questions,” Handsome replied.
“Oh, come on,” said his partner. “I’ve got kids of my own. Look lady, if you give me the number, I’ll call for you.”
I gave him my mother’s number, and he went and sat behind a cluttered desk. Handsome led me to another desk and told me sit down. Finally, he took the handcuffs off me.
I rubbed my wrist and felt like crying. I had actually been arrested. But then a policewoman in the corner of the busy room began to sneeze. She must have sneezed ten times. Handsome glared at me, his expression unnerving enough to yield a confession from the most hardened criminal.
“Something funny?” he asked.
“Dwarf number four,” I said, but I hadn’t meant to say it out loud.
“Excuse me?” He sat behind the desk violently shaking a pencil. He did not look amused.
I snapped back to reality and ask him what exactly I was being charged with.
“Murder, Mrs. Roberts, murder.”
“She’s dead?” I asked. I knew I hadn’t killed her, but the way he glared at me, I knew that was exactly what he thought. I needed help. My husband? No. A lawyer. I had a right to an attorney. “I would like to call my lawyer,” I managed to whisper.
“You would just like to call everybody, wouldn’t you? You’ll have time to call later. Right now, I need some information.”
I answered a few personal questions, was fingerprinted, and had my picture taken. Handsome led me to a room with a large conference table. He told me to sit down and then sat beside me.
A couple of minutes later, another uniformed man entered the room. “Where is Sergeant White?” Handsome asked the man.
“He said he would be here in two shakes,” the big man said. He yawned and stretched out his arms. Something was definitely wrong with me. I was being charged for murder, and here I was thinking dwarf number five.
Two shakes later, Sergeant White came barreling through the door, but he was not alone. Happy Glass, wearing a bandage around her neck, walked in behind him. My mouth dropped open and my head began to swoon again.
“What is my neighbor doing here?” Happy asked and seemed genuinely surprised.
“There’s been a mistake,” Sergeant White said. “Seems you have the wrong person.” He spoke to Handsome.
Handsome stood up and put his hands on his hips. “No, I don’t. Her number was on the ID.”
Sergeant Woodsman said, “Mrs. Roberts has been telling you the truth. Mrs. Glass told you Mrs. Roberts was at her house when she received the threatening phone calls. And Mrs. Glass did call her own house from Mrs. Roberts’ house.”
“That’s right,” Happy said. “I called your partner, Officer Brenter. He wasn’t in, so I left a message. I then called my house to check the machine. My ex had left a message saying he was sorry and wanted to make it up to me. Yeah, he made it up to me all right.”
“I thought you were dead,” I said to Happy and then looked at Handsome. What a cruel game he had played with me. He didn’t look remorseful.
“Tony, my ex-husband just wanted to scare me,” Happy said. “The doc says I was darn lucky that it was only a superficial cut.”
An uncontrolled deep giggle fought its way to the surface. “Doc,” I screamed and laughed at the same time. “Dwarf number six.”
No one made a move or sound, they just stared at me until I calmed down. And then I said, “When I came over to your house this morning, the phone, you answered the phone … but it didn’t ring.”
“Oh,” she said and smiled. “That phone in the front room doesn’t ring. I can hear the one in my bedroom. It’s a low sound, but I’m used to listening for it.”
Sitting here in my psychiatrist’s office, waiting for my turn, it occurs to me that I never found dwarf number seven. And then I realize … it’s me.
Phone Calls and Dwarfs was my first fairy tale inspired short story. It if funny to read it now and see how much technology has changed since 2007. It was inspired by Walt Disney’s film version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (1937)
Episode 26 (A Big Toe of a Stepsister) of my series Potion: a witchy fairy tale reimagined is now live on Amazon’s kindle Vella. Hold onto your broomstick because all the setup is about to payoff. This episode starts the beginning of lots of upcoming reveals. I really hope you have enjoyed the story so far, and I appreciate the thumbs up and the crowns so much – they let me know you are with me and cheering on the story.
If you haven’t had a chance to start the story, click on this link to see what’s brewing: Potion
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Love, Laughter, and Fairy Tales ,
by Dorlana Vann
Since Jackson couldn’t channel his frustration onto the blank page, he used his fist to pound it into the desk. “Ahhh,” he cried, swooshing his fountain pen and several loose pieces of writing-paper to the floor.
His caged birds squawked with excitement from the sudden movement.
Jackson stood up, his breaths labored and lonely. “I’m sorry ladies. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
He draped a stack of dark sheets over his arm. “Are you ready for your beauty sleep, my Echo?” He covered her and moved on to Valley, giving her several sweet kisses. Continuing his ritual, he covered all twenty birds, leaving Isis as his last goodnight. The two-foot Scarlet Macaw blinked her yellow eyes at him.
“Sleep well, Love.”
He ran his fingers through his slick hair, noticing how dark and stale the room had become. He opened the window, lit a lantern, and picked up the paper and his pen. He thought about writing another letter but knew they were only stall tactics. “I’m a novel writer,” he tried to reassure himself. “Now write something novel!”
But he didn’t know what else to do. He had moved to one of the most crime-ridden areas of London to conduct his research. When observations had stopped inspiring his writing, he had taken his study to the next level. The firsthand accounts had given him dozens of pages: a feel for the weapon in his hands; the reaction on the faces of the women when they knew they were going to die; and the color and temperature of the blood. After each attack, he had sped home and written feverishly. But soon the words stopped, died on the page.
“Why am I still blank?” he said in a sob. “Why?”
Isis began to squawk.
“Shush,” he said off-handedly. “I’m having a difficult enough time as it is.”
“Let me out.”
Jackson turned his head slowly toward the covered cage. He listened. Sure, Isis could talk: “Pretty lady.” “I love you.” But never “Let me out.”
She said it again.
Jackson scooted his chair back and stood abruptly. “Was that you, Isis? Did you learn something new?”
“Open the cage, Jackson. Let me out.”
Jackson shook his head. Obviously, because he was exhausted and tense, he was hearing things. That was all it was. Still, he walked to the cage.
Swiftly, he uncovered Isis.
She sat on her perch, head down, asleep.
“Isis?” he whispered. “Was that you?”
Jackson’s heart thumped when he heard rustling coming from the other cages; the sheet coverings were moving.
Remembering that he had just opened the window, he laughed nervously and walked back over to it. He stared out into the still evening, deciding to take a stroll to clear his head.
When he turned around, Jackson gasped and backed up against the window—arms stretched out and palms wide—trying to keep the walls from closing in on him. All the cages were uncovered, and the doors were open.
It was like morning: birds were inside and outside their cages bouncing, stretching out their wings, walking, and singing. Isis’ eyes were open now, but she still sat on her perch.
Jackson peeled himself away from the window and cautiously moved toward her. “Love?”
“Come closer, Jackson.”
He felt terrifyingly wonderful. Sweat gathered on his brow and above his lips. “Isis? Do you understand me?”
He tried to steady his sudden continuous blinking; he shut his eyes hard and then reopened them. “Why now? Why not before? I have told you my most intimate secrets and feelings and you never spoke an intelligent word.”
“The time was not right. I am here when you need me most. Let me be your inspiration.”
“Oh, Isis! How I do so need someone to talk to. I have many troubles. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me now.” He put his arm in her cage, enduring the sharp claws he usually protectively wrapped his arm against. He stroked her red feathers. “My beautiful, Isis, what words do you have for me? Do you know what I must do to finish my story?”
“You have watched, but you have never felt. In order to achieve realism and depth, you will need to experience the pain for yourself.”
“Yes, yes! I see. I see what you mean. But how? How can I achieve this insight?”
“I will be near whilst you sink the edge of your knife into your skin. Not too deep my dear, just enough to feel a twinge.”
“Marvel upon marvel, you are my muse!” He set Isis on the back of his chair and ran to his bedside table and pulled out his knife. Its long thick blade was still stained from his latest research project. “Where? Where shall I feel it?” He sat on the edge of the bed.
Isis moved her head to and fro with tiny jerks. “The same as you wrote. The same as you gave.”
The coldness of the blade against his neck caused his heart to quicken with excitement. “Just this fills my head with ideas, with words.” He sucked in his breath and pressed a little harder, the sting bringing quiet tears to his eyes. “How absolutely stimulating.”
He heard them before he saw them, but only by a second. All his beauties came at him, Isis in the mix, their feathers, and beaks, and claws causing his hand to yank deeply inward and then slide to the side. Falling backward, Jackson still imagined how his ghastly and perfect pain would translate onto paper.
As the feathers settled and the squawks calmed to a low murmur, Jackson’s last breath was accompanied by his last vision: five female ghostly figures swayed above him. And then he heard the words, “Jack the Ripper, our story ends in revenge,” as his eyes closed.
Muse was inspired by Prince Ariel from, “The Fairy Tales of Madame D’Aulnoy” France: 1697 – It is one of the short stories from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales – Which is Free using Amazon KindleUnlimited