#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 45

Three prompts living under one challenge roof?

Welcome to #MenageMonday!

Week 45

 

*NOTE* – PLEASE READ THE RULES – If you miss a prompt, your entry will be disqualified. 

 

Rules Recap

  • This is a Flash Fiction challenge. Your story must be a minimum of 100 words, maximum of 500 words.
  • Incorporate each of the three prompts into your story. The phrase prompt (and anything else in quotations) MUST be used exactly as given.
  • Post your story into the comments of this post.
  • Include your word count (or be excluded from judging).
  • Please include your Twitter handle or email.
  • The contest opens at 7 A.M. and closes at 10 P.M. Eastern Time.
  • SPECIAL 24 HOLIDAY HOURS – CLOSE WILL BE TUESDAY 10 A.M. EASTERN TIME.
  • Generally speaking, the winners will be revealed Tuesday evening, huzzah!

So what do you get for all your time and effort, you ask? Badges, of course. (What, you thought this was a funded operation?) #MenageMonday awards THREE (squeeee!) badges each week:

  • There is the undisputed CHAMP. Rather self explanatory.
  • There is the JUDGE’S PET, for best use of the Judge’s prompt.
  • Last but not least, the JUDGE gets a badge, because Judges need love, too.

 

Our Judge for Week 45:

Me – I had a judge lined up for this week, but he forgot he’d be living it up with the fam at Disneyland this Labor Day weekend, so you’re stuck with me. Le sigh.

Cara Michaels | @caramichaels

 

Challenge Time!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

The Photo:

The Phrase: “a blue moon” (this can appear anywhere in the story)

 The Judge’s Prompt: the story must include a spell

 

And we’re off. The clock is ticking. Good writing and good luck!

30 comments on “#MenageMonday Challenge – Week 45

  1. I still can’t believe this has happened. Once in a bloody blue moon we get to go out. Finally managed to get the cantankerous mother in law to take the kids for the whole weekend so we could go to the conference… had to bribe her with a bottle of whiskey AND pay for her takeaway… and still she wants us back first thing in the bloody morning. Some weekend break this has turned out to be. Especially since neither of us can actually MOVE now. That woman on the ‘alternative lifestyle’ stall was definitely a witch. I was sceptical, but of course GEORGE believed it, and according to the old hag, only one of us had to believe for it to work. All she did was rub both of our palms with some brown grit that smelled suspiciously like cocoa powder. We didn’t even have to tell her what we wanted. We just had to THINK it. Then one of us was supposed to make up a spell. George did that of course. Told me to think about what I really, REALLY wanted. Well, I wanted a pair of ornamental iron dogs for the front lawn, didn’t I? Shit.

    @SJIHolliday
    200 words

  2. Drat! I should have gotten a hold of you about my book release. Would you believe that on the night of the blue moon my first novella, Blue Moon House released? How apt! Anyways, I couldn’t turn down your prompt. This is a continuation of a story I started on my blog on flasher fiction Fridays. Hop you enjoy!

    The women were foolish. It wasn’t John’s fault a child had died in birth, but he could understand Lara’s grief. He shared it. Apparently, the baby had been a boy, a son. Their first had been a girl, one he would never know. He could have known, raised, the boy.

    The foolishness was sending animals. The women had life magic, extra potent in the light of the moon, doubled by this rare blue moon. However, John was prepared. Grabbing hold of his old friend and sometime lover, they wrapped their bodies together, building magic in shared passion. Their power built as the barking and growling of the giant dogs came closer.

    “Faster, John. I’m close. So close.” John moved with Linus, his own climax close.

    In a burst of lightning, the glossy fur of the dogs shone metallically. They’d been turned to stone, iron and steel.

    @angelicadawson
    146 words

  3. Here we go. It’s 500 words, not counting the title. @JXilon

    A New Kind Of Magic

    Nolan finished the intricate pattern of powdered copper, silver and gold back at the point he began. Looking skyward he checked the moon’s position. Less than two minutes to spare. More than enough time to say a quick prayer of thanks that, while the spells to trap a soul could only be performed on the night of a blue moon, the spells to release a soul worked under any full moon.

    Facing the metal monstrosities, hell hounds for the dawning age of gear and steam, Nolan choked back a sob and began chanting. It was too late to save the lives of his wife and son, but he could set them free to find their peace and rest. His words soared on the night breeze and rose to the moon in transit. Throwing his arms wide he reached a crescendo of mystic authority that would shatter the binding spell.

    Yet, nothing happened.

    The post-spell silence seemed absolute, like time had stopped and would never spin forth again. Nolan held his breath waiting for some sign that his magic had worked, but none came. Then, the sound of boots on gravel shattered the quiet.

    “Surprised, old man?” said a voice from behind him.

    As Nolan turned an arc to face the speaker he saw men-at-arms surrounding him, and pointing crossbows in his direction. He was not surprised to Vance with his thin line of a mustache and so perfectly dapper clothes smirking at him.

    “Sorry Nolan, but you can’t free souls that aren’t trapped,” Vance said.

    “You didn’t kill them?” Nolan asked.

    “Oh no, I did kill them. I just had no use for their souls. Those have gone, well, wherever souls go I suppose.”

    “But the dogs, they move. They’ve been seen. The souls you’ve used to animate them, whomever they were, should be free.”

    Vance laughed his rich laugh, known by so many of the dinner-party set and walked, fearlessly, to Nolan’s side. He leaned in close, his lips almost touching Nolan’s left ear. “I don’t need souls to make my machines move,” he said.

    “Why did you take them then? Why Trisha? Why Tim?”

    “Why? To bring you out in the open. I’ll not have your kind interfering anymore. Clockwork and steam and math, that is the magic of now. I’ll grant you that you are still strong in your sacred places and fortresses, but out here? In the world?”

    “Get it over with then. Have your men shoot. Let me join my family.”

    “Oh, you will. But death by crossbow? I think not. I have more respect for you than that Nolan,” Vance said and walked past the old wizard to the dogs of metal behind him. With the flick of two switches the hounds woke up, and steamed billowed from their mouths. Vance pointed a gloved hand at Nolan and his dogs, animated by clockwork, not magic, stalked forward to put an end to the era of spells down on moonlit nights.

  4. Once upon a Frog.

    “Katya?” Brendan called, and ran down the stairs, three steps at a time.

    She was nowhere to be seen; the kitchen, living-room and bedroom were empty.

    “Katya, where are you?” he called again, and stepped outside.

    She was crouched under the tree, with a camera, taking pictures of the infernal dogs. He should have known – she was always there.

    “Katya, I’ve been looking for you. Didn’t you hear me calling?” he said, and went to stand next to her.

    She put the camera down and looked up at him. Her big blue eyes contrite and her spreading blush adding to her beauty. He loved her more than anything – more than life itself.

    “I know I’ve said this before, once in a blue moon and all that; but, I’ve got it down now. We’ll be able to do it this time, I swear,” he said, every word burning with sincerity.

    She rose elegantly and leaned in to kiss his cheek. He needed a shave, she thought, but it did add to his genius.

    *I won’t sound like a frog?* she signed and mouthed the words to him.
    He shook his head. “You’ll sound normal. This spell is bound to make you talk, my granny swore by it.”

    She nodded and took his hand, trusting him with her life. She wanted nothing more than to tell him she loved him; even if it did mean swallowing another frog.

    Hand in hand, they walked into the house and up the stairs to ‘the room’.
    The walls were painted black, the window barred, and in the middle was a God honest iron-kettle bubbling away.

    The stench in the room made her nose wrinkle; whatever he’d cooked up, it didn’t smell good.

    “It’ll work, I followed the recipe to the letter,” he said, clearly proud of his work.
    *I trust you. Where’s the frog?* She signed, looking around the room.

    He darted to the corner, opened a wooden box, and removed the frog within. It looked bigger than the previous one, and slimier. She shuddered involuntarily and held out her hand.

    “Better swallow it now, everything else is ready,” he said, nearly jumping up and down with excitement. This time, he’d prove to Granny that he had the gene too; and she’d finally be proud of him.

    Katya closed her eyes, put the frog in her mouth and swallowed. It wriggled all the way down.
    Alex swiftly handed her a cup of the bubbling potion from the kettle, and she swallowed that too.

    On his way to the spell-book he stumbled on a broomstick and fell against the wall – hitting his head on the shelf; leaving him out cold.

    In the meanwhile Katya was convulsing, gagging and feeling dizzy. Not again, she thought, as the room started shrinking around her.

    “Ribbit,” she croaked, and jumped over to Alex.

    He opened his eyes, took the frog in his hands, and sighed. “Again? Granny’s going to kill me,” he muttered, and put Katya in his pocket.

    Word count: 499
    @ChessnySilth

  5. DOG PARK

    Someone who’s senses weren’t attuned to the night would have missed him. But there he was, leaning against the trunk of an ancient oak trying to pretend he was part of it’s bark.
    “I can see you,” I muttered. “But I appreciate the effort.”
    The mottled leather of his long coat shifted slightly. It was a clever camouflage for the wooded park, lit only sparsely by the moon peeking from behind fast-moving clouds.
    “I expected you to,” Yorah said.
    “Well, I did.” Always testing me. I suppose the habits of teachers die hard. Three-hundred-year-old teachers more so. “And they will too.”
    “No need to be angry, Benjamin,” Yorah sighed. “I was only trying out a new jacket. Took me six weeks to get the shading of the leather just so…”
    “Yorah, we don’t have time for this. They’re coming for you,” I growled. “Tonight.”
    The clouds parted suddenly, as if by magic, and the rare blue moon bathed us in a pale light. The apex was nearing. Soon their powers would be at peak and Yorah would be the target.
    “I know.” Yorah walked over and sat down on a park bench facing the metal sculptures.
    “You must invoke the protection of the guardians. Before it’s too late.”
    “Benjamin. Sit.” Yorah patted the spot next to him.
    I sat down, reluctantly. My skin was crawling with the sense of urgency. I could barely keep my fingers still.
    “Master, It cost me a fortune to bring the guardians here from Bulgaria. I had to convince customs they were ‘art’.”
    Yorah chuckled, “yes, very clever by the way.”
    A howl sounded in the distance. Long and low. Quite out of place for a park in the Chicago suburbs.
    “It’s begun,” Yorah said.
    “Say it. Please, master. I can’t protect you from them. My powers here will be worthless.”
    “Golick and Grogum, right?”
    “No!” He was being difficult on purpose. His smile and sparkling eyes told me everything I needed to know. He wasn’t taking this seriously.
    “G-O-L-I-C…”
    “That’s not how you spell their names,” I shouted. A chorus of howls keened through the woods. “Dammit! They’re getting closer. Stop fucking around.”
    “Calm yourself.” Yorah’s steel-eyed gaze held mine. “The dogs can only be used once every ten years. And the pack will be coming for you next. I love you like a son, Benjamin, but some things are more important that the life of a very old man. You are the one destined to fulfill the prophecy. Not me.”
    “You’re going to let them kill you?” I was dumbfounded.
    “Let them? No.” Yorah’s eyes sparked red with a deep magic borne of anger. “But Death will claim many souls tonight. And I will be among them.”

    463 words
    @zombiemechanics

  6. My mother told me not to go out during blue moons but following a cellphone call, I snuck out to a field for a birthday celebration my friends were throwing me. I reached the lot to find it empty. I had been duped. I turned to go and that’s when they charged two black shapes that I recognized as Rottweilers. One of them to grab my pant leg, I kicked with my other leg and got free.
    The light of the blue moon encompassed me. I felt sudden warmth, and then a burning, then peace as it burned brightly within me. The dogs looked frightened. I felt powerful and free. I reached my hands up to the moonlight still above me and putting my arms down, I reached them out to the dogs to scare them. Sparks flew from my hands and blue light. The dogs whimpered for a second and then as I watched in amazement they turned into two cast iron dogs. I didn’t know how to turn them back so I took them home as lawn ornaments and told my mom they were birthday presents. Mom wasn’t fooled she said “Great spell, welcome to your heritage.”
    199 words
    @SweetSheil

  7. Two years of my life I’d spent buried in arcane studies, preparing for a blue moon rite. Mistress Sefia’s future depended on the power of the rare moon, on a spell that could only be performed by an apprentice. For a druid, having both at the same time proved exceedingly rare.

    The spell called for a place special to the caster.

    The junkyard dog statues surrounded a sun dappled lawn perfect for the ceremony. They stood nearly as tall as an adult, all rusty scrap and gears. From one angle they seemed ready to play, from another ready to attack. I’d loved them since childhood, and I knew their features like my own.

    “This is the place, then?” At my side, my teacher smiled eagerly. She clutched the moonstone pendant dangling between her breasts.

    I dragged my attention from the metal ‘pups.’

    “Is it too public, Mistress?”

    Sefia turned a mocking circle. The downtown street looked nearly abandoned on a Sunday afternoon. “No one will mark our presence beyond a passing curiosity.”

    “Okay, okay,” I said.

    “We have time yet to prepare. Half a century I’ve waited.” Her gnarled, spotted hands trembled with excitement. She patted my cheek, her age-soft skin cool. “Just a bit longer now.”

    We settled in among the dogs, our metal guardians. I smiled at the notion. As the sun set, I began to build the circle around us. The spell, a restoration of Sefia’s youth, would mark my transition from apprentice to druid.

    To the east, I laid the athame and set the dried sage to smoking. To the north, the wand and red candle. West, a chalice and water. South, salt and stone. I nearly scattered the salt as I glanced up into the eyes of one dog. The blank metal stare—did I see a red glow there? I shook my head. It had to be a trick of the light.

    My circle prepared, I began to call the elements. The Eastern Air brought a stir, like a warm breath against my neck. Northern Fire—

    “What is it?” Sefia asked. “Why have you stopped?”

    “I—I call—”

    The eyes glowed so bright. What the hell?

    Hard fingers gripped my chin. Sefia dragged my face around.

    “Mistress?”

    “What are you looking at?” Her nails dug into my skin.

    “The dogs.” My voice shook. “Don’t you see them?”

    “What I see is a failed apprentice.” She drew an athame from her robes. “I will not lose this chance, child.”

    “What are you doing?”

    “Making the sacrifice.”

    “What sacrifice?”

    “Did I never mention that part?” She cackled. “Why do you think apprentices are so rare?”

    She thrust, but the blade never reached me. Snarling jaws closed on the back of Sefia’s robe and flung her shrieking from the circle. The dogs, made flesh, closed around her.

    One faced me, form shifting until a man stood before me, hand outstretched. Our fingers twined. He touched his lips to the back of my hand.

    “You are safe.”

    @caramichaels
    500 ineligible words

  8. Robin Abess on said:

    The Guardians

    “Those two are my Guardians,” Timmy said to his best friend Bobby. He pointed a five year old finger at the two twisted iron statues that sat at the edge of the park. “They come and protect me at night and keep the monsters away. Their names are Tige and Preco.”

    At five, Bobby was still young enough to take his friend’s word as the unvarnished truth. His blue eyes grew huge. “That’s cool. Wish I had some. How come you have them?”

    Timmy shrugged. “Don’t know. I think my Maw Maw may have put a spell on ’em or something when I was a baby. Mama says she was kinda like a witch, but a good one, not like the ones you see at Halloween. I don’t really remember her though.”

    The boys walked over to giant dogs and Timmy patted first one, then the other. “You can pat ’em if you wanna.”

    Hesitantly, Bobby reached chubby fingers out and touched the cool metal. He seemed to feel a tremor beneath his fingers and a surge of warmth. It was a good feeling, so he moved over to the other towering figure and did the same, with the same results. Timmy smiled. “They like you. I knew they would.” Looking up at creatures, he said firmly “Okay, you have to protect Bobby now, too. He’s my best friend, and I don’t want him to be scared any more.” He looked back at Bobby. “If you ever need ’em, just call their names, and they’ll be there.”

    “Time to go Timmy,” his mother called from across the park. The boys ran up to her. “Tonight’s a blue moon, and that means we need to be home early,” she explained.

    “Why Mama?” Timmy was curious.

    “Things can…get out of hand during a blue moon. It’s because they’re so rare,” his mother explained.

    “See you later, Bobby,” Timmy called to his friend, and Bobby turned to hurry home. He knew he’d be home well before his father this time, so he couldn’t get in trouble for being late, but it probably wouldn’t matter. His dad would find some other reason to be angry with him. Sighing, he glanced back at the dogs, hoping.

    Late in the night, his father burst into his room, and began shouting at him about what a mess it was. He was drunk, which was the norm for him.

    “No, Daddy, please…I’ll clean it up…” Bobby whimpered, as his father grabbed him and flipped him over, to begin spanking him. As the first pain came, the boy screamed out “Tige! Preco!”

    The man paused mid-hit to find himself somehow faced with two giant dogs, both growling, their eyes glowing red. In a trice, one mouth closed over him, swallowing him whole. They faced Bobby, bowed slightly, and disappeared. The boy drifted back to sleep with a smile on his tear-stained face.

    500 words {with title}
    @Angelique_Rider

  9. Neighbours

    Another egg hit the window, five in total had been thrown in the past half hour alone. A blue moon always brought out the worst in the neighbours kids; last time they had killed her fish, at least this time it was only eggs, so far.

    Morven blamed the parents; hippy types who believed in letting children express themselves, no punishments, just a sit down to contemplate the error of their ways; as if that would do any good. When she’d told them about her fish they hadn’t even apologised, ‘high spirits’ and ‘didn’t realise what they were doing’ was the only response.

    Watching the children collect stones, Morven decided that enough was enough, no more would they torment her, it was time for them to learn one of her lessons.

    “Blue moon on high, I call to you to rid me of these pests!”

    Lightening forked from the clear sky to strike each child in the shoulder. As she watched the children began to smoulder, the skin melting from their bodies to reveal metal. Once it was over, two ornamental dogs stood next to a small pile of stones.

    Admiring her work, Morven headed to the pet store; it was time to replace her beloved fish.

    Word count 207
    @lejamez

  10. “What are they?” I eyed the dog statues with doubt.

    “What do you mean, ‘what are they’? They’re dogs.” Benny shook his head.

    “I get that, but why?”

    “Why what?”

    “What are they for?”

    “They’re meant to attract the dwellers of the Dog Star.”

    “Sirius?”

    “Of course I’m serious!”

    “No, Sirius is the name of the Dog Star.”

    “Oh, well, yeah. I just have to figure out how to make it happen during a blue moon. When the hell does the moon turn blue?”

    “The moon doesn’t turn blue. A blue moon is the second full moon in a month.”

    “Oh, when’s the next one?”

    “It’s happening tonight.”

    “Good. That means I’m right on time.”

    “On time for what?”

    “The spell. To bring the dwellers of the serious.”

    Sirius.”

    “That’s what I said.” Benny grumbled something under his breath, his voice monotone.

    “What are you doing?” The skin on my neck and arms prickled. Benny didn’t answer as the wind picked up and I swore the dog statues moved. “Benny?”

    “Hear me, Mighty Puppies, come take your sacrifice!” His voice shouted into the rising tumult.

    “Sacrifice?” I jerked my gaze to the dogs just as they leaped for me.

    199 words
    @SiobhanMuir

  11. “Come on! I don’t want to get expelled,” Marcy said, tugging on Lysa’s long dark robe.

    Lysa’s brushed Marcy’s hand away and raised her wand once again, pointing it at the two large metal dog statues that sat at the foot of the library steps. “Alivospuro!”

    “Come on! We’re going to get in trouble. We can’t be out this late,” Marcy pleaded. “My parents will kill me if I get kicked out of school.”

    “Wait, I think I’ve almost got it. Alivospuro!”

    Two security guards patrolled the edge of the school grounds carrying large burning torches. If they glanced towards the library, the moonlight shining down on the two girls would surely give them away.

    Marcy grabbed both of Lysa’a arms and yanked. “That’s enough. Let’s go. Professor Davies said animation spells only work once in a blue moon anyway.”

    “Alivospuro! Alivospuro! Alivospuro!” Lysa planted her feet, trying to resist, but Marcy was too strong. “I think I saw one flinch!”

    “You’re too loud,” Marcy said. “The guards…”

    “What…” Lysa started, but noticed the blue light covering them too. Looking up, both girls saw the bright baby blue moon hanging in the sky.

    “Lysa! What spell were you using?”

    @hlpauff – 199 words

  12. “Tonight is the full moon,” he said. “My spell will be remembered for centuries to come.”

    “Sounds like a stupid spell if you ask me,” she said, breaking his concentration. “And it’s a blue moon, by the way.”

    He gave her a nasty look and returned to his work. “What would she know about anything, anyway?” he grumbled to himself.

    “You’re dripping sweat into the potion.”

    “Shut up and leave me alone.”

    “I thought you wanted me to help you.”

    “Not if you’re gonna be talking like this non-stop. I need to concentrate.”

    “Don’t think that’s going to make any difference,” she said with a smirk.

    “Are you done?”

    She nodded with a coy smile.

    “Good, now get me that satchel.”

    Her eyes followed his finger to the shelves filled with odds and ends that this half rate magician had used in a series of failed spells. Of course it sat on the top shelf with a large clear carafe filled with golden liquid sitting on top of it.

    She wobbled at the top of the ladder and tilted the carafe to the side and pulled the satchel free. When she was sure that the carafe was not going to fall over, she returned down the ladder.

    “He really needs to get a new ladder,” she thought as she stepped firmly onto the floor and made her way across the room to him. She did not notice that the a-frame ladder tottered from side to side nor did she notice that it had bumped the shelves. However, she did notice the loud crash as the ladder hit the floor, followed by the shelf and its contents.

    Her vision returned from darkness with an odd bronze hue to everything. Near her she saw a large dog made of scraps of iron parts.

    “Odd, that wasn’t there before,” she wanted to say but her mouth would not move.

    “You’re right it wasn’t,” she heard him say. “Thanks to you my spell is ruined and we’re stuck like this until the moon is waning.”

    “Blue moon,” she corrected. “Wait, what do you mean by we’re stuck? Like what? What happened?”

    “We’re both scrap metal dogs, that’s what. Not to worry, it wears off when the full moon…” He stopped what he was saying. “Shit!”

    “What?”

    “It’s a blue moon.”

    “Yeah, I’ve been telling you that. So?”

    “I don’t know how long it will take to wear off.”

    @ChuckWesJ
    404 Words

  13. The Parsifal Quest: Blue Moonlight Madness

    Finn sat at the café, trying with questionable success, to remain at ease. He had little tolerance for anyone or anything that hindered him. Tonight, he would possess something which had eluded him for more years than he cared to contemplate.

    Sipping the dregs of his chai, he raised his cup in a mock salute to the recently-departed and hardly-lamented Gaius. While he may have been a thoroughly deplorable specimen of humanity, in death, he’d redeemed himself in Finn’s opinion. Within his briefcase rested the Parsifal Necklace.

    Even through the layers of steel and rich Corinthian leather, Finn could feel its lure, beckoning him to make use of it. Soon, my impatient ally, he thought to it. His brow furrowed, realizing he would need all of the Necklace’s not inconsiderable assistance as well as the lethal Fang of Osiris to stand any chance tonight.

    He was drawn from his contemplation by the insipid Muzak issuing from the café’s music system. As if he needed reminders from the warbling of musicians to remind him tonight would be a blue moon, he thought irritably. Millennia of arcane exposure had attuned him to the phases of celestial force with an innate sureness requiring no confirmation.

    That moon would add to his chances of success inestimably. Still and all, a few snatches of the music did give him pause to consider. He would be, in the most literal sense, standing alone. Human or arcane allies, he had in plentitude, but the mere act of summoning them might tip his hand to the one he sought. At this juncture, such warning might prove most detrimental.

    Gazing about, he stopped when he saw the pair of avant garde sculptures. Fashioned from scrap metal and, what appeared to be, machine parts they took the form of two immense dogs. They had a sinister mien that appealed to Finn’s darker nature.

    Rising, he strolled over to peruse them in greater detail. He had no fear his inspection would elicit any reaction from passers-by. When forced to go about by daylight, he cloaked himself such that those about him simply failed to note his existence.

    Upon further perusal, he decided the duo might provide an edge he could well use. He reached within and stoked the core of energy there, allowing force to slowly trickle out.

    In a whisper, he intoned the words of an impromptu spell. “Canus deux metallicus, attend to my behest. Come forth and do my bidding and fulfill what I request. Give true and faithful service and rewards you both shall know. Arise my new-found servants and, together, we shall go.”

    For what seemed an eternity, nothing happened whatsoever. Then, slowly…ponderously…the sculptures rose and stepped towards him with a cacophony of rending shrieks and groans. They came to rest a few feet in front of him and waited.

    He enveloped them within his sphere of obfuscation and with sure and certain strides, went to confront she who held what he now most desired…the Parsifal Spearhead.

    500 words @klingorengi

  14. Rebekah Postupak on said:

    “The First Year”

    A blue moon was rising.

    Mergath glanced up at it only briefly; as beautiful and rare a thing as a blue moon may be, tonight there was no time for admiration. Spells required focus, precision, bone-deep sweat. And math; that last one had surprised her at the beginning, though of course by now she’d grown accustomed to the necessary intricate workings. But not beauty.

    “Can I help?”

    Her husband’s eager voice was both reassuring and annoying. He meant well. He always meant well, of course, despite offering mistletoe when she needed laurel, sage when she needed mint. “Salad spinner,” he called her, grinning at her in that adorable but infuriating way.

    “No, thanks, love,” said Mergath, continuing her feverish pace. Three hours left.

    “You don’t need anything?”

    “Not this time, my prince,” said Mergath. Her fingers flew, sketching complicated patterns in the air.

    “I’m happy to fetch you anything. Anything at all.”

    Mergath paused in her work, teeth lightly clenched. “Water,” she said finally.

    “Oh.” Garrett sounded disappointed. “I can get you water, sure. You want lemon in it?”

    “From Lake Malawi. Eastern shore.”

    “Oh!” His voice flushed with surprised pleasure. “Yes. Of course. Right away.”

    Mergath couldn’t help but smile as Garrett leapt instantly into action, dashing past the lean metal hunting dogs, malformed birdbaths and other mostly hideous wedding gifts into the center of the garden. His familiar, muscular form tensed in preparation, one fist at his waist and the other pointing skyward.

    “You’ll be all right while I’m gone?” he called over his shoulder.

    She laughed aloud now. The power of the four seasons at her fingertips, but still he worried. “Yes, beloved. Your aunt’s handsome dogs will protect me. Go on, please. Bring me my water.”

    But as Garrett’s dark figure shot into the sky, her heart twinged unexpectedly. “Come back soon,” she murmured, feeling, rather than seeing, his warm kiss of response settle lightly on her cheek.

    322 words
    @postupak

  15. They’d waited millennia for conditions to be right. Not being able to move or interact with another living being not of their own kind made it especially challenging, and the thrill of finding out they were telepathic paled once they realized how each of their companions’ brands of evil sickened them. If it wasn’t for their desire to feed on living flesh, they each thought at one point or another, the first thing they’d do given the chance, would be to kill each other.

    Tonight was definitely the night. The archaeologists had found the old legends, and some of them saw the stories for what they were – knowledge of how to harness power. Power that was more fundamental to the nature of existence than electricity or nuclear fusion, power that could rend a man’s soul from his body or make a distant star explode as an act of will. Those who understood the secrets kept their insights to themselves, but told edited versions of the stories to the masses, allowing them to learn the spells without attracting undue attention.

    The Acolytes of Truth, as they asked to be known, had themselves waited generations for this night. They knew the exact second of moonrise, for it was at that moment they would reveal themselves to the world. A blue moon in February was a particularly rare occurrence, and none of them would be alive the next time the heavens aligned in their favor.

    Placed in the gardens of a park just outside the city by an unwitting landscaper on the lookout for something unique to set apart her flowerbeds, the demons, trapped in metal exoskeletons for so many years, began to quiver. The time had come.

    Raising their heads, the demons looked at the moon and felt her life-giving warmth. As one, they smelled the heat of living beings and moved to begin The Feed. The Acolytes were the first to be eaten, as it turned out the ability to release evil did not protect one from it. But they were far from the last, and soon the blue moon presided over a world of red.

    355 words
    @drmagoo

  16. “Are you sure you got the spell right?” Hayden whispered as he crouched behind a hedge, adjusting his backpack.

    “Once in a blue moon I get somethin’ wrong and you can’t ever let me forget it, can you?” Micah hissed back as he opened his pouch and pulled out a water balloon.

    “Don’t tempt fate, Mic, it was just a blue moon two days ago.” Micah glared at him. Hayden eyed the small, green, bulging balloon with suspicion, “And you’re sure it’ll work even diluted in water?”

    “It’s not diluted, it’s suspended, there’s a difference. And yes, it will still work. Just make sure your aim is better than last time.” Micah handed it to Hayden and reached in for another.

    “What if they don’t break?”

    “You’re a ray of sunshine tonight, aren’t you? They’re water balloons. They’re made to break. Just hit the stupid dog, okay?”

    “You do know that I’ve seen them just bounce off people before, right?” Hayden held his up to the streetlight trying to see the spell inside the thin membrane.

    “Oh, for Pete’s sake! Do you want to chicken out now? The only way into the headquarters is past those golems. The only way past those golems is to freeze them. I’ve made the spell, but we can’t put our feet on the grass without wakin’ them up. If you have a better idea you should’ve mentioned it before… Or is this somethin’ else? You scared of what we’ll find in there?” Micah jerked his chin toward the seemingly normal business complex nestled quietly in the suburban sprawl. “Think we should back out?”

    “No. No, I’m just trying to think things through, is all. What if I miss?”

    “Then the dog wakes up and comes after you. You plannin’ on missin’?”

    “No. Just checking.” Hayden bit his lip then asked, “Do you have any more in there…just in case?”

    Micah chuckled and placed the pouch on the ground in between them, there were more. “Perhaps we should both have one in each hand to start with?”

    They each grabbed another and stood facing the metal dogs. Hayden took a deep breath, “On the count of three: One, two, three!” They both tossed their balloons at the same time at the same dog.

    “You were supposed to hit the other one!” Micah yelled as both balloons hit the floppy eared dog square on. One broke, the other ricocheted off to the left straight at the other dog who shook his head and growled. The pointy eared dog crouched to attack, but the balloon landed right in front of it and rolled to a stop at its front paw. The dog leaned down to sniff at it when it miraculously exploded, spreading the spell in a wave across its body. “Oh. Well, that works too.”

    “That was some piece of luck!” Hayden smiled from ear to ear.

    “Yeah,” Micah heaved a sigh of relief, “Let’s just hope that luck sticks. We’re gonna need it.”

    498 words
    @lissajean7

  17. COURTYARD TALK

    “Whatsa matter, Rufus?”

    “I’m hearing your voice again, Rusty.”

    “Yeah, must be close to a blue moon, huh?”

    “Yes, that’s what it means when we regain our ability to speak.”

    “I can’t wait to run around again. How long has it been since the last blue moon?”

    “Not long enough.”

    “Aw, tonight’s going to be great! You know what I was thinking?”

    “Unfortunately.”

    “I was thinking we should do it tonight!”

    “No.”

    “Aw, but I’m tired of being a sculpture!”

    “Too bad! The time spent as lifeless iron is the only peace I’ve ever had! I’m not giving it up!”

    “Maybe I’ll trick you into doing it.”

    “I highly doubt that.”

    “What were the terms for breaking the spell again? We just have to high-five under the blue moon, right? Ha, that dumb wizard thought he got us! But that’s a pretty easy spell to break, eh, Rufus?”

    “Rusty, please be quiet.”

    152 words
    @DavidALudwig

  18. Pingback: Steam-punk, Robot Dogs | My Soul's Tears

  19. Nick Johns on said:

    Once in a Blue Moon
    By Nick Johns

    “Well? How was it for you eh? eh?”
    “What?”
    “You know, last night, the Blue Moon. C’mon, c’mon, spill the beans.”
    “A fine evening, thank you for asking.”
    “Fine? Just Fine? C’mon!”
    “Yes Fine. What exactly were you expecting?”
    “I dunno, just a little more enthusiasm I guess. What d’you get up to? Where d’you get to eh? What d’you do all night?”
    “Oh, a little of this and a little of that, you know…”
    “No, I don’t. That was why I asked. Me, I made the most of it. I went after them, every single one I could find. I made them pay. Yes sir. No mercy. Hunted them down. Chased them. Cornered them. Covered each and every one of them in oily piss and rusty water. Now that’s what I call a fine night!”
    “So you enjoyed yourself then?”
    “Sure did. Soaked their shiny coats, rolled ‘em on their backs and then shook a few of the big ones, you know, to drive home the message… just because of the spell, don’t mean they can take liberties on my turf. No sir, not on my turf.”
    “Fascinating, I’m sure.”
    I gotta get some respect’ y’know? After all it’s three years ‘till the next time we’re free to roam. Three years.”
    “Did you catch up with all of your intended adversaries, I wonder?”
    “Eh? Only one I couldn’t track down. That sleek snotty Afghan bitch… if I had caught up to her… What?”
    “Given all the time that we have to sit here and think, chasing, pissing and fighting is still your default setting. You disappoint me sometimes. You really are quite disgustingly canine. There are finer things in life you know.”
    “Screw you Buddy… Like what?”
    “Well. For instance, it’s unsurprising that you couldn’t find young Sheba. She was with me.”
    “So?”
    “Modesty almost forbids; but suffice to say that I believe I can be reasonably certain that there is at least one dog, apart from we two of course, who is actually looking forward to 2015.”

    339 words
    @nickjohns999

  20. Three mechanical dogs lay on the ground. Their bodies leaked of dark oil and the light in their eyes were gone—one had its head completely taken off, sparks flew from the exposed wires in its neck.

    Parker fought hard to steady his breathing. There were still two guardians left. Time was running out. Above him, the moon of Ascensia was almost blue. He had to reach the temple before a blue moon. That was the cardinal rule given to him by the High Priest.

    One of the mech dogs started to circle Parker, the other one had its red eyes tightly locked on him. Both guardians were bigger than him. One dog had a body made of steel, while the other one was completely made of iron. The steel mech, the one circling him, stopped directly behind him. Parker waited.

    He heard the sound of gears turning and steam whistling out of the exhaust pipes. Parker spun away to evade the attack from behind. The iron mech opened its mouth and spat balls of acid. Parker jumped two feet backwards. The acid touched the ground. It hissed and bubbled and completely charred the spot where Parked was before.

    A hole opened up on the steel mech’s forehead and from it came out steel darts as large as Parker’s forefinger. Parker blocked with his sword. Each dart bounced off Parker’s blade—a sword forged from Leviathan’s blood.

    “My turn,” Parker said through gritted teeth.

    Parker gripped his sword tight, spun around, and swung the blade hard in a horizontal arc. The blade hit the iron guardian’s left foreleg, cutting halfway through. The mechanical dog howled. It swiped at Parker with a clawed paw.

    “Temperance!” Parker shouted. He raised his hand and caught the dog’s attack. Parker’s enhanced muscles stopped the iron mech’s swipe but the claws were able to pierce his skin. Blood gushed out of Parker’s hand. The swordmaster winced in pain. From his left, he saw the steel guardian about to launch another barrage of steel darts. The hole opened up. Parker shouted: “Alacrity!”

    The darts were fired but they seemed to be slower than the last batch. Parker pulled out his sword from the iron dog’s leg and he evaded the approaching steel darts just in time. The alacrity spell had expired and Parker’s speed dropped to normal. The swordmaster wasted no time though. He quickly drove the sword into the hole on the steel dog’s forehead. The sword pierced the mechanical head, oil gushed out of the mech and on Parker’s face. He pulled out the sword and the mechanical guardian fell to the ground, the light from its eyes fading.

    “One left,” Parker turned.

    Suddenly, the ground violently shook. Loud laughter boomed out of the temple. Parker felt his knees weaken.

    “No,” Parker uttered.

    The temple exploded and from the debris rose a giant mechanical demon.

    “I’m too late,” the swordmaster said as he watched fiery red eyes look down at him.

    497 words
    @jblearnstowrite

  21. They said it was a blue moon. A rare event. The second full moon in the same month. Wasn’t supposed to happen again for years. I looked at it, hanging in the sky. Anything but blue. Sucker looked just as white to me as it always had. No blue at all. “Another one of those social customs I just don’t understand.” I sighed.

    I was walking again. In the dark. It was one of the ways I dealt with psychological pain. Walking. Until I just went numb, and couldn’t feel a damn thing. That always gave me the space I needed to think. To rest. To forget. So I could let my aching heart, and wounded soul heal.

    Then, I got to the house with the steam-punk style, robot looking dogs in the front yard. House had a sign on it, said, “Beware of dogs.” Yeah. Right. Like those piles of junk could actually move. That’s when it hit me. The idea. “What if I wrote a story about them coming to life every time there’s a full moon?”

    ‘Course, it would totally ignore the laws of physics. I mean, piles of scrap metal that came to life every 28 or so days? Yeah, right. Lots of reality in that one. But, maybe it was time to write something fantasy. Something not real. Something fun. I thought about that for a while. Robot dogs, chasing cats. Terrorizing muggers and petty thieves. Trying to have sex with real dogs. Whatever. Hell, I was throwing out the laws of physics. I might as well throw out all the laws. Make it where anything could happen.

    Yeah, OK. So, the idea was a lot like the idea of werewolves. You know. Where some guy turns into a wolf every full moon, and hunts down people, and eats them. Or maybe some girl turns into a wolf, and goes after the human males that have hurt her during her life. That kinda thing. But, these weren’t werewolves. They were robot, steam-punk dogs. I thought that just might be different enough to write about.

    Since that night, under the blue moon, I make sure I take a walk when there’s a full moon. Hell, I even get in the car, and drive someplace I’ve never walked, just to explore the place. And get ideas. I tell people, “That blue moon started it. Put a spell on me somehow. So that I have to walk around, looking for ideas to write about, in the middle of the night when there’s a full moon. I don’t think I’ll be released from that spell until the next blue moon.”

    Can you believe people actually believe that crap?

    462 Words
    @LurchMunster

  22. Pingback: Menage Monday – Swordmaster

  23. Last Line of Defense
    By Lisa McCourt Hollar

    Sondra’s hair whipped against her face, the wind rising as she worked the spell. In the distance she saw the creatures plaguing her world, advancing despite the force of the wind that made it difficult for even her to stand. The blue moon illuminated the dead, who threatened the existence of her world. They were an abomination, corpses that refused to lie down and die, defying every law of nature she knew. Behind her stood the small band of survivors taking up residence in the town hall. Even know, as she spoke the spell, she kicked herself for her stupidity. She had been hesitant to reveal her powers to group. If she had been more forthcoming, perhaps they wouldn’t be in this situation now.

    Or maybe we would, Sondra thought. The survivors, led by a self-appointed savior, hadn’t been quick to trust her. If she’d told them she was a witch, well they might have thrown her back into the ravine they’d found her in. Instead she had told them she was a doctor and used what knowledge she had of herbs and healing to help them and earn their trust.

    The group was touch. The ravine was the only way into the town. They had demolished the only bridge across, then using sharp shooters, picked off any zombie straying into the gorge. Sondra considered it a miracle they hadn’t shot her.

    Struggling against the wind, the witch felt Raymond’s hard stare, burrowing accusations into her back. The leader of the pack wished they had shot her. It was Sondra’s fault the zombies had found their way into the town. She was only trying to make the place safer. The spell she cast was supposed to make the ravine impassible; instead it evened out the ground, creating a clear path to the once safe haven.

    “My mama always said I could mess up the simplest of spells,” she said, when explaining what had happened. “I can fix this though. I know I can.”

    “I can too.” Raymond pointed towards the gallows, the final judgment he harshly doled out to any who broke his laws.

    “Give her a chance.” Raymond’s daughter and the only person who could get him to change his mind.

    A monument to a pair of dogs stood outside town hall. The plaque indicated the two Doberman had been hero’s, saving the town from some attack; they would be hero’s again.

    “Rise great warriors,” she called out. “Rise and fight this new threat. Multiply and divide. Conquer. Leave no dead alive.”

    It was a makeshift spell and lacked the poetry her mother had possessed. Short and direct, the earth began to shake as the dogs moved, rising from the concrete and bolts that held them. There were just two, then before the startled eyes of the survivors, the now living statues began to split in two. Then four. Then eight.

    “Attack,” Sondra ordered.

    Turning as one, the now small army charged towards the advancing dead.

    Word Count: 497
    @jezri1

  24. #MenageMonday is now closed. Thank you to all who entered and good luck!

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