Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!
300 words, by Siobhan Muir (@SiobhanMuir)
Kendra recognized the home of a witch the moment she stepped across the threshold. It wasn’t anything overt. There weren’t gnarly candles cascading over shelves or fragrant herbs hanging from the eaves. The house appeared like any other modern day home with the exception of electric appliances. But the energy of a witch’s house was the same the realms over. There was a vibration in the air, a pulse of energy that designated what kind of witch lived in the dwelling.
Phinn’s mother is a Forest Witch.
The house sat in a glade about the size of a soccer pitch with gardens in the open spaces running right up to the trees. The trees themselves acted as a sort of tall hedge with paths among them to allow for herb, fungus, and pine needle gathering. Bees buzzed among the flowers and fruit trees growing in the gardens. Pixies flitted through the sparkling sunshine, leaving trails of glitter behind them to dissipate in the warm air.
Phinn opened the front door, carved with the likeness of a watchful owl below the moon. The moon was a round window at the head of the door so the residents could see who’d come to call. Kendra followed him inside, noting the entryway full of potted jasmine bushes to make the room smell delicious when the sun heated it.
“Mother, are you about? It’s Phinn.”
They strode to the back of the house, passing doorways down the hall. One such doorway led to a parlor and the sounds of someone plinking on a piano. A small barn owl tested the keys, listening to the notes played until they faded into the silence. Charmed, she watched for a few moments until the owl turned its head and met her gaze. Then slowly winked one eye.
208 words, by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)
Not the Doors Piano Bird
What is the word, I need to know?
What is the word, tell it to me slow?
I need to hear that slow sweet word,
That tells the tale of the piano bird.
I flew so high that I lost my way.
Into a sky as blue as your eyes,
I touched the clouds all soft and grey
And rested till the sun did rise.
Piano bird, he rattled those keys
Piano bird, he pecked away
a little Jelly Roll Blues if you please,
could swim in the sounds till the end of my days.
What is the word, I surely need to know?
What is that word, sing it sweet and slow.
My soul needs to hear what my heart has heard,
The comforting chords of the piano bird.
I fell back to earth on giant wings,
Landed in a field of new-mown hay.
Blessed by the sun, the warmth it brings,
And there I slept till the end of my days.
What is the word I have always known?
A younger lad, and a man full grown?
The joy that it brings, that magical word,
The song that sings from the piano bird,
The song that sings from the piano bird.
Who’s There? 296 words, by Joseph P Garland (@JPGarlandAuthor)
“Did you hear that?”
Since I was asleep a moment before the question was asked, I heard nothing.
“There’s someone downstairs. Listen.”
One of the difficulties of moving into a house in the country to get away from the insanity of the city is that you don’t hear as much as you did before but everything you hear is different. And very loud.
I listened. I heard.
“Is someone playing the piano?”
“Badly,” she said. “But better than you.”
I knew she had a grin but it was a nervous one since, well, someone was in our parlor—that’s what we call our living room—playing the piano. A piano we inherited when we moved in two months before. As well as all the other things that an old, country house is heir to. But I wasn’t sleeping anymore, let alone dreaming.
She turned her light on. It took me a moment for my eyes to adjust. She was looking at me like her Lancelot. Her Indiana Jones. Yes, she was desperate. I pulled the covers off. Billy Joel was still enjoying himself—more like Joel Olsteen—as I tried to figure out whether I left the baseball bat under the bed before realizing I hadn’t had a baseball bat since I was fourteen.
She was cowering—my word, not hers—as I headed to the door, empty handed.
It was a good suggestion. I got it from the bathroom. I didn’t think much about the impact of the rubber end on an interloper until I was on the steps. She was on the landing, watching and then inching down behind me.
The light was off in the parlor. I flipped the switch. I don’t know who was more surprised. Me. Or the owl.
167 words, Josie Cole (@josiecolewrites)
The music reluctantly played – in his head. It was a soft, sweet sound; only faint but unmistakably clear. A tiny voice. It sounded like a bell made of glass.
He didn’t know what it was trying to tell him then. He still didn’t know it now. All he knew is that it seemed very important. It had been days since he’d played the piano.
“Why was the piano important again?” he asked.
“Who knows?” answered the therapist. “Tell me how you felt that day.”
“I remember…scratchiness…in my throat; all of a sudden. How it made breathing…hard. Panic and pain. Gagging. Clutching at my throat…and…I remember there being no hands…just feathers…feathers!”
He became agitated. The music swelled in his head.
“More gagging. More pain. Scratching…with my feet. My feet were scratching. They weren’t even feet.”
His voice was barely a whisper.
He put his hands over his ears but there were no ears…and no hands. Only feathers…and a tiny voice telling him to fly.
299 words, by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)
Sickly orange midday light burned through dusty parlor windows into the old hill house. Sound, like light, seemed loathe to intrude upon the mausolean manor. The pasty, squat seigneur of the estate worried clammy hands over his rumpled dressing gown, fat fingers twitching anxiously since finishing the plate on the end table.
Across from him in a high backed bergère a dark woman sipped impassively from her chipped china cup. Ominous vapors emphasized the molten glow of her amber eyes. Her host glanced regretfully at his own empty cup. And the dead bottle next to it. The chime of a single ghostly note shattered the silence, its extended reverberations drawing the woman’s attention to the corner piano.
“What was that?”
Malain’s voice was unperturbed. In contrast, Hawkin’s own owl had nearly given him a heart attack.
“That’s Evie…” He clutched his chest with heavy breaths.
Malain sipped thoughtfully. The same note sounded again, shorter this time.
“Does she play?”
“Tish is trying to teach her. Should we get to the purpose of your visit?”
“I need your help. Taking back my daughter is going to be an all-hands situation.”
“No. Way.” Hawkins spread his hands definitively. “I know who she’s with; I was here when they found her!”
He wouldn’t have believed a smile could be more dangerous than Tisiphone’s if he hadn’t seen one right across from him.
“I’m sure you have some ideas for dealing with them. Besides, you did say if I ever needed anything to ask.”
Hawkins eyed the area for viable egress, wishing the table between them was bigger.
“When, when did I say anything like that?”
“You don’t want me to remind you, do you? Not while your wife is at home.”
A darker heavier tone from down the keyboard hung about them.