The Vessel Vespertilian

Standard
Digital drawing. A bat mostly resembling the pygmy round-eared bat, three-quarters view of head with mouth slightly open, seen from bent legs up. The bat has two arms bent over his legs with a smooth membrane connecting the arms to his side. Behind these arms rise four pairs of membranous wings. They extend off frame. The bottom pair is watery and translucent. Next is a pair with rough earthen texture. Next is a flaming pair. And the last is luminous and wispy.

“Raccoons or orphans, whatever is back there, chase them away.  Or chase this away.  It’s your choice.”

I didn’t want to look at the glinting silver coin that he held up, but I couldn’t help it.  This was not the coin I needed today, or ten days from now, or even ten years from now.  I was prudent with my coin.  No, this was the coin I would need when I was an old woman, assuming I wanted to be the type of old woman who spent her days sitting by a sunlit window, sipping on fruit nectar, listening to a happy dog bark as I read a book of my choosing for as long as I so pleased.

Continue reading

Angel at the Carnival

Standard
Digital drawing. Two figures at center. Left, a toddler boy wearing overalls with a patch at the chest bearing an image of the hand-horns sign. The boy’s right hand is outstretched and is conjuring a cloud of cotton candy. His other arm is bent at his side. Right, an animal that appears to be half-dog and half-fish. The dog-like body is sitting up. The fish-like head is turned to the side with mouth open, displaying piranha teeth and a pointy outstretched tongue. The creature’s eyes are red. It has a long tail bearing fins, ending in a caudal fin. The creature wears a studded collar with a tag that reads “Angel.” Behind them is the hazy shape of a Ferris wheel with glowing lights.

“I know what it looks like to most, but he’s actually quite friendly.”

The woman named Irina laughed and tipped her head toward the toddler picking dehydrated marshmallows out of his cereal.  “I could say the same for him.”

She glanced down at Angel, who lowered his head and kept his mouth closed, trying to appear as harmless as was possible for him.  Angel was born of a dog, but he was…different. 

Continue reading

A Carnival of Cakes

Standard
Digital drawing. Background, a two-layer round chocolate cake with a slice cut out, with orange frosting, chocolate glaze on top and dripping down the sides, and overlapping round orange slices wrapped around the bottom. Tall glowing triangles of sugar candy crown the top. Foreground left, a square piece of two-layer cake with sprinkles, frosted with whipped cream, topped with three berries in a diagonal, and sprigs of tiny leaves. Foreground right, a square cake seen from top and along on corner, with frosting piped at the bottom and top borders. The word “Farewell” is written on the top. The word “Level” is written on the visible sides. A shadowy hand emerges from right and reaches for the cakes. Another hand grasps the first at the wrist.

On the eve of the winter solstice, ever since I can remember, my brothers and I have played a game that only we can play.

It’s because we made it up.  We made it up together.  I would have let my brothers decide everything.  I was the littlest.  I didn’t know as much as they knew.  I didn’t know anything.  But they told me that was the point.  No one knew anything in the beginning of their journeys.  They only started knowing things by going on the journey.  By making decisions before they even knew what the right decision was.

Continue reading

Kairos and the Phantom

Standard
Digital drawing. At right, a man in medieval style clothing stands amid patches of grass and looks shocked. He holds his right hand to his mouth as he gazes at the figure to the left, a man with a gray complexion bowing as he catches an apple. The bowing man is surrounded by a wispy glowing cloak and the colors of his clothing appear to be bleeding into the cloak. At his right foot is a platter of food. A stone sits on or in his left foot. Part of a stream is visible behind the shocked man.

Something terrible had come into the world.  Something evil.  Invisible, intangible. Some corruption that could not be perceived.  And therefore could not be fought.  By the time it had a grip on someone, it was too late.  The corruption seeped into every part of that person, defiling their heart, twisting their thoughts, draining the very life out of their body.

No land was spared.  No person was spared, no matter how pure, how honorable, how fit of body, how courageous of heart.  No place was hidden from this corruption. 

Continue reading

Citizen Forsaken

Standard
Digital drawing. Center left, a humanoid figure seen from waist-up and in profile reaches out with the left arm toward a ball of light surrounded by hazy light at top right corner. The figure has six digits on their hand and an elongated ear that rises into their flowing hair and above their head. Bottom right, dark hazy shapes suggesting skyscrapers and high-rises at night. The sky appears filled with iridescent clouds. Ghostly after images of the figure appear around the figure.

When the disaster happened, or the event, or whatever it was—I still don’t know to this day—I hadn’t yet noticed how much yellow there is in the lower city. 

There’s not a lot of yellow where I come from—except for light and that’s different—but here, in the lower city, it seems to be everywhere.

Maybe I’m from here now.  After a year, maybe I’m from Los Angeles.

I’ll say that to myself, sometimes aloud as I stare at the silent, solid bathroom mirror. 

As I try to stare into the mirror.

Home used to be that close.  I stepped through a mirror and I was in Los Angeles.  And I was supposed to step through a mirror and be right back home again.

But now there’s nothing to see but my own reflection.

And home may as well be a galaxy away.

Continue reading

Storyfeather Year 8

Standard

Year Eight is finished! As always, thank you to everyone who read even a single story. Thank to you everyone who liked or commented. Thank you for your time and interest, and for being a part of Storyfeather, especially Year Eight.

This was the Year of Revisitation, in which I went back to a story I’d already written and wrote a new standalone story based on a character, object, continuation of events, or some other (sometimes flimsy) link to the earlier story.

A lot happens in the eighth year stories.  While investigating a murder, a single-celled detective is led into a world full of bacterial filaments, proto-multicellular colonies, and a new concept called “love.” The most popular wrestling show in five galaxies is somehow in danger of being shut down, but then the wrestlers—including the show’s first human—jump into action to save it. In the 400th story, six kids explore the possibility that dogs have been trying to warn humanity about a terrible enemy in their midst…the vacuum machines. And a kitchen mishap leads to the accidental invention of the most powerful ice cream in the world.

I did something new and made a year-end trailer for The Year of Revisitation. It’s posted here, and it’ll be on the Trailers page for a few weeks.

Music: “Space Discoveries” by Andrew Sitkov

I’ve written over 400 stories now, and produced over 200 podcast episodes. And yes, I do feel mighty. I do wonder if I’m repeating myself sometimes (I probably am, but maybe it’s okay if it turns out to be fun). It was more challenging than I expected to revisit older stories. Part of the challenge was that when I first started writing, I often added too many elements to a story. I still sometimes do that, but I believe I’ve gotten better at recognizing and streamlining. There were times when I wanted to revisit a previous story, or some element from the story, but in a longer work. Perhaps, in the future…

This year, I launched a few new features in the hopes of making it easier and more fun to navigate through all those hundreds of stories, and find the ones you’re most likely to enjoy.

  • Trailers page: The trailers for the most recent stories and podcast episodes, and links to older trailers.
  • Portals page: Buttons with images and taglines for recent stories. The buttons (portals) lead to the introductory pages for each story, which contain the trailer and more information. My hope is that I can add to these introductory pages in the future (more trailers, behind-the-scenes info, etc.).
  • You can also listen to the three most recent podcast episodes from either the Trailers or the Portals pages.
  • Hub pages for the current story year and podcast season, to make it easier to scroll through and read the titles and taglines of the stories, and either go directly to the story, or go visit the introductory page.

    In case you didn’t know about all these pages, or just haven’t checked them out, the buttons are at the bottom of this post. I also ran a couple of showcase campaigns to highlight stories that shared a theme. I plan to continue this effort with more navigation tools in the next year. So if anyone has any suggestions or other feedback, please feel free to reach out.

Expanding beyond this site, I also launched a new online course to help anyone who wants to write short fiction, and I’ll soon be launching a new online store with merchandise that features artwork from the Storyfeather stories.

All of these new things are exciting (sometimes grueling) but the stories are still the core of this endeavor.

Storytelling is still my true love, still my destiny, still my path.  Stories have been my hope and my haven all my life. First, the stories of others, and then my own stories as well. This year, stories and storytelling have also been my anchor.

Year Nine is coming.  The Wheel of Fiction. The theme is a continuation of Year Eight’s theme, but with a twist (pun intended). Season Five of the podcast is coming soon. The journey continues! I hope you’ll come along.

I have stories to tell you.
Nila


Portal Button. Elongated rectangle with rings of colored light emanating from the center. Text appears over the rings, reading "Storyfeather Year 8" and below it in larger font, "Revisitation."
Portal Button. Elongated rectangle with rings of colored light emanating from the center. Text appears over the rings, reading "Storyfeather Year 4" and below it in larger font, "Creatures."

[Summarized Video Description: Trailer. Duration, 96 seconds. Music: “Space Discoveries” by Andrew Sitkov. Title card with the Storyfeather main logo and “Year 8” and the story title are displayed in front of the image from the story “The Union of the Spyglass.”  The logo and title card fade. A watermark of the word “Storyfeather” appears at bottom right. Images from various other Year 8 stories appear and disappear in a series of wipes and animations. The following words appear and disappear, “Galactic! Microscopic. Hand pies! Aliens! Quests. Mischief. The 400th story” The video slows down as the image from the four hundredth story appears, “Attack of the Vacuum Machine Army.”  More images and words appear and disappear, “Dreams. Visions. Other Realms. Horror. Magic. Myth.” The video slows again as the final image appears. The watermark fades as the logo reappears at center, and above it, the words “The Year of Revisitation.”]

The Misfortune of Repetition

Standard
Digital drawing. At center, two little girls. The girl at left stands a head taller, with her right hand on her hip and her left arm around the other girl’s shoulder. She wears a skirt, a quarter-sleeve pullover, a band around her left wrist, and a barrette in her hair. The girl at right holds a book open in her right hand, and touches a page with her left. Sparkles surround the book. She wears a dress with a pleated skirt. The girls smile and gaze at each other. Behind them are lines of script with random letters bordered by a lightning pattern.

It was the turning into her fifth year, when Anushka would enter the next epoch of her childhood, the first learning years.  Being a child whose family was of modest wealth, there were a few minor enchantments that were gifted to her.  One was a book that could summon any one of a hundred different fairy tales within its pages with a simple chant.  Another was a pair of boots that could lace themselves.  And still another was a mysterious card placed within a vivid green envelope embossed with the golden letters of the giver’s initials.

Continue reading

Castle, Cave, or Cloud

Standard
Digital drawing. A castle at center with three main spires flying pennants, battlements, and flanking symmetrical towers. The castle stands in front of a cave opening through which light pours. Moss grows along the cave walls. In front of the castle is a bank of clouds.

She remembered darkness.  And she remembered her name.  That was all.

Spark zoomed into a heap of advancing clouds, grinning and gasping at the sensations of cold and wet, reaching out to touch what could not quite be grasped.  She emerged on the other side, and spotted a colossal formation of rock and stone with three spires so high they topped the clouds.  A mountain!

Maybe there, she thought. 

Continue reading