One Wicked Warlock

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Digital drawing. At center, the shadows of two figures cast against a stone wall. The figure at left is reeling backwards, arms outstretched, left leg raised and bent, chest pierced with a long spiraling horn, neck entwined with a segmented whip-like tail ending in a stinger. The figure at right stands upright, face in profile, right arm outstretched, holding a vial out above the first figure’s face. The vial is filled with a glowing substance. A green glow appears at bottom right. The left and right frames of the image depict the faint outlines of brickwork.

There is a tall tower to the north.  It is made of stone that looks a common gray from afar.  But I have been close enough to see the stone shift hues, to glitter with the gilded veins of an otherworldly ore, to fade into a pale so utmost as to be nigh invisible.

A warlock once lived there, it is said.  Now the tower is abandoned.

But that does not mean is it safe.

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The Infernal Bargain House

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Digital drawing. An oak tree at center whose six visible main branches spread in all directions, some dragging on the ground, some reaching upward, some reaching outward.  Diffuse patches of green in the background suggest leaves sprouting from the thinner branches.  A thin dark haze lays along the ground. A vaguely humanoid shadow floats beside the tree.

A gray shape darted past me to my right.  I turned to the ragged bushes entangled with dried weeds.  One of the stems shuddered and I heard a rustling.  But the overgrowth was too thick for me to see what was moving around in there.  Back home—my previous home—I would have guessed it was a lizard.  But here, in my new home, it could have been a rabbit.  A wild rabbit.

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Didymedicus

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Digital Drawing. Two human figures wearing heavy coats. Bottom right, an older woman facing forward and smiling. She holds a rod of Asclepius in front of her with both hands. Behind her and to the viewer’s left, a young man holding a caduceus in his right hand, and flourishing his left hand up. His head is turned toward his left hand. They are surrounded by glowing colored lights.

The royal physician, Galena by name, examined the festering bruise just below the king’s ribcage.  The king lay in a sleeping stupor.  A state he had been in for three days, and yet it was only now, and only by order of the queen that the royal physician was allowed to examine her king. 

Galena peered down at the bruise, around the margins of which there appeared an oozing of bright purple fluid.

“I had thought him a fool, but a harmless one,” the queen said.

Galena did not look up as she answered.  “Is there such a thing?”

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The Eye in My Ceiling

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Digital drawing. Central figure, a woman, her top half, seen from below at an angle. She’s facing away standing in a room where the ceiling and parts of two walls intersect at her left, around waist level. The woman wears pants and a t-shirt and her hair in a ponytail. She holds a carving knife in her right hand, held down and behind herself. Her left hand reaches up towards a huge eye in the ceiling. Most of the iris and a small portion of the whites are visible.

I thought it was a reflection at first.  Not the moon.  Some streetlight or something, from outside, getting past my curtains.  I was too lazy, too sleepy to get up and deal with it.  But I do remember thinking it was strange. 

Isn’t the light too bright to be a reflection?  I thought, peeking up at the ceiling.

I do remember resisting the urge to rub my eyes.  I wanted to take a closer look.

Did I just see something floating in the light? 

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Note From A Triceratops

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Digital drawing. The fossil of a triceratops, seen head on from a three-quarters profile, facing left, is either etched in a sandy stone slab, or is standing in front of the slab. The slab is etched with scratches and fern leaf stems.

You think you know our story.  The asteroid.  The extinction.  The line of descendants who succeeded in taking to the air in ways we never did, never could.

I stopped writing and dropped my pen.  I glanced up at the monitor that displayed a magnified image.  And shifted my gaze over to the already withering leaf mounted on the simple light microscope. 

It was my imagination.  It had to be.

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Unstable Blood

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Digital drawing. At center, figure seen from chin to mid-thigh, wearing a top with no sleeves, a shirt or blazer tied around the waist, and a watch around the left wrist. The ends of the figure’s short hair dangle just below the chin. The right hand grips the left at the elbow. The left arm dangles. Rivulets of blood trickle from a wound at the left shoulder. They trickle down the arm, but also float across the body and out from the arm. Behind the figure is a glowing background with spatters bursting out from the center.

Too much blood.  Too much blood is dripping.  He’ll smell it.  He’ll find me.

Once again, she stopped for a moment and leaned against a wall under the flashing red bulbs and the piercing alarm.  She inhaled and drew the blood back into her body through the poorly sealed gash that arced over her shoulder.  A dozen rivulets trickled up her bare arm.

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Five Days of Felines

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Portal Button. Elongated rectangle with curved corners. Rings of colored light emanate from the center. Text over the rings reads "Five Days of Felines." To the right of the text is a glowing silhouette of a cat's paw.

Greetings! Nila here, interrupting the regularly scheduled story posts with a showcase.

There are hundreds of stories on the site and a good number have been made into podcast episodes. The showcase is one of my recent efforts to help readers and listeners find the stories that they might be most interested in.

Between 5/11/21 and 5/16/21, I highlighted five cat-themed short stories right in this post.

In the full post, you can see the trailer for each story, a brief description of the story and how it came about, and links to the stories (and podcast episode when applicable).

I’m open to suggestions for future showcases. If you have one, please feel free to comment in this post (or you can email me at nila@storyfeather.com)

Here’s the main trailer. Please do check it out!

Genres: Fantasy, Fable, Mystery, Mythology

Main trailer narration is a clip from the podcast episode for “The First Days of Moonlight”

Music: “Palaver” by ROZKOL

Scroll down for details and separate trailers for each story. Or click the button to jump to the bottom of the post where you can get quick summaries at a glance, and go straight to the stories.

[Video description: Trailer. Duration 55 seconds. Music plays: “Palaver” by ROZKOL.  Center image of a cat’s right eye, surrounded by a burst of fur. Over the eye, an elongated rectangle with curved corners, circles of color radiating from the center, and text lies above, reading “Fives Days of Felines” with a cat’s paw symbol to the right of the words. The image recedes and a series of six images from the featured stories appear in sequence. First, the silhouette of a seated cat, three-quarters view, facing left. Second, the same image in four quadrants.  Third, a robed figure with a cat’s head and arms upraised, standing under a full moon. Sparks of light stream down from the moon into the open mouths of cats in the foreground seen in silhouette. Fourth, a diffuse shape suggesting a cat’s head with a glow around it and bright red eyes. The head shakes, then fades. Fifth, a cat with patchwork fur sitting down on all fours with tail wrapped around itself and looking over at a mouse who stands on hind legs. Sixth and last, the face of a tiger staring forward. The final image expands slowly, and shifts color. Text boxes appear throughout at bottom in time with narration: “We’re fascinated by cats, aren’t we? Cats on the internet. Pictures, videos, memes. Cats in our homes. Ancient civilizations shaped statues of cats out of gold, ebony, and bronze. They have been associated with magic, with evil. They sometimes seem aloof and uncaring. Sometimes charming and playful. Sexy. Dangerous. Mysterious.” A watermark of the site URL appears at bottom center throughout, fading at the end when the poster image appears. Over the tiger’s eyes, the word “Storyfeather” appears. At bottom appears text, “A showcase of five short stories featuring cats.” Below the tiger’s eyes at a slight upward angle from left to right, a banner displaying, “May 12 to May 16 2021,”]

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The Alien in My Headphones

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Digital drawing. Overview of a wooden desktop. Clockwise from top right corner, most of a cup filled with a brown liquid. A cell phone displaying a checklist with a few items checked off. A hand with a bracelet visible, holding a pen perched over a folded-over notebook. A crumpled sticky note. A pair of over-ear headphones. A cylindrical container filled with colored pencils. A partial view of a pair of glasses folded up. A folded-over notebook with notes written on the top half lying over a document affixed with a binder clip holding a note where the sentences are partially visible under the headphones.

I settled the headphones over my ears.  When I inhaled, I felt a little lurch in my stomach.

Every time I turned them on, I was afraid I’d lost the signal.  And every time I turned them on, I was afraid I hadn’t.

This was getting out of hand.  This…investigation that I’d gotten caught up in.  But if it was a prank, it was—I was going to say “epic,” but that word gets overused.  It was…extravagant.

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