Urban Fantasy: the stories


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Tell us which you preferred

Poll runs till August 09, 2020, 04:12:14 AM

Loch Ness
1
17%
Yeah, I can get you high
0
No votes
Going with the Flow
2
33%
The Mystery of the Missing Coins
2
33%
On the Outskirts of Town
1
17%
 
Total votes : 6
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Post July 26, 2020, 04:12:14 AM

Urban Fantasy: the stories

We have five urban fantasies this month. Let us know which tickled your fancies
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Post July 26, 2020, 04:13:39 AM

Loch Ness

Loch Ness was a schoolboy fixation that first started when I saw a grainy black and white photograph appear in the daily news claiming to report a strange sort of entity living in the murky depths of the lake. That the photograph as well as the legend was subsequently proven to be a large imaginative leap on the part of the photographer (along with some tricky light effects) did nothing to stop the tourist onslaught that descended on the beautiful countryside where I have lived most of my life. A legend was born and I watched it happen.

Not that I watched it with much fondness. Everything about it was farcical, including the tourist guides which purportedly mentioned it as if it was a proven piece of history. Everyone smiled and photographed themselves standing alongside the loch, as if waiting for the moment of photo-graphical inspiration when the click and flash of the camera would be accompanied by a huge upheaval of water, and the beast in the background would offer an appropriate growl and disappear back under, having satisfied both the voyeur as well as the naturalist.

Museums were dedicated to Ness, restaurants and cafe menus claimed to serve various dishes 'inspired' by it, leading me to wonder, had someone bravely fished it out with a giant hook and proceeded to coldly dispatch it to storage, to serve it with gusto and feed more than just tourist imagination ? Was that why there was no loch ness monster anymore?

Libraries dedicated entire sections to the tale, and by the time the media caught up with the folklore, a legend was born with enough momentum to turn a quiet countryside into a frenzied tourist trap. Bustling came the bus-loads, looking for signs, and you know, when you look for something, you always find it. There was always enough to fuel the mad, and the rest was pure business.

Thereby grew the legend, the legend fueled the research and finally there was no option but to wait until the technology existed to dredge the bottom, and settle the question once and for all. From a purely commercial point of view, it would be scarier had a monster not existed there. Needless to say, there was a faction that did not want to settle the issue at all. If nothing were found, all you would get then would be a piece of lake, slightly larger than some others, and it wasn't even clear water. Murky black, with a taste that clung to your insides and changed something in there. But more about that later. I digress.

I loved Loch Ness. Of the several fascinations I've actively harbored, this one was the most difficult to rationalize. While the cynic in me viewed the myth with much skepticism, the romantic in me felt close to the land, close to the lake. I wondered why people came looking for a monster, when the very black, peat colored waters, the shimmer of the evening light on the eerily quiet body of water would have been more than enough to satisfy my soul. Why look for fairies at the bottom of the garden?

No, this was beauty and let the masses worry about the monster. Having hiked to the lake and drunk deep from its waters again one brightly lit night, I shall, I decided, spend a while 'soaking in' the feel of the countryside while touring through the highlands. I shall visit Loch Ness again and again. Yes, I shall drink again from the waters of Loch Ness so as to make it a part of me permanently, and then no monster or angel would trick me into desiring more than the magic that was already there. I felt an ache. I cannot explain or rationalize. Like you love the ocean, I love the loch. I began to hover there at night without much fuss or explanations to anybody else. Nobody was a witness. No one saw the change. Nothing I could say would explain the longing I had to make my way to the calm waters, feel the evening air alongside its glowing surface, creep into it and pat its surface, scampering away the insects that suddenly seemed rather delicious to me.

It was the most blissful feeling I had ever had, and not even the subsequent tourists continuously aiming their cameras at me and merrily clicking away could disturb my nonchalant pastime.
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Post July 26, 2020, 04:17:46 AM

Yeah, I can get you high

She was young, she was blonde, she was petite. She was wearing ripped blue jeans and an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse. The purse on a spaghetti-thin strap over one shoulder was scarlet, and had a logo on it that said it was either very expensive, or a knock-off made by slave labour somewhere in South-East Asia.

And in this bar, she looked like an hors d’oeuvre.

The roof was low, smoke-blackened as if the huge fireplace at the far end still had a tree slowly turning to ash in it. The lights were dim, simulating candle-light, and little spilled in through the diamond-paned windows, which looked like they were last cleaned during the Reagan administration. Half-heartedly. With a greasy cloth.

The patrons looked up from their drinks, dismissed her as prey, not threat, and went back to their conversations, except for the few that metaphorically licked their lips and watched her move hesitantly to the bar.

She raised a hand to attract the bartender’s attention. He stopped polishing a glass and looked at her pointedly. She frantically scanned the row of bottles behind him, looking for a label she recognised.
“Johnny Walker, please!” she piped.
He grunted and took down a tumbler. “Ice?” he asked, holding it up.
She nodded, and he scooped some into the tumbler and poured a measure over the cubes. He placed it on the bar in front of her.
“Five bucks.”

You could almost hear his eyes roll as she pulled a fifty out of her purse and slid it across the bar.

“I’m looking for Jimmy the Bear” she said. A couple of leather-clad types who had been moving as if to refresh their drinks at the bar abruptly sat down and went back to their murmured conversations and poker games.

The bartender raised an eyebrow and nodded toward a shadowed booth at the back of the bar. The change he put down was somewhat less than $45.

The blonde scooped up the money and jammed it into her purse. She picked up the glass and walked in the direction indicated. The patrons studiously ignored her, except for one who pulled his seat out of her way without looking up.

The man sitting in the booth was… ugly. He was small, and what little could be seen of his face between the bushy red hair and what looked like ten years’ worth of untrimmed beard spilling onto the table-top was brown and wrinkled. He grinned, showing that his was a land untouched by dentistry, and waved her to a seat. She put the glass down in front of him and slid onto the leather opposite to him. He picked it up, saluted her with the glass, and took a sip. He nodded.

“Jimmy?” she asked, her voice cracking with uncertainty. He nodded. “I’m…” He held up a hand.
“I don’t want yer name, lass, and ye’d be a fool to speak it here. I’ll just call yer… “ he eyed her speculatively, “…Wendy, shall I?”

She nodded enthusiastically. “Yes!” she exclaimed “Wendy is good! I’m told you can help me.”

“Can I now? I’m not known fer doin’ people favours. More of the opposite, in fact. How can I… help yer?”

“I’m looking for… something I’m told you can supply. Something to help me… get high.”

“Ooooooooh, are yeh now? Who would have told yer such a thing? And how would I know yer not from the Polis, looking to trap a poor honest merchant?”

“An old man sent me. He said to tell you his name was James. He said to tell you that I Believe.” You could hear how carefully she pronounced the capital.

“Did this feller James perchance have but the one hand?”

“Well, he had two, but one of them was silver. It was marvellous!”

He raised a hand and gestured as if he were petting her “Weesht, girl! I know who yer man was, and he gave ye the password, so he’s happy yer not the Polis. Did he tell yer the price?”

She nodded enthusiastically. “I’ve got the money here! And as for the other, well…” she looked around, “it’s not very sanitary here, but I suppose we could…”

Again the hand waved. “That was just by way of scaring ye off. I’ll no be wanting yer blood. This time,” he grinned and winked, and held out his hand. She pulled a very large roll of bills out of her purse and passed it across. He palmed it and made it vanish. In its place he held out a small grey pouch of leather.

“Here,” he said. “That’ll get yer high as ye like fer about three hours. Be sure yer somewhere safe when ye come down. Ye don’t want ter just crash, as it were. That’s been known to have unfortunate side effects.”

She snatched the pouch and stuffed it in her bag, nodding violently. She was almost running as she left the pub, the sound of the little man’s laughter following her.

* * *

Her hands were trembling as she used her key card to open her flat. She fumbled the pouch from her bag, dropping it at the door as she dashed to her tiny balcony. She fumbled at the drawstring, holding her breath. The fine powder inside gleamed slightly in the moonlight. She took a calming breath. Now, how did it go?

With happy thoughts, and hope, and trust, and a sprinkling of fairy dust…
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Post July 26, 2020, 04:19:03 AM

Going With the Flow

Maybe it was because Marcus been born last in his family, but he truly was a gentle giant...and easily talked into things. He had been with the same girlfriend, Sarah the gnome, for a dozen years, mostly because he thought it was easier to keep her than hurt her feelings. Sarah was nice enough to be certain, and kept their cave clean, but the disparity in their sizes made lovemaking awkward, to say the least. But she was better than nothing, so he stayed and was somewhat content.

The morning that changed his life had started out quietly, as was commonly the case. He was in his Hearse – the only car big enough to fit his tall frame, the front seat having been removed – when a car cut him off from his exit to the quarry where he worked. He had been headed to a suburb in the foothills of Las Vegas when the other car forced him into the lane of traffic heading straight for Los Angeles.

Marcus was certain the ladies who had forced him from his usual journey had done it by accident, not meaning to do any harm. So the gentle giant decided to go Los Angeles, going with the flow, instead of fighting traffic. Afterall, he had never been to Los Angeles and really, even if he never went back home to his gnome, he knew he would be missed – but not a lot.

When he finally rolled into Los Angeles, he followed the flow of traffic, because, well why not? Eventually he saw a place to park, and thinking it must have been destiny, he pulled into the space and got out. There was a Chinese restaurant nearby, so he shrugged and said to himself, “I could eat” and crossed the street and went inside. The atmosphere in the restaurant was very relaxed – which Marcus enjoyed. He picked up a menu and delighted the waiter by ordering in excellent Mandarin.

“The high school I went to wanted to start a class in Mandarin, but none of the students wanted to learn it, so I decided to take it. There was just the teacher and myself, so I received a lot of one on one instruction.”

After ingesting and paying for his meal of beef chow-ho-phuong, he exited the building and realized he had parked in front of KVMD 31 – a television station, so he went inside. The lobby was larger than expected and had an interactive screen where visitors could tell the weather while being taped. The words on the teleprompter were in Mandarin, because it was a Mandarin station, which suited the giant just fine. Of course he had to sit down to give the weather, but he was fine with that. Some children in the lobby were mesmerized with the giant giving the weather and they ran and got their parents – who were also impressed with his knowledge of meteorology.

“Are you a professional weatherman?” the adults asked him.

He smiled shyly and told them. “No, no. But because I am a giant, people always asked me, “How’s the weather up there” - so I studied meteorology so I could tell them the weather when they asked. They always seemed to appreciate it, and I became an expert in it.

“Oh, I see,” said the father of one of the children. “Well I am the owner of this station and we’ve been looking for a weatherman who speaks Mandarin AND is entertaining to children. Will you do it?”

“I don’t see why not,” said Marcus the Gentle Giant. The giant and the human shook hands and a wonderful friendship soon developed. Marcus became a big hit in his new job and earned lots of money and he sent some of it back to Sarah, who had fallen in love with a dwarf by then, but she still appreciated the cash and wrote Marcus a Dear John letter to thank him.

And they all lived happily ever after.
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Post July 26, 2020, 04:20:08 AM

The Mystery of the Missing Coins

No one thinks last month’s orc riots were at all unexpected. I mean, let’s face it, the orcs are really the foundation of our society. They do the hard work that no one else wants to do, and they’ll do it for wages that no one else would even consider. Let’s not forget Death Ball. Any national league you look at is packed with orcs. If you want a blocker or a sledger, no one is going out to recruit a fairy. They want the biggest, heaviest orc born on any plane of existence. Someone that the fans can cheer for when they crush their opponents. I didn’t bat an eye when the entire country demanded social justice; in fact, it makes me proud to be alive in a time when there are enough people that have the courage to stand up for what is right, in a time when we can come together and right the wrongs that have been ignored by so many for so long.

What did surprise me is this coin shortage that everyone has been talking about. I know there have been a lot of conspiracy theories going around. Some involve the government wanting to move to a cashless society. Others say that people are spending less because of the economic depression. But even before I knew the truth I said that explanation was garbage. Coins are everywhere. You can’t walk down a sidewalk without stepping over a penny, and everyone knows all you have to do is reach between the cushions of any given couch to pull out a handful of change.

To be honest, I was secretly holding onto the belief that it was the leprechauns (I know how racist that sounds, forgive me.) I had concocted a story, so believable and likely that I had convinced myself it must be the truth. After all, who loves coins more than leprechauns?

The facts are twice strange and four times more exciting, and it was mere coincidence that I ever discovered them. You see, about a week ago I was walking the usual five blocks from my local pub, The Drunken Otter, back to my humble apartment. Normally, I would stay a bit later, but given the plague is making the rounds again and I like to stay alive, I had the barkeep fill my growler. I paid him with my card, and I gingerly escorted the precious cargo down my usual path through the alley. It was there that I literally bumped into the cause of the missing coinage.

“Watch where ur goin’”, the meter-tall creature growled. It had a black duffel bag thrown over its shoulder that made a sound simultaneously familiar and replaceable.

“Sorry about that, I was just —”

“Save it, half-breed,” the creature blurted out. No matter how many times I hear this it always catches me off guard. Yes, my mother was a human and my father was an elf, but that doesn’t define who I am as much as some people would like to believe.

The chinking sound the bag made did not, at first, demand my attention. To be fair, I was not out to solve mysteries at the time, I was simply on my way home trying my best to escort the liquid contents of my growler dutifully. It was not until the creature (that appeared to be the result of the unholy union of an ill-tempered cat and a drop-bear) turned the corner at the end of the block did I take notice. A metallic chink echoed off the ground, another, and then another. It was coming from the creature’s bag The overburdened seams of the bag must have ripped slightly when I bumped into him because now, he was leaving behind a trail of a few coins, one slipping out every few seconds.

My first instinct was to catch up to the yellow-eyed scoundrel and help him mend the bag with some duct tape or carry it where it needed to go with the rip on top so no more coins fell out… and that’s when it occurred to me: he was carrying a bag full of coins… coins that were in short supply to the public. Coins that no one knew where they were going, they were just disappearing.

I knew I had to make a sacrifice of epic proportions. The growler was sloshing with every step. There was no way I could silently tail my suspicious companion with my fluid treasure in hand… so I carefully placed it under a cardboard box on the side of the alley and made a plan to come rescue it after my curiosity was exhausted.

Fortunately for me, the creature’s mind was focused on a singular mission. I was able to follow him without arousing any suspicion. I have never been formally trained to track or hunt, but my father was a scout back in Desert Storm, so perhaps it’s in my blood. It didn’t take long for the creature to come to a stop at an old stump in the back of an abandoned house.

I watched from the shadows while my friend looked around to make sure no one was watching him. After a moment, he touched a knot on the wood, and the entire stump opened like a hatch into the ground. He adjusted the bag on his shoulder and started his descent on a ladder. A few seconds later, the hatch closed behind him leaving no trace of the entrance.

Soon after, I followed, employing the same techniques that I had just witnessed. To my amazement, at the bottom of the pit was a bunker of immense proportions filled with the tell-tale signs of society’s most secretive race… the tooth fairies. I didn’t stay long, but what I did see were charts and graphs where the numbers curved up exponentially. I’m not fluent in their text, but what I am certain of is they are preparing for something big...
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Post July 26, 2020, 04:23:26 AM

On the Outskirts of Town

Dwi had been left behind so he started walking alone. And he got deeper and deeper into the darkening forest.

He knew he was lost now: lost in those vast swathes of a lush rainforest he didn’t know much about, and afraid of what might appear next, just past an old curved tree or a boulder. From the noises he heard around him, he was aware this place was home to several strange and scary animal species. Perhaps this area was even the site of unknown poisonous creatures…

A shudder skittered down his spine at the thought. He had been told since he was a child, that part of the Indonesian islands they lived on was a biological transition zone between the plants and animals of Asia and those of Australia. Though more than 60 percent of Sulawesi's forests had been lost or degraded, there were still large jungles like this, full of reddish kepayang and tall ylang-ylang trees. Moving through the vegetation and finding his bearings wasn’t easy. Besides, Dwi often didn’t know whether to go left or right.

He knew that the outskirts of the town of Makassar had to be near, but it wasn’t an easy task to get there. He had been warned about what he could expect and what was required of him. Anyway, Dwi wasn’t certain he could find his way to the town…

After the sun set, he saw some tarsiers, nocturnal monkeys the size of a hand. The wary Dwi knew about them and they didn’t bother him. He was aware that they slept in their trees and emerged at dusk to hunt insects, nothing more. Then he noticed a narrow path, under the cover of thick undergrowth.

The gusting wind blew thick leaves around which seemed to sweep away his tracks, but Dwi kept focusing on his surroundings, on the task ahead. Eventually a clearing appeared. The jungle path previously revealed – partly covered in the undergrowth - led to a row of wooden cabins with verandas and old roofs. Somebody lived there, probably it was the outskirts of the town…This was today’s destination.

As Dwi approached the urban area, his senses started tingling, and his nose caught odors that immediately attracted him. There was food here and he needed food more than he could have imagined.

Dwi started running, putting his fears aside, his legs becoming more and more powerful, as if he was driven by an archaic hunger. He threw himself towards where those tasty odors were coming from. Some cries were heard, but he didn’t worry about them, as he kept moving and soon was on top of his target.

The old man that he had spotted from a distance was now under his claws, struggling to get free, to escape his attack, but there was no chance of that now. Dwi’s teeth began fiercely eating those arms, and chest, and neck, in a bloody scene that would make most humans immediately faint to the ground.

Dwi fed on that body until he satisfied his needs. Long had he travelled through the jungle, and many times he had thought he would miss his prey. He wasn’t experienced, as he was still very young. But he had been told that such a time came for every one of their species, and every one had to comply with the old traditions.

So, he ate until he felt full. Finally, his tiger-like furred features looked reddish, his eyes bloodshot with human tissues splattered on his face and his arms.

Then, other noises were heard. People were approaching the site, seeing if something could be done after what they had found. Some of them were armed and the crowd soon grew larger. Dwi had been told this might happen and what to do under such circumstances.

So, he left the dead body of his human prey laying on the ground. Time to go away, to run and stay hidden among the trees. Eventually he would find the path home and get back to his species.

The corpse that now lay behind him was the meal he had gained, thanks to his skills.

-----------------

Once he left the narrow path, and returned to the thick of the jungle, Dwi began to recognize the area. It took him half an hour to reach where his parents were waiting for him, near a cavern situated under the warty trunk of a Sau tree.

Widya, his mother, and Bahus, his father, had told him that today was the day, the moment when he had to show what he was made of. He had to prove that he was strong enough to survive with his hunting skills. This was the same as the ancient humans once did: children who were born weak, or ill, were left to die. But Dwi had accomplished his goals, despite the fears he had felt while being alone in that jungle.

“At times, you can travel a long way to a place in hope of seeing a certain animal… But only an experienced Harimau jadian - a fully grown Were-Tiger - like us can be sure that we’ll make the kill,” the father said.

“We were sure you could do it. This is exactly what happened to us when we were much younger, when we were first sent alone to the urban areas where humans lived, to get our first kill among men,” the mother nodded.

“This is the way of the Harimau jadian! Because we are Were-Tigers and you are our son!” the father added. “We are proud of you…”

Dwi smiled at those words and let out a growl of satisfaction. Then he openly displayed the blood on his arms and licked it off. “When can I go back to that town again to eat such delicious meat?” the young were-tiger asked.

The mother replied, “Soon maybe, but only from time to time… Better not to overdo killing the local humans… Food must be set aside also for the future…
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Post July 29, 2020, 04:11:54 PM

Re: Urban Fantasy: the stories

I voted. Nice crop of stories this time.
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Post July 30, 2020, 08:05:21 AM

Re: Urban Fantasy: the stories

I voted today...

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Post August 01, 2020, 01:50:17 PM

Re: Urban Fantasy: the stories

Got my vote in. Between two stories, I had a very difficult deciding.
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