Short Story Ego-Boost: This Story is Your Fault (#1)
Posted by Melissa
So last week, I asked everyone to list three objects for me to choose from for my story. I chose three and wrote an admittedly odd story. But hey, I never promised that it would be awesome, did I? So, enjoy the story (hopefully) and let me know what you think of my… creativity. And give me three new words in your response for next week’s story!
Short Story Ego-Boost: Story 1
The Price of a Pair of Fuzzy Socks
“Next time, I am asking for shoes,” Penny vowed breathlessly. “And a magical golden sheep-slaying dagger.”
She slid wildly around the next corner, grasping desperately at a candle sconce as her sock-encased feet failed to gain traction on the smooth, well-polished wooden floor. An ominous rumbling sounded behind her. Her pursuer was getting closer.
“Next time, I would offer something a little more substantial as a gift if you expect something better in return,” an unpleasant voice informed her from a little above and to the right.
Penny skidded to a halt, barely avoiding smacking into a wall as she turned another corner. Her fluffy, new red socks would have holes in them soon if she wasn’t careful. And that would just add insult to injury.
She cast one brief, irritated glance up at the speaker.
“I would have tossed you in there if I thought it would have helped,” she declared in annoyance.
The creature flapped his heavy stone wings and drifted easily along above her, watching her progress with a marked lack of concern for her wellbeing. Gargoyles are not known for their empathetic natures.
“That’s not very nice. Oh, listen, I think it’s finally broken through the door.”
Penny tried to speed up, but the slippery floor only made it feel like she was running in place. Where were all the rugs? Didn’t wizards like rugs?
“No one explained the rules to me,” she protested. “No one said that it would spit things back out that it didn’t like. Or make them… nasty.”
“Nasty?” the gargoyle repeated in a mildly offended tone. “Now, that’s just unkind. You’ve forgotten that I was spit back out of the Cauldron not so long ago.”
The hallway suddenly ended with a door. Penny distinctly remembered there being stairs here before. She cursed wizards to the North Sea and back and began rattling the handle. It was, of course, quite locked.
“It’s getting closer,” the gargoyle smirked, perching delicately on the edge of a bookshelf nearby.
Penny looked up with a sudden, calculating glance and lunged for the gargoyle. He gave a grating squawk of surprise and tried to fly away, but she caught onto one leg and dragged him back down. Inverting him, she began beating his large, stone head against the door handle. His howls of indignation were becoming increasingly drowned out by the sound of the creature not far behind now. It was making horrible throaty noises as it growled and snuffled and searched for her.
Penny bashed away even harder, ignoring the gargoyle’s protests. She’d had quite enough of this wizard’s tower. It served her right for listening to an old woman on the road. Giving mysterious strangers half your lunch is a sure way to end up somewhere unpleasant, but Penny had been sure that she had the brains and spunk to overcome. She was definitely heroine material, right?
The gargoyle gave a splutter of rage as his head clanged against the lock, but it finally cracked under his skull. Penny tossed the irate creature aside and shoved the door open, nearlly falling down the stairs. They were the same sleek wood as before, of course. She cursed wood. And then, for good measure, she cursed sheep.
She half ran, half slid down two flights of stairs, taking them two or three at a time and using one hand against the side to keep from catapulting head first the rest of the way. It was a very tall tower.
“You must find the Cauldron of Plenty,” the old hag had wheezed, clutching her sleeve and gasping into her ear. “Cast your most valuable possession into the Cauldron and receive that which you desire.”
If I ever find that lying old hag, Penny thought vengefully…
The gargoyle had recovered and begun to follow her again. He was cursing her nastily in his grating, stony voice. She ignored him. Her feet slipped and she fell, bumping her way down half a flight of stairs before she was able to stand again.
Socks! Why did I have to ask for socks? It had been an accident, of course. No idiot discovers the Cauldron of Plenty and then demands warm, fuzzy socks. She had just so happened to finally wear out her old pair of boots the day before and being barefoot in the cold was so very unpleasant. And so as she cast her offering into the Cauldron, socks had drifted pleasantly through her mind.
She had gotten the socks immediately. Unfortunately, the Cauldron had not been entirely pleased with her offering. And what the Cauldron did not like, the Cauldron spit back out… only worse.
She could hear it getting closer. A door loomed to her right. Maybe if she hid on one of the other levels, the nasty beast would pass on by and miss her.
It wasn’t the most brilliant idea ever, but Penny was tired. Her feet were wrapped in warm, squishy goodness, but the rest of her was beginning to get sore from the running and the falling. So she swerved to the left and hurtled through the door, slamming it behind her.
She heard the gargoyle calling her name, but it flew on past her hiding place. She couldn’t hear the creature. It must be navigating the stairs, snuffling its way down toward her. She turned to view the room she had entered.
It was a smallish room filled with shelves, a desk, musty and unused chairs, and a roaring fireplace. It was empty. The wizard must be out, she thought. Either that or he just didn’t care about the goings on in his tower. Her opinion of wizards was growing steadily worse.
A low rumbling roar sounded outside the door. Penny held her breath. She backed up toward the couch in front of the fireplace. Her foot hit something soft and squishy. It squeaked. She jumped. The creature outside the door snarled viciously and began banging at the door. Well this was just great. The end was near.
At least she would die with incredibly fuzzy feet.
Penny glanced down. The thing she had stepped on was a soft, squishy blue object. She picked it up abstractedly.
It looked like a blue toy ferret, maybe a child’s toy. A small round bed in the corner of the room caught her eye. No, a dog’s toy. There were several of them all over the room. No dog, though.
Penny tried to ignore the sound of her impending doom snarling and scratching at the door. It would get through soon enough and she would be mauled to death. She distracted herself by wandering around the room and examining the pictures on the wall, holding the soft toy close to her.
They were all pictures of a man wearing a very impressive hat. He had a short, black beard and a sullen expression, even though he was clearly trying to look happy. Penny thought he looked vaguely familiar… In each picture, he was holding a little, fluffy dog that grinned insanely, tongue lolling.
Must be the wizard, Penny thought. I wonder where he is? And the dog?
The door began to crack. Wood bits crumbled to the floor and cracks formed. Slowly the door gave way. A horrific bawling and snorting announced the entrance of the beast.
Penny backed against the farthest wall. She resisted the urge to shut her eyes as she faced the creature once more.
The massive, snarling monster’s woolly sides heaved with exhertion. It glared at her with baleful red eyes and snapped its jaws in fury. Large, curling horns ending in poisonous, jagged tips pointed straight at her. Its hooves, grotesquely decorated with claws, clacked as it approached. The gargoyle had flapped its way in behind the massive sheep monster and sat on a bookshelf, grinning nastily at her.
I’m officially resigning my position as a shepherdess, Penny vowed, pressing her back against the wall and staring at the sheep monster that had once been her favorite, a ram named Lou. She hugged the dog toy to her chest.
The were-sheep paused, cocking its large, ugly head to one side, nostrils flaring. Its fluffy ears pricked forward.
Penny stared in shock for a moment. The sheep monster began to snarl again. She squeaked the toy. It stopped, staring with intense interest at the fluffy, blue ball in Penny’s hands.
“Er, you want it, Lou?” she asked hesitantly, holding the toy out.
The sheep gave a little excited prance, drool-soaked tongue hanging out of its mouth.
Penny threw the ball. The were-sheep lunged for it and pounced, tearing into the toy with joyful abandon.
“What’s it doing?” the gargoyle demanded. “Eat her, sheep-thingy! Stop playing with Snooky’s toys and eat her!”
“Snooky?” Penny asked, watching the were-sheep nervously. It crouched on the floor gnawing happily at the quickly vanishing toy. Penny quickly scooped up another one just in case.
“Those were Snooky’s toys!” the gargoyle shouted. “Don’t feed them to that thing!”
The were-sheep lifted his head and growled at the gargoyle before refocusing on his toy.
Penny looked from the picture of the wizard and Snooky the dog to the gargoyle sitting on the shelf. She saw the resemblance at last.
“You’re the wizard?”
The gargoyle’s sullen expression matched the paintings exactly. “I thought getting into the Cauldron of Plenty myself would make me the Greatest Wizard of All Time. Stupid Cauldron…”
Penny snickered. Lou baa-ed ferociously as it finished shredding the toy and looked expectantly at her. She tossed it another one. It wiggled its huge woolly tail.
An idea was dawning in Penny’s mind. She slowly approached the creature, one hand extended. The wizard-gargoyle watched, clearly hoping the sheep would bite her hand off. Penny could feel the heat emanating from the huge creature.
“Nice, Lou-Lou. Good boy. Want to come back with your mummy? Nice sheep!”
The were-sheep looked up at her. For a moment, Penny thought that he was going to eat her, but his red eyes, once filled with manic rage, were now filled with intense adoration. His growly baa was much more loving. She patted his head.
The gargoyle-wizard was now growling with annoyance. Penny glared at him.
“This is all your fault. You welcomed me into the tower and told me to ask for whatever I desired. You knew this would happen. You knew!”
The gargoyle sniffed and did not reply.
“Lou?” Penny said in a low voice. The were-sheep looked at her expectantly. “Get him!” She pointed at the gargoyle.
Lou lunged. The gargoyle yowled. Penny watched her pet chase the gargoyle around the room a few times and then out the door. She wondered if she could use him as a guard-sheep for her flock. On the other hand, he might eat the rest of the flock. There was really only one way to find out. And she could always toss a few more sheep in the Cauldron if she needed to.
Visions of an army of were-sheep filled Penny’s mind as she gathered up the rest of the late Snooky’s toys and followed Lou and the gargoyle out the door and down the stairs. She glanced down at her fuzzy, red socks and smiled.
For next week’s story, provide three words. One needs to be a location (real or unreal), one needs to be something you’re afraid of, and one can be whatever you choose. Have fun, give me some fun stuff to work with, and I’ll try to come up with something for next week!
About Melissagenerally in love with things Celtic, mythological, fantastic, sharp and pointy, cute and fuzzy, intellectual, snarky, cheerful, or some combination thereof. Such things as sarcastic bunnies wielding claymores might come to mind...
Posted on June 21, 2011, in Art, Fairytales, Fantasy, Humor, Inspiration, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Melissa Rogers, Monsters, Story, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged cauldron of plenty, gargoyles, inspiration, magic, sheep, shepherdess, short story, weresheep, wizards, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.