Tuesday, September 27, 2011


An entry for a contest at Figment.Com (my profile's under the "Writing links" sidebar). The prompt was this: write a prequel for an existing fairy tale. I chose Snow White. :) 

"Looking-glass," Adriane whispered, tracing a path down the ornate silver design carved down the side of the frame. "My friend." Slowly, she dragged her finger back up. It was a truly exquisite piece of art. The delicate workmanship, the purest of gems… Work truly befitting the masterful dwarfs who had sold this to her mother. Diamond studs on emerald branches, a bronze trunk twisting downwards. What a beautifully crafted apple tree. "Listen to me! You can hear me, can't you? Mother said you were magical, and she never lies."

Silence answered her.

"Lied," Adriane amended softly. "She never lied." Was it the mirror or her fingers that gave a slight tremble?

Still there was no answer. She pressed a finger against a diamond apple, digging her fingernail into the space between the gem and the emerald. A threat. "Answer me. I know you can hear me perfectly."
Distantly in the mirror, a faraway fog shifted behind Adriane's image in the glass.

"Come out!" Adriane hissed.

Instantly the mirror darkened to ebony black, like a solid wall of obsidian, and the fog which had lingered in the background rushed forward and solidified into a ghost-like face. But in contrast to its former reflection of Adriane's beautiful face, the ghost’s face looked decaying and shriveled—its cheeks drawn tight over bone, its sunken eyes like two depressions. "What," it breathed huskily, "do you want?"

Adriane stared at the mirror, eyes narrow with disbelief. “Mother told me you’d show my true reflection.”

The fog trembled under the gauzy skin of its face. "I am as you are to me."

“What?” Her face darkened. “Don’t play with me, Looking-glass.”

I am as you are to me,” it repeated.

For a moment, Adriane leveled a glare at the decrepit face. Her fingernails dug crescents into the palms of her hands. “You liar,” Adriane whispered, with a furious gleam in her eyes. “You liar. The king himself picked me! I am the most beautiful, fairest woman in this kingdom, and—and my mother told me I am. You’re just a looking-glass! What would you know about beauty?”

Adriane twisted her fingernail between the studded diamond apple and the emerald branch. “I am your master. I am the Queen of this land. Do you realize that if I wanted to, I could order the guards to smash you into a hundred shards?” The diamond gem was nearly wrenched out of its position.

The fog writhed violently, disintegrating the face into a thousand white particles. Slowly, they weaved together again – this time not into a wrinkled old woman’s face, but a face carefully wiped clean of any distinguishing features.

“Better,” Adriane allowed, though she did not pull away her fingernail from the mirror’s apple tree. “Now, Looking-glass: who in this land is fairest of all?”

The face said nothing.

“I said, who in this land is fairest of all?”

The fingernail dug in further, tearing the apple nearly out of its socket. The fog shook and abandoned the shape of the face, melting into a murky gray mist at the bottom of the mirror. “You are,” a weak, tiny voice choked.

Adriane clenched the sides of the mirror, digging her fingernails into the sides of the mirror. “I can’t hear you!” she snapped.

YOU ARE!” a thousand tiny voices screamed.

Adriane slowly released her breath, calming down. “Yes,” she murmured, leaning back in satisfaction and finally pulling her hands away from the mirror. “I am the fairest, aren’t I?”

Still quivering, the fog faded away, the ebony black disappeared, and the Queen could see her beautiful reflection again.

Once upon a time, a girl with snow-white skin and ebony hair entered the room.

“Oh! I didn’t know Step-Mum had a looking-glass,” a small girl said cheerfully. “And it’s such a nice one, too! Why’d she hide it away?” She gasped. “Maybe it’s—magical?” Tilting her head, she scrutinized the mirror carefully. “’Scuse me. Are you a magic looking-glass?”

Hesitantly, the mirror faded to black and the fog drifted into view, examining her. The small girl was staring curiously. Kindly. Innocently.

The fog became a beautiful young girl’s face, which smiled shyly and said, “I am as you are to me, O Fairest One.”

From behind a curtain, the Queen felt a furious fire lick away at the edges of her heart.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Elementary, my dear Watson.

Prompt was to put a favorite literary character in Walmart, so naturally, I picked Sherlock Holmes. :)


"Are you quite certain that he came here, Holmes?" Watson shifted hesitantly from foot to foot. "I do not doubt your deductive skills, but this strange building cannot, it seems to me, be any sort of a warehouse."

"Sorry," a mother said as she bumped into his shoulder while pushing past him. Watson decided she must have possessed some extraordinary strength and agility, to carry two children in her arms, push a stroller, carry four shopping bags and maintain normal walking speed. Either that, or it was that mysterious "mother strength," as Mary was inclined to call it. Holmes, of course, did not acknowledge such an unscientific force.

"I cannot be surer," Holmes replied, waving a dismissive hand and eyeing the various brightly-colored food items with a disdainful eye. "I an informed that our good man has entered into this establishment, and as... strange as it may appear, he is a very sly man; although not quite, perhaps, as clever as I am. He would have picked the most expansive shop with the most number of people inside, so as to hide well. The gaudy merchandise is only another reason."

"Pardon me--he has a reason for this..." Words failed Watson as he motioned to the eye-wrenching labels and cage of neon rubber balls.

"He means to distract, inundate, or repulse us," Holmes said, before adding wryly, "I cannot say that he has not done a fair job."


"I did not realize England could produce such an extensive selection of children's toys," Watson remarked in awe.

"We have only walked two aisles," Holmes said, "and really, Watson. Your assumptions have misled you again. We are currently in the United States of America."

"What!" cried Watson, astonished. "America!"

"You must have heard the immediately recognizeable American accent and noticed the subtle switch from English grammar and spelling to American spelling in this text," Holmes explained mildly. "It must be excused. The author is not, after all, as competent a writer as our Doyle."

"Spelling! America!" Watson repeated. "And -- author!"

"Do not dwell on such a subject too long, Watson. I am afraid it may be too much for you to handle."


"Watson! Have you realized what an invaluable tool this 'laptop' is? With it I shall be able to access such a world of information that I have not been able to before. I am told that a man in the furthest corner of the Asian countries may send an 'e-mail' to a man in England in nearly no time at all! One with no knowledge of all could rise of the height of knowledge by reading on the 'Internet'! Why have I not heard of this before?"

"I -- I cannot be sure..."

"I must have it at once. Take that 'camera,' too; I'll need that as well."

"I... camera?"


"Sorry, we don't take English money," the cashier apologized, handing the money back.

"Pounds," Holmes replied shortly. "English pounds sterling."


Holmes' expression cooled. "You might begin to save money if you did not allow yourself the pleasure and luxury of cocaine and cigarettes, although I am sure a fellow like you might not have the strength to stop. Then you could quit this vile job as a cashier like you want to."

The cashier was aghast. "What?"

"In addition, your girlfriend has begun -- what is that peculiar American idiom? -- 'two-timing' you."

Watson felt sincerely sorry for the cashier; he looked quite young and distraught. There were not many instances in which he felt the need to interrupt Holmes' tirades, but for the sake of maintaining the peace, he tapped on his friend's shoulder. "Holmes, we really ought to be tracking our man, in any case," he said mildly. "I am sure there are fine enough laptops and cameras and Internets in England."


In the parking lot:

"Heaven's sake, Holmes," Lestrade said, passing the culprit to his aides. "What took you so long?"

Holmes gave him a tight smile. "I suppose we were -- distracted, of a sort..."