The last summer’s day
spent out of doors.
But the sky turned grey—
“No!” I implored. (more…)
The last summer’s day
spent out of doors.
But the sky turned grey—
“No!” I implored. (more…)
“I’m outside,” you say.
And with the gleeful heart of a teenager, (more…)
“I dare you to jump off the top,” we would say (more…)
Once Upon a Summer
Pixie Forest Publishing is an independent publishing house created with writers in mind. Founded in April 2018 by co-owners Donise Sheppard and Writing Bad’s lead admin Jensen Reed, its primary goal is to help authors get published while always being paid for their hard work. They hope to possibly branch into traditional publishing, and accepting novels, in 2019.
Read more about the team, submission guidelines, and their spotlighted authors on pixieforestpublishing.com
Follow them on Facebook to always stay up to date with their weekly author spotlight contests, writing tips and memes, and contest announcements.
Watch for their debut anthology, Love Dust: A sprinkling of love stories, on September 1st featuring twelve stories from authors around the world, including both Donise and Jensen.
Crystalline Geo, Planet 44
I executed an innocent citizen today. A Person of the Rock. A real nice gem, who worked hard out at the harbor by the Sea of Glass, hauling sand and harvesting shells. He paid his dues like any normal citizen in the city.
Of course, I didn’t flip the switch. I wasn’t the one to physically crush his rocky exterior into sand. No, but metaphorically my shiny, translucent hands were stained with his molten blood. And I would live with it for the rest of my life.
I flexed my hand and grabbed the tumbler in front of me, taking a long swig from the cup. Hot liquid gold ran down my throat, heating my body and changing the color of my glass skin from a pearlescent rainbow of colors to a glowing yellow. The drink made my thoughts hazy and the distraction was quite welcome.
“No need to drink yourself solid, Licon.” A familiar chiming voice intruded on my thoughts.
“I’ll drink as much as I want until our next case,” I mumbled into my cup.
My partner heaved a sigh that whistled in his glass throat and tapped on the bar to gain the barkeep’s attention. “Get me a Titanium Smash, yeah?”
I turned to watch Oda as he ordered his own personal poison. Something I had never expected to see him do before today. But I wasn’t really one to be pointing fingers at the moment.
Oda was high society like most People of the Glass, but he understood the way that our beautiful city worked unlike most. He also understood its flaws. He may be ruthless in pursuit of criminals and downright scary in the interrogation room, but he had always had a keen sense of what was right and wrong.
His aqua tinted eyes glanced at me as he accepted his drink. “We did all that we could, Licon. The evidence was as clear-cut as I am. Gabbro Basalt was going to die either way.”
The evidence may have been clear, but it was too perfect. Cate Sio had fallen from her home balcony, ten stories above and shattered on the path below. There had been many witnesses to her death, but no one saw specifically who had pushed her. Her rosy tinted glass littered the path and her life’s molten sand spilled onto the ground, staining it a terrible bright orange. The only evidence of foul play, other than her demise, were the scratches all over her body. This type of mark on a Person of Glass usually indicates rough handling from someone with a sturdier skin, like the Porcelain family, or the Crystals. But the grain inside of the scratches pointed to someone who worked in the harbor by the Sea of Glass.
Madame Corro Sio, the deceased’s mother, had given us information that she had been seeing someone across the magnetic barrier that separates the city and protects the fragile Glass citizens from the brutish Rock people. A dangerous place for a fragile Glass dame to be walking by herself. It was nearly impossible for a Person of Rock to cross the barrier without special permission. And if they had consent, their actions would have been scrutinized. But a Person of Glass could cross into the lower parts of the city without needing that permission.
Along with this evidence, Madame Sio also provided letters to Oda that she had found in her daughter’s rooms. They were from Gabbro Basalt himself, and they were confessions of love. There was no evidence that stated Cate had returned the feelings, and even if there had been, romantic relations between Rock and Glass people were forbidden. Glass people were beautiful and fragile, while the Rocks were strong and ugly. A coupling between the two would prove fatal to a Person of the Glass.
But the letters spelled Gabbro’s own demise. Even if he had been proven innocent in Cate’s murder, he still would have been executed for courting a Glass citizen.
“Yeah, I know.” I took another pull from my drink. “But it doesn’t sit right, Oda. Gabbro didn’t do it.”
“What do you expect? Nothing in our perfect city is perfect.” Oda gulped down his own drink, his blue hue shifting to a solid white metal that glowed in his throat. He slammed the cup down, damn near splintering his own glass hand, and called for another. Despite what he says about the case being closed, it had obviously affected him too.
“Who do you think did it then?” His chiming voice had dulled from drinking and slurred his words. “What does the great Detective Oxid Si Licon think really happened?”
“There were more letters,” I replied instantly. “Letters with her side of the story. And the markings on Cate Sio’s body? The scratches were too fine.” I pushed my cup away as my mind kept churning out the possibilities. “Gabbro’s fingers were too wide! Evidence was planted, and the real clues were stolen! This whole thing was set up and Gabbro was just some poor lump mixed into it. We weren’t even completely sure how Gabbro would have made it through the Barrier without anyone noticing!” I paused, thoughts catching on a snag and turned to Oda. “A Person of Glass made the scratches.”
He hadn’t looked at me the entire time I had come up with these theories. And now they seemed more than just theories.
“Who did it?” he asked again. He kept staring at the bar, his tumbler empty and molten sand spilled from his eyes, sizzling onto the bar. “Who killed her?”
I watched him cry quietly and could not feel any sympathy for my partner. We had known one another for ten sun-years. I thought I knew him. But I was wrong. The greatest detective in this city couldn’t even see what was right in front of him. And I had been too late to solve this one.
Hyle is a book-loving, coffee ingesting, daydreaming nerd. She has been an avid reader since she was in grade school and never imagined that she would gain courage enough to begin writing stories of her own. Now, as she cashes people’s checks and makes deposits throughout the day, she builds characters and worlds during the night. With the loving support of her almost-husband and her son, she continues to write and is working on her current book project Hollow.
It’s morning, the sun barely winking through the gaps in the pine trees. My cold toes meet yours on the kitchen floor and the silence around us feels like another person. The coffee pot tries to speak, but stutters to silence as our power dies out.
You sigh, but still kiss me, pull back, and kiss me again. Your hand doesn’t leave my spine and your eyes that are still as bright as they were when we were sixteen look at me with amusement. “Are you going to sell that piece today?”
“Yes, I am, everything is going according to plan.”
My mind wanders to the table sitting in our garage, a mahogany masterpiece engraved with vines and ivy that remind me of the plants that grew in your mother’s yard. She said they grew quick, but somehow you were quicker, an adult in the blink of an eye. Last week, I told you I had found a buyer.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
You stare out the glass doors at our rolling backyard, the brick walk half-finished leading to our shed—a building where a claw bathtub sits in the middle of a room surrounded by candles on black and white tiled floor. It’s our happy place; an imaginary vacation since we can’t afford a hotel or an out-of-state trip in our hand-me-down Volkswagen. We built the shelter together our first year here, a home inherited from my grandfather after our accident.
I touch your arm and your chestnut eyes hit mine.
“Of course, I do. Two jobs is nothing, my dad had three.”
“And he was never home.” And I wonder why you want to come home to a woman like me.
“I’ll be home Lex.” You kiss my forehead and take your resumé from the counter.
“I can get a job.”
You shake your head. “You’re better here working on your things.”
The things that make our world beautiful, that I want to use to make other worlds bearable. For some reason, you believe I can do it and that’s enough to give my weak body wings.
“Just make sure you sell that piece, I want a shower tonight.”
Your tired hands squeeze my hip and I let you pull me into one last hug before you leave me for the day. It is unavoidable, a fact I am still learning to accept.
Your hand touches the handle before you look over your shoulder. “I’ll see you in a few hours.”
You don’t say you love me, we’ve never murmured those words in the seven years we’ve been together. We don’t have to, you don’t have to. I see the truth in the world around us, the way you continue to return to a home that loses power every three months, and a woman that struggles with her identity just as frequently.
We save our ‘I love yous’ in a jar under the bed, beside the box I carved with the picture of an unborn child, our almost beautiful accident. We save them for a rainy day when the truth can’t be heard in the silence of the walls and the comfort of intertwined fingers.
Our ‘I love yous’ are not an umbrella to break in the wind, but a raft to float along the floods in. Together.
I watch your car leave the driveway before going to the bedroom and dialing the number of the man meant to buy my goods. Tomorrow we will have electricity again, you will smile, and I’ll add another I love you to our jar and another unsold project to the storage unit in Omaha; the one that you have no idea about, the one that my grandfather bought for me after his death.
Eventually my wings will fly, and the truth of my income won’t sting. The pride in your eyes will be fed by honesty and not the corruption of a tired soul.
I lay beside you and pray for another accident as your hand squeezes mine in the quiet of another morning.
The rain hadn’t let up for days now. It just threw itself relentlessly onto the streets and made it so you couldn’t read the neon signs; Gray had to get right up to close to a bar to see which one he was going in to. (more…)
The screeching of demons pursued Rozen as she and her horse thundered across the featureless plain. Corroded chainmail slapped against her legs, knocking off bits of rotting leather and her own decaying flesh. She glanced over her shoulder, squinting through the grey drizzle. The distance between them and the red-eyed roiling blackness was growing.
“Keep it up, Shadow,” she yelled over the hoof beats. “You’re losing them.”
“Of course I’m losing them,” the horse said. His deep-chested baritone sounded not in the least winded; being dead meant neither of them needed to breathe. Being dead also meant that Shadow could talk, which had taken some time for Rozen to accept.
“But why,” the horse continued, “did you draw their attention in the first place? If I lose a leg because of this gallop, it will be your fault.”
“How was I supposed to know they were spying on the Seer?”
The horse snorted wordlessly. Rozen hunched her shoulders and glowered at the spot between Shadow’s ears.
“Fine, I should have checked behind the shack, okay? Are you happy now?” She sighed and took another look at the receding cloud behind them. “Just keep the mountains on your left. The Seer said the firefall is in this direction.”
They galloped on, and eventually the demons’ screeches faded away. The Seer had not been able to tell Rozen how far the firefall was. Time had no meaning in the Dead Lands, with its perpetually overcast skies and lack of seasons. So they galloped. Rozen began counting hoof beats: thubbity-one, thubbity-two. At thubbity-eleven-thousand-twenty-one, Shadow spoke again.
“Something is glowing ahead of us.”
Rozen blinked to clear her boredom-glazed eyes. Shadow was right: a red glow tinged the horizon. Excitement and apprehension flooded her. This was it, her way to return to the land of the living. It had to work this time.
A looming monolith emerged from the dreary rain. Shadow danced to an abrupt halt, Rozen frozen on his back. Towering hundreds of feet into the air, a stone dragon spread its wings, its neck curved and mouth gaping to expel a torrent of flame into a boiling pool of melted stone. Clouds of smoke and ash billowed around the pool and rose to mingle with the ever-present clouds. A hot wind wafted over them, carrying the smell of brimstone.
“The Seer said….” Rozen’s voice broke. She cleared her throat and tried again. “The Seer said we have to go through the firefall.”
Shadow snorted and tossed his head. “You have to be joking.”
“Let’s get closer.” Rozen urged him forward with her heels. “Maybe there’s a cave or tunnel or something.”
Cautiously, Shadow stepped toward the firefall. As they drew near, a surge of flames splashed into the lava below, sending a shock of blazing heat over them. Shadow reared with a loud whinny and bolted into the opposite direction.
“Stop! Shadow, stop, turn around!” Rozen sawed on the reins until the horse stumbled to a halt, trembling. The scent of singed hair clung to them.
Rozen slid from the saddle and ran to Shadow’s head, taking his muzzle in her hands. Hair and skin had burned from the right side of his face, revealing charred bone and teeth.
“I’m sorry, boy,” she choked, brushing away flaking bit of ash with gentle fingers. Pain did not end with death.
“That Seer tricked you,” Shadow rumbled, nuzzling her hands. “We can’t go through there.”
“No. No, it has to be true.” Rozen dropped her hands and turned to look at the firefall. “The demons believe it’s true. Why would they have tried to stop us otherwise?”
“Because they don’t like anyone talking about escaping the Dead Lands.” Shadow shook his mane, sending bits of ash drifting around them. His voice had an odd slur from the missing cheek. “Let’s go back. You can talk to the Black Cabal again, accept their offer and become a revenant—”
“No!” Rozen cut him off. “They wanted me to sacrifice you. I won’t do it. We’ve been together since we died in the war, and we’ll find a way to return together.”
“Then we can go back into the dimensional labyrinth,” the horse said, nudging her shoulder.
“And wander lost forever this time?” She shook her head and gripped the cracked binding on the hilt of her sword. “I believe we can return this way. I have to believe,” she whispered.
A piercing screech broke the stillness, reverberating off the dragon’s wings. Rozen spun, searching for the source of the sound. The echoes made it difficult to determine where it had originated. A second screech tore the air, followed by a third. Disembodied red eyes flickered open around the lava pool, the demons’ cloudy forms obscured in the smoke from the firefall.
“I cannot follow you this time. I dare not go into the fire.” Shadow’s voice was low and calm. He dropped his head to rest on her shoulder. “Is this where we part ways at last? Or will you come with me to find another path?”
Keeping one eye on the demons, Rozen looked into Shadow’s large black eye. “I’m sorry. I have to try. I took an oath to protect my family, no matter what. Not even death will stop me.”
The horse nuzzled what was left of her hair and whickered softly. “Safe journey to you then, little two-legs.”
“And to you, old friend.” Rozen laid a hand on his peeling flank, remembering the once-glossy black coat that had covered him. “Have a good afterlife.”
She gritted her teeth, pulled her sword from its rotting sheath, and lunged at the demons. Though rusted a solid reddish brown, the steel drove back the demons, which retreated with howls and snarls, opening a path to the lava pool. Rozen heard the sound of hoof beats fading away into the expanse of empty plain behind her. Without a backwards glance, Rozen made a running leap and dove into the firefall.