Tamara McLanahan is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Tamara McLanahan
They’d been warned. Repeatedly. It was a large wood and I’d been happy to share it with the villagers. I’d only had one steadfast rule.
Don’t go near the western grove.
There was ample fish and game elsewhere, many trees to fell and build with all over the area. Except for that one little spot. That was mine and needing solitude for my studies, I felt it a simple request.
Evidently, I was wrong.
I’d heard rumblings and grumblings amongst some of the more rabble rousing of them. There was always one or two, easily dealt with but while I’d been more engrossed than usual in my pursuits, that small number had increased. Double, tripled, eventually becoming a mob of thirteen.
So, it came to pass one mid-morning as I stood vexed by a particular problem that they chose to stealthily approach. To attack? To harm? Merely to shout invectives? I’ll never know, can only surmise their intent. But startled I was and since I wasn’t fully in control, the spell went awry. I’d mastered “fireball,” “ice” and “turn to stone.” I’d been working diligently on “woodchuck.”
Surprised, I turned, casting all four. The villagers stopped, stunned, as ice and flames flew towards them. But the spell continued, shrinking them, bringing them to their knees, hardening them where they stood.
At some point, I may learn how to undo my spell, freeing those unfortunate souls. Until then, I’m assured my privacy.
Nary a villager has dared come near again.