Fantastical Visions

Edited by W. H. Horner
Illustrated by Jeff Ward


Trade Paperback • 6" x 9"

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FANTASTICAL VISIONS Cover

From the streets of modern-day cities, to medieval villages, to the deck of a flying ship, this book will take you there. Meet zombies, elves, kings, and even ordinary human beings, all wrapped up in magical events.

The range of fantasy is wide and ever-growing, so plunge in now and be prepared to be swept away.

Product Details

Fantasy Short Stories

186 Pages
12 Stories
6 Illustrations

Trade Paperback • 6" x 9"

ISBN 10: 0-9713608-0-4
ISBN 13: 978-0-9713608-0-8


Table of Contents

Introduction:
“Why Fantasy?” by W. H. Horner

“Wraithsong” by Jean Graham
“Jathen Longblade” by Christine E. Ricketts
“Death and the Maiden” by Trent M. Walters
“Vigil” by Magee Gilks
“Life” by Colin Roberts
“Prescient Witness” by Tracy Whelan
“The Dream Shop” by David A. Hart
“Of Savage Blood” by Travis J. Koll
“The Mad Queen of the Sky” by D. K. Latta
“The Farmer’s Daughter” by Tanya Michna
“It’s Better in Brooklyn” by Michael Penncavage
“7:58” by Matthew Wolfe

Excerpts


“Wraithsong” by Jean Graham

Without warning, the tower lurched violently, a thudding impact that sent Sifri fluttering and knocked me to my knees on the floor. There was no time to regain my feet before another blow smashed into the tower and the bricks beneath me heaved and buckled. I tried to crawl toward the west wall, intending to pull myself up and peer over the window’s edge at whatever was attacking the tower. Before I could, four small clawed feet gripped my shoulder, and furred wings beat a frantic tattoo on the back of my head.

Seeker! Leave this place, Faleen. Run. Now!!

With those wings still flapping wildly against my ear, I scrambled for the swaying tangle of metal that had been a stairway just moments ago. I made it down only part of the way before the stairs collapsed and I fell, landing hard amidst flying dust, rubble and patchy sunlight that shouldn’t have been there.

My pause to ponder that curiosity nearly proved fatal.

A black pincered foreleg snaked through the broken wall, snared what remained of the stair support and wrenched it loose. The rusted metal screamed in protest and showered us with more debris as it was pulled free.

 

“Jathen Longblade” by Christine Ricketts

He knew he had made a mistake as soon as the barbarian looked up with pure malice in his eyes, yet he was caught off guard when a handful of tiny stones came flying at him. “Firestones!” he yelled, hoping Durum hadn't forgotten the power that was packed in those tiny capsules. He slid underneath a table and brought it down in front of him for cover just as the pebbles connected with the far wall and exploded. A wave of fire rolled through the room and then dissipated.

Keeping behind the safety of the table, Jathen called out, “Durum? You alright?” Loud curses and mutters answered him. ‘I guess so,’ he mumbled to himself, standing up and brushing bits of ash from his clothes. He winced when his fingers rubbed against his shoulder. When he held his hand up, his fingertips were stained with blood. Looking down, he saw his dagger had made a shallow entrance into his skin, enough to draw blood without causing any real damage. Bracing himself, he slid it back out again. It came freely, along with a thin stream of blood.

“Aye elf, did the fool get you?” Durum questioned, after concluding the damage to his inn wasnt as bad as it looked. Jathen shook his head and let his arm fall limp at his side. He reached down with his other hand and scooped Dimes off the floor, awkwardly re-buckling the sword around his waist.

“No, I got myself. Any idea as to who they were?”

“I found this on one of ‘em.” Durum held out his hand and Jathen took a step closer to see what it was the man held in his large palm. It was a solid gold coin with a sleeping dragon on one side and a screeching gryphon on the other.

“What is it?” Jathen asked, picking it up, startled by how little it weighed.

“Its a Falcon’s coin.”

The elf glanced up, unfamiliar with the name. “Who are they?”

Durum bent down and picked up his discarded sword and sheathe, sliding the one into the other.

“Society of sorts, cloak and dagger sort o’ thing that’s against the new king.” He shot a warning look over to him. “They were meanin’ to kill you.”

 

“Death & the Maiden” by Trent M. Walters

Shubert was about to protest but stopped herself with a wily thought. She smiled. What could weakened and dying men do about promises? “Okay, Father. Okay. I will sacrifice myself. For you. But first you must keep this medicine under your lip.”

Her stepfather grunted, but acquiesced when she lifted his lower lip to insert another pinch of dried leaves. Shubert could almost see the transformation before her eyes: the skin gained a pink hue, the hands warmed under hers, the wrinkles rolled away. . . .

His gasping mouth closed and appeared to swallow. He coughed. He choked. He sat up, rigid and erect. Fits wracked his body. His pink face darkened to mauve. His lungs worked to launch a reluctant projectile.

Then, as suddenly as it started, he stopped. He relaxed back into his feather pillow, as dead. It wasn’t until she heard her mother’s stifled sobs that she concluded that her stepfather had truly passed on.

Strangely, she felt nothing. It was too unreal. Her thoughts dwelt on just one item: the dried leaves. She sniffed her fingers ­ the smell that onions leave a day after cutting them.

Through the open window, Shubert heard a murmur. She stuck her head out. More peasants had gathered out front, chewing the fat. The torches they passed from weary to fresher hands illuminated their faces eerily, drawing and redrawing the shadows on their craggy faces.

She pulled back in and wondered why, if her stepfather were so resigned to death, would he cough so? Was living merely a reflex? And how could so small a thing as a pinch of leaves swallowed cause so large an event? She wished she had so much control over life.

 

“Vigil” by Magee Gilks

“Yes . . .”

Angel looked at the battle-worn man lying on the couch. He lay in coma now. Such stillness was foreign on a face formerly so filled and carved by life. She longed to see his eyes again. His life lay there. Every mile, every battle, every joy and every betrayal had left their mark in the depths of Alexander’s eyes. Their reality had slammed into her the very first day in Babylon. They’d pulled her full into time itself, and objectivity be damned.

She remembered everything about her first sight of Alexander: the air, spiced with the aroma of horse and human sweat; swirling dust; creaking wagons and braying mules, the wicker of horses and the jingle of harness; the rumbling thunder of the march and the susseration of hundreds of conversations up and down the line. And laughter. It was a victory march, after all.

She and her partner Jackman crouched in a field of alfalfa next to the yellow road.

“I’m going in.” She’d won the coin toss for the first tour. “See you in twenty-four hours.”

She touched the phase-shift control on her belt; the air around her shimmered briefly as she slid a heartbeat out of sync with time. Now she would never be here, because she’d just been. The same principle, in reverse, had brought them back through the centuries.

She rose, strode from the field and calmly fell in next to one of the horsemen of the Royal agema. The horse shied and whinnied nervously, then calmed as the rider twitched the reins and muttered a sharp command.

Angel grinned until her cheeks ached. She was here, twenty-four hundred years in the past, walking with the army of Alexander the Great!

Passing through the massive gates, Angel entered carnival. Garlands hung everywhere; cheers and music twined in the air; heady myrrh incense fought and almost won against the stench of too many people, too close together.

Not too far from her, sunlight glinted on bright armor. The golden-haired young man who wore it flashed a fierce smile and threw his arms wide to gather the acclaim of the throngs. His eyes, north-blue and only half-tamed, swept over a sea of upturned faces.

When they touched upon her, Angel swayed with the impact. Then she lifted her arms and cheered.

 

“Life” by Colin Roberts

. . .Life! That’s what it was. He had things alive in his tank!

He knew what he would see even before he opened his eyes and raced from the bed to the cabinet, or at least he thought he knew. The sight that met him though, so far beyond his expectations, made him wonder if he could be out of bed but still dreaming.

The tank was brimming, exploding with life. The waters fairly boiled with all manner of things swimming, diving and chasing around, the surface constantly mottled with their swirls and eddies and splashes. And the land . . . the land! There were little creatures crawling all over it, some inching along in long lines, some more active, busying themselves digging into the surface or dragging some of the tiny plants downward; to eat, he presumed.

He had to presume, because these things were so tiny that he could not discern any detail on them whatsoever. He lifted the lid, peered right inside and squinted hard. Then, he could just about make out that some were rounder than others, some taller, some more worm-like, and he could detect some differences in their colours, especially when several like specimens were grouped together.

Andrew stepped back from the tank and gasped aloud. All this after only five days! His first inclination was to run yelling into his parents’ bedroom, to drag them in to see his marvellous new pets, but then he remembered the shopkeeper’s warning. He had to keep it secret, or he risked losing everything. He realised he must do the opposite, and make sure that it stayed a secret, and so carefully, and with some difficulty, he edged the tank back on the cabinet until he had enough room to stack a few books and toys in front to conceal it. It wasn’t totally hidden, of course, but it wouldn’t attract attention. The books and toys didn’t stay there long though; Andrew spent every available moment for the rest of the day shut in his room watching the tiny processions, the proliferations and interactions of his own minute microcosm, playing themselves out behind the quarter inch of glass.

He might have expected the excitement to have kept him awake that night, but after exchanging the ‘sun’ bulb for the ‘moon’ bulb, he found that so much excitement had tired him out. He slept deeply, almost instantly.

 

“Prescient Witness” by Tracy Whelan

It was almost time. He listened to the jaunty tune Sam, the bus driver, was humming but couldnt quite catch it. He stared resolutely at the back of Sam’s bulbous head, his stomach crawling around inside him.

Sam spoke and Marcus jumped a little. “You’ve got your work cut out for you today, yep, you always do. I like this city, though.” Sam beamed at the view through the windshield as if the filthy city were El Dorado. Sam was Marcus’ fifth shuttler, and by far the most irrepressible.

The bus reached Marcus’ destination with a hiss of air brakes. Marcus felt the familiar stabbing anxiety, his intimate enemy. Another day. Another chance to fail. The stakes were high enough to keep him going ­ important enough to force himself through the daily pain. That was what made him get off the bus. Every day he had to get off.

His task may well be futile, but it was still vital. Despite the clear view he had of past and present, he could not make the choices himself. It had to be this way, and so it would always be. Influencing the events directly would render the choices themselves meaningless.

“Have a good day, Marcus,” Sam encouraged him cheerfully as he went down the steps.

Marcus raised a hand in polite acknowledgment and exited the bus. He took his place on the covered bench, the only bus stop on Main Street with a shelter.

He took his place in the world for yet another day.

 

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