A whisper of butterflies’ wings promises a lonely old man his heart’s desire; mages draw upon music to work magic; and a fearful symmetry threatens an alien realm. Be it in our dreams or flights of fancy that take us into uncharted territory, our hopes and desires often birth twisted imaginings. This selection of tales, some devious or whimsical, others downright eerie and unsettling, offer glimpses into other, darker realities.
Allow Amy Lee Burgess, Anna Reith, Autumn Christian, Carrie Clevenger, DC Petterson, Don Webb, Liz Strange, Nerine Dorman, Rab Fulton, Sarah Lotz, SL Schmitz, Sonya Clark and Toby Bennett to remove you from what’s familiar – just for a short while – and bring you back changed.
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And for those of you who want a small taste, here is an excerpt of my short story...
Lord Sithra has his back to me, and whether he hears my approach or reads a shift in Steward Harman’s stance, he turns to face me.
Warmth creeps up my cheeks and my quest to hand him the injured bee seems foolish and, as Aunt Gira suggests, the behaviour of a child.
“Your majesty.” Lord Sithra inclines his head.
“L-lord Sithra.” I draw a deep breath then summon the most imperious tone I can muster, like that of my aunt, I hope. “A bee flew into the solar. I think it might be injured.” I hold out my sleeve and release the fabric pocket.
The insect clings to the weave and crawls about. Gently, Lord Sithra places his long fingers so that the bee might crawl onto him, which the insect does. The tiny creature gains vigour the moment it comes into contact with his skin, and I watch, fascinated, as it sinks into his flesh and becomes one with him.
Lord Sithra’s smile lights up his face. “Not one of mine, but I must thank the kind lady anyway.” He winks.
I exhale and allow myself to smile too. “I’m glad.”