Welcome to another Saturday. Hope everyone is enjoying there weekend so far. Today I am featuring Alexis Lantgen’s book of short stories, ‘Saints and Curses’. She was nice enough to share a short sneak peek into one of the short stories that graces the interior of this awesome book. Check out ‘Grackle’ below…
Jane wasn’t surprised when Michael pulled out his wand and brandished it at her. She had told him she wanted him to move out, and he could be volatile. After all, that’s why she wanted him to move out in the first place.
She’d come prepared. She’d chosen a restaurant known for its magical barriers and purchased a counterspell from the drugstore. The spell came with a potion that smelled like off-brand hand cream and a charm that looked like a refrigerator magnet. It had an inspirational slogan scrawled across it that read “Just believe in yourself and your dreams will materialize,” which was clearly written by someone who never remembered their dreams.
Nonetheless, the potion and the flimsy charm had given Jane enough confidence that she only stammered a little when she asked Michael to move out.
“I mean, neither of us is happy, right? It’s not about you, we’re just not good together, you know? Umm, I mean, you hate my friends, and the other day you called me boring.”
He’d said other things as well, things she found too painful to repeat out loud, but boring seemed damning enough. She plucked at her skirt beneath the table, then darted a glance in Michael’s direction to see how he was taking it.
He clenched his jaw, and he had gritted his teeth so hard she could hear them grinding. She stammered into a silence that stretched before her like an abyss.
Jane panicked. She wanted to take it all back, to tell him she didn’t mean it, that she was wrong, stupid. But his gaze weighed down on her until her tongue felt too heavy to move. A small, rebellious, suicidally stupid part of her wondered if she wanted to take it all back anyway.
When he pulled out his wand, she was relieved. That’s how it would be, then. But she had a spell he didn’t know about and he couldn’t do much in a restaurant anyway, could he? That’s why she’d chosen a public place, like her mother had always said.
The spell he shot at her blasted away her meager charm. The heat of it burned her face. She ducked beneath the table, scrambling away as their waitress drew her wand to settle things down. But Michael was quick. He hurled another spell at her, one hot enough to set off the sprinkler system and summon the security gargoyles. It hit Jane in the back of her knee, the one that never seemed the same after she’d twisted it freshman year.
A flash of light. Blinding pain. Then the disorienting feeling of being entirely the wrong size, and weight, and shape. She threw her hands up, but she didn’t have hands, only scraggly black wings.
Chaos surrounded her. One of the security gargoyles tackled Michael, snapping his wand in two. The police were called. The Magisterium was summoned. Jane flapped around the room. The people in the restaurant loomed over her like giants, hulking and terrifying. Some of them batted at her, shrieking. Others grabbed at her. One pulled out her tailfeather, which hurt. A breeze stirred around the room, and she saw an open window. She struggled towards it, flapping and hopping, but when she reached the windowsill, she hesitated and looked back.
“Even as a bird you’re ugly!” Michael yelled. “Fucking ugly ass grackle–I should have–” A gargoyle clamped its heavy clay hand over his mouth, or maybe punched him in the face; it was hard to tell what it intended. Jane looked out the window, felt the breeze under her wings, and glided away.
It’s not that she intended to stay a bird, forever cursed by her ex. But when she thought about going back to her and Michael’s tiny, overpriced apartment or to the dreary grey building where she worked, she couldn’t quite bring herself to do it. Especially when she thought about the enormous magical med bills she’d rack up to get back her human body. She’d have to file for bankruptcy or sell herself into thralldom. And the recent economic downturn had driven down the going rate for souls.
Explore worlds of light and dark, where magical whimsy and grim tidings alike are painted across the tapestry of human experience.
Indulge in tales of the fantastical where enchantments are bought and sold at the local corner store, your morning latte gives you special abilities, and you might just adopt a murderous, vampiric cat. Your child might be stolen away in the night and replaced with an ancient, evil creature of the fae, waves of plague-ridden vermin consume everything, and only a saint could hope to turn the tide.
These stories and more await you, if you dare to turn the page…
Alexis Lantgen is a writer, teacher, and classical musician. She loves Renaissance Faires and all things science fiction and fantasy. Her short stories have appeared in Kzine, the Gallery of Curiosities, Phantaxis, Red Sun Magazine, and Swords and Sorcery Magazine, and she’s had nonfiction articles in Renaissance Magazine. Alexis collected many of her science fiction stories into her first book, Sapience, and many of her fantasy stories into her newest book, Saints and Curses. Alexis is on twitter @TheWiseSerpent and has been spotted once in a blue moon on Instagram, @LunarianPress. She lives with her husband, her spirited six-year-old daughter, her toddler son, and two very patient cats in Texas.
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