The Promise of Running Water

The aged wood creaked beneath Tasha’s feet as she peered through the dusty windowpane into the dark interior. Nothing. This was the last window she could check and she hadn’t seen even the slightest sign of life. Either it really was abandoned or they were hiding out upstairs. She retreated to the steps of the porch and beckoned. A dusky skinned woman appeared from the woods and moments later a boy’s head peeked out around her waist. Their clothes were filthy and most of their skin was caked in dirt. Tasha knew she looked no better.

“Looks clear. We’ll need to complete a room by room search when we enter, but it should be safe for the night. If we’re lucky, there will be running water.”

“If we’re lucky, there will be food stores,” Leesha said. She drew a pistol from her waistband. “Is the door unlocked?”

“In a moment.” Tasha knelt at the door and slid two thin wires into the lock. “Give me a hand, Rupe?” At her signal, the boy twisted the knob and she shouldered open the door. The wires disappeared into her wristband and she drew her own pistol. “Stay close.”

Staircase, closet, three rooms to choose from. She started with the closet. Nothing in there. “Get inside. The usual knock. If you hear any other pattern or if somebody opens the door—”

“I’ll shoot them.” Continue reading

February Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

We hope you enjoyed leftover month at the Cafe. Now that we’re firmly into 2016, we’re all back in action and ready to write new fiction based on brand-new prompts.

This month, our prompt was a fill-in-the-blank line. The line was: “There’s no ___ in this house. This probably won’t end well.” Some chose to use the line in the actual story, some just let it inspire the story, but, as always, we have a wide range of genres and tones spring from this prompt.

We also have a brand new guest author, Rob Conway, so please make him feel welcome for his first story debut with us!

The February schedule is below. We hope you enjoy!

Monday, February 1: “The Promise of Running Water” by Eliza Jaquays
Monday, February 8: “Maybe While I’m Asleep” by Sara Lundberg
Monday, February 15: “Invisible Dad” by Emily Mosher
Monday, February 22: “Morning Girl” by Rob Conway
Monday, February 29: “The Shadow Thief” by Sarah Bredeman

The Workers’ Tower

İlkay kept watch long after the workers had retreated to their bed pods for the night. At fifteen, she could afford to stay up all night without it affecting her domestic work in the tower. The men and women needed their strength to survive their work assignments.

She sat on the threadbare cushion her mama had made years ago, the yellow fabric faded to a dingy brown; it didn’t lessen the ache in her spine, but it brought her some comfort to have it with her. Her papa’s quilt protected her body from the icy wind, but keeping her hands out to hold the gun made her fingertips numb.

Her papa had set the gun in her lap and whispered, “There are no bullets, little bird, but don’t let anyone know that.”

* * *

The moon was bright and high that night, and the wind blew brutal, whistling a high tune through the rafters. The netting that the workers had placed over the metal bones of their tower had blown away less than hour after İlkay’s watch began.

The moonlight highlighted the man’s figure against the rafters, his clothing dark and his face obscured by a hood. He fiddled at the joints of the metal, pulling items from a sack slung over one shoulder.

Practicing the movements like her papa taught her, İlkay shifted up onto one knee and braced the butt of the rifle against her shoulder. The blanket fell open around her as she pointed it at the man, the wind cutting through her clothes. “Stop.”

Continue reading

The Stork’s Feather

The fortune teller studied the side of my palm. Her slender fingers traced the lines of my calloused hand, turning it this way and that to catch the light. I kept my eyes off of her, concentrating on the colorful tapestries on the wall. I knew what she was looking for. And I already knew what she would find.

“You’ll never have any children,” she said.

“I know,” I replied.

Those lines had been scraped off of the side of my hand years ago. She must have seen the half line. The faint, broken line that signified my unborn child. She was tactful not to mention it. Most practitioners loved to bring it up. They liked to play it up to prove that they knew their business. But she sounded like she was giving me the specials. ‘You’ll never have kids, oh and the soup of the day is broccoli cheese.’ She didn’t even sound sad about it.

“It doesn’t have to be this way if you don’t want it,” the woman said. Continue reading

The Cow of Cthulhu

On the morning of the unfathomable event, I, Robert Joseph Edgerton III, was awaken from a fitful slumber by a heavy knock upon my bed chamber door.

“Bobby Joe,” my mother said. “You’d best get out of that bed and get to breakfast. Those chores ain’t gonna to do themselves.”

I wiped a crust of sleep from the corner of my eye. My faithful feline companion Applejack stretched and then leapt from my feather-stuffed mattress. Applejack and I had spent my sleeping hours exploring the Dreamlands city of Ulthar, using sleep techniques promoted by my renowned professors. My feline guide had escorted me on a tour of the legendary village where no man may kill a cat. Continue reading