My Only Human

Everybody has a death. When a person is born, one of us is born, too, and we stay close to them their whole lives, making sure they stay on the path to meet us in the end. It’s a little like having a guardian angel, I suppose. I like to look at it more as a love story. I am very anxious to meet my human.

It will be soon.

I watched her grow from the tiniest baby, to the most adorable toddler, to the sharpest little girl, to an ambitious teenager, then a driven young woman. She’s very successful in her career, although lately she seems lonely and has been trying to find love. She wants a little girl of her own. I can understand. I try to steer her away from those choices, though. I know how hard it is for humans when they have to leave loved ones. She will be with me soon—sooner than I think she’d like—and I wish her to spare the worry of someone missing her. Continue reading

Old Mother Nitala

Old Mother Nitala crouched comfortably on her sun-warmed rock, as she had since almost the beginning of days, and prepared to great the next soul. This one approached tentatively, staring about her with wide eyes. When she saw Old Mother Nitala, she stopped.

Old Mother Nitala gazed at this one thoughtfully. She was dressed in white cloth from neck to her bare toes, and clutched a square brown object to her breast. A “book,” Old Mother Nitala had once heard a spirit call it.

“Hello?” the woman spoke. “I don’t seem to know where I am.”

“You are dead, my granddaughter,” Old Mother Nitala informed her.

“Dead?” Relief bloomed in the woman’s face. “Then I must be on my way to Heaven!”

Old Mother Nitala nodded gravely. “First you must travel this path and be judged.” She gestured at the trail behind her.

The woman frowned dubiously at the muddy path. “I’m sorry, but I was expecting something a little different? Saint Peter? Pearly Gates? A host of angels?”

Old Mother Nitala shok her head. “Down that path lies only your judgement.”

“How does it, um… work?”

Old Mother Nitala sighed. “There are three trials, my granddaughter. The first is through the marshes. If in your life you have shown wisdom, you will pass freely. If you have been a fool, the crocodiles will eat you.

“The second trial is through the forest. If in life you have been generous, you will pass freely. If you have been mean or unkind, the wild dogs will eat you.

“The third trial is through the plains. If in life you have been brave, you will pass freely. If you have been a coward, the lions will eat you.

“Pass all three trials, and you will return to the World to guide your children’s children’s children as a beloved ancestor.”

“WHAT??!!!?? That’s not how it is supposed to work!” the woman shrieked. “I taught Sunday School for years! I know my Bible!” She shook her book at Old Mother Nitala. “There’s nothing in here about crocodiles!”

“Look,” Old Mother Nitala said patiently. “This was all very clearly explained in the songs of your Mothers.”

“My mother taught me songs about Jesus, thank you very much, and the Lord our Father who created the world…”

Old Mother Nitala cackled. “You think a man could have given birth to the world?”

“Of course! The Bible says it, and I believe it! You’re just a… a… an old witch or something sent to test my faith at the last moment! Lucifer sent you! Well, I’ll show you!” The woman stalked down the trail to the marshes, indignation in every stride.

Old Mother Nitala shook her head, hoping the woman wouldn’t give the crocodiles indigestion.

The next soul approached. This woman had shaved her head, and was draped in bright orange cloth. When she saw Old Mother Nitala, the woman put her palms together and bowed respectfully. “Can you tell me where I am, Grandmother?”

“You are on your way to judgement, my granddaughter.” Once again, as she had since almost the beginning of days, Old Mother Nitala explained the three trials.

“Oh! So there is no Great Wheel of Transmigration? I cannot be reborn as either mouse or man?”

“No, my granddaughter.”

“It seems as though I’ve been wrong my entire life! This is very interesting! You said it’s down this path?” The woman bowed a final time and walked into the marshes.

Old Mother Nitala smiled. That one would do well, she thought.

Shop Girl

The bell above the door chimed as it opened, letting in a scorch of heat. It hung open for several long minutes and Phoebe considered yelling “in or out” before a robed figure entered. He made a beeline to the clearance rack where last season’s robes hung in a tidy row.

He held up one robe against his frame, shook his head and shoved it haphazardly back onto the rack. Phoebe slumped against the wall behind the register counter. He was going to be one of those customers. She watched with increasing despair as he pulled robe after robe off the rack until finally he held three options bunched in a sweaty palm and approached her.

“The fitting room?”

She gestured to a neon green sign that pulsated over a curtained off room to her right that clearly announced the presence of the fitting room. “No more than four garments at a time,” the words came out long and sullen. “It’s the rules.” Continue reading

Honour The Dead

“Emaline! Duck!” Her mother screamed, and she dropped to the dirt without a second thought. Paper thin wings whooshed over her, but their claws missed. A blast of ice chilled her as her mother flung the magic into the beast.

“Mother!” Emaline cried as she watched the woman fall to the ground as the moth shattered into red shards.

Her mother’s veins pulse briefly with a faint glow, and she knew that Sheena would never wake again. She knelt next to her mother, and pulled her into her lap.

“You shouldn’t have done that. The battle was nearly done. If you had just warned me, I could have defended myself. Foolish woman. We could have both made it through this.” She sat with her mother while the last few blasts exploded around her. A few people wailed their grief in the post-battle stillness.

“Sheena too?” Waldomar’s voice rumbled next to her.

“How many did we lose?”

“Four including Sheena.” Continue reading

Spirits

by Isabel Nee

Wind whispered through the soft feathers of my wings. I swooped down, landing before the wooden building half buried in pristine snow. The place looked strange in the pre-dawn light, as if it really was haunted.

I had been sent to investigate the place, as rumors were spreading that it housed a malicious or ghostly presence. Standing in front of the old gray church, I could start to believe the rumors, though it was still hard to imagine anything mean enough to take down a dragon. I crunched closer, past ice glazed trees, feet sinking through ice to soft snow.

Movement flickered at the corner of my eye. I stopped, staring through a broken window. Nothing. I moved closer, through snow the color of my scales. Just as I reached the steps up to the door, a blur of movement exploded past me. I jumped as an unearthly wail rent the air. I staggered as the thing charged in front of me. Continue reading