Steampunk and Sea Monsters

I wrote this story for the Story In A Bag contest at ConQuest last year. For the contest, you pull index cards from five different paper bags (plot, character, item, first line, and setting) and you have one hour to compose a story that uses all five elements. This story won me the contest last year. Forgive the silliness – it hasn’t undergone much editing since its inception a year ago.

My head felt like it was going to explode. I was still suffering from the ill-effects of Sulfur’s spell. I had spent four hours in the form of a rat because, as he explained to me: “Morton, you are a dirty, wretched rat for stealing Isabel’s affections from me.”

Now to be frank, I did, in fact, steal the evil wizard’s girlfriend, but in my defense, he only ever met her because I foolishly introduced the two of them. Unfortunately “I saw her first” doesn’t carry much weight with a nefarious wizard such as Sulfur.

You may be wondering what kind of idiot I am, stealing a wizard’s girl, and you’d have a good point. I am a huge idiot.

Which is how I ended up as a rat in Sulfur’s dungeon. He underestimated me, however. The spell had been meant to last the night, but I have extremely high constitution.

Now, back in human form (and, unfortunately, quite naked), I had to find my way out of his dungeon without tripping any of his wards or alerting any of his animated statue guards.

After slinking through his dungeon for awhile, watching every step and listening at every corner, I realized he never thought I’d escape. There weren’t any guards or wards to speak of.

I ended up strolling through the dungeon and into the armory with no attempts to stop me.

Or maybe everything just fled at the sight of my intimidating nudity. Isabel found me to be quite impressive, after all.

In the armory, I outfitted myself in a tunic and tights and a set of light armor. I chose a hunting knife as a weapon with the hope that I’d be able to avoid a fight and keep my maneuverability.

Still expecting to be ambushed, or at least discovered at any moment, I cautiously crept through the castle looking for a way out.

Which turned out to be easier said than done. The place was so maze-like that within minutes I was completely turned around. I resorted to putting a hand on one wall and following it around until I finally found daylight.

It was a deep window-well, however, with slick stone sides. I thought about breaking through and climbing out, but I knew I’d never find purchase.

So I put my hand back on the wall and continued on. My persistence was rewarded when I finally stumbled upon his underground garage.

Sulfur cared a great deal about image, so he rarely rode horses. He had an eclectic collection of magic and steam-powered vehicles he used to get around.

I happily stole one: the one I knew to be his favorite.

I followed the underground tunnel upwards, cruising as fast as I dared for the pure joy of speed, but realized too late that the bridge across the moat was raised.

I was going too fast to stop, so the steam vehicle catapulted into the air and it, with me still inside, plunged into the moat.

The vehicle sank, and, after shrugging out of my stolen armor, I bobbed to the surface. But I wasn’t out of trouble. I did not want to be in those waters. Sulfur was notorious for keeping his favorite enchanted pet sea creatures in his moat.

I resisted the urge to flail wildly, in hopes of avoiding drawing attention to myself. I paddled as delicately as I could and grimaced at every ripple and splash.

Until I saw a ripple and splash that I hadn’t made. Then, instead of grimacing, I hauled ass, paddling full speed away from it. Unfortunately, there was no avoiding the answering splash in front of me. Just perfect. All of this for Isabel, and she hadn’t even been worth it. She had ditched us both for some wealthy (ugly) prince. Since Sulfur wasn’t in a position to take his revenge on the prince, he had set his sights on me instead.

And now I was going to be eaten by his sea monsters.

But instead of teeth, one nudged me, instead. I dared to hope for my survival when I realized I knew this particular sea monster. I had been there when she had hatched.

“Good girl,” I crooned as I rubbed her scaly head. She slid between my legs and swam me to her hidden cave. I was grateful for the rescue, until I realized she had set me at the feet of her master.

“Nice try, Mort, my friend. I do wish you hadn’t destroyed my car in the process of your amusing attempt at escape, but the end is the same.”

The bastard had known the whole time. Did I mention that I’m an idiot? I should have realized. I gritted my teeth as Sulfur cast another, more permanent spell on me.

The spell turned me into a sea monsters, and his pet had her way with me.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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