Intergalactic Clown Thief

I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. Well, maybe more than one, if I was being completely honest with myself. I never should have agreed to the parameters of the heist job in the first place. Dress up as a clown, they said. It’ll be an easy score, they said. Well, they can kiss my ass. I hate clowns, for one. Dressing up as one was hell. The face paint felt like shower grout and the wig itched worse than lice.

All that aside, being dressed up as a clown put a giant target on my back for every little kid within a thousand miles. Do kids have clown sonar, or something? Two even followed me to the bathroom when I went to shuck my disguise and crawl through the vents to get to the heavily guarded room with all the jewels.

“I hid a bag of candy back at the party. Look for something red, and you’ll find it.” That made them leave me alone, thankfully. And no, I didn’t feel bad, lying to kids. Not when I was about to rob the damn place.

Ok. Maybe I felt a little bad. I decided to buy them a whole candy store once I robbed the place blind and fenced all the goods. (more…)

The Time of Boxes

Hirald had to knock on the door. It was a big door, wooden, with a brass knocker high above his head and one cement step up to it. He’d never knocked on the door before, not in his whole life. He didn’t know anyone else who ever had, either. It was strictly forbidden for box gnomes.

The cardboard boxes were piled on the curb behind him for the picking, some with bits of colorful wrapping still attached. It was the time for the Feast of Boxes. The heavy layer of snow would destroy them before the trash truck did, but for now they made Hirald a happy gnome. He was less happy to be standing in front of the door, though. The door scared him. He gathered his courage and knocked, far below the door knocker which he couldn’t hope to reach. The door required a short wait before a woman opened it.

“Who is it?” a voice called from down the hallway of the house. It was a deep, gruff voice that Hirald didn’t like.

“A gnome,” the woman called back.

“Garden or box gnome?”

“Box.”

“Ugh. Get rid of it,” the voice demanded.

The boxes were still there behind him. He could drop the thing and run, probably make it back to the curb before he took a kick to the head. His heart hammered as he unclenched his fist, holding up the shiny he’d found.

The woman bent her knees and put her hands on her thighs to look down at him. She didn’t kick him at all.

“I- I found this. In the trash,” he explained.

The shiny flickered in the light and cast sparkles across her face. Hirald risked a smile, mirroring the small grin on her face.

“I thought I’d lost it for good,” she said, taking the diamond ring from his hand. Her soft fingertips brushed his calloused palm and he almost jerked his hand back in surprise.

He let out a breath as the weight of it lifted from his hand.

“I thought box gnomes stole everything they could from the trash?” she asked, checking the ring over.

He wanted to run for the boxes. He didn’t like being exposed like this. But it seemed rude not to answer when she hadn’t done anything to him yet. “Only trash. This wasn’t trash,” he said.

The sound of heavy shoes made him look up and he saw the man coming down the hallway. He was a big man and he looked angry. “I told you to get rid of it,” he said, pushing up his sleeves to do the job for her.

Hirald’s view was blocked when the woman stood between the gnome and the man. “You won’t touch him,” she said. As Hirald watched she straightened up to be two inches taller. “And you won’t touch me either.”

She clenched the ring in her fist and lifted her chin, daring him to hit her. Hirald stepped back off the step. He wished he could pull her back with him, but he was just a little gnome.

“I’m leaving you, Rick,” she said.

“I told you already, if you go you won’t take anything from this house. How are you going to live without my money?”

She stepped out onto the stoop with Hirald and he scrambled to make room for her. The man followed as she tried to slam the door on him.

“Don’t you dare,” he said. But she was halfway to the street already.

He saw Hirald on the sidewalk. The boxes were too far and he didn’t dare step into the grass of the garden gnomes’ realm.

“What the fuck are you doing here, you little trash gnome?” the man said, giving Hirald a swift kick.

His breath came out in a swift ‘umph’ as Hirald sprawled in the grass, big feet stuck up in the air.

“Get away from him,” the woman shouted out. Hirald gasped for breath as she pushed her husband away from his little gnome body.

She pulled Hirald up off the ground, away from any garden gnomes who might be lurking. He managed to get a breath in to stop his lungs from panicking.

“It looks like we should both find a new place to sleep tonight,” she said as she brushed his clothes off.

He’d never been picked up like this before. He kicked his feet, wanting to be on the ground but not entirely uncomfortable in her arms, either.

“Do you know what this is?” she asked Hirald, still holding the ring in her fist.

He nodded. It was an engagement ring. Every silly gnome knew that much about human customs.

“This is our freedom. I was afraid I’d lost it when I threw it in the trash. But I can sell this and live for a year if I’m careful.”

Hirald looked to his boxes one last time. The feast was waiting. He hoped there would be plenty of boxes wherever this woman was going as he followed her down the sidewalk.

Leaving the Nest

Every nerve tingled down her spine, sending her tail swishing back and forth in uncontrollable excitement. This was the day she’d spent the past months preparing for.

“She’s carrying a mirrored decorative pot. It’s enormous and looks incredibly fragile, I’m amazed it’s survived so far.” Her father’s human relayed the details of the girl climbing up the side of the mountain. He’d first spied her at the base of the mountain a few days earlier and had been reporting back on her painstakingly slow progression up the mountain.

The mirrored pot was one of Iris’s favorite pieces she’d collected for her treasure garden. When she started cultivating her treasure garden years ago, her father warned her away from anything that would be difficult to carry, but when she’d first set eyes on that pot, she knew that it was destined to be hers. It would be devastating if her human shattered or lost it, almost as bad as if it stayed in the garden forever. It was fitting that it would be the first piece of her hoard.

This was her first human. This object would be the first piece that she would use to start her own hoard… or if she failed, the human would be the first piece of her hoard. (more…)

January Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Greetings, readers! Welcome back to another year of free fiction at the Confabulator Cafe! We have an exciting year lined up for you. We’re even going to give you a little teaser by sharing the monthly prompts for the whole year on the Fiction Archive page. So take a look and make note of months you think might tickle your fancy.

As for January stories, what better way to start the new year than have our writers tell you stories about new beginnings? But, because this is the Cafe, we can never just leave it at that. For this prompt, we also wanted a twist or a catch with that new beginning.

We hope you’ll enjoy our stories this month, and this year!

Here’s the January schedule:

Monday, January 8: “Leaving the Nest” by Eliza Jaquays
Monday, January 15: “The Time of Boxes” by Dianne Williams
Monday, January 22: “Intergalactic Clown Thief” by Sara Lundberg
Monday, January 29: “The Mage” by Isabel Nee

 

Prison of the Mind

I remember being set free dozens of times. I’ve run, limped, and crawled out of this cell every day for weeks. Sometimes alone and sometimes leading others to safety. In victory and defeat. None of it is real.

I’m in a recovery room, surrounded by doctors, by family and friends. All of them ask questions. They ask questions about me, but mostly they ask questions about what I know. About what the aliens wanted from me so desperately. They ask what the aliens asked and I refuse to answer. It’s a trap, of course. If I ignore the people long enough my captors will get bored and prep the next scenario.

Their hallucinations are getting better, less nonsensical. Once, I could tell reality from fiction by the gaps in time. When I couldn’t remember leaving my cell, or walking into the room, when I couldn’t remember how I’d escaped or been set free, then I could jar my mind out of the illusion. Then I could remember not to give anything away. But this scenario, this is a good one, a happy one, and I don’t wish to endure it any longer.

I look for the seams in this reality. (more…)