May Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Greetings, readers. Welcome to the Confabulator Cafe, where us Confabulators write tales based on prompts every month.

This month, the prompt was: “legendary/mythical beast vs. legendary/mythical beast.” We didn’t limit what kind of creature or even what kind of verses. We hope you’ll enjoy the stories that sprung from this prompt.

Here’s the May schedule:

Tuesday, May 15: “The Upset” by Emily Mosher
Tuesday, May 29: “Battle of Wills” by Isabel Nee


Gin and Tonic, Part 1

Gin sipped from a glass of pinot blanc and smiled politely as Liam recounted tales of his younger days when he was first breaking into real estate. His own home was perched atop his first major acquisition, a prime piece of land that overlooked most of San Francisco, and even now the ethereal glow of city lights added a kind of coziness to what was an otherwise sterile art-deco décor made of black, white, and silver.

As he talked, her eyes slid toward the hallway where her small, black, hard leader clutch sat on a silver-trimmed side table. A fake bonsai made of coiled gold wire bark and tiny silver leaves sprouted from a shallow dish next to it. It was her own gift to the decorative monotony, but right now it seemed to mimic branching pain that had been spreading from the base of her skull since this morning. She didn’t want to drink, she didn’t want to eat, she just wanted to eat as many of the meds in her bag that wouldn’t outright kill her.

“Are you alright?”

Gin’s eyes snapped back to Liam. She hadn’t noticed he had moved from the living room back to the dining area. “Yes? Why do you ask?”

“You’ve been staring off into space for a while now. The speech isn’t boring, is it? It can’t be boring.”

“Of course not,” she lied. “You’re as intriguing as ever. I’m just… hungry, is all.” Gin waved her hand as if shooing a fly from her plate. “You know how I get. This summer salad simply isn’t doing it, I’m afraid.”

“You should speak up then.”

“And ruin such a riveting speech? Never.”

“Riveting, is it? For the last few minutes you seemed quite a bit more interested in that plant on the table there.”

“Do I have to keep my eyes glued to you every second?”

“Pretty face like yours, I wouldn’t mind it.” He grinned.

“Oh, you!”

“I’ll send for the next meal now, shall I?” He touched the panel embedded in the table without waiting for her reply. A moment later, the kitchen doors slid open and several servers came in to sweep away the remains of their summer salad and bring in a platter of steaming soft-shell crab. A mix of sauces, from simple lemon and butter to tangy curry to Vietnamese garlic sauces ringed the display. Liam took a vintage bottle of Chardonnay and filled fresh crystal glasses for each of them. (more…)

100% Fatal

The steak in the table across from mine looks as succulent as I always remembered it to be. The lady who ordered it moves her utensils with precision and the knife cuts through it with almost unreal ease. Red juices flow from it, and my saliva follows suit. There’s actual saliva dripping. I quickly clean myself and notice how fast the lady is eating, barely chewing her meat at all. I then realize I’m staring. I look down and try to make sense of what’s in front of me. The restaurant, which looks somewhat elegant in its dim lighting and monochromatic tones, is full of patrons sitting alone, looking mesmerized down at their own tables. There is a pattern of dim colored lights in mine, like Christmas lights but smaller and less brilliant. They’re not lightbulbs either, and look more as if they were part of the table itself.

Ready to order? Asks the waiter, startling me from behind. That I say loudly and point directly at the lady with the steak, as I am still struggling to form words or regulate my volume. This garners me some looks, including the lady in front of me of course. Did… you see the menu? He replies, casually pointing at the lights on the table. I nod effusively, even though I didn’t, and gesture towards the lady again, this time trying to be more subtle. He nods back at me with a smile and leaves. (more…)

Faithless Helen

Mourning and war had turned Helen into a light sleeper. After the almost-full moon set and the city had gone to bed, she changed quickly into a heavy wool garment. It was fine, dark wool the color of night. She tied a heavy ribbon under her breasts to hold it in place and pulled the skirt of the dress up and tucked it in. She put on the heavy sandals she had worn to travel to Mount Ida just a few weeks before.

She added a heavy rope and a small bag of possessions, testing the weight to be sure it wouldn’t be too much. She had brought crates of items from the palace of Sparta when she left and now she would be returning with just this small bag. Sparta would have to do with just this small bit of her dowry returned, she thought. On top of it all she placed a dark veil, hiding the rope and the pack on her back underneath its length. She arranged it carefully to hide her skin, still as pale as the moonlight itself.

The night air was crisp as Helen clung to the shadows. She made a silent prayer to her father Zeus above that she would go unnoticed tonight, guiding herself by starlight and memory. The great ribbons of heaven’s stars strung out above her, lighting the way. If she closed her eyes, she could have made it without so much as stubbing her toe on a crossing stone.

The weight of the pack grew as she traveled. With each movement, she jumped at the sound of her dowry jostling and she watched for the light of an oil lamp in the window or a flash of hearth-light in the doorway that would betray her. (more…)

April Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Hello and welcome (back) to the Cafe! Grab a seat and prepare to be entertained (no fooling).

This month, the Confabulators were given the prompt: “Never trust a survivor until you find out what they did to stay alive.” We hope you’ll come visit us on the following Fridays to find out what our survivors did.

Friday, April 6: “Faithless Helen” by Dianne Williams
Friday, April 13: “100% Fatal” by Sebastian Sanchez
Friday, April 20: “Gin and Tonic, Part 1” by Andrew Putnam