What would it be like if someone were trapped in their favorite video game as if it were real life?
Dina is about to find out…
He was beautiful. Not even a 75-inch OLED could have defined Arathiel like she was seeing him with her own eyes. His black hair fell around his shoulders in loose long waves. His olive skin was sculpted with light and shadow from the lowering sun, and his simple, loose clothes flattered the natural poise of the mer’s lithe body. Dina stretched her hand without thinking. She touched him, her fingers sliding across his cheek.
Arathiel’s eyes closed at her touch. He turned his face into her caress. His breath was warm on her wrist, as warm and light as a kiss.
“You’re not enchanting me, are you?” Dina asked.
A small smile quirked his mouth at her question. “What if I am?”
Riddle Heart (470 words)
“You know what you have to do,” said Jack.
Philadelphia hesitated. He was right, she did know what she had to be. It was just too incredible. A fairy’s arbitrary favor and blessing, cursed prince turned outlaw, and a quest through a fantastic maze Philadelphia would never have believed existed, all ended here.
“You’re not scared, are you?” asked Jack. “I may be cursed, but I won’t curse you if you set me free. I promise.”
Magic and Spies (200 words)
“But it’s real…I’m telling you, they were just here…”
Agent Z was very unamused and equally unimpressed. “Mr. Gray, thank you. We of course appreciate your handling of the situation, and understand entirely if you need to take a few days off to recover yourself.”
Mr. Gray flushed. “Yes, but, I don’t need—”
“Agent Gray.” Agent Z cut him off. “Good morning. Goodbye.”
Retelling Sleeping Beauty (296 words)
Supposing when he met her, the prince didn’t kiss her, not at once. Suppose he sat down and thought about it.
That is what Prince Mark did when he found Sleeping Beauty. First he checked her pulse to make sure she was alive, and then he sat down, thinking. After all, she was very beautiful and a stranger. There was a lot for him to think about.
Missing Treasure (178 words)
“No no, it was here. I’m sure it was here.”
The pirate crew exchanged uneasy glances. Mr. Steamroller held up the map for another scientific study, the latitudes, longitudes, significant markings and conclusive X. Yes, the treasure should have been here. It wasn’t, and that was final, too.
“Someone must’ve got here before us,” said the old salt. “We’re too late.”
Goblin Summer Song (69 Words)
God is singing in the summer
Rolling out the leaves of green
Straightening the little weedlings
And spreading every songbird’s wing.
Story Time (99 Words)
“Were you ’fraid, Tilly?” Noel sounded as tiny as he was, looking up into Mr. Caddy’s face with the wide open eyes of a six-year-old.
“Wisht, no,” said Mr. Caddy. He challenged his audience with mischievous eyes. “D’ye know why I wasn’t afraid? Well I’ll tell you. I knew, sure I knew, that Hattie would save me.”
Sniffkins and Sandwiches (360 words)
—Do you know what those stones are? Why, they could be anything. Sentinels over a sacred place, forgotten long before the world remembers to forget you. They could be the guardians of some terrible or great secret. Or perhaps—they are the standing graves of the chieftains who have gone before us, kings and queens rotting under the earth—
“Now you’re being morbid,” said Molls wearily. She sat down next to one of the stones, letting her back rest. “We’re never going to find my sister or the others, not in this mist.”
It was traditional, not to say required, to be married before the stones. The people of the fields and drops of Little Boulding had kept to this tradition, not at all a requirement, since before anyone could remember. So of course it was expected that if they were to be married, even a goblin and a man ought to be married before the stones.
On this day, the happiest day, Gnarlas was trying to decide why the man wanted to marry her at all.
Heroes Never Die (628 Words)
Thor flinched. He knew that voice too well. He turned restlessly, trying to force it out of his head. But it was there, always there, in his heart.
Thor’s elbow hit the TV tray. He cursed, throwing a plastic plate across the room.
“Get out!” he shouted. “Go away. Just leave me.”
He didn’t mean it. Not really. But he was tired and the pain was no easier. Loki, that cursed son of an ice giant. He saw him hanging from Thanos’s hand, fighting for air, for life. He heard his brother’s hoarse voice:
“You—will never be—a god.”
His death was too sudden. Thanos had thrown his body at Thor’s feet, so still and broken in a way that Loki was never broken, never finished. It was pretend. It had to be. Thor had bowed beside his brother, praying for some trick, some miracle.
No, Thanos was not a god. Neither were they.