What is a princess to do with unwanted male attention? Perhaps the dark spirit of the river can help. "Everybody knows that a princess is bad news, especially to her father. That was the thought that occurred to King Cympo in the two seconds it took him to fall from the battlements of his castle onto the very hard courtyard below. However, such a thought was unfair as a large part of it was his own fault. A few months earlier he had said, “My dear, I want you to marry Count Gwenki.” “He’s a pig.” “Maybe so, but he is also an extremely noisy member of my council, probably earns more than me and certainly has a bigger army.” “I’d rather die.” Princess Cadarn chose not to die immediately but stormed up to her room, slammed the door and threatened not to come down until her father had changed his mind. The king had no alternative but to forbid any food or drink to be taken up to her until she became more tractable. A fearsome two days followed, during which the palace servants tiptoed around quietly, as if someone had died. Then the princess summoned the cook, ordered two breakfasts and the king arranged a date for the Count to visit. When Cadarn saw the Count she realised that she had been wrong in thinking him a pig. He was more of a weasel. He was tall, thin and his eyes were constantly darting around as if looking for prey..." (This ebook also includes an additional story)
The Cover Story
Brindley Hallam Dennis
Apparently, this story was going to be 'disqualified with merit' from an Earlyworks Press competition...but that was too ridiculous...so they gave it Second Prize! It's on of the stories in Talking To Owls (Pewter Rose Press) and you can hear it read on Vimeo.
Tell Us a Joke
“Once I roared out of the dark days of winter like a young lion, stored up the triumphs and heat of the spring and summer to see me through the coming cold and dark.” But Nigel is past his peak now, long past, and a string of trivial incidents during a boozy day in the pub bring it home to him. Memories of the past are no solace when you don't get the respect you think you deserve.
My Mind's Eye
Anna Maria is an opera singer who, following an accident, has forgotten how to sing. She starts to find her voice again in the most unlikely place and with the most unlikely people, in a place of sanctuary where the strangest character of all is a young boy whom only she can see..... "As I move through the wood, the pylons above my head tick like giant cicadas in the damp late August air. It’s almost dawn, still dark and everyone else is sleeping, apart from the devout few who get up every morning to pray or to do whatever it is they do to save their souls, our souls. We are the outsiders here, the ones who are sick, who came here for healing. I hope they pray for us, I know we need it. Since the accident I feel safer in the dark, before the daylight finds me again. There’s no one here, no sound but my own breath biting back at me, my soft footfalls echoing my thoughts, repeating the fears that haunt me now wherever I go..."
Dan has persuaded Amanda to accompany him on a cruise of the Faro Islands, to see the eclipse. But are they being followed? In this chilling tale, we find Dan must make hard decisions, in order to safeguard his marriage. "It’s our first night on board so we dress for the occasion: me in my best bib and tucker, and Amanda wearing her plungiest neckline with the white gold pendant I bought her for Christmas. We’ve barely sat down to dinner when I hear, ‘I don’t believe it!’ which makes me think of that character on TV, but the chap bouncing towards us looks too young to remember the sitcom. He stops in front of our table and smiles at Amanda. When she doesn’t speak I look at her and see she’s staring down at the table. The skin on her neck is a mottled pink. Perhaps she’s seasick; but we’ve barely left Newcastle and the North Sea is like a millpond. Thinking this must be an acquaintance of hers, I stand up and hold out my hand. He grabs at it with a sort of damp, two fingered slide, saying, ‘Felix, you must be Dan,’ while his eyes slip over me and back to Amanda..."