The Fairy Tale, Remixed Flash Fiction Challenge

Chuck’s challenge this week was fun. Take a fairy tale and rewrite it any way you see fit. Only requirement: pick a genre and apply it to said fairy tale.

I played around with a lot of fairy tales, mostly H.C. Andersen one’s but ended up rewriting Grimm’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin and applied a dose of Urban Fantasy to it. I hope I do them both justice.

A fair warning, the story is 300 words over goal and I have not reworked the ending as much as I would like to, as time is up and there’s a new challenge waiting for my attention.

Hamelin City Blues

by Trine Toft Schmidt

It had been a pretty shitty day for the mayor. One in an endless string of shitty days. The mayor downed his fifth scotch and blamed the job. The job and the breeds, they were in collusion to kill him.

He looked up from his empty glass and tried to catch Sid’s eye. But Sid was busy serving a couple of doe-eyed werewolves. Damn breeds!

The mayor nodded to himself, recognizing the fact that he was getting closer to cause of the shittiness. Breeds. Making themselves publicly known. Two days after he’d taken office. Kicking up a raging non-stop shitstorm that hadn’t died down yet.

“Is this seat taken?” A young naiad stood in front of him, smiling, all golden hair and perfect skin, except for an oddly attractive patch of scales that ran up the side of her neck.

He smiled back, feeling a little better already, now that a young beautiful thing wanted to sit at his table. Maybe the shitty day could turn into a rather pleasant night.

“No, not at all.” He had to focus not to slur his words and blink to unblur the view of her.

“Great.” She smiled again and the mayor felt a little light-headed. He’d never tried naiad sex before, but he’d heard it was amazing. “Then you wont mind if I borrow this?”

She put a hand on one of the empty chairs and immediately dragged it away. The mayor watched as she gave the chair to one of her mates and then sat down on his lap, laughing hard, probably at the old gullible fool who’d just got sucker punched. The weight of his world settled itself back on his shoulders.

“Tough luck. She’s a stunner.” A tall lean man, dressed in an outrageous purple and white checkered suit, stood in front of him, holding two glasses of delicious amber-colored liquid. The mayor thought he looked like a gypsy or some other traveller.

“If you want the chair just take it.” This time the mayor didn’t care if he slurred his words. He might as well just drown his shitty night in scotch. If he could get Sid’s attention.

“I thought you looked a little thirsty, so I told Sid to give me two of whatever it was you were drinking.” The man pushed a glass filled with amber liquid over to the mayor, then he pulled out the last empty chair and sat down. The mayor noticed that his eyes were almost white.

“What a crowd huh? I mean, I’ve never seen so many breeds in one place, having fun, being harmonious.”

“They can all go to hell. Or better yet, walk right back into the woods.”

“You don’t like breeds? Odd place to drink then.”

“This was my favorite bar before they all declared themselves. Trouble makers one and all.”

“Really? They all seem peaceful to me”

The mayor emptied the glass, feeling all of his rage and frustration bubble in his ulcer-infested stomach.

“Pah! It’s a facade. I’ve got werewolves running amok every bloody full moon. There’s the vampires,” the mayor shuddered, “…don’t get me started on the fucking vampires.”

The traveller blinked again, slow and sideways. The mayor lost his train of thought for a second, then continued.

“Then there are the trolls, they owe me three school buses and a new fire station. The goblins…” the mayor hammered his hand down on the table. “reproduce like rats. And the ghosts! They are all… hovering and translucent and creepy. It is sickening to be served by a man you can poke your finger through as if he was nothing.” The mayor looked up and saw Sid looking at him, like maybe he could hear him. His translucent body framed a selection of dark rum.

The traveller leaned in closer and something alien, cloying sweet and musky filled the air.

With a sinking feeling in his stomach the Mayor realized that the traveller was something unfamiliar, something fresh out of the woods. He pulled back in his chair and felt the blessed intoxication leave him. The man, or whatever he was, didn’t seem to notice.

“What if I told you I could help you with your problem.”

“We have no problem. I am just letting out steam after a long stressful week.” The mayor donned his politician sing-song voice.

“I have helped others with similar… ehm trouble.” The traveller smiled, showing the mayor a row of teeth that looked suspiciously shark-like. The mayor pushed his chair even further back, his ulcer starting up a burn in his stomach.

“I am not interested. But thank you for the drink.” The mayor got up, eager to get away, the world wobbled under his feet. The traveller just smiled some more.

“Sure sure. But I hope you will allow me to give you a demonstration of my skills.” The traveller bend down to the floor and for one wild crazy second the mayor thought he would bring up a gun and start shooting people, but when he reappeared he was holding a flute. The mayor couldn’t help himself, he started to laugh.

“You are going to help me with a flute? You are out of your mind.”

“Well, maybe I am, maybe I am not.” The man put the flute to his lips and gentle watery tones appeared. The mayor looked around, feeling rather self-conscious standing there with a dude playing the flute.

There was a crashing sound and to his right the young naiad stood up, the chair she had borrowed, crashed to the floor. The naiad ignored her boyfriend surprised squawk and made her way through the crowds back toward the mayor. When she stood in front of him she looked up and smiled a slow, seducing smile. The mayor couldn’t help himself, he smiled back and his heart did a little two-step in his chest. The naiad stood on tip-toe and was just about to kiss the mayor when the traveller pulled the flute from his lips and the naiad froze. The mayor watched as she blinked slowly and looked around, saw her expression of disgust when she seemed to realize what she’d been about to do.

“I can make her do anything. I can make them all do whatever it is you want.” The man put the flute back to his lips and the naiad smiled again, pressing her breasts against the mayors chest. When she pressed her lips against his, she tasted like salt and seaweed, like smoke and beer and bubblegum.

The melody changed, became darker and slower and the naiad retreated, her face a blank, her eyes dead. When the tune stopped she just stood there like a robot that had been switched off.

The mayor looked around. Every being in the bar, human or breed, were still, sitting or standing, caught in mid-laugh, or kiss or sneer or talk, their eyes dark voids in blank docile faces.

A rush of excitement flooded the mayor. The traveller could make people do anything just by playing his flute. This was a perfect solution. He could send all the breeds back to where they’d come from, make them forget their civil rights claims and their ambitions and with them gone the mayor could get his wife back, his old job back, he could get his old world back. He turned to the traveller and pushed away the little pebble of doubt that clung to his heart.

“What is your price?”

“Nevermind, we can discuss price and terms later.”

The traveller smiled a hungry toothy smile and put his flute up to his lips again.

Flash Fiction Friday – roll for your title.

So, lets just skip all the excuses and all the horribly belated holiday greetings. It is  a new year and I’ve made a resolution to cut back on guilt trips this year.

So woohoo, here is the first Flash Fiction of the year, of course courtesy of the fabulous Chuck Wendig who is as witty, entertaining and generally fucking amazing in 2014, as he was in 2013.  I should have made my resolution to be like him, but I would probably suck at it too much and thus guilt trip, so I’ll just stick with participating in his Flash Fiction Challenges instead.

This first one of 2014 involved two lists of 20 words each and the handy help of random.org. I rolled 2 and 5, dropping the title Devil’s Bookstore into my lap.

And here are the 104o-something words going with that title.

Devil’s Bookstore

By Trine Toft Schmidt

There are two types of small towns in this country. Those that welcome you with white picket fence smiles and freshly painted facades, and then there are those that turn you away with a brown rotting sneer and gray concrete travesties.

I definitely prefer the latter, since my business is the ugly and miserable.

Bramville didn’t have much potential. It was of the former sort, a pretty little thing, pastel colored cottages dotting sweeping green hills, overlooking the small cozy town. It was peaceful and content and I hated it, but I still parked my car on the main road outside a cutesy little barber shop.

You see, I know these towns. They hide it well, but somewhere below the shining white paint and the cheery signs, they all hide monsters. All I have to do is take a walk and I find them.

I must that Bramville’s pretty went deeper than I’d thought. It wasn’t until I crossed to the eastern side of town, that the painted shingles and shutters reluctantly gave way to ugly seventies tract houses and weed infested empty plots. It was all miserably sad and unattractive, but they weren’t monsters by far. To much care was stowed upon lawns and gardens. It simply wasn’t atrocious enough.

So I kept walking, my gut-feeling urging me further and further down a disintegrating road that eventually came to a complete stop at some old train tracks. On the other side the road was a path leading into a dense impenetrable line of trees. My heart started dancing against my ribs. Something old lurked behind there, I could feel it as a cold happy chill racing up my back. This was what Bramville didn’t want me to see.

Brambles and nettles ruled the forest, grasping at me as I struggled to pull my suitcase after me. Somewhere to my right branches snapped and a flock of crows rose from the trees above me all in a huff. I followed their witch-like caws out of the forest into a field of thistles.

In the middle of the field stood what had once been a beautiful, two story, red brick plantation house with a covered porch sprouting from an impressive Greek revival colonnade in the center. If I closed my eyes I could just see Orry Main leaning against the railing of the balcony on the second floor.

It was in terrible disrepair, nobody had taken a paint brush to the woodwork since sometime before the war and the front door was two warped plywood boards hanging on rusty hinges. The brick had weathered to slivers and only the middle four feet of the porch looked safe to stand on, the rest was a jumble of boards, rusting bicycles, washing machines, sofas and old carpets.

My heart skipped ahead in double speed. It was all I’d ever hoped for.

I stopped and eyed the house. It looked deserted. No smoke came out of the chimneys and a scrap of lace curtain swayed gently in the gaping hole where a window had once been. The only sound came from the crows that had settled in an old chestnut tree to my right. But I could feel eyes on me and one of the curtains on the bottom floor moved minutely. I allowed myself a smile and flipped my suitcase over on its side to sit on, slipping my sunglasses into the breast pocket of my black suit.

I settled into the wait, crossing my ankles and tilting my face to the sun. Above me a crow cawed and flapped its wings noisily.

I waited.

The sun was on its way down when, finally, the plywood door squeaked open and there was a creak of stressed wood. A thin-as-rails woman with lank mousy hair and creases the size of grand canyon on the sides of her mouth stepped out on the porch.

“What do you want?” Her voice was rusty and phlegmy, courtesy of a forty-a-day Marlboro habit. I brushed off specks of dust on my pants and stood up.

“Madam. I have a simple question for you.” I smiled.  She narrowed her eyes.

“Is that right?”

“Are you happy with your current living condition?” I spread my arms to encompass the house and the thistle field.

“Listen mister, get off my lawn. I ain’t buying what you’re selling.” Her eyes flicked to my suitcase. Curiosity is such a bitch.

“Please.” I fondled the handle of the suitcase and she licked her lips. “What harm can come from a simple question?” She snorted and I smiled again.

“Listen if you are from some sort of freak-ass religion trying to sell me Jesus on a stick, then you are wasting your time.”  I held my hand up in mock surrender.

“I am not a religious man, madam, I promise.”

“And how is my current living conditions any of your business?” She stepped a little closer dropping her arms to her side.

“I am so glad you asked.” In one fluid move I flipped the suitcase over on its back, released the clasps and opened it up. In two seconds flat my trap was up and operational. She wouldn’t know what hit her.

“I told you, I ain’t buying nothing you have to sell.” She shuffled her feet and tried to wrench her eyes away from the glittery paper that was now on display.

“I am not selling you anything you can’t afford.” I took a step back and she took a step closer. I call it the Swedish dance, my suitcase a perfect substitute for the maypole.

“What is that?” Her eyes were glued to the thick magazines. I took one and presented it to her with a flourish. She took it and turned it in her hand with glittering eyes. The paper sang as she riffled through the pages, fast at first and then slower and slower until each sheet clicked against her nails like a playing card against the spokes of a bike.

“Have you ever heard of Sweden madam? It is truly the land of milk and honey. And this, this is the IKEA catalog.”

But she was already gone, her eyes wide open and dreamy, her fingers gently caressing the image of a deep white sofa.