My Story ‘The Ifrit’ is included in ‘Cranial Leakage: Tales from the Grinning Skull, Volume II’. Link below:
C.B. Mac Gillavry studied English and Dutch literature, she has an affinity with Colonial Dutch literature. C.B., like so many authors, started writing as soon as she was able to write, although the actual reading started at a later stadium, with the discovery of Jane Austen. She enjoys many different genres and writers, preferably in the original language. The environment is a key topic in her writings and she ideally writes for young adults, in the hope of enchanting them, even if just for a short while.
You can visit C.B. Mac Gillavry on her webpage here: http://cbmacgillavry.weebly.com/
Character Interview Questions, answered by Agatha, C.B. Mac Gillavry ‘s Golden Fairy
Q: Who are you closest to (a best friend, family member, lover etc) and why?
A: Most of my friends are humans, then there is Lucio the gnome, he’s a father figure to me, there’s Sparky the hearth creature, who’s also a good friend, my cousin, and last but not least a Nature Spirit, Chloros, who has been kind enough to make me fall for him. All these people and creatures have been there for me when I needed help and healing. They are family. Oh, and I am Agatha, a Golden Fairy.
Q: Where were you born, and what are your strongest memories of the place you grew up?
A: I don’t really remember when I was born or started existing. Some say we are ancient, some others say we last as long as a heartbeat. I don’t know really, I only know I’m older than most of my friends, even if it doesn’t show.
Q: Where do you go when you get angry or upset?
A: I go to a field where the grass grows tall or to the woods, where the others can’t see me. I don’t like to be seen in such states.
Q: What makes you laugh out loud?
A: Chloros is very good at that. Otherwise it’s Lucio, he knows me best, he has been busy with me for some time now. And my friends also make me laugh out loud: have you ever seen a puppy dragon setting a garden on fire? That can be funny to watch.
Q: When were you most satisfied with your life?
A: When I managed to leave the past behind me and was able to look straight ahead!
Q: Who is your role model and why?
A: I’m my own role model! There aren’t so many Fairies left where I live, and my cousin is really too messed up to be one for me. So I have to try to be my own hero, when I need one.
Q: What is your favourite journey?
A: To my friends’ house: it’s a good place to be, its magic is very powerful and that always feels good.
Q: What is your greatest regret?
A: I have opened up too much to creatures that didn’t deserve me. They took advantage of that and treated me badly. That’s the only regret I have.
Q: How would you like to die?
A: Alone. After all my friends, so that they would not miss me.
Q: What is your motto?
A: Love always wins.
Q: What is your most marked characteristic?
A: I am crazy in many ways, good crazy mostly.
Q: What talent would you most like to have?
A: I’m not so good at being resolute, that would have been nice.
Q: What’s your most treasured possession?
A: My family and friends
Q: What are you most proud of about your life?
A: Against all odds, I’m still here, happy and alive.
Q: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why?
A: I had to push them away, after they had hurt me. I had to protect myself in the end, even if it meant their sadness.
Q: Describe your ideal mate. Have you found them yet?
A: I have found my ideal mate, he is the one that accepts me for what I am and loves me anyway. He tries to make me smile a lot, he’s always by my side and he sings to me. He takes “being green” to a whole new level, because he is green!
Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: To be stuck in the past.
Q: If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be?
Q: What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
A: No, it’s too embarrassing!
Short story – Fog on the Loch
“Come not between the dragon and his wrath.” –Lear from “King Lear” (1.1.127) William Shakespeare
‘“The name is Alexandra Drerea Ramsey. You may call me Twang.” But the old man looked puzzled,’
The girl explained.
‘So I added “I shoot pretty well with the crossbow, and that’s the sound the arrow makes every time I shoot.” And I smiled.’
‘He still looked at me, but he smiled back, eventually. He cleared his throat. He readjusted his big, fluffy coat. “Did you bake those cupcakes?” he asked pointing at my table.’
She mimed his movements.
‘I had just finished the cakes for my mom’s birthday, you see. I’d made several cupcakes with sugar flowers and coloured buttons and the big cake with roses. The one that looked like it was made of china, remember?’
Victoria nodded quickly, she wanted her friend to continue her story. She motioned her to continue.
‘Well, I said “Of course I made them! And they should be pretty good too!” and that’s when I heard the foghorn screaming outside. He turned towards the window, he looked worried, absorbed in his own thoughts. It can get spooky around the lake when the fog is that thick and I would have sworn that he was starting to feel a little restless.’
The girl slightly raised her voice.
‘Then he turned to me again and said “I heard that you weld things together.” I didn’t like this one bit!’
Her cheeks reddened.
‘I had left the newborn dragon, George, in the workshop, because when they are that young they tend to breathe more fire while they are asleep. I didn’t want him to burn down the house by accident. You need to train them first, right? Plus, Charlie, my black cat, was there too, taking a nap and keeping the little one company. I really didn’t want the old chap to see baby George.’
Twang paused again. Victoria feared this was due to the effect: the girl knew how to tell a story, that much was clear! She readjusted her long black skirt, fidgeted with the laces of her high heeled boots and sighed. Joe noticed that Victoria could hardly wait for Twang to continue, perched as she was on the sofa, almost lauching herself in the other’s arms.
‘Anyway, I was curious. Why was he asking about my welding? And he said these words, honest to the dragons, he said “My sledge, I think one of the runners needs some welding, and I really have to leave tonight.”’
Twang shook her head in disbelief.
‘ I replied “I understand, sir, but the fog is too thick anyway, you wouldn’t be able to see anything. The Police notified us that it would last for a couple of days and that it’s too dangerous to drive.” He looked at me with that puzzled look again and said “I wasn’t going to drive, I wanted to slide away.”’
‘I said, “Well, I suppose that doesn’t change much. Are you hungry? I just made some organic popcorn. I was going to watch some tv before going to bed.”’
She pointed her finger towards the imaginary table with the cakes.
‘He looked at my cupcakes again. I swear, he would have eaten the whole table if I had let him! Not that he would have needed the extra pounds, if you know what I mean…’
Victoria knitted her eyebrows, ‘No, I don’t. I thought it was his coat that was big, not that he actually had a big belly!’
Twang replied, ‘Well, yes, he was filling the coat all right!’
‘What did it look like? You said it was fluffy…’ said Victoria.
‘It was red, with a thick white hem, like it was fur.’
Joe and Victoria both pulled faces at that word, as they felt very strongly against fur and leather.
‘Don’t get all touchy! I pretended I was passing him the popcorn and actually felt with my hand: it was just fabric, I’m positive.’ Twang explained.
The others relaxed. Joe smiled amaibly and counted on his fingers, while he spoke,
‘So, he wasn’t thin, was waring a big red coat with a thick white hem, he was rather old… What did he look like?’
‘Oh, he had a bit of a beard, white hair, red cheeks… you know, the rubicund kind!’
‘Yes,’ allowed the boy, ‘but he didn’t take the popcorn you offered him and you never let him touch the cupcakes. So maybe he wasn’t the rubicond kind..’
‘Oh, well,’ Twang was getting impatient, ‘whatever! I wanted to go to bed, but with him there, all stressed out and all, I couldn’t. He even started flipping through my photo album I keep near the the antique typewriter and I was afraid he might get to the part with the pictures of the dragons! I found it rather rude to be honest, so I got my angle grinder and my soldering iron at once, and went outside with him to take a look at the sledge. He had the most ridiculous hat on, it was also red and rimmed, but with this white pompon dangling next to his ear.’
Joe and Victoria looked at each other and sniggered.
‘What!’ the snigger turned into laughter, ‘What!! I don’t understand… Oh, stop it! I won’t tell you how it ends if you continue…’ said Twang.
The two forced themselves to stop laughing, wiping the tears from their cheeks, and tried to resume their seriousness.
‘That’s better,’ Twang snorted, ‘so, we went outside and the sledge really needed some welding. Lucky for him, I’m good at that too, so I fixed the runner. It looked like I had used glue to repair it. I was quite pleased with myself! Then he thanked me, he said he had to go even if I had told him it wasn’t safe.’
Twang imitated the man’s manners, ‘“Don’t worry, Miss Ramsey, my deer have a kind of built in alarm in the tip of their ears. I never bumped into anything before, and I’ve been going about in this kind of weather for quite some time now.”’
She said in her usual way, ‘“Where are you actually going?” I said.’
Then, imitating him again, she said, ‘“I’m going home, I have done everything I had to do for this year.”’
Twang spoke like her normal self once more.
‘And he winked at me. Then he stepped on the sledge, it didn’t even wobble a bit under his weight, he waved at me, and turned towards the Church. He had little bells attached to the reins, and they jingled when the whole thing moved, that’s how I heard where he was going. He laughed too, it sounded like “Hohoho…”, very peculiar. I swear I heard the sound over my head at a certain point.’
Joe and Victoria boomed with laughter.
“What! Stop that already. Why do you do that?”
And the two sang, mocking,
‘Santa Clause is coming to town…’
Please visit C.B. Mac Gillavry’s webpage here: http://cbmacgillavry.weebly.com/
The second half of the mini-story I posted the other day.
Leo had picked his first fight with the Neuenheim city guard at the ripe old age of fourteen. The day the boy had partaken in his first brawl had been the same day he learned to stand his ground, to fight for his beliefs, and most importantly, to flee shamelessly and duck into the nearest sewer when the situation demanded. It was one of the reasons he had lived so long.
In those days he had taken on the best of the city’s overpaid and pot-bellied guard with whatever came to hand: planks of wood, sacks of vegetables, and on one unforgettable occasion, an unfortunate pub-goer’s wooden leg. These days, he went out rather better prepared. He had – by means best not discussed in this telling of the story – procured himself a lightweight falchion, etched with ancient runes that a drunken elf had once told him meant ‘I am my own worst enemy’. Leo liked to think it was just the mead talking. For his off-hand, he preferred an oversized cleaver to the more traditional and safer shield – it was truncated, but trusty, as he was wont to say to anyone who would listen.
So, as he landed amongst the rotting dead with their stiff-legged gait and terrible dress-sense, Leo had already drawn both weapons, with the third stashed safely between his teeth for emergencies. He had once been in a fight with a barb-tailed scrub beast, and the act of bending down to pull out his boot-knife had led to a month of sitting on soft cushions and avoiding spicy food. Leo rarely made the same mistake twice.
Unfortunately, the animated corpses who faced him now were unlikely to use similar tactics; in fact, Leo doubted that they were able to form a cogent group, never mind attack from behind when his guard was down. They all seemed to be functioning individually, rather than working together to overcome their lone enemy. However, since this meant that they all attacked at once, it didn’t make a lot of difference – except that they were all obviously keen to get at this delicious morsel for themselves.
Aiming a few head-height slashes at the nearest, Leo noticed that although not about to win any prizes for intelligence, their survival instinct was above reproach, and the sluggish pace they normally assumed was replaced by frightening speed when threatened with dismemberment.
Leo retreated to a boulder and shortly hit upon a dangerous tactic. He sheathed both his weapons, and keeping only his dagger in one white-knuckled hand, dropped to the ground close to the smallest gathering of zombies. Instantly, the foremost closed with him, reaching its tattered arms towards him as though begging for a hug. Leo let it touch him, and immediately cried out.
“Oh no, it’s got me. Argh. Oh no. It’s eating me alive.”
He glanced about to see if his acting was paying off. It was apparently not yet time for him to give up his day-job in thievery. He let out an impatient breath and added in a very clear and obvious tone, “It’s going to eat me all up and there’ll be none left for anyone else.”
Some of the closer corpses tilted their heads as though trying to understand his words.
“It’s such a greedy zombie,” he added pointedly. “It’s going to have me all to itself!”
The creature’s lipless jaws were inching nearer to his throat, and a light sheen of sweat broke out on his brow. He had had a few close calls over the years, the more memorable of which generally involved irate fathers with pitchforks or cavalry swords, or curmudgeonly misers in nightcaps who had squandered at least part of their fortunes on demonic treasure-guards. The horde shuffled closer, their combined stench filling his nostrils and lungs with dust and decay. Leo wondered whether this might be a good time to panic, and tried to remember if the gods owed him any favours.
If anything, it was the other way around.
Just as he was about to give up on this tactic and sink his dagger into his assailant’s one remaining non-desiccated eye, the creature was yanked away from him with such force that its fingers, along with its wrist and a good portion of its forearm, came detached from the rest of it with a dry ‘pop’.
Leo held his breath as the heavier-boned zombie who had intervened leaned towards its friend and yelled an inarticulate and rather lacklustre reprimand into his face. He then proceeded to wrench the hand from where it still gripped Leo’s jerkin and slap its owner about the head with it. Leo’s eyes widened and a snigger sneaked out unbidden. At that, the walking corpses remembered him. Leo swallowed audibly. The distraction had earned him but a little space and a smaller amount of time. While his rotten enemies were collecting their scattered wits (and limbs), he turned tail and sprinted for the entryway, marked by a patch of amber light that was reddening as the sun rose above.
He had entered the cavern quite easily, once he had found the right lichen-covered rock in a certain flowerbed in a certain garden, and it had been a matter of little effort to drop the twelve or so feet to the sandy floor below. But Leo had been in such a rush to bathe in the glow of the fabled hoard beneath that he had not considered how he would escape.
“Sometimes violence is the answer,” muttered the youth, and with that, he swung around with a wild grin and set to work.
Presently, the mound of bodies was high enough for him to stand on and reach the first foothold below the hole. From there he scrambled upwards, skinning his knees in a way that he had not done since he first played pickpocket with the clergy at the age of seven; tearing the silk shirt that had been a gift from a girl in a nearby port, who was even now convinced that he was dying of a rare nail disorder; and dislodging his cleaver, which fell and embedded itself in the skull of one last would-be diner – trusty to the last.
However, his plan was working against him, for where he climbed, the dead could follow with little trouble, and as he clawed his way out from the grassy hole into the fresh dawn air, one of his pursuers grabbed at an ankle. If anyone could have seen him, dusty, grimy, splattered with liquids of varying putrid shades, torn of shirt, mussed of hair, they would have wondered what he was doing in this part of the Mayor’s flower garden at six in the morning.
Leo’s eyes widened and he stuck his tongue out in concentration as he aimed blind kicks at the corpses that were trying to crawl up his legs.
“I – am not – your dinner!” he yelled, punctuating his declaration with several desperate kicks.
Eventually, the young man struggled free and flopped his way out of the hole onto the verdant sward like a beached whale running ashore. He drew his falchion awkwardly from his position on the floor, ready lest the zombies make another appearance, but it seemed the sun deterred them, and he resealed the hole thankfully.
Lying back on the posy-speckled lawn, he laughed aloud in relief and tugged out the item for which he had almost paid too high a price. He grinned as the sunlight glinted from its flawless surfaces and refracted in the facets of the rubies.
Abruptly, his face fell.
“No-one’s ever going to believe this,” he complained aloud, his eyes creasing shrewdly even as he did so. “Until I add some embellishments, that is!” He tossed the chalice into the air and watched it turn and glint in the sunlight before catching it deftly and secreting it in about his person. He stood, brushed the dust fastidiously from his clothes and smoothed his hair into a more desperado style.
Licking his finger, he raised it to the wind, glanced at the sun to get his bearings and set off for his camp with a spring in his step and a jaunty tune on his lips.
Just a little something I wrote and thought I’d share.
It was said of Archibald Leopold Thudd that he had sold his soul to the devil at a very early age, and that the devil had given it back because he felt he had got the poor end of the bargain. Most people liked to think that Hell was just not ready for a boy like Thudd. For wherever there was trouble, you could guarantee that Thudd was, if not involved, then the instigator of the fracas.
Local bookmakers took to running a pool on him for a while, taking bets (and making a fair bit of money on the side) on when he would pick a fight with the wrong bull-necked barbarian, or seduce the wrong mob-connected merchant’s daughter. The fact was that the boy had little or no respect for pain, was almost entirely lacking in fear, and had been on the wrong side of the door entirely when scruples were handed out.
All this changed when the brash youth reached maturity. All the inadequacies and shortcomings became strengths and virtues, transforming the young thug into a wily rogue with a silver tongue and a knack for ‘finding’ money other people had lost. He even gave it back, sometimes, proving once and for all that he had reversed his fortunes and grown beyond his foolish beginnings.
He went by many names in his travels. In sunny climes, he was known as ‘Leo’; when consorting with outlaw friends, he used ‘Thudd’ (which was apt for the noise his enemies made when they hit the ground); to the ladies, he was ‘Archie’, named for the bow-wielding love sprite whose influence upon the reformed Thudd was plain for all to see.
By the time he reached eighteen, it was clear that the youth had a roving foot. Once he had exhausted the local opportunities for adventure – and fallen foul of every constabulary across the four island nations of his home – he took to the sea. Over the years that followed, he made quite a name for himself amongst both the pirate brotherhoods and the merchant guilds of the known world – a name which should not be repeated in polite company. But whatever name he went by, even if his heart was a little too easily seduced by gold’s glitter or a maiden’s thigh, his deeds were well-meant, and for this, he was assured of a warm fire and a cold ale wherever he went.
It was on one of his many forays to the temperate equatorial lands that our tale begins. Leo (for that is the name he was using this week) was wedged into a narrow crack in an almost vertical rock face, his knees tucked under his chin and his left buttock peeking precariously over the edge. In one hand he idly twirled a rather fine and expensive-looking goblet, which glittered in the dim light from a fallen torch below.
“Zarobian gold, I’d say,” he commented to no-one in particular. He tested the lip of the cup between his teeth then nodded knowledgeably.
“Ruby encrusted solid gold, fashioned in the characteristic style of the late Posh Dynasty. Probably used for the consumption of wine, mead and other alcoholic beverages. Current value–”
His left buttock shifted, and a small cascade of pebbles and dust skittered down the wall. Fifteen feet below the niche where his frantic climb had deposited him not five minutes ago, the hungry moans increased in ferocity. Leo peered over the edge at the animated corpses queuing up for a tantalising and out-of-reach meal, and gave a wry smile.
“Not a bloody lot.”
He affected a feminine accent and gave it a sarcastic twang.
“‘It’ll be a doddle,’ she says, ‘in and out before anyone’s the wiser’, she says, ‘easy pickings’, she says.” He puffed out air from between dust-grimed lips.
“If I ever get out of here, I’m going to show her just what ‘easy’ means. Ignorant pig-tailed hippo of a wom…”
His left foot slipped against the edge of the minute nook into which he had wedged himself, and for an infinite second he teetered on one buttock with his hands flailing wildly for better purchase. It was a testament to his love of gold that the goblet remained firmly in his grasp while he fought with gravity for supremacy. When he had triumphed, and restored his balance – much to the annoyance of the walking dead below – he carefully tucked the goblet into the left side of his jerkin, where the finely moulded edges dug uncomfortably into his ribs.
“Why couldn’t it have been a ruby-encrusted hip flask?”
With a shake of his wild-maned head, he inched his dagger from its cramped home in his boot-sheath with his little finger, and managed by some feat of contortionism to manoeuvre it so he could grip it lengthways between his teeth.
“Wew, I can’t shstay here aww day. I’ge got a goglet to shell and a ngerchant to exshtort.”
With these erudite words alone to serve as his epitaph, Leo rolled sideways from the safety of the tiny cranny and plummeted gracefully towards the waiting horde.