The latest FF challenge was also part of a NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest - round 2. Each group was asigned a genre, setting, and object, and give 48 hours to write a 1000 word (max) story. Our group got fantasy, an antique shop. amd a goldfish. My story was 995 words.
A Touch of Magic
Pippin wanted to do some magic now, not in six months.
"Dagmar, cover for me while I sneak into town. I want to check out the antique shop. ′Eldermar’s Emporium. Antiquities, Curiosities, and Mysteries′. I bet they have all sorts of magical items."
His friend shook his head. "Don’t do it. We’re supposed to stay in the dorm until we learn to control our talent."
"I’ll be careful, don’t worry. I just have to check it out. My uncle said I had real talent, that’s why he brought me to the Academy. Maybe I’ll find a magic wand. Or a book of spells. Please?"
Dagmar frowned. "Spells? A wand? Are you crazy? Look, your uncle is right downstairs, talking to the headmaster. What if he comes back up here?"
"He won’t, Dag. He’s already said his goodbyes and made me promise to be good and study hard. I’ll be back in an hour, tops. Nothing will happen. I just have to try one tiny little spell. Please?"
Maybe one of his talents was persuading people, because ten minutes later Pippin was carefully pushing open the door of Eldermar’s.
The Emporium was jam-packed with dusty books, murky jars, mysterious devices, stuffed birds and animals, all carelessly piled on tables, under tables, cluttering the aisles, stacked on shelves and cabinets up to the ceiling, even hanging from the ceiling. Sun streamed through an open window, but did little to dispel the gloom, or the smell of spices, herbs, mould, a hint of sulphur, and fish. Definitely fish.
The shopkeeper, Eldermar, was an ancient gnome, with rounded shoulders, wispy white hair, and a large bulbous nose. He sat perched on a stool behind the back counter, peeling the scales from his lunch. He peered over his glasses at Pippin.
"Can I help you?"
"Just looking, sir."
The gnome shook his head. "Just looking. Keep your hands in your pockets."
Pippin could feel a faint sizzle in the air, a tingling. The hair on his arms stood up as he approached the nearest table. An old leather bound volume glowed faintly as a flickering blue light traced the runes on its cover. He glanced at the shopkeeper. Busy with his lunch again, nibbling on a fish head while trying to elbow aside a scrawny yellow cat.
As he reached for the book, there was a sizzle as a long blue spark jumped to his fingertips, rushed up his arm, then disappeared. He had to have this book. He took a deep breath. If only he had some gold coins.
There was a tingle then a flash so bright he had to close his eyes. When he opened them, there was his gold. A goldfish, swimming serenely inside a glass globe, balanced on top of the book. Not quite what he wanted, but he’d done his first spell. Maybe the shopkeeper’s lunch had distracted him, kept him from focusing.
"You there. Boy. What have you done?"
"Nothing sir. Just admiring this goldfish."
"You did something, don’t lie to me." Eldermar peered over the counter, then turned to his cat. "Hermione, I don’t have a goldfish, do I? Is it a pretty one?"
Pippin smiled. Maybe he could trade the fish for something in the store. He wiggled his fingers experimentally. There was crackle, and a smell of ozone as a spark leapt between them. Just one more try. Focus and create some real gold.
The cat jumped down from the counter, padded across the dusty floor, and leapt onto the table. Hermione glanced at Pippin, then peered in at the fish. Her tail twitched. With a swipe of a paw, she sent the globe rolling across the book. Pippin grabbed the globe with one hand and the cat with the other.
"No you don’t, that’s mine!"
There was another tingle, and a flash, and he was holding a gold cat, frozen, with its sharp claws reaching for his hand. Not just a golden-coloured cat, either. Judging by the weight, it was solid gold. Likely enough to buy the whole shop.
"Magic. I can do magic. Real magic."
The shopkeeper scurried across the floor, waving a very large cleaver over his head.
"Magic? I knew it. Damn apprentices. What have you done to my Hermione?"
Pippin stepped back and raised an arm in reflex. ′Not gold, not gold, not gold′, he muttered. Another tingle, another flash. Eldermar was frozen in place, cleaver raised, eyebrows bristling, teeth bared. He was not gold, just a dull grey metal.
"Oh, by the gods, I didn’t mean it." Pippin backed toward the shop door. "I meant to be careful. How do I undo all this?"
This time he could feel the heat from the flash.
Once again, he carefully pushed open the door and stepped in. Same smells, same piled up junk, same tingling. The shopkeeper was picking at his lunch, while Hermione licked a paw.
He should leave. The old leather book was glowing again. Pippin shook his head.
"No way, not again."
There was a faint pull from the book, as pretty blue flames danced over the cover. Maybe just one step closer? No, he couldn’t, he wouldn’t. He watched as one foot slowly extended itself.
A heavy hand fell on his shoulder.
"Don’t do it, nephew. In this case, practice won’t make perfect."
As Pippin turned, his uncle swirled a heavy cape right over him. He staggered under the weight—it felt like chain mail. But the tingling, the pull of the book, all was gone.
"Oh uncle, I’m sorry, you were right. I did one little spell, and it was so easy, and almost worked, and then there was another and another— "
His uncle patted his shoulder through the heavy cloak. "I know, it’s alright. Dagmar told me where you’d gone, right after I threatened to turn him into a toad. It’s back to school for you, but now with some wards to ensure that you, and Dagmar, stay there."