CMCon17 Halloween Flash Fiction with Deborah Blake
Happy Halloween, everyone!!
It’s the final day of this year’s Flash Fiction event, I hope you’ve been enjoying all of the stories!! Also, be sure to check out the Coastal Magic Convention, where you’ll be able to hang out with each of our participating authors, and many, many others.
Today we’ve got THREE holiday stories to share. Deborah Blake‘s fresh take on the traditional Baba Yaga tale has been fun and interesting, and today’s story fits right in (with an added holiday flare!)
Don’t forget to comment below her story with a question or comment for her (or for us), to be entered to win a prize pack of books & swag from many of our authors this week! (And be sure to check back on our “kickoff post” for the full schedule of participating authors. So many great stories, and each day you can enter to win!)
Here’s the image that inspired her story…
Trick or Treat
Bella took a deep breath of the fresh air coming through the caravan’s open window and sighed with contentment. After a week fighting to control a smoky wildfire in Ohio, the crisp clean air of late October in upstate New York smelled like heaven. Outside the window, the tattered remains of a few bright leaves drifted to the ground like faded autumnal birds, heralding the coming winter. She pushed her long red hair out of her face, taking another whiff.
As a Baba Yaga, one of the three powerful witches whose responsibility was the United States, Bella was used to traveling to wherever she was needed. The eastern third of the country was usually covered by Barbara, the eldest of the trio, but Bella was more in tune with the element of fire than the others, so she’d gone instead. And since she’d ended up so close to Barbara’s home in rural Clearwater, New York, Barbara had invited her to stop by for a visit. Barbara might tend toward the crabby and antisocial with most folks, in keeping with the traditional Russian fairy tale witches in whose footsteps they followed, but that had never applied to her sister-Babas, and living with her sheriff husband Liam and adopted daughter Babs had mellowed her even more. Well…maybe mellowed was a bit of a stretch, but Bella was looking forward to seeing her anyway, especially since it what Halloween, a special holiday for those of the witchy persuasion.
Of course, she was missing her own new husband, Sam, and Jazz, the teen they’d taken in as a Baba Yaga in training, but Bella would be home soon enough, and in the meanwhile, she was hardly alone.
“Were you thinking of making dinner any time soon?” a plaintive voice said from the area near her knees. “All this fresh air is making me hungry.” A large square head butted her leg hard enough to force her to grab for the nearby countertop. In the compact but efficient traveling caravan (transmuted from its original form as a wooden hut atop movable chicken legs, because in this day and age, someone would probably notice such a thing), most things were nearby, more or less.
“Everything makes you hungry,” Bella said in a fond tone to her traveling companion, Koshka. Koshka was actually a dragon, but people tended to notice those too, so he was currently wearing his usual guise of a gigantic brown and gray Norwegian Forest Cat. “When we were in Ohio, you said the smell of smoke made you hungry. Besides, you just had a can of tuna an hour ago, and we’re heading down to Barbara’s house for dinner in a few minutes.”
The caravan was currently parked in a meadow off to the side of Barbara’s yellow farmhouse, tucked a little ways off the road for privacy. Bella was still worn out and a little on edge from dealing with both the fire and the nasty fire elemental who had turned out to have started it, so she was glad for some much-needed peace and quiet.
KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.
“What the hell is that?” she said, glaring at the door.
Koshka gave a huge yawn, treating her to a glimpse of sharp white teeth. “Girl Scouts? Avon Lady? Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
“We’re parked in a damned meadow!” Bella said. She peeked out the window, thinking maybe Barbara had for some reason come up to fetch them, but she couldn’t see a thing. And Barbara was pretty hard to miss, with her cloud of dark hair and the head-to-toe black leather she wore most of the time.
Bella yanked open the door and prepared to send whoever it was packing, only to stop dead in her tracks at the sight of a floating apparition hovering less than two feet away. What the hell?
The amorphous shape wasn’t very large, but its edges moved ominously to and fro, and the faintest sparkle of rainbow-hued lights lit its translucent whiteness in the gathering gloom of the setting sun.
Bella was just beginning to summon defensive magic to the tips of her fingers when the shape let out a loud, “BOO!” that startled Bella so much she almost set her own foot on fire as she jumped backward. To add insult to injury, Koshka began to make the coughing noise that was his version of a belly laugh.
“Oh my goddess,” he chortled. “If you could see the look on your face!”
The shape dissolved into a small girl, about seven years old, with short dark pixy-cut hair and an adorable nub of a nose. The girl sank slowly back down until her feet touched the ground, a serious expression on her face.
“I am sorry, Aunt Bella,” Babs said. “Did I do it wrong? Was I supposed to say ‘trick or treat’ before the ‘boo’? I am still learning these things, and Barbara’s instructions were not quite clear.”
Babs had spent the first years of her life hidden away in a corner of the Otherworld by an insane woman and a viciously ambitious fairy—she was still trying to adjust to life in the normal Human world, if you could call living with and being trained by a Baba Yaga anything resembling normal.
Now that she was over the shock, Bella could see the humor in the situation, and laughed along with her dragon-cat. She leaned over and gave the girl a hug.
“You did it perfectly,” Bella said. “It’s just that most children use a white sheet with holes cut out for eyes for a ghost costume, instead of magically disguising themselves as an actual ghost.”
Babs blinked up at her. “That seems very silly. How would you scare anyone with a sheet?”
Bella bit her lip, holding back a grin. “Well, sweetie, most children can’t do what you can do, so they have to settle for a costume instead.”
“Are you wearing a costume?” Babs asked, as Bella and Koshka shut up the caravan and started walking across the meadow towards the farmhouse. She eyed Bella’s jeans and flannel shirt. “Because I am not sure what you are supposed to be.”
Koshka snorted, causing wisps of smoke to trickle out of his nostrils. “Fashion-challenged artist witch?”
Bella nudged his massive brown and black side with her foot. “Very funny. Just because you always have the best illusion in the room is no reason to get nasty.”
She turned back to little Babs. “I wasn’t actually planning to get dressed up for the holiday. Do you know if Liam and Barbara are going to have costumes on?”
Babs gave one of her rare crooked smiles. “I asked them before I came to see you, and Barbara said they were going to come as a small-town sheriff and a really cranky witch.”
“Ah,” said Bella. “So one is the treat and one is the trick. Very appropriate. I think this is going to be a lovely holiday.” And she let out a witchy cackle, just because she could.