PenTober Challenge

During the month of October, I’ll be participating in a 31 day writing challenge. To write 31 stories in 31 days that are 500 words are left. You can find the instructions and prompts over at the Pentober Website.

7. Hornswoggle (hoax) – 496 words

The soft jingle of bells announced T’lyn’s arrival before the guards she traveled with opened the doors for her. She twitched her hips as she entered the tavern, most of the eyes in the room swiveling to watch. The colorful skirts were made of strips of fabrics that each had a small bell hanging off the end of it, and the top barely covered her ample chest in purple and gold fabric – showing a wealth of skin that the women in the room scowled at.

Doors swung closed as the guards crossed their arms and stood at the entrance, merely watching T’lyn as she swished between tables. Her bare feet were silent on the wood floor, and every so often she’d shake her ankle before she took a step to increase the bell sound from the belled anklet that had been secured around it.

“What brings you here, Seer?” The man behind the bar watched her with a hard look, though he didn’t move to show her out or interfere.

The small finger cymbals clung together on each of her hands as she raised them above her head, her head tilting back so the long blond locks trailed delicately down her back. “I hear the wind, see the stars. They speak to me. They tell me some here who visit need their futures told, their paths unveiled!” She clung the cymbals together again and let vibrant purple eyes linger over each and every patron who sat watching her, letting her message sink in and making sure that it held weight. “Find me on the crooked road to the west, the path lined with the violet roses. I will be waiting.”

Turning, she let her ankle jiggle so that it filled the tavern with its soft chimes before she elegantly flowed back to the door. “I will see you soon.” She didn’t direct the comment to anyone specifically but knew that it would feel like she did to a few of them.

The guards opened the tavern doors again and T’lyn swished through and into the night, as quickly and mysteriously as she arrived. T’lyn kept the swish in her step the entire way down the path lined with roses, the bells on her and her outfit chiming in the still night air.

It’s only once they’re in the small house at the end of the road does she stop swishing her hips and pull off the finger cymbals, setting them down on a small table by the door.

“Do you think any will come?” One of the guards asked as he moved toward the stairs that lead to the second floor.

T’lyn smirked at him. “Of course. People love believing in something greater, and the chance to glimpse where life might take them. We will see several before the week is over.” She motioned for him to continue upstairs. “But for tonight, we rest. You and Li’thm can get ready for bed. I’ll be up soon.”

6. Goose Bumps – 492 words

Kira rubbed her arms and sighed as she pushed up from the couch. The sudden chill that settled over the living room left her wanting her cardigan, so she shuffled to her bedroom to grab it. Curling back up on the couch, she wrapped it around herself and sunk into the warmth of the fluffy flannel fabric that it had been made of.

The tv droned on as she glanced over at it, but as the hour become late she grew less interested in the program. Part of her felt it was far too early to go to bed yet, especially when the clock only read eight.

Her eyes drifted closed, and Kira felt herself drifting off to sleep in the glow of the tv. Though a chill settled over her and it pulled her back to waking with a grown. She shouldn’t be chilled, not wrapped in her cardigan. Hugging the fabric closer to her, she shivered as goosebumps formed under it on her arms.

She pushed herself up off the couch and grabbed the tv remote, turning the tv off. A crack of thunder from outside had her jump, accidentally dropping the remote on the table as her hand rested over her heart to keep it from leaping out of her chest. “Get it together, Kira.”

Turning to the side, she grabbed her phone and pulled up Ben’s number. Her free hand hugged around herself as she waited for him to answer as the phone rang in her ear.

“Hey, Babe, what’s up?” A rich, but tired masculine voice answered.

Kira relaxed at the sound of his voice. “Hey, just wanted to check in. When are you coming home?”

A soft groan answered her question. “I have one more email to finish up and I’ll be home. I promise.”

“You deserve a raise for working so late, you know. And hurry up on that email. This house feels cold with you not here.” Kira moved from the living room into the bedroom.

Ben chuckled softly. “I promise. At least it’s only a fifteen minute drive home. It will feel like nothing, I swear. Just get under the covers and warm up, and I’ll be there soon as I can.” The soft click of the keys traveled over the phone line as Ben tried to finish the email while he was on the phone with Kira.

“Superfast. I’m so cold I’ve got goosebumps!” Kira kicked off her slippers and settled on the bed near the pillows.

“I’ll be there before you know it to warm you up and get rid of them. Promise.” Ben’s fingers paused on the keys. “See you soon.”

Kira slipped her feet under the covers and rested her arm on her knees. “See you soon, dear.”

Hanging up the phone, Kira settled herself more securely under the blankets to try and warm up for her to wait for Ben to come him and chase her goosebumps away.

5. Cadaver – 290 words

“Are you ready to study?” Kim glanced over at her roommate.

Lane sighed softly as she toyed with her biology book. “I guess.”

Shifting her weight, Kim nodded her chin. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Lane hurried to answer, to ignore the ice that gripped around her heart at the idea of going to the lab and standing with a dead body.

Pulling the door of their room open, Kim motioned for Lane to move through it. “Perfect. Then let’s go.”

Lane moved into the hallway and lead the way to the elevators, glancing at Kim. “Have you been in the labs before?”

“Nope, but I’ve heard that they’re fine, just smell like formaldehyde is all.” Kim stepped onto the elevator.

The walk to the lab fell quiet as the two made their way across campus and to the biology building. The light in a hallway flickered briefly and Lane jerked as she glanced around.

Kim shook her head. “They’re not zombies, Lane. They’re just dead people.”

“How can you just be so calm about it? They could sit up at any moment!” Lane pushed the door open to the lab but let Kim enter first.

Shaking her head, Kim signed into the lab and moved over to the cadaver they were supposed to be studying. “Because that’s not how this works. If they were supposed to raise from the dead, it would have been much earlier than while we’re studying all the bones in them.”

Lane eyed the cadaver as she moved up to it. “Right, right.”

The arm furthest from Lane rose and a soft gurgle slid through the room.

Screaming, Lane dropped her back and scrambled toward the door.

“Jack!” Kim yelled as she sighed softly. “Lane, come back!”

4. Caravansary – 379 words

The soft feminine squeal of excitement proceeded Colin’s door being thrown open. The metal handle clanked into the stone wall, not that the woman who rushed into the room paid any mind as her blue skirts swished around her with her movements. “Did you hear!”

Colin looked up from his book, his legs stretched out up along the couch he sat on. “Hear what, Neli?”

She stopped in front of him and settled her hands on her slim hips. “The Caravan passing through the city stopped for the night over at the inn.”

“And?” Colin’s eyes dipped back to his book, not quite dismissing his sister, but not interested in visiting the caravan either.

Giving a frustrated sigh, Neli tugged his book from his hands. “You’re taking me. I want to see their wares, and Helen said they’re only selling until sundown. And they’re heading back out at first light.”

Colin swung his legs to the floor and stood as he reached for his book. “Why don’t you have one of the guards take you?”

“Because I want you to take me.” She skipped back a step to keep his book from him. “And because if you don’t you won’t get your book back.” Neli turned on her heels and slipped toward the door.

Brow arched, Colin moved after her. “You’re holding my poor book hostage when it hasn’t done anything wrong?”

Neli smirked up at him. “Naturally. But I know you’ll be a good brother and do as requested so it won’t have to suffer.” She folded the corner of the page he was on and closed it.

With how Neli had her head tilted down, she missed Colin’s minor wince at the poor page marred by being folded over, even just the corner. “Fine, fine. Hand me the book and go fetch your cloak.”

“Perfect!” Neli relinquished the book and turn in a swirl of fabric, disappearing out the door as she shouted, “I’ll meet you in the entrance hall!”

Colin opened his book and fixed the ear of the page before settling a bookmark into it carefully and setting his book on the side table next to the couch. He shook his head before he grabbed his own cloak from his wardrobe to meet his sister.

3.  Wizard – 350 words

Laura sat on the edge of her desk, her legs bent at the knee slightly so that the heels of her sandals hit the fine oak wood gently. Her hand smoothed along the skirt of her dress as she watched the man in front of her stutter over his words. “Look,” she interrupted him as her head tilted slightly to the side, “Do you want a wizard or not?”

“But,” the man flushed as his eyes trailed along her from elegantly curled red hair to her purple painted toes that peaked out from the open tips of her sandals, “you’re a woman.”

A brow arched slightly at that comment, her lips pursing just a little. “Who says that word has to be meant for males only? Why can’t it be a universally used word for men and women?”

He opened his mouth to answer, only to close it a moment later without saying anything. Clearly, he thought better than to say what had come to mind, but he continued to sit there and look confused.

Laura slipped off the desk and onto her feet easily. “Listen, you don’t want my help then the door is right behind you. I don’t need someone who thinks I can’t do magic as well as any of the guys that do it.” She settled into the plush office chair behind her desk. “If you do want my help, I suggest you start speaking now.”

“I do need help. And you were highly recommended.” He wrung his hands together, still not comfortable with her being a woman. “But it’s of a,” he paused and licked his lips, “sensitive nature.”

Laura crossed her legs and picked up her pen so she could make notes about what he wanted. “I’ve heard it all, Mr. Briggs. From enlargements to potions to help in bed to love spells. Spit it out.” Her pen started to jot notes down as he stuttered but finally started to tell her what he’d come here for, and while it was an easy spell, it would also bring in a pretty penny for her.

2. Anthropomorphic – 324 words

The house fell quiet as the front door clicked shut and the lock slid into place.

“They always take forever to leave in the morning.”

Sitting up from where she’d been dropped on the floor, Mallory groaned and shot a glare over to the desk that rested against the wall. “They always do, Trish, I just wish they hadn’t played before heading out today.”

A dark head of hair peeked out from over the edge of the desk, her brows arched over brown eyes as she looked down at Mallory. “Yeah, I thought they were going to accidentally take you to school with them.”

Mallory stretched out the lingering plastic feel from her limbs. “That would have been horrible.” She kicked off the little plastic shoes that her feet had been stuffed into and wiggled her toes. “Stuck as plastic for the whole day, no thank you.”

“What am I even wearing?” Trish carefully crawled down from the desk and moved over to the dollhouse and wardrobe that rested next to it. “Who thinks a hot pink top goes with a lime green skirt.”

Mallory tugged her hair from a complicated knot that the girl had called a braid.” Better than getting your hair tangled. Pass me a brush?”

A click echoed through the empty house and both dolls turned their head with a gasp. Their bodies shifted back to plastic and both girls fell over as steps caused the stairs to creak as someone moved to the second floor.

“She’s always leaving her dolls everywhere.” Linda picked up both dolls, one with her skirt half off and the other with her hair half done up, and set them on the desk gently. “I’ll have to talk to Krissy when she gets home from school.”

Mallory frowned over at Trish briefly as the woman left the room. Today felt against them, they wouldn’t be free to move around if she was home.

Maybe tomorrow.

1. Popinjay – 298 words

The soft click along the wood floor perked Haley’s ears and her head rose to watch Lilly as she moved past the couch. Lilly didn’t spare a glance toward the couch or Hayley as she rested on the soft, grey fabric-ed cushions. Instead, Lilly stopped in front of the mirror and touched up her hair. Every golden curl bounced and framed her face artfully, fingers tugging and moving a couple just so. Ruby red lipstick came next, being drawn on pouty lips before she posed in front of the mirror with a pout.

The flowing fabric did little to hide Lilly’s body as she shifted this way and that. Haley’s eyes closed, she didn’t need to watch to know that Lilly would spend forever in front of the reflective piece of glass before finally going out. It was a ritual when Lilly decided to go out anywhere. She would spend most of the night grooming herself, making sure every strand of hair and every lash along her eye fell just the right way. Later, she’d come home with some foul smelling male and they’d take over the bed until morning.

Haley’s tail twitched and she wrapped it closer so she could hide her nose in it at the mere thought of the males Lilly brought home. Honestly, how would she find anyone that would treat both girls well like that?

A peek at Lilly and Haley caught her fluffing those blond curls again. Sometimes she wondered why Lilly needed those men at all, she seemed happy enough with her own reflection. Finally, though, she slipped out the door and locked it behind her. The house fell quiet, the only sound the rumble of the heater and Haley’s soft snore as she fell asleep. Just another night at home.