Avenir Eclectia is... THE PLANET THE UNIVERSE FORGOT ...a multi-author microfiction project, based in a world with flavors of science fiction, fantasy and supernatural genres.
"Shelter from the Storm" continues a storyline featuring Elihu Simmons—a character I'm burrowing from another author—that I began with "A Fortuitous Stumble." In this episode, Elihu finds shelter in a "relatively comfy" cave whose former owner appears to have abandoned it.
What happens when you mix pride and revenge to create a toxic pie? Check out my story "Sixpence And Rye And A Snake In A Pie" in Father Grim's Storybook to find out. The stories in this collection are dark retellings of nursery rhymes and fairy tales. "Sixpence And Rye And A Snake In A Pie" draws on "Sing a Song of Sixpence."
Here's an excerpt from the story:
The Cook stared out the back window of the kitchen, grinding his teeth. Godfrey was telling Marian funny stories. Her laughter joined the music of songbirds in the garden, and there could be nothing funny about hanging out the laundry. A blackbird perched on the garden wall, swiveled its head in their direction, and cawed. “Do something, you scrawny bird,” whispered the Cook. “Nip off his nose. It’s what he deserves.” Seducing the help. Couldn’t he be a more original wretch? Where were that boy’s parents? The Cook well knew the answer. Mr. Stuart was clinking gold sovereigns in his study; Felicity was sneaking bread and honey in the parlor. The Cook snorted at the thought of everyone engaged in their favorite vice. Nothing good would come of Godfrey’s flirtations, absolutely nothing.
The Cook rolled out another rye dough crust; a pocketful sufficed for the flavor, and fitted it to a pie dish. “Blackbirds in a pie made with rye,” said the Cook aloud to no one but himself. “Humph. The old boar doesn’t deserve the effort.”
Two sharp raps at the side door, unexpected, like the peals of church bell announcing a death, startled him out of his uncharitable thoughts. A young boy waited on the steps outside. “Got a message for a Mr. Fawkes, the cook.”
“I’ll take that.”
The boy whisked the envelope out of reach, grinning as he presented his open left palm. “Gotta make a living.”
The Cook pulled a penny from his coin purse, chafing at the messenger’s cheekiness, and dropped it in the boy’s hand. The letter came from Mr. Robert Catesby, addressed to Mr. Guy Fawkes in a florid script. The Cook put the letter aside on a clean corner of the table to let it lie while he savored the sweet taste of what he hoped it might say before swallowing the bitterness of what he feared it would say. He thought the response too swift, which might be good but more likely bad, a perfunctory rejection. How many times had Mr. Catesby tasted his cooking at York Manor? Was the meat savory on those occasions, the soup delicious, or only ordinary? He decided to finish all the pies before opening the envelope but ripped it with a paring knife before he had rolled out another crust.
A few lines of cursive on a single sheet, he took in the note in an instant and cried, “Hallelujah, hallelujah,” as he jigged around the worktable, his thick chin bouncing with each hop. Raising his clasped hands overhead, he shook them and said, “Prayers are answered. Prayers are answered.”
A fleeting movement, the shadow of a ghost, jolted his senses. He shrieked at the sight of his long dead wife at the window; her translucent skin and eyes in the full bloom of youth stretched over a grey skull looming beneath rosy cheeks. No. He stared at Marian and Godfrey staring back at him. He shook his head to clear his delirium. “A new recipe,” he said, pointing at Mr. Catesby’s note. The pair smiled at one another and returned to the laundry. “Better times are ahead,” he thought, “much better times, Marian.”