Mushroom Clouds by Amanda Acton

Prompt: Mastermind | Word count: 1000 | Genre: Fantasy

The hive was beautiful. A drop of sunlight, twisting lazy loops. It all but glowed with promise and Harry licked his lips in anticipation. He squinted up at the hive and his brain began to whorl. The hive was a good six meters from the ground, but that was hardly the problem. The real problem, the thing that gave Harry pause, was the Gigantus Fungalus.

Gigantus Fungalus were a rare species of giant mushroom and this hive, this beautiful font of sweet treasure, was nestled deeply within the black fronds of one such mushroom. Harry stroked his stubbled chin. Even within the Neglar Marshes, a veritable paradise for fungi, the Fungalus were rare and Harry’s prime directive was to keep them safe.
Well, his actual job was harvesting honey, but it was his personal belief that one could do so without unnecessarily hurting the environment. The whole thing with the bees was unfortunate, but Harry had heard some interesting stories of keeping bees in boxes, almost like livestock and he was eager to try it out for himself. If all went to plan he would be able to secure the queen from this hive and…

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The Dress by Amanda Acton

Prompt: The Club | Word Count: 750 | Genre: YA Fantasy

The dress was torture. Lace dug into flesh. Satin coiled, a slow compression from waist to throat. Below, swaths of pallid pink crested atop roiling waves. Raega was drowning. She tried to remain steady, eyes fixed on the mirrored wall before her, but she was drowning and today she could not hide it.

She stood atop the fitting box. Her hands hung fisted by her sides. She would push her fingers out and force them into a more natural pose, but each time they would slowly curl back and betray her anger. Her eyes weren’t any help either. They stood large and red rimmed within a face tensed from holding back rage. Two tailor’s assistants worked below her. They didn’t care to notice, but Haimler did. Haimler stood a little off to the left. He was a man nearing sixty, but still in the prime of health. A strong presence in this room full of fluff. Raega watched his reflection as he watched her and she waited for her Master of Wardrobe to speak.

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Break by Amanda Acton

Prompt: Coming Undone | Word Count: 1200 | Genre: General Fiction

Disclaimer: *Some cursing, possible blasphemy*

Chantal pushed up from the padded gym floor and sucked deeply against her mouth guard. She ran her tongue against the front of it. The plastic device was smooth, but bulky. It pushed on her upper lip and forced it into a pout. No, you couldn’t pout with your top lip. This was an overbite. Chantal sucked at it again, swallowing the excess saliva that the mouth guard was so great at provoking.

I am never going to get used to wearing this thing… any of this stuff.

Chantal tilted her head back and rolled, shoulder to shoulder. The helmet wasn’t heavy, but the extra weight was enough that she could feel the shift in balance. The thick, foam pads squashed her cheeks and turned her into a puffed up, sweaty mess. Chantal shook out her gloved hands and thickly padded shins and feet, took a deep breath and steadied herself. She raised her gloves to head height, one slightly in front of the other and looked toward her opponent. He was watching her, hands always at the ready, his stance steady. Getting used to the gear was hardly her biggest worry.

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Return by Amanda Acton

Prompt: Going Home | Word Count: 500 | Genre: Dark Fantasy

Dust lay thick on the furniture. Spots of sun leaked through the worn curtains. Somewhere, a rodent skittered away on clawed feet. Kayla stood in the middle of the living room and sighed. She wasn’t sure why she had come. She had given so many years to this place, to the waiting. It hadn’t given back and yet she couldn’t help but feel guilty for having abandoned it.

Kayla stepped around the couch and into the kitchen. Her breath caught in her throat as her hand grabbed toward the nearest wall. She swayed on the spot, fighting against what her eyes saw, but her brain refused to believe. Standing beside the antique stove was her sister. Her twin sister. Gone was the unsure teenager that Kayla remembered. In her place stood a confident woman with beaded dreadlocks gathered atop her head and a hand resting easy on a solid fighting staff. The strangeness was still there. That haunting way she tilted her head as if listening to something a million miles away. The way her eyes looked glossed over and yet swam with swirling clouds. And the voice, as if speaking from another place.

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Buhle by Amanda Acton

Prompt: A White Lie | Word Count: 2500 | Genre: Post Apocalyptic Fantasy

Buhle dipped her oar into the Lagoon. Ripples spread out across the surface, distorting the once prosperous city that lay beneath the water. It had been called Cape Town, but that was before the ocean invaded the land, before the world went mad and before humankind changed. Now it was simply the Lagoon: a place where life flourished above the water and memories twisted in the currents far below. It was those memories that Buhle sought. It was those memories that all Salvagers sought. At least, it was that curiosity and desire for something more that first drove them to join the salvaging crews, but time and failure weathered the spirit. Many gave up. They returned to their homes, ready to forget, to become respectable members of society once more. Others simply salvaged for the raw materials their people could use and forgot the dream. They stopped believing that technology could be recovered. It had drowned along with their ancestors.

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A New Life by Amanda Acton

Prompt: A New Life | Word Count: 1000 | Genre: Speculative Fiction

Lucy lived her life on gut feel and a creative budget. She was no stranger to unusual rental arrangements, old buildings and dirt, but this, this was a new low. She ran a finger against the wall, pushing grime aside to reveal a small trace of the faded wallpaper below. It might have been roses once, Lucy wasn’t sure. Lucy wasn’t sure about much when it came to the cottage. What she did know was that this building was old, an ancient, the Crone reincarnate as a dwelling.

Lucy stared at her dirty finger and let out a sigh, part contentment and part apprehension. The cottage was going to be a lot of work and she wasn’t even sure why she had come. Well, she knew why, (the ad had called out to her just like so many others before. The landlord had been brutally honest about the state of the cottage and Lucy had been just as brutally adamant that she needed to live there.) but she didn’t know why. And that was the thing about Lucy, each place, each new home, it always had a purpose, some reason for Lucy to be there and she always knew. Seconds after stepping across the threshold, she knew the why, but now she stood in this cottage and felt nothing. The Crone was silent, guarding her secrets deep below her creaky floorboards.

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Park Date by Amanda Acton

Prompt: Conversation with my Spouse | Word Count: 1200 | Genre:  Fiction

Donna curled her fingers over the handle bar and pushed. Her knuckles stood white against wrinkled skin. She heaved with all the strength her eighty three year old body could muster. The shopping trolley groaned, but it remained rooted to its spot on the sidewalk.

“Oh bugger that!”

Donna kicked at a back wheel. It had become lodged in a crack. A crack that was proving itself a worthy opponent in an unsanctioned duel. Donna huffed and with hands on bony hips, she scanned her surroundings.

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The List by Amanda Acton

Prompt: The List | Word Count: 1500 | Genre: Urban Fantasy

Thell arched her wings too late. The slight updraft that should have slowed her fall didn’t come. Her feet smacked into the rough brick and she was flung forward. She threw her hands out, pumped her wings furiously and grappled with her boots for solid purchase; the words streaming from her mouth matched her limbs in their inelegance. In one final thrust of her wings, Thell came to a standstill.

Congratulations cupcake, A+ landing!

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