In all relations, I keep myself slightly aloof. I try not to talk very often or discuss pain because I can’t sympathize…
With people I really care about, once I begin to feel their pain, I feel it as my own…until I cannot separate the borrowed pain from my own feelings. Gradually, it begins to push me under and I struggle to keep floating and breathing. Eventually, I drown in a pain not my own and am unable to resurface until I open the floodgates or someone fishes me out.
I prefer to not drown.
So, if you find me impassive and aloof, now you know why.
The continuous singing is too annoying…with the singing come the birds who put so much pressure in the chorus that I am now covered with bird-shit.
I should have known that she was bad news the day she walked in all wide-eyed. I should have slammed the door on her face, or may be, when she was sampling from each of the seven bowls on the table, I should have shook a chair or two to drive her out.
I let her try all the beds and later my seven owners actually talked about upgrading the security as if I wasn’t able to defend myself against a child. Well, I was not ineffective, just plain selfish–when I saw this girl in servant clothes, I found hope. I thought that, finally, we might have someone who knows dusting and other cleanup that I sorely needed.
The dwarfs weren’t really thinking when they created the roof that high. Once cobwebs started showing in the rafters, they couldn’t reach them. Now, huge cobwebs hung like an year-round Christmas decorations. The metal frame of the door to ceiling windows had gathered enough dirt to grow plants in. It was rather difficult to tell apart the cows by their colour since they were too high to wash regularly and any hen who flew to the roof was a lost cause.
Well I was right about that part. Once the seven hired her, she did spruce up the place, no doubt. But her habit of singing in a high trill is getting on my nerves. As if birds are not enough, the rabbits, squirrels, porcupines and deer are also here from dawn till dusk, leaving only to eat. Also, the rats and insects are now joining ranks and I am gradually becoming a wildlife sanctuary. Throw in a tiger or too and we could open a circus.
Worse still, she has the habit of inviting random vendors inside the home, regardless of the wares. Never misses a good gossip, that girl! She buys all type of stuff that she may or may not use. It is rather annoying, if you ask me, being treated as a storehouse for useless stuff–smelly candles, too colourful clothes, leather shoes that shrink with first drop of water…
Also, twice in the past years, she has ended up almost dying because of this obnoxious habit–once when a vendor woman sold her laces and tied them too tight around her waist cutting off her breath, and yet again when an old hag combed her hair with a poisonous comb. A reasonable person would have seen sense by now.
But in spite of all that, she is talking to this apple vendor. I don’t like the woman–she looks fake, worse, the way she eyes Snowdrop, she could be a maniac. If she was inside, I would have thrown her out, or may be thrown something on her head.
But the dwarves had been clear to not allow anyone in. So, the two of them are sharing an apple through the window! If you ask me, it looks rather scandalous. Snowdrop often shares ‘stuff’ with other handsome male vendors. But sharing a bitten apple with a woman?
Moreover, she doesn’t seem like she ever cleaned her teeth. She could have Pyorrhea…
Damn! I knew it! Now, Snowdrop’s fainted–must be the woman’s bad breath…
Tiny Tales is a weekly podcast of short stories spanning horror, fantasy, comedy, and everything in between. Written and narrated by R. E. Rule. Music and production by Frank Nawrot (www.franknawrot.com).
Usually, I am a bit dreamy with a faraway look in my eyes. But today when I looked faraway in the sky, I believed I was hallucinating–I saw migrating Eagles.
Now, you’d say, “Come on! Eagles don’t migrate. They are territorial. It must have been another bird.” My thought, precisely.
But, they were eagles. I have observed Athena, our local Eagle who lives across the road on the water tower, for five years now. Lying down on the roof to soak up the sun, I’ve seen her do laps in the sky for hours. I can pick an Eagle out of hundreds of birds in one glance–the lazy demeanour of gliding, the wing span, the shape of wings that gradually becomes a black dot in the sky is imprinted on my memory.
So, I knew they were all Eagles. I quickly counted until seventy but it is a hot afternoon and the sun was in my eyes, and more kept coming. I am sure of a figure above 150. Now, if you remember, I wrote about seeing around 40+ Eagles last year a few days after Bakrid. I believe them to be same, stopping by for water from Yamuna river and may be an early morning snack, because I never saw such a huge group again.
But that looked different because those Eagles were flying low enough to pass next to my third-floor window. These were high up in the sky, all flying in the same direction, not in any specific formation like cranes but the lazy but haphazard movement of tourists out for sight-seeing.
The storyteller within me started jumping to exciting conclusions like Avian war, Biological warfare, Global warming and other stuff.
I ran down excitedly to relay the news to my mother-in-law. But she was unfazed. Apparently, she has seen Eagles flock across the skies too many times to care. So, finally, I had to do what I had to do.
Apparently, I had witnessed the mass migration of the Steppe Eagle. Apparently, they often pass through India. And here I was close to the End of the World. 🤣🤣🤣
Author’s note: I’ve purposely delayed this post by several days to ensure I do not alert poachers. Apparently, Steppe eagles are captured to be kept as pets and their numbers are dwindling.
Humans don’t tread quietly–at least those who aren’t hunting make enough sound to raise a hibernating bear…
The other day, I saw someone run through the woods and decided to inquire if a good meal was in order. Alas, she was too thin. There was no meat to be had, only skin on bones. Not sure why humans do it to animals. Starving themselves is okay, I guess, but what’s the point of entering my territory if I couldn’t enjoy it too? I would call it downright mean!
I would have sampled a bit of her anyway but she was too scared, and all that adrenalin kills the taste. So, I waited until she settled but she was too excited! These tourists…they enter forests on a dare and, then, they jump at every sound, as if we were going to eat them…well, I do, but that’s beside the point. She was jumpy all evening and all night. Honestly, I do prefer a quiet meal so I waited. She shrieked at every dangling limb of tree and every pair of eyes. For instance, I always found rabbits rather harmless but who knew she could make a maneater out of them…
I had a hard time sleeping with all that shrieking and was a little late when I woke up. I decided to have a snack before I go gargle, but she was gone already. Damn those little people for building their stupid cottage in the forest. I can’t get within 250-meter radius of the place. You see, once, I wanted to experiment whether a hint of mushrooms affects the taste. So I tried to sample the Dopey one but one of the other six brought an axe and I had to make a hasty exit. Ever since, they put enchantments around that place so if I try to get close to the place, the axe finds me and chases me out of the perimeter.
Everybody else is welcome, it seems. I never saw that girl run out with the axe behind her. I waited outside for what felt like an eternity. (Well, did you ever try waiting for food delivery at breakfast?) When I lost all patience for the panicky, skinny piece of meat, I left to get breakfast.
When I returned for her, I was afraid they’ll eat her before I do but they had kept her as a pet or something. (These dwarfs have a weird taste, I tell you!) So, now I pace outside the enchanted periphery waiting for her to step out while she sings to birds and rabbits as they finish her chores. How unfair!
Like the ancient curses of the pharaohs, the multitude of explanations for the hysteria and hallucinations of those who have spent extended time in old houses far outweighs the possibility of the paranormal. Drafts and cold spots from wind finding its way through rotting walls, illness caused by mold or gases caught in rusty pipes, strange noises triggered by the introduction of a foreign body into a delicately balanced ecosystem, or simply the habitation of a stray cat or nesting pigeon: I had yet to find a symptom without a cause. Still, each new investigation began with the hope that this time I would find the exception to the rule. As I gazed up at the house, perched on its tree-covered hill like a vulture eyeing its prey, the familiar tingle of possibility crept up my spine.
A century of abandonment had clawed the flesh from it until only bare…
Being the Queen’s favourite has its perks and the food at my home is an ode to the fact that I owe her everything I have. For years, I have hunted animals and humans alike.
This child has seen only seven seasons, that too while living in rags and mopping the castle floor. She is a princess who has been lower than a servant. Today, when I brought her to the forest, she was overjoyed. She’s singing to the birds as she plucks wildflowers for a garland. My daughter does the same.
Today, she says, is the best day of her life. I know better. Not sure what wrong she has done and why the queen is against her. But I am just a soldier, a tool to kill all those who displease the crown. The queen desires the little girl dead and her wish is my command. Yet, my hand shakes today as I clutch the hilt of my sword.
No way can I kill her but I cannot take her back and risk the queen’s wrath.
I pull out my sword with shaking hands and call her to look at me. She looks at me with scared doe-eyes and pleading silently. My sword lowers on its own, as if I’ve lost all my strength.
I yell, “Your mother wants you dead. Run away before I kill you!”
In my heart, I plead, “Run away before I give up and return you to the castle, to the step-mother who’d kill you anyway. Run away before I stop being a monster and become a traitor to the crown.”
I watch as she runs deep in the forest; glad I didn’t have to kill her; afraid she’d die alone. I hunt a boar and take his heart to the monster in the castle as a proof of Snowdrop’s death, hoping she won’t find out the truth before I move my family to another town.
The following was transcribed from an audio file discovered by the Tucumcari Highway Patrol on June 23rd, 2006.
Unknown Speaker, female (US):
It’s a long drive back, so I thought I’d get this down while it’s still fresh in my mind. Honestly, it was a huge waste of time. What is it with whackos and trailer parks?
Alright, I’ll try to keep this official for the archives. The date is, uh, June 16th, 2003. We received a call three days ago on the hotline about some unusual activity in New Mexico. The caller wouldn’t go into specifics, one of those “won’t talk on the phone, you never know who might be listening” types. So, I drove down from Chicago.
Turns out the town was a dustbowl: trailer park, convenience store with a fifty-year-old gas pump, and one stop sign which was apparently optional.
Some where in the middle of my back injury and, later, neck injury and, office work, I missed a couple of very important milestones: 500 posts and 350+ WP followers. YEEEEEEEEE!
I can also boast of 12 K views and nearly 5600 visitors. Thank you!
Your love has humbled me. I wish I had ways to allow everyone to comment on my blog and not just WP followers. As I always say, Every comment matters. It shows me ways to improve. So, let me know if you don’t like something. I don’t mind an open discussion. I am ready to be converted to your ways of thinking as long as your point can buy me in.
Just let me know. Keep following, keep reading so I can continue writing for you. 😀