The Witchcraft Issue
Quick as a Flash - Week 1
Fact and Fiction
Welcome, and thanks for reading the first issue of Quick as a Flash! This section will typically be used for announcements, updates, and any brief thoughts I’d like to share before we get started.
Once again, I want to thank those of you that subscribed. The outpouring of support has meant a lot to me. Flash and microfiction have been among my favorite things to write and read over the last few years. If you’re not already enjoying it elsewhere, I hope this helps make you a fan of it as well.
I want each issue to be a unique experience, so I'll be theming them as often as possible. So with that in mind, please enjoy the Witchcraft issue! Whether they call themselves a witch or not, everyone here is an expert in their field of magic.
She Takes Them Seriously
The groom watched his home teeter on top of his wife’s trailer. “So when you said you were excited to combine our households, you meant literally?”
“Yes,” said the witch. “Weren’t you listening to my vows? ‘You will always be able to take me at my word.’”
“I want to go to the gym, but I don’t have the time,” Amy said.
Azumi sneezed several times in quick succession. “Sorry, allergic to bullshit.”
“No, seriously. I got diagnosed the other day.”
Amy narrowed her eyes at her. “I don’t believe you.”
Azumi sneezed again.
Know Who You Mess With
Forty lashings for being a witch. Forty shards of crystalized blood fly through the air. Forty souls—chiefly among his tormentors and his audience—collapse after taking a shard to the temple. They should have known better than to cause a hemomancer to bleed.
All You Can Eat Breakfast
Kai wanted to settle his bill. But they refused to let him leave. Instead, the waitress brought out more plates of eggs and bacon and fruit. Another mimosa. French toast with extra sugar and syrup.
“No more!” he begged.
She assessed him critically. “No. You can eat more.”
“Bless you,” she said to the man.
“That was a cough,” he said, keeping his focus on his phone.
“Oh. I guess I take it back.”
That day, he had tripped down the stairs, misplaced his wallet, and discovered an unsightly rash in an awful place. Just how much had she taken?!
Research and Developments
Amriel held the glowing purple blade and mimed a few swings to get a feel for the weight. The experimental weapon was so close to perfect. If only she could—
Meesa burst into the lab, carrying a package under her arm. She bounced across the room, fluttering angel wings barely missing Amriel’s other half-finished weapon prototypes that were stacked haphazardly on scattered desks.
“Seriously, Meesa! Watch where you’re going!”
Meesa grinned, setting the box in the only clear space Amriel had in front of her. “Sure thing, Ammy. But only on the day you actually get this place tidied up.” She looked at the glowing sword and lifted a perfectly arched eyebrow. “That doesn’t look like anything you’ve been assigned.”
It was a good thing Meesa was pretty. It distracted Amriel just enough to fool others into thinking she had an iota of patience for the other’s attitude. “It’s not an assignment, per se. It’s called a cyber-blade.” She swung it around faster, smiling as it cut through the air, briefly leaving behind a brilliant purple trail.
Meesa snorted. "Cute. But should you really be preening yourself over that when He is thinking you're doing research on that arrow from a week ago?"
Amriel frowned and tucked her own wings in. “Those arrows are gross, and so is Eros for using them. I’m just going to tell Him that I can’t mimic the enchantment.” Seriously. Coercing people to fall in love on the battlefield? The Pantheon should be ashamed. Heaven didn’t need to stoop to their level to win the war.
Meesa shrugged. “All right, as long as I don’t have to be the one to tell Him. So are you presenting Him this ‘fiber-blade,’ instead?”
“Cyber-blade. And eventually, yes. I still have to work out an issue with the core. The battery’s radioactive, so if it’s damaged, there’s a genuine possibility that everyone in a two-kilometer radius will blow up or mutate.”
“What?” Meesa backed away, eyes widened to encompass half her face. “Where did you get such a stupid idea?”
Amriel set the blade down next to the package. “A human science fiction movie.”
Meesa only paled further.
"Don't look at me like that. It makes sense to look to humans for inspiration. If our power stems from their stories about us, then why not use their other stories against the Pantheon?" Meesa still looked skeptical. "Anyway, if you're only here to poke your nose where it doesn't belong, I'll have to ask you to leave. I've got to either figure out a new battery for this thing or bespell the casing to never crack."
“Actually,” she said, “it’s funny you mention ‘cracking.’ I brought you a new thing to work on!”
Meesa approached the package and pulled the lid off. Inside sat a glass capsule, about a foot in height, with what looked to be an ostrich egg floating in its center.
“What is that?”
Meesa shrugged. “A messenger came across it. Abandoned by its mama. Took a lot of magic to get it encased.”
“Why so much trouble over an egg?”
Meesa leaned forward, a fog of giddiness around her. "It's completely intangible. They had to enchant this case to be able to hold it in. Primary theory is that some sort of wraith-bird laid it." Her grin grew so vast, it almost stretched off her face. "And you, my dear, are going to figure out how to make armor that gives our soldiers that same intangibility."
“Excuse me? I’m weapons R&D. You want Gotzon for armor!”
Meesa laughed. “Gotz? He’s still chasing down the self-sustaining armor that broke free last week.”
“Again? Didn’t that happen a month ago?”
“No, last month was the duplicating helmet incident. You’d know that if you ever got out of here and hung out with us at karaoke. Anyway, I think the Big Guy is really looking for results on this one, so if you can’t give Him consent-defying love arrows, you’ll need to make this one work. Playing Cyber Warrior will have to wait. Good luck! Ta-ta, darling!” Meesa skipped out of the lab before Amriel even thought to get another word in.
She picked up the capsule and turned it over in her hands a few times, admiring its craftsmanship and the eerie essence of the egg inside. She noted that the case had no clasps, openings, or buttons to speak of. Leave it to Meesa to skip over how to get the blessed thing open. The nerve of that woman. And of Him. She was busy, darn it!
None too gently, she set the capsule down. The whole table jostled, forcing the egg to pop up and through the top of the glass case. So much for being held in place...
On instinct, she reached out to catch the egg, only for it to phase through her fingers and come down on top of the cyber-blade. The egg started merging with the hilt of the sword, only to stop halfway through.
Huh. Amriel leaned forward. Was there something about the tech interfering with the egg's magic? This was worth noting. As she reached for her tablet, a glowing yellow cylinder sprang through the egg and out into the open. The battery!
The deafening explosion tore through the lab, sending prototypes, tables, spellbooks, and tools flying. Windows shattered as excess energy vacated the room. Walls shuddered but held in place.
She set her arms down and looked around, horrified at the mess that was made. She was so fired.
But still conscious? She definitely shouldn’t have been standing. She looked down at herself and nearly passed out. Directly below her shoulders was a flipped table. She lifted her arm and watched as it phased out of the furniture and into her line of sight.
Huh. Looks like she figured out how to do the enchantment in record time. But how do you reverse it?