This is a short piece of fiction I wrote for one of my favorite blogger friends, Lenny Lee, to spread some of the Lenny Lee Sunshine (Patent Pending). Because he loves animals, and he always makes me smile. Stop by Lenny’s blog and leave a hug for him. (Also: follow the #LennyLeeFest hashtag to find other posts for our special guy.)
there had never been a battle raging outside the castle.
dimly lit room. The stuffed raven still stared at him in the creepy way it
always did, and the shelves of pickled roots and small creatures seemed the
same as last time. But today, the sorcerer was nowhere to be seen, and
something orange flickered through the dusty windows. Their warped, thick glass
always reminded him of the bottoms of coke bottles, but even through the
distortion, he could see something was burning in the distance. And he could
hear shouts and clanging of metal.
saw it was just a mangy cat, front paws perched on the spell book, looking
inquisitively at him. When did the sorcerer get a cat? It was solid black, but
uneven, like its fur couldn’t decide if it should be short or long. Its yellow
eyes stared at him.
door. He could hear shouts and footsteps running down the stone corridor outside.
His hand shook as he slid the metal latch. It squeaked its protest, and Jacob
was afraid that whoever was taking over the castle might have heard.
the spell book, and creaked the ancient leather binding as he opened it.
parchment pages, yellowed with age and catching splinters of light from the wax
candles that the sorcerer had left burning. A loud thump on the door made him
nearly jump out of his skin.
and could barely turn the pages. He couldn’t make sense of the pictures and
words scrolled in blue and purple and gold. Whoever was on the other side of
the door banged again and again, making the simple slide latch dance with each
wooden box on the sorcerer’s table. He had shown it to Jacob one visit and
explained how it was enchanted. Once locked, it would disappear. A tiny silver
key sat, unturned, in the keyhole. Jacob shoved the spell book inside.
to keep the spell book secret. Hidden. He’d sworn to it, as part of his
apprenticeship. He’d even made a blood oath. Explaining that tiny scar on his
thumb had taken some artful lying on his part, but he couldn’t let his mom know
where he went on those Saturday mornings he was supposedly playing D&D in
box disappeared, the silver key hanging in empty space.
ever seen stumbled through. Jacob turned, keeping his hands behind his back. He
fumbled for the silver key, but he couldn’t find it. His fingers grasped
nothing but air.
inside his broad chest, covered with straps of leather bindings that held a
strange collection of metal armor and fur. It took only three strides of his
thick legs to cover the floor of the sorcerer’s den, and then he loomed over Jacob.
The stench was almost enough to knock Jacob out, if his knees weren’t knocking enough
face, and Jacob cringed on the floor, waiting for him to see the silver key
floating in air.
something if he gave it an evil enough look. The black cat sat calmly returning
his stare, tail curled around its feet. Jacob guessed scary barbarians weren’t
as disturbing to cats as they were to sorcerer’s apprentices. A shout from the
hall grabbed the man’s attention and without a look back, he stomped from the
out while he was bumbling around for it, but he couldn’t find it anywhere.
There were so many pits and cracks in the ancient wooden floor planks, who knew
where it had gone. Maybe Jacob had lost it. And without the spell book, he had
no way to get home.
trimmed in metal and riveted straps. It was still there, just shrouded in some
kind of invisibility cloak. Maybe he could smash it, get the spell book out
again before the barbarians returned. But the sorcerer would not be happy about
him destroying his prized box.
what would you do?” he asked the cat sarcastically. The cat yawned like it was
bored with his question. Jacob’s mouth fell open. The silver key…it sat on the
tongue of the cat!
kitty.” Jacob reached slowly toward the cat. “Pretty, pretty kitty.” The cat
bumped his outstretched hand with its head and then spit out the key. Jacob
just stared, stunned for a moment. It was as if the cat was helping him. The
sorcerer’s cat was cooler than it looked.
fumbled around to fit it into the keyhole. It took a moment of twisting to
finally hit the sweet spot that sprung the box open and turned it visible.
Jacob snatched the spell book out and placed it on the table. The cat bumped
his arm again, winding its tail around his wrist.
spell to get home now.” He nudged the cat aside and quickly thumbed through. Amazingly,
the pages fell open to the return spell with no problem.
picturing as he always did, his room cluttered with Lego models and twenty
sided dice. “Domum me ad locum tenentem cor cara.” Someday he was going to have
to look up the words and figure out what they meant. As the sorcerer’s room
began to swirl into that time mist that always made him think of fog but felt
like anesthesia, the cat placed a paw on the spell page next to him.
coming with him.
head to clear, like the mist had permeated his brain on the trip back. He shook
it, braced himself up from the carpet, and looked around for the black cat.
Just when he spied it on the far side of his room, it started to change.
Stretching and growing impossibly large, it was blowing up like a giant balloon
cat. Its tail shrunk and disappeared and its paws lengthened into fingers. It was
gross to watch, but he couldn’t look away. By the time the cat stopped
changing, the fur had all disappeared and his sister stood in the cat’s place.
thought made her look like an artist, but mostly she wore to impress her
friends. “Wicked!” she said. “When are we going again?”