Friday, October 03, 2014

Flash Fiction writing contest!

To celebrate Jeff Somers new book WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE being selected as a PW Pick of the Week, I'm holding a surprise flash fiction writing contest!


Here's the scoop:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Post it in the comments section of this blog post (when the contest opens)

3. Use these five words in the story:


4. Prompt words can be part of a larger word , but must appear in whole in the larger word:
magic/magician is ok, but not pants/phantasmagoria.

5. One entry per person.

6. If you make a mistake or need to edit, delete your entry and re-post.  The LAST entry
is your final one.  (Generally it's better to compose in a doc then copy and paste to the comment window.  Repeated deletions are just annoying)

7. Contest opens at 7am on Saturday 10/4 and closes at 7am on Sunday 10/5/2014.

8. Prize is a spiffy new copy of WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE!

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid



oops, too late. Contest closed at 7am 10/5/14.


Amy Schaefer said...

Mum tried to warn me, but working for a magician sounded glamorous. Cooking for Merlin-types, hearing hush-hush news about the Djinni Wars – keeping house for a finer sort than your regular Sir and Madam.

The reality was: “Scrub the ram´s blood out of my pants,” and “Disinfect that scrying glass; the cat buried it in the litter box again.”

Well, the master can tend his own spirits – both alcoholic and other-worldly. I´ve taken a job with a politician. His morals are as murky as a cut-rate magic mirror, but I´ll never have to steam incense out of the curtains again.

D. B. Sundstrom said...

The sign on the door read EDIE'S MAGIC SHOP with no posted hours. She tried the handle anyway. Success smelled of patchouli and incense. She walked toward the psychic's booth in the back, admiring the caricatures of past patrons on the wall, when she spotted her own.

"I've never been here before. Is that, blood?"

The occupants of the past tried to warn her. Their sketched eyes fixed on the door.
But she drew the connection too late.

She found herself looking at the door with the other spirits. One eye drawn slightly larger than the other.

french sojourn said...

I saw him enter the bar. Just some stranger, I’d never seen here before. His shirt and pants were bloodstained. Even his Caterpillar hat had some blood on it. He walked up to the bar, ordered a beer, and slowly rolled a cigarette.

Old Sally went over and started chatting him up, but he waved her off coldly. She left quietly.

He lit his cigarette, exhaled, and the smoke formed a ghostly moving cloud, like some lonely spirits had magically been given another chance at life.

Nobody else noticed the tear as he stared, through the smoke, at the mirror.

Gabby Gilliam said...

The most powerful magic always required a blood sacrifice. A catastrophe during Home Economics gave Olivia an unexpected introduction to the intricacies of spellcraft. When she bled through her favorite Abercrombie jeans, she hid her head in her hands, wishing herself anywhere other than the classroom. It turned out things could be worse. Like finding yourself in the middle of Times Square, in a pair of stained pants, over 100 miles from home, worse. The spirits that responded to Olivia's desperate plea had a sick sense of humor.

Craig said...

“I told you that I didn’t touch her.”

“Then explain the blood, it’s everywhere, including covering your pants.”

“I still didn’t touch her. She wouldn’t let up, said she was the one that was supposed to get it. When she threw the cat at me and rushed in to claw at me it just kind of exploded.”

“What are you talking about? I want to know about her body.”

“That’s the thing. The spirits stuck me with this shit and I don’t know how to use it. Her attack caused the magic to do something and she is just gone.”

Angie Brooksby said...

The cat’s cut scabbed over.

Been out scrapping in the moonlight, could have fallen off the roof. Who the fuck let her out? Stan locked the balcony door and poured home-stilled spirits over ice. Had enough of this nonsense, now I gotta wash my jeans. The guard dogs will freak if they smell cat’s blood on my pants. Thought they killed the last kitten. I’ll be ruined if they know.

He smeared the last drop of Magic Mousse along the stains the cat had transferred when she rubbed him up and meowed.

Tomorrow I’ll get more, but where?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Grandma told me love was magic, that it would bring everlasting happiness, that no harm would befall me because spirits protect the loved. My mother said love was the blood which fills our hearts to overflowing. So when a simple man of common ways said he loved me I felt blessed by grandma’s magic and filled to bursting with mama’s brimming heart. Problem was, I wore the pants in the relationship, he loved cats and I am allergic. I told him the cat ran away, he told me to wear dresses. I buried him next to the cat.

Ruthy said...

“Mommy, do cats go to Heaven?”

“God will take good care of Jinxie.”

“Can He do magic and unsquish him?
Maybe he can put some blood back in?”

“Honey, sometimes spirits are better off being free.”

“Is that why Jesus didn’t wear any pants?”

“How about we go to the pet store tomorrow and buy a turtle?”

“Ooh! Okay, Mommy. Don’t worry. I will teach him how to cross the street really fast.”

Franca Stewart said...

My cat stares out the window for hours, like there's magic in the world. All I see is rain. Bloody rain.

Even though the weather's pants, I like to venture outside anyway. The leaves are turning gold and red in the slanting autumn light, and the wind is unleashing a few evil winter spirits.Soon it'll feel as if the air itself could slice me in two, but for now there is still some softness.

The cat stays inside. She prefers life on the warm side of the glass. She watches, and I feel.

Anonymous said...

Sunday, under a big tent, Preacher Dan was busy cleansing spirits, urging followers to drink the blood of Christ. His gospel invoked speaking in tongues, a yielding of souls, complete and utter faith.

Doubters whispered, “Its black magic!”

He adjusted his ill-fitting pants, lifted a venomous snake in one hand while waving the other in its face.

It struck!

He stood firm, unwavering, and caterwauled, “A miracle! A message from God himself!"

Believers now, the crowd surged forward, coins raining into his little collection basket.

Only when he headed to the next town, would he remove the prosthetic hand.

Derek said...

Cecille threw the stick for her dog, Bobo. He raced off and came bounding back with it, his tongue lolling and his breathe coming in short pants. She laughed, her spirits were high from the sheer magic of the morning.
She felt good but that mood vanished when Bobo suddenly whined and turned to look south. For an instant she thought he might have seen a cat but then she heard it too, a distant murmur, the sound of men, an army on the march. War was coming and she knew there would soon be blood on the ground.

Shaunna said...

First time Steve wore the magic pants, it rained cats for a week. No kidding! Fur balls everywhere. And dead birds! He swore he'd put them away, but there's some's in their blood, seems like. Ain't nothing like the spirits of your ancestors in a pair of brown corduroys.

Anyhow, he got antsy and dragged them out again. Couldn't help it, I guess. Folks set out milk and litter boxes. Just to be ready. But they were wrong. Dead wrong. A bit macabre for my taste, but they could have used those cats when the cockroaches showed up.

Kitty said...

How I Became A Man, by Luigi Abbadelli

"Wearing short pants when you're ten is embarrassing. It dispirits the soul," I told Mama.

"Che cosa è dispirits?" asked Nona.

"He wants to wear long pants," Mama said.


Papa was reading the paper. I needed him on my side, so I said, "They're old world."

Mama and Nona gasped because they're still hot-blooded Italians. But Papa was now an American. His framed naturalization certificate was proudly displayed below Pope Pius's picture. "Old world" worked like magic.

Papa stood, straightened his shoulders and categorically declared, "My son will wear long pants!"

Michael Seese said...

“Big Brother”
by Michael Seese

"Sorry, cat," I said to the lifeless mass at my feet.

"Mom will be home soon. Get some paper towels."

It was a mess. Lots of blood.

"What are you going to tell her?"

"If we clean up, nothing," David said.

"Can't you tell her the truth? That you heard you could see spirits?"

"Bad idea. You'll understand when you're older."

David was right. There's a lot that's confusing to a six-year-old.

"We're in trouble, aren't we?"

"We'll be fine."

“OK.” Big brothers are magic.

"Hurry. Throw the pants in the fireplace. And her name was Kate, not Cat."

GM Kern said...

Katie raced down the alley. Her shirt, hands and pants were covered in blood. Too much blood. Behind, the pursuit was getting louder, closer. She had no time to stop and fight. She had to get to Tommy - he had to be alright. If only the portal was closer.

Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck. "Really," she mumbled to herself aloud. As if running from killers wasn't bad enough, now it was magic wielding assassins.

Her own magic was connected to her spirits-guide Alloria, in the form of a Persian cat, who was a tad mad at her .

Mark Songer said...

Albeforth, the runted pygmy dragon, PANTS from its perch amongst the rafters. Broken bottles of alchemical agents litter my lab. The combined vapors from SPIRITS of vitriol and hartshorn singe my nostril hairs and water my eyes. From atop an overturned cabinet, Gossamer, my feline familiar, mews as if to say it was the dragon’s fault. The CAT’s complicity, however, is evidenced by the ochre BLOOD it licks from its claws matching the same seeping from scratches on Albeforth’s tail. Days like this are enough to make me consider quitting MAGIC to become a barber.

Chelsea Henderson said...

The cat lapped up the spilled blood like it was warm milk. Heavy footsteps approached the house, but dark magic possessed the feline, giving her courage not to hide. Loud noises usually struck her fear chord just as tales of spirits scared generations of camp kids.

Finished with her meal, she curled up on her dead owner’s lap.

A stranger entered; the cat tried to flee but her claws caught on the corpse’s pants. “Bad kitty! You’re coming with me.” The cat hissed venom, rendering her would-be captor blind. As the poison seeped into yet another victim’s bloodstream, she purred.

Megan V said...

“This is a disaster!” Holt cries, wringing his wrinkled hands.
“What is it this time?” I growl.
“Just look,” the man hisses. So I do. The pants draped over Holt’s skeletal frame are ivory. The stain running down the seam, however, is as red as rust. The perfect lure for a vengeful ghost.
“You see?” Holt whines. “I cannot call upon the spirits now.”
“Why ever not? You’re still a magician.”
“Yes, but…”
“I’m sure the spirits won’t mind a bit of blood.” I purr.
But my master’s lips stretch into a knowing smirk.
“Nice try cat,” Holt says.

BonnieShaljean said...

The stains were still on his pants. Even a magician wouldn’t get those out. He could say it was her cat. But who the hell would believe him? He poured some wine. It matched the blood.

Memories swarmed like vengeful spirits. Her face in those final moments, when she realized he knew. The lightning flash of silver, the darkening red. Now she was on the other side of the door, quiet at last.

So quiet that he never heard it open, never saw the widening crack of light.

Janet smiled, pulled the trigger, and crossed him off the list.

Jennifer Deane said...

Kendrick’s in high spirits. He can do no wrong. He’s the cat who brought them to their feet. Now he’s haulin’ that big bass up five flights to her apartment. The magic that started when the house lights came up is still buzzing. Tonight she’ll take him back.

His own bulk dwarfs the instrument as he hefts it onto his back. He pants as he reaches her floor. He knocks.

The door opens, and the smile slips from her face; splattering as it hits the floor.
His blood races, rushes, with nowhere to go. His heart is a clenched fist.

Aerisa said...

“Trick or treat!” Josie stared at him from behind the pack of magicians and ghouls. She’d never seen a boy in a cat suit, especially not one with blood-red pants, licking an ice cream and smelling of spirits.

His whiskers twitched like fine needles poking from his cheeks. They looked so real she wanted to touch them.

“Meow?” he said.

The pack held up their bags.

The boy’s tail swished as if following his thoughts. With a sudden swipe of his claws, he snatched the bags and slammed the door in their faces.

Ashes said...

I work among pale bodies, grieving families, and scattered lives.

"They’re cold fish," Trudy jokes. She deals with families, I deal with bodies.

Today Roman's handsome face is torn with grief for his wife. He loved her.

Roman is Trudy’s. The wife, she is mine.

And tonight, when I slide the vial from my pants pocket, cover herbs with her blood and call the spirits, I'll think of her. I'll know blood holds the strongest magic.

Trudy calls me an odd bird. An odd bird among cold fish.

Well maybe today Roman was Trudy's, but tomorrow, tomorrow he'll be mine.

Anonymous said...

by Bob Iozzia

Phantasmagoria, Indiana, once the home of the mysterious Archibald Blood’s Magic Cat Pants & Mineral Spirits Factory, fell upon hard times when the factory exploded into splinters.

No one died or was even so much as scratched because of the blast’s early hour and this story is not playing for cheap sympathy.

Determining the cause of the explosion (the mineral spirits) was easy. But two questions have remained unanswered to this day: (1) What was so magical about the pants? and (2) Were the pants for cats or were they made from cats?

Dena Pawling said...

“Do these pants make my butt look fat?”

“Stella, you're the assistant. People aren't watching you, they're watching me. A more relevant question is 'Does this blood make my show too scary?'”

“You're gonna put blood on me?”

“Don't worry, it's from a cat, not a human.”

“A cat? You hurt a cat? What kind of magician are you?”

“Hold still. I want it to look real.”

I jerked my hand away. “Eeeewwwww.”

“Look what you did! The spirits are angry now.”

Damn straight. The cat took its revenge. Now that's scary blood.

Norene Griffin said...

Turkey Day at Mel’s

“Look, Bren. It’s not magic. Bake it at 400. Gives it a crispy crust.”

Mel wiped his hand on his pants and hung up the phone.

The cat turned up her saucer eyes and mewed at him.

“Too early. You want to eat now? Ask the feline spirits to feed you.”

Mel shucked the dozen ears of corn and plunked them in the boiling pot.

His phone rang again.

What now?

He grabbed for the phone on the countertop but felt something else, linear and severe.

The blood was cranberry-colored. Abundant. Historic.

Lisa Armosino-Morris said...

Usually Anna knew there were spirits around her almost immediately, but this time the cat alerted her before she even noticed. She stopped folding her husband’s laundry, ignoring the wrinkles in his favorite pants so she could focus. She emptied her mind and closed her eyes.

“You are welcome to speak,” she whispered, stroking the cat’s silky black fur. Magic mewled and rubbed against her hand. “What is it that you need?”

“Blood,” came the reply, and Anna’s hand came away wet. The mewling, it seemed, was not coming from Magic after all.

Adrian said...

I gripped the sharp silver edges of the frame and screamed, the spirit wind tearing the sound from my mouth. My body whipped back and forth, pants and sleeves snapping.

I had to hold. Had to. I was the doorway, the end, my Master already sucked through; my cat-lean body the only barrier to the magic.

Blood in my mouth, in the wind, a droplet hitting the plane of the doorway. Catching green fire, like wild eyes in the night.

I slammed down, the wind gone. The gate closed.

Laughter shook me, sobs. My forehead pressed cold stone.

Now what?

Jed Cullan said...

Reacher approached Somers, silent as a dead cat floating on a cloud of fairy dust. He’d been on the spirits all day. Was he seeing things? Probably. Was he going to attempt this sober? Nope. Not a chance.

Reacher was a professional. He planned. He prepared. He killed fourteen gerbils and drank their blood. He needed the edge. And their magic.

Somers hadn’t heard him. Reacher was never heard. Just ask the gerbils.

It was time. He lunged, grabbed Somers’ pants and yanked them down. “The Shark sends her regards, Somers. Next time, hand in the revisions on time.”

Maple and Baobab said...

Balancing a bottle under his arm, McCallum emptied a stone from his shoe. “We're always late,” said Fleur. She turned and quick stepped straight into a pole. Holding her head, she flopped onto the curb as if in a seizure.

“Fleur, let me see.” Her eyebrow streamed blood. McCallum opened her purse, took out a tissue, and poured spirits from the bottle. “Fall reckless in thy tempting snare - - Oh! Green and frozen fire.”

“Strindberg,” Fleur laughed through her tears.

“Magic abisinthe,” smiled McCallum cleaning the wound.

“My good pants.” pouted Fleur.

“I hate their cat anyway,” said McCallum.

Beth Bishop said...

E.E. knows everyone thinks she’s a witch. What, other than magic, makes a dog grow so large? Her mother claims the catalyst is love, but E.E. doesn’t buy that. Love hadn’t made her rabbit shoot up three-stories tall.
E.E. scratches the dog’s enormous ear. His loose hair – redder than a bloodhound’s – sticks to E.E.’s palm. A nuisance but the contact lifts her spirits.
In the summer heat, he pants heavily, his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth. “Go get some water, boy,” she says. He gives her a doggy grin before padding over to the swimming pool.

Karen McCoy said...

"There's no such thing as magic blood, Vera," Ingrid said, throwing a newt into the cauldron.

"It’s right here in Diabetic Witch Today." Vera pointed to the page. "‘Mineral spirits produce insulin.’"

"Pure chicanery," Ingrid sighed. "Remember what happened to Mrs. Norris' cat?"

"She probably misread the directions."

"Bah. They just print that snake-oil to sell their rag."

A meow sounded outside the window. "Oh dear." Vera stared at Mrs. Norris’ cat, its chin sagging with a furry pair of pants. The cat growled, resentful, and skulked away.

Vera shuddered, and tossed the magazine in the fire.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I was careful to set things up just so: salt circle, folded-pants with their customary dusting of cat hair, with an old fashioned dial phone resting on top. Music was always optional; the spirits didn't guide me one way or another, so I slipped a record on the turntable.

The witching hour. I pricked my finger and flicked my blood into the flame of a balsam candle. The record cut out and I waited in the silence. The magic's tidal pull rolled around me, and finally, the phone rang. I reached across the circle to pick it up.

"Hi Dad."

Richard Sturgis said...


“Is that magic in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?” I lit the cigarette, drew a hit, felt the nicotine dive into my bloodstream.

He wore a yellow sharkskin suit.

No, the suit wore him. It was right from the designer district down on Steeple. The vest hugged his form.

I was a sucker for vests.

“It’s not just my spirits that are up,” he said, and sipped his 24 year old scotch, the drink I bought him.

It was underhanded. The red dress, a ploy. Like a cat, I stalked. Murder on my mind.

Anonymous said...

There were two kinds of spirits in my house. I had bought the vodka. I didn’t know who had risen the dead.
“I’m Karl,” the ghost said. “In case you were wondering.”
“I wasn’t,” I said. I drank some of the vodka. “I am wondering why you’re not wearing pants, though.”
His shirt was just long enough to keep him decent, and stained with blood.
“My girlfriend Cat was a bitch,” he explained.
“Hmm? Oh, yeah.”
“Want some?”
He accepted the bottle.
We drank together, magic swirling with drunkenness. In the morning, he would be just another hangover.

Michael Field said...

I suck at dating. I’ve owned pants longer than any of my relationships.

There was Meg. I scared her off after performing magic on our first date and set her hair on fire. Then came Susan, who I took to a séance, where we contacted our ancestral spirits and actually found her ex-boyfriend who died a horribly, bloody death while trying to rescue her cat from a fire. Cock-blocked from beyond. Becky turned out to be my cousin. Denise faked amnesia. Carla got “lost” on our date to Six Flags and just went home.

I’m starting to think it’s me.

Laura said...

Halloween Haikus:

I slew ten people.
The worst spirits I could find.
But he wanted more.

Can you love too much?
The broken heart says never.
The mind is unsure.

Magic is pricy.
And my demon is greedy.
He pants for fresh blood.

I pay and pay and
pay and pay and finally--
I have paid enough.

I risk my wish.
"Demon, can you restore her?
She's my only friend."

He does. She rises.
Purrs. Every deed was worth this:
to see my cat again.

Ken Frisbie, Jr. said...

Cat spirits claw at the bloody pants of the magician.
He had cut them in half, one at a time.
Two, no… three… four, maybe more.
His bloody pants drip.
The cat spirits float all about.
Her tiny feet hit the floor.
The door is open just a crack.
Mom, can I come sleep with you?
Mom’s magic… a snuggle, the touch of her hand.
Peaceful sleep at last.

SiSi said...

I huddled behind the collapsed walls of the library as whistling shells exploded in the distance. Books lay scattered in the rubble. The Cat in the Hat. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. I closed my eyes, remembering all the times I read them aloud.

I don’t know how long I slept. When I woke, he stood in front of me, swaying with exhaustion, his shirt and pants drenched in blood, her body in his arms.

He collapsed. After he stopped breathing, I closed his eyes and prayed for their spirits. His gun had two bullets left. I used them.

Kim English said...

The Underpants Avenger spoke.

“We can’t stop them.”

“No,” Walter said, “Someone will save us. No one wants the blood of children on their hands.”

The horde thrashed against the cafeteria doors.

“There’s no magic wand. The spirits of everything we killed have come back for revenge. We are not good people.”

In agreement, the zombies yowled like cats in heat.

“We have to try,” Walter said, raising his only weapon, a spatula, high over his head. “Who’s coming?”

Walter didn’t make it very far, because taking on a zombie horde armed only with a spatula is really, really, stupid.

Old Fogey said...

After I finished with April’s cat, Magic, I put the shovel in the shed. I washed blood and mud off my hands and poured some spirits. Knob Creek is my libation of choice. Lately, finances dictated house brands, but tonight my shaking hand found joy.

The only thing magic about that late animal? She’d only peed, pooped, or clawed things belonging to me. That yellow puddle on my novel—stored for safety on a high shelf--had been the last straw.

April entered, yawning. “Blood on your pants,” she said.

A smile.

“And poison in the bourbon.”

Britta Boudreau said...

He came to her reeking of failed deodorant and diner grease, looking for a magical solution to his ordinary problems.

She poured him a scotch and soda and he gulped it down, his tongue darting around the glass seeking any stray liquid.

The magic was in the blood not the spirits but she didn't tell him that. Better if he didn't get his underpants in a knot. Yet anyways.

She poured him another, skipping the club soda and adding a drop of her blood.

He managed half the drink before being rendered catatonic.

Now she would begin.

Eric Souza said...

Jasper wished he had been born into a normal family. Standing shirtless before the robed congregation in the restaurant's basement, he wondered what Cat would think if she saw him there in his high-cuffed pants. Blood rose in his cheeks. The ceremony was about as far from her Baptist upbringing as you could get.

His step-father, always in good spirits, winked at him from the front row. His mother’s eyes twinkled.

Their huge pastor, yellow and jowly, rose behind him.

“Look at this boy. This is the last time you will see him. Our magic will make him a man.”

Carolyn Adams said...

I waited for far too long, sitting in the hard plastic chair. Magic’s blood on my pants, his low stress purr rumbling against my leg. The vet came in, said nothing. The tech asked if he was my cat. I nodded and said, “Help him.” A strange way to say it, but it’s what came out. No one moved but the vet. Silence replaced the sound of his purr. “His spirit’s at peace,” the tech said. I nodded again, agreeing with her. “Mine’s not,” I tried to say, but the words came out broken, an unhearable hiss of air.

Gail said...

Spirits of dark rum took the blood off those pants like magic. Run away, little hemoglobin molecules, run away! He'll never find out unless he digs up the azalea in the front yard. Ah, I think I hear him now.
"And how's my dollbaby this evening?"
"Sweet and high, my love."
"And where's my little kitty?"
"Out scouting the voles. Back soon."
"What were you gardening, honey, honey, honey?"
"Gardening?" I say. Maybe he knows. Is my face red? I frowned. The shovel! My God, the shovel!
"Oh there you are!"
I stared, slack-jawed. The cat was back.

JD Paradise said...

"Blood Spirits Pants Magic!" Cat chanted, cranked up to 11, laughing in the thrashing crowd. Onstage the Chili Peppers bounced, socks flapping. It was 1996 and I loved a girl who would never love me back.

"Let's run away together," I said later, tangled in dormroom bedding that smelled of Coors and Parliaments. Propped on elbows, inches apart, Cat looking past my shoulder.

Cat, remorseful: "I'll never be that girl."

"I love you anyway." Desperately. "Always."

She tugged the sheet higher. "We shouldn't have done that."

But we had. And just before sunrise, we moved the hitchhiker to the landfill.

Calorie Bombshell said...

The vehicle’s occupants didn’t move a muscle as I approached with my flashlight and violation book. Seven years crunching the midnight gravel on Highway 85 and I never clocked a Jaguar doing 140mph before. An $818 magic ticket was one week’s salary, enough to keep my spirits high and mind off the woman who refused to vacate my spare bedroom although I kicked her no good Trickster son out three months ago.

“License and registration, please.”

The antique German Luger leveled at my chest was his, a wedding present from an old college buddy.

The bloodcurdling scream was mine.

Reg Dog said...

It was as though the spirits demanded a blood sacrifice. There was no magic powerful enough to help me. Steeling my resolve, I reached forward and plucked the sleeping demon off my warm, fresh from the dryer pants. Sure enough, a paw lashed out leaving four bloody slashes on my hand. Damn cat. That hurt.

Melissa said...

“This cat can’t handle her spirits.” I said as I cleaned up a pile of . . . I’ll leave that part unsaid. Especially since part of that was on my pants.

Toby the student teacher held his nose. “I shouldn’t have topped off her bowl the second time.”

“You think?” I left class for Toby’s teaching hour on the effects of alcohol. Upon returning, I heard a bunch of senior boys chanting, “Drink, Drink” to an inebriated feline.

Blood, pee, and vomit. I had cleaned it all during my career. I tossed the rag at Toby. “Work some magic.”

Alex King said...

"Pants? Really?" Ted asked.

The cat looked down at him. "Could be worse."

"Worse how?"

"Could be bloody pants."

"Could be," Ted agreed. "Depends if you're British or not."

The spirits were to blame. He'd distilled them himself, poured some in the cat's bowl for kicks. Now his cat was magic and Ted was a pair of pants.

"Some bad trip," Ted said.

The cat jumped down, onto the floor where Ted lay, limp and hanger-less. "For you, maybe." He unsheathed his claws. They were pale in the moonlight, bleached bone, not keratin. "Abracadabra, now you're a mouse."


cam.robbins said...

In front of Danny’s Spirits and Liquor, I pop my jacket collar to cover the blood stains. Damn cat. Jumpy as hell.

It’s not as though I like the in-laws yelling at the stupid football game any more than he does, but skittering into the kitchen and pouncing on my pants’ leg, claws out, isn’t helpful. I sliced my hand, spraying blood everywhere, even on the damned turkey carcass. No post-game sandwiches this Thanksgiving.

I know vodka’s not some magic cure-all and will probably cause more problems than it solves. Still, I open the door.

Christina Seine said...

“I’m a good person,” she said.

They just didn’t understand.

They’d called her Grumpy Cat, fun-sucker, party pooper. But one had to maintain order, discipline – a library didn’t maintain itself by magic. Even the fancy-pants detective should have been smart enough to see that.

Those children, with their sticky fingers, their loud voices, always putting books back where they didn’t go. She’d brought in cupcakes, for Halloween, chocolate with blood orange frosting.

“Wow, thanks!” they’d said.

Cyanide, obviously.

She was in good spirits. There was one cupcake left. “May I?”

“Enjoy,” he said. “You’re going to prison, lady.”

She smiled.

stacy said...

I sat in the metal chair, out of the way--and watch the vet work her magic, not quite believing what I had just heard.

I was soon going to spend $500 on an echocardiogram for a cat. A fucking cat. I was caught on a bloody hamster wheel of rent, utilities, medical bills, student loans. And now this. I had a savage urge to slit my wrists.

But I didn’t. Instead, I watched the kitty bat at the vet’s tiny necklace cross and wiped sweaty palms against my pants. Fuck it. Tonight I’d invoke spirits of a different kind.

Jared X said...

Listen, young blood, here’s the job.

Pick a spot with lots of foot traffic. Sit on the blanket stroking the cat; everybody’s a sucker for children and animals.

Your handwritten sign announces the magic show. I start conjuring spirits and the crowd files in. When all eyes are glued on me, you work from the back. They’ll never notice your little hand pinching the wallets from their pants.

If anything goes south, I don’t know you. Keep this straight: we are not good people.

Are you in?

That’s a boy. Here, wear this hat, it screams ‘orphan.’ We start tonight.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

“No!” Eilidh gazed at the veiled mainland. Horizontal rain pelted her waterproofs while strong winds whipped white horses on the water.

The gale hampered her walk up the village road to the pub. Of the occupants, only the long-haired black cat noticed the interruption before resuming her dainty wash by the fireplace.

The bartender shook his head, “No ferry.”

“Bloody hell,” she needed some magic.

Sighing, she scanned the spirits on the shelves, “a dram of Tobermory.”



“Y’might take another look yonder.” He jerked his head toward the window.

White horses. Good thing she wore her new waterproofs.

Colin Smith said...

The cat stood guard at the tomb, daring us with ruby red eyes made fierce by our torchlight. I wiped a dirt-stained hand on my pants and gently caressed its tall neck. Four thousand year old gold. My heart was pounding.

"Look there, Thomas!" said the professor, pointing to an inscription. He translated it for me: a warning about disturbing the spirits, and a Pharaoh's curse broken only by a blood sacrifice.

How many had died trying to enter the tomb?

I smiled at the old man. I'm not one for superstition and magic, but I wasn't taking any chances.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Bloody pants lay crumpled in the corner of the dank room. His pants. She needed a shot, preferably tequila, but any one of the clear spirits in the half-emptied bottles on the dirty window sill would do. The black cat meowed naggingly with haunting yellow glowing eyes, seemingly indifferent to what had happened, only wanting food in its belly. The final straw had come. She was now free, but only magic could get her out of this mess; a disappearing act.

Lauren Salkin said...


On this night of Transformation, the cat spirit enters my body on a breath. As my husband and boys sleep upstairs, my bones twist then assimilate into something nocturnal.

Like a shadow, I slip outside beneath the door.

Who will I taste tonight – my neighbor, or the man out for a stroll? He’s alone. I grab him by the pants and draw him close. His blood runs cold as I suck the air from his lungs – the invisible magic that keeps me alive.

Back home again in human form, I tremble at the intoxicating sound of their sleeping breaths.

Julia said...

"Scree!" Sphinx the cat yowled and skittered into the darkness. Every bloody Halloween, it's the same damn thing.

"Someone get that cat!" Rupert had left his pants in a heap on the bathroom floor, and now he could only call out helplessly.

What a moron. Sphinx’ yellow eyes glowed in the darkness. He couldn't raise the spirits of the fleas on my back with a rulebook and a Master Magician. Sphinx grinned. But – what if he suddenly succeeded? In a big way? Yes... That might work... But I’d need blood. Quite a bit.

Sphinx chuckled and padded into the night.

Tamlyn said...

"Give me the knife," Jo ordered.

Her black cat settled its claws over the jewelled dagger. The blue-white spirit of Jo's mother looked on in disapproval.

"Now, Oscar." Jo pushed command into her tired voice. She needed to get out of there, not grapple with a frickin' pet backed up by a dead woman. "Please?" she tried.

Oscar hissed and thumped his tail. Jo dove for the knife, and his claws lashed out. Pinpricks of blood welled from Jo's hand; but blood was blood, and magic surged in response.

She conjured some pants so she could leave the damn house.

Cory Stamp said...

He barely winced as the needle went into his arm.

“Is this the magic medicine mom? The one for my blood?”

She nodded mutely. That damn cat, why couldn’t he leave it alone? He didn’t get it, other kids could climb trees, not him. She got the IV going then pulled up the leg of his pants. Tears started when she saw how the bruise was spreading.

The ambulance would get here soon. But she didn’t have the spirit for another long hospital stay. The royal disease indeed.

Cipher said...

The humid air, as thick and heavy as the stale blood running down my side, smeared my senses, crippling my escape.
She knew I could not see. Knew I could not hear.
She knew I could no longer run.
Languid in her hunt, the Great Spirit Cat circled closer. Each step tighter, furtive, eager.
I smiled.
What I could still do, on the other hand, was fling magic.
Beautiful, deadly magic.
My lip twitched.
Pulling on the cold metal token in my pants pocket, I inhaled the volatile, elemental energy.
The Spirit Cat lunged.
That was when I finally let go.

Doralyn said...

The children were getting ready for the Festival of Spirits. A night full costumes and magic. Isata wore her witch’s dress and Mufasa was going as the blood sucking Dracula. They stood side by side admiring themselves in the mirror when the lights began to flicker. Isata grabbed her brother’s arm in fear as the tall plants in the corner began to shiver. Mufasa stepped bravely forward only to end up running away when he heard hissing. Isata sat down laughing calling for her little black kitty.
“How silly is that? Dracula afraid of a cat,” Isata giggled.

Laurie McElderry said...

“Lastly, cat’s blood.” She wrung the bloody corpse like a towel before tossing it aside. Plop. Flies found the carcass while she stirred her brew.

It was ready. This time it had to work. Flies buzzed her, and she swatted with her spoon. Magical, gleaming droplets splattered.

Something moved, brushed her pants leg, tangled her feet. She gasped as she fell. The dead cat yowled and tore out her throat. Well, it DID work, she thought, clutching her spoon. But it was no use to her now. The spirits had their laugh.

It worked on the dead, not the dying.

Manda Zim said...

“Y’know that saying ‘I put my pants on one leg atta time’?”


“Not me. For me it’s the two leg slide’n’hop. Efficient. Huntin’ spirits is ‘bout efficiencies of movement. I had this one pair of pants that were real good for huntin’. Old magics bound to them in silver and blood.”

“Catching spirits? Wouldn't have figured you for one of those crazy bounty hunters.”

“I was wearing those pants the day the veils dropped. They saw me through hell and back. Literally.”

“Like I said. Crazy bounty hunters.”

“Man, do I ever miss those pants.”

D.X.Logan said...

She should have known. The cat jumped at spirits only it saw. Maybe it did see them.

The next day she'd found the note. She cried for another two. How could he leave her? Hope that he'd change his mind faded after a week. Another week and she was angry enough to throw out his things. She even cut up his favorite pants.

Blood drained from her face when the call came. He'd been found murdered. The note turned out to be faked. She wanted some magic to bring him back, to undo her actions and wash away the regrets.

Jennifer Moorhead said...

“Did I scream out loud or only in my mind?”
“Does it matter?” my therapist says.
I slide out of bed and into my standard-issue, white pants and shuffle to the window. The dawn spirits away the dark but catapults me into a memory. A memory that tastes like blood and acts like a magic trick—now you see it, now you don’t. Time for her to see it, dig it out like a relic found by the archeologists on those shows they let us watch in the rec room, all tiny tools and careful hands.
I nod.

Just Jan said...

"Fisher, most likely," Doc said, probing my cat's jugular wounds with a pudgy finger. "She's lucky; a coyote would've killed her."

"Can you work your usual magic?"

"Maybe." He leered at me over the top of his bifocals. "For a price."

"I can pay," I assured him, glancing down at my ratty t-shirt and sweatpants.

He reappeared an hour later, smelling strongly of spirits. "Couldn't save her. Lost too much blood." He lurched toward me. "Time to pay the piper, sweetie."

"It wasn't a fisher," I said, revealing my fangs, "and it isn't me who's going to pay."

Loryn said...

I felt like a 1950's cartoon, throwing my shoe at the darn cat in the backyard that caterwauled to his girlfriend around this time every night. I pulled on my pants in the dark, planning to visit my neighbor and let him handle Romeo—I need my sleep. But once outside, the magic of a full moon buoyed my spirits, and I wished the neighborhood Casanova good luck, “Go find her, guy.” Then I sauntered back to the kitchen and mixed myself a Bloody Mary, feeling more charitable by the sip.

John Williamson said...

Man walks into a bar.
“What’ll it be – wine? Beer?”
“I prefer spirits.”
“Vodka, then?”
A glass was procured.
“No, not in a glass. Use an IV catheter.”
“I don’t – “
“No worries. I have one right here.”
He inserted the needle into his own arm. There was a cup attached to the other end. “Just pour it in.”
The bartender did as instructed.
“Goes right to my bloodstream.” With the rush, he pants and closes his eyes. “Ah! Like magic!”

Lyza Beth Burgess said...

She’s wearing denim pants, for her comfort, in my $2500 wedding pictures. There is no Photoshop magic for that kind of tacky. And my bridal spirits are in sudden peril.

My MOH side- eyes me. I purse my lips; that’s all it takes. I am watching my hair transform into curls when a scream, like a stepped- on cat, sounds out. She rants, raves, but nothing removes the stain of blood- red nail polish from her “good” jeans. Another shared look with my MOH, and it is confirmed: we are not good people.

But my pictures, they’ll be denim- free.

Anonymous said...

The Major

We sit around the nightfire, reluctant participants in yet another family council.

Uncle Jared goes first. “Alchemy!”

“No way,” says my brother Piro. “Too much memorization.”

“Lazybones,” mutters Uncle Jared.

“Magical herbology?” This from Mother the gardener, obviously.

“Too allergic,” Piro says.

Our uncle mumbles something sarcastic.

“Dark arts?” Our sister’s hopeful voice.

Piro winces. “Bloodwork… dispirits me.”

A snort from Uncle Jared.

My turn. “Um. Arithmancy? You aced math.”

He whispers fiercely. “Cheated!”

Piro’s declaration is due tomorrow; Uncle Jared sighs loudly.

Draconian shadows pass. A roaring, foul stream of muck obliterates our uncle.

My brother’s face brightens. “Scatology!”

Brig said...

‘Here’s where the magic happens.’

The assistant opens our door.
He of the twenty million Youtube subscribers has his own.

‘The cameraman’ the assistant announces. I’m ignored.

He’s dressed in pants. He lazes against blood red silk cushions, a dark strip of chest hair visible.
Adoring women fawn around. One holds food. Another strokes him.

So much for professional.

‘Does he…?’

‘No. He doesn’t shit where he eats. He has everything he needs right there’.

The assistant indicates the heart-stoppingly beautiful blonde holding spirits.
She bends, showing a pristine box, before adding kitty litter.
He attacks my equipment.

Fuck cats.

Laura Parsons said...

The swaying of the pants was out of place. My guilty conscience went into overdrive. Demons, spirits, creatures of magic filled them. As one they took form.
They wanted me, my blood, my body.

I ran into the house and slammed the door behind me. Lights went on. Busted. My father stood at the top of the stairs.

Banished to my room, grounded for two months. I stared out the window. Moonlight flooded the yard. The clothes line lit up, bright as day. The neighbours cat walked the line.

Anonymous said...

“I’ll kneel and tilt my head back while you press the knife against my neck. The spirits will guide you. Magic always protects me--don’t you, stupid cat?”

I swear her Persian, Magic, rolls its eyes.

”Come on, I’ve done it lots of times,” she says.

With other guys? I hold my tongue but drop the knife, because . . . I mean, she is my wife but why are my pants drenched in blood? My god, is that her HEAD?

A pause from licking bloodied fur is followed by a priggish purr.

That pussy got the best of her.

Anonymous said...

Sheila longs for a little excitement in her humdrum life. Unbeknownst to the twenty-one-year-old, she holds the secrets of the spirits.

Kojak Kitty is not an ordinary cat; he’s a shape-shifter who loves lollipops, sent to obtain Sheila’s secrets. He’s ready to spice up her life. Kojak is a master at removing veils of forgetfulness without causing death to unlock knowledge buried within humans.

As stealth-like as a cat can, he stalks Sheila, pouncing when she least expects it. With one swipe of a claw, blood oozes from her torn pants.

“Let the magic begin.” Kojak purrs, licking his sucker.

Erin said...

Em ties her hair in a knot at the top of her head, then walks into the kitchen and pulls the goat’s blood out of the fridge.
“Siva, any spirits hanging around?”
The short girl pads into the room and tilts her head. Her long earrings clink.
“Nah. Clean,” she says, after a pause. “Just the cat, but you’re used to him, right?”
“Yeah.” Clean is good. Clean means no poltergeists floating around, ready to knock over her beakers or push her into her hotpot. She rolls her shoulders and closes her eyes. Now she can begin.

JDG said...

Was it the cat's hungry cry or the thunder that woke Alice? Her eyes open to the mess on the floor-- shirts, socks, pants (Ben's). The text, the fight, the way he came toward her--it all comes back.

What magic there ever was, gone.

Time is ticking.

Alice spirits into the kitchen. The knife reserved for holiday carving lies crusted with blood in the sink. To the cat, she wonders aloud if this rain might have softened the ground.

Alexandra (Ola) J. said...

He told me that the cat had to go.

I got her at a garage sale for company. She was beautiful, with magical green eyes, and quiet, and loved to be pet.

I begged; he resisted; she looked calmly on.

Last night, he’d come home in high spirits. I saw my chance, pointed out how sweet she looked, nestled on a pile of his pants. His lips contorted, pressed tightly together, drained of blood.

We gave her away the next morning.

“I’ll buy you a different one,” he promised. “A live one, this time.”

“I wanted this one,” I sobbed.

Kelsie Kasandria said...

It's happening.

The one time I wanted it not to happen.

What is it you may ask?


This is how it started.

I got a cat the same day I got a mysterious bottle of “Pant's punch”.

Only it wasn't punch. It was blood.

I drank it, thinking it was actual punch.

And it turned me into one of the spirits.

Now I can control the dead.

And today, is the day I turn to the dark side.

And destroy the world.

And it had to happen...

...the day my boyfriend proposed to me.

Tribaliz said...

Teeth bared, I leaped from my Uncle's rooftop unto the dark shadow below. Clawing at nothing, I fell, trying in vain to hold on. A cat doesn't always land on its feet.

With blood pouring out of my mouth, I staggered into the old shed that housed my Uncle's farm tools. The dark shadow, my nemesis, Lanre, slithered into the shadows.

Nursing my wound, I realised that a woman scorned was no match for a serpent. The spirits must protect him. It was the kick in the pants I needed.

No more black magic. No more shape shifting.

KariV said...

Sara took her time, working slowly and methodically. Alice had humiliated her for the last time. The teasing and taunting had been one thing, but pants-ing her in front of the entire school … No, Sara wasn’t going to stand for that. For years she had turned the other cheek. Now, revenge would be magical. Her spirits rose as she slit the throat of the cat on the table and felt the warm blood flow over her hands. Today, Mr. Whiskers; tomorrow, Alice Hooper.

Jo-Anne Teal said...

In September, a tenement fence became castle wall to our cat and to my sister’s boyfriend, Geraldo. The cat was best at gaining entry. Neighbors weren’t eager to open the door to human wildlife, particularly someone wearing a blood-stained Nehru and drawstring cotton pants. Too weird even for the East Village.

So while like magic my sister’s stomach expanded, Geraldo waited across the street: sitting cross-legged in front of Renaldo’s grocery, playing broken sitar, drinking spirits from a bottle ineffectively covered by brown paper.

In October, my sister went outside to tell him there was no reason to wait anymore.

Curtis Moser said...

Blood on the paws. That was the detail that was going to get her. She knew it the moment she'd seen the paw prints on the windowsill. And why had she left the fucking window open anyway? So now she sat with her gore-soaked pants off, her feet on the desk, and her tumbler full of whiskey, wondering where the goddam cat could've gone.

She took a drink. As the spirits began to work their magic, there was knock at the door.

"Ms. Cannon," came the voice. "This is Officer Kershaw, Milltown PD. I believe I found your cat."

Hollie Sessoms said...

The lava spills through the streets like blood—slow and steady, not wanting to be staunched. No amount of magic, no spirit of my aumakua, will stop it from advancing and eating the house that has been in my family for four generations—the house father always said had more essence than wood and nails should dare have. My cat, Pele, rubs against my pants and watches the destruction with me from atop the mauka. I reach down and dig my fingers in the fur around her neck, praying father changed his mind and left the house to burn alone.

LynnRodz said...

"Hey, Somers, where's your pants?"

"Pants?" Jeff looked down at what he was wearing. "These are my pants."

"They're Speedos, Somers, not pants." Booo shook his head.

"He thought he got blood all over them." Cat explained. "I told him it was wine." She hoisted herself onto a bar stool.

"Spirits, we need more spirits!" Sean yelled to the bartender. "It's a celebration."

"A magical night." Jeff agreed. "To the bar!"

"We're at the bar, Jeff." Cat banged her head against the counter. "WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE, a PW Pick..." she mumbled. "How in the hell did that happen?"

Pattie said...


Wipe bloody hands on pants. Don't let them see, she whispered to herself.

"Hello, officers!"

"Whaddya' got today? We had a catastrophe and need something strong," the short one said, pulling out the barstool.

"Sounds like double spirits needed," she answered, reaching for the rum and vodka, adding them, mixing.

"Someone's got blood on their hands," the tall one said.

Shesub-consciously wiped her hands again.

Shorty sipped. "What's the magic in this? You better tell the truth."

"If I tell ya', I gotta' kill ya'" she answered, smiling.

And then he saw them.


Blood oranges.

Lilac Shoshani said...

A book-spy on a secret mission, I'm wearing a hat, and holding a cat. The cat is actually my supervisor, using magic to spy on me. I pretend not to know that.

In a bookstore in Tel-Aviv, the saleswoman is clueless about Roxane Gay's "Bad feminist," and she doesn't know who Patrick Lee is.

The spirits get restless.

She does know who Jeff Somers is. I get hopeful. "I want any book of his that you have."

"It's sold out," she says proudly, staring at my designer pants. "In all our branches."

No blood will be spilled tonight after all.