|Excerpt from "For Better or 'Wurse'", a short story about an arrogant writer whose
propensity for clichés has far-reaching consequences when he encounters a
leprechaun in Central Park.
Dexter began to chuckle.
"An' what, pray tell, do ye find so amusing?"
"Burying a pot of gold in Central Park!" Dexter snickered.
"Aye, that I would be doing."
"A pot of gold...like you're a leprechaun, or some such nonsense?"
"Aye, a leprechaun in truth."
"A little green leprechaun, like on the cereal boxes!"
The small man narrowed his eyes. "Ye speak as if ye know naught of faery.
What manner of Irishman be ye that dares laugh at the ways of the wee folk?"
Dexter's laughter rose to a cackle. "I'm not Irish. You must be blind as a bat!"
The little man shuffled his feet nervously. "Ye do not have to be callin' names just
because I'd be dim-sighted and cannot tell the reds from the blues."
"What? You're color-blind?" Dexter held his side which had begun to ache from
laughing. He wondered what was in that last shot glass that would make him
see leprechauns, and color-blind ones at that.
"Choose carefully yer words," the leprechaun warned. "If ye be not Irish, then ye
must be an Englishman."
Dexter's reply was lost in his howls of laughter.
"If ye be neither Irishman nor Englishman, what be yer business on the Isle of
"Here, on the Isle of Man!" the leprechaun snapped.
Dexter laughed so hard tears rolled down his cheeks. This was one alcoholic
delusion he was actually enjoying.
"Boy, did you get on the wrong boat," he jeered. "This is the ‘Isle' of Man-hattan!"
The leprechaun began to fume. "This is not the Isle of Man?"
Dexter rolled with laughter. "No! Ha ha! Color-blind as a bat, with a piss-poor
sense of direction. Can't find his butt with both hands. Ha!"
The leprechaun's gaze darkened. He pointed a bony finger at Dexter.
"I said to choose carefully yer words. Since ye will not, then this I say: From dusk
‘til dawn, the whole night through, thy well-worn words shall all come true!"
A sudden tingle like an electric shock went through Dexter's body bringing his
laughter to a halt.
"Hey!" he leapt to his feet. "What did you just do?"
The little man jumped up and down with glee. "I have cast upon ye a ‘wurse.' It is
the very essence of both a wish...and a curse."
Dexter glared at the leprechaun. "What are you talking about?"
"Ye shall see; aye, ye shall see," the little man sang. "It all depends upon thee. If
yer heart be pure, a wish it shall be. And if not...."
"Why you little--!" Dexter swung at the leprechaun, but the little green man
snatched his robe and his pot of gold and disappeared in the twinkling of an eye.
The befuddled writer stared in amazement.
"Well, so much for hallucinations," he sighed.
|"Sunset", a sci-fi short story about appearances and expectations. "Sunset"
was published in AlienSkin Magazine in August, 2004.
After eight days and six hours on the small planetoid, nicknamed "Spica 5", they
saw their first sunset. It was strikingly alien. The heavy concentration of
methane in the outer atmosphere mixed with the sun's sinking rays to produce
a bright and variegated purple hue through which the sun, itself, appeared to be
a breathtaking shade of lilac. Anna Petrofsky, Thomas Robbins, and Jeff
Stevenson, the hand-picked crew of scientists for the ground expedition, were
moved to silence as they stood on the sparkling green sand and watched the
event through the clear lenses of their protective suits.
It seemed strangely poignant, this twilight on a deserted world. You were left
with a feeling of quiet reverence, as though you had the privilege of being
present at the death of some noble and venerated monarch. At least that was
the way the tawny-eyed and owlish Anna would later describe it in her private
diary. And in the end, you knew there was nothing you could do but whisper
So they packed up the rock and vegetation samples they had spent the last
eight days gathering and slowly walked to the landrover/shuttle which would
take them back to the orbiting mothership. It was disheartening to note their
painstakingly thorough search of the planetoid had failed to yield any signs of
There was so much potential, here. Short, grass-like vegetation grew all
around, breaking up the sandy terrain in almost consistent patterns. Initial
analyses of the chemical composition of the soil indicated the vegetation had
been indigenous to the planetoid for a considerable period of time. And there
were frequent puddles of water showing that it did rain occasionally. All of this
seemed to support the theory that intelligent life could easily have evolved at
Yet this was all that could be seen of the planetoid, the fifth celestial object from
the sun in the Spica galaxy. The three scientists had walked and ridden in the
landrover/shuttle over every square inch of the planetoid, with absolutely nothing
to show for their efforts. They had left nothing untouched. It was quite
discouraging. And so it would have remained had Jeff Stevenson, the youngest
and most meticulous of the crew, not decided to wash his boots by hand.
Forgoing all mechanical contrivances, the somber blonde sat down determined
to give his boots that trademark Stevenson spit and polish.
With methodical precision and his usual intensity, Jeff worked to bring about the
shine and luster to which he was accustomed to seeing. It was when he turned
the right boot over and began to scrape rocks and debris from the grooves into
a plastic bag that he noticed the brightly colored dot. Carefully, he removed the
speck with a pair of tweezers and held it under a magnifying glass. When that
proved unsuccessful, he placed it on a slide and set it under the shuttle's
microscope. Still, all he could see was a blur. It would have to wait until they
arrived at the mothership.
Meanwhile, the mothership was all abuzz with news of Jeff's discovery, and
anxiously awaiting the shuttle's arrival. Something unusual had finally been
found after a fruitless search. As soon as the doors were opened, Jeff and his
glass slide were ushered directly to the ship's high-powered microscope. With
the entire crew of twenty-one gathered around, he set the control at the highest
level of magnification possible and switched the image to the overview screen
so that all could share.
The first few comments were gasps of wonder at the beauty of the prismatic
shades of purple, followed by words of puzzlement at what the strange object
could be. Then, an eerie silence crept over the group as they realized the truth.
Horrified, she could only whisper, "Sunset."
As they stood gazing at the magnified image of a microscopic painting, no one
could say a word. There was no denying it was complete unto itself. The alien
artist had captured the lilac-tinged sun resting on the horizon in a way that was
unmistakable to those who had seen the actual event. After the passage of
what seemed an eternity, Thomas Robbins silently reached over and turned off
the overview screen. At this signal, the crew slowly returned to their individual
stations to prepare for the long journey home. Overwhelmed by the magnitude
of what they had done, they would never speak of it again.
The log entry would read: "Spica 5: No intelligent life found."
|Excerpt from "A Taste of Flesh", a horror short story about the "grave" effects of
Still, there was a single ray of light, like a candle in the vortex of his despair. Hope.
Hope that some unwary traveler, who could not understand the ancient Arabic
tongue, should enter where the warnings said not to set foot. Hope that some
impulsive fool would break the seal…to satisfy a curious mind, to please a greedy
heart. To set him free.
The days in captivity were always agony. What made this day different was an odd
feeling of anticipation in the ghoul. He was reminiscing again. Before his eyes
played a scene from an older time, when he had entered the service of Alaric’s
army of Visigoths to sack Rome. It was shortly after the time of his “crossing over”
and his body still retained almost its same form. Close enough to allow the ghoul
to pass for human in those days. He could follow the army and feast as he
wished, as long as he was discreet.
Then came the changes. Every sword slash he received remained on his body.
Every burn peeled away more layers of his skin and every wound festered into
open, hideous sores. None of these killed him, and he felt no pain. He had
become, in actuality, immortal. The only thing that could possibly end his undead
life was poison, searing his system from the inside out. But the ghoul had no fear.
His sense of smell was so refined he could detect even the most infinitesimal
amount of poison. He scrupulously avoided those who had died in that manner,
as well as the victims of virulent diseases.
Still, the rotting of his own flesh drew attention to him. That which is good and
clean and pure will heal. Not so, when evil permeates the system. The decaying
sores on his body were like stigmata, marking him as a foul, unnatural thing. He
was forced to flee; to spend his existence in the shadows, enjoying his repasts in
For centuries he scavenged from one country to another, always in the dark. Until
overconfidence made him careless and he learned the truth of his vulnerability
here in the Arabian desert. What good was immortality in prison?
As the creature watched the images in his mind, he began to listen to the air
around him. There was something on the edge of his awareness. The ghoul
strained his already sharp ears to pick up the sounds. Yes, they were voices, clear
and distinct! If they came any closer, he would finally have news of the outside
When he was first interred, all had avoided the area. And those who stumbled
upon his tomb by accident fell quiet as they rushed past. One did not speak of the
dead, the undead, or the cursed; and he was all three.
|Excerpt from Elfame, a fantasy novel about the interaction of the magical world of
Elfame and Earth. When a water nymph, member of the Elfame Royal Court,
escapes to Taera (Earth) with an explosive secret that threatens to tear apart the
magical realm, she sets into motion a series of events that pull the human, Elaine
Gildhart, into a menacing land she never knew existed, as well as the adventure...
and love...of a lifetime.
The fire faerie flew between Elaine and the other faeries, turning her back to Elaine.
"Sisters!" she cried. "I appeal to you as Faeries in the Old Tradition. We cannot
allow a Taeran to become Faerie-Queen; it simply must not be!"
The drop of water faerie addressed her gently. "Aljena, it is not for us to say; we can
only administer the Tests. Do you know the name sealed within the Stone? Who is
to say it is not hers?"
The cloud faerie came closer. "Yes, Aljena. She has passed the Ordeals. We have
given her the Tests as we would any other creature...it is only fair."
"She has not passed all of the Ordeals!" the fire faerie snapped, seething with
anger. "There is still the Ordeal of Bravery."
"We have tested her bravery in other ways and--"
"I do not mean your Tests!"
"You are not the one who determines the Ordeals, Aljena," the cloud faerie softly
"Before I cast my lot, she must pass the Ordeal...my Ordeal...of Bravery," the fire
faerie spat. "She must go to the Pitchfall Forest!"
The others backed up. "What?"
"You cannot do that!" the cloud faerie gasped.
"I agree!" exclaimed the drop of water faerie. "You know she has no magic, Aljena.
You send her to her death!"
The fire faerie turned slowly to face Elaine. "As you yourselves expressed it, my
sisters...give her the Tests the same as you would any other creature. It is only fair.
So I say: If this Taeran wishes to wed my nephew, she must go to the Pitchfall
Elaine's eyes widened. ‘That's why her voice sounds so much like Mik's. She's his
The three faeries floated into a circle around her.
"Elaine Jenell Gildhart," the drop of water faerie said sadly, "...you must go to the
"Beyond!" the fire faerie interrupted.
"That is not necessary, Aljena!"
"I say she must go to the Realm of Darkness, beyond the Pitchfall Forest...to
The other faeries became quiet, silenced by the irrational anger of Mik's aunt.
Aljena took over the instructions.
"You will go to Nosfermorta and you will speak these words to her: ‘It rested once
upon the best, the shoulders strong and wise. Mab, Titania, Gloriana; I sew it now
"That's it?" Elaine asked. "Just say those words and leave?"
The fire faerie smiled; it was not a comforting sight.
"That, as you say...is it."
The drop of water faerie wrung her shapeless hands nervously. "It is more
dangerous than you realize!"
"Yes," the cloud faerie agreed. "Nosfermorta still has great power. She was once a
sorceress, you know."
"And she attempted the Ordeals, too!" the fire faerie smirked.
"How did she fail?" Elaine asked.
"It was the Test of Love." The cloud faerie floated closer, sharing a secret.
"Nosfermorta desired to wed the Elf-King, Tampaner; she wished to rule the land
that way. However, she had a lover...one ‘Llewelyn'. During the Test of Love,
Llewelyn came forth and begged her to return to him. Instead of facing the situation
with honesty and bravery, Nosfermorta turned Llewelyn into a demon to be rid of
"That's terrible," Elaine gasped. "I can see why she failed."
"That was not the end of it," the drop of water faerie added. "Llewelyn joined the
other winged demons, who had been just a minor nuisance before then, and
organized them into the Host...with Llewelyn as their leader under his new name,
"Enough of gossip and talk!" Aljena snapped. "She must be on her way!"
"But, I--!" Elaine started to protest.
Without a word, the fire faerie waved her arm in front of the woman. A sudden rush
of hot air and steam swept past Elaine's face, causing her to turn her head. When
she looked back, the steam had vanished, along with Faefield, the leaf dome, the
faeries, and Vincent. She now stood on a branch of the dirt road, staring into a
forest of ink-black night.
|Other things Kim has written
|"For Better or 'Wurse'"
|"A Taste of Flesh"