Here are the winning stories from F-BOM’s Fall 2017 flash fiction contest, Magic Always Has A Price, judged by Intisar Khanani.

Did you miss the contest this quarter? Our next topic will be revealed in February, during our interview with Sharolyn G. Brown. Follow us on Facebook for updates. Click here for submission guidelines.

First place: 

The Fix by Shira Hereld

One last ingredient: the knife cut her palm like tomato skin. Seven drops of blood spilled out. The potion turned aubergine, sparked.

Ready.

She glanced at her husband – still asleep – then reached into herself. Touched the shame that burned each time her husband kissed her or slid his hand between her legs. This will fix you, he’d promised. You will want me.

Mea culpa, Deorum, take my disgrace,” she chanted. Drank the potion in one long gulp.

The instant she swallowed, her husband burst into flame. He left behind neither ash, nor bone – nor any trace of shame.

Second place:

Transfer by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

“It’s not so simple.”

“Selfish monster! Use your magic to help others!” She cradled her crying child. “When he is maimed for life, that is your doing.”

That the child fell into a mill was not my doing. “It’s not just his foot, it’s transfer energy—”

“Monster!”

Villagers glared. The child sobbed. I gritted my teeth.

He screamed at healing, covering my groan. She wheeled to display her joyful achievement to all.

My crushed foot, and transfer-shattered tibia, would not carry me home. “I need help.”

“Use your magic,” the villagers said cheerfully, and followed her away.

Honorable Mentions: 

The Chorus Flower by Loren Killdeer

Lena wanted a Japanese Singing Potus for Christmas. In the tropical place where they lived, Liam asked himself why she wouldn’t grow any other plant. There were an abundance of chorus flowerbeds on the streets, but none of them could sing in Japanese.

Liam asked for the plant at the counter and the man behind reached for a pale pink sprout.

-Oh, man this one’s gonna be expensive-

In money aspect it was surprisingly cheap.

They only realized it when it started to sing during the nights, that no one had warned them about the jet lag.

***

Turnabout by Joan Grey

I drew the symbols, chanted the ancient words, spilt the blood of that poor little cat.

The air around my protective circle of shining white salt thickened; harsh fog dissipated to reveal a straight figure. Its corona of light cut through the swirling haze.

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE ME DO? Its voice beat against my ears.

“Please,” I whimpered. “Protect her.” I pointed to the bed in the corner.

It turned the fires of its eyes in her direction then back to me.

YOU KNOW THE FEE.

I bent my neck. “I, Moloch, hereby grant you, Uriel, my eternal soul.”

***

Teacher by Chris Simmons

“When does it end?” I ask. Her withered eyes stare back.

“Never. Always. When you say.”

She places her hand on mine. She looks at the groaning table, her lips wet.

I begin. Bites blur together; plates fall empty. My ribs crack and flare. I wonder if I could unhinge my jaw. I wonder if I could eat time. Not yet, she says. Soon.

She smiles, she lifts her hand. Her eyes are bright. Mine go dark.

“Oma.” Done. For now.

When I wake she’s gone again. The table’s empty except for the bill. I’m hungry.

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