Tag Archives: dark fantasy

She had been warned, but now it was too late…

This is in response to a challenge by Haley Whitehall – to write a flash story in 500 words or less.  Unfortunately, I forgot one of the rules, which was to start the story with, “She had been warned, but now it was too late.”  So I used it as the title.  No way was i going to write another 500 word story (this is 497 words *pant pant*).  Fortunately, the title IS relevant to the story, but you have to read it all to find out.

This is the shortest story I have ever written, and it was indeed a struggle, the next shortest being 1,000 words. It is sort of a dark fantasy, but I hope you enjoy it.


She Had Been Warned, But Now It Was Too Late

The boy was 12. His slender frame stood defiantly, facing the other kids. The black patch over his right eye contrasted starkly with his pale face.

 “Nyah, nyah, sissy Kevin, on his way to heaven,” a big boy said.

 The rest of the kids picked up the chant, “Sissy Kevin, on his way to heaven.”

 Kevin’s face flushed, but he kept silent.

 “Cat got your tongue, Heaven Kevin?”

 That was too much. A name like that would stick for the rest of his life.

 “No,” the younger boy said softly. “My name is Kevin Shawn O’Reilly.”

 “Folks’s saying you was given some gift by Irish fairies when you was a baby,” the older boy, whom everyone called Viper, said.

He glared at Kevin’s eye patch. “You hiding something gross behind there?” he growled. “Let’s take a look.”

 The younger boy backed away desperately. “You’ll be sorry if you take my patch off.”

 “Who’s gonna make me sorry?” Viper sneered. “Your piss-ant dad ain’t here no more.”

 A tear slid down Kevin’s cheek. “Why are you doing this to me?” he cried. “I never did anything to you.”


Viper - © Willeecole | Dreamstime.com

“You’re different, see?” Viper said, advancing on the younger boy. “We don’t like piss-ants who pretend they’re better ‘n everyone else. We don’t like pukes with pussy secrets, like your bad eye here.” He leaned over Kevin.

 Viper grabbed for the patch just as Kevin bobbed his head out of the way. Impatiently, Viper smashed Kevin in the face. The boy sagged and Viper snatched the eye patch. Triumphantly he turned and held it aloft. “Behold!” he cried, like he’d seen in the movies. Kevin tried to cover his eye with his hand.

“No, you don’t,” Viper said prying Kevin’s hand away. The younger boy quickly closed his eyes. The glimpse Viper saw puzzled him. The eye looked normal. Maybe it had to be open for pus to start oozing. Maybe that was what was making him feel nauseated. Yeah…the hidden pus.

He threw Kevin onto the ground, forcing his eye open. The boy was no match for Viper.

“NOOO!” he howled. Curiosity pulled the other children closer. For a moment Kevin kept his eye rolled back into his head, just showing the white.

“Good trick, piss-ant,” Viper snarled. He jogged his knee hard into Kevin’s stomach. The breath whooshed out of him as the eye flew open.

 Viper stared at it. “It’s just the same as…” He never finished the sentence.

 His limp body collapsed on top of Kevin, who was crying now in earnest.

 The rest of the children screamed and scattered.

Kevin finally stopped crying and wiggled out from under the body. Gently he pried the eye patch out of the boy’s hand and slipped it back on over his right eye.

“It wasn’t a gift,” he told the empty schoolyard. “It’s why Da died. It’s a curse on the O’Reilly men.”

He plodded home and opened the door. “Momma,” he called tiredly. “We have to move again.”


How do I figure out what I should write?

Lord of the Rings trilogy - fantasy

If we’re going to write it, we should at least know what our options are, right?  And let me state that since you are at a fantasy writing site, I am assuming that you are interested in writing some kind of speculative fiction.

First off, let’s try and define “fantasy fiction” a little more.  It’s often lumped in with science fiction and called “speculative fiction,” which also includes horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction.  We’ll find out more about general sub-genres a little later in this article.

There is sometimes difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and science fiction, since in recent years there have been so many crossovers.  My novel Witchcanery is one such crossover.  It is mainly fantasy, dealing with witches, wizards, Mother Earth, and golems.  Yet the reason that Mother Earth gets so upset is the ecological devastation that humans are unleashing on their own planet.   That’s based on scientific fact and reality.  Another crossover aspect of this novel is the fact that the witches and wizards in my story are actually star travelers who came to Earth centuries ago to try and help Earth people achieve maturity.  Although that’s not a huge part of the story, it still smacks of science fiction.

Science fiction.

Many people try to say that science fiction is based on science and fact, things that, however unlikely, could be true.  They say that fantasy is purely imaginary and couldn’t happen.  I object to that definition, since many fantasy stories involve telepathy, telekinesis, and other exercises of the mind.  Growing evidence supports that these activities actually exist and are fact.  That blows that description of fantasy.  So where does that leave us?  Once again, we have no clear demarcation between the two genres.

Generally speaking, for our purposes then, let’s say that science fiction is based on science and known fact and could happen; fantasy is based on imagination involving magic, beings and places that have little relationship to the real world.

Dark fantasy

How can we pin down more closely what it is we want to write?  Let’s take a look at the fantasy sub-genres outlined in this list provided by Wikipedia:

  • Dark fantasy – fantasy that includes elements of horror (this is also the sub-genre where we find vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night).
  • Epic fantasy / High fantasy – fantasy set in a fictional world where the quest is generally one that affects the entire world (Lord of the Rings is a good example).
  • Low fantasy – fantasy/magic set in the real world (Support Your Local Wizard by Diane Duane is a good example).
  • Magic realism – a literary form of fantasy where “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something ‘too strange to believe.'” [Matthew Stretcher] (Think of all the movies where scientists uncover something that will destroy the world if it gets loose, which it usually does).
  • Mythic – fantasy based on myths, fables, folklore, legend, etc. (the TV shows, Hercules and Xena, Warrior Princess were good examples of this sub-genre).
  • Paranormal fantasy – fantasy based on paranormal and supernatural activities, generally set in the real world (The Sixth Sense – movie – starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment).
  • Superhero fantasy – fantasy involving superheroes such as Superman, the X-Men, and Spiderman, plus “mystery men” such as Batman.
  • Sword and sorcery – fantasy involving swashbuckling adventures by a hero/ine revolving around a personal quest, usually on a fictitious world, and often with a touch of romance to it. (Jennifer Roberson’s Sworddancer series books are good examples of this.)  Note that “sword and sandal” is a sub-sub-genre and is a fantasy involving the personal quest of the hero/ine in a historical environment, often Biblical in nature.
  • Wuxia – a Chinese term covering the adventures of martial artists, such stories and films being hugely popular in Chinese communities around the world.  It was banned in the Republic of China for a while for about 20 years but was unbanned in the 1980s.  All the Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan stories/movies are wuxia fantasy.

Now, let’s take a look at our beloved books, the ones that we couldn’t put down, that kept us reading late into the night, that we read and reread over again.  How are they classified?  What is it about those books that we love?  Perhaps it’s just the sub-genre, the author, the main characters, the plots.

Epic fantasy.

What you can do is pick maybe 10 of your favorite books and fit them into the above sub-genre categories.  Chances are, where most of them fit, is where you will find the most fulfilment writing.  And hey, you already know what that sub-genre feels like because you have read many of them.  Apply the craft of writing that you have learned so far to this particular sub-genre and you’re off and running.

My own writing, wholly fantasy except for the non-fiction I turn out, is centered more on either epic fantasy (Battle Cleric the Novel) or low fantasy (Witchanery).  I admit that I LOVE writing epic fantasy…it’s definitely my thing.  What’s yours?