I am super excited to share a piece I received over the weekend from a close friend and wonderful writer, Kayla Whittle. Every October, she writes custom 1000 word stories for her patrons and she knocked mine out of the park! I had to share it here with y’all.
The prompt I gave her was to smash two of our MCs together and make them interact. Quite a feat to accomplish, as her MC Ashia is a witch from a fantasy kingdom and my MC Bridie is a sarcastic human from a crumbling spec fic setting. Kayla didn’t disappoint!
The full piece follows below. Again, please go check out Kayla’s blog and Patreon if you like what you read – this is a small taste of the wonderful writing she does on a daily basis!
The two bodies hit the ground hard enough to leave vague impressions in the soft dirt. Old leaves crunched and twigs snapped, the noise mingling with one annoyed curse and one pained groan.
Ashia was first to her feet, but Bridie was quick to move as well. Heads spinning, vision shaking, neither knew where they were.
“Oh,” Bridie sighed, tired already when she realized the pocketknife she’d pulled wouldn’t stand for long against the knives in the other girl’s hands.
Ashia’s smile was smug, knowing she had the upper hand. There was a benefit to always being armed to the teeth during a war.
“What have you done to me?” Ashia demanded, turning one blade to bring it closer to Bridie’s chin. “Where am I? What coven are you from?”
“Coven?” Bridie asked blankly, using her rusty pocketknife to poke Ashia’s weapon a few inches farther away. “You’re the one who dragged me out of the city. What do you want with my blood all the way out here?”
She didn’t know where here was, just that she’d never seen so much nature before. The air smelled clean and no hospitals loomed nearby. Just trees, more trees all at once than seemed possible, with sunlight picking through the branches overhead. Maybe she’d been unconscious for a while, because last she’d known she’d been on an unremarkable stretch of sidewalk, at night—
Ashis was busy wrinkling her nose. Reluctantly, she put away one of her knives—just one. It’d help her think better. “Why would I want your blood?”
As far as she knew, blood was worth nothing once spilled, and absolutely priceless so long as it kept the correct people alive. Like most things she’d learned recently, Ashia knew this had to have something to do with a particularly pesky species.
“You’re human,” Ashia said, rubbing her forehead with the back of her hand. In most situations, this wouldn’t have been reassuring. But it meant this other girl hadn’t used magic to bring Ashia there, and her weaponry was pitiful so she was no true threat. Besides, the past few days had shown Ashia that humans were . . . strange. Unexpected.
“Uh, yeah,” Bridie agreed, before she frowned. A statement like that sort of made it sound like there’d been other options. Which . . . should have been more surprising, but with the apparitions who’d been harassing her lately, and the transported-to-a-forest thing, Bridie was feeling openminded. “I’m Bridie. The . . . human. Who the hell are you?”
“Ashia,” she answered and left it at that. Having decided Bridie was harmless, Ashia turned away from her and searched the undergrowth, poking through the debris of broken twigs and leaves.
“What are you looking for?” Bridie asked, reluctantly putting away her pocketknife. She busied her hands instead by tugging at her red hair. It’d fallen out of its messy bun during her, well, fall, and dirt clung to the strands in some places.
“Looking to see if I can find what remains of the curse that brought us here,” Ashia said.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Bridie agreed, while quietly she thought What the fuck and wondered if it’d be best to walk away slowly now, or—“Your hair!”
Ashia paused, glancing down toward the dark braid wrapped several times around her forearm. She’d just managed to get a different human to stop mentioning the hair.
“Another curse,” Ashia said, shrugging in a way that kept her knife very visible. “If my hair is cut, I will die.”
Yikes. Bridie, for a moment, wasn’t certain if she believed her. But after living on the streets for so long, she was good at reading people, and could see at the very least Ashia believed that was true.
“So you think that this, that we’re here, because of—”
“Magic,” Ashia confirmed with a nod. “I’m not even certain I’m in the same forest anymore.”
“Yeah, well, I was in the city,” Bridie said, which only earned her another puzzled look. “Hey, if magic brought us here, or whatever, do you think there’s a chance it’ll, like, put us back?”
Ashia shrugged again, but she at least seemed to consider the idea.
“I certainly don’t know where to go from here,” Ashia said. “I suppose we can wait and see what will happen next.”
Hours later, enough sunlight had finally made its way through the canopy to stave off any lingering chill. Bridie was grateful because she was quick to feel cold and obviously hadn’t had time to grab any of her layers from her stash before this had happened.
“So, you say that in your city, I could make money selling blood?” Ashia asked, then smirked. “I would be rich.”
Hesitantly, they’d begun to speak to one another, and realized rather quickly they weren’t quite from the same place, or time, or . . . world. Ashia was involved in a war Bridie had never heard of; Bridie had spent way too long trying to describe a car.
“That’s why it’s better for me to just stay away from people,” Bridie said, rubbing her arm, feeling the thrum of blood still in her veins. “Maybe I need my own tower.”
Ashia had reluctantly admitted that Bridie was approximately the fourth person she’d ever met and tentatively described her previous home.
“You can have mine,” Ashia offered, tossing one of her knives at a tree. She’d repeated the same motion, over and over, managing to hit her mark every time. “I can never go back there.”
“It’s weird, isn’t it? Realizing you can’t go back home,” Bridie said, thinking of the several times Zugs had kicked her out. Not to mention the past she couldn’t quite remember. “Knowing you need a new way forward.”
Pausing, knife still embedded in the tree, Ashia pointedly glanced around. “Okay, a way forward when there isn’t weird magic messing with you,” Bridie said.
“There’s always magic to consider. It doesn’t go away, just as your blood cannot be changed. It stays with you,” Ashia said, impatiently sheathing the knife at her side. “Here. Let me.”
Bridie had been fumbling with her braid for a short while but settled her hands in her lap to let Ashia have a go instead. After all, she had experience braiding that long hair.
“You want to go back to a war?” Bridie asked, tilting her head back, pleased by Ashia’s huff of annoyance. “Maybe this is your chance to leave.”
“I have someone waiting for me,” Ashia said, voice strangely stiff. “And you? You want to go back to a city literally out for your blood?”
“Well,” Bridie thought about it, and all she knew and didn’t know about herself, and nodded. “It’s home.”
There was a sudden noise above them, like rain falling and wind blowing and the indescribable sweep of . . . magic.
“Curses,” Ashia frowned, shaking her head.
“I think that’s our way back,” Bridie said, standing. Long, red hair pulled back in a tidy braid.
They looked awkwardly at one another.
“Here,” Ashia said suddenly, thrusting one of her knives toward Bridie, hilt-first. Grinning, Bridie took it. “I liked meeting you, too,” she said.
And then the magic deepened, and the forest stirred around them, and the two disappeared.