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This was my entry for Cracked Flash Fiction Competition on 9 July 2016. The prompt was: ‘You could forget who you are in a place like this.’

I looked at the images provided and the ice just froze me more than I already was. Obviously the Cailleach – AKA Beira, Queen of Winter – wasn’t pulling any punches this year. Ah, now that’s a story…

 

castle of dreams

 

Castle of Dreams

By Ronel Janse van Vuuren

 

‘You could forget who you are in a place like this,’ I heard Tiny murmur.

I didn’t look back at the large man, though I knew that even he felt small in the huge library. I had felt insignificant from the moment the lights had illuminated where we were. The shelves went on forever, possibly containing all the books in existence.

Shivering, I followed the warmth to the other side of the mammoth room. Tiny trailed me as he always did.

‘Look, books about Faerie,’ he whispered.

I drew a book from the shelf, criss-crossed with silver on black leather.

‘Tir na nÓg.’

It froze my hand and I dropped it.

We slowly walked closer to the warmth. Whispers and shrieks made me cling to the shelves. I peeked around the corner.

Goblins were throwing books and imps into a large hearth.

I could hear Tiny gulp as he grabbed my arm and swiftly pulled me away from the warmth and the books through labyrinthine corridors and passages.

At last we found a door that would open. Though the creatures in the library hadn’t pursued us, my heart was still beating rapidly.

It was a music room. We didn’t enter. Something felt sinister about the piano gleaming beneath the chandelier.

A door stood open and invited us in. We couldn’t resist.

The ice and snow was in stark contrast to what we’d found elsewhere in the castle. But seeing the woman on her crystal throne… Everything suddenly made sense. She was Beira, Queen of Winter. We’d somehow entered Tir na nÓg. Probably when we went through the door labelled ‘Do Not Enter’. I shook my head sadly. Tiny squeezed my hand. I smiled at him silently, as always.

Her ice blue eyes pierced us. And I felt nothing but cold.

 

ice

 

So? What do you think? I had to rewrite it a little – it was nearly 400 words instead of 300 in its first version. Though I do think that it had something magical as it was. C’est la vie. I wrote this after I saw a link on twitter to the best bookstores every booklover should visit. And, of course, it’s winter with ice-covered grass and misty mornings.

twisted tale tuesday image

“We need to understand that greatness exists in all of us. We just need to learn how to apply it.” – Unknown

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