And we’re back with our next Challenge, one that might just be purrfect for you!
Batty puns aside, your challenge is to write a poem of any kind, from sonnet to free verse, of 19 lines or less, or a flash fiction story of less than 300 words around the theme
WITCHES AND FAMILIARS.
Whether pride or individual, you’re free to introduce us to the spacey ones (even alien), the wild ones who scare off bogeys and rule the forests, the familiars and shape-shifters, their hedgewitches and covens, and those who’ll never miss a good trick or treat.
Mood setting and more inspiration for you in this video!
HOW IT WORKS
See the CRES Submissions Guidelines for what we like (hint, no horror).
Enter your 19 line-or-less poem as a comment below this post. Limericks are always welcome!
Or enter your 300 word or less speculative flash fiction story as a comment below this post.
One entry per a person, please.
The Winner gets two Bs, a prize, and a pic: Bragging rights & a Badge, a gift subscription to Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores online magazine, and a .jpg of the challenge pic. Also the chance to be a part of any anthology we do.
Vote by commenting MY VOTE or similar under your favorite entry. Other comments on entries are welcome!
If there’s a tie, we’ll get Fran, editor of CRES, to make the final judgement.
Please keep entries and responses friendly to all ages and as lighthearted as possible.
Challenge ends on 2 November 2020. Winner will be announced soon thereafter.
As you now know, I’m no good a poet, but I just had to make a few scratches and hope for the best to get us started. We challenge you to do much better!
Happy writing and have a magical, woo-filled spiritual and spooks month!
* * *
All Nine Lives
Green eyes as deep as ponds.
Blue eyes as cool as clear skies.
Brown eyes burning with intelligence
or is it belligerence?
Whiskers to sense,
whiskers to tickle,
whiskers to brush
or is it wash?
This cat is fierce, keeping goblins at bay.
That cat is fun, making aliens run.
This cat is forceful, opening portals.
All nine lives here to help us find our way.
Why Witches Ride With Cats (287 words)
Compulsory sabbaths always threw Millie into a tizz. So much to pack and would it all fit on the broom? Tigernan watched impassively as Millie rushed around the room leaving stuff out then forgetting to pack them. Tigernan swished their tale and stalked along the shelves and bureau swiping essential items into the open bags on the floor.
Later, Tigernan stood sentinel by the broom as Millie switched the positions of bags, aiming for acceptable aerodynamics and weight distribution. Her familiar hoped on board, bringing everything into balance.
“Good kitty!” purred a relieved Millie, scratching Tigernan behind their ears.
Hours later, Millie sat precariously on the laden broom, Tigernan lounging on her best cloak, content behind their human windshield. A short ways from the sabbath site, the broom spluttered twice before nosediving. The landing was gentler than expected, save for the irate gnome they squashed who was incensed at their destroying his stolen treasure-chest. Millie tried to placate him but the obnoxious gnome sought vengeance. Bored, Tigernan jumped in front of the gnome. A hiss, a missed swipe, and the gnome menace was gone.
After a hug for her familiar, Millie tried to restart the dead broom. A look under the leaves revealed an engine out of good vibes. She looked at Tigernan, who looked back with slanted eyes, but they got onto the engine and let Millie stroke and scratch behind their ears. A few rumbling purrs later, Millie hoped on board, put her broom on autopilot and sat side-saddle, not daring to stop petting her purring familiar until the broom landed.
Safely arrived, Millie swore she’d be better organized next year. Tigernan swished their tail and smiled. In their mind, adventures topped organisation every time.
Update 5 November 2020
And our winner is Akua Lezli Hope with My Beloved Familiar. Congratulations, Akua! We loved your poem. Please email me at leennamythslegendsfairytales at cosmicrootsandeldritchshores dot com for your badge and prizes.
Well done to all the entrants. We enjoyed your writing and poetry and the imaginative ways you introduced the familiars. We’re looking forward to your participation in our next OpenMic Challenge. So, stay tuned and stay safe! May the magic and high frequencies stay with you!
I thought I should get a T-shirt: “My grandmother (that I never met) died, and all I got is this lousy black cat.”
Yeah, I know, too long for a T-shirt.
“You will take care of Lucifer,” Mother said when she came back from the funeral.
Grandmother Reynard (that’s my mother’s maiden name) was always a stranger to me. Mother won’t talk about the fallout. Something about father. Gran Reynard was never fond of him. Prescient, in retrospect: he walked out when I was seven.
Anyway, Mother placed the cat cage in my room, and retreated to hers.
I looked at the creature. Lucifer was admittedly a cool name, but I never was a cat person.
“You will be,” the cat said.
I stared at it. A strangled cry escaped my lips.
“No hysterics, please” he said. “Can you let me out?”
“What—what are you?”
“Witch’s familiar. Let me out, it won’t take long.”
“Your legacy. Will you open the cage?”
I undid the clasp, opened the door, and fell back as Lucifer came out.
“I’m to give you what’s yours,” he said. “Your Grandmother wanted to be sure you’d have it.”
I felt dizzy. “My mother—”
“She’s got hers from her grandmother. That’s the way. Now look in my eyes.”
I didn’t want to, but I did it. They were very green.
It was like being hit by lightning. As power surged inside me, everything became clear.
It really did not take long.
So I won’t need that T-shirt anyway, see? I’m more into the Goth thing, right now. Black lipstick and striped stockings and all that. And before you ask, Mother approves.
We often go out together, to meet the dark things in the wood.
She borrows my lipstick, sometimes.
I love the “No hysterics, please.” Sounds like a great familiar!
They usually say’ a family that plays together stays together,’
but in this case it’s
‘A family that does spells together does well together.;
Fly off and have a good time you guys!
She’s spun a web around four lovers now.
I try to warn them.
We must cuddle all night. Or else!
They think it’s a weird quirk
until they’re entombed in her web.
Eight eyes wait until morning
to watch my reaction.
Are they okay?
Two have mostly recovered.
The last two forgot. That’s progress.
Maybe I should get a cat.
Intriguing and strong first line 🙂
Sarah opened her door to find a large white and orange cat looking proud and puffed over a disemboweled bird, its entrails spread head to tail and wing tip to wing tip.
“Eww! Why do you keep bringing me dead things? You’re not even my cat.”
The cat’s pupils constricted before he darted in.
The cat whipped around. “What?”
“You talk? Am I losing it?”
“No, but I might if you don’t figure your shit out. You understand me because I’m your familiar. I’ve been dropping major hints.”
Sarah shook her head. “But…”
“But what? I worked hard on sacrificial rituals for you. I admit the first one, the mouse, was kind of phoning it in—nothing special, but I upped my game to a newt. Do you know how hard it is to find a newt? And how many spells, the eyes alone are good for?” His spine undulated.
“I capture a wild newt. Kill it and lay it out in the traditional manner. There’s no scratch of appreciation, no bowl of cream. No, you tell me to get lost.”
He stepped toward her. “What do I do? I try again—with a baby songbird to help you find your voice, take flight toward your calling, soar beyond whatever is holding you back. Do you have any idea how protective hatchling parents are? Or how bad I felt about it? At least until momma and daddy bird started scratching and pecking the crap out of me. I have scars and bald patches that may never grow back.”
He sat, wound his tail around his legs and looked into Sarah’s eyes.
“Bottom line, we’re done pussyfooting around. You’re a witch and I’m your familiar, so go get me some God damn tuna fish and let’s get on with it.”
Interesting, though I’m not sure I’d want to live with such an overbearing familiar!
“Where do I know you from?” Jamie asked, eyeing the strange bird perched atop the fence. It wasn’t unusual to see a bird on a fence in this town, but it was weird to see one like this. It looked exotic, like something out of a rain forest, not suburbia. Yet somehow, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary to Jamie when it landed, staring at him knowingly. He felt like he knew the bird somehow. Jamie approached with caution,not wanting to scare it. “You look familiar.”
“Precisely,” a female voice said from behind him.
“I’m sorry?” Jamie said, turning around.
“Right again,” the woman told him, brushing thick red hair from her face. It was then that Jamie recognized her and realized where he knew the bird from. He had met her at the Halloween party last night. She was peculiar and talking to the bird like it was a person. Jamie decided she was nuts and steered clear but not before snagging the amulet she dropped. He figured she was drunk or high and she would never know, but now he was questioning his judgment.
“I would just give it back and apologize,” the bird said. Jamie’s eyes darted to the creature, then back to the woman.
“He can make his own decisions, Clarence,” the woman said with a wink. She extended her hand, palm up.
Jamie frowned. “Pawn shop. Sorry.”
Clarence left the fence and pulled the amulet from his pocket with its beak. The woman shook her head and snapped her fingers. Where Jamie had stood was now a simple field mouse.
“No one likes liars,” she said.
LOL! No one likes liars! Unusual familiar and I like the interaction between them and their witch 🙂
Woo. If only he had told the truth. Maybe she’ll turn Jamie human again once hes learned his lesson. I like the name Clarence for an exotic bird familiar.
“Familiar’s Night Off”
In the deep velvet dark
Of midnight on All Hallows Eve,
The black cat is invisible
Except for the glint of her eyes
When they catch a sliver of moonlight.
It suits her to walk in silence,
Shedding her secret glamors
On this night when the veil is thin
and magic most potent is rife in the air.
Ah, such scents!
Deep as earth, these pungent powers,
Lying like ozone on the fallen leaves.
They renew her spirit, replenish the wellspring
of her otherworldly essence.
At dawn she will play human again
Walking in partnership with the one she chose to answer.
But tonight, as moonlight waxes and wanes,
She will be
Her old familiar self.
Beautiful! I think we all need to replenish ourselves like this being. Love: ‘It suits her to walk in silence.’
Thank you kindly!
“Shedding her secret glamors”!! Good line. I can just imagine it!
My Beloved Familiar
The best I know of magic is in this bond —
his indifferent affection protects
and shields me from harm
so much about him of which I am fond
His incredible scent of tea and spiced fur
his resonant and healing motorcycle purr
heals more than his injuries,
it cleanses surrounding space
He’s taught me how low decibel sound
protects with persistent, subtle grace
He sees the unseen and teaches me how to look
for interstitial realms spilling out of a nook
for dimensional wrinkles beyond my eyes
that unfurl with a breath or a directed sigh
More than facilitator he’s protector too
teaching by example what to do
to shift reality and reimagine time
to find treasures transcendent and sublime.
Akua Lezli Hope
Oh wow! I love the emotion and imagery in this. ‘Cleansing space with his purr…’ That would explain a lot!
This is beautiful. And what a great familiar!
In the still of the night,
I open the door.
Autumn leaves blow across the full moon.
Softly, on feet of silk,
Velvet Midnight black as space
Pads in through my door.
Nice 🙂 I wonder what adventures were had in that full moon…