The hero we deserve

Day 01: First
No Novel November 2020

Snow covered plant and road in city by Josh Hild via Unsplash

It wasn’t the first time I’d seen her.

She tiptoed down the street in battered high heels, purse clutched to the midsection of her bulky coat, eyes lingering on each department store window as she pushed against the current of bodies streaming past her in the holiday rush.

I watched her slow progress, camouflaged in the falling darkness by my cape as I paced her from adjacent rooftops, praying sirens wouldn’t summon me away again, that this time I could see her home, perhaps even speak to her. Let the city fend for itself for an hour.

We turned the corner out of the shopping district, twinkling red and green freckles on her cheeks fading as she clicked down the sidewalk, the swoosh of my leap between two brownstones covered by the swish of her brown hair as she looked furtively around before crossing the street.

Then there it was. After weeks of cold vigils and interrupted escorts: her front door.

A burnt-out street light encouraged me to silently drop down into the alley beside her.

But as I detached from the shadows into her full view, my gut froze as solid as the ice we stood on. There was no flicker of recognition. No sign she knew the mask. No excitement at my presence.

What there was was mace. Lots and lots of mace. And a devious smile.

It wasn’t the first time I’d seen her.

I wish it had been the last.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

Army of bun

A legendary bunny preps his troops for a raid on the most notoriously guarded vegetable patch in the world.

Bunny rabbits in military outfits - Rabbit Army detail by Fatemeh Kashfi via Art Station

“Listen up, you sorry crew of kits! This ain’t your momma’s vegetable raid, so pay attention or you’ll catch the business end of MacGreggor’s hoe in that fluffy butt of yours!

“Operations begin at 0500, half an hour before the old man walks out the door of that rundown heap of thatch he calls a house. Five minutes in, five minutes out gives us exactly twenny minutes—you hear me, Muffins?! TWENNY—to fill those double-extra-large potato sacks you’ve got slung over your miserable backs with anything BUT potatoes. We’re talking lettuce, cabbage, gooseberries, blackberries, carrots, but if you bring any gawdfersaken parsley back to HQ you WILL be on woodchip-clearing duty for the the rest of your hitch!”

A quivering paw in the back row shot up.

“By the great thundering gawds of the sky and sea, seriously, Huggy?! You got something to add? This better be good or it’s another turn in the pellet pit!”

It dropped again.

“That’s what I thought.”

The huge brown buck surveyed the tactical retrieval unit in front of him, then took a huge bite off the end of the carrot he’d been gesturing with and grinned at his men.

“Follow my lead, boys, and that son of a jackalope will never know what hit him—or my name ain’t Sargent Major Peter Rabbit.”

Probable cause

You think it’s a standard B&E gone wrong, except the perp didn’t take anything. Or did he?

Blue LED light strip light trail slow motion

“Wait ‘til tomorrow if you want to see the place for yourself. Forensics just left, so the evidence is headed your way, but the smell isn’t quite as past as the victim.”

You hang up without saying goodbye. Eight years working homicide has squeezed all the niceties out of you to make room for other skills. The kind that catch killers.

Whatever happened here happened quick. Started as a B&E. Ended in blood. The guy must’ve had bad intel. He didn’t expect to be met at the door with a bat. You tiptoe around two dotted brown lines into the kitchen where the victim’s knifeblock turned against him. Struggle over, the perp’s trail heads right past a couple grand in electronics and doodads and out the fire escape window. Pretty straightforward.

What you can’t get out of your head is why. What was this guy after that he’d kill for, then leave without? Seems pointless.

Your heart shrivels up and drops into your colon.

Unless whatever it was was on the victim.

Unless those wounds were intentional.

Unless this wasn’t a break-in gone wrong.

You close your eyes and replay the crime. You open your eyes. You open them again.

The third trail accuses you with its brightness. The glittering blue of a severed magical soul slides from the door to the kitchen, skips a few feet, then bleeds over the windowsill. You don’t know why you didn’t turn on your second sight right away. Overconfident.

You follow the trail to the fire escape, down the alley, into the bustling city beyond where it pools and disappears at the curb.

You stare down 59th Street headed towards the goblin farmer’s market. A thin smile creases your face. It’s been a while since you’ve been Down-Downtown.


Sometimes. it’s too late to get to safety. Sometimes, all you can do is watch.

A woman touching a lavender field - image via Pixabay

It was the sound that finally got her attention. The swaying of the lavender as she harvested the dewy stalks didn’t register as suspicious; the light changed too gradually to notice; and by the time she heard the freight train thunder over the music in her headphones, she was too far out in the field to make it anywhere near safety.

Her basket slid off her back and spilled onto the ground as she turned to see a funnel of grim fury whipping itself toward the barn. Toward the house. Toward her.

She watched boards explode into splinters that disappeared into tangible wind. A table leg flew past her head so close the whistle surpassed the roar. But she didn’t flinch. She just stood and watched, hands held low to let the flowers caress her fingertips.

It was the scent of lavender that finally overwhelmed her. Billions of petals saturated the air with soothing perfume to muzzle the bite of petrichor and churned earth, the haze of purple confetti buffeting her suddenly light body until it simply floated away.

What you see is what you get

Day 30: Stretch
No Novel November 2019

Large antique mirror in frame exploding with smoke

My fingers brush the ledge, the tips of my boots barely touching the cavern floor, the rest of me teetering over an open pit.


I wobble and throw myself backwards onto my pack. Any other expedition, and I’d have gone home already. But returning empty-handed isn’t a mere academic failure this time. This time, the fate of humanity is at stake.

I know. It sounded stupid in the proposal, too. But this isn’t just any artifact.

Muscles shaking, I get to my feet and glare at the gap. I’m so close I can see its light reflected on the ceiling of the chamber above—I just have to get up there.

Only one thing left to try.

I shed everything with weight, and before I can talk myself out of it, I’m running as hard as I can, flinging myself through the air, arms outstretched—all in. My hands smack solidly on stone. I scrabble up, dragging myself to safety against a large boulder.

On top of which rests a glowing silver mirror.

Breath ragged and hands shaking, I grip the frame and raise it to my face. “Show me my true worth,” I whisper.

I wait for the image to change, to reveal my soul’s hidden value, to transform me into someone beautiful or rich or successful.

But nothing happens.

I wait longer. Still no change.

Eventually, it dawns on me that it won’t, no matter how long I look.

That’s when I start to cry. Not because the mirror is a fake, but because it works. Humanity isn’t ready for this. What will happen to society when people learn that true worth can’t be earned or bought—that they already have it?

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.