So, last week I awed you with my inspired tale of socks and carnivorous sheep. This week’s story is a bit… well, judge for yourself, of course. I don’t really know where these things come from and it’s a little vague. But I used a bunch of the inspiring offerings that you all provided, so this continues to be a good growing experience for me. Enjoy! Or… you know… applaud my effort in a polite and kindly manner.
(And be completely impressed by my artistic talents while you’re at it)
Short Story Ego-Boost Story 2
A Super Special Birthday Surprise
“Happy birthday, precious!”
Cleo sat up and rubbed her eyes. When the blurriness of sleep finally faded, she was greeted by huge glowing green eyes, razor sharp fangs spread in a wide grin, and an impressive pair of clawed hands, which gripped her shoulders, dragged her up, and squeezed the air out of her lungs.
“G’morning, m’ther,” Cleo wheezed, her voice sounding like a strangled frog.
“I’m so proud of you! Sixteen years old! You’re a young woman!”
Cleo rolled her eyes against her mother’s shoulder, inhaling the familiar scent of homemade bread and brimstone.
“We have such a day planned to celebrate. Starting with breakfast, of course. I’m making chocolate chip pancakes! Oh, and your Aunt Freddy and Uncle Stan are here already. And Marybelle, naturally! Everyone wants to celebrate the big day!” Sherry Warren danced out of the room, her clawed feet screeching against the stone floor.
Cleo groaned and stretched. Stanley Warren was her father’s older brother. Her Aunt Frederica was a harpy. A nice one, at least, as harpies go, but still loud and prone to shredding her food with her talons when she was annoyed.
Sixteen. Had she really been alive for sixteen years? It seemed like a lot more. She slid out of bed and went to stare in the mirror at the chaos of black hair on her head. Her normal human head. She wondered how long that would last. At least she could do something with her hair. Unless it turned into snakes like Aunt Freddy’s daughter Marybelle. Snakes didn’t take too kindly to shampoo and hairbrushes.
She heard her mother’s singing from all the way down the hall. It nearly drowned out the rush of the waterfall outside their front door, concealing the entrance. Her mother did love to sing. Cleo sighed and shook her head, but she couldn’t help smiling. Her mother loved celebrating her only child’s birthday in style, and this year was special.
Cleo took a shower and put on the pink dress her mother had bought her to celebrate her birthday. She hated pink. But at least this one didn’t have ruffles like last year’s rosy, tafetta confection. This one was bearable.
An hour later, Uncle Stanley had Cleo trapped on the couch as he discussed his latest business venture and how brilliantly he had closed the deal.
“MacReid didn’t want to agree to my terms,” Uncle Stan said, his voice a monotone. “But I just gave him a little encouragement and wham!”
Uncle Stan slammed his right fist into his left hand. The lamp on the end table next to Cleo’s head burst into flames. Cleo got up and grabbed a towel. After she put out the flames, she sat back down and listened to the rest of Uncle Stan’s pontificating.
“Awww, it’s the birthday girl!”
Cleo was swallowed in another overwhelming hug. Marybelle hugged with birdlike delicacy, but her snakes were much more enthusiastic.
“Hello, Marybelle,” she said, trying to smile.
“William and Anthony are coming over later. And Sally and Grace and Luke and Giles and…”
Cleo bit back a moan. Relatives. So many relatives! She should have known it would happen. She was turning sixteen. It was a big deal. But… the plethora of relations was beginning to make her feel dizzy. Why did she have so many cousins?
I suppose it’s Grandma’s fault. And Grandfather. They were the ones who felt it necessary to have seven children. Not to mention-
Aunt Pansy, Sally and Grace and Luke’s mother, launched herself at Cleo. Cleo hadn’t seen her come in, but that wasn’t surprising. Aunt Pansy turned invisible before she made an entrance. She liked the startling effect, though it had stopped working long ago on her family.
“Isn’t she such a grown up little miss?” Cleo’s mother crooned, coming into the room with a massive bowl tucked under one arm. A wooden spoon in her other claw dripped with chocolate cake batter. She gestured excitedly and spattered chocolate glops on the wall.
Cleo hated being the baby of the family. She was sixteen now. Didn’t that count for anything? Well, it would later.
The relatives continued to arrive. After lunch, the roar of the waterfall overwhelmed the front room once again as the large front doors swung open.
“Where’s my girl?” Cleo’s father boomed as he strode in. “Ready to become a true Warren? Ready to be a grown up now?”
Cleo smiled affectionately at her father. Steam rolled out of his ears and nostrils. He must have shape-shifted to come home from work. Having a dragon for a father had its benefits. She was never late to school. On the other hand, when Dad got a cold, they always ended up redecorating and she was usually missing a few toys.
“This is going to be so much fun!” Grace giggled. She was seventeen and had had her big birthday last year. Grace hadn’t exactly won the lottery, but she still seemed happy with the results. As usual, she had three small birds perched on one shoulder and a few larger ones dozing on the chair behind her.
“Yeah, fun!” Cleo repeated, trying to sound excited. She tried not to look as nervous as she felt. Her family’s special… quirk had never exactly been something she wanted for herself, mostly because she had no idea what the results would be.
Her cousin Haley swooped down through the front door and landed in the main room. Her black suit and mask clearly meant she was just getting back from a mission.
“Did you get him, hon?” Haley’s husband Winston asked, affectionately pecking his wife on the cheek.
“It was easy,” Haley declared. “They never saw me coming!”
“This calls for champagne!” Cleo’s father declared, striding into the kitchen.
Haley gave Cleo a quick kiss on the cheek. “Don’t want to hug you and get blood on your lovely dress,” she said with a wink. “I’m going to go wash up for the birthday celebration.”
At dinner, Cleo was placed in the seat of honor at the head of the table. She stared at the twenty-eight aunts, uncles, and cousins and her father who sat smiling at her along the lengths of the table. There was cousin Luke with the venomous fangs. He had a nice smile though. And cousin Anthony, who had only just defeated his archnemesis in an epic battle on a volcano. He liked to show people the pictures on his iPhone whenever he could bring it up.
Grace’s flock of attack birds chirped at her from their roosts over the arched door. Cleo’s mother was in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the cake.
“Here it is!”
Everyone cheered as Sherry brought in the giant cake. It was huge, but Cleo’s mother easily carried it to the head of the table. Cleo was impressed. Her mother had outdone herself. It was shaped like a castle, modeled after the ancestral Warren home where her family had first developed their impressive skills.
“Aww, look at the little hero imprisoned in the tower!” Grace cooed. “How did you make that, Aunt Sherry?”
As Cleo’s mother explained the tutorial she had used off of YouTube, Cleo examined the black-stoned castle. There was a moat around the edge made of blue frosting. Candy sharks swam in the frosting. The details were fantastic. Her mother had even put blood in the water.
Everyone sang happy birthday.
“Now, wish for the superpowers you want!” Aunt Freddy told her. Wishing didn’t make a difference, of course, but it was tradition.
Cleo shut her eyes and concentrated. What did she want? Shape-shifting abilities like her father? Laser vision like cousin Winston? A horde of creature minions like Grace’s birds? Snake-hair like cousin Marybelle? No, thank you.
She made up her mind and blew out the candles.
The press of family around her was, as usual, overwhelming. Cleo just wanted to be by herself to absorb the new developments. At sixteen, she now had her own mutant powers, just like everyone else in her family. She could contribute to the family business.
“What do you think, darling? Do you like them?” Her mother hovered, affectionately poking at the new appendages.
“They are a little… fluffy,” cousin Haley said, her mouth squinched in a moue of suspicion. Fluffiness was not something her family usually appreciated.
“And white,” cousin Anthony added with a frown.
“I like the feathers!” Grace commented appreciatively. But then, it was Grace.
Cleo flapped her giant white bird wings experimentally. This was not what she expected. Big, leathery dragon wings like her father’s when he shape-shifted. Spiny bat wings like her late Uncle Perry, maybe. Even sharp, black harpy wings like Aunt Freddy. But fluffy white wings? They were…well…
“Angelic!” cousin Giles pronounced.
There was a poignant, horrified silence.
“Well…” Cleo’s father said after a long, quiet moment. “Well… she could go undercover. They would never suspect…”
“Perfect!” her mother squealed, grateful for any reason to be proud of her daughter’s new mutation.
Cleo was immediately hoisted onto her cousins’ shoulders and carried around the house amidst cheers. She was finally inducted into the family business. Being a super-powered villain was an impressive calling, she knew. And she could go flying with her dad on the weekends now.
“And tomorrow I’ll take you out to destroy your first hero,” her father said proudly.
Cleo grinned. Her family was terrifying, but endearing. She submitted to the hugs and prepared for her new career.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s spastic story. It’s your fault, after all, right? For next week, give me three new words: One animal, one magical object, and one word that makes you smile when you hear it.
Be creative, be kind, and help me continue to grow as an author… or, at least force me to write. It’s character-building.