The Fantastical

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

June 10, 2014

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionWe found out that unicorns and rainbows aren’t always lollipops and sunshine. Darkness encroaches, mysteries unfold and heroes face challenges. Writers rework old mythologies  into new ones. The fantastical becomes believable with concrete and sensual details, and real stories borrow from fantastical elements.

June 4, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a fantastical element or creature.

Rainbows and Unicorns Delivered by Sarah Brentyn

Aww… How Sweet!

Sunlight filled the field of flowers. Light purple stalks of lavender stretched out as far as I could see, enveloping me in an intoxicating earthy-floral scent.

I stretched out my hand and gently ran my fingers through the unicorn’s silky mane. In the distance, luminescent rainbows filled the sky. Fairies flitted around the standing stones, darting around mounds of mushrooms—red and white polka dotted toadstools. The dragons soared much higher in the air, their iridescent scales shimmering in the sun.

I took a deep breath, plopping down in a soft patch of moss, and plucked a lollipop flower.


Conservation by Lisa Reiter

It was hot but the door was closed. She snuck up to peak through a gap. She’d not been allowed to the barn since the birth, but Mother was distracted with Tommy.

She’d heard the grinder going. The horses were stamping and whinnying just like when there was a fire in the hayloft. Her father and the men were holding the newborn while the blacksmith seemed to be branding its bleeding head.

A shout – she’d been seen! Father rushed to get her. Gently he said:

“You mustn’t tell anyone – there are bad people trying to wipe out the unicorns.”


The Scaly Curse by Amber Prince

The wind whipped her face as they soared across the night sky. She leaned forward, resting her face against the worn scales that made up his body. Their time together was coming to an end, they could both feel the changes in the air.

They were only given one night a year, as this was their curse. He wasn’t even granted his old human form to be able to hold her tight. This is how they would share their love until one died or one forgot the other.

But she didn’t care. The dragon was her father after all.


Dog Days and Phoenix Nights by Geoff Le Pard

It was morphogenesis; Milton was in flames but not in pain. Peter smiled. What next for the Staffie?

‘He’s smiling, Mum.’

‘It’s the sun. When they turn Grandpa to the window, it looks like he’s smiling.’ Mary slipped past the bleeping machines. ‘Here, I’ll move this.’

A horn grew from Milton’s head; Peter knew now. A unicorn. The flames engulfed the dog, leaving the horn pointing skywards. Peter felt happy at last.

‘There.’ Mary pulled the drip stand from the window so its shadow cut across Peter’s face. ‘I wish, he’d give us a sign.’

‘He’s peaceful, Mum.’


The Patrick Cat by Jeanne Belisle Lombardo

The rain stopped. She stepped through to the patio, drank in the scent of quenched earth and creosote, then moved to the Palo Verde tree.

Her hand on the smooth, green bark, she looked east. A rainbow crowned Fire Rock Mountain.

The she noticed it, the chain, hanging free from a bough. The terracotta winged cat that Patrick had given her was gone.

She toed the earth. “Where are you Patrick?” she whispered. “Don’t die on me again.”

A rustle near the rosemary. A cat the color of clay pawed the air. “Meer,” it said. And took flight.


The Secret Stall by Charli Mills

“I don’t wanna pick blackberries. Too many thorns. ” Libby stuck her throbbing thumb in her mouth.

“Look, Libby’s a baby.” Her brother Joe pointed and their cousins laughed. Libby headed to the barn. The cat was nicer than these five boys.

“Here kitty…” She could hear boy-chatter across the yard. It was dark inside. A shuffle sounded from behind the farm tractor. Careful not to trip over tools, Libby made her way to the back where a glow in the stall revealed a shining horn.

It was attached to a unicorn sleeping on a pile of quilts.


Heaven-Sent by Paula Moyer

Jean and Stan raced from their trailer-on-a-lake. The new puppy snoozed in the crate in back.

What a week. They had flown back from Harry’s funeral in New Brunswick to pick up the puppy, spent a few days on the lake with her. Now they were on their way to their vet appointment.

Stan drove. Jean drifted into a nap, but fought off fear. She had not had a dog for 40 years. Were they crazy?

Next to the puppy was an angel – with wings!

“Harry sends his blessings.”

Jean woke. The angel was gone.

So was the fear.


The Unicorn by Irene A.Waters

Jack hurt. Crammed in the barrow like a foetus in the womb he screamed but his taped mouth ensured silence and made breathing difficult. His ears hurt from the high-pitched squeak of the wheel barrow. A new sound, barely audible at first, came softly, a tinkling of tiny bells blown in the breeze. His breathing slowed as the chimes calmed him. He felt he was no longer alone with the barrow man but dismissed the occasional glimpses of the white, one-horned horse as pure fantasy. He had lost track of time. He no longer knew in what realm he travelled.


Unicorn Knights by Norah Colvin

She sat on the bed and looked around. Funny how some things don’t change.

They had left it untouched for all those years since her escape, waiting for her return. But she never did. Never could. Until now.

“You should,” she was told. “Make peace.” “Let it go.”

It didn’t look so scary now. They were both gone. She was grown.

Sunlight glinted on the unicorn. It had faded but waited still, on the night-table, for their nocturnal escapades away from cruel reality.

She fingered it for a moment, remembering. Then dumped it in the wastebasket.

“Sell!” she said.


OhNoYouDon’tMAN by Larry Laforge

A perpetrator entered the school, guns packed, ready to strike. In an instant he was frozen, locked in place by some unknown force. Baffled authorities apprehended the still figure.

The oddly named superhero, holding inexplicable powers and firm resolve, scans his worldwide monitors.

Within seconds robbers are stopped in their tracks in London. Terrorists in Prague can’t move. Kidnappers in Atlanta are immobilized. All are frozen still just before the dirty deed.

OhNoYouDon’tMAN suddenly bolts for his Brazilian monitor, where he abruptly thwarts a header.

There’s no way his favorite team is going to lose in the World Cup.


A Knight in Plastic Armor by Pete

Dylan trudged home, his sword clicking on the sidewalk behind his steps. Sir Galahad followed obediently, his dented cardboard horn still affixed to his head.

Dylan knew naught that a unicorn would incite such howls of laughter from the knights of the picnic table—a most shameful lot indeed, he thought piteously. Therewith Galahad barked and Dylan spun around to find Amelia, Sir Derrick’s older sister.

“Dylan.” She approached, shining with…well she was on the phone. “Here, you forgot your cake.” Galahad nosed the chocolate frosted offering.

“Thank you me lady, thou –“

“Come on Dylan, don’t push it.”


Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin

He woke with the sun and staggered to his feet. He felt clumsy, heavy head and throbbing forehead echoing the antics of the night before. The music. The dancing. The drugs.

He tried to join his siblings, but they showed him their backs. He trotted towards his mother, but his aunts barred his way.

Thirst raging in his throat, he cantered to the pool. Bending to drink, he caught his reflection: hooves; fetlocks; knees; chest; muzzle. Yet no longer a horse: projecting from his forehead, a huge horn spiralled to a point. He’d be living as a unicorn now.


Rainbows and Unicorns by Georgia Bell

The woman smiled, faint lines around her eyes crinkling as she shook her head. “God, was I ever that young?”

The girl stepped back into the shadows, unsure and uncertain. “Who are you?”

The woman extended her hand. “Come with me,” she said. “There’s not much time.”

“For what?” The girl moved into the sun again, drawn towards this woman whose hair sparkled with the same golden sheen as hers.

“To make things different,” she said. “To make things right.”

“How do you know which is which?” the girl asked.

“You don’t,” the woman said. “That’s why I’m here.


Splashes of Sadness by Sarah Brentyn

It had been three years since his sister drowned.

He sat in the gritty, damp sand near the edge of the ocean, to prove he wasn’t afraid. No one was at the beach. Not in November. He didn’t hear babies squealing or kids splashing. He didn’t smell coconut-scented sunscreen or baking bodies.

But he did smell seaweed. He did hear sirens. He remembered that day three years, five months, and seventeen days ago.

He was not alone.

Salt water splashed near him as the sirens sounded once more. Calling him like his sister. This time, he would join them.


Innocence Declared by Charli Mills

Sarah stood outside the log cabin, arms folded, watching a blackbird perch on a cattail. Inside Cobb argued with Mary. His wife. Was the man foolish enough to declare his relationship with Sarah was “nothing”?

The word stung. Silence consumed the cabin. Then Mary stepped outside, following Sarah’s regard of the marsh.

“What are you looking at, Girl?”

“A unicorn.”


“There, bedded in the reeds. She’s the color of sunlight with a golden horn.” Sarah pointed at the blackbird.

“I don’t see it.”

Sarah glanced at Mary. “I forgot. Only maidens can see.”

“Are you innocent?” Mary asked.


New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications.  All writers welcome!


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  1. Lisa Reiter

    What a great selection people! I’ve loved this prompt and the huge variety of responses. As I can see the influence of ‘all that is me’ and has been my experience, in my own, I wonder if the other pieces reflect the authors too. Or maybe I’m a novice novelist and stuck in the ‘what I know’ too much.
    Thanks for a great read xx

    • Charli Mills

      That’s an interesting observation, Lisa. I think the reason fiction writers are told, “write what you know” is because we do reflect ourselves in our writing. The facts may not be true, but the explorations–curious, joyful or painful–reflect our true path, revealing what we know 9or experience) in the world. I love these kinds of comments! Makes me think!

  2. Annecdotist

    Another great collection, Charli, and it’s growing. Wonder what’s next?

    • Charli Mills

      It is growing–we’ll each write three next time (ha, ha)! The variety and arrangement was fun to do. Working out my thoughts on versatility and diversity…coming soon…had to go out to eat huckleberry flapjacks this morning and took a detour to the museum in Boundary Co.

  3. Annecdotist

    Oh Lisa, we’ve posted simultaneously!

    • Lisa Reiter


    • Charli Mills

      I actually saw that in the wee hours of the morning, but I was cross-eyed from editing so I smiled at you both and dropped into bed…hope you felt the smile.

  4. Norah

    What an amazing compilation, Charlie! Well done all!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, well done one and all!

  5. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    A great compilation. Loved all the stories and their differences. Looking forward to the next prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      I love seeing the stories come together in compilation. I tried to arrange according to some interesting juxtapositions. Not sure if those come through as they seemed to me. But, yes–great stories! Thanks for contributing!

    • Norah

      Thank you for noticing, Anne. I wasn’t sure whether to mention or not. Anne – always diligent and inclusive. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Isn’t it nice when others help, sparing us the awkward you-forgot-me moment? Sorry about that–your flash is most memorable; I just got lost in how I was trying to arrange them yesterday.

      • Norah

        That’s okay, Charli. I wasn’t too worried. I appreciate that you have included it. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        The ease of digital editing! 🙂

      • Norah


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for catching that and for sparing Norah the awkward, “a-hem.”! Usually I just input each story according to how they show up on my FB page so that I don’t miss any, but I was experimenting with structure yesterday.

      • Lisa Reiter

        It can be hard to spot ping backs without comments in the list of responses in my feed. I’m not all that visually attentive either so have to crawl over it to double check. Missed Paula Moyer once – ouch!

      • Charli Mills

        Yes, Lisa–always my greatest worry! Sometimes the pingbacks get overlooked in my “pending” comments, too. Good thing we have such understanding participants!

  6. rllafg

    Just a quick correction regarding OhNoYouDon’tMAN. The posting here is the 100-word version from my Flash Fiction Mag site (LarryLaForge100Words), rather than the 99-word version I posted in the Comments section for the Challenge.

    Apparently OhNoYouDon’tMAN was asleep at the switch and didn’t prevent this from happening.

    • Charli Mills

      The great thing about digital publication–corrections are swift as OhNoYouDon’tMAN! The change is made. Wow, Larry, you’re really cranking them out–two versions a week! 🙂 Tell OhNoYouDon’tMAN I understand; heavy stuff going down yesterday. I thought I heard him at my computer last night trying to make the correction himself, but he encountered my s-l-o-w satellite internet that thwarts superheros of any kind.

  7. ruchira

    wow! loved reading each one of them.

    Fairy tales were no wonder were/are a hit 🙂

    Missed the boat cause of school closing, but will be on the look out for the upcoming fiction challenge, Charli 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      This was a great compilation, such variety! I love that comment on fairy tales as Norah is exploring the value of such in children’s literature. Hop over to her blog and read her post. School closing? For the season, like out for summer? I’m reading your book, by the way and enjoying it! Will have feedback soon.

  8. Sarah Brentyn

    As many others have said, this is a fantastic compilation. Kudos!

    I always enjoy reading through these but this prompt was fun and whimsical which brought out funny and sad and wildly entertaining. I love seeing the different responses each week but this prompt, I think, brought out more than the usual variety of responses. I particularly enjoyed reading the flash from writers who were unsure of this prompt and almost didn’t write this week.

    • Charli Mills

      This rocked…any more clever ideas? 🙂

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Oh, geez, I hope you’re kidding. Your idea of a utopian society? Story told from the viewpoint of an ant? Surprise ingredient in someone’s supper? 😉


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