The Field Guide to Fantasy Birding (for enthusiasts only)

In the world of bird watching competition can be intense, sometimes even deadly, sometimes even magical.  There are birds you can’t see unless you devote your life to seeing them, and a few are in this short story with an aesthetic best described as ‘birdwatchingpunk’.

The Field Guide to Fantasy Birding

(for enthusiasts only)

by

Blaine Arcade

NAME: boreal chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus) download

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: a four to six inch bird which may weigh as much as an ounce. Gray wings and a brown streak across the head are the most common features, but the easiest way to identify it is by its white face with gray patches at the sides. It also has short wings and a short dark bill.

DIET: feeds mostly on seeds and insects by probing in bark and across the forest floor. It favors wood beetle larvae most highly.

RANGE: Maine, Vermont, Alaska, Canada, and New York. Migration happens quickly, with hundreds of miles traveled in just a few days.

BEHAVIOR: not picky when it comes to choosing a mate, though they will often mate for life. Boreal chickadees rarely build their own nests, instead choosing to occupy the abandoned efforts of other birds like the woodpecker. Only one egg is laid, its size surprising given the diminutive creatures that produced it.

To nearly every person who looked at the amateurishly-produced paper it was just a page out of a field guide, a work in progress at best, something to keep an old lonely man busy. Even his family members would not have recognized it for what it was, because they, even the widower’s children, didn’t recognize him for what he was. Continue reading

Rather Spartan

In this thriller/horror short story the Snake War Museum is just one of many, an opportunity for Claire to confront history.  It’s just her, the collection, and the audio guide… at least until the she hears her own name in the headphones…

Rather Spartan

by

Blaine Arcade

If a museum does its job well, its physical location in the world is inconsequential. The best place for the George Washington museum might be his birthplace, Westmoreland County, Virginia, but the best museum would be the one that had his actual shoes, his actual buttons, his actual tools, his actual quills and inks, wherever they were, even if the collection was accidentally shipped to, say, Ulverstone, Tasmania. Continue reading

Eyelids of an Aristocrat

Quarantined?  Isolated?  What a perfect time to read a horror short story.  Everett finds himself trapped underground, prisoner of a most peculiar family, missing their sanity as well as a few other pieces…

Eyelids of an Aristocrat

by

Blaine Arcade

Overboard

This account exists, in various lengths, a hundred times over, and the world over at that too. I suspect this will be the longest version of it, and the most difficult to stuff in a bottle or box, but I’m going to bury it the deepest as well. It brings me joy to imagine the sense of reward of reading it to be directly proportional to the effort put in to acquire it. Continue reading

Blaine’s Short Story Blurbs

Well, they aren’t quite blurbs, given that these stories are, you know, short, but now that we’ve got descriptions for our books and novellas available, it’s time to move onto these.

If you don’t know me, I’m Blaine Arcade, a speculative fiction writing hobbyist, and I write lots of out-there science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, and a little horror.  All of my stories are available here and free to read, so please check them out if you’re interested.  Happy reading!

Mary Annette’s Big and Beautiful Dog and Pony Show

Somewhere in the enchanting space between dinner theater and the wild west, performer Madrigal Mora finally gets his shot to use that ol’ dirt-kicking magic, but the owner has seen fit to cast him as the villain… Continue reading

I Thought it was the Cat (horror flash fiction)

I Thought it was the Cat

by

Blaine Arcade

Demoted for a raise. Strange I know, but it’s the only way to put it. They wanted me out of the building after the ‘softball incident’. I won’t go into detail about it other than to say they’re all sore losers.

It was mutual. I get an extra five K a year and I use it to pay the price of being near all our distribution centers on the East coast. Being equidistant from three truck stops in the middle of nowhere puts you, you guessed it, in the forgotten rusty storage shed of nowhere’s overgrown backyard.

No partner. Had one, but they also didn’t care for my gloating after the softball incident. So when I got there, town called Cracklebranch, my roommates were a pair of suitcases. Got a tiny house on the cheap. Couldn’t hear anything at night. No crickets. No birds in the morning either. Continue reading

Regular Romp #23: KLS and KWS: Drop Outs

Regular Romp is an interactive fiction activity over on our Twitch stream where I ask a regular a series of questions before turning their answers and a corruption of their username into a short story.  Stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade if you’d like to participate.

starring

Klskws

(The adolescents and children held in the RVR facility have been there so long that their methods of communication have drifted away from the language practices of the world they were stolen from. At times it can be difficult to catch their meaning, given the preponderance of acronyms in their speech. This record provides helpful notes to clear up the issue.) Continue reading

Regular Romp #22: Killed and Chronicled by Bloodwriter Lee

Regular Romp is an interactive fiction activity over on our Twitch stream where I ask a regular a series of questions before turning their answers and a corruption of their username into a short story.  Stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade if you’d like to participate.

starring

Writerlee

After another simple night’s work, Bloodwriter Lee slid across her roof and landed on the balcony, red-covered book in hand. The life and Times of Augustus Jules was its title. The crisp night air burned in her lungs, and she felt so alive that she couldn’t quite go inside yet. She flicked the volume open to the back and read the final paragraph: Continue reading

Twitch Stream Story: A Wren Landed on the Doorstep

Prompt: A female assassin turns out to be a queen, hired by the royal family that stole the throne from hers.

We got another letter from her,” Arch-Adviser Grackle said nervously, nearly wiping the sweat from his forehead with the envelope. He spoke in hushed tones, because anything louder might get his name written down inside one of those black letters with the gold writing. Continue reading

Cracker Warmer (Horror Short Story)

Author’s Note: This story is closely based on a nightmare I had, written up the following night and only modified enough to make some amount of sense.

At sixty-three it was the oldest thing out there, living or inanimate.  The house behind it was only forty-two.  Everything older was off in the dark trees, grumbling, bundling up for the whipping wind of the late November night.  The device was ready for anything, having weathered plenty of Cayuga winters already. Continue reading