When I saw the prompt for today's story, I knew it would have to be set somewhere, sometime in the Myth and Science Universe. It's set toward the beginning of the universe's timeline, so while having already read "Don't Go Near the Well" is helpful, it's not needed to enjoy the story. It's set a year or so after the events of "Don't Go Near the Well" and a couple of years from "Flight from Mab's Castle."
You can also find the audio version here.
You haven’t learned anything until you learn monsters have nightmares too.
Rosalind liked to think she had a decent education for a woman of her station. She did well through all eight years of her schooling, and she continued to read her family’s Bible and any other book she could get her hands on. Then Mary didn’t come home in time for supper, and a host of fair folk burst in and carried them all away.
Sure there’d been the usual stories. Peter’s grandfather even claimed he’d cut a deal with Queen Mab over that cursed well on his property. Everyone knew them, but everyone knew they were just stories to frighten children into behaving.
Everyone was wrong.
Queen Mab was as real as anything, and now their whole family was obliged to serve as her “trained human pets” for the rest of their days. How Rosalind hated her!
Little Mary was a beautiful child, all rosy cheeks, big eyes as blue as the sky in summer, and soft curls the rich, deep brown of fertile soil when it’s freshly tilled. She had a ready mind and sweet, high voice she used to make mischief and then talk her way out of a switching in the next breath. The Fae Queen might have taken Mary and her family because of the breached contract, but she refused to let the girl out of her sight because she’d taken to the child’s mischievous nature and lovely appearance.
The fact Rosalind was allowed to serve as Mab’s personal serving woman and Mary’s nursemaid was small consolation. The queen had placed Mary under some strange bit of fairy magic that made the babe forget her own mother. She saw her child, held her child every day, but Mary didn’t know her. That alone made Mab monster enough in Rosalind’s eyes. Never mind the horrors she committed on a daily basis as she ruled her kingdom.
As Mab sat Mary on her hip to speak with her, the neckline of her gown shifted, revealing a fine, silvery scar ringing her neck. Rosalind averted her eyes before the queen’s attention fell upon her lest she receive another beating for insolence. She avoided Mab’s notice, but Mary saw more.
“You saw Mummy’s scar,” Mary said several minutes after Mab left the two of them alone.
She kept playing as she spoke, but she’d heard her use that tone before. It was deceptively off handed yet cold and full of frightening intent. It wasn’t a tone that ought to be coming from the mouth of a child of five, and it sent shivers down Rosalind’s spine.
“Mummy doesn’t like it when people see it,” said Mary. “She gets mad.”
“Please don’t tell her, Miss Mary,” Rosalind pleaded. “I didn’t mean too.”
Mary paused in her game, hands still outstretched but no longer tugging the magical strings that made the puppet dance. She tilted her head to one side, and dark ringlets slid over her shoulders. “Will you mention it to her?” Mary asked. “It hurts Mummy when people talk about her scars. They burn so much, she cries sometimes.” Mary blinked and resumed playing. “I don’t like it when Mummy hurts.”
“Of course you don’t,” Rosalind said. “I promise I won’t say anything about them again.”
Mary nodded, accepting her word, and Rosalind’s breath came easier. A glimmer of hope flickered to life in her heart. She didn’t know what it was, but the queen had a weakness. If she could discover what it was, they might outsmart her yet.
Each story in this series is 700 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first prompt like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below, send it to my Tumblr asks, Tweet it at me, or leave a comment on any of the audio stories from this series. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
In addition to working as a freelance writer, A. B. England is a novelist, all around geek, avid crafter, and a homeschooling mother of two.
She is an autistic creator with a love of mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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