• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - Ashes And Their Consequences

A whole world on a single page!

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

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“Is it pronounced, ‘Afrite’ or ‘Efreet?’”

“Efreet. E. Freet. I detest when shrinks assume that it must be ‘Afrite’ in order to make puns. It is disrespectful. It does not lighten the mood.”

“Is this why you insisted our first session be a Skype call instead of in person?”

“Would you not be terrified at beholding an eight-foot monster with a flaming visage?”

“I have worked with so many abused beings that the Espiritus Liberatum board granted me an honorary doctorate. On top of the Doctor of Supernatural Psychology I earned at their West Coast university.”

“That is not a ‘no.’”

“It would establish early trust if you would kindly turn your webcam on when you are comfortable. Then you would see the awards and doctorates adorning my office walls. They don’t say, ‘Dr. Estus’ because I drew them in crayon.”

I power up the monitor on the desk, then activate the PC’s webcam with as fast of a hunt-and-peck as I can. The temperature of my skin does not elevate to the point where plastic or keyboard keys stick to my sausage fingers. This time. Light from thousands of pixels spills onto the second hand desk, the big-and-tall office chair I sit in, and the multi-colored banners draped along every wall and shelf of the apartment. Including over the windows. The deep redness of my skin is so near to black that both hands appear as shadows when I pull them away from the monitor.

On the screen, Dr. Estus’s water-blue eyes twinkle beneath wisps of white hair that belong in the sky and not on a man’s head. He purses thin lips and eyes me sideways through the webcam. “I thought you said you had a flaming visage.”

“I have lost almost all control of skin temperature and facial conflagration. Since my last sorcerer compelled me to burn the homes of his enemies to ashes, I get an anxious surge when people order me around. That is when you will see me erupt, so to speak.”

His eyes curve in an empathetic grimace. “It cannot be easy living with all flame-retardant clothing. That shows a regard for others despite what you have been through. Would you care to share your name?”

Hot relief prickles behind both eyes. “You did not tell me how to conduct myself. You showed concern.”

Dr. Estus gestures toward the framed degrees on his wood-paneled office wall. “And you showed trust in turning that webcam of yours on. Your trust will be honored while we speak together.”

The paper that his name is printed on is just that. Paper. Not vellum. Not sheepskin. Not any material sorcerers would use. But a sorcerer seeking to use me would know to hide all indications of this.

Then again, his walls are wood-paneled. Sorcerers do not keep flammable objects in their places of work or comfort. Only in their dens. And this office contains no carved circles, or lamps, or vials.

I smile for the first time in days. Weeks. “My name is Ferusa.”

His lips pull back in a thick-gummed grin. “Dr. Richard Estus. At your service. Is there anything in particular about your past or your sorcerer that you’d like to share?”

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