The Haunted Fellowship
Chuck Wendig is an author of several books and his brilliantly demented blog terribleminds. On a weekly basis, Wendig gives a writing prompt and a word count goal and challenges his readers to put something together and post it on their own space.
This week’s challenge was taking 2 different genres and making them collide in about 1,500 words. Chuck gave a list of 20 different genres and link to a random number generator. For me, it chose Haunted House and Comic Fantasy. Here’s my attempt.
Please note: this is a quick exercise and has not suffered the scrutiny I would normally put it through.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a Wizard, an Elf, and a Dwarf walk into a haunted house…
Okay, there’s no punchline to that, but it really happened. I was there. You might think this was some grand quest to vanquish the evil spirits that haunt within the dwelling, but no. I’m sure they were on some quest or another, but nothing to do with that house.
It was raining hard. They ran for the cover of the house, bickering with each other as they went.
“A good wizard would cast a bubble around us and not a drop would fall upon our armor!” Dwarf said.
“Can you even hear yourself? Ridiculous,” Wizard said. “If you’re so concerned about stay dry, might I recommend tunnelling underground and staying there.”
“For the last time,” Dwarf shouted. “We live in mountains, not under the ground!”
They scrambled up onto the porch and stopped to shake water off of their clothes, hair, and belongings.
Elf grabbed his long hair and wrung water from it.
“I didn’t think you people could even get wet,” Dwarf said.
“What do you mean, ‘you people?’” Elf said.
Dwarf got right in elf’s face. “ELVES! Who in the name of the dark one did you think I was referring to?”
“Knock it off,” Wizard said. “Let us beg for succour.”
Wizard stepped to the front door and gave a knock. The door inched forward on hinges that creaked the whole way. Classic haunted house!
“Greetings,” Wizard announced, stepping through the doorway. “I wondered if we might impose on your lodging for the evening?”
They began making themselves comfortable, assuming the place to be empty. Boy were they wrong!
The house itself was small. More like a cabin. I know, the haunted houses that people tell the most stories about are huge mansions with drab paintings of dead people and full sets of armor standing around everywhere just waiting to come to life. It’s not the size of the house, it’s how haunted it is, I always say.
The travelers bunked down in the living room, which was kind of the only room. There was a kitchen, but without walls between it just seemed like one open space. There was a bedroom, but they had deemed it too small for any more than one of them. After a 10-minute argument over who deserved to have the room, they could only agree that no one got it.
They started a fire in the hearth and took out a meager meal from their supplies.
“Why is it that we’re always eating food in chunks?” Dwarf asked.
“What are you babbling about?” Elf asked.
“Look at this.” Dwarf held up his food. “A chunk of cheese. A heel of bread. This isn’t a meal as much as…ingredients!”
“You speak of stew,” Wizard said.
“Bah! Stew is all well and good, but I don’t always have a cooking pot and potatoes with me. What if we took these ingredients as they were and combined them.”
“How? Mash them together? Sounds disgusting.”
“Bah! You slice everything, like slates of stone, and stack them on top of one another. Kind of…” He mimed pressing something together with his hands. “Sandwich them together.”
Elf laughed. “And what would you call these sandwiched slates of food?”
Dwarf was silent for some time, looking at the bread and cheese in his hands. “Food stack.”
“Quiet! Both of you!”
Wizard stood and walked along the walls of the house, his head down.
“I could swear I heard laughter. I do not believe this hovel to be as simple as it seems. Remain alert.”
They decided to sleep in shifts. Elf would stay awake for the first few hours while the other two slept. He took out some parchment and a chunk of charcoal to sketch a picture. What he wanted to draw was a nice landscape with rolling hills and massive trees invading the sky. Only problem is that he wasn’t that good of an artist. He couldn’t pull something from his head, so he drew what was in front of him.
Two lumps of snoring annoyance, kitchen table on the left, wooden chair on the right. He head bounced from studying his scene to inspecting the lines he made on paper. Did the chair have a cross support? He looked up. It didn’t. Not only that, it wasn’t in the spot he had drawn it in. He could fix it, but who would know the difference?
He looked again and nearly dropped the charcoal. The chair back where he had originally drawn it, but it was turned around. His drawing showed the front legs and now he could only see the back. Was he in need of sleep that badly?
The fireplace would make a much better drawing and allowed him to turn away from the ever-changing chair. The hearth didn’t change each time he looked up, but old Elfie couldn’t help but checking on that chair every once in a while. Each time he questioned whether it had been that way the time before. He pulled his bow and quiver within reach.
After a few hours of second guessing himself and wondering if he was losing his mind, Elf kicked Dwarf a few times.
He snorted and tried to sit up, “Night! There are better ways of waking someone.”
Elf lied down, hand on his bow and eyes still wide open. “Be careful. Something isn’t right.”
“What’s not right?” Dwarf asked, but his companion only stared at that chair.
Dwarf grunted, got up and wandered around the room. He opened the cupboards and noticed a thick layer of dust covering the dishes and cookware. He sorted through it all to see if there was anything useful he could take. Not something he should have done. It wasn’t his to take.
Whispers came from the other side of the room causing Dwarf to freeze and listen. They were unintelligible. He took a step in the direction they seems to be coming from and they stopped.
He shrugged and wandered to the bedroom, still looking for things to loot, and the whispers came again. He marched over to his companions and stood over them. Elf hadn’t fallen asleep. It didn’t look like he had even blinked. Dwarf shook Wizard until his eyes popped open.
“What is it?” Wizard asked.
“Do you whisper in your sleep?” Dwarf asked.
“What in the light are you babbling about?”
“Whisper! In your sleep! Do you do it?”
“If I was indeed whispering in my sleep, I assure you, it was completely intentional. However, since I did not intend to whisper on this night, you can be sure that I did not.”
“Someone did,” Dwarf growled.
All three of them stayed awake from that moment. They sat around the fire, holding their weapons, saying nothing. The anger and mistrust in the looks they gave each other increased as the night wore on.
“Time passes slowly here,” Elf said, breaking a long silence. “It’s unnatural.”
Wizard nodded. “This place is cursed.”
Dwarf stood and raised his ax in the air. “I have killed hordes of dark elves, goblins, orcs, and some creatures I never did find out the name of! I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll die before you do even a bit of harm to me or my friends.”
The cupboard doors flew open and every single item inside flew through the air. They didn’t just fly across the room, hit the wall, and fall to the floor. That’s bush league haunted house. This stuff was in perpetual motion. When a plate collided with something else it just changed direction and kept going.
Dwarf dropped his ax, put his arms over his head and ran for the door. “You’re on your own, villains!”
Elf tried to shoot a few items out of the air with arrows, but that only made things worse. The arrows cycled around the room with everything else and were much more dangerous than the dishes.
“Let us leave this place!” Elf ran out the front door.
Wizard stuck around for a while. He really tried. His spells had little to no effect, no matter what he tried. Eventually, he too ran for the door, which made me sad.
I tried to make friends, but nothing I said could be heard properly. All the fun things I did just sent them running. Being a haunted house is lonely.