Like a Fairy Tale

This story is in response to Bluebell Books’ Short Story Slam week 17 prompt, and is a continuation of a story I started in week 15, The Last Grain of Sand. The second part of the continuing saga, Hope, was posted on Bluebell’s Short Story Slam #16.  If you’d like to read the first two parts of the story prior to reading this one, click on the titles below. In any case, I hope you enjoy this one. I call it Like A Fairy Tale.

Part one: The Last Grain of Sand

Part two: Hope

Part Four: Then There Were Three

Part Three:

Like a Fairy Tale

 I slept in a big farmhouse and had my first good meal, having survived on cold canned goods the first three days after coming out of the research bunker. The acrid smell of the air and rain had made me cautious of anything un-sealed. Evidently the emergency generator hadn’t stopped running long before I reached the farmhouse, because the refrigerator was still cold and everything in it was in good shape.

I fired up the gas grill on the porch, cooked a huge porterhouse steak, washed it down with a six-pack of beer, and slept like a log. I awoke just before ten the next morning.

The air outside of the city seemed cleaner, and my hope was there were areas unaffected by whatever had killed every person and everything mechanical in Houston. I had to believe it was true, or there was no reason to go on. My wife and daughter might still be alive and wondering if I’d survived.

The emergency generator had obviously been working not long before I arrived at this house; the refrigerator, too. That had to be a good thing. Nothing in Houston had worked. Whatever had killed the people had somehow affected the cars and anything mechanical. I’d been thinking about it, and thought maybe it had had some kind of effect on petroleum products. I chuckled, thinking it ironic that the lifeblood of a nation could be the very thing it perished by.

Another thing was bugging me; all the farm houses out here east of Houston were empty, but there were no bodies, and it seemed everything was intact. Had folks in the rural areas fled? Had they been taken? I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I had a very uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.


The farmhouse I’d slept in was miles behind me, but every so often I’d pass another one. It was almost noon, and the backpack I’d taken from the little boy’s room was getting heavy. I’d packed too many cans of food in it, not thinking about the weight.

I stopped beneath a live oak tree, thinking I’d lighten the load, but as I shrugged the backpack off and started to sit down on a large rock beneath the tree, I saw something to the right of the old house sitting about a hundred yards off the road. From where I was, it appeared to be a garden plot, but there was something very odd about it. I left the backpack on the ground by the rock and started toward the garden.

As I got closer, I was amazed to realize what I’d seen was indeed a garden—a pumpkin patch actually—consisting of a half dozen or so of the largest pumpkins I’d ever seen. I was about twenty feet from the pumpkins when a sound caused me to stop in my tracks. It was the sound of a woman’s voice, and it seemed to be coming from the other side of the giant pumpkins.

Moving quietly, I slipped behind a tree and peered around it.

It was like a fairy tale.

The woman—I guessed her to be in her early twenties—was sitting atop one of the giant pumpkins. She held a mug of something hot in her hands—steam was rising from it—and appeared to be talking to a brightly colored bird sitting on a limb just above her. The bird’s head was cocked to one side as he watched her and seemed to be listening to her soft sweet voice. Further down the limb the bird was perched upon, there hung a pair of shoes. Sunlight twinkled on them, and I blinked then rubbed my eyes, thinking I couldn’t be seeing what I thought I was seeing. The shoes appeared to be made of glass.

As I was trying to rub the illusion from my eyes, the woman suddenly stopped talking, and when I took my hands away from my eyes, she was gone.

Copyright © 2011 C. Mashburn

Image Credit: Chance of Sunshine: Cinderella On Her Tea Break


  1. terri0729 said

    I like the way you have carried these on from one prompt to the next, well done Charlie!! Blessings, Terri

  2. ManicDdaily said

    It’s great that you can incorporate these into your ongoing story. That’s terrific. K.

  3. Usha Dawn said

    WOW! what a story…I loved the soothing and relaxing part in the entire story…I liked how you imbibe the reality and the dream 🙂
    Keep writing

  4. your story draws audiences, very well written lines…

  5. Sherry Mashburn said

    Oh! Come on!!! You’ve left me hanging again.

  6. so nicely crafted.. at first I thought its about some industrial disaster n something like that but than it took a twist, n beautiful it was.

    Enjoyed reading !!!
    Random Scribblings

    • You can never be sure what twists and turns might be ahead in my stories. I love to keep the reader guessing what might happen next!
      Thank you for visiting and reading my story!

  7. bijaylaxmi said

    Sir you are a great narrator having magical thoughts of your own….. Love the continuation….

    • I like to think my mind is a wonderfully mysterious thing! I’m glad you enjoyed the stories. They will be continued in the near future!

  8. Great story, very imaginative!

  9. So much imagination…a story of disaster finds an ending in a fairy tale…Nice work!!

    • It’s not over! I hope to carry this on with future story prompts, but if not I will do so with a weekly post.
      Thanks for the great comment, Susie!

  10. Kay Salady said

    Beautiful writing, Charles. xoXox

  11. Morning said

    beautiful transition, great description on the image with shoes, bird, tree, and so on included.


  12. Sheelonee said

    You’ve read Katherine Mansfield’s short stories?You have a somewhat similar style, i was thinking.Many threads run parallely. 🙂

    • I’m afraid I’ve not read any of Katherine Mansfield’s stories. I read a lot every day, though, so I’m sure my style emulates many of the writers I frequently read.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  13. Jamie said

    Clever inclusion of the prompt into your continuing story. Great description.

  14. a wonderful fairy tale, Charles! I would love to hear more! You should consider a novella! 🙂

    Here is a link you might be interested in, something I came across today I want to spread the word about, maybe you might assist? 🙂

    • Thanks, Kellie! I hope to continue this via the prompts on Bluebell, but at some point I might pull out and go with it.
      I’ll check out the other thing in the morning. Thanks!

  15. you are a garden with pumpkin patches, wow.

    amazing that magic happens in fiction and makes life rich and beautiful.

  16. elizena said

    You have me enjoying and looking forward to each chapter of your story Charles. I love how you’ve made each prompt into part of your story and still it continues to draw me in and make me care for the main character. Now, I’m sitting here wondering if somehow, somewhere he can find a bike that might make his journey easier. I want him to find his family so badly. LOL!! Good read!
    May your celebrations of our Savior’s birth be mightily blessed!

    • It is so cool that you are enjoying the continuing story! I love it that you are so involved with the character!
      Our celebrations are awesomely wonderful, and I hope the same is true for you and yours!

  17. poetryroad said

    Charles, this was so good. You are so talented! The way you carry the story from each week is so creative! Happy Holidays!

    • Thank you very much! I am having fun waiting for each prompt and seeing how I can make it a part of the story!
      I’m so glad you are enjoying it! A very merry holiday season to you, too!

  18. A very good read Charles.
    Happy Holidays!

  19. greeting from Malaysia =)

  20. Mikael said

    So he’s hallucinating now? Haha… must be a side effect of the acrid rain.

    • See! Third chapter, and you’re still going, “wth?” That’s how you get people interested, and keep ’em turning the pages! (You knew that already, didn’t ya?)

  21. Kirsten said

    I wonder if we were just introduced to a post-apocalyptic Cinderella, a figment of the character’s imagination, or a lady who is delusional from the chemicals and thinks she’s Cinderella? 🙂

    But frankly what’s most important is he discovered fresh pumpkins that weren’t killed by the worldwide disaster & birds too! Which gives hope that there are other people around too!

    Interesting…very interesting…

    • hmmmm… the bird… I think there was just one… odd. Did it make a sound? hmmm

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