Short Story Exercise: Zadie Phones Home

(rolled a D12, took that number of Rory’s story cubes, shook ’em up, lined them out in order they fell top to bottom, wrote short story)

Zadie giggled and shook her golden locks out of her face. Tor remained on his cot, stoic as ever.

“This is good news,” Zadie insisted, reaching through the bars of the cell towards him.

“No touch!” the guard yelled.

“I’m not,” Zadie replied sweetly, then turned back to her man. “Tor!  Look at me.”

The beaten warrior shook his head, his gaze trained on the cracks in the stone floor. He would be staring at this floor for the rest of his days, no matter what Zadie said. She could no more remove him from this dungeon than he could fly through the wall.

“You will see,” she whispered, then she blew him a kiss goodbye.


Clipping one of her golden curls and delivering it to the witch had been no trouble at all. Finding the hunchback had been easy. And now Zadie waited patiently with her bucket for the goat to give her the last thing she needed. Ten minutes later, her bucket filled with steaming scat, Zadie hurried back to the witch’s cottage. 

Having delivered all the goods, the witch gave her a map, a shovel, and a key. The full moon led Zadie through the trees near the creek, as detailed on the map. In the still night air, the sounds of the forest echoed in her ears. Rustling leaves, snapping twigs, and the overwhelming silence of all life informed Zadie she was being followed. She maintained her pace and resolutely balanced the shovel on her shoulder. And then she whistled a popular tune in the wrong key. Before long, the beast gave up its pursuit and Zadie was left alone once more.

She rounded the dome-shaped hill and found the stunted tree. Zadie plunged her shovel into the muddy ground and began to dig. Thankfully, the pirate who buried the treasure had been in a hurry. Zadie was yet to break a sweat when her shovel struck the wooden chest. 

Using her hands now, she freed the top of the chest from the earth and then used a hairpin to remove mud from the lock. But the key didn’t fit. Zadie didn’t even hesitate and began striking the box with the pointy tip of her shovel. As she splintered the wood, light erupted from inside.


When Zadie returned home, she carefully cleansed her body and set her hair in curls. Feeling content, she laid down to sleep. The sun awoke her promptly at dawn, and she completed her preparations. 

She arrived at the castle an hour later, and as before was immediately granted access to the dungeon to visit her beloved. The guards did not look in her basket, nor did they notice the pleased look in Zadie’s eyes. She wound her way through the tunnels, offering a smile to every guard she passed. When she finally reached Tor’s cell, she found his guard dozing slightly. She tapped on his chest and he awoke with a snort.

“Good morning,” Zadie said.

He glared back at her. “I was having a nice dream.”

“Oh I am sorry,” Zadie said, setting her basket on the floor. “Let me make amends.”

She cupped her hands around the large man’s ears and began to sing, loudly and off-key. The guard, bewildered and annoyed, couldn’t bring himself to strike the pretty woman or even to remove her hands from his ears. She moved closer to him, her voice rising in volume and in pitch until finally the guard screamed in agony and collapsed to the ground.

Satisfied, Zadie removed the treasure from her basket and carefully turned it over in her hands. The witch’s instructions had been vague. Zadie pushed on the red spot, but nothing happened. She tried to move the silver lever but only succeeded in bending her thumb backwards. 

“Ow!” she cried, putting her thumb in her mouth.

“Pass it to me,” Tor said, his hand extended through the bars.

Zadie shoved the object into his hand and backed away, her eyes on the guard who was still sobbing and clutching his ears. Tor expertly manipulated the device and a brilliant blue glow filled the dungeon. The guard on the floor felt immediate relief from the pain in his head, but in the same instant found that he could not move. Every guard in the castle had been paralyzed, while Tor’s fellow inmates simply fell asleep.

Suddenly a strange being appeared next to Zadie. It had large, dark eyes, pale gray skin, and wore a blood red cloak. The blue light glinted off the being’s hairless head as it turned to focus on Zadie.

“She’s with me,” Tor said gruffly.

The being closed its eyes and vanished. The blue light remained…and Zadie realized that her surroundings were now transparent. The bars that separated her from Tor remained, yet she could see through them. In fact, she could see straight through the walls of his cell, and looking up she could see through the ground, to the sky…and beyond to the nighttime sky.

“Take my hand,” Tor said.

Zadie stepped forward and placed her hand in his. Tor leaned back and, pulling Zadie along with him, flew through the dungeon wall, up through the earth, and into the sky. Zadie watched the village shrink beneath them and laughed.


Later, Zadie and Tor were enjoying a stroll on Tor’s home planet. They stopped on a bridge and Tor asked, “Would you like to get a magnifying glass and burn some ants?”