Here's a glimpse of my current work (title withheld for now), a children's novel, in which Sparkles, a fairy with underdeveloped wings, is the heroine. I'll reveal more once the revision is done.
An enormous soot-black toad, covered in bulges and bumps, sat opposite Sparkles in the grass, droning mournfully.
“When a child is startled awake,” he was saying, “from a nightmare, you see, the nightmare ends up here. It’s intended to just fade away. But many nightmares are bold, refusing to give up the ghost. They will not yield to their fate.” He paused to clear his throat. “It is I who must keep them bound, or they’ll torment the child again. If a bad dream tries to escape, I pounce and swallow it whole.”
Early evening shone soft in his eyes, but the moon was hard and cold.
“See these swellings all over my skin? Each one is a—” Suddenly leaping across Sparkles he met a shadowy, indistinct shape, slipping eel-like from the ground. His tongue lashed out, a quick black whip, and it was done. He sat in the grass again, as if nothing had taken place. “—nightmare I’ve swallowed.”
Sparkles was speechless. She repositioned herself to sit facing the toad once more, and studied his disfigured form.
The toad’s eyes bulged, he cleared his throat again, and smiled his serene, horizontal smile. “Another dream down,” he said. “Though occasionally I miss one. They’re sneaky.” The tip of his tongue passed over his lips. “Tasty, in a gristly sort of way.”
Sparkles shivered at the thought, and continued staring.
“If you’re waiting for a new bump to appear,” the toad said, “that won’t occur until morning, when I climb back under the stone.”
“Oh,” she said, blushing a little. “I didn’t mean to gawk.”
He blinked his eyes slowly as if to say, It’s quite all right.
She motioned to the crumbled walls. “This place, these ruins—so that’s what they’re all about, a nightmare burial ground?”
He nodded. Raising his flimsy four-fingered hand, he swept it across the horizon. “The Ruins of Nhyte straddles the line between Here and There, between the world of humans and the world of fairy folk.”
Sparkles gasped. She had never heard such a thing.
“If you proceed that direction,” he pointed to the land beyond the tower, “you’ll come to a stream. It’s the Stream of Consciousness. Once you cross over, you’re in the human realm.”
“I ... I had no idea!” Her wings shuddered at the thought; it was too frightfully strange. She stood to get a better look, even a glimpse, but fog was gathering there.
The toad settled into his spot. “Now I must be watchful. Children are going to bed.”
text & art © 2015 by Troy Howell