In the second round of the 250-word micro fiction contest, I drew genre – fairy tale, action – collecting water in a bucket, word – decline
The Price of Magic
A charmed village sat in the shadow of a mountain. But when its fortunes declined, Council consulted their books. It was past time to refresh the well with water from the magic spring. A child was chosen to make the climb and warned of the monster who lived there. Jill walked all morning. She filled her bucket from the spring, then heard bone-chilling shrieks. Was it the monster? Or someone needing help?
She followed the cries to a cottage, its door wide open. An ancient woman shifted on a narrow bed. “Thirsty,” she croaked.
Jill found a mug and dipped it into the bucket. As the woman drank, years disappeared from her face. She jumped out of bed. “Wait, you’re my age! Who are you?”
“I’m Jacqueline. Five hundred years ago, Council protected the village with a spell. The spring flows only while I’m trapped here, but a drink from it frees me.”
“They just abandoned you here? A child?”
“They said it was for the greater good. Every hundred years, someone comes for water, but my cries scare them away. You came for me.” She hugged Jill.
“Will you come with me back to the village?”
“Never! I shall see what’s down the other side of the mountain. You may join me if you’d like. I’ve been alone so long.”
“They told me there was a monster here.”
“They are the monsters.”
Jill grabbed Jacqueline’s hand and they skipped away, the bucket forgotten.
The village awaited its fate.