A.J. is a writer and English teacher from Chicago. He specialized in the study of speculative fiction while pursuing his M.A., and now he writes both SFF criticism as well as his own short fiction ... [+]

Image of Short Circuit - Short Circuit #08
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who was stolen by a terrible necromancer. He and his rotting, clanking horde abducted her from the palace gardens and carried her away and away until the golden fields of her kingdom decayed into marshland. He took her to his fortress lost deep in some forsaken bog and locked her in its tallest tower to await her parents' ransom. The necromancer grinned, flashing a tooth of brightest jade set amongst the others, and bid her to enjoy his hospitality. Then he left her for his laboratory in the basement to continue with his foul experiments.
After he had gone, the princess recovered from the lining of her bodice a small mirror. She had been given the mirror as a gift on her twenty-first birthday by her strange Aunt Maeve who, even more than her parents, was intent to see the princess married. It was strikingly humble compared to the lavish gifts of gold and silk she had received, being naught but a small rectangular mirror set in an applewood frame. But Aunt Maeve revealed that the mirror contained a secret.
"I have enchanted this mirror with a spell called PrinceMatch," said Aunt Maeve. "Keep it with you, and if you're ever in trouble, PrinceMatch shall deliver you a hero. The mirror shall show you the noble visage, and you need only wave a finger rightward over the one you desire, and he shall come to you."
The princess lay on her cot and peered out past the bars, afraid of the undead guards standing watch outside her cell. If their cataract-covered eyes caught any glint of the mirror, however, then their worm-riddled brains failed to make sense of it. The princess touched the glowing glyph at the center of the mirror, and her reflection was lost as a mist spread across the glass. Noble visages then began to appear one after the other across the mirror's surface. She studied the faces and read the inscriptions that came paired with each.


Prince Charming, 26
7 kingdoms away
6'2, cut, you won't find a more beautiful thing this side of ever after ;) Are you being held captive by a band? A legion? An army? It doesn't matter because when I enter the room, every other thing there dies of envy.

"If only I could be assured he was as good with a sword as he was with a comb," the princess said.
Swipe left.

Prince Aladdin, 23
8 kingdoms away
You want rocks? I can put you in a palace so rich there's rubies and diamonds in the windowsills. You wanna travel? I'll take you on a wine tasting tour that starts in China and ends in Africa. Silver bowls, scented baths, stallions pulling spinning rims . . . what else is there to say? Hit me up and I'll make all your wishes come true.

Swipe left.

Marquis de Carabas, 21
4 kingdoms away
My wits are sharper than any sword, Chérie, and with them I'll make quick work of whatever quandary you've found yourself in. If you're not a cat person, swipe left :3

"Is this one even a prince? Less a cat person and more a catfish, methinks."
Swipe left.

Prince Heinrich, 24
5 kingdoms away
This is just a skin condition. Temporary. I'm a very strong and handsome prince, actually. I'll rescue you and take you with me to my father's kingdom where I'll marry you and love you as long as I live. All you have to do is kiss me first.

"Why can't they just be honest and true? This one's kind of cute for a frog, at least."
Swipe left.

Ivan Tsarevich, 19
11 kingdoms away
I'm shooting for love, and you've found the magic arrow

The princess only groaned when on the mirror's surface she saw not a picture of Ivan's face, but of his "magic arrow."
Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left. The lonely princess searched her mirror for hours, but most of these princes seemed even more ghoulish than the necromancer. Finally, she set the mirror aside and cast her head into her pillow.


The knight began his assault in the small hours of morning, dropping from his wyvern mount through silver moonlight into the fort's highest tower. He crashed through the shingles with his magnificent painted armor and crushed an unsuspecting soldier beneath his gilded greaves. The princess awoke and gasped to see the knight surrounded by her undead guards, but her fears proved unfounded. The knight drew his rune-inscribed bastard sword and cleaved the undead, smashing vertebrae and femurs, cutting through the foul magic which ran like puppet strings through their bones.
He came up to the bars and removed his helm, revealing sapphire blue eyes and a flowing mane of dark gold hair. She stood and walked over to the prison bars, trying to find her breath; she could not have dreamed of a more perfect prince to rescue her. But where did he come from? She did not remember seeing him in her mirror.
"Why thank you, sir knight," the lonely princess said. "Thank you. But why have you come for me? I do not remember summoning you from PrinceMatch."
"PrinceMatch?" said the knight. "Your pardon, lady, but I have not come here for you." He reached into a leather pouch hanging from his hips and retrieved an enchanted mirror of his very own. He showed it to the lonely princess through the bars, and an image appeared on its surface. "This is who I am looking for," said the knight.
The word "FiendFindr" glowed ephemerally across the mirror's surface, and in its depths showed the likeness of none other than the necromancer, cracked lips parted to reveal his jade-toothed smile.
"Is he not the most awful creature you've ever seen?" the knight asked, his voice that of one clearly smitten.
The princess sighed and told the knight to seek the necromancer down in the castle's laboratory. The knight thanked her kindly, and with a spring in his armored step, he proceeded down into the belly of the stronghold to test his strength against his foe.

© Short Édition - All Rights Reserved


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