C. C. Finlay
He was the sort of boy who always had a stick in his hand unless he chanced to have a stone. Today he held one of each as he ran in the mote-stirred sunlight. He skirted the plashes of water, pressed through the bulrushes, and paused on a small rise with his head cocked alertly.
“He’s a nuisance,” Howl muttered, sitting on a branch.
“I like him,” Pooka whispered from his perch beside Howl.
“He’s a mud-spattered, ratty-haired, goat-footed, frog-legged, spider-fingered, stick-swinging, rock-throwing nuisance.”
“That’s exactly why I like him.”
Pooka snatched a ball of sunlight from the air and spun it, thrust fingers in his mouth and emitted a bird-loud whistle. He tumbled backward off the branch, landing on his feet just as the rock clipped Howl on the temple. Tiny periwinkle trousers cartwheeled through the air and Howl crashed upside down in the bushes. Pooka laughed.
A stick javelined into the leaves, resulting in a cry of “Oof!” Before Pooka could react, the boy landed on the pile and grabbed Howl.
“I got you!”
“Oh no you don’t,” Pooka answered, but not so the lad could hear him. He and Howl were almost as tall as human toddlers, but thinner and weighed much less. Buzzing like a hive of hornets, Pooka jumped on the wild boy’s head, drew his little dagger, and inflicted several quick pricks across the scalp and neck.
The boy flailed his hand at the back of his head. “Eyah!”
“Bzzzzzzz,” Pooka hummed as he jabbed again and again.
Dropping Howl, the boy leapt up and ran away. Pooka clung to a handful of his hair, bouncing wildly on the boy’s shoulder and buzzing with all his might. On impulse, he sawed through the strands with his blade rather than let go. Then he flitted to the ground and ran back to Howl’s side.
His companion sat there, massaging a knot on the side of his head. “Why’d you do that? It was close–he nearly caught me!”
“He saw you,” Pooka said.
“Did not! He heard your stupid whistle and caught that flash of glamour, didn’t he?”
Pooka held out his hand, hauling Howl to his feet. “He hit you with the stick after you fell off the branch. Once he spotted you, he kept sight of you.”
“And snatched you with that first nab of his too. Quick hands. What’re the chances of that?”
Howl wrinkled his brow. The two of them looked over at the boy, who, not so far away, still spun in circles brushing wildly at the back of his head.
“So he’s of the blood?” Howl asked. “Related to us?”
“If he’s mud-spattered, ratty-haired, and frog-legged, then he must be related to you.” Pooka plucked a dappled pink foxglove blossom and twirled it on his finger. “Mind you, I’m rather handsome.”
Read this rest of this delightful story in C.C. Finlay’s collection, Wild Things, exclusively in The Story Collection Storybundle.
Visit Charlie at ccfinlay.com and on Twitter at @ccfinlay.
So there you have it, my friends. The Story Collection Storybundle ends today! You the reader name your price—whatever you feel the books are worth. You may even designate a portion to go to a charity. Savor traditionally published, multi-award-winning stories from diverse and varied publications which the authors have collected for you.
The Bundle includes What I Didn’t See (a World Fantasy Award Winner) by Karen Joy Fowler (the New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club), Collected Stories by Lewis Shiner, Errantry by Elizabeth Hand, The Green Leopard Plague by Walter Jon Williams, Women Up to No Good by Pat Murphy, Strange Ladies: 7 Stories by Lisa Mason, Wild Things by C. C. Finlay, and 6 Stories by Kathe Koja.
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