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Leanna Falconer won second prize in July's short fiction contest with her story 'Toad', you can read it below:
Toad by Leanna Falconer
The toad had warned us all to stay out of the pond. Only those in possession of Sir Kimbell’s patented Daptone Glurg would emerge from that enchanted pool unaltered. But we all knew it was utter nonsense, for that harbinger was nothing but a toad.
Though we had been warned against it, we had sought out the toad, Kenny, Suki, and I, having been told that this one did, indeed, live in these woods. For days we had hunted, pushing ever deeper into the untamed wilds until we finally happened upon the hidden pool—banks draped in ivy, the waters a deep purple beneath the shaded canopy. Squatted atop a mossy log, we found our quarry at last.
Quickly, we surrounded and began to close in. It croaked once and hopped off the log in a gallant effort to evade capture, but Suki was swift. She snatched the creature into her deft hands.
This was the moment we had all been waiting for. The toad eyed us warily. Without further ado, Suki brought the toad to her face. Her eyes gleamed. Her tongue darted forth to lick the toad’s moist skin. Then she held the toad out at arm’s length and in turn, Kenny and I leaned in to lick.
We all stood back and stared in mute anticipation as the captive squirmed in Suki’s grasp.
“Is one lick enough?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Suki said. “I don’t feel anything.”
“All in good time, my dear,” the toad told her. “It takes a few moments to take effect.”
“Did you hear that?” Suki gasped, immediately tossing the toad to the ground while juddering back.
Kenny grinned. “Yeah. He said it takes a few moments.”
I had heard it too, but didn’t want to admit it.
The toad hopped twice, then turned to look back. “Whatever you do, I highly suggest you keep out of the enchanted pool. Only those in possession of Sir Kimbell’s patented Daptone Glurg will emerge unaltered.” With that, he disappeared into the underbrush.
Well, needless to say, once he’d planted the seed in our minds, we chose not to heed his advice. Laughing, we stripped down to enter the deep-hued water.
Immediately, my feet were sucked into the muddy bottom. The pool shimmered, blazing like a rising sun. The water burned up my torso. An iron gate on the bank squeaked.
Further I sank into the burning waters. A fiery tower rose up from the depths. Behind me, the black gate clicked to a close. I felt the webs growing between my fingers and toes, a tingling itch I couldn’t scratch. My backbone popped. It popped again, hunching me over. I didn’t know where Kenny was, but thought I caught a glimpse of Suki fading into the brazen sky.
The waters sucked me further down. Somewhere nearby, a toad was laughing. I couldn’t block the manic reverberation from my vanishing ears. Then, to my horror, I realized…that laughing toad…was me.
Books by L. F. Falconer