This was written for the Once Upon a Time “Unexpected Fairy Tale” competition; find out more about it here.
By LJ McMenemy
Written April 2012; 344 words
Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong under the shade of a coolibah tree. A few miles away and quite a few decades later, the Stewarts find a shoe while renovating their fixer-upper.
In the deepest, darkest Australian bush, there are age-old practices passed through generations that the Stewarts don’t know about. Craig’s just removed the shoe from its shelf in the chimney stack; this is a bad idea. He is waving it around at his wife Pippa, who is admiring the quality of workmanship while baulking at the redback spiders that surely dwell within. After all, this place was derelict and all manner of beasties have taken over – and Pippa, though drawn to it, has always had an uneasy feeling inside the homestead.
In the belly of the early settler’s house near the swagman’s billabong, the spirits are stirring. The house is no longer protected from them by the power of the single shoe. They may rise once more.
Craig and Pippa are preoccupied by their find, so they don’t notice the evil eye peering at them through the window. And then the trolls stroll out of the kitchen and make themselves at home.
Craig is too busy staring at the beasties that have invaded his new home to notice what’s happening behind him. He doesn’t notice the red glow, the firey heat. He doesn’t turn to notice the shadow that was Pippa until she speaks, not with her voice, but with the voice of dark angels.
“Young devilish demons,” Pippa coos. “What brings you here on this day?”
The underworld creatures bow down.
“My queen,” stammers one. “My goddess, we do not wish to intrude. It’s just – the shoe! It was removed!”
“And you thought it appropriate to enter my domain? Be gone! You are welcome here no more.”
And the underworld disappears; the devil queen makes it so. She surveys her domain. The shoe was removed; the homestead is no longer protected by folk magic.
Nor is Craig.
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong…