Title: The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales
Author: A. L. Butcher
Genre: Fantasy/short stories
Winner of the 2018 best fantasy on NN Light Book Heaven.
Naughty imps, missing socks, cunning thieves and baffled gods feature in this collection of short fantasy fiction.
Chapter from The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales
© A. L. Butcher
The strawberries cackled in their glass jar, around them were other, older condiments – sweet pickles, jams and spreads. Snickering, they shuffled forward, moving close behind a jar of elderly pickles. The pickle jar shuffled forward to make room, butting up against the sugar tin, which refused to move.
“I get used every day, thus I need to be within easy reach,” said Sugar, rather arrogantly.
Pickle grunted and edged further forward. “It not be me, it be the jam,” it sighed. “It be shoving.”
The strawberry jam hopped sideways along the shelf, looking for an easier target, and spied an old jar of sauce, dusty and forgotten. The lid was crusted with elderly tomato, dribbled along the glass and faded to musty brown, with a little sheen of furry mold. Untouched and unloved, it cowered next to an empty salt cellar and a dried-up mustard pot.
The shelf was narrow and overcrowded, and the strawberry jam looked down with a wicked gleam. It was much narrower here than the Big Shelf in the place where it had lived before the Hand had plucked it from its comfortable repose. The jam vaguely remembered the huge Mother Vat, from which it had been born, and many others with it, until the God Spoon had appeared and housed it in the Glass Jar so it could look out upon the world. The strawberries did not question what had been given to them; life in the field before this was not life, merely an existence. Jam! Jam was true life! Jam was purpose!
Shuffling and shoving, the jar slid in the grease which coated the shelf. With a mighty push it toppled the unfortunate sauce down to the flagstones far below, a gleeful chuckle shaking its lid. The bottle smashed and the elderly sauce splodged out its life upon the floor. As the wicked guffawing echoed in the quiet, midnight kitchen the other jars and tins shuffled closer to one another, hoping for protection.
The giant door opened, and the owner of the Hand entered the world of the Kitchen, seeing the poor sauce all over the floor. She looked around to find the culprit, for this was not the first ‘accident’ in recent weeks. The strawberries in the jar looked innocent and nodded towards the sugar, laying blame where none was due.
Once the remains of the sauce had been removed, the Hand grabbed the sugar and angrily deposited it at the back, leaving a nice space for the jam to move into. As soon as the owner of the Hand had gone, the jam, who was young and new, speedily pushed aside the other jars and settled triumphantly into the empty space, where it could see the world it was planning to conquer. Such a sweet, sweet world it was too.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Ever wondered where your socks go when you wash them? Ever wondered what happens in the pantry at night? The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales tells all. Six fantasy short stories to bring a chuckle to your coffee break or commute.
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British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chroniclesand the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
She also curates speculative fiction themed book bundles on BundleRabbit - for the most part - the Here Be Series
Alex is also proud to be a writer for Perseid Press where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Heroika Skirmishers – where she was editor and cover designer as well as writer and Lovers in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. http://www.theperseidpress.com/
Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.
NN Light Book Heaven awards:
The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales won the best fantasy for 2018
Echoes of a Song - one of her Phantom tales – won the best fantasy in 2019
Tears and Crimson Velvet won the best Short Story category in 2020
Dark Tales and Twisted Verses – won the best Short Story Category in 2021
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