The final copy of your Magical Realism inspired short stories are published on the pages below. Please read everyone’s story and feel free to leave a comment! Enjoy!

The Burn of the Cold

On a cold winter’s night in the deep Alaskan wilderness, the moon was full and sitting high in the dark sky, towering over the trees to the people that could see it below. A sled within the forest was covering great distance, six mighty, thick coated dogs powering through the snow to pull it ahead. Atop the sled was a bundled up man, nearly swimming in the furs and thick coats he was wearing. “Hike! Get going! Faster!” the rider barked the orders to the canines as he gripped onto the reins. He cracked his whip towards the rump of the hounds, making them push harder and faster. With every snap it sounded like the thunderous clap of thunder after a bolt of lightning strikes. As the pups increased their speed the rider grimaced, squinting against the harsh, cold wind and snow that collided with the naked, unprotected skin on his face. His beard was nearly pure white, covered in a thick layer of snow, almost turning to ice from the heat of his breath turning the snow into a liquid state. He was shivering, though his grip on the reins steering the dogs was strong. His hold was refusing to let the mutts take control and run amok. He gave them no chance to leave their set path ahead. 

As the sled was dragged forward across the landscape, the rider had noticed something that was half buried in the snow and very out of place. “Easy! Woah! Slow down there, boys!” The man called out, yanking the reins back as the basket sled slowed to a halt. The dogs all yipped and whined rather confusedly about the sudden stop, shifting their weight from foot to foot as they glanced around. The man had stepped off of the sled, snow crunching under his thick boots. He made his way towards where he saw the strange item, a metal lantern with glass doors and an unlit candle sitting inside, snug in the snowpack beneath a pine tree.

With a gloved hand, the man carefully picked up the lantern and began to brush off any snow that clung to the metal. It was a rather well made lanter, so he was puzzled as to why such an expensive looking item would be buried in the snow. He brought it back to his sled and decided to take it with him to his destination where he would see if anyone had lost it on their own trip. He bundled it up in some spare blanket he had to keep it safe during the bumpy road and he was off again with a crack of his whip, dogs pulling the sled ahead.

When he arrived at his destination a few grueling, freezing temperature filled hours later, the man was exhausted. He had taken up some lodging in a nearby inn and was quick to enter the warm building. Upon asking the owners about the lantern, they were just as confused as the man at the item but knew nothing of anyone looking for one that had lost it. He shook the snow from his head and beard and kicked the snow off that was caked into the bottom of his boots. He took his time to remove his outerwear, basking in the heat of the nearby fire as he settled at the wooden table nearby. Atop the table he had set the lantern, sitting close as he inspected it better than he did in the woods. He took note that the door still worked fine and nothing was rusted from its exposure to the harsh temperatures. That had to mean it was freshly put there. The man opened the door of the lantern and pulled a box of matches from his animal hide bag. He had decided he was going to light the candle, wanting to make sure everything was working correctly. 

Striking the match against the box, the head ignited into a small flame. He used this flame to light the candle inside the lantern, but he let out a startled noise when the candle lit and sparked up much bigger than normal. He yanked his hand back, slamming the door of the lantern closed, He could only watch in shock as the flame of the candle twisted and turned, jumping off of the wax and now sitting at the base of the lantern. It appeared to develop what looked like arms and legs, crawling about. After a minute of pacing about the candle, the creature sat and looked right to the man, now looking like the shape of a small cat, though still a ball of flames.

The man couldn’t believe his eyes, laughing out in disbelief as he stood and backed away. His shocked brain couldn’t truly process what had happened so he simply went to bed, leaving the lantern where it was. He figured he must have been dreaming. Fire can’t turn into cats, it was impossible. He was going to give his brain the sleep and rest he needed, and in the morning everything would be fine.

When morning did come the man awoke to find the lantern was right on the table, the fake feline still inside and staring right at him. He had decided it was best to just return the lantern when he found it rather than to keep it any longer, so he scrambled to dress in his still slightly damp furs. He didn’t want to wait for them to dry, desperately wanting to get rid of the potentially cursed object. He got his dogs and the sled ready to go in record time, heading off back to the sight where he had found the lantern as fast as he could get his dogs to go. “Mush! Hike! Go! Faster” The man called out, giving desperate cracks of his whip.  He had neglected to bundle up the lantern properly during his panic and during the bumpy journey back, the door swung open just slightly. 

The little bit of excess oxygen was enough to make the fiery feline burst into monstrous size, knocking the man back off of his moving sled. The dogs looked back at the sound, yelping and barking out in fear so loud that it could surely be heard miles away. The canines didn’t hesitate as they ran away in terror, kicking up snow as they tried to distance themselves from the now lion sized flame monster. The man could only lay and watch as his only escape ran away without him, ears ringing as he struggled to push himself into a sitting up position. It took only mere seconds and the man was abandoned in the freezing, Alaskan wilderness and met face to face with an enormous, terrifying creature. 

The flame creature was crouched low, tail flicking as it began to creep its way towards the man. It growled loud and low, every step causing the snow to sizzle beneath its paws. The man scrambled back in the snow, trying to distance himself from the beast that was getting closer with every breath. Just as the man scrambled to his feet, the monstrosity lunged and tackled him to the ground. The man yelled out in a mix of surprise and pain, the creature burning him with every touch to his skin. He desperately tried to shove away, kicking wildly and throwing jabs at its face when he could. The feline was only snarling and swiping at him as he continued to fight, attempting to sink his white hot fangs into the man’s arm.

The man’s coat, furs still soaked from the night before as he didn’t wait for them to dry, only sizzled against the flames, making the lion’s fangs unable to penetrate the cloth. He kicked the lion back at its stomach, jamming his elbow against the beast’s jaw as a way to stun it. The man clawed and ran away as fast as he could after a terrifying battle, getting up to his feet quickly. He ran down the path his dogs had gone with the sled, the fiery feline shaking its head behind him to reset its focus after the harsh blows. It spotted the man just as he made a turn, following the sled’s tracks in the snow.

As the man sprinted for his life, he spotted his own belongings scattered about in the snow. They had been flung off and about after the big explosion and the dogs’ panicked running. Among the belongings in the snow was the lantern laying on its side. The man made a desperate dive at it after realizing the lion was chasing after him and closing the gap quickly. He snatched up the lantern and lifted it high above his head, glaring harshly at the lion who was a mere ten feet from him. The beast lunged just as he brought the lantern down against the packed snow, glass shattering as the item broke upon coming in contact with the ground. 

Just when the lion would have made contact with the man, it vanished, leaving a panting mess of a man who fell back into the snow. He laughed out as he closed his eyes, once again in utter shock and disbelief by what happened. The man had sprawled out and took heavy breaths to attempt to calm his racing heart. There was the sound of soft yapping and barking in the distance, the man turning to see his dogs making their way back to him. Their ears were perked up and tails were wagging, the man no longer being left all alone in the deadly, Alaskan wilderness. He felt the welcoming warmth of familiarity wash over him.