• This is one of many entries I am writing from prompts I found online. The prompt can be found at the end. I advise reading it after finishing the short story.

The three looked around the circle their bodies created. Tension in the air. This meant everything. The air was electric. The connections, palpable. They could just make out each other’s faces in the candlelight. She always used them for atmosphere, and scent in the evenings. Their effect tonight not her intention. The overlord who hovered somewhere above in the cavernous manor. What once had seemed palatial, their castle, had taken on a darkened, ghastly, intimidating sense. She was unaware of what was taking place. The leader, Condor, who naturally fell into the roll, held the subordinates’ gazes, one at a time. He spoke in hushed undertones. This was life or death.

Seraphina and Abraxas were not natural followers. The three all had leadership characteristics. Seraphina was too disorganized and lacked patience and foresight. She was incredibly loyal and mentally strong. Abraxas did not have the maturity it took to be head. Yet. That would come with time. She was wise but young. Condor was proud to lead and took his role seriously. He had been the one to introduce the plan for resolving their dilemma. Of whom would have to face the terrifying banshee. They were no wails this evening. All was quiet from upstairs. That would not be the case shortly.

They all knew they had to act soon. Seraphina and Abraxas were restless. They did not have the foresight that Condor possessed. He laid down the plan once more. The rules that would be followed and held his fist out into the center. It was tight. His knuckles were white. First Seraphina, then Abraxas, joined him. Their fists were looser, their elbows slightly bent. They pumped, opened, closed, opened, closed. In the end, Condor declared Abraxas the loser. He alone would face Maleficent. The others saw immediate dread in his eyes as he stood up. Uncertainly laced with fear took hold.

Abraxas made his way to the stairs. He put his right foot on the first step. His hand grasped the banister. He hesitated, looked backwards, and put his left foot on the second step. He got to the fifth step when Condor broke the silence.

“Stop. I’m coming.” Condor uttered out before he could change his mind.

As he stood up, Seraphina stood too.

“Me too.”

Abraxas looked a little relieved. They were anxious but resolute. They had to face the demon. They had faced her before and survived. They presumed they would this time but that didn’t make it certain. It did not ensure against terror. Condor went first with the other two taking up the rear. He stepped over the creaky step. Due to his fear and his concentration on appearing brave to the others. Abraxas foot sent echoes up through the stairwell. They paused. Held their breathe. The was no noise from above. No one glared at Abraxas. They were in this together now. They’d united and would keep going until the end.

The staircase curved around and seem to go forever. They believed it was four floors tall. They could not reconcile that with what they knew. When they all had reached the landing, they stopped again. Once again, Condor reminded them what he would do and say. Nods all around and tiptoes to the place Maleficent would likely be. They could hear movement behind the door. Maybe breathing. Maybe talking. Seraphina knocked gently on the door. She hoped they could sneak away. Abraxas pushed in beside her and thumped on the door. There was no response for several seconds.

“Yes?”

They all jerked a little in fright. Condor reached over and opened the door. Their fear piqued as they saw her in front of them. She did not smile. She did not frown or smirk.

“Yes?” she repeated.

They all poured out at once. Why they had come? What they wanted to convey? Many other things that were drowned out by each other, The woman put her fingertips together and smiled, not completely positively. They fell quiet. Their eyes were wide.

“So, you broke a Christmas ornament? You’re not going to say who did it? You love me? You’re sorry? You played rock, paper scissors to see who to send up? You decided to band up against me? Have I got that right?”

Some garble of vague ascension “yes,” “uh huh,” head nods. Their mom laughed and opened her arms. They ran to be with her and laughed.

“I suppose I’ll forgive you this time. Ha ha.”

PROMPT: It was the highest stakes game of rock-paper-scissors ever played.

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