Urban Fantasy

My tail taps against the perfume bottles on the dresser as I watch Zaya’s latest conquest. In his business suit he looks out of place in our dimly lit apartment full of hip antique furniture. He’s perched on the edge of the bed. 

“You want me to give you ten thousand dollars?” he says, shaking his head. “I’ve worked weeks as a database administrator to save that much. I’ll have to cancel my trip to Austin.”

“If you want to see me again, Luis.”

“This is ridiculous,” he says, his eyes full of anger. They usually need to pass through this stage.

Zaya walks into the kitchen and I leap off the dresser to follow. Out of sight of Luis, she reaches up to the highest shelf, pulls down a ceramic vial, and puts a drop on her neck before returning the vial to its location.

I slink back to the bedroom to keep an eye on Luis. He barely notices I’m there. Pets are invisible. It’s my superpower.

He’s unbuttoning his shirt, his well shaped gym muscles bulging out. But his face is lost in thought.

With style, Zaya sashays back into the bedroom showing with more cleavage than usual. “Come here, Luis. Closer.”

He takes a whiff of her neck, “You smell great.” His look softens. “So, what do you need the money for?”

“I’m behind on the electricity bill.”

“Electricity…” His eyes look far away. “Electricity. Can I write you a check?”

“A check, Just like last time.” She massages his broad shoulders as he scribbles his signature on the check. “You don’t need to fill in the amount," she says, and takes the pen out of his hands.

He’s so dizzy from the pheromones now he’s lost his ability to speak in long sentences. “You’re so hot, Zaya.”

“You have to go now Luis. I’m teaching Pilates this afternoon, you can come back next week.” 

“Ah…next week?”

“Stand up. Off the bed.”

He obeys, and she directs him shuffling slowly, out the front door, closes and locks it.

“Monday date, ov~er,” she says in a rising tone, and turns around to look at me on the floor, "We're alone in this world. It's only me and you who can rely on each other, Cardamon."

I shake my tail while thinking she may be overestimating pet loyalty.

“Now, it's feeding time for my cute Cardamon-y.”

I’m so excited, I jump up, and chew on her skirt. It’s rayon. We've been in New York for ten years already, she should have better fashion sense by now. She opens my can of food, and thankfully, it’s the right flavor. I eat chicken liver. It reminds me of home in Medved.

It was even harder on Zaya to leave Medved.

At her trial for bewitching the royal treasurer, after denouncing her, her mother proclaimed, "Unlike your sister, you, with your bad manners, hooked nose and meaty face, you, will never find a husband."

Because of her double dealing, she was banished by the court and told never to return without bringing back a ransom of 10 bars of gold. I’m an animal, I can live anywhere. But for Zaya, being sent off in the middle of the night meant hard choices. She grabbed her elixir first, me by the ruff second, and then as many clothes as she could carry last.

I'm a bit sore about being being second, but The Elixir of Yenot, the cornerstone of her double-dealing in Medved, has an alluring scent that causes any man who smells it to lose all sense of logic in their attraction to the one posses it. Thoughts spin and twirl to guide the victim into believing whatever is necessary to fall into the wearer's warm embrace.

Like viagra, the elixir creates a potential, but needs a spark. And the quiet intimacy of the Monkey Bar in Midtown Manhattan is Zaya's favorite place to get things sparking. It’s Tuesday night, and she’s looking to replace Karl, who has just lost his job. 

And I’m sitting out the front window looking in again. New York needs more animal friendly bars.

Zaya walks up to the bar counter with swagger.

“An Old Fashioned,” she announces loudly.

The bartender nods. He knows her usual order.

She leans over the bar while he mixes the cocktail. Looking over her posterior, she scans the room to see who’s paying attention.

A half dozen men avert their gaze. She holds her eyes on the youngest and most attractive one. He does a double take. She usually draws in the oldest and baldest, so this is change of pace for her.

A cocktail glass appears in front of her, and she takes a sip.

“That will be seven dollars,” the barman says.

Zaya fumbles in her purse. 

“Sorry, I seem to have left my credit card at home,” she says, and then goes back to digging in her purse, “I might have another card in here.”

She is able to mime searching for a card as long as it takes. 

“Let me help you with that,” the young man who made eye contact earlier is holding out a credit card. “My name is Zack.”

“Well, thank you, Zack”

“Happy to help a lady in need.” Tall, square chinned and handsome, but holding out an economy class non-platinum card, he is perhaps too young to be funding gold bars.

A drop of elixir later, this well muscled hunk is in our apartment. She is pulling off his shirt when disaster strikes. 

“Zaya there's something I need to tell you. Chlamydia.” He points toward his hinterland.

“Oh…” She has had a few times already. “You are such a good-looking man we shouldn't put you to waste.” 

Over three more dabbles of Elixir of Yenot, she talks him into staying with us for the rest of the month until the clap is resolved. And cooking dinner and washing the dishes. He goes to sleep in the guest room, looking satisfied and madly in love.

Wednesday afternoon, I’m in the hallway listening to a clamor of grunts and moans and rattling furniture. Zaya is having loud sex in the bedroom with Cody. The door’s locked. She doesn't let her pets watch. I glance back at Zack who’s vacuuming the hallway. He smiles when he sees me watching him.

An hours later, Cody walks out of the bedroom, does the shooting gesture thing at me with his fingers. As an animal, I find this deeply offensive. And says, "See you later little buddy," and waves a kiss at Zaya before leaving.

Zaya looks sadly at Zack. “Hey baby. I know it’s hard for you, but I’m in the last stage of breaking up with that man. He literally can't talk about anything about tits and ass.”

Zack nods. “It’s ok. I can do adulting too.”

“I just need you to pretend to be my roommate until then. Can you do that for me?”

“If that’s what I need to do,” Zack says softly.

Thursday morning, Zaya grabs her bag, and calls out to Zack, “I’m going out for a few hours to teach a class, I’ll see you later.”

“Have a good workout. You look amazing!” Zack’s yearning eyes watch her every move.

The world spins as she grabs me by the scruff of my collar and drops me into a pet carrier. Zaya says the elixir works better in the presence of a magical animal from Medved, but I’m sure I’m mostly there to sooth her social anxiety. 

She meets Ryan at the back table of an Italian restaurant on East Second Avenue. Ryan is a hedge fund manager and has an almost infinite capabity for gift giving. I wish I'd receive something sometime.

Ryan is holding out a box with diamond earrings. “I think you could be the one,” he says earnestly to Zaya, “I’d like to see you more often.” 

“Ryan, you know I prefer gold. And right now, I can only see you on Thursdays.”

The restaurant is empty and seems to exist mostly for money laundering. The lack of other customers is perfect for her purpose.

"These were 2.5 carat." He looks disappointed, then looks my way and points. “That cat of yours in the carrier smells funny.”

What? This is truly offensive. Magic potion time, Zaya.

Under the table I see her massage a drop between her fingers before brushing it through her hair. She moves in closer and kisses Ryan on the cheek.while she coos sweetly, “I’m sure your wife won’t mind if you help me buy an apartment for us to be together.”

Carbonara sauce is soon dripping out of the corners of his mouth.

“She won’t mind at all,” he says in a dream.

“You are the only one that can help me, Ryan, only you.” Zaya sits straighter. “Now remember, before doing anything else today, go to the bank and ask them to transfer me two hundred thousand dollars.”

“Whatever you need,” he says slurring his words with a vast grin on his face.

We leave him there staring at his plate of cheesy pasta.

It’s a long walk home from Midtown Manhattan to the Lower East Village, and Zaya walks quickly without looking at anyone around us. We used to take the subway home, but one time, she must have applied too much, we had a train carriage of fifty men out of their minds surround us. I had to face them down with sharp teeth and hissing until we could get off at the next station. After that, we learned to travel strictly outdoors after her dates.

Friday morning, there’s a pounding on the front door. I glance out the curtains.

Mason, who's very protective, is standing there. He's very good at opening doors and pulling out chairs for Zaya. But he's here on the wrong day. He looks at me and goes back to pounding on the door.

“Zaya, I need to know, am I the only one?”

She opens the front door a tiny crack and whispers, “Mason, calm down.”

“Is there anyone else?”

“You're my boyfriend. Trust me. Now you have to go,” she says and closes the door.

In the apartment, Zack appears behind her and glares.

“Who was that?” he asks far too loudly.

“No one.”

“That sounded like SOMEONE.”

“A student in my theater class. We were just practicing lines for Dancers in the Park.”

Zaya sulks off to her room to read Fathers and Sons by Turgenev for the 23rd time.

Dull. So I lie down next to Zack’s keyboard, put my head in my paws and watch him type:

‘Zaya Baciu Facebook’

Google =0 results

‘Zaya Baciu Instagram

Google =0 results

Social media accounts are not helpful for a woman with eight boyfriends.

Later Friday evening, Nate arrives. A professor at NYU, he's our most erudite visitor.

"Hiiya Cardamon," he says, his long hair swings forward as he reaches down to give me a treat he had in his pocket.

He seems too good for our place. I try to give him a signal to get out of here by pushing against his leg toward the door. He doesn’t get the message and scratches my back instead.

Over dinner, Nate looks at Zaya and says, “In our future, I see us living in London, listening to lectures every weekend. Visting museums. How about you?"

“I see myself as more of a nomad,” she replies.

“Well then, we can be nomads together.”

“In Armenia I was taught the violin. My dream is to live as a travelling musician and see the world. Patagonia, India, the Himalayas. ”

"Busking? We've studied just that question at NYU and it is not technically possible to live as a busker without outside income," he says, and explains the economics in detail.

The dinner conversation proceeds along two parallel but distinct paths.

“Last month you were interested in art, this month suddenly your passion is for music, where do you get these new ideas?” Nate asks.

“Don’t worry about that. While you’re having some more wine, I’ll go and put on my best perfume.”


Maybe life has bern too easy for us until now. Three weeks have gone past. Zack hasn't tested negative for the STD yet and is still doing all the cooking and cleaning. 

Zaya has been excited about draining Ryan’s considerable bank accounts. So excited in fact that no one has bothered to buy my Growina Chicken Liver and Zack has started feeding me bottom shelf cat food.

Friday afternoon, without even bothering to say goodbye to me, Zack goes out to Gristedes to buy ingredients for their Friday dinner. And probably cheap cat food for me again. All of his attention goes to her all the time. I can’t take it anymore.

In the kitchen, he’s left the step stool out. Standing on top, I aim for the highest bookshelf, the one Zaya thinks I can never reach, and make a leap. My claws grab the edge and I pull myself over. With one paw, I nudge one of the ceramic vials I’ve only caught glimpses of until now. Then, I just can’t help it, I give it a flick, and send it flying off the edge. A smash resounds in the quiet empty apartment. The thrill makes the hair on my back stand up.

I never knew this could be so much fun. One by one, I flick the vials off the edge. Smash. Smash. Smash. It’s satisfying. When they’re gone, I lie down, take a nap and dream of chicken liver.

Zaya is shrieking. “Did you do this, Cardamon?” She’s looking at the broken glass.

I wake from my slumber. Who else?

"All of my elixir is gone," she yells, “Out, out!”

I do a four legged sprint to the bedroom and crawl under the bed to hide.

I listen to her sobbing and wailing. When Zack returns, Zaya refuses to explain what's wrong.

An hour later, Friday guy, Nate, arrives. Zaya pulls herself together and keeps up pretenses and eats dinner with him as if everything is normal. The conversation slowly turns downhill as she keeps talking about Eastern Europe.

“Things feel a bit off today,” Nate says, “I’m going to grab another beer.”

The refrigerator door opens, and then I hear Nate and Zack talking. Zaya pushes the green peas left on her plate around with the tip of her fork.

Nate comes back and his face is flushed. “I just talked to Zack in the kitchen. I always thought it was strange there was a man cooking dinner for us.”

“Nate, sit down, have your beer, let’s eat some more.” 

“Seven boyfriends?” he shouts at the top of his voice. “I never want to see you again. What have I done, what have I done.” He is now frothing at the mouth in vindicated rage.

Zaya is silent, lost in confusion.

On the way out, he turned his head around. His eyes squint, and says, “you look different now.” 

He looks resigned to his own mistake, slumps his shoulders, and walks out the door.

The week is a series of bad breakups and loud exits.

Nate. Dylan. Luis. Mason. Tyler. Cody. Ryan.

On the next Friday night, Zack brings out dinner just for her. Coq au Vin. And in a decorated little bowl for me, a few chicken bones. At least he tried.

“Well, aren’t you going to leave too?” Zaya looks at him, the stress lines showing on her face.

“I have no reason to leave.”

“Why not?”

“Your makeup and perfume never mattered for me. I was more interested in your intellect.” Zack looks warmly at her with soulful eyes.

“My mind?”

“Your knowledge of European history fascinates me.”

“That’s nice to hear. And do you have any other surprises, Zack?”

Zack thinks for a long time, twitches his mouth a few times, and then says, “I'm sorry I lied so many times when I said your perfume smells nice. I have a congenital defect, I can't smell anything.”


He nods.

“Smell is only one of the senses," she says, "we can do a lot with the others." She throws her arms around him and pulls his mouth to hers. They kiss.

He holds her slightly back, looks softly into her eyes and says, "And there's one more thing."

"There's more?"

He smiles sheepishly. "My last girlfriend was also from Megved"

She thinks for a second. "Oh, that's why...", she murmurs, then they both laugh so loudly the neighbors across the street can hear them.

I haven’t seen her this relaxed and joyful in a long time. She opens our last bottle of Saperavi and pours him a glass. She giggles while she strokes his hair, and they murmur sweet nothings to each other late into the night.

Later when I hear them both snoring on the sofa, I sneak to the safe in the closet. Looking at the handle, I realize how good it is us raccoons have opposable thumbs. I’ve spied her doing her magic a few times. I push the same buttons, watch the flashing lights, and the door opens. Inside, I see more than 20 bars of gold. With that many, Zaya could have returned to Medved a long time ago.

Not that it matters to me, I'm happy wherever I can get my favorite food. I take a gold bar out of the safe and push it down the front of my Etsy raccoon sweater and sneak out. I think it will be enough to buy a can of chicken liver. I’ve done it a few times already.

December 14, 2022 01:29

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Phineas Andrews
08:27 Dec 16, 2022

Well, I wasn't expecting a racoon, that was an interesting twist and for him to make off with a gold bar. Also, props to getting two prompts into one story. Can't say I'm a big fan of Zaya, but at the ending I was even a less of a fan of Zack. From confidently approaching her in a bar and buying her a drink, to cooking and cleaning while she has an array of men come and go from the apartment.


09:41 Dec 16, 2022

Very true, I changed a few twists yesterday, and now Zack comes off a bit weak. I just added a tiny bit more to Zack's backstory, so it makes more sense. And I did have to laugh when I read your dog/cat story, as I already had the same misdirection idea in this too.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Daniel Allen
16:32 Dec 15, 2022

Nice! I like how you managed to write two stories simultaneously. One, the quest of a woman trying to scam her way to wealth (and perhaps love?). Two, the quest of a raccoon who just wants some good food. Good flow to the story, I like it!


14:56 Dec 17, 2022

Thanks Dan, hoping this turned into a path to true love for Zaya in the final edit. At least the raccoon is doing ok for himself.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
22:32 Dec 14, 2022

That's a fun POV :) Zaya comes across as a miserable person, thieving both at home and abroad, but in the end love wins out. Is she actually a self-centred asshole, or was she just lonely all this time? Perhaps untouchable as a princess, she developed an addiction to the effects of the elixir, and thus ruined her chances at a real relationship until she met Zack. But all of that's secondary background noise. The real issue is feeding budget cat food to a racoon. This is unconscionable, and it's frankly not surprising he took matters into...


01:52 Dec 15, 2022

Thanks for reading. I'm still touching it up a bit. That's a good point, I'll think about developing Zaya's internal thinking a bit more. I think she's just lonely and has those good ole abandonment issues after being kicked out of the kingdom, that she now doesn't seem to really want to return to any longer. I was challenged to have a raccoon pov, so happy the plot thread about the resentment of a magical raccoon being fed cheap cat food seems to have worked.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Philip Ebuluofor
17:09 Dec 14, 2022

Fine storyline. I looked at the prompt wondering how to go about it. I guess it is narrationonng it as if the animal is the third person in the show. It is educative.


08:01 Dec 15, 2022

That's exactly right. The animal is mainly a narrator, and isn't the main character most of the time. A camera following the main character around.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Tommy Goround
16:58 Dec 14, 2022

Wow. You made the point of view of an animal to add to the story instead of the detract. And you were able to use the word chlamydia in a PG environment. Fantismo. Please pass the carbonaro.


09:01 Dec 15, 2022

thx! animal-cam POV might be the next big thing;)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Graham Kinross
13:54 Jan 17, 2023

So he was ok with it all? Interesting. I know there are people like that, can’t say I’m one of them. Interesting twist.


15:30 Jan 17, 2023

It's an 'urban fantasy' .. i checked out a few best sellers (female romance is the top selling genre) and they're kind of like that so I maxed it out, but yeah that's the weak part of the plot. I should have given him a better reason to be ok with the crazy situation he's in. The raccoon seemed popular. I think "the elephant it the room' might have the most potential of my recent stories.. but I can't seem to get anything through to the shortlist these days. you know of any other contests worth checking out?


Graham Kinross
21:07 Jan 17, 2023

Not really. Reedsy seems the most accessible.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Chad Eastwood
06:15 Dec 23, 2022

A great story. I really enjoyed it; it looks like we all fell for the twist!


Show 0 replies
Liv Chocolate
04:30 Dec 22, 2022

SPOILER ALERT WARNING Scott--I think you've earned yourself the nickname Chubby Checker because you really know how to "do the twist"! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHGXwQeUk7M I honestly gasped at both twists. It's perfectly unpredictable considering that loss of smell is such a rare defect. Then, at the end, the creature we've been picturing as a cat reveals itself as a raccoon. We're shocked, but at the same time, it's not far-fetched at all. The narrator never said he *was* a cat--and we can blame only ourselves for making that ass...


08:34 Dec 22, 2022

Thanks so much for reading and the nice comment. "do the twist!" that a good meme song for writers hahah. I'm a huge fan of oldies music, (I put a music thread into next week's story. ) Yes, I've just started writing, I guess now its almost 12 months ago when I wrote my first reedsy story. I can never find the right words when talking about anything emotional but a few people mentioned my work writing was way above my mumbling in meetings, so I always thought I'd give it a try someday! I may have a few unique ideas but my prose is still cl...


Liv Chocolate
10:13 Dec 22, 2022

I’m looking forward to more Christenson-style twists—and stories—in the future. I totally get you on the fumbling over words in person as a writer! I’m an awkward little squirrel in person. Isn’t terrible—how you can’t backspace spoken words the way you can written ones. That’s why I love writing—it lets us introverts (I know I’m making an assumption about you here so correct me if you’re an extrovert!) say the things we’re too nervous to communicate in speech. And your prose is fantastic! Trust. It’s always a smooth sail from point A to...


14:21 Dec 22, 2022

Twists. One thing I've tried that helps sometimes, is to think of two completely different stories I want to tell, and then combine them together. It helps if the 2nd plot is something internal, or on a different level of abstraction than the main plot. "I've always wanted an exotic pet like a monkey or a raccon" x "a mysterious woman has 7 boyfriends" ...."I want to reconnect with my parents" x "i'm solving this murder mystery". stuff like that. If you think. of something that's bothering you this week or been on your mind, it usually poss...


Liv Chocolate
03:12 Dec 23, 2022

That makes total sense Christenson Formula 🧪 Abstract concept + concrete concept = 🫢🤯🙊 Love it The only advice I’ve ever read is to make a list of plot outcomes. Then trash the first few, bc the first ideas that come to mind are usually the most predictable. But that’s less useful for coming up w concepts. It’s more just to come up w individual plot points. Yours helps create the actual concepts—which can be the toughest part imo I can totally see you as an INFP/TP fm your writing.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Amanda Lieser
20:23 Dec 21, 2022

Hey Scott! Boy this was a fun one. How clever! I felt it combined a couple of the prompts beautifully. I was a bit confused at first, rightly so given your MC, but as we picked up pace, I felt I understood much better. Nice job on this one! It was a sweet treat for my afternoon. Ps. My husband has always wanted a pet raccoon!


Show 0 replies
Lily Finch
14:06 Dec 21, 2022

Scott, cool tale. I figured, with your history, it had to be a raccoon. That is a nice way to show us all about a story - great viewpoint. I envy writers who can weave words into stories I didn't see coming. An example: Zaya, there's something I need to tell you. Chlamydia.” He points toward his hinterland. - Chlamydia is a nice play I never would have guessed would be there. This story had good pacing and flow. I'll email you. The ending was very clever. LF6


Show 0 replies
Susan Catucci
17:24 Dec 20, 2022

Extremely well written, Scott. What's interesting is that in my story, which also showcases a raccoon, the raccoon is the only character I don't like; in your story, the raccoon is the only character I do like.


Show 0 replies
Rebecca Miles
19:00 Dec 17, 2022

As author, can you please forward me on the ingredients for this elixir? It sounds like it could be every girls best friend! But seriously, this had a really sweet message and I'm glad Zack stayed around even when her scent had stopped intoxicating him! A fun story with lively characters.


05:16 Dec 18, 2022

Thanks for reading and commenting, Rebecca. Happy it turned out to be a fun story;)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Wendy Kaminski
17:30 Dec 17, 2022

What a ride, Scott! I loved the foibles of Zaya, and the racoon story really stood out on its own. She didn't deserve the sweet guy she got in the end, but I have to say I was still delighted with the plot twist, all the same. Fantastic story! :)


05:17 Dec 18, 2022

Thanks! I started writing this in third person pov, and then though, a pet, I've been reading a lot of fantasy characters have pets, could be a first person almost invisible spectator. And seems almost everyone likes raccoons.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Delbert Griffith
13:11 Dec 17, 2022

This was a quite entertaining tale, and the raccoon POV was the right way to go, IMO. The writing, as usual, was excellent. Zaya could be a fascinating character for a longer piece, I think. She could be made as a sympathetic character. You've created something here, buddy. I didn't like Zack. He was willingly cuckolded in the name of true love. I would have liked him so much more had he been conning her and stole her gold bars, thereby validating a distressing truism: a good con is better than any potion. LOL The raccoon was a stellar cr...


15:10 Dec 17, 2022

Thanks for reading Delbert. I hear you, who would be the final man left in this fantasy realty show had a few different rewrites, originally I had Zack as either a spy from Megved, or as gay, and in the final edit I'm not sure how he could trust Zaya after seeing everything unless the potion worked, or he's really into women from Megved, but it was definitely fun to write how he was reacting to what was going on. Happy to hear the raccoon character was fun. As I was going to write this in third person, and saw the prompt, I thought why not j...


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Laurel Hanson
12:18 Dec 17, 2022

This is a really enjoyable story, a pleasure to read start to finish with a cool twist at the end. A nice deconstruction of the concept of love contained in a potion.


14:55 Dec 17, 2022

Thanks for reading, and happy to hear you enjoyed it, as well as the animal narrator getting one over everyone at the end seems to have worked;)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mike Panasitti
18:35 Dec 16, 2022

I found it difficult to identify with either the manipulative Zaya or the pushover Zack, but an observant, nutritionally neglected raccoon! Bonus points for originality there.


14:54 Dec 17, 2022

I had read that 'pet companion' is a big thing in fantasy writing, so happy that part worked. Added a few little tweaks for Zaya & Zack, but yeah was tough to make both of them as sympathetic as I hoped for. A passive raccoon POV narrator could be the next big thing in fiction lol.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
01:43 Dec 14, 2022

i’ve read a few opening chapters of popular Urban Fantasy novels, and this is what I came up with. Not sure if it works.


Show 0 replies
Helen A Smith
18:14 Dec 23, 2022

An unusual story with great twists. It’s interesting to see things from a pet raccoon’s point of view for a change. The elixir sounds too tempting not to use. I wish I had a tiny bottle myself. If only Zaya could have moderated her behaviour, but then the story wouldn’t have been the same. She made a mistake not tending to the raccoon better. The raccoon was using her too.


Show 0 replies
RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.