A to Z 2017–V is for Vortex

April is both fun and busy around here. Not only is it the time of the annual A to Z Challenge, it is also the time for a regularly scheduled blog hop that I participate in. Today’s post is doing double duty! So when you’re done reading this story, consider checking out other stories in the StoryTime Blog Hop. Links are included below. I guarantee you’ll find something to love.

V is for Vortex

It isn’t fair, Darya thought. Her Aunt Ebba and Uncle Wade? They never understood, never believed in her dreams. And now? Now they were taking the word of that horrible shark, Ms. Talulah, over their own family.

So she left. Despite the storms brewing. Maybe because of them.

It was simple enough to slip out. Everyone seemed to be burrowing in as everything darkened around them. Nobody paid Darya any attention at all.

Isn’t that the way it always is? She thought. Nobody even notices me except to tell me what to do.

Without thought, Darya first headed back toward the clam bake where she’d been earlier. Perhaps her friends would still be there. Or maybe she’d get a reading from that old stranger— the one telling stories that made the little ones squeal. She noticed him giving fortunes to a few—some who might not have wanted anyone to see.

Her hopes for a sympathetic ear were dashed back at the community’s center. Everyone was gone. Everything had been packed up before the storm. And now, with the storm starting in earnest, she felt pulled and tugged by the swirling around her.

I need to get somewhere safe. I need…

Darya couldn’t finish her thought as, suddenly, she was spun around and sucked straight up off the sand by a powerful vortex.

Pitched and turned by the storm, she found herself tossed into the atmosphere.

In the clouds, she thought. Surely this is a dream.

As if to verify a dream state, she saw the old fortune-teller whirl past, flipping cards and tossing shells. Just her luck.

Then she saw nasty Ms. Talulah, her teeth gleaming through a false smile.

And her own family. Aunt Ebba’s worry was so clear it fairly pulsed across her skin.

It was a mistake. She knew already, she shouldn’t have left. And now she wondered if she’d ever make it home.

Darya wailed and started to weep until, abruptly, the storm stopped.

She looked up to find that she had been deposited, not back at her own home, but on a sandy beach. The ocean water was just out of reach beyond some rocks.

Maybe, if I try…

Before she could move, a gangly-looking surface-dweller approached.

“Hey guys, check it out! This octopus must have gotten thrown up on the beach by that water spout we saw.”

More humans surrounded her. She had no where to go.

“Poor thing,” one of them said. “We should help get her back to the ocean.”

“Yeah,” said the first, scooping her up with gentle hands. “There’s no place like home.”

(With my deepest apologies to Frank Baum and The Wizard of Oz.)

Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.



I hope you’ll take the time to read the other stories in this Hop. These are some great writers and wonderful people. And if you like what you read, I hope you’ll consider joining their lists too. The world is a richer place when there are more stories to tell.
* * YOU ARE HERE * * V is for Vortex by Elizabeth McCleary
Deep Dive by Juneta Key
Bugs by Gina Fabio
Secret by J. Q. Rose
Journal of Anah by J Lenni Dorner
The Vineyard at Mar Mozambique by Karen Lynn
Stealing Space by Barbara Lund
The Day I was Clever by Katharina Gerlach
Never kid a kidder by Angela Wooldridge
The Color Of… by Chris Makowski
Nightmare by Erica Damon
Pick Up Lines by Bill Bush
The Scorpius Gate by Sandra Fikes

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  1. I love this one. There’s just a little confusion at the beginning where the phrasing suggests that Aunt and Uncle are the main character’s parents.

  2. I loved this! Well done 🙂

  3. At least the surface dwellers didn’t decide to eat her! Happy A-to-Z-ing.

  4. The imagination remains the most incredible thing we have. I loved this. I got caught right up in it, and the octopus twist … makes me want to know what happens next!
    V is for Vague Differences Between Protect and Shelter

  5. Love the twist of her being an Octopus. Nice little take on an old fairy tale.
    Enjoyed reading. Happy A to Z Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  6. LOVED it! What a great twist!

  7. Nicely done! The Wizard of Oz was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid (who does not love a horse of a different color when they are 7?), so I was thinking ‘this feels familiar,’ at the old fortune teller in the vortex. It was not a strong enough feeling to knock me out of the story though, and that same feeling had me grinning at the ending quote. Very well done!

    • Elizabeth says:

      It was always one of my favorites, too. When I realized I needed a V story with a water theme, vortex was my first thought. Riffing on Oz seemed like a logical choice. Especially since in January I wrote one based on Alice in Wonderland. 🙂

  8. haha, love it! Nice job 🙂

  9. Cleverly done. Love she is an octopus. You made me smile. Thanks!
    JQ Rose

  10. That was a fun retelling. I like the twist you added in here with the octopus as Dorothy. Great work!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Wow – I just found your comment in my spam folder. I’m so sorry I didn’t reply sooner. Glad you liked the story!

  11. Lovely! I had a suspicion with Ms. Talula flying by, but it was a good suspicion, and the final line nailed it, but the best part was the octopus reveal! I had a big grin on my face when I read that. Fantastic!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! I wasn’t sure where I was going when I started so I was pretty happy with where I ended up. 🙂

  12. Nice twist! I did not see it coming. Enjoyed the story!

  13. Chris Makowski says:

    Something between The Wizard of Oz, Finding Nemo, and The Little Mermaid. Love it!

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