Stardust: New fantasy fiction

Millions of pinpricks of light shine out from the looming obsidian towers composing the city, so tall that the horizon is almost completely obscured. The light of rusted street lamps reflects in dull puddles on the damp cobblestone. It’s peaceful, as every night is.

I sit at the end of the dock, my boots dangling inches over the lapping water, staring up at the flecks of stardust raining down from the cloudy sky. Tentatively, I reach my hand out and a droplet lands on my finger. It burns a golden crescent into my skin, which soon grows into a line, a branch of a tree that stretches up my arm. The glow continually brightens as it hits the other golden dots where stardust has touched me previously. I smile slightly to myself and let my hand drop down to the cold wood beneath me.

After a moment, I let myself fall back onto the ground and take in a deep breath. If you don’t look too close, they almost look like fireflies. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of small, glowing, dancing fireflies.

It’s been months since we’ve got a storm like this. It’s usually a couple hundred at most but this … this is amazing. Astounding. So much so that I almost can’t believe I’m seeing it.

I push myself up and pull my steadily ticking pocket watch out, glancing at it momentarily before slotting it back in. With a sigh, I push myself up as quietly as I can and take one more moment to watch the specks of light drifting down into the water below me. After a minute or so, I turn and start to walk back home.

I walk through the darkened alleyways a couple of blocks from my apartment, humming a tune I can scarcely recall to myself softly. Absentmindedly, I tug at a golden dot of stardust from my inner wrist and catch the coin as it falls out neatly. I start to flip it, watching a mist of gold dust trail out after it.

I stop in front of my building and grimace slightly as I see the flickering light of a candle on the first floor. I can’t just go through the front door or the landlord will hear me and I am not in the mood for another one of his long lectures about not leaving after dusk, as “every decent citizen should.”

I shake my head slightly and drop the coin into my pocket before edging over to the trellis lining the side of the building. I take in a deep breath and begin to climb up.

Just as I’m about to reach my window, the board beneath one of my feet gives way. I gasp, feeling my heart fall down to my stomach, and pull myself up shakily to the ledge. The lost piece of wood tumbles down to the ground and lands softly.

I lean my back against the window and breathe in slowly, rubbing at my eyes, before tugging it open and tumbling inside. I take in a gulping breath and rest my hand over my pounding heart. I let my eyes fall closed and breathe out a relieved sigh.

Just as I’m about to push myself up, I hear the sound of my window sliding open a bit more. My heart freezes.

Oh jeez, oh god, oh no- Why is there someone at my window at midnight? Why is there someone at my window at all? I live on the second floor. That makes…no conceivable sense.

I do my best to silence the chattering thoughts in my head as the sound moves to the floor near my window. I hear them murmur something but it’s too quiet to make out.

I need to act fast. Like, right now fast.

I breathe in slowly one last time and my eyes flash open. I jump to my feet, feverishly tugging a stardust dagger from my upper arm out and pointing it vaguely in front of me.

A person with brown hair streaked with a variety of colors, light gray eyes, and a glowing backpack holds their hands up. “Whoa — ”

I try to piece together what I should say but, for some reason, the only thing that comes to mind is: “What the fuck.”

“I’m not gonna hurt you. I’m just here to — ” They stop and bite down on their lip slowly. “If I say, you probably won’t believe me. But just put the glowing knife down.”

“Try me.” I lean over slightly to try to get a better view of the backpack but they shift with me.

They sigh. “I’m sorry. I thought you were asleep — ”

“Oh, so that’s supposed to make it better?” I wave the dagger. “I’m not afraid to use this, you know.”

“No, no. I just — ” They sigh and shift the bag around, flipping the top flap up, revealing dozens of small jars of glowing light. “I collect dreams. I guess I might’ve got your … light trail confused with what I usually follow.”

“My — ? Oh.” I pull the coin out and flip it, letting it disappear. After a moment, I sigh and drop the knife too and it sinks into the ground. “Alright, then.”

They blink, seeming surprised. “You believe me.”

“Well, it’s raining stardust, so, yeah, I do.”

They tilt their head back and forth, pursing their lips slightly. “That doesn’t really seem connected, but alright.”

I walk back to my bed and sit down on it, thinking for a moment. “Want some tea?”

“Oh, uhm…. I mean, that’d be nice but I really ought to be going. The night doesn’t last forever.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

They nod and step back towards the window. They stop on the ledge and turn around. “It was nice meeting you, Ally.”

“It was nice meeting you too.”

They nod, salute, and jump off the ledge.

I sigh, flop back, and watch the golden dots drifting around on the ceiling for a moment before a thought occurs to me.

How did they know my name?


This is a short story by a young writer who remains anonymous, for now.

Design by Steven S. Drachman, from an image by 3MotionalStudio / Pexels.