Classic Fantasy Historical clockwork medieval Drabble flash retelling fairy tale steampunk

The Blackbird King

By Wendy Nikel
Dec 10, 2020 · 102 words · 1 minute


Photo by Jr Korpa via Unsplash.

From the author: A very short story based on the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence”

Only a mad king would demand a pie of blackbirds. He ordered twenty-four birds be slaughtered, diced, and cooked for the crime of robbing the royal fruit trees. Yet when the baker presented the fragrant dish, the crust held only six. Six whirring, clanking clockwork crows with wispy feathers of gold, secretly constructed by the kingdom’s finest tinkerers deep in the rebels’ quarters.

His knife sliced the pie, meeting metal rather than meat.

The crows burst forth, brandishing their needle-sharp claws as weapons, their tiny beaks as spears.

The king fell, clutching his heart, in a heap of bloodstained feathers.


This story originally appeared in SpeckLit.

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IMPOSSIBLE REALMS: 12 Fantasy Short Stories

Speculative fiction author Wendy Nikel invites you to explore the strange and magical worlds of twelve standalone short stories, previously found in Daily Science Fiction, Cricket magazine, Podcastle, Deep Magic, and other fantasy magazines and anthologies. Come with us beneath the waves, where something terrible lurks; follow a fiddle's melody across a lonely desert; and sail the skies with the most fearsome airship pilot Juliet Silver.

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Wendy Nikel

Space explorer, time traveler, wanderer of eerie places