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Story 6

Libby A. Smith

Libby A. Smith is a two-time winner of the Little Rock Free Press' Literary Contest. Besides writing, she is also a movie and stage actor in the Little Rock area, including three appearances with The Weekend Theater and La Petite Roche productions of "The Rocky Horror Show."

Other stories have appeared in Caliber Comic's "Negative Burn" and "Dominique: Protect and Serve," Hanthercraft Publications' "Tandra" and "Dragonroc" universe comics and website, and Shanda Fantasy Art's "Atomic Mouse." 

She also adapted The Rainbow Bridge story to poetry form for counted cross stitch designer Sue Hillis' design "The Story of the Rainbow Bridge."

This story was written for a 'challenge' amongst a group of writers who wanted to surprise Kelly Rowland with 'were' stories. Although a small werebird seems innocent enough, fans of Alfred Hitchcock will know to be wary of the concept! -- Libby Smith

 Horror meets satire in Libby Smith's Canary Breath.


Canary Breath


By Libby A. Smith


     Horace C. Pumpernickel loved to sing, and people, at least adults, loved to hear him sing.  Some said he sang like a canary, a very ironic thing to say considering Horace’s deep, dark secret.

     The other children made fun of Horace, calling him “Mr. Sing-Song-Sing-A-Long-Canary-Breath.”  This made him very upset.  Sometimes he’d even run home crying to his mother’s arms.  “Never mind them,” his Mommy would reassure him, pointing up to a calendar with each passed day marked off with a big red X.  “It won’t be long until they get their just reward due to your deep, dark secret.”

     Horace was a little boy back before home computers.  Video gaming was far in the future.  Way back in the 1970s, even television was boring because there were no DVDs players and few people had VHS players, satellite television, streaming services, or even cable.  Out of boredom, children back then went outside to play, where they risked getting skinned knees, bug bites, and heat stroke.  Parents hadn’t realized yet how dangerous it was to make their children go outside.

     “Go outside and play,” Mommy said one day.  “Go over to the park.  You can even stay outside after dark because the sky is completely clear and the moon totally full.”  She winked at him.  “Just as it gets dark, sing your little friends a song.  They will learn not to tease.”

     So Horace ran down to the park where children were swinging, going down the slide, and playing on a merry-go-round.  This was before parents knew these activities might cause broken bones.  Just as the sky darkened enough for the streetlights to come on, Horace jumped on a picnic table and started to sing.

     The children gathered around.  Within a few minutes, one boy started the taunt and others joined in.  “Mr. Sing-Song-Sing-A-Long-Canary-Breath.”

     This time Horace didn’t get upset.  This time Horace didn’t cry.  This time Horace just kept singing.  As the light of the moon enveloped him, a transformation occurred.  Being too young to have studied the Conservation of Mass Theory, he began to shrink.  His clothing fell around him, which could have been embarrassing if he wasn’t already becoming covered with yellow feathers.

     A girl screamed, “Horace is a werecanary! Run!”  The children’s parents may not have known much about outdoor safety, but they had warned their children time and time again about werecanaries.  Many had seen them in person the previous decade, especially at a place called Woodstock.

     Horace continued singing, this time really like a canary, as he attacked.  He scratched their cheeks (both facial and butt in the case of the girls wearing short dresses), he pecked their eye balls, he even pooped on their heads.

     Horace sang with joy because the children were getting a just reward and a taste of his deep, dark secret.  He attacked again and again, so wrapped up in his revenge that he didn’t notice the neighbor’s tomcat leaping into the air as only a cat could do.

     “Look!” a little androgynous tyke screamed with glee.  “Kitty Kitty has Horace!  Yuck!  I bet the poor kitty gets a tummy ache, hairballs even.”

     All the children stopped in their tracks, wiping blood and bird poop from their heads and faces with the back of their hands. They all grinned in unison…

…Just like the cat who ate the werecanary.




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