Peppermints // a (One Quirk Later) short story

Ahoy there mate! I am back with another Quirk as a participant in Jem Jones’ flash fiction prompt series. This is my third time participating and I had, as always, an absolute blast crafting this story in my spare time this afternoon.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy!

find more about the quirk here!

Le Prompt:

Le Story:


The sky used to be blue.

I race through the forest, snapping aside vines and crashing through branches, as obnoxiously loud as an orchestra tuning up. A few days ago, I would’ve been running on a sidewalk in a neat, suburban neighborhood, but now, cement, brick, and sky are choked out by greenery.

Spotting a large, overturned trunk, I dive into its hollow and scoot inside until I’m concealed. Sucking in deep breaths, I try to slow my heartbeat’s rapid tempo, imagining the steady tick of a metronome. Above, the green-tinged sky peeks through cracks and splinters in the wood. Green, green, and more green. I’m sick of it, but since the Thelopods led nature in a revolution against humanity, it’s the only color that matters. The color of vengeful flora, of poison, of greed.

It’s also the color of my piano, which abruptly reminds me how ridiculous this expedition is. I’m no survivalist – I’m a piano teacher. How am I supposed to do anything against a Thelopod, a creature that stained the world green in a matter of days? Besides, Stella made it very clear that I am not allowed to set foot in her house without her express permission. Before today, I never wanted to; I’d had enough of her and her accusations and her discontent. In fact, the idea of looking at her made me more nauseous than a song with a lumpy rhythm.

But there was Paisley to consider. Every weekend she sat on my lap as I taught her the basics of notes, hand positions, and steady rhythm. Always steady rhythm. I could never emphasize enough the importance of a steady rhythm, which was why I thought her bouncing around from mother’s house to father’s house was unhealthy. But it was the only way I could see her.

Then the Thelopods invaded mid-week, and I realized with a start the pettiness of all our arguments and legal negotiations. I realized with even more shock that losing Stella would be more painful than I once thought.

I take a few deep breaths, a piece of wood poking into my back. To hell with our settlements and signed agreements. I am going to see my wife and baby girl. Stella might not accept me, but I can hope that at least she will allow me to defend our broken family. Perhaps we will emerge from this global catastrophe united again.

I finally manage to calm my breaths down enough to listen. Whispering leaves, creaking branches, a thrum deep beneath the earth like a subtle trill. And then soft footfalls nearing my trunk, plopping and crunching on the forest floor in offbeat staccato.

Clenching my teeth, I reach into my pocket and unwrap a piece of peppermint, Paisley’s favorite candy. I’m no survivalist, but I do have a garden that’s infested with toads, a creature that loosely resembles the larger Thelopods. I can only hope mint has the same repulsive effect on Thelopods.

As I expose the candy, its sharp, soothing scent leaps into the air, reminding my aching heart of my baby girl. I slip the peppermint through a hole in the trunk, whisper a prayer, and peek a head out of the trunk.

The Thelopods collapse one after another, like a descending arpeggio. I can hardly believe my eyes and cautiously crawl out of my hiding spot. Their swollen bodies, large and green as my piano, remain still.  

I grin, my hand drifting back inside my pocket where it fiddles several more peppermints. Then I start running again, towards Stella’s house.

*coughs* This is the part where I’m supposed to apologize for making the adorable toad in the prompt the inspiration for a destructive alien species…but sorry, I’m not sorry. My garden once had a toad infestation and it’s hard for me to think of them as cute. 😛

Until next time,

Bon Voyage!

14 thoughts on “Peppermints // a (One Quirk Later) short story

  1. Well, I have some toad characters that I love———meaning they are my characters. These toads of mine live in The Cattail Forest in Graysloup. They are gray green- females are lighter in color and males darker.

    1. Sarge (17)
    2. Marge (12)
    3. Norg (19)
    4. Claude (15)
    5. Effa (10)
    6. Rudy (10)

    Those are the names of my toad characters

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ack, this is so lovely! I love the music metaphors throughout and the mentions of the piano (I would be thinking about my piano in the apocalypse too XD I love my piano). And just the whole, “I’m not a survivalist, just a piano teacher, but FAMILY IS SO IMPORTANT TO ME, I WILL FIGHT GIANT ALIEN TOADS WITH PEPPERMINTS”.
    *chef’s kiss*
    I love it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaahh this made my day, thank you so much! 😊 But just think, unlike other instruments, if there was an apocalypse what would you do for your piano?? You couldn’t carry it off to safety. You’d have to stick it out by its side and perhaps perish dramatically on the keys. 😭

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this is great! It’s so different from all the other Quirks I’ve read so far. Good work. Toads would definitely try to take over the world if they had the power, just saying. (Also the toad in my prompt turned out to be a foul-tempered witch, so.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sponge! Exactly, toads doth be devious creatures, too ambitious for their own good. One second they try to take over your garden and the next they’re taking over the world. *shakes head*

      Very good witch material. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh, this is so unique, Elisha! I love how the setting and conflict feel like that of a standard alien invasion but the invasion is by giant toads xD (And the only toads we have here in Australia are cane toads who will ooze poison if they don’t like you, so I’m not fond of toads either, actually… but the one in the picture looked harmless enough that I let it slip past xD) And the chaos making the MC realise that his ex-wife is still important to him is precious. Thank you for participating!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. o.O Australian toads sound horrifying, and they sound like they would totally take over the world.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 😀 And thank YOU for creating such imaginative prompts!!

      (this comment somehow got lost, thus my late reply 🙈)


  5. There is something simultaneously SO HILARIOUS, SO SWEET, and SO INTENSE about this story. I just…alien toad invaders that fall like dominoes before the mighty peppermint???? I love it????? (Do toads actually hate peppermint; is that a real thing? I know precious little about toads.) And he’s a PIANO TEACHER and he thinks and talks like a PIANO TEACHER and it’s just. So great. I was grinning when I finished. Definitely the most unique interpretation of the prompt, I do believe…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HOW did I not see this comment until now *hides*

      *emerges* AAAAHHH THANK YOU SO MUCH SARAH! 😀 I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it. I did some basic research on toads and frogs and learned more than I ever thought I would know about those slimy things. Apparently frogs are averse to peppermint oil. I’m not sure about toads, and I’m not sure if peppermint candy would have the same effect, but I have Artistic Liberty to extrapolate. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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