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Original Science Fiction and Fantasy every weekday. Welcome to Daily Science Fiction, an online magazine of science fiction short stories. We publish "science fiction" in the broad sense of the word: This includes sci-fi, fantasy, slipstream-- whatever you'd likely find in the science fiction section of your local bookstore. Our stories are mostly short short fiction (flash fiction) each Monday through Thursday, hopefully the right length to read on a coffee break, over lunch, or as a bedtime tale.

Please read our current short story below. Browse the topics in the sidebar; everything from aliens to time travel, fairy tales to wizard tales; and read what intrigues you. Don't forget to subscribe via email to receive each story in your inbox every weekday for free.

Omnipotent Potions

Robert Anthony Smith was born and lives in New Jersey, USA. He is an MBA who works in the finance department for a major American retailer. He loves reading in his free time and began writing in 2013. This appearance under the DSF rocket marks his first of what he hopes are numerous publications. A few of his many other interests include spending time with his family and girlfriend, sports, and playing guitar. You can find him at robertanthonysmith.com.
I sat on my work stool, making another meaningless potion. A small flame burned beneath a vial of orange liquid, throwing shadows over the rows of jars lining my table.
The potion began boiling and turned a honeycomb yellow. I topped the vial with a wooden cork and dunked it in an ice bath. Once it cooled, I tossed the vial to Urthel.
"You know, when I became a potion maker, I never dreamt I'd be making Palatable Potions for men like you to stomach their mother-in-law's food, or Thinning Tonics to help women lose weight."
Urthel laughed. "What did you expect to be doing?"
"Something meaningful," I said. "My father, a potion maker, his father, a potion maker, and his father, an insurance salesman, all preached the same motto. If you work long and hard enough, you'll get a special customer. Although, my great-grandfather may have been talking about something different."
"That's kids' stuff."
The bell rang above my shop's entrance. A striking blonde woman in a cloak that twinkled like a lakebed at sunset walked in. Magic oozed from the tip of her nose to the bottoms of her toes, and I knew at once, this was the powerful wizard my elders had foretold.
She walked toward us, stopping to graze her fingers along the glass cauldrons of my best selling potions. There was, of course, Green Goo which helped people go, and Sanguine Sludge, which ceased their going.
When she reached us, Urthel's jaw needed to be collected from the carpets before I ushered him out of the shop.
"My lady," I said.
"My good sir, I understand you craft potions."
"I do, and please call me Edwin. Edwin Marpel. I've been expecting you."
She raised an eyebrow.
"You need my help to change the world!"
"Perhaps," she said. "I was a customer of your father, and his father, and his father before him."
I fidgeted with excitement. "So what do you need? Viscous Verity for a senator's cup so he must speak truth?"
She laughed, covering her mouth. "I've no need for that, Mr. Marpel. Senator's lie whenever their lips move. No, I need a special potion."
A small piece of parchment appeared in her hand. It looked like it had been blown by a salty summer breeze for far too long, then thrown in a damp drawer to rot.
The recipe on the paper's surface appeared to be written in my own handwriting. A shiver twitched up my spine. It must have been written by grandfather.
"I'll do it."
I placed a sack on my worktable and unloaded the ingredients. First was a hippopotamus egg, which was nearly two feet wide and a foot tall, or two feet tall and a foot wide, depending on which side was up, and covered in rough purple spots. Then I unloaded jackalope tooth bile, unicorn tears, yak fur, honeyed-ham, and a dozen normal eggs. Finally, all that remained was a vintage bottle of whiskey.
I focused and cracked my knuckles.
In a skillet, the recipe said, Crack four eggs with milk, honeyed ham, and goat's cheese. Cook until fluffy.
I grabbed a cast-iron pan, set it over a flame, and cracked the eggs. When they puffed into tiny yellow clouds, I removed them and returned to my recipe.
In a clean bowl crack the hippopotamus egg. This may require a drill.
I grabbed my hand-cranked drill. Few people know the kind of power tools required in potion making.
I cranked the handle and the drill bored into the egg's shell with a whirring that sent purple dust flying. The shell cracked and golden yolk gushed around the drill bit. A smell like the musk of a heavenly egg goddess followed. Every shred of me wanted to drink the hippopotamus egg down drop by drop.
DON'T DRINK THE HIPPO EGG! The recipe read. It's highly toxic but smells divine. Instead, eat the normal eggs you've prepared.
I had forgotten I cooked them, but turned and shoveled heaping handfuls into my mouth. The eggs were the perfect blend of salty, and cheesy to satiate my ravenous egg-hunger.
Once I finished eating, I returned to my mixing bowl and emptied the egg's contents drop by drop.
Next I boiled the jackalope tooth bile, froze it, and boiled it again.
I added the Yak fur in clotting clumps to the concoction, and stirred the mixture until it bound itself into a consistent paste the color of sea-foam. I scooped it into a jar and capped it. My hands glowed from the power I had cradled.
Congratulations, the final line of the recipe read. Now pop that whiskey and take a slug. You've done it!
So I did. The whiskey burned down my throat and felt like a drink with my Father and Grandfathers.
The next day, when my wizard returned, her eyes twinkled. I beamed with pride at the jar of cream on my table.
"Mr. Marpel," she said. "Is this my creation?"
"It is. Crafted by my hands to the recipe's specifications."
She unscrewed the jar and scooped a dollop of the mixture close to her mouth.
I had to know what secret the potion held, what magnificent end it would achieve.
She stuck the glob of cream on her cheeks and rubbed it in. "Ah," she said, a peaceful calm washing over her. She turned to leave.
I grabbed her arm, "Please, what does it do?"
"It's a moisturizer. It keeps my skin glowing for the long years of a wizard's life."
"What? But you said you were going to change the world!"
"Oh jeeze. That's kids' stuff."
I froze. The bell above my shop door chimed, and her robe was billowing out when a thought struck me.
"Wait!"
She stopped.
"What did you buy from my great-grandfather? The insurance salesmen. Surely not skin cream."
She smiled wide.
"Dental."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 23rd, 2017

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