Karen M. McKinley holds a BA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. She has previously been published in The Aether Chronicle, Remarkable Doorways, and Hair Trigger #37.  She enjoys writing in multiple genres and is in the midst of working on her first YA novel. 


Children Spies

Karen M. McKinley


The barrage balloon’s cargo was three urchins of London.
Just wee ones they were; five, seven, and nine they numbered.
Floating o’er the Thames, the wind blowing through their hair
A midnight escape from Faro—such devil may care!
Their pursuer, he gave chase from the ground below.
Tracking their balloon with oversized cross and bow. 
They’d discovered too much so now they must die.
Then the Evil Mas Faro shot them down from the sky.

The balloon, it sagged inward and began to plummet,
With children in freefall, tumbling down away from it. 
They landed in water, inky black as the night.
Their ragged scarves trailing behind like tails on a kite.
Pudgy young arms thrashed about on the surface.
Desperate to stay afloat and trying to find purchase. 
But the basket of the balloon lay too far from their reach.
The baddie dressed in black had a lesson to teach. 
Fortune wasn’t theirs, for they could not swim.
Mas Faro the Evil knew their hopes were grim.
He left them all flailing and returned to his lair.
With more monsters to create, there was no time to spare.     

But the children survived—in a manner of speaking.
Their heads caved in, broken bodies still reeking.
A fortnight would pass until they returned to spy.
Katie still bloated, Nathaniel missing one eye.
They hid behind curtains; the youngest danced in plain sight. 
When Mas Faro discovered them he was given a fright.
“It can’t be!” he murmured, not wanting to see
That ghosts were in his midst as plain as could be. 
He clutched at his chest, eyes wide open in wonder
When overhead it was heard the clap of loud thunder. 

“You’ve done bad!” they accused, pointing maggoty fingers.
And his sentence was delivered with much vim and vigor. 
“We shall haunt you forever while you ply your trade.”
Three dead little children to end his tirade?
Mas Faro was stunned to be thwarted so easily
By urchins named Katie, Nathaniel, and Beasley.
They promised to haunt him if he continued to make creatures.
“Stop tampering with science, lost potions, and beakers!”   
The city was now safe from such a wicked physician.
The three dead little children from London on their mission.