Thursday, April 4, 2019

#052: FAIRY RAGE




THE FAIRIES WERE ON Jake like bees on a honey comb. He screamed and writhed as they covered him, stabbing with their tiny swords.

I pulled both pistols and flipped them. I held them by the barrels and, using them as clubs, beat the winged creatures from off the boy. Or at least I tried. For every one I beat back, two more would take their place. Despite their resilience, however, they seemed to take issue with the way I was treating their kin, because soon I too was surrounded.

It was like being inside a tornado made of razor blades, and nothing I did had any effect. I swung the pistols feeling more than a little satisfaction each time they connected with one of the small figures. But in the end it didn’t matter what I did. The swarm was just too much. I kicked and clubbed and cursed, all to the sound of Tumbling Tumbleweeds.

But then, as suddenly as it had begun, the song stopped, cut short as it was replaying for the second time. And with that, Jake and I were alone.

The abrupt silence, not to sound like a cliché, was deafening. To go from the roaring buzz of a few hundred enraged fairies, the warbling howls of old cowboys, and the high pitched screams of a terrified child, to nothing but the faint hum of the cars out on the highway off in the distance could just plain rattle most folks.

I ain’t most folks.

I holstered the pistols and bent to check on Jake who had gone silent. He was alive, and though the coat I’d thrown over him was in tatters, the boy himself was unscathed.

“They’re gone,” I said, placing a comforting hand on his back.

“Gone?” His voice held on to a slight tremor, though I could see that he was trying to act tough.

“Nary a fairy in sight,” I said, which caused him to giggle a bit.

I helped him to his feet before holding up my coat, hoping it would be salvageable.

“Sorry about your coat,” Jake said.

“I got another in my car,” I said, looking it over. There was no saving it so I threw it over a shoulder. “I tend to go through coats a lot in my line of work.”

“Fighting monsters?” He looked up at me expectantly, fear in his eyes.

“Not just fighting,” I said. “I win.”

“Every time?”

“You see me standing here, don’tcha?” I smiled.

And with that, the fear left his eyes.

A tiny throat cleared behind me and I spun, guns in hand, hammers thumbed back. It was Nona.

The fairy floated just inches away, her wings a blur and her face pointed at the ground in seeming humility. She looked for all the world like the poster child for guilty children everywhere.

“Sorry,” she said.

“You tried to kill us, Nona,” I said. “And you think an apology is gonna make it all better?”

“That wasn’t me,” she said, and in an instant her guilt fled to be replaced by a deep petulance. She looked up and her eyes caught mine. “That was Lance. He wanted you for himself.”

“You want to try explaining that to me?”

“Well.” The guilt crept back into her face along with a genuine blush. “I just wanted to have some fun, you know. I thought we could get you out here and watch you shoot some stuff, that’s all.”

“So you kidnapped young Jake here,” I said.

“I knew that would get you running,” she said. “Nothing like taking a human child that will get Norman Oklahoma after you.” She smiled.

I frowned.

“That’s a dangerous game to play, Nona,” I said.

“Whatever,” she said, back once again with the petulance. “You can’t hurt us. How many times do I have to keep saying that? And you?” She laughed, “Well, you’re almost as indestructible as we are.”

“Wasn’t talking ‘bout us, Nona.”

She looked from me to Jake, and the blush rose back into her cheeks.

“Yeah,” she said. “Sorry.”

She kicked at the air like a nervous teenager kicking a rock on the ground.

“I mean, he wasn’t in any real danger.” She flew down to look Jake in the eye. “You weren’t in any real danger.”

The boy flinched. It was slight, barely noticeable, but she noticed, and I could see that it made her uncomfortable. She tried to hide it with another laugh as she flew back and did a few loops in the air.

“What about Lance?” I said.

She paused, hovering before me once more and sighed.

“Lance isn’t—” she broke off suddenly, looking this way and that, fear showing on her face like a billboard on the side of the highway. “He’s not like the rest of us,” she said. “He’s got,” she paused and looked around her once more. “Ideas,” she finished.

“Ideas?” I said.

“He wants to punish the elders for sending us here by not going back. He’s always saying how we could be the elders here and he thought you were a good first step.”

“Did he now?”

“He figured if he could control you, well, he wanted you to kill for him.”

I didn’t like the sound of that, not one bit.

“Kill who?” I said.

“Our enemies,” she said, her voice low and soft.

“And who are your enemies?” I said.

Her face contorted and she grimaced.

“I can’t talk about it. I shouldn’t even be talking to you,” she said. Then, flying back so that I wouldn't be able to reach out and grab her, she screamed: “You’re going to get me in trouble!” Then she was gone, her orange light streaking off into the distance like a bullet and then vanishing.

I looked down at the boy. He looked up at me.

“Well, I guess we should get you home,” I said. “You’re parents are gonna be happy to see you.”

“You think they’re worried?” Jake said, looking guilty.

“Of course they’re worried,” I said. “They’re your parents. It’s what they do.”

“Are they mad at me?”

“Now why in the world would they be mad at you?” I said and smiled.

“I don’t know,” Jake said. “I left the yard. I’m not supposed to do that.”

“That ain’t your fault. You know it, I know it, and they know it.”

“Yeah?” Jake said. He didn’t look convinced.

“Look,” I said, taking a knee to look him in the eyes. “None of this was your fault.”

“But, I wanted to go with them,” Jake said, tears falling from his eyes.

“That wasn’t you, Jake,” I said. “Them fairies, they had you under their spell. I know it felt like you wanted to go with them, but that’s only because of their magic.”

“They were controlling me with magic?”

“Yes they were.”

He wiped at his eyes with his sleeve.

“Okay, I’m ready,” he said.

It took us nearly twenty minutes of walking to get back to my Scout, then another ten minutes of driving to get Jack back to his parents in Grantville. It offered me some time to think on what Nona had said. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but it had me worried. Yet, there was nothing more I’d be able to do with it, so I let it go as we entered the home of Beth and Peter Finn.

They were, of course, over the moon at having their son home safe. It’s moments like that that make what I do worth it.

I mean, sure, I get a certain sense of satisfaction each time I take out a monster intent on killing folk, and I was more than a bit annoyed that there was nothing I could do to stop Lance or Nona from taking some other kid for their own sport. But anytime I can bring someone home safely, well, that’s always gonna be a win.

As I left Grantville and was about to head home, I spied a little convenience store there across Highway 24. The Gas and Stuff. Their lights were on, meaning they were open. I smiled as I crossed the highway and pulled into their lot. Considering how things on the case had ended, I figured that I could use a celebratory bottle of ice cold chocolate milk. And so I parked the Scout, and headed on in.

This concludes Fairy Tale. Come back in one week for the beginning of the next Norman Oklahoma adventure: In the Undead of the Night.






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