by Chris W
A short fantasy story written for the Writer's Cramp.
| It's missing.
I scroll through my folder again, for at least the hundredth time. I type the filename in the folder's search box. I search the directory. I search the hard drive, my online backup, and even my phone for old drafts. Nothing. It's as if my story never existed.
I exhale, slumping back into my beaten down black office chair. My spirit feels as broken down as its flattened cushions. My palm finds my face. I rub my forehead and then my eyes in disbelief, still staring at the computer screen, hoping for a miracle.
No, no, no. The short is due tomorrow! My brain screams at me to do something, but I can't find the will. Sure, it was no novel, but writing the short had taken me the better part of a month. I was even particularly proud of it. Was.
I contemplate my options. I could call my editor, and explain how a writer in the modern day somehow managed to lose a file that could have been backed up infinitely. I could write something new, or dig something up out of the trunk. Eww. That never goes well for anyone.
Or I could call in a favor.
I thought on it for a moment. It had certainly been a while.
Before I can spend too much time pondering my options, I gather the items I will need. From my drawer, I fish out a few gold dollars and a cheap costume ring I've had laying around for ages. I go into the kitchen and pop open the fridge. Scanning quickly, I find a green cupcake with a plastic shamrock adorning its frosting. Perfect.
I use a little table salt to form a circle on my desk. Or an oval. Whatever. I place my gathered items in the center and snap my fingers.
Oh, right. The incantation.
"If I hear another one from Mother Goose,
Oh just one more tale,
I'll beg ye find me a noose,
And for freedom I'll set sail!"
I wait. No mysterious winds blow my curtains about, and no brightly colored smoke erupts from the table.
But never the less, a little man pokes his head out from behind the cupcake. He regards me with mild disdain as he surveys the situation. After an indignant dusting of his cerulean jacket, he steps into full view and lets out what seems to be an inaudible harrumph.
"Do I look like a leprechaun?" He gestures at the cupcake, his tiny green eyes on me and his head angled. I am pretty sure he mutters something about racism.
"Best I could do on short notice." My apology is less than satisfactory, but of course, I am on a time frame.
"These aren't real gold." His disapproval shifts to Sacagawea, George Washington, and Grover Cleveland.
"The recipe only calls for currency." Once again, my apology does little to appease my visitor.
"And this is just crap." He kicks the costume ring out of the circle.
"That's just plain cruel. I wore that in a play once, it has meaning!" My feigned indignation falls on deaf ears.
"Also, that was the worst summoning song I have heard in quite some time!"
"Hey, hey! Cut me some slack! I'm on a deadline here. I only had to make sure that it fit the rhyme scheme and was fairly relevant. I don't make the rules."
"I expected more from a writer, that's all." He swipes a handful of frosting from the cupcake and stuffs it in his mouth, smacking and slurping for a few seconds.
I wait patiently.
"So what do you need us for? Shoes? Cleaning?" He licks his fingers one by one, obviously trying to resist another mouthful of frosting.
"A story. Five thousand words, by tomorrow."
"That's not a traditional job." He absently kicks at the Sacagawea dollar with a small brown booted foot. "Gonna cost you extra."
"I think I have another cupcake-"
"Nope. We want something significant, something meaningful."
"You aren't getting my firstborn."
"Do I look like an imp? First a leprechaun, now this? Any self-respecting fairy would have abandoned you to your fate by now." He takes a smaller helping of the frosting.
"All right then, shoot. I don't have much, I assure you."
"We want more work." The little fairy paces inside the circle with his hands folded behind his back, his little brow furrowed.
"I hear the classifieds are a good place for that. I bet you guys could run one heck of a cleaning business." I smile, but it's a tough crowd.
"Write your next book about fairies. Leave instructions. Make it pretty obvious how to call on us." He looked off into the nearby window, tapping his chin. "It's time the world got back in touch with its magical side, I think. A little more Anderson, a touch more Grimm."
"A whole book?"
"I can guarantee its sales, so I believe it's a win-win. Do we have a deal?"
"Sure, why not." I chuckled, holding out my hand.
The fairy grasped the tip of my finger and shook. "So what kind of a story do we need to churn out tonight?"
His response was another inaudible harrumph and the meanest glare a six-inch tall man could wield.