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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2198672-Crustbin-Thistlebum
by Ned
Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2198672
An unwilling fairy becomes a hero and ruins his life
“Here’s your list for tonight.”

Crustbin Thistlebum took the oak leaf from the Assignments Clerk with a deep-throated grumble that didn’t half express his disgust at this job. On it were scratched the names of human children who were going to lose a tooth today.

“It’s going to be a big haul tonight, take two sacks,” the AC said. "The City Planning & Development division is very excited about finishing the paving on Pearl Road.”

“Well, as long as there’s happiness on the CP&D, it’s all worth it,” Crustbin replied. His sarcasm was lost on the AC who nodded and displayed his fine, sharp teeth in a wide grin that went from ear to pointy ear.

Ugh, human children. Crustbin shuddered at the thought of the smelly, snotty-nosed, baby giants in whose mouths he would soon be rummaging. Humans were strange, diphyodont creatures - they grow and shed a whole set of teeth as children and then grow another set to replace them. Twenty teeth in every kid’s mouth that went to waste for centuries before the fairies began collecting them for road construction material.

And now, due to an unpaid toadstool tax, Crustbin Thistlebum had been sentenced to thirty nights of community service, collecting baby teeth. He would have been much happier if they’d sentenced him to something like polishing the roads, or chasing and gathering dandelion tufts for stuffing mattresses. But no, Judge Rumspitter took great pleasure in handing down the most demeaning punishment to Crustbin. The job of Tooth Fairy was generally reserved for convicted thieves - the most dastardly of criminals - which made Crustbin suspect that Grimwort Rumspitter had never forgiven him for the incident involving itching dust when they were at school together. Fairies could be so spiteful.

As he approached the house of Billy Thomason, the third name on tonight’s list, Crustbin consoled himself with the thought that there were only a few more days of his sentence left. Then he could go back to his relaxing fairy life - tending his toadstool garden and making tree sap wine which he sold across the border to the gnomes. Gnomes were notorious drunkards, but paid promptly and kept to themselves. That’s what Crustbin Thistlebum liked - people who kept to themselves, as he did.

For Crustbin, flying into Billy’s bedroom window and retrieving his tooth was distasteful on many levels. The room reeked of camphor - a scent that is offensive to all fairies, but often used by human parents to cure their offspring of the terrible green nose overflow disease that so many of them develop. Crustbin held his nose and headed for the pillow where Billy’s head was rattling on each breath with something between a snore and a sniffle.

Suddenly, a blast of cool mist assaulted Crispin. He’d flown in front of the vaporizer! His soggy wings flagged and failed. Crispin uttered some very bad words which, thankfully, the human child did not understand (being unable to speak Fairyish) and landed with a thud right next to the snot-encrusted nose of Billy Thomason.

As Crustbin stared at the young giant in horror, he saw one eye flutter open, then the other. The boy gasped in surprise and a hand flew up to grab Crustbin. The fairy, though unable to fly with wet wings, evaded Billy’s grasp by rolling sideways. He rolled so fast that he rolled right off the pillow and onto the floor.

For a moment, Crustbin was stunned by the force of his fall onto the wood planking. Then he rolled again, right under the bed. For a moment he felt a bit safer, and then suddenly let out a shriek of horror. A large tumbleweed of human hair and dust covered his face, tickling his nose into a sneeze. Billy was upon him in an instant.

Crustbin got up and ran. As he ran, he fluttered his wings and realized that they were beginning to dry off. At last, he managed to get off the ground, but flew with much less speed and precision than it would take to evade Billy, who had turned on a flashlight to help him track down and capture the disabled fairy.

In desperation, Crustbin reached into his sack. He had found a shiny disc lying on a table at the last house, and - although it was forbidden to take any human artifacts - he had slipped it into the sack of teeth. Perhaps the gnomes would trade some mushroom paté for it. Now he remembered the old legend about how humans are easily fascinated by shiny things, and he threw the disc onto the pillow where it reflected the beam of Billy’s flashlight like a silvery moon.

“Wow, a quarter!” Billy exclaimed, and for a brief moment turned his gaze from his prey, who flew behind him and slipped out the window.

To his dismay, Crustbin Thistlebum’s escape made him famous. Instead of returning to the peace and solitude of his toadstool garden, he was now a sought-after expert on human behavior and never was left to himself again. He was invited to lecture at the Fairy University on the dangers of human/fairy interaction and preventative measures for any fairies attempting to enter the human world. Because of his courage and ingenuity, the job of Tooth Fairy became an honored and respected post, filled only by those fairies who had been through rigorous training and exhibited a brave and adventurous spirit.

Moreover, it was decreed that from now on, all tooth fairies must be sprinkled with fairy dust for invisibility as well as be supplied with a purse of shiny coins to distract the human children whose teeth they were collecting. Thank goodness that although humans are extremely dangerous, they are also extremely stupid.

Word Count: 954

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