Matt woke up at four o’clock in the morning, wondering what it was this time that insisted on his attention. He was becoming inured to the middle of night wake-up calls from a bladder getting as old as he is but this was not one of those wake-ups. This was a thing-that-goes-bump-in-the-night wake-up, another category becoming more common but not for Matt alone. The whole world is complaining of this category now that magic is coming back.
Not to everyone, of course. No democracy in magic, just those that are gifted and those that are not. The dividing line remains calm thus far but Matt believes it will not take much to tip the scales. Any society built on haves and have-nots must expect turbulence, must expect violence sooner or later.
There was an op-ed piece in the Times last Sunday that purported to see the explanation for magic coming back at this time as a direct result of quantum physics investigations. So much interrelationship down at the quantum level, so much interconnectedness, so much unknown that anything making the connections will seem like magic. There’s nothing happening now that is more magical then the ordinary, everyday quality of mass. You think it’s not magical. Consider that physicists needed to invent Higgin’s boson to explain how mass can happen without any assurance at all that Higgin’s boson exists. When you must invent particles to explain gravity or mass, you are open to things magical.
Things magical have opened their wings and their talons and their teeth and their glory. Things magical erupt in individuals, no rhyme, no reason, just happen, a bumper sticker explanation all that suffices, **** happens. One person in two million is gifted but that means there are near three million gifted wandering the world. Power corrupts, yes? The world is now a practical exercise to determine that very thought.
In Matt’s youth there were comic books to handle this, mutants, x-men, that kind of thing. You get bombarded with crazy rays or bitten by radioactive insects and you walk away with a new power. These days, no one can find the requisite rays or insects. It seems more that a need develops and the person closest to the need finds themselves able to respond. For example, an overload hit the northeastern power grid, five people grabbed power lines to steady the flow, handle the peak, let the grid settle. Now those five people can generate electrical current whenever they wish.
Matt’s case is parallel in a wildly different field. A four year-old child died in an alley, viciously. No clues, no hint to where to start looking for the killer. Matt arrived on the scene before the police knew there was a scene to arrive at, saw the victim, and swore at the callous brutality. As he swore, he began to see a trail, a soft neon light leading from the alley. He followed the trail for two hours, seventeen blocks, and three stories into an apartment house to a door.
His knock was answered by the ugliest, foulest human being he had ever seen, a being who made it clear another victim would not displease him, that Matt was volunteering and the being was ready to accept. It leapt at Matt giving no room for maneuver or escape. Clutching whatever he could grab, Matt wrestled the being to the ground noticing as they tumbled that his hands seemed to be drawing something from the killer. Old men are not hot on the idea of wrestling killers to the ground in a vain attempt to subdue same. Old men have better sense.
But the killer had no better sense than to jump this old man. There was little more struggle. Whatever Matt continued to pull from the killer’s body rendered the killer unable to cope. When Matt stood, still holding a vastly depleted killer, he noticed the puddle at his feet and on the ground where the two had struggled.
The killer, now a murder victim in its own right, dried up.
Now, four o’clock in the morning two nights later, it may be Matt’s turn. Or it may be the walls settling. Or it may be a box of cereal finally succumbing to gravity. There are countless logical reasons for things going bump in the night. And there are a few magical reasons as well.
September 24th, 2003, 03:32 PM
The bump came again, louder and it was coming from the kitchen. Saucepan lids began to clang pounding out the beat. Milk bottles carried the under beat and the small figure in the middle of the table punched the air and began to sing.... Why Cherry Lips howe B remix by Garbage, well why not?
She gave you everything she had
But she was young and dumb
She just turned 21
She didn't have to hang around
So when the **** came down why she was nowhere to be found
This life can turn a good girl bad
She was the sweetest thing that you had ever seen
* You're so such a delicate boy
In the hysterical realm
Of an emotional landslide
In physical terms
The figure dipped and turned, the bangs in its hair lashing round and catching it across its small nose... "bugger" it swore. The kitchen music stopped for a second, then it began again as the figure wriggled its rear and jumped over a tea cup and swung round the milk jug.
With your cherry lips and golden curls
You could make grown men gasp when you go walking past
And in your hot pants and high heels
They could not believe that such a body was for real
It seemed like rainbows would appear
Whenever you came here the clouds would disappear
Because you look just like a girl
Your baby blues would flash and suddenly a spell was cast
"Yes spell cast , whopppeeeeee make it sooooooo" The figure began to point its small finger round the room and everything began to vibrate and roll to the music.
You hold a candle in your heart (go baby go go)
You shine the light on hidden parts (go baby go go)
You make the whole world wanna dance (go baby go go)
You bought yourself a second chance
Go baby go go, we're right behind you
Go baby go go, yeah, we're looking at you
Go baby go go, oh ,we're right behind you
Go baby go baby, yeah, we're right behind you
Go baby go baby, oh, we're right behind you
Go baby go baby, yeah, we're looking at you
Go baby go baby, oh, we're right behind you
Go baby go baby, yeah, we're looking at you
By now the whole room was moving and the figure was spinning like a top, the fine wisps of green fabric hanging on its frame floating out and up as the acorn cup on it's head tipped over its right eye. The tempo increased and things began to smoke.
Go baby go baby go, delicate boy
Go baby go baby go, in the hysterical realm
Go baby go baby go, of an emotional landslide
Go baby go baby go, in physical terms
Go baby go go, go
Yeah, we're looking at you
Go baby go go, oh, we're right behind you
As the final word burst from the small figure's mouth everthing came to a stop with a crash!
The figure took a bow and said "Thank you, thank you very much.....and the fairy has left the building!"
September 25th, 2003, 07:29 AM
In everything Matt has read, nothing jumps out about visitations at 4 a.m. Even Edmund Spencer didn’t have fairies running around at the wee hours of the morning. Sure, there were fairies putting people to sleep for their own purposes but not surprising them with 4.a.m. reveille. Could at least have had a decent back-up band.
He’s awake now and will probably require a nap this afternoon, but – for now - he’s up and he gets up out of bed. Morning ablutions are highlighted by the sight of slight little gentleman staring back at him from the mirror. The guy looks in his sixties, almost gray hair that is an improvement from the dirty brown of his youth. Look close and you can tell it’s thinning. There is a slight pot in the belly but other than that he looks okay for a slender stick of a person trying hard to hit 5’6”.
Morning papers have not arrived at 4:30 a.m. but this is the 21st century and the internet is alive and well at this hour. Usual headlines, this country bullying that; this tribe threatening that; this city hit by storms; that city having a water shortage; this person murdered by that; this country has legalized same sex marriages and that country is threatening war because of it. For the obligatory good news, this man and this woman have been married 75 years now, to each other. When asked how they managed to keep their love alive and well over so long a period, the man answered “huh?!” and the woman answered “I don’t pay any attention to him.”
No mention of strange ugly being gone missing.
Matt does a search, uses six different browsers, for murdered or missing gifted. In the process, he discovers three new web sites devoted to the gifted. One advocates isolation from the rest of humanity; one advocates intermingling hoping for gifted children because there are none at the moment. Gifts do not seem to be hereditary. Youngest known gifted is thirteen years old. The third advocates the gifted take our rightful place in history, evidently as the bosses of this world.
One little post, down at the bottom of an innocuous thread asks a powerful question: does anyone know how to get rid of the gifts? Matt would like to see an answer to that one. He’d also like to see a post on how to discourage fairies from staring over your shoulder while you are taking a morning shower. She's been hanging in the air just behind his ear since he finished his morning routine, been watching him surf.
A gray haired fairy? Are they sorting them out and assigning them according to age? No, this isn’t gray; it’s silver, radiant silver, to go along with her purple wings, pink blouse, and chartreuse pants, pants that remind Matt very much of the peddle pushers of his youth. Sequined shoes?
“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” the fairy observed during the shower. Matt responds with “You haven’t seen this before. Most of the time I can’t find it myself.”
No more words exchanged during morning putting self together time. Words are saved for fourth cup of coffee at kitchen table. Matt starts things rolling with “to what do I owe the dubious blessing of your company?”
September 25th, 2003, 08:56 AM
The fairy picks up a sugar puff and nibbles on it, pulling a face as she spits it out, then sits down next to Matt's coffee cup and says. "It's the buddie scheme."
"Pardon...?" Matt splutters and looks hard at the small creature, who is now standing, peering into his coffee cup, she puts in her hand and scoops a handful up and drinks it, slurping the liquid with gusto.
"Buddie scheme... All you humans breaking out magically we have had to come up with something to help you get the hang of it. Sooooooo.... a buddie scheme.."
"So you are my..." Matt was beginnnig to feel rather strange
"And you will be with me all the time..?" The thought of a fairy accompanying him "all" the time was not quite what he had it mind. In fact he would rather not have a fairy at the bottom of his garden, bed or hanging off the shower curtain.
"No.... you are just one of my group... you see there are so many of you. You are breaking out like a rash on a farmer's bottom. I have a number of them, sorry you. You are just the first I have contacted. Made sense really, with your ability." The fairy while saying this was helping her self again to his coffee.
"My ability?" Matt repeated taking his coffee out her reach, she stamped her foot and glared at him.
"That was not nice."
"Make your own and regarding my ability..." Matt retorted asking again
"Yes, you are a bit of a tracker besides other things.. You can help me track the blighters and peg them down, before they do something silly."
"Something silly.."Matt gulped as he remembered what he had done.
"Oh that wasn't silly, just a bit risky... well done by the way." The fairy smiled up at him and pushed her bangs back over her shoulders
"You saw, errr knew... err.."
"By the green man yes, lit up the board like a christmas tree." The fairy grinned. "Anyways you ready, we need to get going.. I am sure one of my "buddies" is about to pop at any second."
September 25th, 2003, 11:37 AM
As Matt dressed in the same old chequed shirt, denim jeans and fraying boots that had been his staple second skin for the last few decades, god that made one feel old, he couldn't help but wonder at how easy this seemed. Shouldn't fairies be all mythical and stuff, thats what the myths said, rare and mysterious not 'eats sugar puffs, drinks coffee and looks at the career-minded part of your anatomy', guess that must come later in the briefing. He was taking this too well, a buddy group, hmmmm what next? park and fly schemes.
"No silly, only I can fly, your heavy human body doesn't have the grace for flight. Are you keeping that underwear on?"
"Of course I am, why is there an undergarment inspection for this club of yours?"
"Its a group and no but they are stinky and don't be so grouchy."
"Old man's perogative - on both counts."
Here he was, with a fairy, arguing, and well what does one make of it. Einstein said there were only two infinites, the universe and stupidity, he wasn't sure about the universe though. Right about now neither was Matt.
The silence grew.
The fairy must be old to outwait an old man.
"I'll have you know I am a young 2035."
That should have raised an eyebrow, it didn't - neither had the thought-reading ability but that was getting annoying.
"So whats all this nonsense about tracking abilities, I damn near sucked a man to bones two nights ago, hardly qualifies me for a SEAL trident does it."
"Seals have flippers not hands and are docile creatures I'll have you know."
"Yes quite, I see there are going to be communication issues."
"Yes, well ..... "
"Well what? Whats that supposed to mean?"
She smiled, it was dazzling.
Matt groaned, oldest trick in the book - get'em excited, make them want to know, then reel them in. Hook. Line, and Sinker.
The teeth flashed luxuriously as she went on;
"Think of yourself as a water stick..."
"You know, piece of wood shaped like a baseless triangle with the extra side pointing out of the joint vertices."
"Anyway when you get close to the magically gifted..."
"I'm afraid thats a prejudice term, its totally not pc."
"No kiddin' "
"Look this is serious."
"I'm glad one of us thinks so."
"Look tell you what you give me the ...uh .... mission briefing.."
Shrugs, felt better for a cheap shot.
"Where's the next guy."
"Its a woman."
"Ok, where is she."
"I'm not entirely sure but I will give you her aura, NO! don't ask and no silly comment."
It had a sherberty kinda feel, quite nice really, and 'pop' he knew where this woman was.
"See now you understand, so no clever remark then."
It was a statement but Matt had one more in his locker.
"Here's looking at you kid."
September 25th, 2003, 02:25 PM
Name me something worse than a human. Go ahead, try. Can’t be done. Now name me something worse than a human in his sixties with all those make believe aging issues that he wants to deal with all the time.
You want to talk aging? I’ve been at this two millennia, now, and I’m telling you, there is nothing on this planet, in this solar system, in the whole universe worse than humans.
There wasn’t a whole lot of debate about this buddy system thingie. Her majesty, the Queen, says we need to form a buddy system to get the humans over the crisis before they kill us all and, of course, all us good little do-be fairies are charging off to form support groups. We get to tell them the up side and the down side to magic and how to tell the difference. We get to listen to them drone on about the fact no one understands them and they are being persecuted and ‘how dare these puny normal humans treat us gifted people like this?’ and I must avoid responding ‘tell me about it!’
Last time I tried to listen to a human pour his troubles out, I was on Never Never Land listening to the second smallest lost boy crying for his mother. I tried to cheer him up, landed in the palm of his hand making sparkling stars and bottle rockets and such in the air. The little brat closed his fist and damned near squeezed the life out of me. Yeah, you can squeeze the life out of fairies just like you can humans. He’s still running around trying to get the ants out of his pants.
Time to get with it, I suppose. Sniffer here located the next one. Let’s go hear that one’s horror story.
September 26th, 2003, 02:13 AM
The cockroaches took one pace back on masse. They seemed to be taking their time so Sandra pushed the issue, pointing to the smoking remains of a number of their companions. "I said out... what did you not understand huh? Keep to the waste ground, derelict buildings, the parks and the storerooms of fast food burger bars and we all will live together peacefully.. You keep setting up house in other people's homes and they will keep calling me. You lose family, I get hot and sticky, folks has cockroach smeared on there walls and floors. No one is happy."
The cockroaches debated the matter a bit more. Sandra tapped her foot and pulled at the wrinked stockings round her ankles, sniffed and sighed.
The owner of the house kept looking from Sandra to the cockroaches and back again the wad of notes in his hand trembling. Sandra wondered if he was going to back out on the deal. If he did that put him on the vermin list and Sandra was good at dealing with vermin of all sizes and shapes.
The cockroaches' shoulders slumped as one and they began to file out of the window.
"Yes..." Sandra punched the air and wish she hadn't her shoulder would give her jip for the rest of the day now.
"What happens if they come back?" The house owner muttered.
"They won't" Sandra said and pulled the notes from his hand and stuffed them into her large canvas handbag. "If by the remotest chance they do I will clean them up for free."
"Oh... I will let myself out.. "Sandra said and walked down the hall, through the door and towards the lift. It of course wasn't working. She sighed and plodded down the eight flights of stairs. She was hot and mumbling to her self by the time she reached the bottom, so the poor mouse by the door stood no chance, he was fried.
To make matters worse it was raining. She huffed and pulled her weather cape out of the bottom of her handbag and slipped it on, she then set about unchaining her pushbike from the drainpipe.
As she was about to swing into the saddle a mature car, with an mature man in pulled along side. (Sandra never said the word old, she tried not to think it, being over 50 and female made you a relic in the eyes of most, she was damned if she was going to allow herself to think she was)
Sandra looked in through the rain splattered window and saw something hovering by the man's shoulders. "You want me to get rid of that?"
"Try it and you fry?" The thing replied.
"Oh hell, you have been snaffled." Sandra shook her head at the poor man. "I told the last one to bugger off... seems they are trying again. I don't need help, got a good thing going..."
"Yes you do if you are going to go after bigger vermin." The fairy replied.
September 26th, 2003, 07:11 AM
Must be a new fashion fad. A fairy in peddle pushers and this one in slacks designed to emphasize the various ways gravity has worked on her figure. Sort of like glass. Gravity makes glass flow as well. You remove one of the ancient glass windows from the churches in Europe, you’ll find they are thicker at the bottom than the top. Gravity. Not a bad effect. In fact, an effect I expect to see on the older generation.
“Get in, lady,” I invite in not my most socially correct voice. She has independence, though, and that’s a good thing in my book. “Yeah, right,” she responds. The fairy is hopping all over the car, excited, as I guess fairies spend most of their time being, at least from the short introduction to them that I have had that appears to be their common mode. “Come on, missy; come on. We have others to find. Let’s get on with it.” The fairies doesn’t seem to be taking “why should I?” for an answer.
“Ah, please, lady. Get in. This little whirlwind doesn’t get any easier to deal with and if you don’t get in I’ll have to do it all by myself.”
“What about my bicycle?”
I shrug, get out of the car and open the trunk. “We’ll take it with us.”
Bike secured, I’m back at the wheel, our new addition is in the passenger’s seat, our faerie has settled in behind my ear, and we have no idea what to do next.
“Name’s Matt, Matt McDonahugh,” I say, extending right hand for formal introductory purposes. Lady looks at hand, looks at me, reaches computational conclusion, places right hand in mine. “My name is Sandra, not Sandy, Haretan.”
“Did I hear three syllables?”
“You did and I’ve heard it before so, please, don’t bother.”
“Fine by me,” smiling, acknowledging the foolish humor in play.
“So, what are we going to do now?.
We both look back to the fairie for elucidation. The faerie is looking off into the space somewhere in my ear. “Do you ever clean these things?” she asks. Then, realizing we are waiting on her, she takes a seat and smiles benificently upon her brood, looking for all the world like Aladdin’s genie, Disney’s version, the one brought to life by Robin Williams.
“Children, children,” – when you have 2000+ years to 60+ you can get away with this address – “we have so much to do and so little space to do it. First, we must find the other three and then we are going to set the world straight.”
There is a shared groan, the first step in our bonding process, I’m sure. “No such thing as a straight line,” I offer. “Straight is an orientation,” Sandy says, “and I am occidental.”
With obligatory rolling of the eyes, the faerie mutters “I can see how much fun you two are going to be.”
September 26th, 2003, 07:54 AM
Fun, like most things, is relative. Fun for a grouchy old man like me is winding up a fairie ............. god I actually thought that. I may need a nice, padded white jacket after this, the thought is quite appealing actually. No need to dress, wash or feed yourself, three meals a day, prepared, room with a view to call your own and an almost impossibility of hurting yourself. Some people pay good money for that kinda service.
I notice the silence, strange how I never did before.
They are looking at me, it seems like the age division buckled under at gender pressure. Oh joy.
The rain played a steady tattoo on the windscreen, it was soothing in an irritating kinda way.
"Oh thats right I'm driving my car, so sorry."
"Your attitude isn't what I expected of an older member of your species."
"My apologies, I forgot that I should be nice seeing as you haven't explained anything beyond a broad outline which the brothers Grimm would be envious of, intruded on me when I was quite happy with my pottering life and now I'm getaway driver for a bloody fairie club!"
"Group, and you weren't happy."
She had him there, damned if he cared.
"It was my life and I was happy because I got to do what I wanted to do."
"So stop the car at the next person and I will depart your presence for good."
That was the kicker even though he didn't want to admit it - he was interested and excited, he hadn't been this excited in a long time but for excited you should probably read agitated.
"Fine by me."
Pure defiance now, what the heck though, in for a penny in for a pound. She knew anyway. That was very irritating.
"Who's the next victim."
That sherbert feel again, another woman.
"She's a bit younger than you though."
"How much younger?" The passenger seat speaks.
"About 27 of your years."
Different time measurements on the same planet, should give the academics something to deconstruct and argue about labouriously for the next decade, but only if I tell them and frankly my source wouldn't really stand up to close scrutiny.
Bring on the white jacket.
September 26th, 2003, 12:27 PM
The bastard hasn’t called in four years, his little boy is almost four, and now he wants to see me? Finally get a job doing something worthwhile, working the little bitty company’s data input, chance to grow into a full fledged accountant and ole what’s-his-name wants to come back in my life. Had six tattoos on various parts of my anatomy because of that idiot and he wants back in?
No way in hell!
Had to wear long skirts, high collared blouses with long sleeves to interviews and could get no one to pay attention to me. First forty-seven interviewers took one look at “Life’s a bitch” on my left arm and weaseled their way out of the interview in a hurry. Finally wised up and covered up and all I have is a chance. Not going to let him screw this up.
Then Evan jumps off a board, catches a nail, and rips a neat little tear in his right leg. We’re in the middle of nowhere, actually out at the ghost town but except for the ghosts, we were it. I screamed my fool head off calling for help but the ghosts didn’t care. I was holding Evan’s leg together, screaming, my fingers moving up and down the leg as if that would help.
It did. Evan’s leg began to seal. The more I caressed, the more it sealed. Pretty soon, Evan was as good as new and the ghosts were standing around smiling wisely as if they knew what would happen all along.
We get back to town and I start getting ready for work the next day. I’m looking in the mirror at the mass of ink in my arms, rubbing in fury and frustration, and I’m back in grammar school erasing boards. I rub, the ink fades. Rub some more, fades some more.
It’s a gift, healing broken skin. Don’t know what to do with it yet but it’s a gift. Do know that what’s-his- name isn’t part of it, now or ever.