Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

‘We love your stories, Uncle Zak, please tell us another one.’The three youngsters were sitting cross-legged in a semicircle around his chair. They were in his sitting room and the sun was shining through the open french windows. He’d been on his own for almost five years, ever since his wife had died, and the visits from his family were precious to him.

Closing the book he’d been reading from, he said. ‘Sorry kids but I have to finish a story I’m writing and I have a deadline to meet.’

There was a murmur of dissent from the children but they accepted his words, stood up, and shuffled out into the garden. He loved his garden and the children but everything was disrupted and noisy when they came to see him. Now he was older, it took him longer to recover from their visits but he knew he could never tell them that. He promised himself some peace and a nice glass of wine once they had left. He would drink it in his beloved space, beneath the apple tree. He hoped that when things quietened down she might visit him again. 

It was warm as he sat outside but the sun had just slipped beneath the horizon and it would soon be dark. The wine tasted lovely, he thought, as he listened to a blackbird singing its sweet song. Life could not get better than this, he knew, as he drained his glass. 

Things had drastically improved for him shortly after he had published his first anthology of fairy stories. A moderately successful crime writer for most of his life, who suddenly, desperately, wanted to realise a childhood dream. He had forsaken the crime genre and begun to write with children as his audience. 

Well, maybe that wasn’t quite how it happened but it is what his publicity blurb says and what he tells people at book signings when they ask. The real reason was much more fanciful and to other people, would be quite unbelievable. The truth was that he had regular visits from a fairy. A mythical creature that nobody knew existed, except in the minds of children or the pages of their books. He knew better. 

Zak Conway, a successful writer of children’s fiction, had a muse. She was called Mirabelle, she told him on her first visit. It was an evening, much like this evening, and he was sitting under this same apple tree, having a single glass of wine when she appeared before him. One minute he was trying to figure out how to perfect the end of his latest crime novel and then she appeared, floating before him. He, of course, did a double-take, rubbed his eyes, shook his head, but she was still there. She spoke to him but there were no words, no actual speech. Yet, he could hear every word in his head. It seemed that she could read his answers, he just had to think his reply. He was unnerved but not scared when she spoke in his head. It was just different. She seemed to be semitransparent, able to be seen but he could also see right through her. She was about eighteen inches tall, he guessed and, he thought, very lightweight. Her voice was light and sweet and he knew he could listen to it forever and never tire of the sound. She fluttered before him on gently fluttering wings. When he asked where she came from she merely said, ‘here and there.’ What she did tell him, however, were tales about her life and those were the stories he later recalled and wrote down. These myths he translated into prose, edited and sold. They had made him famous and increasingly wealthy. He spent much of his life now, relating the stories to writers groups, universities and colleges. He was a much sought after speaker on television too. People paid money just to hear him read his books to them. 

He still had to write the books and he had the skills to do that but his pet fairy inspired him with a seemingly never-ending supply of material. Her visits, however, were fleeting and unannounced. It was always on Mirabelle’s terms and Zak was becoming tired of the lack of control. On each visit, she furnished him with exactly enough stories to get him through until the next occasion. She seemed to have a sense of how many tales to relate and just when he had finished the last one, she appeared again. He had always had control of his workflow and could satisfy his agent and publisher. They always wanted to know when his next anthology would be ready but he simply couldn’t tell them.

‘You cannot rush the inspiration,’ he would say to them but he knew that they too had deadlines to meet. 

Over the past few weeks, he had crafted a plan, a way to keep her in his garden so that he could use her whenever he wanted. 

It was a perfectly simple ploy, one was sure would work just because of its simplicity. Mirabelle had come to trust him. She had often perched on his knee as she related her tales, like any small child may do with a trusted parent. This was the basis for his idea but he knew it must be carried out swiftly and without pain or damage to her fragile form. 

That evening, as he sat under the tree, his wine glass empty, he had the thought to pour himself another drink. He knew it would break his one glass per evening rule but he was feeling particularly good, having completed the last story of his tenth anthology. He would email it to his publisher the next day. As he returned to his seat in the orchard he saw the familiar flutter of a pair of fairy wings. Mirabelle was approaching his chair and he slid down onto it. She hovered under the tree but seemed hesitant to get close to him. He took a long drink of wine, then placed his glass down on the table beside him. Still, she stayed at a distance.

‘Hello Zak,’ she spoke in his head. 

‘Hi, Mirabelle, why don’t you come over here and tell me some stories? I’ve completed the last ones.’

‘Why have you a net hidden in your pocket, Zak?’ She floated just outside his area of reach. Zak drank the rest of his wine and he immediately felt the power of what he thought initially was the increased alcohol taking hold of him. He felt powerless, unable to move his body as he slumped in the chair. Then he knew that the fairy had a hold on him, she was controlling him as he had wanted to control her.

‘Oh Zak, why were you not satisfied with your life as it was? Have I not made you rich and famous?’ He remained paralysed as she flew across and sat on his knee. 

‘You see, this is what always happens when a fairy tries to help a human. They always, always become greedy for more, just like you have, Zak. Don’t you understand that a fairy can never be caged? Your thoughts are always open to me so sadly I will leave you now and I will never return.’ With that, the fairy flew away. 

Three days later, his agent called around to see why he wasn’t answering his calls and found him still in the garden, paralysed. The ambulance took him to the hospital but he never did speak or interact with life again.

That is why nobody ever believes that fairies exist.

April 06, 2021 13:15

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