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Fantasy Fiction

Navigating through the bustling university campus, Jade walked briskly toward the library. She paused occasionally, her eyes scanning the signs to confirm she was heading in the right direction. Her steps quickened with a hint of impatience. "In an age where information is a click away, why am I mandated to engage in this ritual?" she mused silently. The contradiction was stark; they were ushered into college with the call to be independent adults, yet graduate school seemed to clutch onto traditionalism with a vice-like grip.

As she hastened along, another student caught up to her, a look of friendly expectation on his face. "Hey, Jade, have you finished your part of our paper? We're all waiting to compile the final draft."

Jade barely slowed, offering a fleeting and indifferent glance. "Not yet. I'll get to it when I can," she responded curtly, her tone dismissive. The classmate's expression shifted to concern and frustration, but Jade was already moving past him.

As she entered the library, the automatic retrieval system, a marvel of modern engineering, awaited her command. She approached the terminal, tapping in the code for the required text. The machine whirred to life, a symphony of mechanical precision. However, as Jade watched expectantly, the rhythmic hum of the machinery abruptly ceased, replaced by an unsettling silence. No book appeared in the bin.

Peering behind the terminal, Jade discovered a small, almost hidden door labeled "Book Stacks." Pushing it open, she met an extraordinary sight: rows upon rows of books being meticulously sorted and dispatched by what appeared to be... trolls?

Upon noticing her, the creature closest to her paused in surprise, his eyes widening. "Hello there," he said, his voice tinged with astonishment. "It's rare to see a human here." He was far from the towering behemoth of fairy tales. Instead, the troll was diminutive, his small frame made even more noticeable by his thick-soled boots, which seemed to comprise half his height. Despite his chains, he moved with purpose, tirelessly loading books into the delivery system.

"How could the university allow this?" Jade asked, her voice a mix of disbelief and outrage.

He sighed a hint of resignation in his tone. "It's not the university's doing. The book fairies wrote the manual for the automatic system. They convinced the librarians that this was the most efficient way; their intervention in the stacks was unnecessary."

Jade's skepticism grew as the troll gestured upwards, revealing what appeared to be gnats fluttering around the books. 

Jade's expression conveyed her bewilderment. "But why would book fairies write the manual for the library system?" she inquired, her mind racing to make sense of the situation.

The troll looked at her, his expression a mix of exasperation and a hint of amusement. "Do you really think humans write everything?" he asked rhetorically. "Humans are too... let's say, limited in their imagination and scope. It's the book fairies who craft every piece of literature, every manual, every document. They have the creativity and the capacity to envision and articulate the vast expanse of knowledge and stories that humans simply could not."

Jade paused, processing these words. The thought that the entirety of human literature and written knowledge was not a product of human minds but of these tiny, industrious fairies was a concept that challenged her entire understanding of the world. 

Hearing the trolls claim about the book fairies' role in all written works, Jade countered, her voice tinged with skepticism. "But I've written papers and essays myself. Are you seriously telling me I didn't actually write them?"

The troll's response was gruff, his tone bordering on the incredulous. "Think about it, Jade. Do you actually believe you wrote all that on your own? No, you had a book fairy, always hovering around, whispering ideas and words into your ear. Every clever thought, every well-structured sentence – not you. Book fairy."

Jade's expression shifted from doubt to frustration. "I haven't been able to write anything substantial for months now," she protested, her voice laced with sarcasm. "What, was my book fairy too busy with other projects?"

The troll's demeanor turned slightly sour, his gaze fixed on her with a newfound seriousness. "Do you remember swatting away a gnat a few months back?" he asked, his voice tinged with a hint of accusation.

Jade, taken aback by the question, nodded slowly, a sense of dread beginning to form.

"That 'gnat' was your book fairy," he said bluntly, his expression grim. "And not just any fairy. That was my friend. They're not just buzzing around aimlessly; they're working, inspiring. When you swatted it away, well, you lost more than just a nuisance."

The implications of the troll's words slowly sunk in.

"So, 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe?" Jade inquired, her skepticism evident.

"Yes, that was a particularly moody fairy with a flair for the dramatic. Loved to write in the dark," the troll chuckled.

"And what about Stephen King?" Jade continued her urgency to return to her assignment growing.

"King's fairy is quite the character. Loves a good scare. Fun to hang out with."

"Infinite Jest?" Jade asked quickly.

"That was the work of five fairies. Five very confused, very drunk fairies.".

"Beowulf?" Jade's questions were rapid now.

"An ancient fairy, very traditional. Preferred the old ways of storytelling."

"And my 'Intro to Advanced Math' textbook?" Jade's tone was skeptical.

The troll's expression shifted to one of amusement. "Oh, that one?" he said with a sly grin. "A group of fairies who thought they were funny. They often sneak out to watch students grapple with it. You should see them chuckling when someone gets stumped on a problem. They find human confusion over complex math quite entertaining."

Jade suddenly pictured the countless hours she had spent poring over its pages, often feeling bewildered by the complicated equations and theories.

I can't deal with this right now," she stated bluntly.

As she turned to leave, Jade glanced back to the troll, who was now diligently working at the machine. He was engaged in a meticulous effort to dislodge something. 

Jade watched as, with a final tug, the troll extracted an object from the depths of the clogged machinery. In his hands, he held a textbook, its cover marred slightly by the mechanical grip of the machine. A flash of recognition crossed Jade's face as she realized this was the text she had been waiting for.

"I need that book, now," she demanded, reaching for it.

The troll, however, pulled the book closer to himself. "I can't just hand it over," he insisted, his voice firm. "It has to go through the system. The book fairies are strict about the process."

Jade's frustration boiled over. "I don't have time for fairy rules or your system. I have a deadline, and I need that book immediately," she argued, her tone growing more forceful.

"But if I don't put it in the machine, the fairies will get upset. They monitor everything here," the troll explained, his voice laced with anxiety.

Jade, undeterred, lunged forward, determined to retrieve her book. "Well, they can get upset with me then," she retorted.

A brief but intense struggle ensued as Jade wrestled the book from the troll's grasp. He might have won the tug-of-war if not for the chains that restricted his movements. With the book finally in her hands, Jade didn't pause for farewells or further discussion; she rushed back through the small door and closed it firmly behind her.

Once again focused on her assignment, Jade hastened through the library, eager to leave the bewildering experience behind. 

As she neared the exit, Jade noticed another student seated at a table, typing furiously on an iPad. The student paused to take a sip of coffee and, almost simultaneously, swatted at their cheek with the other hand as if brushing away an annoyance. Jade watched, a fleeting thought crossing her mind about the nature of that seemingly insignificant action.

As she passed, the student attempted to resume typing, but their fingers hovered hesitantly over the screen, appearing suddenly stuck.

Jade continued her brisk walk to the exit. The library's automatic doors slid open, and she stepped out into the bright light of day.

November 10, 2023 20:54

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5 comments

Hannah Lynn
03:20 Nov 13, 2023

Fun story! I enjoyed it a lot! 😊

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Shana King
19:55 Nov 13, 2023

Thank you! I enjoyed writing it!

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Andrew Gibbons
17:03 Nov 12, 2023

Thanks for sharing your story. I found it humorous and silly in just the right degree. Although I was caught off guard by where the story eventually went. I was definitely expecting something a bit more serious with how the opening was framed and written. ""In an age where information is a click away, why am I mandated to engage in this ritual?" she mused silently. The contradiction was stark; they were ushered into college with the call to be independent adults, yet graduate school seemed to clutch onto traditionalism with a vice-like gri...

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Shana King
18:55 Nov 12, 2023

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! It's always interesting to see how a story evolves from its beginning, and I appreciate your perspective on the opening lines setting a more serious tone. It's funny how stories take on a life of their own, isn't it? Your comment about the "fascist fairy information control regime" genuinely made me laugh – what a creative and amusing way to describe it! Interestingly, my son also gave me similar feedback about not attempting to free the trolls. It seems there's a shared sentiment there. Perhap...

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Andrew Gibbons
19:07 Nov 12, 2023

My pleasure! Thank you for sharing it with us all and making effort to create! I agree, I love that the story opens more doors (prompt pun intended) for us to explore! Fun story none the less! I would definitely look forward to your style and writing with a more serious tone and subject matter. I appreciate you responding to my comment! Keep up the writing!

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We made a writing app for you

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