This is a straight up rip-off of The Dresden Files. Or, rather, this would fit nicely into the universe. It was written for a Halloween writing contest at my work. Enjoy.
Halloween night 2020. Perfect night for a summoning. Or ordering bags of your favorite candy from Amazon and hoping your house get’s TP’d (which, this year amounts to an act of charitable giving).
It’s time to get some answers, and maybe start to fix whatever the hell (waves hand in circular motion) “all this is”.
The pungent odor of sulfur fills the air, causing me to cough and my eyes to water. Why does it always have to be sulfur? Why not something like sandalwood? It’s not like I’m summoning a demon or something. Ok, well, I mean, I guess you can’t categorize “ice fairy” as exactly “benign”.
Snap, crackle, pop, and there she is. 6 inches of blazing cold light and fury. Zipping back and forth all around the circle, angrily blasting away with little ice-cycles like a miniature Elsa. Oops! Suddenly she looks like Elsa… Stay focused! Just because she can’t get out of the circle doesn’t mean she isn’t in your head already.
She freezes in mid-air, spinning around to face me, one bare foot pointed to rest delicately on a horizontal snow-flake 2 feet above the ground. Devilish smile spreading mischievously across her face.
“Good evening Andrew.”
“Almost got me there Tink.”
“Yes, I nearly did.”
“Circle was wide enough it could have handled it if you’d suddenly become a 5 and a half foot tall Disney princess.”
“Circle maybe, but maybe not your mind…”
“I’ve been training a long time.”
She looks forlornly down at herself and pouts. “Yes, and now I see I’m dressed in this ridiculous green outfit again. You win. What do you want?”
“Pixie dust.” I hold up a nearly empty leather bag and give it a little shake to indicate my poverty. Happy thoughts and a little magic dust and you can fly. Tink here is my source.
She rolls her eyes, “Surely that’s not all.”
“Pay up Tink. Or else I turn you into 1990s Hook Julie Roberts tinkerbell instead. And not the big one.”
She gives me an unamused deadpan glare and begins to hop, fairy dust showering down in a little ring all around her. “There. Good?”
“Actually, one more thing…”
“As expected…” She smiles slyly, “what next?”
“What the hell is going on!?” I yell at her, a little more angrily than I had intended. Actually, I hadn’t intended to yell at all. But seriously! What is going on?
She freezes, looking every bit like a deer caught in headlights.
“I thought so.” I nod, tight lipped and determined.
“Whatever are you talking about?” She says through clenched teeth, barely affecting any of the faux innocence she’s going for.
“Give it up Tink. The world is falling right the hell apart. Global Pandemic, riots going on over 100 days now, choice between a clown and a vegetable for president. What. The. Hell. Is. Going. On.”
Her eyes shift back and forth like a cornered cat, and she licks her lips.
“Strike a new bargain?” I ask.
Her eyes narrow, and she straightens a bit. I’ve got her attention. Faeries can never resist a bargain.
“No. You’re not taking my first-born, don’t even ask.”
“Oh come now Andrew,” she pouts and stomps her foot, every bit the picture of Tinker Bell (seriously, I was so not expecting the Tinker Bell when I tried summoning her on a whim. That Walt Disney was in deeper than I ever suspected), “you could at least have let me ask… You don’t have to be rude and take the fun out.”
“Ok, fine, you can ask.”
She grins eagerly, “A fair trade would be your firstb—”
“No. Next offer”
She rolls her eyes and groans again.
“Come on, my knees are getting cold on this rough concrete, and its freezing down here. My nose is going to start dripping, and I’m super hungry. In fact, tell you what, give up the goods and I’ll give you an entire pizza.”
She brightens, and I don’t mean figuratively, I mean she literally explodes with yellow light. If there’s one thing faeries seem to love its pizza. Well, pizza and first born children. Then she dims visibly and almost wilts down to stand on the ground, her arms folded across beneath her chest. “I can’t.”
“You can’t what?”
“I can’t… make… any deals about what’s going on right now with those outside of Winter…”
What? That’s… That’s huge actually. Fae make deals like they breath air. It’s part of what powers them. They also can’t lie. So. Wow, ok this is big. I mean, global events already said it was big, but this is like, actually confirmed to not just be stupid bad luck on a global scale. Wait, going on right now. See, that’s the other thing about Faeries, they can’t lie, but like talking to an introvert if you actually listen to them you can find out all sorts of stuff.
“Say there Tink… Remember the 1918 flu?”
“I might… What are you offering?”
“Pizza. One piece per question answered.”
“Whole pizza, 3 questions.”
“Deal, but ‘remember the 1918 flu’ doesn’t count as one of the questions.”
Something not entirely unlike an invisible vice cranking down on her tightens and she shutters and blinks three times rapidly “Done and bound. Ask your questions three.”
“When was the last event of this magnitude?”
“541 through 1453”
What… What the heck happened in 14— Oh. Right. The actual end of the Roman Empire. The Ottoman army captured Constantinople for good, officially ending the Byzantine Empire which had lasted 1,500 years. But, what happened in 541? And that’s like 900 years… Wait…
“Was that whole time span some sort of Fae war or something?”
“Everything is some sort of Fae war or something Andrew. Final question.”
“Wat! No! I was thinking out loud!”
“And I was answering in kind. Final question.”
Crap. OK, pointless to ask questions about those dates, especially when I can have Grismold tell me more about them later anyways. Man… What to ask… I need more info, but I need more info before I even know what to ask…
“Can I just bank my final question for later?”
“No. Answered and done.” A feeling like thunder rumbles through the air and a taste like a mouth full of pennies as she is released from her part of the deal and now the vice clamps down on me. It is so unexpected that I lose my focus, lose my balance, and accidentally set my hand down over the chalk line to steady myself under the cosmic weight of the binding. The circle shatters. Oh. F—
She pounces on my hand immediately. “Andrew, Andrew, Andrew….” The binding solidifies. “My new pet!” She claps and giggles, dancing from foot to foot and spinning in a circle.
Oh no. Oh. No. nononononono. My scalp tingles and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. The pixie steps forward, walking slowly up my arm, each step leaving little pin-pricks of frost-bite as the little winter fae advances. Her steps accompanied by a transformation in appearance, each one more beautiful and terrible than the last, until she walks out of view and stands by my ear.
“You fool. You simple, wonderful, fool.” She laughs into my ear. Cold radiates from her.
I’m frozen in place. Completely beholden to her will for the moment… Which makes no sense. She’s just a tiny winter faerie, she shouldn’t be able to focus long enough to do any real damage here, especially with my emergency fail-safe which should happen right abou—
The smell of pizza wafts down the basement stairs through the screen door at the top of the steps. She doesn’t even blink.
Uh-oh. That’s… Actually wait, what? That makes no sense. There’s not a faerie alive that wouldn’t immediately lose their mind and zip off after a pizza delivery guy, presumably with a car full of pizza for them to raid.
“Who are you?” I ask, eyes narrowing.
“tsk tsk… Well, that was fun while it lasted, my pet.” She says, and with a glimmer and a twist the whole world seems to tilt sideways and suddenly I can feel her standing behind me, her hand on my shoulder, maintaining contact —and the bond to Winter.
“Nice trick, now let’s treat.” I say through gritted teeth.
I’ll spare you the details of how we got there, but half an hour later I had bargained for my life back in exchange for agreeing to help her as a “reagent of winter for the duration of the conflict”. I’d also oh-so-painfully (because nothing is ever easy or free where Winter is involved) pulled the following information out of her, and hold on to your hats because it gets stupid. And weird.
So, I’m sure you remember when Loki turned himself into a mare to seduce an epic horse to keep it from helping a dude build a wall for Valhalla and winning Freya’s hand in marriage and then he accidentally got pregnant and gave birth to an eight legged horse named Sleppy? So, turns out Loki still has a thing for Freya, and is fighting over her with Hoenir. They’ve both turned themselves into humans and are running for president. Again. One guess as to which one is which. All of them being somewhat “old fashioned” Freya’s apparently just letting them fight it out and taking whoever wins, but wait… There’s more! Odin is missing. And Hel has broken loose in the form of plagues, riots, and just general global stupidity as a result. Well, Odin isn’t missing exactly, he’s been seduced by Titania, Queen of Summer herself as part of some sort of crazy retribution against dalliances by the Summer King Oberon who is now also competing, but with Odin, over Titania’s heart (or at least the reclamation of her hand). But where oh where does this little fae fit in? Oh. Oh. Well. This only barely passes the Bechdel test. Barely.
“I’m so sorry my lady…”
Dark as a thundercloud her face becomes as she shrinks back down to her natural size —which really should have tipped me off from the get-go. “The fool should never have done my sister wrong in this way. I’m torn between simultaneously wanting to destroy him and restore him to her.” A single frosty tear rolls down her cheek, “It tears me apart to see not just her, but them all, this way. It is time something is done. You must help me.”
Ye gods and little fishes! Mab, Queen of Winter herself, is standing before me crying; asking for help. A what fools these immortals be. #2020 man.
OK. Allow me to introduce myself. Hi, my name is Andrew Valentine. I’m a professional marriage and family therapist. And Wizard. And suddenly 2020 makes a lot more sense.