The Fairy Collector
A Sci-Fi Short Story
This short story was written for the Soaring Twenties Social Club (STSC) Symposium. The STSC is a small, exclusive online speakeasy where a dauntless band of raconteurs, writers, artists, philosophers, flaneurs, musicians, idlers, and bohemians share ideas and companionship. Occasionally, STSC members create something around a set theme. This time the theme was “risk.” If you are a writer, I encourage you to consider joining us, I’ve included details at the bottom of this post. Lastly, you can find all my past symposium pieces by clicking here.
“Can I keep him? Please? Please?” Daisy pouted her cutest pout as she held up the mason jar containing the fairy.
“What do you have in that jar, Daisy?” Mom asked, not looking up from her book.
“It’s a fairy!”
Daisy beamed and again held up the jar.
“Come now Daisy, you know fairies don’t come near civilization, at least not anymore… though my grandmother used to tell me that they once appeared more regularly. Some people even claim we are their descendants. That they created us with their unusual magic. But those days are long gone.”
“But mom, look! It is a fairy. Look now! He’s shooting sparks at us with his wand!” Daisy insisted, setting the jar on the coffee table.
Daisy’s mom sighed, put down her book, leaned over and put her face up to the jar. Her eyes widened. The jar did indeed contain a small, humanoid figure. The creature certainly looked male, and was flying excitedly about the jar, shooting sparks out of the end of something that did look like a large wand or staff.
“Daisy! Where did you find him? That’s amazing! I don’t believe it!” Mom said.
“I found him In the backyard where our grass ends and the brushland starts! I was sitting in the grass, and I playing, and it was starting to get dark, and I saw movement, and I ran over to look, and I thought I heard something, and I thought it was a bug or something, and then I saw the tiny sparks shoot toward me, and so I grabbed him before he could fly away!” Daisy finally stopped to take a breath, she had a habit of rapidly sharing every thought that appeared in her mind as if she’d forget if she didn’t speak it immediately. Out of breath, she continued, “So can I keep him? Pretty please?” Daisy put her hands together in a gesture of prayer and smiled.
“I don’t know Daisy, you’d have to take care of him. Do you even know how to take care of a fairy? Do you know what they eat? I don’t. And look at him, he’s flying around that jar frantically! He’s going to hurt himself. He’s afraid. Think how much bigger we are than him. It must be frightening for him!” Mom said.
“It’s OK, little fairy. I’m not going to hurt you. I will protect you. I love you, Mr. Fairy.” Daisy made soothing noises and then kissed the jar.
The fairy raised his wand, flew right up to the glass in front of Daisy’s face and shot sparks toward her.
“See Mom! He likes me. He’s trying to sprinkle fairy dust on me.” Daisy giggled.
“I don’t know Daisy, we’ll ask Dad when he gets home.”
Dad arrived and, before he could even take off his shoes and get settled into his favorite easy chair to watch the game, Daisy ran up and said, “I found a fairy today Dad!”
“Mmm huh. That’s nice honey.” Dad said, looking for the remote control.
“Can I keep him?”
“Sure honey,” Dad started to say, but then he saw Mom shaking her head and continued, “sure, why don’t we talk about it first? May I see the fairy?”
Daisy held up the jar. The fairy shot sparks at Dad whose eyes widened in shock!
“She found him over by the hedges honey,” Mom added, “He hasn’t stopped flying around the jar and shooting sparks from his wand since she found him. I think he’s afraid of us.”
Dad nodded at Mom and, turning to Daisy said, “Honey, I know this is a special find. And you’ve been blessed by the magic from his wand. But we need to let him go so he can spread good cheer and harmony throughout the world. That is what fairies do. It would be selfish for us to keep him here when he has so much work to do out in the world.”
“You’re right Daddy, I’ll let him go.” Daisy said as a tear slid down her cheek, “It’s just hard to let him go. I love him already.”
“I know honey. I know. Give me a hug.”
Daisy came over and put her arms around her Dad.
“I love you, Daisy.”
“I love you, Daddy.”
“Now go on and let him go.”
Daisy carried the jar, carefully, to the back corner of their yard and set it down, almost reverently. She leaned down to talk to the fairy and said, “Mr. Fairy, thank you for blessing me with your magic. I’m sorry I kept you trapped. I will remember you for the rest of my life. I love you.” And she opened the jar.
The fairy flew out, facing her, and again raised his wand and a stream of sparks hit Daisy in the face. She giggled as she felt the slight tickles of his magic and then he flew into the shrubs and disappeared.
Commander Garris Fleb’s guerrilla fighters slowly worked their way through the thick overgrown forest. It was tangled with brush and weeds. This kind of terrain was tough going – hot, sweaty, itchy work - but what else could they do?
Commander Fleb found himself lost in his own thoughts, thinking back over how humans had been reduced to a guerrilla war against The Titans.
Earth had been taken over by monsters of our own creation. Fleb was distracted by a rustle to his right, and noticed that a lizard had stuck its head around the corner of a leaf and then frozen in place when it saw him as if, by not moving, it could avoid detection. Demonstrating extraordinary hubris, technologists had created sentient intelligent robots in our own image. Morons Fleb thought, normal joes like him knew that sentient robots always rise up and overthrow their creators. It’s a self-evident fact. Fleb now noticed that the lizard’s eyes were looking up, down and all directions, each eye bizarrely operating independently from the other. He reflected that that would actually be a useful skill for a soldier. Fleb shook his head and looked away. The robots had been built anyway, despite the opinions of world’s normal joes, and, just as humans had once risen to the apex position on earth, these new beings had slowly taken over that dominant position and driven humanity underground, into hiding. Fleb stopped to spit and take a drink. Dust had, once again, coated the inside of his mouth. Anyhow, over time, for reasons nobody quite understood, these robots had made themselves larger and larger and humans now referred to them as “The Titans.”
Humanity, what was left of it, now lived primarily in dense forests, in caves, or in underground cities. Fleb put his canteen back on his belt as he wondered what life must have been like when humans were in charge - before we had been forced to hide. The lizard, spooked by Fleb’s army, darted back behind the brush and disappeared from sight. The war with The Titans, over the centuries, had faded into a sort of cold simmer as the population of humanity had declined. The Titans didn’t seem to bother humans much anymore, going about their daily business just as humanity before them had done.
Today’s humans were at the mercy of the Titans, for what could a man do against such giants? It was a laughable idea to take the war to them.
“Why do we continue this pointless war, sir?” asked private Ramirez, wiping the sweat off his forehead, unknowingly echoing Commander Fleb’s own thoughts.
Commander Fleb looked sideways at Ramirez. It was considered poor form to question the war, especially around a superior officer, but then Fleb sighed and decided to answer him, “Because, Ramirez, unlike birds, lizards and all other manner of creatures that still inhabit the earth, we, humans, have a divine spark, a fire within our souls. Mankind is not accustomed to being the underdog and, frankly, we do not like it.” He paused for a moment, shrugged, and then added, “And so, we fight.”
“I don’t see how we can win, sir. We could just live in our underground cities. The Titans don’t seem to care what we do as long as we leave them alone.”
Ramirez had a point. It was a valid point. A logical point. A point that increasing numbers of humans supported. But, as Ramirez’s commanding officer, in this discussion, it was an irrelevant point.
“Ramirez, we have one capability the animals do not - we can organize into civilizations, we can work together in groups, we can create fighting forces, armies, and weapons of war. So while the odds may be against us, we will not give up.”
Fleb stopped, pulled out his canteen again, and gulped down water greedily. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before continuing, “As you already know Ramirez, that is why we created our unit, the Flying Army of Infiltration, Reconnaissance and Infantry (The FAIRIs). We utilize our advanced nuclear powered jetpacks, and this allows us to move in and out and among The Titans without being detected. We can determine their goals, their desires, their motivations, and importantly, their weaknesses. And if there is a weakness, there is hope. And as long as there is hope, we must continue.”
“Sir!” Sargent Mitchell called to him from above.
Fleb looked up, and watched as Mitchell expertly hovered down, the large translucent mechanical wings extending out from the back of his nuclear powered jet pack. Mitchel landed a few meters away and his wings immediately retracted into the pack. He jogged over to Fleb.
“Sir! I have a report!” Mitchell saluted and stood at attention, breathing rapidly through his mouth.
“At ease, Sargent Mitchell. Proceed. Take a moment. Here, have some water.” Fleb handed Mitchel his canteen.
“Thank you sir. Give me just a moment.” Mitchel drank for a moment and composed himself, handing the canteen back to Commander Fleb, “Sir! Jet Trooper Rogers is reporting in!”
“Rogers! He went MIA earlier today.” Commander Fleb replied, “Patch me through to him Mitchell! Now!”
Mitchell fiddled with some controls on his radio and then nodded at Commander Fleb.
“Private Rogers! What happened? Report!” Commander Fleb ordered into his wrist-mounted Comms unit.
After a moment of static Roger’s voice came over the Comm, distorted, but understandable, “I don’t know, Commander. I was at the edge of the forest and one of the enemy soldiers was sitting on a wide plane of grass. I don’t know what she was doing. I engaged her and shot her from just inside the tree line, but before I could retreat, she grabbed me and dropped me into some kind of containment capsule. This is the closest I’ve been to a Titan and boy are they big, my 223 caliber bullets had no effect whatsoever. They kept me confined for several hours, even taking me into their facility. The Titan that captured me took me before two larger robots. For some reason though, after they conferred in their ugly, undecipherable mechanical language, my captor brought me back to the edge of the forest and let me go. I even opened up my AR and shot her right in the face with everything I had before flying back to report in. But as far as I could tell she simply laughed. I don’t see how we can possibly win this war, at least not without much bigger weapons.”
Commander Fleb thought for just a moment before replying with more resolve than he felt, “I understand, private. But we can not give up. So stop talking like that. We have to keep looking for a weakness. This war with The Titans is a risk we simply must take.”
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