Another flash fiction challenge offered by Chuck Wendig. What is awesome about this is that I am developing backstory on a character that I'm excited to start writing with once done with book 4 of my Elemental Series, Fire. This insallment is a prequel to this blog, and this one. Its based on the concept of "The Unexpected Guest." Enjoy!
I was almost out of vervain; I was almost out of a lot of my stores. I’d have to go visit Ronnie soon. I closed the cupboard, deciding against the potion I was going to make; if I didn’t do it right it would blow up in my face.
“Gonna have to find work soon, Artie,” I reached to scratch him behind the ears as he purred on the kitchen table. “We’ll both be eating canned tuna if I’m not careful.” Artemis rolled on his back, four black paws stretching in opposite directions before he became boneless.
I reached for the fridge door, poking through left over take out containers. Just as I grabbed a cold eggroll someone banged at my front door. A glance at the clock told me it was well after midnight. It wasn’t odd for someone to come by so late, but I wasn’t expecting anyone. I bit off a bite of eggroll and nudged the fridge closed with my hip. I grabbed my baseball bat on my way to the door. Sure, I could hex whoever it was or use my knock out powder, but if it was a friend they wouldn’t thank me for it in the morning.
I rose up on my toes to check the peephole just as my impatient caller banged again. I couldn’t see his face, but I saw the curly tuft of light red hair. I drew in a deep breath and caught a whiff of alcohol and sour garbage. Through the door I heard the distinct sound of a nose being blown, I prayed he had a handkerchief, but I doubted it.
“What do you want, troll?” I demanded through the closed door. I hefted my bat in one hand, munching the last bite of eggroll.
“Whot? Through the door now?” he whined.
“Why should I let you in?” I asked around a mouthful.
“For what?” I opened the door as far as the security chain would allow.
“For work,” he pressed. I did not work for trolls; even he was only half troll. Artemis mrrowed loudly, reminding me of the thought of sharing food with him.
“For the love of frogs,” I cursed, “Fine!” I snapped, slamming the door to release the chain. I stormed back into my living room. I kept the bat in hand.
“Thanks, Mattie,” he breathed, shutting the door behind him.
“Matilda,” I corrected, “only my friends call me Mattie.” I sat on the couch, leaving him the uncomfortable straight-backed chair. “What do you want?”
“I need to catch a fairy,” he said. He sat on the edge of the chair, knee bouncing and clutching a worn porkpie hat in his knobby fingers. The tuft of hair on top of his head didn’t hide his batwing-like ears; he might’ve passed for any other fae – maybe even human – if it weren’t for those ears.
“You’re serious?” I blinked at him.
“Yeah, whot of it?”
“Well, it’s dangerous for one thing. And I do mean fatal,” I paused to lick the oil from my fingers, watching his reaction. He seemed excited at my warning, maybe because I hadn’t dismissed him. “And it’s expensive.”
“I have money,” he rushed, jamming a hand in his pocket, pulling out a pouch. He pulled the thing open, spilling a small mound of jewels on my coffee table. They gleamed ruby red, emerald green and sapphire blue.
“That’s a start,” I kept my face schooled.
“Fine!” he threw a wad of human currency on the table. I didn’t want to need his money, but rent was up next week.
“What are you gonna do with the fairy once you’ve got it?”
“Never you mind!” he growled, finding some confidence.
“Well if that’s how you want it, then no,” I said firmly, waving at the door.
“Whot?” his jaw dropped.
“Look, I don’t aid and abet criminals, if I don’t know what you’re going to do with it, I won’t help you.” I crossed my arms over my chest and waited.
“Money,” he said.
“I want money!”
“You have money!” I waved at the pile on my table.
“Phsst,” he shook his head, “that’s nothing compared to whot a fairy can give me.” He was practically drooling. He was an idiot if he thought he could get a fortune out of a fairy, but if that’s all he wanted then I could sleep at night.
“Alright fine,” I sighed, “but you don’t catch a fairy, you know.”
“You steal their token,” I said, walking into the kitchen and pulling out a wooden disk, some oil and herbs. I was careful to make sure he couldn’t see what I was adding to the mortar. I ground the mixture and applied it to the wooden disk. The grain stained a darker color. I whispered a spell over the talisman so he couldn’t catch the words. It was all done in less than five minutes.
“That’s it?” he asked skeptically, taking the talisman from me.
“You just have to find the field where their token is, it’ll lead you to it. Once you have it, they have to answer your call and grant you one wish.” I said.
“Whot’s the token?”
“A four leaf clover.”
“Whot’s so hard about finding that?” I couldn’t help but laugh.
“They’ll have hidden it in a field of clover. For every ten thousand three leaf clovers there’ll be one four leaf clover. That’ll find it,” I nodded at the disk in his hand. “Once you get your wish, you’ll have to give it back though, otherwise you’ll risk the wrath of the Sidhe.” I saw the flicker of fear cross his face before he clutched the disk to his chest, turned and was out the door with a slam.
I shook my head at him as I gathered up the money that would see me through the next six months easily.
“Careful what you wish for, troll,” I sang, counting the bills.