Several months had passed since my banishment from the Eastern Outskirts Faery Colony. I was exiled to the nearby woodlands, where the game was low and materials were weak. My new neighbours – all five of them – were either of the sort who avoided all forms of contact, lurking in the darker, more discrete patches of the woodlands, or of a more irritable temperament. They saw me as food rather than a friend.
It could have been worse, I supposed… Getting condemned to this tree-infested bog hole, with the alternative being an execution. Faeries love a good execution. But it was hard to feel thankful when the events which sealed my fate were completely unjust.
My offence? I struck the Faery Prince.
At court, his team of lawyers passionately argued over my supposed refusal of the Prince’s “polite invitation” for marriage. A combination of bribery and threats further convinced the jury to overlook his lothario reputation. He had no intention of courting me. Just the benefits which came with it. Any witnesses for the trial were conveniently absent.
What actually happened was this… The Prince “politely” lifted up my skirt, with the intention of “inviting” himself in. So I told him where he could go stick his wand and kicked him hard in the Crown Jewels.
The Prince may have gotten away with it – as princes often do – but at least I had the satisfaction of watching him sit through the trial with an ice pack pressed against his balls.
After receiving a guilty verdict, the faeries stripped me of my wings and sent me on my merry way.
Shortly after arriving in the woodlands, I started to grow taller. Pretty soon I was the same height as a human. And was aging at the same rate as one too. A sure sign that the fae magic within me had begun to fade.
The growing pains were hellish. And don’t get me started on the subject of making and mending clothes! Back when I was fae-sized, it was a simple matter of stitching together a leaf and a few petals. I also didn’t have to worry about my outfit shrivelling up or falling apart after a few days.
It was upon searching for some fresh leaves that this story really begins. When I heard a noise which would change my life forever…
A loud, booming thud shook the entire woodlands. The trees rocked back and forth. Startled birds fled from their homes. After failing to get most of the white droppings out of my hair and off of my dress, I decided to investigate where the noise had come from.
My search led me to a clearing in the woodlands, where smoking clumps of iron jutted out from the ground and seared bald patches into the grass. They crackled with a type of magic I had never seen before.
A string of curses drifted towards me on the breeze. It was not in a language I understood, but no words could have sounded that harsh without the speaker being either in pain or extremely annoyed. With the exception of Troll or Dragon’s tongue, of course.
“Um… Hello?” I called out.
From behind the largest piece of iron, it revealed itself. A creature I had never encountered before. Dark eyes regarded me with an alien expression. Curiosity? Hostility? I hoped it was the former.
“Can you understand me?” I spoke as slowly as I would to an ogre. For a moment it stared at me as blankly as one. Then it gave a slight nod.
Taking this as a friendly sign, I stepped forward.
With the smoke beginning to clear and at a closer distance, I could form a better judgement about its appearance. It was fairly ugly by faery standards. Although not quite as grotesque as humans!
I suppose its most startling feature was the green skin, which had a translucent quality that revealed the many veins running beneath the surface. It wore a silver attire made from a sleek-texture material I couldn’t place. Perhaps it didn’t exist in this world?
“Good morrow, friend. I am Fred,” it said, in a voice identifying itself as a he. “From the planet known as Xondrun VI.” He paused for a second, as if contemplating what to do next. Then outstretched his hand.
“Rosetta… From the planet known as Earth.” I gestured towards the iron embedded in the ground around us. “What’s all this then?”
“My ship.” He frowned, kicking the piece nearest his horned feet. “So now I have no way of getting back home. The system board is fried!”
“System board,” I repeated. It seemed like the least of his worries, given that the ship itself was spread all around us. “Can’t you repair it?”
Fred rolled his eyes. He actually rolled his eyes at me! And started to sulk.
“Not with these primitive materials,” he said, giving his wrecked ship another kick.
“Well, you know… There’s a Great Wizard on the other side of the forest. I’m sure if you ask him very nicely, he’ll lend you a pair of his sparkly red shoes. Slip them on, tap your feet together three times, and you’ll be sent right back home!”
“You know of such a creature?!” He lifted his head. Hope gleamed in his beady black eyes. Then he caught the wide smirk spread across my face. “Oh, I can’t bear to be on this dreadful planet a second longer!”
He balled his hands up into tight green fists. Having kicked away all the nearby pieces of his ship, all that was left for him to do was to stamp his feet and puff out his cheeks.
Fred was throwing a tantrum. He was actually throwing a tantrum!
“Woah there, Fred” I said, placing a hand on his shoulder. “You might want to cool it. I knew a guy once. Got a bit overzealous with the feet-stamping and… Oh, you’re not actually listening, are you?”
“You don’t understand.” He sank to the ground and placed his weirdly square-shaped head in his hands. “Earth is the laughing stock of the whole galaxy. I only came here on a dare.”
“Earth is pretty lame,” I agreed. “Especially the Eastern Outskirts Faery Colony and its scumbag of a prince.”
“Nevermind. Perhaps I can help…”
I reached into the side compartment of my dress and withdrew my wand. It was still fae-sized (because a wand that grows in size would be a pretty crude addition to this story), but contained the last remnants of my magic.
I wandered over to one the pieces of Fred’s ship and, drawing magic from my wand, pressed my fingers against the cool iron. For a moment nothing happened. I could feel Fred’s desperate gaze fixed on me.
Then the ground underneath us began to rumble. A humming sound came from within the iron. Like a magnet, it began to draw in the other pieces of the ship. I stepped back and watched with Fred as they attached themselves to each other.
“Thank you, Rosetta!” he cried, leaping back to his feet. His ship was once again whole, and the metal mass which hulked before us which filled me with awe.
“So,” I said, after picking my jaw back up from the ground. “What now?”
“Well… I suppose I’d better take off. Maybe do a test flight first. Be sure that everything’s in working order.”
“Yours is a ship that flies?”
Again Fred rolled his eyes at me. “Well duh! How else do you think I got here? Do you see any water nearby?”
Arrogant prick, I thought.
I looked up at the sky, now the colour of peaches as the day drew to a close. Briefly shutting my eyes, I attempted to recall what it had felt like to fly. I found, much to my sadness and surprise, that I could remember very little. And yet I still missed it.
Fred must have noticed the change in my expression because he said, in a resolute tone, “come with me.”
And so I did.
One of the positives to come out of this pandemic was re-connecting with a community of creative writers and having more time to focus on my own projects. I haven’t written many fictional pieces since graduating (as you can probably tell from my blog) and will own up to the fact that I frequently struggle with perfectionism when it comes to writing. Things rarely feel finished. It just gets too close to the deadline.
I originally wrote this short story for a university creative writing workshop. I made several edits for a reading at a virtual campfire I hosted earlier this week and it got a few chuckles from people. I figured I’d post it here. I’m currently reading my way through Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, so I’m hoping his influence has made an appearance to those familiar with his work.
The working title for this piece was, rather unimaginatively, “Unconventional Faery Story”. This reflected my decision to juxtapose fantasy and science fiction elements. At the campfire, someone referred to it as “the adventures of Rosetta and Fred”, so I’ve updated the title. Please don’t take this as a sign that I intend to turn this into a longer piece. I can make no such promise!
That does mean if you want to continue on this story or write more misadventures for these two mismatched characters then go on right ahead. And feel free to send them my way!