There Are Faeries at the Bottom of My Garden
By Jeff Baker
The lunch rush at Food Garden Court (“Eat Inside Where It Looks Like You’re Outside”) had thinned out and Mr. Spurgeon called Skid and T’amec up to his office on the second floor.
“Dishes washed? Tables all bussed?” Spurgeon asked. “Good. I need you guys to clean something out.”
Skid and T’amec looked at each other. They were thinking about the ash pit behind the building. That wasn’t it.
“You guys gotta go up to the North side of the roof,” Spurgeon said. “Looks like we’ve got fae.”
“Fae?” T’amec asked with a wary look in his eye.
“Yeah. One of the customers noticed them zipping around and complained,” Spurgeon said. “Gotta get them out before the nest gets bigger. It’s when the nest gets bigger they get really dangerous. That’s how we lost those two guys working on the roof a few years ago. They tried to chop out a fae nest. Poof!”
Skid and T’amec looked at each other again. Skid swallowed hard. He remembered Ming and Sandahll. Big and tough. Didn’t help them.
“When do you want us to get at it?” Skid asked.
“Soon as the customers clear out,” Spurgeon said, glancing down to the lower level. “Unless you two want to try this at night?”
“No sir!” T’amec and Skid said at the same time.
Food Garden Court consisted of a lower level with the homey brick floor and tall palm trees and a domed window overhead, letting the sunlight in. The tops of the trees were just opposite the second level with the owner’s office. The pleasant odors from the kitchen filled every corner. Even the corner with the fae’s nest. Skid and T’amec approached cautiously on the landing. They could see the small, silvery nest half hidden behind a protruding leaf from one of the palm trees. It was about the size of a child’s fist. But it would get bigger.
“You got the mirror?” T’amec asked.
“I got mine, Skid said. “You got yours?”
T’amec nodded. The sunlight had to be just right. He held up the small hand mirror and looked at himself. He was tall with shaggy dirty-blond hair. He glanced over at Skid; shorter, lean, dark and muscular. His hair was dark and trimmed short. He could see something small and golden zipping past; a fae.
The small, golden, winged figure looked pure gold and wasn’t quite shaped like a person. It darted back toward the nest and the two of them saw several other fae flitting around the nest. T’amec quickly held the mirror in front of the nest, angling the sunlight just right as Skid quickly raised his mirror, accidentally knocking T’amec’s mirror out of his hand. As it clattered to the floor, several fae swooped toward T’amec. They swirled around him making a melodic buzzing as Skid used his mirror to shine the sunlight on the fae. They suddenly swirled upward and zipped through the glass, without breaking it. Skid aimed the mirror at the nest and hit the nest with his hand. Nothing. Empty. He never understood why the combination of reflected sunlight and the fae’s reflections would expunge them but at least it worked.
T’amec was standing there in a daze. He seemed all right.
“Come on, help me get this in the bag and take it down to the enchantorator.” Skid quickly pulled the black velvet bag from his belt and they began to pull at the nest, hoping no fae would surprise them and fly out at them.
In Mr. Spurgeon’s office, T’amec and Skid were listening as Spurgeon grumbled about all the money he could have lost, especially if he’d had to call in professionals. The Mageistrate might shut them down.
“You guys go back downstairs and finish your shift,” Spurgeon said. “And keep your eyes open for any fae.”
Skid was halfway down the stairs when he realized T’amec wasn’t with him. “Hey, c’mon!” Skid called out. T’amec walked out of the office and followed him glumly. “What’s with you?” Skid asked.
“Uh, I think the fae did something to me,” T’amec said. “I can only do things when you tell me to. Like grabbing the nest and helping you take it out or following you to the office.”
Skid stared. Yeah, he did tend to tell people what to do.
“Wait. Let’s test this.” Skid cleared his throat. “Do a handstand. Now.”
T’amec quickly jumped to the ground and stood on his hands, something Skid hadn’t known he could do. He held the position for a moment, shaking and sweating.
“All right, all right, get right side up again,” Skid said. “Okay, we’re in trouble. You gotta do what I say. Oh, my Oaths! What’re we gonna do?”
Luckily, there was an Augury shop in the adjoining ShopCourt. The Assistant Prophet called one of the Sorcerers from their stockroom, a young kid with a scruffy goatee and the name of some instrumental group on his tunic. After an hour of analysis and scanning, the Sorcerer announced that T’amec must have had an encounter with some fae.
“We know that,” Skid said. “But what can you do about it?”
“Not a lot,” the Sorcerer said. “This sort of binding is pretty unbreakable. It can’t be changed, but you and the bindee can.”
Skid looked over at T’amec. His eyes were wide, like he wanted to say something.
“Okay, T’amec, ask whatever questions you want to, okay?” Skid said.
“What do you mean, changed?” T’amec asked.
“Yeah, what do you mean?” Skid asked.
“Use the opposite of sunlight,” the Sorcerer said. “And make a profession of fealty, under the moonlight.”
“What, get married?” Skid blurted out. “I’m too young to get married! I had my Twenty-Springs celebration just last year!”
“It would probably be enough if you just kissed,” said the sorcerer.
“Him?” T’amec asked. “I mean, he’s kind of cute but I’m not ready to settle down.”
“Try saying something that isn’t a question or try walking out of this shop without him telling you to,” said the Sorcerer. T’amec just stood there, a look of frustration in his eyes.
“All right,” Skid said sighing. “When’s Moonrise?”
The back lot near the ash pit was where the tenants dumped their garbage. T’amec and Skid stood there, staring up at the Moon which was nearly full and growing brighter in the dusk. Mr. Spurgeon hadn’t been happy about being charged the Sorcerer’s consulting fee but it was cheaper than hiring a coven or an exorcist. Especially because his cheapness had gotten them into this situation. After a while longer, Skid could clearly see their shadows cast by moonlight.
“All right,” Skid said nervously. “Let’s try this.”
The two men stood there in the moonlight and kissed. After about a minute, Skid pulled away.
“Okay, I order you to walk back inside.”
T’amec grinned. “What for? I like being out here kissing you!”
“Sounds like a good idea!”
The two young men stood there as the Moon rose into the sky.