Read A Fairy's Guide to Disaster Online

Authors: A W Hartoin

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mythology & Folk Tales, #Teen & Young Adult, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Fairy Tales & Folklore, #Country & Ethnic, #Fairy Tales, #Sword & Sorcery

A Fairy's Guide to Disaster (2 page)

BOOK: A Fairy's Guide to Disaster
3.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I turned around, still holding the list, and found Gerald staring at me from the kitchen doorway. He had his arms crossed and a fierce scowl marred his broad forehead under his light brown hair. He was wearing a grey suit with a navy blue bow tie. Leave it to Gerald to be overdressed for every occasion.

“Where’s my breakfast?” he bellowed. “Mother said you’d give me something good.”

I glanced down at the list, but there wasn’t anything on there about dealing with Gerald and there should’ve been. He wasn’t a vague possibility like explosive diarrhea. He was definite. My mother should’ve replaced rogue fly attack with obnoxious kid attack.

“Your mother probably already fed you.”

I turned my attention to a dozen red maple leaves dancing across the dining room’s wide-planked floors.

Gerald met my remark with silence, which wasn’t like Gerald. Of course it’s possible that I just didn’t hear him. When I looked up to see if I could catch a word or read his lips, all I caught was a glimpse of Gerald’s wings rounding the corner toward our storeroom. I tucked my hair behind my ears and stuffed the list of things that weren’t going to happen in the pocket of my blue jumper. Mom dyed it especially to match my eyes, but I think my eyes are more purple than blue.

I followed Gerald down the hall, sweeping my fingers over the book shelves adorning the wall. Three sad little books sat on the middle shelf and I couldn’t help frowning at them as I passed. It seemed so pathetic to build shelves for books we didn’t own. All the books in Whipplethorn wouldn’t be enough to fill the shelves my father built. He seemed to think that if he built shelves, books would find their way to them. I plucked the thickest tome off the end, an instruction on advanced woodworking. Maybe it could occupy Gerald for a bit. I pressed the book to my chest and arrived in the storeroom just in time to see him bite into our last bit of blueberry.

“Gerald, what are you doing? That’s our last one. You’re not even hungry. I know you’re not,” I said, slamming the book on a flour barrel.

Gerald stuck his tongue out at me and then licked the blueberry with a big slurp. I decided right then that his classmates were right. Gerald wasn’t a wood fairy. He was a stink fairy, just like everyone said.

“What are you going to do about it? Refer to your stupid list?” he asked. A wicked smile spread across his pale face and his wings fanned out. He always did that when he was being obnoxious. I assumed he was trying to make himself bigger, not that it did him any good. Gerald was small, even for an eight-year-old wood fairy.

I wanted to drag him through the storeroom by his vicious tongue and throw him out of the window, but since it was my first babysitting job I thought I’d better not. Instead, I took a breath and counted to three.

Gerald’s smile widened and he yelled, “Can you hear me?”

I took a step toward him and lowered my voice. “I heard you just fine. Get away from that blueberry and go play.”

Gerald’s wings spread a little wider. They operated like my wings, folding down like a moth’s against his body and spreading open to resemble a butterfly’s, but they were much too small for his age and lacked a defined pattern. His blues and greys were dull and muddled even with the bit of sun coming in through the storeroom windows. No matter how much Gerald pretended, his wings just weren’t very impressive.

Gerald plunked down on a stool and crossed his arms. “You can’t make me.”

“I’m the babysitter. I can make you do anything.” Babysitting was starting to sound like more fun than Mom let on.

“You’re not really,” said Gerald. “Everyone knows I’m smarter. I should be babysitting for you.”

“Nobody would let you babysit, Stink Fairy.”

I marched across the dusty wood floor, grabbed Gerald’s arm and hauled him to his feet. Gerald jerked away from me and toppled backwards into my mom’s neatly stacked grains of wheat and barley. The grains fell down around him and one particularly large barley grain clunked him on the head.

“Ouch.” Gerald reached up to touch his ear. He smirked at me and held out his hand. A smear of crimson coated his palm.

“You shouldn’t have pulled away from me,” I said, thinking I was lucky he was still conscious. So much for the list being just a precaution. I’d only been watching Gerald for a few minutes and I already had my first head wound. I knew babysitting Gerald wouldn’t be as boring as Mom claimed. Gerald was a lot of things, but I’d never known him to be boring.

“You shouldn’t have grabbed me,” said Gerald. “I’m telling my mother.”

“Go ahead and tell her, Stink Fairy.” I waved for him to come over. “Come on. I’ve got to bandage that big head of yours.”

“You’re an idiot,” he said.

“I’m an idiot?”

I stomped towards him, spreading my wings out to their full span. My tips touched the ceiling and the bottoms trailed on the ground. The whole room became awash in my purple and green luminescence. I was about to reach for Gerald’s arm again to drag him to the kitchen for a bandage when he said, “Somebody’s running this way.”

It had to be Iris and it had to be bad, because Iris never ever ran. I turned in time to see my little sister bounce off the doorframe of the storeroom. She got to her feet and squeezed through the narrow storeroom door, panting and brushing the wrinkles out of her sparkly blue dress that matched her wings.

“Matilda, you’ll never believe what I saw,” Iris said.

Gerald brushed past me and stood in front of Iris with his arms crossed. “What did you see, big and stupid?”

Iris sucked in her lips. “I’m not stupid.”

“And you’re not that big either,” I said, even though Iris was way bigger than I had been at her age. She might turn out to be larger than our father, who was nearly as tall as the dime Mom propped up on the parlor wall for decoration. “You shouldn’t talk, Gerald. You’re not even a real Whipplethorn.”

“I am, too,” said Gerald.

“No, you’re not,” I said. “You can tell by your wings. They don’t shine at all.”

“Yes, they do, idiot.”

“No, they don’t. Look how muddy and dull they are.” I pulled out one of his wings. “Real Whipplethorns have luminescent wings.”

“That doesn’t make you better,” said Gerald, pulling his wing away from me.

“It makes me a Whipplethorn.”

“Humans,” yelled Iris.

We turned to stare at her. She clapped her dimpled hands and grinned.

“I saw humans,” she said, her grin growing larger.

“Where?” Gerald and I said together.

“Right out in the great hall. You could hear them if you stopped fighting.”

I held my breath and listened. Maybe I heard something, deep tones from outside the mantel. I never would’ve noticed if Iris hadn’t pointed it out.

“Are they loud?” I asked.

Iris hesitated. “They’re not that loud.”

Gerald sneered at her. “Are you kidding? They’re humans. It’s like they’re bellowing out there.” Then Gerald’s face went another shade of pale. “They’re talking about tools.”

I pulled out the list and scanned the thing from top to bottom. Nothing. Humans weren’t on the list. And why would they be? It was like humans had forgotten Whipplethorn Manor existed at all. Of course, I’d seen humans before, but never in the house. Sometimes Dad would find some hiking on trails in the national park nearby, and we would go to look at them. If I was very good, Dad would let me fly right up to them and look up their nostrils. No Whipplethorn fairy had been seen in six generations and I wanted to be the one to break our cold streak. So I tried everything I could think of to get their attention, including pulling ear hairs and biting noses, but they never noticed tiny wood fairies. Dad said I had to want it very badly to make it happen. He’d never been able to do it. I couldn’t imagine wanting a human to see me any more than I already did.

Iris and I ran to the storeroom windows and leaned out. Three human men in faded overalls were walking around and pointing at things. Once I was in the window, I could just barely make out what they were saying.

“What do you think, Sal?” asked the tallest.

“Gold mine. It’s a flipping gold mine,” said Sal.

The third one pulled a notebook out of his pocket and began writing things down. “You got that right.”

My sister and I glanced at each other. “Do you think they’re moving in?” asked Iris.

“No.” I’d spent a lot of time imagining humans living in Whipplethorn. Three men with rough hands and pit stains didn’t match my fantasies at all.

“What are they doing here then?” Iris leaned over the window sill to get a closer look. “Do you think they could see me? Can I go out?”

I pulled Iris back. “Better not. Mom wouldn’t like it.”

She turned around with a petulant frown on her face. I was about to chastise her when I spotted Gerald backing out of the room.

“Don’t you want to see?” Iris asked him.

Gerald didn’t answer, but he stopped moving. His eyes darted from one of us to the other.

“Maybe he’s too smart to be interested in humans,” I said.

Gerald remained silent. A feat I’d never before experienced. Gerald always talked, whether anyone wanted to listen or not.

“What’s wrong with you?” I stepped closer to Gerald, eyeing him with interest.

Iris tapped my shoulder. “Look.”

We crowded into the window again. The three humans were standing in front of our mantel, rubbing their giant hands together and filling the mantel with their odd stink, a combination of sweat and pungent soap.

“May as well start here as anywhere,” said the tall one. “You got it, Sal.”

“You bet,” said Sal as he slapped a long, thin piece of metal in his palm.

Iris leaned forward again. “What’s that?”

“I don’t know,” I said as I felt my blood run cold. I’d read about that happening in books, but the description always seemed silly and melodramatic until it happened to me. It was like taking a bath in ice cold fear. Something was about to go terribly wrong.

The humans went to the sides of the mantel, out of our sight. There was a dull thump and the mantel shook. Iris’s eyes went wide and she reached for me. A cracking noise rang out and the mantel jerked forward, throwing us into the window frame. Iris slid onto the sill, her torso hanging over the edge. I dropped the list and grabbed Iris’s right wing, jerking her back in. There was another crack and the mantel twisted. Grains of wheat and barley flew everywhere, knocking us off our feet. Dad’s woodworking tools clattered onto the floor. Their sharp edges menaced us as we screamed and clung together. Another jerk. Iris and I were thrown against the outside wall again. Another body width and we would’ve fallen out the window.

I grabbed a wall bracket, securely bolted to the wall supporting Dad’s shelves. I held onto it with my right hand and looped my left arm around Iris’s waist. We lay there for a second on the wall that was now a floor and screamed while the dust floated down. Before it had a chance to settle, the mantel flipped upright and we were back on the real floor with me still clinging to the shelf. Then the mantel jerked again and we began to slide toward the door to the hall. Another’s screaming reached me through Iris’s hysteria.

I looked past Iris’s head and saw Gerald, bloody and bruised, sliding across the floor to the open doorway to the hall. The list fluttered past him, useless. Then my woodworking book glanced off his forehead, and his shriek went to a higher pitch. His fingernails gouged into the floor and his mouth was stretched open wider than I’d ever seen it.

“Matilda!” he screamed.

“Gerald!” I wanted to reach out to him, I really did, but I couldn’t let go of Iris and letting go of the shelf wasn’t an option either. We’d all fall. A sudden jerk of the mantel and I found myself dangling from the shelf with Iris’s arms tight around my neck. I looked down in time to see Gerald disappear through the doorway, still screaming my name.


I lost my grip on the bracket and Iris and I landed next to the doorway Gerald had fallen through. The wall kept jumping and bumping. That’s when I realized our mantel was being carried off. Sometimes it jumped so much we’d float in the air for a second before slamming against the wall again. I looked for something to hang on to, but found nothing. Worse, the shelves I’d clung to before were now over our heads, and didn’t look secure at all. They were dangerously close to falling on top of us. Every time the mantel jerked or bounced, the shelves shook and bolts pulled a little further out of their holes.

The mantel creaked and we bounced into the air again. The shelves groaned. The bolts were holding by a thread. Iris stopped screaming. Her mouth formed an O that kept getting larger. I didn’t know if Gerald was still screaming. I hadn’t heard him since he went through the door to the hall. The mantel did another terrific bounce, slamming my teeth together.

“We’ve got to move,” I said. “The shelves are coming down.”

Iris clung to me and cried, “No.”

“We have to. We’ll get squashed.” I dragged Iris toward the door and Iris started screaming again.

The mantel bounced and we flew into air again, landing on the door frame. I leaned over and looked down, through the two doors, across the hall into our parents’ bedroom. It took me a second, but I spotted Gerald wedged between the bed and the bureau. I couldn’t see his face, and he wasn’t moving.

“Come on, Iris,” I said as the shelves wavered above us.

“No,” yelled Iris. “I want Mom.”

“Mom isn’t here. I’m in charge. Now I’ll hang onto the door frame and you climb down me,” I said.

“I’ll fly,” said Iris.

“There’s no room to spread your wings. Just do what I say. The shelves are going to drop.”

I swung myself over the edge of the door frame and held on, digging my fingernails into the wood as Iris shimmied down my back. At last she let go and landed on the hallway wall, then scooted out of the way. I dropped down just as the shelves broke free and crashed into the wall above. Bits of wood and debris fell through the doorway into our parents’ bedroom, but Gerald didn’t respond.

“I’m glad we moved,” said Iris between gulping sobs.

“Me, too,” I said.

BOOK: A Fairy's Guide to Disaster
3.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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