Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Night with Faeries

I wrote this short story for a swap at http://www.swap-bot.com/swap/show/91514. I had to write something with the theme of "driving a car at night."

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A Night with Faeries

Carl, suppressing a huge yawn, peered through the windshield into the dark. No moon or stars lit up the sky to show him the way home. The car's high beams shone on a green sign: Welcome to Faery Land. What? I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere, Carl thought to himself. He had never heard of Faery Land. He was coming home from a friend's party, which was the first time he'd ever visited his friend's house. 
 
Carl continued to drive, looking for somewhere safe to pull over to look at a map. As he drove, he saw lights shining up the otherwise dark sky. Curious, Carl decided to drive towards the lights to see what it could be. However, before he could get close enough, a wooden carriage pulled by horses pulled in front of him from a side street, forcing him to stop. Carl's eyes widened as he watched a very tall man step down from the carriage. His skin was brown, but it looked gnarled and rough like a tree. His hair was green. Carl could swear the man had leaves sticking out of his head. Carl shook his head, then closed his eyes tightly. When he opened them again, the tall man stood at Carl's car and rapped on his window.

“Open the window please,” the tree man said. Carl didn't know what to do. He couldn't drive forward because the carriage blocked his way. He considered driving in reverse, but instead decided to roll down the window.

“No cars beyond this point,” the tree man said once Carl rolled down the window.

“What?” Carl replied, “Why?”

“We don't allow iron or steel in this town. Either step out of the car or turn around and leave.” The man stooped lower to talk to Carl. His ears looked liked knots in a tree. His left arm had what looked like tattoos: 23 black rings encircled the arm.
 
I must be dreaming, Carl thought. I might as well go along with it. He opened the car door as the tree man stepped back. “What should I do with my car?”

“Leave it there,” he replied. “No one will touch it.” So Carl left his car on the road after placing his keys in the glove compartment and looked around him. He saw trees everywhere to the sides, but in front he could see lights still shining a few blocks away. He could make out some houses in the distance.

“Hop in. You're just in time for the Carnival.” The tree man jumped into the open carriage and waved Carl inside. Carl followed. They rode in silence, the only sound coming from the clop clop of the horses' hooves.

As the carriage drew nearer to the houses, Carl noticed more and more people outside, though they looked strange to him, as strange as the tree man. A young boy ran from his red-bricked home, his mother trailing behind. The boy had red skin and a head full of blue spiky hair. Carl watched as blue wings unfurled from the boy's back and as he flew into the sky, his mom soon following with her much larger blue wings.

They continued to drive a few more blocks, the tree man occasionally waving or calling out a greeting. The carriage finally stopped at the bottom of a large grassy hill.

“This is your stop,” the tree man said. “Enjoy your stay!” Carl stepped out of the carriage slowly as he looked around him. He saw many of these strange beings walking and flying towards the grassy hill. When he turned to ask where to go or what to do, but the tree man had already pulled the horses' reigns to drive back from where they came. He climbed the hill, glancing around him. He bumped into someone and turned to apologize.

“Sor... You're green!” He stared at a girl with light green skin and vines encircling her body and arms. A wreath of flowers adorned her long dark green locks of hair.

“Yeah, so? You're white and pasty. Do you see me complaining about that?” She put her right arm on her hip and glared at him. Carl's cheeks blushed a dark shade of red. He didn't know why he had been so surprised after all he'd seen so far.

“I'm sorry,” he said. “Please forgive me my outburst. I'm new here.”

“Ah, a newbie. I kinda figured,” she replied. She started to walk away, showing her delicate wings, but she turned briefly and called to him, “Are you coming?” Carl hurried to catch up to her. He could hear music blaring and soon saw a band set up in the middle of the hill. A blue faery crooned into her microphone. Other faeries danced around the band. Beyond them, more faeries performed tricks. A red male blew fire from his mouth while another juggled torches. Some purple faeries performed flips and cartwheels and other gymnastic feats. Before they reached the dancers, they arrived at the food stands.

“Are you hungry?” the girl with vines asked.

“Yes,” Carl replied. “My name's Carl, by the way.”

“You shouldn't give your name away freely,” she replied. “It holds too much power. However, you can call me Vicki. I'm not giving you my real name though.” She flipped her hair behind her shoulder and turned towards a food stand. When Vicki turned back to Carl, she held out a leafy plate of what looked like petals of red roses. Then she laughed at his fallen expression.

“It's good, believe me. Just try it.” She held out the plate to him. He took a petal and put it to his nose, breathing in the scent of the rose. It felt thicker than a flower though. Vicki giggled as he gingerly took a tiny bite of it. Flavor exploded in his mouth. It tasted sweet with a thickness and texture of chocolate, though it did not taste like chocolate. He had never eaten something like this before and had no comparison for its flavor. Carl then popped the entire petal in his mouth, closing his eyes as he savored it. When he opened his eyes, Vicki smiled and handed him another one. She ate one, then grabbed his hand and led him towards the band. The music had a quick beat and the faeries danced in circles, holding hands. By the time they joined the circle, they had eaten all the roses and the plate, which had been salty and just as delicious.

Vicki and Carl danced for hours. He swirled in circles with all the faeries. He danced alone with Vicki. They were constantly dancing and laughing and eating and drinking. He couldn't remember ever enjoying himself so much. He felt dizzy with giddiness. The last thing he remembered was twirling so much that he fell to the ground, pulling Vicki with him.

Carl awoke on the grassy hill alone. He sat up, rubbing his eyes. The sun glared at him from the clear blue sky. He stood and looked around him. No one else was there. He didn't see any remnants from the night before. No food littered the ground. No faeries greeted him. The grass looked pristine, as though no one had danced or walked on it. Carl walked down the hill. His brows furrowed in confusion as he walked in the direction of his car. Trees had replaced where houses used to stand. He reached his car within 10 minutes of walking. It sat in the middle of the road, untouched, exactly where he'd left it to join the tree man in the carriage. He sat in his car in the driver's seat, gripping the wheel and staring out the windshield. As far as he could see, only trees lined the road.

Carl shook his head and reached into the glove compartment for his keys. He started the car, did a U-turn, and drove in the opposite direction. Within five minutes, he saw a large green sign that said “Thank You for Visiting Fairfield.” As he continued to drive home, the previous night faded from his mind, much like a dream fades from one's memory, until only a single memory remained of a green girl holding out a leafy plate of rose petals.