Melissa rested her chin on her crossed forearms and stared out the window at the rolling countryside. Summers at her grandfather’s old farmhouse had been a joy when she was younger, but as a teenager, they weren’t nearly as much fun, at least, not at the start. She missed her friends and the old familiar places.
She stood up and closed the window, then turned to pull back the covers and get into the same bed that she’d slept in every summer for as long as she could remember. When she stretched her legs out, her toes encountered an odd square object tucked away at the foot of the bed.
She stretched a little bit further and hooked the top of her foot around whatever it was and slowly dragged it up the bed until she could grasp it with the spread fingers of her waiting hand. It felt like a small paper box, and she brought it up from beneath the covers to have a look at it, as best she could in the dimness of the country summer evening.
It was too dark to see much, so Melissa reached up and snapped on her bedside lamp. She blinked a moment, but her eyes hadn’t spent too long adjusting to the darkness, so in next to no time she was reading the fine print on the box containing one deck of tarot cards.
She brushed her fingertips around the perimeter of the box in wonder, but she was so sleepy after a long day of teenaged moping that she promised herself that she would go through each and every one of the cards first thing tomorrow before tucking them away in the drawer beneath the small lamp.
Her eyelids were heavy as she reached to switch the lamp back off, and she was asleep mere moments after her head hit the pillow, dreaming of cups and swords.
finger in a box
fairies more naughty than nice
playing dirty tricks
Ian saves me funny pictures to look at before bedtime, and while this one isn’t funny, it came with an assignment. Feel free to take part!
Gerald was sick to death of dealing with the pest problem in his forest. He felt overwhelmed; he’d tried everything he could think of to get rid of those damn naked pixies, to no avail. They still swarmed the path, and he had to fight his way through every time he ran out of eggs and needed to head to the market.
When he set out the poisoned cookies, he thought that would be the end of it. But it wasn’t. Apparently strychnine doesn’t work on a pixie’s metabolism. They ate them up and begged for more.
He tried a batch with arsenic. That didn’t work either. Neither did white phosphorus.
Since they liked the cookies so much, he used them as bait in the live traps that he picked up from the local dogcatcher. Pixies are too smart for live traps.
He tried mouse traps. He tried bear traps. He tried sticky traps. Nothing worked.
After weeks of experimentation, Gerald woke in the middle of the might with a genius idea. He would go ask the witch for a spell.
It’s not like he was married or had any living family left. What could the witch do to hurt him? It was a risk that Gerald was willing to take.
He didn’t get back to sleep that night, trying to find the flaw in his plan. He didn’t find one, so as soon as the sun was high enough, he put on his cloak and waded through the mass of pixie tits to the other side of the haunted forest, where the witch lived in her fake gingerbread house.
Since Gerald was long past childhood, he was unfazed by the candy temptations and headed straight for the doorbell. He pressed it once, with his thumb, and waited for a response. The seconds ticked by, and just as he was raising his hand to ring again, the door creaked open in front of him and the witch’s voice drifted out.
“Come in, Gerald.”
He entered the witch’s lair.
But it wasn’t that great of a lair, after all. It was actually a pretty sweet pad, and Gerald admired her interior decorating skills. The furniture all looked pretty comfortable, and the wallpaper was subtle enough that it took a moment of study for him to realize that it was made up of images of tortured children dying in every way imaginable. That was a tad creepy, but Gerald was on a mission, and he couldn’t be blown off course by a bit of eccentricity.
“Hey, Maude. Look, I’ve been dealing with these pixies down the road–” he began.
Maude interrupted. “Do I look like an exterminator? Dammit, Gerald. Feed ’em arsenic cookies. Works every time. Now piss off and let me take a nap.”
Gerald frowned. “I tried that. And strychnine, and white phosphorus. And traps. I’m at my wits’ end here, Maude, come on. Cut me some slack, you know how bad they get in the summer around here. And this is the worst year yet!”
Maude was not a happy camper. She sat up a little straighter in her chair and stared Gerald down until he took a seat of his own.
“Are you shittin’ me, Gerald? Arsenic always works on pixies. The only reason it wouldn’t work–” she broke off and put a hand to her mouth. “It can’t be.”
“What can’t it be?” asked Gerald, after waiting a suitable amount of time for her to continue. “Maude, what is it?”
“They’re rot pixies, Gerald. Move. Now get out of my house.”
Try as he might, Gerald couldn’t get another word out of her. He’d never heard of rot pixies, and had absolutely no idea what the big deal was.
“Thanks for nothing, Maude,” he said, and left.
Gerald trudged home, but as he drew closer to the affected area near his home, he began to wonder again about rot pixies. None of them had ever bitten or scratched him, just gotten in his face with their tiny naked asses, blocking his view and making him angry.
The first one buzzed up to him as he completed this line of thought, and he swatted it away as he had dozens of times before, without thinking. With that action, he panicked. What if he did something to the rot pixies out of ignorance and it got him killed? He rushed through the remaining cloud of nudie pests and slammed his front door behind him.
He sank to the floor, chest heaving with breathlessness from the unexpected exertion, his eyes wide with fear.
“Rot pixies,” he muttered to himself, then rose from the floor to open up his laptop. Google gave him a short list of DeviantArt results, sprinkled liberally with some Danish articles that he couldn’t read. No help there.
He closed the laptop and sighed with exasperation. Who would know what rot pixies were besides Maude? Gerald was at a loss. He laced his fingers behind his head and leaned back, closing his eyes.
Suddenly, his eyes popped wide open. Clarence. Clarence would know! Gerald jumped from his chair and snagged his cloak on his way out the door. He raced to town and cop-knocked on the small, ragged door next to the market.
“Clarence! I need to talk to you now!” he shouted.
Shuffling footsteps sounded through the cracks in the door, and at last, Clarence peeked out of the small opening between the jamb and the door.
“Well, fuck, Ger, I ain’t seen you in a coon’s age,” he said. “Come sit a spell with me. What’s been new wit’choo lately?”
Gerald couldn’t restrain the flow of words pouring from his mouth. “It’s these pixies, Clarence, I’ve been trying to get rid of ’em for weeks now, and you know how bad they get every year. This year it’s worse! Nothing worked, and I went to ask Maude for a spell, but she said if arsenic didn’t work then they’re rot pixies, Clarence, rot pixies, and What the shit is a rot pixies? Am I going to die? Tell me!” He cut off like a faucet, and waited for Clarence to solve all of his problems.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Ger, rot pixies? Yer havin’ me on! Don’t listen to Maude, rot pixies died out a thousand thousand years ago. There ain’t no way–but you said arsenic didn’t work? Hmm.” Clarence headed toward the kitchen, brows knit together in worry.
Gerald waited patiently for Clarence to return with a cup of coffee or whatever he was banging around in the kitchen, but a sudden shatter and thud made him run in to check on Clarence.
Clarence was sprawled on the kitchen floor, coffee mug in a million pieces next to his head. Steam rose from a frothy grey liquid that surrounded the pieces, but Gerald knew better than to breathe it in. He remembered when the mayor had died after trying to regulate the market next door. This was ash poison.
Gerald backed out of the kitchen, then turned and ran through the front door. This had to be worse than he thought. Clarence had a good three hundred years left in him, and he just drank ash poison because Gerald told him about an infestation of rot pixies.
He ran straight back to Maude’s, but hesitated before ringing the bell. He heard her talking in there, and caught a few words: Gerald, rot pixies, and ash. How did that witch already know about Clarence?
Without bothering to ring the bell, Gerald burst through Maude’s front door and demanded to know what was going on, right this instant.
Maude cackled as she hung up the phone. “It’s over, Gerald. The gig is up. There’s no damn such thing as rot pixies. Me and Clarence just wanted to see how far we could push you. I told him that fake ash was a masterpiece!” She continued laughing as Gerald shook with rage, his hands clenching into fists.
“He was my friend! It’s not a fucking joke anymore, Maude. I thought he was dead!”
Maude’s face grew stern, and she lifted a hand and said one word. “Out.”
Gerald felt unseen hands push him back through the front door until he fell off the stoop. Maude stepped forward and slammed her front door in his face. He was still seeing stars dance around his head, but none of this made any sense at all. Joke or no joke, the arsenic hadn’t worked, so what was the deal with the pixies? He groaned and cradled his aching head in his hands.
He was going to have to go all the way back to town to check on Clarence and make sure he was alright. A sudden realization shook him: Maude was a witch. She could have poisoned Clarence, and she wouldn’t waste even a single second feeling bad about it. The thought spurred Gerald upright, and he trudged back to town much more slowly than he’d rushed out here minutes earlier.
When he arrived back at Clarence’s place, it was empty. Empty of not just Clarence, but of every sign that he’d ever lived there. Gerald didn’t know what to make of this. He worked his mouth like a fish until he felt a tug at his elbow. It was one of the street urchins that Gerald always spared a bit of food for.
“Mister G, are you okay? You don’t look so good,” the boy asked.
“Who lives here?” he asked the boy.
“You know we live here, Mister G, me and my pals.” The boy seemed more concerned now that Gerald had proved himself less aware of the present.
“What about Clarence?” Gerald pressed.
It was clear the boy had no idea who Gerald was talking about.
That witch. Maude was going to pay.
“I have to go,” he told the boy.
Gerald wasn’t going back to Maude’s today; there was no telling what else she was going to try to pull. He went home, ignoring the pixies as they tugged at his hair and beard and clothes, begging for him to notice their nakedness. He brushed them aside to enter his home, and shed his boots and clothes as he walked towards his bed.
One pixies had managed to avoid his marauding hands, and was still twisted in Gerald’s beard, but when he collapsed into bed, he crushed the poor thing. Gerald fell into a deep, dreamless sleep
And he never woke up.
I need to get away from updates, to a semblance of normalcy.
I planned to take on one of the Daily Post’s prompts from earlier this week, but the one I chose led me to a different path. It was #4: Self-psychoanalysis via your bookshelf or Spotify playlists.
I only read my Kindle in bed because the lamp is on Ian’s side, so I considered the last five ebooks I read: A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, both George R. R. Martin, The Clique by Lisi Harrison, and Becoming Odyssa and Called Again, both Jennifer Pharr Davis.
Yep, definitely a telling slice of my psyche. I devour science fiction and fantasy, teen angst is my guilty pleasure, and Ian and I want to hike the Appalachian Trail. I realized I didn’t want to talk about books, though. I wanted to talk about the trail.
I’d heard of the Appalachian Trail before, but I never really learned anything about it until Lori Lavender Luz made mention of her trail name. I thought to myself, Trail name? What’s that? So I googled. I read. I watched documentaries.
I told Ian a little bit about it, and he said, ‘Oh. Wanna go?’
Heck yeah I wanna go!!
I have always enjoyed hiking and exploring. I loved my summers in Michigan, especially going to Dow Gardens and walking all the trails. Then summers in Colorado, dipping my feet in icy Rocky Mountain streams and taking a trip to Mesa Verde. Holidays with my stepdad’s family, and the acres and acres of woods behind their home. My trip to Yellowknife, exploring the glacial rocks. And here, my friends and I all used to go ‘camping’ and play hide and seek in the forest in the middle of the night. I know, not the smartest thing we ever did.
To be able to do that for days, weeks, months? That would be amazing. To be part of something that so many people are part of only because they love it? Even more amazing. To belong somewhere that being nice is magic? Words cannot describe.
On the other hand, being dirty, hungry, hurting, tired, uncomfortable–I can work with those, except maybe dirty hair. I’d rather a kidney stone than unwashed hair. *shrug* I could shave it and wear a hat.
But would Ian really want to do that? It turns out that he enjoys hiking as well! We’ve been visiting the Red River National Wildlife Refuge and walking the trails. We took Abby last week and saw a mole, a snake, and deer tracks.
It’s exciting to think about going, even with no idea of how or when we can make the trip. When I think about all the bloggers I know who live somewhere along the trail it’s even more exciting. Although I’d imagine it’s pretty hard for a stinky hiker to make a good first impression. But you’d forgive us, wouldn’t you?