Ghosts of the past and fairies of the future. Mythical creatures and magic gone awry.
From the crash of the Hindenburg to magic-crazed visions of tomorrow, wonder runs just under the surface. Six fantasy shorts from author Voss Foster explore just how deep that magic runs. And how easily it can be exposed.
Thomas walked up to one of the faceless fae milling around the crystalline station. “Is the bean sidhe in?”
It raised its hands palm to palm and light flooded the tethers. He watched, jealous of the communication channels between fairy, fae and sidhe—it would make his life easier if he could check up on the bean sidhe before Flitting down. “She is in, only just returned from your side.”
“Thank you.” He cast a glare at the snarky fae as it turned its back to him. Thomas walked through the crystal wall and into the swirling colors of the Underworld. He couldn’t remember how he died the first time, all he knew was the color—these colors. He died too many years ago and, as he hung in the emptiness, countless other souls passed over—every single one of them melded into the colors, and he convinced himself it would happen eventually. He had no clue then, and probably even less of a clue now, how long he’d floated there, waiting to disappear—sometimes he thought he already had—but he remembered very clearly when she came to get him.
Now, however many years past, he headed back through the Underworld—back to the bean sidhe. He hated navigating the abyss—he still had problems seeing his own skin amidst the sweeping colors—but if he wanted to get to her, he didn’t have much choice. He focused on the green and black energy swirling and buzzing through her body, her tall frame and long limbs, and her thousands of brilliant tethers. The buzzing filled him again, the fairy light weighing him down, dropping him through the sea of colors into another crystal chamber.
“Thomas.” Her voice sang out in a mass of steps and octaves, all blending into a misty chord. “Have you finally come to me?”
“Not today.” He bowed to the bean sidhe. “One of your kind is running around in the Upperworld.”
“You came to see me about a rogue fae?”
“It’s not a fae. One of the sidhe came to my side.”
“A sidhe?” She cocked her head. “What business would a sidhe have on your side?”
“I don’t care—that’s not my job.”
“Of course it isn’t.” The place where her mouth would have been opened up into a ragged hole of glowing purples and blues. “Forgive my transgression. Why are you here, then?”
“The sidhe aren’t fairies—they have much more power.”
“If you need more fairy light, you know full well I can’t help you.”
“I don’t need any more fairy light. I need a way to bind down a sidhe. I need another rune.”
Her jagged smile spread out further. “There’s only one way to bind a sidhe, but I don’t know if you’ll pay the price I’m asking.”
“How many years do you want from me, bean sidhe?”
Her tethers lit up with so much fairy light it almost blinded him. “I don’t need any more years from you, Thomas. If you want me to give you the rune, my price is death.”
“So you want my life in exchange for a rune? I’ll try my luck without it.”
“No, Thomas, it costs far more than the few years of your life I haven’t gotten from you. If you want this, give up your death. It’s a simple price—if you let me have your final day, I’ll give you the rune.”
He could feel the light flooding into his face. “Immortality?”
“That is my price. If you agree, I promise that this rune will bind any sidhe. If not, I’ll simply send you back to the Upperworld and let you live out the last three years of your life.” She let out a small laugh. “I have a heart attack planned for you, straight into a coma, so you shouldn’t feel much pain.”
Three years. The thought crashed into his head and, before he knew it, words spilled out of his mouth. “I’ll take your deal, bean sidhe.”
Her light covered every facet of the crystal chamber, laughter careening around with the energy. It took a few minutes, but she managed to pull herself back together, still radiating excess light. “Very good. You know what to do.” He flung out his arms just as her hand plunged into his chest. He could feel the sharp fingers clawing around inside of him, scratching out an unseen symbol. A tearing shriek flew out of his body and he watched her hand rip out a bead of dark green light. It slid into the bean sidhe’s body and up one of her tethers. “Welcome to immortality, Thomas.”
“Just give me the rune.” He knew somewhere deep inside of himself that, had he been back in the Upperworld, he’d have had no chance of standing after that. “I want to get this job over with.”
“I remember when you offered me the proper respect for my position, Thomas, but I suppose those days are over and done with.” She dragged her fingers through the air, blazing a complex symbol in front of him. “This is the seal of Gwynn ap Nudd. Only use it if you’re sure you’ve found the sidhe—he doesn’t like being woken up.” She tossed the burning light into his chest, sending spasms through every bit of his body. “The sidhe has to touch this rune to be caught. Do you have it?”
He nodded, weak. “Thank you, bean sidhe.”
Voss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert, where he writes speculative fiction from inside a double wide. He is the author of Tartaros as well as The King Jester Trilogy (Zirkua Fantastic, The Jester Prince, A Fool’s War (releasing 2015)). His work has been featured in Apocrypha & Abstractions, Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, and various other magaziines and anthologies. More information can be found at http://vossfoster.blogspot.com