Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fairy Godmothers, Inc. holiday short story: Lost

Merry Christmas, everybody!


By Jenniffer Wardell

It was always best to stomp your snow boots clean before breaking into a client’s house for the big reveal. Kate was sure management wouldn’t approve of Fairy Godmothers wearing snow boots at all, but they weren’t the ones having to trudge through foot-high snow drifts. What they didn’t know would keep Kate’s feet warm.

She’d already figured out where the kitchen was, so her next step was to transport herself inside. Once the glow from the magic disappeared, Kate scanned the room for her client. It was the usual wicked stepmother fostering situation, so odds were the girl would be curled up by the fireplace….

There was no girl. Instead, there was an older man in a red, fur-trimmed outfit that was about a century or so out of fashion. He had a bulging bag slung over his shoulder, a hat with a puffball on the end, and he looked desperately lost.

Which was good, because he had definitely not been mentioned in the file. “Sir?” she said carefully, trying to figure out if he had a weapon on him anywhere. Sure, he looked harmless, but there were plenty of people who used that as camouflage. “I’m sorry, but you really don’t look like you’re where you want to be.”

“I don’t think I am.” The man’s voice was so warm and friendly that Kate immediately suspected he was a sorcerer of some kind. No one sounded like that naturally. “I’ve been to five houses now, and there hasn’t been a single Christmas tree, set of wooden shoes, menorah, or any other signs people use to celebrate the season.”

Kate’s brow furrowed in confusion. “I’ve never heard of Christmas trees or menorahs, and the only people I’ve ever heard of who wear wooden shoes are a few of the older fairies.”

“Fairies?” Now the man looked alarmed. “Those wings aren’t just a costume, are they?”

“Nooo.” Maybe he was getting senile. His family or assistants should really be keeping better track of him – magic could be dangerous even in full possession of their faculties – but it wasn’t his fault. Maybe she could help him get home after she’d finished with the initial client meeting. “Why don’t you sit down for a little while. I need to talk to someone who lives here, but then after that I can help get you where you’re supposed to be.”

“That’s a kind thought, but I have far too many things to do tonight.” Reaching into his pocket, the man pulled out what appeared to be a crystal ball swirling with snow. He held it up to the moonlight to peer inside it, flicking a finger against the side. Immediately, it turned the deep black of the night sky, strange lights swirling inside.

After a moment of studying it, he sighed. “I knew I should have taken a left turn at the Andromeda Galaxy.”

Yep, definitely senile. She couldn’t let this man go out wandering on his own, for his sake if nothing else. “Sir, I understand about being busy, but maybe I can help you with that, too.” Kate stepped towards him. “If you could just wait a few minutes….”

“No need, my dear. It was so much simpler with the sleigh, but I’ll get the hang of this yet.” Putting the crystal back in his pocket, he slung the bag around so he could reach inside. “Now, I may be in the wrong universe, but you are definitely on the nice list. And I can’t leave anyone on the nice list empty handed.”

“That’s very sweet, but I really don’t need anything.” Sorcerers, especially crazy ones, tended to have a … strange view of appropriate presents. “Let’s just….”

“Ah, here it is.” With a satisfied expression, the man pulled a small, wrapped present out of the bag. The paper appeared to be covered in pine trees with little stars on top, and when she looked closely her name was on the gift tag.

Surprised, she looked up at him. Most sorcerers couldn’t read minds, and she’d taken over Daisy’s client when the other woman had gone home sick with the Giant Flu. No one was supposed to know she was here. “How do you know my name?”

The man’s eyes twinkled. “Christmas magic, my dear.” Then he laid a finger against the side of his nose, winked at her, and promptly disappeared.

Kate stayed where she was for a moment, staring at the space he’d been. She still didn’t know what this “Christmas” thing was he kept talking about, but she was definitely going to check news reports for the next few days.

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