Fairy Tales of Cliffside: Volume One
By Corey Daggett
Chapter 4: Pranks & Consequences
The dirty Buick with “Bobby’s Taxi” spray painted on the door stopped where Malcolm instructed. It was an odd spot for a drop-off, one of the oddest in Bobby’s twenty years of service. Once the taxi was long out of sight, Malcolm called into the woods. “Is anyone there? Hello?” He looked around, not sure what else to do. After waiting for a moment, he caught sight of a little green light floating through the forest.
Once out of the trees, April grew to normal size. “Hi, Malcolm! It’s good to see you again. Come with me.” She extended her hand. He took it and followed her into the forest. Despite the afternoon sun, the forest was so dark it could have been mistaken for night. “It’s a shame we only meet under bad circumstances.”
“I agree.” he said, looking around, trying his best to memorize the surroundings. There seemed to be a path through the woods. The average person who wasn’t looking for a trail wouldn’t notice, but he could see it faintly. April stopped and waved her hand. When she did, the doorway in the shield appeared, and he could see the cabin. Malcolm looked around awestruck as if he were entering heaven. When he walked through the entrance, he could see the beautiful clearing full of flowers, homemade chairs, a garden, and a fire pit. The place seemed too lush and green to be on earth. It was warm inside the bubble. While the rest of town was still in the upper fifties, inside the bubble, it felt like a perfect seventy-two.
Yukina and Slipha were off to the side talking. They turned toward the newcomers. “Still no news.” Yukina answered before anyone asked. “Does anyone have even a slight idea what could’ve happened?”
Everyone looked to the ground as they tried to think. It ended with the shaking of heads.
“Isn’t there some kind of magic you could use?” Malcolm asked. “You guys seem to have a trick for every occasion.”
The fairies simultaneously put there fingers on their chins and furrowed their brows. Searching their mental catalogs, no doubt. As they did this, Malcolm’s phone went off. When he checked the message, he burst out laughing. The fairies stopped their thinking and looked at him as if he’d gone mad. “Maybe I’m the one with the magic this time.”
The group gathered around to see what he was looking at. The text message from Blaire read, “WEIRD THINGS HAPPENING! IDK WHAT 2 DO?!!!” He tapped the video she’d sent. It’d been recorded from the phone store. There seemed to be no gravity outside. Cars were floating around like ping pong balls in space. Two of the floating cars bumped into one another. People were floating, too. They were panicking and struggling to maneuver. The dogs they’d been walking seemed to be having a blast, barking and swimming around in the air. The people in the phone store (with their feet still on the ground), were crowded around the window and chattering in awe.
“Oh no!” April exclaimed.
“What are they thinking?!” Yukina yelled, frustrated.
Malcolm put the phone back in his pocket. “I thought you said there wasn’t magic that would make me fly.”
Slipha scoffed at the ignorant newcomer. “If you want to float around with no control, sure. Otherwise, you need wings.”
“Come on, we need to get there before they go somewhere else.”
“Whoa, whoa. What about me?” Malcolm protested. “You’re not going to leave me to fend for myself again, are you?”
Yukina considered the question. She turned to April. “Do you think you can make a portal?”
April hesitated to answer. She didn’t seem very confident in herself. “I’m... not sure. It’s a long way.”
“Oh come on. You’re the best at long-distance portals. I know you can do it.” Yukina patted her on the back.
Malcolm had no idea what they were talking about, but decided it best to stay quiet.
“Perhaps Malcolm should go through first.” Slipha suggested. He didn’t like the way she smirked when she said it.
“Oh come now. It’s not that dangerous.”
“Not that dangerous?” Now they had Malcolm’s interest.
April knelt to the ground, closed her eyes, and began moving her hands in a circular motion at the ground.
Malcolm repeated his question. “Not that dangerous? What does that mean?”
Yukina lowered her voice and leaned closer, trying not to disturb April’s concentration. “Well... April is the best at transmigration magic. She can create holes that let you pass from one place to another instantly. Similar to what I used on you, but I’m not strong enough to travel miles. So there might be a slight chance you won’t come out in the intended spot. Or city. Or country. Or you might end up lodged in a tree. It’s a tricky magic to master.”
Malcolm felt a disturbance in his stomach as she spoke. “And you want me to test it?”
“Best to use the expendable one.” Slipha covered her mouth in an attempt to quell her fiendish laugh. It seemed she was enjoying this a bit too much.
“No, we’re not doing that.” Yukina protested. “I’ll go through first.”
Malcolm didn’t say any more. He didn’t really want to say any more. Instead, he chose to fidget with his hands.
“Okay.” April called. “All done.” She didn’t sound entirely confident.
The three gathered around the glowing hole in the ground. It was just large enough for a person to fit through. Malcolm peered down into it. All he could see was sky. He lowered his head closer to the hole. As he did, the sides of downtown storefronts came into view. “That’s... disorienting.”
“It might be weird going through, but not harmful.” April said. “I think I did it right.”
Yukina knelt to the ground and reached her entire arm through. Everyone watched with bated breath. She pulled it out. It seemed to be just as it’d been before going through the portal. She stood up. “Alright. I’m going.” Without a hint of hesitation, she flew straight up, turned in an arc, and plummeted through the hole.
Everyone crowded around to see. There was a moment of silence and awe awaiting word from the other side. Suddenly, Yukina’s head popped back up. Everyone jumped. “It’s fine!” she assured them. “Come on through.” Then her head slipped back down.
“Good enough for me.” Slipha said. Both her and April flew up into the air, then down head first as Yukina had done. In an instant, they were gone, leaving Malcolm alone in the woods.
Again, he inched close to the hole and peered through, still not sure if he should go through. But he knew there was no reason to doubt the magic portal. He prepared himself like a person about to plunge into icy waters. He stiffened himself and held his breath. Then he jumped. It was a small jump like a bunny hop. His body was swallowed by the hole.
The transition was instant, just as in the bathroom, but now he understood why the fairies had flown through head-first. When he came out the other side, he was upside-down. The momentum from his fall pushed him up into the air. He flailed to try and catch himself. But he did not tumble back to the ground, as would have normally happened. Instead, he just floated and couldn’t steer himself. The portal disappeared once he was away from it.
He looked around. It seemed that several blocks of Main street were experiencing the weightlessness. The police had arrived now and were being as helpful as ever. They, along with their cruisers, were floating through the air. The officers were yelling and struggling to move. There were some kids playing in the weightlessness with happy dogs having the time of their lives. The grown-ups who had been caught by the phenomenon weren’t having as much fun. It seemed that most of them were clinging to lightpoles.
Malcolm searched, but couldn’t find a sign of the fairies. He tried to swim through the air, but there just wasn’t anything to push against. He twisted and turned to no avail. He struggled in the air like crazy for a minute before miniature versions of the fairies flew up to him.
“Oh hi.” He said. “Thanks for leaving me high and dry. I thought you’d run off somewhere.”
Tiny Yukina grabbed onto the shoulder of his shirt and spoke in his ear. “We haven’t found them yet, but they have to be nearby. We need to listen carefully because they’re probably invisible.”
April flew to his other shoulder and grabbed his shirt. Slipha flew behind his neck and grabbed the back of his shirt. They all tugged on the suspended man. The steering was welcomed, except for maybe Slipha’s help, which seemed to be aimed more at choking him with his shirt than helping. Malcolm imagined her snickering behind his head.
They tugged him down the sidewalk. They were now passing the phone store. Malcolm wasn’t sure what to do as he passed. Sure enough, there was Blaire, along with all her colleagues and customers, watching out the window of the store, their mouths gaping wide. He smiled and waved a nervous smile as he floated by. Blaire’s eyes became even wider as she gawked at him. She ran to the door and chanced sticking her head out, being sure to cling to the handle.
“What the hell is going on?!” she shouted.
Malcolm continued his slow flight down Main street. “I’m as clueless as you. Might as well enjoy it.” She didn’t have any more words.
“Wait!” April called to the other fairies. For being small, her voice sure sounded loud in Malcolm’s ear. “I think I heard something.”
“You mean besides all the yelling people?”
“Yes. It sounded familiar. Like I’ve heard it a million times before.”
“They’re laughing their heads off somewhere, aren’t they?” Slipha said. “If I were them, I’d be up high so that I could see everything.”
“Let’s go up then.” Yukina said. The three fairies hoisted upward, taking Malcolm higher.
“Whoa!” he said as he looked down. “This is getting high. This is getting really high! I feel weird!”
“Stop being such a wimp.” Slipha called at him. “I thought you wanted to fly.”
“It still feels really weird!”
“Then stop looking down.”
He took her advice and looked straight ahead at the blue sky. They were now hovering a little ways above the rooftops. Now that they were far from the bewildered screams of downtown, they could listen better for snickering little fairies. All were quiet for a moment.
“There!” April said, pointing toward a roof. “I heard something come from over there.”
The group hovered toward it. Once Malcolm was above the roof, they let go. He continued floating forward. “Guys! What the hell?” He ran into a metal pole which held up an antenna. “OOF!” He clung to it with no intention of letting go.
The fairies blew up to normal size. “Kara and Autumn, I know you’re here.” Yukina called. “Show yourselves.” Silence. She flew slowly above the roof and scanned possible hiding places. There was a large AC unit on the roof. When she got near it, she thrust her hands out and grabbed at the air. A pair of screams came from behind the unit. She pulled the duo up into the open. “You’ve been having fun, haven’t you?”
They were both trying to hold back snickers and giggles as they were being held captive by their hair. Yukina continued scolding them. “Well? What lunacy possessed you to play a prank like this?” They didn’t answer, but continued trying to hold back their laughs. “Cut the magic right now. Slowly. If anyone gets hurt, you’ll be in a lot more trouble.”
“Yeah!” Malcolm chimed in from the pole he clung to. “Slowly!”
Autumn and Kara were loosed. Autumn went to the edge of the roof and held her hands in the air, which began to glow brightly. Gravity began to slowly return. All the floating people and cars on the street below crept back to the ground. Malcolm’s weight returned, leaving him clinging to the pole even tighter. He slid down ever so carefully until his feet touched the roof. “Well.” he said, brushing his clothes off. “That was an... intriguing experience.”
“You mean when you weren’t getting sick and crying?” Slipha added.
Malcolm folded his arms and tried to ignore her.
Yukina grabbed the twins’ shoulders and looked them in the eyes. “Now tell me why you did that.”
They stayed silent. Kara looked down, ashamed. Autumn shrugged. “We were bored. And...”
“We were just... you know...”
“No, I don’t.”
“We were bored of staying in the forest. So we went looking for Malcolm. Thought maybe we could find him and... I don’t know... have an adventure. See what life is like out here. But we couldn’t find him and we got bored. So I got the idea to prank the town. Figured Malcolm would show up looking for us. See? It worked!” She put her hands up triumphantly in Malcolm’s direction. Then she added, “Besides, we asked Slipha and she said we could go.”
Yukina, April, and Malcolm turned their judgmental gazes upon Slipha. She stammered, putting her hands up as if to say Please calm down. “I... said no such thing.”
Kara raised her voice in protest this time. “You did too say we could go!”
Slipha backed up a few steps until her legs bumped into the sidewall of the roof. “I’m... so sorry you misunderstood me. What I meant was that... you should ask Yukina... if you could, and that I thought... she should let you. But only with her permission.”
“Enough.” Yukina spoke so sternly and with such authority that everyone on the roof became too afraid to speak. “I’ve had enough of this already. Now I’m going to go down and erase people’s memories. We can’t let news of this get out.”
“Wait a minute.” Malcolm said. “That won’t do any good.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s already out. People have been taking video of the whole thing and posting it on the internet.” He pulled his phone from his pocket and brought it up in the browser. “There, see.” He showed the screen to the group. All the trending videos were of the bizarre gravity phenomenon that hit Cliffside. “I’m afraid news is instant today. Unless you have a magic spell that erases people’s accounts.”
Yukina put her hand to her forehead out of sheer frustration. “No, we have nothing of the sort.”
Malcolm shrugged. “Oh well. Look on the bright side.” Everyone looked up at him like he was crazy. “At least the economy of Cliffside is about to boom. More than any tourist season has done.” He threw his hands up and shrugged. “I guess we live in a magic town now.”
April burst out laughing. The three guilty fairies joined in nervously, more to shift attention away from themselves. Yukina, however, did not laugh. She beckoned to April. “Will you be able to make another portal?”
“I can try. I might have one more in me before I’m spent.”
She did have one more. Upon Malcolm’s request, this one came out of the ceiling in their cabin (so as to allow the one who couldn’t fly to drop through safely). One by one, each jumped through and were home.
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