Fairy Tales of Cliffside: Volume Two
By Corey Daggett
Chapter 3: Slipha's Night
Malcolm pulled his laptop from the duffle bag. It was a heavy, bulky thing that was several years old, but he loved it. His fingers had grown used to its keyboard and typing on anything else now felt strange. He tucked it under his arm and hurried over to the group of fairies who were leaving the bubble. Evening was approaching and they were ready to head to the cliffs.
Yukina set up her painting – or whatever it was – overlooking the ocean and began manipulating it. Slipha sat on the edge with her book, just as she had the other day, and began writing. Malcolm sat down beside her, but stayed a few feet away from the cliff’s edge. He put his laptop on the ground in front of him and opened it. It’s hard drive began grinding as it booted and the fan began to whir.
Slipha glanced back at him and took interest in the thing. “What is that?” she asked, closing her book and scooting over to see it.
“It’s a laptop. This is what I use to write.”
She looked at the screen, her eyes wide with wonder. “That’s a strange looking book.”
He laughed. “No, it’s not a book. It’s a computer. It can do anything you want, not just reading and writing.” The desktop appeared and Malcolm began clicking through folders. Slipha crossed her legs and settled in beside him. She wanted to see more from this odd machine. He opened his pictures folder and brought up a picture from college. “That’s me when I won the college writing contest.” In the picture he was holding a certificate on stage with the awarder. “It really wasn’t such a big deal, only a few people entered. But it was the proudest day of my life.”
“Very interesting. So it works like your phone, but bigger?”
“Sorta, yea. The phone’s too small for a lot of things, like writing.” He clicked through the pictures, which were mostly nature pictures he’d taken. Then, he came across a picture of him and Blaire. They were standing outside and he had his arm around her waist.
“Oh, is that your girlfriend?”
“Yea. That’s Blaire.”
“You two look happy together.”
Malcolm stared at the screen. “We were.”
Slipha glanced up at Malcolm, who now looked like a statue. His eyes didn’t move, but thoughts rushed behind them. He hit the X on the window and the picture disappeared. “Let me show you how writing works.”
He quickly brought up his word processor. “You see, instead of drawing the letters on the page, you push the keys.” He typed out some words on the screen. “It’s better than writing because you can easily go back, erase, and change things. Though... I suppose that since you write with magical ink, it’s not so hard to edit.”
“No, it’s not hard. As I’ve been translating my book into English, I simply run my fingers over the words and change them with my thoughts.”
“That’s neat. I’ll always use this, though. It has to be digital to be put up on the internet or submitted to agents.”
“Oh. Does that mean I’ll have to learn how to use this, too?”
“No, you stick to what you’re comfortable with. I’ll do the typing when you’re done.”
She smiled. “Thanks.”
“Ready to get started?”
She opened her book in her lap. “Sure. But no peaking.”
“Not a problem. Same goes for you.”
They smiled at one another, then continued writing side by side. As they did, the hours rushed by and the sunset grew dim.
By the pale light of the moon, they returned home. The glow of the fairies’ wings cast strange shadows on the trees surrounding them. Malcolm enjoyed the remainder of their evening. If every day were like this one, he’d be a happy man. They ate porridge by the warmth of the fire. They sat around the table and chatted about everything, from the world outside to legends of the past.
Then, it was time for bed. The fairies shrank and retreated into their homes. Yukina pulled blankets from a chest and put together a make-shift bed in the cottage for Malcolm. It was a few feet away from the dimming fire, just enough to keep him warm through the night. He didn’t fall asleep right away, his mind busy with thoughts of his strange new life among fairies, magic, and his story.
His eyes were just beginning to droop when he noticed a faint purple glow light the room. He looked up to see miniature Slipha emerge from her home and fly across the room. He stayed quiet and pretended to be asleep with one eye open. She floated to the door, which creaked open. Then, she slipped out through the crack and it closed.
Malcolm jumped from his bed and went to the window. Cupping his hands around his eyes like goggles, he peered outside. The purple glow rose into the sky and slipped through the bubble. Once she was gone, he returned to his bed. He thought that she must have been having trouble sleeping and wanted to go for a midnight flight. He returned to his quest for sleep and imagined what it might be like to go for a midnight flight.
After a casual flight of about ten minutes, Slipha grew to full size and landed in Daniel’s front yard. She walked up to the front porch and, like any proper guest, knocked on the door. A few seconds later, Daniel opened it.
“Good evening, madam Slipha.” he said in his most proper manners. “Lovely night, isn’t it?”
“It is.” She pushed him aside and walked into the main hall. She looked around at the dark house. “Place is cold as ever. Don’t you ever light fires?”
He closed the door. “I do, but only when the winter necessitates it. I prefer the house being on the cold side.”
“So, are you ready to begin?” She clapped her hands together.
He smiled and folded his hands behind his back. “Ah yes. And what exactly are we beginning?”
She shot him a coy smile. “I have a few ideas. But first, how about you give me a tour?”
“There isn’t much to see.”
He continued grinning at her. “Alright. I will. Have you seen the sitting room?” He opened the double doors and beckoned her to follow. It was the same room where Autumn had been trapped just last night. “This is where I spend most of my time. I do a lot of reading.”
Slipha took a look around the room. “Interesting.”
“Of course you’re welcomed to read anything you find. My home is yours.”
“Thanks, but I doubt I’ll be spending a lot of time here. Remember, I have sisters and a human to keep an eye on. What’s next?”
Daniel led her down the hall. She stopped by a door and opened it. It was a long bathroom which was completely tiled. It was dark inside and there was no window. The bathroom had no decoration or attire. Some of the tiles were smashed and revealed plaster behind them. Daniel stopped and turned toward her. “It’s just a bathroom. Use it when you need it.”
She closed the door. “Of course. Just silly curiosity.”
He beckoned her to follow. “This is the kitchen.” He stood in the center of the white kitchen and raised his hands. “You can tell I’m a bachelor because I rarely eat anything that isn’t noodles or sandwiches.”
The kitchen, much like the bathroom, had cracks throughout the tiles which covered the floor and bottom half of the walls. The top half was cracked plaster. The fridge was not a fridge, but an ice box, and the gas stove looked to be a relic of the ancient past. There was a large, porcelain sink which hung all by itself from the wall. The cabinets were plain wood and white washed. Despite the size of the house, which was almost like a mansion, everything seemed slapped together and half-assed. There was nothing ornate or intricate about its construction, aside from the fancy furniture which adorned the sitting room and the grandfather clock which counted the years in the entry way.
Slipha held her finger up to interject into his tour. “Is there anything the least bit intriguing in this place?”
“Well...” he clasped his hands together and thought. “Not really. It’s where I live. What else is there to say?”
“I can tell you don’t have a lot of pride in your surroundings. Aside from your sitting room, which is quite nice.”
“As I said before, it’s where I spend most of my time.”
“But what I would like to see is your work area. You must have a place where you practice magic.”
“Ah yes. So that’s what interests you. Follow me.” He walked back through the hallway and turned to climb the stairs. When Slipha reached them, she didn’t have any interest in climbing the rickety things, so she floated up until they reached the second floor. Up here, there were multiple rooms, all large and utterly empty, save the one small room which Daniel used as his bedroom. He pointed into it. “I suppose you’re familiar with my room. After all, it is where I awoke to find you standing over me last night.”
“And aren’t you glad I’m forgiving?” she said with the purr of a sly cat. “After everything you did to my sisters, I should have murdered you many times over.”
Daniel turned to her and took her hand. “For your mercy, madam Slipha, I am eternally in your debt.” He raised her hand and kissed it. The gold watch on his wrist jingled as he moved. Slipha eyed it, then returned her gaze to him.
“Good. Let’s keep it that way. Now where’s your work place?”
He led her up another set of stairs, these hidden behind a door. They were so narrow that they barely accommodated a normal-sized person. Slipha tucked her legs under her so that she could float up without hitting her head on the angled ceiling. They entered the dank, utterly dark attic. She touched down on the floor. Daniel flicked a grill lighter and lit the kerosene lantern which hung from the center beam. It took hold of the flame and cast a soft glow.
The attic was huge and empty. The ceiling was bare, showing the rafters and underside of the roof. A single window was at the end of the attic. There were candles, stacks of old books, and scattered paraphernalia which indicated his practice of black magic. An oppressive feeling crept over her. It felt as if the air was thick, making it hard to breath. As she scanned the area, she noticed marks on the ceiling and floor. Scratches in the wood.
“So, this is where you practice?”
“Yes. You are the first person to see it.”
“It’s a special place, you know. It’s known for being haunted. Ask anyone in town. It’s infamous.”
Slipha folded her arms and gave him an unimpressed look.
He couldn’t help but smile like a boy showing off his favorite toy. “People died here, you know. Children. Did you see the scratches?”
He turned and pointed at the support. “I believe that one of them stayed tied to that post. Days? Weeks? Who knows. But how that one died is still a mystery. It’s exciting… isn’t it?” He turned back to look at her, the glee still dancing in his eyes. “I just love studying history. Especially when it involves murder. There’s so much spiritual activity here. It’s a wonderful place to practice magic.”
Slipha smirked. “I found my first spirit in the woods when I was a youngling. It was lost, wandering aimlessly. I didn’t know anything about it. Could’ve gotten lost in the woods a hundred years ago and were never found. I learned from a young age that you can manipulate them. My sister never would have approved. She calls it black magic. I didn’t care. It was fun.”
Daniel could barely contain himself. “You’re an incredible woman! I can’t wait to learn from you.” Then, his face changed. The grin went from sincere to strained. “I suppose you manipulated spirits to torment me last night. Didn’t you?”
“Yes. You asked for it.”
“Yes yes, I suppose I did, didn’t I?”
She turned back to the steps and began her descent. “I’ve seen enough.” She returned to the second floor. Even with her experience in the dark arts, the attic made her uneasy. She would never admit it, though. “So, you want to expand your education?”
He followed her down the steps. “Absolutely. It’s been my life long pursuit.”
“Good. Then follow me.”
They went out to the yard. Slipha continued until they were a good ways from the house. Then, she sat down cross-legged on the lawn. Daniel watched her with curiosity. She pointed to the grass in front of her. “Sit down.”
He did as he was told. “Are you going to teach me magic?”
She smiled with wicked glee. “Yes, I am. But first... let me tell you about our culture.”
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