In a Bed with Bob
She was not hard to care for as she slept. She didn’t snore loudly enough to hear. In fact, I leaned in close to her mouth and nose about three times to make certain she had not simply stopped breathing. I was ready with water and food that I had made Mickey get so I could stay close to her and tend to any needs that she may have had.
Her body, which I cleaned gently with a moist rag, was perfectly formed for an adolescent Sylph. She had no wings to worry about. No scars. No tattoos. No insect appendages or patches of mouse fur…
“Bob, what are you looking at?”
I sat up with a start at her unexpected question. Then I supposed I must’ve turned red in the face, since I had been admiring her most private parts.
“You were thinking about me the same way Mickey does, right? About having your way with me?”
“Oh, no, I…”
“If you really want to take me now, no one is here to stop you.:
That made me slightly offended and defensive.
“I would never. On my honor…”
Her eyes were leaking tears again. “You treat me better than I deserve. I was sent here to kill you.”
“Kill me? The necromancer said Kill Bob? Specifically?”
“Well, no… not specifically you.”
She began looking around at Master Eli’s sleeping chamber. It was, of course, completely different than any typical room in a Fairy Castle. It had many things in it that could only be acquired by stealing directly from the homes of Slow Ones.
“What kind of bed is this?” she asked.
“It is what the Slow Ones call a doll bed from a doll house that belongs to a Slow One known as Grandma Elizabeth Sears. She lives in a medium-sized Slow-One’s fortress on the Eastern side of the Hamlet of Norwall.”
“Whatever is a doll house?”
“Oh, it’s a toy for little Slow Ones. It is a small version of what is meant to be a domicile for full-sized Slow Ones.”
“And how did this toy bed come to be here?”
“Grandma Elizabeth gave it to Master Eli. She is old and has dementia, so when she tells other Slow Ones that she talks to fairies, they don’t believe her. But the Master returns kindness for kindness with her. He gives her potions that improve her eyesight and help to fix her mostly broken mind. He steals those potions from things the Slow Ones call medicine cabinets.”
“This Master Eli of yours is a much nicer master than mine was.”
I looked at her in a way I hoped was reassuring and said, “I can’t say this officially yet, but I think Master Eli wants to take you on as an apprentice along with Mickey and me.”
“Why would he want to do that?”
“You passed all his tests, including the Magic Hat.”
A smile flickered briefly across her face. I had never seen her smile before, so I wasn’t sure if it was real or not. But it gave me hope.
“Why have you been so kind to me, Bob? Do you want sex like Mickey does?”
“Um… no. I only do what the master asks me to. But I like being kind to you. I think you are good at heart. And I want to be your friend… Mickey brought food and drink up here at my request. Are you hungry?”
She looked at the dandelion leaves, honeybee sandwiches, and marmalade. “No, not really.”
“Anneliese will be bringing gingerbread later. And I want you to meet her. She’s a beautiful immortal Storybook.”
“Storybook Fairies are real? I thought they were a myth.”
“Oh, no. They are very real. Besides Anneliese and her mother, General Tuffaney Swift lives here. And Silky the Chestnut Fairy, and sometimes Ariel the Mermaid visits. They are all very real.”
“Am I a prisoner here? Or can I go out in the sunlight?”
“I can find out fairly quickly. Hansel! Come here, please.”
The gingerbread boy assigned to the tower as the gofer, came in the bedroom at my call.
“Yes, Bob. What are my orders?”
“Ask Master Eli if I can take Derfentwinkle out into the sunshine.”
“Right away, Bob.”
He disappeared out into the hallway.
“Do we have to wait for permission like that? I’ll settle for going out on the nearest balcony.”
I looked at the glass door that led to the tower balcony.
“I guess we can do that…”
She didn’t wait for me to lead the way. She leaped out of the bed and was opening the glass door before I could even get to my feet. I tried to catch up. But as soon as I reached the door, I saw her being snatched up into the air by a pair of crow-claws.
“I promise not to betray you, Bob!”
Well, that left me no choice. I had to trust she was as good of a little person as I thought she was. I leaped over the balcony rail, out into the empty air high up in the willow tree. And then I was plummeting to my death.