Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PICKLEBELLY (excerpt from a work in progress)

Fionula Kaatz, mother of Sean Kaatz, was by this time in her life an accomplished writer of “young adult’s fantasy”. Her books were based in large part on archetypal “fairy tale” themes, and indeed, “fairy story” denizens such as elves, fairies, gnomes, and dwarves all featured prominently.  The vast fame this success had given her allowed her to create of her own property (and that of her husband) a veritable wonderland landscape populated by stone, terra cotta, or plaster of Paris, representatives of the magical world. Topiary bushes and small garden signs such as “BEWARE OF OGRE” added whimsy and atmosphere to any visit to the Kaatz home.
Indeed, such a thing as a birthday party for Sean in the backyard would have been remiss without some manner of a reference in deference to Fionula’s fame and her means of its acquisition. Party favors such as exploding paper crackers, Chinese handcuffs, and miniature parasols were de rigueur, and each of Sean’s friends would receive , in turn, their own small gift, as a way of returning the favor of their attendance. This was also a custom which both earned and lost Sean several friends over the years, but his mother was not to be dissuaded, she felt that as a famous member of the community , she was obligated to somehow “give back” to those less fortunate than herself. Naturally, this meant any or all of Sean’s friends.
Hr obsession with faerie had so insinuated itself into her garden that she took to the creation of a small, “elf-sized” dwelling in the garden, carved into a particularly recalcitrant yew stump. This dwelling place featured even a small window, which she curtained with doll house sized curtains and furnished with doll house furnishings. It had a small (six inches high) door which could be opened as well in “Dutch” style— the top opened to let in air.
Therefore it ought to have been to no one’s surprise when an actual fairy took up residence in the stump. Picklebelly was a rotund and near corpulent survivor of the flight and exile of Oberon, who had been left behind by the faerie forces, on Earth, to serve as a “monitor” (“spy”, if you would) and send back reports to the Central Command on Lux. Picklebelly outfitted his little dwelling with a radio transmitter (to do his reportage) and redecorated the interior more to his own liking.
Fionula Kaatz herself was no believer in faerie though indeed she had capitalized famously on the suppositions of most fantasy readers that, perhaps, if it did exist,  that things might probably happen “like this.” In her disbelief, then, she actually presupposed her own ignorance of the way things actually worked for the “Children of Oberon” and Picklebelly soon realized he could use this to his advantage.
Her son Sean’s hypersensitivity began to show itself soon after Picklebelly moved in—whether this was due to his own proximity to Sean, or Sean’s own growing awareness of his mother’s unusual subject matter, was something that could be debated.
What could not be debated was the fact that soon after he came, Picklebelly was using all his means and wiles to lure Sean away from his usual filial loyalties and more under the sway of faerie spell.
Such it was that Sean eventually discovered there really was an actual fairy that lived behind the “fairy door” in the stump.

The little “fairy door” led to the hollowed-out interior of a yew tree. Inside, their was at least a square foot of space, enough for Picklebelly to have installed a little stowable hammock, set up a desk for writing and using his wireless transmitter, and even some space on his wall for some bookshelves- such books of spells which he might still find useful in his enchantment of the Kaatzes. There were tiny candles made of beeswax, brought from Lux at no small expense (such as were his other furnishings) and one of these was alight on the evening Sean had ventured outdoors with Pepper to see if there were any fireflies about that night.
Usually the fireflies would gather under the porch light, and there would be at least four or five of them, but tonight there were none. While Sean was looking up at the porch light was when he noticed, from the side of his eye, that there was a light on— inside the fairy stump!
He walked over and leaned down to take a better look.
The sight of an enormous human eye leering into his window caused Picklebelly to jump and quickly douse the light, and put down the message he was beginning to set into cipher. After his first disconcertion, he decided to take the bolder step. He would confront the human!
Picklebelly got off his little stool at the desk and walked calmly to the door. He opened it.
Sean jumped back. This was not to be expected! Let alone that there might actually be a real fairy behind the fairy door!
“I am Picklebelly,” he announced.
“And I am Sean.”
“I know that,” retorted Picklebelly, “I have been watching you all for some whiles now.”
“You are a...”
“Yes, I am a fairy. I am one of the last who remain, in fact.”
“Why are you here?”
“Why? Why are anything anything? Why are rivers wet and skies blue? Why are plants food for the many, and creatures food for the few? Because that is just how things are, silly boy. That is just how things are.”
“I was told not to believe in you... fairies... you are not real!”
“Oh I assure you I am very real. Here, touch this!”
Picklebelly held out his little pen, the quill of which pricked Sean on the forefinger.
Sean leapt back again.
“See? It is a very real pen, and I am a very real fairy!”
“My mother writes books about fairies.”
“I know she does. Full of lies and inaccuracies, of course! But guess where she gets the ideas?”
“Where? Her imagination?”
No!  From me! I am in charge of the operations here around your household. If you do something wrong I might even break in and cause more mischief! For now, it is good enough to plant these ideas in your mother’s mind. At the least, her fantasies help keep alive the idea that we, we fairies, indeed have some place in the history of your world!”
“And I have been working on you, Sean, as well. it might not have been my intention to have you discover this place, my hideout Although I suppose it will all work out, in the greater picture of the Plan, eventually.”
“What plan?”
“Why, the Great Plan of What Is! What else could you call it?”
“I don’t know. I never thought about things like that much. Mostly  like to chase after butterflies or think about how to be nice to people.”
“You should be nice to people. Just as important you need to learn to be nice to things that are not people! You will learn, I am sure.”
“I’m going to tell my Mom there is a real fairy outside. Then she’ll believe in you!”
“You will not! You will do no such thing! Telling your mother will bring you troubles you cannot conceive of, at this point! No, Sean, keep this a secret! We will meet again, and I will teach you more. But no breaking secrets, promise?”
“Good! Now, go back and tell them there’s no fireflies! The fireflies have other business tonight than gather around your back door.”

Picklebelly soon received instructions from Central Command that he was to proceed at creating all manner of threats, coercions, and subliminal manifestations of dread as he might exercise on Fionula. But he was to let Sean develop on his own with no such strategy employed upon him. Fionula and her husband, then, were subjected to month after month of subtle nightmare.
These episodes eventually worked themselves into Fionula’s writing. She saw them, unfortunately, not as nightmares, but as inspiration. And so it was that the intentions of Central Command to Picklebelly were actually backfiring. Because of her unbelief, her true feelings that fairies did not exist and were only a means of her realizations of literary success, Picklebelly’s impulsions actually set little if any true fear of fairies in Fionula’s mind. This made a most vexing problem for Picklebelly. Along with many other fairies he had grown all too weary of the humans’ disregard of the old relationship as it had long stood in faerie’s favor. With each new great ‘leap forward’ of human science, less and less stock were put in “myth” and “legend” and the more hostile humans actually became toward the material world (and their place in it.), the more the materialist and reductionist viewpoints grew into the outlook of humanity and its destiny.

This, (the fairy Central Command) found ultimately tragic and not to their liking. So Picklebelly had, in Sean, now a mind that was both pliable, and hostage, to faerie’s strategic interests. and when the Oberon was within 6 LY of Earth, on its return, to bring the sick, fading Silversong to Lux, they sent word to Picklebelly to prepare for the abduction of one Sean Kaatz, the general purpose of which FCC would not reveal to Picklebelly, for he must now proceed only on a “need to know” basis.

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