Episode 11: Draining the Prodigy

Breath held so I was invisible, I glided down from my perch on the big painting in the hotel lobby, landing on the side of the shopping bag the mother carried. I folded my wings, changed my colour to match the bag, and gently released my breath. Almost, but not quite, invisible now.

She rode the elevator to the sixth floor, and into their hotel room. I went with her.

This is how we faeries usually get into people’s living spaces. You carry us in, you suckers.

The mom put the bag down, and I stayed put until everybody settled down. Just as I was about to move, the kid started playing music.

The little prodigy was praticing on a piano in the hotel room.

I dropped, turned the light-tan colour of the carpet, and crawled across the floor to the dark, wooden piano.

Delicious music filled the room. Some composer I’d never heard of had written an acrobatic ricochet of the hands, keys banged and caressed, notes hanging, then getting slid in between by others in ways that shouldn’t fit together, but did, black white black-black. The kid – Nathan – was amazing.

And I was going to steal all his spark so we could funnel it into that sculptor Yonya’s been feeding, oh yes, I was.

He must have gotten bored with that piece, because he abruptly stopped. I heard him flip a few pages, and start playing something else. It was Beethoven, a piece I knew. The room positively hummed with the melody, and I must have too, because he heard me.

I was the colour of the carpet, but standing by one of the dark legs of the piano when he bent down and looked. I didn’t have time to take a deep breath to turn invisible, so I scrambled behind a piano leg. I don’t know if he saw me, but he must have heard my wing flutter, because the little bugger started investigating.

All things considered, faeries are more of a menace to children than vice-versa, but if kids are awake and get your scent, well, it doesn’t take much for us to end up as sneaker stains. Nathan was only a nine-year-old boy, but I was four inches high… if I stood on my toes.

I couldn’t die—not before telling Yonya that this incredible well of spark existed! Not for the last time, I regretted not going to her right away with this.

He got on all fours and crawled under the piano, looking for what had fluttered and hummed. I turned the colour of the piano, but at this range his excellent human vision would see my outline. I’d look like a little faerie incongruously carved into the side of an otherwise plain piano leg. I’m sure it would attract his attention. I took a deep breath and turned invisible. But I can’t hold my breath for very long.

Luck was with me when Nathan looked behind one of the other piano legs first. While he was looking the other way, I sprinted across the floor and dove under the couch, knocking dust bunnies aside.

He must have caught some motion out of the corner of his eye, because he came after me again, and I felt a sharp pain in my stomach—something that happens when people who don’t believe in magic see supernatural creatures. I turned carpet-tan again and shut my eyes, hidden in the shadows under the couch while he looked for me with the tenacity that kids can have when they’re fixated. I saw his feet coming at the couch. Just before he bent down I inhaled and held. Invisible. He looked but saw nothing. I exhaled, and tried not to pant, when he gave up. Close one.

Apparently no longer interested in the piano, he watched TV for a while before he and his mom went to bed. Only then did I dare move. This was too important, and I wasn’t taking any more chances that might screw this up. In the darkened hotel room, I stretched my limbs and wings and went to his bed.

He was lying on his side, sleeping soundly, his mouth slightly parted. Perfect.

The problem now was that I was already fully charged with spark from the other kid. So what I did was put what I had into Nathan, in effect transferring artistic powers to him. I pulled his lips further apart a bit more and rested my face there, then summoned up the spark in me and let it stream out, into his mouth. He shuddered slightly at my touch but stayed asleep, his breath smelling of toothpaste. Now that I was drained of spark, I had room in my spirit to drink his.

The kid from the previous house had some impressive abilities—she was pretty creative with her colouring books—but not only did Nathan have more spark, but it was of a higher quality. I inhaled, taking just a sip of it, and immediately fell over, reeling, my wings fluttering on the bedspread involuntarily. Wow.

I’d never drunk from a prodigy before, and it was glorious! I felt like I could get on that piano myself and bang out some ragtime, had I been about twenty times bigger. I savoured the subtle textures and scents of it, swirling it in my spirit and on my tongue, before I went back and drained more. Yonya is going to love this!

When I’d had enough, I gently let go of his lips and hid among the shoes, near the door, until it opened the next morning, when mom went out to fill her stomach with coffee.

I got out of the hotel and flew across the road to Confederation Park, high enough so that I wouldn’t attract attention, toward the National Aboriginal Veteran’s Monument. It was a gigantic outdoor sculpture, with heads and body parts of different North American animals coming out of a central form. But I wasn’t there for the statue. I was there for the weir.

Weirs are the portals to the faerie realm: the Interstitium. Go through one, and you’ll find yourself in a parallel version of the Mundane World, inhabited by fae, faeries, and ghosts. Good luck getting out again. This one was an ingress weir—one way only. Some pigeons were on the statue, probably guarding the weir, and keeping out-of-town squirrels and birds from accidentally going in, but they let me go through. These guardian animals never trouble us when we’re trying to leave their precious Mundane World. They just don’t like us coming into it. The weir was only about a foot across, not big enough for an adult human to wander through, and it was high enough so that you’d have to climb (or fly) to get to it. Nathan could fit through this, I noted as I flew through.

Using a weir strengthens it, makes it harder to remove. That’s good for faeries. We get a lot out of people who accidentally wander through weirs. Sometimes we keep them alive for a few years, milking their spark like humans milk cows—which is probably what Yonya would do with Nathan.

On the “other side” of the weir, in the Interstitium, I was still in Confederation Park, just the Interstitial Manifestation of it. Solid things, things that stayed put, were manifested here, as were people who sat still for more than a few minutes. I was at home now, and if beings here saw me it wouldn’t matter. I flew without worry or holding my breath toward my mistress, Yonya.

Boy, did I have some spark for her!

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