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Gavin Ayling

Gavin is a copywriter, software coder, and board gamer living in beautiful New Hampshire. He has been blogging since 2002 (see the blog link above) and has been writing short stories as long as he can remember.

The chocolate fairy

The family bundled out of the car and into the sculpture garden. The sculptures were by many different artists from all over the world and were surrounded by forest. Because it was Halloween, the leaves were various shades of orange, red, gold, and brown. In the parking lot, a worm was struggling to get over the dry concrete.

Elizabeth who was four, nearly five, jumped into each puddle between her family’s car and another that was already parked. Then she saw the worm, gathered it onto a leaf, and moved it onto the nearby grass.

As the family organized themselves, Elizabeth climbed the hill towards the first sculpture, setting the pace for the rest of the family. As she approached the first sculpture she screamed in delight. Behind the sculpture was a Hershey chocolate bar, wrapped in its shiny brown and white wrapper.

“How did this get here?” Elizabeth wondered, excitedly, and then yelped in delight – words evading her. “I wonder if it was a fairy?” she said, almost to herself.

From behind a nearby granite boulder, the fairy covered its mouth with its hand and snickered. Leaving chocolate for good little girls made the fairy very happy indeed. It flew on to the next sculpture that it knew the girl would reach and pulled another chocolate bar from the little bag wrapped around her waist. The bag couldn’t go over her shoulder, of course, because it would be in the way of her wings.

Now that there was another chocolate bar ready, she flew around in circles a little, and then flew off to her fairy house under a giant toadstool at the top of the hill. There she picked up another two chocolate bars.

As she flew away, her brother called out “There are more on the way from Pennsylvania!” Of course, he said this in a fairy language, and it sounded a lot like dry leaves rustling in the wind.

The fairy flew back towards the family who had, by now, already found the second chocolate bar.

The fairy’s cousin was flying from Pennsylvania. The cousin had visited the Hershey factory and found the little door at the rear. The door, no more than 6 inches tall, opened into the Hershey factory where new chocolate bars could be collected by fairies from all around the USA and Canada. The fairies leave some fairy dust, and then fly back to where the good children need to be given their treats on Halloween.

As the fairy’s cousin flew out from the door again, she passed hundreds of other fairies, all arriving and fluttering around, chatting to each other before their long journeys back.

At the next sculpture, the fairy left two chocolate bars. Elizabeth only found one, though. But Elizabeth was so excited, she showed her whole family what she had found. Elizabeth’s aunt wondered if perhaps it was a reward for being kind to a worm.

The fairy buzzed her wings in agreement, and flew back down to the sculpture. She picked up the chocolate bar that had not been found, and flew onto the next sculpture.

At the next sculpture she put the chocolate bar on the sculpture’s face and giggled to herself again, knowing how excited this was going to make little Elizabeth. Then she flew on and skipped a few sculptures so that Elizabeth could continue to be surprised. As she flew, she heard Elizabeth scream loudly. “Thank you fairies, thank you for more chocolate!”

When she heard this, the fairy did a somersault in the air and her wings shimmered different colors. How lovely little Elizabeth is, she thought. “Happy Halloween” the fairy whispered, to herself.

A New England garden

As the garden grew, she started to fade. We got married on the beach in Maine, in April. At the time that had seemed like a good idea. Her parents had visited me in Norway in April the year before and it had been hot and sunny. And Maine is further south than Norway. And she is from New England, she would know what the weather was like. Years later on our anniversary, standing on that beach, in the driving snow-laden wind and feeling cold to the very core, I wondered what we had been thinking. We had been so lucky.

This year as the sharp shards of ice melted, and as the floods flowed through the Flume, and down waterfalls, we prepared a garden. We planted beans in our garden, at the back, up against a fence they could grow through. At the front of the plot, we planted cucumber plants, with another small fence for them to grow through. And in the middle, tomato plants, radishes, cabbages, cauliflowers, and many others. Tomayto – such an American thing to say. When you aren’t around Americans all the time, you can forget it’s not just something Americans say to sound silly.

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The negative spiral

As the rain pattered against his hood, he hunched his shoulders, hoping to stop the icy rain from hitting his face. The coat was old and wasn’t as good at keeping out the rain as it had once been. The tired seams were more relaxed and the fabric itself was thinner.

As he walked through the gloomy weather, along a street from-which the rain had sapped all the joy and life, he came across a woman. She smiled kindly, and invited him into a nearby cafe for a cup of something warm.

The pair sat opposite each other at the café table. The lady looked kindly at this person on whom, it appeared, fate had visited unkindness. The man kept his head low, as if still trying to avoid the rain. He always did this. It was a defense mechanism in a world where some people were not kind. It also had become a habit.

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Surrounding forest

No-one had ever left the town before. All the people knew that the forest was too thick. Once a generation or so, a brave person would strike out into the dense canopy seeking to find another part of the world – literally anything other than the town and the surrounding forest.

Some had returned, turning around when they had under half of their rations left. They returned, but their stories were boring: The forest was the same for as far as they could tell.

Each tree was tall, with beautiful canopies that vied for the sunlight with its neighbor. Children would often climb to the top to see what they could see, but what they found was always that there were more trees as far as the eye could see.

Sarah grew up in the town in the forest.

“Sarah! Are you listening to me?”

Sarah jumped in her seat. She had been flying around the town, preparing her wings for the long journey over the forest.

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Finding the other 2

This story can be read in isolation, or as a continuation of Finding the other.

Asleep once more, Jake imagined some rockets onto his feet, and propelled himself up into the sky to get a better view. Beyond a giant wall was a flat, greenish ocean. Out on this green ocean was a house, and in that house was a door.

Having destroyed the house that surrounded the door, he glided down to the ground, letting his rockets slow his descent like a Pixar superhero. He opened the door and looked in, wondering what he would see. As soon as he did this, he remembered that he had tried to look into the door before and had never been able to see anything. He stepped through the door.

His consciousness fell into something that was not another Jake. His subconscious brain could cope with the way he could see, but his conscious brain could not. He was able to see a much wider angle than he usually could, and yet it did not look like he was looking through a fish-eye lens. Rather he could see much more, while everything looked natural.

Jake tried to glance down at his arms, but quickly realized that his head was not able to move relative to the rest of himself. He tried out his arms, but found he had more than two, and that his legs were indistinguishable. When he thought about his limbs, he was able to think of six, and there was no hierarchy.

Jake pondered then, how it is that you know where your arms, fingers and other body parts are, when you cannot see them. If you close your eyes and lift your arms above your head, you know they’re above your head, even though you are not touching them with any other part of your body that has a sense of touch.

Jake mentally explored his body. He could feel a tail, although it had a very restricted range of motion. He could feel wings, and six legs, and two antennae. This was a great experience. All the time he was thinking of this, he suddenly realized that there was movement visible above him.

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The Dream Board

“Thank you for coming to this meeting of the Board,” Derenges said, with a laugh, “as if you had a choice.”

The attendees nodded their ascent and murmured as one. The black obsidian table hung in the air, with its legs so small, and so well disguised, that it was possible to imagine that it floated, magically.

One of the two guards, holding a pike, shifted slightly causing his armor to clank.

“We have a long agenda today. There are two million human apes, and about a third of them need to have a memorable dream tonight” Derenges announced. “What themes do you have for the tribe of Asyrii in northern Iberia?” Derenges looked to its left, into the eyes of the person next to itself.

“If I may be so bold, sir, there is actually a larger problem this time, than the human apes” responded Bolinga. Bolinga was blue with a disproportionately large head with hollow protrusions extending from the top.

Derenges raised its eyebrow in query.

Bolinga continued, “The domesticated canines that the human apes have befriended and selectively bred from canis lupus… They are needing to dream now too, sir.”

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Finding the other

“So, it turns out we have always been able to get there. I haven’t worked out how, yet – that’s for others – but I know it’s real, and I can prove it.” Jake was talking to his friend in the bar, the evening after his discovery. We won’t meet his friend again, so I shall leave him nameless. You can call him “Fred” if that would make you happier, but I am not certain that that was his name.

Jake went to sleep that evening, as excited as anyone had ever been to go to sleep. He laid there waiting to sleep, like a child the night before Christmas. He may even have been more excited than that. Maybe as excited as the night before the flight to Disney World. Of course, all he wanted to do was get to sleep, but all he could do was lay there awake, excited about the possibilities.

Eventually, and without being aware of it, Jake finally discovered that he was asleep, and that he was dreaming. Months and months of training had made him aware of lucid dreaming, and he had long been able to identify that he was dreaming, and control what he did there.

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Hope

Hope bounded over the mountain, happy to be born

Fumbling in her pockets, searching for a pen

And on some paper she wrote out details of her predicament

For her existence, temporal as it is

Results in fruition or painful banishment

Toni

The clack of nearby keyboards washed over Toni. She sat there, briefly hypnotized by the sound. A voice – the words indistinct – said something into a phone in a nearby cubicle. The sound of the voice was muffled by the material on the cube’s wall.

Toni scrolled through a Facebook feed which had not changed since she scrolled through it five seconds previously. She clicked on the next tab, and confirmed that the news headlines had also not changed. She clicked on the new tab button, and type “wiki” before the browser offered her the most-likely option, which she clicked on. She clicked the random article link, and was taken to an article about the Second Crusade.

Absent-mindedly she clicked on a link in the middle of the first paragraph, and did the same on the next six articles that appeared. Through Bavaria and Germany, she arrived at articles about the European Union. She wondered whether much time had passed, and looked at Facebook again. Nothing had changed on her feed.

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Huldufólk

The wind howled across the desolate winter landscape of Iceland. No trees to limit its progress, but glaciers to cool it, made the bite vicious. And the longer Gary stood on the exposed top of the hill, the deeper the teeth sunk in.

He dared, for a moment, to pull his glove forward to look at his watch, and slices of sharpened teeth dug into the gap between sleeve and glove. Gary knew he was waiting, but he didn’t remember how he got here, nor what he was waiting for.

Gary woke, with a start. Back in his bedroom in Reykjavik. He had moved to Iceland when the multi-national bank he worked for had bought an Icelandic bank, and he was given an opportunity to help integrate the new bank into the larger organization.

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