James opened the cupboard and sighed, already nearly half the food was gone and he had only gone shopping the two days before. He closed it, “Damn fairies.” He saw something flit by in the corner of his eye, he struck out already knowing he wouldn’t hit the thing. He turned back to the kitchen and grabbed his cup of coffee, he took a sip. He knew if his mother was here she’d be loving this, if the old bat was still alive he would have more than welcomed her to take over this place.
His mother had him at thirty, feeding him stories of fairies and goblins and mother nature and all that other bullshit he believed until he had access to a computer at twelve. He saw that everything she had told him was a lie, not just about the fairies, but everything else too. There was no proof, no real record, nothing. As it was he counted himself lucky she actually taught him things like math’s and English while she homeschooled him. Of course a real school would have been better, he might have had a chance to alleviate some of the suffering she caused. Doctors were a myth, something people made up to make them feel better, downing potions and concoctions that were so far removed from their natural counterparts that they didn’t actually do anything. He had suffered through illnesses, given salves and bits of green leaves to chew on to dull a fever or pain. Once he had known what all those things were called, had known what they were supposed to actually achieve, but not anymore, most of it had been blocked out. His mother was not pleased with him when he shared his newfound knowledge with her, claiming she, of course, knew best. She was his mother after all, his protector and nature didn’t allow those who were not ready to have a child, have one. When he turned eighteen she sold the house and the land for a tidy sum, gave him a grand, kissed his forehead and wished him all the best. He still remembered what she said to him. “I love you son, but it’s time you found your own path in life, I’m afraid I can no longer sit by and watch you destroy yourself.” And then she was gone. Off to join one hippy commune or another. It had been the last time he had seen her, or heard from her, until two years ago, when he received a letter from a man calling himself Father Sun, to tell him that his mother, or Mother Moon as she had come to be known, had passed away. He didn’t know the cause but James was certain that had a hospital intervened his mother would still be alive. He was told that she had been buried according to her wishes, under an apple tree in the orchard that gave them all the nourishment they required, her body going back to the true mother who created her. There was no address, no chance of him visiting. Of course if there was a heaven she was sitting up there and looking down at him, laughing delightedly as she was proven once and for all to be right about something.
He had moved in a few months before and at first things were normal enough. Occasionally he would lose something, misplace it, but who didn’t? He would put his keys down on the kitchen counter then find them, after hours of searching, in the freezer, his shoe, and on one memorable occasion, the cistern of the toilet. Then the food started to go missing. Memories started to creep up on him, stories of fairies and fey folk playing tricks. So, feeling silly, he started trying to do what the stories said. Leaving out bits of bread and milk to appease them, lining the doors and windows with iron so they couldn’t enter. If anything the bread and milk only seemed to encourage the little bastards. It was soon after he started putting them out that he actually saw one for the first time. He thought he was going mad, or had some kind of stroke. There it was, a small, lightly glowing humanoid insect, flittering about. He had yelled in surprise and the thing took off. James tried to chalk it up to a weird dream, or sleep deprivation, but soon he saw more and more until they seemed to be everywhere. He tried everything he could to rid himself of them, but nothing seemed to work.
He had caught one or two, though if it was because he was getting faster or they were getting slower he wasn’t sure. He kept them in jars for a brief period while he studied them. They had little faces, eyes, ears, noses and mouths, though their tiny teeth looked sharp. It was hard to tell as they never stayed still long enough when he was examining them with the magnifying glass. They would bang against the glass, either with their shoulders or their tiny fists. They were about four inches high at the smallest, six for the tallest. He wasn’t sure if that was due to natural variation or age. Their wings were like that of butterflies, large and soft. They glowed lightly, some kind of bioluminescence. He never kept them for long for fear of angering the others, he wasn’t sure how smart they actually were. He never saw them speak to each other, nor did they try to communicate with him. He wasn’t sure if that was because he simply couldn’t understand or pick up on their cues, or because they didn’t have any kind of conscious communication.
So he was stuck with them, sometimes when he was particularly stressed he considered doing something awful just to get them to leave him alone. It would be simple, capture one, kill it, tear off its wings and then leave it somewhere for the others to see. He always pushed those thoughts away, but it was only after thinking about them. He knew he would feel guilty for doing it, but how long would that guilt last? Besides, it could bring him peace and quiet for once. Still, there was always the danger of it backfiring, they came in and out of his house with ease, there was every chance that wouldn’t change and that they’d start to take revenge. Most of the things they did were annoying, but ultimately harmless. He was never late anywhere, he always found his keys in the nick of time, he didn’t starve, in times when he bought less food the fairies ate less of it. He shook his head as something flitted around his eyes, brushing absently at the air, he was stuck with them for now, maybe someday he’d figure out how to get rid of them, or how to communicate with them, turn them from pests into something a little bit helpful. A small one landed on his hand, only an inch tall, it stumbled across his skin, each step like a tiny, gentle kiss. He smiled down at it, it seemed as though it was only a child. James sighed, he couldn’t kill one of them, it would be too cruel. Carefully he moved his hand to the table and watched as the little one walked off his hand. A second later a larger one appeared and grabbed the little one, it peered at James for a moment then they both seemed to vanish. An instant later there was a coin on the table, James picked it up and smiled, at least they were starting to pull their weight around here.