Illustration by Andrew Johanson
The Wishing Map is a full-length fantasy that is being posted episodically at this site. To read the previous episode, click here. To read the entire novel, begin here.
In despair and lost in the kingdom of Frenga, Gina sought the help of a haughty pixie princess.
Gina drifted awake. Where was she? It took a while for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. The pixie must have brought here. But where was “here”? Glancing left and right, she saw tiny twin torches that provided exactly as much light as wooden matches. It took her even longer to comprehend what was happening:
The little princess had promised to lead her to the Sacred Circle, and had suggested Gina hoist her up onto her shoulder so they could make better traveling time. They’d walked for some while with no conversation except the pixie’s directions: “Left at the yellow gelffrond…right after the three white stones…” Her guide might have made some effort at conversation, mightn’t she? And was it just Gina’s imagination, or did the pixie girl—Gina couldn’t remember her name—seem angry about something? No, more than angry. Seething.
Finally, they’d reached the entrance to a cave, and the pixie had told Gina to go inside. “But there aren’t any caves near the Sacred Circle,” Gina had noted, “so why would we have to go through a cave?” While she stood waiting for an answer, the little pixie began to speak in a strange language:
A moment later, Gina had felt something plop down onto her shoulder opposite the princess. “Um, hey, how can you be on the other side of my head when…?”
“What?” Then Gina’d felt a sharp sting at the base of her neck. And that was the last thing she remembered.
And now she was lying in semi-darkness. “Um, hello? I’m sorry I don’t know your name. Did I fall asleep or—oh, crap! Ow! Wait, what’s…?” The moment she moved, she noticed two things: first, there was a throbbing in her neck that grew sharper when she tried to lift her arms; second, she couldn’t lift her arms anyway because something was holding them down, as well as her feet. Something very thin, and yet remarkably strong. “Hey, um, pixie? Hello? Could you maybe—”
“I am here, Queen J’nah. I am Princess Feyrdú.”
The words were polite, but there was a steely malevolence in her tone. What was it Rhema called the pixies, “barbaric”? Talk to her and everything will be OK, Gina told herself. Just don’t freak out! “So, um, cool. Well, listen, Feyrdú, I was thinking maybe—”
“I have brought my friends, Seesquee and Heesnog.”
“Oh, well…hey, that’s great. So, maybe we could have a party…only, hah-hah, I’m tied down…which is really funny, hah-hah…but, you know, the joke is over now, so maybe you can untie me and we can all laugh about…”
Gina felt Feyrdú climb up onto her jaw. Then the little princess stepped forward, sat down on her nose, and before Gina could say another word, whispered, “Soo-squee-see-too-mee.”
Two black widows, their bulbous bodies gleaming like oiled leather, ascended the sides of Gina’s face and settled onto her cheeks.
They were the size of tennis balls.
Thoughts: Have you ever unintentionally offended an unstable or violent person, and had nothing but your wits to save you?
To read the next episode, click here.
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