Chapter 1: FAIRIES IN THE NEWS
Jennifer looked at the empty dollhouse and sighed. Oh, it had all of the furniture, all of the curtains, everything the dollhouse was supposed to have. It even had a couple of little dolls in it, but it was missing something – someone – crucial. It was missing her pet fairy, her friend, Princess Nallah. Her father had walled the backside of the dollhouse with plastic, so the little fairy could not escape, and so the cat could not eat her. But that was before she knew that Nallah (she called her Shiloh at first) could talk.
Everyone knows, or at least believes, that fairies can’t talk, because they never hear them. They are so small that their voices are too high-pitched for humans to hear, and also way too quiet even if they could hear the higher sounds. Jen’s brother Eric figured that out when he created a device that not only lowered the sound waves of the fairies, it also boosted the volume, and it did the reverse for humans so fairies could hear them. For centuries nobody knew that fairies could talk, and the fairies didn’t know that the ‘giants’ (their term for normal humans) could speak, either.
Fairies were commonly sold at pet stores, and the worlds’ leading experts wrote books saying that fairies were nothing but interesting animals, that looked a little like humans, but had insect wings and were probably much more closely related to bats. Eric dispelled all of those myths when he developed the fairy communicator that allowed giants and fairies to talk.
Jen also found out that fairies had magical powers, but they referred to their powers as ‘technology’. They also thought that giant technology, our technology, was magic. They didn’t understand anything about electronic circuits, remote controls, or even electricity. They lived in a parallel universe, another dimension where such things did not exist. They carried Princess Nallah and her faithful servant, Budrick, across the dimensional portal to the Kingdom of Tole, and restored her to her parents.
Jen again looked at the empty dollhouse and sighed. She missed her friend. And she was sure, after they had exposed the fairy supplier, the pet shop would never carry another kidnapped fairy for sale as a pet ever again. If only there were some way of getting the word out, informing the masses that fairies are people too!
“Hey, Jen?” Eric poked his head into her room.
“Yeah?” she said, turning around to look at him. He had a wild look in his eye, the type of look he gets when his brain is engaged.
“Can I borrow your communicator?” he asked, tentatively stepping through the door.
Jen reached around the dollhouse, where the communicator he built from electronics and wire, and a paper towel tube rested on the desk. She held it out to him. “Here you go,” she sighed.
“What’s wrong?” Eric asked, taking the device from her hand.
“I miss her,” she said, and the sadness carried in her voice.
“I know,” Eric replied, not sure how to deal with a pouty sister. Jen was normally bubbly and full of life and fun, but to see her like this made him feel bad. “She was really cute, when she wasn’t so tiny.”
“How do you know we weren’t tiny?” Jen asked.
“I don’t,” Eric admitted. Scientifically, it made no sense. But then again, scientifically, they should not be magical, and inter-dimensional portals should not be in random caves.
They were referring to their trip to the kingdom of Tole in Fairy Land, the other dimension. The whole family was the same size as the fairies, but nobody knew who grew and who shrank.
“Did you say really cute?” Jen asked. “She is a royal princess, and you think she’s really cute?”
“Well,” Eric stammered a little, “She is.”
“Why do you need my fairy communicator?” Jen asked, taking a mild interest.
“I am studying app coding,” Eric admitted. “All of the components I put together in here are readily available on mobile phones. I mean microphones, amplifiers and speakers and the like. I just need the calibrations from your communicator to plug into the software, and we should be able to create an app that will turn any cell phone into a fairy communicator.”
Jen listened, then thought about what he was saying. “You mean, that anybody will be able to talk to their fairy? Then everyone will know that they aren’t just pets! And we can get them back to their homes!”
“That’s the idea,” Eric smiled.
“I said it once, and I will say it again. I’ve got the smartest brother in the whole world.”
Eric took Jen’s device and was just setting up at his computer when their father came in the front door. “Who’s ready for some good news?” he called out, his deep voice reverberating around the house.
“The pizza was delivered in 31 minutes?” Eric asked, coming around the corner. He was talking about a brand that guaranteed delivery within half an hour or it was free.
“You got me a hamster?” Jen asked, stepping into the living room and looking to see if he was carrying any packages, or trying to hide anything behind his back.
“Wrong,” he told Eric, looking him in the eye. Then he looked at Jen. “And wrong. I’ve got a job.”
The children were silent, and their eyes sought each other out.
“It’s a good thing,” Mr. Anderson urged, trying to bring their excitement level up. “I haven’t worked since, well, in a very long time.”
What he wasn’t saying was what the children already knew. He had not worked since the accident, the terrible accident that killed their mother. Thanks to the insurance settlement, he did not really have to work, and he had not. That was why he was able to help them get Princess Nallah and Budrick back to Fairy Land. But now, with the task given them by none other than King Arndt of the Kingdom of Tole to return all of the enslaved fairies back to their own dimension, they really needed Daddy to have enough time to help them.
“Look, kids,” he said, holding up a newspaper. The headline read ‘Fairies Are People Too,’ and his name appeared at the top of the article. “I’m a reporter.”
Eric took the newspaper from Daddy’s hand, and glanced through the article. It told how fairies are sentient beings, and it described them as intelligent people, instead of, as most authorities believed, a bat-insect hybrid. In their realm, fairies were very misunderstood. Some people believed that they were magical little people, but by and large all experts agreed that they were nothing more than a garden nuisance. The article went on to describe that fairies were capable of speech, and magic, and they were members of a highly developed society, when they were not kept in cages. Eric finished reading the article and turned to his father. “Do you think anybody will believe it?”
“I hope to convince them,” Daddy responded cheerily.
“I’m writing an app to turn cell phones into fairy communicators,” Eric informed him.
“As an ambassador of Fairy Land, I have to do everything I can to get these fairies liberated from captivity,” Jen added. “Do you think your article will work?”
“We will find out soon,” Daddy declared. “This paper will hit the streets in about an hour.”
It was one of those afternoons where time seemed to stand still, and looking at the clock every so often revealed that the second hand barely moved between glances. Jen and Eric, and even Daddy tried to watch TV, but they couldn’t hear a word that the actors were saying, or even recognize the products in the commercials. They were all too busy watching the clock.
Finally, at five minutes to five in the evening, the phone rang. Everyone jumped, startled out of their clock watching trance. Jen and Eric both clamored for the phone, but it was Daddy who picked up the receiver. “Hello?” he said into the phone. “Really? Really? Yes, it’s true. Okay, I see. That’s alright. I understand. Thank you.”
“Who was it?” Eric asked.
“And what did they say?” Jen chimed in.
Daddy held up his hands until they quit talking, then he put them down and spoke to them, calmly and rationally. “That was my boss. I’m fired.”