Short Story: Inflection

I am a normal man with one extraordinary feature. It is nothing intrinsic to myself, but an accident of circumstance, very long ago now, made me privy to a world often overlooked by, shall we say, mankind. It was as a child I befriended a fairy, and he, in his short life, shared with me certain secrets of the fey. It is a far more mundane place, in reality, than fairy-tales would lead you to believe. However, existing between these two realities can at times benefit a person. There are others like me, you see, but we all, by some natural inclination, feel uneasy in any company. We recognize each other on sight, and unless in dire need, never associate.

I was, last summer, taking my holiday in the Midwest. I had some desire to familiarize myself with a broader company of spirits than I had previously known, and an annual war between two parties was to be celebrated in the region. (A confusion needs be illuminated: The fey have war, but long ago did away with killing each other. As such, such struggles are often nonsensical and closer to a festival than any war man knows. They strongly resemble our reenactments of battles. However, there is no overarching plan or set outcome. In fact, this last summer, things never came to any climax at all due to both sides becoming so intoxicated that no one could remember whose side they were on, a problem exasperated by a complete lack of any uniformity of dress in either army. Only the giants seemed to get into the spirit of things, but soon they devolved into a senseless brawl.)

A tent of curiosities had been erected, and finding the tickets a reasonable price (a thimble and a leaf from my garden) and considering the drunken revelries a little overwhelming, I escaped into the darkness of that itinerate dwelling. There was one thing of note for me there, though a man unfamiliar with the fey may have been driven mad by the irrational objects therein. The tent itself was opened to mankind, but without undergoing the rites of initiation, a haze of the mind, a self-deceiving eye, would blur reality into something more manageable.

My duel nature gave me both insights. I could see the mannequin held up by strings, and yet also perceive the spirit chained there. There was some story he told of murdering his wife only to die by tripping over her corpse. The fey are enamored of such stories, for death holds no power over them; they only dissolve, unwittingly, when they forget to exist. As the logic of their world is strange to man, so man’s logic is at once a novelty to them. The subject of death is one of the few things the fey have failed to grasp along with grief, progress, and something I would be remiss to ever lose, destiny. It is this subject of destiny which the one curiosity I hinted at, the only one of note to me, revolved around.

I thought at first it was just a coffin, blackened wood, signs of aging. But seeing no ghost attached to it, and finding that both my eyes saw the same image, I drew nearer. There was a plaque screwed into the lid of this coffin. The language was old, but a language original to man. I let my mind dream over the strange letters, and shifting the words, tasting the syllables, slowly learned the meaning: Within the coffin was one of my own kind, one of the in-between people. He was not dead; he merely slept. I could hear him whispering, whispering of his evils.

I saw at once who he was, and recoiling in horror, backpedaled into an unsuspecting tourist. He was not of the fey, but pointed his flashing camera at every odd corner with a wonderment I could hardly understand.

“Don’t tell me you believe in this,” he laughed. “A vampire, long dormant.” He laughed again, and snapped a photo of my face. “Next you’ll be reeling at that guy dressed like Frankenstein.”

I hadn’t seen Frankenstein’s Monster since college, and was more than a little embarrassed that I had never read any of the poems he had asked me to look over. I kept trying to get through his “Ode to my Heart,” but never had the stamina to jump between French and German within the same sentence. I made a hasty retreat, hoping my old acquaintance hadn’t seen me.

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