A Doomsday Book for Queen Mab – Entry #18.2

by syaffolee

A census taker travels the length and breadth of the British Isles to survey the land’s supernatural inhabitants.

(I’ve decided to do a series of short vignettes inspired by the December 2012 prompts from the International Story a Day Group. Mostly to keep myself regularly writing and posting in this blog. This is based on the December 12 prompt “Ribbon of Highway”.)

* * *

In the late afternoon sunlight, the naked whitebeams along the A9 flashed orange and wet from a recent rainstorm. Rutherford, the fairy godfather from America, drove the black camper van that he had transformed from the cart that he had originally arrived in. The giant goose, his familiar Hank, had shrunk back to a normal size. The goose was sitting in the back avidly watching a chess match played on a magnetic board between the census taker and Jack, the mortal in a bathrobe and ugly fuzzy pea green slippers. Jack was, not surprisingly, losing.

The kelpie sat up front with Rutherford, attempting to read a map. He peered at it. Turned it around. Folded it in half. Sighed. “You could have conjured up a GPS.”

“I don’t trust those things.”

“Right. Well, I doubt you would need me much as a navigator. It’s easy enough to follow the signs.”

“Signs can sometimes be unreliable.” Rutherford gave him a quick glance. “So what’s your story?”

“My story?”

“You don’t strike me as a census official. Don’t kelpies like to keep to themselves, normally?”

“Normally,” said the kelpie agreeably. “But I was literally roped into the job. I owed Queen Mab a favor.”

“Why do you owe the queen a favor?”

“Oh, the usual,” the kelpie replied breezily. “She saved my life, blah, blah, blah. That’s how these things usually go.” He then peered at Rutherford and assessed his tattered cowboy hat and black duster. “You certainly don’t strike me as a fairy godfather. More like a gunslinger. How’s it like, magicking fancy prom dresses and limo rides for debutantes?”

Rutherford snorted in amusement. “That’s not my area of expertise. My charges aren’t so naive. Most of them are detectives, fire fighters, operatives of one sort or another.”

“So what do you do? Provide them with magic weapons to help them in their jobs?”

Rutherford replied with a non-committal sound.

“Or are you not allowed to talk about it?”

“I could say, but I’d rather not.”

“I see how it is,” said the kelpie as he looked back out the windshield. The road stretched out in front of them like a pale gray ribbon against the landscape. “Well, if you can’t talk about that, what about how you got into the fairy godfather business in the first place? And why on earth you have a magic goose that can change his size at will.”

The edge of Rutherford’s mouth curved upward. “You could say I was born into the business. My grandmother immigrated to New York and did as you had first assumed. She was the fairy godmother to several high society debutantes. But she soon got tired of catering to the spoiled young women. She moved west and married my grandfather who was a fae who had decided to buck tradition and become a rancher. My mother inherited my grandmother’s talents and used them to help set up an orphanage. My father’s family also had a few fairy godmothers, but most were more like minor wish granters.”

“And the goose?”

“You know how there is the goose that lays the golden eggs?”

The kelpie nodded. “Yeah. There are only a few of them around. I heard that Queen Mab has one.”

“There are also geese that lay silver eggs. A troll king living in the Rockies has a flock. My Aunt Mabel, uh, borrowed one. She gave one of the silver eggs to me, probably thinking that I would pawn it off to by a bike or something.”

“But you didn’t.”

Rutherford shook his head. “I was just ten at the time. And not as cynical. I spent two entire weeks incubating the egg with heated blankets. When Hank hatched, he didn’t look any different than any other gosling. I only realized there was something different about him when I saw him grow larger to scare off a neighbor’s dog that was bullying him.”

“That must have been a shock.”

“Oh, not so much, considering what sort of household I grew up in.”

The kelpie then jerked a thumb back towards Jack, the mortal. “So if you’re a fairy godfather for detectives and such, then what about him? If he were simply supposed to be another delivery for us, a courier would have done the same job.”

“True. But bringing him here to help in your success with your next appointment is only part of my purpose. Contrary to my appearance, I also sometimes act as a matchmaker.”

“You? A matchmaker?” The kelpie glanced back to see Jack moan in defeat as the census taker did the final check mate. Hank honked excitedly. “You’re matching the mortal with her?”

At that, Rutherford chuckled. “Stop clenching the armrest like that. Jack has a very ordered personality. He likes his toasters as toasters and tea time at the same time every day. He needs someone to shake up his order occasionally. I have someone in mind who is a bit, shall we say, more flaky.”

“And what about me?”

“What about you?”

“Who would you match me up with?”

Rutherford briefly took his eyes off the road to regard him for an intense moment. A subtle sort of magic curled around the kelpie, sliding past his cheek like a slip of satin ribbon smelling strangely of bergamot and sandalwood. The fairy godfather than broke the spell with a short, “Ha!”


“I don’t think you need my help in that area.”