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No Good Deed: Ch6 - Nothing Comes For Free...
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 3:36 pm    Post subject: No Good Deed: Ch6 - Nothing Comes For Free...  

Chapter Six:Nothing Comes for Free…

Despite the coolness of her tone, Elladora was beginning to feel an uncomfortable welling of sympathy for this woman. Beatrice Talbot, past her prime, carefully storing her dreams away until it was almost too late. At last, coming to the realisation that all she wanted was a bit of recognition for the efforts she put in.

It sounded awfully familiar…

Dora wrestled with her inner conflict. She had no intention of letting Fate and Them control the next four hundred years of her existence. On the other hand, could she really promote her own hopes and aspirations by treading on those of some other poor woman in the same position?

Perhaps Beatrice was just a spoiled middle-aged housewife who didn’t appreciate the attention she did get from her friends and family. Or perhaps she really was taken for granted and had a real grounds for complaint.

Elladora began to wish that she had done a little more research before coming in to grant this wish. Time had been rushing away from her recently. Much of the backlog had been caught up, much of the background skimmed over.

She sighed and settled on a decision. On this occasion only, she would settle for a neutral. No reprimands from Fate or the Powers… but certainly no commendations either!

A winning lottery ticket, that was the… well… the ticket! Beatrice could make of that whatever she would. Whether it turned out well or not, she would still have the attention she so craved.

Elladora waved her wand in a particularly complicated fashion. Nothing happened. She frowned and repeated the gesture. Ah, that was better! A rectangular slip of paper appeared in her other hand. She glanced at it, then held it out towards Mrs. Talbot.

“This should solve your problems,” said Dora, keeping her face expressionless. “Check this week’s numbers. You’ve had your wishes now. I doubt we’ll be seeing each other again. Goodbye.”

She swooped the wand diagonally downwards. Again, nothing happened. Gripping the wand in tight knuckles, she tried again. It had rather less than the desired result.

A purple-shelled tortoise materialized on the floor, gave her a reproachful look and began to shuffle its way across the tiles. The fairy-godmother stared at it, travelling from bewilderment, through irritation and finally ending up in the land of creeping embarrassment.

“Uhh… which way is the door?” she asked the jubilant lottery-winner.

---------

Dora stomped down Barnsley High Street, muttering under her breath like the elderly relative at a family Christmas that had tippled too much with the cooking sherry. She roundly cursed Fate and all the Powers at the top of the hierarchy. The one-hundred-year warranty on her fairy-godmother accoutrements was supposed to be a precaution, not a prediction of the day upon which they would break!

First the orb, now this! It just wasn’t fair. She was stranded on Earth, without the ability to swish herself back to more comfortable surroundings. There was nothing for it but to catch one of the other Limbo Entities and hitch a ride back with them.

Her lips pursed in thought. Who would be about, in this place, at this time? Which of her co-workers was the best bet?

The Easter Bunny? Not the season. Same for Santa Claus. Tooth fairies only came out at night. Death could be anywhere, and she rather hoped he was somewhere else! War in Yorkshire? Not since the fifteenth century (and occasionally sitting in the executive box of a cricket match). Cupid, Bacchus, The Sandman, Mother Nature, The Biro Gremlin … none of them inspired her as being the sort to pop into a small Yorkshire town for a stint of shopping or a cream tea!

Then she hit on it. Of course! The new guy! Well, ‘new’ was a relative term, he’d been around for a few hundred years now. In the past thirty, though, he had found his niche becoming bigger and bigger. Now it less resembled a niche than a full-on chasm!

In terms of Conceptual Entities, he was definitely the late-comer to the party. Nonetheless, there were almost as many people doing his job as fairy-godmothering. She should have no problem bumping into one of his Incarnations or another.

That said, it took her nearly forty minutes to locate him. His trademark white trailer in the car-park was a dead giveaway. However, he was not inside it. Elladora thought she knew exactly where he would be. She took a deep breath.

“I’m going in,” she muttered.

-----------

Elladora finally found him on the gym balcony. He was watching the Ladies’ Calisthenics Class. Between twenty and thirty overweight, sweat-soaked bodies were jouncing and jiggling in rhythm. Their faces held that peculiar look of ecstatic misery that was so common in fitness centres everywhere.

Elladora ignored them and wandered up to her target. The Captain – or Cappo, as he liked to be called – was watching the class with every evidence of enjoyment. He had a beard that always looked as if it hadn’t been shaved this morning. His muscles were soft and underworked. An extensive beer-gut begged for release from the waistband of his trousers. He had the distinctive aroma that came with the job. It was fried onions, vinegar, vanilla, cream, hot butter popcorn and bacon, all rolled into one artery-clogging-but-oh-so-alluring package.

He was also eating fish and chips, straight from the paper.

Elladora felt her mouth watering. She wondered whether to object to his open needling of the poor weight-watchers. Two things decided her against it. One: he was probably not being noticed on a conscious level, by anyone other than herself. It was all part of the magic of his job. And Two: he was just doing his job.

“Captain Obesity,” she said, tapping a meaty bicep, nervously.

“Well, hello gorgeous,” he said, turning with a spreading smile. “What can I do for you? Fancy a cream-cake?”

Seemingly from nowhere (and Elladora found herself unwilling to speculate on the specifics), he produced a large, cream-filled sponge finger.

She glared at him. Then, remembering that she needed a favour, she forced her features to smooth again.

“I’m not one of your clients,” she answered. “See the wand? I’m a fairy-godmother.”

Cappo shrugged, an easy grin on his face. “Don’t fairy-godmothers have to eat, too? It’s finest whipped cream with just a hint of raspberry syrup in there somewhere, and the sponge is to die for! Come on, you know you want to…”

“Eat – or die?” snapped Dora. “I’m not here to eat, I’m here to ask a favour.”

“Oh.” Cappo straightened his shoulders, making his belly wobble anew. “What can I do for you? Chip?”

“No! Thankyou,” she added, hastily. “All I want is a lift back to Limbo. My wand seems to have failed me. I don’t want to try it again, in case it starts dripping custard.”

“MMmmm. Custard. Lovely stuff.” Cappo snapped himself out of his daydreams and looked reluctantly at the callisthenics class. “Well… I was going to start the van up in ten minutes, ready for when the class got out. Nothing like the smell of frying onions and roasting meat to undo all that hard effort of exercise.”

Dora had no wish to keep Cappo company while he did his job. She had no idea why the Powers had elected someone to fill his role at all. It did no good that she could see. Still, no doubt they knew best – and whether they knew best or worst, they were still in control. She would just have to work within the limitations of their rules.

“Look, Cappo – the Kebab Van of Doom will always be there. There’ll be another gym class in an hour, you can come back then. Meanwhile, I’ve got a new Gnome Housekeeper, and he’s probably messing up all my stuff and…” (she was suddenly inspired), “…preparing me a nice salad as we speak. If I don’t get back in time to tell him my preferences, I’m sure I’ll end up with a diet of rabbit food and an exercise regime to match.”

Cappo’s eyes widened. “My dear lady, why didn’t you say? Off to the van, I’ll take you straight home!”

----------

Elladora stomped down the path and into her cottage, not in the best of moods. Not only was her wand defunct (which meant she had to go the traditional twenty-three rounds with Fate to get a decent replacement), but she’d just had to spend half an hour in a van that stank of kebabs and burgers, with a ton of half-finished snacks on, around and under the passenger seat. It had become a matter of pride not to give in to Captain Obesity (at least in his presence), so she had done her best to ignore the chocolate bars, cookies and travel-sweets, and to try not to drown in her own drool.

Now she was starving! That damned Gnome had better not have a crispy salad waiting for her, otherwise she’d bury him in the garden with the rest of the lettuces!

As it turned out, there was a large bowl of French onion soup waiting for her, complete with crusty bread. Elladora stared at the sprinkled parsley atop the soup. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. She had an innate distrust of food that had to be ‘presented’, and of anyone who felt that such theatrics were necessary. After a hundred years of dealing with Fate, she liked things to be as they appeared on the surface – and in her experience, if you had to dress something up to sell it, it probably wasn’t worth selling in the first place.

Still, it did smell pretty wonderful. Hunger overcame misgiving and she sat down to make the most of a late lunch.

After she had finished (and raided the fridge for a custard-filled doughnut to finish the meal off), she stood up. It was time to get back to work. She had already wasted an entire morning with very little to show for it other than an improved appetite.

Fate first, or a teensy little peek into the orb?

It was a simple decision. The wand was not going to repair itself – but Elladora had had her fill of difficult people for a while. Fortunately (and, depending on how you looked at it, un-fortunately), Fate would always be there, whenever Dora chose to confront her. The orb, meanwhile, would be a welcome piece of stress-relief.

She padded into her study – and stopped short in confusion.

Chuzzle the gnome had jumped out of her seat, looking as embarrassed as a squirrel that had lost its nuts. The orb was rocking on its stand in a way that suggested it had recently been moved.

Dora looked askance at the gnome. “What’s going on?”

“I was just… err… nothin’… I mean… ‘fyer’ll excuse me, I’ve got… ahh… foldin’ ter do.”

He scuttled out before she could protest too much. She watched him pitting his stubby legs against the stairs, making hard but rapid work of them. Then, when he was gone, she took the time to examine all of her furniture and belongings. The place was irritatingly clean, but other than that she could see nothing wrong.

Oh well, if Chuzzle was trouble, no doubt she would find out soon enough. For now, Beatrice Talbot was her priority. She picked up the orb, surprised to find it still warm. Making the complicated gestures, she looked into its depths.

“… ooh baby… you’re so big for your size… uhh… you know how you gnomes do it for me… yeah that’s right… oh, bring that duster over here I’ll give you a polishing you’ll never forget… mmmm… oooh… a little to the left… that’s…”

Elladora’s eyes had been getting wider and wider. Finally, she dropped the orb as if it were red-hot (which, in one sense, it was!) and shouted out:

“Chuzzle!!”

There was no response. It was exactly the kind of no-response that you got when someone was standing at the top of the stairs, holding their breath and trying to keep as silent as gnomishly possible.

Elladora marched to the foot of the stairs. “Chuzzle! You get down here immediately!”

A wizened face peered over the balcony. Obviously having decided to opt for the nonchalant approach, he said, “Err… anythin’ the matter, Miss Chubb?”

She looked grim. “Have you been using my crystal ball, Chuzzle?”

The level of fake airiness became truly terrifying to behold. “Err… your crystal ball? Your crystal ball? Let me see… your crystal ball, you say? Err…”

Elladora drew a very deep breath. “Let me put it another way. You have been playing with my crystal ball and you will not be doing it again!”

The gnome flushed miserably crimson. “It’s only a bit of ‘armless fun, Miss. Loadsa people think Play-Gnome is an kinduv art form. ‘sNot just about the gnomes, y’see... it’s… it’s…”

Faced with Dora’s unbending fury, his excuses collapsed into silence. She let the awkward moment span out for long moments. Then:

“Put it back the way it was. Now!”

“Well, that might not be ‘s easy ‘s it seems, Miss Chubb. Y’see…”

A timely knock on the door prevented would could have rapidly turned into a murder scene. Elladora bit back her irritation, with some difficulty and jerked a thumb at the browbeaten gnome.

“Make yourself useful,” she snapped. “Answer the door.”

Chuzzle scampered as fast as he could down the stairs. Too fast, in fact. Barely three steps into his charge, he tripped over his oversized feet, bouncing and tumbling the rest of the way down.

Elladora shook her head in disgust. He would be all right. Gnomes were virtually indestructible – and right now, she thought that it was more the pity!

Well, if she wanted a job doing, it looked like she would have to do it herself! She stalked to the door and flung it open.

“…two, three, four…”

A twelve piece orchestra, plus one, stood outside her door. They lifted their instruments as she watched and began to play. Elladora noted, through stunned eyes, that the twelfth instrumentalist, whose instrument she had smashed the day before, was now attempting to master the paper-and-comb. At the front of this troop of entertainers stood the slouched and hunchbacked form of Alexander Rose.

To do him justice, he looked no happier about this state of affairs than Dora did. Nevertheless, as his cue arrived, he opened his mouth and sang in a voice that utterly failed to live up to what little enthusiasm he had.

“I bring you a message, a summons from Fate
(I’m sorry about this, I really am!)
She says you must hurry, so don’t make her wait!
(I just want you to know, I didn’t write the lyrics, okay?)
You’ll be in big trouble if you should be late
(Or the tune! This really sucks, man!”)
Now get to her mansion and…” he winced at the atrocity of the last line.
“…please close the gate.”

Elladora’s face had pursed into ‘sucking a lemon’ position. She opened her mouth to speak, only to be assaulted by a second verse.

“This messenger watches to see that you…”

“Yes, yes, alright, I get it,” she snapped, waving her arms about until the orchestra got the message to quit. “A simple note wouldn’t have done?”

Glaring at gnome, manservant and orchestra alike, Elladora snatched her wand and stalked past them in the direction of Fate’s mansion.

------------

Considering that Fate was her immediate superior, there was a surprisingly big distance between the two abodes. Elladora sighed as she walked past the rows of dogsbody cottages, similar to her own. She muttered as she turned into Littlefolk Row and tried not to stomp on any of their houses by mistake. She swore as she began the long ascent up the hill towards the mansion.

Other, less orthodox structures lay beside the winding path. The Shopkeeper was making an appearance again, apparently. His narrow store looked very strange, perched by itself on the hillside. The windows were full of strange junk and oddments, designed to be picked up and bought by the casual passer-by. Then, of course, they would find out just how odd it was, return to the shop to confront the Shopkeeper… and find that neither keeper nor shop was there any longer.

Then there were the three little pigs’ huts – one of straw, one of wood and one of brick, neatly lined up and neighbouring each other. Of course, the pigs didn’t live there any more. They’d leased the houses out and could be found these days at the ‘Guardian Angels’ House of Earthly Delight’. No, the three shacks were now occupied by the Bunny of Idealism, the Donkey of Realism and the Weasel of Cynicism. What, exactly, their jobs were, Elladora had no clue. Still, she supposed it was a job, just the same as hers.

Probably better. They didn’t have Fate as a boss!

Finally, she trekked to the top of the hill. The Palace of Threads lay before her. She braced herself, walked straight up to the bell-pull and yanked it down.

There was a moment of weightlessness. Then, without any further ado, she dropped like a stone, through a trapdoor that had opened up beneath her. She slid down a dark chute, flailing and twisting and swallowing inordinate amounts of cobweb.

Four seconds later (it seemed much, much longer!), the chute deposited her, without ceremony, on a cold, stone floor. She coughed and spluttered. Her hands scrubbed at face and hair, trying to get rid of the dust and filth that surrounded her. She stood up, rubbing at her rump where she suspected a large bruise would be appearing shortly.

“Ah. Miss Chubb. You got my message then?”

The voice came from behind her. It was casual and blasé, as if entirely used to people screaming their way down steep-sided chutes every time the doorbell rang. Of course, in Fate’s case, this was probably the truth.

Elladora felt her fury rising. She (and the dust-cloud which surrounded her) advanced on Fate, prodding finger at the ready. In the end, though, the outrage was too great and the words simply would not come. She had to settle for:

“Look at my dress! It’s completely ruined!”

Fate turned and looked her up and down.

“Yes,” she said, thoughtfully. “Silly thing to wear for cellar-clearing, isn’t it? You should have put on some of your older clothes.”

Dora spluttered. “If you’d told me there was going to be a cellar-clearing session, I’d…”


“I sent you a telegram,” stated Fate, firmly. “I remember verse seven clearly mentioned the fact.”

“Verse seven!” The fairy-godmother opened her mouth to retort. Then she shut it again. Fate was obviously continuing her little campaign of revenge. The only way to fight back was to keep making her life as difficult as possible, until she agreed to let Dora go. Anything else was just playing straight into her thread-juggling hands.

“What did you want?” she snapped, instead.

Fate shuffled a broken wind-machine past her. “I have received a complaint about your recent conduct, Miss Chubb.”

“Oh?”

“A certain Martine Adams. She seems to object to your particularly tasteless way of granting her wish.”

“She wanted equality with her brother,” objected Elladora, wondering if she had finally earned her reprimand. “I merely did as she asked.”

Fate dumped a particularly horrible bolt of black lace in Elladora’s arms. “Put that on the pile. You subjugated her to an existence within her brother’s body. That is not a proper way to grant a wish, as you well know. Should I read you what she wrote?”

“I really don’t see…” began Elladora.

Fate unfolded a piece of paper from within the recesses of her cloak. She began to read, with every evidence of enjoyment.

To Elladora Chubb’s Manager,

I am writing to make a complaint. Again. Every time this incompetent fairy-godmother has granted me a wish, she’s got it wrong. I asked for a horse, she gave me a rotten pony that my parents gave away the moment they found out about it. I asked for top marks in my maths exam and the teachers accused me of cheating. She’s incompetent and should be removed from the job.

“Now that’s just not fair!” Elladora was stung, despite her better instincts. “I gave her exactly what she asked for. If people make stupid wishes, they can only expect…”

Fate continued, raising her voice above Elladora’s complaints.

Now she’s ruined my third wish too. I asked for equal rights with my brother, and all she’s done is stuck me inside his body. That isn’t equality, it’s – I don’t know what it is, but it’s all her fault!

Now that was more like it! Dora tried her hardest not to crack a smile. “Just doing my job,” she murmured.

Fate’s ever-metamorphic face gave her a hard stare. “She continues,” she intoned.

Sack her and give me back my body, otherwise you’ll be hearing from my Dad’s solicitors!

Martine Adams

P.S. Can you sue fairy godmothers?

Dora looked at Fate, innocently. “I don’t know. Can you?”

“Thankfully, that is a matter for Them to deal with,” Fate snapped. “My only concern is how to deal with this insolent attitude of yours. The Powers will be no protection to you this time. I am sending this note to them, along with a recommendation that you receive a formal reprim…”

“Err… excuse me?” came the hesitant voice of Alexander Rose. It came from the top of the cellar stairs.

Fate whirled. “What?” she snapped.

“There’s a messenger arrived for Elladora, Mistress. He says that,” his voice took on a much deeper tone for the next word, “They want to see her. The messenger said you’d know what was meant, and that she should make her way there immediately.”

Fate gave a curt nod, looking smug. “Ah. It seems they already know of your misdeeds. Very well, take the letter and go. I’m sure you will get everything you deserve.”

Elladora felt a lump of anxiety in her throat. Despite having done her best to earn a reprimand, she never thought she would have been personally summoned to the abode of the Powers. That was a little more attention than she felt her mischief deserved.

What if they took it into their heads to demote her to Frog Princess? She didn’t fancy spending the next few hundred years hanging around wishing wells and waiting for handsome guys with a toad-fetish to come along. What if they thought up some even worse fate for her? They could do it, in a heartbeat – even though they didn’t personally have hearts!

Oh well, there was only one way to find out. Sighing deeply, she clambered over the discarded cellar-rubble and made her way up the stairs. Time to face the music – and hope to the Powers that it was better than that awful singing telegram!

------------

Wandering through Limbo in a rumpled and dusty dress was hardly an encouraging way to prepare for a meeting with Them. Fortunately, it wasn’t a long journey from the Palace of Threads to the Power House. Just down the other side of the hill and into its own lonely valley beyond.

Elladora wondered what to expect. Not many of her colleagues had ever been unlucky enough to meet the Powers in their own domain. The few who had all told different tales of their experiences. One told of a gothic castle, another of walls made entirely of clouds, the third of a domed palace.

She was surprised, therefore, to see a traditional gypsy caravan, poised on the flat heathlands below her. It seemed a little un-ostentatious. Still, nobody could predict Them and only fools tried.

She picked her way down the hillside, bit by bit. As she went, the Power House became clearer, both in detail and perspective. It seemed to be a green painted, canvas-topped caravan with wood-spoked wheels and delicately painted adornments prettifying the outer shell. It also seemed, as she approached, to be at least two hundred feet long and eighty feet tall. The main entrance lay between two of the front wheel-spokes, oversized for what it was, and yet dwarfed by its surroundings.

Theatrical it may be, but Dora could find no complaint in her mind. Somehow, it seemed only natural for the Powers to be mysterious and enigmatic. They ran Limbo after all – whereas Fate could barely run up the stairs!

She ascended the steps to the main entrance and cautiously let herself in. As she had half-expected, the entire building was a huge replica of the interior of a caravan. Enormous bunk-beds towered over her, a stove and sink rose majestically to her left. Every surface was filled with knick-knacks and oddments, the windows and ceiling were hung with trinkets and silver predominated the overall design. Directly in front of her was a great table with a huge obsidian orb placed on it. On the chair behind it sat a black-hooded figure with burning orange eyes.

Elladora felt her stomach twist. A Power was bad enough, but a fifty-foot tall one? Uncomfortable images of grinding bones to make bread came to mind.

She squeaked. Then she cleared her throat and tried again.

“Uhh… you s-summoned me?”

“I did. Have a seat.”

Indignation briefly overcame fear. “How do you suggest I do that? These wings barely lift me off the ground these days!”

“Oh. In that case…”

The Power gestured and Elladora immediately began to rise from the ground. Her first instinct was to struggle against the sensation. After a few moments, she resigned herself to it, in the interests of not looking like an overweight mime-artist. The perspective of her surroundings changed around her as she ascended to chair height. Either they were shrinking or she was growing, and she wasn’t sure which.

Finally, she landed on the seat with an uncomfortable thud. She was given no time to recover her wits before the Power spoke again.

“Once more you have come to our attention, Miss. Chubb.”

“Oh?” was all she could think to say.

“Tell me – did you know this would happen?

“Err…” Elladora was aware she was making all the impression of a snowflake in the Sahara here, but she seemed unable to make any meaningful contribution to the conversation. “What?”

“The Martine and Sebastien Adams case. Very interesting reading.

With that, the shadowy creature pushed a couple of letters from its side of the table to hers. Elladora eyed them doubtfully, as if they would suddenly sprout legs and go into a music-hall routine. Having no other recourse, though, she began to scan the top note of the two.

Dear Fairy-Godmother,

Martine Adams here. I want to cancel my third wish. Either the magic ran out on its own or you cancelled it out for me. Either way is fine. I do NOT want equality. I don’t know how to fix a lawnmower and the homework is too difficult!

Goodbye for ever, I hope.
Martine.


Dora blinked. A simple wish cancellation. Nothing special, although it did diminish that rather fine reprimand that she had just earned. Disappointed and a liitle puzzled, she turned to the second note.

Dear (a number of crossings-out had occurred here, as if someone had been unwilling to commit themselves to the words that followed) Fairy-Godmother,

My kid sister, Martine, said she was going to write and tell you not to change things around again.

That goes for me too. I don’t know what magic you cast on me, but please don’t take it away again!

What did you do – cast some sort of sex appeal spell on me or something? Ever since I got to school today, all the girls have been all over me. Even Vicky Beckington, the really hot redhead that I’ve fancied forever!

I don’t know why. They just keep going on about how they never knew I was so sensitive and caring, and how it takes a real man to say ‘no’. Who cares though? I can dump Alice and have any girl I like now! Cool, huh?

And Martine’s not being such a little cow either. I could almost get to like her if she keeps this up.

Anyway, don’t change a thing. Not a thing. You’re doing a great job!

Sebastien Adams.

Elladora closed her eyes for a long moment. She had a sinking feeling that she knew what was coming.

“Excellent work, Miss Chubb.” The echoes of the Power’s words shivered through her mind. “You have just earned yourself a second commendation, in less than a week.”

“Damn,” muttered the fairy-godmother.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Oh, nothing,” she sighed, standing up and dusting grey smudges from her dress. “Is that what you wanted to tell me?”

“It is.”

“Then I’d better be going.” An idea occurred to her. Maybe she could salvage something out of this debacle after all. “I’ve got a long walk ahead of me to get back to my cottage.”

For a moment, she thought her hint hadn’t worked. Then, as she got to the door, the enigmatic voice spoke again.

“A long walk? Do you not, then, use your wand for travel?”

“Well…” sighed Elladora, feigning reluctance, “…My wand has gone on the blink, lately, and it’s virtually impossible to get any new equipment out of Fate. I’m sure she’s very busy and I know how things get on top of her. I mean, she has all those gadgets to keep running. The wind-machine, the ghost-projector, the giant mechanical cuckoo, the… well, I’m sure she’ll get around to replacing my wand eventually. I’m sure she will.”

“I see. Well, generally a second commendation entitles you to free Gym membership at the MAFIA club and an improved pair of wings… but if you wish, I could replace your wand?”

Dora smiled. “That would be wonderful!”

----------

It was with a very grateful wand swish that she returned to the cottage. Life was good. Fate was looking increasingly incompetent, the Powers had heard about her many… eccentricities… and she had a new WishMaster 2000 prototype wand in her hands. Guaranteed to ‘Take a Ranting and keep on Granting’, as the advertisements said.

Now to deal with that meddlesome gnome.

As she walked through the front door, the smell of roast mutton filled her nostrils. It smelled heavenly! Back when she had been mortal, her favourite meal had been roast mutton with all the trimmings. Lately – this past sixty years or so, she had got out of the habit of cooking. It seemed such a waste, just for one person.

Now, her stomach and nose were telling her what she had been missing. She started to move in a kitchenwards direction, picturing sinful roast potatoes and rich gravy and roasted turnips and…

She stopped. The weasel of cynicism paid her a brief but illuminating visit. Chuzzle had laid out her favourite meal of all time. It was either because he was extremely fond of her (unlikely, given their brief time together so far), or because he wanted to apologise in advance for something that had gone horribly wrong.

Which was it? She was prepared to bet.

She switched tracks and went out in search of the gnome. As expected, she found him in the study.

“Oh, back already?” he said, leaping out of her chair.

“Is it fixed?” she asked, sternly.

“What? Oh – the orb. Yes, yer fairy-godmotherness. All fixed now.”

She watched him shift uncomfortably from foot to foot. “Is there anything else I should know about?”

“Umm… I’ve cooked yer a nice dinner?” said Chuzzle, hopefully.

“Anything else? Oh, never mind, I’m sure I’ll find out,” she sighed, giving up. The smell of roast meat was just too tempting.

Tempting and delicious, it turned out. By the end of the meal, Dora was beginning to feel quite warmly inclined towards Chuzzle. He may be a randy little pervert, but at least he could cook good mutton!

Still, it was high time she got down to some real work. If Beatrice Talbot’s wish went askew, then there was no telling what it might lead to.

She hurried into the study and sat down with the orb. Her hands tuned into the scene and she began to watch…

-----------

There was a party going on. It had taken some organisation, but everyone was going to be there. Every single member of Beatrice’s family, all the dinnerladies from work, every friend they could get hold of at this short notice. Everyone.

The house was groaning under the strain. The food and drink was flowing so freely that extra tables had had to be bought, just to hold up under the weight. The celebration had cost hundreds so far, but when you were a lottery winner, the cost ceased to matter.

Beatrice beamed. She was on her fifth sherry already and everyone was being so nice, sharing in her good fortune like this.

“Mum, now that you’ve got some money, can I have that GameStation I wanted?”

“We’ll see. I’m sure something can be arranged.”

Her younger daughter wandered off, a smug smile on her face. She was almost immediately replaced by her older sister.

“Mum?”

“Yes, Tracey?” Beatrice smiled.

“I was wondering. Now that I’m seventeen… and now that you’re going to have all that money… can I have a car of my own? It’ll save you from driving me about all the time. I could even take your old one and you could buy something brand-new. How about it?”

Beatrice frowned. “Well… I suppose it makes a kind of sense. We’ll see.”

“Great! Well, in the meantime, can I borrow your keys? I promised I’d meet the girls tonight and now that you and Dad are busy, I’ve got nobody to take me.”

Sherry or not, Beatrice was beginning to feel slightly less happy. However, she handed the keys over and watched her eldest disappear into the night. Barely half a minute had passed before Madge, one of the dinnerladies, came over to have a word.

“Beatrice! Congratulations!” she greeted her, heartily.

“Annie,” she said. “Glad you could make it.”

“Couldn’t miss my best friend’s celebration, could I?” Annie had a bright and brittle smile on her face. “Great news about your winning ticket, girl! I guess you’ll be rolling in it now?”

“Oh, I suppose life will still go on pretty much as normal,” answered Beatrice, sipping at her sherry. “Money doesn’t make you happy, you know?”

“Doesn’t hurt though, does it?” Annie nudged her with an elbow and winked. She was, quite frankly, beginning to get on Bea’s nerves. “Eight million grand prize this time, wasn’t it?”


The hostess shrugged. “I probably haven’t won all of that. There may be more than one winner.”

“Still…”

A pregnant silence descended. Annie topped up Beatrice’s sherry glass again.

“Still…” she repeated. Then, abruptly. “I wish I’d won. Fred’s been down the betting shop again. He took my mother’s jewellery and pawned it, laid the money down on the 2.30 at Hampton. I just don’t know how we’re going to get it back now. What if someone comes and buys it before we can raise the money? My mother’s jewellery! My own mother, dead these past six years, the only thing I have to remember her, lying rotting in some dirty, filthy pawn shop somewhere. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for just a bit of your good fortune. I won’t sleep at night knowing my mother would be turning in her grave, blaming me for letting Fred nick off with all her…”

The effects of the sherry were definitely beginning to wear off now. Bea was feeling distinctly put-upon. Still, she had plenty of money now. It might be worth a small sum, if only to stop Annie from bleating on all night.

“How much would it take to buy it back?” she asked, wearily.

“Oh, I couldn’t. I really… only four thousand. I wouldn’t ask, but what if someone else…”

“Yes yes,” snapped Beatrice. “Look, I can’t give it to you now, but if you come back after I’ve collected, I’ll see what I can do.”

“You’re such a good friend.” Annie hugged her, gave her a full-on smile, then promptly wandered off to talk to someone else.

Beatrice’s eyes had barely stopped tracking her when another visitor came to pay their respects.

“Danny,” she welcomed him. He had been her friend since they were children, growing up in the same street. She had even dated him a couple of times, before he had fallen for another mutual friend. Recently though, she had seen neither Danny nor Pauline. “Long time no see.”

Dan pulled a rather melancholy smile. “Yeah. It’s been a while. You’ve done pretty well for yourself though, haven’t you?”

Bea was a little taken aback by the hint of accusation in his tone.

“Well, only since today,” she answered. “And winning the lottery isn’t exactly doing well for yourself. It’s all down to luck.”

“Luck. Huh.”

She was beginning to feel her way down a familiar road. “Is anything the matter, Dan?”

“It’s just… well, Pauline’s father isn’t well. Not well at all. He needs an operation.”


Beatrice’s eyes narrowed. She suspected a scam – but this was one of her oldest friends. Surely he wouldn’t take advantage of her, just because she had money now?

“What’s wrong with him?” Her eyes wandered to Pauline, who seemed to be laughing and flirting with Bea’s own husband.

“It’s his heart. He’s getting on a bit – and with him being in Australia, Pauline worries about him all the time. If only we could afford to go over and get him the operation, before it’s too late. Still, some of us aren’t so lucky as you.”

Beatrice looked at him, stung. Was that really how he saw her now? Rich and uncaring? A world apart from him, just because she had won a bit of cash?

She opened her mouth…

---------

“…unhhh… my favourite gnome… I see you’ve brought a friend… mmmm… smile for me, honey, let me see those wrinkles… oh yeah…”

Elladora shook the orb, outraged. Mid-scene, it had suddenly cut to Play-Gnome XXX.


“Chuzzle!” she screeched.

He appeared, all bobs and apologies.

“I thought you said you’d fixed this!”

“Ah. Well. Um. I thought I ‘ad. ‘as it gorn back to the gnome channel? Did that a coupla times fer me too. I c’n fix it, no problem. Just gimme a little while.”

Elladora glared at him. “If it isn’t fixed by morning, you’re going to be eating that orb! Now, I’m going to bed. No whistling, no cleaning, no keeping me awake. And no Play-Gnome! Is that understood?”

“Yes yer fairy-godmotherness,” mumbled the flushing gnome. He watched Elladora march up the stairs, then furtively picked up the orb again.

----------

That morning brought only croissants and orange juice for breakfast. Reasoning that Chuzzle would have prepared something much more elaborate if he still had a guilty conscience, Elladora presumed the orb to be fixed.

Ah well. A new day, a new job. She looked up her next name.

Veronica Crumpet. A fifteen year old on her first wish. There was no real reason for her being on the backlog list, other than the fact that Elladora had recently come to loathe all first wishes! They were so full of energy and short on thought. They always went wrong, whatever she tried to do to the contrary. They often attracted attention to Limbo, which was never welcome under any circumstances. They were, in short, bad news.

Not now, though. Elladora had two commendations to get rid of, and a new appetite to try. She rolled up her sleeves, whooshed the wand and vanished off to Veronica’s house.

----------

“AAAARRRGHHHH!”

“Be quiet, you silly girl.” Elladora pointed the wand and arced an aura of silence around Veronica. “I’m your fairy-godmother. You must have got the letter.”

A couple of minutes later, when all misunderstandings had been most tiresomely ironed out, the two of them were ready to communicate.

“So, I get three wishes, right?” asked Veronica, wide-eyed.


“You get three wishes. Right.”

“Really?”

“Look, do you want to make a wish or just waste my time?” Elladora snapped. She was in no mood for playing dumb games with a Crumpet.

“I can wish for anything?”

Elladora sighed. “You’ve obviously already thought of a suitable wish, or I wouldn’t be here. Now, what is it?”

Veronica drew her knees onto the bed and stared out of the window, thoughtfully. Then she brightened.

“I’ve got one,” she said with glee. “I want a superpower. I want to be superhuman. Comic-book style. That would be ACE!”

Elladora rolled her eyes. Another idiotic first wish. Still, what couldn’t she do with a request like that…?
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ethereal_fauna



Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 4:10 pm    Post subject:  

Give her x-ray vision. After seeing through a few people's clothes, she'll be complaining. :-o If I think of something any better, I'll certainly let you know.
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5260
Location: Hell

Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject:  

Give her the power of telepathy. A telepathy that she can't controll and gradually grows more and more powerful until she can hear every thought with ten miles. It will quickly drive her insane.

and yes, this idea is from buffy, if you've seen the episode 'Earshot'
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8783
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 6:04 pm    Post subject:  

Great!

Busy now, so have to get back on this one!
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:15 am    Post subject:  

ROFL! Nice long chapter Stoat, superbly written. :biggrin:

You could do so much with that kind of wish... :-D

You could give her what seems like a really cool power; like flight or super vision or super speed, and at first it seems amazing.

But then you can have an accompanying transformation; like leathery bat wings, big wierd bug eyes or 4 pairs of legs! :P

If I can think of anything else, and I can get to post it, I shall! :D
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8783
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:45 am    Post subject:  

Give her a comic book style from the 60s! Real horrible costume, really skimpy and make it so she can't take it off!

Then make her talk like the old batman. Powers. Super strength. She breaks anything she touches!

That'll learn her, and her little do too!
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:48 am    Post subject:  

Love the X-ray idea Fauna but hey folks, superpowers also come with super weaknesses. Give the girl the ability to fly and a crippling case of acrophobia at the same time...

I'm pretty sure she'll be smarter with her wishes after that...

Or maybe give her the superpower of her dreams, like super strength, but then have everybody wanting her to save them all the time. You know have a Crumpet signel instead of a Bat signel...that'll wear her out.
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:37 am    Post subject:  

"With trepidation I walked over to a mirror and set about investigating the fairy godmothers work.

ok...starting at the bottom, feet normal, legs normal, knees looking rather exquisite... tummy normal, arms normal, head normal.

Hmmm, I feel the same."

Presenting... Iganora - the girl who has the amazing power to be ignored by everyone.

No one pays her any attention at all. She can do what she likes, when she likes. Rob a bank or Save the World.

She won't be having too many conversations though.

----

Great chapter, and I'll be back with other ideas if I have any. :D
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:15 am    Post subject:  

ROFL :lol: ! Nice one Smee :D
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Guest






Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:03 am    Post subject:  

i liked the boyband thing lmao :lol:

i think Lebrenths one is really good/funny

if she was in jail, she would get all the bad parts (other then being in jail, of course) such as being grounded, and all the bad parts of shcool life when you're 16... :(
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 2:37 am    Post subject:  

If she goes with Iganora won't she risk repeating herself...*points to invisible girl in chapter one* She got ignored really well...

But I do like the idea...*wishes she had that power sometimes*
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Guest






Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:27 pm    Post subject:  

i like the one where a super power come with a super strength, and its also something that would complie with all the rules, because if she was superman, then a weakness could be (hm what was it):? kremlin or something.....idk lol
or you could make it so that she had the superpowers in a comic book, as in a book that people would flip through and say "Hey look, its Veronica the ____woman!":x :mad:
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Suneila
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Posted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:18 pm    Post subject:  

Maybe she should become a shapeshifter, something small and annoying, a beetle or something, or maybe chameleonic, where she becomes whatever she touches.

The telepathy is a good idea, but I think it's overdone.

Btw, Beatrice's wish reminds me of the 10th Kingdom where he wishes that his boss and his boss's entire family would "kiss his butt" and they literally try to kiss his butt. It's great.

~sunny
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Shady Stoat
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
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Location: England

Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:07 am    Post subject:  

Poll's going up tomorrow. Anyone with any bright ideas, get them in while you can :)
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Kalanna Rai
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Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 5:18 pm    Post subject:  

Pyrokenisis maybe, just let your emotions get away from you and poof your desk is a pile of cinders...that'll not only get annyoing but it'll have the government interested in you really quickly...
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Warmaster Daizo
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Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 7:47 pm    Post subject:  

How about the incredible Torsowoman! Bitten in a freak accident by a radioactive torso, she now maneuvers using only her hips and shoulders. Though she can't look at anything without melting it, she is sworn to protect urbanopolisville from any danger - including herself


If nothing else, you must include urbanopolisville.
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Shady Stoat
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 2:53 am    Post subject:  

Okay. 3 day poll's up. 6 options to choose from.

Smee, I love Iganora, but as someone pointed out, it's already been used on Becky and the Wicked Stepmother. Sorry :?

Warmaster, I'll try to incorporate some of your ideas into the existing options... but torsowoman has me stumped, I'm not ashamed to admit it :shock:

Have fun everybody :D
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ethereal_fauna
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Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 3:02 am    Post subject:  

Had to go for the xray vision...very traumatising...maybe she could walk by a weight watchers aerobics class when the powers kick in. :-D
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Smee
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 3:18 am    Post subject:  

I went for the pyro-thingy.

It's got to be annoying to keep setting things on fire.

Happy Writing :D
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Chinaren
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Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8783
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Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 4:02 am    Post subject:  

I voted for my suggestion, 'cos Stoat used the word 'kitsch'. :D
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LordoftheNight
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Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5260
Location: Hell

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:05 am    Post subject:  

while i went for the telepathy, as that would be really annnoying
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Solomon Birch
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Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:22 am    Post subject:  

Went for the powers/weakness one.

Cos' I suggested it... ;) :biggrin:
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Ingrothechundyer
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Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 2:10 pm    Post subject:  

I just had to go with fire on this one :lol:
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Shady Stoat
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 11:54 pm    Post subject:  

After lots of people seemed to miss the poll last time, I thought I'd give extra warning.

24 hours left to vote, guys :D
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Mother Goose
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Joined: 09 May 2004
Posts: 511
Location: Connecticut

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:13 am    Post subject:  

Shapeshifting sounds interesting - lots of possibilities there!
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Suneila
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Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:46 pm    Post subject:  

It's all about the shape-shifting, guys.

~sunny
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Shady Stoat
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 2:51 am    Post subject:  

Hybrid animal-powers takes it. I'll start writing it (and try to keep it a bit shorter this time) ;)
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LordoftheNight
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Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5260
Location: Hell

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:54 pm    Post subject:  

dont worry - long is good*

*quiet everyone whose mind just made that jump
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Shady Stoat
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2006 12:59 am    Post subject:  

Unfortunately, due to the electricity in my house going wonky during the night, my computer's version of Windows is corrupt and due a complete re-install.

I'm currently working off laptop (which is not terribly inconvenient) and I have no way of accessing all the work I did yesterday, probably until the end of the weekend (which IS terribly inconvenient).

To cut a long story short, I'm starting writing the new chapter again. Don't expect anything in a hurry :D
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Kalanna Rai
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Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 12:21 am    Post subject:  

Yeah I have a spyware problem that won't go away...I can sympathize with bums but who wants to go dumpster diving in my trash heap of a machine...that's just crazy...
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D-Lotus
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Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 9:45 pm    Post subject:  

Wow, stoat, what a great story. If I had known, I would have voted for it in SGOTM!

The characters are imaginative, the setting is comical and interesting, and the plot never gets old!

This is good, stoat. If you finish it, you should think about publishing.
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