Negotiations

Negotiations


Before I begin, I should let you know that I don’t have no truck with magic of any kind—at least not if I can help it. I’m not saying that magic ain’t real. Hanging with Jel, I know better than to say that. But, just because something’s real, doesn’t mean that I want to go around believing in it all the time, especially if the aforementioned real thing starts breaking the rules of how the universe works.

I prefer real things, acting in real ways. Magic just mucks things up, especially the clockwork. That’s where I get really pissed off because I’m the poor sap who has to go and fix things when they go all wonky.

This explains my general guardedness when I start to sense the presence of magic—especially in its wilder forms.

Take the time I was sitting in my room cramming for a test (since this was the only time I actually cracked a book while in school, I thought it was worth mentioning) when this strange dust started drifting down on my book.

My first inclination was to think that my mom did a really crappy job dusting that week. The next thought that came to mind was that one of the volcanoes out in the desert was getting ready to blow, and that I wouldn’t have to worry about taking no stinking test the next day.

Since no alarms were going off to alert me of this impending reality, I scratched that possibility too.

This left a third possibility which unnerved me just a bit—magic was in the air, and it was operational within the confines of my room.

Just to let you know, I had made a habit of hoovering any magic dust out of my room on a regular basis just to be on the safe side. This wasn’t enough to keep all the chaos at bay. This was why I had an arsenal of anti-magic devices on hand.

The sudden appearance of magic in my room’s airspace gave me an opportunity to test out my latest acquisition—a sweet ray gun guaranteed to obliterate any unstable magic before it can coalesce into a problem.

I aimed.

I fired.

I didn’t miss.

The vague outline of impending materialization vanished. Satisfied, I went back to my books, though I kept a wary eye on any signs of reoccurrence.

Just in case.

That night, as I lay in bed reading an edgy graphic novel I had picked up the last time Jel and I went era hopping, I heard a faint tapping on my window. I went to investigate, ray gun in hand. There on the outside sill was a tiny creature no more than five inches tall. The creatures wings looked a bit singed.

Not being a total asshole, I motioned the creature in. It was cold outside. Plus, I was starting to suspect that I was the one responsible for its rather toasty look.

I put the ray gun away and went back to reading while the little creature ensconced itself atop the light of my nightstand. As I turned in, I hoped the creature would be gone by the time I opened my eyes in the morning.

I wasn’t that lucky.

The tiny creature haunted my room until I started to wonder if I had offed it. I’m not sure what it did all day while I was at school, though my drafting table seemed to be in serious disarray whenever I got back home.

After a few weeks I tried to get the silent creature to leave. The negotiations took place in the bathroom while I was getting ready for school. The creature was perched on the shelf of the medicine cabinet.

“Look I’ll pay you five bucks if you split. What do you say?”

The little creature shook its head.

“How about ten?”

The creature crossed its arms.

“I can rustle up another ten by Friday.”

The tiny creature threw up its arms and streaked out of the room. If this were out of frustration or glee I wasn’t quite sure, so I shrugged and went to school not knowing if my negotiations had been successful or not.

Returning home that afternoon there was a drawing on my drafting table. It was a mechanical mock up of a small spheroid with a sign atop it. The sign was designed to deliver short messages. It looked vaguely familiar. Jellybean hinted she had sent something similar my way. I didn’t confirm or deny having seen such an item. I had tried to tell her, “no magical surprises.” She would always say she couldn’t control what showed up where.

We’re still negotiating.

Back at the drafting table, I scrutinized the creature’s rendering. It was totally unworkable as drawn, but I could fix it. I could fix anything. I would just be using clockwork instead of the magic that Jellybean had created the original with.

I went to work at creating a correct clockwork model using the benign crystalized mix of technology and energy that the icon worlds had been created with.

The creature negotiated certain touches to the design as I worked, while I tried to negotiate its taking a hike with its celestial contrivance once I finished. That was several years ago.

We’re still negotiating.

—Blueberry Fields, Mr. Fix It

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