by Derek Hartmann
Derek Hartmann is a Botanist of weird and smelly plants. He slept on a fridge once. And he is a longtime fantasy enthusiast that found the motivation to begin writing as a hobby in 2022! You can follow him on Twitter @SomeDerek!
How many childhood tales have been woven from lies? Fairy tales are told to keep people blissfully unaware of reality. The reality that few knew the truth about. Gnomes ruin ecosystems with their underground burrows. Ogres steal livestock in the dead of night. The blatant lie that portrayed fairies as cute and friendly creatures couldn’t be further from the truth.
The full moonlight glimmered down on Gerald as he peered into the decaying manor’s window. Thousands lined the walls and ceiling. The fairies moved in clumps, writhing around the foyer, leaving behind a glossy streak of rainbow slime. With a white-knuckled grip around his dim flashlight, Gerald crept through the front door over the worn Welcome mat. The air stunk with a thick odor of rot. The Fairy Vac 5000 strapped to his back made a low whir, ready to be put to work.
Out of the corner of his eye, a blur darted towards Gerald’s right ankle. He gasped, slamming his foot on the figure without hesitation. A crunch echoed throughout the room. Eyes bulged out of the pale, cancerous masses, inspecting him. Shrill, high-pitched cackles and giggles rang out from every direction. The masses broke apart, revealing each individual fairy, before they all skittered or convulsively fluttered out of the foyer. Gerald didn’t believe he was welcome, contrary to what the doormat to the manor said.
The exterminator raised an eyebrow, peering down past his gut. Vibrant rainbow mucus stretched from the bottom of his boot to the pale, disfigured mass below him. Gerald always knew fairies were vile creatures. But he didn’t know they were this revolting. The twitching creature gazing at him looked like a cross between a naked mole rat and a horsefly, with vaguely human appendages.
“Heehee,” said the creature of legends, before convulsing and releasing a poot of glitter from its flabs.
Panicking, Gerald rummaged through his bag, shoving a can of Fairy-B-Gone out of the way, then pulling out a mask with bug-like goggles. The Glitter Keeper-Outer 3000! It was hard to remember the official names of his government-issued equipment. He pulled the mask over his face and tucked his graying, unkempt mustache under the plastic. The toxic fairy poot particles could harm him no more.
“How did I end up with this job?” Gerald sighed. Exterminators for fable infestations were bottom of the barrel jobs issued by the city. Fairy tale creatures were getting harder to keep hidden from the public eye. Conspiracy theorists were already catching wind of the goblins living in the sewers.
Taking a deep, muffled breath through the rank-smelling mask, Gerald flipped the vacuum to high. He charged into the room ahead, flailing the end of the hose around. The vacuum sucked and swirled giggling fairies into its sack. Gerald screamed and ran around the manor as fairies flew around him, occasionally slamming into him with a viscous slap.
The exterminator found fairies in every crack and crevice. Potted plants hid the pale creatures. Bookshelves displayed fairies lounging about. There was even one bathing in the downstairs toilet, making it especially satisfying to siphon with a shlorp.
Rapid beeping rang out from the vacuum and the low humming it uttered died. Gerald checked the side of the machine to see five little lights blinking. Full capacity. A fairy squirmed halfway inside the end of the hose, hurling and discharging globs of glitter.
“Full? Now?” Gerald huffed. “I’m too outta shape for this.” Plopping over with a jiggle, he realized how futile this job was. How would he accomplish this by himself? Working tirelessly for hours, he made little progress. He glanced at a nearby grandfather clock, wishing he was paid by the hour instead of by salary. But he needed to feed his best friend, Buddy, somehow, and this job was all he could get.
Gerald heard muffled giggles and the shuffling of fairy clumps through the walls. It was unbelievable how many of these creatures inhabited the manor. He’d heard of twenty or thirty occupying a subway, but never thousands.
A subconscious switch clicked in his mind. He remembered his job manual he kept stuffed in the bottom of his bag and pulled it out. He read it once before. If looking at the pictures counted.
The exterminator flipped through the various pages of unflattering pictures of cyclopes, fauns, griffins, and other creatures he couldn’t believe existed before landing on what he was looking for. The Fairy Godmother. Acting much like a queen bee, Godmothers lure immature fairies to where they’re residing to eradicate any animal species nearby. Usually for territorial reasons. This makes fairies a top priority for extermination.
“There’s probably one in this house,” Gerald said to himself. This revelation filled him with dread. Godmothers were way above his pay grade. Any fairy will grow into a mature Godmother with time, but with that maturity, brings magic. And magic is something a Basic Level Exterminator—like Gerald—was plainly ill-prepared for.
Content in being useless in this situation, Gerald made for the front door. His manager could deal with this situation. Stepping over the fairy he initially stomped on, he flung open the door, taking in the welcoming sight of the great … foyer? Staring in disbelief for a few moments, he slammed the door open and closed repeatedly, only to be greeted with the duplicate foyer. He cursed and ran back. Scaling the stairs, through the guest bedchamber, past the kitchen, through countless doors. There was no end to the hallways. Each door he opened welcomed him with three more. Pudgy little fairies giggled around every corner at his futile attempts at escaping.
Tears of frustration pooled in the corners of Gerald’s eyes. “No. No, I can’t be trapped.” The magic of the Godmother was apparent. Picture frames shimmered like a desert mirage. Cups drifted through the air. His hand passed through false doorknobs. The illusions weren’t perfect, but they were realistic enough for one to get lost forever. Gerald could only do one thing. He needed to do his job. He needed to find and exterminate the Fairy Godmother.
Hours of wandering the manor’s maze was exhausting. Gerald’s heart pounded and his feet ached. He pulled out his wallet and opened it to see a photo of his sweet little barghest, Buddy. In addition to covering up the truth, fairy tales also stretched it. Barghests were portrayed to be monstrous dogs with terrifyingly sharp teeth and claws, but Buddy was quite the opposite. He was a runt of the litter. His buck teeth, tiny paws, and big round eyes were irresistible, making him the perfect pet and roommate. Gerald was fortunate to have him.
Hunched over his knees, Gerald laughed at the absurdity of the situation. How would he find the Godmother? The manual was useless to try and track one. This manor would be his-.
Sudden cackles and giggles growing louder through the walls cut his rambling thoughts off. One laugh in particular was different than the rest. It was a taunting howl, piercing through Gerald’s skull. Almost immediately, immature fairies began to shuffle and flutter towards their master.
The exterminator took off towards the sound, rounding corners and barging through door frames. He stopped in front of a set of double doors when the taunting laughter ceased. The master bedroom doors. They shimmered intensely, looking as if they may splinter and crack at any moment. It must be behind these doors.
Gerald remembered his bag of tools. The Fairy-B-Gone! The can was nearly empty, but it was better than nothing. Taking one last look at his photo of Buddy, Gerald tucked in his gut, straightened his back, puffed out his chest, then stepped through the illusion.
What stood before the exterminator would terrify any creature, mythical or not. The bed, dressers, nightstands, and lamps swirled around the room. The Fairy Godmother showed similarities to the immature fairies, but unlike them, it towered over Gerald. It was bare, aside from a loose-fitting tattered dress, while also looking vaguely human in its appendages and face. Most noticeably, its jaw grew wider with each howling cachinnation, reaching for the floor.
Without hesitating, Gerald rushed at the Godmother, spraying the remaining contents of the Fairy-B-Gone into its mouth.
The Godmother’s laugh transitioned into a sharp gargle as its swelled, meaty arm swiped Gerald away, slamming him into a dresser across the room.
Crumpled on the floor, Gerald wheezed through breaths and feebly crawled away. His stammering pleas were overshadowed by raucous gargling laughter.
The Godmother chortled as its feet squelched with every step closer to the exterminator. A pop rang out, followed by a slight hissing noise. Then another. And another. Glitter leaked out of the Godmother’s flabs, sounding like a deflating balloon. The creature gargled up a clump of vibrant, slimy glitter onto Gerald’s boots and collapsed onto the wood floor. “Ha haaaaaa … haaaaa … aaaaa,” the Godmother uttered between gasps.
Various bulbous lumps accumulated all over the Godmother’s body before popping fiercely, releasing immature fairies in a mess of puss, slime, and glitter. The bodily fluids plastered the room and smothered the exterminator. The floating furniture collapsed with a thud.
Gerald cried out and gasped through the goop covering him. He wiped his eyelids free of slime, finding himself to be sitting back at the open front door.
“I … I think I need a raise.”