A strange creature crossing the road behind the lecture hall. You stop on your bike, It looks like a turtle, or longer. It’s stretched out on the sun-warmed asphalt, long, pale limbs crawling forward towards the small stream that runs on the other side. You hop off your bike and gently pick up the creature, hands under the belly of the shell like you learned from the Internet. Imagine your surprise when the shell slides off the creature instead, dropping a tiny woman onto the asphalt.
“Water,” she croaks, tiny eyes bloodshot, eye was are the size of yours which means there are huge on her.
“Please.” You feel yourself move through shock. You pick her up and take her to the water's edge. She slips under the surface, pale skin flashing like the skills of a fish, and she’s gone. You wonder if your roommates slipped you something in your orange juice this morning if the little lady wasn’t back a moment later, pushing a small rock into your hands.
“A boon,”she says, her eyes are large and black, suited for her under water world. “For a favor,” she smiles, showing teeth jagged and sharp like a piranha. When you blink, she’s gone. You stare at the rock in your left hand. It’s old and worn from years in the water. It has an interesting swirl of granite and quartz. I wish I knew, you tell it. The rock ices over so fast that you don’t have time to drop it. The frost swirls across your skin, burning you where it touches, and you watch in horror as your skin turn mottled black and blue. You collapse from the pain, hitting your knees on the asphalt and you choke on a scream as the stone sinks into you, touching your bone and sending more ice though your marrow. It climbs up your arm and touches your eye, changing your vision so now that you’re seeing double, a strange, blue world juxtaposed next to the one you know and love. In the next instant, the pain is gone, though your vision remains the same. You don’t hesitate and jump back on your bike, shakily peddling home.
It is only later, when you’re chasing the last of the chill away with a hot shower, do you realize that the stone left a mark, around, white and black mark in the center of your palm. You freak out, until you see your left eye in the mirror. It’s black, pitch black like the creatures had been. When you close your right eye, the world turns blue and you can see shadows writhing behind you. Memories, something behind your eye whispers. Nothing more. “Oh,” you say out loud, “Is that all?” You go out to buy an eyepatch.
You left the apartment in a hurry once you notice you eye, grabbing your keys and wallet. When you get outside you feel a crisp air hit you. You run back inside grabbing another layer and you leave once again. You head out to the store freezing. A chill runs down you back once again everytime you pass someone. The chill is the same as when the rock sunk into your hand. Up ahead you see the yellow floreces light in the dark, shining so bright you could see it miles away. You feel the warm heat hit your face as you enter Walmart. You pick out seven eyepatches, one for everyday of the week, and head to get some food.
“Ah Shhhhhhhhhh-oot,” You say, “Forgetting the list once again.” Trying to remember everything on your list; milk, cream, brownies, bread, potatoes. After wandering around for 35 minutes. You head to the check out but get distracted by the beautiful woman helping someone at self checkout, going to self checkout with 12 items. As you get to the last item you purposely mess up to get the girl over to help you.
“ I don’t know what’s wrong with this thing I can usually do it right.” You say.
Responding she says “ Well not everyone is perfect.”
“They say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. Well apparently, no one has ever been standing next to you.” You say shakily, hoping to get the response of yes.
“I don’t know where are you taking me?” The mystery girl asks.
“Maybe I could learn your number first then I will tell you.” You say.
“Responding a question with a question, I like you.” She gives you her number and walks away. You glance at you phone only to see with surprise she out her name as a question mark, looking up to see she disappeared into thin air. You leave the store but the alarm goes off and you just sprint out of walmart, the fluorescent light fades into the background as you run home.
The first thing you do when you get home is text “?”, dropping the stuff on the floor when you get home not realizing that the milk broke when you where running away. Brownies soaked in milk and the bread immersed in milk too. You jump onto the couch and fall asleep without sending the message saying “ want 2 have dinner @ my place friday I will cook”
You leave the brownie soaked in milk on the floor of your apartment as you wake up from a night of sleep. You leave to get to you eight am lecture, when you come back the milk and brownies are gone. All that is left is a eyepatch with a single purple thread going through the middle, with a note on the back saying “Thank you for the food.”
You start on making the food for your date tonight. While chopping the potatoes the knife slips between your hand landing on your lap. Anticipating the pain of the knife cutting through your skin, like the pain of the stone sinking into your hand, but nothing not a thing of pain. You examine your hand checking to see if the knife even gave you a paper cut, but nothing is there. In horror you keep chopping but wonder if the purple thread has to do with any of it, maybe it is another boon. Never less you keep putting brownies and milk out.
Two years have gone by and you are a resident adviser. As you walk across the hallway you see something out of the corner of good eye. Wings. You walk over to the room where you saw the wings.
“Excuse me, did you just have wings?” You ask.
“UMMMMMMMMMMMMMM no you must be dreaming because I don’t have wings,” she replied, “ I’m no fairy. What drugs are you on?”
“Oh my bad I must be seeing things with this eye patch it makes seeing thing on the other side of me.” You say to make up for the awful comment you made.
You keep seeing the same wings in the same room everyday. The final day move out day you see the same wings and you creep up on the door and ponce. In shock you see the wings and the lady.
“I knew I wasn’t crazy.” You say loudly.
“Okay it’s not what you think it is. I give Boons out.” the terrified freshman say, “please keep quiet I don’t want anyone to do with this. I’ll give you anything even a boon. If you know what I mean.” The freshman say.
You take off your eye patch and say “ I’ve had my fair share of boons.” You walk away and leave her to pack up.
You’re doing some community work for extra credit when you meet the troll. He’s stuck in the ground, the muck from the last rain binding his legs to the turf like glue.
“Answer my riddle,” he grunts at you, long arms aching to fill the tunnel you’re supposed to be picking up. “What is brown, has a head, a tail, but no legs?”
You think, black garbage bag in your hands. “ A penny.” The troll curls his lips up. “ You may pass.”
“If I help you,” you say, not moving “what will you give me?” The troll keeps smiling and doesn’t say anything. You clean up anyway, clawing are the muck until he pulls himself free, sliding cans and debris into your bag until it’s full. You turn to go. The troll smacks you so hard that you go flying, head over heels until you hit a tree. Hard. If it weren’t for you enchanted clothes and the life the freshman gave you, you would be dead.
“My boon is luck,” the troll says, “ Though you seem to have plenty of it.”
When you blink the stars out of your eyes, the troll is gone. You never run across another troll again.
You notice that humans are starting to avoid you. There is something about the way you stand, the way you look at them that’s unnerving.
When you see a woman being harassed on the train, you creep up behind the man and breathe on his neck. He like someone’s lit fire to his grave and scrambles away from her. She smiles at you and your eye is covered but you know she knows. She hands you an apple, appearance flickering between a young woman and a much, much older one. “ For your trouble.”
When you eat the apple you feel the chill in your aura fade. You are able to switch between them now, your humanity and your otherness and you rin as you finish it, seeds and all.
With the boons of the apple, you can be human again and talk to your human friends.
You're camping with two college friends, Nicki and Shane and Vienna. They disappear from the campsite on the night of the full moon.
“Nicki? Shane? Vienna?” You scan the treeline for any sign of your friends. Something behind is whispering to you, sounding urgent, so you take off your eyepatch for the first time in a month. The world turn blue and tour attention falls on a line of mushrooms leading into the trees. Faerie Ring, the voice whispers to you, the Light Court is hunting tonight. You set your jaw and follow the breadcrumbs. You walk into the Underhill, which, if you were human, means you can never leave. You let the humanity fadde from your aura, let your gifts and boons and favors shine through. You’re nearly sure that you’re no human enough for that to apply. You find Nicki and Shane dancing, feet already bloody on shards of champagne flutes and crystal. There are so many different fea here, more than the water creature, he brownie, the life fea, the troll, or the old woman. More specifically, there is a Queen. She is beautiful in the way wild animals are beautiful, but with the intelligence that keeps people wary. More intelligence, in fact, because when she looks at you, her face twists. You recognize the Queen she is Vienna. You stand in horror as she stares her icey cold look at you. You wonder if she was only interested in you because of your boons.
“You’ve made deals, mortal,” she hisses. Her court freezes around her, some half off the ground, some with their eyes sliding fromou to her and back again. Nicki and Shane look like mannequins, grotesque smiles on their faces.
“Everything I have,” you say, “ was freely given” That sets the court chattering, whispering through their frozen lips. Vienna rises, a terrifying movement that puts her far above you. She glides forward, the wind howling at her back but not daring to actually touch her.
“What did you come here for?” She hisses at you. You meet her eyes without fear and you say, “ For my friends.”
“They walked in of their own free will,” Vienna says. “ They’re ours” You know things, thanks to your eye. You know that she’s right, you know that there is no way to break such an enchantment. They must dance until sunrise and, if they’re alive, they will be released. You see the shards on the ground, some of them bones, and you know that no one is ever alive by sunrise.
“No,” you tell Vienna, “ they’re mine.” And you fight. She is old and powerful, but her power is a taken thing, held hostage by her beauty and her own magic. Everything you have is your own, molded to your soul, at the tips of your fingers, but you are young. You win anyway. And the death of the Vienna is such a favor that the earth gives you a gift. You beg it no to, beg it to hold back it’s power, but it doesn’t. it can’t, it’s not its way. Power fills you, transforms you. It breaks your skin and sear along the mark on your left palm, embedding it further. Every part of you shifts and breaks over and over again as the power searches for the right form to house it. When it’s done, you are the same but different. The light court screams over the body of their Queen, a sound that’s too loud to come from a human throat. A few of them kneel over, unconscious or dead, you don’t care. There is no space for you among mortals anymore.
When morning comes, you send Nicki and Shane back to the campsite, wipe their memories of you. You are calmer now, resigned, and there is nothing here for you. The light court tries to make you stay, saying something about taking over, but you won’t do that. You won't become what she was, and you are not bound to anyone. You set across the world in search for favors.