The soft sounds of stretching, and sliding, and twanging filled the warm jungle air. Cray turned his head, located the source of the sounds, and turned left under a large dripping fern.
A hundred paces further on, he entered a small clearing below a palm frond and stopped.
Something was happening here, what he wasn't sure, but it was definitely something. Something new perhaps. Activity filled the space, dozens of tiny figures darted about with nigh frantic activity.
He watched them work on... whatever that was, until he spotted the person standing off to one side and headed in her direction.
"Hey, Cray, glad you could make it," she said, barely taking her eyes from the activity before her.
"Hello, Landsy," he greeted her. "So, um, what's going on here?"
"New project," she replied, waving with one arm while her others remained crossed across her chest.
"I see that," he said.
He waited a moment, observing the motions, the movements, hoping for more information. None was forthcoming.
"So, um, what is it?"
"It's a venue," she said, then, not to him, "No! Higher, higher, and keep it straight this time."
One of the tiny figures nodded and turned back to what it was doing.
"A venue?" Cray asked, still confused.
"Yeah, for the nymphs. They're making a surprise appearance."
Cray considered this news. That explained Landsy's invitation, and he was a fan of the nymphs - after all, who wasn't? - but this ... thing, didn't look especially nymphesque.
"Didn't they make their last appearance inside a hollowed out toadstool?"
Landsy, snorted and clicked her eyelids.
"Sure, and we all know how that turned out."
"There was quite a lot of screaming towards the end as that beetle showed up..."
"The beetle? Oh that, yeah that might have been staged. I'm not certain. No, I meant the crowd. The seats were uncomfortable, the audio was terrible, and then they showed up."
Cray had nothing.
"The pixies." Landsy shuddered. "They certainly weren't invited, but of course, like always, they showed up. Then they were flitting around. Trying to get their precious 'sketches'. Looking for some dirt to spread."
The pixies kind of came with the territory, but they were annoying.
"And this will fix that?" Cray asked.
"Of course. That's what the wall's for, well the fence really, but it should do the job nicely. Randalo said so," she said.
"Yeah, him, over there, the tiny one. He's small, but he's smart. Brought this design from across the pond. It's all the rage over there. Called a 'big top'. Flea circuses have been using them for years."
Cray had never seen such a show, but he'd heard of them. He turned his head examining the 'big top' within the 'fence'. A thin white spire rose from a flat rock. Around it a number of white posts rose vertically with thin lines running between them. The tiny figures he'd seen continued darting between them.
He leaned in closer to Landsy.
"Are they fleas?" he asked quietly. They didn't look like fleas, but he didn't know what else they could be.
"Goodness no. Contracts with them are a nightmare, and besides they're too high strung for this kind of work. No these are wills."
Cray blinked screwed his face up.
"They're related to mites, but they're more dependable. Salt of the earth these guys, and great at their jobs. Have you ever seen anything like it?"
Cray had not.
"What's it made of?" he asked.
"You know, they won't tell me," Landsy said, face showing she was a bit miffed about that, "I suspect they import it from a couple worms. Stuff's as smooth as any cocoon you've felt, but strong too. I just hope we don't run out. We can't afford any more delays."
"More?" Cray asked. The structure seemed to be going up quickly enough.
Landsy sighed, clicked her lids again.
"I try to plan ahead, you know me. I really do. So the nymphs say they want to make an appearance. They want a good location, somewhere exclusive, somewhere exotic. So I think to myself, where's somewhere surprising, that people wouldn't expect? And then it hits me!" She waves all her arms around in a veritable blur of motion. "Peru! No one's going to expect that. Did you?"
Cray had to admit, he had not.
"Exactly. So I find this great spot, this little island. Very exotic, very exclusive. I higher the wills to deal with the pixie problem, and voila!" Her head slumps. "Or so I thought, but oh no, it wasn't that easy. Is it ever that easy? It never is for me.
"We get the first venue built, maybe a bit rough, but good to go, and what happens?" She shakes her head. "Humans."
Cray takes a deep understanding breath, nods.
"I know right? Out here, in the middle of nowhere, these humans show up and start poking around. Soon enough it's not such a secret location any more.
"So we start again, new location, maybe even better. Wammo! This same guy shows up again. And it keeps happening! This is our fifth try." She sighs again. "I can't take much more of this. I just want to get the show over with already.
Cray patted her on the shoulder. He hadn't seen any human on the trip here, hopefully they'd gone home.
"Well it looks great, Landsy. Very unique, very different. I think the nymphs will love it."
"Definitely. Just one thing."
"What's that?" she asked.
"Well, if this is going to be such a big event, with the nymphs, fairies, dryads, sprites and such all showing up. Is this place going to be big enough? It's pretty tiny."
"Oh yeah should be fine," she said, "Ranaldo said across the pond they do this all the time with these 'police boxes' or something like that."
"Do what?" Cray asked.
"They just build them bigger on the inside, of course."
I wrote this a couple years ago in response to the article below. Pictures at the link show what was a complete mystery at the time.
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Mindnado ExpressShort Story
These sci-fi, fantasy, and horror flash fiction stories bounced around in my head long enough to survive brainstorming and wound up scribbled down out here in the wild. Enjoy.