Oberon Is HereMature

From Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/04/03/flash-fiction-challenge-share-an-image-write-a-story/

I summoned the king of the fairies as a joke, so I wasn't exactly expecting him to turn up. You know, Oberon and that, you need one of those lush English fields and maybe some kind of circle, and it needs to be the Midsummer Solstice (or at least something like that) and I'm pretty sure there's dancing involved. Possibly nakedness. Definitely inebriation. 

So he wasn't going to turn up here at the roadside diner that I'd been frequenting since I was sixteen and thought it was cool to ride a scooter without a license. I didn't have any sort of license, and a scooter was cheaper than a car. Plus I was less likely to get arrested, and that's always a positive. I was pretty good at getting arrested on my own anyway. I used to zoom along that road at what I thought were reckless speeds -- certainly they were reckless when things started falling off the scooter, but I was barely above the speed limit. That thing was a piece of shit. Anyway, I'd zip into the parking lot of the diner, leave the scooter there (no one was gonna steal that) and swagger inside with my leather jacket and bad-boy charm turned up to the max.

Yeah, I know. It seems pathetic now and honestly, I'm not sure anyone took it seriously even then.

The scooter gave up on me a couple of years back and fixing it would've left me flat broke, so I abandoned it and started riding a bike instead. Which looks kinda dorky, but it's cheap, and at least I've got leg muscles now. I don't have the leather jacket anymore, either, and I'm pretty sensible about the rules of the road. Well, most of the time. Unless I'm going downhill on a really beautiful summer's day -- then I reserve the right to ignore speed limits insofar as a bike can ever exceed them.

My trips to the diner, however, remained. It was familiar, and there's something comforting about that. There was, anyway. Then I summoned Oberon and he turned up and ruined everything.

I wasn't sure what I expected. Actually, it was barely even deliberate. Burning thyme, a few bits and pieces of junk laid out: it was a way to kill time and anyway, Lyn (that's my best friend, Lyn, she's the biggest badass you'll ever meet and if she's got a soft side I've never seen it) dared me to do it, so I couldn't back down. Bit pathetic. Twenty years old and I can't back down from a dare. Also I can't drive and I ride a bike along the main road and I don't even have all that fancy biking gear, just an old pair of shorts and a high-vis rucksack so I don't get flattened.

And you can't expect an ex-delinquent to know much about Oberon, or fairies in general. Where do you get that information? The internet? Shakespeare? I had a vague mental image of, like, sparkles or something. I think there was some ballet version that my parents dragged me to when I was a kid and they thought I might appreciate culture, so that was shaping my understanding.

(There was also Supernatural, where there was one episode that had something about servicing Oberon, which I took to mean Dean was temporarily Oberon's rent boy. Lyn told me I had a filthy mind -- pretty hypocritical of her, to be honest. She's like, supreme commander of the innuendo squad, even if I'm captain.)

Oberon, when he materialised, wasn't sparkly. He had the general fairy approach to turning up, which was that he stepped down out of mid-air with a smell of fresh grass and a light breeze, but there were no sparkles in sight, or even wings. He had some kind of crown: it was hard to tell if it was made of bleached wood, or bone, or something in between, with red berries in it that were shocking against his dark hair.

"You brought me into your world," he said. Super deep, his voice was. But kind of musical, so I guess there's something in some of the fairy stories.

"Yeah, well, I didn't think you'd come." Not sure whether I thought I was hallucinating or dreaming or whether I was just stupidly gutsy. "It was just a joke. This wasn't meant--"

"And this is the kingdom you have prepared for me?"

He was looking straight at the diner, so I began to wonder if his creepy cat-like eyes weren't all that effective. "This isn't a kingdom," I said. "It's a diner. They do decent fries." Then I reconsidered. "Do fairies eat fries? What about burgers?"

Oberon turned his gaze back on me. "It will suffice."

"Um. Right. What does that mean?"

"I will remain here, and the humans will learn to see me as their king. I will accept tributes in return for offering my protection."

This wasn't going as planned. I hadn't planned anything. I wasn't as brave as I thought, either, because my hand was starting to shake, and as I looked up at the king of the fairies, I didn't have any words to tell him the mistake I'd made. "You've got a court?" I said eventually. "I mean, like, you have servants and stuff? Since you're a king."

"They will arrive when things are ready. For now, you will assist me." He gestured to the sign by the road, which was advertising the diner's specialties. "Announce to the humans that I am here."

"I don't have access to the sign. I don't know how--"

"Do as I say."

Well. He scared the shit out of me, and I didn't want to offend him, so I did as he said. Ten minutes of struggling with the letters and the sign later, it blasted its new message to every car passing:


And the king of the fairies smiled, and took to his plastic throne in a roadside diner.

The End

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