For as long as I can remember, my father always told me to avoid going into the woods at twilight, run away from mushroom rings, and to always burn rosemary when I have a cold. When my father was on his deathbed, he begged us to burn a bowl of sage and rosemary next to an open window. He feared that if we didn’t, the fairies would come and take him away.
It was a joke among the people in town; the crazy Roberts family that lived in the old house on the hill who believed in fairies and witches. I was constantly teased for it and when my child went to school, their parents had passed the tradition on. And just before my father died, I was about to abandon the tradition.
I had started to tear the protective sign from our door when my father hobbled over to me and knocked the pry bar from my hand. When I protested, he grabbed my arm and practically dragged me to his study. He commanded me to sit and then proceeded to dig through a large pile of books on the corner of his desk. He coughed for all the dust and cobwebs but gave a triumphant wheeze when he found what he was looking for.
He hobbled back to me and shoved an old leather book into my hands.
Read it,” he said, wiping his nose in a handkerchief.
I looked at the cover and was surprised to see my Grandmother’s name, Katherine Palmer. I felt a shiver run through my spine. I had never met her, but my father had told me about everything she had done for our country and of all the different things she had discovered.
“Read it,” my father said again. “And when you are finished, come and get me.”
He left the study, leaving me alone in it for the first time in my life.
With my grandmother’s journal in my hands, I took a deep breath, opened it, and began to read. It wasn’t long until I discovered the passage my father had wanted me to see.
Regina told me she had discovered something fantastic in the forest at the edge of the hill. I told her that
Knowing my mother would blame me if Regina were to be lost in the woods regardless, I called after her as I ran to catch up. I reached her just as she took her first steps into the forest. I made her swear we would leave before the sun went down. She kissed my cheek, giggled and promised.
But we had barely gone fifty steps into the forest that I realized it would be impossible for us to know where the sun was. The forest was almost as dark as pitch, and I nearly turned and left then and there. But Regina grabbed my arm and scooped up something at her feet.
Apparently my sister had been coming into the woods far more often than i had believed. She lit the wick and held it aloft as we went deeper into the dark forest. It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes, but our trek seemed like it had been going on for hours when she suddenly stopped me with an arm. I cried out but she covered my mouth with her hand. I gave her a little bite and she smacked me across the face.
I was about to belt her across the face myself when she grabbed my cloak and jerked me down into the undergrowth beneath a fallen tree. She pointed ahead of us and I looked, careful not to knock over the dampened lamp.
That was the first time I saw a fairy.
She looked just like a human woman, only the height of a man’s little finger. She was naked, and I stifled a giggle when I saw her run her little hands along her breasts as she fluttered across the forest floor. Regina drove an elbow into my side and I went quiet.
The fairy’s chestnut color hair danced across her pale skin as she hopped from one toadstool to another. It was then that I noticed the toadstools were not there before she landed on them. She was in fact trailing behind her a small cloud of spores that made them grow as she descended.
Regina put a finger to her lips and then pointed for me to watch again. I was about to ask her what she was trying to say when Regina pulled out a knife and cut a thin string beside of her. When she did, a cage fell from the tree above us and right on top of the fairy.
The creature made a small squealing noise that I imagined was a scream and tried to lift the cage off of her. Regina had weighed the cage down with bricks from our mother’s garden, making it too heavy for the fairy to free herself.
Regina explained to me that she had noticed rings of toadstools beneath the larger trees in the wettest patches of earth. She had tested the trap many times and had caught many squirrels that way. But this was her first fairy.
We crouched down before the cage and peered in.
The fairy looked at us for a moment, then pressed her face to the thin grid of wire Regina had rigged. Her eyes were bright green and were very quickly filling with tears. She pressed her breasts against the cage and began to weep. It was a high pitched noise, much like wind through a keyhole.
I wanted to free her, but Regina said that was impossible. If half the stories our nurse had told us, to release it would lead to us being replaced by changelings. Besides, she wanted to dissect it when it was dead.
She slid a tray she had hidden in the undergrowth underneath the cage and clapped it back down before the fairy could fly out. Then we ran out of the woods and into the barn on the other side of our property. I pulled the barn door open and Regina ran into the entry.
She had prepared a large birdcage for the fairy and there, opened the door and forced the fairy to enter it, depositing her the way she would a spider from under a jar.
We lit another lantern and there, in the darkness of the barn, studied our new pet.
I remember thinking that when I grew up, I wanted to look just like her; her body was the perfect representation of a woman. Large breasts that sat high on her chest. A curve in her hips and a rump to match. She even had a tiny tuft of hair over her mound. It made me giggle.
Regina would blow on her and the fairy would try to keep from blowing away. Her games with the fairy were meaner than mine. She would put lit matches in the cage with the fairy and laugh when it flew to the top of the cage , screaming in fear.
It was only after we tossed a blanket over it and went back to the house to go to bed that Regina asked me, in the darkness of our room if I would help her catch another one. I told her I would of course.
It took a full day to come up with a different trap to catch the next fairy. The old tales say that fairies can only be caught by a certain trap once. After one was trapped, the fairies somehow knew to avoid the same fate.
We designed and tinkered in the barn all day, our fairy hidden behind the blanket over it’s cage. Regina wanted to watch it, but I told her that if this fairy could render an entire trap useless by experiencing it, then we might not want her to see our other ideas. She called me clever, kissed my cheek, and went back to work.
By the end of the day, I had come up with a trap I thought would be sufficient and we decided to try it out in the morning. We hid it away and played with our fairy. This time, Regina did not torture her and that made me happy. I tried to tell it we were going to give her a new friend, but she must not have understood; the first time I said it, she began to screech again, clawing desperately at the bars of her cage, her green wings beating in the cool night air.
There was no calming her after that. We decided to turn in, eager for the next day when we would go on our fairy hunt.
Our fairy hunt went as planned.
The events afterward did not.
We went into the forest the morning after I built the trap and returned to the tree where the cage had fallen. It was still there, planted perfectly in the ring of dying mushrooms. In order for my trap to work, the cage would need to be reset perfectly. Regina did so as I dug a hole inside of the ring of toadstools. I placed the trap inside the hole and covered it with leaves and twigs, making sure to leave a sign of dirt around the entry. I ran the tripwire through a small tunnel I dug in the dirt and then took my place behind the fallen tree with Regina.
After a long wait, a faint glow appeared at the base of the tree. It was another fairy, this one with curly red hair on her head and her sex. She flew hesitantly toward the dead fungi. Now Regina was watching for my signal. It was pivotal that the timing was right.
Finally, the fairy noticed my poorly covered hole. She began to sniff at it, her feet touching the ground. I waved my hand and Regina cut her string again.
This time, the fairy knew to look up and saw the cage coming down. As I thought, she took her chances and dove into the hole beneath her. That was when I pulled my own string and the trap beneath the dirt snapped shut. The cry of anguish told us all we needed.
I had caught her.
We carried her back to the barn in my trap. We lit the lanterns and pulled the blanket off of the cage, letting the two fairies see each other face to face. For a moment, they looked into each other’s eyes like two long lost lovers. Their hands pressed against their respective cages as they inspected each other.
Then, the brunette fairy hissed, exposing her needle like teeth and the redhead hissed and curled her fingers into claws. Regina giggled. I gasped. She told me to open the trap as she opened the bird cage. I hesitated and Regina shouted at me. She told me I was being a baby and ruining all her fun.
I did as she told me.
We watched as the two fairies flew through the air in their prison. I felt my heart beating hard in my chest as they began to click and hiss at each other in the air. Regina pushed in closer, desperate to see closer.
Then, the red headed fairy shot across the cage , her nails at the ready, aiming directly for the brunette. The brunette fairy flew to the left, avoiding the other fairy’s attack. Then, with the agility of a snake, she shot around and wrapped her body around the redhead. Her arms pinned the other’s to her chest, her wings to her back. She wrapped her legs around hers and soon she was slamming her rival into the cage.
The redhead struggled to free herself. Eventually she bit down hard on her attacker’s arm and a short, sharp squeak popped from her mouth as she let her go. The redhead began to fall, but not before grabbing the brunette’s foot and jerking her downward with her. The brunette grabbed the redhead’s hair and jerked it as she beat her wings harder and harder until she hit the top of the cage.
When she did, the redhead used her wings to push herself forward, swinging by her hair as the brunette continued to pull it. She swung under her rival and managed to link her feet in the bars behind the brunette’s head. Then she opened her mouth and sank her razor sharp teeth into the brunette’s perfect round ass.
The brown haired fairy screamed again and Regina shrieked with laughter. She cheered the little redhead on, calling her Biter. I played along, giving words of weak encouragement to the other fairy, who I dubbed Hazel.
Hazel’s wings stopped flapping and she plummeted downward, Biter’s hair still in her hands. Biter screamed as Hazel jerked her head downward. Biter’s feet were jerked lose from the cage and she and Hazel fell through the air, writhing in each other’s grasp as they sped toward the floor of the cage.
Just before they hit the ground, Hazel’s wings came together and they began to wrestle through the air as she zipped just above the floor. They were screaming at each other as they clawed at each other’s faces and breasts. They zipped back and forth, slamming into the bars of their cage, rattling the entire structure as they did.
For a moment, I was worried that they might overturn it. I grabbed it and pushed it back to the center of the table just as they careened into the ground, separating and rolling across the floor.
Biter skittered toward her fallen foe and sank her teeth and claws into the fragile wings. Hazel cried out, reached behind her, and jerked the brilliant red hair forward, flipping Biter over her back and onto the floor in front of her, a piece of her wing clutched in the vicious claws.
Hazel raised a foot and brought it down hard onto Biter’s face, only to get the sharp needles in her heel. She screamed and fell forward, her face buried in Biter’s redheaded mound.
They rolled along the floor, their wings bending and snapping as they were mashed against the floor. Both Regina and I gasped and shuddered as they used their claws and fangs to rip into each other’s mounds. Tiny hairs flew into the air over them as they continued to ruin one another.
At some point Hazel managed to wrap her legs around Biter’s neck and sit up on biters’ face. She shoved her nails into Biter’s breasts and pressed down hard. The little scream was muffled beneath Hazel’s muff and a nasty light began to shine in her eyes. She began to cackle and babble in her own strange language and then suddenly, something began to emerge from a once invisible hole in her back.
But as that happened. She screamed again and then fell off of Biter whose face was covered in blood. Hazel grabbed at her sex and shrieked as Biter stood and began to walk toward her. From her back now, a sharp needle slid out of a tiny hole. It was attached to a flexible umbilicus that curved over her head and pointed directly at Hazel’s stomach.
Hazel shouted and rolled out of the way just as Biter drove it down. It stuck in the cage floor and before she could get it Hazel’s own stinger shot out and pierced Biter right through her left leg. Biter fell to her knees and clutched at her leg as the blood seeped through her fingers. Hazel moved to jab her again but Biter rolled to the right and shot her sting straight through Hazel’s right breast.
The two continued to puncture each other and with each stab, Regina and I got more and more quiet. The two fairies left a trail of blood across the cage floor. I blinked back tears from my eyes so that Regina wouldn’t see me cry.
Finally, Biter, her red hair plastered to her body with blood and sweat, gave out a horrible roar and shot her sting straight into Hazel’s stomach and through the center of her back. Hazel crumpled to the ground and began to cry. Biter staggered backward and leaned against the bars of the cage, her eyes closed and her stinger retracting into her back.
I heard Regina sniff snot back into her nose. I grabbed her hand and she squeezed mine hard. I heard her mutter the name of God and I began to cry then.
Then I heard Regina gasp; Hazel was moving, crawling toward the cage door. Her legs weren’t working and with each pull forward, she left a trail of blood behind her. She reached up to us, seeming to be begging for mercy.
I reached my hand out to open the cage door when Regina slapped it away. She held it down and pointed to Biter, who was wiping her eyes and staggering toward her crawling victim. The stinger began to slip out again and when it did, she hissed. Hazel looked behind her, screamed, and then was given a nasty kick to the face.
Regina and I screamed. I wanted to save Hazel, but Regina wouldn’t let go of my hand.
I owe her for that.
Biter fell down on her rival and began to rip Hazel’s breasts off of her body, her nails acting like ten little fillet knives. Hazel fought back, but weakly, managing to tear a strip of flesh off of the right breast. When Biter removed one of Hazel’s breasts, she shoved it into her mouth and forced her mouth closed over it.
Then she began to claw at Hazel’s eyes as her sting slipped down and between her legs.
Regina covered her eyes, but I watched. I watched it all.
Biter ate Hazel’s eyes as she ripped them from her head. Then she throttled her until her screams stopped. It was a blessing…the sting had been defiling the poor little fairy in the same way Regina said men would take women. It was horrifying.
It ended when Biter’s sting shoved in so deep that it’s sharp point shot through Hazel’s mouth. Biter was covered in blood and her eyes were glowing red. Her jaw had become unhinged and her teeth seemed to have grown to twice their size. She had in that moment become an imp of hell…no fairy of the forest.
Regina peaked between her fingers and fainted. I caught her and laid her on the ground. A few slaps and she came to. But when we looked back at the cage, Biter looked once again like the fairy they had caught in the woods. She was passed out.
The remains of Hazel looked more like a stain on the kitchen floor than a living creature.
We didn’t keep it a moment longer. We grabbed the cage and ran to the forest. The sun was going down and both of us feared what would happen if were were on the edge of the forest if the sun went down. If any of the other fairies in the wood saw what we had made the two fairies do to each other, they would kill us. They would fill us with pin pricks until we bled out.
Regina snatched the cage from my grasp and threw it into the woods as hard as she could. We watched it vanish into the dark shadows and ran back to the house.
That night, I dreamed about Regina and I, older and full developed, clamping down onto each other’s breasts and biting each other’s throats until we bled. I woke up screaming next to her as she was screaming herself.
She had dreamed of Biter, as tall as a woman, sneaking into our room at night and thrusting her stinger into her stomach until she bled out.
We lay awake all night, holding each other until the sun came up. When it did, we made up our minds to go back to the woods to kill the fairy in the cage.
In the garden, we grabbed rosemary and wrapped it in a bundle. On the edge of the forest, we lit it and let the smoke carry through the woods as we grabbed large rocks to crush the creature.
When we found the cage, we both dropped our rocks and held each other tight.
The door was open. It was empty.
It is possible that Biter is dead. It is also possible that she found her people and told them what we did. There is no way of knowing. We did the only thing out nurse had told us never to do when it came to catching a fairy.
We had left it alive.
I shut the book and blinked dumbly. My father had obviously thought that this would convince me that our families delusion was justified. But all it did was make my grandmother sound even more crazy than I had thought.
I did as my father bade and went to him after I had finished. When I told him my thoughts, he smiled. That smile made me feel young again.
He told me he used to think it was just a hot little story my grandmother had written. And when he had confronted her about it, she had only smiled and called him into her room as he had done with me now.
He reached under his bed and pulled out a small wooden box. He then proceeded to tell me what his mother had told him.
My son. What I am about to show you will prove what is in that book. It will also prove that your aunt and I have cursed our family for the rest of eternity. If you do not burn rosemary…if you do not avoid the woods at twilight…if you do not run away from mushroom rings, then you may come face to face with a fairy.
You must understand that if you do, there is no way to catch them. My sister and I have made that impossible. You see, our family is cursed, but we made the fairies pay for that curse in blood. But, much like the mousetrap, it is very hard to create a better fairy trap. I have build engines…I have built machines of war…but for the life of me, I cannot build a trap that the fairies of the woods haven’t seen.
This box is the proof of our war with the fairies. Proof of my sins and your aunt’s. But it will be important for you to keep so that when your children doubt you, you can convince them to remain safe…and follow our rules…
I took the box from my father’s hands. My own hands were trembling and I saw a look of knowing in my father’s eyes. I could imagine he had been just like me when his mother had given it to him.
I opened the box.
From that day on, when my father asked for a special blessing or a light to remain on in the night. I made sure he had it. I made sure he had rosemary burning in his window on the night of his death because of what I saw in that box.
Inside the box were the bodies of perhaps twenty, naked fairies, their bodies clawed and mauled, their faces covered in tiny claw marks. The remains of a fairy fight club that my family had begun.