Short story by Iris Carden
Orsinius Wishlet was sitting in the break room at his work. He had recently learned how to make coffee, a soup of magical beans. He’d made one each for himself and his friend and boss Ariana.
He took a mouthful of the coffee. Its magic was very mild, but it was enough that it made humans happy, and he had developed a taste for it. Harmless magic was a rare experience for him.
“It’s been a really long day,” Ariana sighed. “Since all the magical beings started coming here, we’ve been flat out. I might have to hire another hairdresser. But how would we explain our customers to them?”
Orsinius shrugged his shoulders, as he had seen humans do when they didn’t have an answer to a question. Ariana had only discovered the magical world when she’d been trapped in a cruel magical spell. She’d met Orsinius when he’d found her and arranged her rescue.
“Oh, I know you have a much bigger problem than being overworked,” Ariana continued. “Do you have any idea what you’re meant to do with the… things?”
He shook his head. Merlin had entrusted him with both Excalibur, and with an old cup that both he and Ariana suspected of being the Holy Grail. It was a big responsibility for a wisp, and a former thief. He had no idea what he was meant to do with them. They were safely stored in his burrow, on the border between reality and unreality.
Ariana was about to speak again, when there was a sudden, very loud sound, like fabric ripping, but as loud as a jet engine.
They both left their coffees and went outside. On the street in front of the hairdressing salon, they found chaos. Some people were running, some were standing and staring. A few had mobile phones out and were recording.
It looked as if there was a large tear from the sky, right down to the ground near their feet. Part of the antique shop next door was just gone, a jagged edge left, with some bricks still falling.
Inside the tear, seemed to be empty space. It was a vague grey colour. A car had been unable to stop in time as the rip appeared, and was now stopped, the back half on the road, the front half, with the driver, just non-existent.
“Orsinius,” Adriana said quietly, “Is this what the border between reality and unreality looks like?”
“No,” Orsinius answered. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Out of the greyness, there was a movement. A thing appeared, it was at least three metres high and a metre and a half wide. It was vaguely human-shaped, but appeared to be made out of black rocks.
“Do you think this is what you have those things for?” Adriana asked, but no-one heard her question.
Orsinius had already entered the interim, the time between the tick and the tock, and was outside of time. To him, everything was frozen in time as he ran, faster than he ever had before, to his burrow.
Rushing past mountains of hoarded stolen items, from shopping lists, to biros, to the crown jewels of a small country, he went to the deepest part of the burrow. There, among his most precious possessions, he collected the two mythical items Merlin had trusted to his care. Excalibur oozed the strongest magic he’d encountered, the Grail, something like, but not quite the same as, magic, which smelled even stronger.
Orsinius re-entered time in the same place he had left it. He handed the Grail to Ariana. “Fill this with coffee,” he said.
“Coffee?” she asked, incredulous. Orsinius was already gone, so she went and did as he said, returning with the full cup.
In the meantime, Orsinius, brandishing Excalibur clumsily, rushed at the giant rock creature.
It was the strength of the magical object, rather than any skill on the wisp’s part, that drove the monster back inside the rip.
“The cup!” Orsinius called to Ariana.
She handed him the Grail. He swirled the coffee in the cup then splashed it out over the rip, that sealed up again instantly.
The road was back, most of the antique shop was back, the car was back, but damaged and there was no sign of the driver.
“You did it.” Ariana gasped. Then she asked, “Why coffee.”
Orsinius, his heart still beating so hard he thought it was going to explode, answered, “It’s a magic liquid. I thought it could be powered up some of the magic-type stuff in the Grail. I’m surprised it worked.”
“Oh,” said Ariana, not at all certain that the explanation made sense. “Now what? All these people saw what happened? Isn’t magic some kind of secret?”
“I think…” Orsinius thought about his answer. “I think, we’ve done enough. I think someone smarter than me, someone like Merlin, can take care of that. I think I want to have my coffee now.”
“About that: I figured you needed coffee in the Grail quickly. I didn’t make any, I just threw ours in there. How about we just lock up the shop and go out for coffee?”
How did Orsinius and his friend Ariana end up in this situation? Here are the stories up to this point.
Orsinius Wishlet Stories
Lost and Found was originally a one-off story, until the day I had the idea for A Wish Come True. After that, Orsinius and the world built around him just kept coming back to me.
Series 1 stories: