Thursday, July 31, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 4)

Okay, so, it's time for some more Dr. Claw.  But before we go there, here's the links to the other folks participating in the contest or event or whatever the proper name for it would be.

Bria Burton
Rish Outfield

Pretty small number of participants, considering how many sounded interested to begin with, but it's all good.

Here's another installment of my story. 515 words today, which puts me at 3,247.  Hope you enjoy it.

“Hello,” he said when his phone rang.  He listened for a moment, then, “yes, this is Brody McMillan…”  This had become a constant part of his life recently, fielding calls from collections agencies.
It was all true.  He was broke.  He should have seen it coming.  Living the way he’d been living this year, he was bound to run through that money fast, but he’d willfully avoided the news.  He hadn’t looked at his bank balance or statements in more than two months.  He was so angry at himself, because he knew lottery winners were prone to this.  He’d read articles about the phenomenon on the internet before he ever won himself.  He’d sworn that he wouldn’t end up like that when he collected his money, but here he was.  Not only was he out of money, he had run his credit cards to the limit.  He was as bad off as he had been before Jason had challenged him to get something out of that stupid claw machine.
Well, he couldn’t call the claw machine stupid.  That wasn’t fair.  A year of luxury was better than most people got.  He couldn’t complain that he didn’t get a lifetime of luxury instead.  Hell, it was probably his own fault for being so magnanimous.  He gave half of his money to Jason and Todd.  He could have lived another year on that if only he’d been more selfish.  Why didn’t they ever teach the importance of being selfish in kindergarten or on those after school specials on TV?
    As he sat on his designer couch listening with his top-of-the-line iPhone to a brute threatening him about what could happen if he didn’t start paying his bills, he wondered if there was any way out of this mess.  It had seemed hopeless before, but a miracle had swooped down like a god in his flaming chariot and made everything all right.  A lot of times during the past year, he’d figured he should have made a statue of that claw machine, to remember how it had saved him.
    Suddenly, he sat bolt upright in the sofa. He punched the end button, cutting the brute off in mid-threat.  The claw machine was the answer.  Dr. Claw surely had more to offer him.  After all, it had saved him once by sending a winning lottery ticket his way.  Surely it wouldn’t have done that only to let him sink to the bottom for real just one year later.  It had to have some purpose for him.  Whatever god or divine providence or mysterious magical force had put that lottery ticket into the claw’s grasp for him the first time, would surely help him again.  It couldn’t leave him to founder before he ever got to his grand purpose.  After all, his book was coming along, and soon enough he’d finish it.  Maybe that was how he would change the world.
    He grabbed his coat, and headed out into the rain.  He needed to go back to Round Table Pizza, and see what Dr. Claw had in store for him.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 3)

Okay, it looks like Bria Burton has joined the fray too.  So, here's a link to her blog.  Her story is called Little Angel Helper.

Then there's Rish's story.  Here's the link to his blog.  His story is as yet untitled.

My story is Dr. Claw.  This is day 3 of Dr. Claw.  It's up to 2,750 words now.  Probably about halfway there.  Here's more:

Brody was at Mulvaney’s with his friend Tena.  He wished she was more than his friend, because she was gorgeous, especially since she’d gone on a diet a few months ago and lost the weight that was starting to make her soft in all the wrong places.  Sadly, she was married, and even happily so.  So, it didn’t matter how many times he invited her out to dinner at Mulvaney’s, she was never going to look at him as anything but a friend.  Maybe things would change some day.  A guy could hope, right?
Brody had ordered the griddled mahi mahi, and Tena had the Pumpkin Foieffle.  They’d both been excellent, and when the check came, Brody didn’t even glance at the steep price he’d paid for this meal.  He simply slipped his card into the slot, and let the waiter take it away to run it for him.  He put his chin in his hands, and listened as Tena told him about the exploits of her two rugrats.  He wasn’t really paying attention to her words, but he did like to watch her pretty lips make them.  Damn, he wished he’d won the lottery five years ago when Tena was still available.  She might have looked at him as something more than just a troubled slacker if he’d had a bit of cash and could take her out to dinners at nice places like this.
The waiter was back with his card, “I’m sorry, sir,” she said, “this card was denied.  Do you have a different one you’d like us to run instead?”
“What?” Brody said, thunderstruck.  He had won the lottery.  His card was never denied.  “That’s not right.”
He pulled out his wallet, and looked mindlessly at its contents.  How could he be denied?  He had plenty of money, didn’t he?
“Oh no, Brody, do you need me to get this?” Tena asked.
“No. No, um,” he looked numbly at his wallet for a while longer, realizing that he had no cash on him, and the Visa Checkcard that he used for everything having been denied left him without options.  He didn’t want to let Tena pay.  The last thing he needed for her to have to pay and have her old opinion of him brought to the forefront and reinforced.  Her pretty lips would never touch his if that happened.  But he had no other option.  Did they let people wash dishes to pay off their meal?
“Um,” he stammered, then finally, smiling sheepishly, “Yeah, I guess I do need you to get this.  I don’t know what’s going on.  I’ll pay you back when I figure out why my card was denied.”
Tena grabbed the folder with the check in it, glanced at the price, and her eyes widened slightly.  Brody sagged further in his chair.  This was an expensive place, and Brody had just dumped the big bill in her lap.  The worst kind of heel.  Tena slipped her Visa out of the wallet in her purse, and handed it to the waiter.
Outside afterward, Tena seemed distracted.  For the last eight months, each time Brody took his old friend out to dinner, she would kiss him airily on each cheek when they separated to go to their respective cars.  Today, there was no such show of casual affection.  She simply said goodbye, and hopped into her Prius and drove off.  It only served to further deflate Brody’s spirit, which had already taken a crushing blow with the denial of his card.
He had to hurry home, and find out just what exactly had happened.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 2)

Rish Outfield is beginning his story today over on his blog.  You can follow the link to Rish's Ramblings, and read along as we go.

Here's a picture I took of myself writing on the story at my family reunion last week.  Man have I gotten fat over this summer.  Something's gotta be done about that.

Okay, day two of Dr. Claw.  Here's more of the story.

    Brody took the ticket into a gas station that proclaimed to be "Your Lottery Headquarters" and discovered that his ticket was worth $500,000, which, of course, the gas station couldn't cash out for him.  He was going to have to contact lottery officials to work out the payment.  
    He did, and true to his word, he shared his ticket with Todd and Jason.  The two of them took one half, and he took the other half.  The lottery officials informed him that he had two options.  He could take a payment plan that would give him a modest payment once a month and eventually pay out the entire amount over the space of thirty years, or he could just take half the amount in one big lump sum.  His recent money troubles made the decision easy.  He needed the money now.
    Within a week's time, a check for his lump sum of $125,000 landed in his overdrawn bank account.  Soon, he was installed in a new apartment, and the fact that he had no job wasn't such an issue.  He even dumped a payment of $48.16 into Jason and Todd's Paypal account for the pizza they'd bought him that fateful and an extra twenty-five cents to repay them for the quarter that brought that fateful lottery ticket into their lives.
    As he sat down in his posh apartment on his new couch in front of his new big screen HDTV to watch Game Of Thrones on HBO on his new cable subscription, he remembered that guy who had warned him that everyone who played that claw machine went away sad rather than happy.  What had that guy been talking about?  He couldn't have been more wrong.  His life had turned on a dime at that claw machine, and sped off in a completely new and thoroughly better direction.  He’d never been more satisfied with any decision in his life than he was with the decision to give that machine a try.
    Brody still had no job, but he didn’t care.  He was financially solvent for the first time in years.  His steady slide into homelessness had been halted, and now he could even do whatever he wanted for a year at least, several years if he was careful.  He’d been thinking about it, and decided that now was his chance to write his novel.  He’d always wanted to write novels, surely a year of free time would be enough to write one, right?  He’d bought himself a nice Macbook from the local Apple Store, and tomorrow, he planned to take it to the Naked Lounge coffee shop on Q street, set up camp in a booth, and write, like he’d seen other people doing.  
Vampire novels and YA dystopian novels were selling really well these days, so that seemed like a natural target to shoot for.  Maybe combining the two, YA dystopian vampire novel, surely all the publishing companies would be drooling for the chance to publish it when he was done.  All he needed was a strong female character, a love triangle, and a dystopian future, and he could print his own money for the rest of his life, he was sure of it.
But for now, some Game of Thrones and a nice Vodka and Red Bull to smooth the edges would do.  Tomorrow is when he’d get going on the rest of his life.


The next day, though, he woke up hungover, and instead of heading to the coffee shop, he had a little hair of the dog that bit him.  That wound up being a week long process, during which he was only sober first thing in the morning, before having some more hair of the dog.  He wasn’t worried, though.  He had enough money that episodes like this weren’t a problem.  Weren’t all the great writers drunks or drug addicts anyway?
            He finally made it to the Naked Lounge eight days after he’d decided to go there.  He ordered his coffee, and found a booth to his liking.  He sat down, tapped into the free WiFi, and started researching ideas for the novel.  He discovered just what an endless loop research could be, as he jumped from one link to the next to the next.  The next time he looked up, the day was gone.  He’d been researching vampire dystopia ideas for three hours, and realized that he was no closer to coming up with an idea than he had been when he sat down.  This was going to be more of a process than he originally believed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 1)

Okay, so just after finishing up our last live-blogging-a-story event, Rish asked me if I was up for a Broken Mirror type contest. Originally, he wanted it to be just me and him, but then he thought he'd open it up to everyone. A lot of people seemed interested. I think a few might have dropped out, when they found out that it wasn't like our old broken mirror events that would result in the winners having their story on our show. Instead, it was just going to be a big live-blogging thing where everyone did their own story on their own blog, and we linked back and forth to each other.

So, that's what this is.  Rish called it Broken Mirror Shards once, so I'm co-opting the phrase and using it.

The premise went like this: Despite being warned about them, someone plays a claw vending machine game...and wins big.

So, that's how it started.  Should be fun.  Here's day one of my entry in this craziness:

Photo Courtesy Joel Kramer, Cropped and Title Added by me.

    Brody grabbed another slice of pizza, and bit into it with gusto.  He really had no idea where his next meal would come from.
    "Jason, Todd, seriously,  I want to thank you guys again.  This really means a lot to me."
    "No problem, Brody, you're my friend, buying you pizza is the least I can do.  So, what're you going to do now, anyway."
    Brody had absolutely no idea.
    "I guess I'll probably move back in with my parents, as awful as that will probably be.  A guy in my place can't have pride."
    He stuffed more pizza in. He only had twenty bucks to his name, no place to live, and now no job either.  If nothing else, he could build up a layer of fat that he could live on by horking as much pizza as he possibly could today while he wasn't paying for it.  Maybe it would help him survive another day once he was homeless, living under an overpass in a cardboard box.
    "Well, that's good that you've got that to fall back on.  I haven't been welcome back at my parents' house since Todd and I got together."
    Brody didn't say anything.  He wasn't welcome at his parents' house any longer either, and he didn't even have a positive, life-changing event like coming out of the closet to put on it either.  He just had a bunch of past poor decisions, and manipulations to blame.  He'd used his parents unkindly one too many times, and they'd severed ties, expecting, and rightly so, that if they saw him again, it would just be more bad news for them.
    Todd went up to the counter, and got a box to take home the extra pizza in, which he, of course, gave to Brody.  Todd and Jason didn't need anything.  They were finally in a really good place in life.  Brody was the one who had been evicted from his apartment, and then the day before he'd had to move out gotten fired from his job as well.
    As they headed out of Round Table, Jason stopped them in the lobby.
    "Hold on, Brody," he said, "I play one round on a claw machine any time I come across one."
    Brody was surprised.  No one ever won anything on those machines.  You might as well just throw a quarter in the trash can next to it, it would be the same.
    "Really?" He said, "why?"
    "Yeah, I'm trying to see how many years it takes before I finally win something from one.  Don't worry, I only allow myself one play, so it'll be quick."
    And it was.  He guided the joystick on the machine that had a sign across the top of it proclaiming its name to be Dr. Claw.  The machine's claw moved, dropped, closed, and came up again empty, just as Brody expected.  All the cheap, chintzy, and ugly stuffed animals in the machine were safe another day.
    "Here," Jason said, "Why don't you give it a shot.  I'll buy, don't worry."
    He tossed him a quarter, and Brody caught it out of the air.  He stepped up to the machine, and suddenly a stranger was talking in his ear.
    "Hey, buddy, you should probably just put that quarter in your pocket."
    He turned, and crinkled his eyebrows at the stranger standing next to him.  He looked like a biker, long, scraggly black beard streaked with grey, pot belly, cowboy boots.  Except that he wore a white shirt and a Round Table Pizza apron instead of a leather jacket and a black T-shirt with a Harley logo on the front.
    "Excuse me?" Brody said.
    "Save your quarter, man.  Even if you win, you'll wish you hadn't.  Every time someone wins from that machine, they walk away sad rather than happy."
    Brody snorted.  "It doesn't matter," he replied, "I won't win.  No one wins on these things."  And he plugged his quarter in the slot.  The claw lurched to life, heading inward.  Brody realized that he hadn't even picked anything to try for.  He looked down, scanned the contents of the machine, and made a snap decision to try for the Oakland Raiders plush football in the back right quadrant.
    Jason came up beside him, and looked into the glass case of the Dr. Claw game, and said, in what was to Brody's ears a perfect imitation of the three-eyed green aliens from _Toy Story_--a movie Brody had watched at least a thousand times growing up--"The claw is our master.  The claw chooses who will go and who will stay."
    Brody smiled.  He tapped the joystick, trying to guide it to the right spot.  He thought he was getting close, and remembered from past experience on these machines that the claw didn't stop moving inward until you pressed the drop button, so as soon as he neared the ball, he smacked the button.  The claw plunged into the pile of plush, and landed just left of the football.  The claw snapped shut, and lolled over onto its side, obviously empty-handed.  Just as he'd expected.
    He turned, meaning to hold up his hands a la Vanna White and present his evidence that it was impossible to win at a claw game to the Round Table employee, only to see that he had already left.  He started to walk away from the machine when Todd's eyes bugged out, and he pointed at the machine.
    "You got something, Brody," he said.
    Surprised, Brody turned back.  The claw was rising into the air again, and instead of a plush animal or ball, it had a small piece of paper in its grasp.
    "What?  I didn't see anything like that in there," Brody said.  The claw sped back to its start position, and dropped the paper into the hole directly below it.  Brody pushed the door open, and retrieved his prize.
    "Damn, Brody," Jason said, "I've been dropping a quarter in one of these things at least once a week for two and a half years, and I've never won anything, and then I give you a quarter, and you nail it on your first try."
    "Yeah, weird, but what is it?"  Brody looked at the paper.  It was almost as small as a business card.  The words California Lottery emblazoned across the top of it, and Scratcher on the bottom.  In the middle were three tacky silver squares awaiting a coin to rub that stuff off and see what lay beneath.
    "Oh, jeez, a friggin' lottery ticket," Brody said, "I never win anything at these stupid claw machines, and then when I finally do, it's just a ticket to another game that no one ever wins."
    "If you don't want it, you can give it to me," Todd said, "after all, you never know."
    "Right.  I guess I better at least scratch it and see," Brody said, "do you know how these things work?  What do I need, three cherries or something like a slot machine."
    "I don't know, " Jason said, "do you?" He asked Todd.
    "No, I've never played," he answered, but I think it is supposed to be like a slot machine.  I'm sure three of whatever is good, and less matches are not good, you know?"
    "Well, can I borrow another quarter.  I don't have any of my own, and I don't have keys anymore either.  I'll give you guys half of the nothing that I win.  How's that sound?"
    Jason laughed, and dug a coin out of his pocket.  It was just a nickel, but it would probably work even better anyway, what with the big, flat edge on it.
    Brody scratched the first section, underneath it was a big sunburst instead of a group of cherries.  He scratched the second one, and discovered another sunburst.
    "Oh," Brody said, suddenly hopeful for perhaps the first time in years.  He scratched the last section, and smiled broadly.
    "I don't know what this is worth," he said, "But I think I might be able to pay you guys back for the pizza." He held up his ticket to Todd and Jason, displaying the three matching sunbursts.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sunny and Gray, Chapter One

I promised it yesterday, so here it is.  Chapter one of my story, my first novel, called Sunny and Gray.  I've been talking about this for a long time, and my progress is non-existant, so, with my newfound excitement, I'm posting this to keep me motivated.  I'll tag all the chapters of this story with a Sunny and Gray label, so if you start into it later, you can click the tag, and find all the posts for it.  Hope you like it.

Chapter 1

"Robbie, how much further is it to this place?" groused Brinlee, as she swatted at a mosquito that buzzed too near her ear.
"We're almost there," said Robbie, a huge grin splitting his face almost in two, "You're going to love it."
"Oh, I'm sure I will," Brinlee answered back sarcastically, trying her best to walk down the rocky, root strewn path without tripping while watching the text messages she was receiving on her phone rather than where she was going.
Robbie glanced at his friend Skyler, hoping for his approval, but he had his head down, trudging along the path with a look of grim determination on his face. It was okay. Robbie didn't need them to be able to have fun out here.
They came around a bend in the path, and the glade spread out before them. In the center of the clearing was a large, shallow pond. It's edges were draped with willow branches, and hemmed in on all sides with tightly spaced aspens. Moss and leaves floated on the water's surface, glowing like gemstones in the illumination provided by the few thin fingers of sunlight that managed to penetrate the canopy of trees. Tadpoles, some already sporting a pair of back legs, wiggled through the murky depths, mirrored by water striders above. And the air was teeming with flying insects of all sorts, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, flies, mosquitoes, and more. They were the reason Robbie had come. In his hand, Robbie held a well-crafted, wooden butterfly net.  He intended to catch himself a dragonfly.
"Here you go," said Robbie, waving his arm as if presenting a new car at an auto show.  "What do you think."
Brinlee dropped her purse on large rock at the edge of the clearing, and looked at what Robbie had brought her all this way to see.  Her eyes passed over the shining ripples in the pond, the riot of colorful wildflowers that filled every inch of ground, and the drooping willow branches rustling in the slight breeze.  "Eh, it's nice," she said, obviously unimpressed, sat down on the rock next to her purse, and went back to staring at her phone.  She frowned.
"No bars," she said, and stood back up.  She walked about five steps to the left, and smiled.  "Ah, here we go."  She sat down, and started tapping away at the phone's touchscreen.
Robbie put the bag that he had brought with their lunch on the rock by Brinlee.  He turned to ask Skyler what he thought, and found him seated and already concentrating on a video game he was playing on his Nintendo DS.
Robbie sighed and shrugged, turning away from the two of them.  Brinlee was his nanny, and was ostensibly supposed to be watching him and keeping him safe, but she rarely did.  In fact, she normally didn't come out with him to play outdoors like this. He'd told her that he'd found a new place to play, and she'd come along with him this time so that she knew where to go looking for him if he didn't respond to the texts she sent him telling him to come home.
Skyler had done this before too, coming along with Robbie, acting as though he was interested at first, only to tune everything out while playing a game on his DS once arriving.  Skyler's parents put a limit on his video game time, but he found that if he snuck his DS out with him when he went with Robbie, he could extend that time a lot.  
Robbie had more interesting things planned than video games. He took net in both hands, and stalked toward the pond.
Robbie knew the tool in his hand was called a butterfly net, but he called it a bug net instead.  Butterflies were pretty and all, but they were for girls.  What he wanted was a dragonfly.  Their name just said it all.  Dragonfly!  That was a cool bug, a tough bug, an awesome bug.  What he wouldn't give to get his hands on one. He was so glad his grandpa had given him this net for his birthday last week.
He saw a dragonfly resting on a lily pad floating on the pond.  It was big and bluish-green with those eyes like kaleidoscopes.  Its wings buzzed intermittently as it looked down at the water.  Robbie stalked to the edge of the pond, and held his net out.  He knew it would be very tricky catching this dragonfly.  He couldn't bring the net straight down on it, because that would dunk the bug down into the water. He didn't want a drowned dragonfly, all mangled and waterlogged.  He wanted one that was still intact.  He'd have to swing the net sideways across the top of the water, and hope that the dragonfly flew upward into his net as it passed over.  It should work.
But it didn't.  The net passed harmlessly above the dragonfly's lily pad, and then, once the net was safely away, the dragonfly lifted into the air, flew upward and out of the glade.
He looked around for another one.  There were several out toward the middle of the pond, but out on the edges, where he could get to, there were none.  He had to change the game on those dragonflies that thought they were safe out there.  He sat down on the edge of the pond, and pulled his shoes and socks off, stuffing the socks inside the shoes, to keep them clean.  He placed them several feet away from the edge of the water, just in case, and waded slowly into the pond, startling a big bullfrog off a log.
"What are you doing, Robbie?" Brinlee asked, exasperated.
"Just wading," he replied, "I want to try to catch one of those dragonflies out in the middle."
She sighed in an overly exasperated manner, as if instead he'd said something like, "I want to cover myself in peanut butter, roll around in a pile of hay, then make you clean it all off."  She wasn't much of a nanny, and he often wondered how his parents had come to hire her on.  But his parents didn't seem to care about much other than their jobs, so as long as there were no big problems, they'd never notice.  "Just don't get too dirty, all right?" Brinlee said, and went back to her phone.
Robbie turned back to the pond, and stalked as carefully as he could through knee-deep water toward the dragonflies on the reeds in the middle.  His feet squished into the muddy ground with each step, and came out with a pop when the suction of the mud let go.  He nearly stumbled with each step.  If he fell in, Brinlee would freak, and probably make him go home and take a shower or something, so he concentrated more fully on each step.  Making certain that he didn't end up face first in the water.
At last, he came within striking distance of the closest dragonfly.  He firmed his feet into the squishy ground, wound up, and swung.  The dragonfly avoided the net with what seemed like preternatural grace, flying backwards and up in a way that only the most nimble of insects could manage.  Despite ensuring that his feet were well grounded, Robbie still teetered dangerously from the force of his swipe.  He nearly fell, which sent his heart racing.  He didn't want to go home without having corralled his prize.  Next swing, he would have to try something different.  Being glued to the ground made him unstable when swinging forcefully with a net.
He waded toward the next dragonfly he could see, and thought of how baseball players swing.  His little league coach had tried to teach him the mechanics last year when he was last in the batting order on his team.  It was so much harder to hit a baseball than Robbie would have ever imagined, but it must be really similar to catching a dragonfly.  He stood in a batter's stance across from the bug, as if it were over home plate.  He put the net up over his shoulder, lifted his left leg, stepped forward, and swung, twisting his feet with the stroke so that he didn't topple into the water.  His head turned, and he didn't even know whether he'd gotten it or not.  Without the ping of the baseball on the aluminum bat, he had no way to know if he'd connected or not.
He returned to a normal stance, and lifted his net to inspect its contents.  Only, there were no contents.  It was as empty as it had been when he'd unwrapped it on his birthday.  He hadn't seen how the dragonfly had escaped, which he realized was probably _how_ it had escaped.  One thing his baseball coach had always said was to keep his eye on the ball.  He'd snapped his head around with his swing and didn't even know whether he was within a foot of the dragonfly when the net passed by.
Since he wasn't much of a hitter in baseball, Robbie figured he'd better try a different approach.  He stabbed, swiped and jabbed the net at all the different dragonflies in the reeds at the center of the pond, until soon enough, they were all gone.  Now the dragonflies were congregating around the edge of the water, while he stood knee-deep and all alone in the middle.  He was pretty frustrated, so he decided it was time to have his lunch.  He waded back to the shore, and sat on the rock with the lunch bag.
A sandwich, some string cheese, a Go-Gurt, and a Coke later, he was ready to try again.  He pulled his socks and shoes back on his now mostly dry feet.  There were several dragonflies resting on weeds at the shoreline now.  So, Robbie crept toward them.  He'd been worried about bringing the net down onto the dragonflies up until now, in case it didn't work out right and he crushed the bug instead of catching it, but he decided it was time to take that risk.  It should work okay.  After all, there was a big round hole at the end of the stick for the dragonflies to be when the net came down on them.  They wouldn't get crushed, just caught in the fabric of the net.
Robbie steeled himself for a strike on a beautiful iridescent greenish-blue one.  Slowly and silently as a hunting cat, he moved his net over the top of the dragonfly, then all at once he moved his net down over the top of it.  The dragonfly was safely secured in his net.  He whooped with excitement seeing the bug squirming in the folds of his net.  Brinlee looked up from her phone for a moment at the noise, then back down again immediately.
Carefully, Robbie reached his hand in and pulled the net closed so that the bug could not escape when he turned the net over.  He held it up to his face so he could look at the beauty he'd acquired.  It was amazing. It struggled in the net, buzzing its wide, narrow wings.  Not the flamboyant wings of a butterfly, but the sleek, clear wings that made dragonflies so much cooler.  The long segmented tail of the bug wiggled up and down.  What beauty!
"Hey, guys, I got one.  I caught a dragonfly."
"Cool, dude," Skyler said without even looking up.
"Mmm-hmmm," grunted Brinlee, her fingers presently tapping furiously on her phones onscreen keyboard.
_How could they not see how much better this dragonfly was than any game or text message?_ he thought.  _They were missing out on life._  But what could he do?  He couldn't make them live their life, he could only live his own.
He returned his attention to the insect thrashing in his net.  It seemed to Robbie that it was more panicked than an insect usually was when caught.  Maybe he had injured it after all, though it looked fine.  He slipped his hand carefully into the net, and slid it underneath the dragonfly.  It stumbled its way up onto his palm, then turned its head, and bit Robbie's thumb.
"Oww," he exclaimed.
Pain seared through his hand much more intensely than a mere insect bite should have been able to produce.  And since when did dragonflies bite?  Robbie had never heard of it in his life.  He snatched his hand out of the net, and thrust his throbbing thumb into his mouth.  But it only got worse.  He teetered where he sat, as a wave of dizziness swept over him.  His hands, both of them, began to tingle like they had fallen asleep, as did his feet.  His vision blurred, yellowed, then blacked out completely.  The tingling, pins-and-needles feeling progressed up his limbs and engulfed his torso and head as well.
"Unngghh," he grunted, and laid back on the ground.  Luckily, the ground was soft here, with no rocks to crack his head on and make his suffering worse.  His breathing came quicker and quicker, and he could feel his heart thudding thunderously in his ribcage.  Oddly, he found himself wondering if it was part of the same process, or a result of the fear the process was causing.  It kept thumping, despite his strangely detached state of mind, so he guessed it was part of the process after all.  He couldn't see a thing through his eyes, but at the same time he felt like he could see himself lying on the ground as if from above.
Suddenly, as if the expanding sensations had become too large and collapsed in on themselves, they all rushed away like the flow of a river.  His vision burst back upon him with a brilliant white flash, and then it was over.  He felt nothing, no lasting effects from the attack whatsoever.  _What had that been?_ he wondered.  He'd never experienced anything so strange.  He was young, but he had still heard of the effects that drugs had on the human body.  What had just happened to him felt as though he'd been bombarded with several high-powered drug trips at once, then had it all whipped out from under him like a sleight-of-hand artist pulling a table cloth from under fancy china.
He sat up slowly, blinked, and realized that the effects weren't gone after all.  The glade, which seconds ago had been a riot of flying insects flitting from one perch to the next, was now teeming with colorful, winged fairies.  Fairies!  Mythical creatures were dancing and swooping in the air before Robbie's eyes.  The color of everything seemed to be magnified.  Mere butterflies, which had been everywhere moments before, paled in comparison to the wings of these fantastic creatures he was seeing now.  There were fairies of every ilk; some with the tiny, buzzing wings of bees; others with long, shining dragonfly wings, some with huge, multicolored butterfly wings, and even some with clumsy beetle wings.  Their bodies were graceful and thin, impossibly thin and long, as though a normal human had been pulled out of proportion like taffy.  And their skin was colorful, not simply fleshy colored like a person's, but iridescent green, reflective blue, or fiery yellow.
He stared, his mouth agape, gasping at the sight of each new fairy he saw as his eyes roamed around and around the glade.  There was a splash, and what he had once thought was a big bullfrog but actually appeared to be a…goblin? Hobgoblin?  He didn't know…jumped into the water, and swam with fey grace away and out of sight.
"Wow!" he said, "Look at that, Brinlee."  And he pointed to a pair of fairies performing aerial maneuvers hand in hand as though they were one.
Brinlee glanced up to where he was pointing.  "Yes, butterflies, very nice, Robbie."  Then back down to her phone again.  Could she not see them then?
The fairies chirped and sang to each other.  Noises that Robbie hadn't perceived seconds before now rang out everywhere.  Their song was as beautiful as any bird's, perhaps more so, because the fairies songs seemed to have rhythms, melodies, choruses, and harmonies.  The whole glade seemed to be singing together in one ever swirling song.  Fairies here sang the melody, as others there provided harmony, and others still provided counterpoint.  But it was fluid, soon the fairies that sang the melody, were singing harmony, and those on the counterpoint were the main chorus.  It was the most beautiful thing Robbie had ever heard.
Everything looked different, more vibrant.  The green of the leaves on the trees seemed to glow and crackle with energy.  The grey of the pond shone and shimmered despite the shadows that it lay in.  The flowers blazed as bright as if they had electric lights embedded within them.  Even the air seemed more atmospheric, like he was looking through a soft cloud of smoke brightened by sunlight.
What had happened to him?  Was he hallucinating?  He'd definitely had some sort of episode a moment before when the dragonfly had bit him, was--the dragonfly!  He looked down at the net in his lap.  Wriggling and thrashing in the folds of mesh was a tiny fairy girl.  She, like the other fairies, was impossibly thin, like a long blade of grass instead of a woman.  Her skin was an opalescent blue-green, her eyes were a brilliant yellow, as was her hair, which was long and wild and shone like the sun.  Her wings buzzed franticly as she struggled to free herself from the trap.
Oh no, thought Robbie, what have I done?  
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said.
He quickly, but carefully untangled the net, opening it to the sky for her.
Brinlee looked up from her phone for a moment, and said, "It's fine, Robbie, don't worry about it.  Then back to whatever she was watching.
The fairy crawled out of the net, chirped at him angrily, and flew into the air.  He watched her as she flew high into the air.  Up and up she went, until he could no longer see her.  She had disappeared in the glare of the sun.  He was sad that she had gone, because he wanted to look at longer, closer.  Of all the fairies in the glade, she had been the most striking, the most beautiful.
He returned his gaze to the fairies that remained with him.  Each one of them looked as soft and colorful as a flower.  They all wore garb that appeared to have been woven from from grass and flower petals, using pure light as thread, because it shimmered like water in the sunlight.  Most were female, but he also saw some males as well.
He took a step forward, when suddenly, the fairy he had caught in his net was back, hovering before his eyes.  He froze and looked at her.  She stared intently back as she bobbed in the air in front of his face.  The other fairies in the glade completely ignored Robbie, as if he weren't even there, yet this one did not.  Maybe she was back to turn him into a troll for catching her in that net.
She flitted around behind him, then returned, and hovered at eye level.  She circled him again, then paused in front of him again.  Robbie raised a hand, reaching toward her.  She buzzed backwards a pace, and floated there, just out of reach.  He stepped forward, enraptured with her brilliance and beauty.  She moved back away from him again, then paused.  He took another step, an reached for her again.  All he wanted was for her to land on his fingers.  To touch her would certainly be amazing.
He stepped forward again.  Suddenly, she stopped hovering and flew around him.  He turned to follow her arc.  She spun around him again and again.  Robbie turned back and forth, trying to watch her as she zipped around him.  He stepped and his foot rubbed against a moss covered rock.  His footing gave way, and Robbie found himself tumbling headlong into the pond.  He hit the water with a resounding splash.
"What the hell?" Brinlee cried, and stood up from the rock she'd been perched on all this time, "Robbie, what are you doing?"
Robbie was on his knees in the water, covered in mud that he'd splashed up from the pond bottom. "I..." he didn't know what to say.  Something very strange and amazing had happened, and Brinlee didn't seem to be a part of it. He'd already tried to point out fairies to her, and she'd only seen butterflies, like he had before the fairy he'd caught had bit him.  Maybe she'd given him some sort of fairy sight with that bite.  "I..." he stammered again.  What?  I was chasing a fairy?  That surely wouldn't work.  "I slipped," he finished lamely, but truthfully.
"Oh God, look at you, Robbie!  Let's go.  You're going to have to take a bath when we get home.  And don't walk to close to me.  I don't want any of that mud on me!"
Robbie squelched his way to where the lunch bag was and grabbed it.  Skyler shook his head, giggling at his friend's soggy state.  Brinlee and Skyler walked quickly out of the glade, and Robbie trudged sadly after them.
He didn't want to go.  There were fairies here.  It was completely astounding, and he didn't know if he would still be able to see them on another day when he came back.  How long would the effects of the fairy bite last?  But Brinlee was angry, and he knew there was no talking with her when she was like this.  He would just have to hope the glade would be like it was now the next time he came.  He wanted to see those fairies again.
"Come on, Robbie," shouted Brinlee, voice rough with impatience.  Robbie's waterlogged shoes squished noisily, expelling gouts of water with each step, as he ran to catch up with Brinlee and Skyler.
"Hey, don't walk too close," she said as he approached, "I don't want any of that mud on my new jeans."
Robbie let his pace slack, and trudged along, his head hanging low.  He cursed that mossy rock that sent him plunging into the pond, and cursed his own lack of coordination that allowed a little slip like that to dunk him so completely.  And with each footfall, he wished that he could be back there, looking at those fairies flit around the clearing.  He'd never seen anything so beautiful, and he had no idea whether he would ever see it again.  He could imagine himself forty years old, nearing the end of his life, and still searching the woods, hoping to see them again.  It had been that kind of life changing experience.
The dust of the path was turning the water on his shoes to mud, and thickening the mud that was already there.  It fell from his feet in clumps, and splattered in the dirt like some kind of strange animal droppings.  He sighed deeply, raised his head, and realized he had fallen behind the others a bit.  He quickened his pace until he reached a safe distance, then settled back into his moping trudge.
He was further disheartened when he caught sight of a butterfly perched on a daisy.  It wasn't a fairy, it was just a butterfly.  Had it worn off already?  Had it ever even been real at all?  A bitter sadness welled up inside him, threatening to bring out tears, at the idea of never seeing those fairies again.  It had filled him with such wonder and joy that the longing was already fierce within him.
He saw another winged bug hovering in the air near the path, and he lashed out at it as he passed.  _Stupid not fairy!_ he thought.  _Stupid regular old bug._   When he'd been walking this same path in the other direction, those same bugs had filled him with wonder, but now he only wanted to see what was hidden beneath their disguise.
Another bug dove from the sky towards him.  Then, his whole demeanor brightened.  It wasn't a bug.  It was a fairy.  A blue-skinned fairy with black flowing hair streaming out behind it as it soared past.  Some bugs must be real while others are fairies in disguise, he guessed.  He didn't need to detest and resent those regular bugs.  They just were what they were.  While others had a hidden secret that he could still see through.
Another fairy came down from the skies behind the trees.  This one had bluish-green, iridescent skin, and long, flowing golden hair.  It buzzed back and forth across the path, coming bit by bit closer to him.  He realized with a grin that this was the selfsame fairy that had caused all this to begin with.  He liked this one.  In his mind, she was the prettiest one.  She made the blue-skinned one with the black hair that had just passed a moment earlier look drab and plain.  Her skin seemed twice as iridescent, and her hair shone like burnished gold.
She seemed to be curious about Robbie too, coming back to investigate for now the third time.  Robbie smiled, and waved at her, which caused her to fly backwards several feet to a safer distance.  She didn't seem to understand that his gesture was meant to be friendly.  Perhaps fairies didn't make gestures like waves or thumbs up to each other.  They didn't seem to talk, either.  Just chirp like birds or monkeys or something.  He didn't care.  He was so happy to see them still that he would keep waving and showing his happiness to be among them.
He smiled bigger, and waved again, but this time, just a finger wave instead of a big swinging arm wave.  The fairy chirped like a songbird, and Robbie tried to imitate it with a whistle.  He wasn't much of a whistler, however, and it just came out as a breathy almost-tone.  It was enough, though, the fairy began chirping a long string of sounds that resembled a songbird calling its mate or protecting its territory.
Robbie waved at the fairy again, finger only.
"What are you doing, dude," asked Skyler, whose attention had been drawn to him by his sad attempt at a whistle, "are you waving to that dragonfly?"
Brinlee was looking at him too, eyebrows bunched up in a half-curious, half-concerned expression.  "You're being pretty weird, Robbie.  Even for you," she said, "Waving at a dragonfly?"
Robbie didn't know what to say.  "I like dragonflies," he protested, hoping it was enough.
"Hurry up," she said, waving her arms at him, "I think I can see the road."
The fairy was spooked again by the arm waving, and flew straight up and over the trees that lined the path, disappearing from view.  She didn't return to investigate him any further.  
All Robbie could do was hope that she would still be in the glade the next time he came.  And that he would still be able to tell that she was a fairy and not a dragonfly.  He hoped the spell didn't wear off after the first time that he slept or the first time he…what…ate human food or something.  He was almost tempted to skip dinner today, just to make sure, but he realized that he couldn't go without food for long, seeing fairies or not.  And, since he had no idea what might break the spell, he couldn't very well avoid it.  It would do him no good to skip eating for days, but continue to take showers only to discover that it was the showers that did it.
He just had to hope.  He would be back to the glade as soon as possible to see the fairies again.