When Libby Met the Fairies and her Whole Life Went Fae

BOOK: When Libby Met the Fairies and her Whole Life Went Fae
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When Libby Met the Fairies

and Her Whole Life Went
Fae

 

By Kirsten Mortensen

 

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, or to any actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Copyright 2011 by Kirsten Mortensen

 

My other novels . . .

 

Loose Dog
(forthcoming romantic suspense!)

 

Can Job
(available now for Amazon Kindle)

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I’m so excited about my upcoming romantic thriller,
Loose Dog
, that I’ve started buying prizes to give away to people who read it! Want to get in on the fun? Stop by
www.kirstenmortensen.com
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When Libby Met the Fairies

and Her Whole Life Went
Fae

 
 

1

 

There are a ton of stories about it floating around on the web. Half of them are baloney. The other half—baloney and cheese.

The woman is a biologist. A trained scientist. Meaning: for her, things either stack up to the measure of the five senses or you brush them aside.

So forget what you’ve read.

Forget what you’ve read from people who say she’s some kind of New Age Messiah.

And while you’re at it, forget the stuff that denounces her as a cynical fraud.

Here’s what really happened.

 

♦ ♦ ♦

 

She’d just bought herself a piece of land. Ten acres on the side of a hill in West Sparta, New York. You’ve never heard of it, most likely, but you’ve seen places like it. Rural, just far enough outside the nearest city to make a commute impractical, economically depressed, houses look a bit worn, roads a bit beaten, and the locals, of course, love it fiercely.

She was walking across one of her fields.

The last crop harvested there had been hay. For some reason, whoever had cut it hadn’t taken it all. He—anyway, Libby assumed it was a he—had rolled it up and wrapped it with nylon twine into big discs almost as tall as she was, and the discs had been left to molder where they’d been bound.

And she saw something dart behind one of them.

“Something.” That’s how she framed it back to herself—something, not someone, although for a split second she thought she’d seen a child. But it didn’t really look like a child, either. Unless it was a toddler, and that was highly unlikely, plus it didn’t move like a toddler; the movement was too quick, too controlled. So on second thought, it must have been some kind of animal. An excellent guess, when her only evidence was a glimpse of something moving, something with a shape and a way of moving that didn’t quite add up . . .

It was dusk.

It was a trick of the mind. Seeing such things always is. Your mind meets them half-way. Libby had once dreamt she saw a white raccoon out the window of her house and grabbed Wallace’s digital camera to take a picture of it. The camera didn’t work. Every time she pressed the shutter it gave a little explosive “pop!” and then she’d check the LED screen on the back and—no raccoon. All she could find were some other photos, photos he’d taken. Frustrating. It’s not every day you see a white raccoon. But without the photo, there was no proof—and without proof, there was no white raccoon.

So despite what you’ve read on the Internet, she wasn’t looking for them. She didn’t believe in them. Just like she didn’t believe in ghosts, either, or ESP, UFOs, any of it. Stories, inventions, pretty Tinker Bells invented to amuse the children and the gullible.

She had other things on her mind.

 

♦ ♦ ♦

 

The other things, specifically, being the “Posted, No Trespassing” signs.

She was looking to see if they’d been put back up.

They weren’t her signs. They were someone else’s—someone who owned, apparently, the land adjacent to hers. They had first appeared right after she closed on the property. There had been snow on the ground at the time and she’d seen the footprints—big boot prints—of whoever had put up the signs. The prints started at the road that borders the western side of her land and followed the property line. Every 20 feet or so, they stopped at a tree.

Not just “a” tree. Her tree. Libby’s trees. On her side of the property line. No mistaking that, either. The land had been re-surveyed when she’d put in her offer, and the survey markers were bedecked with fresh new blaze-orange ribbons. You couldn’t miss them. Plus the line followed a tumbled down stone wall. And the signs—at least, some of the signs—were clearly on her side of the wall. Or anyway, they were on her side of where the wall would have been, if it had still been standing.

She’d followed the prints as far as she could. They ended at another road, the one on the north side of her land. It was cleared of snow and dry. And her with no bloodhound. Dead end.

She phoned Candace, her realtor.

“That’s not legal,” she said. “They have to be on the other party’s property.”

“Can you find out who did it?”

“They should have a name on them.”

She’d checked. The signs were signed, but the signature was illegible. “The name wasn’t written in English, as far as I can tell. Unless maybe they were signed by a doctor.”

“I’ll look into it.”

But three days later she still hadn’t heard back, and the signs were still there, so Libby took matters into her own hands. Mind you, she was still moving in. So first she made another trip to Pittsford and back, her hatchback stuffed with boxes; carefully organized boxes—she was moving herself methodically, one room at a time. She even kept a little notebook that listed what she was moving and where she was going to put it in the new house. Then she unpacked the boxes and put everything away, checking items off in her notebook as she worked.

By then she needed a break—moving being a sorry way to spend your time even under more pleasant circumstances. So she took another walk, this time a walk with a purpose, because she was going to get rid of those signs.

It had warmed up some. The air smelled wet, the snow was lacy and crystalline and littered with bits of stick and flecks of bark. The signs had been mounted using a staple gun. It was easy enough to pry the staples loose with a screwdriver.

When she was done, she stacked them on a flat stone near the road—the place where the tracks she’d seen before had entered her property—went back to the house, tore a flap off one of her moving boxes and wrote a note on it.

If you really feel you need these, please hang them on your side of the property line, not mine.

She walked back to the stack of signs, put the note on top of them, and weighted it down with another rock.

That should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. A few days later, the signs were back.

On Libby’s trees again.

By then she’d done some more exploring. She’d noticed a driveway about a quarter mile up the road. She knew it was a driveway because there was a mailbox at one end of it. Otherwise it didn’t look very driveway-ish. More like a logging road. It was deeply rutted—whoever was using it drove a truck; a car wouldn’t be able to take ruts that deep.

She walked in a little way, but about the time she lost sight of the road—and still couldn’t see any sort of dwelling—she started to feel uneasy, and turned around.

No way of knowing whether whoever lived there was the posted sign person.

She had no choice. She went back to her place, retrieved her screwdriver, and removed the signs again. Only this time she wasn’t so nice. Hah. She threw them away.

Which tells you how annoyed she was. Libby is the sort of person who within five minutes of meeting her, the word that probably pops into your head is “nice.” She’s the sort of person who always smiles, always invites you to talk about yourself, always notices if you’re uncomfortable or restless and leans forward to offer you a cup of tea or to ask is there anything she can get for you. So nice she’s almost anxious about it.

So most people would have thrown away those posted signs the first time. It took her twice as much to get annoyed enough, annoyed to that point. And did she enjoy it? No, she did not. Here she was, trying to start her life over, and already headed toward a showdown at the not OK corral.

 

♦ ♦ ♦

 

She didn’t have long to wait. First week of March. It was still cold, and overcast, but the snow was gone so she was letting herself think that maybe spring really would come. She’d put the posted signs business out of her mind, was just out for a walk to stretch her legs, but when she crossed the field directly behind her house, there they were. “Posted” in orange all caps lettering against a gleaming black background.

Her stomach tightened.

Something there is that doesn’t . . .
 
stay on its side of the wall.

“Damn it,” she said out loud. “I really don’t need this.”

Maybe this time the signatures would be readable.

She made her way to the closest sign. Nothing doing. Just like before. The signature might as well have been a piece of yarn someone had dropped on the floor.

She wondered whether her neighbor was merely a slob, or if this was someone’s way of being deliberately uncooperative.

It began to drizzle.

She wasn’t dressed for drizzle. No hat, no gloves.

She turned to go back to her house.

But she didn’t make it. At that moment a massive bellow “ra-RAUWF” hit her body so hard it made her diaphragm thrum, and she whirled around just in time to see a brindle Mastiff galloping toward her . A huge brindle Mastiff. Perhaps it was a horse, in fact, except no horse’s brow would be furled that way, his mouth agape, all red and dark and full of long white canines.

She didn’t have to look twice. By luck, the closest tree—the one with the freshly re-mounted sign—was a half-grown white pine. She grabbed the lowest branch and hauled herself up, placing her feet close to the trunk where it was thick enough, hopefully, to support her weight. Up another few branches, moving quickly, and now the dog was below her , leaping against the trunk, his paws jabbing it, making the whole tree shake.

2

 

With his paws on the tree trunk, looking up at her, foreshortened, his head looked massive.

After a minute he put all four paws on the ground and began sniffing around the base of the tree.

His head still looked massive.

Libby liked dogs. She liked petting dogs. Even strange dogs, when they are, say, on a lead at a park. But being treed by a dog—a very large dog—was, frankly, an experience she’d prefer to avoid.

She chewed her lower lip. Perhaps she and the dog had just gotten off on the wrong paw . . .

Worth a try. “Hey there—” she said in her best nice-doggy voice.

“ROUWF!”
The same booming bellow and he’d jumped up again, planting his front paws, again, against the trunk.

She tightened her grip on her perch. No doubt about it. Libby was officially treed, and there was no way she was going to sweet talk her way down.

The dog was still sniffing her tree.

He was wearing a collar.

She looked around for an owner.

Libby’s land was on a hillside. To the west, looking down, she had a clear view all the way to her house—that is, to the saplings and brush that marked the border between her house and the rest of her property, and beyond the saplings and brush, the dark gray shingles of her roof. But that was all she could see. No apologetic dog owner running up the hill, leash in hand.

To the north, her two fields, divided by raggedy hedgerows. Actually, more meadows than fields. To call them fields suggests they’re big. They aren’t. Altogether, in fact, Libby owned less than eight acres of cleared land. Yet, for some reason, especially when she first moved in, she thought of them as fields, maybe because they looked so worn and tired and beaten. Not picturesque enough to be meadows. In any case, that day the hedgerows—scraggly interruptions of buckthorn and crabapple—hadn’t leafed out yet, it was too early in the spring. So Libby could see through them all the way to Einbeck Road.

BOOK: When Libby Met the Fairies and her Whole Life Went Fae
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