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art by Tim Stewart

E is for Excrement

Tim Pratt's stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and other nice places. He's won a Hugo for his short fiction (and lost Sturgeon, Stoker, World Fantasy, and Nebula Awards). He lives in Berkeley CA with his wife and son. Find him online at timpratt.org

Jenn Reese lives in Los Angeles and is currently writing a middle-grade adventure series for Candlewick Press. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons and the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities, among others. Follow her adventures at jennreese.com.

Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, gardener and aikidoka living in Berkeley, California with her husband and son. She's had fiction in Strange Horizons, Polyphony, The Year's Best Fantasy, Escape Pod and other nice places. She just finished her first middle-grade novel, "Keaton T., Junior Gene Hacker" and is looking for representation. For more, visit heathershaw.org

Greg van Eekhout's fiction for adults and children includes the novels Norse Code and Kid vs. Squid and stories published in Asimov's, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and other places. He lives in San Diego, CA. For more information, visit writingandsnacks.com.

The new human who has inherited me is but a child. He also lives in the New World, in a single room he calls his "dorm" with another boy near his own age. They imbibe more ale than they ought, and when they're in their cups they like to cajole me into drinking with them. I have tried, on more than one occasion, to convince them to open the iron bars of the birdcage in which I have lived now for centuries, but to date I have not succeeded. Previous generations thought to write out "Instructions for care of the MacAllister Family Fairy," the first of which is to never let said fairy out of the cage.
Tonight, however, I have devised a plan that seems to be working, despite the severe distress it causes me. My cage sits on the boy's desk, near a sleek machine called a "laptop." I overheard the boys laughing over a bit of news gleaned from the laptop: a fancy coffee brewed from beans that have been eaten and excreted by a civet cat. Apparently, this does not make the coffee foul, but instead imbues it with a luxurious flavor. I managed to keep my voice lazy, as if talking to myself, yet loud enough for them to hear when I commented, "Ha, a fairy could shit better tasting beans than any marsupial!"
Sure enough, they fell silent, then began questioning me. I "reluctantly" divulged bits of information. Fairy excrement sparkles, much like tinsel from their Christmas trees, and I suggested it contained a bit of magic. With some prompting, they came to the conclusion that such beans, once tasted, would be worth fortunes. I expressed great dismay when they revealed their intention to profit from my digestive process.
I choked down the first batch of bitter beans a few hours ago, and my gut wrenched as I finally passed them, whole, but sparkly, from my body. They gathered them through the bars of my cage, and brewed a pot of coffee from them, and will soon do a "taste test" to make sure the result will be as delicious as they hope.
Once they drink the coffee made from my shit, they will have sipped from Fairyland itself. This should whisk us all to the fairy court, where the boys will become slaves in my parents' castle under the hill.
I hold my breath, now, and watch as they take the first sip together, on the count of three...
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
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