Curt withdrew the fairy phone from his pocket, and scrolled through the small list of contacts there – and of that small list, only one had the near-universal star indicating that it was a favourite contact: Cresta Lan Oca, better known as Carmichael.
He tapped the contact, which flicked to the contact screen. Here, the interface was a little more fairy than human – with icons for primary and secondary contact numbers, text, email, and the Mount set in wedges around a stylised flower – the size of the wedges always updating to reflect which contact method you used the most.
He hit the text message option, entered a quick security code, which would get the message past Carmichael’s spam filter, then changed the fairy keyboard from his default English one. He selected the character that was the first letter of the fairy word for “low”, then selected the deca that also indicated “unimportant”, then hit send.
The fairy alphabet – the one currently in usage, was referred to – translated to English – as Below-Nine – the ninth recorded iteration of their primary alphabet. Currently, it contained eighty-six letters, and it was almost a study in history, as the older, legacy letters looked closer to runes, whilst the more modern letters had begun to take on some curl and complexity – though it was nothing to rival Faerie’s overall most popular language and alphabet: hobbish, which was a character-based alphabet.
The decas were an interesting part of fairy linguistics – and for the longest time, they had replaced formatting such as bolding and italics – even now, a bolded sentence was more likely to be seen as a stylistic choice, rather than important, unless the words in it contained the correct deca at the end of each.
Though there was variation between regions, and levels of complexity that he had never bothered to investigate, the tourist-level of fairy linguistics broke deca down simply: at the end of each word that was to be emphasised, a small line was to be written. Like the three crossbars of the capital letter E. Each bar of the example E signified a differing level of importance, most commonly used as important/high importance, normal/subtle emphasis, low/vague.
A confirmation text came back, and Curt broke from his self-imposed reverie, then he hit the icon to dial Carmichael’s primary contact number.
There was the weird tone that indicated he was placing a call from Earth to Faerie, then the call connected.
‘Curt,’ Carmichael said, his voice warm. ‘I can’t chat for long, but I’m sure you understand.’
Curt made a small noise to indicate he understood. Carmichael’s time was valuable – the man was like an agent in a lot of ways – he was at the head of an intelligence organisation that almost functioned like a private Agency. People from both worlds used his services, and much to the fairy’s joy, the Agency also had occasional work for him.
Carmichael had a fetish for agents – it was something didn’t require anyone to mince words. Agents were a common enough fetish for the fae – not human, but not fae – beings that were generally good looking, and if presented in the right way, always willing to serve.
There were clubs to catered to the fetish – the vanilla Duty, and the disturbingly no-holds-barred Duty Bound, where a client could brutalise – or even murder – an agent sex doll, even if they were nothing more than the sims that recruits killed by the hundreds, it still didn’t seem right that there was an establishment that catered to that particular inclination.
Carmichael, on the other hand, treated each experience with an agent to be a special thing – he would compensate his suited lovers – paying for a night or weekend with favours and items that agents often couldn’t procure on their own – licences for exotic pets, or rare magical items.
It was a consensual experience on all sides, and often profitable for the agent – and from Carmichael’s incessant boasting, he was a skilled lover, so it was likely to be one of the better one night stands of the agent’s life.
And for those that brought him the agents, there was a finders fee.
So far, he’d only brought three agents to Carmichael, but the finders fees were safely stowed in his Fairy bank account, collecting regular-if-pitiful sums of interest each month.
He hoped he’d remembered to list someone on his next-of-kin form, otherwise the money would stay in the bank forever, untouched after he died.
‘How are you, mate?’ Carmichael asked, somehow unable to be broken of the habit of using “mate” after someone had told him it was the traditional way Australians greeted each other.
Curt was just grateful no one had told Carmichael about the far more common usage of “how’s it going, cunt?”.
‘Just felt like saying hello,’ Curt said, and it was as much truth as he could say. If he spilled his guts, and told Carmichael he was planning on getting himself killed, the fairy would drop everything in order to come save him. To care for him, or to get him treatment until he got past this “silly” notion of suicide.
And some small, childish part of him wanted to cry out, to beg Carmichael to come and save him, for the fairy to play big brother, and tell him that everything was going to be okay.
The rest of him, the parts of him that knew he was an irredeemable monster, stomped on his wishes, and ordered him to take his death like a man. He wasn’t worth saving.
‘You should swing by when you have a day off,’ Carmichael said. ‘I’ll let you in for half-price.’
‘You’ll let me in for free, you jerk,’ Curt responded playfully. It was the routine. He had to follow their routine.
His pseudo-agent status aside, Carmichael also ran a set of sexporiums – large-scale brothels that could be found on pretty much every block of every fairy city. His particular chain boasted six establishments, all within the capital city.
The price of entry – and therefore access to the floor shows and entertainment, was quite steep, due to the quality of the performers and intricacies of the routines. There were, of course, separate charges for part in the club’s intimate activities.
‘You doing okay, mate?’ Carmichael asked after a moment, his tone more serious. ‘You don’t sound…challa, yourself.’
The fairy gift of languages worked primarily and most effectively face-to-face – it was why all movies had to be subtitled, the magic wasn’t something you could record. There were improvements being made to technology everyday, layering filters and automatic translators over the top of phone calls and video conferences – but it wasn’t an app he’d bothered to turn on, as there were few people in Faerie he wanted to talk to that didn’t have at least a conversational level of English.
He knew it was part of his stupid-white-boy arrogance to expect a conversation in English, but his own gift for languages topped out English, the broken Russian expected of most Solstice, and a few words of Fairyland’s primary dialect, Aysa.
Challa was one of the words he knew though, and the fact that Carmichael – someone who spoke better English than he did, had slipped into Aysa during the conversation meant he was really worried. Challa: “in one’s own self”, held more meaning and care than simply saying that someone didn’t sound like themselves.
‘I’m not,’ he whispered, and his wish to be saved rose again. ‘But I’m working on it.’ Tears started to form, and he wiped them away, angry at himself for his self-pity. ‘I just saw my mother,’ he said, taking refuge in a truth that would explain the emotion in his voice. ‘And wanted to hear someone who genuinely gave a shit about me.’
‘Always,’ Carmichael said, and Curt heard some relief in the man’s face. ‘Send me your schedule when you get a chance, I’ll see if we can get in a day. You don’t use your kite rig nearly enough.’ Carmichael’s voice went went. ‘That’s it. Flying and fucking on the inland sea. Shotto owes me a favour, I’ll get his yacht, and I have some employees that will be glad to get some sun and surf in. Speak to your Director, get a three-day pass. If he’s being disagreeable, tell him I-’
‘I think I can manage it,’ Curt said. ‘Thank you. I’m looking forward to it.’
‘Nylae,’ Carmichael said, using a form of “I love you” meant for family members. ‘And you don’t have nearly enough fun, Curt. Send me a text, and we’ll organise it.’ He sighed. ‘I have to go. Duty calls.’
‘N-nylae,’ he stuttered, returning the love, hoping it would say all the thank yous he still felt he needed to express. ‘Goodbye, Carmichael.’
‘Goodbye,’ Carmichael replied, and the line went dead.
He slipped the phone into his pocket, and let out a long breath. He’d said his goodbyes to Tara, to Carmichael, and there was no one else in the world who cared for him.
He’d done what he’d needed to do. He’d tidied his life as much as he could, and now it was time to die, to shed the world of one more monster.