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Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

by Malawi S about a year ago in science fiction
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In a last-ditch effort to solve all her issues, a woman gets herself in a situation that may be her saving grace -- or her final undoing.

I sighed and lifted the brass knocker on the door. Knocking twice, I step back from the door. I couldn't believe I had really gotten to this point. Usually, I can figure out food enough, but given today's news, I don't know if I will be able to handle it. My kids are hungry and the landlord is threatening to evict us. The door swings open and reveals a short man. His height is about up to my breast. His nose and ears are pointed more than average and the clothes that he wears look like those of a noble, yet his soot smeared face and lack of makeup argue this theory.

“Yes, little lady. Can I help you?” He sneers, as I finish analyzing him.

“Yes. You are Rumplestinskilt, right?”

“Rumplestiltskin,” he corrected. He leaned against the door frame.

“Oh, I apologize. I heard that I should come to you if I needed something.”

“Yes, but why should I help you? You've ruined my afternoon nap and you don't even know my name. Very disrespectful if you ask me.” He lifted off the door. “Actually, if you ask me, I should go back to my nap.” He began to close the door. I couldn't miss my chance. He probably wouldn't talk to me again. I stopped the door with my hand.

“I really need your help. Please Mr. Rumplestiltskin,” I pleaded. He studied my face.

“Fine! For $3 I will let you in.” I knew I needed every penny, but if he could really help me, it would be worth it. “Once I receive my money, we can discuss whether or not I can help you.” He opened the door a bit more and held out his hand. I dropped my bag on the ground and, bending my knees, rummaged around for a couple of spare dollars. I found three crumpled bills in the bottom of my bag, attempted to flatten them out as much as I could, and then handed them to him. He made a stuffy face but pocketed the change and opened the door to let me in.

“So child, what is it that you want.” Rumplestiltskin walked through the house leading me to a large room before stepping behind a table that was covered in alchemy material: beakers, textbooks, and other odds and ends covered the table to its edges, desperate to stay on. I looked at the table in disdain. After seeing my face, he said, “It's clearly not magic since you seem to have an aversion to the stuff.”

“No, sir, it’s not. That’s how my mother died. I’m here because my children are hungry, and I fear we will be kicked out of our house. My husband was attacked by an ogre six days ago, so we have lost his work on the farm. The farm animals are dying, the crops are not prosperous. I don’t know what to do.” I lowered my head and wiped the tears from my eyes hoping he wouldn’t notice. “Please sir, you're my last hope. I’m out of options!”

“Okay, okay, I will help you. But you know these things aren't cheap, and I am no philanthropist.”

”Yes Mr. Rumplestiltskin, I understand. I have heard of the price.” I put my hand on my stomach. While this may be the worst decision of my life it could also be the best. I must do this for the rest of my children.

“Ah, none of that. I’m not taking your child. I have no interest in raising a daughter at the moment. In reality, what--” I gaped at him as he spoke and interrupted.

“It's a girl? How could you possibly know that? The doctor said that I am only 4 weeks along.”

“Magic, remember child? As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted, I have no interest in your unborn child. What I want is that little black notebook of yours.” He gestured to my side where my purse lay heavy on my arm.

I reached for it. “This?” I questioned, “My poetry notebook? What could you possibly want that for?”

“My reasons do not concern you.” He plucked it out of my hand and waved his other wrist. “Thank you, the trade is done. Leave now. He opened the book as he sat sideways on a large rocking chair in the corner of the room. Flipping through the pages quickly, he began muttering.

“Excuse me that's private. And you didn't uphold your end of the deal!”

“Actually it's mine now, and yes, I did.” As he finished speaking, a carrier pigeon flew in through the window with a note attached to its leg. It landed on my shoulder, and I removed the note before it flew away. It was addressed to me.

Thank you for your generous deposit of $20,000 into our bank. This will help us very much. To show our gratification, we will raise your interest from 1% a year to 25% a year.

Rumplestiltskin spoke up from the chair “As you can see, I have upheld my side of the bargain. Now, please continue to see your way out of my house.” Still, in a daze from the news, I walked out. As I stepped back outside, I cradled my stomach. “My daughter, she will not have to grow up miserable! I will call you Mercy, what Rumplestiltskin gave to us.”

I step around to the back of the house and peer in the window. Curiosity as to what he could want my book for racked my head. Rumplestiltskin lifted himself from the chair, grinning, as his eyes scanned over a certain page in my book.

He shook his head and muttered to himself, “I cannot believe that she never knew. A descendant of Alazar, a powerful one too, and I now have her book of spells.” Book of spells? This man was off his rocker. There were no spells in there. I crept back to the front of the house, thinking about what he had called me, “a descendant of Alazar.” What is that? WHO is that? And he called me powerful? I don’t understand this crazy little man.

As I walked back to town, an idea struck me, and I took a sharp left towards the bank. I went to the ATM and withdrew $1,500 in cash. This would barely make a dent in my current money situation; however, it will be enough to get me started for the next couple of days, especially now that I have enough money to become educated and get a better job. I also might be able to get some information on this Alazar character, and I knew just who to ask.

~~~

The bell above me rang as I walked into the shop filled with crystal balls, gems, and tarot cards of all kinds. Purple curtains draped the walls. In the center of the room lay a low-standing table with pillows beside it to sit on. From a well-concealed door in the back, a slender old lady stepped out. With large hoop earrings, a flowing skirt, and a red headdress with a large ruby embedded in the middle, Lady Esmerelda was the definition of a gypsy. Not only was she the best psychic for miles around, but she was also our village’s knowledge holder. Unfortunately, this meant she liked to swindle people out of their money for information that was supposed to be free. But I needed information, so I was willing to be swindled today.

“Dear. I haven't seen you in such a while. How are you doing?”

“Hello Lady Esmerelda, I'm doing better, thank you. I came because I needed information on someone, and I was wondering if you had any.”

“I might be able to be persuaded to find information.” I handed her a twenty-dollar bill. “Alright, who is the person you wish to seek information about?”

“His name is Alazar.” She worriedly gasped and hurried to the windows, peering outside with paranoia I had never seen from her before.

“That is a dangerous name to be speaking of dear, so it's gonna take a lot more than just twenty dollars to get info out of me.” I sighed. Was it really worth it? Did I really need to know that much? I peeled $100 off the top of the stack in my purse and placed it in her outstretched hand. She raised her eyebrow at me but took the money and began speaking. “Alazar is said to be the most powerful wizard of all time, though no one knows if it's true because we don't know if he exists or not. Anyone who believes to have met him describes him differently. To make him even more ambiguous, he never had any wives or children. All of his power simply disappeared when he vanished a few hundred years ago. Supposedly.” She looked at me curiously. “Why do you need to know anyway?”

“I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I have reason to believe that I am a descendant of his.”

“Impossible!”

“You never know, Esmerelda. Is there anything we can do to maybe test it or something”

“Hmm, I don’t believe so. Well, we could try something. If you are a descendent of his then you should have his blood, and therefore, his magic would be running through your veins. Stick your hand out and imagine, deep from your core, an object appearing in your hand.” I closed my eyes and imagined a small apple, bright red and crispy, standing in the palm of my hand. Hearing a gasp I opened my eyes, to see that the apple I saw in my head was the same as the one in my hand!

“Oh my Lord! It's true,” she exclaimed. She collapsed into a chair directly behind her. I grinned. This just made my day even better. She spoke up again. “You know this is going to cost you even more, right?”

~~~

I stepped into my house with a sigh of relief, a feeling that I thought I wouldn’t have for a while. I suddenly heard the pitter of my youngest children’s steps before I was barraged with hugs around my waist.

“Mommmyy! You're home!” Aralyn and Kiara, my two youngest, squeezed me tight just as they did every day when I would arrive home. I returned it with equal fervor. “Oh, I love you guys.”

“Jadyn! Kaleb! Come here,” I called out to my other children. As they walked down the stairs I reached into my bag. “I have a surprise for you guys... I know things have been kinda tough since even before Dad died, but hopefully, this will help. This is for you to keep.” I handed each of them a wad of cash, watching the amazement on their faces.

“Mom where did you get this?” My oldest asked with a concerned look on his face.

“Wow! It looks so different from the coins.” Kiara whispered in amazement.

I opened my palm and conjured a cupcake. Their eyes grew as wide as saucers. “A lot of things are going to be different from now on.”

science fiction

About the author

Malawi S

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