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    sa07 children  

child [chahyld]
1. a person between birth and full growth; a boy or girl
2. a son or daughter.



"Magic Flowers Everywhere!"

Little Susie Moonthistle was a magical Faerie princess!

But it wasn't always very fun to be a magical Faerie princess.

Susie had a crown made out of flowers, as yellow as sunlight. She could make plants grow by talking to them in the right way. Trees, flowers, even the grass could grow and be beautiful if she wanted it to.

Princess Susie loved flowers, and loved how pretty they were. When she was younger, she'd make flowers all the time. Flowers all over the yard, flowers in the house, flowers everywhere!

But she made too many flowers. Of course, Susie got in trouble for filling her house with flowers, which made it hard for people to walk from room to room! Being in trouble wasn't fun. But another problem was that Susie was getting bored of flowers.

She didn't understand why, but when she made flowers all the time, flowers stopped being fun. How strange! How could flowers ever not be fun? She was a magical Faerie princess, and could do lots of neat magic tricks. Why weren't they fun anymore?

Her mommy, who was the Queen of all the Faeries, said that magic was a lot like candy.

"Imagine if you could eat candy all day, every day," her mommy said. "Candy for breakfast, candy for lunch, candy for dinner."

"That sounds like fun!" Susie said, because it really did sound like fun.

But her mom shook her head, no! "It sounds like fun, but if you ate that much candy, it wouldn't be fun anymore. You'd feel really sick, with all that candy in your tummy. You'll get roly-poly and fat."

"Is that why you always make me eat those yucky green things at dinner?" Susie asked. "They're good for me, but I hate those. Why can't someone make candy that's also good for you?"

"Well, let's make believe," her mother said. "We'll pretend someone made a special candy that wouldn't make you sick or make you roly-poly. You could eat it all the time, and feel great! Candy would still be fun, right?"

"Eating candy all the time sure sounds fun. But you're going to say it wouldn't be, right?"

"That's right -- you're a clever girl. You see, when you eat candy all the time, it's no more fun than eating sandwiches all the time, or eating soup all the time. If you have too much of something, it loses its fun. Candy all day, every day, would get boring."

"And... candy's like magic."

Her mother smiled, and said, "Exactly! That's why you shouldn't do magic all the time. That's why I don't do magic all the time, for that matter. It's no fun if it's not special anymore! If you have a little candy now and then, or if you do a little magic now and then, it'll stay fun."

Princess Susie decided to stop using magic all the time, after that. She made a game of it, instead. Susie would make a single flower a day, and that was all! Just one flower. But wouldn't only one flower be boring?

No! It wasn't boring at all. Instead of waving her hands and getting a whole lot of flowers, she could make one very special flower each day. When she only grew one flower... she'd try to make it the very best flower she could. Each new flower was beautiful in its own way.

Every morning, Susie would wake up, brush her teeth, go to school, and daydream about what flower she'd make. She'd draw pictures of it, to plan what she'd grow, to make sure it was a wonderful flower. It was a lot of fun, looking forward to that one flower! Waiting for it and dreaming about it was actually just as fun as making it.

At the end of the day, she'd give her special flower to her mother, who would put it in a vase on the dining room table. And Susie could see it, every day, when she had dinner with her mommy and daddy. And now, she was a happy princess.

"Bring Your Daughter To Work Day!"

Little Susie Moonthistle was a magical Faerie princess!

But being a magical Faerie princess was sometimes very lonely.

Her mommy was a Queen, and her daddy wasn't a King but he was still very important. Both of them had jobs, which meant they couldn't always be home to play with her. Her royal palace was very big and empty, some days. It was lonely.

Oh, she had friends at school. And her family had maids and butlers, and she was friends with them all, too. She loved playing with her friends, and her family's helpers loved her. But some days, Susie just wanted her mommy and daddy. But they couldn't always be around.

Her mommy explain it to her, one day. She said, "Your daddy and I have a lot of things to do, to make this world a better place for you. We have responsibilities."

"What's responsibilities?" Susie asked.

Her mother said, "It means there are things we have to do, even if they aren't always fun. Every morning, you have to brush your teeth. Is it fun to brush your teeth?"

"Not really, no," Susie said.

"But you do it anyway, and do you know why?" her mom said.

"Because if I don't brush my teeth, they'll get yellow and get holes in them, like cheese! Stinky cheese."

"Right. You do what you need to do, even if it's not fun, because it makes a better Susie. Your father and I do things even if they aren't fun because it makes a better world. A better world is good for you, good for me, good for everybody in the world! That's what responsibility means."

"So..." Susie said, thinking about it, "You can't always be home, because you have to go places and be responsible. I don't like it, but I don't want the world to turn yellow and get holes in it, like stinky cheese."

"I don't think you have to worry about stinky yellow holes in the world, but yes, it's like that," her mom said, with a laugh.

So, Susie didn't feel as bad, when mommy and daddy couldn't be around. She brushed her teeth, and she ate the yucky green stuff at dinner, which was also a responsibility. But even knowing how important these things were, even if she was proud of her mommy and daddy for being good and responsible people... she still missed them.

One day, both mommy and daddy had to go away for awhile. And that was the worst time of all. When they finally got back, Susie hugged them and didn't want to let go.

The next morning, after she brushed her teeth and sat down for breakfast, daddy said something wonderful.

"If you're not too busy," he said, "I'd like to take you with me to work. You can see what daddy does out in the world, and we can spend some time together."

"I want to go with you every time you leave!" Susie announced.

But her mother said, "What happens when you eat too much candy?"

And Susie understood. Going with daddy was a special treat; you couldn't go with daddy every time, or it'd be boring.

She packed her suitcase with her best clothes (and as a Faerie princess, she had some really nice clothes!) as well as a pad of paper, so she could draw flowers and things. After all, mommy already told her the responsible things they do are sometimes really boring, even if they had to be done. Susie would want to draw when things got too boring.

The next day, it was time to go!

Being a magical Faerie princess, Susie didn't leave by car, or by plane, or by train. They used a magic mirror! She'd used the magic mirror a few times before, but only a few times. That made it a lot of fun!

This time, when daddy left for work, Susie was with him. It was very exciting, and Susie couldn't wait to see what adventures they'd go on together!

"The Really Old City!"

Little Susie Moonthistle was a magical Faerie princess!

But she was still a little girl, and sometimes, little girls didn't fit in very well.

At school, with lots of other little girls, she fit in great! True, they weren't magical Faerie princesses, but at least they were all as tall as Susie. They all liked to talk about the same things as Susie. They played the same games as Susie. So, Susie liked school, because it had her friends, who she got along well with.

But today, she was going to work with her daddy. They had left home by walking through a magic mirror -- it had to be a magic mirror, because if she walked into a normal mirror, she'd bump into it and hurt her nose! On the other side of the magic mirror was an old city.

Her daddy explained what his responsibility was today.

"We found this old city not long before you were born," he said. "A long time ago, it was a happy city. But then someone with bad magic chased everybody out of the city, so nobody could live there anymore. Your Aunt Jesse and Uncle Gilbert beat the bad magic man, and saved the city."

"Hooray!" Susie cheered.

"People are moving back into the city, but it's not totally safe yet. There may be more bad magic left behind," her father continued. "So, my job is to make sure all the bad magic goes away."

There was a difference between good magic and bad magic. Her parents had explained this to her when she was younger.

Magic was like a pair of scissors.

You could use scissors to cut paper, and make paper dolls. You could use scissors to open envelopes that had birthday cards in them. Those were good ways to use scissors, and if you were very careful with them -- if you were responsible -- you could do great things with scissors.

But scissors could also be dangerous. They could be used irresponsibly, too. You could accidentally cut too much paper, and mess up the paper dolls. Worse, you could poke yourself or someone else with the scissors, which would hurt!

If magic was like scissors, that meant you could use magic the good way, or use magic the bad way. Susie always tried to use magic the good way, growing her one flower a day. When she was younger she'd grow too many flowers and cause problems for people. That was bad magic.

The old city, the one her daddy took her to, once had a LOT of bad magic. The people who worked here were cleaning up all the bad magic, and her daddy was going to make sure they did a good job. He was responsible for their responsibility.

But the city was SOOOO BIG!

It was a lot bigger than the small city where Princess Susie lived. The buildings were very tall, and there were so many of them, more than she could count!

And the people! They were at 'camp', which was a strange word, because camping meant tents and campfires and marshmallows. This camp was at a hotel, a place where people could stay in little rooms with beds and bathtubs, when they were too far away from their own beds and bathtubs. The hotel had so many people in it -- all of them adults, all of them so much taller than Susie.

No kids anywhere! Susie didn't fit in here at all!

Princess Susie kept close to her daddy, as he walked through the noisy crowd. She didn't want to get lost in this sea of really tall adults, after all.

Sometimes, daddy would stop to talk to someone in a very nice suit. She recognized the clothes; it was called a 'business suit', because you did business in it. Business was a kind of responsibility which was VERY boring, but VERY important.

The business people said that everything was fine, that all the bad magic was gone. Families, just like Susie and her mommy and daddy, would be moving in soon. It was safe for them, now that the bad magic was gone.

Daddy wasn't so sure. He had to be responsible -- he had to make sure it was safe. That's why he was here, because he knew a lot about magic.

All day long, he'd talk to people, and they'd talk back, and it was all very serious and very boring. Susie would draw her flowers, sometimes drawing bunnies or ducks or other little girls, trying to have her own fun. But there's only so much fun you can have when everybody around you is boring!

Daddy must have known she was bored. He could tell, because she wasn't smiling very much.

That night, after dinner in their hotel room, he invited someone to see her.

His name was Mister Gaffer. He had a wide smile, and a pair of glasses that were as thick as Susie's thumb. He offered her a stuffed mouse toy, as a way of saying hello.

"Do you like cartoons, Susie?" he asked.

"You bet I do!" Susie said. She loved cartoons -- she had a few on her video player, which she got for her birthday last year. Seeing drawings that could move was really cool! But even being a magical Faerie princess, she didn't have that kind of magic, and couldn't make her own drawings move.

Mister Gaffer smiled more. "You're in luck, then! We found a secret place with lots and lots of cartoons in it. Really amazing old movies, ones nobody has ever seen before! You'll be the first little girl to watch them. They're very old, but I think they'll be just as funny as new cartoons."

"Cartoons are always funny," Susie said, as a matter of fact. "I like old cartoons as much as new ones."

"That's the spirit!" Mister Gaffer said, clapping in delight. "Okay! Tomorrow morning, we'll visit the vault."

But her daddy was worried. "It's safe, right?" he asked. "The A.T.F. already scanned for thaumatic signatures and contracted powers?"

(Those were a bunch of big adult words which meant "bad magic," Susie knew.)

"It's only a movie collection," Mister Gaffer said. "Old film reels and a projector, nothing more."

Susie went to bed that night quite happy. She didn't fit in very well, not in a city full of adults with no kids, but even here she could find fun things to do!

"Pictures That Can Move Without Moving"

Little Susie Moonthistle was a magical Faerie princess!

But there was more magic in the world than the Faerie kind of magic.

Cartoons were a kind of magic. She'd read a book about them, once -- Susie loved to read. She didn't always like the books they read at school, but she'd find books in the library about things she liked, and would read those a lot. Books about flowers, books about art, books about boys with swords who fought dragons.

(She'd looked and looked for a book about girls with swords who fought dragons, but didn't find one. If she was as good at writing as she was at drawing, maybe she'd write one, one day.)

Anyway, one her favorite books was all about the magic of cartoons. Most cartoons these days were made by computers, using a lot of math and science. But once upon a time, cartoons were made by drawing hundreds and hundreds of pictures, each a little different from each other.

One picture would have the rabbit's arm waving to the left, another would have it waving to the right. When you saw the two pictures, one after another, very fast... it looked like the drawing was waving to you! That was the magic of cartoons.

That's why Susie Moonthistle knew what "film" was, even if she'd never seen a film before. A film was hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of little pictures, shown really fast to make it look like they were moving. You had to show it really fast, really really fast, so nobody noticed it was a bunch of different pictures. All they'd see is one picture, which was moving, by magic!

Well, not really magic. It was science. But science could be magical, in a way.

Today, Susie was going to see real cartoons, on real film, like they did long long ago. Mr. Gaffer drove Susie and her daddy around the old city in a car, a noisy old car which didn't smell very good, until they arrived at someone's house.

"The house is unoccupied now," Mr. Gaffer said. (Susie knew that 'unoccupied' meant 'nobody lived there anymore'. It was an empty house.) "But the movies are in the basement. There's thousands of movies there, ones nobody has seen before! You're in for a treat today, Susie!"

It was a treat like candy, being able to see a cartoon nobody had seen before. One day everybody would see it, of course -- it'd be silly to only show the cartoons to Susie! But she would always be the first little girl to see them.

The basement was old and dusty, and filled with metal cans! Each one contained a movie, a series of pictures in a row, wound up inside the can like a spring. There were more movies here than Susie could count!

Mr. Gaffer had already set a few cans aside, each one with a new cartoon. Susie watched, as he took the metal wheel the movie was wound up on, and stuck it on what he called the "projector". The magical movie machine would "project," or show, the cartoon for them. Susie paid close attention -- she wanted to learn how to use the projector, so she could watch cartoons by herself, one day.

With a flick of a switch, the projector turned on -- and the cartoon appeared, bright and colorful, on the screen nearby! It was like shining a flashlight on a wall, but instead of a circle of light, it showed a cartoon. Amazing!

In the cartoon, a mean old man was hunting a rabbit. "I'll get you, you wascally wabbit!" he said, in his funny voice. But over and over, the clever rabbit would trick the hunter. He'd use funny costumes, or drop heavy things on the hunter's head, or just talk and talk until the hunter got confused. In the end, the rabbit escaped, and the mean old hunter went away!

"Again, again!" Susie said, bouncing up and down like a ball.

"But there are other cartoons here," Mr. Gaffer said.

"I know, but I want to watch that one again," Susie said. "Please, daddy? Can I watch that one again? I like drawing rabbits, and I want to learn how to draw that rabbit!"

"Okay, we can watch it again," her daddy agreed.

So, the film was put back onto the projector, the switch was flicked, and the cartoon started again.

The mean old man was back to hunting the rabbit. "I'll find you, you wascally wabbit!" he promised.

Susie, who paid very good attention to things, spoke up. "That's funny," she said.

"Cartoons are very funny, yes!" Mr. Gaffer agreed.

"No, I don't mean funny ha-ha, I mean funny strange," Susie said. "Last time, the hunter said 'I'll get you'. Now he said 'I'll find you.' Can cartoons change each time you watch them?"

Now... daddy was looking worried. Cartoons couldn't change each time you watch them, Susie realized.

"Let's watch it again, just to be sure," daddy said.

So, the film was put back onto the projector, the switch was flicked, and the cartoon started again.

The mean old man was back to hunting the rabbit. Again. "I'll catch you, you wascally wabbit!" he promised...

"That time, he said 'I'll catch you'," Susie said. "Not 'I'll find you' or 'I'll get you'. He's really saying different things."

And daddy stopped the cartoon.

He grabbed Susie's wrist, and hurried her back up the stairs, out of the empty house, and back to Mr. Gaffer's smelly old car. Soon, a bunch of adults showed up, adults in funny costumes like giant raincoats... and they said nobody could go in the house anymore. Susie couldn't watch any more cartoons!

"But I was enjoying them!" Susie said, unhappy about this.

"They're probably bad magic," her daddy explained. "Cartoons can't say new things. Remember, this old city used to have a lot of bad magic. The cartoons may be bad magic, too. We're going back to the hotel now. Sorry, Susie."

And her happy day was now a very unhappy day. Back to sitting around, being bored, while adults talked about adult things. Susie didn't even enjoy drawing her flower of the day. All she could think about was the cartoons... the hundreds of tin cans, each with cartoons, cartoons she couldn't watch now.

It wasn't fair at all, Susie thought. Not at all.

"The Magical Movie Man"

Little Susie Moonthistle was a magical Faerie princess!

But even magical Faerie princesses had early bedtimes.

It wasn't fair. She didn't want to go to bed, she wanted to watch cartoons. The cartoons were the only fun thing in this whole boring old city, and she couldn't watch them! All because daddy was worried they were bad magic. How could a cartoon be bad magic? Cartoons were funny, and happy, and didn't hurt anyone!

Susie decided to do something that might be a little bad. But she wanted to see the cartoons, and even thought she knew it was bad... she only pretended to go to sleep. Then, when daddy was asleep, she snuck out.

Leaving the hotel without permission was bad, too. Using the magic mirrors was bad, too -- she wasn't supposed to do that. But Susie wanted to see the cartoons, she wanted so badly to see the cartoons! It wouldn't hurt to sneak back to the empty house, and watch a few cartoons, would it...? So, Susie used the magic mirror, because she saw a mirror in the empty house, and the magic mirror could take you to any mirror anywhere. It was very magical, after all.

The empty house was very dark... and a little scary. But Susie decided being scared of the dark was silly, because she knew the house was empty. Nothing bad was here. Nothing to be afraid of at all.

She snuck down to the basement... and there was the projector, and all the cartoons. Hundreds of tin cans, hundreds of movies. Susie remembered how Mr. Gaffer used the projector, and by standing on a chair to reach it, she could load a cartoon. With a flick of the switch... finally, Susie was watching cartoons again!

And they were very funny cartoons, and there didn't seem to be any bad magic to them at all. The adults were probably just worrying again. They worried a lot, and Susie didn't worry a lot. She watched another cartoon, and another...

And then, little Susie opened the wrong tin can. She thought it was from the pile of cartoons, but it was dark in the basement, and she wasn't paying attention.

She took the movie from the can, put it on the projector, and flicked the switch.

A cartoon didn't play. Instead... she was looking at the very same room she was in! Someone had made a movie of this basement. It was very strange, seeing a movie of the room in front of her. It was like looking into a mirror. A magic mirror, but not the same magic mirror she used to get to the empty house.

But instead of seeing herself in the mirror, she saw a man.

He wore a business suit, like the boring adults, which meant he must be very responsible. He had a big smile, which meant he must be friendly. And he talked to her.

"Hello there," the man said.

"Hello?" Susie said... because she didn't think movies could talk to you like that. This was new!

"How are you today?" the man asked, with a funny little bow, to say hello to her. "You may call me Mister Happy. Or Mister Friendly. You can call me Mister Anything... but most people just call me The Mister."

"Hello, Mister Mister," Susie said.

"Ha ha! No, just the Mister, if you please," he said, with a little laugh. "You may be surprised to learn this, but you are watching a magic movie! The nice man who used to live in this empty house wanted a magic movie projector, so I gave him one. To say thank you, he made this movie, starring me! Isn't that wonderful?"

"Daddy said this was a bad magic movie," Susie said.

"How could a movie be bad? A movie is fun. Cartoons are fun. You like cartoons, right?" the Mister said.

"Yes, very much!"

"What if I told you that your cartoon friends could become your real friends?" the Mister asked. "Right now, we're all just movies. Magic movies, yes, but only movies. There's a special way to make us real, though... would you enjoy that?"

Susie thought of the cartoon rabbit, and how much fun it would be to play with him. They could trick the mean old hunter together! It would be really, really fun!

The Mister smiled at her. "All you have to do to make the movies real... is push the big red button on the movie projector. Do you see it? Push it. It'll make me real, instead of just a movie. To say thank you, I'll help you make all your cartoon friends real."

Princess Susie, with dreams of playing with all her cartoon friends in fields of flowers, pushed the red button.

"Royal Romp!"

Little Susie Moonthistle was a magical Faerie princess!

That meant she could do anything she wanted!

Princesses were royalty. That meant that they were in families that ruled over other people, and told them what to do. Her mommy was a Queen and she was the one who told the faeries what to do; her daddy was important too, and he was here to tell people what to do in the old city. Susie was a Princess, and Princesses could do anything. Especially magical Faerie princesses!

One by one, her cartoon friends came to life, just as the funny man named the Mister promised. Once he came to life, he helped her load the movies and select what cartoon friends she wanted to play with. (After all, Susie didn't want to play with the mean old hunter, just the wascally wabbit.) Soon, her friend the rabbit, and the duck, and a few singing squirrels were here in the real world, and ready to play!

The Mister smiled and clapped his hands. "Have fun, Susie! I'm happy I could help you make new friends, and I know you're going to love playing with them. You want to play, right?"

But Susie was getting sleepy. "I'm really tired, Mister," she said. "It's way past my bedtime. I think I'll go back to my hotel with my new friends and we can play in the morning..."

"Well, bedtimes are important, I suppose," the Mister said. "But you're a princess, right? And you have great magic! Who says you can't stay up past your bedtime? Princesses can do anything. Don't you want to have fun, instead of go snore and snore in some bed, far away from home?"

He was right. She wanted to have fun, even if she was tired. And she had magic! She could have all sorts of fun with magic!

There was a playground across the street from the old house. She left the Mister there, taking her cartoon friends with her to go play. It was dark, but she could light up the playground with magic.

In fact... the playground was yucky asphalt, black and hard, like a street. She didn't want to play on that. So, she changed it.

She grew grass and flowers, everywhere. They broke through the asphalt, in full bloom! So many plants and flowers! And why not make lots and lots of flowers? She was a magical princess who could do anything!

Her cartoon friends squealed in delight at the flowers, hopping around and dancing! Susie had made them happy. And now, they could play, and play for hours. She could always go sleep later. Today, she would have fun in this boring old city!

The rabbit taught Susie how to dance a funny little dance, from the city's old times. In return, Susie taught the rabbit how to do a circle dance, which was a Faerie dance from old times. The squirrels made up a song about how great Princess Susie was, and Susie joined in song, happy to have her new friends around her, in a field of flowers...

But then, suddenly... the ground shook.

It was so loud, and so rumbly, that Susie had trouble standing up! The squirrels fell over, tumbling around in the flowers. The rabbit was bouncing up and down, but he wasn't hopping. The ground was moving!

What could this be, Susie wondered? It sounded like a rain storm, like lightning and thunder. But it wasn't raining. The noise hurt her ears, just like thunder. And like thunder... it was scary. What was scaring her like this?

It was probably the giant monster.

Susie blinked her eyes once, twice. A giant monster? There wasn't a giant monster in this old city before. But now, there was one! It was bigger than three houses sitting on top of each other, which isn't something houses do! It was giant and green and looked like a big lizard... and it was knocking over buildings! That's why the ground was shaking, that's why she heard thunder!

The monster was very far away -- very big, but very far away. It wouldn't step on her; it was too busy knocking over buildings. Susie was a little scared, but at least the scary monster wasn't going to hurt her or her cartoon friends.

But where had the monster come from? It wasn't there before!

Suddenly, there were TWO monsters! A giant lizard, and a giant monkey!

And then... she knew where they came from.

There was a movie playing!

The Mister was standing nearby, using the movie projector. Instead of putting the movie on the wall, he was aiming it far away, so far, against the side of a building. Of course the monsters were huge -- the farther away the projector was, the bigger the picture would be! The Mister was making movie monsters, which are silly and look funny, into real monsters!

He was using bad magic!

Because, and Susie understood now... just because you COULD use magic, doesn't mean you SHOULD use magic.

"Destroy All Monsters!"

Little Susie Moonthistle was a magical Faerie princess!

And she was in big, big trouble.

Daddy said the movie projector was bad magic, which she thought was silly! But Susie knew that there was good magic, and bad magic. How you used magic made it good or bad. She used magic and made her cartoon friends... but the Mister was using magic to make giant monsters!

The Mister laughed and laughed, as the mean old monsters began breaking stuff and knocking over buildings. Susie could hear people running away from the monsters, so they wouldn't get hurt -- the old city didn't have many people in it yet, so they would be okay. But what a horrible thing, knocking over all those empty buildings!

A honking sound got Susie's attention. Was it a duck? Was it a goose? No -- it was Mr. Gaffer, in his smelly old car, honking his horn as he drove up to her playground.

When daddy got out of the car... Susie knew she was certainly in trouble. Her cartoon friends knew it too, looking sad and feeling just as awful as Susie did.

Susie ran up to her daddy, who picked her up, and hugged her. Susie was scared. She was in trouble, yes, but she was scared, and hugs from daddy made the scary things less scary. Daddy knew that, and hugged her back.

She apologized for being a bad girl. For staying up past her bedtime, for sneaking out of the hotel, for letting the Mister out of his movie, for growing all these flowers and destroying the playground. Even for summoning her cartoon friends, because even if her daddy may have let her do that, she really should have asked first!

Daddy wasn't angry at her. He was just happy she was safe, and the monsters hadn't stepped on her. No... he was angry at the Mister.

"Hello!" the Mister said, still carrying the movie projector. "My name is Mister Smith. Or Mister Jones, if you like. But you can call me the Mister."

Daddy did not say hello. "I know who you are," he said. "Susie, this is the man who sent everybody away from the old city with bad magic. He's the one your aunt and uncle scared away."

"That's me!" the Mister said. "I'm the bad man. Well, I'm a movie of the bad man, not as bad as that man. But still very bad! And now, I'm destroying the city! There's nothing you can do to stop me. Well. There is one thing..."

Susie hopped down from her daddy's arms. "Please, make it stop!" she begged. "I know I was a bad girl. Don't wreck the city just because of me!"

The Mister was still smiling. He was a bad man, but he was so happy being bad! That made him even worse!

"You can stop the monsters, Susie," he said. "All you have to do is destroy the tin cans with the monster movies in them. I put the movies back in the house after I made the monsters. Once the tin cans are gone, the monsters go away."

Susie was smiling, now! "That's so easy!" she said. "I know the names of those two movies; I watched those monster movies with my mommy. They're not that scary when they're just on a screen. I'll find the tin cans with the movie names on them, and--"

"No no no, it's not so easy!" the Mister warned. "You see... I switched all the tin cans around. You won't know what movie is in what can! And if you keep destroying them, one by one, it'll take a long time. But it won't take a long time for the old city to be wrecked! I win!"

If Susie got rid of the movies, one by one, until she found the monster movies... the bad Mister would win. She thought about it, thought really hard. This was her fault, letting the Mister out of his movie. That meant she had to fix the problem. That was responsibility. She could make up for being a bad girl, if she was responsible, and if she saved the day.

It was the responsibility of all magical Faerie princesses to help out when things were bad. Just like her mother helping the Faeries, just like her daddy helping this city. Now, Susie was going to help out. She was going to save the day.

"I'll destroy the entire old house, with all the movies in it," she decided. "If they all go boom, then the monsters go away. And so do you, you bad Mister man!"

"Ah, but your cartoon friends will go away, too!" the Mister said. "I changed the tin cans for their movies, too. If you want to make the monsters go away, you have to make them go away!"

And now, Mr. Gaffer, the nice old man, was very scared. "Please, you can't do this!" he said to Susie. "There are so many movies in there nobody has seen yet. If you destroy them, we'll never see the movies! They'll be gone forever!"

But Susie was a responsible magical Faerie princess. It was a shame that they'd lose the movies, but it was better than losing the city. She knew she'd have to say goodbye to her friends -- she looked at the rabbit, the duck, the squirrels. But they knew they had to say goodbye, too, and they were okay with that. They were responsible, because they were her friends, and she liked responsible friends.

"Rabbit, please give me something that goes boom," Susie asked.

The rabbit gave her a big, round cartoon bomb, with a sparkly fuse at the end. And Susie, using skills learned from going bowling with her daddy so many times, rolled it right on into the old house.


It was louder than when the monsters started stomping around. The house exploded, like a movie special effect! But even though nothing was left of the house but a hole in the ground, everybody was okay. After all, it was a cartoon bomb. Those never really hurt people, they just blow things up. Susie knew that.

The monsters went away. The city was quiet. The Mister was gone, too -- leaving behind only the magic movie projector.

Susie had saved the day. It wasn't easy, and she had to give up a lot, but it was the right thing to do.

She'd miss her cartoon friends, of course... but that was okay. Susie wasn't sad -- she was very happy. After all, she could draw them any time she wanted to see them again! Just like she could draw flowers when she wanted flowers. You didn't need Faerie magic to create things, Susie knew. You just needed your imagination. That was good magic.

In fact, she decided that very day that she was going to grow up to be an artist. (Even magical Faerie princesses had to do things when they grew up, you know!) She would make cartoons, and draw rabbits and ducks and squirrels, and she would replace the movies she had to blow up with her own movies.

Daddy wasn't happy that she snuck out of the hotel and caused trouble, but in the end, Susie made the bad things good again. Mommy and daddy were both proud of her for that. She learned an important lesson, the bad guy went away, and she'd decided what she wanted to be when she grew up. And they all lived happily ever after.


The End




Row after row of wooden crates, stacked in perfect harmony. They were all weird sizes, no two prismic aspect ratios the same, but they had specialists who focused on making sure it all fit together. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Truthfully, Archivist Sen didn't have to be here for this. It was a routine filing -- another bit of nasty offworld power that the FBI's Anachronism Task Force had tagged and bagged and boxed away. But this one hit a bit too close to home... it had nearly wrecked their efforts in Los Angeles, and set free one of the greatest evils this world had seen. Sen wouldn't rest easy until he knew it had been accounted for.

"Item #4581, one movie projector, circa 1972," Junior Archivist Rel read, from his data pad. "Matches existing era device specifications perfectly, save for one red button, marked PUSH. Makes projected films interactive; can pull characters from the film when activated. Hazard Class Beta. Receipt acknowledged, and archiving in progress."

A hoverclaw accepted the medium-sized wooden crate, rotating along its X and Z axis, before slotting the item neatly into the designated gap in the pile.

It fit like a jigsaw piece. Just another item of power, neatly tucked away amidst thousands of other items. Snug and secure under the Earth, safe as houses.

"I have a feeling this one got away from us," Sen said, mostly to himself.

Rel looked up from his inventory data. "Sir?"

"I read the ATF's classified reports this morning," the Great Archivist said. "Scout and Emily's little girl may have annihilated the movie vault, but... if I was the Mister... I'd have hidden my own personal film somewhere else. Just in case. Then run for it when everybody was distracted by the explosion."

Rel tapped his pad, calling up a file. "The Mister. Shift spectrum black, demonic power. Hazard Class Omega, potential instigator of a world ending event. ...I read the same report, sir. He did say that he was only a copy of himself. The original Mister is gone; a copy of him may not have the same capabilities."

"We can only hope," Sen said, adjusting his tie, which had felt uncomfortably like a noose today. "I'm going to have to track this one closely. The term of office is running out, and I'm going to lose access to the ATF... I can only hope that the best and brightest, like Ms. Morales, will follow me. We're going to need all the help we can get."

"Seriously, sir? The Gatherers have been at this for two hundred years. Why would we need outsiders?"

Sen frowned. "They're not outsiders, Rel. This is their world; we're the outsiders. If anything, they've got more of a stake in this than we do. We're just preparing for the day when the stars fall. They're the ones who are going to have to take what we've gathered and save their world with it."

He spent the remainder of the morning looking through scouting reports from around the globe. There hadn't been much traffic lately in and out of the Gatherer's archive... in the earliest years, supposedly they'd be hauling in fifteen items of power a week. True, most of it turned out to be junk, or had no practical / safe application... but even so, the stream had dried to a trickle. Not much unique and powerful left in the world. Nothing to squirrel away for the winter.

Sen hated to think that meant the winter was coming soon. The world wasn't ready. Emily's efforts to pull the disparate peoples of the planet together, to get them at least talking to each other much less working together, were only in their earliest stages. Too soon, far too soon...

But whenever it happened, they would be ready.

Meanwhile, he had other business to attend to. He stepped onto his secured personal teleportation pad, and reappeared exactly 90.42 miles away, in his office.

Right on cue, as he'd selected her for her obsessive adherence to a declared schedule, his personal assistant entered.

"Mr. President, I have several documents for you to sign," the intern said, setting folders down on his desk. "Plus, I'm sorry to say, the health care reform bill was rejected in the Senate this morning. No doubt you were aware, but..."

"Thank you, regardless," President William Petersen said, accepting the files. "Perhaps it's just too soon to bring them to consensus. But hopefully, we'll reach that day in time."


copyright 2010 stefan gagne

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