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The Edge of the World

By DeAnna Knippling

His best friend Felix kidnapped him on dragonback to make him go to his abuser’s funeral, then tried to blackmail him into abducting changlings for them—the same thing that had happened to him.    Fairies suck.

Warning:  Strong language.

There’s not much difference between the real world and the land of fairies. Just take the number of assholes times ten. Bang! You’re in fairyland.

When I said “no,” Felix bound and gagged me, tied me onto the back of a prairie dragon, and flew me back to the Edge of the World anyway.

I watched the Edge coming up to meet me, the cottonwoods rustled louder than the dragon’s feathers in the heavy wind. The dragon landed right on the Edge, about a thousand feet above the prairie below.

About a thousand fairies had come to see Roberto burnt to ashes. Some were dressed in feathers and quills, as if it were a powwow; others wore Air Force uniforms or business suits with bare feet. The only ways to tell that they weren’t human were their ice-blue eyes, and they didn’t scream in terror at the dragon. Only mortals scream in terror. It’s a selfless act, a way of warning people to stay away or get their guns or whatever. Fairies are too self-involved for that.

I was still wearing my football jersey from practice. Felix cut the rope, and I rolled down the dragon’s side and the ground knocked the wind out of me. Felix jumped down and cut my ropes; I had to tear the gag off myself. I couldn’t believe they’d sent Felix. Then again, he’d been able to trick me long enough to cast the knockout spell on me when nobody else could have.

They’d laid Roberto’s body on a platform made of rough, green pine branches they’d dragged in from Hermit Mountain, rising above the last hills of the Edge. Rick Chamberlain held a bough burning with blue fire, which he tossed onto the base of the platform. Yeah, they’d just been waiting for my feet to touch the ground before they torched him, to make it official.

As soon as I could stand up, I ran over to the man who had abducted me, eighteen human years ago, and spit on his face. I screamed obscenities at him, and, “Why did you do it? Why couldn’t you leave me alone?” The man who had abducted me as a baby and held me prisoner in a razor-grass cage when I disobeyed him was dead, and the rest of them wanted me to take over his job.

Stealing kids.

The fire spread quick and hot, until the whole bier was black with smoke and sent sparks over the Edge. My last sight of Roberto was my spit running down his face, like a tear. And turning to steam.

Fucker.