« The Sun, At Night, in the Sea | Main | Martin the Chosen One »

Princess Mermaid Tinkerbell

by Luc Reid

"This is my daughter, Chloe," said the Outland Minister from the land Beneath the North Pole. He was escorted by a cherubic, fire-haired girl of three or four with skin as white as snowflakes in cream. "And these are her friends," he said, indicating nobody, "Pinky, Kitty's Pinky, Goldilocks, and Chloe." He must have seen the confusion on my face as I took in the imaginary friends. "Chloe is a friend of my daughter's, even though my daughter's name is Chloe. My daughter is called Snow White Doctor."

"No!" the daughter said. "Princess Mermaid Tinkerbell."

"Aha, it sometimes changes," he said. He cracked a smile, in the same sense that a piece of concrete can crack in extreme cold.

"Please, have a seat," I said. I wanted to ask the man why he had brought his daughter and her imaginary friends to our informal discussions about possible military alliance against the Cloudholders, but it would not have been a productive or diplomatic question.

"There are no other seats?"

Belatedly, I understood. I called for four more chairs, but when he saw them, he frowned.

"Did you not notice that Princess Mermaid Tinkerbell's friends are three inches tall?" he said.

"Perhaps some small pillows," I suggested.

When Pinky, Goldilocks, and whosiwhatsis had (as well as I could calculate) settled onto their cushions, we began to talk. The use of ice vortices came up, which was a delicate subject, and then supply exchanges.

"I'm certain we can arrange for regular deliveries of apples," I said, though in fact I had no idea how many apples were left in the Strategic Fruit Reserve. It was a necessary posture, though: the people who live Beneath the North Pole are notoriously giddy about apples, and in fact, as soon as I mentioned this the Minister leaned forward alertly.

"Kitty's Pinky says he's lying," Chloe intoned. There was a silence. "And Goldilocks says their Fruit Reserve is almost all gone."

The Minister raised an eyebrow, and I bent my head in apology. We salvaged the negotiations, eventually making some decent progress.

After they left, I called over my Facilitator Spy. "Get me everything you can find on the little girl's friends," I said.

"But ... they're imaginary."

"I know, damn them," I replied. He'd have to do his best, but I began to weigh the possibilities of hiring an imaginary deputy.

Post a comment