What has gone before: Andrew Weazle, the owner of a failing coffee shop on the University of Alberta campus trades what he believes to be the final Friday night deposit in return for 'magic coffee beans' from a homeless man. After dumping the coffee made by the magic beans into a potted bonsai tree, a massive ash tree mysteriously grows overnight inside the shop. Following a series of dark adventures culminating in the near destruction of the shop, a group of leprechauns arrive, with the enigmatic request to travel the Tree to rescue the Easter Bunny. Andrew mistakenly assumes them to be his guides sent to help him travel the Tree. In a dream, Andrew discovers his error, but too late, as the leprechauns prepare to execute him by impromptu firing squad.
Originally published at Magik Beans in April of 2007.
It had occurred to Andrew for reasons he couldn't place his finger on, that he felt as though he were acting out scenes from the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Predator. The vegetation being mowed down; the scene where Jesse Ventura has just gotten his torso turned into Tony Roma's rib special. Andrew pressed against the tree, hoping the darkness would keep him hidden while Coll approached, swinging his flashlight back and forth in searching arcs; the scene where Arnold, covered in cool mud, evades the Predator's infrared detection. Only Andrew wasn't covered in mud; he was covered in moss, bits of bark and dirt, which merely formed a speckled pattern over the white shirt he wore to work. And the white shirt still made for a great reflective surface when the flashlight's beam finally struck it.
"Found you," Coll said in a singsong voice.
Andrew's head jerked up to look into the leprechaun's grinning face. Coll brought up his automatic and took aim...
There was a sound that onomatopoeia might render as 'twang' 'tung' or 'the sound of a taut bowstring being loosened' (the last following the school of literal sound effects) followed by a sound that could be approximated as someone sticking an ice pick into an overripe watermelon, which caused Coll to jerk back, making noises that might remind one of a broken coffee percolator, your asthmatic uncle gargling mouthwash at six in the morning while you're still sleeping, or of someone choking in their own blood, which was actually the case.
An arrow was protruding from both sides of Coll's neck, and blood was gushing from both wounds.
"He shot Coll!" one of the leprechauns shouted.
"Where'd he get a bow?" another screamed.
There was another bow twang followed by the rush of an arrow slicing the air. Andrew heard a grunt.
"Got me in the Kevlar," someone growled. Andrew found himself wondering how it was you could get child-sized Kevlar vests. He was beginning to realize that people thought of the strangest things while under pressure.
"Come with me if you want to live," a voice said at his ear.
While this has likely reminded all our readers of yet another Arnold Schwarzenegger film, the link didn't occur to Andrew because; a) the voice was female b) the female was hot and c) the current governor of California is neither female nor hot.
The eyes were a vibrant jade green, shining out from a face covered in camouflage face paint. Her golden hair was pulled back tight against her head, receding into a dark hood, the color of which was indistinguishable in the dim light. She was clutching a bow in one hand and drawing an arrow from a quiver slung across her back.
"Move your ass!" she hissed, grabbed his arm and yanked him to his feet, dashing deeper into the woods.
The leprechauns told me to stay out of the woods, he said to himself.
The leprechauns just tried to make you into a human colander, his ever witty self replied.
He could hardly see his mysterious guide as she lead him in and amongst the bushes and trees. The screams and shouts of the leprechauns faded away as they ran further on. Finally, with the din of their rage far behind, the beautiful woman stopped in the midst of a clearing. Andrew realized, looking around, that no path had lead them here.
"Um. Thanks for--saving my life," Andrew said. Add that to the list of phrases I never thought I'd hear myself say, especially to a woman carrying a serious longbow.
"Well, I assumed you were an enemy of MacCuhaill and his gang," the woman replied.
Celebrate good times, come on! Andrew's witty self chimed in.
Shut up already, Andrew told himself.
"A fairly recent development," Andrew said, "But yeah, I guess I am."
"That's what you get for traveling with redcoat leprechauns."
"Which are different from...?"
"Greencoat leprechauns. The red coats are a sign of outlaw faeries. All leprechauns in the world not living on the Green Isle are outlaws." She stated all this in a matter-of-fact way which made Andrew feel like he was back in elementary school.
Not that I'd mind getting the strap from her.
"Besides, you have the Tree to thank really," the woman said. "It told me how to find you."
"The Tree speaks to you?" Andrew said, incredulous.
"The Tree speaks to everyone with ears to hear," she replied. "I've been tracking you and the Redcoats since you entered the Tree."
"But you waited until tonight to do anything?"
"You weren't in harm's way until tonight," she said, and added with a wink, "never play an ace when a two will do."
"My name is Andrew, but I suppose the Tree told you that."
"That's not what the Tree calls you."
"What does the Tree call me?"
"I can't pronounce it using a voice. You'll have to ask the Tree."
She's barking mad, his self commented. Dead sexy, and barking mad.
This is why I can't speak to the Tree, Andrew retorted. I'm always talking to you.
Well exCUUUSE me.
"And your name is?"
"Silke," she said, "One of the Rotkäppchen."
"Rotkäppchen...that's German for Little Red Riding Hood, isn't it?"
"It means Red Hood, but yes, that's what it refers to."
"I don't see a red hood."
Silke made a flourish with her cloak; Andrew could see that, while the outside of it was black, the inner lining was a deep scarlet. "The founder of our order wore a more obviously red hood, but she felt in hindsight that it impeded our mission."
"Hunting big bad wolves," she said with a grin. "And rescuing lost boys."
And with that, she turned, and ran further into the deep dark woods, with Andrew doing his best to keep up with her.