By Aleta Clegg, Dame de la Presse-Papiers
and Space Center Flight Director.
‘Twas late in the evening. Frost hung in the air. Leaves crackled underfoot as I paced through the camp, too restless to sleep. The magic of the clipboard wore on me, but our esteemed leader, Sir Williamson, looked so much more rested and refreshed. I paused near his tent.
“Ah, Mistress Aleta, come in. I have a new wonder to show you.” He beckoned me to his tent.
I approached warily. Only a few months past he had purchased the magic clipboard from a traveling peddler. I dreaded seeing what he had purchased this time.
Sir Williamson reverently unwrapped a bundle of green velvet to reveal a gleaming bottle of clouded blue glass. Its shape was odd–long neck and wide bulb at the base. Swirls of glass that looked like candle wax dribbled down the sides.
“What is that, pray tell?” I asked, doing my best to hide my fears.
“A magic bottle. The peddler spoke of a genie trapped within, a genie that will do my bidding. I but have to whisper the task into the bottle.” He held the bottle close, his lips moving silently. I strained my ears but could not tell what secret he whispered to the genie of the bottle. Sir Williamson smiled. “It shall be done by morning.”
We bid each other good evening. I stepped back out into the stillness of the night camp. I waited for magic to stir me to action. The clipboard was empty, no parchments rattled my pockets. I waited, knowing it was only a matter of time.
A figure stumbled from the troupe’s tent. He clutched a hammer in his hand. His eyes were wide. Moonlight illuminated his features. I grasped his tunic sleeve as he passed. “Master Parker? What evil has been wrought this night?”
He turned to me, his eyes terror-stricken. “Forsooth, I know not what evil spell hath possessed me, but I must repair the wagons or die!” He tugged his sleeve from my hold, lurching to the wagons.
I shook my head, pity filling my heart. Poor soul, to be so bound by magic. Parchment crackled in my pocket. We two shared a burden. Green light flashed from Sir Williamson’s tent.
For those who want to know: Jon Parker has taken over much of the maintenance at the space center. Mr. Williamson tells him what needs to be done, and Jon does his bidding. It is sort of like being a genie slave some days.