The Conrad Consequences

by Richard Campbell

Conrad and the Christening

Immediately after the birth of the Royal couple's first child the Christening had to be arranged. It was something of a problem because although the good fairies attended and were generous with their gifts, there was always the chance that a bad one would slip past security and put a curse on the child out of sheer spite. So, after much secret (at least they hoped it was secret!) discussion, the youngest and newest fairy would arrive if a special Flag of Despair was flown from the battlements to signify that everything had gone horribly wrong, in the hopes that he would (according to ancient precedent) mitigate the damage.

"We must hope for the best but expect the worst. Now, I have arranged a course of study for you starting this afternoon," stated the principal good fairy.


"Yes, study."

"This afternoon?"

"Yes, this afternoon." The principal good fairy sighed. Conrad, the youngest and newest member of Fairyland was notorious for repeating things when puzzled. "You will start with History…"


"…the History of Bad Spells Cast at Christenings. The Hundred Year Sleep spell; the Falling in Love with The First Thing You See on Waking Spell; the Prick Your Finger on a Spinning Wheel Spell, and so on and so forth. Then there are the curses. The Ugliness Curse; The Stupidity Curse (actually there's no cure for that one, the only answer is to confine the sufferers in the mortal Houses of Parliament); the Prince Turned into a Frog Curse…" The list went on and on.

The youngest and newest fairy eventually escaped and wandered off to find someone to commiserate with him.

"What would I know about it?" he demanded. "Not so long ago (time passes differently in Fairyland) I was just a boy, and since then I've done nothing but fun things with you, and I want to carry on doing them. I don't want to study spells and stuff. I want to play with you."

His companion attempted to look serious but grinned entrancingly instead.


"Your face. Oh I do love you, Conrad."

The youngest and newest fairy smiled. "I love you too, Fairy Boy, that's why I don't want to go and study things. Well not curses and spells, I'd rather study you and wave my wand."

"Your wand's always waving. In fact it's waving now," his companion giggled.

"Of course it is. It waves whenever it sees you."

"I know that too." He giggled again. "Would you like to…?"

Conrad gulped and nodded, unable to speak. It was still new, and awesomely exciting.

They held hands as they flew away. Conrad was pretty good at flying now and didn't really need the support, they just loved holding hands. Once in the privacy of their dell his wand gave sterling service as always and his companion's returned the compliment. Happy and satisfied, they drifted off to sleep.

That afternoon he found himself alone with the CEO (Chief Education Officer). He had asked if his fairy boy could attend as well but the request had been denied.

"There is a lot of hard work involved and I don't want you distracted," the CEO told him, recalling irritably that he had been opposed to sending the fairy boy for Conrad in the first place. It had turned out precisely as he'd predicted. Not only were the two of them totally involved with (and in!) each other, but rumours about them had even spread to Bad Fairyland. It was going to be a disaster if they weren't careful. With so few royal children being born these days, and their parents turning up their noses at traditional Christenings, Good Fairyland was on the brink of a national crisis.

It was all the fault of language he mused despondently. The word 'fairy' had been hijacked and put to an extremely ignoble use by the mortals. He would never forget the sniggers when he had introduced the Fairy Queen at the last Christening to which they'd been invited—and it hadn't even been a royal baby! So low had the Kingdom sunk they were forced to accept invitations from virtually anybody just to survive. That particular Christening had been in an extremely dreary place called Man Jester, or was it Man Chesta? He shuddered at the memory. Talk about Dark Satanic Mills! The entire city consisted of them. One might just as well be in Bad Fairyland.

Sighing, he looked around his large, pleasant dell, wondering how long Good Fairyland would survive, and what sort of job he was qualified for if it didn't. No-one wanted a Chief Education Officer these days in the mortal world, especially if he was a fairy. Well some Boroughs did pay lip service to the idea, but not in the sense that he described himself.

And now it seemed as if everything depended on the youngest and newest member of fairyhood. Really, some traditions should be done away with—that of the youngest always making good, for one. Apart from stories and legends he couldn't think of a single instance when it had turned out that way. No! What was needed was age and experience, the ability to adapt when things, as they always did, changed or went awry. Something was always throwing a spanner in the works, as the mortals put it.

What was a spanner anyway? And what did it have to do with work? Almost certainly it was a curse of some sort. From what he'd overheard, most mortals hurled curses at every opportunity and quite a few of them didn't do any work either. It was all very confusing. But this wasn't buying the baby's boots, another strange mortal saying that didn't make sense. As far as he was aware babies didn't wear boots, though he had heard of bootees and booteeks, whatever they were. He did wish the mortals would sort out the way they spoke. It was very confusing for fairies and foreigners. For instance, at that same christening, he'd overheard a bunch of mortals discussing rip off Britain. Rip Britain off what? How? And most of all—why?

Sighing again, he turned to his student.

"Do you understand that you need to look for a Flag of Despair next week?"

"Flag of Despair?"

"Yes. Flag of Despair. Flying from the battlements of the castle."


I'm going to hurl a few curses myself in a minute, the CEO thought grimly. Why on fairyland did I ever take on this job? I could have been dancing and singing and having fun instead of…

"Have you learnt the Help in Case of Emergency spell?"

For once Conrad answered directly. "Yes. I've been practising it. But it doesn't seem to work very well."



"The spell?" For goodness sake. Was it catching?


"On what?"

"Well, you see there was this mole…"

"The spell is designed to be used on fairies and mortals. Not moles!"

"I wondered why it went funny."


"Yes, funny. The mole…" Conrad broke off with a giggle.

"What happened?"

"Well it went funny."

"Funny how?"

"Very! We both laughed a lot."

"Who laughed a lot?"

"Well me and TwinkieBeau. He thought it was very funny too."

"TwinkieBeau? I thought his name was Tinkerbeau."

"It's my pet name for him, though usually I just call him Twinkie. I heard some mortals talking one day—it's a kind of sweet thing I think." His voice was wistful, sometimes one got tired of nectar and longed for chocolate, "And I think he's very sweet."

The CEO looked scandalised. Nectar was Good Fairyland's most important commodity and, unlike most mortal products, Twinkies for instance, whatever type of sweet thing they were, completely non fattening.

"What happened?"

"Well after we laughed a lot we went and played with our…"

The CEO interrupted hastily. He had no wish to know what went on in the dell the two young fairies shared. He'd heard the rumours though—of how much (and how often!) it went on. That was the trouble with dells, due to overcrowding they were closer together than was really discreet. "I meant to the mole."

"Mole?" Judging by the glazed look in his eyes Conrad was thinking about something else.

"Yes, boy, the mole."

"Well, it went funny."

"You've already told me that. How funny?"


"I meant funny how?"

"Well first it got so small we could hardly see it, then when it got back to its proper size parts of it got much, bigger—so big it fell out of the dell. It was so funny when it went funny."

The CEO gritted his teeth. "How exactly did it go funny?"

"Well not all of it got back to the right size. Only most of it. Some of it got bigger. That's what made it so funny."

"Which some?"

"Oh no, there wasn't a witch there, only the mole. It was so funny because it tried to dig a hole and go into it, but it didn't fit."

"Why on fairyland not?"

Conrad giggled. "Because of the big somes. They wouldn't fit in the hole."

The CEO went over the spell in his mind. It was supposed to shrink a wrongdoer right down to nothing. Even trying it on a mole shouldn't have had the opposite effect.

"Repeat the words of the spell," he commanded.

Conrad obliged.

"Well that should have shrunk it." Then a thought struck him. "Did you do anything else?"

"Well at first I wasn't sure if it had worked, so I said it again. Backwards."

Well that would have reversed the effect, but the mole should have reverted to its original size. But if it had fallen out of the dell…He was sure that he was going to regret asking, but he needed to know. "Which part of the mole got bigger?"

Conrad choked. "More than one part, three of them did, and…and…" he could barely speak for laughter, "It, it…it was a boy mole, you see!"

The CEO didn't see at all and frowned. What three things did a mole have if it was male? When it struck him his wings shrank right down to embarrassed points, something which hadn't happened for years. Really, what were things coming too? But he had to ask in case he needed to do something about it.

"What happened then?"

By that time Conrad had laughed so much he had developed a severe bout of hiccups.

"He, was, was trying to get into the hole when, when, his girlfriend came up behind him and, and when she saw him, she squeaked and fainted. We had to sprinkle dew on her to wake her up. Then she took another look and went red, and, and—did you know moles could blush right through their fur?—and she squeaked again, but she seemed very happy and they managed to get into the hole and go away though we heard them squealing an awful lot as we went into our dell to play with our…"

The CEO interrupted hastily. If he heard any more his wings would disappear completely. "Well let that be a lesson to you," he said severely.

"A, a, l, l, lesson?" Conrad squeaked, the hiccups were really getting into their stride.

The CEO sighed and muttered:

Hiccups come and hiccups go
Why they do we do not know
But here they are midst winter snow
So hiccups leave, and don't be slow

Naturally, as Good Fairyland doesn't have winters and consequently never has snow, the hiccups remained where they were and even seemed to be putting out feelers in his direction. Hastily he tried a stronger incantation:

Hiccups are a real pest
a most unwelcome nasty guest
Though from North or East or West
That they go would be the best

Again the hiccups, which were of Southern origin, took no notice. Conrad who was giggling helplessly between his spasms, was beginning to wonder how effective any sort of course taught by the CEO was going to be.

"Oh, Spanner!" hurled the CEO, none of the usual curses seeming sufficient to deal with the situation:

Hiccups better shake with fear
The Spanner Curse right now you hear
Understand this loud and clear
Take your leave, and disappear!

Terrified by this new and awesome curse the hiccups abandoned Conrad and fled back to their homes in the South where they spent many a long evening (when they should have been on duty at the local pubs) brooding over their defeat by a mere GOOF (Grand Officer of Fairyland).

"Oh Spanner!" exclaimed Conrad, a week later. He had become fond of the curse although it never seemed to do much, apart from relieving his feelings.


"Isn't that a Flag of Despair over there?"

His fairy boy unravelled himself with some difficulty. They had been experimenting with an entwining spell, not that they really needed it but it was fun to become one essence as well as a tangle of arms, legs (and other things) while flying.

"I don't know, I've never seen one before. What's it supposed to look like?"

"The GOOF said it would be a face looking at me reproachfully."

"I suppose that could be a face," Tinkerbeau remarked, peering at it dubiously, "And it certainly looks reproachful."

"Oh Spanner again! Now I'll have to go, just when we were having fun."

"I'll come with you."

"I don't think you're allowed to. Aren't I supposed to do this on my own?"

"Well, what exactly are you going to do?"

"I don't know. It was so boring when the GOOF cloaked himself in his dignity and I could hardly see him that I stopped listening."

"Then I'm definitely coming with you."

Conrad laughed and took his hand. "I love you, Twinkie, especially when you look determined."

"The determined is to look after you. So whether I'm allowed or not, I'm coming."

They flew to the castle, landed on a windowsill and peered cautiously through the open window. Below them the ballroom of the Palace was a colourful scene. The guests were dressed in their finest clothes, the Royal Family were wearing their robes, crowns and tiaras, and the Good Fairies had put on their prettiest apparel. But it was clear that something had gone badly wrong as no-one was moving. All were gazing in a horrified manner at the Royal Crib in which lay a small monster.

"What is it?" Conrad whispered.

"I don't know, but it's meant to be a baby boy."

Obviously spells had been cast by a crowd of smirking Bad Fairies who had sneaked past Security disguised as members of the GAYPP (Go Away You Perfect Pests) Singers, come to pay musical homage to the new born prince.

The bad fairies were drifting away from the cot so their fiendish results could be seen more clearly. It was absolutely awful and at that moment something even more awful happened. With a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning the Queen of Bad Fairyland suddenly appeared in the room.

She was dressed, as always, in the height of fashion direct from Paris and also as usual, made the Royal family, Court and Guests (both mortal and fairy) look downright dowdy.

"Sorry I'm late," she said in her unpleasantly beautiful voice. "A little business in the Balkans delayed me. So, how far have we got?"

The Bad Fairies who had curtseyed deeply when she arrived—although modern in dress she had old fashioned views on the deference that should be paid to Queens, provided she was the Queen in question—smirked again and indicated the crib.

"Excellent," she exclaimed, moving closer to inspect the occupant. "Very good indeed. I like it. Well done. Was it a combined effort or did you do it separately?"

"We combined our powers, Your Majesty. We thought the spell would be stronger that way," they simpered.


They glanced at each other nervously. Had they made a mistake? She was notoriously short tempered.

"Well what is done is done, but you do realise that it will only take a single spell to reverse it? Never mind, I'll add a little something of my own."

The Bad Fairies smirked again and looked meaningfully at the assembled Mortals and Fairies. This was going to be good. She had obviously done something truly wicked in the Balkans, a region she had always disliked, and doing something horrid there always pleased and rejuvenated her.

"Let me see," she muttered, mentally paging through the Handbook of Evil Spells and how to Hurl Them, by M A Levolent, published by Virulent, Fatal and Deadly, price £25 (gold pieces only, no credit cards). "Ah, I have it!"

Assuming a dramatic pose she made small flashes of lightning crackle between her fingertips and around her ears:

Here's my gift and in a trice
Another spell to add some spice
Today because I'm feeling nice
I'll simply add—a touch of Vice!

Then with a cackle of horrid laughter, she disappeared with another clap of thunder and flash of lightning along with her retinue of Bad Fairies.

For a moment nobody moved then everyone brushed themselves down. Thunder and lighting always stirred up the dust on the rafters where the maids couldn't reach. Then they looked at the crib. There didn't seem to be any difference, the little monster was sleeping contentedly, but of course it was still just that, a monster.

But! As they all began to chatter and exclaim, it stirred, woke, sat up and gazed around the room with bleary eyes which finally focussed on the table where refreshments had been laid out.

"Gimme a drink," it mumbled in a hoarse voice. "I wanna drink! Pass me a bottle, wench, quick! I need a drink!"

The Royal Nurse who knew that infants, whether monstrous or otherwise, need comforting when they wake up, bent consolingly over the crib. She never told anyone what happened next but left the room rapidly and soon after, grimly resigned her position. A compassionate lady in waiting took her place until she too, after looking as if she would like to slap the monster's face, hurriedly left the room.

Meanwhile the monster continued to call for strong drink—threatening mayhem if its wishes weren't instantly met!—and even worse, demanding the presence in its crib of the prettiest females in the room, one by one or in groups it made no difference, and why had no one summoned the minstrels?

Horrified gasps almost drowned the CEO's voice. "Did someone raise the Flag of Despair?"

"Yes," stammered an ashen faced footman.

Most of the women, including his intended, were moving as if mesmerised in the direction of the cursing monster. Even some of the Good Fairies seemed to be in its thrall!

After looking wildly around the room, he raised his eyes and spotted Conrad and Tinkerbeau clutching each other on the window sill.

"Get down here at once, boy. This is a disaster."

Gulping, Conrad took his fairy boy's hand and they fluttered down to the disaster area and approached the Crib reluctantly. What was he supposed to do about it?

The monster, distracted from his calls for Wine, Women and Song, leered at the quaking fairy boys. "Oh ho, what have we here?" it demanded. "A couple of fairy boys is it? Hmm, rather sweet. I'll have you two after I've had the women. In the meantime get me a cigar!"

The demand from those infant, though monstrous, lips was the final straw.

The mortal Queen fainted, the Fairy Queen blanched and staggered away and everyone else turned pale and wan. The CEO realised it was up to him to take control of the situation.

"Into the ante-room for a meeting," he ordered, shepherding the royal party and guests out. "You two stay here. And you," he pointed a shaking finger at Conrad, "Do what you have to do."

"Which is to get me a drink and a cigar," the monster bawled, ogling the departing females. "Then I want women and the band of minstrels."

Conrad looked at Tinkerbeau and shrugged. The first thing didn't seem unreasonable. Not that he'd drunk anything but water, milk and nectar, but those bottles did look rather interesting and he was thirsty. "What's a cigar?" he enquired.

"One of those long brown things in that box. Bring a candle too."

"Okay then. Twinkie, you do the brown thing and I'll do the drinks. You're probably thirsty as well."

He glanced at the various bottles. Some of the colours were rather pretty. He decided to put a little of each into the glasses to see what it looked like.

After all three of them had choked, gasped, coughed, wheezed and spluttered explosively, they decided on a refill. Nectar had never tasted like this! Nor had water or milk come to think of it, but once you got used to it, it was, interesting. However the long brown thing made them feel sick so they left that to the monster.

Half an hour later they were sitting on the floor with their arms around each other, singing untunefully in between laughing hysterically.

"Musht come'n vishit our dell Monshter," Tinkerbeau slurred, "We 'ave ever sho mush fun."

"Girlsh?" the monster slurred back.

"No girlsh," giggled Conrad, waving his glass about before taking another swig, "Only ush."

"No girlsh? How 'bouts womensh?"

"None of them eezer," Tinkerbeau replied solemnly, attempting to clink his glass against Conrad's and missing completely, "Don't need womensh or girlsh. Got Conrad."

The monster pondered this. "Sno good. Got to hav' femalesh."

"Why? Twinkie'sh 'nuff."

"Ah, 'member, fairy boys, boshe 'v you. Unnershtand now."

"Courshe we are."

"Alwaysh been. S'fun. This'sh fun. 'Nother drinkie?"

Conrad reached vaguely for the nearest bottle, which contained an attractive green liquid, and splashed it messily into their glasses. "Bottomsh up!" He had no idea what it meant but was sure he'd heard it somewhere. Perhaps it was a curse of some sort. He frowned, wasn't he supposed to do a curse or something? He couldn't remember and anyway it wasn't important. It was just that guy, the see you oh, or something, always spoiling his fun. He turned to Tinkerbeau and kissed him sloppily.

"Hey, not shupposed do that," the monster responded after some drunken thought.

"Am too. Like it."

The monster wagged a limp finger. "You'a boy, hesh'a boy. Both boysh," he stated, as if that settled the matter.

"Know that. You a boy too. All boysh."

"All boysh," the monster agreed, losing the thread of the argument.

"Gonna kish. All a time. Not you," Conrad added aggressively when the monster pursed his lips hopefully. "Not fairy boy, you monshter boy."

He kissed Tinkerbeau again, then looked at the monster who was beginning to sob. "Shorry monshter, why cryink?"

"Nobody kishes monshtersh, nobod' ever kishes monstershs, why don't you kish monshtersh? Gimme 'nother little drinkie, gimme lotsh 'v 'nother little drinkies."

Fifteen minutes later when the CEO re-entered the room, they were swearing eternal friendship while sobbing drunkenly on each other's shoulders.

He might have known, known right from the start! The myth of the successful youngest was just that. A myth.

Drunken fools, disgusting sight
Idiots in broad day
lightInebriation now take flight.
I cast you out with main and might

Of course nothing happened. He forgotten that the Dandelion clocks had been moved back so it was no longer daylight.

"Oh Spanner!"

Conrad staggered drunkenly to his feet. "Go 'way, not 'nvited to party. Not going kish you eezer. Go 'way…Floorsh moving," he added accusingly. "Shtop shpelling it. Twinkie, make floor shtop."

"Not moving here," Tinkerbeau muttered, "Keeping shtill. Come here."

"Going to get 'nother little drinkie. You want 'nother little drinkie Monshter?"

"Lotsh of little drinkiesh then lotsh uv kishes," burbled the monster. "No girlsh here. Gimme kish, fairy boysh."

The CEO knew that he had to do something. The situation was going from bad to worse. There was another spell he could try, but it wasn't very powerful. Maybe there was something in the forbidden section of the library, if he could find a way in. However, he decided it was worth a try before scouring the dusty shelves.

Inebriation had your turn
Nearby folk for you do yearn
Obey this spell so strict and stern
Leave these three and don't return

Fairies, of course, stick to non-alcoholic nectar and the mortals in the ante-room wanted to keep their wits about them in the face of the emergency so there was no-one in the vicinity yearning for inebriation. Consequently, the spell failed.

Muttering 'Spanner' under his breath the CEO left the room wondering if there was a Resigning from Office Spell. Being a Grand Officer Of Fairyland simply wasn't worth the bother. For two pins (whatever they were and if he had a couple of them) he would seek out the nearest dewdrop and wash his hands of the whole business. Although, he recalled bitterly, that was another of the mortal sayings that didn't seem to work, so the buck was almost certainly going to stop with him. He hoped it would be one of the smaller antelope and wouldn't stay too long. His dell, although large as befitted his status, was crowded enough as it was.

"Good," said Conrad, eying his departure owlishly, "He'sh gone. Now we can have lotsh more of little drinkiesh."

They had them.

They were no longer bothering about the pretty colours, and when they discovered that, for some odd reason, the liquids insisted on going onto the floor instead of into their glasses, each simply grabbed the nearest bottle and drank from it directly.

The monster kept asking where the 'girlsh' had got to and demanding that the fairy boys 'kish' him. Tinkerbeau and Conrad looked at each other then at the monster. Although he was their greatest friend and companion, and would remain so forever and ever, they didn't want to 'kish' him, they preferred to 'kish' each other.

Two minds with but a single drunken thought they leant closer but somehow the monster got between them. As their lips touched his cheeks, there was a flash of light and a loud peal of bells.

They looked at each other, moaned piteously, and gripped their aching heads.

"What happened?" Conrad asked, wondering why the room was going round and round while he was staying still.

"Don't know. Just want the room to stop twirling."

They held each other for mutual support then, as they always did when hugging each other, they kissed. Again, at the last minute, the monster pushed them apart and got between them.

This time the flash of light didn't hurt their eyes a bit and their headaches disappeared as the peal of bells died away.

"Um, Conrad, weren't you supposed to undo a spell?"


"You know, the one on the baby."


"Well, monster."

"Monster? What monster?…Oh, that monster."

They looked around. Surely, just a minute ago, there had been a monster in between them? A friendly one, rather too friendly perhaps as it kept wanting them to kiss it. Well, there was nothing to be seen, apart from a lot of empty bottles and of course, the baby's crib. It wouldn't have climbed in there would it?

They peered in.

No. All it contained was a sleeping baby. They glanced at each other, then rather dubiously at the infant. Babies were alright, but who needed one? Oh well, everything seemed fine. Obviously, it had been a false alarm and they'd been summoned for nothing. Taking each other's hands, they stared at the baby again. It had a reminiscent smile on it's face and as they watched, it hiccupped, then burped. Long and loudly! Giggling, there was a spell to cure hiccups (sometimes) but they'd had enough magic for one day, they flew out of the window and back to their dell.

Just as they arrived there was a scrabbling sound and a mole dug its way out of the earth in front of them, followed by another one. Two moles. Two very familiar moles.

Entranced, they listened to the excited squeaks, it almost sounded like speech. Oh well, moles will be moles, even if one of them was a somewhat exaggerated mole, here and there.

As if coming to a decision, the animals sat up on their haunches and beckoned. Conrad and Tinkerbeau looked at each other but the gesture was unmistakeable. Bending down, each felt a cold nose pressed against his cheek then a soft smacking sound as the moles kissed them!

Blushing right through their fur the little creatures kissed them once again, then kissed each other, winked at the fairy boys and shot back into their oddly shaped hole, the male taking extra care as he entered it.

Giggling, they hugged each other. They might try that adapted Help in Case of emergency Spell on each other one day. It seemed rather effective judging by the passionate squeaks, squeals and lecherous mole-ish laughter that floated up from the depths of the odd, figure of eight shaped hole, at their feet.

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