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Connecting

This story was written as an exam practice task at school. We were given one or two hours (I don't remember which; probably two) to write a creative piece on a set topic. The topic was "Connecting", and I immediately thought of a daisy chain. After writing the story, I edited it slightly and entered the version you see here into a short story competition, where it was shortlisted in its category.

Story and characters © 2004

Utopia plucked another daisy from the flowerbed. She twirled it idly in her fingers, staring past the fine white petals, before pricking a hole in the stem and adding it to the chain in front of her.

The chain was approximately twenty-three metres and forty-eight centimetres long. Utopia was a very exact approximator. She had to be; it was a way to distract people from the reality of her name.

"Ach!" her father had said when she was born, because he'd heard it was a fine thing to say. He'd repeated it eighteen times for emphasis.
"Ach! This is my idea of utopia." So she'd been named Utopia. Utopia insisted that everyone call her by her full name. She didn't like 'Yewdy' (as in 'you bewdy') or 'Pia', and 'Topey' sounded dopey. Her middle name, Mildred, was hardly any better. Utopia was somewhat pedantic. When she was four, she had started at school. On the first day, she broke her teacher's nose and never went back.
"He called a tomato a vegetable," insisted the young Utopia.

On this day, Utopia was making a daisy chain. A perfect daisy chain. Each petal long, tapered, a bright white colour. Checking to ensure that the chain wasn't crushed, she stopped. There was one petal with a slight tinge of pink. Utopia was not amused. In fact, she was slightly surprised, if anything.

This was largely due to the fact that the daisy chain sprouted legs and ran away.

Utopia did not believe in magic. She was of the considered opinion that, all things being as they might, there was a scientific explanation for everything. That included plants - dead plants - spontaneously growing legs of their own volition and running away.

As it turned out, Utopia was wrong. Extremely wrong. In fact, as it turned out, she was as wrong as any person could possibly be, given that that person had never knowingly been wrong before even if they had possibly been wrong.

Utopia went to the garden shed and selected her older brother's biggest butterfly net from the racks of tools on the wall. Then she went outside and crouched down, preparing for an ambush.

She didn't have to wait long.

Something long and snakelike touched her on the back of the leg. Without turning around, she slammed the net over it. By the time Utopia looked over her shoulder, the legs had separated from the daisy chain.

There were only five pairs of legs. Four and a half, when you considered that one leg was wooden. The legs belonged to…

…very small people.

Actually, thought Utopia, make that 'vertically challenged'. Vertically challenged people with wings.

But that couldn't be right. Everyone knew that people did not have wings. Utopia revised her estimate to 'vertically challenged people attached to small hang-glider-type instruments'.

"Hello," said one of the people mildly. It was the one with a wooden leg. "We're the Daisy Chain Punks." At this, several guitars and drums appeared.
"You are rather small," commented Utopia. She picked up one of the people by the wings - sorry, by the hang-glider - and peered at him analytically. "You must be from some obscure mountain tribe."
"Yea," said the one with the wooden leg. He seemed to be the leader. "Werefaeries."
"You're fairies?" said Utopia. "You do realise that fairies don't exist, don't you?"
"Nay, not fairies," piped up a small fairy - that is, a vertically challenged vertically-challenged-person - holding a bass guitar. "Werefaeries! Faerie by night, punk by day. And get the spelling right."
Utopia scratched her head. "Faeries don't exist either. You must be imagining things. I would conjecture that your small stature and the belief that you are 'faeries' arises from a spate of inbreeding amongst your tribe."
"Nay, we're just werefaeries," said Wooden-leg. "Punkest werefaeries about. Our April here, she's our 'punky princess'."

Great, thought Utopia. I am talking to a group of people (who cannot possibly exist) about a girl who wants to be a punk in their tribe who curiously appears to correspond with a popular singer from Canada. (Utopia always made sure to correctly punctuate her thinking.) Out loud, she said, "What were you doing in my daisy chain, anyway?"
Wooden-leg looked sheepish.
" Well, we -" he started. A voice interjected from behind him.
" Yo, yo! Props, man!"
Wooden-leg turned, whacked the owner of the voice over the head with his leg, and continued to speak.
" We're the Daisy Chain Punks." There was a general beating of drums.
" Yes, you told me that before," commented Utopia. Wooden-leg stared Utopia in the eye, but Utopia could outstare anyone. He looked away.
" Well, as I was saying, we're the Daisy Chain Punks" - a few chords sounded from a guitar - "SHUT UP!! and the only way to cross to your world from ours is through a daisy chain.

Utopia stared at Wooden-leg again.
"I thought we'd decided that you were just persons of small stature from a remote mountain tribe," she said, with an accusing note in her voice.
No, you decided that. We are werefaeries," was the reply.
"Let us assume that you are who you claim to be, then," stated Utopia flatly. "Why do you need to come to our world?"
"Uh… a major-label contract?" stammered Wooden-leg, nervously.
"What? You made a crossing between worlds for the mere reason that you wished to obtain a recording contract with a major music label?" said Utopia, slowly and deliberately. Wooden-leg grinned, relieved to see she understood.
"Couldn't have put it better myself."
"You… are… crazy."

Wooden-leg shrugged. "We're Faerieland's best-known band. We're the Daisy Chain Punks!" This time there was a full-scale bass riff accompanied by a clash of cymbals. Utopia sighed.
"Let's hear you, then."

Utopia saw a large hole opening in front of her. For some reason, it was glowing with about ten thousand and forty-two different colours. Utopia wasn't sure that humans could differentiate between that many colours, but differentiated anyway. This resulted in a very odd differential equation. Utopia realised that the music was making her think mathematically and attempted to shake it off, but unfortunately her attempt didn't work.

The probable reason for this was that she made the attempt by jumping into the large hole.

Utopia sighed, and decided to let the music take her and run with her. She relaxed and fell into it…

Two hours later, Utopia woke up. She was approximately four point two six seven one kilometres from her last known position. Apparently the music had run a little too far. She elected to let the matter slip.

"OK, you're good," she said. "I'll act as your agent, wherever you're from. I still don't think you're fairies, though."
"That's werefaeries!" cut in Wooden-leg, brandishing his leg threateningly. Utopia ignored him.
"But I expect a fair share of the profits. Shall we say… ninety-eight percent?"
"Nay! We'll give you half of one."

And on they bargained, long into the night…

And into the next day…

And four months later, when Utopia's mother noticed that she hadn't been inside for meals for a while and went out to see where she was, they were still bargaining. That is, until Wooden-leg spotted the loaf of bread Utopia's mother was holding and grabbed it. Utopia's mother was surprised by the appearance of these vertically challenged people attached to small hang-glider-type instruments, but she imagined that they were a product of her daughter's imagination. Utopia's mother was under the impression that her nine-year-old had the power to create unimaginably complex living things using only her mind and imagination.

She wasn't far wrong.

She wasn't far wrong, until the Daisy Chain Punks burst onto the scene…