This WEP entry is the Chapter 4 of my fanfiction novella Magic Senegalese. The story is set in Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe. Please check out the other WEP challenge participants here. To remind you what has gone before in my story, you could read:
Naomi woke up the next morning, still wondering. Last night, during dinner, she and Dina had come to an understanding. She would help the girl run the shop part-time, at least until Dina’s mother came back, in exchange for staying in their guest room, and they would share the costs of food and utilities. It seemed a reasonable arrangement, and the amazing tapestries decorating her room added to Naomi’s contentment.
“What do you want me to do today?” she asked Dina over breakfast. “Stay in the shop?”
“No. I need to lay out food for the next month. I’m out of most dry stuff—pasta, rice, sugar. We usually buy ten- or twenty-pound bags, but Mom took our car to Earth, and I only have my bike. I can’t load much on it. I haven’t bought anything but fresh local produce for the past two months. Could you drive to the supermarket in your car? I’ll give you a list.”
“Sure. Why such big bags? There are only two of you, right? Two of us now.”
“Because it all comes from Earth. A couple weeks from now, all the dry grocery would be gone from every store until the next Shutdown.”
“Oh,” Naomi said in surprise. “I guess you have a different life here.”
Dina smiled. “I guess. I’m going food shopping too: eggs, milk, veggies. Everybody shops right after Startup, so nobody will come for our yarn. I’ll keep the boutique closed today.”
“I meant to ask—what’s wrong with your mom? Could you tell me?” Naomi probed.
“She has a bad heart.” Dina sighed and looked away. “She’s having a heart transplant. That’s why it’s taking so long. I hoped for a letter this Shutdown, but none came. That’s why I was there, near the Rim.”
“You know the guy who attacked you last night?”
Dina shook her head, her big blue eyes shadowed. “I heard,” she said slowly, “that half-elf kids have been disappearing.”
“Are there many half-elf kids like you? What about the fathers?”
“The elves come here as tourists from the Easternlands. They look around, play with the exotic native women, and go back home. It’s too wild for them here, too barbaric. They’re not interested in half-breed children.” Dina sounded bitter but resigned. “There were a few half-breed children in my school, mostly younger than me, and it was the same story. No elven parent was ever interested. Not even the sekasha, who are supposed to be holy. Holy, my ass. There was that boy, Blue Sky. His father was a sekasha, but he lives with his older half-brother, a full human.”
Naomi mouthed an expletive. Her elven mother probably wasn’t interested either.
“Although that boy’s father is dead,” Dina mused aloud. “Maybe that’s why.”
“I thought elves are immortal.”
Dina shrugged. “They are, but they can be killed. His dad was killed by a saurus.”
“A saurus? It’s like a dinosaur. I saw one on TV, but it was in a zoo.”
“It was in the zoo here too. It’s a mean monster. It escaped and ate that poor elf.”
Naomi gulped. They had mean, man-eating dinosaurs on the loose here? Her father had never told her that. She needed a guide to the dangerous local fauna to stay away from monsters.
“Do they live inside the city?” she asked faintly.
“They’re not supposed to. Elven rangers patrol the surrounding woods and get rid of any carnivorous beasts and plants, but you have to be careful.”
Carnivorous plants, Naomi thought in dismay. She needed a guide to the local flora too.
Oblivious to her distress, Dina continued her recital. “Sometimes, a stray warg gets into the streets, or a strangle vine sets roots in someone’s backyard. They show how to deal with them on one of our TV programs, Pittsburgh Backyard and Garden. You should watch it: very educational. The other day, they showed a nest of steel spinners in an abandoned warehouse in Windgap. Flamethrower is the only thing that helps against those. I should get one. You should get a real gun too if you’re ever planning to be outside after dark.”
“I have Mace in my purse,” Naomi said weakly. “I forgot about it yesterday, when that dickhead assaulted you. My dad only gave it to me the day before.”
“Pepper spray?” Dina scrunched her nose doubtfully. “I don’t think it could be much help against a saurus. Oh, and don’t get too close to the river edge. Some jump fish could jump ten meters.”
“Fish…” Naomi trailed off. Fish too? Maybe she shouldn’t have come here at all. Maybe this place wasn’t a safe haven her father imagined. It sounded much more perilous, in a wacky sort of way, than Bob and his mundane knife.
Dina smiled. “Don’t worry. This is Elfhome, not Earth, but you’ll learn. Come outside. I want to show you my hover bike. Mom bought it for me as a birthday gift, when I turned twenty. The best gift in my life. I wish I could’ve ridden it to the Rim yesterday. Then no one could’ve touched me.”
“Why do you call it a ‘hover bike’?” Naomi inspected the weird motorcycle sitting in a shed behind the shop.
“It has a lift. It moves in 3D.”
“You mean it flies?” Naomi almost screeched.
“Not flies, exactly, but it could move above ground, yes. But only when we are on Elfhome. It uses a magic spell for its lift drive. That’s why I couldn’t ride it yesterday, on Shutdown. No magic on Earth.”
Cold prickles ran down Naomi’s spine. “Obviously, I’m not in Kansas anymore.”
“You said you lived in New York.” Dina led the bike out of the shed.
Naomi didn’t reply. If the girl didn’t get the reference, any Wizard-of-Oz explanation would sound as absurd to Dina as Dina’s talk of saurus and flying bikes sounded to Naomi. “I think I’m getting a culture shock,” she said instead.
Dina grinned evilly. “If you wish, I can teach you to ride a hover bike.”
“No, thank you,” Naomi snapped. “I’ll stick to my car.”