by Chris Willmore

Disclaimer: The story herein belongs solely to Chris Willmore, copyright 1999. Spangle, Fuzz and Princess are the names of Ty Beanie Babies, but seeing as the toys themselves belong to Chris' cousin, I'm sure that the company wouldn't mind us using the names, as it means that he actually bought the toys. Neither Willmore nor I intend to make any money off of this story.

"Here. Have a tomato." The three bears were BORED. They'd tried everything they could to float out of the doldrums. They'd tried playing games, they'd tried listening music, they'd even tried mowing the lawn! But nothing worked. They were tired, they felt lazy, and so they were reduced to sitting in a circle and playing the vegetable game.

"Um... Okay. Have an... an... okra!" The vegetable game, you see, didn't have any vegetables in it at all. What happened in it was that the first player would say he was passing a certain vegetable to the second player, and the second player had to pass a vegetable whose name started with a letter in the name of the first one to the next player, and so on. When a player couldn't come up with a suitable vegetable, he was out.

They'd been at it for four hours.

It had worked, in the beginning. It was often challenge to find the right vegetable, since the bears couldn't spell too well. Every now and then there would be an argument as to whether something really counted, and then Fuzzy bear (the strongest one) would have to pull himself up the stairs, into the attic, and shove down the appropriate volume of the encyclopaedia (if there was doubt as to whether the thing named really was a vegetable) or the dictionary (if they were discussing whether it was spelled correctly). Since the attic wasn't visited much, and the books seldom read, there would always be a crash, and a thump, and a big cloud of dust rising up from the floor where the volume fell. After that, Fuzzy bear would sneeze. He's allergic to dust, you see.

They'd gone through radishes, artichokes, cauliflower, carrots, rutabagas, broccoli, olives and a hundred other green and luscious edibles, and by now, the game was wearing thin.

"I don't wanna play any more!" said Princess Bear.

"I don't either," said Spangles, "but what else can we do? You and I are too tired to jump roap or play hopscotch, and even strong Fuzz is wearing himself out from going up and down the stairs."

"We could have a picnic!" suggested Princess.

"We don't have any food. Or a picnic basket. And it's cold outside. Besides, where would we find ants? You can't have a picnic without ants!"

Fuzz nodded. He'd never learned to speak, you see. The other two bears suspected this was because of a badly-stitched mouth, but his fur was so thick and so tangled that it was impossible to tell just by looking - only his fur-dresser knew, for sure.

"Well..." Princess rubbed her cheek in thought. "We could always have PRETEND ants!"

"Pretend's no fun! You need the real thing to crawl over you and sting you!"

"You like being stung, Spangles?"

"Well... no. Not really, now that you mention it."

"So why not use pretend ants that don't sting, instead?"

"They just don't... don't... um."

The truth was that Spangles's head was just as tired as his body, and the mental exercise from creating a platoon of trained pretend ants would have been just as impossible for him as the physical exercise of going out into the cold and having a real picnic.

The conversation died down.

There was silence for a while.

Fuzz scratched his ear. Princess picked at her toes. Spangle tried to pick his nose, but Princess grabbed his hand and slapped his wrist.

"Don't do that," she said. "It's not nice. Besides, teddy bears don't have any snot, so it's not even a USEFUL bad habit."

"Eeeeeeeeeeeew!" said Spangles, "Who wants to get SNOT? I was trying to get money so we could take a cab to the mall!"

"You get money from your NOSE?" Fuzz looked as confused as Princess sounded.

"Oh, yeah!" said Spangles. "Every time Jimmy puts his finger in his nose, his father tells him to stop gold-mining!" Jimmy was the boy next door. Every time the teddy bears saw him, he either had his finger in his nose or his hand deep inside his pocket.

"That must be a human thing," said Princess, after a little thought. "I know there's no gold inside US. Remember when Tootles fell into the garbage disposal?"

"Yeah. That was gross."

"All there was inside him was a bit of cotton and a lot of plastic beads..."

Mentioning Tootles killed the conversation.

There was some more silence.

"Wanna get out the Ouija board?" asked Spangles.

"Not the Ouija board!" said Princess. "Last time we used that, Tootles asked us to give his plastic pellets a proper burial. It took HOURS of washing to get all that dirt off of my fur!"

"Well, then... then..."

The bears went back to being bored.

Spangles played charades with his imaginary friend. First he pretended to be a pin-cushion. He went to Princess's sewing basket and helped himself to a dozen needles, which he stuck all over hid body. He even curled up into a ball to make the charade more convincing, but to no avail. His imaginary friend guessed that he was a voodoo doll, and didn't get the correct word until the third try.

Fuzz borrowed a brush from a long-haired doll and tried to untangle his hair. It was a losing battle. The tangles had been there for years, and would remain for decades more. There were colonies of small insects that made their homes in the spaces in between Fuzz's locks, and whole generations of lice and dust mites had grown to think of his arms as the lushest, warmest, coziest yellow forest in the world. All the poor bear got for his pulling and tugging was a sore arm and a comb irretrievably enmeshed with his head-fur.

Princess, meanwhile, had picked up a book and started to read. The book was titled 'Fairies, Ghosts, Hobgoblins and other denizens of the Netherworld'. It was an old tattered book, filled with yellowed pages and scary pictures drawn in black ink. With each leaf she turned, Princess's eyes grew wider and wider and wider until - PLOP! - the popped right out of their sockets and fell with a clatter to the ground.

The purple teddy bear picked up the eyes and popped them back into her face. She didn't quite put them in the right place, though, and to this day she's a bit slant-eyed. But don't say that in front of her, or she'll sock you one.

"Hey, guys!" she called. Spangles and Fuzz stopped what they were doing. "I know what we can do! Let's call a fairy!"

"A fairy?"

"Yes! They're always lively, and kind, and beautiful, and if we call one then it can play with us!"

"What if it doesn't WANT to play with us? We'll still be bored!"

"Well... Fairies have butterfly wings, and we have a butterfly collection. If it doesn't want to play with us, we can put it in a jar filled with cotton soaked in alcohol, and continue as we always do."

"Yes! We wait until it stops twitching, then take it out..."

"Put it on a board..."

"And stick a pin through its middle and the tip of its wing, then put a gummy label at the bottom with its name in English and Latin!"

"Um..." said Princess, "I'm not sure I know the Latin for 'Fairy'..."

"We can have Fuzz bring down the dictionary. Isn't that so, Fuzz?"

The furry yellow bear nodded enthusiastically, knocking the stuck comb against his eye.

"Okay, then!" said Princess. "It's settled!" She was very happy. Truth be told, she'd been wanting to try her hand at the Black Arts for quite some time now, but hadn't quite found the proper excuse or opportunity.

"Okay," she said, "the first thing we need to do is draw a pentagram."

"What's a Pentagram?" asked Spangles.

"It's kind of like a star, only you've got to draw all sorts of strange suiggles around it."

"Oh, that's EASY!" said Spangles. "I learned how to do that when Tommy took me to school for show-and-tell!" Spangles was the only bear of the group that had ever gone to school, even though it was only for a day, and he thought that made him smarter than the rest. And maybe it did, at that. Whatever the case, he HAD been there when Tommy's teacher had taught the class how to draw a proper star, and that was all that mattered right now.

You might well ask how it is that the two other bears knew how to read, if they didn't know how to draw a proper star. That's because long ago, teddy bears traded the knowledge of how to yell for the knowledge of how to read. And that's why human babies are born knowing how to yell, and teddy bears are born knowing how to read.

"So Spangles can draw the star," said Princess. "Do you have any chalk?"

Spangles dug through the toy box and pulled out a piece of white chalk.

"Good." Princess bear nodded her approval and showed a certain page of the book to Spangles. There was a pentagram drawn on it, complete with squiggly things around the sides. "Draw a figure just like this one on the ground. And YOU, Fuzz... Do you still have those birthday candles from last year's party?" Fuzz nodded. "When Spangles is done with his drawing, put one at each tip of the star."

"How?" asked Spangles. "They won't stand up by themselves!"

"Well... Light one, and use it to melt a bit of wax at the bottom of the others, so you can stand them up!"

"How do we light them? You know we're too young to be allowed to play with matches."

This was a difficulty, indeed. Princess thought and thought and thought. She thought so hard that her head grew to twice its size and fell right to the floor. But at last, an idea came to her and as she spoke it her head shrunk back to normal.

"The sun is shining, and we have a magnifying glass. Fuzz, you can put the magnifying glass between the candle and the sun, and dear Apollo will do our work for us!"

"Huh?" asked Spangles, looking up from the drawing he was doing. He didn't know who Apollo was.

"Plebeian Philistine," said Princess. She didn't say it very nicely, either. Spangles was still confused, but since he didn't think it was too important, he only shrugged his shoulders and went back to work on the Pentagram.

Fuzz may be mute, but he's smart. He got the hint and went to his private pile of stuff, picking out the birthday candles and the magnifying glass. Once Spangles finished his drawing (which, by the way, was very well done), Fuzz did exactly as he'd been told, and in just a few minutes there was as proper a candle-lit Pentagram in the teddy bear room as ever was made by black or white witch in Salem, Mass.

Princess Bear cackled with glee, and even hopped a bit and clicked her heels. Which is hard to do, since teddy bear heels are soft. That shows you how excited she was - even her ankles were hardening!

"Yes!" she shouted, and whooped, and crowed, "Now all we need is the chant... and the DANCE!"

Spangles blinked.

"Dance?" he asked. "You never said anything about a dance." Spangles didn't like dancing. He'd had a bad experience early on with a cattle prod, a toy train and a Fred Astaire video.

"Someone needs to dance around the Pentagram in order to summon the fairy."

"Count me out," said Spangles. "I'm all worn out from drawing."

Princess looked at Fuzz. Fuzz looked at Princess.

Fuzz backed away, for he saw THAT look in Princess's now-slanted eyes.

If he could speak, he would have said, 'Oh, no you don't!', but he couldn't speak, and so in just a few minutes he was convinced, cajoled and forced to dance around the Pentagram.

"Why couldn't you do it?" asked Spangles. "You've always liked dancing."

"SOMEONE has to do the chanting," explained Princess. "And that person needs to know WHAT to say, HOW to say it and WHEN to say it. Besides," here she gave a crooked teddy-bear grin, "I like watching Fuzz dance. It's funny."

And so it was. The poor bear was so furry and so raggedy and so tangled up that instead of being graceful, as a ballerina would have been, he resembled a tumbleweed in Texas after one too many shots of tequila. He flapped his arms like a chicken and his legs moved like a the handle of a broken nutcracker in the hands of a hyperactive child. But a dance was a dance, and the Pentagram wasn't too picky.

"Now the last thing," said Princess after making sure that the candles were still lit, the Pentagram still drawn, and Fuzz still dancing, "is the chant. I'll choose the words to bring us a fairy to get rid of our boredom for once and for all!"

"Don't forget to make sure the fairy has pretty wings!" reminded Spangles. "For our butterfly collection - just in case she doesn't do what she's supposed to."

"Don't be silly, Spangles," said Princess. "They ALL have pretty wings."

And then she cleared her throat and began to chant. This is what she said:

Bored are we The teddies three,
Bored as monkeys
In a tree
O, good fairy,
Hear our plea!
Come and keep us

Make us active,
Make us leap!
Make us run
up mountains steep!
Make us play
And make us plot
Or our brains
Are sure to rot!
There was a POOF! and a BANG! and a puff of steam that blinded the three bears. Spangle rubbed at his eyes, Fuzz tripped over his own feet and Princess coughed and sneezed. When the steam cloud faded and the bears recovered, there was something there that hadn't been there before.

That something was small, trembling, and had bloodshot eyes. In one hand it held a mug filled with some dark liquid, and in the other a dirty spoon crusted with sticky sugary goo. Two tattered wings sprouted from its back, and it was hovering above the middle of the pentagram.

"Greetings!" it said in a voice surprisingly low for someone who was wearing a pink tutu. "I am the Caffeine Fairy!"

"I thought fairies were supposed to be pretty," said Spangles. "You have hairy legs."

"And a mustache," added Princess.

"Mustache? MUSTACHE?" The fairy was indignant. "You dare call this a MUSTACHE? Do you have any idea how LONG it took to grow my nose hairs to this size???"

Princess is a purple bear, but right now she was looking a bit green.

"Why would you WANT to?" asked Spangles. He couldn't make heads or tails of the creature that they'd brought here. It certainly wasn' anything like the OTHER fairies he'd read about, like the Tooth Fairy, or the Three-o'clock Fairy. "And what's 'caffeine', anyway?"

"Look, kiddo," said the fairy, taking a swig from its mug as it did so, "I'm sick and tired of hoity-toity people like you thinking they have a monopoly on taste, so I'll let you KNOW," and here it put a hand on its hip "that where I come from I'm SMASHINGLY beautiful. And as for what caffeine is... It's the food of the gods, kid. Food. of. the. gods." The fairy smiled a huge smile.

"Why are all your teeth yellow?" asked Princess bear.

"Comes with the job, lady. So, anyway," another swig from the mug, "you guys were havin'... motivational problems, yeah?"

Fuzz backed away from the fairy. Something about it made him uneasy.

"We're bored," said Princess.

"We're tired," said Spangles.

"Well, you've called the right minor minion of the pagan pantheon," said the fairy. "One sip of my magic brew, and all your worries will be gone..."

"Really?" asked Spangle.

"Kenya AA honour," said the fairy. It waved the crusty spoon and BEHOLD! A stained mug filled with brown steaming liquid appeared in front of each of the bears. "Ready?" said the fairy. The bears nodded. They weren't really ready, but they didn't want to seem slow in front of a supernatural entity. "One... Two... Three... CHUG!"

What happened then? Well... The caffeine fairy is a human fairy, and the drink he favours a human drink. When the teddy bears drank it, it didn't exactly work as the fairy had expected.

Poor Fuzz exploded. It took a week for Tommy to pick up all the plastic pellets from around his bedroom.

Spangles fared a little better, but not much. He shook and trembled and rattled and rolled and finally blasted up through the ceiling and into the clouds, leaving a hole for the repair of which Tommy had to pay twenty weeks' worth of allowances.

And Princess? After her first gulp, she began to bounce and bounce and bounce until the baby of the house, having watched once too many old cartoons, mistook her for a gummy bear and ate her up, purple fur, slant-eyes and all.

Now the three are over on the other side of the Ouija board with Tootles, where it's always boring and there's annoying harp muzak playing every hour of the day. Tommy hasn't bought a single teddy bear since, and the Caffeine Fairy is still complaining about how its mug of drink was ruined by the salt tears that fell into it when it cried at witnessing the fate of the bears.

The end.

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