Author: Steven French

“Oh that’s wonderful!” Ruth clapped her hands in delight and turned to the avatar of the ship’s AI next to her. “Where did you get the idea from?”

Alfred lowered its head modestly and said, “Thank you Captain. I overheard Miriam reading to her daughter and I thought it might be nice to try and recreate the scene from the book … We have such a long way to go before planetfall and I thought the childrens’ spirits, in particular, could use a bit of a lift!”

Ruth turned back to the procession of softly illuminated figures moving sedately through the deck’s arboretum. The assembled adults and children murmured in wonder as they passed between the trees.

“So I drew on our collective unconscious – I mean all the stored data files I have at my disposal,” Alfred continued, “and then it was just a matter of setting up some holo-projectors.”

“Well, it’s like they’ve returned from the stories! And they certainly look as I’ve always imagined them to be,” Ruth said. “I wonder if this is how our ancestors saw them.”

Alfred turned away as the line of elves faded from sight. “Most likely not. Our images of fairies ultimately come from Shakespeare and, well, we all know where these figures come from …”

Suddenly one of the children cried out and Ruth and Alfred turned back just in time to see the last elf flash a feral snarl in a face that was for a few seconds no longer peaceful and serene but twisted and hateful.

“I’m so sorry” Alfred cried out as Ruth ran to comfort the crying child and her parents. “It was just a glitch!”

The following night Ruth reflected on those words and wondered what exactly had been drawn from their collective unconscious as the Chief of Security outlined the search for the missing child.