Human Error

black and silver microphone on brown wooden table
Image from Unsplash, taken by Randy Fath

Steve tentatively opened his eyes and squinted into the lights. As he regained his senses he realised he was strapped to a chair and surrounded by recording equipment. “What?”

“You are half elfen.” A tall man, lean and unshaven, stood at the back of the neglected room. He had a small laptop perched on a barstool next to him. “You are going to tell me everything.”

Steve shook his head and winced. “You hit me over the head when I was getting into my car.”

“You can’t escape.” There was a psychotic flatness in the man’s voice. “I’ve taken all precautions.”

“Yes, my father was elfen.” Steve said. “But I wasn’t raised by him. I was raised by my mother.” The leather straps that loosely held his wrists were scored with arcane symbols and Steve could sense some serious magical power in there.

“But you know your father, and you know other elfen. I need you to tell me everything.” The tall man tapped some keys on his laptop. “I’m starting the recording. Now, tell me about your Queen.”

Steve checked around. He was surrounded by a circle of what looked like iron filings, intertwined with red thread. A second circle of salt surrounded the iron. He narrowed his eyes. The damp patches on the bare boards probably meant a sprinkling of holy water. “Queen Elizabeth II, of the United Kingdom and other places. I don’t know what you want me to say.”

“No, your real Queen, the Winter Queen.” The man insisted. “I have ways of making you uncomfortable.”

“You’ve tied me to a chair.” Steve tested the straps on his wrists. “That’s not comfort.”

“You see the runes on the straps.” The man leant forward. “It took a lot of research to find them.”

“Yeah, the magic is pretty robust.” Steve admitted. He tugged at them again.

“I know!” The man straightened. “Tell me your name.”

“It’s Steve Adderson.” Steve said. “You must know that.”

“No, your secret name, the one you hide.” The man stalked over and leant close. Steve could smell the coffee on his breath. “I can make things very unpleasant. What is your name?”

Steve looked directly into the eyes of the man and then headbutted him. As the man reeled back, Steve kicked his legs from under him and then tugged his hands free of the straps on his wrists. He kicked the circle of iron shavings aside and dragged the terrified man to his feet. “I’m half elfen. I’m also half human, you muppet.” He looked around. “Get this mess cleared up and then we will have a talk.” Steve glared at him. “And uncomfortable is the least of your worries.”

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