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How to Catch a ‘Noo-noo’

An image for the short story 'How to Catch a Noo-Noo'.


want a real fairy!” says Jess, stamping her foot. A small piece of Lego pings away.

Her father, Jonathan, is not at all keen on this tone of voice. It is what – as far as he is concerned – leads to a ‘stramash.’

“Claire, you deal with her,” he says. “I’m off to the club.”

“Great,” says Claire.

An hour later, and Jess is sneaking along behind the sofa. She has prepared a Little Miss Sparkle Barbie outfit stuffed on a dolly made of sticks, and to this she has attached a noose with a long, trailing string. The ‘decoy fairy’ is now looking disconsolate at the top of the family Christmas tree – one of those expensive ones, from Fortnums.

In a plump hand, Jess has the string end. She is ready to pull this really, really, really, fast. Fast like a silly kitty when you pull its tail and you laugh a lot! That’s how fast!

“Come on, noo-noo,” she mutters, gap-teeth whistling – the ‘terrible twos’ and the elusive tooth fairy have not been kind.

Five minutes of patient waiting later – which is about five hundred years as far as Jess is concerned – and nothing has stuck its head in the tempting noose, even though the dolly has a smile drawn on it in red crayon, and clearly wants to be friends.

“Dickilus, noo-noo. Dickilus!” She stomps off and returns to add a tiara. This requires an interesting trick, balancing on an antique steamer trunk, a box of toys, and the flatscreen TV. Dickilus! – how many sparkles does she have to add? Stupid noo-noo!

This is much harder than last year.

Finally, there is a flutter of wings; a rustle in amongst the chocolate, tree-decorations (followed by a disgraceful tinkle of foil slipping from branch to branch); and then a snarling fury at the very top of the tree.

Whatever is up there is clearly territorial, and isn’t about to allow some other ‘Jumped up be-atch troll queen spend another second at the top of her tree, thank you very much’.

When the fairy dust is really flying, there is a tempting tug on the string.

Too soon. Jess has made this mistake before and only ended up with a tiny nut-shoe and a smear of butterfly dust.

Another tug.


Tug, tug.

Now! Jess gives the string a vicious pull. Yoink! There is a puff of fake snow at the top of the tree and then the snarling begins.

The other end of the string clatters through the fairy lights, blunders around the lampshade, dislodges cobwebs, patters – yowling – along the tops of the curtains, but now Jess is reeling it in; her musical fishing rod playing ‘half a pound of tuppeny rice,’ plink by plonk.

Time to fire up the plastic stove and find Mr Bear.

Jess has the noo-noo sellotaped to a Cindy chair, next to the disappointingly crunchy remains of last year’s noo-noo. She is ecstatic.

“Noo-noo want coffee or tea? Noo-noo is Jessica’s best friend! Silly Noo-noo. Okay, mummy will pour.”

The ‘noo-noo’ says nothing – it’s too busy trying to gnaw its way out of a sarcophagus of sellotape. There is only terror in its eyes.


1 ganymeder { 12.17.10 at 8:07 pm }

Oh WOW, I didn’t see that coming! It seemed so cute when it started off, and in the end I’m feeling sorry for the feral fairy! It sort of vaguely reminds me of the scene in ‘Finding Nemo’ where you find out the niece kills all of her pet fish.

This was really good! Thank you for sharing.

2 Stephen Hewitt { 12.17.10 at 8:50 pm }

Hey there Catherine – I’m glad you liked it. When I only saw the top line of your comment, I thought for a second that I’d cause offence. But then I got the rest when I clicked through. And, of course, you’ve got flesh-eating gnomes over in your neck of the woods. So, phew – dark tales all round and thumbs up. Job’s a good un. 🙂

3 Deanna Schrayer { 12.18.10 at 1:40 am }

I didn’t see it coming either Stephen – great build up and I love the voice.

4 Stephen Hewitt { 12.18.10 at 11:40 am }

Thanks Deanna – it’s good to know that folks are getting a surprise by the ending, and that you like the voice. Both tricky to know if they are effective or not.

5 Steve Green { 12.18.10 at 11:08 am }

Oh this brought a smile to my face, a different take on the usual seasonal story, and I’m siding with the Noo Noo, I hope it doesn’t end up as crunchy remains like the last one.

6 Stephen Hewitt { 12.18.10 at 11:45 am }

Hi Steve – yeah, I think I have a peculiar sense of humour sometimes, but I kind of liked the rather horrible Jess and her fairy hunt. I’m not sure if the noo-noo made it or not, but I suspect Jess vs. the supernatural isn’t over yet.

7 Aidan Fritz { 12.19.10 at 5:29 am }

Awesome voice you’ve achieved for Jess (noo-noo’s & dickalus); it makes me think she’s ignored a lot at home… especially since Claire never makes a repeat appearance after the beginning.

8 Rachel Blackbirdsong { 12.20.10 at 6:53 am }

I hope the fairy gets away, but it seems like this little girl has a history of catching and killing fairies. Little brat. Well done Stephen.

9 Stephen Hewitt { 12.20.10 at 8:30 pm }

Hi there Rachel – I’m not sure it will get away. Jess is pretty devious; a brat indeed. However, it’s one of those stories where I figure I now owe the universe a nicer tale to balance things up. 😉

10 Joan { 12.20.10 at 7:00 pm }

Yes, kids are terrifying, aren’t they? Some of them. Determined girl. Should go far in life. She deserves to catch the noo-noo after five minutes of waiting and all that preparation! I’m sure she thinks so too.

11 Stephen Hewitt { 12.20.10 at 8:42 pm }

Hi there Joan – yes, I think kids can be pretty scary, mostly because innocence (and ignorance) can be a double-edged sword. But who knows what Jess will become later in life: that determination and familiarity with the faerie realm has to be useful for something.

12 justin davies { 12.22.10 at 6:34 pm }

“In a plump hand, Jess has the string end. She is ready to pull this really, really, really, fast. Fast like a silly kitty when you pull its tail and you laugh a lot! That’s how fast!”
I love this, you really have the kid’s voice and her demonic, desperate need to achieve!
Love it! Christmas: all things to all people.

13 Stephen Hewitt { 12.22.10 at 11:49 pm }

Hi there Justin – glad you liked that line. Jess is definitely an achiever; just… at the expense of the local ‘wildlife’. Good you enjoyed her ‘alternative Christmas’ and thanks for reading and commenting.