An idea that never turned into a full story, based around the idea of modern-day fairies leading people astray not in the forest but on the internet — essentially, fairies-as-hackers.
The faerie lights flickered in the cold and the darkness, flitting between green and orange, orange and green. Torches shone beams to and fro, creating pools of reality where the flickering showed its true origins.
Tom shivered as he stepped into the room, his torch at arm’s length before him.
“This noise,” he said. “Is someone humming? No. It can’t be.” His voice reduced to a whisper. “Dahlia. Is the air in here… alive?”
Dahlia followed him through the doorway, torch by her side, each of her shoes making a neat little click against the hard floor.
“Don’t be silly. This is a human place.”
She sniffed, a neat little sniff.
“No Tom, there’s nothing living in here. This place is lifeless and desolate, like all the places humans make for themselves.”
“Oh,” said Tom. His shoulders sagged, but he kept the torch at arm’s length.
They moved forwards along the avenue, towered over on each side by structures of metal and frosted glass behind which the faerie lights flickered without pause. Tom’s shuffling footsteps kicked up clouds of fine dust, each one eliciting a dainty cough from his companion.
The final tower on the right caught Dahlia’s attention, and she held up a scrawled map in front of her torch.
“This is the one.”
Tom followed her gaze, towards a sign right at the top.
“Routing rack one?”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you need to get to work.”
It didn’t take Tom long to find the lock, although it was a very strange one - a circle in metal with a slot joining it, but the circle was itself part filled by another piece of metal. He shrugged, took the piece of straw from his mouth and inserted it carefully into the mechanism, sliding it back and forth until he heard a click.
The door swung open, revealing a forest of grey and purple cables intertwined with the boxes that blinked incessantly. Dahlia smiled. Tom muttered under his breath, and went back to chewing his piece of straw.