A flower shop seemed like a fine resting place—full of exotic beds and delectable nectars. Of course, Mother had been telling Zefe, “You’re not so clever as you think. Take care so as not to outthink yourself!” But what’s a mother’s warning for, but to be ignored?
Still, waking up as his bed bloomed shocked poor Zefe. The gorgeous South American blossom was as fragrant as a dream, almost like the old world. But as Zefe stood up and stretched, the flower’s stem wobbled in its glass vase. He’d been growing in a hot house off the back of the flower shop last he knew. Now he was stuck on some human’s desk in the middle of a human house full of human smells.
Zefe peeked around a petal. The human was gone. Lucky that. Sprites were strictly forbidden from revealing themselves to the humans—everyone knew how badly that went. He leapt to the desk, looking for a way out before he got caught.
Curiosity, though, is a curious thing; and Zefe, clever as he knew himself to be, got distracted by the strange human-thing roaring on the desk beside him. It gave off heat like fire, but nothing seemed to burn. Its face glowed like the moon, but the sun was bright through the window. And it roared like the wind, spewing out dusty air from its backside like it’d eaten something quite disagreeable. Zefe tried to read the words written across its bright, blue face, but these were human letters and human words. Complete rubbish.
Zefe reached out and touched it, quickly pulling his hand away when a shock of electricity zapped him from head to toe, making his curly green hair stand on end. He knelt close, looking at the strange slots along the side of the human contraption. One had a vine coming out of it with a three-pronged lightning bolt that pointed in. He touched the hole, ready to jump back.
He felt the contraption pull at him, luring him in. He pulled away and crouched down by the hole. It was a way out, he thought, but then dismissed the idea. Whatever the strange box was it didn’t lead outdoors where every good sprite belonged.
Still, there was that curiosity nibbling at his ear. So, Zefe—whistling to himself as if he weren’t doing anything wrong—walked all the way around the strange box. He had to brush past some dusty cobwebs trapped behind the contraption, but he managed to take a good, long look all the way around before the heavy trod of human feet alerted him to danger.
His eyes darted all around the room for a place to flee. But the desk was a long drop from the floor and no place so close would be safe. He should have left when he had the chance. He knew that, now that it was too late.
In a moment of desperation, Zefe put his hand against the hole and pushed in, feeling the contraption pull at him. Zefe’s magic and the strange human magic combined in a rush of ones and zeroes. Then, he was gone—safe from discovery.
Instead of the roar of the wind, he heard the crashing surf, as if a huge ocean lapped against his toes. He stepped into that ocean and a wave of information pulled him under. Zefe swam as best he could without arms and legs to push and pull. It took him a moment, clever as he knew himself to be, to realize he didn’t have to swim to the top; he could just think himself there. And then, there he was, riding the wave of information out into the world.
He could dance in and out of dozens, hundreds, millions of human homes. After a bit of practice, Zefe found he could manipulate the strange human codes, changing what the humans wrote and making something new of it. Waves of information curdled like soured milk. He danced through the Internet, creating subtle little jokes for the human’s to find, just like the days of old.