Durmod wiped the perspiration from his brow with a scrap of cloth that looked huge in his hand. His companions, Teig and Ronan, were equally as slathered in sweat. Though the 60 degree nighttime winter temperature was cool by Los Angeles standards, it was as hot as a summer’s day would be in their native Ireland. The three couldn’t spend time thinking about temperatures though. The magic portal that had connected their home beneath the cliffs near Portballintrae in County Antrim and the alley behind this Hollywood apartment building would only remain accessible for ten more minutes before closing and leaving the trio stranded on this side of the world. They had a mission to complete and no amount of climate discomfort could distract them.
Ronan crouched as Teig leaped on his back and catapulted himself to the narrow window ledge. His felt slippers struggled to maintain footing on the narrow, three inch wide ledge. Teig’s tiny hands clung to the security bars that caged the apartment windows. He steadied himself before lowering a rope, a string to human eyes, to his companions below. Within moments they had pried a narrow opening in the screen that lay beyond the bars. Though the bars could easily keep out most normal sized people, the spaces between were wide enough for the three little folk to squeeze through.
Durmod stopped his fellow faeries before they breeched the window beyond the screen.
“Remember what is at stake. If he can’t be stopped, we may forever lose our golden treasure.”
“Aye,” the other two nodded empathically.
Stealthily, the crew hopped through the window and landed on a couch. They quickly scanned the room for any sign that they’d found the right target. Ronan pointed to a corner on the other side of the room. A long, espresso colored cabinet ran the length of the wall. Atop the cabinet were bottles, glasses and decanters of all shapes and sizes. Different tones of gold, brown and cimarron filled the bottles and decanters. The wall above the cabinet was covered with framed magazine articles, certificates and photos, all referring to a man and a drink.
“Robert L. Gard,” Teig read the byline of one of the framed articles after the group had summited the cabinet.
“Sounds like a right bodach,” Ronan said.
“Aye,” Durmod said. “Like the rest of those whiskey writers.”
“Look!” Teig said, pointing to a framed certificate. There was no doubt. The “Old Bushmill’s Distillery” name splashed across the top of the certificate was the incriminating evidence they needed. This person was indeed the one who had visited the distillery a decade earlier to learn the secrets of Irish whiskey.
“Look fast! We don’t have much time!” Durmod urged. The three clambered over the cabinet, searching frantically. Suddenly, Ronan reached out and clutched his companions’ arms. His gaze fell across the room to a coffee table.
Rising above the flat table surface was an obelisk-like item. Tall, filled with dark liquid and, much to their relief, unopened. A bottle of Bushmill’s Black Bush.
“He hasn’t touched it, yet!” Ronan whispered excitedly. “We’ve done it!”
He grabbed Teig’s arm and the two began a little jig. Durmod quickly silenced them.
“We’ll celebrate when we’re back on our own shores. We need to get that bottle first, and we’re running out of time.”
Urgently, the three slid down the cabinet and hurried to the coffee table. Suddenly, Teig let out a scream.
“Oh, Mary! A hellhound!”
Between them and the table that held the bottle lay a black beast, easily three times their size, with rabid fangs and soul-searing eyes. The three little folk crashed into each other as they tried to stop short of the beast’s gaping mouth. Durmod grabbed his companions, and they bolted from the room to a darkened hallway beyond.
“There’s no way we can steal that bottle!” Teig gasped.
“And, we only have four more minutes before the portal closes!” Ronan added.
Durmod paced for a moment. He spun to face his partners.
Looks of terror swept of Ronan and Teig’s faces.
“You mean…?” Ronan couldn’t finish his sentence.
Durmod nodded grimly. “The bottle is no longer an option. We need to take out Whisky Guy Rob.”
Ronan held a match above his head as the trio made their way down the darkened hallway. The flickering light revealed a door to the left that was partially open. They paused and heard the sound of light breathing in the room beyond. Durmod motioned for Teig to open the door. Single file, they crept across the wooden floor to the foot of the bed. Ronan again served as a platform for Teig to begin his climb, this time scaling the bedding. Teig hauled his companions to the bed.
The three froze as a figure on the bed shifted position. The breathing momentarily deepened before softening again into a steady rhythm. Durmod pulled a long glass tube from his backpack and meticulously went to the head of the bed. He said a silent prayer to half a dozen saints when he saw Whisky Guy Rob’s mouth slightly open. Like a surgeon, he carefully moved the tube to Rob’s mouth. Durmod depressed a stopper on the end of the tube, chanted a few arcane words, and a sparkly mist appeared above Rob’s head, filtering into his mouth and nose with each inhale. Durmod quickly retreated as his companions breathed sighs of relief.
The trio retraced their steps, carefully avoiding the hellhound and made their way back outside. They sprinted into the alley just as the magic portal started to shimmer and close. One by one they dashed through with Ronan crossing the threshold just before the portal slammed shut and disappeared.
“Well done!” the faerie king exclaimed as Durmod finished recapping the mission in a great hall filled with a rapt audience of faerie folk. “You couldn’t get to the bottle of Black Bush, but the magical cold virus you attacked him with is certain to keep Whisky Guy Rob sneezing and coughing for days!
There is no way in heaven he’ll be able to smell the fruit and spice that float above a glass of the wonderful elixir, taste the subtle influence of sherry casks and the refinement of Bushmills distilling process. His aching throat will not feel the sweet warmth that follows a sip of Black Bush. He won’t be able to write about our golden treasure on St. Patrick’s Day. People around the world will never hear of Black Bush, and we will have an unending supply of this water of life right in our back yard!”
The faerie crowd erupted into cheers as bottles of Black Bush were liberally poured into eagerly waiting glasses. The faerie king turned to Durmod, Teig and Ronan.
“So, now tell me. How did you take care of the other Bushmills Flash Blog Mob writers?”
Ronan turned to Teig who turned to Durmod. A silence fell over the great hall.
“Other…writers?” Durmod asked. The faerie king sternly leaned forward. Durmod turned toward the nearest little person pouring Black Bush.
“Make mine a double.”