The old recorder buzzed to life, dust flying into the air as the tape spun. I, Nickolai Fernsby—Nick if that’s too much of a mouthful—sat before it, my devilish little smile—
“Are you going to do that the whole time?”
That was my boss, Percival James Mavericks. He was referring to my live narration. I like him, he has saved my colleagues and me more than once, but I draw the line at this. There are many odd things about him, but one thing is for sure: a guy who can’t stand me talking in the third person like I’m the detective in a film noir movie? It makes him completely and utterly unbearable.
“Haha, very funny, Nick. Listen, if you mess this up, it’s coming out of your paycheck. Every paycheck.” He laughed sincerely, crossing his arms.
I winked at him, though I was a little hurt. Like I would ever break a relic like this. If there was one thing old tech like this was good at, it was keeping itself together. Kind of like the man I had borrowed it from. He, too, was as old as time. Or that’s what most of us like to think. Not everyone has the luxury of knowing every secret that hides down here.
“And that’s just how it should be.” He said with a sinister smile. He was very good at that.
I winced. “Well, thank you for this.”
“And what exactly is this? I’m still a little foggy on the details.” Mavericks asked, looking around the broom closet I called my office, disgust clouding his handsome features.
If you have been following our stories for a while, you’ll know that this is the first time any of them have been published on the internet. The Utopian Courier wants to stay analog but to get readers, sometimes you have to make sacrifices. The people want behind-the-scenes access to The Courier. That means interviews, side stories, etc. Tales from The Courier, if you will. An audio drama depicting all of our day-to-day antics. And once I find a way to upload this, you, lovely listener, will be blessed with such wonderful content.
“Am I just supposed to pretend I don’t hear you?”
“Yes, sir,” I said, saluting him.
“Right. . .” He breathed, then pointed at the stool in front of me. “Well, if it’s interviews you want, we might as well start with me. What do you want to know?” Ah, there it was. That magical look in Mavericks’ eyes that told me my idea would spell success.
“Oh, uh, I need your name, job, and how Mavericks found you—er—sorry I only accounted for other employees. How about name, job—wait, they already know that—uh. . . How about you tell me why you started The Utopian Courier?” I was sweating bullets, riddled with anxiety. I knew that if I screwed this up, my little passion project would be over before it started.
“Well, that’s simple! I started The Courier to educate the world on the weird and wonderful! To help people like us! If we normalize magic, eventually we will be able to live freely among our human counterparts.” He spoke with the excitement of a small child. I’ve heard that most people see him in that same light. I never really saw it before now. He scowled again. “All right, Nick, your turn. I’ve found that people love to get to know the narrator. It builds a connection. Name, job, and how I found you.”
This took me by surprise. If I would’ve known I would get to speak I would have prepared—
“He may not be prepared but he does love talking about himself.” Mavericks said smugly.
“No, no, no. There is only room for one narrator today, thank you.” I snapped. “My name is Nickolai Fernsby; I’m a researcher here at The Courier. But that’s only part of my job. Mavericks found me because of my degree. I was a medical student, but I was focusing on psychology during my last couple of years of college. I wanted to help people. People like me. I wanted to be a therapist. In a way, I think I am still becoming one.”
“That’s true. I have plans for your gifts. In a job like this, people can often end up. . . confused. You have done well picking up on those who are higher risk.” Mavericks said with a curt nod.
“Like your new little team?” I asked.
He bobbed his head back and forth. “Potentially. Can I ask you another question for your little project?” I nodded. “Why did you agree to work with me?”
“Other than psychology, I had a love for all things strange. I was a very imaginative kid, always chasing after stories of witches and warlocks, and sorcerers. Then I discovered I was exactly like those stories I loved so much. More or less. I make tinctures and potions—your little pet says I call myself a Wiccan, but I’m not sure that term fits me.” I shrug, leaning back in my seat. “I like the term potion master supreme, but I don’t think that will catch on.”
Mavericks snickered to himself. A lot of people find him slightly unnerving. A little bit odd. Eccentric. Intimidating. But those who truly know him know his kindness, his protective nature. He wanted me here to make sure his team was healthy. And that’s why I follow him. He may be an immortal being, but I have never met someone so human.
“I’m blushing, Mr. Fernsby.” He smiled brightly with his typical air of sarcasm.
“I had a couple of different options available to me after college. It was a toss-up between taking on creative writing assignments about the history of witchcraft or assistant to a shrink in New York. After some thought, I realized there was no competition with The Courier.”
Mavericks nodded his agreement. “If you keep up with all this flattery, I might just come to like this. And I think you’re right. This is the side of The Courier people need right now. You have my permission to interview everyone. And yes, post it online too.”
“Thank you, sir. You won’t regret it.” I could have hugged him, but Mavericks has this thing about touching people. “Do you have any suggestions on who I should interview next?”
He thought for a minute, then laughed to himself. “Norman and Irene.” He looked around my broom closet, a peculiar look on his face. “And uh, clean up the place. You know how I feel about cobwebs.”
Until next time, dear listeners. I’m Nickolai Fernsby, from The Utopian Courier, and this is Tales from The Courier.
Tales From The Courier Will Return
Copyright Utopian Courier Press 2021