A Mecha's Midsummer Night's Vision

by Holly Maguire

Author's Note:

I love how "Nightmare Before Christmas" fanfic writer "Talia" rewrites classic operas with "NMBFC" characters, which inspired me to do something similar with "A.I.", but for the life of me, I couldn't come up with a single opera that would crossbreed well...But then I was re-reading Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and it dawned on me that this just might work. Read and review and see for yourself...

Disclaimer:

I don't own "A.I." or any of the characters, which belong to DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick et al, and which was based on Brian Aldiss's "Supertoys Last All Summer Long". I don't own the somewhat extensive quotes from the movie either. And also, the characters from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" belong to William Shakespeare (and yes, I'm aware it's public domain and he borrowed the characters from other things, but I just wanted to give credit where credit is due.).

David fled from the nightmare and noise of the horrible carnival, hand in hand with the tall dark man whose hand he had grasped in the cage. With Teddy at their heels, they dashed into the shadows of the forest at the edge of the fairground, escaping from the harsh flashing lights into the shelter of the shade. Shouts and smashes faded in the distance; dizzying colored lights gave way to the cool steady light of the moon, filtered through the treetops and silvering the leaves and branches.

They slowed their pace as the noise and commotion faded, swallowed up in the distance. David picked up Teddy and perched him on his shoulders.

"I see the moon," said the small bear, as they entered a small clearing where the treetops opened, admitting a view of the full moon.

"Is it real?" David asked, looking up at it. fearing it might be the horrible moon-balloon, with the cage and the nasty men with the loud voices beneath it. "Is it coming?"

"I can't tell yet," Teddy replied.

David turned away, retreating into the shadows and safety. "Let's not walk this way."

"Where are we going?" asked a man's voice behind them. David looked up to see the stranger in the long, shiny jacket. Everything about him seemed to shimmer in the night: his hair, his skin, his eyes with their steady, unblinking gaze. David realized the man was...like him.

"We're going this way now," David said. Mommy had said only others like himself were safe, so he guessed the stranger must be safe.

"Are you in bad trouble? Did you run away from someone?" the shiny stranger asked, following David deeper into the shelter of the trees.

"My Mommy told me to run away," David said, though the words brought that strange heavy feeling inside.

"And why did she tell you to do that?" the stranger asked. His voice sounded much different from other voices, but David found it oddly comforting.

"I guess because..." David started. He could barely name what it could be that had caused his Mommy to send him away, so he grasped at the first thought that came to him. "Because Henry didn't like me."

"And why is that?" the shiny stranger asked.

"Because Martin came home," David said.

"And who is he?"

"Martin is Mommy and Henry's 'real' son," David explained. "After I find the Blue Fairy, then I can go home. Mommy will love a 'real' boy. The Blue Fairy will make me into one."

* * * * *

Things rustled in the bushes. Was it only the breeze or did an animal pass through? Lights moved above them in the treetops, or was it only the wind stirring the branches, making the leaves rustle and flickering the moonlight on their shiny surfaces?

They did not notice the silvery form sitting in the crotch of a spreading oak, but a fairy-maiden in the service of the fairy queen Titania had heard all that the boy had said. What was a human child doing wandering in the woods on Midsummer's Eve? The queen had need of a new pageboy and she had charged her servants to bring a human child to her.

But the fairy-maiden discerned that this human child was not as other humans. He was one of those strange living statues the humans had created and brought to life, so were the small furry bear-creature on the boy's back and the handsome young man in gleaming black.

She heeded the living statue-boy's words: he wished to be as the humans were since they did not love him as he was. Well and good: he could serve in the queen's retinue.

The fairy-maiden lifted her diaphanous wings and called out to her sisters in service nearby to keep watch on this boy.

* * * * *

"Is this Blue Fairy Mecha? Orga? Man? Or woman?" the shiny stranger asked David as they wandered through the shade of the trees.

"Woman," David said. The story of Pinocchio had referred to the Blue Fairy as "she".

"Woman?" The shiny stranger put his hand on David's shoulder, stopping him, turning David toward him., then scopping him up and setting him upon the trunk of a fallen tree, which raised David to his level.

"I know women!" the stranger cried, smiling broadly, the moonlight gleaming off his eyes and teeth. He suddenly tossed his head to his left shoulder. Music played, coming from deep within him.

"They sometimes ask for me by name," the stranger said, leaning one arm on the stump of the tree, the other posed with his wrist resting on his hip, elbow akimbo. "I know all about women. At least as much as there is to know. No two are ever alike, and after they've met me," here he swung down from the stump, passing around it to land on the other side, his coattails swirling around him, "No two are ever the same. And I know where most of them can be found."

"Where?" David asked, the gleam of delight in the stranger's eyes reflected in his own eyes, quickly becoming more than a mirror image.

"Rouge City," the man said, rolling the words as if tasting them. "Across the Delaware," he added, propping a hand on the tree limbs he stood between and lifting himself so his feet cleared the ground. He pedalled his feet as if he were running. "Too far for our feet; we'll need help to get there." He swung down, switching off the music from within him by tossing his head to his left again. He leaned down to David, holding up one finger almost in warning and, in a low voice as if sharing a secret, added, "And...it is not without peril." He straightened up. "We will have to journey..." his finger trailed from the tip of David's nose up to the sky. "Toward the moon."

* * * * *

Up in the treetops, other servants of the queen listened. The word passed among them: Do not let the living statues leave the wood: the child would be ideal for the queen's page...

* * * * *

"Exactly what name do you give this woman?" the shiny stranger asked as he and David set off through the woods again.

"She is..." David paused briefly in thought. "She is just Blue Fairy."

"Blue...Fairy," the shiny stranger said, rolling the words again. David wondered why he talked like this, but he didn't mind: it just made the words sound more wonderful and magical, especially the way he said "Blue Fairy".

"In the world of Orga," the stranger went on, "'Blue is the color of melencholy. Yet the services I provide will put a blush back on anyone's cheek. I will change the color of your fairy. She will scream out in the moonlight, 'Oh yes! Oh God! Oh God! Oh yes!'"

David didn't understand what any of that meant. He'd heard sounds like that coming from Mommy and Henry's room, deep in the night, but it meant nothing to him.

The stranger went on, backing slightly toward a large but shallow puddle in a low spot in a clearing. "She will make you a real boy, for I shall make her a real woman, and then all will be right with the world...Because you held my hand and saved my brain, so that once again my customers may ask for me by name, 'Gigolo Joe, whaddya know?'"

As he said the last, the stranger beat a quick triplet in the shallow water with his feet, sending the ripples sparkling in the moonlight.

"Why do you do that?" David asked, coming closer, his eyes on Joe's feet.

"That's just what I do," Joe replied, and repeated the same rhythm.

With a swirl of his coattails, Joe turned. "Now follow me, and don't fall behind." He started out, heading deeper into the wood, toward the moon, walking up a fallen tree trunk, balancing deftly. "'All roads lead to Rouge'. ...Don't they just say that, hey? Don't they just?" Clicking his heels together, he leaped off the log, landing lightly on his feet.

For an instant, David had wondered if his new friend might be a fairy himself, or if he could be a servant of the Blue Fairy. His movements were so strange, But no, he had never even heard of the Blue Fairy...

The moonlight around them grew misty. Soft curtains of vapor moved in, diffusing the light. The two Mechas wandered following the brighter light when the moon seemed to break through the mist veiling its face.

Or what they mistook for the brighter light.

* * * * *

The queen's servants were not the only beings to have seen the small stranger in the forest. Oberon, the king, had sent his own servants to search the forest to keep watch and see if the queen claimed the human child, bringing him by the hand across the water and through the wild to serve in her own retinue. He too had need of a page, a child to be keep ever young through the protection afforded by fairy craft. Titania had once recently secreted one of Oberon's own young servants into her retinue only to have the young human give her the slip. She would pay well for her error.

As Titania slept in her bower in the wood, Oberon sent his chief steward, disguised as a shadow, to sprinkle the nectar of the pansy flower -- once called "love-in-idleness" -- onto her eyelids. When she awoke, let the nectar work its magic so that she would be struck with a passion for whatever creature she first laid eyes upon, be it animal or mortal or mineral.

* * * * *

The two Mechas followed the light, though it led them further and further away from any road that led to Rouge City. Not knowing where else to go, David followed Joe the shiny man deeper into the forest.

The trees closed in around them. David put his hand in Joe's again, pulling closer to him as the underbrush caught on his clothes and snatched at his arms.

Strange whistles and chirrups echoed in the treetops and the dark hollows beneath the branches. But the blue light they followed grew ever stronger.

The trees seemed to part by themselves and open up before them into a little glade.

In the shade of a grove of birches with their branches bent down to the ground, surrounded by young maidens holding glowing orbs of blue-white light, a tall slender woman lay asleep on a bed of white flowers and moss. In the light cast by the fairy-lanterns, her gauzy white gown and the ethereal wings folded lightly over her shoulders and back, even her long dark hair seemed blue.

"It's her!" David gasped, drawing closer, tugging Joe along. "It's the Blue Fairy! I knew we'd find her!"

The fairy-woman stirred, her wings unfolding as she lifted her head and sat up slowly. Her eyes opened and she looked at them.

* * * * *

Through her dreams -- for even fairies, who dance through mortals' dreams, have dreams themselves -- Titania had heard a small voice as of a human child. She awoke to see before her two figures, one like a male human child with dark golden hair and eyes like chips of the blue sky by day. The other resembled a mortal youth with ebony hair and eyes of an emerald green. At first she wondered what could have brought them to the woods, so few humans believed in her kind in these shadowy days, they who were so caught up with those living statues they had created.

She noticed the gleam on the strangers' visages and eyes. The thought came to her that these strangers were living statues themselves. If that were so, then the youth possessed a more finely carved form than that of many mortals, a form that would never age, rivalling even that of her lord Oberon; and the innocence of the child charmed her all the more since it would never fade.

David let go of Joe's hand and knelt before the Blue Fairy. She was a fairy after all, and that was something very important. "Blue Fairy," he said. "I've been looking for you all over this dark, scary forest. I have a wish to make to you."

"You have a wish to make...to me?" Titania asked. "What then is your name, young human?"

"My name is David," replied David. "Can you please make me into a real boy so that my Mommy will love me the way she loves Martin, her real son?"

So the humans had made this living statue in the form of a child, only to cast it out, because they could not love it properly. Well then, let him serve in her retinue, from which she would never reject him.

"Do you think then that she will love you?" Titania asked. "The humans live only for a short time. Then they are gone and their love dies with them. Were you to stay with me, you cna live and be loved forever."

"But I want to go back to Mommy and Henry and Martin," David begged, troubled. "I bleong with them at our home."

She started to form a reply to the child's objection, though it was so free of guile. But almost as importantly, the dark youth's gaze kept seeking out heres even as she spoke with his small companion.

"I would give you a home, David," she said. "In turn, you shall serve me as pageboy."

The dark youth stepped closer, his bright eyes hooded almost cunningly. "Permit me to interject, your ladyship," he said, with a graceful bow. "Let me serve you however you desire."

His soft voice stirred her heart almost more than Oberon's ever had. She smiled. "Indeed, young wight," she said. "Perhaps a manservant would be more suitable, there are so few truly noble youths in my service."

She extended her hand to him to be kissed, but he held up his own hand, holding her off.

"But there must be fair turnabout. I shall serve you only on the condition that you fulfill David's wish," the youth said.

He struck a hard bargain, but he spoke rightly.

"Indeed, young wight, you have named the price," she said. She held out her hand to David and touched the moss beside her. David sat down, looking up at her.

She put her hand on David's forehead, looking deep into his eyes.

"Will it hurt?" David asked, a little concerned.

"No, it shall not," she said.

David smiled up at the Blue Fairy. He flet his eyes suddenly grown heavy. Was this the "sleep" that real people felt every night?

Before he could think of another question, everything around him slowly went dark and quiet. He felt nothing more for a long time.

* * * * *

David neither felt nor heard anything. But then suddenly, he heard Mommy's voice above him and felt something cool and hard under him.

"David! Oh, David, you found your way home!" David opened his eyes.

Mommy knelt beside him. He lay on the stone slab outside the front door of their house, teddy sitting next to him. How had he got here? The Blue Fairy or one of her servants must have carried him home.

"Mommy, I saw her, the Blue Fairy. I saw where she lives in the forest. She made me real! I know she did!" he cried, throwing his arms about Mommy's neck.

"Monica, what's going on?" Henry's voice called from deeper inside the house. He came out onto the steps. "Oh my!" he cried, amazed, seeing David cuddled in Monica's arms.

The over-glossiness that marked David as a Mecha had left the boy's eyes and skin had vanished. As Monica carried David into the house, the boy blinked at the change of light, from the brighter light outside to the softer light indoors.

Could it be only a child that looked like David? No, he knew where he was and he wore the same clothes he had worn when Monica had left him in the forest. But how...?

No point in asking questions. David was back, Monica was relieved. That was all that mattered.

* * * * *

At daybreak, Oberon drew near to Titania's bower. His servants had never found the human child again after they had first seen him. He had feared Titania had taken the child as her own page. But another servant had told him he had heard the child speaking to a small living statue of a bear cub and a larger one of a mortal that he wished to become a 'real boy'.

Perhaps the charm had worked and the queen had fallen foolish for the living statue.

Oberon peered beneath the branches to find his queen lying asleep, her wings folded about a dark youth whose eyes and skin shone too brilliantly in the growing daylight.

The servant had not said the living statue of a mortal resembled a beautiful young mortal.

If she had made the child into a 'real boy', then perhaps he, Oberon, could render a similar favor to her young lover.

Oberon laid his hand over the youth's eyes, covering them.

"But I am..." the youth started to say in objection, but his eyes closed and his jaw sagged in sleep.

"You once were a living statue," Oberon said. Already, under his touch, a change passed over the youth's body, the gloss ove his skin fading away.

Now this young intruder would have to grow accustomed to being a 'real' man....





The End