Gilbert the gremlin was grumpy. The setting sun streaming through the tiny window lit his sullen face, exasperated eyes, frustrated frown. Quite frankly, Gilbert had had enough.
“The most important job in the world” the advertisement had boasted, “Invaluable to Effaeria and all of its peoples.” Set hours, no night shifts, great pay, in a beautiful and tranquil setting. He had been over-the-moon when his application was successful and he was granted the role. What Gilbert hadn’t accounted for was the miniscule workspace, the crippling boredom, and the abysmal loneliness. Three hundred years to the day he had dutifully and diligently worked in this tiny windmill, but where was his anniversary celebration? Where were his uncaring employers? Where oh where was the gratitude?
Every morning he stumbled through the darkness to the little mill, cranking its magical sails. Every morning, as the sails began to whirl, they coaxed the sun up into the sky, carried it in a neat arc through the sky, then swept it below the horizon in the evening. Daylight Controller was the official job description. Gilbert’s timing had always been impeccable, not that his manager had ever noticed, or thought to reward him for his efforts. And here, on his 300th anniversary in the job, Gilbert had reached breaking point.
As the sails pushed the last of the sunlight below the dark seas, Gilbert halted the wooden mechanism, snatched up his jacket and rushed out of the cramped cabin, pausing only to stick a hastily-scrawled note to the outside of the windmill door. Craving rest and relaxation, he booked a griffin taxi to Neptunia’s Cavern Springs and put Daylight Controlling to the back of his mind. His delicate skin had never cared much for the sunshine anyway.
The next day in Effaeria, dawn never broke. Hysteria erupted amongst the inhabitants and the clueless High Council. Many thought that the darkness was an attack by the Stygian warlocks of the Netherworld, and called for retaliation. Others hypothesised that an alien thief may have stolen the sun whilst it slept. No one thought to check on Gilbert and his windmill. Nobody saw the scribbled note “ON INDEFINITE VACATION” fluttering in the breeze. After all, who would have thought that one disgruntled employee could be to blame for a worldwide blackout?
Emma H, age 26, 28/07/2017
Short story response to Sue Vincent’s “Sails” #writephoto challenge. Click on the link below to check out the prompt and read the other entries!:
I struggled somewhat with the ending of my story this week, and I’m still not entirely happy with it. But I love the gorgeous photo and the vast range of ideas that it has inspired amongst the contributors! Many thanks to Sue for another great prompt.