There’s a New Beth in Town

by Anta Baku

Part 19 of The Cell Phone Towers of Elfland (Read Part 1)

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Being around Ian’s oldest sister was relaxing. Beth had only met Anna that morning, but she already had a feeling that the English professor was going to be her favorite member of the family. Not that she wasn’t grateful to Ian for giving her a place to live here in the World of Chaos. And not that she didn’t like his youngest sister Pol, during the brief time they had spent together. Pol was exciting, and Ian required a lot of attention. But Anna was just instantly comfortable. Beth knew from the moment of meeting her that Anna wasn’t going to be demanding, that Anna wasn’t going to insist on her own pace. That Anna was more interested in listening, and adapting, than trying to make every decision herself.

She was the perfect person to introduce Beth to the concept of the University. 

Anna had shown up early to talk to Harp about something, but made it very clear that Beth shouldn’t feel rushed. And in the end, Beth had been ready to go significantly before they had finished this chapter in what was apparently an ongoing conversation about the representation of late-Nineteenth-Century English novels in Fairyland. Beth was still trying to work her head around the idea that everything in her world originated in this one, and listening to Harp and Anna talk didn’t help. She wasn’t sure if it was too complicated or just too far from her own perspective.

But once they were on their way, Anna was easy to talk to. She understood that Beth had no context for anything, and managed to accommodate that without being condescending.

“Ian says you’re interested in studying politics,” said Anna. 

“I read a bunch of books,” said Beth. “About the power of the masses, the natural rights of the proletariat, government that comes from the people and not the nobility.”

“Marxism?” said Anna.

“Is that what you call it?” said Beth. “There were so many different words. Marxism, Socialism, Communism, I had a hard time keeping track of which was which.” 

“They’re all sort of the same thing, as I understand it,” said Anna.

“I tried to make it work,” said Beth. “They put me in charge of a kingdom, and I tried to give it to the people, but once they were in power they kicked me out. That was before I had read anything. Then after I had read the books, I tried to convince people to follow the ideas, but I couldn’t figure out how to make them listen to me.”

“Well, you’re not alone in that, at least,” said Anna. “People in this world have been trying to make Communism work for over a hundred years, and it hasn’t been very successful.” 

“Ian says you don’t have Princes here, though.” 

“We don’t,” said Anna. “We live in a different system, a capitalist republic, where people vote for the government, but we still have personal property. I’m not sure the end result is so different from your feudal systems. Government decisions still end up being made by the people with the most money. And we don’t have nobles but we do have billionaires, who can have huge influence with their money.”

“What’s the difference, then?” asked Beth.

“Well, everyone’s supposed to have equal rights under the law,” said Anna. “We have elections, and we put a lot of effort into making the elections fair, but it seems like we’re always choosing between people the wealthy would want anyway. No one’s theoretically prevented from becoming wealthy, you aren’t stuck in the class you’re born in, and some of our biggest billionaires didn’t come from very wealthy families. But there are still a lot of systems set up to keep poor people poor and rich people rich, and you have to be both exceptional and very lucky to break out of them.”

“And this is better?” said Beth.

“It’s what we have,” said Anna. “There are a lot of people here who like the idea of the government making fewer rich people and fewer poor people, and more in the middle. They have lots of different ideas about how to accomplish that. You won’t have any trouble finding people to talk to about abolishing personal property, if that’s what you want. Especially at the University.”

“I don’t really understand what a University is,” said Beth.

“You wouldn’t be alone in that, either,” said Anna. “It’s a lot of different things. Fundamentally, it’s the place you go when you want to learn the specific thing that you want to focus on for the next part of your life. Children get taught general skills, but when you go to University, you’re an adult, and you’re expected to make decisions about what you want to learn.”

“So I would say, I want to learn about Marxism,” said Beth.

“Right,” said Anna. “But it wouldn’t be just that. You’ll have to think about what your approach would be. You could study Marxism as political science, or you could study it as history. You could even study it as sociology or as law. But you don’t have to know that right away. Usually students spend their first year refining their interest into a specific approach.”

“This sounds really complicated,” said Beth.

“And that’s just the official purpose,” said Anna. “University is also a lot of other things. It’s a place for people to learn to be adults. It’s a place to connect with like-minded people who you might know for the rest of your life. It’s a place to get really attached to the football team, apparently. But at the same time it’s a place where radical ideas are welcomed and explored, when they might not be in the rest of society. It’s a place where scientific research gets done, and also research into what it’s like to be human. It a place where people meet people they never would have otherwise, and expand their horizons in ways they never could if they just stayed home.”

“That sounds wonderful and terrifying,” said Beth. 

“I can see why it would,” said Anna. “We work to make it less overwhelming, especially for first-years. It can be a lot for someone who’s never really faced adulthood before. You’ll have some disadvantages here, coming from a different world, but that one advantage will mean a lot. You’ve been living on your own, making your own decisions. You’re already past one of the hardest parts of being a freshman.” 

“Thank you,” said Beth. “No one else has recognized that it’s hard.”

“We’re all so used to doing it ourselves, by now,” said Anna. “If you don’t watch young people, it’s easy to take it for granted.” 

“I never know what to do,” said Beth. “Or how to do it. It’s just one big guess after another.” 

“And this is another one,” said Anna. “You don’t know how to tell if this is right for you.”

“Exactly,” said Beth.

“Well, I’m here to help you figure that out,” said Anna. “And the first step in that is for me to stop talking so much. I need to listen to you.”

So after they got out of the car Beth told her all about growing up cleaning house for her stepsisters, which didn’t take very long. And then about her failure as the head of a revolutionary government, and her travels through Fairyland afterward, which took longer. Anna interrupted only to give her brief descriptions of the University buildings they were passing through. Beth supposed they were interesting, but it wasn’t the buildings themselves she was particularly interested in. Even if the idea of there being thirteen libraries was remarkable and somewhat overwhelming. 

“I love books,” she told Anna, “but how would anyone read thirteen libraries worth of books?”

“Oh, you don’t,” said Anna. “I only come into the libraries on this side of the river if I’m giving a tour. They’re all technical subjects. All the literature is in the Anderson Library, on the West Bank near my apartment. And four of them are agriculture libraries that I’ve never even been to, and you probably won’t either.” 

“How can I study government without studying agriculture?” said Beth. 

“What do you mean?”

“In my country, the nobles run everything because they own the farmland and control the food supply. That’s the most important thing government does, it makes sure everybody eats.” 

“That’s not how we usually think about things here,” said Anna. “But don’t stop. That sort of unique perspective is why the University should be happy to admit you.” 

“That’s why we need to collectivize the farms,” said Beth. “So the people can feed themselves, and we can get rid of the traditional hierarchy.”

“You should save that until you can talk to someone who studies government, or economics. I’m out of my depth there already.” 

“When do I meet other people?” said Beth. “Your buildings are nice, and this campus is bigger than my entire kingdom. But if I’m going to join the University, it’s going to be because of the people, not because of the buildings. I need to understand what I would be doing here, and who I would be doing it with.” 

“The buildings are always here,” said Anna. “Talking to people requires appointments, and I wasn’t sure who to start with. I hoped that after I got to know you I would have a better idea who the right people would be.”

“And you don’t?” said Beth.

“I don’t know,” said Anna. “Your interests are very broad.”

“How do the other students handle this?” asked Beth.

“Well, they usually show up, and take some basic classes, and make social connections based on their interests, and eventually develop an idea of what they want to do here,” said Anna. “Some students know what they want coming in, but a lot of them don’t, and some of them are like you where they’re trying to find the right way to something bigger they want to do.”

“But how do they know that University is the right thing at all?” said Beth. 

“I don’t think most people think about that,” said Anna. “It’s just the next thing people do in their education. If you want an intellectual job, or a skilled technical job, you usually need to go to college somewhere. If you’re middle class or upper class it’s just an expected part of your life.”

“What about the proletariat?” said Beth. 

“Some of them go to college to become middle class,” said Anna. “Others get unskilled jobs, or go to technical schools to work in industry.”

“I don’t think I like this system very much,” said Beth.

“I suppose you wouldn’t,” said Anna. “But if you want to learn how to change it, I think you’ll have to be a part of it first.” 

“I’m going to have to think about that,” said Beth. 

“That’s all right,” said Anna. “I think maybe, rather than finding an academic person for you to talk to, I should introduce you to the campus socialists. They can tell you why they’re comfortable being here while other people are doing unskilled labor.” 

They were just about to see if they could go and find some socialists when Beth started hearing a strange ringing noise. It seemed to be coming from her. 

“I think that’s your cell phone,” said Anna. 

Ian had given her one of his mobile communications devices, so that she could keep in contact if she got in trouble or got lost, but he’d only taught her how to call him. He hadn’t suggested that anyone would be calling her. And he was the only one likely to have the number.

But it wasn’t Ian, it was Harp, and she was distressed. 

“Someone’s trying to break into the apartment,” she said. 

“Did you call Ian?” said Beth. “Or Booker?”

“They’re both out of contact,” said Harp. “In Fairyland somewhere with no coverage, I expect. I didn’t know who else to call.” 

“We’ll be back as soon as we can,” said Beth. Anna stopped when she said that. “Someone’s breaking into Ian’s apartment,” Beth told her. 

“It will take us at least half an hour to get back there,” said Anna. She turned around and started walking quickly. Beth assumed it was back to the car. 

“It sounds like they’re chiseling open the door,” said Harp. “I’m going to switch to text. If they can’t hear me talking they might not know I’m a person at all.” 

“Just a solid gold harp,” said Beth, but the line had already gone dead, and the phone started beeping. They stopped briefly while Anna helped her get into the right place to send texts. 

“They’re getting through the door,” sent Harp. 

“Be careful,” Beth sent back, though she knew there was nothing Harp could really do. An immobile musical instrument couldn’t hide from a burglar. All she could do was talk or not talk, and her choice not to talk seemed like a good first plan. 

“Just one man,” texted Harp. “Big guy, dark hair, fancy clothes. Doesn’t smell very good.”

“We’re almost at the car,” sent Beth. 

“Why would someone break into Ian’s apartment?” said Anna.

“I don’t know,” said Beth. “Can you tell why he’s there?” she texted to Harp.

“He’s just looking around,” Harp sent back. “He doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to steal anything. I think he was looking for Ian.” 

“Is it someone from Fairyland, do you think?” sent Beth.

“Could be, from the clothes,” sent Harp. 

“If it was that Richard the Third guy trying to get us, it would have been a pig,” said Beth out loud.

“Wait, what?” said Anna. She tried to stop, but Beth pulled her on toward the car, which was now in sight. 

“He wasn’t very happy with us, but I don’t think he would have sent a human,” said Beth.

“You got on Richard III’s bad side?” said Anna, getting into the car. “Ian did not tell me that. No, don’t tell me now, later. Right now you text, I drive.” 

Anna couldn’t drive like a maniac on the University streets, but she did the best she could. Still, by the time they were on the right side of the river, the intruder had made up his mind what to do. 

“He figured out who I am,” texted Harp. “He says I’m under arrest for aiding and abetting enemies of the crown.” 

“Oh no,” Beth sent back.

“He seems to mean Ian and Booker. Wants me to tell him where they are. He didn’t mention you.” 

“We’re almost there,” sent Beth. “Can you delay him a little longer?”

“I don’t think so,” sent Harp. “No. He picked me up and he’s taking me out of the apartment.” 

“Just a few more minutes,” sent Beth.

“We’re out of the building now,” sent Harp. “I think he must be from Fairyland because he hasn’t tried to stop me from texting. I don’t think he knows I can talk to you.” 

“Keep telling us where you are,” sent Beth. “We’ll find you.” 

“We’re out on a major street now,” sent Harp. “He’s turning into a big white stone church. Only a few blocks from Ian’s.”

Beth read that to Anna. “Westminster Presbyterian,” she said. 

“How long?” said Beth.

“Three minutes? Five minutes? I don’t know, depends on the lights,” said Anna. “And whether there are any more of these stupid pedestrians.” She swerved into a different lane to avoid someone walking in the road. “Don’t they know this is an emergency?”

“He’s talking to someone in the church now,” sent Harp. “Says he’s made an arrest, and he wants to turn his prisoner over to the custody of the abbot. She’s pretty confused.” 

“We’re getting closer,” sent Beth.

“She told him this isn’t a monastery, it’s a Presbyterian church, and they don’t do that sort of thing. She doesn’t think monasteries do that sort of thing either. He’s insisting that the Church must hold the prisoners of the King, but that’s just making her more confused.”

“Can you convince her to take you?” sent Beth. “Then you’d be away from him at least.”

“He’s not letting me talk,” sent Harp. “Ha! She just told him that if he wants to take his harp to Orchestra Hall it’s across the street. He’s getting frustrated now, I think he’s going to leave.” 

“We’re almost there,” sent Beth as Anna screeched the car to a stop on the street outside the church. “What door is he leaving from?”

“Main door,” sent Harp.

“We’ll be there,” sent Beth, and put her phone in her pocket. “They’ll be coming out the main door in a minute,” she said to Anna. “We can ambush him on the stairs.” 

“How will we know we have the right person?” asked Anna.

“He’ll be the one carrying a golden harp,” said Beth.

“Oh, right.” 

There wasn’t anywhere in front of the church to hide, so they just took positions to either side of the main door and hoped the burglar wouldn’t look behind him when he came out. 

He didn’t, but they should have planned more. Both Beth and Anna tried to hit him high, and they got in each other’s way. He was able to shrug off Beth, and then fling Anna down the stairs. When Beth came back at him, he stiff-armed her with the hand that wasn’t holding Harp, and ran off. She started to follow, but Anna wasn’t getting back up, so Beth had to stop and help her. 

“Did you hit your head?” she said.

“I don’t think so,” said Anna. “I wrenched my shoulder something awful, though.” 

Beth helped her get up, and checked her shoulder. “I think you’ll be all right,” she said. “Can we keep following him?” 

“Where did he go?” asked Anna.

“Down the street that way,” said Beth. 

“Nicollet Avenue,” said Anna. “Still headed for downtown. Well, we might as well. Next time, you go high and I’ll go low.”

“Other way around,” said Beth. “Low takes more shoulder strength.”

“All right,” said Anna. 

They started in the direction the burglar had gone, and before too long Beth’s phone chimed again. 

“He’s looking into offices,” sent Harp. 

“Still trying to find a place to stash her,” said Anna.

Harp kept up her reports, and Beth and Anna slowly gained ground as the burglar kept stopping trying to find someone to hold Harp for him. They were only a block away when  Harp reported that he had gone into a building.

“It says Downtown Council,” she sent.

Beth had to slow down to text back. “What’s he doing?”

“Talking to someone again,” sent Harp. “He says the burghers are obligated to hold his prisoners when requested. They think he’s talking about burgers.” 

“We’re just outside,” sent Beth. “We’ll try again when he comes out.”

“There are two doors here,” sent Harp. 

“Tell us when he’s coming out,” said Beth. She and Anna set up outside the door again, hoping they would do better this time. Beth prepared to hit the kidnapper in the legs. 

“The people here are confused,” sent Harp. “They say they don’t hold prisoners. But they gave him a bag to keep me in. I can’t see what he’s doing anymore.” 

“Just be patient,” sent Beth. “We’re here.” 

“We’re moving again now,” sent Harp. But no one came out the door Beth and Anna were waiting by. 

“I think we’re out of the building now,” sent Harp. “Where are you?” 

“Wrong door,” sent Beth. She and Anna dashed into the Downtown Council, hoping to go out the other side in pursuit of the burglar, but two people there stopped them. 

“What is all this?” said the man.

“Are you with that man with the harp?” said the woman.

“The harp is our friend,” said Beth. “The man kidnapped her.”

“He said he arrested her,” said the man. “But how can you arrest or kidnap a harp?”

“She’s a person,” said Anna. “And we need to catch them.”

The man stepped aside. “He said he was the Sheriff of Nottingham,” he said as they were leaving. 

“I’ve heard of him,” said the woman. “He’ll come to your ribbon cutting for fifty pounds.” 

“I thought that was a woman,” said the man. 

Beth didn’t have time to correct them about which Sheriff of Nottingham they were talking about. At least they knew who they were chasing, now. Unfortunately he was already out of sight, though they guessed he would still be heading northeast. 

Beth texted Harp. “Can you tell anything about where you are?”

“Still moving,” sent Harp. “Still in a bag.” 

They were into the heart of downtown now, and there might have been a thousand places to hide. But the Sheriff of Nottingham would be even less used to skyscrapers than Beth was. He must have figured out the elevator to get in and out of Ian’s apartment, but that didn’t mean he would think of using another one now. He would probably stay at street level until he found someone to hold onto Harp for him, or until he gave up. 

So they kept moving up Nicollet until Harp texted again.

“We’re going into a building again,” she sent. “It’s quiet in here. He’s talking to someone, and she’s telling him to keep his voice down.”

“I’m not sure where that would be,” said Anna. 

“We need more,” texted Beth.

“She’s talking him into letting me out of the bag,” sent Harp. “She says she needs to see the prisoner.”

“Police precinct?” said Anna. “That’s not too far from here but it wouldn’t be quiet. If it’s the courthouse or City Hall we’ve been going the wrong direction.”

“It’s a big open room,” sent Harp. “With computers and books. Lots and lots of books.”

Beth showed the text to Anna. “That’s the central library,” she said. “It’s just ahead.”

She pointed to a fancy building in front of them, all windows, with a big silver triangular overhang over the main door. Another library, another big expensive library. Beth was beginning to think the World of Chaos had more to offer than she had feared, if only in sheer numbers of books.

The door opened up into a high-ceilinged atrium that divided the building in half, with more windows on each side. The colors were all silver and gold, and Beth didn’t know what to do. But Anna led her through a glass door on the right-hand side, into a large room full of desks with people sitting at them. She could see bookshelves on the far side of the room, stretching off into the distance. Halfway to them, at a circular desk set into a wall, the Sheriff was arguing with two women. He had Harp out on the desk in front of him, and was making broad hand gestures. 

Beth was going to approach him, but Anna put a hand on her arm and led her to another desk beside the door. There were two more women here, who looked to be waiting for them.

“Welcome to the library,” said the younger one. “Can I help you?”

“We have an emergency,” said Anna. 

“I’ll call security,” said the older woman at the desk.

“You see that man over there at the other desk?” said Anna. “He’s kidnapped one of our friends. We need to get her back.”

“He was here a minute ago,” said the younger woman. “He said he wanted us to hold a prisoner for him. But all he had was a golden harp.”

“The harp is his prisoner,” said Beth. “She’s our friend.”

“Your friend is a harp?” said the younger woman.

“Yes, she’s a person,” said Anna. “From Fairyland. Surely you’ve heard of Fairyland by now.”

“I didn’t know anyone from there could come here,” said the younger woman. The older one was still on the phone, repeating some of the things Anna had said.

“I’m from there,” said Beth. “And so is Harp, and so is the man. We need to stop him.”

“Security will be here in a minute,” said the older woman. 

“I’m not going to wait,” said Beth. She quickly texted Harp “we’re coming” and then turned to Anna. “Come on.”

“I’m high, you’re low,” said Anna, and they moved as quickly as they could toward the round desk in the middle of the room without attracting too much attention. The people in the room were mostly focused on their computers, but the two women from the front desk followed just behind them. 

Anna hit the Sheriff first, at the shoulders, and as he was turning to react to her Beth took out his legs and the three of them went down in a heap. The older librarian from the front desk was shouting at the two at the round desk to move Harp out of the way and make sure he couldn’t get her back. 

The Sheriff was strong, and Beth and Anna were still getting in each other’s way. He got free of them, stood up, and dashed away through the computer desks. Just then every computer alarm in the room started blaring, and he stopped and clutched his ears at the noise. Computer users started standing up and getting in each other’s way, blocking the Sheriff’s escape while they were at it. 

Anna was still on the ground, but Beth started towards him, only to stop short when the younger librarian got there first. Within seconds she swept his legs out from under him, pulled his arms up behind his shoulders, and knelt on his lower back, immobilizing him. 

“Wow,” said Beth.

“I take martial arts classes in the evenings,” said the librarian. She turned the Sheriff over to the custody of two security officers who had arrived just too late to be any help. 

“Good job, Holly,” said the older librarian. She had helped Anna up, and the four of them stood over the immobilized Sheriff. “What do you want us to do with him now?” she said. “Turn him over to the police?”

“I’m reluctant to involve the Minneapolis police at this point,” said Anna. “But I’m not sure what else we can do.”

“We can’t just not tell them about a kidnapping,” said one of the security guards. 

“Can’t we?” said the older librarian. “It’s not like they’d come here if we called them.”

“Besides, it was only a harp,” said the other security guard.

“She’s a person,” said Anna. 

“Either way, if you want to hand him over to the police, you’ll have to take him to the precinct yourselves,” said the first security guard. “We can handcuff him for you, but we can’t leave our posts.” 

“We’ve learned there’s nobody else in this city who will hold prisoners,” said Beth. “I think we have to involve the police. Are they something like a city guard?”

“Not really,” said Anna. “We’ll have to have a long talk about them sometime. Ian should have done that already.”

“We can’t keep him here,” said the older librarian. “And if you took him home with you that would just be kidnapping all over again. You’ll have to take him to the police or let him go.”

In the end they resigned themselves to taking him to the police. Anna carried Harp, and they borrowed Holly just to be sure they could control him on the way there. She wanted to make sure the library didn’t end up responsible for what they did afterward, anyway.

“You could come to my self-defense class,” she said to Beth on the way to the precinct, which was only a couple of blocks away. “If you wanted to learn how to do that sort of fighting. You’re very fit, you’re just not very organized.”

“I’ll think about it,” said Beth, and gave Holly her phone number.

“I’ll text you the details,” she said.

Then they got to the precinct, and had to explain everything all over again to the desk sergeant there. It took three times through the narrative before he seemed to get a basic understanding of what had happened.

“This is a Fairyland thing?” he said.

“Yes,” said Anna. “That’s what we’ve been telling you.”

“I’m not trained in Fairyland things,” he said.

“Is there someone who is?” said Beth.

“I don’t know,” said the desk sergeant. “We’re understaffed. And we keep losing officers. I’m not sure anyone is doing Fairyland investigations.” 

“You’re a law enforcement officer?” said the Sheriff.

“I am,” said the desk sergeant.

“Then help me,” said the Sheriff. “I made a legal arrest of this harp and I require assistance. These other people assaulted me in the pursuit of my duties.”

“Not in this city, buddy,” said the desk sergeant. “You don’t wear this uniform, you don’t arrest anybody. We don’t want anybody else doing our jobs. Besides, you can’t arrest a harp.” 

“She’s a person,” said Anna.

“Not under Minnesota law,” said the desk sergeant. “It might be different in Fairyland.”

“I’m a law enforcement officer,” said the Sheriff. “And I require assistance.”

“You’re out of your jurisdiction,” said Holly.

“Even so.”

“I’d better call the Inspector,” said the desk sergeant. 

So they repeated everything again to the boss of the precinct. At least it only took two repetitions for him to understand.

“We don’t have Fairyland policies yet,” he said, “so I’m just going to make this up as I go along.” He pointed at the Sheriff. “No stealing golden harps. Go back to your own country.”

“You’re letting him go?” said Anna.

“I’m letting him go,” said the Inspector. He pointed at Anna and Beth. “No running around the city assaulting people. That’s our job.” 

“You’re letting them go?” said the Sheriff.

“Yes, I’m letting them go, too,” said the Inspector. “I don’t want to go to court with all of this. The prosecutors won’t want to go to court with all of this.” He pointed at Holly. “You stopped a disturbance in the library, so I guess you’re fine.” 

“I’m an officer of the law and I must be allowed to pursue my duty,” said the Sheriff.

“Look, we don’t have a reciprocal jurisdiction agreement with, where did you say you were from again?”

“I’m the Sheriff of Nottingham!” said the Sheriff.

“Oh?” said the Inspector. “That rings a bell. Robin Hood, right?”

“I’ve been chasing him for years,” said the Sheriff. “Now these people from your world have been helping him.”

“I’ve never met Robin Hood,” said Anna. The others agreed with her.

“Their friends, I mean,” said the Sheriff.

“Well you can’t persecute these people for what their friends have done,” said the Inspector.

“Again, that’s their job,” said Anna. The Inspector gave her an unhappy look.

“I know you by reputation, though,” said the Inspector. “You’re determined and clever.”

“And ruthless and heartless,” said Anna. “And undermining of the proper authority.”

“We’re very short-staffed right now,” said the Inspector. “And you might be just the type of officer we’re looking for. Would you consider staying in this world and putting in an application? We obviously need someone to cover the Fairyland beat.”

“You want to hire him?” said Beth.

“If he’s willing,” said the Inspector. “We really need new officers, and I think he’ll fit in well here.”

The two of them kept talking about whether the Sheriff would take a position with the Minneapolis Police Department. Anna gently nudged Beth and Holly toward the door. 

“I can’t believe they’re going to hire him!” said Beth when they were back on the street.

“I can,” said Anna. “The Sheriff of Nottingham will probably bring the professionalism level of MPD up a notch.” 

“That’s not a nice thing to say,” said Holly.

“Am I wrong, though?” said Anna.



“I just hope we don’t have to deal with him again,” said Beth.

“If he’s the police Fairyland specialist, you probably will,” said Anna. 

“You should definitely come to my self-defense class,” said Holly.

Beth agreed that was a good idea, and they split up, Holly to go back to the library and Beth and Anna to take Harp back to Ian’s apartment and try to figure out how to fix the door. 

“It’s a good thing all those computers malfunctioned when the Sheriff was running,” said Anna.

“Oh, that was me,” said Harp.

“You can do that?” said Beth.

“Oh, yeah,” said Harp. “I can get into any computer that’s connected to the internet, if you give me enough time.” 

“That seems like a useful skill,” said Beth.

“And an illegal one,” said Anna.

“You heard what the man said,” said Harp. “You can’t arrest a harp in Minnesota.”

Part 20 of The Cell Phone Towers of Elfland is Ian and the Hunt for Carabas.

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