His grandmother had always said he was a restless soul, that he always needed to be doing or tinkering. As he grew up Squigg had to admit that Grams was right, even if he was told to sit still his hands had to fidget, or fiddle and fold bits of paper or twist twine and straws, whatever was to hand really. So Squigg was happy with that, Grams knew her business after all, the spirit of folk. They lived by one of the great Lochs of Scotland, a happy community of pixies. There were several families spread out, with some even across the water, these however were rarely spoken about in polite conversation. His grandpa gifted him with a fine set of tools when he was thought to be responsible enough. A lovely set of silver tools with small detail etched into them, all kept together in a beautiful leather roll to keep them safe. And so Squigg tinkered. There wasn’t much that Squigg couldn’t fix, he was a natural, or so folk said. There came a time when there was nothing left to be fixed, so good he was at it. So Squigg began to take things apart, to see how they worked. The way things worked fascinated him. The cogs and the gears, the springs and levers. He always tried to put them back together afterwards too, and for the most part he succeeded.
The years passed and Squigg found himself no longer content with fixing and investigating. He wanted to make and build and craft. Gramps was a good source of knowledge and the others helped him as far as they could but soon Squigg had to face the truth. If he wanted to be better, if he wanted to be the best inventor he could be, then he would have to travel and learn. Grams gifted him with a coat suited to travel, with many pockets for his nick knacks and bits and bobs and Gramps gave him a sturdy leather pack in which to keep his belongings. He said his goodbyes and they made him promise to be careful. Stay away from cats Grams warned him and not to be seen by the big folk, that was against the pixie law. He promised he would and that he would write back regularly and with a final hug he was off on his grand adventure.
Squigg spent a good amount of time on the road on his own. He didn’t mind this as he would often daydream about his next big invention or would be deep in thought sorting through calculations and plans in his head. Wherever he found pixies he was welcomed as though he was coming home. Pixies are the most hospitable of all folk, if he was only staying for lunch or for a few nights, Squigg was always made to feel like family. True to his nature though he never found himself in one spot for long. Soon his feet would once again find the road and he would be off in search of the next thing he did not know. Each place he stayed had something new, and once he had learned all he could, it was time to find the next place with something new to teach him. And so Squigg made many friends on his never-ending journey but none of them shared the road onward with him. None of them until he met Sprocket.
The hedgehog had found himself in a spot of bother. Sprocket was fond of rolling. He would pop himself into a ball and roll about to and fro. His mother had always told him not to, that one day it would land him in trouble. You see the problem with rolling about is that even though it may be quicker then walking, you can’t see where you are going. This is how Sprocket the hedgehog had found himself stuck to an apple. He had rolled right into it and had gotten his spines stuck. This was how Squigg had found him, on his back with his legs kicking in the air like a turtle on its back, unable to right himself. Squigg tried to pull the hedgehog free but the hedgehogs spines proved to be a problem, he couldn’t get a good grip without hurting himself. He dipped into his pack and put on his thick leather welding gloves and bracing his foot on the apple he pulled Sprocket free one spine at a time. Afterwards Squigg divided the apple and the two had sat and enjoyed a meal in quiet. Sprocket wasn’t much for talking and Squigg didn’t speak hedgehog. That is how he came to have a friend who would travel the road with him. That night they slept under the clear sky and in the morning without so much as a word to each other they followed the wind in search of the next adventure.
Squigg sat in the dark kitchen in the Big Building. This was where his journey had led him, all the folk he had met along the way had told him that this was the best place for salvage and parts hereabout. If its one thing an inventor needs its material to work with. He had arrived with Sprocket, his dear friend, and looked for the person who owned the place. Perhaps they could come to some sort of deal. As it turned out the Big Building wasn’t owned by anybody, well, anybody that wasn’t a biggun. Pixies didn’t deal with bigguns, it was pixie law. So they let themselves in each night by the door near the kitchen and began to explore. The kitchen itself was full of all kinds of big folk stuff he found fascinating. There was all manner of machines. One that cleaned dirty dishes, one that kept everything inside cold and a similar one that kept things frozen. Somehow the big folk had managed to trap winter inside a metal box. All these machines had odd cables that slotted into the wall. When poking about he had given himself a very nasty shock and Squigg had decided to leave those parts of the machines alone, for now anyway. He found one on a high counter with a curious spring lever that when pushed down made the inside very hot. Apparently they used it for toasting things, it was brilliant. He used it several times to roast some nuts and even to dry his wet socks after getting caught in the rain. Squigg quickly found the supplies he needed to continue his inventing. Staples and little spools of wire. Twine and wooden pegs with strong springs. Big people pens had little springs that he thought would be great in making some spring boots, pixies could fly but lots of other creatures would love boots that let you jump high like a hare. So he began to go from room to room and fill his pack with bits and bobs, nicks and knacks and when his pack was full he would fill Sprockets saddle bags. Only when every pocket was fit to bursting would the pair leave through the back door, which they left propped open with a tea spoon.
After a few nights his supplies were nice and full but something niggled at him. It just didn’t feel right to be taking things without anyone knowing or without paying. He mentioned this niggling feeling to Sprocket who gave him a very stern look and twitched his nose. Sprocket was a chap of outstanding moral character, and Squigg had to agree, of course they should find a way to pay the bigguns back. They had no money and any invention he made would only be good for pixie folk and the like, and of course the bigguns couldn’t know he was here, pixie law and all. So he looked about the Big Building and found things to fix. He fixed a leaky pipe, and unblocked a clogged drain. Simple things but they made him feel better about pilfering the supplies. He even fixed a flickering light, that had been much more involved but in the end he had a self-taught crash course in electronics.
Tonight though he sat in the dark and he sulked. He had lost his pack. He had pulled apart the old big folk boot he was using as a shelter, but it wasn’t there. In his getaway from that bossy little pixie last night he must have left it behind. It had his loot in, but more importantly the pack had his silver tools in, the ones his Gramps had given to him. He had snuck back in, but a little earlier than usual, he didn’t want to run in to that uptight little sprite Fyonn again. He had looked all over the kitchen, under every counter and on top too but with no luck. He even checked the great hall even though he hadn’t gone in there last night. So he sat on the counter in the kitchen and sulked. Sprocket twitched his nose and made a small squeak.
“I know the Winter box is making a funny noise but I can’t do anything about it without my tools can I?” he snapped. Sprocket popped into a ball and made a small whimper. Squigg rubbed his face in his hands and let out a long sigh before fluttering down to the hedgehog. “Eh up mate, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bark ,” the hedgehog poked his head out and Squigg scratched behind his ears making his tail wag. He wandered over to the giant metal box and peered around the back of it. He tucked his wings neatly against his back and squeezed in. What he would give for his tools. From the look of it one of the seals was wearing away and a pipe was coming loose, very simple to fix.
“How touching, a boy and his hedgepig,” that voice, prim and proper with a biting edge of judgement. He smiled as he squeezed back out to see Fyonn, dressed in her cardigan and her white hair bound tight in a bun. She was watching him from up on the counter.
“Evening love,” he winked at her. She threw a seed at his head and he just managed avoid getting hit in the nose “Oi, watch where your lobbing stuff.”
“My name is Fyonn, or are you as forgetful as you are grubby?”
“’Ere now who you calling grubby,” Squigg demanded, sure he was a little road worn, but grubby, never.
“Oh please, you would dirty pond water,” she chided and Sprocket behind him squeaked with laughter. Now she was turning his mate against him.
“What are you laughing at you prickly bum, you’re not so squeaky clean yourself, you’ve got leaves in your spines,” she called down. Sprocket stopped laughing and looked a little downcast.
“Oh now you’ve gone and done it,” Squigg shouted, “you pay her no mind mate, you’re a diamond in the rough,” Sprocket looked a little happier as he rocked back and forth on his spines.
“Very rough,” Fyonn said wrinkling her nose, “anyway, I thought you would be back to claim your ill-gotten gains.” She dropped the pack, his pack, onto the counter “So Squigg, honestly what kind of name is Squigg?” she broke off.
“The only one I got,” he shouted back defiantly. The nerve of this pixie to come in and muck up his operation, steal his pack and insult his hedgehog. She scowled at him.
“Yes well, I’m putting a stop to your late night plundering Squigg, so take your little ball of prickles there and leave. There is no room for thieves like you around here thank you very much,” and she folded her arms and shook her wings at him.
“Thieves, is that what you think we are now?” He began to unfurl his wings but she held up a hand stopping him.
“Make so much as a move and I’ll throw this lot down the drain and you will never see it again,” she threatened. He quietly folded his wings back. He wouldn’t risk his silver tools. He held up his hands.
“Okay Fyonn,” he said using her name for the first time, “me and Sprocket here will be on our way, but I need my tools out of that pack.” She snorted at that, “They aren’t stolen, my Gramps gave them to me, and I’ll need them to fix that Winter Box before I go,” she looked down at him as if he were speaking Goblin.
“Winter Box?” she asked. He pointed to the large metal box with the handle on the front.
“Yeah, the big folk have managed to trap winter in that box there, they use it for keeping stuff cold,” Fyonn coughed and covered her mouth, no not a cough, a laugh. She clamped both hands over her mouth but it was no good. The little pixie fell about laughing on the top of the counter. It was, Squigg thought, a rather musical noise. She had her hands on her stomach laughing uncontrollably, one wing sticking up in the air.
“Winter Box,” she managed to blurt out before another fit of giggles overtook her. Squigg gave Sprocket a blank look, the hedgehog shrugged his spines, maybe she was crazy. It was a little while before Fyonn was able to get her laughter under control. “Winter box,” she sighed smiling, “that’s a Freezer you bumpkin.”
“Doesn’t matter what it’s called does it, it’s broke and needs fixing,” she gave him a questioning look.
“And you can do that?” she asked. Squigg shrugged his wings.
“Sure, I fixed everything else in here,” he explained, “the sink was a bit tricky, kept getting doused. Had to dry off near that Springfire Box.”
“That’s a toaster,” she corrected absently. She was giving him a long thoughtful look, it made him a little uncomfortable and he straightened his coat, Sprocket chuckled again grabbing his toes and began rolling about leaving the two pixies to it. Fyonn reached into the pack and pulled out the leather tool roll and fluttered down to Squigg.
“I don’t take things without paying,” he explained, “I got no money so I pay back by fixing.”
“Oh,” she said, he thought she looked a little disappointed but then she smiled and handed him the tool roll, he smiled back. Maybe she wasn’t such a bossy little witch after all.