The Best of Times Short Story Competition

Autumn 2010 Results

The Foundation for Minor Ailments

Copyright © P.S. Cottier 2010

The fair Goddess Candida paused in her three hour speech for a moment, and discreetly scratched herself under her lovely silken vestments. Then she continued:

"So it is time, my celestial friends, for us to become the members invisible yet powerful of a new organisation, to be known as the Foundation for Minor Ailments. Each god or goddess or spirit or other unspecified Being of Special Powers will specialise in assisting the suffering mortals with one affliction, as per the attached list."

Candida pulled a cloud-like parchment from the air, uncurled it, and proceeded to read.

"I will take thrush to my heart.

"Plethora will be in charge of dandruff.

"Neptune (as a cup half-full kind of deity) will oversee cystitis and the plight of those who must urinate as frequently as most humans blink.

"Achilles will be the representative for plantar fasciitis and blisters. I considered feet going to Ceres as the Goddess of corn, but rejected the notion."

Candida paused for a laugh. None came. She felt her cheeks blushing like a mortal with rosacea, which she had, incidentally, neglected to assign to anyone.

"Keep the day-job!" someone yelled.

A vision in satin white, if a somewhat sulky one, Candida continued to read from the parchment.

"Fairy Slutavia of the ever-resourceful spells will become the mast-head for mild impotence, a.k.a. brewer's droop."

Slutavia shimmied around her cloud-pole, smiled, then sucked her plump magic wand.

"All-hearing Auditron will care for those who are just starting to talk about how loud the music is in cafés when they're trying to have a decent conversation, not realising that their hearing has dulled with the passing of the years like dreams that have faded and are now un-recalled."

Auditron, always the life and soul of the party, yelled, "What?", cupping his hand behind his Ganesh-sized ears. Everyone doubled up with laughter. Candida did her supernatural best not to look miffed at the way his old and stupid jokes always worked, although some later said that she pinched a passing angel on its wing.

"Medusa will lend her helping snakes to pattern baldness and to mild headaches.

"And Kali is well-equipped to deal with those tiny infections that occur between the nail and the bed of the finger, which extensive research on my behalf has revealed are called paronychia."

"Google," whispered someone sotto voce, and everyone except Candida laughed again. Like one of Medusa's frisky snakes in a surprisingly polite mood, Candida swallowed her venom.

"Go forth deities and fairies, goblins and gremlins, goddesses and gods, All Ye Undefined Yet Undeniably Wondrous Magyk Folk, and help the earthlings overcome their annoying little itches and limps, their rashes and swellings and their slight aches. Go and improve the lot of the mortals who..."

Candida ceased her exhortations. Everyone had already gone. She flew off as well.


Two weeks later, all the Supernatural Beings returned, looking slightly out-of-sorts. Medusa's snakes seemed to have developed brewer's droop themselves, hanging down by the Goddess's head as if she had been using serpent straighteners. Auditron's ears had huge mauve bruises on them, Candida noticed to her quiet satisfaction. And Candida's once pristine white dress looked as besmirched as that of the foul, yet grinning, Fairy Slutavia.

"They are beyond our help," said Candida.

"No," said Auditron, rubbing his ears, "they never bloody wanted it in the first place. They love their ailments. They love having a good whinge. Listen."

And through Auditron's ears, the other Immortal Inhabitants of the Celestial Plain heard a hundred grumbles, a thousand complaints, and thirteen hundred million anecdotes about minor suffering being made. These were mostly originating from the richer parts of the Earth below, where cars punctuated the roads like multi-coloured ants. Taken as a whole, the sound was a susurrus of satisfaction, spread thick as obesity's jam.

"Stuff them," said someone, and everyone else nodded. The deities all drew up a cloud, and took a bit of a nap.

P.S. Cottier has two books published by Ginninderra Press a collection of short stories called A Quiet Day and a poetry collection called The Glass Violin.