The Gnomes - Looking for Papa: A Short Story
Quill Gnome walked restlessly around his home in the rockslide turning over papers, books and piles of pine needles as he went.
“Where did I put them?”
Mother gnome walked in the front door. She looked around the room. “What happened to our den…it was fine when I left this morning?”
Quill looked up to find his mother glaring at him. “Sorry mom, I ll clean it up.”
“Yes you will...every inch...before dinner. Just what’re you looking for anyway?” “I was looking for the directions to Uncle Netter’s address. I need his help with something.”
“That something wouldn't happen to be looking for you father?”
“Quill, I’ve told you many times before, you are not to go visit your uncle, he is trouble.”
Quill knitted his brow.
“But dad told me if anything happened to him I was to find Uncle Netters. He would know what to do.”
Quill’s mom shook her head. “Quill you father bought into his brothers foolish ideas about being protectors for the humans and their homesteads.” She stopped to brush a tear away before it fell down her cheek. “Your father knew the consequences of his actions. Don’t get me wrong, I miss him more than anything else except maybe losing you, but seeking out Uncle Netters is just going to lead to more trouble for our family. I don’t want you to be counted among the missing.”
“Mom, you’re wrong. Dad has been missing for a few days now. Uncle Netters knows this area pretty. If anyone can find dad, he can.”
“What happens if you do find him.
“I plan on rescuing him.”
“Two against who knows how many. Quill...
“Mom, I’m going to be fine…”
“Quill, I’m not going to stand around and argue with you about this. “You’re not going...that’s final.”
Quill’s eyes flared. “I am going. Even if I have to find out where Uncle Netter’s lives on my own I’m going. Besides I’m eighteen now I can make my own decisions. I need to find papa. You’ll see I’ll bring him back.”
“Fine Quill, if you have your mind made up I guess I can’t stop you. But remember this you go at my protest. Your Uncle Netters is not at home anyway he is standing guard at the Smith house over on Elm St.”
“Thanks mom.” She hugged him then turned to go into the kitchen. She stopped and half turned towards him, “Quill, please be safe and come home to me.”
“I will mom.” He turned and made his way out of the front door of the rockslide.
Quill headed across town to Elm St. He crept through the backyards of the homes making sure no one saw him. The last time someone spotted a gnome moving around it raised all kinds of problems. He rounded a corner of one of the typical red brick homes in the neighborhood to find his Uncle Netter standing in the flower bed.
“Uncle Netters, Uncle Netters,” He whispered a little loudly.
Uncle Netters looked at Quill and put a finger to his lips. “Hush, lad...or the humans will hear you.”
Quill looked around. “But, I don’t see any humans.”
“They’re here, stuck behind all their windows in their comfortable homes. Now why are you here? Your mom sent you here for something?”
“No, I’m here because my dad is missing. Here never came home from the Andrews yard.”
“Hmmm, quite unlike your father. Let’s go have a look.”
They left and headed over to where the Andrew's lived a couple streets over. They arrived a little while later. Uncle Netter looked around the yard. He found no sign of Quill's father. He did however find signs of a struggle.
“Look lad,” Uncle Netters pointed to a spot on the ground. “Your dad has been here. It looks like somebody dragged him off into the next yard.”
They followed the trail through the arborvitaes into the neighbors yard. There
between the bushes and a back sun porch they discovered small tire tracks.
“It appears they hauled him away in some kind of child’s wagon.”
“Child’s wagon…as in a human child?”
“Yes, a human wagon.”
“But, what would a human want with my father? He is an underclass gnome.”
“My guess is he was taken not because of who he was but because of what he was...a gnome. Us gnomes are quite popular among humans. The good humans hire us to watch over their yards and properties. The bad humans...well...they like to make us part of their collection. Put us high on a shelf where we can’t hope of getting down.”
Quill’s face drooped.
“Don’t be so furloin lad. We will find him and free him. Now let’s find out where they took him?”
Quill and his uncle followed the wagon tracks to a house down the street. The wagon was propped up against a shed in the backyard. But there was no sign of Quill’s father. They spent a few minutes scoping out the lay of the yard but came up empty, no lawn gnomes. In fact no lawn ornaments of any kind.
“What a boring yard,” Quill thought.
“Let’s go check out the shed lad,” Uncle Netter said.
They walked around the shed but found no way in other than the door. Uncle Netter tapped on the door but received no reply. “I’m not sure if he is in there or not, lad. Maybe if we could look in the window but even if you get on my shoulders I afraid it’d still be out of reach.”
Quill looked around, “How about the wagon?”
Uncle Fetter looked at the wagon. “It might work. Help me drag around the back of the shed.”
They pulled and pulled and finally moved the wagon into position.
“OK lad, you're shorter and lighter than I am. I’ll hold the wagon you climb up and look.”
Quill climbed up the wagon carefully. He put his two small hands on the window ledge. He peered through the glass. His foot slipped and he almost fell.
“Be careful up there lad. Do you see anything?”
Quill looked down. “I...I…”
“What lad...come on spit it out.”
“Father is in there...along with about 10 other gnomes.”
Quill climbed down. “Yeah, uncle they're all tied up with duct tape so they can’t move.”
Uncle Fetter walked in a circle.
“What are you doing,” Quill asked as he watched Uncle Fetter.
“Thinking lad...this is how I think.”
“We need to get in there.”
“What do you think I’m pondering, nephew?”
Just then they heard a door closing and footsteps approaching. They both peaked around the corner to see a young human approaching the shed. They ducked behind the shed. Uncle Netter put his finger to his lips. Quill nodded his head. After a few moments the noises in the shed subsided, the door closed and they heard the shuffling of grass as the human headed back to his house. They pulled back around the corner. The human carried one of the gnomes under his arms as he entered his house.
“It wasn’t papa,” Quill said, sounding relieved.
“No lad, it wasn’t. Still it makes you wonder what he is doing with the gnomes in his house.”
“We need to get help lad.”
They hurried off into the darkness. The two of them ran around all over town gathering up about 12 other gnomes. Once they had all the gnomes gathered Uncle Netter explained to them all what was going on. They traveled through the alleys and back ways to the shed. Once there they sized up the situation. Uncle Netter looked at two,of the gnomes, Sag and Gerg you are two of the strongest gnomes here. One of you stands directly below the door handle, the other climbs on top of his shoulders and turns the handle…quietly. The rest of us will stand guard until the door is open.”
The gnomes worked on the door for a few minutes trying to turn the knob this way and that until it finally opened. The door let out a soft squeak before it opened. The gnomes entered the shed. Inside they saw a wondrous site, 9 gnomes wrapped in some duct tape. Each of the gnomes struggled against their binds. Quill saw his dad and ran over to hug him.
“Dad we found you.”
His dad struggled to move his arms. “Mmmmm,” He mumbled through his duct tape.
“Quick find something to cut these binds!” Uncle Netters yelled to the gnomes.
Each gnome grabbed something sharp. A pair of shears, a saw, a knife, a hedge clipper, whatever they could find. After a few moments the gnomes were all free. They all turned to go and found the human standing there watching them.
“Just where do you think you guys are going?”
“Home,” Yelled quill's dad from the back of the shed.
Another gnome yelled, “Attack!”
The gnomes all swarmed at the male human. He turned to,run away but they pulled him down from behind and sat on top of him.
The human started squirming, “Don’t hurt me.”
Uncle Netters stepped forward, “We won’t hurt you if you bring us our friend so we can be on our way.”
“OK, Ok,” The human said.
“How can we trust him?” A gnome from the back of the crowd said.
“We will escort him into the house to get our friend.” Said Papa Furst.
They followed the human as he walked up to the back door to the house. Four of the gnomes went with him as he entered the back door of the house.
“Anybody here with you, “Asked one of the gnomes”
“No, no one is at home.” The human said.
Quill had stood in the background as all the events unfolded in front of him but all he wanted was to get away from here. He walked over to where his dad stood.
“Papa, can we be on our way?”
His father looked down at him. “As soon as we get Clem back out of the house. Don’t worry son.”
He patted Quill on the head.
After a few minutes the human came out followed by five gnomes.
“Uncle Fetters approached the human. “Now human if we ever cross paths again...well let's just say the outcome will not be as pleasant. You see us gnomes are quite watchful creatures but make us mad…”
“I was only trying to make a living.”
“By selling us on the internet…” Shouted Leroy Gnome.
Uncle Netters raised his hand. “No matter we will be on our way.”
The gnomes all turned to go. Their day just got worse.
There standing before them were two trolls.
Uncle Netters looked at the human. “Really you’re in cahoots with the trolls? How foolish can you be? Trolls cannot be trusted.”
The human shrugged his shoulders. “I needed the money and the trolls offered to watch over me as long as I kept getting rid of the gnomes in the neighborhood.”
Uncle Netters looked back at the trolls. “What do you want, Grog?”
“What do I want...hmmm...let me think...oh yeah, to be rid of your gnomes so we can take over the neighborhoods.”
“First off,” Said Uncle Netters. “I didn’t know you trolls could think...”
“Ha, ha, gnome. Now if you’ll just remove yourselves from our neighborhood so we don’t have to get grunky on you…”
“As I was saying, before I was rudely interrupted, secondly, this is our neighborhood.’
The human backed up the steps and closed the door to his house.
“Well,” Said Uncle Netters, “I see we have a bit of a problem…”
The trolls attacked. They threw the gnomes around and around. The bones regrouped and mounted a counter attack. The trolls sensed the tide of the battle had turned. They decided for now the battle was over but had to get in one parting shot.
“You gnomes may have won this time,” Grog grumbled, “but watch your back we’ll be coming for you.”
The trolls ran off into the brush.
Uncles Netters looked down at his clothing. His jacket tattered and torn. “Oh bother…” He looked up at the other trolls. They waited for him to speak. “You fought bravely my fellow gnomes. Now it is time for us to return to our homes and get ready for the upcoming battles which are sure to arrive at our doorsteps.”
Papa Gnome looked around. “Quill, Quill, has anybody here seen Quill?”
The gnomes took a quick scan of the grounds. Quill was not to be found.
“Oh crap,” Said Uncle Netters. “The trolls must have taken him. His mom is going to be pissed.”
© 2020 T B Whitt